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016 | Journaling

Hey, hey, hey. Welcome to Souls Undressed. I’m your host, Tori Rankovich, + you are listening to episode 16. Today we are going to talk all about journaling. This is an episode that has been requested a few times which surprises me because it’s something that I talk about a lot in my personal life + I’m sure I referenced it numerous times on social media. It’s cool to have something like this requested because that shows me that I’m creating a following on Instagram + through this podcast of people who really are looking for ways to ground + center themselves because I think that that’s what journaling does. I think that people who want to learn more about it are people who are wanting to learn more about how to better care for themselves + how to better sit with + reflect with themselves.

Today we're going to dive into how I got started into journaling, the ways that I think it’s super helpful, + then just some tips for trying to enjoy it more or fit it better into your schedule. The thing about journaling for me, + maybe this is why I think it’s so interesting to be recording an episode about it, I have written on + off a variety of times throughout my life. It wasn’t until just recently, honestly, that I started writing consistently. So I don’t want you to think that I’m coming to you with this podcast from a place of mastery or from a place of writing every single day. I think that the last time that I wrote before this morning was 5 or 6 days ago. I go through phases of time where I write every day + I go through phases of time where I might not write more than once or twice a week.

So I’m going to dive into all of that today as well but, first today we’re going to start with our vision board quotes as always. I actually have the first quote that I’m going to read. It is from something that I pinned to my Pinterest vision board. Then the next quote I’m going to read after that is from my actual, physical vision board that I have in my office. I don’t always share two quotes but this first quote is one that stuck out to me last week when I started drafting up this episode. Then the quote from my physical vision board popped out to me last night just before bed. I’ll be honest I was looking at my vision board on Pinterest last week because nothing was sticking out to me on my physical vision board which is why I always think it’s cool when they stick out to me right before the episode + why I’m going to include it today even if it means having two.

The first quote is by Ruby Cowart + it says,

“You do not just wake up + become the butterfly. Growth is a process.”

That one, as soon as I read it on Pinterest last week, I just knew that it needed to go with this episode. Like I said already before, journaling is something that is very much so just something that you pick up when it feels right + something that can feel really unnatural if the time isn’t right or if it’s too forced. Then it won’t always do you as much good. I also think that journaling has taught me how much of my journey is a process. I think that we often get into this belief system, however wrong it may be, that as soon as we start working towards healing something we can just snap our fingers + be there.

When I started journaling consistently + looking back on what I had written at the end of each week it really showed me how much of this journey was a process + how much I was journaling about the same things week after week. I had this belief in my mind before reading back on things that I was just conquering things left + right. While it’s true I was conquering things, it wasn’t at this rapidly crazy fast pace of just conquering one thing after another. I mean, I’m telling you the truth when I say that I was journaling about the same things week after week. But, what was changing was my perspective on them. I’ll dive more into that in a little bit, but that’s why I chose that quote.

The second quote is from my vision board in my office. It’s written by Maggie Smith + it says.

“Don’t let the most difficult parts of your life, the parts that crave attention, drown out the good. Do what you can to quiet those voices in your mind. Run, write, paint, spend time with people you love, + yes turn up the volume on the best parts. All the way up. Keep moving.“

I love that quote for this episode because, for me, the way that I've started bringing journaling into my regular day to day life, even if I’m not journaling every day, is to write in the morning + I’m going to dive into that in a little bit. I think that being able to reflect on the fact that we can get really hung up on the really heavy negative parts in our lives but that we don’t have to. That a lot of us don’t know how to work through those or work past that we can read quotes that talk about just be happy + just have this positive mindset. But what do we do when our mind comes to a negative something + we haven't been taught how to sit with or move through that?

That’s why I picked that one for this episode because for me writing is a way that I’ve learned to do that. It has allowed me to learn to process what I’m feeling + the negative things that are weighing me down. Then leave those there on paper to then continue on my day with the things that I need to do. They when I choose to or when I feel called to or ready to, go back through that writing. I can then choose to pick apart what I’ve written + find those different growth spaces.

So I hope you are just as excited for this episode as I am. I really can not wait to give you my tips, tricks, + all sorts of secrets to the ways that I’ve made this work for my life. If you’re ready for it I’ll catch you on the other side.

Alright, alright. How did I get into journaling? How did I get into writing? Truthfully, I’ve been a kid who wrote in my diary since I was so young. Honestly, I would say first or second grade I was probably already writing in my diary. Which to me as an adult is journaling. I think if you were to take a room full of people who all journal, I guarantee that their dialog in their journal would all look + sound different.

I feel like there are still probably adults who still journal in the format of, “Hey”. They might not all write, “Dear Diary”, but just as you would write, “Dear Diary today I did this.” There are still people who would journal like that. Sometimes I journal like that. It’s interesting. I found that the ways that I journal differ based on whether or not I’m just writing to word vomit or whether I’m writing something that I am passionate about that I feel could be a good growth point for other people.

I found that sometimes when I’m journaling I start writing as if I’m writing a podcast outline + script. I think that that’s because I am wanting to reflect on things outwardly with other people. Sometimes I have to catch myself + stop myself in the middle of journaling + say okay hey are we writing this for me or are we writing this for other people because I think that that’s a really important thing.

You have to think about am I writing for reflection? Am I writing for perfection? Or am I writing to just have a word dump + brian dump + to get it out? Because that is going to really steer you in whatever direction to make you feel like it’s an efficient writing exercise or you’re really able to get something out of it that makes you actually feel better. I would say I definitely started as a kid + when I was in high school I probably wrote a lot less. I don’t think I really wrote a lot in college but, then when I started teaching I started promoting it in my classrooms.

I think it’s really interesting that I didn’t really do it for myself growing up through my adolescent years but then as soon as I started teaching I started promoting my students to do it. I remember being so excited when my fourth graders bought into journaling + reflecting because it showed me + them their ability to reflect on how they were feeling + reflect on how their day was going + the ways that their different interactions were kind of overflowing into their days.

Once I stopped teaching I needed that because when I taught high school I would journal with them. Now that I’ve been out of teaching for 2 school years, I think it’s really cool for me to be writing as much as I am now because I’m able to see how good it is for me. I think sometimes when you're a teacher + you have your kids do stuff + you don’t do it all the time, you don’t always necessarily see this huge grand scheme purpose in it but you know it’s good for them. You kind of wonder, oh am I doing what's best for them but it’s really cool for me now as a self-employed adult + works by myself all day long to see how much that writing + reflection helps me.

Then, when I got into therapy in the last 3 to 4 years my massage therapist had buckets with popsicle sticks that you would draw from at the end of every session + from those popsicle sticks that would be your job or your homework to do before the next session. I think it was from one of those sticks that Rachel first prompted me to start journaling. I don't know about you guys, but if you’ve been told to journal I guarantee you didn’t just go home + start doing it.

I feel like I’ve noticed that even when I recommend other people do it. I can explain the different things that I process through it, and they’ll be like, “Okay maybe I finally will start it. This person has told me to do it, my therapist has told me to do it, and my other friend has told me to do it. I just think it’s really interesting how long it takes us to just try it.” That's something I wrote in here a little bit later too.

It wasn’t until March of this year that I did Jade Alectra 7 days to the soul challenge. I highly recommend you follow her. She will post on her pages whenever she’s running new challenges. In this particular challenge, we were prompted to do morning pages + water every day. Our challenges + our videos differed from day to day but those 2 things were consistent. We needed to drink our full gallon or 2 of water. You needed to drink so much water + you needed to write 3 pages in the morning.

Breaking through that barrier for me was huge for me to start writing more often because Jade had said if you don’t know what to write then I want you to write I don’t know what to write over + over again until something comes to mind. The thing is that as you're doing that your thoughts will eventually come to mind because you're taking up that automaticity with your hand of writing so you're not busy convincing yourself that you don’t have anything on your mind. Because truthfully when you wake up in the morning, your mind is not empty. If you are so at peace where you wake up in the morning + your mind is just empty + you’re just ready to meditate + start your day then hell yea. More power to you, but I just don’t think that is the norm for people.

Let's just be honest. I think it is really powerful to challenge yourself every single morning. Give yourself that extra 15 minutes, get up, turn your bedside light on or go sit in the living room or sit at the kitchen table while the sun starts pouring through or if you have to wake up before the sun, sorry. Turn on your light or if you have time after you get to work but I really suggest doing it before you start your day. But I would say that fit it in where you can. Just start looking at the way you feel after you’ve gotten that load of stuff out.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m going to keep going along with the notes in my episode + come right back to that thought. I’m sorry but I do think it is important to give credit to Jade Alectra + Dakota Adan. Dakota is the one who came up with the verbiage morning pages I think + that’s going to lead right into my next point of talking about why it’s helpful. Dakota is a writer. He’s a poet.

To me, it made a lot of sense when I heard him + Jade decipher the difference between journaling + morning pages because as somebody who is a writer professionally it feels really messy + wrong to write without purpose or structure or in messy handwriting or with messy margins. Dakota talked about the concept of clearing the hose + that was something that Jade taught on acknowledging the power of clearing the hose for starting your day.

She used this metaphor if you were going to go out in the yard while you're paying + you're messing around + you work up a sweat + you’re thirsty + you’re not super boujee + you're fine with drinking out of the house. But you go over to the hose you’re not just going to your mouth, turn the water on + drink whatever is going to come out. You’re going to run the hose for a little bit. Let the warm water that was sitting in the hose come out, let the dirt + the grass that got built up + some of the cobwebs + whatever else got in there. You're going to let that hose water run for a while before you’re drinking from it.

The point in that metaphor is calling attention to the fact that in the morning you wake up with all this stuff still. You’re groggy, you just had a night's worth of dreams, your brain just processed everything that you went through the day before that you hadn't previously processed. That’s what you’re waking up to + you have a full day or full week full of things that you’re getting ready to get started. So by giving yourself that 15 minutes + that 3 pages to just write + clear the hose. You’re not carrying on the rest of that junk with you for the rest of the day. I think that that is so underrated. I think that we have this false toughness in us that's like I don’t need that’s like, “Oh my mind starts fine. My day is great.”

I at least have had so much success with it. This morning I was like I don't know what I’m going to write about. I have absolutely no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth but I just need it. I haven’t written in a while. My brain is feeling heavy. I’m on a weird hormonal swing + I just need to write. Both things I wrote about were very heavy on my mind. I had a lot to say about them. The first one was really heavy + it wasn’t something that I had spent a lot of time actively thinking about in the last week but it had popped up a couple of times. I had just put it to the side because I was busy + I wrote a whole page about it.

I think you’ll be really shocked to see how much you can write or how much you do write whenever you’re letting your hose clear. Honestly please give yourself so little pressure in this writing exercise. It is literally just clearing the junk. Maybe the junk is, “ I feel really shitty about what I ate last night before I went to bed but I ended up sleeping okay + I’m going to get up + drink a lot of water today so I can try to flush my system + have some good hydration.” That’s a really random situation, but that’s just an example. It’s very important to recognize that this literally frees up space in your mind.

There are times where I write + I just blackout. You can ask me what I wrote about this morning + the only reason I remember what I wrote about on the first page is because I looked back at it. I don’t even remember what the second page was. I just remember that I had a lot to say on it because I wrote 2 pages. I think that that’s the point. I obviously had those in mind or I wouldn’t have written them. I didn’t just pull them out of the clouds. I didn’t create this emotion out of nowhere. I was able to write that stuff down + clear my mind before I had my therapy session this morning.

Then I was able to carry on. For example, I had a pretty heavy therapy session. So what did I do after? I went + I finished filling in the notes for this episode + processing the different ways that writing helps me process + heal. It’s just really important to recognize that there are a lot of ways that writing + cleaning that process + clearing your brain out can help you. They're not always going to happen right away + they're not always super obvious but I think that if you're being real with yourself, what bad can be writing your thoughts outdo for you? It’s pretty harmless as far as I’m concerned.

I want to say that if you are somebody who likes looking for patterns in your behaviors these morning pages are really helpful for that. I started talking about this in the intro. For a while, I don’t do it anymore because I don’t write every morning anymore, but every Friday I was going through my morning pages for the week. I was going through them + making a bulleted list of either growth points that I was learning about myself, or things that I was referencing more than once that I thought I needed to actively work on moving forward or work on getting a solution to a problem that was repeating itself. That was so transformative for me.

If you are someone who is working on building a routine, doing your morning pages for the first 15 minutes of your day is something that is going to work pretty much every day unless you have a random day where you wake up late or something. Looking at those notes + seeing those patterns can really help you grow on your own. If you're somebody that goes to therapy you might be used to your therapist listening to you talk + then being like, “Okay we talked about this a couple of weeks ago, I’m recognizing you talking about this again. Is this a recurring pattern?” If you’re going through + you’re reflecting in your pages + what you’re writing, you can take control of that situation + really see what you can learn about yourself in that way.

Let’s talk about some tips for enjoying writing + ways to fit it into your schedule. Journaling, like I was saying in the intro, is something that comes + goes into your daily routine. It’s so easy to slip on or to let slide. It’s one of those things where it’s not like eating, breathing, or drinking water. You don’t need it to survive. All of us go through phases of feeling very motivated, doing things that are good for us, then we slip off the rocker. We do something or we have something happen, or we feel a certain way where we don’t have as much energy for that. Then we kind of let it off + forget about it. My biggest recommendation for journaling + working that into your schedule is picking the time of day + trying to make that a routine.

If you look into the numbers, I'm going to be guessing, but it takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit. It takes a while to build a habit. It’s going to take some time + effort to make journaling a normal thing in your day-to-day life. But if you want to commit to that + you want to see what it can do for you try to pick a time in your day. I have learned that the best way to get myself to journal in the morning is to bring my journal in on my nightstand + to leave it next to the bed with a pen.

Then in the morning when I wake up before I even get out of bed I can journal my thoughts + get them right out. For me, that is one of the only ways I’m going to guarantee myself to think about it in the morning because even then if the dogs need to be let out right away or something + I don't get to journal in bed I’ve then seen that journal. Then I usually remember to take it with me to the kitchen table + I’ll journal while I’m eating breakfast.

Another reason I love journaling in the morning + why I always recommend it is because you’re leaving your stresses on paper + moving on without them. I can't say enough how many times morning pages have saved my ass from fixating on something for the rest of the day. I know if I did morning pages later on in the evening or afternoon, those thoughts would stick with me throughout my whole day. That’s my reason for promoting mornings for morning pages because I would much rather be able to process something that's bothering me or hanging over me without my recognition early on in my day + leave it on paper to let it go than go all day long without realizing that something was just picking at me.

Then at the end of the day at 8 pm realize oh it was this. If that makes sense. Honestly, I feel like writing is so beneficial. As long as you find a time to work it into your day it’s going to help you. I'm somebody who can not fit it into the morning because of your work schedule or your kids, just know that you should still prioritize writing in general. Even if it can't be in the morning.

My other suggestion, buy a cute ass notebook or two. I think that having cute little notebooks around the house is a reminder to write. You obviously going to know why you bought them + when I have something that draws my attention to it it’s just the perfect nonchalant reminder. I also want to say that for me, I always aim to get notebooks that are smaller than 7x10. I think the one I have right now is 7.25x10.

The reason is that they’re easier to take with you places + carry around. They're more likely to be the size of the book you’re reading or more likely to fit into your purse if you’re going to go on a drive. That has allowed me to take it with me to more places + carry it around more easily. Which then promotes me to use more downtime to start writing. Like I said, if you're somebody who has a crunched schedule, I still encourage you to find free time to write. Also, not all notebooks are created equal.

Some notebooks have lines, some are blank, some are dotted. I would say see what you like best. Some notebooks have really small lines. There are just some notebooks that I found that I have to write on every other line for my notes to be clear. Then I have other notebooks that I can write on each line. Just explore what's the least frustrating for you because you want your journaling process to be smooth + stress-free since you’re trying to squeeze it in any way. Another big tip is to invest in some nice pens.

There's nothing more irritating while you’re writing than trying to get a smooth flow + your pen is messing up + not working super well. It's super infuriating. My last little tip before we enter the how can I help segment is just try it out. I know it’s one of those weird things that we avoid when we know we need it. Like yoga, stretching, taking a hot bath, but just try it out. Just get a pen + a piece of paper, maybe the back of something you don’t need, + just start writing out your thoughts.

It’s just so healing to just get the things out of your head + onto paper. Honestly when you fall off the wagon with journaling, which you will, just don’t forget to pick your pen back up + start writing again. It’s so beneficial to you to princess things going on in your head. It does a lot for helping you weigh out reality versus anxiety thoughts, pressure thoughts. When you write those things out it can help you process them with a bit more grounded perspective.

How can I help? If you’re listening + there’s somebody that you know who would benefit from journaling or getting into all those goods but, every turn you make you feel like you can’t make a connection to it yourself or the person you’re trying to promote journaling can’t make a connection to it + your like how do I move forward? How can I encourage this stubborn human to just try it? First + foremost, realize that to start journaling a human has to have a certain level of transparency with themselves because when you start journaling you start realizing all of the things that you haven't been processing out loud in your head. You start writing + stuff just pours out.

There is a chance that someone is being resistant to journaling because they are simply not ready to face those thoughts. Maybe first direct them to this podcast episode + they can listen for themselves to see if maybe feel themselves out. See if they’re avoiding it because they can’t make it work with their schedule or am I avoiding this because I am avoiding thinking about all the things I don't want to think about. Or is it both?

Second, would be if you are having a hard time writing, whether you have a physical limitation, a psychological limitation, you just hate writing with all your might, your fingers hurt when you hold pens + pencils. There are a variety of reasons that writing doesn’t work for everyone. I am pulling a page out of the series called Grace + Frankie from Netflix. Frankie video journals so instead of writing what it is she needs to get out. She sets her phone up on a table against something + she just clicks record + just talks. I've never seen an episode where she listens back because I don't think you need to listen back. For the same reason, this podcast is therapeutic for me, video journaling for you will be therapeutic if you have a hard time getting into writing.

The same reason talking on the phone or talking to our people when we’re stressed helps us. Usually, we can talk to somebody about our problems + then feel like we found an answer before we even get an answer out of them. It’s because we hear our thoughts out loud + we could porch some more. Journaling is just doing that without talking but video journaling would just be talking to yourself about what’s bothering you. Yeah, it’s going to feel goofy. Sometimes journaling feels goofy. Sometimes I’m journaling + I have nothing to say + I feel like I'm wasting my time. But I know when I'm feeling down, that usually I can break through some sort of language barrier with myself if I just start writing.

I really hope that this episode finds its way to all the humans that it is meant to because I think so much of us struggles with finding ways to help ourselves heal, reflect, + process in mature + emotionally responsible ways. I think that journaling is a great first step. For that, it's a great part of self-care + self-awareness. If you're somebody who goes to therapy it can really help you understand what you need to talk about in therapy. Whether or not therapy is working or if certain parts of your life are working because you can't hide from yourself when you start journaling. You’re just writing out your thoughts.

Thank you so much for being here. I'm going to wrap up this gabbing. I can not wait to share more self-care + self-help tips with you along the way. If you loved this episode be sure to share it with your friends + family. Anyone you know who can benefit from more self-reflection + a little more guidance for what might work for them. Be sure to leave reviews on Apple Podcasts. You can write on the wall on the Facebook page on The Souls Undressed Podcast Community + reach out to me + share this episode on the Instagram page at Souls Undressed Podcast. Thank you so much for being here. I hope you have the most beautiful week ahead of you + I will catch up with you again on Sunday next week. See ya later.

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