While I always treasured my back-to-school-clothes and a new backpack, I most vividly remember the joy of picking out my new notebooks. Every pencil, planner, and journal needed to be an extension of my personal style, a projection of my 9-year-old brand. I would strut around Office Depot, my list tucked inside my basket, collecting sparkly folders and flower-shaped erasers until my mom would call for us to assemble so she could purge our selections of non-essentials. (I always tried to smuggle the lime green notebook paper by her, but it never worked.)
In college, I learned to value the words written inside the journals more than the design on the cover. Those notebooks were the breeding ground for friendships formed through notes passed in class in the back of my English folder. They offered a safe space for entertaining careers in medicine, marketing or social work. Most often, they caught scattered to-do lists, attempts at poetry, and late night submissions when the only way to make sense of the world ahead of me was to put it on paper.
Post-grad, I found a new facet of the value of journaling. On slow Saturday mornings, I often thumb through the row of notebooks that line my desk, grateful for the records each one holds. As opposed to pictures, these journals hold the thoughts, feelings, and daily actions that I lived in college. They are a sweet reminder of fulfilled hopes, changes in the game plan and tiny gestures of kindness.
While I no longer receive a supply list at the end of July, I still pick out a new notebook every August. This is the best way I know to store up the treasures of my current life. Journaling encourages mindfulness and documents the beauty of a single day.
If this is a habit that you are well acquainted with, I hope that the following prompts encourage you to stretch your creative muscles and look at the world in a different light.
If journaling is new to you or you have fallen off the bike, know that there is no wrong way to write about your day and today is the perfect day to start! You don’t need a shiny new notebook, any paper and pen will do. Be gentle with yourself and respond to these prompts as honestly as you can.
1. Start simply. What were your 5 favorite things of this week?
2. What did you do today? Go past the checklist and try to write it like you would tell a friend over coffee.
3. Pick one moment of your day and describe it with as much detail as you can. What did it feel/sound/smell like? How did it make you feel and react?
4. What is one food you still don’t like, no matter how many times you try it? Explain why do you hate it.
5. Write about what is right in front of you, in this moment. Capture it like a photograph.
6. Pick one of the five senses and write about your day like it was the only sense you had.
7. Doodle a person you encountered today. Sketches count in journaling!
8. Let your journal be a safe space for dreaming. On paper, change careers, move to a new city, try a new exercise class. Try dreams on and see how they fit.
Let us know which one you picked in the comment section below!