The journal is what you think, how you feel about any subject in order to explore your own feelings and your facility for putting yourself on paper. (Francis Weaver)
Seasons change. Welcoming the change most likely depends on our mood, personality and current circumstances. If we’re tired of hot and humid, then our heart gladly dances into crisp and crunchy autumn. If we love poolside chats and warm evenings, then we might be mourning the loss of summer.
Over the last year or two, I’ve been noticing how I respond to seasonal changes. I used to say I love this one or I hate that one, but a new practice has emerged. I welcomed the seasonal changes, as an invitation to embrace the good in each one. I’m actually looking forward to winter this year, a time to cozy up to the interior life with my favorite coffee mug, warm socks and a comfy spot to sit and reflect.
This summer, I savored each moment of it right through to the autumnal equinox. I sat the first week of fall in my mom’s backyard observing the Jewish festival of Sukkot. (In my own way.) This festival was originally instituted for the Jewish nation to reflect on their deliverance from captivity. (Leviticus 23:33-44)
I practiced being outdoors for seven days, captivated by the beauty of creation. I wrote in my journal and enjoyed the company of my mom’s dog. I soaked in the warmth of the sun, which seemed reluctant to give up the summer weather itself.
I wanted a new journal for autumn. I scrolled through the many leather bound Midoris on Instagram, but wondered if that would really fit my fancy. I liked the idea of 3-4 smaller journals bound together to contain various topics. And then I remembered the vintage book that I bought last fall, titled : Talk, Read, Write, Listen, a children’s reader from the 1960s. I carefully cut out the inside pages with an Exacto knife, putting the pages aside for future collage work. I decided to sew together four little notebooks to insert inside, securing them with large rubber bands, the type you’d use to hold file folders stuffed with papers. A light went on in my mind, I would categorize the four booklets using the title of the cover: Talk, Read, Write, Listen.
But then another dilemma occurs? How does one talk, read, write and listen in a journal. The writing one seems obvious enough. On the first page, I posed the questions. To talk, I think of dialogue, conversation, responsive writing, and surprisingly this section becomes the place where I use collage imagery to “discuss” my life on paper. For reading, I use the second notebook to take note of which books I’m reading, to take notes from a book that interests me, and to take notice of quotes and other questions that occur to me. For listening, I recall that the word listen has list in it. So the fourth notebook is kept for lists.
So far, after almost a month of keeping this type of journal, I have found it useful to have these categories and the separate “containers” for each. In the spirit of freedom, sometimes one or another topic does overlap in the pages of the whole, which is perfectly fine with me.
What system do you use for containing your thoughts? What’s your favorite kind of journal?
On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees—palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the Lord your God for seven days.
(Leviticus 23:40 NLT)