All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
A friend recently asked me about my journaling practice and how often I do it. I immediately wondered, “Which one?” I have several journal practices. I have hand-written journals—stacks and stacks of them stashed in various places--, and I also keep a monthly “Writing Practice” open in a Word document on my laptop. And I have an art journal, which is a wire-bound sketch book I picked up at Michaels. The first two are primarily words—essays, poetry, random lists, and regular old journal entries. I also sprinkle in generous amounts of ideas as they come to me, quotes and bits of conversation I find inspiring as well as questions that pop into my head and that I don’t necessarily have an answer for. The art journal is a collection of images and words, both from magazines and my own creation, and range from finished art pieces to hurriedly slapped-down words I’ve ripped from a copy of Yoga Journal and fastened with a piece of Scotch tape. In other words, it’s a hodge-podge mess of ideas and things I like. Simple.
This same friend said that she had tried to start a journal several times but became frustrated with it when she didn’t stick to a regular schedule or when it didn’t seem “good enough.” She said she really wanted to have a regular journal practice but that she didn’t know how.
Much like running, there is no secret. You just do it.
Here are some thoughts to ponder if you, like my friend, are interested in a starting a journal (written or art… or BOTH) and don’t know where or how to begin.
Over the years, journaling, in all its forms, has been a source of comfort, insight, prayer, daydreaming, creative expression, and play. I will never make a living from my journals. I will never publish my journals—the thought actually sends shivers down my spine (as if people didn’t think I was crazy already!). I never have to worry about anyone other than myself seeing my journals. That’s what makes journaling so much fun—it’s just for me. And, if on the off chance I decide to share an entry or two, then that decision is entirely up to me. There’s no pressure. And you shouldn’t feel any either. Just begin it. And let the ideas flow.
Looking for some inspiration?
I highly recommend Shannon Kinney Duh's e-courses for art journaling. She is great for beginners and beyond, but I think she has a flair for encouraging and inspiring beginners.
Journal 52 provides weekly inspiration and prompts.
The major winter weather event they called for actually happened. We had nearly 16” at our house and have been pretty well snowed in for four days. There have been a couple of trips out with the four wheel drive, and everything is beginning to melt today, but it’s been a nice little winter hole-up for a few days.
Finishing up the Pinewood Derby car
...and making silly mountain biking videos in the snow
The igloo building lost its appeal after a while, and eventually, a sheet was stretched across the top for a makeshift roof. Multiple techniques were tried and then abandoned. Finally, they settled on using some rocks from the stacked wall around my now invisible flower garden to hold the sheet in place. The igloo was finally ready for occupancy.
And then Isaac wanted to sleep in it.
He actually talked Harper Lee into trying it out, and Rob and I, assuming they would last no more than half an hour said, “Sure, go ahead. Dress warmly, blow up the sleeping pads and get your winter bags out.” And they did. This was at 8:30.
An hour passed. And then another. Rob put his boots on and trekked outside with a flashlight in hand. He came back in.
“Well?” I asked.
“They’re sound asleep.”
We waited a while longer. We questioned our parenting skills. We decided that we were either the most awesome parents in the world or the absolute worst. Rob looked at the weather forecast. 100% chance of precipitation beginning by 2:00 a.m. If it begins to rain, we reasoned, they’ll come inside.
We went to bed. But neither of us really slept. I read for a long time, and even when I dozed off, I awoke with a start and leaned up to look out the window. No signs of anyone abandoning ship. It was going to be a long night.
Finally, a little after midnight, Isaac had to pee. He woke Harper Lee, who dutifully brought him inside, and while they both fully intended to go back out, we used the opportunity to share the weather forecast with them and to encourage them to gather their things.
Back inside the warm house, the sleeping bags and pads were hung on dining room chairs, and both snuggled in and went straight to sleep.
This morning, we all slept in, and then Rob made his “famous” waffles for our adventure seekers. For now, we are awesome parents.
Meanwhile, amidst the adventure and intensive outdoor living, I finished what has become one of my very favorite books ever. (I know I say this a lot, but this time, I really mean it.) This is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. And it’s one of those books that every kid (and every adult) should read. I’m adding it to my recommended reading list for my students and have passed it on to Harper Lee.
It is Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and it is-- a wonder, I mean. A beautiful little story with endearing characters and a heartfelt message. I’m even thinking of adopting Mr. Browne’s precepts as part of my curriculum. *You’ll understand once you read the book.
And then let me know what you think.
I am in love with children’s novels. They are among some of my favorite of all literature. What are some of your favorites? Leave a message here or on our FB page at Running Monologue.
There’s nothing like a sub-zero bag, an igloo and a really good book for a relaxing, fun weekend!
As the Super Bowl began tonight, Rob was finishing his Tour of Sufferlandia, nine LONG days of intense workouts on the bike trainer. For those of you who contributed to the Davis Phinney Foundation and supported Rob’s efforts to raise money for Parkinson’s research, we thank you so much. With your help, he exceeded his donation goal. We appreciate your generosity and friendship.
As for Rob, he is more than a little happy to be done with the trainer for a while. “I just want to go outside,” he said. I don’t have the heart to tell him that rain is in the forecast for most of the week.
Maybe I can talk him into going for a run with me.
Yesterday, I headed over to Stokes County for a 10-mile trail race called Up the Creek, and it was. There were about eight creek crossings, most of which were covered in thick sheets of ice. Nothing like a gang of trail runners trying to cross thick ice without breaking through, sliding or generally injuring themselves or, worse, someone else.
The temps were actually pretty good yesterday. It was chilly when we pulled up to the parking area, but the sun was out, and by the 10:00 start, things were starting to thaw.
But even with warming temperatures, the trails along the creeks and in the shade, were still covered with snow and ice. The rock steps leading up to the waterfalls were particularly icy, and while my friend Jason probably leapt across them like the ninja trail monkey that he is, I was pretty pokey making my way up the mountain. I kept thinking, “Coming back down will be even worse,” and I was right.
By the time, I finally got to the top of Hanging Rock, the sun was bright and warm, but then we had to go back down, and in my "old" age, I must be getting both slower and more cautious because it took me 11 minutes longer to get back down than it did to get up. It will not go down as one of my best race performances, but man, it was beautiful, and I had a great time.
Here are some lessons I re-learned yesterday:
I also left feeling (besides embarrassed by my novice mistakes and lack of preparation) a little more excited about running again. I placed 8th in the women's race (I'm not telling how many women were actually running, but there were more than eight), so that was OK... considering. Running has been really hard for me lately. My hamstrings are tight, my schedule is full, and it’s winter—none of these things have helped kindle my fire.
I know better than to write grand plans here-- perhaps I should because then I'd feel obligated-- but truth told, I don't know what I want to do in terms of my training and racing. Some days, and weeks, are easier than others. All I know for sure, right now, is that I really like running in the woods-- hard when I feel like it and easy when I just need to get fresh air and move my legs. I'm also really enjoying my much more regular yoga practice. Right now, my goals don't stretch much beyond upping my mileage, gaining greater strength, flexibility and balance, and enjoying time on the trails. And finding my next trail race.
Oh, and buying a new pair of shoes.