So you want to start a journal

Journaling is not complex. It is not something that you need to plan out or something you decide that you’re going to start on Monday. Journaling is not fancy, not unattainable, and certainly not strict.

Journaling is simply pouring your heart onto paper. It is a record of your thoughts, and the happenings in your life. It is deciding that you need to let out all of the pent up thoughts in your mind. It is choosing to write when you feel like writing, not because you’ve told yourself you have to.

Journaling comes in phases, depending on where you’re at in life. At one time I wrote every single day, sometimes twice a day. Then there was times I wrote in my journal every other day, then once a week. Right now? I’m writing in my journal about every two weeks or so. Because that’s what I have time for at this season in my life. But that doesn’t mean I’ll choose to stop writing in it altogether, just because I’m not writing consistently everyday anymore.

When I look back in years to come, I’ll be happy I still wrote, and kept a record here and there. A few pages now and then is better than none at all.

Journal writing is not a chore. And if you make it seem that way for you, you will cease to enjoy the purpose of it: therapeutic peace.

And a record of your life to look back on.

So if you want to start keeping a journal, just do it. Write a page today. Heck, write just a sentence even. And then don’t write again until next month– or write tomorrow.

It’s your journal.

Don’t have a journal to write in? You don’t need to spend a large amount of money on one. You don’t need a fancy one. (Though I will say that if you find one that you think is beautiful and inspires you to write in it, by all means– grab it.)

You can find one at a dollar store, or for a couple bucks on amazon. And I’ve actually seen ones at some that are quite nice. It can be simple (like the little notebooks we used in school), or it can have a pretty design.

Just start.

How about you? Do you journal?

Do you want to start? Click here to see a previous post I wrote about getting into the habit of journaling.

Why I’m a Thrifter

For the year 2017, I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t buy any new clothes. Aside from maybe shoes, undergarments, and socks, I told myself that I would buy second-hand for all of the clothes that I needed. Here’s why.

I was inspired after having watched the documentary ‘The True Cost,’ by which I realized I didn’t like things that went into the “fast-fashion” industry.

I also didn’t like spending my money on new clothes. Call me cheap. This point wasn’t new– I’ve always been that way. I’ve always been drawn to the sale rack, and you’d almost never catch me buying the latest trend, like Hunter Boots…unless I found them used or for a really good sale price.But back to that documentary, there are a few points that stuck with me after having watched it:

  1. The world consumes eighty billion pieces of new clothing each year.
  2. Most clothing people donate to charity or thrift stores end up in landfills.
  3. The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter.
  4. Many of the workers in the industry earn less than $3/day, in unsafe working environments.

It actually often makes me feel guilty purchasing new clothing items, and bringing further waste and consumption into the world. Especially when there is already so many perfectly good used clothing items already out there.

I continued my year of banning new clothing purchases, and still adhere to it as much as possible to this day.

Most of the outfits I wear cost me around $10-$15 total- sometimes less.

Some of my favorite places to shop for treasures are:

  • Plato’s Closet
  • Unika (consignment items)
  • Value Village
  • Missions Thrift Store (Bibles for Missions)
  • Salvation Army
  • Facebook Marketplace- and sometimes the fb bidding groups, but I often don’t have the patience for the bidding aspect anymore.

Are you a thrifter? If so, what’s your favorite place to find second-hand treasures?

I’d love to hear all about it!

Thanks for reading guys,

-Jen

 

4 Ways to Keep the Habit of Journal Writing

If you’ve ever wanted to keep a journal, and wished that you were able to stick with it, this post is for you. #3 was a big one for me.

My diary. That’s what I called it when I was a little girl. It had tones of browns and cream colours that made up a darling photo of a cat and dog on the front. It was small and square, and it fit perfectly into the little hideaway place I discovered in a hole in the side of my mattress. It was delicately kept secret with the little padlock attached to its side. I honestly didn’t think anyone could open it; my secrets were safe.

I wrote in two pages of it. I stored all of my current secrets on those two pages, from the boy I thought was cute, to how I wanted to write my own newspaper. And then I forgot all about that little diary. It collected dust inside my mattress for a year or two, until I rediscovered it, ripped the embarrassing written pages out of it, and tried to start my daily entries again. This was a routine that I continued every few years throughout my childhood, teen years, and early adulthood. I could never seem to write something that I later wouldn’t be embarrassed by. I also could never seem to stick to the habit of writing in it everyday. You see, I’ve always had an ‘all or nothing’ personality, so when I noticed I wasn’t remembering to write everyday, that was my queue to quit. What’s the point, I would think to myself.

Fast forward to three years ago. I was working where I’m still presently working, at a Seniors Village. One day, much the same as any other regular day on shift, I was assisting one particular elderly gentlemen in his suite. To me, he looked as if he had walked off the set of Leave it to Beaver. He had the perfect little moustache, that sat below the perfect little spectacles on the bridge of his nose. His eyes were kind and sweet like honey, and the delicate wrinkles on his face each told their own emotional story. His perfectly placed suspenders held up his well ironed trousers, and his neatly placed bow tie sat just right, cozy under his chin. He was the classic gentleman. And he journaled. He showed me a small portion of his collection of memories in book form.

He had been journaling every day since he was a young man. My journal addiction is his fault. It was that day, when my eyes fell upon his journals, and my ears heard the music of how he wrote his soul and his day to day life and memories on those pages. It was in that moment that I realized how incredible it would be if I could do that, not just for myself, but for my daughter too, to read in the future.

This attempt at journaling was a success. I’ve stuck with it since then, and have filled eleven journals since that day three years ago. I began with a completely different perspective than I had during my previous attempts at keeping journals.

If I could sum it up, here are my top four ways that I kept the habit, and successfully kept journaling in my life:

  1. I always have a journal with me.

I try to bring my journal wherever I go. I like to make sure that it’s a good size that’s easy for transporting in my purse or bag, that way it’s always on hand when I have a window of time to write.

2. Inconsistency is okay.

Don’t ever make journaling feel like a chore or obligation to you. You can write an entry everyday, once a week, once a month, or even just once a season or year. Just write when you feel like it, and don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t written in a long time. Just pickup where you left off, don’t ever quit because you haven’t written in a long time! I have times when I don’t write for a couple weeks, and I have times when I’m writing entries everyday or even twice a day. You make the rules. Actually, there are no rules.

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3. Write as if anyone will be reading it.

This was a big one for me, because I so often in the past have ripped up journals to shreds or even burned them out of potential embarrassment. I avoid ugly negativity, while still speaking truth. While ideally, I don’t always want all of my entries wide open for everyone to read, it’s not the end of world if someone does. And one of the main reasons that I keep journals is for my children in the future, and for other future family, so I keep that in mind as I write.

4. Choose pretty journals.

Make sure that you purchase a journal that you absolutely adore, and that you can’t wait to write in. For you, that might be black and classic, leather, colourful, or covered in flowers. There are so many out there. Choose one that inspires you to write in it.

You won’t regret starting and keeping a journal. It is so good for the soul, and so valuable for your future self. What are you waiting for?

Sincerely + gratefully,

J

Wildflowers: Knowing vs. Believing

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[this is the post I refer to]

I’ve written about the little girl who still resides within my heart. I’ve written what it felt like to open the door and release her from the prison that I contained her in. I’ve shared what it felt like to have that rusty, heavy cell door scrape along the floor of my heart.

But where did she go after I freed her? Where did she find herself after I told her how worthy she is? How loved she is? How much she is loved by God?

She has had the freedom to walk out of that cell; that prison I built within my heart. She’s had the ability to walk among the wildflowers that grow in the garden of my heart. But why has she still sat there, cowering in the corner of that cold, dingy prison cell?

She hasn’t believed it. She’s known the truth, but she hasn’t believed it. She’s been so conditioned to my hurtful words, that she doesn’t know any different. She’s grown comfortable with the familiarity of that cell. Even though the scent of fresh blooms ride the breeze that flows through from the garden outside the cell, she’s been too fearful to step out into the unknown.

That damp, dark floor of aches seems to have brought her comfort. The chill in the air seems to have become her friend.

So, while the freedom lingers in her view, as the door swings in the breeze— she knows joy. She knows what awaits her, when she finally decides to take that leap of faith— and walk among the wildflowers with Him. O the joys that await her when she finally, completely lets go. And lets God.

Lessons on Being Lost

One of the worst fears of a child is getting lost.

I was eight years old when I found myself standing alone in the middle of a campground in Jasper, BC. The trees towered around me, encouraging my nerves to crawl faster up my lungs as my galloping heart was beginning to sink into my stomach.

Grandpa had told me not to leave the playground on my own. Wait for the others if you want to head back, he’d instructed. But my cousins didn’t want to head back when I found myself bored, and I had decided (rather daringly) that I could find my way, no problem. I didn’t need my cousins anyway. Why did I always have to depend on them, I often begrudged. I was younger. But did that always have to mean I didn’t know what I was doing? In fairness, no one ever insisted that I didn’t know what I was doing. But I was younger. Still, I could find my way, no problem.

Big problem.

I was certain I took the same way we had taken to get to the playground. I was certain I had retraced our path correctly. But everything was starting to look different. That yellow camper I had seen on the way to the playground is no longer where I’d last seen it. They must’ve left, I thought to myself. But when I realized that absolutely nothing was looking familiar, my eyes began to well up, as I felt the blood rushing through my face.

The whistle around my neck that I thought I’d never have to use, suddenly became my most treasured possession. I grasped it tightly, holding it close to my chest, before bringing it up to my lips. My hands shaking. I exhaled every bit of breath I had left within my lungs. And the whistle pierced my ears.

Please work. Please hear my call.

Nothing.

When a stranger would walk by, I’d try my hardest to look “normal.” Be nonchalant, I’d tell myself.

Regret set in.

Then shame followed.

I should have listened to grandpa.

At that point I was in a frantic state, beneath my seemingly calm appearance, I was beginning to lose hope. I had passed that same tree stump four times now.

I blew into the whistle again, for the tenth time, and decided to sit right there, on the side of the loose dirt road, and wait.

Anxious thoughts danced within my mind as I placed my face into my dusty hands.

They’re never going to find me. No….they will find me, stop worrying. They’ll find me, but I’ll be in so much trouble.

My tears streamed mud down my cheeks.

They’re never gonna find me, I thought again. I’ll be lost in this gigantic park, in this giant, unfamiliar province far away from home… forever.

To this day, I still have no idea why I thought it was such a wise idea to not listen to my grandpa and head off on my own. To this day, I still remember the feeling of my heart dropping to my kidneys, and the flush of heat rushing up my cheeks.

This wasn’t the first time I had done something I knew I shouldn’t have. Like that time I decided that it was a brilliant idea to fix up everyone else’s thank you cards in my grade three class. I convinced myself I was just trying to help, while in the back of my mind I knew there was something not right about me essentially wrecking my classmates’ artwork. But still, I carried on, adding colourful borders and extra colour to each one.

That lesson was learned quickly when I had the entire class upset with me. Each pointing finger and burning glare taught me to respect the art of others.

I never touched another piece of art that wasn’t mine again.

Just like I never found myself lost (at least, physically) again, on my own, as a child.

Hearing familiar voices, I raised my head, wiped my nose with my sleeve, and tucked my hair behind my ears as the blurry figures in the distance began coming into focus.

A wave of relief crashed over me as I realized who it was. Relief then morphed into angst again, realizing that I was probably going to be in trouble for going off on my own.

Grandma and my cousins were making their way toward me.

I heard them one after the other, Jenny! Jennnyyyy! Jenny!…

Greeted with arms wide, and smothered in love, I smiled warmly, feeling at home.

Grandpa was disappointed in me, but relieved to have me found. I hated disappointing him.

Just as God guides us through life, sometimes we get lost when we don’t listen to His directions. We can disappoint Him too. But His love is always there. I hate disappointing Him too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Sincerely + gratefully,

Jen

A letter to 12 year old me.

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Dear Twelve,

I’ve not forgotten you, do not worry.

I remember that day you chose to wear that t-shirt. You know— the one with the giant head of a pig on the front, wearing a straw hat and chewing on a strand of hay.

You wore it without thinking anything of it. You liked it. You liked the way it fell just past your bottom. It was comfortable. And it fit just right.

But you didn’t like that comment. This age can be so tough, dear Twelve. I know you know that. And I know you remember those words, because they’re burned into your memory— the memory that we share.

Thirteen didn’t forget it either, nor Fourteen, Fifteen, and Sixteen definitely didn’t. Sixteen couldn’t handle it. She let it break her.

Can you blame it all on that one comment? Of course not. I know it was a combination of things. A mix of words, actions, looks, and events. But this one comment is an example that certain memories can stick with you, and can have a huge effect on your life…if you let them.

Those words were something like, hey Jennifer, you wore yourself on your shirt today. Followed by a chuckle.

Lovely.

Now, Twelve, I know I didn’t have to remind you of those seemingly simple words. You remember them well. In fact you laughed along with them. You kept yourself safe with the shield of your laughter. But behind the shield, another little piece of your self esteem crumbled.

I need to remind you that they are only words. And the person who said them had no intention for you to hold them close for years.

You are more than the negative thoughts and words of others. Let yourself shine. Let yourself be you. You are beautiful, not based on others. You are beautiful because of your heart, and the beauty you see in everything. Take care of you, Twelve, and everything else will fall into place.

Frozen at a red light: How I Lost and Found Myself

How I lost and found myselfWhen I was sixteen, my grandpa died. It was one of those heart-crushing, soul-devouring moments that brought my entire life to a stop; a red light. And I sat at that red light for as long as I could. I watched cars crossing my path, feeling the freedom of the green light before them. I watched their seemingly easy, smooth drive lead them to their goal destinations. I sat there, at that spot, with my hands at ten and two, my body frozen with grief, and watched the red light above me gently swing in the breeze.

Grandpa was once beside me. He was once in the driver’s seat, leading me through life’s struggles, and pointing out at the road signs of wisdom that would pass us by.

He told me to always stay focused on what’s in front of me; that if I looked too long to the left or the right, I would naturally start steering the car slightly in that direction. I think about that often, even now. I think about how it applies to life too. My goals are in front of me. I am driving toward them, but if I get distracted, and start focusing too long on other things, I’ll end up steering toward them instead. What you focus on leads you in that direction. So if you focus on your goal, you are more likely to get there, and not steer off in another direction.

What you focus on leads you in that direction

For years after he passed away, I sat frozen at that red light. I felt lost without his direction, or the stability of his presence. I had abandoned my broken heart. I left it bleeding, laying on the cold hospital room floor, where he took his last breath. I left it there for far longer than I should have. And I made choices that led me far away from where I ultimately wanted to be in life. Uncertainty had become my best friend. And I basked in it, in a self-loathing kind of way.

After some time, people began getting impatient and annoyed with me. I was still not moving after the red light changed to green. The honking and the yelling became overwhelming. And when I was finally ready to drive ahead, my car stalled.

I left the comfort of my own car of life, and began walking through an unknown territory of darkness. I got into the cars of others who led me down roads that weren’t meant for me. I looked to the wrong people, trying to fill the void left within my rib-cage after my grandpa went away. I was losing myself in the process. I was stuffing who I was, deeper and deeper inside me. And on the day that I realized that I was so far from my own car and from the light of day, I didn’t know how to find my way back.

I met God when I was seven. I asked him into my heart in the way that I was taught, and was told that I was born again. I had no idea what that truly meant. But I do know that I genuinely believed—and then as the years passed by– I genuinely drifted away from Him. I tucked God away in the back of my mind, until I felt broken beyond repair.

In the midst of my rock bottom pain, I was drawn back to Him.

To be continued…

Part II coming soon.