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.

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.

rescue

My head, in a painful fog.

My heart, in an aching war.

Alone, out in the darkness.

This blade within my core

is severing all my joy.

It’s strange to know that I

am my own assailant.

Every twist of this blade

that made me feel vacant,

was initiated by me.

I’m unable to console

the emptiness within,

when I’ve lost all the control

and the will to start again.

If I am my own assailant,

can I be my own amazement?

My own rescue in disguise,

telling me to rise,

and combat all the lies

that I weave within my mind?

If we have the strength to be

our own cruel enemy,

then surely we are strong enough

to rescue and to rise above

the pain we put upon ourself,

replacing it with love.

-Jen Kessler

The flame

I had the first few lines of this poem written and tucked away for quite a while now. I picked up on it again this morning and finished it in about fifteen minutes. It’s interesting how quickly certain words come to me when I least expect it, and how those ones turn out to be my favourites.

The Storm

This has, and I believe always will be, one of my favourite poems that I have written. I wrote it in about ten minutes, after feeling a complete writer’s block for quite awhile before. And I’ve learned that the best ones always happen when least expected, and that they just fall out of me, so delicately, yet freely.

I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend with your loved ones.

Here is a little bit of my heart, wide open:

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.

Going Solo: Why You Should Go to a Movie Alone

I pulled my debit card out of the ticket machine, and retrieved my ticket as it spit out. I slid it in my jacket pocket, adjusted my purse strap on my right shoulder, and made my way to the concession.

As I stood in line, my first thought was everyone is staring at me; they all know I’m here alone.

I was sandwiched between a cuddly couple waiting in line in front of me, and a father with his two kids behind me.

Giggles filled the atmosphere.

“Can I help who’s next please?” I didn’t hear this.

“Can I help you?” The girl behind the counter called out to me. Her disapproving look on her face told me that she’d been calling to me a few times more than I realized.

Oops, I thought to myself.

I continued looking up at the menu board, and felt such a sense of freedom standing there. I could order anything I wanted. No one was waiting for me, except for the impatient girl taking my order.

I took a deep breath, inhaling a sense of peace. I tucked my hair behind my ear, and gave her my order of popcorn and drink.

When I arrived in the theatre room, I scanned the rows of seats. There were many available, with only about twenty people waiting for the movie to start.

I can sit wherever I want. I exhaled any embarrassment that I mistakenly felt.

Juggling my fountain drink in my right hand and my overflowing popcorn bag in my left, I made my way up the stairs to the middle row, and walked across to the centre.

Though it was in a public theatre, I found it peaceful seated there alone. It was like it would be at home, on the couch, except with a huge screen.

I walked out of that theatre feeling renewed. Though, the movie didn’t turn out to be a favourite of mine, the experience was.

This was about four years ago now. I think I’m due for another, as I miss it…

Going to see a movie alone is so freeing.

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I’ve met countless people who claim that they could never see a movie alone. And even I was one of them. But I am telling you, it is so good for the soul. It is so freeing for the soul. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, give it a try sometime. You just might like it!

Benefits of Going to a Movie Alone:

  • You can pick whichever movie you want, with ease.
  • It’s liberating
  • Sit wherever you like
  • Enjoy some “me time”
  • It’s empowering
  • Learn to be alone (if you’re not used to it)

Sincerely + gratefully,

Jen