just journal, even if it’s just one sentence.

Life goes by FAST. I’m so busy living it, I forget how fast. If I’m not careful, I can spend so much time trying to check things off my computerized (and nagging internal) to do list that I can arrive at the end of the day without having even one non-task related thought. For me,

Journaling slows things down. When I write, I think. I need to think. About things other than deadlines, carpool, permission slips, doctor appointments, haircuts, cats with diarrhea, groceries, vacuuming . . . there goes that internal to do list again. I need to reflect and I can’t see my reflection in the swimming pool if I’m always scooping leaves off the surface. Journaling is a float and a cool drink. The leaves can wait for ten freaking minutes.

Journaling reminds me of the past. Recorded data points help me make conscious, intentional (and, hopefully, better) choices today. I can avoid repeats of negative situations if I can remember what got me into a mess in the first place. When I write about a successful outcome, sometimes I can identify what I did and do it again. I can learn from both my losses and my wins. But only if I remember them.

Journaling captures memories. When my son or daughter (or husband, or friend, or parent or sibling) says something funny or profound, I think I’ll always remember it. Yeahhhh. No. When I jot it down, not only do I always remember it, but my children can as well. Some of my journal entries are a simple quote, with a date. Reading that one little sentence, the memory floods back. And when I read it, I’m so thankful I took the time. Such a simple thing, such a priceless reward.

Journaling helps me figure out my goals. When I journal, I can’t help but think about what is important to me. I can start an entry blabbering about all the stuff I have to do and how stressed I am and by the time I’m finished I realize which of those things are counter-productive to the life I really want to live. It becomes glaringly obvious which items on my plate I should never have cooked up in the first place. It’s also a reminder to to hold my hand over the plate and say “No, thank you.” the next time someone else wants to dish out some more. It reminds me to yank the plate away and say, “I said, no.” when someone tries to put stuff on my plate anyway.

Journaling is more convenient and much less expensive than therapy. I can journal anytime I want, not just on a Tuesday morning at 10:00 (or whatever time my weekly appointment would be.) If something (or someone) triggers anger or melancholy or any other reaction commonly addressed during therapy, I can write about it, and discover as the words land on paper, something I hadn’t considered before – either about me or another person or a situation. Journaling leads me to understanding, calmness, tolerance, choices. So much more.

I’m sure journaling has countless benefits in addition to the ones I’ve mentioned here, probably many I’ve never even considered. But these few are enough motivation for me to stop.

In the middle of the rushing forward, I have the power to stop time. So do you.

Wield it.