JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What has prevented you from reaching your goals? Is part of it fear? Fear of what? Writing it all down in private, in a journal  (paper or digital) helps to process what’s going on internally. From there, you have a better stance from which to address the issue.

A journal can also help you to understand your patterns of fear as well as the things you continue to say that you want, the goals you continue to claim will be completed. Following the patterns of behavior recorded in your journal can help you  understand what you fear, at what points you tend to fail and why.

Reading my old journals where I would write that I plan to do X, Y or Z, and then seeing how little of that I had accomplished was devastating. I determined to discover where I continue to fail. A lot of it was allowing fear to make my decisions, or just not making a decision at all (which is a decision by omission).

Use your journal to help you understand what you would do if you were not afraid.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Do You Use a Table of Contents in Your Journal?

How many of you use a table of contents in your paper journal?

While it is perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of journal writing without labeling each entry, a table of contents or an index will help to skim the journal for an entry that you will want to re-read later.

Plus, a table of contents gives you a summary of your year (or whatever time frame in which you used the journal). Sometimes you look back in wonder at all the thing you have done (or didn’t do) in a year, just by looking at the table of contents.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

Journey Digital Journal [A Review]

Inspired by the founder of National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, who talks about his enjoyment of digital journal writing, this month I journaled using an app on my phone.

I used the Journey brand of digital journal, which is for Android.

You type as you would a memo. (In fact, Journey  resembles the Memo Pad which comes automatically with your Samsung, but with a more aesthetically-pleasing interface.)

You insert video, photos,  stickers, etc., should you prefer to do so. I did not find an audio feature (other than whatever audio is on your video); I’m surprised since even Memo Pad allows for voice-only attachments to your entry.

There are other features which you access with an upgrade, however, there are plenty features in the free version to keep a simple digital journal.

Journey automatically dates the entry; the date and time remain even if you update. There is an option to change the date and time manually. (So that’s one up on the Memo Pad, which automatically updates your date and time when you change an entry and you cannot alter it.) When you start a fresh entry but use an old image, Journey asks whether you want to change the date from the current date to the date on the image.

journey digital journal - screenshot - Deborah Observes

To read the next journal entry on Journey, you can easily click the arrow at the bottom of your journal post (or use the timeline feature to have a big picture glimpse of your little essays). Journey, of course, comes with standard tag features and the ability to search. These features spark the feeling of creating a personal mini blog.

Journey is great for those moments when you do not have your paper journal with you, or when you need to add text to that image you have just taken so that you do not forget details of an event.

It’s a serviceable journal app to capture moments, but not so great for lengthy, soul-searching, life-altering journaling. For me, Journey would supplement my main journal writing, but not replace it.

I prefer the intimacy of a hand-written, paper journal; I’m accustomed to it. However, Journey’s ability to allow you to search for specific entries and categorize by tags is selling me on digital journal writing in general.

Ultimately, Journey is a less-clunky, journal-dedicated version of Memo Pad.

Journey digital journal might be for you if…

…you like an intuitive, streamlined, user-friendly app for journal writing.

…you need a journal app that can be used with a desktop or laptop keyboard.

…you need an Android app to capture moments while you are out and about.

…you would like to store journal entries on Google Drive.

Journey digital journal might NOT be for you if…

… you prefer to use your iPhone for journal writing. Journey is currently only for Android users.

…you prefer to journal exclusively on paper. (However, there is an option to export as a WORD document or a PDF, among other formats, should you prefer to print it off  into paper form.)

… you already use Memo Pad for digital journaling and are ok with not be able to sync the text to other devices.

Click here to view the specifics of Journey brand digital journal on Google Play.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Stop Imitating Your Heroes and Just Get Started Already

In a Facebook group, a business owner asked how to become “unstuck” in the planning stage. There are projects waiting to be finished, but she’s busy reading more content from other business owners who inspire her. How can she become “unstuck” and not just copy someone else?

I struggle through the same issues. However, I have found ways to think about them which have helped me to “unstick” myself and get something done.

REMEMBER THAT IMITATION IS A COMMON STARTING LINE

It is common to EMULATE YOUR HEROES when you start out. Children play dress up in their mother’s shoes, for instance.

Eventually, if you are self-aware, you develop what fits you, you create a custom-tailored business or life. I find that you start creating content that is unique to you when you distance yourself a bit from someone else’s content.

Whatever you ruminate on the most tends to be the most easily-accessible content that your mind can produce. Thus, to create content that is unique to your perspective, it is crucial to stop and consider what YOU think about a subject, what experiences YOU have had. Then, if you wish, go check out what someone else has to say on the subject.

Your heroes are a good jumping off point, but be sure to jump off, otherwise you become a copy.

To answer this question on Facebook, for instance, and to make sure I wasn’t copying what I had read in the comment section, I just dived in, writing from the perspective of  my own experience with the topic; I did not read the preceding replies first. After posting my comment, I then proceeded to read a few others. I’m glad that I did it that way; some of the other answers were so brilliant, I would have been intimidated had I read theirs first. When intimidated, I hesitate sharing my thoughts, thinking that I cannot help anyone. Many people tend to have this issue.

TO REDUCE PROCRASTINATION, CREATE A 1:1 RATIO OF PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION

To get started on a few projects, the following is something that I’ve done recently. For every hour that I consume business content, I must use an hour to produce something for my own business. For every hour I spend consuming Youtube videos or reading a book, I must spend an hour writing in my journal or typing an article. When I follow this rule, I usually end up creating more than that minimum 1:1 ratio.

In this way, I’m tipping the scales in favor of being a PRODUCER more than being a CONSUMER. You might choose to do it in a different way, but developing the habit of becoming a producer is what you’re after to become “unstuck.”

I fail at this all the time, mostly due to a lack of confidence in my own production. But the best way to barrel through the lack of confidence is to revisit your WHY -your reason for starting the project in the first place- then continue to produce. Wade through what you consider dreck until it’s not dreck any more.

[If you’re worried about what other people think about you or your content, read this article, based on a Cornell study, about how to handle social disapproval. I needed to be reminded of this information just yesterday.]

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

How to Use a Journal to Remember a Recently-Deceased Relative

When a loved one dies, you might wish to remember the person by writing about your experience in your journal, writing about the deceased and keeping mementos.

Here are a few things that I have done with a journal during Aunt C’s recent illness and  death:

1. Print Text Messages

These days, some are irritated if you call them on the phone without advance notice. Instead, we send short text messages on our cell phones or other mobile devices when it is more convenient than voice-to-voice or face-to-face communication.

I’m so glad that this is the case, because text messages from loved ones who are now deceased become written (or, rather, typed) keepsakes.

I have texts from Aunt C that I will print out and place in my journal, including her last one in which she thanked me for sending a book about cancer and hope – There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites.

2. Record Their Words and Habits

One of the issues that mourners sometimes have is this: as time wears on and the person you love has been dead for a while, you fear forgetting the little things. You want to remember how they laughed, for instance, but can’t quite recall it.

Long before anyone dies, make a habit of recording interesting conversations from the people in your family, or sayings, or even what seems mundane. I would encourage recording people in your video diaries so that you have a visual and oral representation of them.

Barring that – let’s say that they are camera shy- then using your paper journal will  suffice. Be detailed in your description of the person; use similes, if needed. e.g. Her laugh is like the tinkling of a wind chime in the summer breeze – tinny, and insistent.

Let’s say that you did not record much about that person while they were alive. Then, just after the death, when you feel you are ready, record as much detail as you can.  Don’t scold yourself for not having done this sooner. Be kind to yourself.

(One of the great things about social media is that many people have shared their voice and face on the internet; they have already recorded themselves. Try to acquire copies of those videos, if you can.)

3. Attach The Funeral Program to the Journal

These days, it is easy for a family or a funeral home to create printed programs for the event.  The program is usually both an order of service (e.g. song, prayer, song, eulogy) as well as an obituary.

The printed funeral program is another keepsake that you can attach or adhere to your journal.

I acquired two programs from Aunt C’s funeral, cut them at the fold, and glued them to pages in my journal. I used two in order to display the content on the back and the front of the program; you may use just one program, if you wish, and copy the back.

4. Journal At the Funeral

Take a journal to the funeral; write what you would like to capture about the event, or about yourself, or about the deceased, or about the people that you have met.

One way to help yourself remember the details of the event (or just to calm down if you are overstimulated) is to pay attention to your 5 senses and write about them. (e.g. Who do I see? What one thing do I hear? What one scent do I smell? What do I taste? What textures do I feel on my skin right now?) Write down those observations. Whether at a funeral or not, some of my most vivid memories have come from moments when I just drink in basic things in my immediate surroundings.

If you journal at the funeral, be aware that others might look over your shoulder and see what you write. I tend to journal only about the funeral when I’m at the funeral, i.e. I take notes. When at the funeral, I do not write anything revealing, or too personal, or anything that I wouldn’t mind someone else reading while I’m there.

If the person eulogizing the deceased knows her well, the speech is usually informative and chock full of stories that you can record in your journal.

If the person giving the eulogy does not know the deceased very well, the speech tends to be an impersonal lecture. However, he or she might still have a few words worth worth your time; take notes. I do not put too much pressure on myself to summarize the eulogy if the person did not know the deceased; I just grab one concept from the whole speech, then write about something else.

At some funerals, there is a point in the service when audience members may go to a microphone for a couple of minutes and reflect on the life of the person who has died. Usually, the audience member tells a story about one moment in time when the deceased was kind, or entertaining, or a welcome presence, etc. These are often stories that I’ve never heard before, so I take notes. I summarized these 2-minute reflections about Aunt C in my journal during her funeral.

You may decide to do all of this in your journal later at home. However, I have found that I tend to forget some of the things I want to record unless I’m taking notes in the moment, as if it is an important class.

(Actually, a funeral can be an important class in life. Everyone is thinking about death and what is important to them. It’s a time of reflection.)

5. Consider an heirloom journal

Let’s say that the deceased did not leave much of a personal record of themselves – their opinions, their thoughts on life, their thoughts on the family, etc. There’s little you can do about that.

However, you can consider leaving YOUR journals behind so that your relatives have a keepsake from you.  The heirlooms might be your daily journals or a separate journal specifically dedicated to what you want your relatives to know about you, about life, about concepts that you find important.

Aunt C did not keep a journal (at least, not that we know of); she was a private individual. However, after her death, a few relatives perused her papers to get a better sense of who she was, that which she never really told us about herself. It was a bit impersonal since the papers were diplomas, certificates, office papers, bills, etc., but they still told a story. It would have been nice to have something a little more personal from her.

Give the gift of your personal story to your loved ones by leaving your journals in your will.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you are worried about what can happen to your journal after you die, read this article to consider your options: Journaling Q and A, Part 1.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Thoughts on Influence

As we looked through Aunt C’s personal property the other day, preparing to give away most of it, I noticed items here and there that I had given to her through the years.

  • Aunt C displayed prominently a personalized birthday card that I sent her 6 years ago. I had never noticed that on her shelf before.
  • A handful of DVDs, which I loaned to her long before her hospitalization, were next to the television. I had forgotten about them.
  • Sari fabric that I brought home from Brixton 15 years ago was right there as well.

Whether I had a positive influence on my aunt’s life, I never thought to ask. It must have been pleasant enough for Aunt C to hold on to a few items from me. However, you never know.

One thing I do know: I have sent notes to people describing what a wonderful influence they have had on me. They have those words in black and white, so there will be no mistake about how dear they are to me or how they have helped me.

From personal notes given to janitors and supervisors during summer internships in my student days, to personalized birthday cards, to random letters to a relative sent because it’s Tuesday, letter writing has been my way of expressing gratitude for the positive encounter provided by another person.

I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy new stationary and a fountain pen or sky write “I love you.” However, I would encourage you to find your way of expressing to someone else how they have helped you in life and make a habit of it.

You may never know your full effect on another person, but help other people to understand their influence on you.

Peace,

Deborah

Introverts

How to Handle a Funeral as an Introvert

My family recently held a funeral. It is the kind of funeral where dozens of cousins and others from all over the planet join together in one spot to remember our deceased relative.

From the carpooling, to the hosting duties, to having to meet and greet people you haven’t seen in a while, to viewing images and hearing stories of the deceased,  it’s an intense hour or two for so many reasons.

When you are introverted and would rather be alone with your thoughts, you might feel the overwhelming, almost claustrophobic, social atmosphere in ways that others do not.

Here are a few tips for introverts that I have used recently and in the past at funerals:

  • You might decide that the funeral is not for you, that it doesn’t help you grieve. You might decide not to go at all. Respect your own way of healing; do not be pressured into attending if you would rather not.
  • Ahead of time, spend as much time to yourself as you require, or around the individuals that you enjoy most. Once you arrive at the funeral, you will be surrounded by two kinds of people: those you like and those who are helping you to practice patience. Fully charge yourself (like a battery) beforehand.
  • Even with the best of intentions, you still might feel the need to step out of the room for a minute or step out of the room until it is time to leave the property. That is perfectly fine. Each person, introverted or not, has her or his own way to grieve and process a death. At a certain interval, I walked away from the crowd in the building to be alone at the cemetery for awhile; it was the only peaceful place.
  • Journal during the funeral. Journal writing can be a solitary endeavor where you slow down, calm down, and organize your jumbled thoughts. I like to take notes on the different stories that people are telling about the deceased. Be aware, however, that other people might look over your shoulder to see what you are writing.
  • If the funeral is a two-part event, wherein there is a memorial and then food is served, skip the meal, if you wish. It’s just more crowding and how-do-you-dos.
  • If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, if you are having sensory overload, concentrate on something. Ask yourself, what one thing do I see? What one thing do I smell? What one thing do I taste? What one sound do I hear? What one texture do I feel right now? These are also good journal prompts.
  • If  it is not too much for you, be a listening ear to someone else who wishes to get something off her chest. I find that commiserating with someone that I like, helping her with her problems, takes my mind off of my own tendency to bolt out of the crowd.
  • After the funeral, do something enjoyable or relaxing. The weekend after the funeral, when I would usually concentrate on business or work,  I did absolutely nothing that wasn’t enjoyable to me. I thought about my deceased relative, read a book that I like, wrote in my journal and just relaxed.

What are your tips for introverts at funerals?

Peace,

Deborah