Journal Writing to Seek Honest Words

Journal Writing to Seek Honest Words

I’m on day 42 of a 100-Day Journal Writing experiment with the hope that it would instill in me a consistent daily writing habit. I have been writing in a journal since I was a young girl. I remember my first journal; it was red with a gold lock and key. It was so precious to me and the act of taking the little key to unlock it was significant in helping me to feel that what I wrote was secret and important to me.

Over the years, writing would become sporadic, though I often found it cathartic and powerful. However, more often than I care to admit, it was just a place to vent my frustrations and became routine and pointless.

As I near the half-way mark I’ve become intimately aware that I have been writing of things of the soul, about the soul, seeking the nature of the soul, and in relationship to God. I began to think of my soul as my deepest friend, as my deepest soul friend that encompasses all of me; my body, mind, and will. My soul, created by God, as yours is.

Irish poet, priest, author, and philosopher John O’Donohue said, “It is in the depths of your life that you will discover the invisible necessity that has brought you here. When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness, you come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity. If you awaken this sense of destiny, you come into rhythm with your life.”

At day 27 I began to address my journal writing to “My Dear Soul” or “Dearest Soul” – perhaps to enliven the writing, or to go deeper, or to write more honest words. Honest words… my reflections these past two days are inspired by another poem by Antonio Machado… where my eyes, my heart, my attention has landed on “honest words.”

  It’s possible that while sleeping the hand
that sows the seeds of stars
started the ancient music going again
   like a note from a great harp
and the frail wave came to our lips
as one or two honest words.
~ Antonio Machado, Times Alone

For the past two days I’ve been writing to drill down into what the phrase “honest words” means to me. Yesterday I wrote, “It has taken loss, and loss again, and loss again, to strip away the layers of denial, protection, and wounds to see that I am no longer who I was, yet I am ALL of who I was —now seeing and feeling and loving in who I was borne to become.”

I wrote this in response to my eyes landing on a photo of Paul and I taken in 2016, all gussied up for a formal occasion. What I began to see was loveliness, a vastly different version of myself than I would have seen “before”, which would have seen only faults. Loveliness of soul —as seen through the eyes of my Soul.

Loveliness in the face of my affliction, my pain, my disability that makes walking hard and exhausting work. I think of Jacob who wrestled with an angel of the LORD and would not let go until the LORD blessed him, which he did, but Jacob was left with a limp.

I write all this to say; daily journal writing can be healing, especially when we get beyond the mundane and into something deeper, and even more especially when we can begin to free ourselves from our wounds, our stuckness, and the box we’ve put ourselves in, and to see through a new (soul) lense, and to see ourselves as God sees us as: Loveliness.

Once Upon a Time…

Once Upon a Time…

What is the word upon my soul,

the pen

the colour

the brushstroke

that begs everything to come alive

with the beating of my heart,

the blood coursing through my veins,

the in and out of breath,

that was shallow… lifeless

before You called me,

before You spoke my name.


I turn the pages of my past

and I see brokenness,

in the midst of hellfire

tender hearts cry out,

the eyes say it all.


What is the story that wants

to be written.

With arms stretched out,

my head slumps down…

What voice beckons

to be heard.


Can I take what’s hard to examine

and make beauty of it.

Will I see You

there beside me

through it all.


Through Your eyes

will I see.

Through Your ears

will I hear.

Through Your heart

will I feel.


Promise me You’ll not let me


Promise me You’ll not let me

waste, while and whither

life away,

always learning and never knowing



What needs to be asked.

What needs to be seen.

What needs to be heard

in the word upon my soul.

There are several ways to write a memoir. Perhaps the easiest is to just sit down and write about whatever memories come up, then sift through and see what theme or patterns would become apparent.

I’ve been sifting and sorting through the recesses of my mind, and I became determined (maybe obsessed is a better description) with having just one word that would claim me. In a Life Worthy of One Simple Word I explore this notion.

My one word did indeed demand my attention… the theme that will inform and guide me in my memoir writing process… I’m not ready to divulge it just yet, but it stands as the working title of my book.

Now, as I’ve sat down to begin the actual writing… yes, I could simply begin, but before I do… before I get in too deep… new questions arise. Questions that will impact everything.

In what voice shall I write? From which perspective?

I don’t just want to blather on about things that happened. That’s for journaling. I want it to be exploratory, informative and interesting to write and to read.

Maybe I’m procrastinating. Maybe I’m making it harder than it needs to be. But, then again maybe the story has a mind of its own and its working to get my attention, so that I don’t get in the way and muddle it up.

I think sometimes we forget to soften into quiet moments, or even to create space for our minds and our hearts to listen to the gentle whispers of our soul.

We’re so anxious to move forward, to take steps, to be actively doing something. Our worlds so noisy, so busy, so demanding with doingness. What happened to being and feeling the presence of the moment?

My day had been planned. The photos would come out and it would all be revealed. Then I would be able to dive in and write.

The photos did come out. Memories and feelings swamped me. My head did indeed slump down in empathy. My cheek resting on an old beat up album, and I asked the questions.

I waited. I listened. I waited some more. I reflected on my artworks… on the photos… on a notebook I purchased specifically for times I would need to write, pen to paper, ideas or thoughts for the book.

Some things need to percolate.

I have a fascination with notebooks. Maybe all writers do. I love mine to find me and not let me walk away.

Sorry honey, the dollar store kind, they’re the ones thrown in the compartment in the car, when I need something I can scribble on and tear out. But, to write with, really write with… we need to have a relationship.

I love to love how they feel in my hands. How does the cover feel and what does it say, if anything? What about the design? The line spacing… it needs to be just right. Not too squished together and not too far apart… just right that I don’t feel restrictive, but not wasteful either.

My most recent purchase, the one specifically for my memoir is a simple black leather notebook. It has a strap to wrap around it. It makes me feel like a writer with a purpose. And, embossed in silver on the cover is the phrase,

‘Once upon a time…’

Hmmm… Once upon a time… long long ago…

I don’t know why, but it invites me to open my mind… to possibilities.

Writing is a way for me to lean in close… to listen and explore the world God created inside me.

I’m well into reading the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt and there is one line (just one line in the whole book) that I have highlighted on page 202.

“It’s lovely to know the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.”

I stopped. I smiled. I nodded… yes, indeed.

Going From Here to There

Going From Here to There

“No man is an island, and our creative unfolding occurs within a distinct cultural landscape. Cultural mythology permeates our thinking about art and artists. Art is tonic and medicinal for us all. As an artist you are a cultural healer.” ~ Julia Cameron

My mind has been going in so many directions at once, from here to there, circling and spiraling. I have a vision, but selecting the pieces and putting them together is fleeting at times.

So many distractions of late… forcing down time for contemplation. Trips, renovations, caring for aging parents are all on the landscape at the moment.

Within it all I feel… clarity on the edge coming closer… taking risks.

What I know is that in creative expression… in painting… in writing (a love that is begging for more attention) I am healthy, happy and whole, in a way that nothing else can compare.

From there…                                                                                  to here…

Creativity is a Spiritual Practice