Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Journal on the First Day of the New Year

I read this yesterday:

"'Unless a person has a lot of psychological tools at her disposal, the mind is not a pleasant place to inhabit,' says Germer.  'We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus we have a natural tendency to focus on the negative.'  When the brain is at rest, he adds, it tends to get busy revealing problems from the past and anticipating problems to come.  Once we scanned for predators and poisons, now we fret over the unemployment stats and what our mother-in-law had the nerve to say at dinner."  (quoted from Real Simple, January 2013, page 92; Christopher Germer is a clinical psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School and the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion)

To counteract our negative fretting, the article goes on to recommend paying attention to what's around us with our senses.  Touch the flower.  Sniff the baby's hair.  Taste the bread.  Look at the sky.  Listen to the violin.  It's also called mindfulness, or living in the moment. 

For the first time in my life, I get it. 

And for the first time in my life, I am starting a new journal on the first day of the new year.  My old journal is actually filled up; it's got ranting, crying, poetry, prayers, and touchstones.  But my intent for this new journal is to fill it with gratitude, to make lists of where I notice God's mercy in my life.  I noticed Christian and Beth doing this - I finally caught on! 

The old journal on the left; I made the collage on the cover.

These last few years have been difficult years for me - this blog was born out of some of that difficulty as a way to take note of the good things in my life, to gently discipline myself to focus on the good.  The flip side of that discipline is that, unless you know me in real life, you may not know of my difficulties and bad days.  Please know that my life is not perfect because nothing damages our sisterhood more than pretend perfection; however, the public forum is not the place for me to tell every negative thing that passes through my heart and mind.  Face-to-face, oh yes, I'll tell you!

So, my gratitude journal is what amounts to a New Year's resolution for me.  I'm pondering some more resolutions, too, but although I am a goal-oriented person, I do not take them on lightly.  I'll report back if I add some more goals. 

The new journal had no spiral to put a pen, so I made a little sleeve to hold one.

Happy New Year, my friends!  I'm so grateful you're on this strange, joyful journey with me.


You Can Call Me Jane said...

Happy New Year, sweet Margo. I love the quotes at the top and I love your new journaling endeavor. May this year and this process help bring you peace:-).

jodi said...

Happy new year!! I am bookmarking this post because I feel like it's exactly the spot I'm in at the start of this new year. Generally, I see the bright side of life, but I do struggle with really taking it all to heart and re-training my brain to rest in the goodness of life rather than the negative. I hope your 2013 is full of love and joy and goodness.

Julian said...

I can totally relate,and I am journalling as well. I hope this year brings you many good things,and unexpected blessings.

Sew Blessed Maw said...

Margo, you are an amazing person. I love your honesty.. We all have our trials and life is not perfect.And we don't tell all on our blogs.. But, you are so caring and share such wonderful things with us.thank you.
I love the idea of adding the cover to put your pin on your journal.. No need to go hunting down the pen..great idea.
Happy new year to you and your family.

nancy said...

Good fr you! It easy to focus on the stress and negativity in life. I've done gratitude journals and they really helped my outlook on life. Someone else also did a success jar, filled with things they accomplished on their little homestead. I'm doing that this year!

penngm said...

Good points. I find myself drifting toward anxious thoughts, too, unless I am very intentional. By the way, I would know that journal was yours if I saw it lying around - the home-made pen pocket is a real Margaret giveaway. :)

jenny_o said...

Thank you for the reminder to be deliberate about gratitude. I've done this before, and benefited from it, but somehow got out of the practice. Right now, I'm in a rough spot also. I know it will likely pass - like all the rest - but remembering what I can be grateful for will help my attitude in the meantime.

Happy New Year to you, and your other readers too.

A said...

I'm shocked that very helpful lovely quote came out of Real Simple. So there is something hiding among the Simple vases for $45.

And darling, is that old journal ANCIENT? I feel like it's from another lifetime. Have you also had your journals stretch now to cover years instead of months?

I love your lovely new Day 1 journal. I am enjoying the fresh start of this New Year. 2013 feels like good things are coming.

All my love.

Margo said...

A, terribly ancient. As in 9 years old (!!!).

Love to you, too - so glad you stopped by.

BLD in MT said...

May your new year (and new journal) be filled with enjoying and appreciating all the glorious gifts and simple pleasures of this world.

And I really like the pen sleeve, by the way!


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