Where Journaling Has Led Me

Jennifer McDaniel - May 05, 2020
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This post is written by our contributing writer, JudiAnn Moore.

When I was 12, sometime in the 70s, I acquired a love for writing. I liked reading too, so no surprise that I really got into the book The Diary of Anne Frank. I guess this is the reason a diary for my 12th birthday was my passionate gift wish. My mother gave me a diary on that birthday. It was the gift that launched what has become a life-long ritual -- journaling.  

At times journaling is simply a diversion – during some critical periods it has been my solace. Quite often it is my way of secretly joking or laughing about things I probably shouldn’t find funny or I wouldn’t laugh about publicly. My journaling allows me to be politically incorrect without offending anyone or use language that would make my mother cringe. Yes, in my journal is unadulterated North Memphis street talk I only use with my friends who enjoy a conversation equally as raw.

Ultimately, writing in my diary evolved from a daily ritual to whenever life experiences trigger the need – which turns out to be often enough. It is now the space for tracking events, sharing deep thoughts and documenting experiences. If I feel something is awesome or anguishing this is where those emotions land.

I engage my diary when I feel alone and conversely it is where I hide when there are way too many people in my life. After finally filling the 365 pages of my first diary, I graduated to my first journal (a grown-up version of my diary) and I continued to document the highs, the lows, the exciting times – even the mundane periods of my life. In my journal I have written different strategic plans for myself, including intricate details for rectifying bad results after dumb decisions.

I am frequently my own sounding board as I journal. Writing has often quelled my temper when the outrage of racism and/or misogyny were driving me towards behaving irrationally.  On the other hand, priceless advice and lessons from the many mentors who have and continue to positively influence my life -- how they nurture, confirm and uplift are inscribed throughout my journal accounts.

I have been able to remain level-headed amidst health scares and unfavorable diagnosis with affirmative messages written to myself. Writing can carry me to where confidence hides when I am sure it is lost. As life’s twists and turns left me divorced and a single mom raising three sons, quite often a fervent writing session either saved my sanity or allowed me to privately go insane.

Journaling is how I have honored, mourned and memorialized dear friends and beloved family. It is where when he died, I wrote a very heartfelt tribute to my dad which tearfully thanked him for his guidance and the wisdom that helped shape my values, character and beliefs.

Within nearly 5 decades of different journals are my prayers– prayers for family members, prayers for friends, prayers for what felt like unsurmountable situations, prayers for people who disrupted my peace and prayers for myself. There are prayers seeking guidance, prayers for deliverance, prayers for courage, prayers for forgiveness, prayers for acceptance and prayers for prosperity.

About once every five years or so, while reorganizing my physical space, I come across the huge bag where I store my journals.  When I do, I take some time to sit and flip through pages just for the fun of it.  It is remarkable to read my own story. How amazing to be on the other side of so many different circumstances, events and wonders. Unmistakably they are the passage to wisdom.

I realize journaling speaks truth to cliché. Statements like – “this too shall pass”, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”,  “actions speak louder than words”, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” or “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” are validated in the thousands of pages I’ve written since my 12th birthday.

My journal is now back to being a near daily companion. I talk to her without worrying if I am six feet away or clicking a link to be virtually together. She stands witness to how God has carried me through every situation and hundreds of circumstances.  I find peace in her testimony to His grace on my behalf which has led me to the understanding that “this too shall pass”.

Even though I have journaled since childhood, I say it is never too late to start -- especially in seasons of uncertainty. With this new world of social distancing, journaling has taken on new meaning.  If you are reflecting on how life used to be, while pragmatically thinking through navigating your life ahead; I invite you to start journaling your feelings, thoughts and dreams. Putting a pen to paper is a therapeutic process.

Here are a few tips to get you started…

  • Set aside a few minutes every day to write as little or as much as you want
  • Keep a pen and paper or your journal nearby at all times
  • Write whatever feels right to you in the moment and don’t edit yourself
  • Use your journal as you see fit in this season


JudiAnn Moore is the CEO of Moore Communications Consulting. Before striking out on her own, she was the head of several national PRSA VOX award-winning communications departments in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. With an MBA in marketing and BA in journalism, she has published stories in numerous lifestyle and business publications. Based in Memphis, TN, she is the mother of three grown-up sons. Their uniquely interesting lives coupled with her own often inconceivable experiences serve as the backdrop for some unusual life stories and often profound points of view.

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Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a well being strategist, ICF accredited professional coach. She has 25+ years of experience as a professional speaker, corporate trainer and a learning development leader in the beauty, health and wellness space.

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