Making Time to Revisit Old Journals

Just popping on to share something that I’ve discovered recently: a way to revisit old journals without overwhelming myself and becoming depressed. You want THAT, don’t you?!

I’d say that on average, I go through about one journal every four months. They’re nothing fancy, just a notebook from Walmart.  They come with dotted or lined pages, soft cover, several colors. When I find myself at a Walmart, I check to see if they have any and grab a few. Don’t ask me why they don’t always have these specific ones. I can’t find them anywhere else. I’m trapped!


In January, I started a new journal. Love that day! Am I right? I thumbed through my old one to find the dates, added them to the front page, and thought, “You know… it would be nice to read these, see where I’ve been the last few months.” I decided right then and there that from now on I’d spend about ten minutes re-reading the last one after journaling each day. I took a bright pink pen and started to make notes as I went as if I were reading a great book. I didn’t think it would be as helpful as it has become and now it will remain part of my morning routine forever!

revisit old journals

This morning, I was sitting here with my journal, waiting for the sun to come up, thinking about what I would write today. I’m still enjoying Ulysses, but nothing jumped out at me while I was reading today, nothing that I want to expound on really… hold on let me double check.

Nope. Just more rambling words, loads of them. I’m getting the distinct vibe that, yes, James Joyce may have been a bit… “touched in the head,” as they say, but not in a bad way. It’s like stepping inside his head for 800 pages of text. Much like my journals.

I have journalled on and off all my life, and then more consistently as I grew older. These days, since I’m “retired” and spend most of my mornings the same way, my journal entries reflect that. That’s interesting. Just writing that I realized, “Of course they are!” The more chaotic my outside world was, the less time I had to sit and think. These days, things are much quieter, on the outside anyway. I have less to do every day, fewer people to accommodate in my life on a daily basis, and that has led to more thought, possibly a little too much thought, and journaling has been my outlet.

My journals have always been my internal thoughts on paper, less of a diary and more of a thought and emotion collector. I don’t censor myself at all since I know no one else will be reading them. Hmm… I should write, “Enter at Your Own Risk” on that box!

Why write them? Because speaking out loud, or writing by hand, whatever comes to mind, is like having a conversation with myself. We are not our thoughts, right? They’re just firings of the brain related to external and internal stimuli. But who is hearing those thoughts? That’s me, the consciousness part that cannot be taken out of this body.

So there “I” am, experiencing these thoughts, wondering what in the world is going on. I write them down and store them away. Later, without the stimuli that caused them, I go back and read. Does this make sense? Is it useful? The more consistently I do this, the better my mental health seems to be. I only wish I had a made a habit of this earlier in my life.

These days, my daily journal entries follow a set pattern of gratitude, self-love, and intention, along with notes from whatever self-help/spiritual book I’m reading at the time. My podcast notes are thrown into my journal as well. Interspersed are my wild ideas, thoughts, reactions, some hopes and dreams. A part of me is positive that some day these journals will be used against me in a court of law to determine whether I should be forced into an institution, but I digress.

revisit old journals
Scribblings of a Madwoman

This morning I was re-reading my last journal, underlining passages I wanted to remember, giving myself hugs when it got dark, and marking little highlights of progress, when I thought it might be fun to share some it!

Here are a few of my favorites:

“We are all a collection of experiences and processes, not things in space.” Hmm…

“It’s ok if people don’t like what you’re doing.” Yeah!

My son explaining why being “good” at college (or learning in general) “isn’t about being smart, it’s about being patient enough to learn.” My baby…

“You’re talking to yourself again.” Yes, I am. I’m good company.

“There will always be a last time for everything.” A reminder to enjoy the moment.

revisit old journals

This one is my favorite so far, but I’m only halfway through:

“What if everything you wanted from others, you actually wanted from yourself?
You wanted them to tell you they love you, that they’re proud of you, take you on adventures, support you, build you up when you’re feeling down.
When was the last time you did any of that for yourself?”

I wrote that back in October. It’s one of several “mind shift” moments I’ve had over the last six months. When I started doing those things for myself, suddenly I noticed when other people did it for me, and it happened far more often.

I have fought against loving myself just the way I am for so long… Doing it now, talking to myself in kinder ways, laughing at myself, stopping to ask myself what it is I need at the moment… It’s changed everything. It’s allowed me to be me more fully.

It’s one of the top-ten things I’d make everyone do if I were the supreme leader of all creation.

“I command thee! Go forth and love thyself!”

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