Journalling & me: a love story

I wrote my first ever journal entry when I was eleven. My guinea pig had died and it was clearly noteworthy enough for me to open a (Brambly Hedge — remember them?) notebook, jot down the date and write “Tonic died today.” Our guinea pigs were called Gin and Tonic — I think Gin departed this world soon after, too. From then on I wrote in the notebook, filling it up and starting another, filling that up and switching to a binder with looseleaf A4 paper. I have my entire teenage chronicled in an ever-changing array of handwriting styles, coloured pens and dramatic exclamations — losing my virginity is recorded in extraordinary detail *ahem*

Having this diary is such a gift. I’ve dipped into it over the years, and once I get past the cringe-worthy accounts of a teenage girl’s life, there are gems to be found, flashes of insight that make me marvel at how much I intuited even at such a young age. But the most important thing that diary gave me was a journalling practice for life.

When my love died in 2005 I filled a whole Moleskine notebook in a month, pouring out everything I’d wanted to say to him, trying to make sense of what had happened. I had our entire relationship recorded in my journal, from every sweet thing he’d ever done for me to the usual frustrations a couple in love encounters. My journal has been my sanity keeper in the worst times of my life. It’s been the receptacle for the sweetest memories, the most embarrassing secrets and the daily humdrum banality of being alive.

I’ve always wanted to have one of those sketchbooks filled with artsy inked notes and clever watercolour vignettes. I went to art college but I can’t draw to save my life, so I’ve learned how to do it my way, with words and cut-out images and the occasional glue stick. I call it my Creative Dream Journal and it lives in a turquoise Filofax filled with images and scribbles, plans and lists, poetry and musings. So much of what I have drawn into my life over the last few years first existed in my CDJ. Which is why I decided to make the creation of a Creative Dream Journal the focus of my new course.

Over the years my journal has existed in many forms, but at its core it’s been my confidante and safe place. Whether I’m using pen and paper or postcards and washi tape, it’s the way I access my innermost dreams and my most honest and authentic voice. I don’t lie in my journal so I always get the truth about myself reflected back at me. I can join the dots backwards and witness my own growth. So many times I’ve leafed through my journal to figure out why I was feeling a certain way and had I felt that before…. had I survived it? And it’s all in there, the proof that I have survived: the grief, the PMS, the moving home, the making and breaking of friendships. It’s all in there. Its like having my own manual-of-me.

When I die I’m sure there will be loved ones who’ll appreciate having my journals to read through to help them feel more connected to their mama/auntie/wife, but for now my journal is for me alone. It’s the bestest friend I’ve ever had and my constant companion.

I really can’t say enough about how incredible — and useful — journalling is. So I’ve made a course to share the love and help others ignite their journalling passion, too.

Registration for Journal Your Life opens tomorrow. I hope you can join me!

20 responses
  1. Jill Salahub

    The anticipating for registration, for this course is almost painful! I remember feeling the same way about your first session of Blogging From the Heart, which was every color and flavor of brilliant.

  2. jane

    brilliant, beautiful, what a lovely offering!

  3. Louise

    The magic side of the Internet has opened a door towards your post… I must confess that my way towards this door was also guided by one of your “fans” (my dear friend, Nanette). Your words are simple and strong, clear and soft, expressing your feelings with sincerity and truth …
    Congratulations and all the best on your road of Life…

  4. Sandra

    I’m not sure where else to ask this question, Susannah. Do we share some of our journal entries in the class?

  5. Alexis Zinkerman

    count me in!

  6. susannah

    You can if you want to, sure, but you don’t have to, honey, no. Like all my classes, do what feels right for you :) xxx

  7. Suzanne

    I’m joining!

  8. mo

    i’ve got tomorrow flagged on my calendar so i can register first thing! can’t wait … i LOVE your courses!

  9. Sherry Smyth

    I wrote in a journal for so many years when I was a young girl, a young teen and then I burned them all. WHAT??? I know, I know, I know!!! But there was a lot of hurt and pain in those pages and I was turning a new leaf into the next part of my life and I wanted no reminders. Periodically I’ve written in a journal…sporadic is more like it but I’m now coming to the point in my life where things written might be nice for my family members to have down the road. I’ve loved your other courses I’ve taken…I’m thinking this one will be beneficial as well.

  10. Zoe Alexander

    Susannah, firstly I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I’ve never done a journal but I can imagine it must be helpful to share your thoughts then have the possibility to read them back when you feel the time is right. I think this is a lovely offer to share.

    Zoe xxx

  11. La plume et la page

    Since last August I try to journal everyday and that makes me feel better. It’s like a therapy… and it helps me unravel my thoughts.

  12. Sandra

    No, I want to! :)
    Journalling has been my most constant form of writing, and I’d love to see others, and share some of mine.

  13. BRANDY

    Lovely idea Susannah, I too I have kept a journal since I was around 10 and while I don’t go back too often to read my teenage years (oh the drama) or my twenties (how is there even more drama) but I love having them tucked away to remind me of my youth and all the lessons I have learned on the page.
    This course sounds like a fantastic idea and on the next round, I’m definitely in – just need to focus on having my baby first :)

  14. Heather

    I sometimes cringe when I think about if I died and my family members read my numerous journals…what would they think of me!? I feel like a whole other person when I write down my true feelings. I’m not sure they would recognize me.

  15. susannah

    awesome :D

  16. susannah

    !!!! sending hugs!

  17. Stacey

    Truly can’t wait. I have journaled on and off for years and years but haven’t been able to get in to a consistent practice lately. So excited for the inspiration!

  18. Bea

    I can’t imagine a better person to teach a journalling course. It had to be you!

    The timing isn’t quite right at the moment, but I’ll be in like Flynn later in the year, for sure.

    Bloody marvellous x

  19. cococita

    Now that I know that the focus of your course will be the CDJ-part, I am even more happy that I signed up! Counting the days already … :)

    Have a lovely evening Susannah and enjoy the journalling part of it.


  20. cococita

    PS: I was so enthusiastic that I didn’t read the information about your course carefully on your course page, where -of course- you mentioned the CDJ focus :)

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