Not Your Mama's Dreamy Diary...Journaling's Challenge to the Soul

By Mary H. Ruth

I'm in my late 50s and am blessed with a certain amount ofJournaling 27Days resized 600 contentment. As the sole operator in my small business, I work pretty much all the time but it's work that I enjoy very much, so the long hours are more a privilege than a hardship.

All that is to introduce the fact that I took Mari up on her 27 Days to Peace of Mind and Body Challenge, when she posed it back at the end of 2010, and promised her I'd write a post about the experience.

The most noteworthy fact is probably the embarrassing truth that despite my relative comfort in life, every time I sat down to write, I ended up in tears.

I've kept journals in the past, quite often, but not for the last seven years or so. The reaction I've been having to this go-round of journaling surprises the heck out of me.

The sadness has been so pronounced that I wasn't able to bring myself to reread the entries, as directed by the Challenge's final step. My process has only just begun, and it will be a while, I expect, before I can identify progress. At this point, I'm not even sure what I'm sad about; I just know that some huge melancholy laps at the edges of my consciousness.

So it seems I am faced with a challenge indeed. This is not just sentimental reflection on the happenings of a day. It's hardcore self-revelation. Do I really want to go there? Wouldn't it be easier to remain in ignorance of those terrifying forces roiling just beneath the surface?

You know what? I really don't want to go there. There's plenty else to occupy my thoughts, and – as I pointed out – I have a great deal to be thankful for. Why invite pain?

But it's also out of the question to be content with unknowing – at least, not in the long term. I would not want to be old and feel like I willfully rejected being fully self-actualized.

There was another aspect to the experience that surprised me as well. Traditionally, I've always thought of journaling as an end-of-the-day thing. But it turned out that I would often be tired and not up to writing right before bed. Voilà, another serious challenge. Could I really let myself interrupt my day to do something as me-focused as journaling?

Well, resistance is futile. It seems that the human condition requires us to be all we can be, not just for our own good but for the sake of others. Being less than your total true self leads to unhappiness and illness, and does no one else any good either.

So I will continue the practice. It may be a small effort, in deference to my other current preoccupations. I'm not sure yet exactly the shape my journaling will take, but I will cultivate it to become as normal a part of my life as brushing my teeth, as Mari says.

Because you can't ignore the writing on the wall, or in the notebook. When spirit says "Look at me!" you look, right? How can you not?

Mary H. Ruth is founder and owner of

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