I have been journaling, studying journaling, and teaching journaling for twenty-five years. I’ve written morning pages a la Julia Cameron for twenty years. Here’s what I’ve learned. There are about as many ways to journal as there are ways to cook chicken, each with its own prep time, unique blend of spices, varied cooking temperatures, and particular taste results.
I wrote three memoirs, many personal essays and short stories, and numerous poems in an attempt to explore the inner workings of my mind, my heart, and my soul. What seemed to be missing however, was a clear guide to spiritual development. As a non-religious woman I find my higher power in Mother Nature and prayer in writing and reading poetry. I researched all sorts of programs and guide books on spiritual journaling to no avail. Until, that is, I came across Mari L. McCarthy and her Create Write Now programs.
Over the years I’ve used several of her guided journals to improve focus on a writing project, to lose weight and to improve my physical and emotional health. When the 15 Day Spiritual Journey program popped up in my email in box I decided to give it a try.
Having retired almost four years ago and now approaching my seventh decade I felt I had the open mind and years of experience, as well as more time, to tackle the trail to my spiritual journey at my own pace. What I was attracted to, besides past experience with Create Write Now, was the simple and direct prompts along with the two minute meditations that could start my day, right after my morning yoga routine.
So with a glass of hot water, lemon juice and honey I sat at my desk with a fresh notebook and wrote according to prompts like:
- Define your personal precepts of spirituality
- What are your personal values
- Who is your spiritual role model
- What are the challenges you face in leading a spiritual life
- In what ways can you slow-down in your everyday life
- How can you incorporate more gratitude in your daily life
- How can you move toward more positive ways of thinking about life
After fifteen days I felt a shift in my soul. I began to move through mundane tasks with more attention and appreciation. I started to view my creative projects with more awareness and gratitude. Filling a brush with watercolor and smearing across the page to create loose flowers took on the feel of prayer, as much as writing poems always had for me. I moved more slowly and with more dedication and focus on the task. I had searched for a long time for an art style in which I could incorporate my poems, a means to be able to create through both of my loved forms of expression. I think the spiritual quality of answering these journal prompts nudged something inside me that directed me to blend my poems with my watercolor flowers.
Sometimes in life serendipitous events lead us to a place we had been trying to reach for years. Though it’s more about the journey than the destination, where you end us is important too. I will never stop growing my spiritual self, or my creative self either. I will re-read the responses to these prompts as well as write new responses, as time goes by to see how I grow and change in the future.
Spiritual growth, like all growth, is ongoing. I won’t stop learning, or creating and I will be grateful that this journey has landed me where I am today on my spiritual path.
Renee Howard Cassese lives in Southern California with her husband Frank. She is a retired Special Education Teacher and School Administrator who now fills her days writing poetry and fiction and painting watercolor flowers. She is a member of Story Circle Network, International Women’s Writing Guild, Romance Writers of America, and Temecula Valley Art League. Her books are available on amazon.com.
“Looking through Windows” short stories
“Like a Lotus” poems
Renee blogs intermittently at www.amarriageofpoetryandart.blogspot.com