5 Things to Do First

Keeping a garden journal can be a powerful process of recording observations, thoughts and feelings throughout the year. I can't say what the outcome of the process will be for you. But I do know that most of my students and clients who have kept a journal have found it meaningful to go back and read what they had written months before. For several, their journals have become cherished keepsakes along with scrapbooks and family photo albums.

Here are five steps to get you going with your journal writing:

  1. Make a commitment.
    Believe me, I know how busy you are and how difficult it is to get any private time, let alone find time to sit down and write some private thoughts. But that is exactly the point. Allocating the time to keep a journal is truly a way of valuing yourself, your thoughts, ideas and feelings. In making a commitment to write in your journal consistently, you are making a commitment to put yourself first and take yourself seriously.
  2. Find the time.
    Try to create a soothing environment and choose a relaxing time of day to write in your journal. Are you more relaxed at the end of the day after taking an evening stroll in your garden? Or maybe you're an early morning person who likes to wander the garden in your pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand. The time of day to write should be when you commune most with nature and when your thoughts are free flowing. By the way, if turning on some beautiful music and burning incense or candles helps get you in the mood, then make sure you surround yourself with them.
  3. Pick out a journal.
    Take your time when buying a journal. Treat yourself to the most beautiful and tactile one that you can find. Bookstores, stationery stores and dime stores all offer a marvelous array of writing or journal books. Remember, you're going to have an intimate relationship with this book, and one day it may be a treasured family heirloom. So make it a good one. Splurge if you want! I also find that if I buy a special pen, I am much more compelled to write. You can also create a virtual journal on your own iVillage member Website to track changes. (They're easy to use; even I made one. Here's an example.)
  1. Just start writing.
    The key here is letting go. This journal is ultimately about you and your relationship to nature. And it is for you. Don't worry about the way you begin your daily entries, the style you write in or what you write about.

    If you begin to censor yourself and hear the voice inside your head say "Oh, this isn't good enough" or "I don't know what to say," gently but firmly tell that voice to be quiet. Let the confident, nurturing voice inside you say, "What you are writing is just fine. Go with it." Remember, you can write about anything your heart desires. It does not have to be about your observations of what is happening in the garden. You may start writing about something in the garden and then end up telling a story about your daughter's difficult day in school. Let it all come out.

  2. Enjoy and value the process.
    Attitude controls the outcome of most of what we do with our lives. If you see your journal as a chore, then it will be just that. And it certainly will not be an enjoyable process. But if you really sink into the pure joy of creating your own garden journal, you will not only reap benefits while you are creating it, you will be able to enjoy it for several years to come.
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