Recently, I’ve been inspired to read the journals of several of my favorite writers: Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Susan Sontag. The takeaway from my reading is a renewed heartfelt understanding of the subtle and profound powers of women’s wisdom. When a woman takes the time to record her thoughts, feelings, and daily experiences within the pages of her journal, she creates a world that is her very own. It’s as though the written snippets of life and stories of a woman’s day to day journey combine through a sacred alchemical process, to ferment like fine wine within the covers of her journal.
The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum describes the practice of journaling like this:
Our journals are often well-worn, coffee and tear stained, dog-eared and smudged. A woman’s journal is a cherished possession and a sacred vessel that contains the stories of her day-to-day circumstances. Within the secret pages of our journals we record our ideas and dreams and explore the questions and concerns that shape our lives. We rant. We rave…and we pray. All of these outpourings and more deem the journal, “A Workbook for Everyday Life.”
In October, during the Way of Belle Coeur Autumn Retreat, participants will explore the practice of journaling and also the craft of creating a personal Sacred Wisdom Codex. The codex is a woman’s contemporary version of an illuminated manuscript. Within the pages of her codex she distills her wisdom from her journal and records her discoveries, inspirations, and insights in creative and illuminated ways. If the journal is life’s workbook, the codex is a woman’s recorded legacy.
Perhaps you journal regularly or you may be new to journaling. I’ve created the “Journal Keeper’s Dozen” as stepping stones to reconnect to, or enrich your journal experience. This simple list-making exercise offers a dozen prompts for your reflective responses. If inspired, please share your insights. Without editing, open your journal to a blank page and respond to the following:
- 12 desired changes for my inner and outer worlds
- 12 answered prayers
- 12 ways/practices to keep myself centered
- 12 personal passions
- 12 people I’d like to know (historical figures, ancestors, literary characters, someone today, etc.)
- 12 favorite books I’ve read and would enjoy re-reading
- 12 ways to spend a rainy afternoon
- 12 favorite inspirational references (from the sacred text of your choosing)
- 12 blessings I’ve received during my life
- 12 things I’m ready to release (tangible and/or intangible)
- 12 words of my personal wisdom that I’d like to share with others
- 12 topics that stir my soul and invite my exploration
May your journal, your “Workbook for Everyday Life” bless you with personal revelation, clarity, solace, and wisdom. Open it to a blank page and allow your pen to reveal the hidden wisdom within your heart.