The Journal Newsletter
Happy (Somewhat-Belated) New Year!
Like many people, I’m sure, I spent the last couple weeks of 2002 pondering goals, personal as well as professional. I’m not much of a “New Years Resolution” person, but the end of a year, and the beginning of a new year, provides a convenient boundary. And the holidays provide a lot of time for introspection. So it seems to work. =)
(Of course, with all that planning, I *still* overbooked January. I’ve got to learn to spread deadlines out a bit more, not try to get so much done in the first few weeks of the year. You live, you learn, though, and everything improves with practice.)
I’m trying out a new way to use The Journal to track my goals this year, and my progress on those goals. If it works, I’ll be sharing it later in the year. If you’ve used The Journal for setting and tracking goals, and you’d like to share, please feel free to send in a few paragraphs describing how you go about it. I’d love to hear from you!
Susan takes a break from her quilting to give us a new set of writing exercises, and John Hawkins shares how he uses The Journal for “Intensive Journaling.”
Have a great New Year, everyone!
by Susan Michael
Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style: using “franchise” as your starter.
Poetry Exercise – As an exercise, write a solo “renga”. (Not to argue the authenticity of a renga being written by two poets – not one) A renga is a Japanese poetic form similar to haiku, but a series of stanzas linked by an idea. Please visit these pages for a full, nonconfrontatational definitions of renga:
Prose Exercise – Create a progressive story chain that follows the trail of an object, or begins with the introduction of one character leading into the introduction of another, producing a chain of unrelated events that are linked by one momentary “shared” element.
Journaling Exercise – Look for similarities of events in your life. Have you ever felt like you have found yourself making the same decision with just a different set of circumstances? Think of events having a circular effect. What theme has come full circle for you? Do you believe that the same “test” comes up over and over again until you “pass”?
Memoir Prompt – Write about the places you have lived. Think about what was unique about each and reflect upon your life at the time.
About the author: Susan Michael has facilitated several writing groups, and has lead writing & creativity workshops for the Arts & Humanities Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Editor’s Note: The Journal is used by people from all over the world, from many nations, representing a variety of personal, professional, and religious backgrounds. Journaling is by definition an intensely personal undertaking, so it should not be surprising that when someone writes about how or why they keep a journal that they will end up sharing personal information. The Journal Newsletter does not support any particular personal or religious lifestyle, but rather attempts to support anyone who keeps a journal, for whatever reason they do so. Thus, the views and opinions expressed in “How I Use The Journal” are solely those of the submitter and not necessarily the views of DavidRM Software. Whether you agree with the submitter’s views or not, I encourage you to read the article and glean from it the information and techniques that “ring true” for you.
by John Hawkins
I purchased The Journal software many years ago. In graduate school, one of my classes required me to keep a journal. I decided that I would rather keep it electronically to avoid converting my poor handwriting to a word processor. I still use a version of release 2, having good intentions to upgrade but never getting around to it.
Throughout my life, I have kept a journal inconsistently. I began writing regularly about four years ago to help me make sense of a traumatic event that completely turned my life upside down. The process of writing allowed me to express strong emotions and get a broader perspective of my situation. As I began to experience the benefits of journaling, I came across a method of self-transformation called the Intensive Journal™, developed by depth psychologist Ira Progoff, a student of Carl Jung.
According to Progoff, “The Intensive Journal process is our inner workshop, the place where we do the creative shaping of the artwork of our life.” Essentially, the Intensive Journal™ is a series of writing exercises that allow me to examine my life in context. While one can learn the method by reading Progoff’s book, “At a Journal Workshop”, the best way to gain an appreciation of the method is to attend one the many workshops that are held each year around the world.
I attended two Intensive Journal™ workshops this year, one near my hometown of Columbus, Mississippi, and another in New Orleans. The first workshop is called Life Context, where participants get in touch with the flow of their lives as social, physical, sexual, and creative beings. The second workshop is called Depth Context and encompasses the meaning dimension of our lives. In the paragraphs that follow, I will describe these experiences and show how The Journal is useful with this method.
Both workshops I attended were held at Catholic retreat centers. The quiet and peacefulness of these settings complemented the quiet of the method. When I arrived at my first three-day workshop, I was given a registered Intensive Journal™ Workbook, a three-ring binder containing 25 tabbed dividers of six different colors and some loose leaf paper. Other participants were in attendance; however, we didn’t talk except to give initial greetings. This wis individual, not group work. It was obvious that some of the participants had been to previous workshops, for they already had binders, stuffed thick with entries. A few had laptop computers, which are allowed as long as they don’t disturb others.
The facilitator of my first workshop was a retired psychotherapist. He told us that his job was to familiarize us with the Intensive Journal™ method and take us through various exercises. Despite the group setting, we would primarily be alone with our workbook journals. From time to time, the facilitator gave us opportunities to read aloud if we wanted; however, reading aloud was more for our benefit than for the benefit of others. Often, our writing affects us differently when we hear it through our ears rather than just in our heads.
Six color-coded sections divide the Intensive Journal™ workbook. The first section is green and called the Period Log. In this section, I took a specific period of time in my life and listed the “stepping stones” that took me from the beginning to the end of that life segment. In this section, I wrote just the facts without commentary or analysis.
After finishing this exercise, I was asked to go to the orange section, the Dialog Dimension. This is the place where elements from the Period Log are given breadth. For example, if issues involving my body or body image were a stepping stone, there is a subsection tab entitled Dialog with Body where I could carry on a written dialog with my body. Other subsections exist, including Dialog with Persons, Dialog with Work, etc. The goal is to expose conflicts and incongruencies in our minds and emotions. To put it another way, the journal exercises make conscious the unconscious.
In the first workshop, the facilitator also directed me to the red section, called the Life/Time Dimension. In particular, I found Intersections (or Roads Taken or Not Taken) a very interesting and useful subsection. This is the place where I could examine the “what ifs” of my life. For example, what if I had married that impulsive, passionate, Bohemian poet I dated in college instead of the conservative, dependable, practical woman I later met as I was climbing the corporate ladder? Or what if I had given into my desire to quit my safe job at the plant and become an entrepreneur? This is a safe way to examine our so-called regrets in life as well as weigh risks before acting.
In the second retreat I took in November of 2002, a Dominican nun facilitated the workshop. She reviewed the elements of the first workshop, but spent a great deal of time in the blue section, called the Depth Dimension. It is here where I dealt with dreams, symbols and the spiritual component of my life.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor in training and profession, I certainly tout journaling as a means for inner exploration and personal growth. The Progoff Intensive Journal™ method is useful because it provides a structure for doing this kind of work. Progoff’s initial research interests were creativity, and he soon saw the wisdom of using journaling as a method of examining ourselves so that we can create the life we want. The beauty of Progoff’s method is that our journal is not just a linear history. Instead, one thing leads to another and soon we begin to see ourselves as a whole within the each dimension of our lives. The big questions of life–“Who am I?” “Where am I going?”–can be addressed privately and safely.
The Journal lends itself very well to this method, especially for those, like me, who prefer to type. Sections and subsections of the the Intensive Journal™ Workbook can be created in The Journal. Entries can be color coded. Moreover, it is simple to flow from one section to another. Moreover, the search features eliminate reading one page after another when I need to find an important journal entry from the past. Confidentiality is maintained because The Journal is password protected.
In summary, I highly recommend Progoff’s Intensive Journal™ method as well as DavidRM Software’s The Journal. Both are very inexpensive forms of therapy and self-improvement.
|“At a Journal Workshop”, by Ira Progoff, Ph.D.
J P Tarcher; ISBN: 0874776384
If you would like to contribute to the “How I Use The Journal”, “Writing Exercises”, or “Tips & Tricks” sections, or would like to submit an article about journaling, writing, or another The Journal-related topic, we would love to hear from you.
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