'Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
– William Wordsworth
I've long kept a journal. Even before my days as a mom, I kept a journal. In grade school, it was the dairy with a lock and key, hidden in a drawer or under a mattress. Yes, there have been gaps - months, even a year or two long, but I always come back to it. My journals are full of thoughts, experiences, dreams, ideas, prayers . . . the breathings of my heart. I've tucked in cards from my kids, notes from friends, rose petals, a leaf from a fall walk . . . And when I take the time to look back, I'm always thankful that I had captured that version of me dealing with whatever was in front of me at the time. It allows me to see how I've grown, but I see something else, too - God's hand in my life.
Currently I've woven time to journal into my morning routine. Most mornings, before I reach for my phone to scroll through Instagram, I start with a short devotion, then journaling. I only fill one page each day, finding that helps me do it more regularly. But even then, words don't always flow freely. Sometimes prompts help. So when I came across this in my inbox: 30 Lists to Make, I had to know more.
In addition to journaling, I love to make lists.
Maybe that's why I connected with this article so quickly. It's inspiring me in my journaling. So I thought I'd share it with you as it may inspire you to open your journal for the first time or once again.
30 Lists to Make
From Bella Grace Magazine
The idea of having a regular journaling practice sounds so romantic and charming. You pour yourself a cup of tea, perhaps light a candle, grab your favorite pen, open up that brand-new journal … and then what? The need to get everything just right can be overwhelming and even paralyzing to some. If you want to make writing a regular part of your day but are unsure of where to start, consider making lists. We think lists are an excellent and unique way of journaling because they challenge us to think creatively about our responses, and much like a conventional journal, they capture our thoughts at a given moment in our lives.
1. Five little things currently making you happy
2. Favorite ways to “waste” time
3. Places to travel to alone
4. Food or drinks that bring you comfort
5. Books, movies, or TV shows for when you need an escape
6. Hobbies you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet
7. Five things you’re currently looking forward to
8. Lovely little things to do more often
9. Favorite ways to turn your day around
10. The sweetest sounds
11. What happiness looks like
12. Places to find inspiration
13. Traits shared by the people you admire
14. Songs making up the soundtrack of your days Here are our favorite lists to make:
15. Short breaks you can take each day
16. Truths about life you’ve learned so far
17. Silly little goals you’d like to achieve
18. Ideal ways to spend time alone
19. Favorite ways to have fun without leaving the house
20. Unique businesses you’d love to start
21. Things that fill you with energy
22. Five rules you like to break
23. Ten reasons to be proud of yourself right now
24. Fictional characters you feel a connection with
25. Screen-free activities you are currently enjoying
26. Five friends or family members who make you smile
27. Things to remind yourself on a bad day
28. Tiny treats that feel like a luxury
29. Things it’s time to let go of
30. People you want to write letters to
It was dusk and had just rained - a sweet, summer kind of rain. She walked through the beautiful, lush gardens. There was music playing in the background, and the breeze carried waves of distant conversation. Yet she walked, her long gown trailing over sopping ground, her fingers running through tall grasses, stopping only to smell the flowers. Such is my memory of a scene from the 1992 version of 'Howards End'. It was the lovely garden and the peaceful smile on Mrs. Wilcox's face that has and will stay with me for a long time. In her garden . . . she found peace and contentment.
From those pages of fictional England where 'even the air smells delicious', I find myself in my favorite spot in my house, and a few moments of quiet. It's a cold, rainy day in May which happens to be my 'off' day. I settle in with the long-awaited magazine, In Her Garden, and enter into another world of beautiful photos and essays. It's just what I need at this moment. A phrase catches my eye as it's woven through the pages: 'In my garden . . . ' and each author, in turn, shares what she finds in her garden. . . immense peace, inspiration, connection with nature, freedom, growth, memories . . .
I find it pretty amazing that such a place can provide a universal balm to the soul. It's incredible, really. If you've been following along, you may have noticed that my blogs have been pretty heavy lately. I find writing as a type of therapy, to sort things out, work through them as thoughts flow from heart through pen to paper, in this case, keyboard. The garden provides this for me as well. A walk down the Hellebore path, pulling a handful of chickweed, planting a few sweet pea seeds . . . it all does wonders for the spirit. In my garden . . . I find refreshment and restoration.
How can the garden, or even bigger than that - nature, offer such healing and solace? Nature is amazing - from the very smallest creature, to the mightiest oak, to the miracle of life contained within a seed, and the intricacy of a spider web - It's all amazing. There are scientific studies that show the mood-lifting benefits of digging in the soil, and I'm sure there are other studies that indicate the healing power of nature. But I have a theory of my own. Maybe it's being surrounded by beauty that refreshes, maybe it's the calming color of green that restores. Maybe, but I believe that through nature, we have an intimate connection with the Creator himself. God, maker of all things, is our true source of peace, inspiration, freedom, and joy. Through his creation, he offers us a place to just be for awhile. He shares with us the joy of watching things grow. He uses nature to nurture us. Even the psalmist says "He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul." (Psalm 23:2-3).
One my favorite things about the garden is that it's a place to be creative. This, too, is a gift from our heavenly Maker, who created the very first garden. Made in his image, we have been given the gift of creativity. We create tidy rows in the vegetable garden, combine colors in the flower garden, and arrange trees, shrubs, and perennials in our landscapes. We create spaces for gathering, spaces for kids to play, and spaces to start and end our day in. In the garden, we can creatively express ourselves, and this too, can be healing. "At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source." - Rachel Naomi Remen, MD.
The rain has stopped for now, and the garden calls, so into the garden I go for some plant therapy. In my garden. . . what do you find there?
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!