Tag Archives: Contentment

Journaling as Self-Care

Reading self-help books and blogs and articles can be, well, helpful. Reading other people’s journeys towards enlightenment can be inspiring. Trying out other’s advice can be transformative.  Self-help writing can open our eyes to other ways of thinking, being, giving, and living. It can help us grow in ways we wouldn’t have or couldn’t have all on our own.

But self-help writing is still always external. No matter how much we read, we are always consuming. We may internalize some practices, but it’s like a mirror — reflecting back what we’ve taken in — without the added depth of our true selves.

Journaling, however, is the act of digging down to the spring where our own creativity and wisdom dwells. Exploring the deepest parts of our selves is where we truly find power, where we become comfortable with ourselves for exactly who we are — with all the knowledge we’ve absorbed and our most sincere, innate beliefs. And exploring this spring through writing is how these values bubble up to the surface and solidify into the strength of our uniqueness.

I’ve kept journals and diaries quite consistently for over 18 years. I really believe the practice has helped raise and stabilize my self-esteem throughout many different phases of my life. My journals have always been a place for me and only me — a place where I had no one to please or impress but myself, a place where I was silly and had fun, a place where I let all my guards down and was unabashedly, unashamedly myself.

We can write anything in our journals and diaries. It is so freeing.

In addition to recording and processing my days and experiences, I have also used my journals for more purposeful exercises: venting, gratitude, and intentions.

  • Venting. The earliest form of my learning how to cope, venting in the privacy of my journal has helped me process feelings and be mindful of how I wanted to act on them. It has allowed me to get hurtful thoughts out without sending them to another actual person. It has helped me get past difficult incidents. I vent and then I am better able to move on. I can leave it behind me once it’s written in my journal.
  • Gratitude. Years ago, probably in synchronization with The Secret‘s rise in popularity, I started keeping a daily list of what I’m thankful for. If you want to know the specific scientific benefits of this, I suggest you do your own research. But I can tell you from personal experience that practicing daily gratitude, actually writing it down, is great for perspective, self-esteem, and appreciating the life you have now despite how successful you are in any current endeavors.
  • Intentions. I’ve just started this recently and so am just starting to see how it affects my life, but I am noticing a difference. Like, on the days where I take the time to set my intentions for the days, I am not only more mindful of what I want, I find it just happens easier even without me actually thinking about it. For example, on days I set the intention to be patient, calm, and loving with my children, I find reserves of patience, calmness, and love that I might not have felt on a day where I didn’t set that intention. Even intentions like “All of Wingnut’s pee goes in the toilet” and “Dozer eats and digests well” seems to affect them, and thus me, in that I have less pee and spit-up to clean up. I also try to stay away from wishful wording and set my intentions in the present tense because, you know, wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

I know I said that we can write anything in our journals, but I also don’t think it is very helpful or useful to use writing to dwell on disappointments. Venting is one thing, but then I think it’s important to explore how we can come out of disappointments on top, even if it’s only by our state of mind. After all, what is a journal but a written state of mind? What is our whole life experience but a state of mind?

If you would like some tips on starting your own journal or diary, I found this article to be helpful in an open, simple way.

I Cut My Own Hair!

I don’t spend a lot of money on hair products. It can be tough to find a nice complimentary shampoo, and possibly conditioner, but I always used up the bottles of whatever I bought to try so I didn’t feel like I was throwing money away. I got my value, even if I didn’t find my true shampoo match yet.

I don’t spend any money to color my hair either. I love the color of my hair so I’ve never wanted to dye it. I never plan to dye it, even when it starts to go grey. Grey hair just doesn’t bother me. Shrug.

My hair is naturally pretty manageable. It’s thick and straight, except for when I have thin fly-aways or where it waves. Maybe I’ve just gotten good at working with my hair, instead of trying to torture it into submission. Or maybe it’s just plain accomodating — there’s never been a problem getting it to do anything fancy that anyone’s tried to do with it (cheer leading and dance competitions, proms, weddings, etc).

I also own few hair accessories. Just simple, standard hair ties, hair pins, a cloth head-band, and my trademark flower barrettes.

So, generally, I never spent a lot of money on my hair. Yet I’d still feel duped when I would go to a salon to get it cut and it would cost $50 (+ tip). I’ve heard and read of women dropping a hundo or more on their hair every two or three months, and I felt robbed if I had to pay $50 every year. It made me wonder: am I so cheap?

But, no, I’m not cheap. Or at least I don’t think I’m that cheap. I will pay more for diapers, for example, because they are more environmentally friendly, even though they literally get shat on and thrown away. But hair. I never left a hair salon and felt now that was money well spent, whether I spent $10 or $60. The money I had to shell out just didn’t match up with the value for me.

It was just hair getting cut with scissors. I cut my own fingernails — no big deal. My husband cuts his own hair and our sons’, albeit with electric clippers instead of scissors. They have and will be able to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars by cutting their own hair. I wanted in. So I tried it.

Just so we’re clear, I didn’t do very much research into this. Back in high school my friend and I figured that cutting hair from a pony-tail would create layers (we were right). A couple of years ago, I watched a couple of YouTube videos about it and didn’t find them very helpful. Also, to clarify, my long hair gave me a comfortable margin for error and I was prepared to go to a salon for a fix-up if any disasters occurred (they did not).

So. The Process:

I used a hair tie to put my hair into a pony-tail at the crown of my head. I put another hair tie around the tail and pulled it up away from my head to just below where I planned to cut. Then I took very sharp scissors and hacked away, straight across. (First I tried a butcher knife on my cutting block, but it didn’t make a dent. Either Mulan had a very sharp sword or I have hair like a steel cable.)

When I took my hair down from the pony-tail, it had the big, chunky layers I wanted and expected. I did a bit more trimming off the longest layer while my hair was down because I wanted it a bit shorter. I split my hair roughly down the middle and pulled it to the front, (like how you pretend to have a beard — you know what I’m talking about, other long-haired ladies), and just snipped away the ends until it was my desired length.

Now, full disclosure, this hair cut is not highly refined. It is not feathery; in fact, it is rather blunt. But it’s a simple hair style, which is all I ever wanted. I am very happy with how this procedure worked for my hair. Nobody has said anything about my hair since I cut it, like What? D’you get in a fight with your lawnmower and lose? or Did your kids cut your hair while you were asleep or something? or even Thank goodness, you finally did something about those split ends. It is a good 4-5 inches shorter, but still long, so I guess it’s hard for other people to notice when my hair just isn’t that important to them.

Perhaps I should’ve done before and after photos, but I wasn’t thinking of this blog so much when I did it. I was just hot and tired of carrying around a hair-blanket on my head. I wanted to save money and not have to get a babysitter so I could go out to a salon. I wanted to see if I could cut my own hair… and I could! I did! And I like it!

So this’ll be my hair M.O. from now on. Once every year or two should do it. Boom. Money in the bank.