ROUND-UP: How to Start Journaling

One of the things I’ve been told I do well is curating (gathering) information. Because I am constantly reading and researching, I tend to come across a lot of helpful information. But it’s not the most helpful if I keep it all to myself! So, I’d like to share what I’ve found by providing the occasional round-up posts where I link to others’ content.

roundup | how to start journaling | Life, Unleashed

For today’s round-up, I’m sharing others’ posts on HOW TO START JOURNALING:


journalingroutine-belletriste  journalistajournalingmythspin   journaling-tips-pinterest-1


And two (2) more, with one that’s more specifically about writing for healing:

How to Get Started Journaling (Elsie Road Magazine)

4 Ways to Write for Healing (Darcy Leech)

Losing My (Fake) Identity

From about 2002 to 2012, I was immersed in the book blogging world. It started with a Yahoo! group I’d joined, called “Book-a-Week”. Its participants aimed to read 52 books per year (a “book-a-week”). One of the Book-a-Week group’s rules was that you had to keep a record of the books you’d read. So, I’d started keeping a book journal then, but only a paper version. In 2005, I decided to start keeping an online –blog– version, as well.

Losing My (Fake) ID | Life, Unleashed

For the majority of my book blogging years, I was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). As such, I had plenty of time to read and blogging became my place to connect with other adults.

As for the book-a-week goal, I managed to hit it almost every year. And then I started to exceed it. I talked books, read books, researched books, collected books. My collection grew from approximately 300 books to over 1400 books!

Because I’d started several book memes that my readers came, weekly, to play along in (on my blog), I was becoming known in the book blogosphere. I’d taken on the alias of “Mizbooks”, which my readers shortened to “MizB” — something I was fine with. Friends and family even came to know me as “Mizbooks”, and called me “the crazy book lately”.

And so, that’s who I was — who I became. My identity was caught up in my love of books and reading.

Then came the 5 years of being back out in the working world. When I landed a busy, full-time job, my time (and mental capacity) for reading greatly diminished. All-of-a-sudden, I found myself in a sort of identity crisis. If I couldn’t read, then who was I? I’d been the “avid reader”, “MizB”, for so long… now I felt lost.

And I felt ashamed …like I was betraying my blog readers by no longer being this woman who read 80 books per year.

Fast-forward five more years. My reading has dwindled to about 12-15 books read per year. My book blog is barely hanging on, with just two memes left, and about 1/3 of the readership.

I no longer feel as bad for my lack of reading time; but I do still wish I could (would?) read more. Really, it’s now more an issue of time-management and priorities.

warrior woman | Life, UnleashedThe book blog… well, I’d been questioning that aspect, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to keep going with it after the new year (2017). I plan to either hand my two memes over to other bloggers or just let them go, entirely. Part of me doesn’t want to do either, as they feel like my “babies”. But another part of me knows it will be a relief to let them go.

Regardless, this whole “crisis” has taught me something. And that’s that we shouldn’t place our identity in what we do, or in the roles we play. Our truest identity (if we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior) is as daughters (and sons) of the King of Kings, and all that that entails. It’s the only thing that will not change. We’ve been adopted into God’s family, so we’re now set apart and He calls us His own.

I’m still learning to accept myself as who God says I am. But already, it has been both peace-giving and empowering.

So, who do you say that you are? Do you know yourself as a child of God? What do you need in order to make that mental shift?


Journaling: Why It’s Beneficial & How to Start

If you have ever thought that journaling just isn’t for you, or you don’t think that you would get anything out of keeping a journal … or, heck, maybe you do want to start a journal, but have no idea how to go about it … this post is for you.

Journaling - How to Start | Life, Unleashed

I have been a journaler since grade school, when an older friend gave me my first diary as a birthday gift. Nowadays, journaling is a practice I can’t live without.

There are so many benefits to keeping a journal! To name just a few of my own personal favorites:


You can start to see patterns in your behavior, if you journal on a regular basis. And once you see them, you have a better understanding of yourself and how you act in certain situations.


I am one of those people who needs time to process things before I can give my full opinion on them. One of the best ways I know to do this is through my journal. Often times, writing out my confusions, troubles, worries, and anxieties in my journal allows me to gain clarity and peace. I can’t even tell you how many times the journaling process has helped me figure out how to move past blocks I’ve had in my understanding of things!


Somewhat similar to what I said regarding self-awareness, keeping a journal is a good way to notice patterns in your behavior. When you are frustrated with yourself for continually making the same mistakes (or the same kinds of mistakes), your journal can help you figure out what to avoid doing in the future, so as to make course corrections and change your behaviors. It’s only in learning from our mistakes that we grow!


Obviously, when people talk about journaling, this is one of the top things that comes to mind. Many people use journals as a way to keep a record of special things that have happened in their lives.

For me, it’s been very helpful to have a written record to go back through, especially from certain periods in my life. For example, the years when my kids were newborns and toddlers, and I was a walking zombie due to the lack of sleep! Without my journals to remind me of things, there would be a lot from those years that’d be lost.


I have often been very much a lone wolf — I don’t get out all that often. So, when I’ve had major upsets, I have turned to my journal and written out my stresses and frustrations. Not only did I get clarity, but I also found that the stress melted away through the pen and onto the page, and I ended up calming down quicker than I would have, had I not had that outlet.


So, you see, there are great benefits to becoming a journaler!

My friend, Judy — a lady from my church who is in her 60s — never liked journaling. So, when we were asked to keep a journal throughout the weeks of our one Bible study, Judy made a fuss. Yet, she agreed to try for the sake of getting the most out of the study.

Several years later, after her house had survived an electrical fire, Judy recounted how worried she’d been that she would lose her journals! She had kept up the habit since the study had ended, and she’d grown to love it! For her, journaling had become her way to spend time in prayer with God and, in going back through them, she could see how God had been faithful to answer prayers. Her journals were a precious record of both her relationship with God, and her own spiritual growth.

So, while you may think that taking up journaling isn’t for you, I challenge you not to give up on the idea so easily! You just never know. Maybe you need a new perspective on what journaling could look like for you. Or, perhaps you just need to try a different method than one you’ve tried in the past. Consider the following ideas:

  • Instead of writing daily, try writing only once a week
  • Rather than keeping a record of what went on during the day, just write about the best part (or, reflect on what could have been done / gone differently)
  • Try writing just one sentence each day, instead of a full page
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Each day, just list 3 things you are grateful for (studies have show this to have numerous benefits to your health!)
  • Keep a “work journal” where you write out your to-do’s/schedule, and even reflect on successes or mistakes that happened

There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. Experiment with different methods to see what could work best for you.

For more on how to get started, and an expanded view of the benefits of journaling, check out these resources:



Bullet Journaling: Why I Chose This Method

Have you heard of the Bullet Journal system? It’s a method for planning that was developed by Ryder Carroll, and I have come to really enjoy it!


I have always loved the idea of being organized and using a day planner. I’ve previously written posts about using the popular planners, and also about DIY planners. Suffice it to say, I’ve tried many times — and many planners — to be someone who keeps track of their days in some sort of written fashion. But I hadn’t yet found the “right” planner — or system — for me.

…Until now.

Last year, I discovered Bullet Journaling via Pinterest. Basically, you use a notebook or journal (the preference seems to be for either Moleskine or Leuchtturm 1917 journals), and you create your own planner layouts, etc.

For someone like me, who is constantly changing things up ((grins)), the flexibility of this system cannot be praised enough!

With my first attempt, in 2015, I bought a Moleskine (squared) journal from Amazon, and set it up like I’d seen others do via Pinterest. However, after a while, I found myself using the book as a “brain dump/ideas” notebook, more so than a “planner”. That, and I’d fallen behind on indexing everything, which is a key part of this system.

I’d really thought that this method was going to be “it” for me, but this “mess” that my journal had become left me discouraged. And so, I set it aside for a time. Meanwhile, I kept saving pins about bullet journaling on Pinterest — I guess the hope hadn’t completely died.

A short while ago, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy started using the Bullet Journal system. And, since she’s a blogger who I find to be extremely similar to me, both in personality profile (INFP) and interests (books, psychology, faith), I was super interested in hearing her take on things!

After Anne posted her 3-month update of using her Bullet Journal, I was inspired enough to try again. So, I ordered a Leuchtturm 1917 journal (dotted, this time) from Amazon, and avidly searched Pinterest for ideas while I waited for my new book to arrive. By the time it got here, I was armed and ready with a solid plan.

Part of where I went “wrong” with my first attempt was that I didn’t section anything out; I just tried to go page-by-page. As I said, though, this left everything too scattered for me, and because I’d fallen behind in indexing, it really made my book more time-consuming, rather than time-saving.

So, this time, I chose to create different sections for the various parts and layouts. This was partly thanks to Anne’s update of how she usesher journal, but also partly based on my own idea, given what didn’t work for me the first time around.

I should mention that the first thing I did, before I even got this new journal, was think about what I needed this system (and book) to do for me. Honestly, I don’t think anyone who tries the Bullet Journaling method should skip this step — it’s really key. After all, they say that “if you don’t know your destination, you’ll never reach it”, right? Same thing applies here. You need to start with WHY you’re using a Bullet Journal — what do you need to track? (credit for this goes to Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine for her post, “The 8 Stages of the Bullet Journal Addiction).

My own needs (at least, right now) were to track my business & blog-related activities, as well as my healthy-living pursuits. There are other things, too, of course, but those are my two BIGGEST reasons for wanting a place to keep track and plan.

With that said, I chose to set up my Bullet Journal with the following sections, and in this order:

  • 12 pages for the Monthly spreads
  • 52 x 2-page spreads for Weekly
  • a “Lists” section
  • a “Brain Dump & Ideas” section

Here are some pictures of my Bullet Journal, so far:

cover    index  weekly view

weekly view  monthly view  lists view

lists / books  tabs  braindump

(click any of the images to see them larger)


The nice thing about the Leuchtturm 1917 (as opposed to the Moleskine) is that its pages come pre-numbered, and they also give you three (3) pages already prepped for your Index, which is super-handy! I also like the two ribbon markers, and the pocket in the back (similar to the Moleskine).

So far (a few weeks into using this new method), I’m loving it. This time I have a “plan” for my planner, and it’s making things so much more enjoyable.

And again, I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have such flexibility! I only set up one week’s spread at a time, thereby allowing me to change things up as I go along, should the need (or desire) arise. And, of course, it already did! LOL. The first week, I found the “to-do” section too small for everything I wanted to note, and the other space too empty. So, for week 2, I added a second column for ToDo’s (one for personal, and one for business), and it’s worked out a lot better. But again, I can still change it up (later), if I need to.

Lastly, the addition of the “brain dump/ideas” section in the back of the book was kind of genius (thanks, Anne!). It allows me to jot down any random thoughts or doodles, without worrying that I’ll “mess up” my weekly spreads, or the order of things, as I’ve set them up.

So, there you have it. I think I’ve finally stumbled upon something that works for me!

Your turn... | Life, UnleashedHAVE YOU USED THE BULLET JOURNALING SYSTEM? If so, what do you like or dislike about it? Share in the comments!