For the young girl in your life...
I don't have children...yet. But I do have a teenage nephew and a toddler niece who inspired this article here. Spending time with both of them is the joy of my life. So much so that I look forward to the day I get to call myself, "mother". In the meantime it is my role as their auntie to be fun, playful, wise, and supportive. At least this is what I believe my role to be. When my siblings started families of their own it really got me thinking - Am I a good example? Will they be proud I'm their aunt? What is it I get to teach and pass on to them? There is nothing quite like watching kids to make you wonder A) If I knew then... and B) Do we adults really have it all figured out?
I had similar thoughts this past Spring when I volunteered with a local chapter of a national organization, Girls, Inc. What an incredible experience. I spent 2 hours a week for 6 weeks with 11-14 year old girls mentoring them around happiness, health, and positive body image. Some discussions really got to me because here these girls were having thoughts I was still having at 30! It made me appreciate myself and what I can preach through action even more.
One tool I was excited to pass into them, and hope my niece will let me teach her one day, was journal writing. They spent one whole session making their journals. Folded pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper with thread and yarn to hold the binding together. But they loved this session because they got to tap into their own creativity and be proud of their imagination. Plus there was plenty of glitter which really never gets boring. When was the last time you spent the afternoon with scissors and paper and glue?
Each week thereafter I would walk the girls through journal exercises, just 5 minutes was all, but they always dived in. Nose deep in their journal, pondering, lost in thought. I taught them that they have permission to own their thoughts and ideas. That they can journal their dreams and big goals. That, in their journal, they can go anywhere they like. At an age where boundaries are everywhere I could just see the wheels spinning in their mind - You mean in my journal I am free?
I was gifted my first journal at 14 and it came in the nick of time. Life as a teenager is rough! So many social norms to figure out, dealing with having crushes, wanting to be an adult and kid at the same time, all while hormones are surging through your body. But every stage of life is part of growing up.
I may be a bit biased here, but being a teenage girl is unlike any other experience. I remember internalizing so much. Not wanting to take risks and be too loud or speak my mind. Not knowing where I fit in or if I was playing the game of teenage-hood correctly. My journal become this significant friend. A place I could explore life through the eyes of a 14 year old without fear of being criticized. I saw this same pattern in my girls group this Spring. And when they found the courage to share what they had written a sense of calm would come over the group as I watched each girl nod along as she thought, "You too?! I thought it was just me..."
If you have girls in your life, be it a niece, a daughter, a younger sister, or friend, I encourage you to gift her a journal. Spend time explaining that she gets to be whoever, go wherever, and ask whatever in her journal. That she has a right to privacy as she explores who she is. That her journal will never judge, criticize, or tell her she's wrong. But rather will provide a place for her to grow up with curiosity and self-worth.
Here are the things younger girls can get from practicing journal writing. They are also the themes I teach in my workshops to women of all ages!
Use your journal to house memories and remember life's most important events, people, and changes. Your journal can be a fantastic record keeper.
Keep your most cherished dreams alive and vibrant by putting them onto paper. Stretch your imagination, set goals, and celebrate major accomplishments.
You are your own personal advisor. You have a lot of great advice to grant yourself and your journal is the perfect place to pull that advice out of you. Connect with your inner wise self, ask questions, and ponder life.
Keep an active gratitude journal and count your blessings. The act of writing down the very things you're grateful for cements them in your life and present mind. It allows you to see more things to be grateful for.
Your journal is a safe space to get closure. Use your journal to close major chapters of your life, move forward, even say goodbye to a loved one. Say the things you never got to or don't feel comfortable saying out loud. Write it all down.
Loss takes time and your journal is the most patient companion when grieving. Write as a form of celebrating the person you are grieving.
Create a mirror to your life with your journal. Reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Take a step back and write on any situation from another perspective.
Heal from loss, transition, major life changes, and more. Use the pages of your journal to hold the space you need in order to heal.
9. Dig Deep
Tap into your sub-conscious mind through your journal. Explore hidden themes, patterns, and the meaning of your dreams.
Put big plans in motion with your journal. Create journal space just for life planning. Outline your next steps and see the path unfold on paper.
Celebrate your life with your journal. Write during major experiences such as getting married, having a baby, changing careers, moving to a new city, or even a major birthday.
Honor your life! Leave space for the value you bring into the world and celebrate your value. Your life is worth sharing and remembering. Use your journal to do this work and to leave a piece of your story.
Pass these along and long live the journal! -Andrea