I am constantly amazed by the power of journaling to heal both our bodies and our minds. The following interview with journaling expert and writer Mari McCarthy illustrates this point.
In this interview, Mari shares her personal struggles with physical disability and explains how journal writing helped her recover from illness. Mari’s site Create Write Now! encourages “journaling for the health of it.” She’s used that skill to successfully heal her own pain.
Thanks so much to Mari for sharing her story in this installment of the Journaling Interviews series.
How did you get started journaling?
In a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) relapse, I lost feeling on the right side of my body and my dominant right hand and arm just hung down from my shoulder socket. I needed to teach myself how to write legibly with my left hand.
I met a woman who introduced me to Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” and I then began my journaling journey by writing 3 stream-of-consciousness pages in my yellow-striped Staples 8 ½ x 11 pad of paper every day first thing.
How long have you been journaling?
Daily for about 12 years.
How often do you write?
Where do you write?
Mostly in my office where I usually keep a personal, a business and a song-writing journal. I also keep a notebook on my coffee table in my living room and one on my nightstand.
Do you prefer morning or night?
Mostly I journal during the day. Sometimes I get back into my Morning pages routine where I feel I have to do it the very, very, very first thing. I guess you could say I follow my gut muse.
Currently I am back into my MP routine and I do 1 1/2 pages with my left hand and I ½ with my right as one of my goals is ambidexterity. Sometimes if I feel I need to shut the brain down to get a healthy night’s sleep, I’ll do some Night Notes.
Do you have a preferred journal or notebook?
I’ve been using Staples one subject notebooks. They’re flexible and I can buy them in large quantities as I go through a lot of notebooks.
Do you use prompts or free writing or a combination?
Mainly I just free write. I also love to use questions to start a session. With all the Journaling Tips I publish, I try them out myself first
Have you ever found it necessary to take a break from journaling?
Yes, every once in a while, I take a day off. I need it. Once I went on a silent meditation retreat weekend (no journals allowed) and discovered I brought a new perspective back to the page.
Has journaling contributed to any important changes or events in your life?
It has helped me become my own Primary Care Provider. I don’t run to the doctor automatically and have used no prescription drugs in over 6 years. We work through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pains and agony together. We are working on curing all my dis-eases.
What has surprised you most about journaling?
The discoveries I’ve made about myself and all the talents, skills, abilities and power I have within me. And all those gems have been inside me since birth.
What’s your biggest journaling challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
Impatience. I sometimes feel that I should have problems solved and questions answered just like that. I am accepting that everything is a process and sometimes things take a lot of writing, writing and writing.
What’s your biggest journaling roadblock or hurdle?
Can’t think of any. There’s nothing that we can’t do together!
Advice for journaling newbies?
Be kind and compassionate and patient with yourself. Yes, you already know how to do that and with journaling you’ll learn how to be better at it!
Journaling is the ultimate experience in self-care and that’s something we’ve never allowed in our lives before. We’ve been controlled by our head and journaling helps us return to our bodies. Journaling is major behavior change time. So face down your fears and write, write, write away!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Before Journaling, I lived on the periphery of my life. Now, I live my life from the inside out and I am infinitely curious to see where my Journaling takes me next!
Check out the treasure trove of journaling wisdom and inspiration available on Mari L. McCarthy’s site, Create Write Now!