A Journaling Tip

One thing I’m working on this year is to be more consistent in my journaling. This is important to me because journaling is a fun way to capture memories from significant, or even daily, events.  Journaling also creates great triggers that help me recall memories when I read an entry months or years later.

I’ve recently started adding a mind-mapping technique to my journaling to help capture more memories. Here’s how it works.

In the horizontal and vertical center of the page write down the event you want to remember. It might be something like “Vacation to Disneyland”, “Kids first day of school”, “Family Reunion”, First day on the new job”.  You get the idea.

Next, start writing down words and phrases about that event. Don’t write sentences, just write down the things that come to your mind when you think of the event.   Maybe it’s a place, people, an activity, a verb, and adjective… just write whatever comes to mind.

Write these words around the event you wrote in the middle of the page. I find it fun to write words at different angles and in different spots on the page.  As I run out of space, I start squeezing words in to blank spaces in between words I’ve already written.

Here’s an example of my entry for the mission trip I wrote about last week.

Journal

It would take a while to write a few sentences about every item on this page. However, in this format I can fill a page with several words about the trip that will instantly trigger my memory when I read them.

For this trip I also wrote some daily entries in sentence form for specific elements of the trip I wanted to capture in greater detail. This, coupled with the mind-mapping technique, provided a great way for me to thoroughly journal the important memories from this trip.

Give this journaling method a try and see if it works for you. You have nothing to lose and memories to gain.

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Taking Advantage

Last week some folks from our church and I were on the Flathead Reservation in Pablo Montana. We were there on a work and witness trip.  We helped the church in Pablo with some painting projects and assisted with their Vacation Bible School for the children on the reservation.  It was a fun week!

While I was visiting with some of the locals, I learned about several great resources the tribe offers to its members, such as free dental, free healthcare, free college, and a cash payout when tribal members when they turn 18. I was amazed at all these great benefits and thought how fortunate tribal members are to have them, because it really sets them up for a potentially healthy and prosperous start in life; if they choose to take advantage of those resources.

However, during our week on the reservation, we saw more poverty, ill health, and dental issues than I have seen in any other community. It was such a paradox that a community with an abundance of resources would be suffering the effects that those resources would alleviate.  I was frustrated that more people weren’t taking advantage of them.

In light of that experience, I can’t help wonder how many of us aren’t taking advantage of the resources we have available to us. While we may not all have free dental, healthcare or a generous windfall, we are surrounded by numerous and equally valuable resources just waiting to be utilized.  Perhaps it’s a person we know with some knowledge we’d like to have, who would gladly share it with is if we only ask.  Maybe it’s a healthier diet that we only have to choose over the less-healthy one we’ve been selecting.  There are good resources all around us just waiting for us to avail ourselves to them.

Be on the lookout for the resources and opportunities that we’ve previously been overlooking, and decide to take advantage of them. Who knows; they could potentially change the trajectory of your life for the better.

A Story Worth Living

“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask then what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories […].”

~ Donald Miller – “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

 If your life is a story, would it be a story worth reading?  Here’s the bigger question:  do you want it to be?

We’re blessed that we get to choose what we want to pursue during our lifetime.  It seems a shame therefore, that we would reject this blessing by not having any ambitions, desires, or goals we’re chasing.

Sure, pursuing such things involves struggle and the ability to overcome obstacles, but isn’t that what makes a good story?  Wouldn’t overcoming obstacles in pursuit of something worthy also make for an interesting and fulfilling life?  I think so!

Be aware of your ambitions.  Know what they are and what you need to do to move toward them, and then, take those actions that will bring them about.  By doing so, you’ll be writing a story, and a life, worth living.

Choice

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle

I saw this quote on a colleague’s email signature this week and it instantly became a favorite! It reminds me how much control we have over our lives by the choices we make.

The quote says nothing about our present situation, our upbringing, or any other excuse we use to explain why we’re not currently living the life we desire. The focus is clearly on intention and intelligent and wise action.  I don’t know about you, but that’s extremely encouraging to me!  We are the ones who get to choose what shape our lives take.  If we want to become something different from what we currently are, we simply need to choose to take actions that move us in our desired direction.

Let’s not let the world shape us because we decided not to choose for ourselves. This ability, this privilege to choose for ourselves is too great a freedom to neglect, so let’s not squander it.  Instead, let’s choose wisely.