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Journalling: The Warming Hut

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In the lee of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco is a cafe and gift shop called The Warming Hut. On my first visit, I propped up my rented bike against a wooden bench outside and sat with a smoothie scribbling into a tiny moleskin journal. It was three days into a three month round the world trip of a lifetime and I was about to fulfil my long held wish of cycling over the bridge into Sausalito. I wrote about the elements of life that day that made it perfect. How the sourdough bread for breakfast had tasted. How good it felt to exercise in the mist-burning sun. How it was to be having dreams come true. I stopped and took time to appreciate and record.  Later, in the hotel room with a view of Alcatraz, I ripped out the pages and stuck then into the soon to be bulging A4 Moleskin that was my dedicated trip journal. I wrote about how I could never live in San Fransisco but how I could introduce small parts of the elements of life there that were so seductive into my life at home.  Then I added a map of where I was, a postcard of the bridge and my return ferry ticket.

I just went to the shelf which holds my journals and reread that little note. Since that trip I have changed house and job ( twice) and life is better than before. I managed in some small way to incorprate everything my journal allowed me to capture and understand at that moment. I doubt that had I not taken that reflective time I would have had such a full understanding of what changes I needed to my home lifestyle.

 

A year later I returned to California to visit a friend I met online who lives nintey minutes North of the City. Top of the to-visit list was a return to the Warming Hut. For me, Journalling is a solitary activity. I like to be in public places but to be alone there. I need not to have people watching me think. I need to stare into space and not worry that my nearest and dearest know me so well they can read my thoughts as I write them. But there are exceptions to every rule. My friend is also a solitary journaller. She is the only other person I know who thinks a plane delay that requires a night in a hotel with nothing but a journal and a novel in her bag ( for she would not venture out for milk without those in her bag)  is the best treat in the world. She is sociable but she too craves time to live with herself alone from time to time.

So, there, in the Warming Hut we journalled.  She sketched that day and took photos of the gulls on the pier through the window. I used words. Together, in  companionable solitude we sat, not talking to each other and sharing the beauty of journalling time. Later she gave me the nicest compliment I have had. She said, “Being with you is as good as being alone.” Sharing that journalling session on what was only the second time we had physically met was a matter of trust that cemented the best friendship I now have.

I have seen a lot of the world. I have been to Opera Houses and Roman ruins, I have climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge in an electrical storm and driven through small villages over the Atlas mountains to stay in a Kasbah. I have woven traditional cloth with Maori women by hot springs and I have picked up bullet casings from a pavement in Soweto. And if I had one expereince to repeat, the day before I died, I would return to the Warming Hut with my friend and my journal for a while before I went to meet my husband in Sausalito.

Such is the power of the act of journalling to cement a sense of peace and well being, of gratefulness at the perfection of the day and of the knowledge that we have the power to recreate that wherever we are. Journalling is simple.  You write stuff down. Anything. On anything. With anything.  Yet, journaling is powerful. It changes your life for the better. That is why I want to write about it regularly here.

 

Using this blog for journalling:

If you have read any of my previous posts you will have spotted that I like to end with a question. Partly this is in hope that you will join in a discussion in a comment. But also it is to provide journalling prompts to enable you to consider the post content as it might apply to you in a deeper more private way should you so choose.

I was going to start this monthy feature with some introductory tips on Journalling for those who were unfamiliar with it. Then I found two really good resources and I decided there was no reason to reinvent the wheel. I am happy to be a referal portal to people who have succeeded in creating good content on their blogs.

First there is an article How to Journal in Ten Easy Steps  from Kristin at Journalling Saves. ( she concedes that you can stick at step one, which si pick up a pen and write and you will succeed right there!)

Then Ray Blake, ( co-creator of the free diary and planner inserts at the Philofaxy blog) as made available an ebook ( free for for donation as you see fit) which is a combined version of twelve blog posts he wrote on his blog Life All in One Place.

 

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Erica #

    Helen, have you read Stephanie Dowrick’s book “Creative Journal Writing: The Art & Heart of Reflection?” Wonderfully thoughtful writing.

    http://www.stephaniedowrick.com/published-works/books/creative-journal-writing-the-art-heart-of-reflection/

    November 19, 2012
    • plancrea #

      I haven’t yet read that one no, although I shall now be checking it out. Thanks for the link.

      November 19, 2012
  2. Gwyned Trefethen #

    I began journaling close to 20 years ago. It is how I begin every morning, 365 days a year. I started while participating in an on-line study group with “The Artist’s Way” as our text. Several years later I read “Simple Abundance.” That caused me to modify my morning pages. My first thoughts are what I am grateful for – a great way to jump start my journaling. Although my journaling is 99% words, I have been known to do some rudimentary sketching/blocking of ideas if driven to it. Couldn’t imagine starting my day any other way.

    November 19, 2012
    • plancrea #

      Wow! i have phases of the morning routine but much though I advocate journalling I have to say I have never made that absolutely daily routine stick. i am sure it has huge benefits though.. Maybe I should try again?

      November 19, 2012
  3. Brigitte Red #

    I have made many attempts at journalling. I’ve started and stopped. I’ve started reading The Artist’s Way but did not finish it. I have read many blogs about journalling, sketching and putting into words your thoughts. That was some years ago when I was much younger and thought I had little time for it. Now as I come closer to retiring I regret not having started what appears to be a helpful vehicle for sorting out ones thoughts, ideas and decisions. I suppose it’s never too late to start in earnest is it? Now where is that pen and paper?

    November 19, 2012
    • Alison Reeves #

      Brigitte – I couldn’t have said this better myself. I’ve made several false starts. I’ve had a lot of experiences whilst travelling that provoked thoughts and feeling I vowed never to forget – and of course I have forgotten the lessons – or they are hazy. I’m sure writing them down would have cemented them and also been a reference for the future. I’ve been talking to another colleague who loves journalling (and have sent her a link to this blog post) so it is in my mind. I’ll check out those resources later on. I really do love writing so have no idea why I haven’t done it before. As you say – it’s never too late to start.

      November 19, 2012
    • plancrea #

      No. never, ever, ever too late to start!

      November 19, 2012
  4. Alison Reeves #

    I do have a tenancy to get hung up over the mechanics of things – what do others use to journal in? I suppose it makes sense to have something portable, but on the other hand not so big you don’t want to carry it with you.

    November 19, 2012
    • plancrea #

      This comment made me smile.. I have a draft post for the next monthly Journalling article on just this topic and I was contemplating ditching it. I shall now finish it off just for you… But dont wait a month to start!

      November 19, 2012
      • Alison Reeves #

        Thanks Helen!

        November 19, 2012
  5. I have a friend, a very old (from schooldays and that was long ago!) and very close friend. She introduced me to Julia Cameron and we often go out on Artist’s Dates when we can get together. For both of us the day starts with tea and coffee and our journals, watching the world go by together but alone. Those are some of my most precious moments (and I would love to be stranded in a hotel with a good book and my journal and some coloured pens – oh bliss!)
    Gillie

    November 19, 2012

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