My therapist pointed out to me during a session that I hold my breath and become very still when I feel tense. It’s like, I’m so focused on whatever is burdening me that I forget to breathe. After she brought this to my attention, I began to notice it all the time. Now that I know that this is a Thing that I do, I also know to take a few deep breaths as soon as I’m aware of it. I feel my body relax. My heart slows a little. My shoulders lower away from my ears. It’s an easy fix.
The same way I hold my breath, I also hold in what I’m feeling. I let it whirl in my head on a loop. It feels heavy in my chest. I get so caught up in the painful feeling of confinement that I forget that it doesn’t have to be this way. I can let it out. I can breathe as soon as I notice I haven’t been.
Journaling is my tried and true ritual for purging weighty thought and emotion. I can look back on my life and see that the seasons in which I was regularly journaling brought more peace and clarity. Simply taking time each day to focus on YOU is a rewarding act of self-love in itself, but the revelations that come with thinking “out-loud” (on paper) are invaluable. When you give yourself the opportunity to follow a train of thought without judgment or a sense of urgency, you find so much more in your head and your heart that could’ve sat idly—full of potential, but neglected.
I try to journal at the same time every day to reinforce the habit, which used to be before bed, but I’ve switched to in the morning (around 8 or 9) and like that much more. I can unload and move on with my day feeling lighter. I’ll often go to a café and really milk the “self-care” stereotypes just to make it fun for myself. And this may go without saying, but it’s also important to me that I really like my journal. I’ve bought a few impulsively that I never finished because I got tired of the journal itself. They were either too big or too small or too eccentric (textured parchment is nice, in theory, but annoying to actually write on.) One time I decided to buy a yellow journal. I only got maybe ten pages in because I began to hate the shade. Sounds silly, but when you get a journal, make sure it meets your aesthetic and practical needs. I just began an unlined one for the first time and love it, but in the past I always made sure my journals were lined because I really cared about them looking neat and tidy. (I’ve grown to embrace the mess.)
I love journals that are minimal in design. My favorite, easy, go-to journal is Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 (in black, of course.) The one I just started I found in a little shop (7115 by Szeki) on Rivington St. in New York. It comes in a standard size and a pocket size. I bought the pocket size to easier carry it around in my purse. There’s a space behind the binding that fits a pen perfectly. I also care a lot about my pens. My favorite are the gel pens from Muji. I’ve found that journaling in pencil is messier (I’m a lefty) and begins to fade overtime, which makes saving them kind of pointless (isn’t it everyone’s hope that our journals will be admired post-mortem, like Sylvia Plath or Eliss Grey? Just kidding. I save mine for sentimental value, to have an accessible timeline of my mental health, and to hopefully show my children one day.)
When I finished my Moleskine, and switched to my 7115 journal, there was a shift in my journaling patterns. I had been recounting my days in detail and writing down my plans for the immediate future, almost like writing in an agenda, but when I started this new journal, I began to write more introspectively about life-themes and feelings, rather than events. That’s what reminded me of Sunday Love Letters. It often feels like journaling when I write these emails.
I want to get back into the habit of writing emails, but this time with less structure. They may not come weekly or on Sunday’s. I might send out three in one week and none the next. I think the conformity is what has tripped me up in the past. I’m a perfectionist. It’s exhausting. I want to let myself exist with less self-imposed limitations.
Something feels more intimate and personal about these emails than sharing thoughts on social media. There’s less pressure for them to appear a certain way because it’s not displayed on a (semi-)permanent, public feed. I think it’ll be a good way for me to tap into some creativity. To embrace a more uninhibited mode of expression. I probably won’t edit them either.
I hope you stay subbed. And please, feel free to reply to these emails whenever you have something to say. I would love to hear your thoughts on whatever I’ve written. I would love for this to be a conversation, not just a shout in to the void.
Love you, mean it.
Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been digging lately (I’ll be adding to it throughout the month.)