Camping, Hiking and All the Words

I have heard time and time again that successful people journal. People who have morning routines journal. Creative people journal. Christian leaders, songwriters, authors…they all seem to journal. I’ve tried. Multiple times I have purchased the perfect journal and the perfect pens with every intention of capturing my thoughts on paper. I’ve even started a few times and gotten a couple of days in and then…..nothing. There sits the perfect journal just staring at me, begging for me to write in it. Weeks will go by and I might make another meager attempt to write something for a day or so and then the habit that never developed is tossed aside until a few years later when I spot the perfect journal that fills me with inspiration. And so the cycle begins again….

In August 2017 my husband and I took a 13 day road trip covering four states visiting several National Parks and sites all along the way. It was magical and just the trip we needed. We camped, we hiked, we slept out under the stars in the middle of nowhere, we laughed, we went too many days without a shower and we had the time of our lives. We experienced so many firsts. This was my first major camping trip. We had a tent. There was no water or electricity at the camp site and no bathhouse with a shower. It was minimal. If you don’t know what a vault toilet is, look it up. That’s what we had. Hey, it was better than a bucket so I’m not complaining. It was a first, and a bucket list item, for my husband to see the Grand Canyon. Not only did we see it, we got to hike down into the canyon and do some hiking along the North Rim and even make a quick trip to see it from the South Rim. Another first for me was to sleep under the stars outside all night long WITHOUT a tent! I was super nervous about this. I know a tent doesn’t offer a lot of protection from killer animals that are out to get me, but in my head it does. But when you are in the Valley of the Gods and there are no lights for miles and miles, the stars are stunning. In fact, I didn’t sleep much at all because I just laid there and stared out at the sky. It was a night I will never forget.

Maybe when I was searching for the perfect journal and the perfect pens I was looking for my inspiration in the wrong places. The few times I did actually write in my journals it ended up looking more like an itinerary of my day. It wasn’t anything profound or thought provoking. It felt forced and awkward.

On August 15th, Day 1 of the road trip, I sat in our room at LaMesa Motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico right off of Route 66 and wrote in my journal about the trip I was excited to start. Little did I know this trip would inspire a new habit-one I had tried and failed to start many, many times during my life. I journaled all throughout our trip about the places we went, the things we saw and the way those places made me feel. My previous attempts at journaling left me feeling like I had no words, nothing to say. But on this trip? On this trip I had ALL the words. I would write and write and write some more. We were never rushed. There was plenty of time to explore and plenty of time to relax and take in our surroundings and still plenty of time to write it all down so I would never forget the moments I was able to experience. I have reread the words from that trip several times and each time it takes me right back to where we were. I didn’t know I would be giving myself such a wonderful gift.

I get it now. I understand why people love to journal. Its freeing. Today pictures are posed and cropped and most likely have a filter on them. I still love capturing moments with a camera, but there is something raw about writing it down. You don’t have to use perfect grammar. You don’t even have to use complete sentences. Its your thoughts and your journal. You do it how you want. No one ever has to see it. It almost feels sacred.

In September, just after we got back from our trip, I was given a new journal from a friend. She had no idea I had recently fallen in love with journaling, but her timing was impeccable. For the first time in my life, I have now completed a journal. I began writing in it in September and this past week I filled up the last page. I’m not sure if I have ever felt so accomplished!

This journal holds lists of things I am grateful for, written prayers for my husband as I walked through the book Power of a Praying Wife, my thoughts on life as it happened day in and day out, goals for the new year, hopes and dreams for the future, tear drops from the hard days and scriptures filled with promise. It holds my fears, questions and documentation of the many blessings that have come my way.

Have you ever thought about journaling or started but just couldn’t make the habit stick? Try again. Get outside. Take a walk. Go for a drive with the windows down. Watch the sunrise. Get on your knees and pray like you have never prayed before. Be inspired. And then just start writing. You will be amazed at what comes out and onto the paper. If you don’t know where to start, just start with writing down three things you are grateful for and why. Do that for a few days and see what happens. If nothing else, it will give you something to look back at on the tough days.

I have started a new journal and on the front cover is one of my favorite quotes.

So what are you waiting for? Fly!

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