I have written a journal on and off for several years. It probably started when I as a student midwife, and as part of our learning we would write reflections on our experiences, exploring how we felt, what we had learned and where we would go next. This is very much part of what I do now on an almost daily basis.
I try to get up earlier than everyone else in the house so that I can have some really peaceful time on my own with no interruptions, or demands. I usually make a cup of Lady Grey – my favourite tea – with soya milk, fill up my hot water bottle (the house is freezing), sit in the back room, with my special blanket and just be. There is a bit of preparation involved as you can see…because to me, this is my special morning time. A space where I can look after me, be kind and really enjoy it. So it’s a bit of a ritual really. I also use this time to practice meditation and if I’m feeling more energetic, a little yoga.
A couple of weeks ago I visited my bestest friend, who presented me with a beautiful new journal. Perfect timing, as I had just completed one. With quotes and gorgeous drawings inside, it feels so precious to write in, and I feel like I’m enjoying a special piece of luxury time to explore and understand me – who I am, where I’m going, what I’ve learned each day.
I keep it with a specially chosen colorful pencil case, ready to doodle my imaginings in the margins and allow my inner child to be free, along with other bits and bobs in my basket.
I think it’s about setting aside some time for that important self care. Sometimes I write loads, sometimes just a few sentences and some doodles. I can look back on them and see what was happening and how I was feeling about life, and it helps me see things in perspective with where I am now. I have a terrible memory so it’s like the inner me on my shoulder reminding me of stuff that’s happened and helping me to move forward instead of being stuck.
In birthwork, using the journal as a tool for reflection can support your development, and help you identify areas where you feel you would like to learn more. Following a birth especially, can be a time where you are ‘full’ to capacity, emotionally. The journal works as a sort of basket where you can empty out all that extra ‘stuff’. You can allow it to sit there for a bit and come back to it later, or begin the work of processing your journey.
Questions you could ask yourself
- What happened?
- How did that make me feel?
- What did I learn about myself from that experience?
- What would I do differently next time?
- From what I have learned, do I have any learning or self development needs that would benefit me in the future?
My recipe for journaling
- a specially chosen journal with blank pages ready for your musings and doodles – doesn’t have to be expensive – but something special does make that morning ritual feel a little bit more special
- a pen that feels good to write with
- colourful and metallic pens in a specially chosen pencil case – for doodling, underlining, embellishing…
I would recommend it to everyone – and it can be so good in pregnancy too – a reason to create some space to explore how things are unfolding. I have a personal journal for life and a separate one for my birthwork. I use it to reflect and explore my experiences and to keep memories, and also as a tool for self development, flagging up topics to research, and knowledge to brush up on. Birth work is a calling, whether you are a midwife, doula, activist or advocate. There is always so much to learn and understand and be inspired by.
One day I’ll leave them for my children to read.
A deeper insight into the strange and wonderful workings of the mind of their mother…