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Scribing the Soul
July 2000

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Kathleen's Current Column

by Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT

In ancient times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of old.

"Pockets of Joy"

I remember the blazing hot Julys of my middle childhood as magical. The school year just past was a distant memory; the school year to come was in the far future. My suburban neighborhood, once fertile farmland, was friendly, safe and slow-paced. I'd mount my bike in early light and roam the creeks and cottonwood thickets until hunger drove me homeward. After lunch, I'd do it again.

I was a collector of all things interesting and random: Seedpods, rocks, shriveled cocoons, squashed pennies, bottle caps, pencil stubs. All of it got crammed into the pockets of my shorts. These were also the summers my mother taught me to do laundry, so once a week I'd dump my shorts and tops into the washer and pour in a measureful of Tide, mindless of the trail of debris I left behind.

My mother's task was to rescue her washing machine from the flotsam and jetsam of my travels. "I see you've got pockets of joy again," she'd say wryly, reaching deep into the basin to retrieve my treasures.

My carefree Julys are gone, but I've carried forward some habits: I'm still a wanderer, I'm still a gatherer, and I still seek pockets of joy to surprise and delight me. Here are four ways I create pockets of joy in my journal.

1. Treat your journal like a scrapbook. Buy a 3-pack of gluesticks and keep one in your purse or briefcase, one in your stash place at work, and one in your favorite journal spot at home. (If you keep one in the car, make sure it's in a baggie in case it melts.) Now you are free to paste in mementos of your daily wanderings: A comic strip or cartoon that tickles your funnybone, a movie ticket stub, your fortune cookie fortune, the photocopied lyrics to your favorite song from your new CD, a post card from the country inn where you had Sunday brunch with out-of-town friends. Writing about the event is optional. There's not a word in my journal about my lusty cheers and squeals during Tom Cruise's motorcycle chase, but the M:I-2 ticket stub is an instant return.

2. Log your joy. Keep a Joy Log. Start by listing three pockets of joy in every day. Anything counts that brings a smile to your eyes, a lift to your heart or a stirring to your soul -- a sunset, the laughter of a child, an answered prayer, feeling at home in your body, the scent of roses in your yard. As you develop the habit of joy, expand your repertoire to five daily joys, or even ten. Or you can borrow a spiritual practice from Brother David Steindl-Rast, who strives to find one new thing each and every day to praise. He says he was worried at first that he might run out of fresh ways to be surprised, delighted and grateful, but it hasn't happened yet.

3. Delight in sensory details. Indulge in the pleasures of the sensual, sensory world. Take time to fully appreciate the taste and texture of an exquisite piece of exactly ripe fruit. Breathe in the luscious smells of summer: Burgers on the grill, chlorine from the pool, freshly mowed grass. Put on music that transports you back to a carefree, joyful time in your life. Write about your joy.

4. Capture a moment of joy. The Captured Moments journal technique is a short vignette that freezes a moment of time permanently in prose, just as a camera shutter capture a moment of time on film. Captured Moments are characterized by their intensity of description. This is a place to allow yourself to use all the luscious, rich, evocative images, adjectives and verbs that you can call forth. Choose something from your Joy Log -- a moment of pure, unadulterated joy, beauty or bliss -- and write about it. Be flowery. Be intense. Be dramatic!

As a journal therapist who spends a good portion of every day working with people in pain, I know how easy and effective it is to turn to the journal as a never-ending friend in need. But any friendship needs balance. A little pocket of joy every now and then will go a long way toward bringing necessary balance to your journal. And your soul and spirit will thrive!

© 2000 Kathleen Adams. All rights reserved. 

Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is one of the leading voices on the power of writing to heal and is the author of four books, including Journal to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness. Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail kay@journaltherapy.com or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.


Read Kathleen's "Scribing the Soul" Columns:

Current "Scribing the Soul" Column

June 2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"


Read Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:

Writing in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream Journals



Visit Kathleen at her Website:



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