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Alanna Denault

Posted on June 15, 2022 at 12:39 am

Alanna Denault

A Journey Through Journaling

I’ve always struggled to understand my own thoughts. They spiral around the inside of my skull like the planets orbit the sun. Infinitely fast, never slowing, but never seeming to get anywhere. Sometimes, It feels like I’ll miss something vital if I blink. Sometimes, they feel like permanent fixtures in my psyche. Nothing helped. I’d tried keeping a diary before, but I could never find a topic meaningful enough to write about. I had such high standards for writing no one would ever see.

Finally, this spring, stuck in a never-ending loop of my anxieties, stressed about the next year’s course selection, missing work, various insecurities, and on, and on— I opened up a composition notebook and just wrote.

I filled 18 pages that night. I wrote to-do lists. I wrote about my goals. I wrote more to-do lists. I copied my thoughts, tangents and all. As I kept coming back to it, I doodled. I pasted in magazine cutouts. I copied in quotes and song lyrics. I even kept notes on my favorite eras of art history. Soon, it was more than just pressure relief for the worst days, it was a habit I looked forward to. On my walks, I thought about things I could add to my journal: lost feathers, pressed flowers, pictures of animal tracks.

My favorite entry is a collage of magazine cutouts, a yellow carnation, and swatches of oil paint assembled to form a hilly landscape with a rising sun. I’ve gotten books on local plant identification from the library. Currently, I can identify various invasive, harmful, and edible plants, including stinging nettle, poison ivy, honeysuckle, garlic mustard, and various wildflowers. I even started making homemade inks from the flowers, nuts, and mushrooms I’ve found in the areas around my house.

Beyond allowing me to direct my thoughts and ease my anxieties, journaling inspired a connection to nature that wasn’t there before. I see art and creativity in nature that I would otherwise overlook. The way I interact with nature has been forever changed by this new passion. It’s given me a new connection to something larger than myself, something to be cared for, and something to be reckoned with. Journaling has encouraged me to set goals related to personal wellbeing and lessening my negative impact on the environment. As I worked to consistently eat three meals a day, I tried to reduce my meat consumption. Journaling is an outlet for negative emotions and encourages connections that inspire positive emotions. At last, I am motivated to hope for my future.


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