In this special bonus episode, Ariana talks to Kayla Del Biondo about mindful journaling. Look for Kayla's 3-part program series this summer at the Library!
Hello and welcome to a special bonus episode of The Hamden Library podcast. I'm your host, Michael Perry. In this mini episode, Ariana talks with Yale librarian, Kayla del Biondo, about mindful journaling. Kayla will also be doing a three part series on journaling this summer at the library. Check our website, hamdenlibrary.org, for more information and registration.
Hello, my name is Ariana Davis and I work as a library page here at Hamden Public Library. I also have the privilege of being a contributor for our Hamden Public Library Podcast. I'm sure you would agree that we're all looking for ways to decrease stress, boost our health and improve our mental and emotional well being. Well, these are just a few of the outcomes that can result from mindful journaling. But what exactly is mindful journaling? And can it benefit you? For insight on this writing practice that is growing in popularity, I'm interviewing Miss Kayla del Biondo. In addition to her love of librarianship, she is a talented artist and has a passion for mindful journaling. Thank you so much, Miss Kayla, for joining me today.
Kayla Del Biondo
Thanks, Ariana. I'm happy to be here.
So when people hear the word journaling, their minds may default to the nostalgic notion of writing in a diary or personal journal as a child. If you can, please explain to our listeners, what is a more modern enlightened concept of journaling for young ones and adults alike?
Kayla Del Biondo
Of course. So I am an avid journaler, in all senses of the word. So I still do that nostalgic type of journaling, where I do write a summary of, you know, what happened in my day that day, or maybe what happened in my week. And I think that this is a great way to look back on how you were feeling and what you were doing at different times in your life. I've been doing that for about seven years. But one thing in the recent past, maybe the last two or three years that I've really gravitated towards is now what we're referring to as mindful journaling. And to put it more simply, I consider mindful journaling to be a journaling practice, it's a little bit more creative and a little bit more freeing. And you can literally draw outside the lines.
So in terms of the materials that you're using, rather than maybe a line journal that you would use for a diary, where you're writing a lot of words that you're describing how you're feeling and what you're doing in that moment in time, bullet journals are a really good way - or sometimes people call them dot journals - of capturing this kind of mindful journaling. Because it allows you -- it's really just dots on the page, so that you can do drawings, you can also have words, and you'll end up having different lists. So it's a much more kind of exploratory way to capture and a more artistic way to capture what's going on in your life. So it still is considered a form of journaling. But it looks a lot different than those diaries that we think of in that more classic form of journaling.
So just to give you an example of the different lists and journal spreads, I call them, that exist in my journal, I like to make really beautiful to do lists, I do what's called a brain dump, where I really get my thoughts onto paper. I'm a firm believer that our thoughts shouldn't just stay in our head. I think it's really nice to, it's really... Part of my mindful journaling practice is to really get what I'm thinking and feeling onto paper, to maybe release it or just see it in a different light. I also journal manifestations and affirmations, which I know we'll get into in just a minute, as well as what I'm wanting and what I'm needing. And what I'm feeling are highs and lows in my life, usually on a monthly basis. But I'm I'm a big believer that a journal can really -- whatever you want can live inside it. So I've listed jokes that I find funny, I've tracked my fitness routine, whether it's day to day, week to week or month to month, places where I want to travel, dreams that I've had and when I think that they might suggest personal finance goals and even Christmas lists that I'm thinking of for people.
So the big takeaway here is I think it is a healing and mindful practice to get what you're feeling and thinking onto paper so that it doesn't feel so maybe restrictive and suffocating and it's not all in this one tangled mess in your head. And I also think it's a really creative process, whatever your -- whatever's going on in your life can really just come to life on a piece of paper.
Thank you so much for providing that foundation to our discussion and also sharing your own personal prompts and what helps you to journal and to be able to, as you brought out, put those thoughts to paper. My next question is, in your opinion, what is the connection between journaling and mindfulness? And what does mindful journaling mean to you?
Kayla Del Biondo
Great question. I think journaling is one of many tools that people can use to live more mindfully and practice self-care. So it certainly by no means is the only thing that people should be doing to feel a little bit more connected to, you know, their body and their mind and their breath. We know that there's lots of different techniques and strategies that are out there for people to feel a little bit more present and a little bit more grateful. But the way that I practice mindful journaling is really through those manifestations which I can describe in more detail here: affirmations and micro-gratitude.
Maybe I'll start with micro-gratitude, just because I think that people are familiar with the word gratitude. So gratitude and being grateful, is really just, you know, an acknowledgment or a feeling of thanks and gratefulness towards something going on in your life. And I think that this is really powerful, and helps you to remain positive and maybe like reframe something that's going on in your life. And just take that moment to feel appreciative for what you have. And I push people in my journaling workshops that I've led thus far to think about micro-gratitude. And there's a book by Catherine Gray, called "The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary", where I was a little bit inspired in this whole concept of gratitude versus micro-gratitude.
And to give you an example of gratitude, to be grateful could just be, I think we're very used to saying what we're grateful for in really simple terms. So "I'm grateful for my family", "I'm grateful for my health". What I like to push people to do and what I push myself to do is to get really specific about what you're grateful for, aka micro-gratitude, little things that you're grateful for, and be really specific about them. One, because I think we're never going to run out of things that we're grateful for, if we do it in that way. And two, because I think it puts you really in touch with your senses and the present moment, which is very much a part of a lot of people's mindfulness practice.
So an example of being grateful for your family, which goes beyond just saying "I'm grateful for my family" might be, "I'm so grateful for my day, because I spent the afternoon with my mom, we put the windows down, we were blasting our favorite song. And we had a beautiful view driving over, like, a drawbridge" or something. Or instead of "I'm grateful for my health", maybe something like "I'm grateful to be feeling energized, and to have the physical strength to be able to go on a hike, and do home renovations all in one day". So as you can see, it's getting really specific about the exact moments that we're grateful for, and what we saw, what we felt, maybe what we smelled in those moments, and it allows us to kind of live them all over again.
Affirmations, put really simply, are just "I am" statements. So usually they're said to invoke self-confidence and kind of improve your self-esteem. So they can be, again, an "I am beautiful, I am confident" whatever you want to fill in the blank with for the I Am, or can be "I" plus another verb. So "I trust how things unfold in my life". So that's just an example of affirmations that you can write in your journal based on how you're sort of feeling and where you want to give yourself a little confidence boost or pat on the shoulder each month, based on whatever is calling to you in terms of affirmations for that month.
And finally, I'll end on manifestations here, just because I think this one takes a little bit more time to maybe understand and practice and it might not feel right for everyone. But this is where you are -- I've heard some people call this bringing the future to the past, or excuse me -- this is what some people refer to as bringing the future to the present. So what you're doing here is you're visualizing and trying to get in touch with your next best thing. So whatever it is that you want, it's sort of a more, it's really pausing and thinking about what you really, really want in life, a little bit different than goals because I think that goals sometimes put this pressure on us to achieve something immediately. With manifestation we're kind of trusting the universe or whatever higher power it is to deliver that thing that you want, according to the right timing, so we're trusting that what it is we really want is going to come to us at the right time.
So this can look different for different people. But manifestations, what I like to do in my mindful journaling practice is at the beginning of the year, each new year, I dedicate time where I stop and I think about what it is that I truly want. And then each month as I go through in my monthly journaling spreads, I'm sort of looking at that master manifestation list, and I'm thinking about what I want to sort of dedicate time to and thought power to and kind of mental energy to each month. And I write that down in my monthly spread. So sometimes I am recycling things. When you're manifesting it is this practice of just sort of focusing on what's to come, focusing on what you want, and not getting wrapped up in sort of instant gratification. So I might use the same thing, month to month. For a while I was using the expression, "art becomes a bigger part of my life". And I use that for a few months. And I was thinking about that for a few months. And I actually later in that year was accepted into a little local art show at the time at my public library.
So, um, it isn't to say that every single manifestation, it's not like almost this wish you make that comes true. But it is this feeling of just being focused on what you want, and waiting for it to come and doing all the right things so that you're putting yourself, you're setting yourself up for that thing to come. It's not just sort of, you know, thinking about something and then waiting for it to arrive on your lap. So, really, that's what mindful journaling means. To me it means taking that pause in our busy lives, taking that deep breath, making it a daily practice, I journal every single day, and really coming back to the micro-gratitude, the affirmations and the manifestations on a monthly as well as a yearly basis.
Thank you so much for providing those details into those three methods of journaling and being able to channel our thoughts, as well as being able to put ourselves in, really, a mental position to then transfer that into action, putting ourselves in the right mindset to then be able to reach where we would like to be in life by means of journaling. There is no shortage, I'm sure you would agree, of mindful journaling inspiration on Pinterest in other social media platforms. Do you have any tips or advice that may be helpful to new or current journalers who are in need of direction?
Kayla Del Biondo
Definitely. So, of course, there's lots of information and inspiration that you can find online. So my biggest advice to people who are just getting started would be to do just that, just start. So you know, get a journal, get a nice pen that you like using. I really like the brand Stabilo but there's lots of good pens out there at the craft store. Get some markers, so that you can add color to it, and do it every day. So make it part of your daily routine, make it a habit and bring your journal with you places. So it's nice when you are on, maybe it's like a lunch break at work. Or maybe you're in the car, a passenger on a long car ride with a friend or family member, you can pull out your journal and start doodling or you know you have a thought and you want to write it down. And just know that it doesn't need to be perfect.
So I definitely look things up on Pinterest, I like Pinterest’s platform where you can save things to a board. So I have a journaling board. So for instance, if it is summertime, and I want to look up a fun beach journaling spread or you know just some summery journaling spread, I will actually type into Pinterest “beach journal spread.” And there are so many creative people out there who have drawn, you know, sand castles and dolphins and whatever else you can imagine is that beach spread that's just waiting to happen in your journal.
And some things that I like to stress to people is that it doesn't need to be perfect, you're going to end up with messier, less pretty pages and lists that you aren't going to want to flip back through all the time. And then you're going to have prettier pages which you're so proud of and you will kind of take that specific font that you tried or lettering that you tried with you into future journal spreads. And on the idea of journal spreads getting messed up. One thing that I've been doing lately, which I've really been enjoying is incorporating some mixed media. And by that all I mean is simple collage with magazines.
So recently I had a journaling spread where I was drawing with pens and markers and I didn't quite like how it turned out. So I cut out this really cool magazine clipping that had these different statues and faces on it. And I put that down in my journal with a really cool quote, I'll actually flip to the quote right now in my journal that says, "Now that you have everything you need, get out there and shine". So there's lots of fun meditative ways where you can just, again, you engage with pen and paper and pencil and marker and scissors and just make it your own. I actually had someone in my class recently in one of my workshops who said that they felt like they hadn't written things down with pen and paper or drawn in like years because we're always so used to texting and emailing now and using our computers. So it is really nice to just unplug and get messy with whatever supplies you end up deciding on.
And one final reminder for people who are sort of worried about wanting to make it look pretty and perfect is that you can use pencil first. And of course, you can erase what might not have come out as pretty as you would have hoped. And the beautiful thing about dot journals or bullet journals, which I've mentioned earlier, is my preference when it comes to mindful journaling is that the dots are meant to also help you with your drawings and with your spacing. So if you do want to create, let's just say, different sized squares, where you are going to write in your manifestations and your affirmations, you know, your highs and lows, your wants and needs for that month, you can play around with the dots, so maybe you know count eight dots across, and then 10 dots up and down. And you're going to have this really nice spacing, if you just take a few minutes in the beginning to sort of plan out your next journal spread. So absolutely, there's no shame in looking at what others have done, and covering up something with collage in some way if you don't like the way that it turned out.
Thank you so much for those tips and the advice and I really liked the encouragement: just get started. My next question for you is in relation to creativity. Mindful journaling allows for many artists to hone in on those skills in writing, calligraphy, drawing, doodling and the like. For some who may feel that they are not so artistically inclined, how can they learn to embrace their own creative journey through mindful journaling?
Kayla Del Biondo
Good question. And I think this -- I can get into this a little bit deeper. But I was sort of just starting to say with my response to the last question is where journals are a place where you can release that perfectionism. I think for me journaling is less about what it looks like and more about what it feels like as you're doing it. So I think it's, for people to remind themselves that I'm partially doing this to feel good, and to write down what's important to me. And I'm partially doing this because you know, it's fun to doodle, and it might end up looking great. So I think that there's a lot of feelings that that we need to think about, which might outweigh or be more important than what it ends up looking like as a final product. So some examples are, like, you know, of how journaling will make you feel is maybe you feel more relieved, because you wrote something down that bothered you. Maybe you feel more motivated to apply to a new job or take on a new hobby, because you wrote down that you were interested in doing so. So it's all about that kind of energy that comes once we've journaled something.
But in terms of people who feel like, they don't feel so artistic, and they are worried about messing up, I encourage people to think about things in terms of shapes, and lines and color. So instead of thinking about if you're drawing a dog, for instance, and thinking the whole time, oh, this really needs, I need to have this look like a dog, like I need to get the mouth right, I need to get the nose right, I need to get the fur right -- really start to break it down into just drawing the lines that make up the tail of the dog, the shapes that make up the ear of the dog, as you're looking at that example, on Pinterest or wherever it is. And this takes time to -- I think this is something that I've been practicing way back since you know, high school art class, but really just breaking down whatever that inspiration is that you're looking at into little sections so that you don't overwhelm yourself by thinking that you need to draw an amazing looking dog, you know, all in one shot, it's something that you can work on, and then maybe come back to if you don't even feel like finishing it in one sitting.
And same thing goes with the lettering. So in my workshops, I have this video that I show on lettering where I've sort of slowed it down. And I suggest the same thing. So instead of when you're doing calligraphy and you're really super focused and being critical on yourself about something looking like an F, instead of thinking about it as an F from the start just trying to break it down in your mind into those different lines and squiggles that make up the F and it might just make creating it a little bit more seamless and less -- you'd be less hard on yourself.
I like that point of breaking it down. And really we see how that relates to being mindful from the thoughts that we put down to even how we are putting those experiences on the paper. That experience I'm sure can definitely be very relaxing and help us to be able to reap the full benefits that can come from mindful journaling. I know that you alluded to a book by Catherine Gray, if you could repeat that particular title, and also mention if there are any other books or reading material that you would like to recommend to those who would be interested in learning more about mindful journaling.
Kayla Del Biondo
Definitely. So the book that I mentioned earlier where I think people can tap into the power of micro-gratitude is called "The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary" by Catherine Gray. It was wonderful. And I’m due to read it again. And the other author that I really like -- these works are a little bit older, so I would encourage everyone to take what is written down with a grain of salt and sort of think about not feeling as though they need to apply everything as the author says it exactly as it's written. But these works are those written by Florence Scovel Shinn, and those titles are “The Game of Life and How to Play It” and “The Power of the Spoken Word.”
So I really like Florence Scovel Shinn's book, I think I read "The Game of Life and How to Play It" first. And that really gave me that foundation on manifestation and the power of the mind. And then "The Power of the Spoken Word" is really neat, because it talks about how -- what I was saying earlier, getting the thoughts onto paper, sort of a thought or feeling or goal being magnified, as we think about it, talk about it, and write about it. So not just doing one of those three things, but if we were able to do all of those three things. And of course the writing piece, journaling is a great, you know, tool for that. Her work is really interesting because again, it shows you how the different sort of modes of the way that we think and take action magnify when we use more than one.
And for anyone who might prefer a podcast, I like the "Manifestation 101" episode of the "Know Your Aura" podcast by Mystic Michaela. But this summer, I'm going to be teaching that workshop series at the Hamden Public Library. And as part of the series, I'm hoping that we can do some journaling, but also do some reading and discussing one of Florence Scovel Shinn's books, as well as Catherine Gray's books. So hopefully, people are able to join and either read with us or read it on their own time.
Well, thank you so much Miss Kayla, not only for your time today, and answering my questions, but also for offering your personal insight and perception on mindful journaling.
Kayla Del Biondo
Thank you, it was really fun.
And to our listeners, if our conversation today has piqued your interest, as Miss Kayla alluded to, she will be presenting a three session program series during the summer at Hamden Public Library. The first session in Introduction to Journaling will be in June. The second session, Manifestation in Journaling, will be in July, and the third and final session, Gratitude and Micro-gratitude, will be in August. All three sessions will be held at Miller Memorial Library. Registration is required. More information will be released on our website, hamdenlibrary.org, as the Special Program Series approaches. Thank you for listening.
Well, that's it for this bonus episode of the Hamden Library podcast. Thanks for listening. If you'd like you can drop us a line at HamdenLibraryPodcast@gmail.com. We always welcome your feedback. Talk to you soon.