LifeJournal™ Newsletter – December 2003

LifeJournal: A place to hear yourself think.
We have created a new product for those times when you are away from your computer or just feel like writing by hand: LifeJournal on Paper™ complements its electronic sister. Each page has a place to record the entry’s title, date, journal type, and topics, and Daily Pulse values. Each page also has a quote or prompt on it, and is paginated. Read the article on how to coordinate LifeJournal on paper™ with the LifeJournal software.Atwww.lifejournal.com/ordering.html, you can purchase the companion notebook separately or in combination with the LifeJournal CD or download. The notebook costs $12.95, which includes shipping. It makes a perfect gift for someone who already owns LifeJournal, or for those who don’t have the software, you can buy both.

In this month’s newsletter, author and therapist Joan Mazza has written an article on dream journals, an introduction into a subject that is complex and intriguing. Afterwards, you can find a brief commentary I wrote about applying Ms. Mazza’s suggestions to LifeJournal.

Recently I read an article, Some Ways We Can Be Wise, by Tom Atlee. I thought his message would be an excellent way to wrap up the newsletter for 2003. For many, keeping a journal is a tool to amplify, cultivate, and hone inner wisdom. In the trenches of everyday living, we can too easily forget the grandeur and awe of life. We can become so wrapped up in our emotions and the daily obstacles to reach our immediate goals that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Tom Atlee’s article is a superb reminder. He graciously gave us permission to reprint it below.

All of us at Chronicles Software Company wish you a joyous and peaceful holiday season.

Sincerely,
Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

LifeJournal On Paper™ 
Dream Journals
Applying Joan Mazza’s Suggestions to LifeJournal 
Some Ways We Can Be Wise, by Tom Atlee .
End Quotes 
How to Purchase LifeJournal 
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LifeJournal on Paper™ : A Companion Notebook 

Almost half of LifeJournal writers we surveyed keep handwritten paper journals as a companion to their LifeJournal software. We designed a companion notebook that could be used in conjunction with the software for those times when you can’t get to your computer or when you just feel like handwriting an entry.

LifeJournal on Paper is an 8 ½” by 5 ½” spiral bound notebook with a navy blue cover; it opens flat so that you can write easily. Each page has a place to enter the title, date, and type of journal entry, and the topics assigned to the journal entry as well as a space to note your Daily Pulse. You’ll find a quote or a prompt on every page, too. The pages are unlined. Go to www.lifejournal.com/onpaper2.html to view a page of LifeJournal on Paper.

Here’s how to use LifeJournal on Paper with the LifeJournal software:

1. In the LifeJournal software–

  • Add the topic Handwritten to your Topics List. (Right click anywhere in the Topics List area and select Add Topic to List. Then enter the wordHandwritten into the text area that says New Topic. Press the Enter key. )

2. In LifeJournal on Paper–

  • After finishing an entry write a title, enter the date, and check the appropriate journal type.
  • Also, list the topics that you wrote about, remembering existing topics from the Topics List in the LifeJournal software.
  • Complete the Daily Pulse values for the day

3. When you return to your computer with completed LifeJournal on Paper entries, go to the LifeJournal software and do the following:

  • Open the appropriate type of journal entry (Daily, Dream, or Life History).
  • Enter the handwritten entry’s title and date, and bookmark the topics that you listed. (To bookmark the Topics, click the appropriate Topics in the Topics List.) “
  • In the body of the journal entry enter the page number(s) of the handwritten entry and the volume number of the notebook. (Notice on the back cover of your LifeJournal on Paper notebook there is a place to write the volume number. Enter the appropriate number.)
  • You may, of course, if you wish, type important portions of the handwritten journal entry. You may also choose to highlight (or assign a topic to) that passage.
  • Enter the Daily Pulse values. If the Daily Pulse values are for previous date(s), go to the Features menu>Daily Pulse>Add or edit entry for past date to enter the Daily Pulse values.

The next time you perform a search, the handwritten journal entries will be included in the search with the journal entries that you wrote in the LifeJournal software. To find the handwritten entry, read the body of the journal entry and it will direct you to its location.

Dream Journals–an Article by Joan Mazza 

The mishmash of images, feelings, and memories that come to us in dreams often seems like nonsense. Before we make associations and meanings of these disparate pieces, we are likely to dismiss them as silly. We will see the value of dreams and speed up the process of dreamwork when we write down our dreams in our daily journals.

If you’re like most people, you use your journal to write about your worries and concerns, what ticked you off the previous day, and your plans and hopes. You write about what is in foreground. That is, you write what is uppermost in your consciousness.

What is in foreground is exactly the subject matter of our daily dreams. And our dreams offer the added benefit that we have told ourselves these stories to find solutions to today’s problems and concerns. Even when dreams appear to be about people that we knew many years ago, the real issues they address are current–in the hours before we had the dream.

If I’m feeling troubled over exchanging some sharp words with a close friend, then I will replay the mental tape of that conversation as I try to sort it out in my waking hours. What did I say? What did she say? Who’s right? Maybe we’re both right. How can we resolve our differences and show respect for each other?

In the same way, my sleeping mind will continue to work to smooth this rough edge between us. I may not dream of this friend. In my dream, another character might play her part, perhaps someone with whom I had a similar conflict in my past. She might show up as one of my deceased parents, my ex, a sibling, or former co-worker. My attempt to solve the conflict may come out in the dream symbolically, such as the image of tumbling rocks until they are smooth and shiny, or trying to find a nail file for a bothersome hangnail.

If, like so many of us, I’ve had an exhausting day filled with demanding tasks and chores, traffic and frustrations, my dream will capture all that anxiety and stress. I may have nightmares with tidal waves and tornadoes, or dream of a fear of falling asleep at the wheel of my car–expressing both the sense of responsibility and my fear of being too tired to keep up. These daytime concerns match the script of the night movies I write for myself.

At first, the memory of last night’s dream may seem unrelated to the issues of the previous day’s events. But a dream is always more than a weird collection of mental debris. Recording our dreams side by side with our journal entry, we begin to make meaningful connections. We make a bridge to waking life.

Journal entries are most likely to move us toward resolving our troubled feelings when we write about our deepest emotions and concerns. James Pennebaker, in his book Opening Up, shows how writing can move us toward emotional and physical health if we write what has been most difficult or too painful to talk about. Writing only about the surface content of our lives–what we did today, what clothing we wore, how much we spent, or how many miles we drove–doesn’t move us toward resolution or insight.

Similarly, by recording those issues that we continue to roll over in our waking minds with their emotional truth right along with the dreams that tell the same story, we find our way to the bridge that links these waking issues to the content and meaning of our dreams.

If, instead, you record your dreams as separate from your waking life, you might be compartmentalizing them, closing them off from the bridge. Sometimes, I hear people tell dreams as if they were telling the plot of a movie or novel that has nothing to do with them. Keeping your waking life separate from your dream life will mean you will have to find another way to discover your dream meanings.

You can record your dreams first or your journal entry first–whatever works for you. Of course, you may forget your dream or run out of energy or time to write it if you postpone recording it until after you write your regular entry. I recommend catching the dream in writing as soon as you recall it.

The key to meaning is to place both the dream and the journal entry, with their authentic emotions, in front of you at the same time. Knowing they are nearly always related will help you make meaningful associations and hear meanings without having to try very hard. By writing daily issues and daily dreams together, the links come automatically–before you begin the formal work of dreamwork by following the twenty steps I suggest in my book Dreaming Your Real Self.

In my ongoing dreamgroup, we open with a check-in. This is like a verbal journal entry of what’s on our minds and how we are feeling in that moment. We say briefly what’s happened in our lives since we last met. Then, when we tell our dreams, the emotions and metaphors of our descriptions often match the content of our dreams. The bridges are right there for us all to see.

For me, journaling and dreamwork complement each other. They weave the warp and woof of the same fabric. I write in my journal every morning when I get up. At that time, I also record my dreams of the night before–when I have dreams that I remember. Even when I don’t remember a dream, the act of journaling my concerns, worries, and hopes often triggers the memory of a dream. This is the first step toward making meaning.

Our daydreams, daytime thinking, nightmares, and dreams all come from the same place and are all joined by the emotions and language we use to express them.

By recording your dreams with your daily journal entry, you will appreciate how well it prepares you to understand the messages and value of your dreams.

Joan Mazza is a licensed psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, writing coach, national seminar leader, and the author of six books: Dreaming Your Real Self: A Personal Approach to Dream Interpretation(Perigee), Who’s Crazy, Anyway? (iUniverse), Dream Back Your Life: Transforming Dream Messages into Life Action-A Practical Guide to Dreams, Daydreams, and Fantasies (Perigee), and three guided journals from Walking Stick Press/Writer’s Digest: From Dreams to DiscoveryThings That Tick Me Off, and Exploring Your Sexual Self. Her articles, fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in many magazines, includingMöbiusPermafrostPotomac ReviewWriter’s DigestPlaygirl, Loving More, The Writer, and Writer’s Journal. She is available for telephone consultations on dreams, writing, and getting published. For contact information, go to https://www.joanmazza.com .

Applying Joan Mazza’s Suggestions to LifeJournal

Joan Mazza strongly suggests in the previous article that you integrate your dreams into your regular journal. I can recommend two good ways of doing that within LifeJournal: You can record your dreams within Daily Journal Entries, or since LifeJournal offers a Dream Journal entry that is separate from Daily Journal entries, you could record your dreams in the Dream Journal Entries.

What are the benefits of each method? If you choose the first approach, you would more closely follow Mazza’s advice about integrating your dreams into your regular journal. You could highlight the text about the dream and assign the topic “dream” to it. That way, you’ll be able to extract the record of dreams from within the journal entry, if you chose to, by using the “search” function. (Go to search, select the topic “Dream” from within the Topic list and check the option “Retrieve Highlighted Passages Only.” All the text that you have assigned to the topic “dream” will appear under a heading of the title and date of the journal entry. If you click on the heading, it will open the full journal entry.)

If you follow the second strategy, when re-reading your journal to make sense of the dream, you will be able to open both the dream journal entry and daily journal entry simultaneously. With the related entries juxtaposed, you can begin to compare the two, finding common threads, and building the bridge between waking and dreaming life. Even though you are not following Mazza’s advice explicitly, you might find that LifeJournal is really one journal with separate parts that can easily be integrated.

In either case, carefully assigning topics to journal entries about dreaming and waking life may help you see the connections between the two.

Some Ways We Can Be Wise by Tom Atlee 

I am writing about wisdom
to recover it from esoteric realms
and place it solidly in the middle
of our collective lives
where the world lives or dies,
depending on how wise
we learn how to be
together.

When people talk about wisdom, they often use sight-related words like insight, foresight, discernment, farsightedness, brilliance, reflection, illumination, enlightenment, visionary and seer. The owl, often a symbol of wisdom, has prominent eyes that see clearly in the dark, and seem to be watching everything with penetrating attention.

This metaphor of seeing makes a good place to start in our exploration of wisdom.

Among other things, wisdom involves extending our seeing beyond the appearances of life, while also looking deeply into life. We are wise — at least to some degree — whenever we extend our seeing from any small perspective into a larger or deeper perspective. This expansion of perspective takes us closer to encountering the Whole of life. Even though that Whole can never be experienced in its full scope and detail, it seems to me that any motion in its direction is a motion into wisdom.

This way of thinking about wisdom can help us understand ways we could be wiser — individually and collectively. It can help us evaluate the wisdom of decisions, actions, policies, leaders, and so on. As the scope and complexity of our world’s problems grow, so grows our need for wisdom. So let us consider some ways we are already wise and could be more so.

We are wise when we extend our seeing into the future to the consequences of our present actions — and learn from reflecting on those consequences, especially before we act. There is much wisdom, then, in applying this expanded perspective to help us meet our needs in ways that don’t undermine the ability of our children’s children to meet their needs. Some call this “sustainability.”

We are wise when we extend our seeing beyond the clamor of this moment’s shallow desires and immediate demands and opportunities, to understand and care for our deeper, longer needs. This is doubly wise because, while our desires and appetites may feel vividly personal, private and unique, our deepest needs are universal. Great peace can be found in satisfying them in harmony with others and in co-creating the common good. There is much wisdom in pursuing our own best interests through the pursuit of a world that works for all.

We are wise when we extend our seeing beyond current events — both personal and collective — back into the history behind those events, and forward into possible futures. In that history and those futures lie causes and stories and motivations that call forth the events of today, and that can therefore be worked with to call forth new options and energies on behalf of greater life. There is much wisdom in bringing the power of such Deep Time understandings into the present unfolding of Life.

We are wise when we extend our seeing beyond our personal view — and beyond the dominant view of our group or culture — to hear and understand the views of others. Every view has blind spots, and all knowing rests on unexamined assumptions. As these are revealed through encounters with other views and other knowing, understanding can deepen and become more whole. And so we are wise to value diversity, dissonance and dissent and to learn how to use their potent gifts well, as we’ve learned to use the potent gifts of electricity and fire. There is special wisdom for democracy accessible through the brilliant use of dialogue to help us tap that latent power together on behalf of our whole community.

We are wise to see beyond our narrow plans and wishes to the larger field of life within which we are pursuing those plans and wishes. Other lives and greater forces are at work in that field, whose presence can aid or hinder our efforts and whose journey is impacted by ours. There is great wisdom available in understanding those indigenous lives and forces well enough to work with them, collaborating in the co-creation of outcomes that serve all parties involved, using thoughtful inclusion, existing passions, and cultivated synergies to proceed with more elegance than effort.
We are wise when we extend our seeing beyond convenient labels and judgments, to see things more as they are, which is always beyond labels and judgments — and even beyond words. “There is more to it than that, always.” We are wise to become familiar with the ways our personal thoughts and feelings — and, collectively, our culture and media — trick us into narrowing our view. This awareness can help us return to a bigger, truer picture of life where greater wisdom awaits us.

In particular, it is wise to see beyond the dichotomies dictated by our culture, our language, our preferences. Good and bad, order and chaos, individual and collective, you and me, simplicity and complexity — these tantalizingly useful distinctions hide the fact that reality, in all its dynamic wholeness, embraces both sides of every dichotomy. There are ways in which order and chaos, good and bad, individual and collective not only define and depend on each other, but live within each other and dance together. Much wisdom lies in coming to understand that, and joining that dance, lightly and mindfully.

We are wise to see beyond isolated facts and linear logic into the whole fabric of life, using all the forms of knowing that are given to us, particularly intuition, heart, synthesis, spiritual experience, and the sciences that attempt to appreciate the whole and our relationship to it — such as ecology, living systems science, complexity and chaos theories, quantum mechanics and the consciousness sciences. With each way of knowing we access new dimensions of reality. Much wisdom lies in weaving them together, painting our knowing with a full palette and using each tool in our cognitive toolbox according its best purpose, along with all the others, and letting none colonize our awareness to the exclusion of the rest.

We are wise when we see beyond certainty to the underlying, all encompassing, ever unfolding Mystery of life. Not only does this lighten our ideological burden and open us to each Other and to Change, but it allows us to befriend the ultimately unknowable Whole. Once we see through the illusion of certainty, humility is natural, humor is natural, and paradox, ambiguity and change become furry friends and teachers on our Journey though life. In the midst of wonder, we encounter each situation with the curiosity and sense of adventure befitting wise and joyful spirits — and our wisdom expands through the learning we do as we marvel at the nuance and vastness we encounter at each bend in the road.

We are wise, in general, as we see beyond our personal world — or through it, deeply — to the world of our fellow humans and all other life. We can track this larger reality through our own opened hearts or through the rich fabric of natural and social systems studded with living beings and their stories. This reaching into the world of other lives is the wisdom of compassion — and of what has come to be called “enlightened self-interest,” the realization that our destiny is bound up with the destiny of all others. At the center where we are most deeply ourselves, we are also most deeply kin to all Life, and no one’s story is fully alien to us. From that deep common center — and from realization of our vast and vivid interdependence — flow many soulfully effective solutions to the diverse sufferings of our world and its people. We need our wisest eyes to find them.

Those wise eyes are ours. We share those eyes. We could see through them together, if only we would look together.

Tom Atlee is the author of director of the The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that Works for All.For more information please visithttps://www.taoofdemocracy.com.

End Quotes: .

“Point of view’ is that quintessentially human solution to information overload, an intuitive process of reducing things to an essential relevant and manageable minimum…In a world of hyperabundant content, point of view will become the scarcest of resources.”
–Paul Saffo

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
— Agatha Christie
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