Feb 6th, 2019

The Joy of Journaling

Woman sitting at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden journaling

Local author Jackie Hunter penned observations of nature, following a journaling class led by Stacy Hawkins Adams at Lewis Ginter.

As winter lingers, boredom builds. Journaling offers a creative outlet. It invites you to pause and ponder about your world. Through reflection, journaling also enlightens you about your life journey and yourself. There are countless journaling formats, but three basic approaches: text only, drawings only or a combination. No method is wrong. It is right if it works for you.

Stacy Hawkins Adams, a multi-published author and Richmond journalist, began recording self-reflections through “Dear Diary” entries at age 10 and has journaled actively for the past 25 years. She now hosts journaling workshops to share the experience with others.

“Journaling is free writing,” Adams explained. “Put a pen to paper and let your hand write what comes to you without overthinking.” Like most parents, Adams stays busy with work, family and community, so she cherishes her writing time. “I carve out time for it as self-care,” she said. “Journaling is a sacred place just for me.” Adams maintains multiple journals, including life-goals, creativity and prayer journals. “Every January, I write my vision (in her goals journal), then revisit it the following year,” she shared. “It’s a roadmap of who I want to be and helps me stay on track.”

Natural settings, such as Lewis Ginter and Maymont, fuel her creativity journal. She empowers herself to write what she hears, sees and feels without striving for perfection.“Our society demands perfection, but journaling is a space to just be and play around with what’s in my heart and mind,” she noted. “I have a conversation with the page.”

Lara Call Gastinger, an internationally awarded botanical artist from Charlottesville, focuses on nature, native plants and artistic expression in her journaling workshops. One of her favorite formats is perpetual journaling, organized by date ranges. She adds quick sketches, observations and anecdotes to record weather, sounds and observations for corresponding time periods, year after year. “With multiple years’ entries on one page, it’s interesting to note changes over the years, like seasonal changes and when spring begins,” she said. Her perpetual journal holds 18 years of weekly comparisons.

Gastinger also collects or photographs specimens while walking her children to school, exploring her backyard and traveling. “Just because it’s not green [outside] doesn’t mean there is no beauty,” Gastinger said about nature journaling during winter. “There are plant structures, seedpods and something to see any time of the season — even in urban environments where great things fall from trees.”


journal with notes and drawings

Lara Gastinger’s perpetual journaling provides at-a-glance memories for specific time periods, year after year.

“Everyone has a story that matters, regardless of whether they are authors,” Adams said. “Journaling is a mindful meditation for many people,” Gastinger added. “Just open your eyes to see the world around you.”

This story originally ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, February of 2019. 

About Lynn Kirk

Lynn Kirk, a freelance writer and marketing consultant, has collaborated with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden since 2002. She considers it a joy and privilege to write newspaper articles and member newsletters for such a top-rated (and utterly gorgeous!) public garden.

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