Tools and Topics Tuesday: Gifts and Challenges 1

Today’s journal topic is perfect for starting a new year. It involves clustering which is “a fun, easy, spontaneous journal technique that helps you access lots of information very quickly,” according to one of my favorite journaling resources, Journal to the Self, by Kathleen Adams, M.A.
I studied journal therapy with Kay through online classes and in an intensive journaling retreat in Denver, CO a few years ago. The process really helped deepen my connection with writing and healing and I encourage all to look into her work. The fact that there is a real, live website for Journal Therapy (and not to mention an entire foundation for poetry and journal therapy) makes my heart happy.
So, Why cluster?
-quick and easy
-generates ideas
-breaks through internal barriers
-good for getting unstuck

Another idea is to label your paper like this:

Start by choosing a word or phrase as a topic: a mood, issue, person, memory, part of yourself, feeling, today’s date, quality you’d like more of, or project from your to do list.
Write this in the center of your page and circle it. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? (turn off all internal censors and judgements.) Write this above, below, or to the side of your cluster word, circle it, and draw a line connecting it to the middle. What does the second word make you think of? Continue the process until you can go no further.
This is one of my favorite journal techniques because it allows you to assess your current situation while forcing you to also take all of your “gifts” or blessings, rather than just challenges. I often find that my gifts outweigh my challenges, even when I feel as if my life is overwhelmed with chaos, which really helps to put things into persepective.
After completing your cluster, write for five minutes exploring some aspect of your cluster, or the clustering process. Try answering these questions:
So how was it?
What do you like/not like about it?
What did you learn about yourself?
When might you use this technique?
Good luck and please let me know how the process goes for you!

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