The "Journals+Journeys" series features
Vagabroad diarists sharing their journey with journaling--
for your inspiration.
Born and raised in the Bahamas, Danesha Burrows is a non-profit professional by day and writer by night. She loves all the hidden things in life; flowers, sunsets, beaches, tea and nature. Combine that with all of the nerd-like things in life; books, documentaries, art, culture and cooking. She is passionate about learning, exploring cultures and capturing stories.
At what point in your life did you start journaling? Why?
I started documenting after my father’s death,
not as intentional as I am doing now but just enough to record how I feel.
The purpose was to purge unspoken words,
I felt as though I had so much to say and I could not
identify anyone to express those words to. Then after a while,
the words were too heavy so I neglected it. Second time was
after a heartbreak because I felt that it was easier
to record my feelings and thoughts in the written form vs. externalizing my pain.
Has your motivation for journaling changed over the years?
Definitely, back then my motivation was to combat desolation.
Now, it is more about happiness, reflection and archivation.
I realized that I am more grounded when I take the time to document
the ebbs and flow of my life and the way my journey crosses the paths of others.
What date did you start your Vagabroad Journal(s)?
In October 2016, I bought my first Vagabroad Journal.
It was my birth month and I was tired of writing in
mass-produced journals that did not motivate me to write my story.
What is your opinion on journaling in the information/digital age?
I believe that the information/digital age is a channel for an easier
connection with the outer world. Journaling is a way to connect with the inner world.
We spend so much of our days as a consumer. Absorbing sounds, vibrations, air, energies,
food, images and information that do not belong to us; that at the end of it all we
need a way to filter out all the garbage. The journal is the place-
the best place for mind trash and treasure.
Do you have journal entries on your phone? Will/do you transcribe them?
I believe the words are what matters not the format.
I use a combination of notes in my phone and my notebook
depending on the environment. Sometimes, I cannot write in my notebook.
The disadvantage with the notes in my phone is that I hardly transfer
them to my notes but the advantage is that I at least got it out.
They both serve their purposes.
Can you talk about the process of choosing a journal?
Why should it be given more careful thought than grab-n-go?
Choosing a journal is always a long process for me.
The cover design, size, paper quality, paper color
and paper format all need to be limitless.
I like cover designs with some character
with blank pages to accommodate limitless thoughts.
Do you ever think of your journal as
an artefact that will be found in the future?
Yes, an artefact to be found by new versions of myself.
That is the beauty, I get to look back.
become my own historian and descendant.
How frequently do you journal?
Roughly several times a week. Depends, sometimes I will actually journal several times a day if something big is going on in my life for e.g my engagement, birthday celebration or heavy conversation. Once it is too heavy emotionally.
What’s your journaling style (bullet, essay, stream-of-conscious…)?
My journaling style is more reflective and inquisitive. I love sitting with myself and reflecting about my day, actions, thought patterns, experiences or just life in general. However, I do use several styles. I attempted stream of consciousness for a few months after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve also included bullet points, poetry, dialogue, essays and letters in my journals.
Is there a greater reason for you to keep a journal beyond self care?
I use to be a person that outsourced most of my opinions, decisions, thoughts and feelings.
Now, journaling is way to always come to myself first before I ask for input.
If I have a decision to make, I will ask myself first:
What are your fears?
Why are you making this decision?
How does this decision reflect your overall purpose?
Is this your decision to make?
Journaling allows me to be more content with my inner guidance
rather than being in a constant search for someone to approve,
understand, agree, solve, dissect, give or take away a problem or solution.
Journaling is my draft board for creating boundaries.
This is where I get to understand the lines people have crossed
and how to ensure that no one crosses the same lines in the future.
What are some sensations, emotions that inspire you to journal?
I write better when I am at peace. I cannot write in intense emotions whether it be intense happiness or intense sadness. From my experience, writing when my mind is calm prevents me from denying the words that appear on the page. I cannot say, “I wrote that because I was really angry or I wrote that because I was really happy.” Whatever shows up on the page is the truth and I cannot escape it. I cannot erase it. I cannot deny it. So, the only option left is to face it and find a solution if needed.
Ok, many of the teastained women out there may be beginner journalers. Can you give them some insights on where to begin on their journaling journey? What should they start remembering?
Daily life lessons. Everything we need to know more than likely was presented to us in the past. Sometimes we miss these lessons so documenting it is a way of collecting it for future needs.
What should they be aware of?
Be aware of false narratives. We are a collection of false narratives, stories that we are told to disconnect us from who we really are. I believe that we are loved, capable of loving, valued and serves a purpose. Anything that do not fall in these narratives are derivatives of fabricated stories.
What are some doubts they’re more than likely to hear when they begin writing their lives?
- “My life is not worth documenting”
- “No one wants to hear what I have to say.”
- “If so and so reads this, they will be upset”
- “I am wrong for feeling/thinking/believing/being this or that”
- “I cannot find the right words”
- “My handwriting is not pretty”
- “I will never finish this journal”
Why is journaling powerful?
Journaling is a way to connect with your inner being. All of those thoughts that come and go are trying to reveal something to you. This world is filled with noise, if we do not take the time to write the thoughts and noise down, we will never be able to distinguish the diamonds from the coal.
Journaling is a way to build a trusting relationship with yourself. Too often, we seek outside approval because we do not trust ourselves.
Journaling allows me to be all versions of myself without shame, blame and guilt. Human-beings are complex, our thoughts come in fire and water. This world loves water-the good thoughts, people and deeds. It never occurred to us (and the world) that it is okay to feel anger, fear, shame, blame, sadness, disappointments and delusions. So we hide them. When we lose a family member, friendship, lover, job or parts of ourselves, our mourning time is limited. Journaling allows me to feel the weight of those transitions for however long I might need to and do the deep work.
Journaling allows us to reclaim our narratives. I believe that so many of us are disconnected from our true narrative and harboring stories that do not belong to us. The story about who we are, what we are worth and what we were created to do are all foreign. Instead, we accept narratives created for the purpose to control, instill fear and kill us. Journaling says, “this is MY story, and I get to tell it”. That is powerful.
Journaling is meditative. The act of writing down your thoughts allows you to notice your thoughts. That is the simple method of meditation; noticing. The noticing might not be in the present moment. It can be a process of looking back and noticing the themes, words and tone of your voice which can birth a different pattern.
Why do you believe we have a compulsion to document ourselves, to archive our existence through journaling?
I believe we all have a fear of being forgotten. Most of us know that we are small particles floating in the universe that will eventually be erased. This is why social media is such a great hit, we want to create a presence that is memorable. Isolation is hard. It is hard to exist in the world if no one knows you exist. Documenting is our way of trying to be remembered and remembering others. Documenting is our way of connecting even if that connection is not real.
For archiving our existence through journaling, I believe it is the same. We are trying to preserve our existence and pass down our experiences.
Can you discuss narrative reclamation a little more?
I think so often journaling is finding out what we do/don’t own!
Can you speak to the teastained woman who’s exploring journaling for this reason?
Narrative reclamation is about sifting through all the stories one by one,
day by day, event by event and figuring out what feels right.
This takes time, stories do not surface all at once. It comes in small waves
and then washes back in. So, it is all about being aware and taking hold of a story
before it takes hold of you, writing it down then comparing it to other stories.
Is there a way our narratives can “belong” to another if we don’t document ourselves?
How do you believe it works to go unwritten for a portion if not all of our lives?
Yes, if you do not document your life then that leaves it open to be
interpreted, edited, deleted, sold, fabricated. I guess documenting our lives
with our bare hands is our way of copywriting it. It is harder for someone to say,
she was/was not ____ if you already told them what you are/are not in black and white.
Put a stamp on your life, let the world know that you take ownership.
Where’s your favourite place to write? What do you look for in a writing spot?
Favorite places to write are parks and my bed. Nature is soothing and my bed is just convenient. So I guess, I am attracted to calm environments that are not too hard to access.
I would like a “journaling” or “writing” nook though. I am working on a space.
Your IG account is my dream...all your journals!! Why do you share your journaling journey on social media? Do you find you have to set boundaries between your device and your journal (like I do, haha)?
I share them for representation, encouragement and appropriation. Journaling have all kind of stigmas. Some people would prefer for someone else to tell them the same thing they could have told themselves just because of the belief that “journaling is for a certain group of people”. Not that anything is wrong with seeking outside counsel, all sources of self-healing and self-discovery is purposeful. I wanted to give journaling a different narratives for those people who might not know how healing it can be.
Also, I wanted to see a different image of journaling so I thought to myself, “What better way to solve that problem?”
I share a very small percentage of what I write and most of it is revelations or life lessons. I share sporadically.
“...something they could have told themselves…” A credit so often stripped from the journaling practice: deep within, you really know. How would you suggest a teastained woman get to this place of insight? Does it happen right away or is it based on a relationship with self honed over time?
The deep stuff definitely happens overtime. It might depend on the person but even the most well crafted person will need to find ways to trust themselves. Our voices are muffled by the noise in our worlds, both internal and external. I would suggest meditation, exercise and some form of creative expression. I am still a beginner myself but those are things that got me by when I most needed it.
The day to day stuff like: should I quit this job, how do I feel, what do I want, why am I angry, what do I like; can all be answered almost immediately. Take it old school, draw two columns and analyze the options.
Is there something/ a set of actions you do to create space and settle down before you take your journal out?
Oh yes, I am an absolute tea snob. So it normally goes down like this:
- Boil water
- Decide between loose leaf or tea bag
- Decide between honey, agave or almond milk
- Choose the right mug
- Journaling starts
- Repeat the cycle
...Trying to get better at this because sometimes I do not have access to tea lol which throws me off my journaling mood.
What comes before journaling? Meaning: before you pick up the paper and a pen there's a mind, there's imagination, etc. How do you LIVE so as to tell yourself your story at the end of the day?
Meditation and creative expression. I think the reason why journaling can be hard is that it takes a sense of clarity to get to the deeply rooted stuff.
I think a major reason teastained women won’t journal is because facing their truth IS scary and being unwritten is a form of denial, escapism. But do you believe journaling has a cure on the other side of the “sting” of laying our truths out on the page? Talk about this.
We cannot cure the unseen, the unknown. Journaling is a way of seeing and knowing. I believe those are the first steps of laying our truths on the page. The thing about accepting our truth it is far easier than not accepting it. I find it so much easier to embrace the unwanted stories. Lol, it is a lot of work to run away from the truth.
Why should tea-stained women specifically keep a journal?
To my tea-stained women, your narratives have been stolen, erased, raped,
altered and destroyed in all corners of society.
No one is going to record your story,
this is your responsibility.
No one is going to ensure that the truth is documented
and that your name is preserved.
Your story does not only represent you,
your story represents us and the many tea-stained women
before you. Do not allow yourself to be erased,
write yourself alive.
What does “journey soulfully” mean to you?
Journeying soulfully is following the deep inner knowing
that we were all given at conception and allowing
that to be our guide on this life’s journey.
It is allowing the truth to be our advisor on the journey
and ignoring everything else along the way