The Seven Best Notebooks for Journaling

Your journal will be an extension of you. There are many different types of journals and notebooks in which to do your writing.

Your journal will be an extension of you. There are many different types of journals and notebooks in which to do your writing.

The first step toward keeping a journal is probably the easiest: selecting the journal itself.

Many seasoned journal keepers have their own personal tastes and preferences. Some love their Moleskine notebooks, with rounded corners and stretchy bands to keep it all together. One of my first literary crushes, Ignatius Reilly, the protagonist in John Kennedy Toole's "Confederacy of Dunces," penned his rants and ramblings on a children's classic, the Big Chief writing tablet. Some diarists prefer diminutive notebooks that can be quickly palmed and tucked away in a purse or back pocket. But most writers agree that the journal in which one writes by hand is superior to digital options, hands down.

Putting an actual pen or pencil to paper (the pen being the more "confident" of the two) creates a powerful connection between the  mind's inner experience and the body's movement in the outside world. Writing cultivates the ability to observe one's own feelings and thoughts, and writing by hand slows this process down, giving time for reflection along the way. When we journal, we connect the mind and body and spirit in the present moment. Sounds a lot like yoga, right? We are speaking to another consciousness, our "reader," our "witness," is ourselves. Telling the soul's truth makes this physical process particularly powerful.

Your journal is an extension of yourself. What kind of journal or notebook should you use? Here are seven of the best kinds of notebooks for journaling:

1. The Tablet or Legal Pad There is something about the yellow paper on a full-size legal pad that loves a pen. Lots of room for your words to roam about on. It lays flat. It's inexpensive and these writing pads can be purchased in bulk, so you'll run out of ink long before you run out of paper. Oh, and that journal entry that went something like this, "I hate everybody. Yuck. Crap. Crap. Crap," can be removed easily and discarded. This is a plus and a minus.

2. The Spiral Notebook Inexpensive and readily available, spiral notebooks can be found just about anywhere at any time, the corner drug store, the grocery store, the dollar store. Pages can be ripped out. The front and back covers afford some privacy. Spiral notebooks come in a wide variety of sizes, with a choice of wide-ruled and college-ruled.

3. The Bound Journal - Lined  The pages cannot be removed (easily), so this looks and feels like a real book. And the lines keep the words marching straight across across the page, no sloping upward or downward.

4. The Bound Journal - Plain My personal favorite. Plain pages allow for words to be BIG when they need to be, and small when they want to be small. You can doodle, draw pictures to illustrate a point you're making, paste pictures and clippings from the newspaper, and you can write between the lines when you have something more to add later. Lined templates are available if that sloping thing really bothers you.

5. The "Math" Notebook - Graph Paper If order is really important to you, graph paper keeps the sentences in a straight line and the letters themselves consistent in size. Block out spaces for doodling and illustrations.

6. The Notebook Your Friend Gave You Journals make great gifts, especially when inscribed with words of encouragement. Add a second inscription in the middle of the journal, too. A friend did this for me and it was a wonderful surprise to find her cheering me on when I turned the page. 

7. The Very Best Journal. The one you write in.





We are one year old today!

Barefoot Lizard Yoga Studio is one year old today!
So many wonderful things have happened this first year!
So many amazing people have helped to create a beautiful community of yogis!
This next year promises to be just as awesome, beginning with our move--in two weeks!--to the new space at 3500 Hwy 34 E, Suite 11, in Thomas Grace Plaza.

One That Got Away

She arrived at my yoga class equal parts nervous - about trying something new at age 50 plus - and genuinely elated - she had finally gotten up the gumption to do it.

"I have no idea what to expect today," she said, "but I do know I really want to do this."

It had been a while since she had exercised, she explained. The weight had started to collect around her middle. Her joints felt stiff, especially in the morning, and, well, she just didn't feel very healthy anymore. She'd read some things that made her believe yoga would help.

A yoga "virgin." I smiled reassuringly as I set her up with a borrowed mat, some blankets for padding, and a couple of foam blocks to bring the floor closer to her hands, head, and heels.

Bare feet. Check.

Loose stretchy waistband. Check.

Sense of humor. Hmm... She was beginning to look more nervous than elated. We'd have to work on this one.

I'm not sure what the statistics are on returning first-time yoga students. I do know that early on in my yoga teaching career, way back when I first hopped off my mat with a 200-hour teacher training certificate in hand, an older and much wiser teacher told me to expect one in 10 students to return.

One in 10! I was crushed, particularly because my classes at the time were averaging between zero and, maybe, three students. Eight years and approximately 3,500 teaching hours later, I can say that the older and wiser yoga teacher was right, about 10 percent return.

But I didn't want to lose this one. She had stepped way out of her comfort zone to begin this journey and I wasn't about to let her lose her footing. Fortunately it was a gentle class, filled with gentle souls. We began in "Pose of Ease," but sitting cross-legged was not working for her. She shifted from side to side. And winced.

So onto the backs we went. I slid a blanket under her sacrum, then middle back, then shoulder blades, then neck. Nothing seemed to bring ease and stillness to her body. Her face flushed. She struggled for breath. I helped her onto her side.

"Dreaming Child's Pose," I whispered. "Just put your head down on your arm and rest."

I turned to guide the rest of the class through some flowing bridges. When I looked back, she was gone.

It bothered me for several weeks and I thought about calling her, but in the end didn't. Yoga is guilt-free, I always say. One never needs to explain to me, or anyone else, why they practice or don't practice on any given day.

But her email was a special gift to me.

Dear Elizabeth, I'm sorry I left your yoga class so abruptly that day. I didn't want to be rude, but I could feel that there was something terribly wrong in my abdomen. When I left your class, I drove straight to the doctor. They found a large mass on my ovary. It was removed immediately and turned out to be noncancerous, but I wanted to thank you because I don't think I would have realized something was wrong if I hadn't come in to your class that day. I will be back as soon as I'm cleared by my doctor.

And she did return. A one in ten.

omg, she's got a blog

If you just said that, or thought that, or read that...

yes, I have a blog.

I have always written things down. And hoarded pens. The latter a manifestation of the former, and both the result of never completely trusting my speaking voice as a method of expressing the fascinating particulars of my current reality.

As a teenager, I self-published single page newspapers, venting about everything from party lines (not as fun as you might think) and restrictions imposed by "the man" (my father) on weekend use of the family's red station wagon.

Then off to college I went to study journalism at the University of Arizona.

I was a newspaper reporter before I became a yoga teacher.

I also did time as a mediocre poet, an unpublished novelist, and an okay short story writer.

Now, I will try my hand as a blogger, a decision I made this past summer when I stumbled upon a lapel button in a quirky little cement block beach shop near the salt marshes of South Carolina. I didn't buy it, but wish I had. It said, simply, "Nobody reads your [bleep]ing blog."