Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees in our own lives. We are bogged down by to-do lists and rarely find ourselves actually engaged with the activities and relationships that bring us joy. I have a friend who has been going through a major life overhaul in order to connect with her true nature. Her journey inward began in earnest last spring. On a wintry day at the end of March, her car began spinning out of control on an icy patch of the Interstate as she was heading north from Colorado towards the Wyoming border. The car was moving at over 60 miles per hour and ended up rolling 1 and a half times before coming to a stop less than 2 feet from the oncoming traffic in the south bound lanes. My friend says she literally saw her life pass before her eyes as she was certain that death or serious injury was imminent. Luckily she was pulled from the wreckage with nothing more than a few shards of glass in her eyes. Once the dizzying shock of the accident cleared away, the lessons from the incident became crystal clear. It was a wake up call. She realized that she was on the wrong path in life and heading in the wrong direction. It was one of those moments in which you realize, really truly realize, that life can be over in the blink of an eye. This event took place about a year ago and the life altering qualities of the car accident continue to inspire my friend to live life more authentically and richly than ever before. While she could have simply been thankful to be alive and gone back to life as usual, the car accident prompted big changes. The biggest change was a commitment to journaling. Journaling? That’s it? Journaling? The entire build up to this story is a nudge about the power of journaling? In a word, yes. She begin to put into writing what was working and what was not working in her life. Through journaling she was able to design the life she wanted to live and then start living according to the new design. The simple act of writing something down is powerful. Typing on a computer is not nearly as effective as actually using a pen or pencil to let your thoughts spill out across the pages. As we write, the thoughts in our mind become crystallized through the journaling process. Once the thoughts are clearer and you have acknowledged them on the conscious level, they can much more easily become life action items. Our thoughts really are just one intentional moment away from becoming actions rather than just random, sub-conscious ideas living under our true nature radar. My friend quit her corporate job and followed her life long (rarely before mentioned out loud) passion to start her own business. She now works from home with her 2 little dogs asleep at her feet. Work is coming her way easily and she is thriving as she accepts new challenges and opportunities. She wanted the freedom to travel and spend more time with family. She was recently able to spend 10 whole days hanging out with her older sister who lives thousands of miles away. This is something her corporate job and hectic life never allowed time for. In the past few months she has been to Mexico, Alaska, and San Francisco, and she is planning a trip to New York City. She also wanted more work-life balance and is finding time to pursue her yoga and dance classes much more regularly. No, she is not wealthy. She simply began making different choices about her life. If journal writing was the answer, what were the questions? According to my friend, the following questions or prompts should help you on your way to finding your true nature: 1. What is the one thing you would do if you absolutely knew you could not fail?2. Describe your ideal day in detail from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to bed. Do a work day and a play day. 3. What brings you joy? Create a list of 50 things and make sure you do at least 3 per day! Continually add to the list and keep the joy flowing. Ideas could include taking a walk in nature or sipping a cup of tea in your favorite comfy chair. 4. What are your best memories? What is it specifically about the memories that you cherish? How can you create more wonderful memories for your life? 5. If you only had 1 year to live – how would you spend your time? What elements of this ‘sense of urgency living’ can you incorporate into your current plans? 6. What are your deepest held values? What choices can you make in work and in play to exemplify these values in everything you do? 7. What areas of your life are out of balance? Where are you wasting time and money on things that are not really important to you? 8. Who do you admire? Who inspires you? Why? 9. What childhood dreams have your forgotten or put to the back burner? Are their some clues in these childhood dreams that may help you live the life of your dreams today? Think about games you played and fantasies you had about life when you were a child and look for clues. For example, did you constantly play teacher? Were you always prancing around on make believe ponies? 10. How would you like to be remembered after you are gone? What legacy do you want to leave behind in this world? Steven Covey, famous author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, actually has people write their eulogies. He calls this beginning with the end in mind. I know this is a tough one but I guarantee that you will find things out about yourself in the process of journaling the answer to this prompt and it will be worth the time and energy. I know these are tough questions to tackle but if you stick with the process you will find deeper meaning in life. You will see the light! You will have your own a-ha moment in your own true nature style. These are just a few prompts to help you on your way to finding and living your true nature. Write back and let me know how keeping a journal has helped you live your true nature. Oh, if you need a nature inspired journal to get you started – check out our selection online. You may also want to check out A New Leaf – Ideas for Writing Inspired by Trees. The book contains nature-inspired tree prompts to get you thinking about your life. Happy Journal Writing!