How I Journal: Dwayne Milley

Dwayne Milley, husband to Karen, father to Deepika, and Vice President of operations at Karis Disability Services (formerly Christian Horizons), is a seasoned journaling enthusiast. Rooted in Toronto and hailing from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Dwayne has ventured through the paths of blogging to pen and paper journaling, eventually finding solace in the digital realms of the Day One app. Through reflections and recollections, Dwayne shares how journaling has not just documented his life but shaped it.

The Evolution of Dwayne’s Journaling Journey

Dwayne’s foray into the world of journaling began with blogging in 2005, a space where he could record his thoughts on the books he read.

“I had been reading quite a bit, and wanted to write about what I was reading. Blogging was ‘the thing’ in those days, and it didn’t seem to occur to me to journal. In retrospect, it was because I wanted to do it on my computer, and journaling was a ‘pen and paper’ thing. That effort lasted a year – from June 2005 to June 2006.”

His journey took a turn towards a more structured approach when he was introduced to the “Life Journal” in 2006, a tool that provided him with the structure he needed to organize his thoughts on paper.

“During this same time, I played around with a Medium Blog, hosted my own domain, and discovered Day One Journal. Eventually, I copied all my online entries into Day One and deleted them from online. Around 6 years ago, I began to import pdf copies of my ‘pen and paper’ entries into Day One, back-dating them to the date they were written. Then, over the course of two years and leveraging “On this Day” as a prompt, I transcribed all the pdf files into text.”

The Importance of Journaling & ‘Real Time’ Reflection

When it comes to why journaling is important to Dwayne, he explains: “Journaling supports me to both reflect and recollect. Reflection often comes first, where I think back over the events and conversations of the previous day.

“I’m an ‘out-loud’ thinker. Journaling is a form of that for me, where I get the thoughts out of my head and can see them in front of me. Rather than burden others with all my thoughts, journaling is a productive way for me to sort through them and decide on actions and priorities for me. This is ‘real time’ reflection.”

Three Themes in Dwayne’s Journals

Dwayne navigates through life’s intricacies with a journal that houses reflections and recollections on his readings, social media, and daily occurrences. He explains:

“My journaling falls along three main themes (listed below, not in order of importance, because they’re all important):

  1. Reading – I read a lot. It helps me stay sane. I have one journal simply called “Books”, and it’s the one journal where I use a template. I’ll note the dates I started and ended the book, the format (Kindle, Kobo, audio, etc.), and some of my reflections and learnings from the book. 
  2. Social Media – In 2021 I read, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, by Jaron Lanier. While he and I aren’t part of the same Faith tradition, a lot of what he wrote aligned for me, and I decided to ease up on how I use Social Media. Day One has ‘scratched that itch’ for me. As well, I still use Instagram, and appreciate the link between Instagram and Day One.  
  3. Reflection and Recollection – I add anything and everything into my “Dwayne’s Journal” throughout the day…… it helps me recall little things later, and it helps with short- and long-term reflection. I know people who seem to remember things easily – that’s not me. Just because something is prompted doesn’t mean it’s not sincere – I sincerely want people to know I care, and when I remember something in advance by writing it in Day One, it helps me demonstrate that I care when I recall later. Others regularly express appreciation when I recall something and we can enjoy the mutually shared memory. Not once has someone told me that they didn’t appreciate me recalling a shared experience with them from a year or years before – rather, they enjoy the mutually shared memory.”

Dwayne’s Tips for Aspiring Journalists

For those eager to embark on their journaling journey, Dwayne advises starting small, without lofty goals.

“My advice – just start. Don’t try to journal every day. Don’t commit to a lofty goal….. just start. 

“Choose a topic or a theme and choose to make a daily entry about it for a week. Then choose another theme and journal about it. 

“For example, I’m typing this and one of our cats is asleep on the bed in front of me. Someone could choose to make a daily post of their pet, with a picture, and note what they were thinking or doing in that moment – just one a day for a week. It’ll help build the habit. And, I’m certain, next year when you read it, you’ll react to it. Maybe the thought was deep (in retrospect) and had impact in the days and weeks ahead. Or maybe it was wonderfully benign, and we realize how much of our lives are made up of mundane, ‘in-between’ kinds of things.”

“Just start. Don’t try to journal every day. Don’t commit to a lofty goal….. just start. Choose a topic or a theme and choose to make a daily entry about it for a week. Then choose another theme and journal about it.”

Finding Beauty in the In-Betweens

Journaling has enlightened Dwayne on the importance of the “in-between” moments that constitute the majority of our lives. Whether it’s chronicling the waiting period during the adoption process of his daughter or reflecting on the impact of his surgeries, Dwayne has found depth and meaning in the monotonous, “in-between” stages of life.

“Journaling has helped me understand and see the importance of the monotonous parts of my life, or the in-betweens.  We tend to live our lives going from one high or low point to the next, from one momentous reality to the next. But most of our lives are lived in between these moments. 

“For proper credit, I was first introduced to this idea of ‘the in-betweens’ in an article I read long before I started journaling. Written by Mike Yaconelli in 1994, he was reflecting on a book written by Thomas Kelly in 1941, called, A Testament of Devotion. Kelly was a Quaker Teacher who was writing about finding God in the stillness amidst the busyness of the modern life (in 1941!). 

Kelly wrote about it as ‘living passively’, or ‘living in the passive voice’. Yaconelli reflects on it like this – 

“Journaling has helped me understand and see the importance of the monotonous parts of my life, or the in-betweens.  We tend to live our lives going from one high or low point to the next, from one momentous reality to the next. But most of our lives are lived in between these moments. 

Beginnings and endings. Starts and finishes. Those are the parts of life that grab my attention. But the passive life is the life of inbetweens, life in the middle. “God,” the passive life says, “is found in the everydayness of life, in the middle of life. God is sneaking around in the ordinariness of each day, longing to be noticed, longing to be discovered. It is tragic that much of my life I have looked for God in the momentous, and instead He’s been waiting in the moment.”

– Mike Yaconalli

I didn’t realize how much this concept resonated with me until I had journaled for some time. I found myself going back through old scans I had made to find and re-read this article again. Now I re-read this article and the book itself every couple of years.”

Harnessing the Power of the Day One App

In the vast array of features offered by the Day One app, the “On This Day” stands unrivaled for Dwayne, offering a pathway to traverse back in time and relive moments, fostering a sense of reflection and gratitude that enriches his everyday life.

“I use only one template – for my book reading and summary. For everything else, it’s a combination of pictures, paragraphs, bullet lists, and pdf attachments.”

Dwayne’s journal template for books

Dwayne also explains how Day One has other uses:

“I’ve got a couple of book ideas kicking around in my mind. It’s a dream to write a book one day. It’s not a goal I’m actively working on; but writing every day helps me to practice the discipline and create content that one day might inform a book. To that end, one of my journals is simply named, ‘my book’. I copy entries there if I think it suits the theme. As I read “on this day”, I add more entries. 

“And last year, I decided to get into Vinyl Records. I created a journal to track the vinyl as I listen to it. I document what I played, what I was doing as I listened, who I was with (if anyone), and so on. It’s been helping me live in the moment.”

Finding Meaning in the Mundane

Dwayne Milley’s journey paints a rich tapestry of a life well-reflected upon, a chronicle of ordinary moments that have amassed to narrate an extraordinary life. Through the lens of Dwayne’s extensive journaling experience, we learn the potent power of reflection, recollection, and the value of the ‘in-betweens.’

“Journaling, for me, helps me see meaning in the mundane,” Dwayne explains. “my main purposes in journaling are for recollection and reflection. Recollection means I needed to have written things to recollect them. Then, I reflect on those things. Sometimes it’s a passive reflection, where the reminder of a seemingly boring event or happening sits with me throughout the day.”

“Journaling, this practice of recollection and reflection, helps me in my Faith life. I’m mindful that Day One users are people from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds, so I share this not to promote my own, but to share how significant Day One is in helping me understand who I am in the context of family, faith, work, and more, as I read and write my own story and reflect on the congruency between who I want to be and who I am.”

The commitment to a daily routine of journaling unveils a deeper understanding and appreciation of life’s nuances, reminding us that within the ordinary lies the truly extraordinary. It beckons aspiring journalers to take the first simple step – to just start. And who knows, that small step might just open up a rich world of reflection and deeper connection with the daily moments that craft our larger life narrative.

Start Journaling Today with Day One

The Day One journaling app makes it easy to build and maintain a daily journaling habit. Daily journaling reminders, daily writing prompts, and journal streaks are designed to help keep you motivated and consistently journaling.

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