Francesca Omisakin, a consultant community paediatrician based in Thurrock, Essex, England, offers a uniquely profound insight into her life through the fascinating lens of her lifelong journaling habit.
Through the continuous exploration of her thoughts, emotions, and daily events, Francesca weaves a tapestry of self-discovery and self-improvement. In this interview, we explore her journaling journey that is reflective of her love for literature and her passionate dedication to helping others.
The Journey Begins: An Inspired Childhood
Influenced by the likes of Adrian Mole and Margaret from Judy Blume’s work, Francesca began journaling at the age of 11.
“That’s 36 years of writing. I was drawn to idea of documenting my incessant internal monologue. Then helped me make sense of all the confusing feelings and social situations that I experienced at that time. It was also practice writing for the book that I wanted to have written and published by the time I was 15 years old (that didn’t happen!).
“My journal is a safe repository of those first thoughts that enter and flow uninhibited and unrestrained through my mind, musings that I don’t want to discuss with even my closest companions.”
“I discovered Day One in 2019. I still keep a paper journal, old habits die hard, I do love the physical act of writing (very similar to the conversations about paper books vs Kindle), but I very much enjoy the versatility a digital journal brings.”
The intimate act of penning her thoughts appealed to her need to make sense of her internal monologue and understand the complexities of adolescence. As Francesca fondly reminisces, “My journal is a safe repository of those first thoughts that enter and flow uninhibited and unrestrained through my mind, musings that I don’t want to discuss with even my closest companions.
“I still write about drama that is my life, with me at the centre stage! There was a phase in my life where my journaling was not unlike Bridget Jones in ‘Bridget Jone’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding, but with my entries starting with seemingly motivational phrases and quotations like YOU’LL FEEL CALM IF YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE THINGS YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT AND CONCENTRATE ON THOSE YOU CAN INFLUENCE and then me proceeding to write how I was not living up to those standards!”
A Life Chronicled: From Personal Insights to Professional Reflections
Over the years, Francesca’s journal has grown into a testament of her life. As a paediatrician who has been working in the National Health Service for over two decades, her journals bear witness to the emotional and physical toll of her gruelling journey. She shares, “The blank pages of August in my 2000 journal speak volumes about the exhausting first weeks as a junior doctor.”
In addition to her professional reflections, her journal serves as a platform for self-evaluation and growth, capturing her aspirations, experiences, and personal check-ins. Her journal entries are a balance between reflecting on the past, processing the present, and dreaming about the future.
Multi-Faceted Journaling With the Day One App
Francesca transitioned from traditional journaling to using the Day One App in 2019, keeping separate digital journals for different aspects of her life. Ranging from her daily thoughts and feelings, food and exercise tracking, writing exercises, and reflections on therapy sessions, each journal is a rich chronicle of Francesca’s journey in its own right.
The features of the Day One App, including the ability to open multiple journals, fill in entries from past years, reflect on what she was doing on the same day in previous years, and the capability to upload pictures, add a distinctive touch to her journaling experience.
Francesca’s shares her favorite things about the Day One app:
- The ability to open several journals at time so that I can chart different aspects of my life
- The ability to fill in entries from years back so that I can record all the information from my hand written diaries into digital form (a ‘little project’ I am working on – but likely to take a very long to complete, tackling all the entries from 1987 – 2018!)
- The ‘On This Day’ feature, with the ability to look back and reflect on what I was doing that same day in previous years
- That I can upload pictures. I try and be selective but I write a food blog and I have a seemingly insatiable appetite for taking pictures of every meal I eat, therefore many of my photos reflect my food journey for that day!
Inspiration From Francesca’s Journals
“When I first started with Day One I enthusiastically used some of their templates, like Daily Self and Day Summary, which helped structure my thoughts about what had been good about that day and what my fears and worries were on the start of that day. Now I also have a template to record my diet and exercise.”
The Ritual of Journaling: Evening Reflections
Journaling is not just a habit for Francesca, but an end-of-day ritual. “It’s like letting out a long slow breath that I have been holding in all day. It’s my equivalent of ‘writing Hygge’ – it’s my space, my time to slow down, my opportunity to connect with myself but also think about my other relationships in the world,” she muses.
While she primarily journals in the evening, Francesca also occasionally uses her mornings or other parts of the day to document her intentions and reflections. “I get to work pretty early and if I’m feeling alive and buzzing (very rarely) and I don’t have a clinic to prepare for, I might spend a few minutes updating my Day One journal with my intentions, aspirations and expectations of the day ahead.
“Journaling is like letting out a long, slow breath that I have been holding in all day. It’s my equivalent of ‘writing Hygge’ – it’s my space, my time to slow down, my opportunity to connect with myself but also think my other relationships.”
“When I first signed up to Day One in October 2019, I was so excited by it that I would journal all day using the app on my phone, giving a running commentary on anything I was doing that day. However, I soon settled back into that version of myself that just prefers to write ‘when the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won’!”
The Lessons Learned: Personal Evolution
Through the years, Francesca’s journaling has revealed consistent patterns and developments in her personality and attitude.
“I’ve learned that I’m the same person—I love writing, I often write about the same things, I have incredibly, the same thought processes over the past three decades, my outlook and attitudes are largely the same. I take much solace in this safe place to vent and express the secret parts of my life.
“But I’m also different—I have spent much of my journalling time in a fairly negative state of mind; however over the past few years I’ve been starting to examine my thought processes and attitudes with curiosity and compassion. The self-compassion aspect is that which is largely missing from my earlier journals and perhaps reflected in my relations and expectation of the people around me. It’s been a journey. I’ve tried to be more balanced in sharing the good as well as the bad and in that same vein, trying to share the best of myself with other people.”
Francesca’s Tip for Building a Journaling Habit
Francesca offers several tips for building a regular journaling habit:
- Set aside a regular time that is your time
- Reduce unpleasant distractions
- Make sure you have your creature comforts around you
- Don’t be so rigid about having to write about certain things, just go with the flow. Sometimes you might want to write paragraphs of flowing text and other times it’s just a list of things you did that day.
A Journal as a Lifelong Companion
Journaling, for Francesca, is akin to a trustworthy confidant. As she aptly puts it, “My journal feels like the twin sister I’ve always wanted. She knows everything about me, and I am not afraid to tell her anything.” It’s more than a hobby or routine—it’s a source of comfort, encouragement, and most importantly, self-discovery.
In sharing her journey, Francesca emphasizes that journaling isn’t about rigid standards but the freedom to express and explore oneself. Whether it’s paragraphs of flowing text or a simple list of the day’s events, journaling can be personalized to fit your individual needs, helping you learn, grow, and navigate the chapters of your life.
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.