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“After many heart-to-heart journal entries with myself, I know am my biggest influencer.” with Ayesha Gallion and Dr. Marina Kostina

We are deconstructing ourselves vastly through the lens of external mediums, criteria, and cultures versus the filter of our own ideologies and standards. Journaling brings us back to our intentions, our truths, and is a very nuanced form of self-affirmation. I, like many other people, can be influenced by external factors. But after many heart-to-heart […]


We are deconstructing ourselves vastly through the lens of external mediums, criteria, and cultures versus the filter of our own ideologies and standards. Journaling brings us back to our intentions, our truths, and is a very nuanced form of self-affirmation. I, like many other people, can be influenced by external factors. But after many heart-to-heart journal entries with myself, I know am my biggest influencer. Our forms of digital communication — texts, social media, and video engagement –are often underscored with vacuous suggestions to “rise and grind” or “stay woke.” With every inspirational quote posted, many people create unfounded narratives about themselves. Passive aggressive texts and emojis have replaced conversations that should integrate sound, voice, and audible tone.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ayesha Gallion, Distinguished Archives journaling workshop facilitator and communications professional. She has guided women, men, and children in using journaling to explore their aspirations, grief, and even ideas about intellectual property. Ayesha has kept many of her own journals, including those that she kept as an undergrad at Morgan State University and later during Rutgers graduate school. She believes that the practice benefits all demographics from a wellness, historical, and socioeconomic standpoint.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My career path has included, journalism and online news production but it was my experience as an English teacher and as college adjunct instructor that confirmed I should explore journaling workshops. I taught the memoirs of asha bandele and Rebecca Walker as well as first-person narratives from John Smith and Oscar Wilde. In addition, autobiographies, poems, and creative non-fiction conveyed how incredibly cathartic and empowering deconstructing one’s self could be. I had journaled for years, but my students gave me the first opportunity to engage and guide groups in journaling exercises for affirmation, critical thinking, and decompression. When I left education and joined the world of manufacturing, my schedule opened up and I had more time to focus on offering workshops to a wider variety of learners.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

When we confront ourselves in the privacy of our minds or in our journals, it is intentional. But on a larger scope, this spectrum entails so much. Living on purpose means accepting the rewards and consequences of life once you have mastered a myriad of lessons. It means leaving, or sometimes staying. It means listening, and sometimes turning a deaf ear. And living purposefully is not always a feel good, warm and fuzzy hot chocolate toast. The same way that I can blissfully love, I have learned to sincerely throw up a peace sign and part ways with what I know does not feel just or safe.

Certain circumstances and people are liabilities. The moment you no longer feel humanized is a sign that your highest self will not be supported in that friendship, marriage, career — whatever it may be — and you’ll be at risk for seeing your morale sink from your core to the floor. People without a sense of purpose can be overtly dangerous or covertly dysfunctional. And ironically, those of us who live with intention must learn to walk the fine line of empowering those who are still searching versus enabling them. Most importantly, I’m learning that accessing stillness — reading, praying, being quiet, getting enough rest, this is all living on purpose, too. Living is not always done “out loud.”

Journaling is a method that allows us to gauge whether our chosen or arbitrary trajectory in life is sound. Navigating my life to sustain purpose has been scary at times, of course, but vulnerability and courage always reveal a bigger and more vibrant picture.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

Years ago at one of my first journaling workshops, which was for the bereaved, I had ended the workshop by reading an entry in an old journal that described the pain of losing two of my younger brothers, who had both drowned at ages 11 and 13 when I was 19 — and on my birthday. I also shared with them a copy of the front page Star-Ledger news article that relayed the incident, my father and mother both quoted by reporters. The participants momentarily forgot about their own grief, suddenly shocked that the vibrant facilitator before them had healed enough to reveal her own experience with tragic loss. My journal entry as a college girl in 1995 had given them hope, although it was then 2011, more than a decade later. I knew that my ability to connect with others via journaling was a gift and a privilege.

As time passed, I worked harder to share this medium of catharsis with others — and not just the bereaved. Recently I read a few entries of that same old college journal, which is still covered in bright orange African fabric, a gift that a friend purchased for me on 125th Street in Harlem. I laughed at my 90s vernacular, cheesy Wu Tang Clan-inspired relationship warnings: “protect ya neck”, and overdramatic, optimistic assessment of life. As a young woman, I did value my voice. As a result my daughter and son now have access to those narratives and lessons. Our journals are salves for the soul and the most exciting history books we will ever own.

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

We are deconstructing ourselves vastly through the lens of external mediums, criteria, and cultures versus the filter of our own ideologies and standards. Journaling brings us back to our intentions, our truths, and is a very nuanced form of self-affirmation. I, like many other people, can be influenced by external factors. But after many heart-to-heart journal entries with myself, I know am my biggest influencer. Our forms of digital communication — texts, social media, and video engagement –are often underscored with vacuous suggestions to “rise and grind” or “stay woke.” With every inspirational quote posted, many people create unfounded narratives about themselves. Passive aggressive texts and emojis have replaced conversations that should integrate sound, voice, and audible tone.

Journaling allows us meaningful conversations with ourselves, which make it easier for us to substantially connect with and understand our families, friends, and colleagues. How can you be happy when you don’t want to acknowledge that you currently are not? A lot of digital messaging convey desperation, pseudo-optimism, narcissism, and the desire for knee-jerk reactions and engagement. Journaling doesn’t encourage dysfunctional escapism. I know what makes me smile because I’ve journaled about my sorrows and my joys. This practice has taught me how to extend that compassionate honesty and happiness to others.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to use journaling workshops as a way to encourage people to be refreshed by introspection. I want people to be fascinated with their vulnerability, curious about their secrets, and the nooks and crannies of their days, memories, and hopes. I want them to find adventure on a private path to which the digital world is not privy. I believe that any person in tune with his or her inner voice is more likely to know peace and thus spread some element of goodness within communities, cultures, and institutions.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Self-reflection: When I know I may have a full day ahead of me, I bring a journal to the office, should I need the comfort of my inner wisdom to guide, calm, or encourage me.

2. Tea time: Making a good cup of tea requires patience and is such a sensual experience. I slow down and ease into the privilege of minding my business for a moment.

3. Thank you, God: Whether diligence or synchronicity has played a part in life’s miracles and lessons, I thank the Creator.

4. I forgive myself: I am not perfect and have congratulated myself on playing myself. It’s all good.

5. I read the journals and first-person narratives of others: Even a short excerpt from a David Sedaris or Shonda Rhimes essay can present a new perspective.

6. I reach out: I make an effort to connect with people, new and old, when I have downtime. I may call or write my family and friends. I have four-hour dinner dates and hearty laughs with my homegirls. I respond to texts right away most times and love a good stationery set for snail mail. Even at work, I’ll call instead of email a colleague, which often supports clarity in our communication.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

Podcasts: Amanda Seales “Small Doses” (podcast); The Moth. Resources: Dr. Pratima Raichur, ayurvedic doctor and holistic expert. Books: Warrior Lessons by Phoebe Eng; All About Love by bell hooks; Jean Toomer’s “Blood Burning Moon”; Law of the Garbage Truck by David Pollay. Niceties of life: a damn good pen; hiking; the Jersey Shore; Billy Joel’s songs; my two children’s love, trust in me, and their laughter. Lastly but not least — my own wisdom. I am very thankful and inspired by my willingness to shift, grow, and be adventurous.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Kenny Rogers dropped a gem when he told us: You got to know when to hold ‘em/ know when to fold ‘em/ know when to walk away/ know when to run/ you never count your money/ when you’re sitting at the table / they’ll be time enough for countin’/ when the dealing’s done.

We should know our limits, develop keen intuition, and trust that life’s hand can always be a winner. Journaling is a record of our wins and losses, but it is proof for me that I’m still sitting and observing at the table of life. Deal me in!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I am currently lining up journaling workshops for 2019. I think journaling will not only help the people who use it to further understand themselves and their desires, it will benefit those who are close to them as well. The better we know ourselves, the more we are able to connect with or help others in ways that are uplifting and effective. It’s a continuous result; one that keeps giving on a mental, emotional, and historical plane.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would have free journaling stations or pods in metropolitan areas so that people could access a quiet and private space for individual written reflection. Each antimicrobial pod would be equipped with chromatherapy lighting, paper, and writing utensils. Journaling time would be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Think floatation therapy without the water and salt — but with an immersion into one’s thoughts via journaling.

Thank you so much for joining us!

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