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Committed to Listening

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I’ve been journaling since I was a little kid. I remember my very first “diary” had Dopey the Dwarf on it when I was in elementary school.

Over the years I’ve probably filled close to 20 journals many of which I’ve thrown away-usually during moves.

Not-so-quick story about that:

In Dec of 2012 I moved out of my apartment in the Financial District of NYC. This was one of the times I decided to chuck a bunch of journals. Not even considering that people pillage anything left on a curb in the city, I abandoned my most intimate personal thoughts, dreams, ideas, struggles, wins, and feelings on the corner of Pearl St and Coenties Slip.

Might as well have put an invitation on it.

This choice to throw away my journals from 2010-2012 was a big one. Those were some seriously transformational years of my life. It felt right to let go though. I was steadfast in my decision.

Sometimes when we make choices, the Universe comes back and says, “Are you sure?” to test us. Fast forward two months and I get a phone call. (One of my journals had my phone number in it in case of a mix up because I got it at a conference along with 278 other people.)

It was a man. He had my journals. He found them on a bus stop in the East Village (for those of you with no concept of NYC, this involved some serious transport from the Financial District where I’d left my journals on the curb)

Every cell in my body immediately came to alert. My stomach dropped, my heart started pounding. One function of my journals is an outlet. I’m an extroverted feeler in Meyers-Briggs talk. Everyone in my life does not need to know how I’m feeling 24/7 despite my desire to want to express myself as much. I write the things I would never say to another human because I don’t mean them. Raw emotion in the heat of a moment doesn’t usually come with perspective but it feels really fucking good to get it out.

He said, “Listen, I’m not trying to get any money off of you or anything, just wanted to return them if you need them.”

In that moment I took a breath, allowed myself to calm down and knew, this was a test. The Universe was asking me “are you sure you’re ready to let go of who you were to become who you want to be?”


I told the man I appreciated his call and that I got rid of them for a reason and he was welcome to keep them or throw them away which was my original intention.

His reply, “May you continue on your journey unimpeded.”

Was he an earth angel? Who knows. Kinda crazy though, right?

As I prepare to move once again in December, I had three journals from this year I wanted to get rid of.

Curious, I posted a this question on Facebook: “Friends who journal, what do you do with your old journals?

Here are some of the replies…

Keep em and read them every now then. Its dangerous though…

I used to keep them but every year or so I’ll rip them up

I kept them until we moved, and while we were packing I read through a couple and realized they weren’t as brilliant/useful as I thought.

Saving them up for a memoir

I kept them all for over 20 years. A year ago I flipped through them and decided to let them go. I, very unceremoniuosly, put them in the recycle bin. It felt so amazing to let them go!!

I have a giant box of them in the basement, mostly very old. Upon my demise my husband is under strict orders to burn the box en masse without reading.

I have MANY, have saved them for YEARS (since I started with my pink one with the little gold locket). I rarely look at them… but I find solace in knowing that I still have them. For now.


I just burned all of mine 2 nights ago. I went to the bonfires near my house and burned 25 years worth. It was perhaps the most liberating thing I have ever done!!

The next morning I knew what I was going to do. I was going to burn them.

Before I did I flipped through. Having recently gone through a break up – this wasn’t easy. I basically got to flip through the unraveling of my relationship, relive some of the pain, but I also realized something I needed to see.

I spent a lot of time ignoring my intuition this year.

I wasn’t tuning in to divine guidance, mainly because I didn’t know how until two months ago.

At times, I was even lying to myself- that is hard to face, and scary, too.

Hindsight is always an incredible teacher. – Click To Tweet

I read words where I was convincing myself that things in various aspects of my life were good when they were not.

I read words of evolving self-love, acceptance and compassion.

I read over goals and dreams that have since fizzled out.

Part of me wanted to hold on. There were some great quotes on those pages, too. And notes from books and courses I loved. Lessons.

“You might need that stuff!” My ego pleaded.

But I knew better.

I shed some tears, giggled a little, and instead of beating myself up about any of the negative stuff, I sent love to the people, places and things. I blessed the experiences and let immense gratitude for where I am today wash over me.  I recognized past pain, joy and everything in between for what it is – a compass for the trajectory of my future.

I chose once again to let go, this time more definitively by burning my journals…and as I watched the flames I committed to listening more deeply to my intuition and declared trust for my conscious and subconscious mind to recall any pieces of my past that would serve my present moving forward.

Lots of love,

Committed to Listening
  • Stephanie


  • Stormy

    Wow, Liz! That takes guts. I am a journaler. Have been since I was a little kid. Like you, I’ve poured my heart out in those pages, unfiltered, full of the love, anger, hate, hurt, insight, etc. that came up for me in any given moment. When I saw that you’d burned yours, I literally felt a sinking feeling. I don’t read my journals really. They are simply there, stored away. But on a day last winter when I was cleaning out some old boxes, I found myself in them. Page after page spoke to me in ways I couldn’t even remember, that I’d actually lost the ability to see/feel anymore. I’ve barely looked at them since, but that one day triggered a process of rediscovery and a trust in myself that I’d been sidetracked from for years. I think I will continue to keep them, if only for an occasional reference or reminder. Brava for doing what felt right for you!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Love this story, Stormy. It’s so interesting to me how people use their journals and what they get out of them past and present. Written word is powerful!

  • Stephanie

    Okay, I think I figured out what went wrong before. Anyhow- about journals. I have about 4 journals in my house floating around. Some of the entries are from before my husband and I got together and some of them are from after. He knows what they are and he does not read them. I have found that since the invention of Facebook and blogging, I write in my journals less. Yep, still keep a journal at 30 years! I just don’t write in it as often as I would like. I am not sure what I would want to happen to my journals after I die. Hmm, possibly give them away to my daughters or perhaps burns them when I get cremated.

    • Liz DiAlto

      This is a point I never thought about – Facebook and Blogging being a substitute outlet for journaling. Great reminder that it’s all self expression! Thanks, Stephanie.

  • Mary Catherine

    Wow I love this. I especially identify with

    “Part of me wanted to hold on. There were some great quotes on those pages, too. And notes from books and courses I loved. Lessons.

    “You might need that stuff!” My ego pleaded.

    But I knew better.”

    I have not arrived at “I knew better” yet but I wonder if this could be significant for me. I literally carry my old journals around with me during the day and in my car thinking i need to go back through them to find answers to what I should be doing now, working on now, creating now.

    Well shit. Now is the present! What does the present need?

    Likely not something I wrote in the past…hmm?

    Liz D once again you leave me with lots to think about

    and when I see you again it shall be lots to laugh about.

    love you friend.

    • Liz DiAlto

      Ooh!! Can’t wait to hear what you feel out about this. Love you, too <3

  • Mari

    Love this. About a year ago, I went through my journals, and ripped up the pages and released the past to embrace the future. What I didn’t realize until this morning, was that I was still holding on to one of the journals. I literally just felt compelled to walk over to my bookshelf and I saw it. It chronicled the time I was living in New York and the relationship that I had while I was living there. I hadn’t truly moved on from the experience and I’d been meaning to do some kind of ritual to release him but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. This post just inspired me to do just that. I just read through the journal (pretty much every entry had some reference to him) and tore up the pages, releasing him to the universe so I can open my heart for what may come next! Thank you!!!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Mari – YES!!! I don’t even know you but I want to say I’m so proud of you (not in a patronizing way, is a serious, if you were standing in front of me I’d give you a huge ass hug kind of way). Congrats!!

      I did a major release on my ex under the last full moon – I threw jewelry and other gifts into the ocean and let me tell you – I started seeing the impact of my action the VERY NEXT DAY. Sending you lots of love for your courage and expansion!!

      • Mari

        Thank you so much for the inspiration/motivation to release!!!! I got the goosebumps when yesterday, I too, saw impact, of this action in both romantic and professional opportunities. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, both personally and professionally, but very happy that we’re not on this journey alone.:-)

  • Hannah

    I admire your decision Liz! And I appreciate you sharing it.

    I have a box full of journals and notebooks, which proved quite a conundrum when I decided to sell most of my stuff and go paperless this summer. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them completely (the “you might need that stuff!” totally resonates!). So I decided it would be a good idea to scan them into an encrypted folder. Several hours of mind-numbing scanning later and, like, 5% done, I’m not sure it’s such a great idea anymore… but I can’t quite bring myself to let go just yet. One day, I want to give my past self the opportunity to be seen and accepted for who she was, even just by me: the same person a little older and a little wiser (in theory, anyway :)).

    So glad you did what was right in order for you to move forward. The closing ritual is one of the most important (if not the most important) parts of the cycle.