Sheila Allee is an accomplished author, speaker, and teacher in Austin, Texas. She has an impressive background as a journalist and writer, with a keen interest and expertise in the art of journaling and helping others with wellness and spiritual enhancement that can accompany a deep and intentional commitment to the process. Sheila’s latest book, All Are Free to Write: A One-Year Journal With Writing Prompts (SACPress 2021), is a treasure.
I used Sheila’s weekly prompts in her book as a devotional-style read, finding it a wonderful resource with incredible insight. I expect others will find it a formative resource for starting a journal or enhancing a current journaling practice. Sheila also has a helpful and insightful weekly newsletter. You may sign up and learn more about Sheila and her endeavors at sheilaallee.com
- Do you have a daily practice or routine to help you focus, stay centered, and live meaningfully throughout the day?
My daily practice centers around journaling. I consider it a kind of meditation where I talk to God on the page, seek guidance and generally write down what’s going on.
2. How long have you utilized a daily practice?
I’ve had a daily practice for several decades. In college, I was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and learned that a daily “quiet time” is essential to a spiritual journey. My routine has evolved over the years, but I have always devoted a part of my mornings to journaling, reading and praying.
3. Do you have an ideal time and place for your routine?
My husband and I live in a two-bedroom condominium and fortunately, I’ve been able to claim our extra bedroom for a place where I write, meditate, journal and seek spiritual guidance. I have a comfortable chair and ottoman and up until recently, I wrote by hand in a spiral notebook. I have discovered a website called 750words.com where you can journal in a password protected environment. I’m a quick typist, so this really works well for me. Many people believe handwriting is the only way to journal. But I find typing works just as well for me.
4. What are the elements of your routine (e.g., prayer, silence, being still, Bible or other reading, meditation, reflection)?
I usually read Scripture, especially if it’s before a Sunday morning worship service so I can be thinking about the sermon topic. I also read books, like your Daily Practice of Life, which give me topics to think and pray about. Over the years, I have used prayer beads, extensive Bible readings, centering prayer and many other techniques for reaching out to God and hearing his voice.
5. During each day, do you have “mini” versions of a practice or reminder techniques when the day goes wrong or you get distracted to help you re-focus?
This is where I really face challenges in my spiritual journey. I am a very intense, focused person and I have a difficult time remembering to speak and listen to God during the day. I’m getting better at it and also becoming accustomed to giving a prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the day. One big part of my routine is practicing gratitude. I write in my journal each day as many things, people or events that I can think of to be grateful for. This habit has helped me become more positive in my attitude and to be on the lookout during the day for things to be thankful for.
6. Do you periodically “audit” your daily routine for its effectiveness and make changes to it?
This is not something I routinely do but I will say my daily practice changes as I feel the need for some variety and a fresh approach. I read a lot of spiritual books and I often find new ways of relating to God and new subjects to ponder as I seek to follow him.
7. In addition to a daily routine, do you have more extended seasonal routines or personal retreats (such as during Advent, Lent, other holy seasons or days, the New Year)?
I have been on a few silent retreats at a monastery and have found them restful, meaningful and refreshing. During Advent, I make it my intention to focus on Christ’s birth but have to confess that I am easily distracted by the festivities surrounding the season. For many years I found spiritual sustenance by attending a singalong Messiah, an incredibly beautiful recounting of Christ’s birth.
Sheila is a good friend and one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I know. She is the current Council Chair at the Church at Highland Park, where I serve with her as Council Chaplain. I recommend both her recent book and her weekly newsletter and expect you will find them both excellent resources for your life and faith journeys.