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284. Lessons Learned from Journaling with Inmates with Tina Welling

the daily helping podcast Nov 20, 2022

Tina Welling is the author of several bestselling novels including Cowboys Never Cry, Fairy Tale Blues, and Crybaby Ranch. In her newest nonfiction book, Journaling with Inmates, Tina shares the experiences she had running a journaling workshop at a local county jail, what she taught the inmates, and what they inevitably taught her.

Tina recognized that incarcerated people don’t get recognition in our society. While reading about Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” the near-universal framework for telling stories of change that can be found in myths and legends dating back thousands of years, Tina had a revelation. One phase of the Hero’s Journey is called “the belly of the whale,” which is that place where everything around you is different and unfamiliar. To Tina, that seemed to match up perfectly with the experience of incarceration. In those situations, just like in the Hero’s Journey, the only option is to go inward.

Tina always had an interest in journaling and the positive benefits of doing it regularly. She had the idea to begin teaching journaling to inmates as that method of going inward. Inmates are often at a place in their lives where they are ready to embrace change — and invariably, they find it in Tina’s journaling workshops.


There’s so much power in writing with your hand on paper, asking yourself a question, and just seeing where your mind takes you. Most of us have the answers within us, we just need to do a little digging to find it. And journaling is our shovel.


The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway

Give everyone a chance to, first of all, you know, look deeply into yourself, realize that you’re okay, that you have goodness, that you’re doing your best, that in your way you’re a survivor, and so is everyone else. Everyone else that you meet on the streets. And don’t be afraid to consider volunteering in your county jail. It’s a wonderful experience.



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There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.

This is the Power of You!