Now we begin…
Since I love both quotes and Joseph Campbell, I begin this blog with a quote from him: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
I believe one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime is my desire to write. Sharing these thoughts and ideas about journaling with you is my way of giving a holy thanks for this simple and profound privilege.
I just filled the journal that began on my birthday, April 27th, of this year. For the past several journals, I have used the recycled grocery bag-colored, spiral-bound unlined journals that I pick up at Barnes and Noble. The brand is “Cachet” by Daler Rowney. They are nice because the paper is fairly thick, which is important because I write with the thin Sharpie markers that come in a pack of about 20 different colors, and my words don’t bleed through on those pages too much. I prefer a totally blank slate, including the cover, which I write on as well. All of my journal covers look different, reflecting the different phases and stages of my life. On this past journal, among many other things, I had written a big “37″ in the center (my age) and orbiting around that are all kinds of quotes, notes, websites, numbers and other stuff that I wanted to remember.
Like Life’s ceaseless moments, this journal, this heady reflection of the past few months of my life, has been laid to rest as of last night. What was so immediate and important months, weeks, and days ago has become just a map of my past. Cover closed, joining the others on my shelf. Now I begin again.
I picked up another journal this afternoon, and went back to the standard 81/2 by 11 black “Sketchbook.” I can’t write on its cover, so I tape stuff on it instead. I used to write in these books all of the time because the unlined pages are thick and large, and they usually last more than three months. Plus, they are cheap and heavy duty so I can stick photos, cards, tickets, and all kinds of other crap inside and the binding doesn’t burst.
So I begin again, which is one of the great things about journaling. I don’t have to wait for the new year to set new intentions. The pages of my journal are clean and brand new. And in a way, writing the first words on the inside cover of my new journals makes my life feel clean and brand new. I always hope my new journals will be unmarred by messy writing and evidence of my vast wasteland of insecurities and idiot thoughts, but it never ends that way. Journals are not and will never be perfect, as Life is not and will never be perfect. So I’ve learned to accept it and just keep writing.
Journals are and should be as unique as the journies they hold inside, so for that reason, I offer suggestions bases on patterns that have worked for me. However, take what you like and leave the rest.
When I begin, I open the cover and write on the inside, beginning with the words “Right Now…” When I run out of things to say, like a mantra, I go back to the words “Right now.”
For example: Right now I am 37 years old, Oliver is four years old, and Lucy is two. We just finished our swimming lessons at Jim Lupient Waterpark today and both Oliver and Lucy went down the waterslide with me. It was a highlight of the summer. Right now I am about a quarter of the way through my first novel and each day I sit down to write, I have no idea what is going to happen next. It used to fill me with anxiety, but now I look forward to seeing what the hell will come out of my brain. Right now I am sitting at my desk in my treehouse writing on the computer. I can hear Dave mowing his lawn next door and I can feel the breeze blowing in from the window next to me. Right now I can hear Paul, Lucy and Oliver on the driveway and I’m wondering where they are going. Paul just had to retrieve Lucy, who snuck in here with me while Paul and Oliver were grooming the mountain bike trail out back. She loves to tinker with my stuff, especially the magnetic bird that tweets when you stick a paperclip on it. Right now I have to pee. Right now I am wearing my blue dress that I bought at the beginning of this summer that I love. Right now I am typing on the computer, but I much prefer writing. Right now I am trying to give you the feel of what my first entry might look like. Right now I hear Oliver yelling, “DAD! LUCY IS GOING UP TO MOM’S OFFICE!” Right now Paul is frustrated with retrieving her. I’m torn because I love to hear her tinker around, but I can’t concentrate when she’s up here.
That’s how it might sound, though the physical act of writing is slower and usually when I write with pen on paper, different stuff comes out. I think it’s a mind/body thing. Anyway.
As you may have noticed, I write about my immediate surroundings as well as my current concerns/mental state/hopes/goals/ etc. I do this because I can open the cover of any of my journals and get an idea of where I was at during that particular time in my life.
So there you go. I will post something about the writing life once a week, though which day I have not yet decided. But if you check once a week or so, I think you will find a little gem to keep you going. Until then, honor your journey–it is so Divine, so unique, so necessary–because no one before or after you will ever have the same story to tell.
Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and a teacher. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Teaching from Hamline University. She has been writing in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom. For this reason, she must write as a way to understand herself and her life, stay sane, and dream big dreams. She feels blessed to share this healing and illuminating practice with as many people as possible in her lifetime…