Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Gift of You

Now that I've shown you probably more than you ever wanted to know about journaling, I'm going to wrap up Journal Week with a giveaway. Not just yet, as I'm not quite finished with the nagging part.

Lots of writers have kept journals, but you don't have to be a writer to keep a journal. You don't have to be an artist, either. You don't even have to handwrite it; you can type your journal. Or dictate it in audio form, if you prefer. The only requirement of journaling is for you to be you, and to preserve some of who you are, what you experience, think, feel, believe, create, witness, dream -- and if you're not sure what that is, all the things that go on behind your eyes is a good place to begin looking. So is the world around you. And all those other people in your life, they can go into it. The work you do, the places you go, and anything that has meaning to you are likewise excellent material.

Or not. You can make up everything as you go along. Your journal is a journey into yourself, and no one else is involved, so it can be anything you want. For Paulus Beresohn it's a portable studio. For me it's a neverending story of me and my world (and for once I never have to come up with an ending.)

Why is this so important? For starters, there is no one out there in the world like you. In fact there never has been, and there never will be again. In this time you're alive and working and doing things, and I bet you hardly ever think much about how singular you are. You may not think you're important, and you may even worry that you have no particular gift for anything so it's not worth keeping a journal -- but you're wrong. As I was telling a friend last week, you are the gift you bring to this world.

How precious is the gift of you? I can't tell you because I don't know. And you'll never know, either. Just as Anne Frank could never know how many millions of people would read -- and be inspired -- by her diary. Or Samuel Pepys could imagine his journals would survive over three hundred years to open a window to the distant past for historians. Anne and Samuel had an advantage over us, you know. Nothing in their times was digital or virtual so they had to write it down on paper.

That's the other thing. Sometimes I wonder how much of our lives and our time the world will lose if all this lovely technology one day goes boom and can't be recovered. This week Facebook shut down for a couple of hours and people completely freaked; what if it all goes away forever? What will be lost for eternity because someone couldn't be bothered to print it out -- or write it down?

It isn't so much about the world for me as it is what happens when my time here is finished. I write my journals for myself, but when I go, I'm leaving part of myself behind in them. I don't know how long they'll survive me, and frankly? I can't know that so I don't care. If they provide some comfort and insight and inspiration to the loved ones I leave behind, that's great. If they help someone else further down the line, even better.

I don't expect everyone who reads this to start a journal tomorrow. What I hope is, you'll think about it. Seriously. Nagging finished now.

As inspiration for one of you I've put together this giveaway, which includes a copy of the Summer 2014 issue of Pages magazine, Zentangle workbook edition #9, a Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal, a Zentangle pen & pencil & tile set, a pocket edition of Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal, and this gorgeous handmade needle-felted journal from beautifulplace. If you'd like to win the lot, in comments to this post name something you'd write about in your journal by midnight EST tonight, June 21, 2014. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner all this cool journal stuff. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.


  1. shiloh walker9:11 AM

    I would write how I would enjoy wrecking another journal...or how frustrating teen daughters are. And how amazing all my kids are.

  2. Life, art, and smaller things.

  3. Jo Owen10:22 AM

    I'd write about books. What I've read, what I enjoyed about the book and what I didn't. Also the reasons I didn't finish a book as I find there are books I put down to do something else, ie answer the phone, and never read again - it might give me some insight into what doesn't work for me as, at the moment, I don't really think about why, I just pick up another story.

  4. I would write about life, books, and travel.

  5. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Now that I've moved back home to be with my elderly parents, they're telling me so many great stories of what is was like to live in their European town as children. So many stories of their neighbours, their parents, their siblings and the scrapes they got into. So much family history and local history. I love listening to their stories about my grandparent's (who I never met) harebrained schemes, their failures and successes, the swear words they used and how they washed their faces in the mornings in the cold (swearing and washing went together!) back before there was running water in people's homes. I want to write every detail down so it's never lost, but then I would have to stop listening - and my parents are too good as storytellers for that!
    Maria M.

  6. Writing about the important milestones, events and travels.

  7. I'd write about my jiu-jitsu training and progress :)

  8. I'd write about my nephew so I don't forget what he's like growing up. :)

  9. I already keep a personal journal mostly about all the emotions that come with my day to day experiences as well as to mark progress on my various writing projects. However, I am going to start my first teaching position this fall and I've already decided that I am going to keep a journal in my classroom so I can write in it at the end of every school day while my teaching experiences are fresh in my mind. I plan to use it as a tool to help me identify patterns in my teaching practice so I can continue to grow stronger as a teacher. Even if I only have time to jot down a sentence or two about something that went really well or something that felt like a complete failure, I think it will be a useful tool for me and will make sure I am not taking all the stress home with me.

  10. Anonymous3:21 PM

    A gardening journal would be great inspiration for me during the long, cold winter months. It's something I vow to do each year, but then when warmer weather hits, I instead spend all my free time in the garden instead of writing about my few triumphs and my many gardening failures. But if the journal were already there, a gift that I'd feel compelled to use . . . .

  11. bn1005:57 PM


  12. I too, already keep a daily journal. It's the place I go when I need someone to talk to and there's no one around (I am disabled and I live alone), or when I start feeling depressed -- writing it out usually derails it before I get too far into what I call the black pit where nothing matters and I'm completely empty emotionally. That's a hard place to get out of.

  13. I'd keep a garden journal.