The Joy of Journaling

This is my red leather journal.

I love this journal in an affectionate, nearly anthropomorphic sense. I bought it a year ago in Hawaii. It is a huge, bloated, weighty thing. At the time of its purchase, I wondered if I'd ever be able to fill its pages...ever...years and years worth of ever. One year and three months later it's nearly filled, its cover distended as it strains to cover the additions to its pages, and now nearly double its original girth. What happened?

Many Trips: Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, South America.

Many Musings: seeing an old friend, completing a degree, searching for a new home.

Morning Pages: Julia Cameron came up with this idea in her classic book: The Artist's Way. Morning Pages are three pages done first thing in the morning. They consist of free writing, quickly getting your thoughts down on paper in an effort to clear your mind and allow yourself the space and energy to start the day with a fresh perspective. The key to success is in writing the pages as quickly as possible without thought to correct spelling, proper sentence structure, or editing of one's thoughts. (much like this blog. ha!) They do work wonders.

The red journal is the keeper of my travel memories.

That postcard pictured of many that I actually mail to myself from the road as I travel, with a snippet of the trip, or a message. They're fun to receive once I return home, an authentic keepsake, and a reminder of my state of mind.

I have taped the Playbill, as well as the ticket stubs, from The Phantom of the Opera which I saw in Las Vegas.

I have taped pictures of my idealized house, along with articles about mountain communities that might become a future hometown.

There is an article about a trip to India that I hope to make someday.

A vision map has been created over a series of pages with images and words representing the life I want to create.

It is the inspiration behind my site's design.

There is something very intimate in the view of handwriting on a page. It conveys a sense of raw emotion, an unguarded heart, a mind expressing its real thoughts without benefit of a delete key.

What is the difference between the self we convey in a journal versus a blog? Obviously, a blog is for public consumption, a journal for our eyes only. On a blog we can create a character an archtype of our real selves. Beyond that, I wonder. Do we edit ourselves more in our blogs? Is it just the preverbial tip of the iceberg, whereas the journal is all the stuff beneath the water's edge?

Often, as I make my way through another journal entry, I wonder whether I am holding back.

Am I telling the truth, telling everything? Do I hold back because I do not want to re-read those painful or embarassing thoughts someday, much less give them real form on the page. If I am honest, yes, I do. Apart from future embarassment, what is the cost of this self-editing? Is it self-preservation?

It is a bedside companion.

I have kept journals since the age of eleven. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are large black cloth sketch books recounting my days in New York, when I wanted to believe I had an artistic bent and filled the pages with primitive oil based pastel drawings and brooding hand typed poems copied from the pages of ee cummings.

There are 8X11 canvas covered journals in bold jewel tones of purple, gold, and blue. Their pages are filled with large looping lines of handwriting.

There are the collection of seven journals puchased in Sienna, Italy, with their covers of marbelized paper in every hue. I have one left, I am trying to decide if it will be the journal I pick up once the red leather journal is filled. A part from its obvious beauty, the last journal from Italy also has the advantage of slipping into a purse and carried everywhere...something the red leather journal cannot.

Today only: I have re-named this blog in honor of my red leather journal. I can't decide if it sounds better than its predecessor: A Golden Journal, or whether that name conveys a more universal appreciation for the journal itself. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

(have I ever mentioned that I re-arrange the furniture a lot as well?!)


Jennifer S said…
That journal is gorgeous. I have a smaller leather book, but I add favorite quotes or poetry or art images to it. I used to do morning pages, and reading this makes me want to do them again.

This was beautiful.
slow panic said…
i love your journal. i am sporadic with morning pages, but keep trying. i always find that it helps in so many ways whenever i am consistent with it.
I like the name Red Leather Journal. It seems more everyday--more approachable. I'm not a journaler. I love the idea of a journal, but I know I'd second guess what should go on the pages and always wish I was starting fresh. I'm weird like that.
JCK said…
I loved this post. I journaled for years, off and on, since I was a little girl. I love your red journal, bursting with written words.

I also did the "morning pages" and found it very helpful. My blog gives me that same feeling. Although I edit & scrutinze my blog posts.

And..I wrote about rearranging the furniture about a month ago!

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