As long as I can remember I’ve been a sucker for blank journals. Of course, back in the day they were a motley collection of simple three-subject coil notebooks or plain-jane, utilitarian books like the old black and white Mead composition books of our youth. They ranged in size from small, pocket or purse sized booklets to over-sized artists’ sketchbooks or dollar store mid-sized ones. They had ruled pages or stark pristine scary blank ones.
If I was feeling especially fine and in need of a splurge, I might spring for a moleskin one. Or a tactile one with handmade paper and leather wrap cover. During a sale at Chapters I snagged a hot pink Kate Spade one. I’ve got a couple boxed sets with lovely watercolour garden/floral images. Some had mod ‘70s style cover art. Some have elastic closures or ribbon bookmarks.
A quick look around my office reminds me of a lovely coil book called Woman’s Journey that I used during a Manitoba retreat. It’s got quotes, pouches and tabs like Spirituality, Reaching Goals, Family, Joy Catchers. In another, I found a goals list I wrote in 2005. No, I still don’t have a Mercedes or gallery representation but I have achieved others.
There are also interest-specific journals and naturally I’ve got some of those too: book list, wine, travel, project, restaurants. And don’t get me started on the ones with writing prompts! For Christmas, Roy ands I each got The Story of My Life journals from Hilary, hint, hint.
Most of us have received promotional ones with embossed company name and matching pen as gifts or as convention swag. I’ve begun using the 2-pack journals available at Costco as a repository and to house my endless to-do-list for my festival work.
And let’s not forget the branded companion journals to bestsellers. Designed as a tool to supplement and maximize the efficacy of the original book, they are also shrewd marketing for the author. Think Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages Journal, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Illustrated Discovery Journal, Gratitude Journal, and Simple Abundance Companion, or Rhonda Bryne’s The Secret Gratitude Book.
I’m ashamed to admit how many of these journals are still empty. For the longest time, I doubted whether what I intended to write was journal-worthy. Jim Rohn talked about how early on his life he bought a blank book for $22 in the hope that he would find content sufficiently valuable to justify the purchase.
But I am getting better. I’ve been faithfully completing Neil Pasricha’s Two Minute Mornings journal and Breathnach’s The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude for weeks now. I’ve been less faithful with my new Write One Thing and Draw One Thing journals but each has been ‘violated’ by me.
In a conversation with a former Voice editor, I learned she was a faithful journal writer and had years worth of chronological, organized identical journals. Wow. On one level I envy that discipline and wisdom. On another I know that is not me. Unfortunately, for me that means that finding anything specific is like an archeological dig. So, I’ll continue in my own flawed way to record my life and thoughts, wring insight and wisdom from what I read and see and do, and aim to improve my practice and the ability to retrieve specific content when needed. In my opinion, journaling is one of the shortest (and cheapest) paths to health and wellbeing, from where I sit.