Sunday, March 9, 2014

Journaling - a fun opportunity

I'm more than a little excited about sharing the joys of journaling at this all day retreat.

One of our lovely leaders, Teresa, called me on a quiet Saturday -- on my home phone no less, to ask if I'd be interested in leading a break-out session on a book. I'd been posting online about my friend Janice's recently published (and now best-selling!) book - Paris Letters, which I think made my dear Teresa pop the question. (The book is marvelous. Buy it!) After a few minutes, we were all set on the idea, and I even suggested we start a book club at church. That's when I asked, "so what else are you doing for these sessions?" She mentioned our friend Nora would be training on Praying in Color, (super cool, go on, try it) and she shared the sad fact that the woman who was going to lead Journaling isn't available. I leapt, offered another friend for the book club, and immediately shared all the many ideas I have for journaling. I see it as a journey of talking with God, or talking around or near Him, or simply writing in His presence.

I've been journaling in spiral bound notebooks since I was a senior in high school. I moved on to other lovely journals, hard bound (not my favorite, they don't lay flat) fancy as they may be, and Moleskins, my first Moleskin journal is a treasure. That season of writing saved my life. God was busy reshaping me and that wasn't easy. Journaling was a necessity. In that season I was clinging to the WORD, and to that journal, noting all I could about where I saw God, so visible, in my life. Journals? I've got tons of them.

And it isn't just about gathering words on pages, I've actually spent some time honing the craft. When my husband and I were first married, he took us to a writer's seminar through the Pacifica Institute. We woke up early on a Saturday morning and sat in a room where Russell Lockhart, Natalie Goldberg, Allen Ginsberg (yes, that Allen Ginsberg) and Annie Dillard taught us about how they approached writing. I thought I was there as an observer with my writer husband. A tagalong of sorts. But each of them, Natalie and Russell the most, called out the writer in me and gave me wonderful, useful practices for writing that I'm held tightly too all these years. Allen Ginsberg, in his beard and blue and white seersucker suit shared the practice of meditation leading to the word on the page. He had us write and I did after sitting with my hands on my knees, just like him, until a sentence had to be out of my head and onto the page.

I learned the most from Natalie Goldberg. She taught about writing practice. Just writing 20 minutes at a time about a subject or an idea without stopping NO MATTER WHAT. She started a particular writing session with, "I remember..." as the prompt and I proceeded to write out one of the deeper, tougher memories about how the sound of my grandmother's milk glass jewelry dish signaled the start of a day, ready or not. There was much more, but you'll go look at her books and web page and get a sense of her if you like. I still keep the Samuri Editor at bay. Her idea. Her words. My freedom. Russell Lockhart is a Jungian analyst and spoke much about dreams, dreaming and writing. He shared much, but the two things echoing these twenty years later are the truth that a pen-to-page is really a heart-to-hand connection. We learn much. We hear about our core. He also suggested that if we ever want to get to know ourselves very well, we should go away to a hotel and write for 3.days.straight. I haven't done that yet. I'd like to. Maybe soon. Finally, Annie Dillard spoke about her writing. Her style and she did a wonderful reading. What I remember most about her was the suggestion that we pitch our journals when we fill them. She relieved us of the notion that our work would end up in the Smithsonian next to hers. I didn't take her advice though. There's something sacred about the practice of writing. I never really read back nor do I plan to, but, I just can't part with these books.

I took Natalie Goldberg's advice and kept to a wide-ruled, no frills, spiral-bound notebook I could keep in my bag or briefcase every where I go. (I don't write every day. I don't. I don't) And, had a short but wondrous affair with expensive TwinRing Notebooks created with the sleekest paper in the universe. But today? Older and wiser, it's a Mead from Target I bought after the summer back-2-school sales. The pens matter. I like Le Pen or the perfect stick pen with no globby ink or that Pentel .05 pen I love today.

I've also taken Natalie's books, Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones with me to get that unexpected joy, a writing prompt.

Today, I'm dedicated to two things, Kenton Beshore's method of journaling with the Word and morning pages (The Artist's Way). Writing. Lots. And reading too.

I couldn't be more enthusiastic as I prepare for this wonderful 45 minute adventure next month!

It's a good thing she didn't mention a course on omelets! But that, my dear, is another story all together.

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