Friday, February 1, 2013

Travel, life maps and a journal tutorial

        On Monday, I put my daughter and her husband on a plane to Beijing, China.  So far, I've gotten a couple of text messages as they struggle to get phones and internet working.  They are okay and safe.  They are staying at the university in Beijing where they will be teaching English.      
      When I was a junior in college, my mom put me on a plane to England for a summer study abroad.  I landed in London and bought a bus ticket for Brighton to find my host parents for my study at the University of Sussex.  My host parents picked me up as soon as I arrived in Brighton.  They had two really cute little girls who were excited to have an American living with them.
      I wrote my mother later that week, I think, on crinkly blue international mail paper.  I was fine.  Mom got the letter two weeks later.
      I need to call my mom and apologize. 



     The path was clearly marked. As Hurley and I walked the extensive trails at our local county park, there could be no doubt of which way to go and which way not to go. If only, I thought, the map of my life were so clearly marked, with warnings of "Here be dragons" or "This way heartbreak lies." But even the marked trail at the park wasn't always that clearly marked, and I got lost. I slid in thick black mud, tripped more than once over tree roots, and very nearly stepped on a snake. And I saw unexpected beauty, prayed a few minutes longer, got more exercise than planned. What would I have missed over the years if I had that perfectly complete life map and tried to avoid all the warnings? God knows, I've never been much good at reading maps anyway. I think I'll take my chances on the rugged trail, where the gnarled roots are not just to trip me up, but also to bring life.


I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.
Francoise Sagar

Top 5 Tips to a Great Soul Baring Journal

It’s a sad day. I’m on the last few pages of my journal.  I’m loathe to give it up, so I’ve been writing smaller and smaller to save pages. This journal has been through so much with me. It’s been through a divorce and to the Grand Canyon and to the start of a new life. It’s been my confessor, friend, confidante and therapist.
I’m not sure what the magic is but somehow putting pen to paper draws insights I didn’t know I had until they literally flow onto the page. I stare amazed at what part of myself has a wisdom only accessed through ink. It slows me down and lets me process life. For those of you toying with the idea of a journal, but haven’t been able to get started, here are my top five tips.
  1. Go Plain Jane. Buy a basic, functional journal. This way there’s no pressure to have deep thoughts or perfect prose. I use a black, spiral bound one from Barnes and Noble and decorate the front with an image that has captured my fancy. This year’s has been a simple, Japanese brushstroke of a bird in a tree.
  2. Adopt the mindset anything goes. Write freestyle with different colored pens. Sketch, doodle, photograph, scrapbook, mindmap, brainstorm, press flowers, capture favorite quotes, draw mandelas. See it as a play space for creativity, for the words to flow.
  3. Pay attention to R & R - restlessness and resistance. These are signs to write. Sit with the feelings, explore them and write with abandon, even those things you might not tell your best friend - especially those things. (Forget that someone’s going to read it.) Bare your soul.
  4. Keep it with you. Mine goes to work, home, on the daily commute, in my backpack hiking, etc. Put down the small details and the big - whatever captures your fancy. One sentence entries count.
  5. Trust the truths will come. Believe you have the deepest wisdom about yourself and that God will bring truth through the inspirations. Writing is processing. Let it keep you honest and grounded.


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