How writing helps me know myself & appreciate life

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I love the gentle whoosh-whoosh of the traffic outside mingling with my playlist of ambient tunes. We’ve designed our spare bedroom to be a creative space: Brenton does his music thing, I do my writing thing. Not so long ago, I wasn’t making any time for this necessary enterprise and it weighed on me.

I realized that my life was gliding by and I wasn’t getting to document my thoughts about any of it. Pictures are great. Social media updates about posts from this time last year or five years ago — those can be great too (sometimes not, though). But I’m less concerned with what things looked like and more interested in what they felt like.

Back in college, I read this book called What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century. The format of this book was genius! Here’s the deal: in an attempt to capture what it felt like to be alive in the last century, Henry Allen captures vivid snapshots of everyday life in ten chapters — one for each decade. Intrigued? Now read this description: Each of these ten chapters is a virtual time capsule written with keen intelligence, feeling, and an uncanny sense of the essential experiences of the era: the unexpected, idiosyncratic sights, sounds, occasions, and events that defined not just the time but the way we remember it.

I love this approach to writing so much. And that’s why it feels important for me to write on a regular basis. Anyone could take a picture of the objective reality. My hair is a certain length, my face looks a certain way, and certainly other clues in a photo taken at this moment would jog memories. However, I’m most interested in knowing myself, gaining insights about what I want in life and what delights and what doesn’t.

My hiatus from writing stemmed from a lack of time (or so it seemed), energy and access. I’ve become so picky with how I write. The paper has to have a certain tooth to it (yes, that’s a thing) and my pen has to be a Pilot G-2 Ultra Fine Point 0.38 mm. Thick paper, skinny pen. I spent months looking for the perfect journal when I finished with my last. I even started and abandoned a few promising journals. (And the whole “hello, this is a new journal. let’s do this…” is so obligatory and clunky. It can take a few pages to gain momentum!)

However, I decided recently that I’m not making any more excuses. If I am going to be the person I want to be, I need to find practical ways to incorporate my most cherished pastimes into my life. Amazing what you can discover when you’re giving yourself tough love. A quick google search resulted in the discovery of JRNL. A beautiful, private online journal that I can access from my desktop or mobile device. No paper tooth need apply.

And guess what! If I do want to preserve these thoughts in a physical book one day, JRNL offers a journal book-binding service so you can plunk these musings down on your coffee table forevermore. ✴

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