For girls of my era, it began, of course, with the little pink or blue diary from the five and dime. Lined pages, little “gold” lock and a tiny key to keep the secrets safe. I might even have begun each entry with Dear Diary. How delicious to have a place of one’s own to record Events of Great Importance, even if the event was only going to Monday’s Girl Scout meeting. But there was that boy in the back of the class, the one that gave the side-eye glance.
By the time the Troubled Teens came around, the troubles felt very great indeed. The rambling, many-page entries stacked up, filled with angst and questions and the wrestling with my self-discovery. All those words! And all that release of pent-up emotion. In later years, my boyfriend’s massive letters from Viet Nam reminded me of the multitude of pages I had written in my journal. Perhaps, in a way, I was his diary.
The need to be heard is a longing we all carry. And sometimes, only the patient, silent blank pages hear us.
What I wish is that I still had those diaries of my youth. I think the entries would often be cringe-worthy reading, but they would also be a record of my journey. I wish I had started journaling as a kid and kept at it every year right up to where I am today. Some people do that, filling their books with words and illustrations, with the flotsam and jetsom of their lives. It’s the diaries sometimes, rather than the history books, that open our eyes to truths.
So why this post? My creativity coach and friend, Jamie Ridler, has begun a wonderful initiative to give girls journals. Maybe girls who wouldn’t otherwise get to have one or hear about why keeping a journal is a good thing. You can be part of this project, too. Just go to http://www.giveagirlajournal.com. You can request that a journal be sent to a girl you know, or you can donate towards a journal to be given. All the information is there.
A journal can be a place to find a voice when you may not otherwise think you have one. A place where you can say what you want and need to without fear of judgment or dismissal. It can be a repository of dreams and ideas, an experiment lab, a portable studio. It can help you believe you can creatively express yourself in your own unique way.
Paulus Berensohn, an artist who has most influenced my ideas about journals talks about them as being the soul’s kitchen. He says, “My feeling about the journal is that sensitive, progressive people are in danger of grief. Of being atrophied by grief and fear and anxiety. I can literally say that I would not have survived the life that I have been given without this faithful companion in which I do rejoice and in which I do suffer. I work on myself. I sit at table and work with the suffering. It’s sitting at table with the questions we carry.”