In my twenties, I use to sit in on seminars and read all kinds of books that enhanced that "positive power of thinking," - everything from Zig Ziglar to Dale Carnegie. Now, somewhere between all of the jungle of hyped-up words, one of the things I took away that I still apply to this day, was the power of pen and paper.
My love of pen and paper was confirmed last week by NPR's story, "In A Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks Are As Relevant As Ever." It has been my opinion for years that everyone needs to keep pen and a notebook or writing pad on their bedside table. It's often before we close our eyes with head on the pillow, just before we leave the bed in the morning, and especially during the middle of the morning; is when we have the best thoughts, and the most provocative ideas. Trust me, sometimes the most brilliant thoughts come in the middle of the night, and if you think you will remember them when you wake up, again - there's a great chance you will not - unless you write them down.
The paper can be as simple as a wide-ruled notebook, a legal pad, or an affordable black and white stock-bound composition notebook. It may also be as extravagant as a leather bound journal or a traditional diary with lock and key. There are no rules. I have been known to keep all types of journals by my bedside depending on what was going on in my life. If I was working on a major project, then I kept a legal pad by my bed, as well as my usual little hard-cover journal.
There was a movement about five years ago, The Gratitude Journal, which encouraged keeping a daily record of little blessings, insightful prompts, inspiring quotes, and plenty of reflections. While I like the idea of it, I just don't like the forcefulness of "daily." One cannot force great ideas, let alone our reflections of our individual lives. These collection of words that I suggest that you keep by your nightstand can be done with spontaneity, or even as a vehicle to release something that has been weighing heavy on the head, and especially the heart.
Oprah to Forbes was encouraging everyone to do the "gratitude journal," however the irony was that eventually there became computer apps with digital coaches to assist in logging in our "gratitude" with daily canned affirmations.
No. The point of this exercise is to write with your pen, not type. Writing with a pen is a much more intimate experience than typing on a keyboard. Writing with a pen is no different than an artist with their paintbrush.
The notebook is yours to do as you please. Write your history, a poem, the makings of a good recipe, and scribble hearts and flowers. Glue-stick a photo on a page you just ripped out of a magazine, a photo of your loved ones, and even the ticket stub of a recent favorite movie. Write your "gratitude" in the book, as much as you please. Yes, write your Thanksgiving menu and grocery list in it. Keep a list of books you want to read and flowers you want to plant. Use a pretty ribbon to mark your place, and even use the book to press flowers. Jot ideas down to decorate your house or write yourself a reminder you want a new and much fluffier pillow. When you fill up your book, start a new one. Tie a ribbon around your collection of journals.
Write a love letter you will never mail, especially one to yourself. Just write.
Photo from: Jenni Bick Bookbinding - jennibick.com