When I was a little girl, in the fourth grade, I read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, a 1964 children’s book in which the girl who plans on a future career as a spy. She practices the craft of keen observation by closely watching those in her life and taking notes in a marble composition notebook. That’s where that story began and ended for me. I don’t know the story’s actual conflict or remember much of anything about the other characters. I only remember that Harriet gained insight by taking notes; and, that was my takeaway, which was probably not what Fitzhugh intended at all. Such is life. The source of much inspiration is often serendipitous that way.
In my marble composition notebook, I took notes about the other kids in school, while I sat on the curb at the heels of Sister Ann Marie in the school playground. The other kids played and socialized on the blacktop, while I watched them and wrote. I know. It sounds creepy. In retrospect, it might have been. A little. My practice was the same at home, which for all of the attempts my parents made to give my younger sister and me an amazing childhood, was a bit tumultuous. But honestly, if your childhood didn’t include some dysfunction, I don’t trust you. Dysfunction builds character, if it teaches you what you’re supposed to learn about human fragility, right. My childhood included plenty of dysfunction, from what I’ve gathered from talks with several therapists. But I quickly learned that when writing, I had power and voice and introspection, and that made a difference. I could make my experiences real, something I could not only feel but see, when I wrote them down; and then I could process what I was experiencing. I could say something about it, even when my tiny voice was still too small and lacked the authority to speak up and out.
Fast forward to young adulthood and there were Daytimers, Franklin Covey Planners, and Filofaxes, one of which was always by my side, except for that unsuccessful detour to the Palm Pilot (remember those?). Planners gave me a sense of control and empowerment in a way that I think was related to keeping my notebook, though not entirely the same, because in 2014 when my ex-husband walked out on me and the boys, though the bullet journal I kept in my black Leuchturmm notebook helped me keep track of my time and some “stuff,” it failed at helping me hold it together, hold myself together.
In October 2014, after celebrating a friend’s birthday risking my life trapezing with her at the NY Trapeze School, the boys and I took a cab to Goods for the Study and picked up a new notebook, because that’s always what I do when things get really hard; I get a notebook, and I write. And from 2014 to 2019, I’ve experienced a contemptuous and lengthy separation and divorce followed by the sudden and tragic death of my ex-husband in June 2018, and I have written prolifically.
I haven’t stopped writing this time. While managing my time is important and I do that too, my focus here, on this website I’m creating for you, is on the deep, reflective writing, the journaling, that has truly empowered me, strengthening me to my very core. It has truly been instrumental in my transformation, and it is that process that I wish to share with you.