Guest Blog Post by LuAnn Schindler
My youngest daughter and her two children returned home recently, a fresh start, new job, and greater opportunities for the 20-something mommy.
While we rearranged their possessions, we came upon a box of scrapbooks she designed when she was in high school. The books contain the usual events: speech and drama activities, music trips, cheerleading, and friends.
But when I take a closer look at these cherished albums, I realize these creative books offer more than casual photos and cute fonts.
They are artistic, visual journals that tell the story of her life: her triumphs and failures, good and not-so-good days, milestones and everyday doings. As I flip through the pages, I get a sense of the girl she was and the woman she is. Her emotions shine through, and I relate to the highs and lows.
Later that evening, I sat in my walk-in closet and retrieved a box that’s been tucked beneath a tote filled with winter sweaters. There, amidst the cluttering of flip-flops and tennis shoes, I removed my collection of journals from the box and reread each book. The denim-covered journal begins the day I graduated from high school and continues through different periods since. The formal, maroon journal has the beginnings of a memoir, written in journal form. The Dale Earnhardt, Jr., journal contains no writing. (I think he’s cute.)A small, green journal with a daisy lists meal choices from some crazy diet I tried about 7 years ago. The glossy pink journal is dubbed my “happiness” book because I shared one thing each day that made me happy. And the blue book echoes my mood from the year I wrote in it.
Sure there are more, because, well, I am a journal-buying junkie and I cannot stop putting pen to paper. That’s not what’s important though.
I noticed a pattern in my journals, and honestly, I’m surprised it took me 30 years to realize it. Apparently, I have been trying to let my inner artist break through for a long time.
Along the margins or on some spot on most pages, I’ve been visually illustrating my words. Granted, I am not a sketch artist. My abilities lean toward stick people and doodles of all shapes and sizes. It’s raw art, at its best/worst.
Most important, I saw another pattern emerge. On stress-free days (do they exist?), the doodles include bunches of daisies, geometric stars, and fancy houses with picket fences. Stressful days – ok, weeks and in some cases, months – feature dreary clouds and thunderbolts and never-ending spirals.
My art mirrors my words and the events in my life.
It was an aha moment that made me step back and think about the power of journaling with pictures.
If visual journaling is a means of expression, a stress reliever, and a way to explore conflict, I’m not sure I’ve been successful. Not every situation leads to perfection; not every downturn results in tragedy. But, I did make a graphic correlation between word and image.
It’s a start.
After giving the journals a new home in my office, I made the decision to attempt a new style of visual journal, something similar to my daughter’s scrapbooks, where the emotions stand out in the words I write and the illustrations I create.
Once those pages are completed, I hope I have a journal that commands attention, represents the creative and constructive moments of my life.
LuAnn Schindler is a full-time freelance journalist and editor living on the eastern slope of the Nebraska Sandhills on a dairy farm with 200+ holsteins. She currently blogs for The Muffin, the WOW! Women On Writing daily blog. Her work has appeared in the Pregnancy, 2: The Couples Magazine, Denver Post, Rural Electric Nebraskan, Absolute Write, in addition to other publications. She writes a newspaper column for several Nebraska weeklies. In 2010, LuAnn won a Nebraska Press Award for Feature Writing. Visit her website at http://www.luannschindler.com