I’ve been working on a book…for a while now. I’ve always liked to write. Writing is cathartic and relaxing for me. It’s a fun creative process that challenges my mind. I enjoy the struggle over a blank page and the review process that molds my thoughts from jumbled mess to surprising prose.
I’ve filled journal after journal with my personal life since 3rd grade. That’s right – 3rd grade, so I have boxes and boxes of journals. I love collecting books too so some day I’ll have enough to make my own rainbow library…if my husband will ever let me get away with it!
Since my elementary school days my entries have expanded from being just events of my daily life. Over time they started to include drawings, lists of words and phrases straight from my heart and occasionally original poems. The poems seem to come in spurts and I just love when these moments come. Some I think hard about and others just seem to flow onto the paper with little mental control.
I really love some of my poems.
I’ve shared some with friends and family over the years but many have never met another soul. That will soon be changing though.
In early 2016 I had the opportunity to participate in a writing group sponsored by the Longmont Library, not too far from where we used to live. I joined their weekly meetings for about 4 months. My participation was rather short overall, but the group had a profound affect on me. I even started a new writing journal, the gray one pictured here, that was given to me as a gift just a few months prior to joining the group.
My experiences with the group gave my inner writer new wings! We did workshops with practice exercises, listened to speakers and shared our writing samples for feedback. It was during these four months that my long-held desire to write a book of my poems resurfaced.
It is hard to write a book though when you aren’t really sure about the purpose of its pages!
I’ve known since college that I wanted to write a book from my journal entries. I loved writing my poems and have gotten good feedback from the realistic, colorful and sometimes playful nature of my words. Unfortunately though I’d never known how to organize them and so my book dream stopped dead in its tracks many years ago.
Thankfully, and almost magically, one simple writing exercise with the writing group brought my dream back to life in February! My book will be called Messages To My Younger Self and be filled with original poems and illustrations organized into topic-based chapters.
Some poems for the book I’ve already found in the pages of my journals, but others will be written specially for this project. Each poem will have an original illustration and each chapter will end with reflection questions and blank space for the reader to continue processing the material. Maybe the reader will write their own poem or draw their reactions to the chapter’s materials.
I love to write in my books so I the design of my book to be similar to a journal so people will want to write in their copy. I want it to be interactive, either with just the reader themselves or with a mentor, coach or parent.
The chapters will be about important life topics that are not always easy to discuss; topics like life purpose, goals, values, finances, dating, sex, body image and relationships. It could be used alone as a self-coaching tool or as a resource for those who want to talk with someone, especially youth, about the topics.
In some ways this project feels inspired by the Aesop’s fables I so loved as a child. I want each page to be beautiful, but also to challenge the reader.
Hope Alone is a poem I wrote shortly after college in 2004. It is one of my favorite poems because of the imagery it creates and the emotions it expresses. It is one I expect will be in the chapter on emotions and I’ve included a sample of the reflection questions that might go along with it. I don’t yet have an illustration for it yet so if you are an artist and feel moved to be part of my project, please be in touch!
Anger bubbles up deep from within
A heart desiring to be known
Yet afraid, afraid to be loved
The real pain of jealousy
And perceived abandonment
Like a ship tossed about
by the night waves
A poor soul thrown
Thrown to the wolves of a bitter illusion
Anger deep from within
The peace, love and joy once known
Are not forgotten
Diluted by the current wave of distraction
All this patience will sooth
Time shall heal
Hope alone will restore
- Do you ever have an anger bubble up deep within you? If so, where/what seems to be its source?
- Which words, phrases or lines do you connect with the most and why might that be happening?
- How does your anger distract you from the better ways you’d rather think, act or behave?
- Do you have a hope that can help you work through any current hurt or anger? If so, what is it?
I studied mentoring and leadership while studying and working at Claremont McKenna College and the Kravis Leadership Institute. I love to encourage people and help them grow. This is absolutely why I love being a coach and a mentor! Every professional gets to a point where they need a new tool and that is where this book fits in, especially for those who work with youth (including parents).
From time to time I will share new poems. I certainly need feedback as I continue to write so don’t be shy! I welcome your comments and look forward to creating this book with my community, especially any visual artist intrigued by my ideas.
First published by Jessica Lynn Johnson in 2016 for JLJ Coaching Services, Ltd.