My Strange Pull: The Original Journal


Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

— Rumi

My Strange Pull

I have been pulled towards The Original Journal for twenty years. I have been collecting signatures from people for two decades.  If you don’t know this about me, I ask random people I meet to sign my journal. I tell them there are three things they need to know before they sign it:

1. There’s a Front Door – Rated PG13

2. There’s a Back Door – Not Rated

3. There’s no rules!

I guess you could say The Original Journal is a living journal, scrapbook and a yearbook all rolled into one with two ways to enter the book — through the front and the back of the book. Like a house, a front door is for more formal introductions and meetings and a back door is more familiar, uncensored, and messy. The back door usually has a screen door letting in fresh air.

I just can’t let The Original Journal go. It won’t let me go!  I have to see this through to publication.  I am in the process right now of finding a printer.  Each printer I talk to tells me it is a complicated printing job. I will have to find a specialty printer.  I don’t want to give up the tape binding like a typical composition notebook. I want The Original Journal to feel like a composition notebook, but of course it will have special elements to it to induce and provoke creativity, journaling, and musings.  There will a selection of quotes from other original journal signers (there are hundreds of journals with thousands of signatures and many pearls of wisdom from ordinary folks). The first edition will include 50 quotes — 20 Front Door quotes and 20 Back Door quotes, along with 10 of my personal favorites.  I can’t wait to get this journal to press.

Trusting My Gut (Business Instinct)

As I have gone through this process, I have had to be flexible and let go of things I have clutched tightly to for a long time. For example, the black and white marble design that I have been using for the last seven years has been let go. I worked with a talented graphic designer, who is also the sister of my best friend from childhood. Their father is an commercial artist in the Chicago area (where I grew up). “Arch” was also my soccer coach as a kid. He would Ginger and me into the city to create in his industrial size studio where large billboard size canvases stretched across thousands of square feet of creation space. It was so exciting to go into Chicago from the suburbs to paint and explore creatively on weekends.  These excursions planted a seed of creativity and art for me. Arch has worked for Disney and many other companies. I remember the feeling of freedom paired with splats of color and creation. It made me giddy (perhaps it was the paint fumes). I love creating and it is a natural high for me. My best work is done late at night when the house is quiet and night offers her blank canvas.

It was serendipitous that I connected with Julia (my best friend’s older sister). Ginger (best friend fro childhood) and I had many adventures as children and many funny memories. Ginger has the most contagious laugh I have ever heard.

I had to trust my gut (what I have been calling my business instinct) when someone (before I connected with Julia) offered to create a logo for me and it was not working.  I did not feel this person understood my vision for my company logo or The Original Journal. I have to say it was a great thing that I trusted my gut. Now I have a logo and cover design I really like and I think you will too. The logo and cover designs have gone through revisions and adjustments but it is really close to being finished. It’s amazing how many split-the-atom decisions have to be made when designing something. Detail. Detail. Detail.

Kickstarter Video

As you know, if you follow The Original Journal or my other social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) you know that I have been working with a videographer on a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to print the first edition of The Original Journal. It was very serendipitous how I met Jah-mul. He is from New York City. One of the first interactive original journals I made was The New York Journal that I made for my first trip to NYC. I actually got reprimanded for zoning out at a boring literacy training I was attending as a teacher. I was so excited about my trip and went a little ADHD with the glue stick, markers, scissors, and creative supplies that were on the table, but that is another story and probably another seed of how The Original Journal came to be).

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

Cover of The New York Journal (Front Door cover). This journal was created in 1998

No doubt about it - I am a right brained brainiac.

No doubt about it – I am a right brained brainiac.

Jah-mul and I hit it off after a professor at a local college suggested him because of his creativity and talent in videography.  I am really excited to see what the video will look like. I have enjoyed working with Jah-mul and I see a bright future for him as a film maker. I started The Original Journal in college so it is interesting to work with a college student on the Kickstarter video. I will keep you posted when I launch the campaign. I wanted to launch the video on Summer Solstice, but I may have to launch it closer to July or August as I am still searching for the right printer. I am getting my right brain ducks in a row so they form a beautiful left brain formation.

ducks in a row

When Can You Purchase The Original Journal?

I wish I had the answer to this question!  I am hoping the journals will be available for pre-orders by August and Back to School. If they are available for Back to School, it will be closer to the end of August. But in reality, I don’t think I will have them ready until September.  I will keep you posted. It looks like the printing issue will be resolved this summer as I am still researching printers to find the right printer.  It is very exciting to be moving into this next phase of the project as see it go from project to product.  I am also in the process of finding a website designer as I need to set up an e-commerce site. If you know of anyone, please shoot me an email. But please no spam. I take personal recommendations from people I know very seriously and enjoy working with people I have a personal connection to.

Adapting and Letting Go

This process of setting up a small business and taking an idea that has floated in the right brain down to the left brain field has been a discovery process. I have had to let go of certain things. It was hard at first, but I am seeing the bigger picture.


The bigger picture is unlocking doors and unblocking myself from my own issues related to success and failure. I have been ding some soul searching on things that get in my way. And I am one of them. I have an Upper Limit Problem, which I am working on. I have had to let go of perfectionism which is really a way to set up a giant roadblock on the path to success. It would be more of a failure if I didn’t see the publication of this project through. I am prepared to fail and learn from it, but the success lies in getting it done. It’s really scary pursuing the dream that lives in the deepest pocket of your heart, but in the process I have realized that I am creating a product that will help people do exactly that. And I am so excited to tell you about the special parts of the journal that help you focus on your inner heart pocket dream. This exciting component to the journal will be revealed closer to publication. I had an aha moment late one night when I was working through some kinks to the design and it hit me.  It’s the core of the vision for my company and for The Original Journal.

What exciting projects are you working on and what fears are you working through as you go after them? I’d love to hear from you.

Photo taken in Canterbury, England 2014

Sit down and dream a little…                                                    Photo taken in Canterbury, England 2014

I Hate Decisions: I Need Help Picking an Author Headshot

I am trying to decide on my new profile picture for my book jacket.  I am seriously thinking about self-publishing and I need to move forward from the whole mine field of thinking an agent is going to be the most important thing for me to get published.  The whole thought of I. Need. An. Agent. To. Validate. My Skills. As. A. Writer.  I am a writer, aren’t I?  This is where you can validate me.  Ha Ha.

Truth be told, I have contacted the agent that is reading my motherhood memoir and I have not heard back from he/she.   Granted, a hurricane is headed towards NYC and my polite check-in via email is the least of his/her concerns, but I would like to know where I stand.  Is it great? Is it bad? Is it marketable? Better yet, is it sell-able?  Does he/she love it ? Does he/she hate it?

I am a curious creature.  I will admit I crave validation.  I was a stand-out athlete in high school and I played soccer in college (Division I — do you hear the horns tooting?)  It strikes me as funny and a little pathetic now how I love validation.  But nothing holds a candle to how I feel when I just do it and write.  It feels good to get all those feelings and thoughts down on paper –or rather squeezed out in a sentence which turns into a paragraph which turns into a page and then it is like skating on a frozen lake you know every corner of…just magic. Let the blade slice into the ice and off you go.

One of my favorite quotes is from guess wh0 — yes, Anne Lamott.

“The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole. The light they shine on this hole, this pit, helps us cut away or step around the brush and brambles; then we can dance around the rim of the abyss, holler into it, measure it, throw rocks in it, and still not fall in. It can no longer swallow us up. And we can get on with things.”

Well, that is what my book is about — the water under the frozen lake of motherhood.  There are some deep cold pockets in that water, just as there are some beautiful snowy, sugar white sparkly — stop you dead in your tracks kind of awe and wonder.  Motherhood, she is one complex braided rope –somedays there are rope burns and somedays this very rope saves me.

I have had time to process how I feel about this over the weekend, as I have not had a response.  The truth is I have to be prepared to put my book out there with or without an agent. I am apprehensive about publishing this book because it is a creative nonfiction account of my personal feelings about motherhood.  There are no quirky characters to hide behind –just this quirky character and my beautiful son (whom I do worry about reading this book later). I did not have an easy go with motherhood.  I have my own issues (which will be discussed in another memoir which I am working on) but I also had to contend with infertility, postpartum depression, intrusive thoughts, nipple scabs, bleeding nipples, anxiety and among other things — the inability to stop farting.  What the heck is up with that? (It should be noted this is under control now)

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anyway, I detailed my journey as I was taking an independent study course I designed in graduate school, in which my primary focus was to intellectually study my emotions and feelings and write about it.  As most of you know, I don’t like to sugar coat things. So this memoir is one big diaper bag full of angst, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, wonder, depression, internal judgement, self-doubt, confidence, miracles,  happiness, joy, amazement, and a whole bunch of diapers, stuffed animals, other mothers, and just about anything that happened to pop up in my feeling mom jack-in-the-box that day.  One thing I discovered as I was writing this memoir was that I was practicing attachment parenting and I didn’t even realize it.  The theme of this memoir is how attachment parenting helped me find my way and the security that I was doing it right.

Here is a piece I recently wrote for APtly Said — Attachment Parenting International’s blog, which I am a regular contributor to.  This piece also talks about my independent study course, Motherhood: The New Frontier.

So, without further ado — can you help me pick a photo to slap on the back of my book?  I’d like to at least look my best as I prepare to get slaughtered by the judgmental moms out there.  It’s brutal in Momville somedays.  I do find that most moms when you have them cornered and there is good coffee on hand, will freely admit to how difficult it is to be a mom.  The juxtaposition of feelings.  The loss of identity.  The loneliness. The boredom. The joy. The stress. The calm. The pain. The smiles. The backbreaking daily labor.  The lulls in-between. The long braided rope, complex and multi-layered.

So I will label the photos I had taken by a professional photographer and if you are willing, write a quick comment on your favorite.  I hate decisions. I will admit the best decision I ever made was to be a mother.

Photo #1

I really like #1.

“Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.” -Erich Fromm

Photo #2

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” -James Joyce

I like this photo because my antique typewriters are showing.  I love those babies of mine.  If they weren’t so heavy, I would put them in a sling and baby-wear them around town.  Just kidding, but kind of serious.

Photo #3

“With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood.” -Isadora Duncan

Photo #4

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”  -Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

Photo #5

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

On the Island: 7 Figure Book Deal for Tracey Garvis-Graves (You Go Girl)

Who has read On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves? It’s hard to believe this book was a free e-book on Amazon at one point. I am curious if the writing is good.  It seems like it is more than a love story of an older woman (Anne is 30 and TJ is 16 when they meet and crash on a deserted island).  It is a survival story.  The reviews of the book are glowing.  MGM has bought the movie rights.  She also received a seven-figure book deal from a major publisher (Penguin).  She recently quit her job at Wells Fargo to write full-time.

She has arrived and accomplished the ultimate writer’s dream.  I applaud her.  She rose early each morning and wrote before her two children woke.  Then she went to work at her day job at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Iowa.  She also wrote on the weekends.

Now normally, I would be pea green with envy.  But I’m not.  I’m excited for her.  I’m excited for all writers.  We need to hear these success stories.  The thing is, she is likable and her story is even more likable. She did what she loved, while also doing what she had to do, while pursuing her dream of writing.  She did not let agent or publisher rejections get the best of her — she made her own trail.  Now, look at her.

Here’s the kicker folks — she queried fourteen agents pitching her book, On the Island.  Guess how many form rejections she got back?  Fourteen!  I bet those agents are kicking themselves now.

“Since she self-published in March, Graves has sold 340,000 copies of the book and broke into the New York Times bestseller list. Literary agent Jane Dystel negotiated the deal with executive editor Jill Schwartzman.” Quoted from Media Bistro article.

Here is an interview she did on Novel Girl’s blog.

I am certainly thinking about self-publishing, but what I am thinking about a lot these days, is I need to get writing.  I spend way too much time on social media.  I have had a realization that it doesn’t matter how moving my posts are on Twitter or Facebook.  I need to have a finished manuscript.  I am currently working on wrapping up a creative nonfiction manuscript.  This is the manuscript an agent has expressed interest in.  I queried the agent about a month ago, and she requested a full manuscript with the book proposal.

Ironically, my laptop crashed the day before.  I did not let that get in my way (funny how we can overcome anything when we care enough).  I managed to transfer all the documents off my hard drive and transfer them to my PC.  My PC was and still is, on the fritz.  I can only use it in safe mode.  So, when I had to write the book proposal, I had to power off my computer almost every half hour because it froze.

So, now I am adjusting to writing on my PC and using it in safe mode. I can not upload photos and have had to put my photography on hold.  But the thing is — I am going for it.  This manuscript is a creative nonfiction memoir and I can not hide behind my characters.  I am scared to put myself out there  for the world to judge me and my writing.  But I do know when I feel vulnerable, it is my best writing because my voice is most honest and raw.  I am considering writing it under a pen name though.

But first things first — finish the book.  It is so close to being done.  In fact, it is done — it just needs that final edit. After all, I did write the manuscript while I was in graduate school as my thesis.

I wish you luck on whatever you are pursuing creatively and passionately.  Go for it.  I’ll be cheering you on.