Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Here's a space for you.


When I was a high school English teacher, we would journal twice a week, every week. Tuesdays and Thursdays were journal days, and the kids knew from day one that as soon as the bell rang, it was time to write. I would put a prompt up on the board and they could choose to answer that for 10 minutes, or freewrite instead. I would never read what they wrote, unless they wanted me to- I only cared that they were writing. Sometimes kids would shyly slide me their journals after class and say things like "Hey, Mrs. Hampton? You can read this if you want." And I would. And so many times I would be hit so hard by the genuine, raw, naive beauty of these teenagers' writing in the telling of their stories. The big stuff, the little stuff, all of it.

And I think about that a lot. All of these kids in my classroom, all writing their story. Even if they were best friends with similar kinds of lives, joint interests and intertwined circles of friends, their stories couldn't be more different. And I would tell them this all of the time- there is only one you. Just one! It's such a simple thing to say and also hear, but especially powerful in terms of writing. Anything you say, as long as it comes from an authentic place...that's yours. Your story. And no one else's can ever be exactly that.

This idea can seep into other aspects of life too, right? The concept that there is a place for you, always. Space for your voice, your story. When you're being authentic, you can't help but attract others who are on your same wavelength. Know who you are, love who you are, and honor the place that's set out for you, because you matter. But then I write that, and I can't help but think of how each of those things are so hard to do on their own, let all at once. It's a whole process, I think, each part piggy backing on the former. Know yourself, love that person you've become, then allow yourself space to be that person. I'm somewhere between the second and third step right now, I think. I can remember very distinctly when I was right smack dab in the middle of the first, and that was hard. But it's a cycle anyway, and of course I'll be back there again. Life, man.

So. A space for me, and a space for you. When we tell our stories, we allow others to do the same. When we share who we are, unapologetically, it gives others permission to share as well. By making a place for us, we make room for someone else. And I'm asking myself- how can I be a better space-maker in my world? How can I encourage the people I love to feel comfortable being themselves, comfortable doing their thing? Because that's what I want- to be surrounded by all of these people I love, who feel so good about being exactly who they are. That's happiness.

So we'll start here, yeah? I'm gonna try to share more in this space, and I hope you feel like you want to do the same in yours, wherever that space may be. Meet ya somewhere in the middle.

xoxo

24 comments:

  1. I always loved journaling in school and I wish my teachers had made us do more of it. I'm not a writer, or creative enough to journal on my own, but I loved when teachers gave us prompts to write about. I agree with making a space for you too. I think that's why I love blogs. Because you can share yourself with others, and if they don't want to read it they don't have to and if they do they can!

    -Jasilyn
    coffeeandcleveland.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Jasilyn!

      Thank you for commenting. :) I totally agree- I love that about blogging too!

      xoxo

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  2. Such an inspirational, beautifully-written article, Danielle! I see your post as a letter of encouragement to those writers/ bloggers out there who might contemplate giving up due to lack of support or visibility, yet encouraging them instead to pursue their creative endeavours.

    Many times I've found myself in that situation, but then decided to stick to it and persevere. You are so right in that our individual voice is as unique as our individual self. It's up to the others to appreciate the little gems that we string together into sentences. Yet we shouldn't be dependent upon an audience in order to feel worthwhile.

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    1. Thank you so much Nathalie! I love that you see it as a letter of encouragement- that makes me so happy!

      Thank you for reading. :)

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  3. Very beautiful! This is adorable! I love everything about this post. Discover our portuguese shoes here www.kelyashoes.com ! I think you´ll love. Kisses

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  4. I love this Dani! I'm really trying to get back into writing and sort of finding my voice again after two pregnancies and juggling little ones for what feels like forever! It's not easy but I'm getting there. I've been loving what you have been sharing here lately! xoxo

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    1. Girlfriend, I love your posts so much too! I wish we could meet for tea and chit chat. One day... :)

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  5. Loving this. What an excellent way to look at journaling. Inspired - thanks Danielle!

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    1. Oh you are so welcome! :) Thank you for reading!

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  6. Beautifully written! I try to journal every single day to connect a little more with myself and what's going on in my life. I often have to remind myself to "love yourself" and let it happen. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. That is so awesome you focus on journaling every day. I need to do it more!

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  7. Love this idea and your blog. Although now I work mostly as an instructional coach, I am an English and French teacher too. When I taught an American Literature course a few years ago we started a similar writing activity. As bell work in all of our English classes, students spend ten minutes each day reading a book of their choice. Although ten minutes is never enough, the time is meant to establish a culture of life-long readers by taking time to read for pleasure. Reading and writing are the cornerstones of any language arts course, yet constantly prescribing what students must read is counterproductive to developing a passion for reading.

    Likewise, it became evident that after six weeks of teaching students how to write a well-constructed, persuasive paragraph using the Pewaukee High School "IT'S CLEAR" format (Indent, Topic Sentence, Context, Lead-In, Evidence, Analysis, wRap-Up), we had taken much of the joy out of the writing process. Student writing had become so formulaic that individual voice, style, and passion had been sacrificed. How could we also establish a culture of life-long writers by encouraging students to write for pleasure?

    At the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English convention, Professor Tom Romano spoke about the writing process and instructed teachers to encourage their students to write what's on their minds and in their hearts: "A good writer has a distinctive voice. A great writer has an inimitable one. Regardless of subject or place in time or space, good and great writers share one trait—they are true to their personalities, spirits, and characters. Craft an authentic voice in your own writing. Then revel in the candor and insight, the absorbing and entertaining stories, the clear thinking, the good, maybe even great writing!"

    During the second term, in addition to ten minutes of free reading, we began devoting ten minutes of each class for students to write what they are thinking, feeling, contemplating, worrying about, celebrating, and anticipating because, after all, this is what writers do! The activity has been named "Trust the Gush!" Each day, we provide students with an image, quote, letter, or idea that may elicit a visceral and/or creative written response. Students are not required to write about the inspiration, but they are encouraged to keep their writing (either on paper or digitally), to "welcome surprises of language and meaning." Students have also created blogs to share their "gushes" with classmates and/or an audience beyond the classroom. Sharing is optional, but as students begin to take ownership and pride in their writing, they enjoy sharing their work and receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from their peers and the blogging community. Although we recognize that it is necessary to learn to write for a variety of subjects and purposes, it has been wonderful to see what students can write when allowed to "trust the gush!"

    Here is one of my favorite prompts and my own response to it: http://www.melindalarson.com/2013/11/o-me-o-life_1779.html#.VqEM6FMrLkI.

    Thanks again for this lovely reminder!

    Melinda

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    1. Hey Melinda!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I loved reading every word. Now I'm off to go check out the link you shared! :)

      Happy Friday!

      xo

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  8. "When you're being authentic, you can't help but attract others who are on your same wavelength." I love this. Thank you so much for this reminder and for making space for authenticity.

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    1. You're so welcome! Thank you so much for reading too! Means so much to me! :)

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  9. I love when you used to do Journal Day here! My friend Gabi and I would follow along with the posts on our old blog.

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    1. Me too! I miss it! Maybe I should bring it back...again! haha.

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  10. Oh I really love this. The world, and especially the social world, is so filled with people who just want to pick apart and judge other people for being themselves. This one is too happy and this one is too sad and this one is too honest and this one is too fake and it's all just this big GAME. I gave up my own blog and began to instead write those "posts" in the family "yearbooks" I now create. I love that I still have this beautiful place to share my thoughts (and photography) but that it's now shared in the most authentic form possible, because it's SOLEY for me and those I love more than anything. It's a place where I can truly and fully be ME with no fear of judgment, or stalkers, or any of the other downfalls of "putting it out there" for all the world to see. It's taught me a lot, really allowed me to grow within kyself, and perhaps ironically, it's given me a sense of freedom that has liberated me to be more confident in being MORE myself with others.

    At the time I got rid of my blog, I took a conscience step back from social media, and that too has helped me immensely. I now intentionally keep my "circle" small, and find its incredibly easy for me to be ME when I'm surrounded by people I genuinely like and care for, rather than trying to (perhaps subconsciously) impress a bunch of strangers online with public profiles. I know it sounds like I'm rambling but my point was that even though I previously felt confident and comfortable and very happy, it wasn't until I took those little steps, made those little changes, that I felt like I found MY SPACE. Now, it's like I "fit" so much better where I am. The confidence and comfort and happiness I already felt have multiplied immensely because I'm where I "belong."

    Anyway, yours is one of only four blogs I continue to pop in on every now and then (out of nearly 90 I religiously followed before) and I continue to appreciate your inspiration and encouragement. <3

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    1. Shannon! Your comment has made my day, thank you for always popping in. And it's the same for me- I used to read so many but now just a handful. It means so much to me to read your words. Thank you! :)

      Lots of love to you!

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  11. I feel like I was subconsciously mulling all this over when I stumbled across your blog post and felt like someone had a spotlight on the inner workings of my brain. So well said!

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    1. Ahh! I love when that happens and I'm extra stoked it was here on my blog! Yay! :) Happy Friday, Dawn! xoxo

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  12. I love it. Writing has been a great outlet for me lately. Blogging is a place I come to to share whatever I feel, whether it be big or small. It's my place to bring me back to center after a busy day or a day where I'm feeling alone. I also have a journal that I date and write my thoughts. I just started journaling a couple years ago, but I've filled up multiple notebooks. It's great! I also have a small Moleskine that I carry around with me incase I see a quote or have a quick thought to scribble down. I'm so grateful for writing and I love it more and more everyday!

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  13. I love this post Danielle! I journal once or twice a week now and even though I feel like I only complain in my entries, it really makes me feel better. I've been thinking about opening up to my blog and sharing a tiny bit, because it really has been a part of me lately. And your post just encourages me! I love your very honest posts and am so happy that you are you and you share you with us! (If that makes sense). Thank you so much! Looking forward to more of your posts!

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