The Art of Journaling by Lori Earl
I’ve been reflecting on the difference between writing in a journal or diary, and posting thoughts on a blog or vlog. They all have to do with words. I’d venture to suggest that all of these choices meet the need for self-awareness, helping us get in touch with who we are. They are both inwardly therapeutic, yet an outward expression of our creativity.
My thoughts comparing the art of journaling and blogging came as I was reflecting on This Star Won’t Go Out, published this past week by Penguin Books. It is the story of our daughter, Esther Grace Earl, told mostly through her own words, and supplemented by writings from friends, and blogs that her dad and I wrote.
Our CaringBridge blog was started to find a way to keep family and friends updated on Esther’s illness, after her diagnosis with metastasized papillary thyroid cancer at age 12. In the midst of routine doctor visits, occasional ER trips, school, work, and all the busyness of a family with five children, answering well-intended questions about how Esther was doing became impossible to respond to. The beauty of one internet blog, where we as parents (with the occasional comment by Esther!) could craft the telling of our daily adventures was a huge boon. Writing down her story through daily or weekly updates became a historical timeline; but it was also a way to face our fears, and a less-invasive way to interact with those who loved us and wanted to let us know we were in their hearts and prayers. But our sentences are clearly designed for the audience we imagined were tuning in.
Esther’s words in her journals were written for herself. At times they are records of memorable experiences; sometimes it is clear they were written to help her find her way through the impossible mysteries of life and death. Reading her words are like peeking inside the cupboard doors of her life, seeing glimpses of her heart and soul. Journaling gave her a tool to handle her days. In one of her last videos blogs, she urges her listeners to express their feelings:
“If you are, like, a person with feelings, I kind of urge you to like, write this, write in your diary or your blog post or a video or on a Post-it, like your feelings, because it feels good to just like, kind of see what they are…” – Esther Earl, “Feelings” video
I think her advice is good. Find a way to use your words to find yourself. You won’t regret it.
This Star Won’t Go Out is both the title of the book released last week and a foundation that is making a difference in the lives of children with cancer, one family at a time. By providing funds to help pay for travel, a mortgage or rent check, and other cost of living expenses, TSWGO frees up families to focus on their child who is in treatment. A gift of money is really a gift towards quality time as a family—and that’s a gift that is beyond value. Learn more about the book by watching the trailer below or visiting tswgobook.tumblr.com and learn more about the foundation by visiting www.tswgo.org.
In case you are interested, you can watch the recorded live-stream of the book launch party from last night. The event starts at around 32 minutes in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9PoNn-Bj0w
The celebration of Esther’s life here is powerful and beautiful. I’m glad that this was shared.
Thank you for this post. I almost didn’t read it, just due to general busyness and the fact I’m not journaling right now. But a young friend is, and I thought this might have something useful to share with her. Instead, I see help for families who have children in cancer treatment, and I wanted to thank you very much for that info, as I have a friend whose child was just diagnosed and I am looking for ways to support her. So I was able to pass on the info. Thanks for sharing, and I hope and pray all goes well for your daughter and you all.
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 10:13:26 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Lori, for this post. We added THIS STAR WON’T GO OUT this week in Room 407. I book talked the book and told the students in the room that I had just got it and I would need a couple of days to look at it before putting it on the shelves. Friday was the day that I would be ready for my readers to have the book (I gave myself a couple of days). The first reader to leave a message for me or be at the door on Friday could be the first to look at the book. The response has been overwhelming. Two students ran. . .RAN. . .to the room from the other sideof the building. They want to read Esther’s story. This is a special book.
It’s very exciting to know Esther’s book will be read by students! As an educator, her story has so many significant messages for young people.
Thank you for this post, Lori and for sharing Esther with us through her writing and yours. She touched my heart in the Nerdfighter community–her special spirit continues to shine. Like, Paul, I added TSWGO to my classroom library–it was checked out before I could even put it on a shelf. It may float back in on the book tide, but I bet it’s out on the readers’ sea and will travel hand to hand to hand before it finds its way back to the shore of our shelves. This book will be a life line for teens and families.
Reblogged this on Reading Between the Lines and commented:
Such a wonderful entry to read about the power of words. I am looking forward to finding a copy of the books as well. Check it out! – Mrs. S 🙂
Can’t wait to share this book with my high school students.
Thank you for sharing the book and your daughter’s words, too, Lori. I’ll be sure to get a copy so I can share it at my school. How wonderful that you are doing something for families in need by sharing your story.
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