Recently I was invited to answer some questions about journaling for a podcast a friend of mine is compiling. Although many of you know me from the things I've written, I thought this may be worth sharing. Cheers.


Jessica is a friend I met through Twitter, who has favorited and retweeted so many of my journaling prompts that I had to find out a little more about her.  Fortunately, I have a website where she was able to post her email address. Her profile says little more than that she's a baseball fan, but after getting to know her a little more, I've learned that she is also passionate about shoes, socks, feet, and helping others learn and grow.  

Welcome to the show Jessica!

Tell us about yourself:

- When did you first get started with journaling? 

My grandmother gave each of us girls journals as Christmas presents when we were younger. We thought they were a joke, and I didn't use mine until the day I got into a terrible fight with my mother when I was nine. Since then, journaling has been a way to get negative thoughts out of my head and onto paper where they can't hurt me anymore.

- What is your business, or what do you do for a living?

Formerly I sold therapeutic shoes. When you hear my voice, you're hearing the voice of someone who cares enough to take back eleven thousand dollars worth of shoes that a customer of mine didn't think he could move. This is also the voice of someone who took an initial order for a thirty dollar pair of sandals, and turned that into a thousand dollars worth of merchandise that I was able to fit into a four by five space. It's not what or who you know, it's how you share what you know with people who don't know you. In my business, the trust factor is huge. Learn to trust yourself, be a person of your word, and you'll be able to walk away from a great job with the trust of people who still call your cell when they need exceptionally good advice, or a friend to talk with. I have contact information at the end of this podcast, which I'm ridiculously thrilled to be doing. If you have a shoe or sock related question, tweet me. If I don't know the answer, or can't help you, I'll be able to connect you with others who are still active in the industry. Jessica's my name, connecting supply with demand is my game.

- Tell us about your family?

I'm the oldest of five, my brother is the baby, and today my sisters are some of my best friends, although that wasn't always the case. Both of my parents were abusive, and some of my earliest journal entries were teary scrawls of blue ink in my Hello Kitty diary. Back then, I didn't see journaling as a way to vent my frustrations, I turned to it because I had thoughts in my head that no one could take away from me when the world didn't work the way I wanted it to. Journaling became a cathartic and reliable way for me to sort out my thoughts, even if no one else read what I had written.

- Where did you grow up?

My family moved quite a bit, but I have lived most of my life in my head which resides in Wisconsin.

- Who have been your role models growing up?

I'm still very close to several of my aunts. I looked up to them when I was younger. My father was a very gifted athlete, I have some wonderful memories of him playing catch with me.

- What's the best thing that's happened to you this year so far?

After I was asked to write this, I was headed towards the sauna when I heard music that electrified me. At home, I sat down to write, but it wasn't the time yet. I started a scene, realized it was wrong, and went on to write what I believe is a pivotal chapter in the book I'm currently in love with. It changed what I thought would happen, what I had planned for my characters, and if there is any advice I can pass along, it would be to open your creative channels, and embrace change when it comes along. When it feels right, you'll know. You won't have to think, the words will just be there. Thanks for asking me that question, I had started answering these questions earlier, but my writing decided to throw me a proverbial curve ball, and what I love about that is I'm the pitcher, the catcher, the batter, the umpire, and the crowd of fans. It's so crazy, I wonder if people can tell I'm not a hundred percent sane just by looking at me.

- Tell us about your favorite hobbies?

I like to write. I love baseball. I also enjoy cooking, walking, riding my bike, information, and Twitter.

- What have you learned about yourself recently?

That's a great question, it seems as if I'm constantly learning new things about myself that I didn't know previously. I have a lot of anxiety related to social venues where food is served since I have celiac disease, and life threatening food allergies. Recently I've learned that my feelings are my own, I can't change them, but I can change how I act, react, and interact with others. Attitude really is everything. I don't need anyone else to validate mine for me.

- What else is interesting about your background or interests?

People periodically tell me that I'm an interesting person. To me, everyone is interesting, the world is interconnected, and we can do more as a group than we can individually although individual efforts count as well. You have a story to tell, journaling takes white space, and becomes whatever you want; a hope, a dream, an affirmation, a rejection, an idea, a concept, a galaxy that didn't exist before you created it. I'm a fan. I like the creativity and the unexpected things that tumble out during a session.

Tell us about your journaling style:

- How do you like to keep a journal? What do you use?

I belong to an online writing community called Everything2 that can be found at My user name is jessicaj, my public entries are available to anyone with a broadband connection, although I have also written words that no one else will ever read unless they find my password. I have a notebook that I keep by my desk, and I'm usually journaling things in my head when I run into a situation where I'm uncomfortable.

- How did you learn to journal?

I touched on that earlier. I had the materials, but the fight with my mother provided the impetus. If you've heard of fight or flight, the version that works best for me is: fight or flight, and then write.

- How long have you been journaling consistently?

It's hard to say. Years. I couldn't say how long with any degree of accuracy. Sometimes I feel as if I've just started, other times I feel as if I've been doing it since before time began.

- Do you ever go back and read your old journal entries?  What have you learned about yourself?

I rarely go back. I've seen progress and growth which is probably my best argument in favor of journaling.

- What are the top 2 or 3 benefits you've experienced about journaling?

It gives your emotions and ideas a place to go. I use it as a way to present a problem, and I try to write down solutions, strategies, or different ways I can think about the situation. I can tell myself to let go of things that I can't fix, that helps too. Sometimes I cry, I keep writing though.

- Typed? or hand-written?

I prefer to type, although I will pick up a pen and write on anything handy. I once wrote on the back of a candy bar wrapper when I was at my sister's place. That was a long bad night.

- What's your favorite place to write in your journal?

My favorite places are the peaceful places I have in my head. I hear music, and construct an environment based on what the notes tell me. They don't exist in real life, but that doesn't stop me from visiting.

- What else is interesting about your journaling style?

I try to avoid blaming other people, or myself. I lay out the facts, the way I feel can be a fact, I have a letter writing style of journaling, and I try to picture the people I'm writing to as loved ones who care about what I've been through, and my well being.

Tell us about what you're up to:

- What are you most passionate about?

Another tough question to answer. As a person who sees things in mostly black and white I'm passionate about everything I'm not violently opposed to. I'm in favor of conservation, organic food, footwear that meets the demands of an individual foot, and baseball. I hate shopping, fast food, I dislike people who are unkind, and those who preach tolerance, yet have none to spare for others who think differently than they do.

- What projects are you working on right now?

I'm writing a book about a shortstop who was recently diagnosed with a personality disorder. As I mentioned previously, that took an unexpected turn this past Saturday. Writing is such a wild ride, the moments where you question everything can suddenly converge into: this is the most exciting, interesting, and gratifying thing I have ever done. This will be worth something someday.

- Is there anything you'd like to invite our audience to do or consider?

Consider the idea that everyone has a story to tell. I would invite people to leave their prejudices and preconceived notions about writing behind when they start journaling. There is no wrong way to write. If what you write sucks, and it can suck pretty hard sometimes, the only way to get better is to keep practicing. Nine year old me didn't know that thirty-eight year old me would one day travel back to the Hello Kitty time. My handwriting has changed, but that girl had something to tell the woman I am today. Never be critical of what you or others have written in a journal. However shameful, embarrassing, lurid, depressing, or otherwise 'bad' you think that it is, you've given those thoughts a path away from you. Leave them in your journal, they're less likely to hurt others that way. I tend to journal when I'm upset, but I've also cataloged job interviews, new jobs, celebrations of great days, ideas for new businesses that I've had, and day to day things that I thought I would want to remember some day. At the end of 2012, I wrote a list of memories down in no particular order. That was so much fun, I've decided to make it an annual tradition.

- Tell us how we can connect with you?

Twitter is probably the best way. @jensen_jessica

- Thanks for being on the show.  Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks for having me, your Twitter presence, and website reminded me that the pen can be mightier than the sword, and I'm grateful for that. As far as closing thoughts go, I once worked with a woman that I didn't care for who told me that everyone has something to teach you. Years later, I've kept that thought with me. I believe that people connect for a reason, maybe there's a reason you're listening to this right now. Ask yourself questions, don't be afraid to dig deeper into yourself, to ask yourself those really tough questions about the future. Where will I be tomorrow, in a week, a month, ten years from now? For me, two of the most powerful words I know are 'What if?' Consider asking yourself what if, and writing down your answers. When the fear is gone, only you, and your ideas remain.

Take care, be well; journal hard. The life you want is out there, how are you going to capture it?

Podcast is now available: Hear my voice live, and in person!

A. Unrealized writeups

I invite anyone to write them up if they can get more material out these ideas than I can.

Strangelove's Law - A secret doomsday device cannot fulfill its intended purpose, deterrence, and may in the the worst case lead to catastrophe.

Seinfeld Motivation - He explained how he motivated himself to write every day in his documentary film Comedian (2002). Get a wall calendar that shows all the dates on a single page. Put an X over every day that you work on a project. After you've got a nice row of X's going, you probably won't want to let a day go by without an X.

B. I shall read Anna Karenina

I guess I came to this decision since the release of the new film starring Keira Knightley and several other major British screen actors. I watched a few minutes of it, then stopped, as I wasn't ready to invest the next couple of hours in it. It sat for a few days during which time I wondered about the various English translations. I have read Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, part of Notes from the Underground, and Uncle Vanya. I think that is all I have tasted of Russian literature. I know that Russia adopted Western tastes rather recently in history. It is seen as an imitator of Western expression.

1. How To Read Anna Karenina

Ebooks are available of editions which are in the public domain. These are all the Constance Garnett translation. Unlike Brothers Karamazov, from the opinions I have read, the recent Pevear and Volokhonsky translation is not significantly better, only more modern in language. I have the Garnett ebook from Feedbooks, and a hardback edition translated by Maude and Maude on order. I may also listen the Librivox readings.


The Star Trek novel Corona by Greg Bear was pretty good. I need to write it up!

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