I should have you know, I have kept diaries since I was 13 years old.  Those first years are full of nonsense and so encrypted to keep my sisters out that I have no idea what the secret codes are anymore and am sadly shut out from what I can only assume were shady and exciting events.  Some are so well-read they have fallen apart and pages have been replaced out of order or vanished completely.  Others have tiny broken latches, tea stains and phone numbers scratched in haste across them.  They wear covers of flowers, leather, rainbows and sailing ships, others are the cheapest of Hilroy notebooks and tattered papers bound by rusty staples.  For the last few decades, my trademark diary has been a Brownline Classic Signature Model CBE504.ASX in black with gold corners, guilded pages and a golden ribbon I never use.

 I never had a real intent or plan for these diaries, I just wanted to write, partly because I didn't want to forget and probably because I fancied myself a bit of a storyteller.  Early on I enjoyed hiding them in such clever places but sadly I lost a few to the effort.  I began brazenly displaying  them on my dresser with primary entries like "I know you are reading this and you are a jerk." As the years went by they formed a row, then filled a shelf and then another, until one bittersweet day, I realized I had recorded almost daily over 42 years of my life.

Since the beginning I have loved these little books.  They hold my world so sweetly and completely.  I have never tired of them and they have brought me endless joy and comfort on quiet nights and sunny days.  Whether I need encouragement, wisdom, nostalgia, facts, a good cry or just a giggle, they always speak to me.  What a wonder to have cocky little 15 year old me tell 50 year old me that live will unfold as it will, or to hear the foolishness of 35, the arrogance of 27 or the fear of 17.  I run common in all, but the eyes I look through and how I take in and spew out the world remains in a constant state of  flux. I am always sure I am as wise as I will be every year.   Every year I am wrong again.  

For the past three decades my diaries begin with wishes and prayers for my family, myself and the year to come.  I list a dozen things I would like to accomplish and since the beginning there is a first paragraph to the book itself introducing me and explaining it's duties. The last page of each is reserved for an accounting of the list at the front.  Did I lose 10 pounds? Have I saved $2,000.00?  Did I paint the kitchen or spend more time with my sisters?  Win or lose, I am always okay with the result because the day after this inventory is January 1st and I get another 365 day chance to get it right.

 Some pages in my loves are so powerful I can conjure where I was, what I wore and the smell of the lilacs as I wrote. I can feel the spring breeze in my hair.  In others the terror is as fresh as the assault, and I have come to cherish them all.   These are the events which shaped me.  The voice and spirit that recorded so much has spoken back peace and healing in painful times, encouragement and worth where there was none and a warrior spirit where a timid soul cowered.  It whispers or yells according to it's mood or how hard of hearing I am at the time.  In my quiet solitude it reminds me I am still here with me and I am fine, regardless of what anyone else has to say on the matter. I have done no great things, but I have done enough.  I am not a benevolent daughter, a reliable sibling, faithful friend or godly mother, but I can read that I am always trying and I have had some very very good days.

Now in this beautiful autumn of my life I treasure my diaries and pray God lets me write another 40.  They are not some brag or a legacy of my own supposed greatness that my life should be recorded, but just vessels to help me continue to remember, and remember with clarity.  When I die, they will all be burned. They were not for you or anyone else. They were a simple and  most precious gift from me to me.

Today with social media (which I adore), there are so many places to blog, chat or post one's thoughts.  I love the computer and the sound of my nails clicking at top speed on the keys, but there is something so wonderful about opening a diary day after day and capturing with pen, broken pencil or fancy coloured markers, the spirit of the day. Anyone who journals is familiar with the magic of which I speak, but for those of you who find yourself bursting with ideas, frustrated, lonely, in or out of love or simply living, I promise you the words you write today will say a thousand in years to come and your voice of yesterday can heal and inspire the you of today.  One only has to think of a letter or a card that they have kept because the spirit of the writer still dwells there.  Diaries embody that experience.  Love letters to yourself precious and dear.  

I wish I could inspire you all to find a little book and open that first fresh page and begin to write yourself down.  When I taught art, I would give my students each a Christmas present.  It was always a neatly sharpened HB pencil.  My message with artists is the same to you;

You can change the world with an HB pencil.  It can make imagination reality, slay demons, bring justice, comfort, inspire, offer solace and heartfelt laughter.  Whatever you need in any moment it's likely an HB pencil can provide a most excellent starting point.