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Keeping a Love Journal

Do you love someone very deeply? A spouse, son, daughter, or maybe a group of people. February 14 is Valentine's Day. This unofficial holiday is a day card companies started to increase their business and has evolved into more over the years. It is a day of reflection, a day to show someone else you care, a day to see the love we have for ourselves as well.

A separate journal devoted strictly to people, places, and things that you love may seem like a waste of space at first. Why not just toss it in our regular journal? You might be thinking, "How can I fill up a whole book? " I shared this sentiment for years. After making the choice, one pre-Valentine's Day ten years ago in a bookstore, it became easy. A richer life began emerging because of it over time.

As with all things, it begins by purchasing a journal for that specific purpose. This is the perfect time of the year to buy that such journal. Book and gift stores provide a stack of choices this time of year. When I sat down and opened my new love journal, the cover, with its typical red cover and hearts, changed my voice, but the pages were still stark white. For days, I sat staring at those blank pages every evening and occasionally a few mornings. This was a strange sensation since it's harder for me to end than to begin.

My original thought, why I purchased this teenage-like journal, was to honor my mother's memories. She passed ten years earlier, and our memories were waning. Many times it took pictures to see her face again. Here are some ways that I learned over the years to fill my love journals. What once started with a cautionary purchase turned into a regular yearly purchase. Of course, this time of year because of the wide selection in the stores.

Let Me Count the Ways

Lists are a great way to begin when the sentences or thoughts seem vague. Lists suggest expansiveness and release the pressure of saying it just right. Focus on one person and make a list of a particular moment. It doesn't matter whether it is recent or somewhere in the past. Memory triggering is a trained skill and takes practice.

Love Letters

"Love letters fulfill a need to confide, to testify, and to articulate what is ordinarily left unspoken," says Cathy Davidson in "The Book of Love: Writers and Their Love Letters." Expressing your love, whether shared or not, fulfills an internal need, a desire for a deep connection. Whether the love is only one way, a fantasy, or just a dream. Memorable writing, whether it is a list, letter, poem, story, or essay, comes deeply from the soul of the writer. It is their way of having their say.

Writing a love letter doesn't always need to be to or about someone else. When we are working on our self-esteem and self-worth, it is important to write love letters to us. This may seem selfish or uncomfortable at the start, but the experience blossoms into a deeper learning about who we are, what we want, what we need, and what we can give. For those of us who have difficulty knowing our own needs or putting our health first, writing love letters can be a valuable bridge that expands into a deeper understanding and knowledge about us or about our path.

Possible Memorable Items to Include

Here are a few items that can help expand your love writing. Of course, these items will transition with your intention, style, and voice.

  1. Start by acknowledging the event. The place, day, and time.
  2. What was your emotional state at the time
  3. Did you feel sad, say so. Angry, shocked, or confused, say so. Even love letters and journals have more than one emotion. Were you grieving at the time?

  4. Describe any qualities -- physical, emotional, professional, or social. Tell what you admired about them (or yourself). Is there something you miss? Were they or were they a great teacher, storyteller, devoted father, mother, aunt, uncle?
  5. Remember the little things. The small stuff does count. Was there a particular smell you remember? What were they wearing, or not?
  6. Have you had this experience before? If so, when? How are they different? How are they the same?
  7. Did a book, quote, musical piece, photograph, or song lyrics provide comfort or expand the experience?
  8. Who else was involved? Did they build with the experience or take from it?
  9. What makes this love different? Or the same? And if the same, the same to what?
  10. Was this an everyday event that turned extraordinary? Why?

Whether a love letter is your intention or to begin with a list, don't forget to love yourself and to add yourself to the menu of a love-writing experience. Most of the time, we look for love in other places when it truly needs to be recognized from within first. Take the time, find the magic you hold inside you, find the love that you hold for relationships, for what you have accomplished, or desire to accomplish, or what type of love affair you want to have with the world while you are still in it.

Love is a gift, whether presented only in a journal or expanded into something wrapped and bowed. The expense is only that of pen and paper, but its cost is time and thought. Place love on your calendar this week. It is as much a gift to you as it is for everyone else in your life, past or present.

Copyright, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.

Catherine Franz, 20-year international journaling instructor, including several US Presidents and First Ladies, and author of two booklets on hundreds of tips and techniques.

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