The Unbound Journal 4: Down to get Dirty

Another week, another tip to make the most of your journal. This post builds off the previous one in the series, before the break, so if you haven’t already read that it might be a good place to start. Last time we talked about adding more than just words to your journal and treating it almost like a scrap book. This piece of advice takes that a step further. Today I want to share with you something that I haven’t experimented with too much myself, but I find very intriguing and know will definitely make your journal unique. This is not for everyone, but some people might enjoy it. The idea is to encapsulate your environments into your journal. In the last Unbound Journal this was accomplished by adding items, but now I want you to take your journal and get it dirty! That’s right! This is a really strange idea, but I think some people might enjoy it. Some examples of what this might look like are; splashing water from a river on a page, laying the journal flat and putting a nice footprint on there, or even spilling a friend’s perfume or cologne on a page. They can be small like a smudge of dirt from your hometown or a stain of your favorite food, or they can be something big that takes up the entire or page. Trust me when I say I understand how weird this sounds. As I am writing this it feels wrong, but I wanted to try it out before I recommended it. I did this by spilling just a little coffee from my go to café in London on the page. I also wrote a note saying what it was and why I did it as well. If you can get over how bizarre this is and try it, I think that you will find that it adds character and color to your journal. The goal behind this is that you start to take your journal with you and start thinking outside the box on how you can incorporate important things onto the page. And worse comes to worse you will see the “blemish” on the page and be reminded of that silly time you took a bloggers advice.

The Unbound Journal 3: More Than Words

We are at the halfway point for this series on finding the full potential of your journal. After this week, the series will take a break for a while (I will be posting other things during this time) and then the final two posts will be published to wrap it up. I hope that you are enjoying these tips on journaling so far. These types of post aren’t my normal, but I think it has been fun for different. Alright, with logistics out of the way, on to the post!

Your journal doesn’t have to consist of just your words, or the words of others. In fact, you should think of it more like a scrap book to some degree. Additions beyond just writing can really make your journal come to life, capture special moments, and allow you to hold on to cool keep-sakes. One of my favorite features of my last two journals has been that they have a pouch like a folder in the back. My journal is mostly used as a prayer journal and so during my times of travel I have been trying to keep little things like pamphlets, or service cards from churches that I’ve visited around the world so that I can add them to my journal. What you keep in there is up to you. I also have kept movie tickets, bus stubs, odds and ends, drawings from friends, pictures of family and friends, and notes. Now, if you don’t have a pouch in your journal don’t worry! There are tons of other ways to add physical things to your journal. One time I didn’t have my journal and I wrote something on a piece of paper. I forgot about it and kept writing in my journal only to stumble upon it later. I really wanted to add it in so I stapled it into where I would have been chronologically. The point is, you can staple things, tape things, or glue things as there are a bunch of ways to get keep-sakes on the page. This is a tip that I have found fun to do and really takes your journal to another level. As always, much love!

The Unbound Journal 2: The Space In-between

Once again, we are talking about how to make the most of your journal. Your journal is more than just pages, and one of the biggest ways to drastically increase the fullness of it is to start looking at the space in-between. Go beyond just writing on pages and start looking at all the other areas you can add to. For example, my current journal has a band to hold it closed and a book marker attached to it. This space to be taken advantage of! Don’t let it go to waste. On the band and book mark I wrote encouraging words that are easily visible before I even open my journal. This adds flavor and makes your journal exciting. I have written all over every part of my journal and it makes it so much more stylized than just uniform writing on each page. The inside of the covers are great places to write things as well, and one of my favorite places to write things is along the sides of the paper when the book is closed (the image for this post shows what I mean). Don’t let any space in your journal be overlooked. Look for creative places to add more character to your journal. This will fill your journal with lots of little nooks and crannies of things that take it above and beyond and make it a little more unique and special. I hope this short and sweet tip helps you create a journal that is truly your own. Best of writing, and Much Love!

The Unbound Journal 1: Those Around You

I have explained in previous posts the importance of reflecting and how journaling has impacted my life in so many incredible ways. So, before we get started, I would recommend checking those out and to just start writing because it can be extremely beneficial. You don’t need a journal, just something to write with and something to write on. I would highly suggest physically writing out things, and not typing them on your phone or on a computer because there is something different about writing without technology. To me it feels more personal and relaxing. I have been recording things for a while now and there are some really fun things that I have done that make my journal very special to me. This series is for those of you who have a journal, or those of you who are looking to get one, and how to make the most of it. First off, journaling is whatever you want it to be. The advice I give is just interesting ways I have found to spice things up and add new and creative ways to express yourself through writing. They are not standards or demands, merely suggestions for making the most of your journal. Through this series, my goal is to help you create a journal that truly captures your personality and feelings; something that when you look back upon will bring you right back to important memories in your life. With that said, let’s get started!

The first piece of advice I would give to bring your journal to the next level is share it with others, don’t just let it be your own words. Let those in your life speak through your journal. This is something I have done for all my journals and it is probably the best thing you can add. It is so memorable and touching to look back at later. The way I did this the first time was by having my friends and family give me one piece of advice. The things they said were astonishing and are words that I now hold dear. I did this same thing with everyone in my community for my most recent journal, and it is unbelievable the things that people have to say. People are so full of wisdom and it is a shame that we don’t take more time to listen to what they have to say. The different perspectives of everyone really opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world, those around me, and myself. It is so powerful, and I truly cherish the words from the ones I love and hope to preserve them. If you can, get them to write it in the journal themselves so that you can capture their actual handwriting. This makes it even more special. Now when I write in my journal, I find uplifting words from friends, family, and community and I am reminded of them and my spirits are lifted. This has led to me feeling encouraged, loved, and confident and I can look at them at any time I need a pick-me-up. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you ask others. Some things I haven’t asked yet, but that I think would be really interesting to have in my journal are; their favorite bible verse, a memory between us, their favorite word, a joke, etc. This is essentially what you might have someone do in a yearbook, but I promise you that you will be thankful for it in the future. Open your journal up to the voices around you and let your journal become something bigger than yourself, something much more meaningful.

 

Different Perspectives on Consuming London

1

When in London, I can’t help but overindulge, especially in Covent Garden. Before my eyes is a feast of colors, culture, and people. Yes, the people! I love the them the most. I’m fully entranced by the street performers putting on magic shows, executing magnificent acrobatic feats, or making music. I am absorbed by the swelling crowds of tourists who swarm around these performers with their camera phones pointed at the action. An ocean of swirling dialects and diverse colors crash around me like waves. Swimming through them, I am eventually channeled out into open space spotted with the more local folks who are on a mission in the city. They walk with purpose, with determination, with confidence. Lining benches and any free steps are groups of visitors from where I can only imagine to be every corner and crevice of the world. Some groups are shaking in the brisk air, unprepared for the chilly weather, while others gather at coffee shops for some liquid gold to warm them. The people provide the tone and their culture, the flavor, against the grey backdrop of London architecture. Brick roads meet stone buildings and blend effortlessly into a matching sky. There is the occasional splotch of color on a building, usually clay reds but sometimes vibrant blues or pinks. Crisp corners and defined outlines shape the structures, breaking form only by the supporting round pillars that reach up into arches. Flowers in crates like garnishes dot the paths and nature can be seen on doors framed with foliage. But another treasure lies in the heart of the square. It is in the apple market where past and present combine. The market seems to beat with intensity and throb with opportunity. The old style of the outdoor market has found its way inside in a space that produces a feeling of openness as well as crowdedness. It is here where all the smells and sounds seem to gather and present themselves like a main course to me. It is here that I smell fresh cookies mixed with Chanel perfumes and the odor of sleep deprived travelers. It is here where the calls of children and hollers of street performers blend over the low rumble of conversation. Every sound takes on vibrant colors that swirl around me, and every sight I can feel move through me. Each sense tingles inside, overwhelmed after being starved for so long. It is here, among these senses and the people that I feel at the heart of London and finally satisfy my cravings.

2

He often wonders, if it’s obvious that he is not from here. His look, his walk, what will give it away today? Hopefully, he believes, that one day the only foreign sign will be the reflected wonder that flickers in his eyes as he looks in awe at the city of London, trying to comprehend its novelty. The same glinted gaze that only he knows about when reading a book on a park bench in Brenton Cross. When quiet hangs in the open like fog, trapped between emerald green grass and the smoggy ash sky. Or the same senses that tingle through him when he finds himself just enjoying his walk down Oxford street. With no destination, no concerns, absorbing every detail, and feasting on everything the city has to offer. Walking through puffs of cigarette smoke, past pubs bursting with the clamor of conversation and clanks of business, and by the brightly lit signs of theaters, he begins to fade into the people. He acknowledges the beauty and bliss in all these moments. As time goes on the mundane actions of his old life like transportation, shopping, studying, working, all become lively and exciting adventures in his new environment. He begins to wander less. He starts to know his way and walk with a more determined step and confident gait past confused tourists and stride for stride with the locals. Finding his way to his usual coffee shop for a steaming cup of tea or his favorite pub for a cold beer and chips becomes routine. He keeps beat with the city. However, it is not above him to occasionally ride the tube to an uncharted destination and get off. Here, he explores with a naïve composition. He gets lost, resorting back to unsure movements, but along the way passes the fresh smells of restaurants undiscovered by him, extraordinary and breath-taking architecture, and he begins to become over-taken by the feeling, the spark and tingling of his senses, as if he is uncovering the city for the first time.

Re-tuned

 

How I got here, I do not know. Maybe somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be here. Among the aging objects, I glide through them like I’ve been here before. Maybe I have in some way. Thick in the air is a scent that feels so familiar, like what I imagine a soul left out to long in the heat would smell like, after it’s been beat by everyone with their matching, opinion-sized bats. An odor of under-appreciation and I can’t help but breathe it in. It’s comforting as I inhale, exhale until I find the source. It’s the old knobs I notice first. The way their faded white has turned to a worn gray from so many years of being subjected to other’s wills. Somehow as a whole it holds its dignity, fighting back awareness of the inevitability that it could always be vulnerable to the touch of others. The scarred wood paneling holds a slight optimistic glow despite being in the know. Two round speakers like imploring eyes prompt me to question. Why do we love to find the lies that social norms and shameful people tell us? More than that, why do we love to abide in them?  We have an ear tuned to the static of negativity in an always broadcasting world of so many beautiful tunes and lively music all beating to the stomp of possibility. We let our own melodies slip away in the black and white flickering anomalies, folds between space, the blank place where we are everything everyone else tells us we are. Here we sit on a table top, left to gather grime and rot based off the discernments of everything outside us. Looked upon by judging eyes, they staple a price tag to our head, and hope anyone but ourselves will consider the cost. How funny it is we still wear that tag. Why is it the small things that remind us how we can sing and hold the notes, like accumulating Os or more like zeros, to define our own number of digits? It’s the cast asides, the forgottens, with their piling dust and growing rust and their perfect brokenness that remind us who we are.

~

This is a poem I wrote after I stumbled upon a fascinating pawn shop in London. I got very lost and happened to find it hidden away in a side alley. Coming through the doors, the smell of dust was strong, and everything looked dim. It was a small shop and everything inside was very old and looked very much antique. But what blew me away was the beauty I saw in every item. Among the faded gray of tossed out things stood a bright yellow Lily sitting in a simple and clear tiny vase upon the counter. An old cube T.V with flimsy looking dials and a big glass hump for a screen sat off in the corner, tucked away on the bottom half of a shelf. But what stood out to me the most was an old radio sitting on a little table all to itself. A cool washed down mint green made up most off it along with medium roasted brown paneling. Two dusty gray speakers sat beside the middle tuner and a few faded white dials spotted the front. It was gorgeous! However, an old flimsy tag with a red scribble hung off the top and it was in that moment I felt the inspiration to write this poem. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the place or the radio. Like I said, how I got there was kind of mysterious, which I think made the moment even more special for me. This poem was meant to be a reminder that our value, our worth, and our beauty are as good or bad as we decide, not what others decide. I hope you found the poem fun to read and are encouraged to remember that you are amazing.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

~

Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.

The Truth about Affirmation

Affirmation is a powerful thing. However, I think our mindsets are a little off on what true affirmation looks like in life, and I think that it is very important to understand what it really is. Through this post I want to share with you three stories of recent affirmation in my own life and then explain the truth about affirmation.

1

I work at a restaurant as an assistant server, more or less a busboy, and I love my job. I get to serve people and most of the time that is behind the scenes, doing things that nobody knows. It is only human to want to be recognized and acknowledged for the work that you do. Sometimes, it was extremely difficult to convince myself to keep working so hard for what seemed like no reason. So one night I was working with a server I had never worked with before, and I was battling with feeling like I was unnoticed, unimportant. But I decided to keep up my spirit and keep doing my work. In the middle of the shift she comes up to me and says, “Do you love Jesus?” I smiled and told her I do, and I asked her why she asked me or how she knew, and she told me, “Because you are really happy and really kind.”

2

One night after I had just finished up meeting with some people, I was walking down the sidewalk on my way home. I passed by this place called “WOW” which serves bubble tea and other drinks, and something just came over me to go buy two drinks for people in my house. I went in and the place was empty except for two girls who were waiting for their drinks to be made. I walked up to the counter and ordered the two drinks. As, I was standing there I noticed the two girls look at me and then giggle and whisper to each other. This went on for a little and then eventually one of the girls came up and explained how they weren’t trying to be rude, but they thought I looked a lot like this guy from a show they watched. I laughed and ended up talking with them for a while and explained how I just felt a random urge to come in and buy drinks for my friends. The other girl noticed my bible and started asking me questions about my faith, and I got talk to her about Jesus. Afterwards, they gave me a hug and told me to “keep doing good things.” I got my drinks and headed out.

3

I was in a waiting room, hanging out before an appointment and I noticed that the room was pretty empty. It was just the receptionist and me. This thought crossed my mind to start a conversation with the her. It was early in the morning though and I didn’t really feel like talking but I decided I should. We started talking about random things, mostly small talk, and I had actually thought the conversation was over but then she asked me more about my life. We talked for a few more minutes and then she paused and said, “What did you do to end up going in the right direction?” and I laughed because I hardly feel like I know where I am going. But I got to explain to her that my faith has led me to where I am, and I definitely don’t know if it’s the “right” direction but I love the path that I have been on ever since I started following Jesus. She scrunched up her mouth and looked up over my shoulder, somewhere into the distance, and after a moment looked back at me and told me thank you.

I think that it is very easy to let our focus turn to pursuing gratitude and affirmation in life. But what we need to do is focus on Jesus, because when you do that you won’t even care about being affirmed by the world because you are affirmed by the God of the world who sees every second of work you have put in. Affirmation from the Lord will leave you feeling encouraged and inspired and through that you will give into others selflessly and without concern for your own acknowledgement. Also, when you pursue Jesus and let him affirm you it becomes so much more evident all the little ways we are affirmed each day. We have come to believe that affirmation must be a big event that will leave us in awe, but the truth is affirmation is in the smiles that we see from others, the simple and sincere words they share, and the small acts of kindness people do for us. In the stories I shared it wasn’t until I was really doing things for others, without my own desires leading me, that people said something. It wasn’t by my own strength or desires to do something and try and be acknowledge, but a prompting from the holy spirit that led me to affirmation. When I step out of my own way and let Jesus lead, people see that and respond. I also think that it is important to consider that these are what I would call “big” moments of affirmation. You have to realize that these happened after years of following Jesus. They don’t happen every day, but the small things do. If you let your thoughts become focused on being affirmed in huge ways and spend your time and energy living for those moments, you will always end the day feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The truth about affirmation is it’s simple, effortless, and everywhere if you focus on Jesus.

*Image is called Picture My Thoughts by Myra Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consistency through the Climb

 

Hello everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in a long time, and I miss it. I miss you! Writing on my blog has always been in the back of my mind. I want to do it, I just kept finding every reason not to. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So this blog post marks the beginning of consistency in my writing. I want to commit time to my community on here and I want to start holding myself more accountable. From now on I am going to be posting on my blog once a week on every Friday. I am not holding myself to a specific time on Friday, but it will be before the day is over. This is doable and this will help me post frequently and consistently, but it also allows me enough time to write quality posts. I would love your feedback if you want me to post on a different day or have any questions. One thing you may be saying is, “Yah but Chad, what are you actually doing to be more consistent?” and that is a great question! Here are 3 things that I am implementing and trying out to help me become consistent.

 

  1. Planning. I am setting side a very small amount of time each day dedicated just to working on blog posts, 30 min each day. However, I am not just saying that I will do that. I have written it into my calendar, and it is usually really early or late so that it will hopefully be a time that I won’t have to move around. By putting it into your calendar rather than just saying you are going to do it, the plan becomes more solidified and you will more likely get it done.
  2. Micro Goals. Of course, I think that you should dream big and have a mountain top goal that you are working arduously to achieve. But if you want to keep your sanity and faith along the way then you better set yourself some micro goals. If you already took my advice from part one then you my friend, have already set yourself up to be successful with a micro goal. What will ultimately determine what these goals are is based on what you want your end goal to be. What is your mountain top? For me, blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it and my goal through it is to learn more about myself and work on my writing skills plus share that with you. But my Everest sized goal would be to reach as many people as possible, whatever that looks like, and have my writing be something that brings joy, positivity and guidance into their lives. I want to reach people and let them know that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. I want to build community. A micro goal for this could be reach five people. Just reach a few people first. Then ten, hundreds and keep climbing. Achieving these micro goals helps you build confidence and momentum and reminds you why you started this journey in the first place.
  3. Extraction and Passion. Consistency demands from you time. You have to make room for whatever you are pursuing. For me, I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. In my case I don’t have to make too much room to achieve my micro goal of 30 minutes a day of working on my blog. Rounding up some time to commit to what you’re pursuing doesn’t have to be hard. A few minutes here and there and you can gather a lot of time quickly. So, if you haven’t been consistent in whatever it is that you want to be, that means something has got to go for you to have time to commit to it. For some, this could be the biggest obstacle standing in your path to consistency, and that’s because it correlates with the most important thing that leads to consistency: Passion. You have to ask yourself, is this something that I really want? If the answer is no, then please do not waste your time trying to pursue it. Find what you are passionate about first because I truly believe that the secret to being the most consistent you can be, is by having passion to drive it. Passion will lead to consistency. It’s easy to devote time to something that you love and want to invest in.

 

I hope these 3 tips will help you reach the level of consistency that you desire. Being consistent is your own journey and what that looks like is different for each person. The last piece of advice I want to give you before I go is to support all those around you. We are all trying to work on ourselves and pursue our passions. Whatever it is that you are trying to be more consistent in, I hope that you also strive to be consistently kind and encouraging to one another. Let those around you know that you see and acknowledge their own work in reaching their mountain top.

Thoughts on the Heart Part 2

 

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, delicate and messy when you get into it, but when you take a step back and view it as a whole, it’s perfect and beautiful. Each piece is unique and holds its own value. We share pieces of our heart to others, so they can stitch us in to theirs. We’re hurt when we can’t find ourselves in their work. We accept pieces of other’s hearts and add it to our own project, growing it slowly over time, some people’s material dominating the work of art. The collage is a reminder. Sometimes pleasant, and sometimes of things we want to forget. You rip at the thread and dig your nails into the stitching and leave a gapping hole. You find more material, but it never fits right. Sometimes you lock away your work because your disappointed with how your project has turned out. Disgusted in fact. You wanted it done and complete a long time ago so for now it will sit up on the highest shelf collecting dust. Maybe that’s you right now. An artist scrounging for more material, even if it’s cheap and dirty. Maybe you’ve given up looking. Maybe you’re discouraged because of all the great collages out there. Who knows how long it’ll be before you feel the needle and thread between your fingers again. One day maybe, you build up the courage and pull the collage down. The uneven stitching and faded colors a globe in your hands, but you keep working at it. You see someone else just starting their collage and cut out a big chunk of your material for them. You become more open to sharing what you have and accepting what others offer. You find strong, inspiring cloth in your faith, your family, your friends, the small things. You work day in and day out sharing and growing your collage, and fall in love with the process, not the end product. When you step back and look at your work, the uneven stitching and faded material are still there in the mix of new fabric. This time, however, it warms your heart. You look at the beautiful mess and see everyone that has impacted you, loved you, encouraged you, supported you. You reflect on the things that hurt you and are thankful. You can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Most importantly, you see the endless room for more: More material, more cloth, more fabric, more loss, more growth, more people, more love. You understand there will always be more to give and take. With a new-found courage and excitement, you get back to work on your project.

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, perfect and beautiful.