Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in a St. Cloud, Minnesota (60 miles NW of Minneapolis) and am the youngest of three children. Upon graduating from High School, I moved to Los Angeles and then to Minneapolis, where I lived for the next 9 years. While there I attended the University of Minnesota and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Youth Studies and Sociology. Currently I live in a small town in central MN.
I love family and good friends (and have lots of both in my life), outdoors, meditation, movies, reading and journaling of course! I am deeply passionate about empowering young people to understand and strengthen their self-esteem, creative talents and life-skills.
Please briefly describe your book, Journal Buddies.
Journal Buddies is a guided journal book that is unique in that it meant to be shared and that build self-awareness and self esteem. Thirty journal entries for thirty days offer a “thought of the day”, spaces for the qualities, traits, and talents she and her buddy admire about each other, a focus word for the day, and lined and unlined pages to record their thoughts or to let their imaginations run wild.
Friends, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, fathers, teachers, mentors or any person who has a significant and positive influence on the girl and her life are all excellent candidates to be her journal buddies. Also, at the end of the book there is a a reflection section that narrows down the journal-keeper’s favorite buddy traits, and more importantly, which qualities she is most proud of in herself.
There is also a boys version of Journal Buddies, which grew out of the many requests I received from Mom’s. I mean who can argue with Mom’s, right?
What motivated this project and how did you accomplish writing and publishing Journal Buddies?
The idea for Journal Buddies first came to be after I discovered and read through some of my childhood diaries and in doing so two things, in particular, stood out to me. One, the journal entries were mostly about the sadness, difficulties and troubles I was having in my life. Two, after recording only a handful of entries, I simply quit writing.
From this experience grew my motivation for creating Journal Buddies and my desire to help kids form the habit of regular (maybe even daily) diary or journal writing that focuses on the positives in their lives.
Also, I believe that there are so many pressures on kids in today’s society to be perfect and that these pressures are felt at younger and younger ages. The pressures seem more intense today than in the past AND it has now emerged that boys are feeling more pressured, too. In my quest to help girls and boys successfully navigate these challenges, I created Journal Buddies. This book is a tool intended to help strengthen the self-esteem of girls and boys and to encourage them to remember through journal writing how absolutely wonderful they truly are, despite their imperfections—which of course we all have!
I accomplished writing and publishing Journal Buddies through lots of hard work, tremendous amounts of research and by overcoming many mistakes, challenges and failures. And, although there were book publishing companies interested in publishing this manuscript, in the end I decided to establish my own publishing house and enjoy the fun of designing, editing, publishing, and promoting Journal Buddies.
Why is it so important that we promote self-discovery and affirmation with our adolescent daughters and sons and how can Journal Buddies help accomplish this goal?
The process of self-discovery can be an exhilarating one once we are comfortable looking at ourselves and honestly embracing what we see. You see, I believe that the better one knows oneself the greater are their chances of success and, more importantly, of happiness.
The self-awareness and -discovery process, however, takes practice and this is where Journal Buddies can help our daughters and our sons. You see this book is a hands-on tool that helps kids to become comfortable celebrating their amazing qualities. It’s an exciting journaling adventure of discovery and celebration and a quality time activity for kids and parents.
With Journal Buddies, you take the simple and fun self-esteem building activity of sharing what you admire and love about your child and you make the time to formalize it once a day for 30 days in a journal. Journal Buddies is affirmation in action because you openly and actively share with your child all of the qualities, traits and talents you believe make her so magnificent. There is no doubt that this makes for a lasting and powerful self-esteem building experience for your precious child.
Oh, and the journal may completed by kids and parents, or kids, parents and friends or whatever combination of journaling buddies you know is best for your child.
What can parents of young and teenage girls and boys do right NOW to help build up their child’s sense of self-esteem and self-confidence?
I think parents of young and teenage girls and boys can best help them to build their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence by encouraging them to express their true Selves creatively and positively.The key is to let them choose their form of expression, which could come through writing, music, art, sports, common conversations or a myriad of other ways.
A great way for parents to encourage their daughters and sons to express themselves and to help them build up their sense of Self and Spirit is through what I call true communication. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to ask their daughter or son what they like and do not like, what interests them or really discourages them and what makes them feel masterful, confident and special.
Parents can discover these things about their kids by sincerely asking (and sincerity is key) and then actively listening to what their child has to say. I ask parents, however, to be aware and to understand that when a child is asked what he or she thinks, believes and feels it can take a little time for them to become comfortable exerting their true and honest opinion, rather than stating what the child thinks the parent wants to hear. I suggest that parents give their child some time to answer their questions and to do their best not to lead them along in giving “right” answers by gently encouraging honest answers.
Also, I ask parents to do their best to listen to their child without judgment and to learn how to acknowledge and validate their answers. True communication (where there is both speaking and listening) is a powerful tool parents can use to help their kids feel masterful, confident, and special in expressing themselves, which, in turn, will no doubt strengthen their child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
What makes Journal Buddies different from a regular diary or journal?
I think that many kids, when asked about writing in a diary or journal, often think of writing alone or in private about difficulties, sadness and hardships and keeping their writings secret and maybe even locked away from others. What makes Journal Buddies different from regular diary or journal writing is that it is intended to be openly and actively shared with the journal-keepers chosen journaling buddies.
Also, the focus of Journal Buddies is quite different from a regular diary or journal in that the child and his or her buddies are encouraged to focus on and magnify the positives of who they are and how they want to express themselves, which gives the journal a more positive feel and creative edge.
By encouraging such a creative approach to journal writing, I hope that kids will find the journaling experience more enjoyable, interactive, positive, empowering and FUN!
What role does the journal-keeper’s circle of friends play in the Journal Buddies process and why is this so important?
The circle of friends are vitally important for many reasons, the most significant of which is that they become the journal-keeper’s support system. This is significant because we tend to do much better in life and to have a more positive outlook of our future and ourselves when we have a positive support system around us. You see, in the process of completing Journal Buddies, the journal-keeper’s buddies become a cheering section of sorts that help encourage the child and strengthen their positive outlook of self and others.
Another important role of the circle of friends is that they help the journal-keeper to learn how to become comfortable both giving and receiving compliments. Knowing how to find and describe your positive qualities, traits, and talents and how to find and describe the positive characteristics of others is a valuable life skill that many successful and happy people know very well. The purpose of the journal-keeper’s circle of friends is to play a meaningful role in helping the child practice this valuable life skill. For this reason the journal-keeper’s buddies are invaluable to this journaling process.
Are there any additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with your readers?
It is my intention to inspire kids and adults to expand their concept of journaling.
Journal writing can be a secretive process used to process difficult or challenging emotions, BUT it can also be a shared experience full of positive, feel good words and experiences. Also, journaling can be much more dynamic than simply words written on a page. Journal keeping can and should be a creative and unique expression of an individual. I mean it is such a joy to see journals covered with bright marker strokes or stickers or poems or drawings or paint or collages or … the possibilities are truly endless when creativity is mixed with journaling!
Lastly, I hope that people will give themselves permission to record in their journals the many wonderful and sweet things in life that fill us with hope and strengthen and build our self-esteem and self-confidence. We are all magnificent and excellent is so many ways; we just forget to focus on our positives at times.
I encourage everyone to try journaling as a tool to keep focused on the positive aspects of life and to include creativity, fun and sharing into the journal keeping process.
Journal Buddies® Author and Creator
“A sweet, simple journal for kids!”