Wednesday 7 July 2021

On the Same Page: Thoughts Inspired While Journaling with a Friend

Cause lately I don’t even know what page you’re on.

(Taylor Swift. “The Story of Us.”)

I spent a few hours last weekend with my friend and fellow mental health blogger Aimee Wilson. We had a good catch-up (hard to shut either of us up when we get talking!), watched a movie, and ordered takeout. Best of all, we journaled: Aimee in her scrapbook and me in my beloved Passport Traveler’s Notebook.

We’re close friends but we have very different life experiences and approach things from different perspectives. Difference can be divisive. People can become so estranged they’re not only not on the same page, they’re scarcely in the same library! But as we chatted away and decorated our journals it came to me that difference isn’t something to be feared, skirted around, or avoided. Difference can be positive, complementary, and creative.

My notebook pages are far smaller than those in Aimee’s scrapbook, giving me much less real estate in which to work. She sources images and quotations from magazines, which I rarely do. I use ink stamps a good deal. Aimee doesn’t. We also have different aims in terms of what we want to capture and express in our work. On the other hand, we have a lot in common. We each love incorporating photos, stickers, and washi tape into our designs, and share a delight in the creative process itself. Working alongside Aimee as we shared ideas and traded stickers and decorative items felt warm and companionable. We were very much on the same page, even as we worked on our different pages!

Our approaches to blogging are similarly different but complementary. On a few occasions, we’ve attended an event together and each blogged about it afterwards. Our approaches reflect what the occasion represented and evoked for each of us. As an example, here’s my article about a Cats Protection fundraiser we attended, and here’s Aimee’s post inspired by the same event. Neither approach is right or wrong. We told our individual and complementary stories. We were on the same page, even if our blog pages are different.

This came to mind on a call I had with Fran the day after visiting with Aimee. I can’t always relate directly to what Fran she’s going through, especially where it closely involves some aspect of her mental health or lived experience. But on this occasion, I felt very much on the same page as Fran shared what was going on for her at the time. Although different in details, I had equivalent experiences on which to draw and could offer insights and wisdom relevant to her situation. This isn’t exactly a new thing for us. Our books are full of “on the same page” moments. But when it happens it’s no less special for being familiar. There’s a sense of commonality, of closeness, of belonging in the moment, that I find deeply rewarding.

On the same page is a great place to be — as long as you don’t get stuck there. That’s something I’ve learned from keeping a daily diary since I was fourteen years old. Pages are made to be turned. The new spreads I created in my notebook at Aimee’s invite me to record new memories in the days and weeks to come. In time the insert itself will be filled, archived, and replaced. This post, inspired by our time together and the conversation with Fran, will scroll further down our blog’s homepage as each new article is published. Even the books we’ve published invite the possibility of further books to follow, each full of pages! We intend to publish a new volume of No One Is Too Far Away in due course.

Being on the same page is great and feels wonderful. But even better is being in the same story.


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