The Little Red Notebook That Changed Everything
I want to tell you the story of a little red notebook that changed everything. It’s an ordinary book. But it holds an extraordinary story.
For years, it was not safe for me to wander in my own head. It wasn’t safe to just be with myself. Life had washed out the path back to the center of my being, and without it, I didn’t know how even to begin to write or create or dream again.
Creative practice at its center is a celebration of being. Even if no one sees the result. Even if process shots never make their way to an Instagram feed.
Making a mark says I AM HERE. My voice and my story matter.
I am worthy of taking up space.
Space on a page. Space on a canvas or in a journal. Space on a calendar. Space to be seen, heard, believed.
But truthfully, sometimes it was just easier to numb it all with Netflix. Let the stories of others occupy my attention because that felt safer than living inside the story unfolding around me.
In 2013, I moved home to Florida after working 7 years in central Africa. Leaving upended my entire world. I lost everything. It took 5 years to get back to any semblance of functional health. Just as I was finding my footing, in 2018, I lost my world again when a car accident injured my brain.
Truthfully, I’m probably lucky to be alive because the emergency room sent me home without checking for a closed head injury. I was told to go and sleep off the collision that literally smashed the glasses off my face.
I crawled into bed at home and woke up the next morning with a stranger’s brain in my head. It was the ultimate betrayal.
And just like that I became a writer who lost her words.
1195 days post personal apocalypse, I wandered into our local Barnes and Nobles store and there it was.
It wasn’t in my normal cottagey neutral color range. It was RED. But for some inexplicable reason, it felt like a writer’s notebook. 400 untouched ivory pages of Moleskine’s smooth-surfaced writing glory waiting to hold all the words I could pour into it.
I bought it as an act of defiance. Because I didn’t know if I’d ever find enough words to even fill the first few pages.
I was told repeatedly to settle down and accept my new limitations.
But every neuron, dendrite, and synapse screamed back: NO.
No, we will not settle. We’re team neuroplasticity.
So buried my nose in books. Even as the words swam in front of me and my eyes refused to focus and my brain mutinied.
I could look at everyday objects, and know what they were, but have no words to name them with.
Me. The girl who learned to read before she learned to walk. Whose first creative love has always been language.
I kept telling myself, “Just because you are no longer a speed reader doesn’t mean you can’t be a deep reader.”
Maybe I lost all the old words in order to find better ones.
The story I’m telling myself is that I am celebrating every paragraph, even if I have to reread it 10x to remember what it said.
I dove into the very thing experts told me to resign myself to losing.
I took copywriting courses and poetry workshops; joined writer’s groups and took virtual seminars during the height of the pandemic from favorite authors. I fought my way through panic and anxiety, anger, grief, migraines, and overwhelm. For YEARS. There are days I still do.
Then on May 6, 2021, I bought this little red notebook (now dubbed my LRN) as a rebellious act of hope at a time I felt completely stuck, defeated, and alone.
I started writing down thoughts. One line. One disjointed, halting phrase after another.
Blank underscores were left for words I couldn’t find in the moment. Letting all the letters and lines tumble out in an unedited verbal tangle on a page.
I threw in at least 529 towels along the way.
It has been tumultuous and tedious, but that LRN heralded a shift that has brought me to today.
It’s a visible reminder of an invisible journey.
We all need those in our worlds. Touchpoints that are tangible.
I’m curious… what’s your little red notebook?
What’s one thing you can do this week as a rebellious act of hope?
I’m not talking fake-it-till-you-make-it, new-year-new-you, or toxic hustle hype.
Just one simple, tactile thing you can do to be an emblem of where you want to go.
One thing to take a stand for your dream even if it’s just whispering that dream out loud to yourself in the margins of your day. Your LRN line-in-the-sand, come-hell-or-highwater statement, “I’m going after this thing in my heart. Period.”
It doesn’t have to be grandiose or expensive or understood by anyone but you. It just needs to mark a moment.
It can be as simple as dropping a comment below. Or writing a note to yourself on a scrap of envelope posted where you see it every day.
It doesn’t have to be perfect or polished, only purposeful.
You are worthy of the space you take up. In fact, you are more than worthy. You are irreplaceable.
And I am so grateful you are here.