Congratulations to Amy Muscoplat who is our IAJW Member of the Month for April 2024!

A message from Lynda Monk, Director,

Amy is being honoured as our IAJW Member of the Month because her presence in our journaling community is positively felt by myself and others. Amy truly takes advantage of her member benefits! She puts the effort into being at our monthly member events including our Writing Alone Together Circles and our ZoomChats featuring guest expert interviews. Amy is always on the screen in our Zoom gatherings, she is always attentive, smiling and engaging with what is going on.  Her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness can be felt.  Amy also goes the extra mile. She often sends me emails offering gratitude and a kind word. I always know something positive is coming my way when I see her name in my inbox and I truly appreciate her engaging and caring energy. Amy, thanks so much for being part of our IAJW Community, it is a true joy to share time and journaling together!

Amy’s Inspiring Member of the Month Feature Interview

Where do you live?

Santa Monica, California. USA, but I always feel like saying Minneapolis too, since I’m from the Greater Minneapolis/St Paul area and I go back to visit often.

Why did you join the IAJW?

As a lifelong journal writer (I still have my physical journals dating back to high school,) and as someone who teaches journaling workshops, I found out about the IAJW and was hooked on how many good resources it offers for lovers of journal writing. The association has eminently qualified, and genuinely interested and caring people teaching courses and workshops on relevant subjects to journal writing. I found that the IAJW offerings gently encouraged me to dive deeper in my journaling and to further enjoy this arena of my creativity and writing.

The sheer volume of booklists, monthly curated lists of journal prompts, multiple monthly offerings with expert teachers/writers/instructors on specialized topics related to journaling, and more is impressive. The longer-term courses and workshops the association offers, and some of which I’ve taken over the years, have all helped to nurture my self-growth process and embrace my inner writer. Also, through Lynda Monk, I’ve been introduced to many more writers and writing instructors who’ve helped me further explore my creative pursuits and a book length manuscript I’m working on. I look forward to the “Writing Alone Together” online sessions and the monthly zoom chats with guest facilitators from a panoply of creative expertise, often listening to the replays later on if I can’t make the sessions in real time. I appreciate that the IAJW is truly a group dedicated to self-exploration on the page!

What do you like best about journal writing and how does it enrich your life?

Years ago, I realized I could have a dialogue with pen and paper: one that helped me to clarify, process, and attend to whatever might be going on in my life at that time. My journaling has helped me to tune into things going on beneath the surface, to make a little bit of sense of things, to find small pockets of clarity, or to accept the upside-down nature of some things. I value that in my journal, I can find my own words and pathways towards making meaning, and learning to embrace, to challenge, or change those things I can. It helps me to write about what brings me a little bit of peace in my soul with the nature of how much I am powerless to influence. Journaling over time has helped me to access my own inner strengths and think of how I can be of help to others as well.

The journals I’ve kept over the years, both in longhand and on the computer, are a good way to look back at self-growth, but also give me some perspective on the world I’ve been a part of and what was going on around me at that time. It’s often been a relief to know that I had a journal to turn to!

What is one journal writing tip you would like to share?

I find it most helpful to do a very short reflection after I write in my journal. It can be just a few sentences, but it usually helps me to concretize what I notice or what I think or what I feel when I read over what I just wrote. Sometimes I’ll read over what I wrote and just jot down one or two sentences to help answer the sentence I ask myself, (which sounds something like, “when I read over what I wrote, I see that my next step is… Or when I read over what I wrote, I notice that I am…, etc.”) This has been helpful when I’m mulling over options, or feeling stuck with something. Noticing what I feel or think or am aware of when I read over what I just journaled about, in some short reflective way, allows me to attend to myself in the present and gives validation to what has just been journaled onto the page.

One thing I would like you to know about me is…

I love both cardmaking, and writing cards and letters to send to others. I find that making handmade cards, and playing with paper, glue, die cuts, and embellishments is a way for me to craft calm in my life, sort of like an occupational therapy that allows my brain to wander and relax and create something for others without a script or plan of how things need to look or be. It helps recenter me, much like my journaling practice does. Plus, I love thinking about who I’m making the card for when I create it, or thinking about what I want to write or say inside a card to someone, in a way that might reach them and hopefully touch their heart when they receive it.

Separately, years ago while serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Republic of Kiribati, on the outer island of Marakei, I read 80 books in two years and finished writing in about 12 journals. I still have those journals and it’s fun to go back and read what I wrote, see what I pasted inside some of them, remember my friends and colleagues from there, and to revisit what I journaled about. It’s lovely to have those old journals as a way of memory-keeping! In the back of each one, I made a handwritten list of those books I read during that particular journal’s “season” in my life.

My favourite part about being an IAJW member is…

I look forward to reading the chock full of good information emails every month, to reading and using the monthly pdf of new journaling prompts that members receive, and to hearing news of those in the journaling-rock-star world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to some new or interesting expert or author or artist or facilitator just by reading these emails. Being a professional librarian by training, it’s been a real boon to my desire to find new resources and references I can use for my own edification, or for resources for other individuals, sometimes a student or participant in a class or a workshop that I lead. Through the IAJW, I’ve been introduced to Sheila Bender, Eric Maisel, Merle Saferstein, Laura West, the late John Evans, and so many more amazing instructors, authors, and journal community experts. The whole organization just makes me smile because it helps me see that this “journal thing I’ve been doing all these years,” is a real thing and is precious and worth my continuing to cultivate. Thank you!

Anything else you might want to share?

I was recently a podcast guest on Spondycast by the Spondylitis Association of America speaking on the topic of Mindful Journaling for Chronic Pain, about using narrative journaling as an adjunct to one’s medical care, to help those living with chronic or persistent pain. Perhaps some of the IAJW reader members might find listening to this podcast useful, or know someone for whom the benefits of mindful journaling for chronic or persistent pain could be helpful.

Author: Amy Muscoplat is a creative entrepreneur.  If you want to see how she crafts calm in her days with crafting handmade cards or otherwise, check out her website Joyfestival Industries,  Amy says: “I do actually try to work industriously to find (or make) more joy, calm, mindfulness, happiness and positivity in my life.  To that end, when I’m not writing in my journal, I’m currently working on writing a book about finding joy when it’s not your default.”