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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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What Can "Blank" Do For You?

There’s nothing quite like starting a new journal. There’s promise in those blank pages. There’s history and adventure yet to be written and experienced. It’s interesting too that in a new journal no previous pages exist. So, there is no past immediately accessible to revisit and reflect on.

The idea of a clean slates and fresh starts are truly apt with beginning a new journal. There is no clutter or distraction. The focus is on the present- the beautiful, treasured here and now.

I’ve been keeping a journal for 45 years. And as you can imagine over the decades, I’ve filled many books. Beginnings and endings are interesting. There’s sometimes a feeling of sadness or loss as I fill the last page of my journal. It’s provided me with comfort, strength and perspective for a long while. Then it’s time to end that chapter, let go, and begin a new one.

Recently, that time arrived. One journal was completed. My new one was ready to receive. As I opened it up to write my first entry, it wasn’t sadness that I felt. Instead, I felt anticipation and hope for the moment I was in and for all the moments yet to be added. For me, blank provided focus, hope, adventure, and understanding.

I was away in St. Louis for an ICD Board meeting. When I left New York, the landscape was bare. When I returned after storm Jonas, there was a fresh layer of beautiful, white snow covering everything. Winter had finally arrived!

There was a connection between these two blank canvases- my new journal and the white landscape. They provided exactly the type of quiet I needed and craved to reflect, reset, and embrace the fresh start that was there for me.

Blank can show up in many ways. What have you noticed? What can blank do for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (14)

Blank can be intimidating, but mostly I find it inspiring. I've noticed that children understand this... when children see an open surface, they rush to begin building, molding, and creating. Blank is a freedom from clutter and a breath of opportunity!

January 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- What an interesting observation about open/blank surfaces and children. I guess for them, possibilities abound and they just know it. I also know what you mean about how "blank" can be intimidating. I find for me that if I can let go of any pre-conceived notions, it helps.

January 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I have never kept a journal, I have always had the intention but never quite got there. I have always found the blank space intimidating, and not knowing WHAT to write. Maybe it is time for me to face the "blank" !!

January 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

How intimidating it is a blank but at the same time as Seana said, is the possibilty to build or to create. Blank canvases await for the artist to reveal a masterpiece. In your case, white pages are eager to be written with adventures or thoughts. Every morning is a new blank for us to create a day filled with joy, happiness and experiences to say we are living a life not just surviving it. This week I had a fresh start and I'm loving it.

January 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I've never kept a journal, but your opening paragraph describes perfectly the way I felt when I bought a planner for the following year - a feeling that I miss, now that I use a calendar app.

January 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I agree with Nacho. Each day is a blank slate for us to create a beautiful experience. No matter what faces us during the day if you approach if with an open mind and heart it will be an experience to remember.

January 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Jill- I certainly understand about "blank" feeling intimidating. Letting go of expectation, shoulds, and perfect can help. Not sure exactly how it works, but there are two essential physical ingredients for me- the right pen and paper. So the flow of the ink and the smoothness of the paper makes a big difference for encouraging the thoughts, which I let free flow…don't worry about grammar or spelling…just get what's swimming in my head on to the paper. And when I'm done I stop. I also don't have a schedule for journal writing (unlike blogging.) I write when the need is there. Let me know when you take the leap.

@Nacho- Such beautiful metaphors you've shared! Thank you, Nacho. I went to art school and the image of the "blank canvas" absolutely makes sense to me. That "blank" I found far more intimidating than my journal. I was young and full of judgment for myself. The white space was downright scary. After I painted, the teachers would critique. And they were never kind. I learned, but it was in a negative environment.

I'm happy for you that your week is your "fresh start" and that you're feeling positive about it. Here's to crafting the days in just the way you wish.

@Janet- That's so interesting about the shift in perspective or sensation of going from paper to digital calendar. I hadn't thought of that, but I know just what you mean. I've been using a digital calendar for years, but also used to love the hope of the white pages that each new year brought. Now that I use a digital format, the dates feel continuous, without the sense of an end.

@Diane- Lovely words… "blank slate for us to create a beautiful experience." What a positive way to embrace each day. We can reset the slate at any moment. By doing so, as you said, we open our hearts and minds to possibilities.

January 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

OK, here's another version of "blank" and "fresh start": I feel SO MUCH BETTER -- more optimistic, more full of possibilities -- waking up to a clean kitchen, an empty sink, and a clutter-free counter (which, the way my home is configured, is also part of my home office) than when I wake up to a cluttered counter and a sink full of dishes. Talk about reminders of the past (even if it was just yesterday) and NOT getting off to a fresh start for the day!

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

Hazel- I SO identify with what you've described. I think my Mom drummed it into me about cleaning things at the end of the day so that each new day you could begin "fresh." She was also big on making your bed every day…and to this day, she's one of the fastest bed-makers I know. Clear = clarity. And it can show up in so many ways…as you've beautifully shared. Thank you!

January 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great observation, Linda.

I too write in a journal. I feel the same way about my new journal writing. I agree, there is a feeling of hopefulness. Some other areas that bring me the same feeling is when I have cleared out my inbox in Outlook and when I started my blog years ago. I think it is so important that we feel hopeful and adventurous or we won't be motivated to make a change. Do you agree?

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I love a blank mind in meditation. Allowing yourself to let go of all the thing you have to do and allowing yourself to revel in the blankness brings a sense of calm and renewal. I am always amazed by the motivation I have for tasks after I meditate and let it all go; if even for just a few minutes.

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

I'm like Hazel that I like to wake up to an empty sink and cleared countertops. I have an active 3-year-old and I make it a point to get up before him. Breakfast is the one meal of the day I can eat in peace and quiet and having the expanse of neat space around me adds to the calm, fresh start of my day.

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

Beautiful post Linda! I love how you referred to the new journal and blank pages as a fresh start! Sometimes we only think of fresh starts at the beginning of a new year or season, but they can happen at any time in our lives if we let them. Thanks for sharing :)

January 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLiana George

Wonderful to hear from all of you!

@Sabrina- What an interesting connection you make between hope and motivation! I think you're right that without some sense of hope in what CAN or MIGHT be and do, we lose the initiative to go forward in the face of obstacles.

@Jamie- I admire your meditation practice. Meditation and mindfulness are two things I've been circling around for months. I've learned about and experienced some of the benefits. And now I want to figure out how better integrate them into my daily experience. Bravo to you for finding your "blank" space through meditation (and the benefits that accompany it.)

@Sarah- Let's hear it for the empty sink/clear counter lovers!!!! I love how you've staked your "peace and quiet" claim to begin each day. I can imagine how that sets the stage and positive mood for the rest of the day.

@Liana- You're so right that fresh starts can happen "at any time in our lives." We can reset from moment to moment, from day to day, from morning to night. Identify the need and opportunity and create your own start….when you need it.

January 31, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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