( ENSPIRE Feature ) Jayne Portnoy, Founder of JP Consulting Created the Pen2Paper Project to Stimulate Creativity and Self-Love
ENSPIRE Contributor: Rosa Linda Fallon
In our fast-paced digital world, there is little doubt that many people struggle with heightened stress and anxiety. There are many activities that have been shown to reduce this tension and improve one’s mental health. Journaling has been found to help reduce anxiety levels and even strengthen emotional functions by increasing mindfulness and concentration on the current moment. Speaker and thought leader Jayne Portnoy recognized the benefits of journaling and founded the Pen2Paper Project, an initiative based on the idea that there is power in connecting pen to paper. The goal of the Pen2Paper Project is to unite and stimulate creativity that everyone can benefit from through workshops and writing prompts, thereby reducing social media and screen time.
What does it mean to journal? And who is it good for? In an interview with Aubrey Aquino, Portnoy says that you are journaling when you write a grocery list, a to-do list, or a list of any kind. Whenever you connect a pen to paper, you are technically journaling, she says. This practice is good for everyone, especially right now.
“Before COVID-19, we were spending a lot of time on our screens all the time, and now we sort of ratcheted up that time because now we’re doing our yoga online and talking to our friends online,” Portnoy said.
She goes on to explain the difference between the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system, and how they relate to our screen time. She says that while one tells you to rest and digest, the other sends you into the “flight or fight” mode.
“One’s the breaks and one’s the gas. What happens when you are always online, you’re always stepping on the gas pedal,” she said. “The more we are connected to digital, the less our analog system can repair itself.” Getting offline and sitting with oneself is a way to repair this system, as Portnoy experienced herself.
Her practice originally started from writing letters. One day, she decided to take a break from social media and instead started writing letters to friends, family, and other connections. She soon discovered writing letters by hand helped her connect with friends on a deeper level and also made her feel better. “The more I wrote, the more I was connecting with my friends, myself,” Portnoy said. “Just picking out paper that I thought would make someone else happy, picking out the funny cards at the grocery store was helpful.”
The Pen2Paper workshops originally took place at destinations related to the theme of the sessions and consisted of 15-20 participants, providing the opportunity for many people to make new connections.
Due to COVID-19, the project has shifted gears and now the workshops are taking place remotely. “We have found that this is actually really great because we have been able to align people from all over the country and the world to be a part of the Pen2Paper Project’s mission to create a calming environment that creates thoughtful consideration to different subjects and topics,” Portnoy said. The project has also been partnering with great organizations and “co-hosts” such as brands and influencers that want to be a part of this growing community of individuals seeking peace and clarity in their everyday lives. “Each workshop is centered around a unique writing prompt, with the most recent one focusing on the idea of life on a deserted island as a metaphor to the way people are feeling today in their own island of isolation,” Portnoy said.
In this workshop, participants were encouraged to write with the intention of reshaping the way they look at their island and to release feelings of emotional encampment. Viewing the shores as a place of comfort and safety, participants penned notes about what they would want to see wash up on their shores and what they would want to see pulled out to sea. The workshop concluded with participants tucking a message in a bottle to be opened once the pandemic ends.
While each workshop has a different theme, Portnoy said the mood of the guests, the time of day, and the energy amongst strangers and friends always plays a role. “There is no contesting that what we all need right now are additional tools in our box to help cope, manage and find a few minutes of calm and creativity,” Portnoy said.
All three remaining workshops this month will benefit Los Angeles based organization St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, focusing on their most isolated recipients, whom are without phones. This group of seniors already sheltered in place are extremely affected by this pandemic. Their once daily visits have now been reduced to just one visit per week. Together, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels and the Pen2Paper Project will be creating a connection that allows seniors to feel less alone and for all of us to revisit a beautiful craft; letter writing. The Pen2Paper Project is currently working to safely assemble the writing kits and the process required to reach these seniors while acquiring qualified participants:
-P2P will screen all participants ages 18+ that agree to following conditions:
–Participate in minimum of four (4) exchanges with their MoW Pen Pal.
–Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope to accompany each letter.
–Respond to correspondence within a week of receipt.
–Sender will not discuss politics, personal information (ie; address), flirt, send money / gifts, or attempt to directly contact the MoW participant for safety purposes.
–All correspondence will be managed and monitored by St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
-P2P will host a virtual Kick Off to outline the process, requirements and include a workshop to write the first letter to their assigned MoW Pen Pal.
-All interested participants should visit Pen2PaperProject.com and register for the mailing list, and choose the option to join.
Additionally, Portnoy will be hosting free online sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the country is in social distancing mode.
To find out more about the Pen2Paper Project, click here.