This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of Capital Region Living, Saratoga Living‘s sister magazine.
When Janine De Tillio Cammarata was in seventh grade, she started keeping a journal about simple, day-to-day things, like the boys she she had crushes on and the dramas of middle school. Since then, the Clifton Park-based author has used journaling to help with creativity, accountability and prioritizing her time, as well as to process the grief of watching her son fight and ultimately lose his battle with cancer.
“No matter what you’ve gone through, journaling can be a first, second, third step—part of a whole therapeutic way for you to help along that journey of grief or illness, whatever it is,” says De Tillio Cammarata. In 2009, she co-founded Nick’s Fight to be Healed, a local nonprofit that supports pediatric cancer patients, after her 13-year-old son, Nick, lost his fight with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In addition to writing books and running her nonprofit, De Tillio Cammarata now teaches journaling classes in the Capital Region.
“People get very intimidated as to how to even journal,” she says. “There’s this concept that ‘I’m not a writer—I won’t be able to do it good enough.’ I tell people that your journal is your own space. You don’t need to edit it, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. The way a journal works is by being honest with it and not showing it to anyone so that you really don’t have to worry about judgement.”
De Tillio Cammarata teaches a monthly journaling class at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library (she’s been holding virtual classes since the beginning of COVID), as well as courses for students through BOCES and multi-day workshops on journaling for healing, wellness and stress reduction on her own. “Basically, I give everyone tips on how to get started and sometimes that’s all that’s needed,” she says. To start journaling your way to a better you, visit janinedetilliocammarata.com.