Friday, January 14, 2011

Journals, Journals & More Journals!

Remember this room designed by Alexandra Stoddard  to look like Gertrude Stein's atelier in Paris? It was designed specifically  for writing, with favorite books, artifacts, and writing materials close by. How would you like to have a room designed especially for writing? Yes, you might write a novel or a children's book that makes you famous, or you might simply write your own personal journal. In her book Write for Your Life, Anna Quindlin says: "Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind?"

Lately I've realized that I'm writing in several journals each day, or at least several times a week. To start with, on the first of January, I got a new Cozi download that has a journal with it. I find that I enjoy typing a few thoughts  in the journal section--which expand once I get going--always wondering whether I'm going to keep up with everything that's going on, or that should be going on. And I'm finally filling up a red leather journal that was given to me by a friend many years ago. It seems very precious with it's lovely cover and fine-milled paper inside, so I approach it with finer thoughts and plans for my life. Then there's the Simple Abundance Journal that is just for listing 5 things I'm thankful for each evening. And next is the Daily Devotional Bible Journal where I can talk about what I read or listen to each day.

Then there's the Around the World with C. S. Lewis & His Friends journal, which makes me smile, because so far what I've done in that journal is to respond to whatever message is on the page, such as the entry for January 14, which says: "J. R. R. Tolkien spoke on BBC Radio about one of his specialities, Anglo-Saxon verse, on this day in 1938." C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were great friends and their lives intertwined on many levels. And both were part of the group called The Inklings, which allowed these great writers to share the books they were writing. the bottom of the page are "Words for this day," and on January 13, C. S. Lewis said, "Things need to be treated at length not in so far as they are great but in so far as they are complicated." He was talking about English literature in the Sixteenth Century, but it's a profound statement in any case! My first entry was written in this "Book of Days" in  1987. It's a meager entry and with only a few entries more, this journal was put away. And as I write these words, I remember why I wasn't keeping a journal.
Next comes The Artist's Way Morning Pages Journal. It's almost full and is the third of its kind. At one time, it was a way of life for me to write my 3 pages each morning, but that kind of journaling has been replaced, it seems, by so much writing otherwise. But I still love to fill my 3 pages, if for no other reason, just to see if I can, so some days I make the attempt and almost always succeed.

And that brings me to my new calendar, purchased at Sam's, which has the nicest format: the days of the month are listed all the way down one side of the calender, top to bottom, with the date just before the days of the week. It's called Mom's Family Calendar: Who does what and goes where when. (But not why.) by Sandra Boynton. And I really like it! Stickers come with it too. It's so easy to use and I write down my blog titles each day on the first block. And things I want to remember on the others. So in a way, it's also a journal, wouldn't you say? 

You're probably wondering what started this verbal deluge about journals, and I'll tell you that this morning I pulled Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit off the shelf. Did you notice the "365"? Anytime you see a book dedicated to reading something every day, you know you'll also be invited to keep a journal! I'm not saying that's bad...but I am saying that I'm not sure I have time for another journal. The author is Victoria Moran, and she says: "There is a singular reality to ink on paper." And I say, "You're so right, Miss Moran!" Now this journal is a rejuvenation journal, and I'm sure that I need rejuvenation. So I read the entry titled "Start Your Rejuvenation Journal" and try to decide if this is a journal I need to keep. 

Wait a minute...perhaps she gives me the reason for my keeping so many journals. Here's what she has to say: "If you're angry, you can write instead of yelling. If you're sad, you can write instead of crying, or you can write and cry--double cartharsis. (Has she been watching me?) You can use your journal for writing letters to people you're mad at, to people who are no longer living, or even to God. Some of the best letters are not meant for a mailbox, postal or electronic." That's good to know, isn't it?

 But to get down to the rejuvenation part, she say, "Writing your thoughts and feelings clears your head and helps you make wise choices. It also puts you in touch with inner wisdom and intuitive glimmerings you might not have accessed otherwise. If you're stressed, writing can ease the tension, or if you're ecstatic, recording that mood will allow you to revisit it later."  And I know that's true because I've done it many times. When you re-read an entry, your mind will take you right back to that moment in time. And if it was a bad moment, you'll probably have gone through so much since then that it won't have an effect on you anymore. And if you have time, you might consider what it taught you. And you can write what you've learned in your journal.

But Victoria goes on to say: "For the purposes of growing younger, a journal documents your process while it supports your progress." So you document the fact that you're eating properly and getting enough sleep and are keeping the right attitude most of the time. And you also would need to record what you're NOT doing that you should. Victoria encourages you to "Write about how you feel about yourself at this moment and what you hope to accomplish in the year ahead. (I'm still wondering what, if anything, I'll accomplish today!) Write your doubts and concerns as well. Often when you start to write your worries, you find yourself writing their antidote. The journal is a tool...." And she suggests that if you are already keeping a journal, you can simply incorporate these thoughts into it.  Well, there's a mercy!                                                                                                               

Honestly, I love journaling...I'd have to if I want to remain sane with all these journals in front of me. And I do. But I want to encourage you to begin keeping a journal or journals because it allows you to know what exactly is going on in your life--with your children, your family of origin, your own wreckless adventures, along with all those thoughts and feelings that pass constantly through our minds. You might be surprised at how vital and interesting they are when you go to resolve an issue that has been bothering you.

 I know I'm always surprised at ALL that's been going on, and realize that when I don't somehow keep a record of my life, I forget all the things that are affecting it. And that makes us more scattered and gives us a feeling that we are victims who have no control over our own lives. When you see all the shenanigans of people you know who are costing you peace and sanity, you can do something about it! It doesn't cost you more than the price of a journal to find out how much your thoughts written down can make you stronger and surer that you're taking the right path in your life.

And I promise that you'll know yourself better. One of the hardest things to do in this world is to see ourselves as others see us. But I assure you that even if you don't know yourself completely by keeping a journal, you'll be a long sight farther along than most if you do.

And if you do what some recommend and add doodles and drawings as you go, that is a well-known sign of brilliance! (Think Leonardo de Vinci.) You'll enjoy finding a journal that suits you personally, and it can be as simple as a notebook of white paper, which always looks inviting when you're about to put thoughts down. Or you can do what I do--yes, I sometimes write in a notebook--and use a combination of bright pink, bright yellow, and bright orange. Never mind about giving yourself away in the entries of a journal...I've done it in a blog! Oh well, if it keeps you thinking about your life and where you're headed, that's fine with me.

And I'll add this one thought to what I've said about journals and journaling...write in your journal, notebook, or on your calendar with a pen you love. There is a whole culture around ink pens, but for now I simply want to remind you that it can make a difference whether your pen writes smoothly and is easy to hold. A good writing instrument makes it easier and more enjoyable to write about your life and thoughts.

Have a good Friday!

No comments:

Post a Comment