Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Journaling (a continuing journey)

I come from a family of people who keep diaries. My mother has written in her diary daily since she was a teenager. My maternal grandmother did the same thing. My father keeps a daily dairy on his computer. I attempted to keep a diary off and on for many years. I have those sad little "5 Year Diary" things sitting on my shelf with my journals. The first ones are fitfully filled in, sometimes there are long gaps between short entries. Some of the diaries started and fizzled out in high school. Others cover certain periods during the early years of marriage and children. But, none of them really panned out. It just wasn't "me".

Then, about 10 years ago I began to journal. Now I can hear you saying, "Well journaling and writing in a diary are the same thing aren't they?" Well, I can tell you that they aren't the same at all. My mother is able to condense her entire day into three lines. I am not sure how she does it. I can't even finish one thought in three lines let alone condensing the entire day. It is amazing. My grandma Pringle could do the same thing. In fact, she could make a 5 Year Diary last seven or eight years by writing on every available space. I need more room to write.

I can't pinpoint what was the "trigger", if you will, to my style of journaling. I think it was a combination of things. I needed a way to work through thoughts and feelings in a constructive way. I needed a way to preserve what was happening in my life now that I had time to actually think and wasn't totally immersed in small children (three children in 5 years tends to take up A LOT of your time and energy). It just sort of evolved. I also happened to see "The English Patient". In that movie, the character played by Ralph Fiennes had a book that seemed to have many functions including as a journal. He had all manner of things stuck into it. Things that meant something to him. It wasn't just a place to write it was the story of a life. I knew that is what I wanted my journals to look like.

I try to write in it every day. If I have gone to see a movie, a sporting event, anything that involves a printed ticket the evidence is inserted onto the page corresponding to that day. If there is some kind of play bill, birthday card etc. I paste those in the back. Whatever pertains to my life goes in there. When we travel I take extensive notes which are typed up when I get home and then inserted into the journal. You get the picture.

I try to be as much of an open book in my journal as is possible to be. That means that if I am angry with the DH then I put that in the journal. Now, you might think that isn't a good idea, that the girls might read that in years to come and be upset. I thought that at one time too but then I had a conversation with a friend who is also a "journaler". She encouraged me to write all of it down but to make sure that if there was conflict between Dan and I that I also acknowledged the resolution of that conflict. Good idea Diana. So that is what I do. My journals sit in plain view on one of my shelves, 10 years worth. If you want to go through them looking for the conflicts, be my guest. There aren't that many instances of them but they are there. More likely you will get bored with all the mundane things that I write about. What ever comes into my head. They are MY journals after all.

Well, this is a long (and most likely boring) post. If you want a great book that talks about journaling, in the form that I inhabit it then check out
"Leaving a Trace" by Alexandra Johnson. It is awesome. Then get yourself a journal and start to write.


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