I haven’t found much immediate comfort when I am in the act of writing in my journal, but I do love to go back later and read whatever I wrote. I guess it’s a good thing when you think your own life is kind of interesting! Today is a day for that – the rereading. A few days ago was the 2nd anniversary of Kevin’s passing, and tomorrow would have been his 57th birthday. I still miss him like crazy.
For about the first year after he died, I kept a journal using the guest book from his memorial service. A blank page, though, is not my style. I could fill it up (and then some) once I got going, but getting started is the hard part. Like many things we want to do, I suppose. Some days take up a paragraph but some are several pages, and some days I didn’t write at all, and the rest of the time, I kept a factual record of what happened more so than a record of my feelings. Still, it is good for me to see how much has changed, in me, in my world…or not.
What works better for me for journaling is a fill-in-the-blank kind of format. A friend gave me one for recording info about my motorcycle trips, and I had one for camping also. Then I found a “Me” journal, similar in format to the other two. I used that style for a long time. I didn’t write every day… Ha! I actually have gathered 13 years’ worth in only 2 volumes! It turns out if you write as infrequently as I do, you can do, you can get around 6 years in one book.
Of course, there have been other kinds of journals I have kept simultaneously, so it’s quite possible I forgot about the Me book and wrote in others. What I liked about that format is that there was the front page to write on with blanks to fill in, and then the back side was blank, so I could write whatever I wanted. But something was missing, something that could make it more, although I don’t know what more is.
I love stationery shops and bookstores, so as I wandered through them here and there, I searched for a better one, the exactly right one. No luck – and this has gone on for years! I wanted one that would help me be more proactive, keep my momentum up, encourage me, instead of just logging memories. So I made my own version, following the ME format. I took out the weather report line, and added in a “one thing I’ll do today” line. Then I took out the news report, and added in “what I’m reading or listening to.” I also added a line for “I took care of myself today by…” Since I did mine in an Excel format, I just printed them off and hole-punched them for my Day-Timer. A few other tweaks here and there, and I have my own almost-perfect journal, albeit still more fact-laden than poetry and prose. I still don’t write in it every day, but it is helpful when I’m feeling the blahs and blues, because I know when I go back later, I can usually glean some insights from what was going on and how I got in or out of that particular time.
One of the best values I have gotten from keeping a journal is emptying out my brain to make room for other memories, other feelings. I know when I’m “full,” that is different from “my cup runneth over.” When there is too much hanging on, and I can’t think, or can’t stop crying, or can’t move forward, that’s when I really need to put it down on paper and save it for another time, when I’m better able to honor those feelings and gently put them away.
I don’t know how long I’ll keep these journals. I kept a journal during my divorce from my first husband. I dragged it around with me during a few moves from state to state, but somewhere along the way, I tore it up. I maybe should have had a burning ceremony or something more dramatic, but I didn’t. I just shredded it and put it in the trash. Some days now I wish I had it so I could remember better what my life was like and how far I have come since then. I do still have old love letters, but that’s not the same.
This Solowingnow blog also has been my journal for the past year, along with other notes and pages here and there. I find it gives me peace to review these posts and also know how far I have come on this sabbatical, and how much I have learned about blogging. It appears I am consistent in my spurts and voids in my writing patterns. But this one is public, so to be sure, it is selective. And that is one thing I have definitely learned: that it’s okay to be selective, that I don’t have to remember everything, that I don’t have to share everything. My life is more peaceful when I choose to let certain things go away, or when I actively dismiss them by hitting the <delete> button. Proof positive that this is MY life, MY way.
Another year gone, another new year starting. I wonder what’s in store for me now!!
Will be more than happy to share with you. Will send you the Excel file by email. Glad you are inspired to try it.
I too have been journaling for the past probably 15-20 years.Different books for different years.
It helps me to get rid of the clutter in my brain. At the moment I’m actually writing a short story that I’ve had in my head going around in circles and evolving for the past year so I write down notes actually kind of fun .
We will have to compare notes one of these days. I am more of a non-fiction writer, but it turns out I have been doing it for years and years and years. There must be a hidden passion in there, don’t you think??
Denise Bridges said:
You’ll have to share that personalized journal with me (not the personal stuff, just the way you’ve made it work for you) so I can shamelessly steal the idea and modify it for myself.