Do you keep journals? Write in a diary?
What is a journal? Business people will tell you that it’s a “record that keeps accounting transactions in chronological order, i.e. as they occur. ”
Writers use journals to come up with story ideas or to make memory lists for memoir. Journals help us tap into our creativity.
Mental health professionals often suggest keeping a journal as a means to discover your inner self and identify issues you may have hidden from yourself.
Journals can be very private or shared with individuals or groups.
Journals and diaries are a way to:
- leave your legacy for your children
- sort out your feelings about the past
- communicate with yourself and others
- unleash the right side of your brain (creativity)
- figure out day-to-day issues and time management
- understand your life story
- keep track of a specific event as it is happening in your life
I tend to use random spiral notebooks for my journals, but there are many more formal journals you can purchase. They may have “prompts” in case you aren’t sure what to write about.
Years ago, after the birth of my first grandchild, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a journal called “Grandma, Tell Me Your Story.” Each page had a prompt for each day of the year. There were blank pages at the end where I could write whatever came to mind. The topics were something like:
- January 1 – How did your family celebrate the New Year?
- January 2 – What were your favorite activities in the winter?
Most months had holiday-specific prompts (if there was a holiday that month) as well as general topics like “Did you ever get in trouble at school? What did you do?” or “What was your favorite Halloween costume? Describe it.” One particularly poignant page in September asked “Where were you on 9/11?”
I wrote in the journal each day and by the end of the year, I returned it to my son for my granddaughter to read in the future.
Recently, I found another “Grandmother” journal that I plan to write WITH my granddaughter. It’s a “back and forth” journal where one of us writes and the other responds.
I am scheduled for a major surgical procedure next week and have been journaling about it. It will require major lifestyle changes so I am ambivalent and a little scared. Will I be able to do what is needed to stay healthy? I’d planned to grab a regular notebook to write in, but my friend said I should buy a special journal since this will be a major change in my life. She thought it would be wise to write down the process as well as my anxiety and feelings of anticipation. Why am I having the procedure? How will it improve my life? What will I be able to do afterwards that I can’t do now? What is the doctor telling me day-to-day?
I saw some journals at the card store while I was looking for Father’s Day and birthday cards. One caught my eye. It was beautifully bound and combined adult coloring designs and lined pages. But, it cost $25 so I put it down. A spiral notebook would only cost $2 or so. I told my friend, an adult coloring book fan, about it and she said I needed to go back and get the journal. “You deserve it.”
While out shopping, I was near another card store, same company. I decided to stop in rather than driving across town to the one where I originally saw the journal. Disappointed, no journals like it were to be seen. I asked the cashier as I was leaving the store and she pointed, saying, “Check out the clearance table.”
I walked over and laying on the table among scented candles, stuffed Easter bunnies, and small Mother’s Day plaques sat a lone coloring journal. Spiral and paper instead of leather bound, the coloring areas were on the outer margins of each page instead of the top. Price: $5. I couldn’t pass it up. I took it to the cashier and she rang it up at $2.50. Even better. “Clearance” proved true. Being a spiral, it’s easier to open up flat and write.
With a price like that, I couldn’t resist buying a second one listed for $8. It was more elaborate with pale green binding and sayings inside as well as coloring at the top.
I should be set for awhile.
I’ve discovered that writing in the coloring journal isn’t as tiring if I write awhile and then color awhile. Different hand muscles are in use for each activity.
I have other journals that I will leave for my children as legacy. There is one about Family Traditions. Each major holiday has page where I wrote about typical ways we celebrated when our sons were small or still living at home. Each page has a pocket side where I store mementos such as cards, place-mats or small items.
There are so many journals out there that are fun and useful. I hope you can find one or two you like. To paraphrase the beginning definition of a journal by accountants –” A journal is a record that keeps personal and family history in chronological order, i.e. as they occur. ” Or not.