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Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


I found this lovely video and the music of Peder B. Helland this morning. . . .

As I listened I was inspired to write a poem The Places I Have Been and then further inspired to write about keeping a journal.  My first diary was started on January 1, 1963.  I'd just turned 12 a month before.  I noted my resolutions: "go to church regularly; study real hard; be neat and pretty; act like a young lady; write in my diary every day."  I don't know how many resolutions I kept because I quit writing in my diary on March 12th, except for one entry in May where I noted my uncle and aunt were planning to visit us.

credit:  Susan Branch
It is really interesting to "hear" the voice of my 12-year-old self.  On February 6th I'd written, "I made up with Connie....The night before last I dreamed I made up with Connie.  That was God probably talking."  I don't remember being much of a reader when I was young, but in one of the entries I said I got 3 books from the library and the next day I wrote, "I finished the book of the Hardy Boys.  I started on 'Cathy and Her Castle'."  After I finished it I wrote that it was "real, real, real good.  I wish it could continue." I made a few more entries over the next several years from time to time.  It wasn't until I met my husband-to-be when I was not quite 16 that I began journaling seriously.  I have entries made in class, poems composed to be rewritten and given to Ken, and my life dreams figured out.  When we married 2 years later my journals stopped until I quit work in early 1978.  I was having trouble conceiving and I poured out my heart to my journal.  When our first child was born the next year I began keeping a journal not only of what I did and thought and felt, but I kept one for him his first year.  Needless to say I did not attempt that with my subsequent children, but I have kept photo scrap books all these years documenting their lives in photos and in my own journal.

Soon I will have 40 years of journals stored in my attic and I've been wondering what to do with them.  They've come in handy when I've wanted to remember something in particular so I don't want to dispose of them just yet.  I have no illusions about my sons wanting to read 40 x approximately 5 books a year = 200 notebooks of my scribblings!  Perhaps if one of my grandchildren becomes interested in their father's growing up years or want to know more about us in our younger years, they'd want them.  But honestly, where would all these books be stored in the meantime?!

I've used all sorts of notebooks including loose leaf paper, all sizes, all colors, with or without lines to record my thoughts.  Whenever I see someone's book shelf lined with their journals, all uniformly lined up, I get a bit jealous of their forethought.  Yet, I realize the way in which I have journaled has been a part of who I am--a bit all over the place, never settling into one way of doing anything.

I wanted to give you a peek at some of the journals of other people that I admire.  Susan Branch's last 3 books have been based on her diaries.  Having kept a diary most of her life she had all the material necessary to write her memoir.  Here is another page from one of her diaries.  She also keeps a Garden Journal.  It's no wonder then that her art work has been added to all kinds of journals you can buy:  Recipe, Baby, Grandmother, Daughter, Mother, Christmas, as well as a Daily Journal calendar.

I have kept a Garden Journal, as well, since I began gardening in 1992, but nothing like Dawn's at Petals Paper Simple Thymes.  Hers are truly inspiring.

There is another type of journal I would love to be able to do and that is nature and travel journaling.  This is one of my motivations to learn to draw.  For the past 3 years most days I've been drawing a small picture at the beginning of each day's entry in my journal.  Usually I copy an artist I love, such as this from Edith Holden's "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady". . . .

credit: Susan Branch

Many famous people kept journals, such as Beatrix Potter's journal where she wrote in code; Henry David Thoreau's worksLeonardo DaVinci's Notebooks just to name a few.

Here are some links on journaling to inspire you:

A wonderful way to get started is to use Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way.  It helps to discipline you to start writing what she calls Morning Pages.

I'd love to hear about why you journal, if you keep one.  And if you don't, why not?  Many people journal now in the form of a Blog, but as my son points out to me, blogs may not be permanent.  I copy all my posts and store them on my computer, which is backed up on a separate disk just for that reason.  That is one more thing that I will leave behind, but at least it doesn't take up much space.

If you have any advice about what to do about all my journals stored in my attic (short of renting a storage locker!), let me know.  I've even thought about digging a hole (an awfully large one) and putting them in a plastic bin and burying them in our woods for some future generation to stumble upon.  Wouldn't that be a fun find 100 years from now!



  1. Oh please do not get rid of your journals. I am certain that either your boys or especially your Grandchilden would cherish them when that get old enough to realize it is your life history. I would even enjoy reading some of the ones when we were young. I love you Sis!

    1. So, I should just let the boys deal with them after I'm gone? I suppose if I organized them better with labels, etc., I'd feel better about doing that.

    2. Yes, your idea of labels would be a good idea!

  2. I kept a diary when I was young, but stopped after a while too. My last entry, aged 11, reads "Sparky {my budgie} died" it seems I lost interest in things for a while.
    I have dabbled, on and off, over the years, but never kept it up, considering my life so boring, why bother?
    I have recently bought two new water colour paper journals, but, once again, find myself suffering from that age~old issue of putting that first mark on that brand new paper.
    One day ~ one day, again, maybe ~~~

    1. Deborah, thanks for sharing! When my life feels boring I especially write down the mundane things like doing the laundry, etc. so that I at least feel I've accomplished something worthwhile that day. Why don't you just pencil in a drawing in your water colour journal and go back later and paint it. And if you never do that, at least you have your journal written and pencil illustrated. I'd love to see what you do. I've always thought your art projects are lovely.

    2. Cathy I could have written this, though I don't have quite the journals you did. I too journaled through infertility and adoption and a journal of our son's first year of life. I started, to the best of my knowledge, journaling at 16, the year we moved from the home I'd lived in since birth. It was a whole new world and a first boyfriend so much to write about in my "locked" diary. I recently started to read one from nursing school--so much fun to read. I figure if I can read through all my journals once it will serve some purpose. I do not journal as much now since I blog, but I do print my blogs and always think that might be something the grands would like (we have great hope in our grands' future interest don't we!) I would devour a journal from my grandmother, and have enjoyed reading some of her school writing. I have many many letters to read between my parents and their parents. I have my great aunt's tiny journals where she wrote every day activities. I use a magnifying glass to read them. There are some rich tidbits in thee. For instance one day I happened to read a reference to my mother's scarlet fever and her being quarantined in the attic. So I called my mom and said, " Mom did you know what you were doing 80 years ago today?" Of course I love history too. And yes, I frequently look at the journals AND the photo albums and those of my parents and sigh and wonder ….

    3. Dotsie, I have my grandfather's journals from 1905 to 1913. He wrote in them off and on--noted when he met his first wife and married. She later died after giving birth to 3 children. His diaries stopped then. He then married my grandmother. I wish he'd written then. I understand that my grandmother kept a diary that she later burned. I have letters that my parents wrote that give me some information about their lives. I wish I was more curious before they passed on because now I have so many questions and there is no one to answer them anymore. I wrote my "memoir" up to when I married using my childhood diaries and letters and photos to jog my memory. I think it's very helpful to go back and look at who we were when we were younger, with the aid of diaries, to help us transition from our "careers" as mothers or some profession to our retirement and next endeavor.

  3. I agree but I just had to smile at the use of "transition." Yesterday was my first day volunteering in my granddaughter's 3rd grade class and I noticed instead of saying Ok let's go to our math lesson--or something like that, the word transition was used again and again. I heard it at the playground, in other classrooms, etc. Must be the word to use!

    1. That's interesting. I used the word because I'm finally learning that life is not about endings, but moving on to something else. It's good they are teaching this concept with the words they use. I wonder, though, if it began when they started using the open classroom concept where children moved from area to area for different subjects in elementary school. They eventually gave up on it in our school system because it was too distracting.


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