Cherry Saturday, September 22, 2018

Today is Dear Diary Day.  

Diaries are very important if only for entertainment; as Gwendolen says in The Importance of Being Earnest, “I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” And that’s before you get to the sense of nostaligic shame that sweeps over you when you realize how completely lame you were back then (“back then” being twenty years or twenty minutes).  But the most important thing about keeping a journal is that it actually is good for you.  The study I cited when I taught was done on college students; not only did their stress levels decline when they journaled for a month, months after they stopped their levels remained lower.  That’s good stuff.   I buy journals because they’re pretty and never use them because I blog, which is not the same thing because I can’t put my deepest thoughts and fears here.

Although now that I come to think of it . . .

Do as I say, not as I do: Keep a journal.

51 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, September 22, 2018

  1. I’ve been doing this for years, really as a way to have a conversation with myself, since I live and work alone, and need a sounding-board. My current journal is labelled ‘Sorting-out Book: for confusion, upset, worry – and solutions’. I used to call them ‘creative journals’ because I felt I was mostly using them to clear blocks to my creativity.

    I’m afraid if anyone read them, they’d be full of all the bad bits of my life. But I doubt anyone would last more than a few pages. I keep them because I do occasionally need to refer to them – most recently, to see what I thought of a house I looked at last year that had come back on the market.

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  2. Wait, what?! You don’t put your deepest thoughts and fears here? What have I been reading all this time?

    Humour. Har.

    I start journals. Forget to write for ages. Try again. Fail again. Decide to write only certain things. Forget for weeks. Try some other topic. Fail at that. Stick flyers or tickets from events I’ve attended and write on that. Forget to do so for next event. Sigh.

    Now I shall start again since you’ve suggested it.

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    1. I’ve done that, too. The only successful journal I’ve ever kept was for the Brene Brown course, and looking back at those pages made me want to try it again. I got a couple of everyday art books, too, because I need that. BIG PLANS. Argh.

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    2. I am so glad it’s not just me! I’m thinking about keeping a positives-only journal, where I write down all the good stuff that happened that day. Might help me reframe my life as positive, which it is, so the reframing would be a very good thing.

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  3. I’m a lot like Sure Thing. I really don’t like to journal but I have tried a few times. I did successfully journal for 21 days listing out gratitudes as suggested in the book, “The Happiness Advantage.” It was good to do but didn’t have as large of an effect as was suggested.

    I am considering keeping a journal of things that I’ve learned that I don’t want to have to re-learn. Sort of a journal of wisdom. More like a journal of ahha’s and things that experience teaches you that you really just don’t want to live through again.

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    1. I think gratitude journals and such can have a huge impact if you’re not already grateful for what and who you have. If you are someone who looks at the negatives, forcing yourself to look at the positives can be really eye opening, but if you are already a positive person, it’s not that shocking.

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      1. This makes so much sense! Explains why I never ever filled up a gratitude journal.

        Debbie⬇️, that sounds wonderful. I should journal about my pets. Or students. That’ll keep me writing!

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      2. That’s the idea behind Happiness Sundays, which started over on ReFab, a much more positive place than Argh (g). It’s a PITA finding something new to say about happiness every week, but the comments make me so happy it’s worth it.

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      3. I dunno, I hated when I had to do gratitude journals because when you’re in a good mood and actually feel grateful, they’re fine. But when you have had a shit day and the best you can come up with is “I am grateful I am still employed even though my job is killing me,” then it doesn’t exactly do you much good, IMO.

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        1. That’s a good point, but I’m thinking about trying some serious deliberate reframing of my life. Like, Friday was a shit day at work because of x (which was really shit), but y also happened and that was really positive, and I’m getting better at dealing with x, and that’s a useful life skill. I tend to focus on the shit (my poor family heard alllll about x and nothing about y) and I’d like to get better at focusing on the good stuff.

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        2. That’s because you’re not phrasing it right.

          “I’m grateful that no one died at work today all though Beauregard is pressing his luck.”

          And when all else fails, pretend to be a man. “I am grateful that at least I’m not a man & a jerkhole like Beauregard.”

          I used to be able to run through several minutes of people I was grateful not to be. ; )

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  4. I used to keep two diaries about my kids. One per kid. Those make me happy to go back and read now, and I really kept them up.

    Somehow writing about myself seems less fun.

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    1. Yes! I got one of those five-year diaries for each kid and wrote down cute stuff they said and did – not religiously, but often enough to make those books cherished.

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  5. I write for a living, so sadly, I don’t really feel like writing for fun. (Even when I’m not writing a book, I’m blogging, or posting on Facebook, or whatever.)

    But I do love journals…

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  6. I’ve done Morning Pages for decades. Not following all the rules in The Artist’s Way (I usually do just one page unless I’m really stressed, when I do however many I need –and it’s been a LOT of pages recently! — and I’m not strict about doing them very first thing in the morning), but basically using them for the intended purpose of getting all the garbage out of my brain and onto a page, so I can then make space for creativity, or lure the creativity out from behind all the rage and distractions. I did the exercise of going back to skim them after a year or two, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it since then. Sometimes I’ll go back a few weeks if something’s bothering me, and I’m trying to see how long it’s been going on, or other checks like that. But mostly it’s just dumping of the clutter on the top of my brain to free up the better, buried stuff.

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    1. You are so right, gets the garbage out of the head. I did the Morning Pages course, twelve weeks last year, even on vacation and visiting family. Difficult to write around family pulling on you. Continued after the twelve weeks were done and now not so much, a page or five depending on state of mind. Liked Brent Brown course/journal.

      Went crazy, bought new spiral journals now languishing in the cupboard. Starting again this week as I have a train trip coming up. Lots of looking out the window and writing and falling asleep.

      Sometimes don’t write b/c it is just so much garbage, it’s been a tough year with death taking four loved ones. It’s not so much the deaths as two were elderly and two was sick, it is the drama with the in laws still raising an ugly head and long tentacles. I will be so glad for 2019.

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    2. Yes Arist Way was the only time I journaled and I found it very useful. Did it for about a year, and then it didn’t seem as interesting to me and I just petered out. I did feel I learned a lot about the junk in my head so was really glad I did it.

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  7. They strongly encourage cancer patients at Hopkins to journal. One person said it was okay if all we wrote was “FUCK THIS!” over and over because it would still help.

    I do better at blogging than journaling though…

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    1. All the research I did back in 1983 said that angry patients had a better survival rate than accepting patients. I had enough anger to power a city, so that wasn’t a problem. I think the idea is that if you have a life-threatening disease, of course, you’re angry, and repressing that just depresses your immune system. I did a lot of visualization, too, and my visualizations were angry as hell. I also had a great surgeon and a great oncologist, but I do think expressing all that anger helped.

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      1. Yep, finally expressed anger to brother in law on Thursday. Blasted him. Felt better too. Lots of repressed feelings. I’m sure another shoe will drop soon and I will just blast away. No more nice!

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        1. I remember one of mine. You know those scrubbing bubbles things, the little cartoon scrub brushes that cleaned bathrooms to the Sabre Dance? I imagined them scrubbing cancer cells out of my body. Didn’t work. So I changed them to wire brushes and as they scrubbed, the insides of my organs ran red with blood, floods of it. I really did feel much stronger. Also the Sabre Dance is great angry music.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr4trmxtn8Y

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    2. I wonder if it’s the typing versus writing? Typing is quicker, therefore easier to get things off the chest. But handwriting a journal feels more intimate, but harder and time consuming. Thus, we (in general) often remain on the computer blogging, social media-ing, etc.,because it’s easier and quicker, but less satisfying.

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  8. I have never really journaled but I had about 5 years where I was a mad scrapbooker. I still occasionally look through them a get warm fuzzies.

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  9. I kept an angst-ridden diary all through my late teens and early 20s, right up until the day the drug squad raided my house (they were very punitive about marijuana at the time) and, unable to find anything compromising in my bedroom, took my personal diary away with them. When I went down to the police station for an interview (armed with a lawyer), I had to walk the gauntlet of ten sniggering drug squad officers, all of whom had read my torrid accounts of sex with my most recent lover. That was enough to put me off the idea of recording anything.

    To make matters worse, they said they had to keep the diary because it was evidence – I had written several times about smoking dope. On the advice of my very sympathetic lawyer, I refused to confirm that the diary was mine (though they’d found it beside my bed). So when I went back to collect it, several weeks later, they told me they’d burnt it, because it didn’t have an owner. I still haven’t forgiven them.

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    1. That’s an awful and disgusting thing for them to do to you and so unprofessional. “I’m sorry” is inadequate, but I’m sorry that happened. Blatant invasion of privacy and disrespect like that really bother me.

      My mother and I didn’t always (and don’t always) have the best relationship but *her mother* was a snooper who read everything she had, letters, diary you name it. She even threw away letters from a boy that *she* didn’t like. The good that came from it is my mom was very scrupulous about giving me my privacy and even with our problems, I never felt something I wrote down was in danger of being read. She won’t even open any of my dad’s junk mail without his express permission and they’ve been married for over 40 years.

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      1. Thanks Jill. It *was* awful, and I was shattered and humiliated by it at the time.

        I love this about your mother. “won’t even open junk mail” – that’s a woman with a fine sense of privacy.

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  10. I’ve gone long stretches keeping a diary, but once I fall off the wagon, I really fall off. I used to love this website (? ?) (I don’t think it was an app) that would email you every day with a reminder to journal by writing a short e-mail. You sent it back and then as your history built, your daily reminder would include an earlier journal entry. For example, after a week would pass, it would say “a week ago you said this” and it included your journal entry. Then once you had a month worth of entries you saw what you said exactly a month ago, then eventually a year. It was really helpful for putting certain things in perspective. Like “oh, I’m always tired and grumpy this time of year b/c my allergies to pollen flare up, okay.”

    Unfortunately, they weren’t making money, so they shut down. I have a similar system now with a Paperblanks 5 year journal, but I don’t like it as much. The thing I liked about the email system is that it was very informal and not intimidating and there were no space constraints. So I could just write “good day. Sunny” or go off on a rant if I felt like it.

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  11. I started doing Morning Pages (okay, one long Morning Page) at the beginning of the summer, and I’m finding it to be an excellent brain dump/organizational tool. I’ve had a trying couple of weeks (a younger family member is quite ill, and I’ve been unexpectedly thrust into the making medical decisions spot) and it’s been a huge help to wake up in the morning and write stuff, whether it’s my thoughts about what’s going on, questions I need to ask the nurse or doc, or reminding myself that I have a life outside of this that I want to tend to as well.

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  12. I began writing a journal the year we were married and have continued ever since. Needless to say, I now have a duffle bag full of journals. I do refer to them sometimes-when did we last visit your cousin? when did we plant the 2 maple trees? when did my sister quit smoking? what did we give your uncle for Christmas?
    I also kept journals for the 2 kids and made sure I included EVERYTHING they did and every award they were given. This was such a help when applying for colleges. These are now their property, of course.
    I find I don’t write in my journal as much now. Guess I am not as busy as I once was and my emotions are more ‘stable’ shall we say. I’m sure my kids will have no interest in reading them BUT I have given my close friend orders to destroy them if something happens to me! Ha!

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    1. That’s a good idea on many levels. When my former boss’s mom passed away, his wife said some of the hardest things to get rid of were her journals. They weren’t really personal, more farm/chore/weather related, but they mattered to her so everyone felt guilty getting rid of them but no one cared what the cattle prices were in 1969. Anything with thoughts and feelings needs to be done away with promptly.

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      1. I’m sorry they didn’t contact one of the local women’s history projects.

        Those are the kinds of journals we don’t have for working women.

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  13. I’ve kept a journal for about forty-five years now. I vividly remember starting it and writing of the blue-eyed dark-haired young man sitting across from me in study hall, “I wish I was his chick.” Even with that auspicious beginning, I can say starting the journal has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s the great vast listening presence in my life, nonjudgmental, ever present. I hardly ever reread it and I never try to make it interesting. It just is. Whatever I need it to be at the moment, it is. Bless it.

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  14. I do mine off and on, though it was on hiatus for most of 2017 due to Trump. I have it online but nobody reads it but me (I can’t find things if I don’t have it online) at this point.

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  15. I started creating coded short hand for the paranoia of journaling, but followed up with neither, sadly. More on the list of “wish I’d get my add in gear”.

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  16. I was never good at journaling by hand, but I had a LiveJournal and a DiaryLand diary (both allowed me to control the audience, but HAD an audience, which is apparently my only motivation to journal…Haha).

    These days, since DiaryLand has gone from obscure to defunct and all of my friends abandoned LiveJournal when the Russians bought it, I suppose Instagram is the closest thing–I post funny things and kid pictures, and occasional vacation shots. I really ought to see if there are still ways to download and preserve a LiveJournal so I can go back to it in my old age – and if not, at least I won’t have to worry about designating someone to destroy it in the event of my death!

    For the few years that the high school where I teach had us meet with our advisory (homeroom, basically) twice a day (to check out and check in the school Chromebooks – they weren’t allowed to take them home at that point), I made each student tell me one thing they’d learned that day at the end of the day. It ranged from factual (“Pearl Harbor was in December 7th”) to personal (“my mom texted and said I have to walk home”) and they resisted greatly at first, but eventually I heard through the grapevine that some of them stated to enjoy picking out their One Thing each day. I missed it quite a bit when the schedule changed! (Although luckily it’s because now the kids get to take their Chromebooks with them.)

    I tried to do it with my kiddo who just stated preschool, but he’s on half-day and naps after and apparently has trouble understanding that it’s not a different day when he wakes up from napping! 😆

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  17. I started a journal when I was eleven. I didn’t write every day, and when, after several years, I filled up that book (an 8×11 ledger) I went on to other books. I haven’t reread them in years because of faded ink and my awful handwriting, but I still have them. Once I had a computer, twenty-five years ago, I got much more prolific, writing nearly every day, and now definitely every day, with hour time-stamps. This year, for instance, is already at 295,000 words. I reread at least one or two past years per year, too, to see how my health was and what interesting things happened. (I enjoy Jane Austen’s letters at least as much as her novels, if not more. I like the details of life.)

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  18. I journal pretty daily when I am traveling. Not so much when I home. I love reading the travel journals. I like to include sketches and they are fun to see, even though I’m not a great artist. I really should try expanding and blogging about my normal life (frustrations, hopes, dreams, what I accomplished during the day)

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  19. I do something like morning pages off and on, and if I can stick with it, it really helps. However, I cannot use a pretty, fancy journal. Too small usually, and too intimidating for my brain garbage. I prefer a regular old notebook (or even cheap drugstore drawing pad when I want to escape the tyranny of lines). Then I also don’t mind writing a to-do list or shopping list as I think of it and tearing the page out.

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  20. I remember doing some diary writing during my teens, at a time when I understood diaries as a kind of secret place where you could record your secret feelings about things. Without exception, looking back on those diaries years afterwards made me cringe. All I could see at an older/wiser age was a mass of immaturity, insecurities, pretensions, and self-absorbtion (is that even a word?).

    Later, in my 20’s, I did some dream journaling, which was really interesting, but I ran across a folder of dream journals, and those I found basically almost incomprehensible. Who was Brian D. at work who I found kind of attractive? What was the point of the Section 110 documentation that haunted my dreams for weeks? Who were L. and C. and R.B. in my graduate school class, and what class was it anyway?

    I’ve read some letters I wrote to family and friends during those same time periods, and they were much more tolerable — I think because I wrote them to communicate to someone else, so they were grounded in life events, rather than my own worries, emotional reactions, and minutiae that a lifetime later have no relevance to me.

    If I were to start a diary today, I would want to frame a lot of what I record in terms of what was going on in my family, current events, and even the world around me. I’d enjoy reading what I thought about the first time I saw an eclipse; my reaction to the moon landing; my first IKEA trip, or the day I met or solidified a relationship with a friend or lover or neighbor.

    Without children, I don’t have anyone to pass this kind of thing onto, but I loved the description of the record of each child’s life history in the family — that would be a wonderful thing to read in generations that followed that child into the world.

    But as it is, I don’t think I’m going to be starting any diaries in my eighth decade.

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  21. Sometimes, when I come to Argh late, like now, I’m tempted to write something completely silly or off the wall. Because who will see it? Everyone has moved on!!

    But then I chicken out.

    I’m shit at journaling.

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    1. I read the comments off the dashboard, so I’ll see it. I will admit I skim and don’t comment if my day is fraught with trauma which was last week, but I do read them all.

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    2. I read them. And try to reply if necessary. Just so all of the late commenters know that someone sees you.

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