Remember Saturday?

Last Saturday, our daughter and family, my visiting niece and hers, and my husband and I traveled to Breckenridge to have some fun— at a snow tubing facility. I didn’t participate due to the fact I was in physical therapy. Nothing major, but I seem to find excuses for not doing my exercises and didn’t want to take any chances making physical therapy last longer. While they sped down the slick runs of packed snow, I sat in the lodge at the last available table we luckily grabbed. The tall brick fireplace with its radiating fire, combined with a cup of coffee and people gazing, made for a delightful time while the others zoomed down the snowy hill. They were too far away for me to watch, but the lodge’s floor to ceiling windows and brick fireplace made for a cozy wait while drinking coffee. Once they returned from sledding, their cheeks and noses flushed, they bought hot chocolate and recounted their rides with plenty of belly laughter as they did. Their stories were infectious, and we chattered happily traveling down mountain to return home. This was clearly a day to be journaled.

However, I didn’t. In fact, I haven’t journaled since we began preparing our book for publication, which has been some time. Diana journals daily in the mornings and Sally often, too. I’ve wondered why I’ve not. The only answer I surmise is I am on a sabbatical of some sort. I had no idea writing was that intense and yes, draining at times. Yikes. As our book relays, the three of us met every week on zoom, at least once, often twice, and sometimes more. We allowed nothing to deter us. 

I’m glad we each write for our blog site weekly and continue to zoom once a week to discuss our marketing strategies. During that time, we still read our personal writings on a prompt we take turns providing. I’ll return to journaling. Recording a day like last Saturday is a great memory to capture for myself and more importantly for others. As previously shown in Sally’s blog regarding her great-grandmother’s journal, capturing past memories in one’s own perspective links us to each other in a personal way.    

Blogging and Journaling

I started this post with the title Blogging versus Journaling but they are not in competition being totally different mindsets. When we started this blog website a couple of months ago, I thought it would be a journal of sorts – talking about writing, talking about being a writers’ group in the same way as I do my daily journal. I journal, however, for an audience of One, Me. My thoughts come rapidly and randomly. I capture a sentence about the weather, then one of my cats gets my attention or the main activity of my day enters the page or the thought of a friend’s dilemma. Some days I’m delving into a conundrum that needs to be sorted in my life. Some days I write about clouds. My journal entries flit from idea to idea. I know I am the only one who will look at that page. I am talking to myself. Looking back on journal pages I find that I can tell what kind of day it is or will be by the thoughts that crowd my head. I try to do morning pages but that doesn’t always work so they happen when they happen. Journaling is a kind of mind clearing exercise often done outside and always handwritten.  It helps me put perspective on myself in the context of my universe.

When I sit down to write a blog it is for an audience of others. I quickly realized that the mind that writes my journal is not the mind that writes a blog. In a blog, I organize my thoughts to communicate a cogent theme.  I am writing to connect with other people. I am opening my head and inviting others to have a peek. I’m writing story. Blogging is done on the computer, edited with delete and backspace keys available.

Our writers’ group has, over the years, evolved into a kind of group journaling, sorting the meaning of life through writing. We often write from prompts. Those prompts lead us into a memory or story that illuminates pieces of our lives. I find it fascinating that given the same parameters, we three come up with totally different narratives or poetry.  I write fiction and all fiction relates to reality on some level. No matter how whimsical I get there is a kernel of my life in a character or situation. I am blessed with a very pleasant life so when I write into a dark place, I conjure experiences I’ve heard or read, then stir them into stories based on my understanding of life, my beliefs. I do enjoy writing childhood experiences and family memoir occasionally. Everyone writes what they know. Jackie writes mostly memoir. Her stories come from deep places of personal experience. She found it very hard to write fiction when we first took creative writing classes together. She learned to do it and now comes up with characters and imaginary situations more easily. They are always infused with her Midwest roots. Sally is adept at writing both fiction and memoir.  Her characters contain bits of herself. Knowing her so well now, I can spot the hint of her petticoat under the dress of her prose. She also writes from strong Midwest roots that formed her view of life. Sally and I like to write poetry, condensing a thought or experience into the fewest possible words with the most significance. That is the beauty of a long-lasting writers’ group. We riff on personal experiences to make stories we share. We explore and expand our ways of communicating in the safety of the group. Blogging is a step away from that safety, just as publishing our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets is a public invitation into the ups and downs of our years together. It is a journey of discovery.

Take A Sentimental Journey

Ralph Waldo Emerson was the one who set the stage for journaling, creating what was a new genre at that time. While at Harvard, Emerson began his lifelong practice of keeping a journal. He regarded them as his “savings bank,” where he could express and examine ideas without public exposure. He also wrote poetry in his journals and illustrated many of his pages professing his early “hunger and thirst to be a painter. “

Diary is considered more of a day-to-day quick referencing of what may have happened in a twenty-four-hour period. Depending upon the size of one’s diary, most only had room to be said in ten words or less. As an early teen, I began with tiny Hallmark pocketbook annual calendars. By late teens and into early twenties, I moved to a ‘pocket’ size datebook and learned to write smaller, cramping in more words, using made-up abbreviations I later couldn’t decipher even if I were highly trained in the world of espionage decoding.

As time pressed on, so did the way I needed to express my thoughts. I discovered journals, lovely, lively journals. I found out a journal is a journey. One moment in a day, one small experience can be taken to several pages and can make a thought dig a deep well into what is truly on a person’s mind. It invites space to ramble, scribble pictures, imagine, discover, and come back to as readable references, such as Emerson’s “savings bank”.

Recently I dug through my past diaries, tossed 1972-1978. The tiny colorful Hallmarks were long gone, not leaving much of a ‘hallmark’ in my life. I name my journals as to what I might or hope to discover, and mostly, be surprised as I write into this new journey, the smooth and untouched empty pages anxiously awaiting. My journal is an expansion, a self-reflection of me and things around me. It allows me to be comfortable in telling what I want to say, and oftentimes, just to visit with myself.

Back to dear old Emerson, I took note of that “savings bank” when I wrote the piece Love’s Transitions in Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. This is not the first piece published from my exploration into my journals. Poetry has sprung to life, essays of family, and downright funny stories. This tool is a fascinating way to journey through ‘your’ trip with time.

If you have a journal, give time to it. If not, there is one waiting just for you.