Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journaling. . .a helpful habit

As I designed the cover for my 2011 Journal I started thinking about how my Aunt Freda’s daily diaries were an inspiration for me to keep the assorted diaries, journals and other  recollections I’ve kept throughout the years. I just wish I’d had the self-discipline to keep them up as regularly as she did!

My aunts Freda (right) and Genevieve in 1976. scan0005

She, the busy mother of thirteen, made time to keep a daily diary her entire life.  In a book for each year she recorded the daily happenings of her life. This “pie crust” entry was written sometime in the early years of her marriage:  “. . . so tough we could only eat the filling.  Finally after about five years I was listening to a radio serial, sponsored by crisco, and they were telling how to make a good crust.  Well, I got a can and made two pies.  John cut through as usual into the pie, with a lot of pressure, and he almost broke the plate.  He always tried to eat the crust so my feelings wouldn’t be hurt.  The crusts were now so flaky and nice; talk about a surprized look from him. I have used crisco ever since.”  This 1943 entry relates how they decided to leave North Dakota and move out west to Washington:  “We were getting letters about war work and high wages out West, so we made plans and left.” 

The family found her journals to be useful when it came to settling disputes: “What year did we all have the measles?” Aunt Freda would check her diary (no one was allowed to read them) and settle the “discussion” once and for all.

When I was growing up I loved to write in my little Five-year diaries.  Each day’s entry had about four closely spaced lines to squeeze in thoughts and activities.  Since, at some point, mine were lost this isn’t my diary but it is very similar.  Does anyone else remember these little diaries with the little lock and key?

diary pink thumbnailCA4TPA9J

For years I didn’t keep a journal per se but documented my life in other ways.  A journal of sorts, I kept a little book of the trips we made in our Itasca motorhome.


I copy and throw snippets of paper with quotes I like in another little book.  This is often the source for the “A Thought” section on this Blog.


One of my other “journals” documents my sewing projects.  The cover is pretty shabby (chic? No, not in the least!) and inside I’ve taped or stapled in samples of fabric, idea notes, patterns, who I made the project for, and other comments.


The left side details how I refurbished Denise’s childhood rocking chair for newborn Stanley.  Making race marshal flags for my friend Dale is described on the opposite page.


This very pretty blue blank book was my journal of choice when I got serious about daily journaling during planning stages of going full time RVing.  I have a terrible memory and thought I’d better document the many places we would go.  I’m glad I did!


We officially began full time RVing on November 2, 1994 and beginning with 1995 I switched to a three-ring binder. The flexibility of a three-ring binder allows me to add pages/pictures of interest and doesn’t limit me to a certain number of pages for the year.  I had a small laptop computer (no internet yet at that time) and my plan was use it to record and print my daily entries for inclusion in the journal.


I did that for awhile but found that my natural rhythm for journaling is writing in bed at night before I go to sleep so that didn’t work for me.  Since then I write every night with one of my fountain pens (each pen is filled with a different color ink: Blue, Tobacco, Nightshade,  Lie de The, Martin, Lierre Sauvage, Chocolat, Turquoise) - colorful!


Beginning in 1997 I decided to use 6”X9” 3-ring view binders which gives me the opportunity to design my own covers.  Sometimes I use clip art but usually chose photos I have taken.  Because I won’t be in California most of the year, my  2011 cover is California poppies and lupine I photographed at Laguna Seca in Monterey.


Below is my 2010 journal.  The front cover is a photo I took at Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa, California and the back cover features some words of inspiration I found in a Whole Living magazine.


My journals focus on daily activities rather than personal feelings and thoughts (although they do creep in at times!)  I write pretty much what did I do, where did I go, what happened that day.  Journaling has gotten to be part of my routine which I very rarely skip. 

NOW. . .the challenge is, with so many books of journals and my bad memory, how do I find what I’m looking for, i.e. “when did we eat and listen to Cajun music at Landry’s in New Iberia?”  Answer: I’ve started a timeline spreadsheet! (Is that another sort of journal? I don’t know!)


  1. Now that was such an interesting entry from your aunt. I loved it. And wow how organized you are - in an RV no less - a cool idea - I have to give it some thought.


  2. I think a journal is such a wonderful legacy for a family. I kind of view my blog as a journal of sorts ... though I like how you have ones for different interests.