“It seems to me as natural and necessary to keep notes, however brief, of one’s reading, as logs of voyages or photographs of one’s travels. For memory, in most of us, is a galloping consumption.” ~ F. L. Lucas
Tag Archives: journaling
Sometimes, journaling can be like doing the dishes. You know it needs done. You know you’ll regret it and get overwhelmed if you don’t, but… you just don’t wanna. So you put it off. And before you know it a few months have gone by, but it’s not like anything really super exciting happened, so you’re getting away with it, right? You’ll wait until some big moment in life arrives and then you’ll journal, you promise yourself. Except that when that time happens, you’re so swamped with the details of life that it’s nearly impossible to chronicle your internal state of affairs. Eventually, you give up. And your life is passing without your inner thoughts, feelings, observations, hopes, dreams, decisions, the life-changing events, and the little moments that really make up the reality of life being set down to last.
The Bible tells us:
It’s a sobering thought, but true nonetheless. We don’t really know what tomorrow will bring. It seems to be that most of life is lived in the ordinary, slow, waiting mode, and then BOOM! the dramatic, life-changing events happen all of a sudden. Not just the scary, traumatizing stuff of life, but also the good, happy things full of love and joy.
Who will capture our lives to set down to be remembered if we don’t? Most of us don’t have biographers or will write a published autobiography. It’s up to us to record things so they didn’t happen in vain. Why does this matter so much? It matters for those coming after us (relatives or even non-relatives who maybe never knew us) because they can learn or identify from our lives. It’s like a snapshot of what people in our day and generation thought about the world going on around us. It also matters to us because someday we will hopefully be able to look back and see how far we’ve grown and matured. Or for us to remember things better. It gives a sense that our lives do matter.
Remembering the importance of journaling can help motivate us to ‘do those journaling dishes’ even when we don’t feel like it. I get in this slump lots of times. In fact, right now I’m going through a phase where I find it hard to do anything I should do and easy to do everything I shouldn’t! But I find it helpful to keep journaling by setting aside one day a week and making it a priority. First, I write about landmark events. Who had a baby? Who’s running for president? Then, I write about what stood out to me during the course of the last week. Maybe an argument I had with someone, or an achievement I earned. If nothing comes to my mind for either of these prompts, I come up with some sort of opinion or thought I’ve been holding in my mind lately. What are my favorite colors currently and why? What annoys me about certain people? I don’t just write about the flowery things of life. I try to be real.
Here’s a tip: It’s much, much easier to journal when you don’t have a boatload of important things to write about. Slowly processing through the last seven days can become more of a contemplative activity than a chore. And if something big happens (like someone ending up in the hospital), seven days are hard enough to document without having to play catch-up first.
What are some ways that you overcome procrastination in journaling?
If you journal, do you ever envision someone reading what your write someday? It’s sort of a humbling thought. It can make one more conscious of the fact that what we choose to do today could influence another tomorrow.
Let’s take the published diaries of famous people that we may enjoy reading about. The Diary of Anne Frank; The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery; Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh… (Sorry to list only female writers here: I try to write what I know.) What is it about reading someone else’s diary that interests us so much? I think in large part it is because we feel a connection to someone else. They may have lived in a different place at a totally different time, but we still can identify with universal human emotions. In Ecclesiastes we read, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Somehow, we don’t feel quite as alone when we connect with someone who has felt similarly at one time or another. We are drawn out of our isolation, out of our selves, and are exposed to new ideas and ways of looking at things.
I’m currently watching the riveting docudrama The Great War Diary,– reenactments based on real life diaries and letters of people who lived through the first modern war in history. A diary can be a snapshot in time. We get to see what a person thought or felt during a specific event. Some diaries may mention world news, others may not. Regardless, reading about how others managed through the times in which they lived can help us find strength and inspiration for our lives today. People can learn from others from both the good and the bad.
There is something quite different about reading someone’s journal as opposed to fiction. It’s not a contrived plot. The person writing a particular entry had no idea what would occur the next day. Maybe we know the ending, as unfortunately most do when reading about Anne Frank. But they didn’t, and had a choice to do the best they could with what they had at a given time. Not all things are wrapped up with a bow at the end of the story. Sometimes we see realistic periods of time where seemingly nothing happens, or maybe the entries are blank. The feelings described were real and were felt by real people, like us. In that way, we can identify and maybe be comforted by the fact that we’re not the only ones.
So, what responsibility have we when we set to journal our journeys through life? I think being honest is the most important things we can be when pouring out ourselves, even to the pages of a book. Nobody’s perfect and in our journals– whatever else our lives may pressure us to be—we can be safe to reveal that and hopefully process through it. In so doing, we pave a way for readers who may come after us. What else are we here for than to be a light to others?
Keeping a journal of our thoughts and feelings is also a way to not let it all be in vain. When I feel sad or happy, I don’t want those emotions to be for nothing. So I will sometimes sit down and write it all out. Then it is recorded—not lost, and I feel as though it has not been wasted.
Perhaps all this may sound scary to some. Those who felt inhibited about being vulnerable before now may feel doubly so. “That’s what I was afraid of! I’m terrified someone may read my journals one day!” I know a couple of family members who pitched their older diaries because they were embarrassed. If this is the only way one can feel better about keeping a diary, then I suppose this could be an option as opposed to living in so much dread someone may find it that it keeps you from writing at all. But I urge careful consideration before destroying all your precious thoughts. They really can be an invaluable aid for future generations, whether you think so or not.
In a digital age where text, email, posts, and twitter are thoughtlessly punched out and type quickly vanishes, a journal can be an even more precious gift for ourselves and those who come after. A journal’s voice keeps on speaking long after the writer is gone.
Exciting news! Silk ASMR’s new app for the Apple Store has now gone public as of June 21! I participated as an app artist (under my blog name booklearner) in the project last summer and am now spreading the word to all of you. You can download the app for free, sample recordings for free, and listen to one of my three recordings or any number of the other 40 artists’ 200+ recordings. Silk ASMR comes preloaded with 40 free crystals + 10 extra free crystals when you take the app survey. Plus, you can give the app your honest review and help other listeners.
What is ASMR? ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is experienced by some individuals as a “pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back peripheral regions of the body’ in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli.” [Wikipedia] Because there is little scientific explanation or verified data, Dr. Craig Richard (professor at Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy) along with several others, created a research project on the phenomenon. You can learn more at Dr. Richard’s ASMR University website.
I do not personally experience ASMR. But many people use ASMR videos (which seems to be gaining in popularity on YouTube) for relaxation and for help with insomnia. Some people use ASMR for guided meditation. Instead, I chose to make my recordings more instructive and creative. Two of my recordings are freestyle speeches, or lectures if you will, on the topics of the importance of family history and journaling. I hope they are found to be inspiring and motivating. They both started out as articles on this blog, which I then turned into my app speeches and erased from booklearned to avoid copyright issues. The third recording is a collection of poetry by L. M. Montgomery.
Some youtube videos out there on ASMR are kind of ‘iffy’. But I felt confident in Dr. Richard’s research and enjoyed working with him on this project. One thing that makes this project unique is that you can mix and layer different soundtracks together. So, you can select someone speaking, then add in some background sound effects such as crinkling, tapping, white noise, and relaxing music. You can custom make it to suit your liking! The app is brand new, but already the reviews are saying that the app is professional, realistic, and user-friendly. I asked the professor how he came to name the app Silk ASMR, and he replied:
“We wanted our name to represent quality and comfort, attributes well known to the material of silk. Another major reason was the word itself. The “sk” sound is one of the strongest vocal sounds for stimulating ASMR in many individuals….
“The app icon is a silk moth. Specifically, actias luna, also known as the “luna moth.” Its transformation from an earth-bound caterpillar to a free-flying moth is a metaphor for how someone may feel after being relaxed, well rested, or after experiencing ASMR. Our hope is that this app will bring you a similar type of transformation or rejuvenation.”
I’m grateful to Dr. Richard for the opportunity, as well as thankful to Ruth Golding, an ever-popular fellow Librovoxer from across the pond who helped me with the technical side of things. She also contributed to the app.
I hope you’ll take the time to enjoy my recordings (you’ll find me as booklearner)! You can visit Silk’s website here, plus follow Silk on the following social media:
You can find tutorials and demos on YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. Enjoy! 🙂
Confess: Have you ever read someone else’s diary? Maybe it was completely fiction, like the popular Dear America books or the Royal Diaries Series I read in fourth grade. Or maybe it was a published genuine diary of someone famous, like The Diary of Anne Frank, or Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Perhaps you are fortunate to own the diary of one of your ancestors who moved out west on the Oregon Trail, or lived through WWII. In any event, we are able to see these peoples’ lives (whether real or fictional) with a bird’s eye view. We know that the hardships they’re going through won’t last forever; we may know who their descendants are and even more importantly, what happened because of these people’s choices in life.
Sometimes our lives can get pretty discouraging because we don’t know how our story will turn out. We can’t see in the present moment of our lives what will be the result of our actions today. What’s more, we’re usually not aware of the consequences our decisions might have on others coming after us. That’s probably a good thing sometimes, since I’m sure we would become so anxiety-stricken that we would never make a decision to save our lives! I’m thankful we can choose God to be our Author who sees the end from the beginning, and who can work all things together for our good, even when we make mistakes.
When I get a new blank journal, I wonder what sort of events I will record on the white pages. Sometimes I even write a little note to myself on a random page somewhere in it where I say something like, “I wonder what will happen on this page?” When I eventually make my way to that spot, sometimes I’m surprised that whatever it is I’m writing has happened to me and I never would have guessed at the beginning of the journal that I’d be writing about that! Blank pages can give us hope beyond tomorrow. Life is not static. Even when we’re caught in a rut, eventually life has a way of churning something up that will cause us to respond in some way, and then we’re faced with a choice.
A diary can help us view our lives with a little more 3-D perspective. Sometimes I look at troubled teens in the world and wonder how much good the habit of journal writing might do them. I know keeping a diary won’t solve the world’s problems. But I think this discipline (which is usually best instilled at a young age) causes one to ponder the results of their actions a bit more. Especially if we’ve read others’ personal stories, we start to take into consideration how the people coming after us will view our lives, instead of just living to please ourselves. Ideally, I think we would like to lives we would like to write down in a book. No one’s perfect, and a good dose of honesty keeps a personal story human and identifiable. But in general, I think recording our lives will help us keep in mind to make choices that will leave the world a better place. Of course, a lot of all this is determined by your worldview, values, and beliefs. But I don’t know anyone who wants to live their life as a waste.
We don’t intentionally do so, and yet sometimes we go through seasons where we feel just plain stuck for one reason or another. Keeping a journal can help motivate us to do something worthwhile with the time we’ve been given. I’ve never tried this, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to write my journal in third person. What a perspective that would give one!
How has journaling helped give you a motivating way to view your life? Feel free to leave comments below!
Travel to another time, another place this spring with these good reads!
Getting to Know the Church Fathers, by Bryan Litfin
It seems to be trendy for many Christians to distance themselves from the church’s historical past for one reason or another, and I wanted to read up on the subject for myself to seek out truth. It’s hard to have a discussion with someone when you don’t know who certain bigwigs among the early church fathers were, you know? The problem was that I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what author I could trust to give me an accurate view on the subject. And many books out there seemed daunting. What layman really wants to slog through 600+ pages of names and doctrines they’re still unclear about by the time they’re done with the book? Then I learned that Bryan Litfin, a professor of theology (and a name I recognized and trusted), had written a book for the everyday protestant. Choosing 10 names from the early centuries of Christianity, Litfin breaks down an orderly, concise history in an easy to understand manner. They are basically mini biographies put together, including such historical persons as Augustine, Justin Martyr, Origen, and Athanasius. Through reading this book, they became real people to me, instead of just a name. One of the things I appreciated is that the author sets the stage by giving us the background of where each person was coming from, how they grew up, what events and people influenced them, and why certain issues became a father’s bee-in-the-bonnet. Time is taken to explain doctrinal issues, whether it was one the early church supported or one it opposed. Controversial topics such as the early beginnings of the papacy is addressed. Without bashing our church fathers, Litfin carefully addresses the poor choices some of them made, while always reminding us of the great things they did to contribute to the legacy handed down to us. A great read for any seeking Christian.
A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, by Susan Branch
I saw this in our library’s new release display and immediately swiped it to pore over the watercolor illustrations. I love art journals in almost any form and looking at Susan Branch’s pictorial traipse through England was just lov-erly! I can’t say that I read this book cover to cover as I was more interested in the pictures, but it is chock full of wonderful quotes I copied down for my quote-book. The book reads like someone’s illustrated scrapbook, with many photographs the author and her husband took while on their spring-long vacation. I can’t say the photos are professional looking, but you get the sense of looking at an enthusiastic friend’s photo album. So if you love tea, cats, painting, and all things British, this cheery book is for you!