Thursday, January 21, 2010

Please Keep A Journal

This is for my own children and grandchildren as well as for all of you who read my blog from time to time... Please keep a journal.

What an inspiring man and an easy to do project for all of us, writing our personal history one day at a time. A journal doesn't need to be fancy or  artistic or even very involved; it just needs to have its author pay a few minutes of daily attention to recording the details of one's life. I'm sure Mr. ----------'s children get bored about half way through each journal and they each probably won't ever read every volume, but some of it will pique the interest of an offspring, ... and there's usually a history buff in every coulple of generation.

I've never been able to be totally committed to daily journal keeping. I kept a diary in high scholl, until my Mother found and read it, and that was the end of that! I have diary/journal entries in lots of different volumes, but rarely have I filled a book. I'm in the process of collecting the disparate pages (3 from one book, 5 from another) and tossing them into a drawer. One of these days I'll try to figure out the sequence and assemble all these pages into one volume. Some are prayers, some rants, some praise, some family history; they'll all go into one book.

In the mid 1990s I started making artists journals, books full of art and ideas and creativity, painting and drawing and collage and lots of notes. I made sure, as I still do, that the cover of the book was inviting so that I'd see it and want to pick it up and work in it. Still, I don't work in these books every day though its frequent enough that the books get filled every year or so. I love to pull out a journals and page through it in order to jumpstart a new project or process. And I notice that friends also love looking through my art journals, stopping to read an entry here and there, so I'm careful that the private thoughts that I don't want to share with the world are hidden from plain sight.

I've been quiet lately here in blogland and part of the reason for that is that I'm taking time for closer introspection than is normal for me. We're into a new decade and I'm giving lots of thought to determining how I want to live it. I don't want to continue to squander precious TIME; I want to use my days wisely. I'm heeding Mother's advice to "Waste Not, Want Not".... a wise clique that falls all too easily on deaf ears in recent generations.

I was born to parents who faced hard times in the Great Depression. Their first home burned to the ground  when they were away at work and they had to pull up stakes and move out of the state and rely on her brother for work and shelter, right in the middle of the depression when there was little work to be found anywhere. They learned to make do, to use things until they were beyond function, and then do without until they could earn enough to buy what they needed.  Mother made clothes; Dad made furniture. They had a big garden and helped on their parents' farms. They managed. I was born to that and I learned to pinch pennies early on, to think before I bought anything. Better times came but now I'm back where I started, making an effort not to waste neither time nor money. It's not as bad as it was in the 30's and 40's, in depression and wartime, though we grouse about unemployment and increasing costs for everything. We don't have to deal with rationing or no new cars or refrigerators because all the metal is being used for ships and munitions.

As I think about this I find myself wishing that my mother or father had kept a journal, that they had written something, anything, and how they existed. They're dead and it's too late to ask the questions that would inform me about how they managed, but it's not too late for me to rachet up my journaling skills and leave a written and artistic record for those who come after me. I'll write down what I consider to be important about my days and my thoughts and opinions. This is a good thing.


  1. Great post, Jo. I am the same way about journals--I really want to try this year, and when you put it in the way that you did, I feel that I must keep a journal--Thank You!!

  2. I couldn't agree more! I wished my parents wrote about their childhood during the Korean war....what allowed them to overcome hardships....what were their dreams. I too want to focus on more journal writing/collage/painting to capture this life, so thanks for this post!

    p.s. youtube link was broken for me

  3. My blog is my journal. Try as I might, a personal journal just doesn't call to me. I abandon them. My husbands parents wrote "stories" about their lives, and are working on more of them. Those spiral bound story books were wonderful Christmas presents to us, complete with photographs to illustrate the stories. I interviewed family members and wrote stories about a few of my great Aunts. I still have a ways to go with that project. It might have been easier if they had kept journals!
    You are a consummate journal keeper Jo. I love your journals.

  4. Hi Jo, I loved this video. What an amazing treasure he has left for his family. I like that he included cards and articles from the month as well - a good place to keep those mementos that you do not know where to keep, but do not want to through out.

    I too am hoping to make better use of my time and life.


  5. What a great video to inspire others to keep a journal- plus your insightful discussion about journaling and what it means to family.

  6. Oh I love your blog posts and I LOVE this video! What a treasure to leave for his family....

    Thanks for the inspiration....

  7. There have been so many times over the last five years when I've wished my mother had kept a journal. I stop and start my own but never quite get it off the ground. I enjoyed the video clip ...... That is one huge library of journals!


I appreciate comments and questions.

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