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Monday, February 02, 2009

journaling


Introspective people like to keep a journal.

This is just a sample of the journals I have. All but one (the orange spiral) was given to me by discerning friends and family. Lesley got the pretty brown-green-aqua set on the right and the olive ribbon one as giveaways at design shows. So nice that she thinks of her mother.

There is promise in empty white pages, and the time and effort of writing down thoughts and feelings means my own life is special, important. I can work through problems or figure out my mind.

I also confess that I take narcissistic pleasure in seeing my own hand writing, even though my weak wrists have caused it to deteriorate seriously. But even in my chaotic scribbles there is comfort. As someone said, the act of writing by hand feels connected to the heart. Because this is true for me, I often start a poem by writing down initial thoughts by hand, then typing them into a Word doc for easy editing.

Most of the white pages in the books above have not one mark on them. The truth is that I don't do much writing in journals any more, though I value it.

There's no denying that blogging has taken the place of some journal writing. We all expose ourselves in varying degrees in these public spaces, but private thoughts can still be hidden between the pretty covers of a blank book. Now if I'd been journaling lately, I might have written down how nice it was to get the Blog of Note honor, that it stretched my capacity to keep up, and that I'm tickled to be off the main Blog of Note blog page now. I am enjoying new friends, and I am quite happy to have things settle back to a dull roar, as we used to say at our house.


87 comments:

Susan said...

Ruthie, we're all very lucky that you decided to share with us some of the thoughts that might have gone into your journals. And I think that "dull roar" will eventually settle down to the sound that a conch shell makes when you hold it up to your ear. :)

Dakota Bear said...

Hello Ruth,

I use journals to take notes during church sermons. And I also use them when I go on vacations to write about my impressions of the places I am touring. Other than that I'm not inclined to write my daily thoughts.

I also have some beautiful journals people gave me two years ago when I retired. They must of thought I would have a lot of time on my hands. Time I do have, but I find blogging takes a good piece of time.

Susan said...

Tickled pink, huh? :)

dutchbaby said...

Because I am a calligrapher, I receive many blank journals too. I've used some of them as vacation journals, one I used for menus of dinner parties but it hasn't had an entry in years now, one I use when for notes when I take my mother to the doctor (very useful), but most remain empty.

Now tell me, what template are you using to make your photos so large? I'm envious!

VioletSky said...

tickled pink :)

my intentions towards returning to journaling are about as good as my intentions to returning to exercising. my intentions mean well. love that 3rd one from the top.

Be one with the Fro said...

I agree with VioletSky...my intentions to return to journaling are about as good as my intentions to return to cleaning my house hahaha I love blogging though.

MAXIMUS said...

No matter how much I've tried to start a journal I never filled those pages. I used to hate reading my own thoughts the next day. Of course, as the years go by people change. Now, I have my blog. I write down personal thoughts which, alas, they go public! To make things worse ? I really enjoy it.

ds said...

Hi, Ruth!

It is freeing to write in a journal, isn't it. A relief sometimes, when there is time. Hope you will give yourself the time--but don't give this up! It is such a thoughtful, calm place. You "synchronize" so many things so beautifully.

Coffee Messiah said...

I guess my blog is my journal and like you, it's nice to be able to breath again and not get so many crazy comments from those looking to waste time with nothing better to do.

Otherwise, it was fun while it lasted, no???? ; )))))))))

kanmuri said...

I used to keep a journal when I was a kid. It is interesting to go back and read it. It was written a a difficult time in my life so sometimes it is hard, for children write things as they are...

I share your love for nice little journals... but I never buy them because I don't write in them anymore

Gwen Buchanan said...

I like this post Ruth...

My journal is lacking since blogging.. only that I get so wound up at looking at everyone elses lives online and my time is sucked away... I have to be careful about that... In my written journal that I have kept for years, I get much more personal than I ever would on the blog.. but my blog was not created as a personal journal like so many others I see..

They are quite different things...

Ditte said...

O yes, the promiss of empty white pages <3 I love journals and prettu notebooks, I can't stop buying them, even when I don't need them :)

And I read in a psychology magazine that keeping a journal is actually really good for you, especially when you try to write positive things.

(I found your blog thanks to Blog of Note, and enjoy it very much! :))

CSouthwell said...

Ruth, you are a great part of what blogging, for me is all about. I'm really glad to have met you and applaud your efforts.

The community aspect is hugely valued but lost between everyone vying for their 5 minutes of fame, and whilst many projects including my own are a little selfish in their nature. (I'd like to think mine has an aspect of bringing people together.) I think that it is important to make the community here stronger and not to lose it to the corperate multi person posting blogs.

I was thinking of starting a new journal in March, and taking a picture of it to blog, about not using technology so much. Getting my girlfriend to upload the pictures for me.

But i really like the community aspect of projects, not sure where to go after this one.

I have often found that when i start a journal it goes really well for about a week, then it tails off.

Which is why I am so happy to have been blogging for well over a month now.

Ruth said...

Susie Q, I'm gonna start calling you Vallie Girl, and you'll know what I mean. :D Now I have two names for you.

The sound of a conch shell, what a perfect thing to imagine and hope for. Insular, and cozy.

Ruth said...

Dakota Bear, it's a good idea to use the blank books for travel notes, or lectures, or garden plans.

Yes, as rauf recently said, it's good that authors for the past centuries didn't have the Internet, or we might not have much literature.

Ruth said...

Susan - you noticed!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, ohh, calligraphy. Menus are a good thing to put in them. I can imagine writing to someone for a few months, like letters, and giving it for a birthday or Christmas.

I look forward to seeing what you do with the instructions I emailed you for big pics!

Ruth said...

Sanna! Hehe.

Oh yes, that one was given me by Inge, I love it too. It has a nice flap that closes and snaps. I've actually written in that one, sort of a reading journal, taking notes from books.

Ruth said...

Be One, you must try the 'ruthie method' which is just: blog a little, clean a little, read a little, blog a little, do laundry a little, etc. - until the work is done!

Ruth said...

MAXIMUS, we found an old journal recently that I filled when I was a young mother, and my poor daughter started reading it and read about how I struggled when she was a baby! That was painful. But I hope it will help her when she has a baby and struggles.

Ruth said...

Thank you, DS, that makes me so happy!

I tried Julia Cameron's 'morning pages' for a while, just write and write without stopping or thinking, and never go back and reread it. I didn't find it helpful or meaningful. It's supposed to help writers unblock. I'd rather write fewer words with meaning. I guess that comes from writing poetry, so condensed.

Ruth said...

Coffee Messiah - yes, it was fun, but I like breathing. :)

Ruth said...

Kanmuri, I wonder if you can find pretty journals in Japan? We have a paper store in Ann Arbor that has walls of shelves stacked with blank books of every pattern and color way imaginable. I just browse and drool. They make me happy just looking.

Ruth said...

I know, Gwen, the range of what bloggers blog about is remarkable - as varied as people are. It's such a gift to be able to design a space and instantly publish. The most valuable part to me is the human exchange, which is completely wonderful with friends like you.

Ruth said...

Hi, welcome, Ditte! I was reading something about that today too, what you say, that there is quite a bit of stress relief that happens when people journal. I was surfing the Internet about journaling, and there were several sites that praised its benefits.

Thank you for your visit. I wish I could read Dutch and read your blogs.

Ruth said...

Charlie, oh no, your project is not selfish just because you enjoy it. You have invited people to come to your blog and you are creating a great community space. What you've done is actually my favorite project so far in blogland, because you have posted everyone's photos at your blog. I really like seeing them all in one spot, and you have gotten great results already. That alone shows the variety of people and their creativity, which is just what you're saying - community!

As for starting something for a week, I am like that about way too many things. I get all fired up, and launch, and then ppfffff. But sometimes the design and start of something is the really fulfilling part. I feel that way about some books, that reading the first chapter is all you need (non-fiction).

Kayla said...

Ruth,
I have to say I have tried over the years to journal but never make it for a whole week. Something always happens and I fail, yet I have been doing pretty good on posting everyday on my blog. Funny how I can do this huh? Well I do have several notebooks and such full of poetry or lines from over the years. I think I have kept a notebook on my person since about the time I was in 6th or 7th grade. So I have a whole bunch in my room. It is almost like a journal because I can pull them out and read the poems I wrote at the time and remember how I felt and what was going on during that period. I think it is cool that you actually have/had the discipline to keep up a journal. I have to agree that actually writing something by hand seems more heartfelt than typing. That is one reason I usually write my poems then type them up later.
So hears to those who still actually write things by hand. May this never die, no matter how technically advanced we get. :)

Christina said...

You had me at "there is promise in empty white pages".

I love these words, you have shared.

Sandy said...

These are beautiful photos. I use to buy journals, wrote in a few, hid a few more, threw away the ones I hid, have reread the one I kept when my kids were little and ...just can't write anymore. My handwriting is atrocious and since I typed for 32 years in a job, I just don't feel comfortable writing by hand anymore.

I was always afraid my deepest thoughts would be found if I die. ha.

Couldn't have that, wouldn't be prudent.

Loring Wirbel said...

I've almost forgotten cursive. When I use a pen, everything is in little printed characters. Not sure why or when that happened.

freefalling said...

Yes, I'm not happy about all these extra people monopolizing your time!
Spose you just have to share good stuff.

Ruth said...

Kayla, oh no, I have only been disciplined once I think, when my daughter was a baby. I had a lot of time then to sit and be with her, and write a few things every day. I think when life is difficult I find more time for journaling. My life has not been difficult, and only a few days were a struggle, and those are the days I journaled.

Ruth said...

Christina dear, you are a woman of few words. Each word is chosen with care. One word might deserve a line by itself. You understand the power of words - simple, straight, true, with feeling.

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy, there is a lot of information about people we wouldn't have if they hadn't kept a diary or journal. But it seems invasive to read them after they die, unless they explicitly made them available. Like in The Bridges of Madison County - they discovered something about their mother that turned their world upside down. It made for a nice story, but it seems that some stories should be kept private.

Ruth said...

Loring, writing in cursive is still in 2nd grade curriculum, says Don, but because people don't use it much any more, there isn't the same focus on it as a discipline. Girls tend to enjoy it, all those heart dots on "i"s.

Ruth said...

Letty, I'm still here. It's just me. Nothing's changed, except more people came to tea.

Susan said...

I'm like Sandy when it comes to writing down my deepest thoughts. I'm afraid they will be read when I die! If I were being honest, I would probably say some things that would be hurtful to people I love deeply and that's not a memory I would want to leave with them for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, it's too scary having anyone know my innermost thoughts. I would have so many torn-out pages, it would look ridiculous!

Ruth said...

Susie Q, there's something sad about that. I agree, there are some thoughts that no one else should know. And maybe it's best if they aren't written down.

Kimberly said...

Ruth,
I'm reading a great book, "The Introvert Advantage". It is a great read for both sides of the introvert and extrovert spectrum.
You share the same introvert tendency to journal and work out ideas, issues and thoughts internally. I 100% agree with you that blogging has taken the place of journaling (at least for myself).
Introverts can still gather their energy internally,while sharing what is brewing on the inside to share with the outside.

rauf said...

Ruth,
please check this blog,

http://medhaonlinetoday.blogspot.com/

rauf said...

'Harriet the Spy'
please watch this movie
Michelle Tachenberg is all grown up now.

i never got this into my daily routine Ruth, wrote for a few days when i was in school

Ruth said...

Kimberly, you're reminding me of the Myers Briggs personality profile. I know some people think it's hooey, but Don and I found a lot of freedom when we realized we were opposite in all four areas! No wonder we were different, Myers Briggs validated it! Anyway, I learned a lot about the introvert/extrovert thing from that. That you might get energized from alone time, but that doesn't mean you don't want to share with the outside world.

So, yes, good point.

You have a beautiful blog.

Ruth said...

Well that's interesting, rauf because when I wrote the post I was thinking how nice it would be to make homemade journals.

I think I've shown you the paper store in Ann Arbor where you can buy supplies to make books too. Maybe that is a goal: to make a book by hand before I die. Hmm, what would it be about?

Yes yes I know I need to see "Harriet the Spy," still haven't. Now I am curious about the connection with journaling.

photowannabe said...

I used to journal quite a bit but children and life in general just got in the way. Every once in a while I get on a writing jag. I wish I had a better way with words. Blogging does seem to fill some of that empty space.

Be one with the Fro said...

Thanks Ruth! I must say that the "ruthie method" does work...the only problem I had was blogging a little turns into blogging alot. Since I'm home all the time now I get so caught up in everyone's blog. I did manage to clean my house yesterday though. I was very proud of myself! Hope your evening goes well.

Oliag said...

I always enjoy your posts Ruth - a beautiful photo with something written that really makes me think...I recently found a journal I wrote and drew in for a few months about the time Clinton first became president...reading it made me wish I had kept it up...when I have journaled I have always tried to follow the rule "If you don't want anyone to read it - don't write it down!" for someone will surely read it...

renaye said...

falling snow
cherry blossom petals
still clinging

this is my haiku inspired by ur header. actually it's not cherry blossom but i don't know what flower plant is in the middle header so i substitute it with sakura.

rauf said...

Oh Ruth ! its Harriet's journal which makes the movie interesting. She writes down everything she observes.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sue, but what's nice about journaling is that you don't have to have a way with words. You can just write. For a while I tried at least writing one word, one word that came to me for the day.

Ruth said...

Tiffany, my frofrofriend, don't tell me, I know how it is. What a beautiful and creative world out there, such minds! Such expressions. Like Lykke Li, whom I never heard of until today. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Oliag.

One thing I have done, and this is what the orange spiral is for, is to write feelings that I don't want anyone to read, get them down, because I need to. Then rip out that page, open the woodstove, and toss it in.

Ruth said...

Sweeeeet Renaye! I love it.

I don't know what the plant is either, it's in the Beal Gardens at the university where I work. You caught the best of haiku: a twist of nature.

Ruth said...

rauf, I am such a dweeb. I remember that now, I looked it up a long time ago.

:D (this is me looking dweeby)

Be one with the Fro said...

Hey Ruth! I finally got snow! YAY! I am in need of some snowballs. I haven't had a snowball fight in years hahaha

Yes, the world is full of creative minds and beautiful dreams. I'm glad you appreciated that video. I need to dance more as well! Have a beautiful day!

Be one with the Fro said...

Oh yea...your a dweeb?!?!?!?! Have no shame in that sista hahaha we need more dweebs in this world.

Ruth said...

Yippee! My daughter called from NYC last night, getting on the subway, and she said "it's snowing!" So, good on you.

I wasn't allowed to go to dances growing up, so I am not only a dweeb, I am a spazzy-footed-dweeb. But I liked how Lykke Li was just twirling and didn't look like Cyd Charisse or someone.

Helena said...

I'm a compulsive writer and I used to have many diaries - but I burned them all when I left home and went to university. Wanted to get rid of the past I guess. I don't regret it because I wouldn't have time to look at the diaries anymore. Maybe it would be fun to glance but these days I like to look forward, not backward. Because I've done so much introspection that I had enough of it. :-)

Bob Johnson said...

Very beautiful writing Ruth. Blogging is the closest I'll get to a journal, maybe someday wen I pass on someone will know a little of me by reading it.

Ruth said...

Helena, I think there is a season for introspection for some, and then it passes. I think I know what you mean.

Ruth said...

Bob, yes, as we do now. It's a treat to learn about the sky while I'm laughing.

Peter said...

I think I tried to keep a journal for about two weeks some 40 years ago... My wife kept on doing daily journal writing and I can now read it all, with mixed feelings. Dominated by a lot of nice memories, but also, now and then, some not so kind words about myself! I guess this is normal in most couples! Anyhow, I'm happy she did. She often let me read her thoughts rather soon after her writing, but to read it all now, with the time perspective, is so different!

Don said...

I should go out to the shed and dig up the journals you kept in LA and Istanbul. They are chock full of reflections and secrets.

rauf said...

Actually Ruth, the reason for my giving up is, it is very difficult to be honest. Nearly impossible.

renaye said...

i'm glad u like it. and i believe u also left a haiku on my blog? thank u!

aiya! my friend was telling me snow and cherry blossom r two different kind of season! it doesn't really go together but who knows in the midst of global warming. :D

but anyway which uni r u attached to?

Edward Yablonsky said...

Ihave never formally kept an ongoing journal. When I started my blog and responded to other blogs I had accumulated research interests and reactions to my readings and to my research which I am compiling in these twilight years and this adds a vista where I have really grown for the effort.

Ruth said...

Wow, Peter. I think it's healthy for the writer to vent normal annoyances of the spouse, but it sounds painful for the spouse to read! I'm glad you got through it with so much understanding.

Ruth said...

Don, how do you know?

Ruth said...

rauf, you are a very honest person, so if you can't be honest in a journal, I can see why you would not want to keep one.

Be one with the Fro said...

Being a spazzy footed dweeb is something to be proud of...and I liked how the video was just of a girl twirling around as well. It wasn't a flashy video, which I loved!

How long as your daughter lived in NYC? I love it there. A city full of life.

Ruth said...

Renaye, yes, that was a little impromptu haiku.

The red 'blossoms' hanging in the header collage are dried, I think, leftovers. It is a strange thing to see in snow.

I work at Michigan State University.

Ruth said...

Edward, how wonderful, a brand new venue for you to share your thoughts and research!

Ruth said...

Tiffany, you know, there were moments watching that video when I thought quietly in my head, "She looks a little dweeby." But then I instantly related to her and was pleased that she was. Like white shoes with black tights! Well, maybe that's moda now, and I just don't know it.

Lesley has lived in NYC 2 1/2 years, since she graduated design school. She loves it too - and so do I.

Don said...

Uh... I uh,.. wha... hmm,... I heard that someplace, I think

Be one with the Fro said...

I know you must love visiting her then. I always wanted to live a year there to give it a try. A few of my friends are there. I'm in the country now so it would definitely be a change.

JANET! said...

This was great. I feel the EXACT way about keeping a journal as you do. However, I do find that blogging is much quicker, BUT I absolutely LOVE seeing my handwriting in a journal. It's priceless. Thank you so much for this post. :)
Janet!

Edward Yablonsky said...

Journaling and blogging. It is the writing of my reactions to the world, and making sense in my mind of what passes off in the world as small acts, madness, and sensitivities. Blogging helps so much.It is a brand new venue for me. Thank you,Ruth for your reply.

Ruth said...

Tiffany, we haven't had many chances to visit her yet, but we will soon. I would love to live there, or Chicago, for a year or so one day.

Ruth said...

Hi, Janet, and welcome. Apparently there are health benefits to journaling. It relieves stress. I suppose when we share ourselves in blogs, it's more creative expression than journaling, but unfortunately it's replaced it for me.

CSouthwell said...

Ruth, thanks for your kind comments.

It has actually stunned me at how much time its taken to facilitate the aadmin aspect of putting up everyones photos. But dilligently am trying to sort through them.


*Gasps for air*

I guess some projects or ideas are like badly written books, in that you cant and dont get that sense of connecction that you get pulled into.

And like a book, this chapter will be over soon, may retire from the blog for a little while afterwards get some thoughts and time back...

But dont want to lose momentum.

Ruth said...

Wow, Charlie! I get that!! :| It looked like there were fewer photos today, maybe that's good?

I hope you will come back after a break. This was a wild way to start! BAM!

CSouthwell said...

Yeah it seems like it was a much slower day. I've uploaded a couple more just now.

But they tend to filter in through the day.

I think i may journal and take pictures and get my girlfriend to take pictures of the writing, to see how i am coping without technology.

But i'm not sure. It's that or a lack of ideas for further projects. But i cant spend this much time just admin'ing on something which other than fun, and building a small community really serves little purpose.

We shall see though, Im not conviced i'll be able to stay away from computers.

Ruth said...

I do know what you mean. Seriously.

Lahluna said...

I just wanted to say that because you were a blogger of note I found you. I just started a blog and dream of someday having one as beautiful as yours. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts and photos! - Jen

Ruth said...

Lahluna, that's really very kind, thank you. I've been blogging 3 years now, and this space has evolved a lot. You would not recognize it from its first inception. Let your soul lead you!

MedhaOnline said...

I am a journal addict myself!
I used to buy them, and your post has inspired me to go around the house and fish them out of their hiding places and take a picture of them stacked up!
I agree that blogging is journal keeping, though not entirely private, but thoughts that you would like to share.
I have now started MAKING my own journals, (see post on my blog) and the next step is to write a story, illustrate it, and then bind it..

Ruth said...

Medha, I'm so happy to see you here, because rauf had sent me to your journal post when I posted this. It was very inspiring. And the thought of creating a book entirely from scratch is even more so, and would be very satisfying.

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