Thursday, January 13, 2011


Journals have always been a part of my life. They have been a friend, space for thoughts and poems, testing ground for new ideas, as well as the interminable lists that reign my life as of late. I still have several that I kept from back in high school and have three actively on the go at present. One lives on my beside table, the other journeys with me in the car, keeping me company in coffee shops and while waiting for appointments. The last is more for work, where I hastily jot down ideas that are suggested for new directions of projects by my "Boss Lady". She is a phenomenal whirlwind of ideas and I have to desperately catch the thoughts that spring from her like a fountain. I listen, understand, but without some kind of notes, am hard pressed to have all the fine details later when I need to plug away at something in the comfort of my own home. That journal should be a tome, but unfortunately always seems to be lacking that tiny sprig of information that I need right NOW.

Journals have helped pave the way to my African stories that I share here with you lovely people, as well. I brought home three journals from my trip and they help to feed details into the story that I am breathing to life. Without my journals, I would have lost little details that bring my journey back fresh as day for me, and subsequently you. My scribbles are priceless to me.

Journals have also soaked up many, many tears through the years of my husband's illness and beyond. Grief filled pages as the only outlet that I could turn to where I was safe. Of course, that isn't completely true, but in the depths of my sorrows I felt vastly small and alone. Getting all of the hard and poisonous thoughts out of my head and onto paper helped me to see them, understand them better and in many cases, let them go. Those journals will travel with me, bringing me insight and reminding me of the long road I have travelled in darker days. That road is life and it continues still, but new journals have taken their place.

While I now often find myself at the computer writing poetry and prose, I still value my journals. In the pages of my journals, I can be kind or cruel to me, as the season fits. I am not perfect, and am often my worst critic, but in releasing this to a journal, I sometimes find release to myself. Stepping back onto the yoga mat this morning reminded me that I need to be kind to myself and make time for me. Allowing myself space to breathe, and also write, is key to my survival. I am flesh and blood, and my pen bleeds emotions over the page. I need this. It balances me.

Today's journal entry looked back at grief. Over breakfast my 5 year-old declared that losing a partner was worse than losing a child. She noted that losing a partner meant that the remaining parent had to do everything themselves, like taking out the garbage, making meals (with a little help from the kids once in a while), and everything. Her statement is absolutely right and she knows it from watching me day in and day out, but I gently reminded her that losing a child was equally devastating. I reminded her of my aunt who lost a daughter and how she might be able to rhyme off several reasons why that was worse. A child represents the future and the best of you, but I don't need to go into that further here. Everyone's grief is different, none better or worse than another. I will just say, that the fact that she is processing this aspect of grief makes me sad, and makes me wonder if she feels like a burden tied around my neck. I don't really think so, but the thought crossed my mind. She is such a serious child. She reminds me so much of myself. Trying to fill the role of little mother, when she/I knew that the need was there. Doing the utmost to make me happy and proud (in hopes of staving off those tears that reigned for so long?). Her view of the world through my grief was probably worse than losing her father at the time. She lost him physically, but her remaining parent swirled out of control on a wave of never-ending tears. Any time a tear comes to my eye or slides down my check now, she questions why and what it is for. Both my girls do. That is my reality though.

So, what is the point today? Do you journal? Do you have thoughts in your head that swirl around making you crazy, sad, confused or numb? Don't we all at some point or another? My journal, while sometimes waxing and waning, has been my best friend, companion and lifeline for as long as I can remember. It does not critique your grammar, spelling or punctuation. It takes your thoughts without judgement and allows you them. If you are ever in a difficult spot in your life, give it a try sometime. You don't have to keep it forever or even for the day. A napkin can act as journal space to help you unjumble thoughts, and then be tossed in the refuse after you are done with it. No one is the wiser, but you. Some day, it might even save your life. Try it, you might find you like it. It is all about you...


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