All these thoughts floating around my head. What am I to do with them?
Why, write them down, of course! Throughout my life, journaling (called writing in a diary when I was a child) was something to which I turned when I felt the need to record events and feelings. If there was an occasion that I wanted to remember, writing it down would make sure it wouldn’t be forgotten. If I had a nice time at a party, record it in my diary. If something someone said or did upset me, get out the pen. Decades after those diary days, I still write to guarantee memory and record emotions.
Over the past years, my writing purposes have expanded. I’ve always been shy and have preferred written to oral communication. My journals now include emails and letters that I’ve written, some of which I never actually sent, and thank-you notes to special people – typed out first, then handwritten onto the card that I send, with the typed version saved in my journal. I journal thoughts on books that I read and ideas I have for writing my own books. I write for happy reasons and not so happy ones. When my husband was sick, I kept a journal of his doctor visits and treatments and a separate journal detailing my thoughts and emotions. When he died, I started a grateful journal, in which each night I would write about all the things I was grateful for that day.
When I have an important decision to make, I write about my dilemma in my journal. I put down the choices, the possible repercussions for each choice, and my feelings about choosing one over the other. Journal writing helps me to clarify my thoughts and makes the decision-making process easier.
Another benefit I find in journal writing is that it helps me sort out my feelings. For instance, when I feel down, I need to figure out what’s behind the sadness. Putting my thoughts and feelings on paper helps me get a more objective view of all that has been going on. This, in turn, helps me understand what led to the sadness, and that understanding immediately lifts my spirits. If I find myself angry at someone, journal writing allows me to get out all my angry feelings without actually confronting the person and thereby avoid unnecessary hurt feelings. Writing it out gives me a chance to cool down and always leads me to take a look at the other side, and often to realize that I was being unfair or unreasonable.
There’s an old Yellow Pages ad I remember from my childhood: “Let your fingers do the walking” through the phone book to help you find all that you need. My walking fingers help me in a different way: they allow me to navigate my thoughts and feelings and give me the peace of mind to know that if my memory fails regarding an important event, I can probably look back and find it again in my journal!
Author bio: Debbie Chein Morris Born in the Bronx, NY, Ms. Morris lived on Long Island (Plainview) for most of her adult life. The youngest of four children (she was born five minutes after her twin sister), family has always been important to her. Married for forty-four years and since widowed, she is mother to three wonderful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, and an adorable granddaughter. Ms. Morris worked in the field of early childhood education, receiving master’s degrees from Queens College, Hofstra University, and Bank Street College of Education. Her work included classroom teacher to preschool and kindergarten children and reading teacher to kindergarteners needing extra support. Ms. Morris is retired and loves to take walks in nature, solve NY Times crossword puzzles, and knit blankets for charity. She currently resides in Mt. Kisco, NY, with her partner.
Journaling Power Revolution Series