Journal Writing: Old and New


Out with the old… Last year was a rough year.  It seemed my house was in a constant state of upheaval.  Everything from teen drama to work drama and school drama to medical drama.  There was something for everyone – lots of negative thoughts, lots of anger, lots of frustration.  In August, I left my job.  It was The Great Cleansing, to quit that job.  I was overwhelmed, burned out, and angry.  Leaving felt a lot like getting a divorce (done it, know what it feels like).  Leaving also cost me a seven-year friendship.  That was a shocker, and I was overflowing with hurt.  The crazy thing was that everyone I talked to, including my husband and children, all thought I looked better, sounded better, seemed more relaxed.  On the inside, I was brimming with negative. 


Several people suggested I channel my emotions into my writing.  Not a bad idea.  Not an easy one but still not a bad one.  I tried.  Several times.  Every single time, I was reduced to a heap of tears, head on my desk, very few words on the page.  Still, I liked the idea of turning the negative into something useful, something worth sharing… something enjoyable.  But opening the floodgate and expecting it all to come out easily, painlessly, and coherently… well, that was expecting a lot!  I needed something more controlled, more organized.


In with the new… I read a post at WOW! ( about journaling.  Specifically, it was about Mari’s 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness.  I’d never journaled before, but I know several people who journal regularly and have recommended it to me in the past.  Sometimes, though, ideas are presented to you when you’re not ready to hear them; and no amount of arguing the point will convince you to try it.  We’ve all had those situations, I’m sure.  This time, it “hit” me just right and I knew it was the thing for me.  Even though the course wasn’t designed especially for brand-new journalers, it still felt right.  It offered me a systematic approach to digging into my feelings.  I needed the system.  The free-for-all at my desk wasn’t working, not at all.  January 1 was for me… a new day, a new year, a new approach.


Pen and paper in hand, I slogged through the first several days.  I say it that way because I didn’t enjoy it at all.  It was tedious and problematic to work it into the daily routine of my house, but I stayed with it… and I caught myself up when I fell behind.  Day 15 was the day that turned everything around.  No, I didn’t suddenly lose all my negative feelings, but Day 15 was special:  Ten values I want my children to have.  Ten GOOD things I wanted my children to learn.  That day just clicked with me and my focus began to shift away from negative.


Several people have asked me what I thought of the experience.  It was challenging.  There’s a reason it’s called a journal challenge!  But it was worth it.  Some people may experience a sudden change.  I didn’t, but that’s okay.  I found a systematic way to work on my negative feelings, and I have a much better understanding now of where they come from and how to step back from them, how to see the important parts of my day.  Journaling led me to a happier place – a place where I don’t just look happier, I AM happier.  


BethMendelBeth Mendel has been an avid reader her entire life. She loves “road trips to nowhere for no reason,” as her husband describes them, summer vacations in the Appalachian Mountains, her garden, holidays, music, chocolate, and dinnertime with her husband and children. She has a B.S. in microbiology with a minor in chemistry, and until recently worked at home as a medical transcriptionist. When she’s not engrossed in homework, her herb garden, laundry, or other household responsibilities, she’s writing or studying about writing. She has recently joined the WordPress community and is beginning to develop a blog there,