Friday, February 03, 2012

Journals & Diaries

This post is something I've been wanting to do for a while. It is a bit long, but I had fun doing it. Thanks for reading!
What you see here is a stack of diaries representing 27 years of my life. Only one year is missing--1995.

Back in 1985 I ordered my first Our Old Fashioned Country Diary, now Our Country Diary (in case you want to start keeping these for yourself!) The first decade of my collection was printed by Tree Communications, then Our Old Fashioned Country Diary Ltd., and then the Country Diary Company, finally to be taken up by Michel Publishing, as it has been done on up through this year. They do a wonderful job with this. Toward the end of each year I receive a mailer and whether I remember to answer or not, my diary is mailed to me in December with a bill for $19.95. I can't tell you why I did not order the 1995 diary. All I can guess is that I was deep into teaching and life in general and let it slip away from me. I never made that mistake again!

These diaries have changed a lot over the past three decades, but they've always been delightful. Each includes special pages at the first of the year for predictions and at the end for reflections, the same for every major holiday, and each week at a glance with beautiful images and quotes and details about special dates (famous birthdays, historical milestones, etc.) They make keeping track of your life very easy and fun. We use these now in our New Year's Eve ritual of taking stock at the end of the year. It's always amazing to read and remember all the big and little things that we would have forgotten, or at least would not have been able to pinpoint the exact day of their happenings, without these diaries. Do any of you use this same series? I'd love to know!

I had fun grouping them and realizing how much the styling of just the covers transformed with each passing decade. This first set is very much in keeping with the whole country theme that many of us were obsessed with in the 80's. We all had lots of calico and pine furniture and dried flowers all over our houses. It was a very cluttery style. Fun, though...bunches of fun!

Then in the 90's things got very flowery and Victorian (I especially love the paisley one).

Comes the 21st century and while very floral, there are some birds and fruit to be seen. The look is vintage botany prints and collage.

It's looking to be the same in this second decade of this millenium, and I like it. They can certainly keep it up. (I know they were just waiting for my approval before moving on, you see. Ha!)

Over the years some weeks look like this...

...and some like this (blurry artistic effect added to obscure embarrassing diary confessions).

I have learned that the best way to keep this a regular habit is to jot down at bedtime what happened each day. I have been having much more success with it since I changed this from a morning ritual to a bedtime one.

As you can see from the representational pages above, there really isn't a lot of room in the diaries each day for writing in depth--they're just for hitting the highlights. When things need to get wordy I turn to my journals, which I've been keeping in these composition books since 1979, the year I graduated college. I was already married by then and feeling the need to write out quite a lot of angst into my journal, which has become my non-judgmental best friend. More often than not, these journals are where I vent when I'm sad or mad--you know, when you're trying to work off steam and/or tears and figure out life's tough parts without dragging somebody else down with you. Journal doesn't care. Journal just listens. Journal gives me no drama. Journal does give me a lot of laughs when I go back sometimes and read what I wrote, but that's another story.

There's also a whole period recorded somewhere around the middle of these journals when I was doing the three morning pages a day for The Artist's Way. That was really nurturing. If you are a creative person and feel stuck at all I recommend this book (series of books, actually) by Julia Cameron.

Sometimes the journal-keeping can get out of hand. I have realized lately that I have some sort of fixation with this.
(from top left):
1. Leather-bound journal my daughter gave me for Mother's Day which I use for my  reader's journal
(one page for each book--title, author, when read, critique) 
2. Literary response journal started with my English students when I was teaching at Collins Hill High School in Lawrenceville, GA
3. Sketch diary filled with Celtic knot drawing practice and some design sketches that creep in
(they always creep in!)
4. Gardening journal
5. Wine journal
6. Knitting journal
(of course!)
7. Artist's Way journal that came in a fun box with other creative prompts
8. This blog!

Clearly I am a habituated life-logger and figknits is just more way to keep track of life--mostly the yarny parts, but life leaks in here, naturally. The biggest difference is that this one is to share with you. I like that.

Do you keep journals? Diaries? Calendars? Logs? If not, I hope I've inspired you to start. It's a good habit.


Pumpkin said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journaling experiences. I'm really impressed by how long you've been able to keep up with it. I have months where I never wrote anything, and I really regret not logging experiences from that time. This year, one of my goals is to start a creative/art journal to compliment my ranting journal.

fig said...

You're very welcome, Pumpkin. Ranting journal--yes, that's exactly what mine is these days. I'm with you on wanting to do more intentional journaling--journaling with a purpose!

Natalie Goza said...

The amount of time you have been journaling is quite impressive. I love how consistent you are with the format (the country and comp books. I have a few books here and there different types, but seem to start a new one before I finish another. My goal is to finish both of my current books (art journal and rant journal) before I can start another. lol

fig said...

Thanks, Nat. You see I also have my assorted other journals. Doing this post has inspired me to take back up a couple of them, like the reader response one and the sketching one. Wish me luck and good luck with your journaling goals!

Lil Miss Red T-Shirt said...

Wow! Nearly 30 years of journals!
How cool.

I had never heard of My Country Diary, but I'll have to order one. I love the designs, and how they're all the same sized and labeled with a year. They're so cute stacked... and the years being labeled really makes it intriguing. I can't imagine having 30 years worth of journals. Do the inside of those journals have page days?

fig said...

Yes, Lil Miss. There are two pages for each week--one more useful for scheduling and the other has a bit more space to go into detail about each day. These also include lovely illustrations and quotes and excerpts from literature and such. There are two-page spreads for holidays. I'm still keeping up with it!

Lil Miss Red T-Shirt said...

Interesting, thanks for the reply.
I'll have to get one of them for '13.

Gardening, wine, reading,... sounds like a lot of work to have some many on-going books. Makes me want to take up a hobby to journal. :)

Journal addition must be contagious.. I think I caught a bit of your bug!

I have 2 '5 year line a day' (one blank, one a Q&A a day) types going on now, with a plain pocket Moleskine for venting.

I got a few "List Yourself" books with prompts (I forget the authors name). And, for fun for an occasional, I just got a "Face a Day: Doodle" journal where you sketch a fun face and fill in a few sentences. I found some "about me" questionaire journals to fill in. And, a few Christmas memories journal. I even got a birthday journal. The later two are just annual,.. not quite as many on-going journals as you.

I might have to pick up some composition notebooks. I'm a sucker for matching notebooks... the Country Diary, Moleskines, etc.

Anonymous said...

I kept the Country Journal in the late 80's. I was recently reading through entries when I was expecting my first child and his birth. He and his wife are now expecting their first child! Going through the old journals inspired me to search the Internet to see if the country journals were still available. I just ordered one for this year. I also came across your site and loved looking at your collection and the changes/themes over the years. What a great collection!