Saturday, July 13, 2019

Journal Jottings On A Saturday Morning

I've always been a journal keeper. I've always
tried to write about how I'm experiencing life,
and my feelings and thoughts.

It's usually a bit of a moment when I finish one journal and begin a crisp new volume. Such a moment happened this past week. The above notebook with the gold lettering and the pretty house and garden painting on its cover marks my 170th journal. It's hard to believe. And yes, I have every volume -- at this season of life they have become resourceful research material for stories and memoir pieces I'm working on.

I started journaling in the early 1980s when I was under the deep sway of influence from my beloved mentor Lucy Maud Montgomery. I loved her stories about Anne and Emily, and when I learned that her earlier journals were of an age when they could be made available to the public, I eagerly sought them out. At the time, the library had Volumes I and II, then I had to wait over the years for the rest to be published. I loved reading her journals, and if Ms. Montgomery had been such a committed journal keeper, then I knew I wanted to be one too. And, I've been pretty much dedicated to writing journals ever since.

My ever increasing collection is a motley crew of size and shape and colour. The old volumes are shelved in the deepest, highest part of the closet. Into these lovely notebooks, I poured all sorts of things and realized, in looking back at them, that I tended to open most entries with the date (of course) and a bit of the weather and sometimes (often) what time of day I was writing. How often it was in the wee hours of the night or morning that I'd be writing. And, for some reason, the weather seemed necessary to mark my journey in some way -- was it winter, summer, rainy, hot, dry, gloomy? Weather, we know, can affect our moods but I decided a long time that I would try as much as possible to live above the weather, not under it. And over time I'd come to appreciate every season in its every mood, whether clement (pleasantly dry and mild) or inclement (severely harsh weather that is wet and cold).  

Oh yes, we were talking about journaling, not the weather. My journals were, and continue to be a bit of diary -- said weather reports, marking events like birthdays and special events. They are also a tiny bit of venting, although I tend not to vent much in my journals, I don't want a paper copy of, em, my 'insane' moments. I do write about the things I read in books or hear from people I follow online, noting many a quotation for future reference and inspiration.

Plus, I'm often jotting verses from the Bible that offer a life boat of comfort and encouragement in difficult, or inclement, seasons. Not to mention bits of poetry that strike my fancy and thrill my soul with such beautiful ways of expressing something. And, there are those striking aha moments when I see something that changed how I view myself or the world around me -- a lot of musing and wondering and sorting out my feelings and thoughts. Writing it out helps me to clarify what I'm thinking about, what I agree or disagree with, and what I really desire underneath all the fluffy superficial surfaces.

Journals, for me, are places where I turn to when I can't say what's in my heart to anyone else. There are some things we all carry that are too deep or personal to share. Ofttimes we don't have the language to share it, even if we wanted to. So we make stabs at it in our writing. And hope that those poured out bits of prayers and yearnings make sense to the God who, we are told, cares about the tiniest details of our lives and longs for us to share them with Him.

Then there are those things I jot in that I don't want to forget at all. The ALIVE moments that make a day perfect in the end, even though it was less so overall. You know those glorious moments, when your heart zings with joy as you stand and watch a rainbow form after a summer shower. As you sit in the garden where the air is sweet with perfume and the birds chatter companionably at the feeders and our neighbourly Orange Kitty wanders in for a friendly visit and a quiet snooze in the garden. Where you are just glad, glad to be alive.

Journal writing is a
voyage to the interior.

When I started this post, in looking for something to share with you today, I opened my previous Van Gogh 'Branch of an Almond Tree' journal and decided to snoop for a few things that I thought might be interesting fodder to share. Sorry, there aren't any big secrets in my journals, not anymore. But it's still a place where I explore what I read and how I connect to books and articles I've read, and I usually have a pile of quotations that speak to me posted in large script, or squished in the margin alongside a related comment. At least that way, if I or someone else ever reads it in the future, there will be some famous writers' quotes to provide some relief in amongst the ramblings of an ordinary unknown woman.

Here is one: The very first thing I pick out from my browsing is that very special quote attributed to French mathematician, physicist, and writer Blaise Pascal. I seem to be writing it in every current journal:

"In difficult times
carry something beautiful
in your heart."

Even if my own life is relatively calm and pleasant, there is just so much rumbling of nasty business going on around the world. We could be sucked into believing that that is all that is going on, so I do make it a practice to carry something beautiful in my heart wherever I go. Those little gems I've jotted in my journals and so very often found on Facebook pages of friends and acquaintances are reminders to keep looking for glimpses of heaven's hope, joy and beauty in those million unexpected places.

Here's another jotting: I'd been reading Louise Penny's novel Bury Your Dead --the tale of a man found dead in the basement of the Historical and Literary Library located in French Quebec. And, of course, the well known Quebec motto pops up in the story: 'Je me souviens' which means 'I remember'.  When I saw that written out, I realized, aha, that's where the word souvenir must come from -- a token by which we can remember or recall a place or event.

I never did become fluent in our other official language. Living in the West, some of us were snobs about learning French as a second language. It was newly available in our school but in my school girl wit, I didn't see any point in learning a second language, especially French. I knew smatterings of German (from my grandparents and aunties and uncles). I always love listening to people speaking French, but I never could get my tongue around it. Perhaps I could take up lessons from where I left off in Grade Seven, and give myself a prize for attempting it at least, perhaps a trip to Quebec. And maybe, I'd even have a chance to see where Louise Penny created her idyllic Three Pines whilst there.

"Flowers always make people better,
happier, and more helpful: they are
sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."

To bring a gentle close to this ramble of a post, I'm sharing the above quotation that I'd written in my journal back in May. The saying, as well as the peonies that we've been enjoying in every corner of our house these past weeks, fills my heart with grateful thoughts as the summer unfolds. During these rainy last few weeks, where it felt that true summer was never going to arrive, even in the midst of inclement goings on, flowers bloomed and birds had families and kitties came to visit. Slices of homemade lemon pie were shared with friends, and stems of roses from Peace Rose offered to delighted neighbours. Life blossomed even on grey, gloomy days. Life was good. Life is good. and I'm so very, very grateful.

Heart blessings on you all.
On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.



  1. Journaling saved my sanity in difficult times; gave me hope in valleys; and kept the sunshine when it came. I love to write in mine, though many times it is short and sweet... others it is long and rambling... either way, it works to settle my mind and to help me sort out thoughts and feelings, dreams and hopes, losses and discoveries. I, too, start with weather and follow with a listing of what I feel I accomplished during the day -- laundry, gardening, books... and then it becomes a place to have a wee talk with myself. Journal and carry on! <3

  2. An interesting read. I have done some journaling as well, but it is more a jotting down of daily events and record for myself.

  3. I've never thought about it before, but reading your thoughts here, I see that journaling is, I think, a very natural and even essential activity for an historian such as yourself. Your 170 volumes are the historical record of your inward journey:)

  4. Thank you for a lovely post! I have had different journals for different things in the past. But I have longed for just 1 place for 1 whole year to just jot down those things deep in my heart. The past couple of years have been so hard, so gut-wrenching, so faith-building and I feel I have only sporadically been able to express myself in any coherent manner (my sweet husband of 35 years had a hemorrhagic stroke. Doing amazingly now! Praise God!) I so long for some quiet, gentle days where time is mine to dictate and just sit and write. They are coming, God is magnificent!

  5. 170 volumes! What history there must be in your writings, Brenda. I used to keep a journal in my teens, but I would find it difficult now to express my feelings on paper. I do have a small journal belonging to my mother which is comforting to read.
    I think your peony is the same as mine, so very lovely. But mine is over now sadly.

  6. Dear Brenda, what a beautiful post. I loved every word. Your writing is always such inspiration to me and especially this post. Your journals must truly be treasures. I can imagine you being lost in them on a cold winters day with many cups of tea. Your lovely writing and blog makes me remember that even with all the ugliness in the world, there remain beautiful people with beautiful souls. Wishing you a beautiful day and week ahead.❤

  7. Thanks Brenda,I did enjoy this post very much!

  8. Congrats on the 170 journals! I can totally relate to the journaling. I started keeping a journal in my early teens, but stopped in my mid-20s. I started again a few years ago, but this time, it's a gratitude journal. In addition to numbering my journals, I would also note my age and the time period.

    To my parents' disappointment, I stopped taking French classes after grade 10. Although sometimes I can still recall some conjugations and can recognize French words in print.

  9. Let me know if you travel to Quebec--would love to meet you there and catch up! We went to Sutton, et al a few years ago. It was fun to see the inspiration for Three Pines!

  10. What a fabulous post. I've not kept written journals, but ten years of blogging are my journal entries. I kept up on my French through college and over the years it's been a good companion in my travels. Alas, I use it less and less these days.

  11. It's fun to hear how others write in their journals, I too, write the date, time, weather, plus I include details of my surrounds.
    What an ending, "gentle close to this ramble post"; sharing moments, thoughts and goodies with us!

  12. Lovely rambling post. Full of beauty and inspiration.

  13. Brenda, I am astounded (and slightly envious) of your 170 journals! What an accomplishment . . . a reward for your discipline and consistency.

    Like Deanna, I love rambling posts. Thanks for sharing your words!

  14. oh, Brenda, this as such a charming and friendly read! WOW! you (almost) make me want to trade in poetry for journaling. thank-you for sharing how you journal.It gives a newbie a place to start! And thank-you for ALWAYS bringing something to make life beautiful! God bless you!

  15. Pure delight to read this post. I find I journal less these past few years - I'm not certain why. When I struggle with thoughts and emotions, I have found that writing untangles the knots and leads me always to a sense of peace in knowing that God is lovingly sovereign. I do know that I have a journal packed for our trip next week. Collecting quotes and Bible verses make up part of my journals, too. There is much wisdom from others, and the beauty of words strung together in certain, lovely ways.

  16. I have a big box full of old journals myself. They make fascinating, if often embarrassing, reading. I wonder if I will ever feel like taking the time to really read them...

    The last few years I've been trying to keep a bullet journal, and change to a new one every six months. That is going to fill another big box awfully quick, it seems!

  17. Oh I do hope that you dip into your journals often; otherwise, what is the point? In difficult times... I like that thought!

  18. 170 journals! That’s amazing, and what a treasure trove they must be. My grandmother kept a diary - only dates, weather, who died, and how the crop was doing. It’s still interesting to read but I sometimes wish she’d written more. No time, I imagine, for a busy farm wife with 9 children.
    Thanks, Brenda. You always bring beauty to my day.

  19. Lindas flores. Tenha um bom fim-de-semana. Cumprimentos .

  20. Wow! 170 just sounds amazing. How do you keep a journal and not stop? I always end up quitting at some point. Whenever I've tried to keep a journal, I always made a point to not write anything sad, thinking that I'd come back one day and read something horrible and upset myself. Ha!


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo