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A Tale of Two Sisters Blog

We support, celebrate, and teach writers.



I burned most of my journals years ago. They mainly chronicled stream of consciousness complaints made semi-permanent as I tried to make sense of feelings and emotions. The stuff I wrote about was mostly negative––because why interrupt happy, joyful occasions to write how great life is? Generally, when life is good, I'm in the present moment enjoying it! 

About 10 years ago I made a concerted attempt to write in my journal when I was happy, but that just meant journaling less.  

On the big backyard journal-burning day, I was ripping the journals apart and tossing them on the flames in small enough chunks to burn. Things were going fine until I read:

Today I went to the Louvre.

Yes, this was my journal that included my trip to Paris when I was a junior at Michigan. Those words stopped me. I glanced at the pile of burning journals and thought of all the memories that were now ash. 

When I saw those words, I realized that along with all my documented complaints, I was eliminating a version of my recorded history. Then it occurred to me:  I remember the details of being at the Louvre. I remember the bone-chilling, cold, gray Parisian day. I remember what I was wearing, and in retrospect wonder why I chose fashionable shoes over warmer, more practical ones. I see myself in my mind's eye looking at the Mona Lisa! Those details weren’t on the page I was about to burn. 

In that moment, I decided that what I remember is more important than what I wrote down. Besides, I don't regularly read my journals to remind myself of what I did and when because I remember already that stuff, though I fully acknowledge that I’m not exempt from this concept:

They have not considered that memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.
— Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra

Meanwhile, I am at the point where I need a new strategy for journaling. So, two things:

First, Elizabeth and I are going to be rolling out our PowerJournal courses in the coming months. PowerJournal is a verb, by the way. Stay tuned!

Secondly, I just ordered a SELF JOURNAL from BestSelf Co. It's way pricier than my former go-to steno notebook, but its format intrigues me. I am going to chronicle my experience with it. Stay tuned for more. 

© 2017 Catherine M. Greenspan

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