• Jill Bakke

WHY JOURNAL? A Journaling Exercise

​T​he ways and whys of journaling could take up a journal in themselves. Some people journal to leave a family history that may include a simple genealogy record or to record a vacation or special event. Another person may make a kitchen journal full of recipes, photographs and a family history that centers on food. Another journal may hold creative projects while yet another journal finds itself as a repository for dreams.

I have seen journals designed as a tribute to a deceased loved one or family member and others created as grandparent books for a new grandson or granddaughter. I have made several journals of these types myself and will share resources and suggestions on these with my readers.

However, my passion is a self-awareness journal. Unlike our adolescent years of keeping a diary or the specific genealogy and travel journals, this type of journal tackles issues in life that may need closure. It shows us patterns we are unaware of, and it records moments of awareness that change our lives. It tells of our successes and failures, our growth, and when we fall it records how we got up.

Personally, I use my journal to learn how I feel about a specific topic and to solve problems. I may find myself working a budget in my journal or a “TO DO” list. Both tell me things about myself. Sometimes I will reproduce something on a copy machine from a book and glue it into my journal. Other times I will use a specific exercise to tackle an issue. As a writer, I also use it to record quotes, phrases, thoughts and theories that speak to my heart.

I occasionally hear “Oh, I hate to write! I’d never be able to keep a journal.” My first thought is​ ​“That won’t prevent you from keeping a journal. You can draw, doodle, paint, and make collages in your journal that also tell you a lot of truth about your self that you cannot see otherwise. If it is the actual process of writing which you dislike, use the computer for the exercises you can’t complete in other ways. And if you decide on the historical aspect, you can work on a journal in a similar way to scrapbooking or simply furnish links to web sources.”

Currently I am working on memories of my childhood and growing​-​up years that a daughter has requested. My daughters never knew much about my family or the New Jersey shore where I grew up. They grew up literally across the country in Montana. While they made a few trips to the eastern landscape I loved and the family I cared about, the day to day existence carried few pictures of what my growing up was like.

So I wrote about those maroon one piece gym outfits, winning the citizenship award, the Honor Society induction, illnesses, fireflies, the reason I have a hermit aspect to my personality, Great Grandparents they never met, and other things unknown to them which found their way into print.

In writing my memoirs, I find myself writing a journal of my life. Looking at issues from an adult viewpoint I discover gives a different perspective on many events.​ I invite you to try this journaling exercise.​


​Pick one event in your younger years that gave you joy. Describe it in detail. Draw the event. Color the drawing if you so choose. Who and what was involved? When, where and how did it occur? What about it made you so happy? What do you see in that event that you can replicate to bring you joy now. Don’t worry about cross outs, incomplete sentences, or misspellings. Just get the feelings and facts down. The exercise is for you, not an audience. At the end of your reliving that happy experience, note what you gained from it at the time and what you gained from reliving it.

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