What’s Love Got to Do With It? On Keeping A Journal

Keeping a daily journal allows you to fall in love with the lights and darks in your days, both shed light and help to cultivate your inner life.

We are in the long stretch of winter. It is the point when my love of winter is something I must recall. When I ask someone, “How are you doing today?” they pause, look off in the distance, grimace slightly, and say, “Okay, thanks.”

We are up to our neck in rain on snow on ice.
This is when I understand what snowbirds escape from.
But this is real life in the world of weather, and without dreary February,
Valentine’s Day would seem like just another holiday.

 

I love the darks and the lights of this late winter season. This small bluebird house lives in a field.

First, let me welcome you to 2018 on Rising Forth!

I am deep in the revision process of the manuscript that has kept me writing for 9 years. It is a new experience for me to have so much open space in which to write. Both of my children are away at college, so the laundry basket is lighter and my days simpler.

This website needed an under-the-hood repair, so blogging had to pause for two months. In the mean time, my friend Crispina invited me to guest post on her Future is Female series. You can read those posts here.

I have also been working on grant proposals for my Armenia project, New Illuminations, and plotting my teaching schedule for 2018.

 

 

What warms me, and keeps me steady in this time of hard work and focus is my journal. I have been writing daily since I was 16. There are gaps in the record, years when I did not get to the page every day, but at a certain point, the practice became necessary to my vitality. And it still is.

I have taken on the challenge to organize my many journals as part of this revision process. I want to look in to my journals from the period of time right before I started writing, when I was in the thick of active mothering. These notebooks are filled with reflections on the weather, on my children, on the tales of our days and all the things that I have worried about consistently over time. But they also give clues to how seriously I took myself, how the ups and downs of parenting carved new grooves in my being.

I am not sure value will come of this exercise for my manuscript, but it does show me how extended practice gives me ready access to my inner life. I have an inner life, I know that, evidenced in the pages where after pouring out the way the preceding day went, I digest how I felt about it, what persists in my heart about a situation. I see myself making sense of life on those many, many pages.

Please stay close to Rising Forth in this coming year. There will be exciting offers for this Rampant Sisterhood and news of publications. My Powder Keg writing workshops continue–at the Ramsdell Public Library in Housatonic, MA three Wednesdays a month beginning February 28th. My Powder Keg Online begins April 29. There are new hand bound journals you can order to jumpstart your creative practice here. And the beloved blog series on motherhood and creativity returns with new writing in response to this year’s call for entries. You can read about Out of the Mouths of Babes here.

But really, what does love have to do with keeping a journal?

We do many things for many people throughout our day. When daily writing becomes part of your day, you will tune to the things that light you up, what blooms as love in your body. You will also notice what is intolerable. Isn’t that what love is about, understanding the span between light and dark, like this gray time where the contrast is so very visible?

Until then, I hope you pull your journal on to your lap before you pick up your phone or email. Let your inner life warm with the vitality of your attention. Give it a week of writing and see what you notice. I hear so many people say that they wish they had time to keep a journal. What if you gave yourself fifteen minutes less of screen time every day and wrote? Just start where you are, as Natalie Goldberg suggests. Describe where you are and write three things you noticed about the preceding day. Chart your dreams. Or write about what you first thought as you opened your eyes.

Let me know how it goes. I love your comments! 

Here is a blog post in which I describe my daily practice, which I call a Keystone Practice.

It is the thing that lets me learn to love life’s unfolding and that supports all my other work.

Until then, stay dry and warm.
Welcome back to Rising Forth!
xoS

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Recommended Posts
Showing 12 comments
  • Justine Bradley

    Suzi your writing has always inspired me. I treasure the letters you wrote me over so many years, just as I treasure you! My question to you is When are you coming back to visit?

    • Suzi

      OOOH Justine, you are in line with another Australian here on the comment thread! I know I have become a not-so-great correspondent. Your letters were lifelines for me and are treasures to me also. A trip to you is something I dream of and I know it will happen. All my love to you! xoS

  • Ann

    Your cool weather sounds like heaven! We’re in storm season and we have had some fury unleashed with spectacular lightning – 265,000 strikes the other evening. A thunderbolt so loud I jumped out of my chair because I was so frightened! Another storm has just passed after an hour with that amazing skipping-stone thunder. The electricity wobbled but it came back on. It stayed 27c last night with humidity at 78%. 36c tomorrow and more storms. I am very grateful for the aircon just as you must be for fire that warms.
    I wouldn’t be who I am without decades of diary/journal writing. I loved that Paulus called it the ‘Soul’s Kitchen’ as a journal is certainly where we toss all the ingredients of our life and let off steam like a kettle and come out with a banquet at the end of it!

    • Suzi

      Oh Dear Ann of Oz, Stay clear off all things metal! YIPES that sounds like intense weather. I’d love to hear more about what you write, “I wouldn’t be who I am without decades of diary/journal writing.” Tell me more, write me more–if that pleases you. I’d love to discuss this with you. xoS

      • Ann

        Suzi, I will gather my thoughts together this week and email them to you next weekend – I hope they will be useful to you. It will be good to do this now as I find that there’s a huge change is going on regarding how I keep my journal, which I haven’t sorted out yet. It’s like the ground is shifting, reflecting changes within!

  • Julie Lambert

    dear Suzi,
    well, this is timely, ha, ha! I’ve been writing my memoir for a little over 3 years, and have reached a point where it needs considerable revision which, of course, requires energy and some freed up space in my brain. I do have T/Th mornings dedicated to my writing practice, at least in my calendar, but there are so many things that intrude upon that time. My 4 children (ages 15-8) are still at home and there are so many other things that press in to my writing time, sometimes rightly so, but I resent it. I feel a sense of urgency – I believe that what I have to say has a place in the world and I’m eager to begin the conversation. I missed your blog posts while you were away, and I hope that in the near future I’ll be able to attend a workshop with you in person. Please continue to tell us what is in your heart and on your mind. It helps me to know that there will be a day when I can fully give myself over to my writing.

    • Suzi

      Dear Julie, Take good care of yourself and keep lots of notes! I know how many demands there are on your hours. Something seems to me more vital than anything in the period that you are in, which is to be full enough of yourself to know and be known by your kids. Sometimes that means the writing doesn’t get done. There will be the day you dream of and until then, being fully present and taking notes is sometimes the best we can do. Thank you for reading me here. Yes, I would love to get to know you in a class setting, to hear your writing. My online class registration is open, if that appeals to you. In person is always preferred, but again, we do what we can do given the present circumstances. In all cases, much love! S

      • Julie Lambert

        Thank you, Suzi, I’m taking your words to heart, especially “to be full enough of myself to know and be known by my kids.” So much there. Thank you!

  • Nancy

    Hi Suzi. The link to your keystone practice isn’t working on my end. Is it working on yours? Looking forward to reading about it and I love love your blogging as ever

    • Suzi

      Hi Lil! So good to hear from you. I fixed that broken link. Sorry about that and I really appreciate you letting me know. There have been some interior renovations on this site and I am happy to say things are improving. How is your book going? What a gorgeous offering to the world! xoS

  • Sara Eisenberg

    Glad to hear what you have been up to – have missed your blog!
    xox

  • Brenna

    As I sow the first seeds of a project I know will take years, I am encouraged to hear of your nine-years’ labor of love. Your words always fall right where they’re needed. I am looking to you, wise woman, as a model for the kind of person I want to become. <3