Sunday, April 5, 2020

Journals: Life Preservers in Scary Times

I’ve kept a journal off and on for more than 40 years.  My first one, in 1977, had a tiny gold lock and key.  I was a sixth grader at the time.  Back then, it was my daily log of events—the place where I recorded everything from Browns’ football scores—to the deadly Ohio blizzard of ’78 which was considered one of the worst in U.S. history (you can read about at the end of this post.).

But it was also my personal sounding board – the place where I poured out my loneliness, my frequent illnesses (yes, I was one of those sickly kids) – and the embarrassing fact that an overnight Girl Scout camp-out scared me so much I cried myself to sleep. 

I spoke to it like a close friend—even apologizing to it for skipped days or dull entries. “Not very exciting today--sorry,” I’d write.  But it never judged.  I could scribble TERRIBLE DAY! (see below)  and it would understand.

That little journal with the gold lock and key was my faithful listener and my sounding board as a kid. Now, as we face the COVID-19 crisis in our world today, keeping a journal continues to be a really important source of comfort and calm for me.

I encourage everyone to give it a try -- no matter what age you are.  Your journal doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  (Right now, I’m using one of my stepson’s old middle school notebooks that I dug out of a box for recycling.  It had a lot of unused pages.  I'm not sure what that says about his work habits…)

There are no rules for how much to write or how often.  Or how neatly. Or how grammatically correct to be. Remember the journal doesn't judge. 

Just write.

Encourage kids and teens in your family or classroom to keep their own journals.  Their reactions to the COVID-19 crisis may be very different than your own. They may want to stick to the facts. Or ignore them.  Or complain about the lack of snacks & decent WiFi in the house--or about you (I did that a lot in my 6th grade journal...). Or they may want to draw and doodle instead.  

Drawing in a journal is okay too!

Let your journal hold you up in this ocean of uncertainty—and let it remind you that someday this will all be in the past, like the long ago Blizzard of '78, and we will be able to look back through the pages to remember how strong we were and what got us through.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Shelley! I threw away my old diary (lock and key) a few years ago. My entries were similar to yours. I thought the other day about writing again. Perhaps I will put pen to paper. Jennifer Blair (Wooster Class of 199).