Friday, December 31, 2010

Six-Month Review and End-of-Year Wrap-Up

I received an email from Neale Donald Walsch last year.  That email came at a good time back then, and has been a helpful reminder to me several times since.  I now use it when when I am reviewing my goals and planning for the future.

"On this day in your life I believe God wants you to know...

...that this is not the end but the beginning.  All endings start something better.  It is inevitable.

Here is God's promise:  Life proceeds, it never recedes.  Life progresses, it never regresses.  Not even death ends anything.  So how much can this particular event matter?

It is true.  When one door closes, another door opens.  The movement of life is ever upward.  Six months from today you will know this.  For now, trust it."
I find myself at the end of a year, and near the end of a chapter in my life.  As I review the past six months, I find that there is much to be grateful for, but not much progress.  I can blame the lack of progress on myself only.  I've been my biggest roadblock.  I've allowed myself to procrastinate, and I've allowed life to happen to me.  That's not the way I want to be.  I want so much out of life, yet I did nothing to make my goals happen.  I did nothing to make my dreams come true.

Well, I'm here to announce to the world that there's a new Journal Keeper in town.  She's ready for things to happen, and ready to make them happen, come hell or high water.  I don't want to get to the end of 2011 and be disappointed with where I am and what I have done (or haven't done) with my life.

Here are my Goals for 2011...

1. Get down to 165 lbs. (lose 75 lbs.).
2. Finish writing my first novel.
3. Publish a post at The Journal Keeper every day.
4. Publish an article at Associated Content every week.
5. Declutter our home.
6. Meditate regularly.

Here are the positive habits I want to adopt...

1. Drink more water.
2. Give thanks every day.
3. Read for 30 minutes each day.
4. Brush teeth and wash face before bed.
5. Write every day.

Here are the negative habits I want to eliminate...

1. Biting nails and picking fingers
2. Eating poorly
3. Wasting time on tasks not related to my goals
4. Procrastinating
5. Negative self-talk

I'll elaborate on these items in future blog posts, because I think my reasons for each of them are important.  It's good to know where I've been so I can learn the lessons and not make the same mistakes.  I'll also post updates on my progress.  Although I am eager to reach each of my goals, I am also aware that the journey is just as important.

I'm looking forward to being a leaner, healthier, smarter, calmer, more successful Journal Keeper in 2011.  It's going to be an awesome journey!

Related Info

To receive daily inspirational emails from Neale Donald Walsch, sign up here.  I don't get paid if you do -- I just think you might like them!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How Do I Make the Most of This Vacation Day?

My vacation week is dwindling away more quickly than I would like.  The days have been filled with chores and games and naps and too much coffee.  I've enjoyed every minute.

But today is the day I have been looking forward to the most.  Today I have some time to myself.  The girls have gone to their mom's and Mr. Babycakes is off to help a friend with computer issues .  I've been trying to decide what to do with this coveted time.  Do I finish up my planning for the coming year?  Do I try to get back to work on The Novel?  Do I get back to writing articles?

One thing I would like to do is get going with The Journal Keeper blogging again.  I've made a few attempts lately, but life just keeps getting in the way!  So maybe today I will focus on getting a bushel of posts written and scheduled.  And make a plan for carving time out of each day to spend here.  One thing I must remember is that blogging should be fun.  As soon as I make it into work, I won't do it.

Oh!  I got some super awesome news yesterday, but I can't share it yet.  (Don't you hate when people do that?!)  I need a few more days to get things in place, but then I'll give it up.  Just know that it is something that I have been working hard for, and I am very happy about it!

Enjoy your day today.  Make the most of it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

reverb10: Wonder

Great Beyond

This is part of a series of posts for Reverb10 -- an online event to promote reflecting and manifesting. To read all of the posts in this series, just click on the "reverb10" tag over there on the right.


One of the ways I cultivated wonder in my life this past year came to be during a moment of desperation.  I had been unemployed for several months, I was not getting any response to the dozens of resumes I sent out daily, and money was very tight for our family.  It was during these dark days that I decided to try launching my own Virtual Assistant business.

I became very focused at developing a business plan, and preparing list of clients to target.  I joined networking groups, and read and read and read.  A short month later I had my first clients and was getting paid.

The "wonder" comes in when I realized that I was doing all this almost on auto-pilot.  I mean, I was giving extensive thought to my decisions, but the fact that I was thinking about it at all was amazing.  I was simply doing what I needed to do to help support my family.  I was taking initiative and responsibility, and I was doing it all without whining or moaning.

It turned out that my efforts weren't enough to cover a salary for me, but it was enough to get us by until I found a more steady job.  I am very thankful for the learning experience and test in discipline I got from my short time as an entrepreneur, and I know those lessons will carry me through the next stages of my career.

I Always Knew There'd Be Days Like This


This has been the most awesome day E.V.E.R.

The girls were here this weekend, and we made plans to decorate for Christmas.  First, let me say that I LOVE this time of year.  Christmas is my favorite holiday (with Thanksgiving coming in a very close second) and I turn into an eight-year-old just after Halloween.  I start playing Christmas tunes way too early, and am always disappointed that I am the only one in my circle of friends and family who wants to celebrate Christmas in July.

Much to my delight, the weather forecast had been calling for a dusting of snow today.  You would think that in my twenty-five-plus years of living in the Southeast I would learn to take those forecasts with a grain of salt and not get my hopes up.  But every single time I get my hopes up.

Well, this forecast did not disappoint!  (Kudos to Greg Fishel!  You are my hero!)  The snow started falling late morning and did not stop until early evening.  I knew that the ground was too warm for the flakes to stick to the pavement, but the roofs and cars and trees and grass were soon covered in white.  It was beautiful!  When all was said and done, we got about an inch of it.  (Stop laughing, you Northerners and Mid-Westerners... I'll take what I can get!)

We got the tree and house decked to Christmas tunes, cookies baking, and a snowy background.  I don't think I could have asked for a more perfect day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

reverb10: Moment

Kara Allyson

This is part of a series of posts for Reverb10 -- an online event to promote reflecting and manifesting. To read all of the posts in this series, just click on the "reverb10" tag over there on the right.


It's been hard for me to come up with the one moment this past year when I felt most alive.  For the most part, I have been in survival mode, just doing what needs to be done to get the bills paid and get out of bed every morning.  That makes me sad, and more determined that I will not go through another year like that again.

I can say easily, though, that I feel most alive when I am writing, even if I am just venting and cursing in my journal.  Something happens when I put a pen to paper, and even most times when I am working at a keyboard.  I lose myself in what I am writing.  Everything around me gets quiet and I become laser-focused on my words.  I get absorbed and time goes by in a flash without my knowing it.  It doesn't really matter what I am writing -- a journal entry, an article, or a novel scene.

That's why I know that my purpose here is to write.  I have loved to write for as long as I remember, and love it to this day.  I not only love it, I need it.  I need to write, and if I go for periods without it I am left with an empty and unsatisfied feeling.

So here's to thousands of more words that take me to new and exciting places!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

reverb10: Writing


This is part of a series of posts for Reverb10 -- an online event to promote reflecting and manifesting. To read all of the posts in this series, just click on the "reverb10" tag over there on the right.


What do I do each day that doesn't contribute to my writing?  That's easy.

I waste time.

I am a professional procrastinator.  It's a shame I don't get paid for it, because if I did I'd be rolling in the dough.  Procrastination for me is a safety mechanism, I think.  I'm afraid of failure, but I'm afraid of success even more.  That subject, however, is for another blog post (or three).

How do I waste my time?  I spend way too much of my time checking email and Facebook and Twitter and FoxNews and Google Reader.  And when I've exhausted those avenues, I take a nap.  Or I read.  Or I organize.  Anything goes when it comes to finding something to do other than write.

Can I eliminate those time wasters?  Sure I can!  But the question here for me is will I. 

One of my goals for 2011 is to make more time for my writing.  Blogging here is a good start for me.  If I can make it through the month of December -- and I'm going to try really hard! -- that will be a great sign.  Then I can get back to work on editing my novel and getting started on the next one I have outlined. 

So, here's to eliminating those time wasters that are holding me back, and not making any contributions to my goals.  Let's be clear -- I'm  not going to eliminate them altogether.  But the time I spend on them will be cut drastically!  :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

reverb10: One Word


This is part of a series of posts for Reverb10 -- an online event to promote personal reflecting and manifesting. To read all of the posts in this series, just click on the "reverb10" tag over there on the right.

One Word

If I had to encapsulate the year 2010 for me with one word, that word would be

s t r u g g l e.

The past year has been a tumultuous one.  With being unemployed for the first four months, losing an aunt, losing an uncle, and financial difficulties, I had a hard time finding my way through the fog.  I found it hard to be grateful, found it hard to have faith, and found it hard to believe in myself.  My writing suffered, my health suffered, and my relationships suffered.  There were times when I found it nearly impossible to drag myself out of bed to face another day, and struggled with my reason for being here at all.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband and family who supported me.  They let me cry when I needed to, vent when the anger overwhelmed me, and they made me laugh during times when I could not find happiness.  Most of all, though, they encouraged me to keep going -- to push my way through the obstacles and disappointments, and to believe in myself.  I was reminded that I am a powerful woman, and with focus and determination, I can accomplish anything.

This time next year my One Word will be different.  This time next year I will have accomplished great things.  I will have proved to myself that yes, I CAN do anything.  This time next year my word will be

S U C C E S S !

Be sure to watch this space.  Great things are to come!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reverb10: An Exercise in Reflecting and Manifesting

I think I may have found the perfect exercise to help me finally get this blog up and going the way I would like:


Reverb10 is an annual online event that occurs from December 1 until December 31.  There is a prompt for each of those days for which you can make something, write a blog post, or write a journal entry.  The idea behind the prompts is to help you reflect over the past year, and to plan (manifest) what you want to happen to you in the coming year.

I typically take the last few weeks of December to reflect and to plan for what I want to accomplish in the next year.  I've never used writing prompts, though, and since I am a Journal Keeper by nature, they would be a natural and fun way for me to take my reflecting and planning to the next level.

I believe strongly in goal-setting, and that you get what you ask for.  So I'm excited about this exercise, and I am excited that it is giving me a jumping off point for my blog again.  After all, one of my goals for 2011 is to put The Journal Keeper in high gear and be more disciplined about posting regularly.

So here's to looking back so I can move forward!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quieting the Mind, Settling the Soul


I am enjoying a mental health morning.  My husband, John, left earlier to play golf with friends (he's not a golfer by any means, so I can't wait to hear how things went!) and the girls are with their mother this weekend, so I have the apartment all to myself.  My Bayberry Spice candle is burning and filling the air with the wintry scent that soothes my soul, I'm sipping on Dunkin Donuts Mocha Mint coffee (my third cup -- I'll surely end up with a bellyache!), and I'm listening to my Spa Radio station on Pandora.  I'm still in my robe and slippers, people!  I can't think of a better way to take care of Me.

My mind has been whirling lately with worries, stresses, lists of things I want to do, lists of things I'm not doing -- you know the drill.  I've usually been able to calm myself by meditating with Holosync taking a short nap, or journaling, but lately that hasn't been working. I think my mind has gone into Shut Down Mode.  She is overwhelmed and stretched to the limit, and has decided she's just not going to do it anymore.

The biggest thing bothering me right now is my attempt at NaNoWriMo.  I haven't had the time (or, let's be honest, the desire) to write the required 1667 words each day.  And now I'm so far behind I'll never catch up by November 30.  So I'm giving it up.  This will be my fourth try -- and my fourth failure.  And that makes me disappointed in myself.  I'm disappointed because that's just one more thing to add to the list of thousands that I have started but not completed.

But, I wonder if my inability to finish things is not so much laziness on my part, but maybe more of over-scheduling on my part.  I want to do too many things, and I try to do them all at one time.  I try to stay busy all of the time.  Oh my gosh, you should see my planner!  I have all of these great plans and things to do for each day, but most of them don't get done.  And when I do try to quiet myself and relax, I feel guilty because of the unfinished items still left on those pages.

Perhaps today I will take some time to revisit my goals and items on my to-do lists.  Maybe I can try to weed some things out; try to focus more on what's important for me.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to do that today.  But right now, I'm having another cup of this awesome Mocha Mint coffee!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 2 BBBC - Write a List Post

Follow along as I take ProBlogger's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge!

The exercise for Day 2 of the Build a Better Blog challenge was to write a list post.  You can find my list post here.  This was a simple exercise for me, because I love making lists!  And the list I made was of famous journals -- one of my favorite topics!

I can definitely see the advantage to list posts.  Being a heavy blog reader myself, I find that lists posts are very easy to read.  They are neat, and they are very easy to scan to get the information that is most meaningful to me.

I am sure that there will be other list posts published at The Journal Keeper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Blogging Hasn't Worked For Me In The Past

Martin Neuhof

First, I'd like to send a shout-out (HI!) and a big thank you (THANK YOU!) to the recent subscribers to The Journal Keeper.  I appreciate you!

Now, in light of the fact that it's been six days since my last blog post (Bless me, Father, for I have sinned...), I think now would be a good time to write about why blogging hasn't worked for me in the past, and why I still struggle with it today.

As I've mentioned before, I've made several attempts at blogging.  And shortly after starting, I lose my motivation.  And I think that is largely because... 

I crave instant gratification.  And when I don't get it, I take my ball and bat and go home.  It's as simple as that, yet I also recognize that it's unreasonable.  What I really want is to have perfectly written and very witty posts flow magically from my fingers.  I want readers who are sitting at their computers dutifully waiting for my next brilliant words.  And I want comments from my adoring fans to overflow my inbox.

Ok, you can stop laughing now.  That's just mean.  

I get hung up on how my blog looks.  I focus first on the theme and the colors and the cool widgets before I have even published the first posts.  I've even jumped from platform to platform, changing the address of my blogs over and over so that even if I did have any readers they wouldn't be able to find me! 

I didn't want to start a blog until I could start it "perfectly."  I am a perfectionist by nature.  The bad kind.  I get so hung up on every aspect of what I do being absolutely, positively perfect that it becomes debilitating.  I either get frustrated, or discouraged, or burned out.  In the end, the task I was trying so hard to get right doesn't get done at all.  This goes for many aspects of my life, and not just blogging.

What I've come to realize is that while there is nothing wrong with trying to do perfect work, in a lot of cases it's more important to just get the work done.  And in many cases, there's no such thing as perfect.

Lately I've been educating myself on the blogging culture.  There are some really awesome resources out there.  And I've come to realize that I need to build up my blog.  Give it some time.  Darren Rowse at ProBlogger reminds me that even the big names in the blogosphere started out small -- most with zero readers for a while.  They key is to keep at it.  Keep writing quality content.  Focus on quality and not quantity, but try to keep posting on a regular schedule.

So I am going to focus on creating content and getting the word out.  I'm not going to worry about having an eye-pleasing design.  Yet.  I'm also going to try to stick to a more regular posting schedule.  This is all a learning process, and an exercise in self-discipline.  I hope you'll stick with me on the journey!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 1 BBBC - Write An Elevator Pitch


Follow along as I take ProBlogger's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge!

The exercise for Day 1 of the Build a Better Blog challenge was to write an elevator pitch.  This was a good exercise for me, because it helped me to sit down and really decide what I wanted for this blog.

An elevator pitch is an overview or summary of a product or service or person that can be given in about 30 seconds -- the time it takes to ride an elevator.  The idea is that if someone asks you to tell them about yourself (or your blog,or what you do, or what you're selling, etc.), you'll be ready with a short pitch instead of "Uhhh, well, umm..."

To write my elevator pitch, I asked myself a few questions:  What is my blog about?  What information do I want to share?  Who will be reading my blog?

This is what I came up with:

"The Journal Keeper is a place for me to share my personal thoughts on things as I see them."

It's as simple as that.  Nothing fancy or flashy.   You can read the extended version on my About page.

Now, on to Day 2!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Life Handbook



This came to me in an email from a friend. I have no idea where it originally came from, but so many of the items are a part of my life now (and others are what I aspire to do), I wanted to share it.

Happy Sunday!


  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  • Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  • Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
  • Make time to pray.
  • Play more games.
  • Read more books than you did in 2009.
  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day and just think.
  • Sleep for 7 hours.
  • Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.


  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  • Don't over do. Keep your limits.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  • Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
  • Dream more while you are awake.
  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
  • Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes from the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  • Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  • Smile and laugh more.
  • You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


  • Call your family often.
  • Each day give something good to others, even if it is only a laugh.
  • Forgive everyone for everything.
  • Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.


  • Do the right thing!
  • Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • GOD heals everything.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
  • Your inner most self is always happy. So, be happy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Mike Licht

I have started many blogs over the course of my internet life.  Some were diaries of my mundane days, some were places to rant about the political climate.  One was an attempt to teach others about journaling, and another was to market my Virtual Assistant business.  In all cases, I gave them up altogether, or have slowed my posting to a snail's pace.

The thing is, I really, really want a blog.  I want to be able to communicate with friends and family about what's happening in my life.  I want to promote the cool things I find and the things I'm interested in.  I want to practice my writing craft.  So I revived this blog, The Journal Keeper, but it has been slow going.

A few weekends ago I was doing some research about blogging, and came across an awesome site:  The Blog Frog.  It's a place where blog owners can connect, share and interact.  While poking around the site and visiting other blogs, I realized more and more that I wanted to be a part of the blogging community.  And that's when I stumbled upon the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge. 

I'll talk more about why I've been unsuccessful at blogging in the past, because I think it's important to learn from the why's.  But for now I want to focus on moving this blog forward, and I think the Build a Better Blog challenge will be a good way to do that.

I am starting a static page (you'll find it over there on the right) as a central place to keep up with my progress.  I'm looking forward to the exercises.  You will notice that I actually started the challenge a week ago, so this post is a little behind.  No worries.

I hope you will follow along as I embark on this challenge.  It will be difficult for me to actually do something for 31 days -- I'll cover that on another day.  So please bring on the encouragement.  I can use it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Things To Do Before I Die


I have kept a list of Things To Do Before I Die in my trusty planner for years.  Since I am considering doing away with the Paper Planner, I thought I would post my list here.  Perhaps putting it out there for the Universe to read will spur things along.

Here's my Bucket List.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fighting the Urge to Just Sit

My husband started a new schedule at work today:  4:00 AM until 3:00 PM.  That means the alarm goes off at 2:45.  In the morning.  That's a big switch from his usual 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  It will be a challenge for the whole household.  But these days we have to be grateful for the jobs we have.  Not too long ago we were both unemployed.

In no way do I mean to sound selfish, but this new schedule affects me too.  When the alarm goes off at 2:45, I wake up.  And I stay awake until I know that he has gotten to work safely.  And then I stay awake for a little while longer.  This morning I finally fell back to sleep around 4:30.  Until my alarm went off at 5:45 so that I could get up and get ready for work.  So right now I am really tired.  And that's after a 20 minute nap on the couch after a quick supper.

I had big plans for working on my blog tonight.  All throughout my workday I was thinking of what I would do when I finally got a quiet minute with my laptop.  But right now I don't feel like doing any of it.  I'm surprised I'm even typing this post.

I should admit, though, that this problem of being too tired after work didn't start with my husband's new work schedule.  I've had this problem way before now.  I've fallen behind on so many of my goals because I'm too tired after I've gotten off work and picked up the kid and come home and fixed dinner and cleaned up after dinner (or not) and washed laundry that is needed for the next day.  You know the drill.  I'll bet more of you than not experience the same exact thing.

So how do I get around it?  How do I push myself past the tired feet and aching back and drooping eyelids to write a few words for my novel or finish up an article or write a blog post?  Or do anything?

I've tried vitamins and exercise and going to bed earlier.  I'm looking for a quick, magical fix here.  Anybody got one??

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Merry Christmas in July!


Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I love the preparation and celebrations and good cheer and gift-giving.  I love the hustle and bustle and excitement.  I also love the quiet reflection while remembering the "reason for the season."

Imagine my excitement when I learned about Christmas in July!  There are parts of the world that make a real celebration of it with Christmas trees, parties and gifts.

Here on the East Coast of the US, the temperature outside is forecast to be 106 degrees.  While I'm avoiding stepping outside at all costs, I'm going to reflect on Christmases past, imagine the chilly temps and maybe even listen to some Christmas music.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday!

My Top 8 Favorite Famous Journals

This post is a part of the 31 Days To Build a Better Blog Challenge.  Follow my progress here.

I love everything related to journaling.  I love filling my notebooks, I love picking out my next new notebook, and I love re-reading from my past journals.  I also love to learn how other people journal, and if given permission, I love to read other peoples' journals.

I have read the journals and diaries of many famous (and not so famous) people.  They range from US Presidents to writers to criminals; from young girls to old men.

I am fascinated at how the casual writings of George Washington and Virginia Woolf are not that much different from my own.  We all write about our accomplishments and failures, our fears and complaints and wishes.

Here is a list of my favorite famous journals:

1.  The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This diary is one that most everyone has heard of.  It's the diary kept by a young girl while her family was in hiding for two years during the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands.

2.  The Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was an American poet and novelist from the 1960s.  She was also known as Victoria Lucas.  She kept her journals from age 11 through her death at 30.

3.  The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was the 40th US President.  During his two terms President, he kept a daily diary by hand, recording his thoughts and observations on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine day-to-day occurrences of his presidency.

4.  The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman by Sarah Morgan Dawson
Sarah Morgan began her diary when she was nineteen -- just nine months after the start of the Civil War.  Her record of the events during the war remains one of the most vivid, evocative portrayals in existence of a time and place that today make up a crucial chapter in our national history.

5.  The Diary of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors.  She kept her diaries (all five volumes) from 1915 until 1941 and they contain her unguarded accounts of her writing efforts and personal life.

6.  The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke by Angela Nissel
Angela Nissel was a poor and struggling college student at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her diaries, which started out on the internet (one of the first successful blogs maybe?), were a hilarious account of her struggles to feed herself and pay her bills.

7.  Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work by Joni Cole and B.K. Rakhra
The Water Cooler Diaries is a collection of on-the-job "day-in-the-life" chronicals from hundreds of women.  This is a look at what each of their days looked like on March 27, 2007.

8.  A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women Writers from 1764 to the Present edited by Margo Culley
This collection includes diaries composed over the past two centuries by 29 American women from different classes, social levels, and ethnic backgrounds.

Do you have a favorite journal or diary to read?  Please share them in the comments section!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Being an Imposter


Here in our part of the world it's just too darn hot to go outside to do anything.  I'm not even going to check the mail until after the sun goes down.  Summer's performance so far this year is causing it to move to the bottom of the list of my favorite seasons.  Autumn can't get here soon enough for me.

Today I am taking some time to catch up on Google Reader items.  I currently subscribe to 42 blogs, although that number changes frequently as I find others to follow, or decide to unsubscribe to one because it no longer suits me.  Anyway, I came across a post on the Procrastinating Writers blog that rang especially true for me. 

Kate Kennedy wrote about the "Imposter Syndrome."  She wanted to write, but was hesitant to call herself a writer.  How could she compare herself to those who were successfully pushing out volumes of work?

Absolutely everything she wrote was like a mirror image of my psychological self.  I have made several attempts at writing:  articles, blog entries, and even my first novel.  Yes, I've published a handful of articles for a content mill.  Yes, I've written posts for my own blogs.  And yes, I've even finished the first draft of my first novel.  But I haven't gotten much further than that.  I always run into road blocks.  And then I am left with friends and family asking me, "Hey, when are you going to publish another article?" or "I've noticed you haven't written a blog post in a while," or "When am I going to get to read that novel?"

So although I feel like writing runs through my veins -- I think about it all the time, I read about it all the time, I WANT to write -- I don't feel like I can call myself a Writer.  It makes me feel like a fraud.  It would be like someone driving fast on his way to work and then calling himself a race car driver.

So today I am revisiting my commitment to writing.  I am revisiting the reasons why I want to write, and I am even doing some writing, starting with this blog post.  And if I keep it going tomorrow, and then the next day, and then the next day, maybe I'll be on my way to earning the title, Writer.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1.  Air-conditioning
2.  Window blinds to keep out the hot sun
3.  My SubZero stainless steel water bottle filled with ice
4.  My Inspiron Mini Laptop

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A New Direction for The Journal Keeper

I am sure you have noticed that my attempts at this blogging thing have been a bit random and haphazard.  I had great intentions when I created The Journal Keeper.  I wanted it to be a place to share what I knew about the craft of journaling, and how I used journal writing in my daily life.

I immediately had two problems:  1) It turned out that I didn't know as much about journaling as I thought.  I had been writing in my diary/journal on and off for as long as I could remember, and had learned many things along the way, but found that I didn't really have enough knowledge to keep the blog going for an indefinite period of time.  2) As much as I love the act of journaling and what I know it can do to improve my well-being, I had not been doing it as faithfully as I should.  In fact, my journal writing had long since taken a nose dive over the past several years, so much so that I had trouble calling myself a journal writer at all without feeling like a fraud.

I've had a dream for a long time of facilitating others in journaling for empowerment, whether it be through workshops or a newsletter or a blog.  I really loved the idea of blogging -- I would love to say that was because it would be a great way to practice my writing.  In reality, though, I think I loved the idea because I wanted the attention.  I wanted to gain a loyal following of readers who hung on my every word and left adoring comments on every entry.  I wanted to make friends that would last a lifetime.  After all, I read several blogs written my people who have done just that.

But it's just not working for me.  I've put way too much pressure on myself (in way too many areas of my life -- not just the journal blog area) and lately I have felt way too overwhelmed.  So I'm cutting things back.  And that includes the Blog About Journaling.

Instead, though, I will keep this blog as my personal journal.  I'm making every effort to "go electronic" in that area.  It's not going well (that's for another entry), but I think I have to give it a fair try.

So here's to a new direction for The Journal Keeper.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekly Review - 6/6/10

Something I have done for years is to review the past week.  Usually this is done in my planner and/or journal, but since I am trying to ween myself from both of them, I am hoping to share my review with you here.

My weekly review consists of going through my planner for the past week to see what I've done, what I've accomplished, and where I still need work.  I would also go through my journal and read the entries from the past week to see what I was feeling and doing. 

What this is supposed to do for me is keep me on track with my goals.  I should be able to see at a glance where I am exceling and where I am falling behind.  It is supposed to be an empowering exercise.  Unfortunately for me, the last several months have not been very productive, and therefore my weekly review ended up just being another way for me to feel bad about where I am and what I DIDN'T do.

I need to regroup, though.  I need to refocus on the good things I am accomplishing.  And if my weekly review reveals that I am falling behind in an area, then that should just be a reminder of what I need to work harder to focus on in the coming week.

So today, in light of the horrible week I have had, I am not going to put myself through that.  Rather I will spend the day reflecting on my goals and revisiting my plan for getting where I want to be.

Do you have a regular ritual to help keep you on track with your goals and/or responsibilities?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Asked and Received (Again)

Our God is an awesome God.  If you don't already know that, you haven't given him a chance.  All you have to do is ask.  Ask him just the way you would ask a friend.  Tell him what you need help with, and he'll help you.  I've experienced this myself on more than one occasion, the most recent being today.

I asked God to give me guidance today.  I was disappointed, angry and distraught and I needed his help in the worst way.  So I laid out for him exactly what I needed to know, in no uncertain terms, told him how I wanted to receive the information and when I wanted to receive it.  And then I waited for it.

Shortly after my request, I got what I needed.

I asked him which path I was supposed to take in my life.  I was confused and befuddled with multiple directions I had tried to take or had thought about taking.  He told me that writing is my path.  I asked whether I should be writing novels or blog posts or articles.  He told me that I am a Writer of Books.  I expressed concern over my current career path distress.  He told me not to stress.  Writing is my primary path.  Anything else that I need to do to make money for the time being is necessary, but still secondary.  I am not to stress about it, I should just simply do what needs to be done.  Focus, though, on my primary path.

Right away I felt more relaxed and happy and relieved... and extremely grateful for His help!  And as I lathered my body with soap (I received this guidance while I was in the shower, just as I had requested), I thought to myself, "Ok, I'm going to search for blogs about novel writing."  To my surprise, though, He told me that I should not spend my time reading about writing.  I am to spend my time writing.  Deep down I knew that -- I knew that my reading about writing is just a procrastination mechanism that I have perfected.  But it's always nice to have it reinforced in simple terms by The Master.

So there you have it.  I have my answer.  My task list just got simplified with a figurative snap of the fingers.  I have no question now.

Okay, maybe I do have one question:  How in the world can I get moving on the writing?!

Plea for Help

I am having a really hard time being happy about anything.  I am having a really hard time not hating myself and being disappointed in myself.  I am having a really hard time not feeling like a failure, and not counting my many failures.

I think there are two things that have made me feel so down today.  The first was a conversation with my mother last night.  I felt like a failure just talking to her.  I didn't have any positive things to tell her about anything.  She asked me how my writing was going, and all I could say was "Eh."  I just felt like a huge disappointment to her.  And to myself.  I can't blame her for how our conversation made me feel.  She merely asked me questions, which caused me to look in the mirror.  And I hated what I saw.

The second thing that happened was my search for jobs today.  John sent me a web page with several links to companies in the the area, so I could submit my resume to them.  (That act itself also has me feeling down and not good enough, but that is another story.)  Practically all of the career pages I visited for those companies required me to enter my current annual salary and my desired salary.  In spite of me making almost $50K when I was at my previous job, I have since then had two jobs that made $20-$30K.  Those are the salaries that I have to list.  And then I say that I want to make $45-50K.  If the database doesn't first kick me out because I don't have a college degree, than it or the first human review process will likely kick me out because of my salary requirements (compared to my last salary).

It is incredibly frustrating to me to have my qualifications and experience judged by computer programs or people who don't know anything about me.  It is so frustrating to have to beg for a decent pay or benefits.  I am tired of job hopping and having to go through this process over and over again.  It feels very degrading.

Aside from that, I am also very disappointed that I have not been writing.  All of the troubles I am having are a result of me leaving my past job so that I could get to my 401K money so I could pay of my ex-husband's credit card debt.  I will forever hate him for that -- for putting me in such a horrible position.  I will hate him until the day I die.  However, that time that I was off was the perfect time to write and finish my book.  I did tell everyone I cam in contact with about it, and to all of those people I must look like a failure.  I feel horrible that I squandered away such an opportunity.  All added up, I had a year and a half to write.  I probably used a total of three months for that purpose.  I will always regret that and will always be very disappointed in myself for that.

So what do I do going forward?  Clearly the way out of these messes (no money, unsuccessful, nothing to show for my time on Earth) is to change my behaviour; to buckle down and do the work required (start writing again, get an education to get a better job, keep applying for a job until a desirable one comes along).  It should be that simple.  So why is it so hard?  Why do I constantly go through the same tragic missteps that not only don't move me forward but in come cases slide me backwards?

Dear God in Heaven, I am begging you to help me out of this cavern.  I cannot do it on my own, not where I am sitting right now.  I can't see my way and I need you to help me.  and I need it to be obvious.  None of the cryptic messages or signs that I am supposed to recognize or interpret.  I am tired and I need something clear cut and in my face.  And when you send it to me, I need you to follow up with another clear cut message to confirm that the previous message was from you.  I am tired of trying to figure things out, and I am at the end of my rope.  I have hinted to my Soul a few times that I think we should just end it and start over from scratch, but She has not been receptive to that, so I know that there is something She is waiting to do.  I just don't know what that is.  And again, I have grown tired of trying to figure it out.  So will you please do me this favor and be blunt with your help?  And I need it right away or I am going to lose it.  I know you know that, and I know you have been waiting for me to simply ask for your help.  So here I am, except I am begging you instead of asking.  Please Lord, tell me what I should do, and then please give me the push to get started.

I don't recall there ever being a time when I have asked you for something with such a sincere and full heart.

I am going to stop now and go take a shower.  I hope to hear from you within minutes.  I will be listening.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Word Prompt #2

This week's Word Prompt is from a subscription email I received from Neale Donald Walsch. Neale is the author of the "Conversations With God" series of books. Stop by his website to learn more about his books, or subscribe to his daily inspirational emails.

"It is the sweet, simple things of life that are important. When we truly embrace this, our day-to-day lives begin to change in very important ways."

What sweet, simple things are you looking past, or right over, and neither seeing or enjoying?  Write in your journal for 15 minutes as fast as you can, without re-reading or editing.

Happy Journaling!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Review Your Journal Monthly To Stay On Track

Happy May Day!  According to Wikipedia, May Day refers to several public holidays and cultural celebrations.  May 1 is also the beginning of a new month, and my birthday month at that, so that is reason to celebrate!

I'll admit that in my lifetime I have never celebrated May Day.  Well, not that I can remember.  For many years, though, I have "celebrated" the first of the month.  To me, it has represented a new beginning; a way to start over.  If I had faltered at all at school or work or with my family and friends, I used the first of the month to mentally wipe the slate clean.  I gave myself permission to move on.  And I always promised myself I would do better.

Granted, there have been months when I didn't do such a good job of "doing better."  But at the first of the month, I would set aside the feelings of guilt and disappointment and strive to do better for the next 30 days.

My journal has always played a large part in this.  I am able to look back over the past month of writings and notes and see where I have been successful and not so successful.  From there I can create a plan for what I want to accomplish and how I want to do and be better.

Do you have a review process for your journal?  As you look back over your previous entries and notes, how do you feel about what you have accomplished (or not accomplished)?  If you do not already have a review process, I encourage you to give it a try.  If you do review your journal on a regular basis, how do you go about it? 

Happy Journaling!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Add a Table of Contents or Index to make your Journal Searchable

There have been several times when I've wanted to look back at something I've written in my journal, whether it be a favorite poem I've copied down, or the name of a book I was thinking about reading. I typically would have had to sift through my box of filled (or somewhat filled!) journals and flip through page after page, hoping to find what I was looking for. Inevitably I would get side-tracked, as my search would end up being a stroll down memory lane.

I have a couple of solutions to making your journals more searchable: create an Index or Table of Contents in your journals.


An index is a list of words, phrases, names or subjects that you perceive to be important. Examples could be the obvious occasions such as "prom" or "engagement" or your "son's birth." Less common examples might be "double rainbow" or "writing spider on front porch."

Table of Contents

A table of contents is just what you would find in a book or large document: a list of parts in the order in which they appear. You know... Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc., or Bill and Mary Met, Bill and Mary Fell In Love, Bill and Mary Got Married.

In my case, my journals are mostly about random nothings (though no less important!) and have the occasional nugget of wisdom or something of great importance that I don't want to forget. A table of contents probably wouldn't work well for me, because so much would be insignificant and that would make it hard to find the significant entries. So an index works best for me.

In a typical book, the table of contents goes at the beginning, and the index is at the end of the book. However I usually put my index at the beginning. When I begin writing in a new journal, I skip the first one or two pages, and label them as the index. Then, as I'm writing entries, if I think that a particular entry is something that I might want to come back to later, or is just something that I want to remember, I'll make a note of the subject matter and the page number on the index page.

Happy Journaling!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reader Input for Fun Friday

I had a great idea for a weekly feature here at Journal Keeper.  Every Friday would be "Fun Friday!"  Everybody loves Friday.  It signals the start of the weekend.  If you work in an office, you may have "Dress Down Day" or "Casual Friday," and if you have a really cool boss, you get to wear jeans!  (I have yet to hear of someone letting their employees wear ratty T-shirts and sweat pants to work on Fridays.  That, to me, would be the ultimate Friday.)  So that was my idea for Journal Keeper Fridays -- do something fun and casual.

But that's where my idea stops.  My mind is drawing a blank.  Sure, I could post cute videos or pictures or post links to other websites that are fun.  But none of those ideas quite fits the bill.

So, I'd like some reader input.  How would you like to celebrate Fun Friday at The Journal Keeper?  C'mon, don't be shy.  There are no wrong answers!  Please post your comment below.

Thanks for your help!

~ Sharon

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Little Words

Did you know that you have an internal editor?

I picture my internal editor being a little mouse of a man named Marcus. His small stature, balding head and beady little eyes are a contrast to how brutual he can be when I am writing. Whether I am writing in my journal, writing an article, or working on any of my other writing projects, he will show up uninvited and give his unsolicited opinion on what I have written. And a lot of times he will tell me what he thinks before I've even gotten the words down on paper!

"You're going to write that?!" he says.

"No, no no. That just doesn't make any sense."

You may have been approached by your internal editor, but just looked at him queerly and turned away, like bumping into a man on the street who tries to sell you his shoes. You may have had an ongoing dialogue with him, and have become so frustrated that you don't even try to write anymore.

Don't get me wrong. This internal editor fellow (or maybe yours is of the female persuasion) can be quite valuable. His skills come in handy when you are editing something you have written, such as a research paper or article or story. But he has no place whatsoever interfering when you are writing that first draft, and he certainly should not butt in when you are writing in your journal.

Well, I have a neat way to help you get that writing done quickly and beautifully, and that busy-body won't even know you did it. And you will have so much fun!

It's called the "Three Little Words" Writing Machine. I learned about it while taking a correspondence course on how to write a book in 14 days. Here's how it works:

1. Choose three completely random words.
2. Write as fast as you can for five minutes using the three words.
3. One word must begin the first sentence.
4. The remaining two words must be included in the first paragraph.

Now, it is important to choose your words quickly, and then begin writing with them even quicker. Because if that internal editor of yours gets wind of what you are doing (and remember, he is fast!), he will start in on you before you know it.

You can get the three words from anywhere except your imagination. Two ways that have been successful for me are:

1. Have a friend or partner give you three random words out of a book.
2. Use a random word generator from the internet.

Give it a try. I guarantee that you will be amazed by what you've written after five minutes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Word Prompt #1

There will be some days when you sit down with your journal, open to the next available blank page, and freeze. You want to write, you know that there's something important up in that brain of yours, but you're just drawing a blank. That's called Writer's Block. (Incidentally, if you have never suffered from writer's block, you are very lucky and one rare breed!)

A good way to get past writer's block is to use a prompt. We've already talked about the photo prompt, but in this post I'm referring to a word prompt. A word prompt can contain a single word, a group of words, a question, or a statement. The prompt is simply a way to jump start your mind and to get thoughts flowing again. When you're using prompts, it's always a good idea to write as fast as you can.

Each week I will post a random word prompt, and you will be invited to write in your journal for 15 minutes about whatever the prompt brings to mind.

Here's today's word prompt*:

Pick any color and write about where you have seen that color today, and what feelings that brings up.

Remember, write in your journal as fast as you can.

Happy Journaling!

* Today's prompt comes from David Kellin at the Journal Prompt Library. Visit his site if you'd like more prompts!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Longhand Journal vs. Blog

According to The Future Buzz, the number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002 is 133,000,000. Additionally, 346,000,000 people read blogs (comScore March 2008) -- that's 77% of all active internet users!

Many of those blogs are about a certain topic, whether it be politics or religion or quilting. But many of them are also in the form of personal journals where the blogger can document their daily lives, thoughts and feelings for the whole world to see.

Typing your thoughts into an internet blog can have its own rewards. Some feel that "putting themselves out there" gives them a thrill. In a way, they're being published! Some blogs gather quite a large following of readers, and in some cases readers and bloggers have become fast friends.

One very important thing to consider before you start blogging is what was mentioned a moment ago: your blog has the potential to be read by the whole world! Some journalers (this one included) shy away from sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with the whole world. Some things are too personal and meant for only for the writer.

The good thing is that journalers have options available to them. They can journal the "old-fashioned" way by writing in a book or on paper, or they can type away on the keyboard into an online blog. Or they can do both!

The choice is yours. I invite you to give blogging a try if you haven't already. There are many free blogging sites out there (I've listed a few below).
What is your favorite form of journaling? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with others!
And Happy Journaling!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Photo Prompt #1

Hello, and welcome back to The Journal Keeper!

You know, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. That is true. And in fact, the same picture can mean different things to different people. Two people may see the same picture, but their minds may tell each of them a totally different story about what they are seeing.

Pictures are a good tool to use in your journaling. They can even help to generate ideas for stories or articles or poetry. Try it out. Take a look at the photo below. We all probably see the same cat curled up in the same toilet. But our minds are telling us each a different story about how the cat came to BE in the toilet. Or we might be reminded of a cat we used to have, or of the time the toilet became really clogged and flooded the bathroom floor. Just let your mind do its own thing.

Write in your journal for 15 minutes about this photo. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Does it make you think of anything in particular? Write as fast as you can, and don't stop to re-read or edit what you've written.

Each week I will post a random photo, and you will be invited to write in your journal for 15 minutes about whatever the photo brings to mind.

Until next time, Happy Journaling!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Is This Journaling You Speak Of?

This post originally appeared on my previous Journal Keeper blog, which never really got off the ground.  No one can ever say I don't recycle!

While some of you have been writing in a journal or diary for some time, there are still those who have never put pen to paper to pour out their thoughts. So today I'd like to speak to them directly. You "old-timers" are welcome to stick around. There will be doughnuts and coffee afterward.

To the newcomers, first let me say Welcome Aboard! You are beginning a journey that will be fun and enriching and enlightening. So let's get started.

What is a journal, you ask? Merriam-Webster says that a journal is a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept for private use. I'd say that's pretty close for our purposes.

Your journal can act as a diary where you record what happens in your daily life, such as what the weather was like, what you ate for breakfast, or what your three-year-old did to the cat. While a journal can be so much more, this purpose can be very useful. Think of the fun your grandchildren will have when they go through your cedar chest packed with aged notebooks with yellowed pages, and read about the minute details of your life. And seeing it in your own handwriting will add another level of interest and meaning. Think of the diaries written by soldiers and farmers and prisoners many years ago. Those entries, which may have seemed mundane to the writer at the time, have given us great insight into what life was like for them.

Aside from being a record of your daily life, your journal can serve you on a much deeper level. Recording your hopes and dreams and wishes can help you better focus on what you want to achieve and accomplish. It can be a great place to define your goals and map out how you are going to get there. And along the way you can record your progress to monitor how things are going. On those days when things just don't seem to be going as planned, you can review the entries in your journal to remind yourself of the progress you have made and the hurdles you have overcome.

Your journal can also be a place for refection. I have found, and it has been proven, that writing in a journal during tough times can be therapeutic. It helps to get all of the "stuff" out of your head, and getting it down on paper is the next best thing to crying on someone's shoulder or smacking someone in the face (which, by the way, this blogger does not recommend). I have found that sometimes after I have vented in my journal, I'll go back days or weeks later to reread the entry and find that what I was frightened of or mad about turned out to be not that big of a deal after all.

Let me finish by saying that your journal can be anything you want it to be. Do you like to draw? Your journal is perfect for that. Do you like to collect Garfield cartoons clipped out of the newspaper? Your journal is perfect for that. Do you like to write clever haikus? You guessed it, your journal is perfect for that.

Later I'll break down each of the different "types" of journals. And I've got some awesome tools that will help you map those goals and vent about your newspaper-stealing neighbor. We're going to have a lot of fun here. Until then, grab that favorite pen and composition notebook, turn to that first crisp blank page, and begin.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's To Come

For the most part, I'm the type of person who likes to know where I am going before I set out on my journey.  I don't like to just get in the car and go for a drive.  I don't like to window shop or walk through the mall just to browse.  I'm a planner by nature, and along with knowing what the final destination will be, I also want to know what's going to happen on the way to that destination.

No, I don't live in a perfect world, and sometimes I don't get my way.  But I like to keep that to a minimum as much as possible.

So along those lines, I'd like to take some time to let you know what my plans are for The Journal Keeper.  Hopefully the delightful anticipation will prompt you to click on the Subscribe button so you won't miss a thing!

Where We're Going

First, I want you to know that our journey here at The Journal Keeper will likely not come to an end.  I know, I know... I just finished telling you how important the destination is to me.  But there are some cases -- and this is one of them -- where the journey is more important than the destination.  Ours will be a journey of growth and discovery that will continue for as long as you let it. 

How We'll Get There

As I mentioned previously, I have learned a lot about journaling through my own writing and from years of reading about journaling.  Here are some of the topics we'll cover:

~ the advantages of journaling
~ personalizing your journal
~ dozens of tools and prompts

Most importantly, though, I want this blog to be a sharing experience. You may have your own ideas about journaling, and I want you to share them! There will be opportunities for you to participate in polls and discussions, and you may even be a guest blogger! At any time you can leave a comment, or you can send an email to me directly at sharon at journalkeeper dot com.

There will be daily posts, and eventually we'll settle into a regular schedule for the types of posts (more on that later)

So, that's the plan.  I'm excited about this journey, and am looking forward to having you along. 

Until next time, happy journaling!

Welcome to The Journal Keeper

Hi there!  My name is Sharon, and I am The Journal Keeper. 

I've been journaling in notebooks for years.  I'm one of those creative types who loves to put a good pen to a good notebook.  I have my favorites but am not opposed to using a BIC pen in a marble-covered composition notebook.  There's something about the act of writing by hand that helps to soothe me, and filling my notebooks gives me a sense of accomplishment.   

I also love to read about journaling.  I'm interested in how other people journal, why they journal, and where their writing takes them.

Along the way, I've learned that journaling has many benefits.  There are many methods and tools that can be used to help in different areas of life.  

Although I am a pen and paper type of gal, I am also drawn to the blogosphere.  I'm starting a blog because, although my first love is pen and paper, I want to make a place in the blogging world to share what I've learned about the journaling craft.  While this is not my first attempt at blogging, I hope it will be the one that endures.

I'm happy that you stopped by.  I'm just getting started, so there's not much to look at right now.  I'm working hard to have some content ready for you.  Before you leave, be sure to bookmark this blog or subscribe to it so you can be notified as soon as a new post is available.  I also encourage you to leave comments. 

Until next time, happy journaling!

~ Sharon