5 Reasons to Write: How Journaling is Beneficial

Education, journal, productivity, writing

I made the argument last week for keeping a digital journal, today I’d like to give you 5 reasons to keep a journal. Why writing is important.

1. Journaling Helps You Work Through Emotion:

This past Friday the school where I am employed lost a student under tragic circumstances. Although I did not know the student personally, many of my students did and I had to observe their grief and devastation. In a world full of social media it’s good to have a place where you can write what you’re feeling.

2. Journaling Makes You Aware Of How Far You’ve Come:

I look back at some of my entries from years past and realize I’ve made it through some tough times. There have also been things which, although monumental at the moment, seem inconsequential now. When you’re able to reflect upon all you’ve been through you being to realize how strong you really are.

3. Giving Gratitude:

I’m a Christian, but even if you aren’t, it’s still healthy to stop and give thanks every once and awhile. Again, it’s all about perspective and recoding where you are at each stage of your life.

4. A Memory Keeper:

Goes without saying, right? Just having a stash of your memories. The ability to remember who you were at different times in your life. I was an outspoken teen, with an active social life, and defiant opinions. I’m a much calmer, more private, adult but I like remembering who I once was, the brashness at which I viewed the world in black and white before I ever really entered it. I’m able to revisit that girl and relive memories I’d otherwise forgotten. Even better, I have textual evidence for my own daughter when she becomes a teenager: yes, I was once your age and yes, I can understand how you feel.

5. Judgement Free Zone:

Your journal is a judgment free zone. Journaling is different than talking to a person. You can say whatever is on your mind (good, bad, politically incorrect, diabolically evil) and you won’t be judged for it, no one is going to give you unsolicited advice, and you don’t have to worry about “likes”. Journaling provides freedom in ways you may not appropriate until you make it a part of your life. It’s healthy to just let it all out every once in awhile.

A digital journal remains to be my favorite way to express myself, but writing in any form is beneficial. I make my students journal for 10 minuets at the start of every class period. Although I provide prompts, I prefer they choose their own topics. My hope is that I’m giving them a tool to help them deal with life long after they’ve forgotten Shakespeare.

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The Argument for a Digital Diary

journal, Organization, productivity, Technology, writing

I’ve been an avid journal writer for most of my life. I think it’s the narcissist in me, the same one who thought it was a good idea to try my hand at Hollywood, this thought that someday someone would care enough to read what I had written. It started in the 5th grade with a Scholastic Book Fair “diary” blue with pink hearts which by high school was a legit Laura Palmer type with a real lock and tiny keys. The diaries of my formative years are an open letter of who wronged me, who talked about me (who I was talking about, secret crushes and who attended what party.

Writing took on a whole new meaning in college when I moved away from home and everything I knew. No longer was I writing for an imaginary audience. As I struggled to find myself I wrote solely to sort out my ideas and feelings. To figure out where my place was in this world.

I never stopped. My career, my marriage, the deaths of loved ones, the birth of my child, successes, and some really dark times have all be recorded.

In 2010 I began using a digital journal on my Blackberry. In 2011 I switched to the iPhone and started using the Day One App. At first I was skeptical about digital journaling (and I’ll admit there’s a less comprehensive, yet Louis Vuitton, journal on my bedside table). There is something about putting pen to paper and leaving something behind for the next generation. I have my grandmother’s diary from 1915 and it’s an exquisite piece of history. There’s something to be said about expressing yourself using your own unique handwriting. If there’s one thing I can say about myself it’s that I have beautiful handwriting probably from all those years of journal writing. So I understand the argument for keeping your memories in a book,but here are some reasons to consider for either switching to a digital platform or keeping a digital journal in conjunction with a handwritten diary.

1. A digital journal is always with you: Life is busy. We’re constantly on the go. It’s not reasonable nor plausible that you’d have your paper journal with you everywhere. If you’re in the habit of writing things down as a way of catharsis than it’s beneficial to have that means to express yourself with you at all times. I once lived in a hotel for a month and there was no way I was leaving a traditional paper journal in my room.

2. A digital journal is more secure: If you choose one of the many popular journaling apps such as Day One, Wonderful Days or even Evernote, you can add a passcode or fingerprint lock to secure your writing. Day One even offers encryption as an added safeguard. The chances of someone “finding” your journal and gaining access are minimal.

3. It is a lot easier to add photos to your writing: Do places even develop photos anymore? I love being able to add photos to my entries, especially as I watch my daughter grow.

4. Unlimited space: My journal currently encompasses almost 8 years of memories. I’m saving space by not having all those books cluttering up my closet AND it’s much easier to return to my writing and read past entries, something I rarely do with my previous journals.

5. Writing becomes more organized: I can have multiple journals and tag entries according to subjects or yearly events.

I understand that some people may be worried about trusting “the cloud”. What if the internet goes down? What if the company (app) goes out of business? Those are legitimate concerns. I regularly export my journal as a PDF and save it on a removable hard drive. I have a friend who chooses select entries monthly, prints them out, and adheres them to a scrapbook.

A journal is a personal thing and it isn’t my place to tell anyone how to record their memories but if you’ve never considered a digital journal I hope I’ve offered viable reasons to give it a try. Below are my top three picks to start your mobile writing journey.

Day One

My Wonderful Days

Evernote

Happy New Year! What I’m Bringing From 2017 Into 2018: The Best of 2017

fashion, Technology

Goodbye 2017. Hello 2018. With everyone focused on starting anew, resolutions, and wiping the slate clean, I thought I’d share some of my favorites from 2017 which will be making the transition into the new year with me.

The Bags

Palm Springs Mini Backpack: Hands down my easiest go to bag for running around the neighborhood with my daughter. I’ll be posting my one year review and wear and tear on YouTube this week. I’ve never regretted splurging on this bag.

Gucci SoHo Disco Bag: I love this bag because it’s the crossover between a personal bag and a work bag. I can fit my work keys or a diaper in it and it’s small enough to walk around town or take to the playground.

The Accessories

Louis Vuitton Small Leather Goods:

It took me forever to find a system which worked for me. I change bags a lot and it’s easier when I can grab just a few items to transfer. The winners: a mini pochette (or toiletries 15), a cles, and the round coin purse. Every bag, every time.

Leather iPhone Case(s):

Although not the most protective, they are they most stylish and professional. Right now I’m sporting a snap on case from ullu but I have a soft spot for Twelve South as well. Some of my cases have credit card slots, some don’t , but they all have that soft, lived in, leather look and sleek design.

The Apps

Day One:

I’ve kept my digital journal since 2010 and I’ve never looked back. I started using DayOne back in ‘11 but it’s made my 2017 favorites list because I finally splurged on the subscription service enhancing my experience. Unlimited journals. Lost of photos. A secure server. Password protected.

Awesome Calendar:

Yep, that’s it’s name and that’s what it is, an awesome calendar. I’m not anti paper planner, I use an Erin Condren monthly planner for work and an LV pm agenda next to my bed. I carry a Field Notes notebook with me just about everywhere but my digital calendar is my life line. What I love about Awesome Calendar is how customizable it is. I can add photos, stickers, color code, attach notes, directions, and review what I did on this day in history (because sometimes you’re just curious). This is the closest app to my college planner I’d spend hours decorating with magazine cut outs.

The Beauty

Benefit Hello Flawless Powder Foundation:

I’d heard somewhere that women over 40 shouldn’t use powder because it settles into fine lines and wrinkles. While I’m sure that’s true for some women, I’m still pretty oily and powder foundation helps control that. The formula is light and comfortable while providing complete coverage.

Bangs:

I’m not immune to wrinkles and the saying “bangs or Botox” definitely holds some truth. Besides, ever since my daughter saw Iron Man 3 and said I was Pepper Potts, I have a new affinity for my fringe. As much as I love changing up my look, I think I’ll keep the bangs another year.

The Fashion

Zara:

Zara still dominates my closet for shoes and tops. Unfortunately, the brand has vanity sized me out of pants. In an effort to be more inclusive and diverse the smallest pants size Zara carries in most styles has a 26” waist. But, the brand continues to be innovative, trendy, and affordable so I can spend top dollar on more expensive jeans elsewhere.

The Guilt App:

Speaking of denim, Guilt offers a wide variety of styles, brands, and sizes. I’ve even been able to find a size 22 on occasion. The best part is most of the merchandise is discounted. Guilt carries more than jeans, you can find everything from designer bags to vacation getaways.

Remember, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. There’s no need to get caught up in the hype. If you love something, keep it. Happy New Year.

Why Journaling Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum

Education, Technology
   We recently finished reading “Julius Caesar” in my sophomore Language Arts class which ended in a discussion on the merits of tragedy as a genre. I explained to the students that Aristotle, who coined the term, meant for audiences of tragedies to introspectively think over the events of the play and use the experience as a form of catharsis. Then I spent the next ten minutes explaining what catharsis meant. After which I asked them: How do you vent? What methods do you use to expel yourself of emotion and reflect on life? The answer, shockingly, was Twitter. Twitter! “Yeah” my students said “Twitter rants”. Evidently a “Twitter rant” is where you tweet about a subject consecutively and in short order (no pun intended although Twitter only allows for 140 characters to be tweeted at a time). Am I the only one who sees a problem here? It’s a wonder we don’t have students running wild and burning down the schools. Oh wait, one of our students tried to light the school on fire this past week completely destroying two palm trees and causing the campus to be evacuated. I believe we have a problem.
     I have nothing against social networking. I’m a member of many social networks: Twitter (@CarolynNicole), Instagram (@Cinnamonmouse), Snapchat (@Mrscgrayson), Facebook, Pintrist, Tumblr, WordPress…you get the idea. The point is, they’re called social networks for a reason: they were designed to share ideas with the rest of society, to network, and connect. I’m not exactly sure catharsis applies. It’s difficult to be honestly introspective when you’re writing for an audience. What I’m posting here is not my journal, it is not my private soliloquy (although I do write in prose, which is much more intimate than formal writing) this is intended to be read by other educators who grapple with similar issues. In other words, the next generation doesn’t reflect, they perform. And how are you to acquire a sense of self when you’re always putting on a mask for the approval of others?
The kid who set the palm trees on fire? He posted it on Snapchat.
     Students need a way to open up and be honest with themselves, to really analyze the way that they are feeling, and to have an outlet for letting some of those feelings free. One solution to this is giving your Language Arts or Creative Writing students class time to write in a journal. Not a graded journal, not something which is turned in for credit, but something private for themselves. I experimented with this idea this past year as we read “Night” giving students the opportunity to choose a bound notebook or the use of Evernote (iOS/Android/Windows). It was a short experiment but one I think I will pick up again when I return from maternity leave (for the record I’m happy I’ve kept up my workout routine while pregnant. In case of an emergency I’m still pretty quick and nimble at 7 1/2 months).
Isn’t this a waste of class time? 
No, like everything else, you have to practice in order to get better. Just because students are writing on a non-assigned topic doesn’t mean that they aren’t practicing writing. Have your students look back at past entries on some days. Have them correct their mistakes as well as recall memories. Any assignment you give which you believe is for the betterment of their education and for the improvement of society is not a waste of class time.
How do you grade them? They won’t do it if it’s not worth credit.
I walked around the room, I looked over their shoulders, I monitored but didn’t intrude. Sometimes I would have them flip through their journals in front of me to prove it had entries even though I didn’t read them. They did it. Most of them did it. If I was monitoring them and they were writing they received credit. If they were playing games or off task they didn’t receive credit. You have students in your class who aren’t going to do anything regardless of incentives or grades. That level of disregard of school, authority, and their future comes from their homes and from society. We all try to improve student attitudes and inspire them in 55 minute bursts for 180 days but sometimes you can’t undo 16 years of apathy. Let them know you care about them as people that’s all you can do.
   If your interested in journaling and the importance of keeping a journal check out these resources: