Posts Tagged ‘Journaling’

J. P.’s Christmas Journal – The Gift that Began a Lifetime of Journaling

by Sherry Stocking Kline
published in the Wichita Eagle – August 2007

For Christmas of 1984, J. P. Buellesfeld ‘s great-great uncle gave him a black, leather-bound journal.

Buellesfeld was so impressed with the gift and the fact that his great-great uncle, head of the history department at Washburn University, had been keeping a journal for 45 years that a few months later he began keeping his own journal.

Every Single Day…

Twenty-four years later, he’s still doing it. Every. Single. Day.

In fact, the journal has become so important to him that he keeps notes throughout the day in a notebook at his investment office, then takes the notebook home, and uses it to write in his journal.

For Buellesfeld, it is a matter of documenting the happenings in his life, his family’s lives, and those of his close friends. As someone who has taught and is fascinated by history, it’s also his way of documenting world happenings.

Writing in a journal can be fun, informative, and according to Buellesfeld, help settle future arguments.

Journaling Can Promote Good Health …

It can also promote good health. According to research conducted at Southern Methodist University writing in a journal for a few minutes each day about what has happened and how we feel about it can help promote emotional well-being, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.

There’s never been a better time to start your own journal. It’s easy to find how-to-do-it books, and when you type “journaling” into Google there are 3 million plus “hits” to help you get started.

Every bookstore has a selection of journals, hard-backed, paper-backed, and beautiful leather-bound versions; some have themes, such as nature or inspirational, and many include questions and inspirational quotes to get you started.

To personalize your journal, Lori Ritchie, www.writersdigest.com, suggests that you add your favorite prayers or verses, the lyrics to your favorite songs, share your family history and family tree information, and record important events. Ritchie also suggested you add a table of contents to your journal and devote a page telling how it was acquired.

What Should You Journal About?

You can journal about everything you do or only one area of your life.

Going on a trip? Take along a traveler’s journal.

Are you a New Grandma? (Or Grandpa?) Fill out a journal about your life and your hopes and dreams for the new grandbaby.

Want to grow in your faith? There are journals with daily Bible verses and questions to stimulate thought and spiritual growth.

Grieving a loss? A grief journal can help you through your journey of recovery.

Just Remember That it’s Your Journal…

It can be anything that you want it to be, a place to document daily happenings, the story of your family’s life, or a secret place to write down your emotions, share your goals and dreams, and unload your daily cares.

Journals don’t have to be leather bound, and they don’t have to be fancy, a simple spiral notebook or a word document on your computer or laptop will do.

Use whatever works for you, and whatever allows you the freedom to express yourself.

What Goes into Buellesfeld’s Journal?

“Everything. I put everything in there,” Buellesfeld said, adding that “Once you do it everyday for 24 years it becomes an obsession.”

Buellesfeld said that his journal is absolutely more about his personal life than his business. While he hasn’t decided what provision he will make for his journals after his death, he said that many make provisions to keep their journals private for a number of years.

“Every night, and I mean every night, no matter how tired I am, I write in that journal.”

Grandpa – Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days…

by Sherry Stocking Kline
First published in the Wichita Eagle’s Active Life Magazine – April 2002

Getting Grandpa to talk about the “good ole’ days” really isn’t as hard as you might think. All you have to do is set the stage, bring along some props, and be prepared with plenty of questions.

Pat Gaddie grew up listening to her Grandpa Sam tell his Irish jingles, share stories about blue racer snakes chasing him through fields, and the wagon trip he made in 1902 when he was eighteen and his family moved from Tennessee to Oklahoma.

“He lived next door to us when I was small,” Gaddie said, “and when I was eight or nine years old, he used to tell stories to entertain me.”

How to Keep Them Story Telling…

Not everyone enjoys reminiscing, but if your Grandpa (or Grandma) does, here are a few tips to keep them story telling.

Decide what you want to know, make a list of questions, then ask the most important ones first.

What’s your priority? Is it facts, figures, dates, and places, the who begat who and where or when, or is it the stories that you want to hear?

Are there family legends that you want to verify or clarify, or do you want to hear how he proposed to Grandma, laugh about the night he and his bride were chivareed, or see D-Day through his eyes?

Set the stage.

Old photographs and family memorabilia are great memory triggers, and can prompt a flood of memories, so bring out the high school play bills and yearbooks, wedding photos, and photographs of the plane Grandpa  flew in the service. When he shows you the photo of his first car, be sure and ask him about the job he took to pay for it.

Take field trips to old schools, cemeteries, and other meaningful places, and travel to Grandpa’s hometown and drive by his old schoolhouse. You may learn who put the snake in the teacher’s desk, the story behind Grandpa’s nickname, and more.

Remember that Grandpa’s dates may be approximate, as he’ll likely remember events as happening “the year of the big blizzard, the summer of the drought, or just before Beverly was born”.

Bev Malone interviews older family members to flesh out stories and verify the information.

“The best way to get the stories flowing about family members is to ask about people and things, not personalities,” Malone said.

Make sure your cameras, and audio or video recorders have fresh batteries, and take along spares. If you need an extra memory card for your cameras (or film) be sure to take that along, too.

“Recorders can make people nervous,” Malone said, so she breaks the ice by asking, “Do you mind if I tape this? My brain can’t keep it all in my head.”

Take notes, just in case technology lets you down, and transcribe your notes as soon as possible.

Need help with your list of questions?

There are books that can help, such Emily Anne Croom’s “Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook” with questions tailored for different decades in history, and Janice T. Dixon’s “Family Focused” with question lists and suggestions to help you conduct interviews and gather information.

What’s Dixon’s advice in “Family Focused” to interviewers?

“Be relaxed, don’t interrupt, don’t contradict, and don’t ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no.”

“Keep the flow of conversation going,” Dixon said, “you can go back and ask questions later.”

Gaddie cherishes and shares her Grandpa Sam’s stories with her family, a process that can add valuable information to your research as well as give you new questions to ask.

With a little planning, the next time you visit Grandpa, you may learn more about your grandfather, your parents – perhaps even yourself.

Journal Your Summer Photos Now!

by Sherry Stocking Kline
first published in Wichita Eagle’s Active Life Magazine – September 2000

Now that summer’s over, and you’ve got a shoebox full of vacation, grandchildren, wedding, and graduation photographs, it’s time for you to preserve those memories between the pages of a book, like a pressed flower, to be enjoyed again and again.

So where do you start first?

“Get some history attached to those photos,” said Bob McCreary, “that’s the first and probably the most important step.”

McCreary and his wife Kathy co-own Scrapbook Garden, Wichita, Kansas. McCreary said that Kathy carries photographs with her in her purse and whenever she has a few minutes while watching television, waiting for the doctor, or waiting to get a driver’s license she sorts photos and makes quick notes on the back with a photo safe pencil.

Once you have them sorted, McCreary said it’s really a quick step after that to put the photos in an acid-free, lignin-free photo album, and then “journal” or tell about the photos.

Each year, Gerry Reimer does a summer vacation album, and adds more pages to her all-Christmas album.

Journals Don’t Have to Be Elaborate…

Reimer said not to let your friends’ elaborate journals scare you off. “Streamline,” Reimer said, “get the photos on the page, and get the people identified.”

“First of all,” Reimer said, “Tell yourself it’s o.k. not to use all the photos you have.” Reimer said to choose pictures that tell who you are and where you were at that time, and be sure and include names and dates in your albums.

“I don’t keep a travel diary,” Reimer said, but Reimer said she jots down a few notes, picks up ticket stubs, colored brochures, saves travel itineraries and whatever else they might want to use in their vacation albums.

Reimer said you’ll know what you want to do, and what you don’t, after you finish your first book. Reimer’s first photo album was her wedding album.

“We’d been married 49 years,” Reimer said, and I didn’t like our wedding photos, so I had a wonderful time cropping off what I didn’t like and journaling about the pictures.” Reimer said she does “bullet journaling”, or writes short statements under most photos, saving long stories for special photographs or events.

Start With Recent Photo’s…

Bonnie Loewen, Creative Memories consultant, said the easiest way to get started is with your last roll of film while your memory of the event is fresh, and work your way backwards.

Tell A Story…

Loewen said to tell a story with words as well as with pictures. How were you feeling? What was going on in the family, and the world? Loewen said even the current price of bread and gasoline will be interesting to future generations.

Loewen said to write as you would talk, don’t worry about punctuation, and write a sloppy first draft. You can re-write it later, Loewen said.

Answer the Five W’s – Engage the Five Senses…

Think about the five senses and the five W’s, advised both McCreary and Loewen, adding that it will make ideas for captioning your photos come easier. Just remember to answer the questions who, what, when, where, and why questions, and engage the emotions by writing about how something looked, sounded, tasted, felt, and smelled.

Preserve Your Handwriting, too…

McCreary said and its faster to use a computer to journal, but it’s not as personal, so he said not to be afraid to write in pencil and go over it later with a permanent marker, or even cover up mistakes with cardstock.

“Some people don’t like their handwriting,” McCreary said, “but people years from now will cherish seeing the handwriting of the person who made the journal.”

Scrapbooks can help bridge the generation gap, so along with vacation, wedding and family photos, include stories and pictures of military service and other events to help future generations understand the times you lived through, and what makes your family special.

Ordinary Days are Important…

Loewen said it’s also good to make pages of what an ordinary day was like in your family, too, not just the special events. “And make a signature page,” Loewen said, with your name, date, who the album is for, and why you did it, “it’s kind of like signing a quilt.”

If you have a lifetime of photographs ask for help from your family. Reimer said that kids and grandchildren are great to help photo captions.

McCreary agreed, “it’s good to get family members involved.”

“Make it a fun activity,” McCreary said, “have everyone sit down and talk about the photos, and try to communicate some of the emotion.” You get different perspectives of an event by talking to different people.

“It’s really exciting that people are making a legacy and trying to pass on their roots and their values,” Loewen said, “values can be lost in one generation if they are not preserved.”

“People will forget you in one generation if you don’t tell your story,” Loewen said, “you can make such a difference in people’s lives with a scrapbook.”

“In a sense,” Reimer said, “your whole book is the story of your family.”

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