red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

my little blue book

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For me, today begins Year 4 of keeping a journal. I have a little blue book called One Line a Day, which is a 5-year diary. There’s a page for each date, with five ruled blocks beneath, each containing only six lines. I’d always wanted to keep a journal, but I wasn’t confident that I had the discipline to make entries on a daily basis. When I came across this book though I thought, surely I can take the time to fill six lines every night? And I have. At this point I feel so invested that the thought of having a blank entry is repugnant.

I’m enchanted with journals, both nonfiction (The Diary of Anne Frank) and fiction (The Handmaid’s Tale). I’m currently following a blog called Ella & I, which shares daily entries from a series of diaries kept by Ella Warner Fisher of Vergennes VT from the late 1890s through 1932. As the author of this blog describes, Ella and her husband had eight children and “she washed and mended and churned and sold eggs and chickens and made lots of pies and bread and was active in her church and the D.A.R.” Through these records and the generosity of the blogger who’s taking the time to share them, I enjoy a view of another’s long-ago daily rhythms as well as (with the advantage of hindsight) cultural and historic forces at work.

When I was young, my grandfather’s journal from World War I intrigued me. Reading his young-man thoughts and perceptions documented in his own handwriting gave me a tangible connection to and a more complete picture of the elderly taciturn man I knew only through once-a-year visits. His diary let me see him as someone like me, with fears, yearnings, private thoughts, petty complaints and joyful moments. There are mysteries too: who’s that person he mentions? Why did he record this particular event? Why did he skip writing on these days?

Both of my parents died relatively young, and my adult self longs to ask them questions that my younger self never thought to ask. I don’t know if my children or potential grandchildren will be curious about me, who I am/was, my motivations or why I made the choices I’ve made, but my leaving clues like my little blue book, letters I’ve written and my blog might allow them a glimpse.

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My little blue book also serves me in a way I didn’t anticipate. Now that I’ve been diary-keeping for a few years, I’m able to revisit and reflect on what I’d written on that same date years before. What had seemed to weigh heavily has been dealt with, overcome, and passed. As a parent of teenager/young adults, this practice of nightly reflection allows me to see how much I’ve grown as a parent and a person and how my children have stumbled, made mistakes, hit obstacles and grown wiser. I go to bed each night reminded of the value of fortitude, patience, love and gratitude.

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5 thoughts on “my little blue book

  1. Happy New Year! I have ordered one of these. Reamins to be seen if I use it.

  2. Seeing your post reminded me that I received one as a gift a couple of years ago. I wasn’t interested then, but now I think I will look for it and start recording. You’ve inspired me!

  3. I’m on my second 10year journal. Sounds like your blue book is organized the same way. I can’t tell you how many times I go back to it to confirm when something happened. Or what I was thinking, feeling, reading, seeing, working on, etc. I gave a five-year journal to my oldest grandchild (10) this past fall. Hope he’s filling it in, but he’s got the idea of it nevertheless. will talk to him more about it when I see him next and show him mine. The first year we moved to Maine I took an art journaling class and kept a drawing/painting nature journal for a year. I treasure that journal and keep it open and move through its pages year after year. I did not start with artist skills, but finished with some. And sometimes I just cut out pictures from magazines or downloaded them on the computer to illustrate what I was seeing. I learned so much in the process of doing the journal. There are quilting versions, too–small quilts–but more on the idea of illustrating a particular month… Love those too. One would learn a lot about art quilting… Thanks for this post!

    • A ten-year journal sounds even better! I have given 5-year journals to my daughters, and altho’ they were diligent with them at first, the books have fallen out of use. I’ve realized that journaling, like all habits, has to be self driven. What my daughters have taken to instead is the art journaling that you do–they use Moleskine notebooks and write and draw in them. As you say, I don’t think one truly appreciates the value of journaling until one has done it awhile and can then reflect on what’s recorded. It is a rich and fulfilling journey.

  4. Pingback: Turkey Tracks: “My Little Blue Book” from Red Flannel Pantry Blog | Louisa Enright's Blog

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