• A Journal Of A Different Type

    Weeks ago I became aware of a type of journaling that I never considered.
    Like a seed, it got planted in my brain and has bloomed into a new possibility.

    Years ago I wanted to keep a traditional journal.  You know ... the hand-written kind using paper and pen.  I think of it as an analog version of blogging - but a private one.  Five days into the process, however, I decided it was too cumbersome for me.  My brain did not engage with my pen well at all, and when it did, the first words would be not quite right, crossed out, erased, edited, ending in ... a mess.  I wanted to be neat and clean, but my writing is neither neat nor clean.  I deeply edit over and over until my brain narrows things down.  Blogging on an electronic platform allows all that massaging I need and is why it has been such a consistent practice for me - even if only episodic as of late.

    But recently I discovered a journaling method that won't leave my brain.  It is called 5 Year Journal.

    A 5 Year Journal typically presents as a normal diary that assigns each day of the week to a full page, but each page is divided into 5 equal sections - one section for each year.  As shown below - all the journal entries for January 1 are shown on one page.  The first year of this journal you are writing only in the top section.  Then when January 1 of the next year rolls around again, you return to the January 1 page once again drop down to the second section for your entry.  Obviously these are short sections - usually only 5 lines. It is just a short snap shot of what is on your mind on that day.  Brief, concise, specific entries.

    Doesn't sound like me at all, does it!!  Ha!

    In my research of these journals, I discovered that some versions offer a one sentence prompt per day.  I was intrigued by that idea as I don't feel my personal life is all that eventful or interesting.  Then I drifted into the possibility of only one word prompts - something to comment on as it relates to your life.  The choices of journals are beyond describing.  Some of the books are leather bound creations of great beautiful.  Some books' pages are stitched into the book while others can be refilled or switched out.  There are small books and large ones.  There are expensive and cheap ones.  Believe me - if you have problems with choices, don't Google a topic - it can be overwhelming.

    But still it attracted me.

    I tried to determine why this type of journaling was haunting my thoughts and why did I feel like I must begin one this January 1.  It was hard to put my reasoning into words - maybe a sign that I was attracted to the materials rather than the practice of a 5 year journal.  So I Googled "Why keep a 5 year journal" thinking maybe someone's words would capture my thoughts.  Hahaha.  Like Googling something EVER made anything more clear. NOT!

    So after much thought, here is what I have come up with from my own brain!

    If I looked back over my last 5 years - if I had started writing a 5 year journal in 2014 and I was writing in the 5th year of December 2019 section today - I could look back at all the Decembers - specifically I would see that in December 2014 I struggled with mom's last days, facing her death, struggling to do the right things for her.  I would find it interesting to see what my mind and heart were dealing with at that time 5 years ago - the things I felt important to put into words.

    Over the last 5 years other changes have happened as well.  Big ones.  We moved.  I became a grandmother!  I reconnected with a childhood friend.  I lost 2 dear friends.  I had knee surgery.  The list goes on.  My life was eventful in many ways.  I think as time passed, and I approached this book to post another entry, I would find interest and remembering of things that happened to me on those dates a year or more ago.

    I sort of wish I had that book today.

    But looking back is only half the story.  My next 5 years will also be filled with events - some sad and some joyful.  I think about the next decade or so - and at 72 it is a daunting thought.  My brain shies away from what the future might actually hold at this point.  Might it be a good idea to put pen to paper now in an abbreviated way to capture these last important years for myself?

    Why doesn't the online blog do this?  Well, for me, the blog is a public forum, but a written journal is a place where only I will visit - a private thing.  I seldom look back in my blog to past entries, but in a 5 year journal that snap shot entry would be evident every time I opened the book.  Is that important? I am not sure - but I wish I had the previous 5 years recorded in a useable way.

    I think if I were younger and had the expectation of many years ahead of me - I might not see a value in this kind of journaling.  But time passes by very very fast the older you get and sometimes the brain starts to stutter a bit.  Somehow putting pen to paper puts more stability and continuity into my daily living than launching a blog post into the great electric unknown of the web.  I will still blog because there is a social interaction in that type of journaling that is good for the soul.  But once the post drifts into the distant past ... it fades - no matter how important the topic was.  The 5 year journal seems to fill a different need.

    Will I still have problems putting pen to paper?  Probably.  I guess it is time to exercise a 'mental muscle' that hasn't been used since the 90's - 'from brain, to hand, to pen, to paper.'  It will be hard at first - but new skills are good for old folks like me.

    So I think I am going to start this for 2020 and hope it goes to 2025!

    The journal is ordered.  Leather covers, but mid-priced and refillable as opposed to pages stitched in place.  I might change my mind on that after I see the book in my hand.  I loved some of those leather imprinted covers.  I have opted for blank pages - knowing I can set up the dates and the years easily.  I might change my mind on that as well.  I may use one word prompts for each day of the year  - but who knows, I might ... you know, change my mind on that as well. :-)

    Have you kept a paper journal? 
    Have you heard of 5 year journal?
    If so ...  
    how has traditional journaling worked for you?
    And why did you keep a journal?

    This 'journaling mind' wants to know!!

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