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The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Thoughts by Myself #6

Don’t Waste This Moment—Start a Journal

Figure 1 Calvin gets a visit from a bunny.

As a student in Rome from 1973 to 1977, I traveled a lot. I lived in Liverpool, England for three months, visited my Bavarian cousins in Munich every holiday, and traveled around Europe. What I did not do was keep a diary. I have a few pictures and some stories, but I’ve lost most of the memories.

When I lived in Africa from 1984 to 1989, the same thing happened—no diary, no journal. I did write to my mother and father every month while I was a missionary in Africa. My mother kept all of those letters, and now those experiences are a treasure. Because of her, I could write a memoir, Stumbling into Happiness.

In 2004, I started a journal to record my feelings, experiences, and travels. Last week I started a special edition of the journal—the “COVID19 Diary”. I am recording what is happening to me during this pandemic. A journal is a way to sort out the complexity of feelings I have in order to get a fresh perspective and to record events and their impact on my life. This is a memory I don’t want to lose, and it might become a treasure for loved ones to learn what it was like to live in this moment of history.

Writer, Annette Gendler, has some brilliant advice about keeping a journal. Don’t worry about recording big policy decisions or national and international news, history books will cover that in detail. Capture the mundane things that happen every day:

  • The trials and tribulations of finding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, working online, wearing masks and gloves to shop.

  • The travel restrictions.

  • The shifting information from authorities.

  • Pictures and posts both humorous and informative.

  • The impact of social distancing.

  • The non-stop terrible news cycle.

  • The limit on the number of people in stores.

Don’t forget the funny, kind, and heartwarming things that happen.

Many of us need some prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Here are some suggestions from the writer, Zoriana.

  1. What did you do today?

  2. What did you eat today?

  3. What are you grateful for?

  4. What are you learning?

  5. What are your feelings? Worries? Thoughts? Expectations?

This disruption in our lives is unnerving, and taking a moment to write about what is happening today in my life helps me to unpack the tangle of worry, fear, and anxiety. A journal is like a friend who is always there to listen without talking back.

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