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| SERIOUSLY? |
By Roslyn Carrington
IF YOU CAN SAY that your life is
perfect, with no aggravation, no
stress, and no moments where you
seriously contemplate shaving your
head à la Britney Spears, all I can say
to you is: Is it cold in Heaven? Are
there lots of non-fattening pastries?
Is Paul Walker okay, and could you
tell him I'm thinking of him?
On this planet, in this dimension,
stress is everywhere. The most ob-
vious way to deal with it is, of
course, with copious amounts of
chocolate, but those of us not thin
enough to slip sideways through
fence railings would prefer an alter-
native that won't force us to upsize
A fun, safe, calorie-free answer is
writing a journal. Why? Here are a
A journal is the most non-judg-
mental friend you will ever have
There's a Russian folk tale of a
young peasant who was tortured by
a personal secret, so dire that to re-
veal it would mean drastic punish-
ment. He dug a hole in the ground,
spoke it into the earth, and then cov-
ered it up. Ah, sweet release.
Your journal is like a hole in the
ground, minus the icky earthworms
and dirt under your fingernails. It
doesn't care what you've done; feel
free to unburden your heart.
You can be as ugly as you want
I'm sure you're a very nice person. I
am also a very nice person. But I can
be angry, petty, spiteful, and mean.
And I don't necessarily want wit-
nesses around when I feel that way.
Your journal is a place where you
can spit out your angry thoughts,
cuss a blue streak, wish firestorms
upon your enemies, and rid yourself
of the ugly. And voilà, the nice you is
back and smiling once again.
It will remind you how far you've
The real value of a journal is not re-
vealed in the present, but in your fu-
ture. Like a good wine it takes a lot
of care and attention, and even
years of patient waiting, but when
you go back to it, it's a treasure that
shows you who you were as op-
posed to who you have become.
Better still, each entry is a little sign-
post, so you won't only see how far
you've come, but how you got here.
It will teach you to be grateful
You don't need to write down a
blow-by-blow account of the minu-
tiae of your life. Some days, your
most interesting entry will sound
like: "Dear Diary, today I realised all
the bread in the house was stale, so
I ended up having sada with my
When you have little to report, it will
help to sit and make a gratitude list,
in which you thank God, the Uni-
verse, your parents, whoever, for the
blessings you have received.
Bonus: when you're feeling down,
that's a sure way for you to put your
problems into perspective.
HOW TO JOURNAL
The form your journal takes is
largely up to you. But basically, it all
boils down to a choice between old-
school paper and electronic media.
Pragmatic diarists will find that any
solid, hardcover notebook will do,
but many people like specially pre-
pared journals, mainly because
they're so pretty and feel so lovely
in the hands.
Don't bother to get one with the
dates printed on each page, first of
all because you're not likely to have
anything fascinating to say every
single day --- unless your life is wor-
thy of a screenplay --- and second
because it limits how much space
you have to write in.
If you're an electronic kind of girl, you
either fire up your word processing
programme, or download special
journaling software that can do
fancy things like tag and cross-ref-
erence your entries, search for key-
words, etc. There are also a few
good online journaling sites that let
you store your entries offsite.
Things to remember:
Don't just write; add photos, and
stick or scan in tickets to events,
small mementos, dried flowers, any-
thing that will help keep those
Protect your info. You can only feel
free to unburden yourself to a jour-
nal if you know it's safe from prying
eyes. Physically lock away or pass-
word protect your thoughts. That
way you can spare others nasty
shocks or hurt feelings, and yourself
resentful looks or blackmail.
Remember that technology
changes with the times, and the for-
mat in which your info is saved may
become obsolete. Transfer your
journal to new media as it becomes
available. Remember all that data
you carefully saved to floppy disc
back in the 90s? Yeah, about that . .
The advantages of journaling are
numerous, and the investment com-
paratively tiny. So go ahead, give it a
shot. It just might be the easiest
way to keep from taking a set of
hair clippers to your silky locks.
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