… on journals and the phases of grief (for…journaling)


My new gratitude journal. Haunting me.

The other day a friend said to me something I have heard many, many times in my life.

She said, “Well, you are really organized…”

And I laughed, but she was serious.

So I’m thinking that I am putting off some pretty serious organizational vibe-y thingies out there – like pheromones but not the sex kind.  Which means my biologicals are lying to the world.

Because I am not really organized at all.

I’m actually pretty surprised I remembered to dress myself today.

I mean, I can do organized, but it’s not my natural state (and is often quite painful).

There are even things I pine for, aspire to, that I cannot organize myself to be, no matter how much I want it.

Like being a crispy person.

You know, one of those people who always looks together and sharp (and ironed) and crisp?

They don’t even spill coffee on themselves (or, if they do – in my crispy person fantasy – they have another shirt (probably dry-cleaned) on a hanger and at the ready (even if they are in their car) to change into – lickity split – and, voila, they are re-crisped.

They can also cook, like, without an apron.

Which is a mystery to me because If I you ever walked in while I was making spaghetti sauce, you would think I was bleeding out.

And also in that category of things I want to be good at because people I admire seem to do it easily and breezily?


Oh, Gawd, I want to.

I have tried.

I even get an enormous high out of heading to Barnes and Noble and choosing a notebook or journal or beautiful leather-bound field sketchbook and bringing it home.

I always have big plans for it.  Always.

I will be all organized.

I will not write in my sketchbook, nor will I draw in my journal (unless it is related to my journal entry because that is totally cute).

I have visions of beautiful, organized, rows of journals filling up my bookshelves.  I have visions of my kids coming across my perfectly organized journals when I’m dead (oh, sorry, when I’m ‘gone’/’transitioned’/’passed’ (this post is all about reader-empowerment, you get to pick your poison)).  They will ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ at all my wisdom and philosophical insights.

But no.

Instead I am the journaling equivalent of my beloved Depression-raised Old Yankee Man.

When he goes, I will be shaking 20s out of the bindings of old books and coins out of the toes of long-ago retired shoes.

When I go, my kids will be ‘what the fluck-ing’ at the sheer volume of full, half full, one page full, one line full – and, sure, many never even cracked open – journals, notebooks, and sketch books hanging out on counter tops, in cabinets, closets, drawers, bookcases, floors… (note to kids: check the freezer too (they require no explanation at all for that suggestion)).

And each journal (or sketchbook or series of pieces of paper) will not just be full of something –  it will inevitably full with everything.

Page one might be notes from an on-line photography course, while page two might be a note that says, “I paid the electric bill. Holy sh**”. Then there will be writing ideas, lists of books I’m supposed to read, partial recipes, notes taken whilst on the phone with one of the kids, or a cherub’s school project idea. There are phone numbers scribbled all over the place and doodles galore and that leads me to…

My new gratitude journal.

Yesterday in the mail, I received a gratitude journal as a surprise from a friend and I was so excited when I opened it because – as previously stated – I absolutely love journals (and also I love my friend).

And then something tragic and horrible happened, and it happened so quickly that I almost missed it (because that is how this brain works).

I suddenly realized I’d been in love with a fake version of me, for decades.

Journaling Me.

I realized that, when it came to journaling, I had fallen in love with the idea of who I could be and not actually who I was.  And, really, it is just so unhealthy to enter into a relationship with the idea that you can change someone, right?

I had to face the truth.

Journaling Me doesn’t exist.

She never existed.

Side note: Neither does Crispy Me, but I think I will explore that at another time.

It was like a death.

And, as such I had to rip through the stages of grief really quickly so that I could decide what to do.

So I screamed, “no!” and locked myself in the downstairs bathroom (denial and isolation), screamed that someone didn’t change the toilet paper (anger), told JoHn through the door that I would happily take out the trash if he and Gabe would consistently change the toilet paper (bargaining), and then cried and made myself look disheveled (depression).

And then I was ready to accept that I would probably not be using my new gratitude journal as a means of writing down what I was grateful for, at least in regular intervals, for any extended periods of time.


I could enjoy this little orange slice of gift-y sunshine the way Real Me would be comfortable with.

So I made one entry of what I felt grateful for – my friend who gave me my gratitude journal:


And then this morning happened and, well…

This is what it looks like now:



I had an idea about my camera strap.

Then National Grid called and gave me some options for a plan they were recommending.

Then I talked to Dick and Les and Fred about meeting me in Maine on Tuesday, but then thought we said Wednesday, and then realized that – no – it was really Tuesday.

And I have to decide on an outlet by the dock.

Oh! And then I remembered an idea I had about how I learned to cook so…


Not only am I very grateful for my new gratitude journal.

I am very happy that I have a friend who gets me, and accepts that I will, inevitably, use it in ways that are authentically me.

In fact, she might celebrate it.

Friends do things like that.

Thanks for readin’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s Facebook page to comment or just hang out.