So I was having a bit of a bad day…

gargoyle1 There’s nothing worse than breaking a fingernail on a Tuesday morning.

Well, yes there is. Of course there is.

But I woke up feeling like everything was a major trial and the joy just seemed to have been sucked out of what should have been a happy day.

That was yesterday, when I was charging around feeling cross and snappy with just about everyone and everything, for no good reason.
Then I sat myself down and poured out all my bad humour onto paper. And immediately I  felt better, well able to cope with broken fingernails et al.

Which brings me nicely on to my latest project – a journal writing course which I’m running during September. (Let’s cut to the chase: Charlestown Arts Centre, 2-4pm, starting September 7th).

Keeping a journal is well documented as a way of keeping your mental health in good order. For me, it’s an essential tool in keeping me sane(-ish) and organised (-ish).

I started keeping journals when I was in my teens when I wrote in code in a big diary that I hid in the hot press (OK, I was in England then, so it was the ‘airing cupboard’). I was anxious not to let my parents or my little sister know about the unrequited love I felt for the boy on the school bus that I wrote about in great detail.

All that teenage angst (which went on for years) got a ceremonial burning when I got to 17 and met someone real who wanted to go out with me. I kept on with the journals right up until a couple of boyfriends later when I met and married my balloon pilot. All good, until one day he discovered my carelessly piled heap of notebooks and journals and began reading. Many raised voices later there was another ceremonial burning (too much intimacy from a previous life).

Fast forward 36 years and I’m still keeping journals, although I’m now pretty good at keeping them private. I favour recording random snippets of information, rants about this and that (broken fingernails a speciality), dates and appointments, plus lots of cutting and sticking pictures and doodling with coloured pens. And of course, a journal is a great creative writing tool for recording ideas and finding inspiration.

A trawl through the internet tells me my favourite journal style is called ‘smash book’ journaling. And then there’s bullet journaling – keeping a fancy book of lists, which I’m also taken with. In the past, I’ve also documented special events, like when we arrived in Ireland with a herd of alpacas and started building our own house, which may or may not become a memoir someday. Some bits of the building experience were hilarious and a re-read can still make me laugh (although I cried at the time!).

The best thing about journaling is that there is no right or wrong way to do it – and the only judge is yourself. I’ll be giving lots of suggestions about how to keep a journal, how to keep it private, what to write, where to write and how to keep going, with some practical prompts and bits and pieces of scrapbooking materials to get things under way. And there’s tea and coffee on the go, too.

‘Keeping a Journal’ is over four Wednesday afternoons, 2-4pm, in Charlestown Arts Centre (County Mayo, Ireland), starting on September 7th.

Even blogging gets a mention 🙂

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