Journaling A Past Time, A Legacy, A way to stay Sane!

journalsJournals, blank books, are one of my favorite things to get as a gift, to buy at the store, and to give to a fellow journal writer.

They have so many different journals to choose from now.  There are leather bound journals, silk bound journals, painted journals, journals with flowers, dragons, landscapes, designs, and just about anything you can think of.

There are big journals, small journals. pocket sized journals, journals with lines and without.  There are journals with questions to help you think of what to write, to write down your memories, or dreams.  I love journals.

This year has been really hard.  I have felt quiet lost at times, missing my parents so much it hurt.  I fell into a deep depression for a time.  It took awhile and a lot of effort to get back up out of the darkness that was threatening to swallow me up.  My journals helped to save me.  I could write whatever I wanted and not worry I would offend or upset anyone.

For the first year after my parents died I kept a journal where I wrote letters to my mom everyday, sometimes several times a day.  I had been so close to her, I was used to talking to her everyday, and it was a way for me to keep talking to her, to gradually accept that she was gone, but would never be forgotten.

I shared many things in my journal written to her.  I told her a lot of the things I wish I had had the time to tell her when she was here.  I apologized for some stupid mistakes.  I shared some new experiences with her.  Then as the year drew to a close and my journal was almost full, I realized it was time to let go.  I was okay with that.  My journal had allowed me to hold her close for awhile longer as I grieved.

There’s not a day when I don’t still miss my parents and wish I could talk to them, but I’m better prepared to face a future now, and I know that they are somehow watching over me.

If you’ve never tried writing in a journal then I encourage you to give it a try.  Keep it safe, keep it private.  Unless, you are journaling with a friend or spouse where you each take a turn writing a page. Free your mind – learn to journal, try it, you might like it.

Cherry Coley (c)

Side note*  there is an App for smartphones called “Momento”  it is a daily journal.  You can even set a reminder and it will ask you – “how was your day?”  It’s a great way to start keeping track of your memories and the moments in your life.

Memories and Echoes

I have thought of my parents a lot this summer.  On days when it is really hot I still have to stop myself from calling to check and see if everything is okay, if the air conditioners are running and if they are cool enough.  My dad liked to watch the electric bill closely so he would keep the air conditioners set on 75 degrees or more.  My mom would swelter and not feel well at those temperatures, especially while she was cooking, so I would remind her to check the air conditioners and turn them down a little if she needed too, or turn on the fans. 

 It’s hard to think that I don’t need to check on them now, or wonder if they are okay.  It’s even harder to realize that mom isn’t out tending to her garden this year, carefully watching the tomatoes, green beans, squash and greens she grew each year.  This year they were not planted.

 It hurts knowing that dad won’t be there to remind me to check the oil and coolant in the cars, or to make sure the tires are aired up properly.  He isn’t here to grumble about the gas prices, or how much Medicare didn’t pay.  He’s not grumbling about how much water is used to water the grass and garden either. 

 They aren’t sitting down and enjoying eating cantaloupe or watermelon this year.  Mom isn’t slicing up fresh pineapple then tempting my kids to come eat it.  She’s not fixing banana pudding or jello to have something cool to eat on hot days either. 

 I can’t bake a lemon cake for all of us to share with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or share a cool fruit salad with them while listening to mom talk about the ladies in the church, or a book she’s been reading.  I can’t listen in while dad reads the newspaper out loud and mom asks questions about the highlights of the day.

 No, there is only silence and an emptiness that just doesn’t seem to go away when I think about them. 

 I watch people with their parents and wonder if they realize how precious each day is.  No, none of us really do.  I did my best to not take the days for granted, but it still doesn’t seem like it was enough.  Yet, I know I never talked disrespectful to them and if they needed me I tried my best to be there to help.  I am still haunted with all the things I wish I’d done, or that I could say just one more time.  Still think about things that I wanted to do and lately realize things that I just plain missed along the way.  It’s all the way of grief I suppose.  One day at a time is how it goes.  There is a large hole in my heart where they used to be, and where nothing else will ever grow, but that is just how it is. 

 I have started writing journals for my kids: memories, dreams, thoughts, events past and present, so that someday when I am gone perhaps the emptiness will not seem quite so empty, but will instead be filled with stories of their childhood and mine.  It would never take the place of the actual person being there, but to me it would be like sitting down and having a conversation with them again and that would be really nice.

 Cherry Coley ©

Journaling for Fun and Sanity

I have written about journaling before and how I use it to help me.  About a month or so ago I got out of the habit.  I was talking to a friend a lot via email and texting and just kind of put the journaling aside which is not a good thing for me. 

 Journaling catches all the wild ideas, runoff and runaway emotions, the incomplete thoughts, the stupid and unfounded worries or suspicions that don’t really make sense, and all the excuses we make for why things didn’t work, why we can’t do them right now, why we can’t afford this or that and so on.  When I don’t journal, all those things just kind of build up into an emotional bubble that will eventually pop somewhere and on someone. 

 Journaling is a great outlet and can be used in so many different ways.  I wish I had started journaling years ago in some of the different ways I use it now.  I have a few journals I write in every day, but I also have a dream journal for those dreams that just stick around and need further contemplation, or investigating.  I have a prayer and meditation journal which is a great way to keep track of issues, and the resolution of them.  I have a writing journal that holds outlines for future story ideas, characters that have walked into my head and might make their way into a story someday, and even scenes or sketches of places that I might use later.

 Dr. Wayne Dyer mentioned in his book “Excuses Be Gone,” that if you want to change a habit, sometimes you need to speak to your subconscious mind and tell it that you are now aware of that habit and you intend to change it.  This makes you more aware so that you recognize the action the next time it comes into play, and it triggers your mind to stop and make a decision to either do what you have done in the past, or change things and go a different direction.  I do this in my journals as well, I write it out and then remind myself to go back and read it to make sure I am still aware and still going in the right direction to change those habits that I want to get rid of.

 If you haven’t been journaling or haven’t kept up a journal, then I urge you to pick up the habit.  It’s a great way to put down goals, track progress, realize dreams and make things start to take shape in your life. 

 Cherry Coley ©

Feeling a bit Dark

Every now and then I feel a little “dark.”  I can’t claim it’s something caused by grief as it’s something that I have felt now and then all of my life.  In these moods I tend to turn up Evanescense and light candles.  She just seems to speak to my soul in those moments. 

When I was very young and my mom worked at the church daycare, during nap time I would sneak into the dark sanctuary inside the church.  I both loved and feared the dark church.  The church was alive, you could feel the spirit in the building.  Oh, I know there are people who will think I’m full of it, but go into an active church sometime, alone, in the dark, sit down and listen, stay awhile and then tell me you don’t feel anything. 

The feeling in the sanctuary wasn’t always the same.  Sometimes it was a very comforting feeling, sometimes it was a vibrant and joyous feeling, sometimes it was an almost forbidding feeling that scared me.  At times you could hear echoes of conversations or music playing. 

I’ve always loved old buildings, cathedrals, castles, court houses, and old houses.  There is just something about them that speaks of history and echoes of the past.  I love running my hands along the old stones or wood, wondering about the hands that worked on creating the building.  Who were the people?  Were they forced to work on the building, or did they lovingly put together each brick?  You can tell the care that went in to some buildings, especially the cathedrals with their intricately carved beams. 

It looks like it’s time for a trip to Old City Park or maybe some old churches.  Time to touch history.

Cherry Coley (c)




Be Present!

“Be present in this moment.  Live your life, every little part of it in the present moment and only in the present.  All we have is the present, the past is behind us and fading fast, the future is not set, live life and be where you are right now.  Be aware of what’s going on around you and realize that there are defining moments each day.”

Cherry Coley (c)

Keep it Moving!!

When you are stuck and can’t figure out what to write, then journal, or grab a notebook and write anything that pops into your head for at least three pages.  Brain dump on the paper until your mind clears and the creativity can flow again.

 In mathematics we are taught that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  However, it doesn’t matter if we KNOW the rules if we don’t take action and actually move.  You can be in the middle between point A and point B, but you will never reach either point without movement.

 So, keep moving towards your goals, keep moving towards your dreams, keep writing, keep painting, keep the creativity flowing.  You can’t really steer a parked car or a boat on the beach, you have to put the car in gear and the boat in the water in order to make any progress. 

Now is a great time to take a chance on you!

 Cherry Coley ©

Comfort Zones and Anxiety Attacks

I have had so many major life changes these last few years if I were to list them I would need an Excel spreadsheet.  In fact, I did list them out for a counselor about two years ago and she just read it then looked at me and asked if I thought I needed medication.  Ha!  No.

 Change has been such a part of my life for so many years; I have truly come to think of myself like a surfer on life’s ocean.  It’s a visual I have come to hold on too when things get rough or I get in over my head.  Like a surfer, I have learned to float, to ride the waves, watch for the storms, get knocked off my board and go under swallowing water, climb back up, and now and then I get to ride the tide in and walk on the beach. 

 This year I decided to take more chances on ME.  For too many years I have been a caregiver, a people pleaser, a taxi, giving to the point of exhaustion, then giving more without taking enough time to develop my interests, follow my dreams, or having enough courage to try just for me.

 Taking more chances on me sounds great, but it’s hard work.  Even while unpacking and sorting through remnants of my parents’ lives, I have been pushing my limits in different ways, continually doing things that are outside of my comfort zone.  Oddly enough, this has sometimes caused a chain reaction of weird fears and anxiety over strange things. 

 I will be having a good day with everything going along fine and some odd senseless fear will crop up and I wonder “what the heck?” and “where’d that come from?”  The other day a friend of mine asked me to get on Skype.  I hadn’t been on Skype before and out of the blue this stupid fear of the unknown hit me, so I pushed it aside and took the plunge trying out something new.  I am still here. 

I have had a lot of creeping fear and anxiety following me around like shadows lurking, but I have been teaching myself not to give in, not to dwell on it, just see the fears for what they are – more obstacles trying to keep me from moving forward.  I put them in their place and find ways to work past them. 

 The hardest part of facing fear is the actual facing part.  Once you stare fear in the face and denounce it, it tends to shy away or disappear.  I pick up my copy of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” by Susan Jeffers Phd. and remind myself now and then that life is about making choices and taking chances and our greatest underlying fear is that we won’t be able to handle things.  I love her perspective on how to balance the different areas in life and how to face fears.

Then there are my journals.  I don’t know what I would do without the journals, or how I made it without them before.  My journals are a place where I brain dump everything that is bothering me, jot down potential solutions, work out ideas, and keep track of my progress in different areas.  Journals are a valuable resource.

Comfort zones are nice, but I am in the process of changing, adapting and moving forward in a new direction.  I will take the fear and do my best to identify it, then channel it and use it to learn from and grow.  Life is a journey and I’m thankful I am still here to experience it.

Cherry Coley (c)


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Sliding Goals, Vision Boards, and Keeping Focus

Well, that didn’t work.  Entering into the new year meant that I reinstalled some good habits to help reach my goals, said goodbye to some old habits that weren’t really serving me well anymore, and replaced those old and bad habits with new one’s that would help me get where I wanted to go.

This method of replacing the old and bad habits works really well since it’s a thousand times harder to just stop doing something than it is to replace the bad habits with something else.  However, in the last few months I have found something interesting along the way, at least as far as I’m concerned.

 I have discovered that if I don’t keep up the good habits that I replaced the bad habits with, I will fall right back into the bad habits!!  What the heck!  I seriously thought it would be harder to fall back than that, however, it makes sense since I was living with the bad habits far longer than the good ones.  

 For instance, I took up journaling every single day, it helps me keep the creative thought flow coming easily and to stay on track in a lot of other areas in my life.  However, if I go a few days without journaling I find that I am not as creative in some ways, not as social, and more likely to slide on other good habits I installed as well.  What a useful, but kind of disturbing discovery! 

 If I slide on diet and eat out more, then I don’t feel as well, so I tend to not exercise as much which leads to not sleeping as well and it’s a real domino effect all the way around.  If I slide on unpacking and organizing, then I slow down in other areas, start finding myself distracted and don’t get near all the things done that I should have.

 I am a real promoter of vision boards, goal setting – both long and short-term, to do lists, and learning to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones along the way, but even people of this same mindset stumble now and then.  There was a time in my life when I would have beat myself up for getting off kilter, but encouragement and inspiration goes so much further than making myself feel guilty or feel like I failed in some way.  We are all human, and all it takes is figuring out where we are right at this moment, making a few minor adjustments and then getting back on track – no guilt required. 

 Cherry Coley ©


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In Defense of Journaling

I love journaling

Journaling is a great way to work out problems, get a better look at things, track progress, relieve stress and remember events. 

 A journal is a wonderful thing to give your child later in life.  Not just a scrapbook, but a journal of things you experienced with them, events in their lives, struggles you went through, it’s a wonderful gift of love. 

 I personally keep different journals for different purposes.  I have one that I use generally for just daily rambling thoughts, problems and occurrences.  I have a journal where I write to my mom.  I was very close to my mom and the urge to share things with her and dad is still very strong.  It’s not something that will ever go away, so I created a journal specifically to share those type of things, it doesn’t serve any other purpose, but it does seem to help a bit with the grieving and some part of me feels like I am still sharing with her. 

 I love to read travel journals.  Those people who travel and share pictures, thoughts, experiences are terrific!  I have done this on occasion and intend to again in the near future.

 I also like the parenting or mommy type journals too!  The mommy and daddy experiences can be entertaining, laughable, informational, and priceless all at the same time. 

 I love the grandmother and grandfather type journals as well.  Those are often deeply thought out, full of resources, clichés and insight that only comes with a life full of experience. 

 Journals for stress management, weight loss, career and personal development are all effective ways of getting things down so you can chart progress, mindset, and emotions and see patterns that might be holding you back.  Journaling is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. 

 If you aren’t a journal person or have never tried it, then I urge you to try.  People do journals in all kinds of different ways including: photography, sketching, painting, graffiti, writing, and computer illustration or photo shop.  It doesn’t really matter how creative you are or aren’t, it’s your life, it’s also your decision on if you want to share your experiences or just create something for yourself to look back on. 

 Here are a few links to other articles on journaling that you might find interesting:

 Don’t be intimidated, just have some fun.  A journal is a record of your personal journey and where you are right now, and it can be as personal or public and for whatever purpose you choose. 

 Cherry Coley ©

Journals and Creativity

Photo by Free Books

I used to want a diary so bad when I was growing up, the kind with a little lock and a key.  My mom finally bought me one, but it proved to be a mistake.  She would sneak in and read it when she felt like it and then would start asking me questions about the stuff I had written.  It really bothered me as well as hurt me.  A journal or diary is a personal thing, a place to put down things that you want to remember.  I stopped keeping a diary and destroyed the one I had.

 Over the years I have on occasion, usually at challenging times in my life, kept journals.  Then about two and a half years ago I began journaling daily.  These journals are not diary’s though occasionally they may seem that way, they are instead a written down thought process.  I write down problems, events, dreams, wishes, drawings of things that pop into my head, and other stuff that I am working on in my personal growth areas. 

 I have come to respect and love journaling as it gives me an outlet, a place to brain dump and work through things before going out and trying to present whatever it is to the world.  There is another notebook I keep for “page writing.”  We writers and artists can get blocked at times.  Creativity just seems to go out the window and when you sit down to write, the blank page just stares back at you almost menacingly.

 In order to combat creativity block the easiest thing to do is get up, first thing in the morning and handwrite 3-5 notebook sized pages.  You just write anything and everything that pops into your head no matter what it is, just dump it out on the page.  Don’t worry about grammar, or complete sentences, and especially if someone should ever read it.  It’s also important that you never go back and read it either.  Those pages are simply to clear the cobwebs out of your head and free you to be creative again and they really work.  Sometimes you have to do this daily, sometimes it only takes one or two days for the creative thoughts to start flowing again, but either way, it’s a great exercise and will unblock the blocked every single time.  The best thing to do with the pages when you’re done is destroy them.  When you write anything and everything in your head often what comes out is griping, complaining, worrying, about other people you love and are close too.  You don’t want to leave something like that where it would ever be found, so best to destroy it.  Plus, you don’t need to reread it at any time, because it’s a method of bleeding the poison that was blocking you out of your system.  So just get rid of it and get busy doing your creative thing again.  You will be so glad you did!

 Cherry Coley ©