Like a lot of young girls growing up, I once kept a diary, similar to the one shown in the picture to the right. The small, royal blue imitation leather book with gold trimmed pages had a silver plated lock on the side, and came with a matching tiny silver key so I could "lock up" my deepest thoughts and most private secrets inside. It was my "BFF" (best friend forever), my confidant, and the only other one (besides God) who knew my innermost feelings. My diary was MORE than just a book of a young girl's daily musings - it was my LIFE; an innocent rumination of mixed up, naive and confused teenage thoughts bled deep into it's narrow lined pages. Whenever I felt the need to purge my heart and soul of weighty teenage matters, or just gush about my most recent teenage crush, I would huddle in my tiny bedroom closet, and with just enough light trickling in from the nearby window or nightstand lamp, I would sit all alone - sometimes for hours - and pour out my innermost thoughts and feelings into the empty pages of that little blue book. It was an almost daily ritual, and a habit that no doubt started my love of writing.
I hid my little blue diary in my bedroom closet, stuffed deep down inside a cardboard box of teenage odds and ends.I hid the tiny matching key in a ballerina jewelry box I kept on my dresser. From time to time, I'd have to change my hiding place, lest my two nosy, and often mischievous brothers would find it and threaten to divulge my most private thoughts to the outside world. Any girl with brothers knew it was a very REAL threat, and if carried out, would have been a mortifying teenage nightmare! In fact, I do remember a time or two my older brother got hold of it and waved it high in the air, taunting, teasing and threatening me that he was going to reveal its contents, only to be told by my mother to give it back to me AT ONCE! Being a woman, as well as a prolific writer and journal keeper herself, she knew how sacred those private teenage thoughts were. In fact, for centuries women and men alike have utilized journaling as a therapeutic way of coping with life.(See Wiki article here) Good, bad or ugly, diaries and journals are our "confessions of the soul", not to mention WAY cheaper than hours of private therapy! And just like a good therapy session, I always felt "cleansed" after a lengthy diary entry, and oftentimes emotionally drained from the release of such intense thoughts I had kept bottled up inside for so long.
Once I became an adult,I traded in my girly diary for a couple of spiral composition books,and continued to record my life's private thoughts and events.For me, journaling was a way of life, and many times, the much needed therapy needed to cope with life's more complex adult struggles. Whether I was writing a personal love letter to my "secret crush", or penning soulful prayers to God, a pen and composition book were never too far away. In fact, I still have one or two of those composition books stored away and take them out from time to time to "reminisce" about days gone by. They still have somewhat of a "therapeutic" effect when I go back and read those scrambled up thoughts, and realize how much I've grown since then as a person, a woman and a writer!
Unfortunately, my little blue imitation leather diary has long since disappeared, and I can’t for the life of me seem to remember what happened to it. I asked my mother about it recently, and she doesn’t have any recollection of seeing it around the house I grew up in, and where she and my father still reside. Nor have I been able to find it searching through stored boxes of belongings in my own home. I can only guess I destroyed it in one of my periodic “burning rituals”, after I became an adult. You know – those melancholy times when you have a few too many glasses of wine, get all wistful and throw old love letters into a late midnite fire. Or when you chunk cardboard boxes of identifying documents like tax forms, bills, receipts or bank account information into a roaring fall bonfire! I don't know, perhaps my little blue diary met its misfortune in the same charred way, along with some other forgotten pieces of my past. But it sure would be fun to find it again, and relive those priceless moments preserved in time so long ago!
Nowadays, journaling has become better known as “blogging”. That’s a funny word – “blog”. It’s actually short for “web log” and became popular in the early 2000’s. Simply put, a blog is a website of targeted journaling that addresses a specific topic like cooking or crafting. Blogs are usually written in a chronological form, so you see the most recent blog first, with former blogs being archived. Today, there are millions of blog sites with new ones popping up every day. Blogs can be either strictly a blog site, or a combination website/blog, like this one. But most all of them have one thing in common – to share information on a specific topic and attract an audience of like-minded individuals to engage with.
Some bloggers (those who write blogs) go a step further and “monetize” their blogs by adding other company’s links or banners, in hopes of getting paid a nominal commission should their blog visitor click on a link and/or make a purchase from that advertiser. Blogging for money is very popular but can also take a long time to become lucrative. There are literally thousands of blogs dedicated to this very subject, and I have no doubt there are some out there who are very successful at making a decent living from a monetized blog site. I tried it once myself, but soon became very frustrated in the amount of time and effort it took to find credible links and advertise my blog to the right market, only to see very little activity. Truth is, I didn’t have the time to devote to a monetized blog and found it more of a chore than an enjoyment. I am already self-employed and have a successful website design business. I would rather focus my “monetizing efforts” on that for the time being. That’s why I choose to write “for fun”. It puts ME in control of what, when, where and to whom I want to write to, and is more like the relaxing art of journaling I used to do as a young girl.
Still, I do embrace this modern form of journaling, now referred to as “blogging” and use it pretty much the same way I did when I wrote in my diary as a young girl. Only now, I’m typing effortlessly on a laptop instead of scribbling entries by hand with a pen or pencil. And instead of hiding away in my bedroom closet, I’m able to relax in my favorite chaise lounge on a quiet Sunday morning, and reflect my deepest thoughts back onto an empty computer screen. Plus, I have all the modern features of a computer like auto correct, spell check and copy/paste to help me format my blog entries better than I could with just pen and paper, as well as endless resources like online dictionaries, stock images and informational websites upon which to find credible facts and statistics to substantiate my words.
There’s just one big difference now….
When I used to journal as a young girl, and later as a young woman, my journal entries were much more personal, and NEVER shared with anyone else. NEVER. Not even my best friend. Those private written thoughts came from the deepest depths of my heart and soul, and God was the only other one who knew them. My diary was my hidden treasure chest, filled with all my heart’s secret thoughts, wishes and desires. Unlike modern day blogs, I would have NEVER dreamed of sharing that treasure chest with anyone else, much less try to “sell it” to make to money. It may have been crudely written and grammatically raw around the edges, but that didn't matter. It was for MY eyes only, and its contents were priceless and invaluable. Now, however, I can either choose to share my blog entries through my "Bohemian Typewriter" with an interested audience, or I can keep my innermost thoughts safely protected in my laptop, using its protective "password" feature. Or simply "delete" any entry I don't wish to save or share. And while that's a nice convenience, I kind of miss those fiery rituals where I could incinerate those old composition books full of weighty words that had once lived inside my soul. I mean,its not like I can chunk my laptop into a blazing fire, although at times I feel like it! LOL!
Even though the old, traditional diaries are seldom used anymore, I would recommend that everyone keep some type of journal, whether its through blogging or just scribbling random words in a plain notebook. After all, its what you keep locked up INSIDE that can cause so much mental, emotional and physical stress and pain. Studies have even shown that people who journal have less emotional stress and are more "in touch" with their true feelings than those who keep things bottled up inside. Of course, you can always talk to a therapist, but journaling is SO much cheaper! Just make sure you keep a "lock" on it so it doesn't accidentally fall in the wrong hands! ;)