My Thoughts on Note To Self

I am excited* to share with you my thoughts on journalling.   I love to journal and I wrote my introduction to this month’s reading of the wonderful book here at the beginning of March.  I write to you now in mid-late-March and will write another joint post later when Jessica of The Bluestocking Society and I interview (or something – not really yet decided!) each other on the topic of keeping a journal and what we got out of reading this work by Samara O’Shea.     This is because we paired up over at Nymeth’s when she presented a mini-challenge for the Dewey Challenge.    I also am listing this read as one of my Read-a-Book-by-a-Woman-Author per Lu at Regular Rumination‘s idea to celebrate Women’s History this month.


Isn’t this book precious?   I bought it from bookgirl’s store!     Her blog is here and you can find a link to her etsy shop in the right side bar.      I wanted a pretty place to keep all my bloggable thoughts as I read through Note To Self

Review dcwjants_ by Samara o’Shea, 2008, 168 pages

Ms.O’Shea presents a book that is much beyond how to journal, but rather WHY to journal.   She is not arguing or trying to convince you to do such but she effectively gives examples of simple ways to ease into such a habit if you so desire.    She inspires the reader by giving terrific examples of famous, admirable or fascinating personalities who have left us journals to study.     This is a fun book.

I loved it.   I love the quotes she begins each chapter with, I love her honesty – she shares amazing excerpts from her own journals (so brave!), I love her ideas and her enthusiasm and the feeling I got that she was talking directly to me; maybe not one of her best friends but perhaps a younger cousin (disregard that I’m probably 15 years older than she is…)

I agreed with many of her suggestions and believe that my style of journalling mirrors hers or follows much of her own personal philosophy of why journalling is ‘cool’.    I do it for self-expression.    I do it because I truly believe that my thought processes can be enhanced;  that these thoughts improve with airing out – let them breathe beyond the confines of my own skull.    Transform those energy blips or synapses of thought into coherent (and not so coherent) sentences strung together somehow somewhere between the brain, as they travel down the arm, flowing into the pen controlled by fingers, scribbles onto paper; ink on paper.     My eyes read it back and either agree – – or decide to cross it out.   or just put it away for later.

I admit it that the advice to be honest with ourselves as we write can be extremely difficult.   I can read words I wrote 5 or 10 years ago and am instantly transported to when I wrote them,  knowing that I held back.    and that’s OK.      (some of those  high school journal entries are also telling in their lack of truth!   and details, darn it.)

I originally challenged Ms O’Shea’s statement that a life-altering journalling experience is difficult.    I must admit that she is likely correct.   I don’t have any great insight from reading something I wrote 10 years ago.  I’m not sure I can see growth or enlightenment.    I haven’t found my purpose and embarked on any new career as she has amazingly done – kudos!     But I won’t quit.    I need the exercise, the process, the dialogue of my self today talking to myself 10 minutes or ten years later.   Not that I think that nor do I make it habit to read my journals from the past.**      I just need to get it out – release the toxic thoughts and remember the beautiful ones.    

I loved this book, can you tell?

I did take more than the usual amount of notes.   I have decided that it is NOT in your best interest to share these.    I will, however, refer back to the questions I asked before I began reading this book:

So, will I learn anything by reading this book?    Oh yes, I’m sure I will.     And, will I argue or agree at the conclusion that not all journal-writing is life-altering and soul enlightening?    Is the question one of purpose?   or results versus process?

My answers are:   Yes – I learned something.     I will agree that not all journal-writing is life-altering but I don’t know if it’s all that important.    I have decided that the question is most definitely – for me – a question of PROCESS.     

Express – don’t repress.

Go read Jessica’s brilliant review, click here for another.   Come back here and leave me a question and Jessica and I will tackle them for the NEXT post.     and thank you.


* Not true.   or debatable.     I STRUGGLED with this review.   I edited and edited and chopped and wanted to include more and question what I left in and finally gave up and just hit POST.      I started this post a week ago and am impatient to post!   ugh.     Getting any idea how nuts my journals are?  ha.    

**  I do refer back to my journals for “when-did-that-happen” dates and years.    I can never remember when my first date with my husband was.     I think it is a bad-habit that I don’t ever remember this because those entries are HILARIOUS and it’s fun to re-read them…      I am so very glad I wrote that all down.     Those were exciting times…   (FYI – over 20 years ago already.   How did THAT happen?   crazy!!!!)

12 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Note To Self

  1. I LOVED this post! I am definitely going to have to go get this book! I think I told you before that I while I love the idea of keeping a journal, when it comes to actually doing it I fail. I tend only to journal in the very worst of times. And then when life improves I throw away what I’ve written away. And of course, wish later that I’d kept it. Yet can’t ever seem to learn the lesson.

    Okay, anyway, I do have a question. I saw when I read Jessica’s review that O’Shea assumes you know how to pick out a journal, etc. But what if you don’t. Any advice? Is it easier to keep yourself motivated to sit down and write if you have a beautiful journal that you love? Or do you find that it doesn’t really matter? Any other suggestions for keeping oneself motivated? Or don’t you have that problem?

    Oh goodie! Thanks for the question! The best advice is to not worry about it. If a pretty book inspires you, than spend the money and take the time to find a really neat one. Moleskines are delightful – sometimes, the size is most important! Any that you can easily carry with you and have handy when you want to note a passage, or an idea or a quote or a grocery list reminder. Twenty one days to make a habit!? and forgive yourself when you skip a day or two (or a week or two) Give yourself permission to cross things out and skip pages and just write anything. Anything at all.

    Sheesh…would you just like me to shut up now? 🙂

  2. Iliana makes great journals. I bought some as holiday gifts. I cannot journal anymore. I used to when I was younger, but I think that’s because I moved to poetry and fiction as an outlet instead. I do have some journals for ideas as they come down to me and to comment about individuals I see on public transit, etc.

    I think writing poetry is a form of journalling, maybe? Iliana makes BEAUTIFUL books!

  3. Thank you so much. I’m just so honored that you’d pick one of my journals to embark on your journaling with this book. I read Samara’s book last year and really liked it. As a matter of fact, it kind of helped me get out of a journaling funk I’d been going through. We traded some emails and when she read my review she said she was happy I came away with some of the ideas she wanted to get across. Needless to say that made my day 🙂

    Have fun journaling! Thanks! I do.

    I so loved the book that I searched found Samara on FB and attempted to befriend her! Which she should totally ignore; I’ll read her blog and she can read mine if you she wants. I’ve been a little overboard with FB lately…

    Anyway, she commented on my first post and I was thrilled, too! I want to read her Letter Writing book – have you?

  4. I used to religiously keep a journal during college and post-college and it is quite a thing to read now. I would really NEVER want anyone to read them but I find them both amusing, embarrassing and (like you said) an instant portal to the past — taking me right where I was when I wrote the entries.

    Instant portal to the past – I like that.

  5. i’ve been keeping a journal for years, , with of course time-outs when I was in university, and other times. I am having trouble writing in mine now regularly, even though I bought it expressly to start writing for myself again, and I have some new ones – but I’m struggling, so this book by Ms OShea might help me with this. I do like your idea of keeping a place for bloggable thoughts, so we have something to refer to when we finally sit down at the computer!! I wonder how many of us bloggers also keep/kept a journal in our lives? Interesting post, thanks very much for it, Care. 😀

    Thank YOU! I admit, my journalling has suffered now that I blog; it probably feels like I demoted it to just keeping my to do list, but I intersperse rants and quotes and reviews of movies, and of course, my reading notes, and daily event recordings still. Just not so much stream of consciousness writing like I used to do.

  6. Lovely post. Have you read Alexandra Johnson’s Leaving A Trace, about keeping a journal? It’s a wonderful book. She suggests writing whatever has happened down on one side of the paper, and then going back and, on the other side, writing down all the things that got left out of the first account, or the consequences beyond the immediate story. I found that a really interesting exercise to do. I hadn’t heard of the O’Shea book and will look out for it now!

    Thank you! I will put Leaving a Trace on my wishlist right now.

  7. Care, what a lovely review!! You managed to say several things about the book that I couldn’t quite get out. I think the most amazing thing about Note to Self is that it allows each reader to get something different from it. It’s an intensely personal experience – much like journaling.

    I’m so looking forward to our interviews. Stay tuned people!

  8. It’d be a hoot if you’d occassionally post some of your funnier journal entries, Care. I’d love to find out what you were like as a newlywed or earlier.

    I know it’s personal, though, so that’s totally up to you.

    They’re coming – I have a few to share in the mini-challenge wrap up with Jessica…

  9. I’ve been beaming over this blog for the past two days. Thank you Care! It’s an incredible feeling when someone “gets” you, or gets your writing anyway. I’m going to put Leaving a Trace on my wish list, too. Great discussion girls! Keep up the good work.

    SQUEEE! the author is here!!! I know, doesn’t Leaving a Trace sound terrific?

  10. I haven’t read Samara’s other book – yet! One of these days I will as I love to write letters too. Granted, lately I’ve been very lazy and just do email.

    Hi Samara! 🙂

    hee hee! This reminds me! I need to RIGHT NOW go grab some paper and write my first letter if I’m going to reach my goal of writing someone everyday for the entire month (April is Letter Writing Month, ya know…)

  11. Great site this and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

    Pls enjoy being a regular visitor as much as you want! Just leave an original comment each time and all will be well.

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