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A lifetime of journaling – how it can benefit everyone

A lifetime of journaling – how it can benefit everyone

  • Aug 13, 2020
  • 3 Comment(s)

I’ve been writing in and have kept my journals since I was 16. An amazing lifetime of journaling. Each lined and filled volume of mine from 1954 to the present--except for a few schools years-is dated from January 1 through December 31 with 365 pages.

Journaling for all the reasons you know or might suspect can be a joyful experience. Having the personal experience of journaling daily from age 16 to now has given me a special vantage point and now, at 83, I feel that I might have some insights that younger generation might find helpful.

It was quite a surprise to me to learn that my mother had kept her own journals from when she was 16, which was about the age I was when she gave me my first journal. I drew the conclusion that she gave me a diary for Christmas when I was about to turn 16 because she wanted me to experience for myself the joy of what it had meant to her to capture the moments, hours, and days of wonderful living. 

From inheriting my own mother's many journals, I savored many of her very personal moments, such as reading about the simple wedding of Dad and Mother. In a passage written just two or three short years after that, I got to read the thoughts of a young mom, her thoughts about my birth and that it meant enough for her record it even though she had given birth to me only a few hours earlier. I got to read a unique and touching and very personal story that told about her early life, its patterns, and about when and how she met my dad and their courtship during the great depression in the USA (and globally). Though someone else could have written about such matters biographically, the story would miss the flavor and seasoning of a special family dish or meal that a relative might have prepared for me or anyone else.

She wanted me to be able to see her life as she herself lived it and also, by starting me off on my own journaling odyssey, she was giving me an opportunity to relive my own life when it came time for me to reread the years of diaries I have penned over what has become a lifetime of journaling spanning eight decades.

G-O-A-L: GOAL-ORIENTED-APPROACH-TO-LIFE

Life is lived by chapter and within time frames and developmental tasks. A person may live life and simply record his age and that he is growing older. But my journaling made a difference in the matter of simply recording time.

I was 29 years old as a new year was about to approach and in which I would very soon turn 30. I had finished undergraduate and graduate schooling, and I felt well-prepared to achieve higher levels in what I felt was my life's calling. But the course of my life was like a maze, and I found myself having to stop; pause, rethink; look ahead and see what open doors or turns might be called for and how I might go about those. These were seminal moments in my life.

Since I had achieved preparatory goals toward life's mini-chapter or milestone of reaching 30 and moving further toward the whole novel, I had paused and did some serious thinking. As I selected a new journal to begin recording my life's journey, I thought of the coming decade of my 30s. What would I do? What goals would help me get to a destination ahead of me? How would I know about my progress and my movement toward reaching goals and other milestones in life?

I decide to divide life into major elements of living and their various categories. And as I identified various goals, I hoped to reach by age 40, I began to pen ten goals to have a specific number. Then, I broke those ten goals down into sub-categories of not more than four each. Although I wrote the goals down shortly before January 1, 1967, I knew they would amount to nothing if I didn't have well-defined goals, goals that were measurable, and a way of gauging my progress along months, quarters, and years. More than that, I felt I needed a daily method as a cue or reminder. So, I decided I would state in summary form with some specifics how I had spent each day. And at the end of each month and then years, I recorded how my progress was coming along. I decided to begin writing everything in green ink as a reminder for me to grow.

It became my signature color and one I'm identified with to this very day at my current, and young, age of 83. At the end of each year, I graded myself and usually wound up with a B or B+ but almost never a complete grade of A, but maybe A- sometimes. Mostly, though, I’m proud of myself to have never dropped below a C.

Serendipities began to appear into those journals and goals so that what actually happened often was better than my planned goal. In fact, I found my career direction changing and modifying. Although I had made a C in freshman college grammar for my first English course, I became something of an expert in grammar. Further, my writing composition began to show promise and get published as I submitted it to editors. Before long, I had been published in several magazines and was paid for my writing. I wasn't egotistical, but I began to realize most of the English professors I had were those I would not hire when I myself became an editor, or a higher management executive in publishing, then a full-fledged publisher and officer in a corporation. I grew in management skills for which I had never taken a course.

I got invited to write books and articles and to teach courses in writing at the university level and at some graduate levels. Over a period of 22 years with the same corporations, I had risen through six different jobs even though I hadn't searched for a single job change. In early, down-sized retirement, I found I didn't want another corporate job. Rather, I began to get serious about a variety of kinds of writing. I wrote a weekly newspaper column for a Gannett Chain newspaper. I wrote several books. I wrote curriculum assignments. I did seminars. And I did contract work. One book that I conceived and got published with two co-authors whom I added to my team has sold almost one million copies at this writing. Well, it would be pointless to identify other things that sound more like ego than mere accomplishments.

But the major point I'm making is the invaluable role that journaling had in leading me through these years and steps and developments. My endless curiosity has kept me growing, and I still find each day exciting. So, needless to say, I still keep a daily journal and fill up one page per day. I still keep goals and measure them. And I hope to continue to grow in all sorts of ways as long as I live and breathe.

This is how journaling has played a significant part in many facets of my life. In fact, it was only as I searched for the finest journal money could buy that I came across Epica and its owner. He seemed genuinely intrigued by my lifetime of journaling and asked me to send him a few pictures and to share my story. I hope that it will encourage others to journal and to achieve their own goals. A newspaper article I wrote years ago says that everybody is an author or writer. Many people don't know that about themselves. But if they journal enough, they will learn that what I said is true. So, let me be among the first to encourage you to try your hand at some kind of journaling that suits you.

Best wishes and happy journaling!

Johnnie Godwin

We are so happy to know Johnnie and to have him as a customer!  Our hope is that more young people with discover a lifetime of benefits through journaling or keeping their own diary and that Johnnie’s legacy, passed down from his mother, continues down to further generations.  Please post a comment – I know that Johnnie will appreciate it! And if you have a story to share, please write to us info@epica.com


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