Tags: diary, privacy, self-help, writing a journal
Although the word ‘journal’ comes from the French word for ‘day’ (jour), I see it also as relating to the word ‘journey’.
The journals I have been keeping on and off for the last forty or fifty years are both a diary of events and a journal of my personal experiences, and much more than either of them. They are a record of my journey through life to this point.
Journaling has been part of my life for more years than I care to remember. I first wrote a ‘diary’ before I reached my teens. Then, it was the usual childish notes on nothing, in a tiny, lockable, shiny diary I got for a birthday.
As I grew up, I periodically wrote my thoughts in notebooks left over from school. There was nothing much to them either. Nothing of the teenage angst one goes through; nothing of the day-to-day coping in our family’s difficult circumstances. I don’t think I really knew what a diary was for in those days.
A few years after I married, I did begin to keep a record of what I was doing and some of my thoughts on life. However, my then husband saw nothing of mine as sacred. He found and read it, and didn’t like some of the things I’d written. He even showed his mother, who was visiting at the time, and they both confronted me about a couple of my entries.
After that, I knew I couldn’t have the privacy of writing my own thoughts. So I didn’t write anything at all for a long time.
Then came the time he legally had to stay away from me for several months. They were times of stress and anxiety; fear and anger. But with him out of the house, I allowed myself the luxury of putting down my thought and feelings again. It was a way of working through several huge issues I faced at the time, including trying to work out how I could keep our children but not have him.
One day, I discovered that he had been coming into the house when I was out. He was apparently searching for something he could use against me. Even though I had hidden my journal under my mattress, he found it. I discovered that when he stood outside the window one day, yelling at me and waving a couple of pages he’d torn from it.
I was gutted. I felt like I had been raped. Even though I couldn’t remember exactly what I had written on those pages, I knew they were my deepest feelings; thoughts that I hadn’t shared with anyone because they were an intimate reflection of the very vulnerable me that I was at the time.
After I moved away, I felt much more secure in writing down my thoughts. My new partner respected my privacy and never violated it the whole twenty years we were together. My second husband also believes I am entitled to privacy in my writing. The gift they have both given me allows me to sort through my thoughts & feelings without fear.
If you keep or have kept a diary/journal, has its sanctity been violated? How did/would you feel about that?
© Linda Visman
Tags: reading, second-hand books, work and reading
My Forties and Early Fifties
I didn’t read as much once I went back to working, firstly at odd jobs and then as a casual supply teacher. For the next fifteen years I was busy with my new partner, making a new life and earning a living. We lived in Dubbo NSW for six years, and then went to the Northern Territory. There we both gained permanent positions teaching with the Department of Education.
There, along with 3-4-hour drives into Alice Springs over mostly dirt roads, bush excursions and overnight camping in our swags, I read when I could fit it into my 12-14-hour working days. I loved my work and the people in the remote indigenous community schools where we were sent. However, it could be emotionally and physically draining, and reading way one way of revitalising my energies.
Second-hand Bookshops: We stayed in the Northern Territory through the 1990s. During those years, when we made trips into Alice Springs, we both found new authors as we browsed the second-hand bookshops. We would take a bag full of books with us on the 330 km drive back to Ampilatwatja (for 4.5 years) and, later, 130km to Hermannsburg (for over four years). We would also bring books from other places in NSW after visiting our families in school holidays.
I really enjoyed Bryce Courtenay’s African stories The Power of One and Whitethorn. His The Potato Factory, set in London and Tasmania in the days of transportation to Australia, was good too, but not so much its follow-ups. I read several others of his books, but found some of them too rambling.
I love anything to do with humans in pre-historic times, so I quickly became taken with Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series, especially the first few. They are set in the Neolithic era; with a detailed background on climate, foods, art and possible cultural and religious beliefs. The first in the series is The Clan of the Cave Bear, which I believe was turned into a rather poor B grade movie. The book deserved much better treatment!
From there, my partner and I discovered the People of the Earth novels of Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear set in pre-European America. The first of the series was People of the Wolf, with lots more following. We devoured each one as we found them. I collected all the Gear and Auel books, and I have read both series at least three times so far. Whenever I get another of the books, I re-read the previous ones first to re-establish the characters, context and story, before delving into the new one.
I have read most of James A. Michener’s epic books, many of which take you from pre-history to modern times in a particular location. For some reason didn’t particularly like his Pacific island titles, but my favourites were The Source and Alaska.
In mid-1998, due to health problems, we sadly had to leave the NT. I then had lots of time for reading and I took full advantage of it. I continued with the several book series I have already mentioned, plus crime and murder mysteries and forensic investigation novels. I had discovered Dean Koontz whilst I was in the N.T. and I read most of the books he’d written before about 2002 – I could only afford used copies. However, I didn’t take to Stephen King, and only read a few of his novels.
I loved Edward Rutherford’s Sarum, but it is only recently that I have acquired copies of two of his other titles, London and Dublin. I have yet to read them.
As some of my time was taken up writing my family history, I had plenty of research to do. This included reading books and on-line sources about England in general, and Lancashire in particular, in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as local histories of my birth town, Oswaldtwistle.
My reading tastes have widened through the years, and I am always on the lookout for other authors and other genres to add to my eclectic library.
Have your reading tastes changed as you aged or found new books? Are your interests the same as they were, say twenty years ago?
© Linda Visman
Tags: art journal, diary, dream journal, gratitude journal, journal, meditation journal, travel journal, writingjournal
Often the words ‘diary’ and ‘journal’ are used interchangeably. It is confusing at times to know exactly what a person may be referring to when they say “I must put that in my diary/journal’.
Are they going to put in the date of an event for future reference, or are they going to write some thoughts about it? Will they reflect on it or just record it? There is actually a slight difference between the two terms.
Etomology (from Wikipedia):
The word diary comes from the Latin diarium (“daily allowance,” from dies “day”). The word journal comes from the same root (diurnus “of the day”) through Old French jurnal (modern French for day is jour).
The earliest use of the word to mean a book in which a daily record was written was in Ben Jonson’s comedy Volpone in 1605.
This is how oxforddictionaries.com defines them:
Diary: 1. A book in which one keeps a daily record of events and experiences.
2. British A book with spaces for each day of the year in which one notes appointments or information.
Journal: A daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary: [while abroad he had kept a journal]
And another online dictionary defines ‘journal’ as:
a. A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.
When I look at definitions – and here I am only referring to the personal forms and not such writings as The Wall Street Journal – I see that a journal is a diary. It is simply a less formal and more specialised kind of diary. It may be kept on a daily basis or less regularly.
So, if we say we are writing something in our diary, we are basically referring to the generic form. If we say we are writing in our journal, then we are writing in a diary of a certain type.
Now let’s confuse the issue of a ‘journal’ a bit more. Many people see personal journals as having many forms, depending on what they are used for. One blogger about journals sees at least fifteen types. I did a quick list of the types I could think of in a minute or two, and this is what I came up with:
- Daily thoughts journal
– Dream journal
– Travel journal
– Reading and/or reviewing journal
– Gratitude journal
– Personal development journal
– Project journal
– Nature journal
– Meditation journal
– Planning journal
– Creativity journal
– Writing journal
– Art journal
I am sure there are other varieties of journal that people keep. The journals may have few words in them – or even none. They may consist entirely of drawings and sketches, graphs, or photos of places the journalist has been (though the last is usually called a photo album).
They may simply be lists, jottings of points to remember, quotations of others, ideas to be followed up, places to go. Or they could consist of thoughts and feelings, memories, hopes or frustrations, spilled out on pages and pages of text.
Journals could be just one of the above or a combination of any or all of them. The main thing about a journal is that it reflects the writer, whether on the surface or the depths, depending on what they share with their ‘Dear diary/journal’.
Have you ever kept a diary? Do you have a journal now? If so, what kind of journal is it? Do you keep more than one?
© Linda Visman
Tags: adventure stories, Agatha Christie books, books and reading, Dennis Wheatley, depression, fiction, Georgette Heyer, historical fiction, Leslie Charteris, reading for an escape, religion
This is the fourth in the series of posts about my reading life.
Reading in My Twenties and Thirties:
As a young mother in my twenties and early thirties, I had five wonderful sons, who were a joy to me. However I was in an unhappy marriage and reading provided a wonderful escape. I would find an author that I liked and borrow or buy every one of their books I could find.
My then husband didn’t like that I read a lot, and he once ripped up a lot of my books. However, that didn’t stop me from reading, even when I took on a librarianship course by correspondence (we lived in country areas).
I read the complete set of Agatha Christie books; the Leslie Charteris books about The Saint; P.C. Wren’s three books about the French Foreign Legion: Beau Geste, Beau Sabreuer and Beau Ideal; Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel books, and all the Hornblower books by C.S.Forester. I read adventure books by the likes of Alistair Maclean and Hammond Innes. I owned the complete set of Nevil Shute’s books including A Town Like Alice.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Wheatley’s novels:
Wheatley mainly wrote adventure novels, with many books in a series of linked works. Background themes included the French Revolution (the Roger Brook series), Satanism (the Duke de Richleau series), World War II (the Gregory Sallust series) and espionage (the Julian Day novels). Over time, each of his major series would include at least one book pitting the hero against some manifestation of the supernatural. He came to be considered an authority on this, satanism, the practice of exorcism, and black magic, to all of which he was hostile.
Needless to say, I found and devoured them all.
Along with such adventure books, I also read escapist historical romances. Most of the authors were, of course, women, including Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt. I occasionally ventured into more risqué novels like those about the slave plantations in the American South, but I wasn’t comfortable reading them. I must be an old stodge!
Then there were the science fiction. I loved all the books the books by John Wyndham, both his novels and short stories. Parts of them come back to me even now, forty years later. I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and I owned and read all the H.G. Wells books. I got into what we now call post-apocalypse novels: 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World and, later on, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.
I tackled Leo Tolstoy’s massive War and Peace and got through it all – I even liked it! Then I read Theodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which I enjoyed, as well as Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
It is amazing how many books one can read in a few years. There are so many that come to mind, of which I have only mentioned a few. I haven’t even mentioned all the other historical novels I read. These were set in a wide variety of times and places: the Egyptian, Roman and Greek empires; the Middle Ages in England and France; in Scotland, Africa or Australia.
So many books, so many authors I haven’t yet referred to. There is Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia; Leonard Cottrell’s historical novels set around North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean; Mary Renault’s Cretan books, Mary Stewart’s novels of the court of King Arthur; Wilbur Smith’s African novels; Nigel Trantor, Irwin Shaw.
I loved the books by Irving Stone, an American writer known for his biographical novels of famous historical personalities. Those I read included Lust for Life about Vincent van Gogh, The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo, The Passions of the Mind, about Sigmund Freud, and The Origin, based on the life of Charles Darwin.
In my thirties, I took to religion as another means of coping with depression. During this time, I read a lot of books set in the early years of Christianity. Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur; Taylor Caldwell’s Dear and Glorious Physician, and others. I also devoured many books about living the Christian life and about Christians’ experiences of that life: A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall, and several others that she wrote, as well as books by Corrie ten Boom, and lots of others.
All of these books only take me to my mid-thirties. That’s when I met someone who changed my life completely. I divorced my husband and went back to work.
Do you find reading to be an escape from the pressures and problems of life?
© Linda Visman
Tags: 1950s books for children, Catholicism, children's classic books, Enid Blyton, Illustrated Classics comic books, Treasure Island
My Very Own Books! It was either my ninth birthday, or the Christmas of 1957 when I received the first two books I remember owning. They were compendiums of stories for children, published by Blackie.
One was called “Hello There!” and the other “Three Cheers”. The books disappeared somewhere in my growing up, and I have been searching copies – or at least pictures of their covers – for the last twenty years or more.
The books were printed on cheap paper, intended for families who could not afford to buy quality books – that was certainly us! But I didn’t know that then and I wouldn’t have minded if I had known. I finally had my very own books and I loved them, losing myself in the stories time and time again.
As I was writing this, I finally found pictures of them; a copy of each book was for sale on e-bay. I am delighted to have the cover pictures – I don’t need to buy the books now.
Most of the books available for children in 1950s Australia were British books, and Enid Blyton was about the most popular author at that time. I chased down every Famous Five books that I could find in the library. I always wanted to own them but we could not afford that luxury. Perhaps that’s why I now own a collection of them – and a lot of the other books that I read as a child!
I particularly remember an Illustrated Classics magazine that must have come into the house during the time Peter was running a comic exchange around the community from his billy cart. It was “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police” – again, it was something I really loved.
I couldn’t have bought it, as we received no pocket money, but I did own it. Perhaps Dad got it for me, as he had fond memories of his RAF training months in Canada during WWII. This led me into other genres of books, reading that brought me knowledge in an eclectic range of subjects by the time I was a young adult.
Being a good, scared little Catholic, I was eager to see how others had become so good that they were made saints, So I loved reading about their lives. When I took the name Bernadette at my Confirmation, Mum and Dad bought me a book about the life of St Bernadette Soubiros of Lourdes.
I read many of the usual books that kids read back in the 1950s and early 1960s (I became a teenager in 1961). Many of the classics passed through my hands via the library. I was a tomboy, always wanted to be a boy but had to make do with being a girl, so I enjoyed boys’ books much more that girls’.
There was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped (I read Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde in my twenties); Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne; Two Years Before the Mast; The Swiss family Robinson, and many others Strangely enough, I never came across the works of Mark Twain.
I would often become so lost in a book that I was completely deaf to everything around me – including my mother’s calls to do my household jobs. This carried on all the time I lived at home, until I married when I was twenty. I was often in trouble over it, but my books were never taken away. Mum was an avid reader herself, and knew how awful that would have been for me.
Do you remember the books you read as a child? Was there a special one you will always remember?
© Linda Visman
Tags: Catherine Hill Bay, Catho, coal, conglomerates, NSW coast, sandstone
On the winter solstice, my husband and I went to one of our favourite places near home – Catherine Hill Bay. But this time, instead of walking around the old jetty and the rocks at the south end of the beach, we walked along the beach to the rocks at the northern end and explored there.
The cliffs and most of the rock shelf are not solid as are most rocky seashores along the Australian coast. Instead they are conglomerates – millions of rocks compressed together by the pressure of their weight over many millennia.
They are constantly being broken up by the action of wind, rain and waves. Large chunks sometimes fall from above.
That area is rich in coal, and there are many mines from the coast right through to the inland. The Hunter Valley (Catho is just south of it) is well known as a coal-rich region, and the first white people were quick to find the seams that ran along the coastal cliffs.
Brightly coloured lichens cover the rocks in places.
A creek has worn its way through the conglomerate and opens onto the sea.
There are some interesting shapes in the sandstone which sits under the conglomerate layer.
This is where the creek empties into the sea. Rock fishermen enjoy the sunny day as children play around them. The waves wash across the rocks as the tide comes in.
As we walk back towards the beach, you can see more of the sandstone – conglomerate layers.
I love the white crashing waves that wash across the rocks.
Do you like the sea? The rocks? What is it about land meeting water I wonder that catches our emotions?
(c) Linda Visman
Photos taken by Linda Visman
Tags: Cicely May Barker, flower fairy books, learning to read, NSW school magazine, reading, school readers
I have always loved reading. I don’t actually remember learning to read – the letters, phonics, word recognition, etc; I just remember reading. I feel like I have always done it.
I do distinctly remember the early years of school and the books we used to read. I started school in England when I was five, but we came to Australia only six months later. So it is the books we used here that I remember best.
The first reader I remember was a red soft-covered one that was followed by one with a blue-cover, “Stories to Read” The stories were illustrated in colour, which made them more attractive to young kids – to me anyway.
More advanced readers, written for the NSW Department of Education, were “The Open Road to Reading” and “Travelling On”, and another I can’t remember now. The stories in these books really grabbed the imagination of this little girl who still believed in fairies, elves and a natural world that felt and responded to what people did to it. My favourite stories included “The Elves and the Shoemaker” and “The Little Fir Tree”.
One book from my childhood – when I was about eight years old – I will always remember. My brother Peter had probably borrowed from the library, as it was only there for a relatively short time. It was one of several flower fairy books by Cicely May Barker, I think “Flower Fairies of the Trees”.
I so wished it were mine, and I would get hold of it whenever I could.
That book would keep me engrossed for hours, drinking it its gorgeous pictures and the verse that went with each one. I wanted so much for those beautiful little fairies to be real, and more than half believed they were.
Australian public primary schools received magazines published by the Department of Education. Catholic schools, which we attended, had to buy them. They were graded in difficulty by age and class, with content aimed at the appropriate reading level. They were cheaply produced on white paper, and we would file them into a folder that used string to hold the issues for a year.
The magazines contained true stories, fiction and poems, many, if not most of them Australian, opening me to stories that were quite different from the English ones I usually read. The magazines came each month of the school year (ten a year, I think). I loved those stories too, and the nuns had no trouble getting me to read them. I would have read each item many times myself before we had to read them in class.
I joined the local public library as soon as I was able to and when there was one I could get to. We lived in a mainly dairy farming area, with small villages here and there. The nearest decent sized town was fifteen miles away. There weren’t a lot of public services then either. So I also used to read any book at my level wherever I found it.
Do you remember when you first learned to read? Are books and reading important to you?
© Linda Visman
Tags: 1950s Australia, billy cart, comics.comic books, creative enterprise, iniative, opportunity
When I was in primary (elementary) school, my enterprising older brother decided he wanted to make some money. It was the second half of the 1950s in rural Australia, and Peter was about eleven or twelve years old.
Peter knew that kids who wouldn’t read books did read comics. He was an avid reader of books, but loved comics too. They were popular, but a little expensive for struggling families to buy on a regular basis. Peter decided he might be able to make a little pocket-money while also providing a cheaper alternative.
Somehow, he managed to get together a reasonable selection of used comics, and these provided his base stock. The idea was not to sell them – he would soon be out of stock if he did. No, he was going to exchange them – at a cost, of course.
Peter stacked his pile of comics into his billycart and took them out around the streets of our town and one a couple of miles away. Because both were small, but with many young post-war migrant families, Peter knew that there would be plenty of kids who would love to get their hands on the comics he could provide.
Depending on the size and condition of the comics he exchanged (both those outgoing and those coming in), he would charge between a penny (one cent) and threepence (just under 3 cents) for each one.
Peter did his arounds regularly for a while, but I don’t remember how long he kept it up and how successful this enterprise was, though I think it went well for a while at least.
Getting the whole story can be difficult at times, especially when he lives in another state and doesn’t have a telephone. However, when I think about his creativity and initiative, I realise there is a lesson in it:
Opportunities can be created when someone sees an unmet need and finds a way to fulfill it.
Have you seen examples of creative enterprise in a youngster? How did it turn out? Are there opportunities these days for the young to exercise initiative?
Were you a comic person when you were a youngster?
© Linda Visman 24.06.14