The Joys of Journaling

teacupI am lucky to have friends who are very diverse.  They are all inspirational for different reasons.  I can go around the circle of women gathered together for my monthly book club, for instance, and say that the only thing they have in common is that they love red wine.  Sure, we all live in the same town; but no one is a native.  We all have children; but their ages range from grade schoolers to twenty-somethings.  Some of the women in the club hold top positions in corporate offices, some are semi-retired empty-nesters, and some are full-time domestic divas.  There are still layers that we have not uncovered about each other.  I find their distinct personalities and points of view fascinating.

Amy White is an original member of this book club.  She and I also worked together on the board of Friends of Youth Services and co-chaired the annual Girlfriends Breakfast and Boutique a few years back.  This is where I first witnessed her superhuman time management skills.

As her friends and family can attest, Amy has all of her ducks in a row.  She has a monthly menu calendar and she sticks to it.  Enough said.

She might offer a quick and easy casserole recipe if she knew that I Google the shelf life of salsa, check the Mexican cheese for mold, and tell my kids the tortilla chips aren’t that stale as I present nachos as the plat du jour on some over-scheduled school nights.

When so many women are just winging their way through life, Amy holds firm to time-tested routines reminiscent of my favorite Little House on the Prairie  novels in which order was given to a work week:

Wash on Monday / Iron on Tuesday / Mend on Wednesday / Market on Thursday / Clean on Friday / Bake on Saturday / Rest on Sunday

Like a modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder, Amy has made a practice of writing about matters of the hearth and home.  Her personal journals reflect a very purposeful way of living.  She is raising self-reliant children who make their own lunches and earn spending money the old fashioned way by babysitting and dog walking and shoveling snow.  She records major milestones and the minutiae of everyday life.  Her narratives include reflections on faith, expressions of gratitude for her loved ones, and the celebration of holidays with time honored family traditions.  Amy records life’s ups and downs with her signature brand of no-nonsense  resolve and look-on-the-bright-side  positivity.

At it’s essence, Amy’s writing is what I call Feel Good Writing.  I am grateful

Studies show that this type of “feel good writing” can increase one’s happiness and boost life satisfaction.  Keeping a journal, especially one that reflects on positive experiences and focuses on counting one’s blessings, contributes to one’s overall well being.  Sharing one’s musings can even triple the happiness quotient.  If that’s not enough, here are ten other great benefits to journaling:

So what are you waiting for?  Get writing!  And Get Happy!

Thank you, Amy, for your inspiration.  I know how daunting it is to share your personal reflections with the world, especially when you don’t consider yourself a “writer.”  However, I am sure many of my readers will relate to your sentiments about your dad as we give thanks to our own families during this holiday season.  Our thoughts are with Ed as he recuperates from surgery.

House Dad by Amy White

I dearly love my dad.  He is an insurance adjustor and business owner, and very much a family man.  I’d say he was ahead of his time in terms of being an involved, hands-on dad.  He is also one of the most outgoing, gregarious people I’ve ever known.  Throughout my childhood, I remember Dad effortlessly “shootin’ the breeze” with everyone, whether it was an old crony or a waitress he’d just met.  I learned how to fully engage with people in the world…and to extend kindness toward everyone I meet, both friends and strangers.

Truly, I could sing Ed’s praises for hours (as could he), but all talents and stellar traits aside, he never was much of a homemaker.  Nor did he need to be.  My mom runs a very tight ship, keeps an impeccably neat and clean house, is an amazing hostess/cook/baker/seamstress/quilter, and – by the by – she managed to be all those things plus a high school English teacher without equal.  I never knew my dad to change a diaper, run a vacuum cleaner, wash a load of laundry or sinkful of dishes, or cook a gourmet meal.  (But to his credit, he has always been an excellent blueberry pancake maker and grill master.)

Things around the abode continued thus until both parties retired, and even well into their blissful Golden Years.  My parents eventually became “snow birds”, downsizing their Ohio house (where I grew up) to a condo and purchasing a modest home in Florida for the winter season.  Their social life became a whirlwind of activity both up north and down south – we four kids were continually amused and gratified by their variety of excursions, clubs, travels and newfound friends.

Then something happened that forced them to slow down a bit.  In the fall of 2005, Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.  Thankfully, she is now fully recovered and I marvel that it’s been ten years since that dire diagnosis.  I recently came across an old email I sent to my three siblings from around that time.  A few months into Mom’s treatment, my husband, children and I flew down to their Florida home for a long-awaited stay…and here’s what I had to say about it:ways-express-gratitude-sieverkropp

“Our visit with Mom and Dad was wonderfully relaxing and reassuring.  How nice it was to finally see and hug Mom.  She’s doing incredibly well, and she’s very good about resting when she feels fatigued.  As I wrote in their guest book, it was so comforting to see she’s the ‘same old Mom’ – just with far less hair, and sporting several snazzy new scarves.

As for Dad, he’s truly rising to the challenge of his new household responsibilities – just ask him.  I highly encourage each of my siblings to spend a few days at Mom and Dad’s house (whether it be in Florida or Ohio) at some point during Mom’s recovery.  The entertainment value alone is priceless.  Following are a few lines I thought I’d never hear my father utter during this lifetime.

Excerpt from an email prior to our visit: ‘I’m starting my menu planning.  What are your family’s favorite cereals?  What kind of milk do you prefer?  Do your kids still like yogurt?  Do they like cottage cheese? ‘ (And this next part really cracked me up…)  ‘If so, small curd or large curd?’

At every single meal: ‘Don’t you dare spill any crumbs on my clean kitchen floor…I just scoured it.’

‘Just leave those dirty dishes on the counter.  I have a particular way of loading the dishwasher.’

Before the Super Bowl:  ‘I’m serving appetizers now.  How many chicken wings will everyone eat?’

The morning we left for our side trip to Disney World: ‘Amy, I’m doing laundry today.  Would you like me to add your family’s clothes?’  (!!!!!!)

Needless to say, I was in stitches throughout the week.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  Love ya, Dad!

2 replies

  1. Very good Amy, you are a accomplished writer. I giggled out loud when I finished reading it because it’s a reflection of what goes on in our family. Amy, I am going to forward this to Marcia because she would love reading your article. Prayers for your Dad and Mother. Regards Marilyn Raven

    Liked by 1 person

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