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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Writing a Diary

Recently I have been going back in time and re-reading one of my diaries from 2007. It is not always a good thing to return to the past but it can be cathartic. It can show you how far you have come in the intervening years.

I have written a diary on and off since being sent to boarding school at eleven. My godmother gave me a five year diary; that little black book, along with letters to and from family, as well as good friends made, are what got me through those years. My parents believed they were doing the best for me. In fact they were doing their worst. Already a shy child, the only way to survive being deposited with eight hundred plus strangers was to shrink into myself. Only a very few people were able to know the real me. By the end of those seven years I wasn't even sure who the real me was. It has taken many years and the love of my husband, children and friends for me to emerge from that chrysalis. So back to 2007 when I was coming out of another dark period. My parents, who were separated, had both died eighteen months previously and left a myriad of problems behind. My husband had received several blows to his business. I had health problems, recurrent shingles and an outbreak of acne rosacea which badly affected my confidence; my daughter was also unhappy at school. But there were good bits too; my son and his partner received a silver medal for their garden at the RHS Show at the NEC in Birmingham; I had a meeting with a well respected publisher with a view to writing some young fiction and throughout it all I was surrounded by the love of people who are precious to me.

In times of great difficulty, writing a diary has been like confiding in a friend. It comprises lists, prayers, thankfulness and bewilderment. By putting my thoughts and feelings down on the page it has helped me to make sense of my world and to find a way forwards when the path in front of me seemed too hard and painful to traverse. It has prompted me look for other paths, some taken, some rejected. In this diary from 2007 I had written the following quotation from Mother Teresa:-

'Spread love everywhere you go; first of all in your own house.
Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbour.
...Let no-one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness, kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes,
kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.'

Thank-you for your kindness in taking the time to read this blog and if you write a diary I would love to know if it helps you too.


  1. Oh, I wish that I DID keep a diary, and had kept one to record my happy and unhappy years! But the thought of it now makes me self-conscious, which is silly since a diary should be private. It's one of those things, like patchwork and piano playing, that I intend to do one of these years when I find the time .... I know of somebody who kept a record of their life simply through listing every book read, plus a sentence of comment on it, from the age of nine onwards. I can see that having the power to take one back to a certain time in life.
    Nice blog as always, Alex.

  2. Sometimes when I write my diary I think that I should be doing 'proper' writing but they have kept me sane over the years. I have shredded that particular diary now and it was very cathartic! I learned the piano for years and am complete rubbish but would love to have a go at patchwork too, especially having been to a fantastic craft shop in New England with beautiful examples of patchwork and walls plump with hundreds of rolls of pretty fabric. One day!