Sunday, February 26, 2023

Journal Hoarding by Annette Dashofy

Every so often, I go on a de-cluttering binge. I sort through my clothes and make piles to donate. A few ancient T-shirts and pairs of jeans that are too threadbare or full of holes go into the trash. 

My office received the de-clutter treatment a couple of weeks ago. I went through stacks of papers. Filed some. Ran others through the shredder. I still have a pile or two that need to be organized. But there’s one cubby in my office shelving unit that I can’t de-clutter. In that cubby, I keep my journals. 

I have been an avid journaler for ages. In high school, I kept one of those small bound diaries with a lock. I have no idea where that one went.

But I again started putting down my thoughts on a mostly daily basis three decades ago. At first, I used spiral-bound, college-ruled notebooks. Nothing frilly. At some point, someone gifted me with a beautiful notebook designed for the very purpose of journaling. It had a cat on the cover. From then on, no more notebooks purchased from the back-to-school sales for me. 

On a whim, I dug through my stacks of hoarded journals and found one dating back to August of 1992. I have a feeling there are earlier ones somewhere in this house, but opening this one and reading a few entries was enough to transport me to a different time in my life. 

Sunday, August 30, 1992

The remains of Hurricane Andrew had squelched our plans to go camping Friday, and we decided to scrap the whole weekend’s camping trip, figuring the trails at Beaver Creek had to be a muddy mess at best. 

(Beaver Creek is an Ohio state park where we used to take our horses and ride the trails.) 

Reading on, I revisited a time when we rented movies (VHS, I bet) and cleaned stalls. There are mentions of friends who have passed on and a few who are still in our lives. I wrote about a favorite restaurant and shop, both of which are now shuttered. I was baking zucchini bread, brewing sun tea, and handmaking Christmas gifts. 

I was still riding my beloved old mare, Jenny, and attending the long-gone Hickory Auction. Alexander was my house cat, while Barney lived in (no surprise) the barn, keeping the mouse population under control. 

And my mom and dad and father-in-law were all alive and well. 

For the most part, my journals are badly written and contain boring day-to-day stuff. Who came to visit. What I fixed for dinner. Mundane tasks. And yet, there is no way I would part with any of them. Opening a page is like striking a match to ignite the memories of my youth. 

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever done so? If you do, do you keep all of them? Feel free to share a few of your journaled memories. 


  1. The only times I journaled were during troubles or major changes where getting ideas down on paper helped to cristalize them. My father, however, kept diaries for nearly eighty years. I had one in high school, spottily used and them often to acuse my mother of reading it. That I pitched during one of my many moves.

  2. Which brings up a good question for me to ponder. As someone who has lived in the same house for the past 40 years, if I HAD to move, would I still hoard my old journals? I honestly don't know...

  3. Love this. I have been a journaler since Girl Scout days when I bought Girl Scout journal with a lock. My brother promptly picked the lock and read my entries aloud at the dinner table. Not fun, and it taught me to hide the journal. Kept one ever since, first by hand, then on computer, and now on a Microsoft program called Diarium.

  4. Hi Annette, keep your old journals or toss - I was faced with that and mine moved with me! I wish I had all of my journals, but alas, blame it on computers.

  5. Kait, I'm glad I'm not alone. I'll have to check out Diarium, although I like doing my entry first thing in the morning, pen on paper. It's a different experience than keyboarding to a screen.

  6. I've never kept a journal (or many photographs, either.) I do have my memories, and sometimes, when I talk to my siblings about our shared histories, I'm just as happy to have my own thoughts (possibly illusions) than to have any concrete reality checks.

  7. I don't keep a journal and never have, but what I do keep are the calendars that I have used over the years. They are a diary of all the things that were going on in our lives at the time, mundane and important, and I wouldn't get rid of them for anything.

  8. KM, it's true that memories are fluid. That's what makes eyewitnesses so unreliable. Nice for our fiction writing!

    Kitty, I keep my old calendars too! They're boxed with my yearly tax documents.

  9. When we moved from Atlanta to Cincinnati in 2007, I started sending a Friday email to old friends and a few cousins. I included photos of the standard poodles, flowers, and gardens. Books I was reading, and more recently, TV shows I'm streaming. I made copies and put them in plastic pocket folders.

    Now, those emails describing life with a middle and high school student (plus two in college) are pure gold. I periodically browse through them, looking for my emotional reactions to teen issues and college drama.

    And, I will turn the format into a quarterly author newsletter.

  10. I used to journal especially in troubled times. And for that reason, I threw them out. I didn't want my husband or kids to find them after I died. Life is to short to dwell on misery.

  11. Kait,I too had a Girl Scout diary with a lock. I kept lots of diaries through high school. But I got rid of them when cleaning closets. No need to have my kids read them. Now I find it interesting that when I read my daily Facebook memories, time is a strange element. Things that happened a few years ago seem forever ago.

  12. E.B., for some reason, I don't pour out my heart in my journals. Mostly I just document my goals and hopes for the day ahead and report how yesterday went.

    Susan, yes, Facebook Memories can be a fun look back too.