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Write it down

Curt Arens Close up of journal entry
POWER OF THE PEN: Whether it is writing down experiences for a family history, or journaling to help alleviate stress, there is something special about getting thoughts and experiences down on paper.
Writing a journal can be a useful way to preserve family history, or relieve stress.

Years ago, I read a book that was basically an edited version of a journal of a young farm couple’s first few years homesteading in Nebraska. The journal was written in the late 1890s and early 1900s, and it was like looking into a window of their lives.

Some days, the couple wrote simply that they sold a load of oats and listed how many bushels they marketed and the price they were paid. On other days, they noted blizzards, tornadoes, windstorms and hailstorms.

They talked about church gatherings and socials, dances and celebrations. But they also noted hardships, failed crops, sick livestock and other tragedies. The journals weren’t polished, but they were so very insightful.

Family history

I have always loved history, and I believe that the history of our nation has been built upon the millions of individual family histories of our citizens. In our own communities, we have true heroes walking among us who served their nation in times of need — not only in the armed forces, but also in many other ways.

It is important for those folks to tell their children about their experiences in the armed forces, on the farm, and in rural towns in the early days, so their children, grandchildren and beyond can know about the history they witnessed and participated in.

Like the young farm couple did, consider keeping a daily journal of your farm and family activities so they can be passed on to the next generation. Do a voice recording or a journal of your childhood experiences, the challenges you faced and beat, and the celebrations and traditions of your family that go back generations.

Get these remembrances down on paper or in audio or video form. Folks who do this are building a lasting heirloom for their family to enjoy for years to come.

Relieve stress

Sitting through many workshops on handling farm stress, I’ve learned that you really can’t stay away from stress. Bad things happen to good people. Loved ones pass on. Tragedy strikes. Financial difficulties are always on the horizon.

One of the things many counselors suggest for handling stress and overcoming deep anxiety and fear in life, including farm life, is to journal. Write your anger, disappointments, challenges and experiences down on paper or in your laptop. Get them off your chest.

Journaling can be one of the best ways to relieve stress and unburden yourself from those feelings that can cripple you. You don’t have to ever show your journals to anyone. You can burn them or shred them. It is the act of journaling that seems to help folks who are struggling through even the darkest of times.

I suppose journaling is just one more way of organizing our thoughts and getting them off our minds and onto a piece of paper or in a document or file of some kind. It really doesn’t seem to matter the format, but the process is what offers healing.

In the end, it seems there is something special about putting feelings, thoughts and experiences down on paper. It can simply be a family story for your own children; or it can be a personal journal of struggles that no one else ever reads.

TAGS: Rural Health
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