Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Journaling is for the journey

By LORA ABERNATHY

Abernathy, second from right, poses with friends in Prague,
Czech Republic, in 1999.
Even reading the word “journaling” sounds like an adventure.

Indeed, the journals I have kept over the years reveal a life lived, one of taking chances, of character exploration. Many entries have served as prayers.

Over my adult life, I have kept a few journals, penning my way through my day's headlines, hoping that doing so would immediately yield an epiphany that would bring about knowledge of myself for which I was desperately searching.

Sometimes it did.

The summer immediately following my graduation from Marshall University, I traveled to Slovakia with dozens of other students from across the country with Campus Crusade for Christ. We spent seven weeks overseas, and in between our work at the English camps, we would take the train and travel to Poland or the Czech Republic or other parts of the Slovak countryside.

I created a journal just for this trip. I still keep it nearby.

June 19, 1999: Sitting here at one of the airports in London waiting to board for Budapest... The trip to London went well... I switched seats with Rhett so that I could sit by the window...

June 30, 1999: Well, I'm sitting here on my bed at the student hotel Piast getting ready to go to Auschwitz.

July 13, 1999: I went to the posta (post office) and potraviny (grocery store) earlier... The top stories on SKY are: Louise Arbour visits Pristina; 7 people were killed in Atlanta; 22 people were killed in Romania where a dam busted … something about a peace bill between the IRA and Parliament; a new bill may go in to effect which allows “psychopaths” to be admitted before they commit crimes in Britain.

July 22, 1999: OK, so, I just spent my entire day in Prague. Wow, what a beautiful city!


July 29, 1999: Here in Slovakia, I have to rely on God to get toilet paper, whereas in America, there is a very high probability that I will not need God for such a task.
After the trip, I took my thoughts back to my regular journal.

Jan. 8, 2000: Well, Melody is moving to Minnesota in a few days and my job with Rhone Poulenc ends at the end of January. Yes, it's definitely a time to trust God.

March 5, 2000: Dear Heavenly Father: I just want to thank You for my life. I know I complain a lot because I'm not getting what I think I need, but I've got You and You have certainly blessed my life with so much.

Oct. 18, 2000: Yesterday, my dad died. I look at pictures taken that I hold in my hands and they provoke tears of horrid disbelief.


From being awe-inspired by where I was, to coping with tragedy, because I took a few moments every few days to jot something down about what was happening in my life, I have these opportunities to relive these journeys for a second time, or a third time. It can be insightful to look over old posts, to realize how far your journey has taken you.

Today, my triathlon blog (www.theironmountaineer.blogspot.com) serves as my journal. It's not a private account, although you could certainly set up your blog to be completely private.

June 28, 2008: First triathlon race report: The wind was blowing quite a bit and I thought for sure the water would be freezing. It actually was not bad at all. This would be the least of my worries...

Oct. 15, 2008: I ran my longest run yet yesterday morning: 4 miles.

Oct. 18, 2010: I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) Sunday, a challenge I assumed I would undertake someday as I've crept into the welcoming world of triathlons and endurance running. I had no idea that it would be so much fun, though!


Though my thoughts revolve around triathlon training or racing primarily, I'm able to find a way to weave in topics about virtually anything. Triathlon is the excuse, life is the meaning.

There is, however, a noticeable distinction between the format of a hard-back journal and an on-screen blog. My blog is always honest, but it has been edited, revised for a public audience. The writings in my journals are no truer, but they are certainly rawer.

Snapshots of thoughts frozen in time, a journal of any kind can serve as a reminder of what truths you chose to reveal and, in essence, become a source of inspiration for change and for reflection – even many years later.

Lora, of Hillsboro, is the health and wellness editor for Salt and the southwest group online editor for Ohio Community Media.

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