LifeJournal™ Newsletter – December 2002

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, we at Chronicles Software Company hope that you are enjoying time with friends and family. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Meaningful Kwanzaa, and a Happy New Year!

Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company

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On Reviewing your Journal
Mailbag: Another Way to use LifeJournal for Children
Results of Last Survey
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How to Purchase LifeJournal

On Reviewing your Journal

In last month’s newsletter there was a detailed article about how to learn from your journal by re-reading it and how to use LifeJournal’s features to expedite that process. Reviewing your journal entries makes tangible your subjective life experiences and also can motivate you to make changes in your life. If you didn’t read that article last year, or want to refresh your memory, I would recommend that you review it now.

I recently read Alexandra Johnson’s book, Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal. In it she suggests using ten categories or topics when you review your journal to find patterns in your life as follows:

“Journals contain ten categories of life patterns: longing; fear; mastery; (intentional) silences; key influences; hidden lessons; secret gifts; challenges; unfinished business; untapped potential. Each category corresponds to a way we engage or hold back in life. To begin to see a journal through these ten organizing devices is to unknot years of tangled entries. It’s most helpful if you go back through journals first by posing each life pattern as a question. Where, for example, are incidents of mastery? They may be in work, school, raising children. Or how was conflict a secret gift, highlighting potential that was still untapped?”

These ten topics that Johnson selected relate to movement in life. Some show you how you have moved forward; other categories may offer clues for ways and direction to propel you forward; still others may identify obstacles to your personal growth. Examining your journal entries from the perspective Johnson suggests, may open your eyes to new ways of viewing yourself.

You may want to review your journal entries with Johnson’s categories in mind. You could create a Topic folder in the Topics List called “Review” or perhaps “Patterns.” Create topics within that folder with the ten categories Johnson suggests. Begin rereading your journal entries from last year with these categories in mind and highlight and assign the appropriate topic to journal passages. Then go back and perform a search of only the highlighted passages. (For example, open the Search dialog box by clicking on the sixth circular button on the left, then select the topic “longing” within the Folder “Review.” Also select the check box above the list of topics that says “Retrieve only highlighted passages.” Click the “Search” button, and the highlighted passage for the topic “longing” will appear.)

Here are a few questions you may want to consider using a starting point after reviewing and highlighting the journal entries according to Johnson’s categories:


  1. When do you feel a sense of longing? Do you experience longing often or rarely?
  2. Do you know what you long for?
  3. Describe the feeling of yearning that you experience.
  4. How long have you yearned for the item, quality, role, or relationship in question?
  5. How do you initiate activity to attain the goal for which you yearn?
  6. Are you surprised to learn what you longed for, or have you been aware of this longing?
  7. Can you fulfill your need in a way that is creative or different than the one you are considering?


  1. What have you learned about your fears from reading your journal entries? How do the fears manifest in your life?
  2. Have you had a direct encounter with your fear, or is your fear more imagined than real? If you have had a direct encounter with your fear, describe it.
  3. How do you deal with fear? Can you work through the fear? Does the fear set you back for a while until you are able to move through it? Are you paralyzed by the fear?
  4. How does fear manifest itself in your body?
  5. Is there anything that you can do to help minimize the fear?
  6. If you could “talk yourself down” from the fear, what would you say?
  7. How do your feelings of courage interconnect with your feelings of fear?


  1. Describe the skills that you have mastered that you wrote about in your recently re-read set of journal entries (e.g. changing a flat tire, keeping your temper with your fifteen year old, learning calligraphy, doing 15 push-ups, ).
  2. How does it feel to have mastered this skill?
  3. Have you been trying to master this skill for a while? What process did you use to master the skill?
  4. Is there anything that you learned about how you mastered the skill that could apply to learning other skills that you are trying to master?
  5. What motivated you to master the skill?
  6. How did you deal with frustrations that you may have encountered during the time of mastering the skill?

Intentional) silences

  1. Under what circumstances are you intentionally silent in your life?
  2. Are you pleased that you are being silent?
  3. What would you require to break the silence?
  4. Does the silence offer you any benefits? Any costs?
  5. Does the silence move you forward in attaining your goal?

Key influences

  1. Describe the key influences that you wrote.
  2. Are you surprised that these were key influences?
  3. Characterize the key influences that you identified—are they positive or negative?

Hidden lessons

  1. How do you look for hidden lessons in your journal entries?
  2. Where do you find them?
  3. How were the lessons hidden? Behind what facades?
  4. Is time a factor in seeing and understanding the hidden lessons in your journal entries?

Secret gifts

  1. Can you identify secret gifts in your life from your journal entries? What are the identifying characteristics?
  2. Do you know that you have found a secret gift as soon as you stumble upon it, or does it take a while for it to reveal itself?
  3. What do you do with secret gifts?
  4. Do you acknowledge the giver of the secret gift?
  5. Have you been given many secret gifts in your life? How have you used them?


  1. What challenges are most significant in your life now?
  2. Are the challenges in your life different or the same as they were last year? Five years ago?
  3. Do you deal with the challenges directly? Does that work?
  4. Review your answers to questions related to mastery. Is there anything in your re-reading of those journal entries that relate to the challenges?
  5. What do you think of the quote: “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Unfinished business

  1. Do you have some unfinished business with a person, living or dead? Who is it, and what part of the relationship do you want to resolve?
  2. How does having unfinished business feel? What are your expectations in completing the business?
  3. Do you have some unfinished business with an event or situation? What part is unfinished? What are the obstacles to resolving it?
  4. Consider writing an Unsent Letter to the person, event, or situation that is unfinished.

Untapped potential

  1. Do you have a hunch that you have some potential that hasn’t yet been tapped?
  2. Do you know what the untapped potential is or may be?
  3. Have you had the experience of uncovering a latent talent? What was that like?
  4. Brainstorm to create a list of 25 ways (practical or impractical) that you might begin to mine that potential. Use the list as a springboard to develop a practical strategy to tapping that potential.

Mailbag: Another Way to use LifeJournal for Children

In last month’s newsletter there was an article suggesting parents keep a journal for their children to give as a gift for birthdays or other celebrations. A LifeJournal writer responded about a way that she is using LifeJournal for her brother and his children. I thought it was an innovative approach and worth sharing with others:

“On the subject of keeping a journal for your children, I have used Life Journal in this way to help my brother. I set up another journal in his name on my software. He wrote to me weekly by email and I cut/pasted into his journal. His ex-wife was alcoholic and he worried very much about the effect of this on their children who began to show abused and co-dependent behavior. LifeJournal’s topic feature has meant that we have been able to extract a journal for each of the children individually to help the counselor who is working with them now. In particular the journals have prompted the children to remember how they felt at the time about their mother’s behavior and deal with that rather than buried emotions. I am sure that when they are adults these journals will help again when they are mature enough to understand the whole picture.”.

Summary of Last Month’s Survey Results

Last month ninety people responded to the survey. We asked people about their original motivating force in keeping a journal. The number one reason (39%) people began to keep a journal was for the general enjoyment of writing. The next most common response were people who started to write at the suggestion of a therapist, coach or counselor. The third most often response was because they wanted to write an autobiography.

The great majority of journal keepers (71%) did not change the focus of their journal writing once they started it.

Only 21% of the respondents took a journal writing class, but of those who did, most (68%) would recommend taking the class that they took. The majority (62%) would like to take a class about LifeJournal in particular. Stay tuned for information about classes about LifeJournal!

We will not have a survey posted in December/January. Look for a new one near the end of January.

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“Gaining access to that interior life is a kind of…archaeology: on the basis of some information and a little bit of guesswork you journey to a site to see what remains were left behind and you reconstruct the world.”

— Toni Morrison.

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    Chronicles Software Company
    PO Box 220
    Sarasota, FL 34230

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