LifeJournal Newsletter – October 2012

Many mornings I walk around my Florida yard—checking on  the potted plants to insure that they are sufficiently moist, watering newly planted bamboo, visiting my avocado, mulberry, grapefruit, and mango trees to make sure that they are happy. I recently fertilized some bougainvillea which I moved from the ground into pots, wishing to bring big splashes of color to the front walk and the back deck.  On the fertilizer package, some bold text caught my eye: meaningful levels of micronutrients.

meaningful level of micronutrients

The slogan struck me as a bit odd and I started thinking about my own meaningful levels of micronutrients, 
small doses of things that have a nourishing impact on my day. 

How do I bring meaningful levels of micronutrients into my everyday life?  Here are some things that I thought of: I sit outside as often as I can when I’m eating meals at home. I try not to eat lunch at the same time I’m at the computer. I write a five minute journal entry when I’m vexed or irritated. I try to write a few things that I feel grateful for during the day—or at least think of them as I’m falling asleep.  I try to increase my F.Q. ( my husband’s shorthand for a term he coined:  the “fun quotient”) by going to a movie mid-week, going for a walk with a friend, eating a small piece or two of dark chocolate daily, or phoning a good out-of-town friend who I haven’t spoken to in a while. 

Here are some related prompts: What’s a meaningful level of micronutrients that you use to sustain the blooms in your life? Can you identify the micronutrients?  What other micronutrients could you add to your day?

The article in this month’s newsletter is about different styles of journaling related to looking back on one’s life. There’s also information about upcoming events for journal writers through LifeJournal and its sister organization, the International Association for Journal Writing. Don’t underestimate how much impact you can out of a class or telechat. Let’s just say I don’t think that these events offer micronutrients–but rather some essential fertilizer for your journaling. You’ll find a burst of new energy, new perspectives, and your life will bloom. Come join! 

Warm regards,

Ruth Folit–LifeJournal Software–The International Association for Journal Writing — click the LIKE button!
Have a question?  Email me at, or call toll free 877-456-8762


Ways to Think about Your Style of Journaling When Looking Back

by Ruth Folit

Recently the New York Times had an article about longevity among the population on the Greek island of Ikaria.  The article describes how the culture of the isle–low stress, high social interaction, a plant-based food diet, and sleep cycles based on one’s own needs — somehow produce a disproportionate number of nonagenarians.  It got me thinking about many levels of lifestyle choices and how the context of friends, family, and culture influence us in so many nuanced ways.

Beyond that, however, within the article was a sentence that especially caught my attention:  “As Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, once told me, being able to define your life meaning adds to your life expectancy.”

Because I see journaling as one tool of defining your life meaning,  I did a little research on Robert Butler and found an article published in the periodical, Psychology and Aging. Butler’s work, at least initially, was about reviewing one’s life around the time of one’s death.  I wandered into this interesting social psychological academic article* that discussed the Taxonomy of Reminiscence. (I love the phrase. Gotta love those social psychologists!)

Here are six categories of reminiscence with a brief description paraphrased, followed by a sentence or two of my own in the style that exemplifies that type of reminiscening:

Integrative reminiscence is when a person looks back and acknowledges that s/he has achieved a sense of self-worth, coherence and reconciliation, increased self-understanding, personal meaning, self-fulfillment, and  life satisfaction. (For example: As I look back I see that my values of x and y stood out most. When added to my strengths in a and b, I was able to become the kind of person who found w and v most satisfying and meaningful.)

Instrumental reminiscence is when a person reviews competences, goals reached, plans made and attained, and viewing the world from the lens of problems/solutions. (For example:  As I look back I see that I most importantly I was able to accomplish x and y.  I reached my goals of becoming a well-respected expert of a, b, and c after working hard to solve a set of difficult problems related to z.)

Transmissive reminiscence is when a person creates a personal legacy, transmitting knowledge, lessons learned, and values to future generations  (For example: During my life I learned x, y, and z, and I want my children and grandchildren to understand that what is really important is a, b, and c.)

Narrative reminiscence is descriptive rather than interpretive, filled with accounts of past events without reflection. (For example: I lived  in Y-town for 25 years.  I got married in 19XX and  I worked as a W for the next 20 years.  I had three children.  We put them through college and then moved to Z, where I live now.) 

Escapist reminiscence is remembering the good old days, the highlights of one’s life more as a way to daydream and feel good about how things were in the past rather than evaluate one’s past.  (For example: I remember the kids in my neighborhood playing ball together almost daily.  When things were really good, we were able to go to my father’s store and he’d give us each a free doughnut. Life was simple, fun, and easy back then.)

Obsessive reminiscence focuses on guilt, bitterness and despair about the past.  (For example:  I feel terrible that I didn’t take better care of my wife/husband/mother/father/child when s/he was ill. If I had only done X rather than Y, things would have been better. What was I thinking?)

This academic article looked at what kind of reminiscence were indicative of successful aging in the context of the end of lives. We might, however, create meaning from these categories in thinking about the variety of ways that we look back at our lives and our journal entries from time to time—whether we review our life at the end of each year, or on our birthdays, or just randomly. No need to wait until we’re close to death to reminisce!

Take a look at your journal entries which you wrote about your past.  What kind of journal entries do you often write when you reminisce? Are there other ways of reminiscencing you’d like to try?  


*What Types of Reminiscence Are Associated With Successful Aging? Paul T. Wong and Lisa M. Watt, 1991, Psychology of Aging


Sheila Bender Taking the Leap — Shape and Develop Three of Your Journal Entries into Personal Essays, Vignettes, or Poems.With Sheila Bender. Starts Tuesday, October 30, five weeks, online flex schedule class.
Ready to take the leap from writing for an audience of one (yourself) to a larger audience?  Sheila helps you over the chasm with grace.  You’ll be amazed.
 Learn more about the class and sign up! It starts soon. 
JudyReeves (150 x 137)  Judy Reeves is an author, writing coach, and writing provocateur. Once a month, on the first Wednesday of the next six months, Judy will lead an Online Writing Practice. Sign up for all six, or one at a time: Wednesday, November 7, Wednesday, December 5Wednesday, January 9, Wednesday, February 6, Wednesday, March 6, Wednesday, April 3  “I believe in the collective energy of writing in group. Even though writing is a solitary act—the work we must do alone—my experience is that writing in group sparks a creative force that, if the writer trusts it and goes with it – can take the writing and the writer to unexpected, surprising places of memory and imagination.”–Judy Reeves


Here’s information about the monthly  IAJW telechat.

 LyndaMonk_t2 IAJW TELECHAT:
Lynda Monk will discuss Journaling for Self-Care, Stress Relief, and Showing Up Fully in Your Life on Thursday, November 15. 7 PM Eastern/4 PM Pacific.   During this one hour telechat, we will explore the connection between writing and relaxation.  Lynda suggests that “when you are relaxed this helps you write and when you write this helps you relax.”Open only to IAJW members, who attend the telechat at no cost. Learn more and sign up! (Want to learn more about the International Association for Journal Writing?  Come visit!)

End Quotes:

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” –Confuscius

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” –Khalil Gibran


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