“There’s an awful lot of writing going on that nobody knows about.” – Edward Gildea, publisher of The Diarist’s Journal
When I was about 8 years old I received a journal as a gift. I felt grown up and responsible as I wrote in it, and I filled all the pages. I kept writing as I grew up, and through college. But not surprisingly I wrote with less frequency the older I got. Eventually I all but stopped. Then when my son was 2 I discovered blogs and started my own, recording in posts his life and the lives of his parents. Blogging had replaced my journal. But the trouble with blogs is that they’re made for public consumption and there’s some inevitable self-censorship that goes with that.
A private journal has the advantage of, well, privacy. It’s a place where a person can put down what happened and how she felt about it, with the thought of someone else reading it being remote enough so as to almost not matter. Think of this journal entry* from Eleanor Coppola, wife of the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola:
“A few days ago I got a vision of a house that I would feel at home in. It was made of eucalyptus, glass and adobe. A contemporary structure in a natural setting. I would have to build it. I walked up by the old water tank today, looking for a site.
Through the years, Francis and I have argued over and over again about our house. He has said all he ever really wanted from me was to make him a home. Once, in a crazy argument in the Philippines, he told me that he would spend a million dollars, if necessary, to find a woman who wanted to make a home, cook and have lots of babies. I could never tell the truth, even to myself, because I thought it would be the end of my marriage. I am not a homemaker. I have always wanted to be a working person. But the kind of work I have done over the years hasn’t earned any money, so it looks like I am playing and lazy.
Right now I am feeling a giant relief. I am off the hook. The other woman in Francis’s life is not the ultimate homemaker either; she is not dying to step in and take over the mansion.”
-Eleanor Coppola, 1977
There is information in the entry: she had an interesting daydream, she repeatedly has the same argument with her husband, and her husband is apparently having an affair. But what makes it so interesting to me is the insight into how she feels the lack of a home, or at least a home she can comfortably and authentically occupy. A place to rest and be herself. I don’t know anything about Eleanor Coppola’s life, but I’d imagine understanding her inner homelessness would go a long way toward understanding her life in general.
That is the kind of thing I’d like my kids decades from now to understand about me, and the kind of thing I’d like to understand about myself. I want a journal as a history, and a journal as therapy. In some sense journal-keeping is a selfish, or self-absorbed way to spend your time. But I think selfishness isn’t always bad. I think there should be another word. Self-care, maybe? Writing in a journal is caring about your life enough to think it’s worth recording, and caring about your feelings enough to think they’re worth remembering.
Do you keep a journal? What’s the format? Do you write daily, according to a schedule, or just when it seems important to write?
* Eleanor Coppola’s journal entry comes from The Assasin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists, Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor, editors. It’s a fabulous book. You should put it on your Christmas list.Read More
The question has been asked, “Was there ever a time when there were no learned women?” To this query we reply, No! never since the creation of Eve, our first mother, down to the present, when the cause of women’s social and political rights has become a distinct national question; we admit there has been an unusual intellectual activity for the last twenty years, both in Europe and America, and that there has been advancement and progress in this respect within the last decade, but we are apt to felicitate ourselves, and perhaps are too indiscriminate on the progress achieved in female education.Read More
Every manual in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals has at least one lesson on Joseph Smith. Before going into the lesson, I’ll link to a few other RS lessons we’ve done here at the Exponent on Joseph Smith.
The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Spencer W. Kimball manual
The Prophet Joseph Smith, God’s Instrument in Restoring the Truth from the George Albert Smith manual
Relief Society Lesson 47: “Praise To The Man”: Latter-Day Prophets Bear Witness Of The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Joseph Smith manual
I would like to start with a quick personal story and some feelings I had while first skimming the lesson to get a sense of it.
Last year when I was meeting with my stake president to renew my temple recommend and going through the appropriate “yes” and “no” responses, there was one question where I stopped and said, “Well, I try…” The stake president looked at me and said, “I don’t want any answers other than ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” So I rephrased my answer into “yes” and was given a recommend. What was the question? “Are you honest in your dealings…?” The honesty question feels a bit like a trick question- who really is 100% honest in everything? Saying you are is obviously a lie! It’s a catch-22. I am not honest with my fellow people at all times, though like I originally stated, I do try.Read More
One week from today, Mormon women will attend the Priesthood Session of General Conference to show support for women’s ordination. Since January, Mormons have been studying Lorenzo Snow in Relief Society and Priesthood classes. Lorenzo Snow was educated at progressive Oberlin College, the first coeducational college in the United States of America and served as president of the church during the suffrage movement. The timing seems ideal to remember two suffragists who also attended Lorenzo Snow’s alma mater: Antoinette Brown and Lucy Stone.
Lucy Stone sought to become a public speaker advocating for abolition and women’s rights, a scandalous plan at a time when the Biblical injunction to “let your women keep silence” (1 Cor. 14:34) was interpreted quite literally. Antoinette Brown’s plans were even more shocking; she wanted to become a minister, although no female had ever yet been ordained a Protestant minister.
Lucy Stone was raised by strict, traditional parents who believed educating a woman would be a waste of money. When Lucy learned that a new college was admitting women, she was determined to go in spite of the lack of support from her family. She saved for years to attend, finally obtaining enough money to enroll for one semester in 1843 at the age of 25.
At Oberlin, Lucy took several jobs with the hope of earning enough money to stay. During her first two years of college, Lucy slept little, awakening at 2 AM to study as her daytime hours were completely filled with coursework and the multiple jobs she was working to pay for her tuition and board. At her dishwashing job, she would prop her books up by the sink so she could study as she worked.Read More
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormons) was organized in Fayette, New York in 1830. Only seven miles away, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848.
Although Mott and Stanton were two of the most progressive advocates for women of their time, it did not even occur to them that they might preside over the convention they had planned. That honor went to Mott’s husband, James Mott.
In mid-nineteenth century New York, the idea that women should be permitted to speak in “promiscuous company” (a term describing mixed gender public gatherings) was extremely controversial. Women presiding over a mixed gender meeting had not even entered the realm of imagination.Read More