February Ramblings : 19 – Journaling

I have quite a few acquaintances who are religious diary writers. They jot down the happenings of their day at the end of their day, and their thoughts on them, if any. I have not snooped into any of their accounts, so I wouldn’t know exactly what goes into the content; but I guess this would be a fairly accurate guess.

Journaling differs from diary writing. It is intermittent, and has a theme to it. A diary can be used as a base for a journal.

I had taken a course on Writer’s Village, which had Leaving a Trace as a course material. It is a comprehensive book on different types of journaling. I love how the author gives examples of people who wrote to document a particular phase of their life, or to log casual happenings and their ‘works’ were found by unsuspecting descendants who were transported to the time of their ancestors.

Anne Frank’s diary remains one of my favorite reads in memoirs. Memoirs are a collection of interesting accounts taken from a diary and rewritten to form a chronological journal.

Often times, the candidness of autobiographical writing has bothered me.

While Frank would never see the reactions her work amassed, she did have an idea that she would someday want to publish it. Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography on the other hand, was published during his lifetime, and in it he has delved into such personal details! I wonder how he would have prepared for the reception. And if he would have felt the need to prepare, at all.

Coming back to journaling, it can be for one’s own ‘personal’ purpose or to publish. A journal written for the former, and then turned into a finished work for the latter purpose would be more candid, I suppose.

That brings me a thought which has loomed large in my subconscious. (And that I forgot *just* now! Yikes! Let me jog my memory a bit… aah yes… read on read on!)

What use do ordinary people living uneventful lives have for a journal?

I might attract a volley of disapproving *SMH* kind of murmurs and even shouts from some of you. To that I say, hang on…let me finish…

We, as a society, are quick to judge. I belong to the foremost ranks of those who do so. And hence, till this day I do hold the belief that a life full of mundanes is not a full life.

That those who stress on adhering to a routine set in stone do lead uneventful lives OR those who do not have frequent events that would evoke a more than casual interest from the listeners of ‘how was their day’ OR simply those who wish to live a ‘normal’ life would not have anything to document daily. (Okay, I might have exaggerated a bit there. I am by no means condescending nor do I feel so deeply. Perhaps what I mean to say is – unless someone sees ‘magic’ in the ‘mundane’, he or she would not be motivated to write about it.)

It heartens me to say that I have found that ordinary people in fact, have the most use for a journal and their journals make for the most interesting of discoveries about human nature. How?

  1. They give one an idea of what life in the day of a citizen was (or is), in that period.
  2. The popular general notions about political inclinations and societal norms are disclosed.
  3. Their journals are proof of the depth of thought that one spends (however philosophically inclined or not) on a given subject – be it on world politics or the list of grocery to be purchased for the next week.
  4. Humans have immense inner strength. While it may go unnoticed by the exterior appearance they put up in difficult times, the written word gives us a glimpse of how the individual citizen deals with the vagaries of his everyday subsistence that keeps him from delving deeper into the hows and whys of existence.
  5. Anecdotal narration comes naturally to most of us. Journals are treasure troves of stories that would mean the world to their immediate family, thus building a sense of belonging to a larger scheme of things in the future generations.

Let me know if the above reasons to write a journal make sense to you.

I’ll leave you with this parting thought – my great-grandmother (a woman of strong character, who loved reading and would always stress upon me the value of education) and Ayn Rand (the author, of course) were both born in 1905. How different their journals would be!

Journaling thus serves to enrich the world with collective experiences of an entire generation belonging to a particular time frame – because they vary in nature beyond our wildest dreams. And however ordinary they may seem to us, our lives are worth leaving a trace! 🙂

 

February Ramblings : 13 – Turning up

Hello there, you couldn’t be more wrong if you thought I had given up on the ramblings. I couldn’t have chosen a more ominous date to turn up. (This observation is just for theatrical effect, I don’t quite believe in omens.)

I do believe in signs though. I believe that the happenings around us indicate what course the Universe (rather, our inner self) wants us to pursue.

In the last week, several topics have occurred to me. Alas, I have not even made mental notes of them.

So today, I write extempore.

A very radical shift has taken place in my personality in 2018 – both physically and mentally. I have lost quite a few kilos and look leaner (not meaner 😛 ). I carry a feeling of complete control about me. My heart and mind are at peace.

How can such a short duration affect such a change is not beyond me though. It is the culmination of my efforts in the last 10 years, towards the development of my worldly skills and deepening of my spiritual understanding.

I have joined an online book club started by an old colleague. It has a small circle of readers of varied ages – typically 30-70s. The purpose is to read books with strong messages for self-development. We have read one book – Man’s Search for Meaning. The next one is Adela Cathcart.

The latter is a refreshing read in Classics, because the writer George MacDonald has a quirky way of describing people, places, and events. I’m almost through Volume 1 and feel a strange kinship with Adela and the protagonist of John Smith’s first story. I leave you be without spoilers…

I have also joined a Toastmasters  Club, attended one meeting as a guest, and spoken on a Table Topic – What do you think is the Universal Truth about becoming rich/making money? To sum up my take crisply, I said – you never have enough of it and you always think the grass is always greener on the other side. To further expound, even the richest man/woman on the Earth feels he/she doesn’t have enough money to cover his/her whims. Fancy going to Mars in a SpaceX flight, anyone? Also, money cannot buy everything and it comes at a price. Look at how Steve Jobs lost his health… Most rich people suffer from chronic lifestyle or stress induced illnesses. I rambled on, so to speak, for a minute and 7 seconds and qualified as a speaker. Ta-da!

All in all, this month is going to be exciting as I start actual work on my writing (February Ramblings), reading (Book Club), and speaking (Toastmasters) skills. Here’s to steady progress! Let me know what you have planned for February!

P.S All this while, I’ve been ‘writing’ in a British accent. I don’t know why! Do I hear you exclaim – ‘Dandy!’?

Resolutions 2017

2017 will be the year of achievements and learning.

I am quitting my side job to focus on shooting. It will also give me time to look after my blog, and learn coding again.

Here are the resolutions :

  1. Win a medal.
  2. Earn money blogging.
  3. Code using SWIFT and also develop an end-to-end iOS app with cloud hosting and web services.
  4. Write a tech blog.
  5. Write a shooting blog.
  6. Write actively on thedamsel.in.
  7. Read 100 books.
  8. Write short stories and creative pieces.
  9. Complete April A-Z Challenge and February Ramblings.
  10. Eat right, exercise and get a fit body. Participate in at least one marathon.

I am going easy on me this year, and setting fairly achievable goals.

 

A photo posted by Ruchi Moré (@thedamselin) on

Most of my resolutions this year are related to writing. This is conscious, because I feel writing has taken a backseat since I left my day job in 2015. I had taken a break to write and I took up shooting instead. It has been close to 6 years that I have a blog and 4 years since I have this domain.

The initial settling in has been done. Now I need to go to the next level and start implementing SEO and monetisation. (For that I need to write too 😛 )

So here’s to the second innings of blogging!

2017 – The year of achievable goals!

 

2016 – The year in review

 

The year I turned 30.

2016 has indeed been the year of preparation.

Here’s my report card :

1. Pursue a sport.

I started shooting on June 1,2016. I continued from where I left in 2015. Then I had completed level 3 – the level where one is supposed to play states. However, since I was to go to Dubai, I requested my coach to let me work on my technique rather than appearing for the matches half-prepared.

There was no stopping after I rejoined. I qualified for the states, then played the pre-nationals. I appeared for the nationals through a wildcard (3 points less than the qualification score). I could not qualify in the nationals, but am heading towards a successful next year.

Here’s to hard work!


2. Start coding again.

This ain’t happening. I took up work by the side in August which kept me busy. Let’s see if I can code in 2017.
3. Write without the fear of your inner editor.

I wrote a lot of gibberish this year. I started NaBloPoMo November and wrote a few odd posts. I almost completed the February ramblings! April’s A-Z Challenge was a disaster.

The positive here is – I am not shying from writing.

Oh, and here is something sensible I heard and wrote.
4. Learn baking.

This will take another decade. It has dropped from my priority list.
5. Prepare a virtual travelogue.

I started travel posts on thedamsel.in, but I did not have enough time.
6. Read 100 books.

I completed 33% of my Goodreads Challenge. (That’s a lot for me, who reads about 10 books a year.) Though it may not have gone as I planned at the outset, this year I have made good use of Kindle Unlimited.  I also exchanged my copy of Undue Influence from Sharjah Book Fair in Pune International Literature Festival.

  1. I finished ALL of Jane Austen’s work barring Lady Susan.
  2. I read George Orwell, whom I was planning to read since 2013.
  3. I read White Shark instead of the planned Jaws reading.

All in all, a good reading year.
7. Draw the fashion designs in your head. Learn to draw, if need be.

I subscribed to an online drawing course which cost me 1250 Rs per month. I continued till 2 months and then quit. There is a fashion design course offered by MITCON Pune, which I was considering taking up, but have decided against it for the moment.
8. Start video blogging/podcasting.

Erm…
9. Love your blog(s). Let it show.

I monetised my blog today. I gave it a makeover. It has been getting makeovers ‘trial and error’ style for the whole year. So I guess my love is showing.
10. Be your own mentor in all walks of life.

This is what I said mid-year >> Failing terribly. Need to take myself seriously. 

I have improved since. I have kept myself motivated and charged, to be consistent where needed and to be flexible and revise priorities where needed. I am gaining control.

 

2016 – The year of preparation. 2017 – Off to climb mountains!

 

 

 

 

Sixteenth ramble

The love of reading.

Even before I started school, I knew the alphabet by heart. I was dying to learn to read, for the cartoons in the newspapers to mean something. 

I was taught small lines like Raja is a boy, Rani is a girl. They appeared throughout the textbook, teaching us various words and their spellings. I was on cloud nine. I could read. I could read is, the, for, and, but, also and other prepositions and conjunctions in the newspaper.

I graduated to comics in standard One. The first novel I read was a Famous Five – Five on a Hike together. Kids from other culture seemed cool. I kept on reading whateverI could find in the local comic library. One of my Dad’s friend’s mother gave me 2 carton full of books, and I was suddenly a busy bee – reading at the dining table, reading through my TV time and relenting only at bed time.

I had taken up other languages too – Gujrati and Marathi.

Now, I can’t say I am a voracious reader, but I am a better reader than most. The thrill of getting lost in a story’s locales, experiencing the characters’ dilemmas and almost shouting on them when they don’t do your bidding; is a different high. 

I have been asked how do I read a book so fast, how do I understand words that are not from daily language – the answer is I don’t read the book fast, I am interested enough to go on flipping pages just as we go on watching an interesting soap episode after episode in binge watching. I still don’t grasp many words, but either I deduce their meaning or look them up when I have time. It’s not a big deal really, reading. It’s not a mystical hobby that only the intellectual pursue – it is the activity that turns one into a thinking mind. The more diverse stuff you read, the better.

Don’t think whether you are reading the right stuff or wasting your time over substandard writing. Case in point, this blog. Just read. Eventually, you will learn to differentiate and quit a bad book in time. But not till you spend years in pointless reading first.