Diary Writing

diary
http://www.penguin.co.uk

I watched a cute and funny video on The Atlantic about David Sedaris and him keeping a diary in today’s age.

I have half a bookshelf filled with my diaries, which I began keeping in 97/98. Every notebook is filled with my experiences growing up. It was how I released emotion. I wasn’t one to talk about my feelings (still learning to do that), but I didn’t want someone to talk back to me and give advice. I yearned for someone who would just shut up and listen. I found that “person” in notebooks. I wasn’t judged, and I felt free to write about anything I wanted.

But as I continued writing in my adult life, the entries weren’t imaginative anymore. They became sounding boards for the frustrations I was encountering. And the positive. The log time between entries grew too–I wasn’t writing as often. As the saying goes, “Life got in the way.”

However, watching this video made me proud to be a diary keeper and not an oversharer online: you know the person on Facebook who shares everything from health issues to photos of their children to relationship woes. Isn’t it tiring to see that? Where’s the discrection? If you share your life with the world, what do you have to hold onto? Your Facebook feed becomes your diary, when a diary is supposed to be private. As Sedaris said, “More people are documenting their lives now. The difference is the degree to which they’re sharing. And there’s a lot to be said for not putting things out there.”

Like handwritten letters, keeping a diary is old school. But putting pen to paper is intimate. Note taking doesn’t count here. Anyone can do that (and required for class!). However, writing a letter or your thoughts out takes effort. There’s no delete key, and the handwriting isn’t going to be legible to everyone who reads it. If you make a mistake, scratch it out or white it out. Or throw it out and start over.

While the computer’s great (Microsoft Office!), keeping a diary is still valued today. I won’t stop doing it.

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I’m a Work in Progress

rsz_what-is-empowerment
lonerwolf.com

Since my mid-twenties came and went, I’ve always looked for ways to improve, whether personally or professionally. I did (and still do) look at others and wonder, ‘How is this person so smart about (insert topic here)?’ or ‘I want to be as good at (some task) as him/her, but how?’ Comparing myself to people who were successful and who seemed to “have it all,” I felt insecure, but took that as an opportunity to change and better myself.

My new journey began two-fold: I realized that all of the bookmarks on my computer were full of “fluff” websites: sites that didn’t enrich my life in any way, but were entertaining to read. I came to the conclusion that there was no real value to anything that I was reading on these sites. The second was graduating college and entering the real world, a world that none of us never fully grasp and understand. I wanted to be better at everything that I was doing, and to continue learning new things, but I didn’t know how.

That’s when Google became my helper. I typed in ‘self improvement sites’ and hit ‘Enter.’ That search led me to Lifehacker, Tiny Buddha, and Ted Talks (I’m sure you know about that last one, right??) A sidenote on Ted Talks: It’s a good site if you don’t want to read, but watch someone give advice. Amy Cuddy’s Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are is one of my favorites. I found that video when I was in the middle of a long, stressful, and (oftentimes) frustrating job search. It helped me be more confident in interviews, and I believe that her advice is what landed me my current position as an agent assistant.

You never know what can happen to you if you practice what you learn.

But over the years my list of self-improvement sites changed, and recently I added a new one called Smarter Living, a newish section of The New York Times that’s full of practical articles in addition to more in-depth stories. The section is dedicated to helping readers live better lives, and if you have an open mind, you’ll find this site useful. I happen to like their Guides.

After reading a few articles, I signed up for the Smarter Living newsletter. Now I get useful information delivered to my email every week. I’m not a subscriber to The Times, so I’m still only allowed to read 9 articles a month, but I haven’t ruled out the option of doing so. It’s another valuable site that I’m grateful to have stumbled upon.

Growing and bettering yourself is what everyone should strive to do every day of their lives. But some people are fine with staying static. I hope that you don’t want that for yourself. Whether it’s learning how to cook better, or how to be a better employee, there are a lot of resources on the web waiting to be read and put into practice. It’s working for me, and it’ll work for you too.

What websites do you go on for advice and to better yourself?

Inspiring Talks

Once in a while I watch Ted Talks. And they can’t come at a better time for me: when I’m down, there’s always a video of theirs that brings me back to normal. Through Youtube or their website, I enjoy them. And it’s easy to lose track of time, especially if you watch the videos that are more than 15 minutes long.

These videos are inspiring and thought provoking. There are multiple videos on the same topic so they can be repetive, but there are standouts among the pile. You can learn a lot about yourself, others and life through them.

I watched Amy Cudy’s video on body language to prep for a job interview, and her points worked. I felt relaxed and confident during the ordeal. I didn’t get the job but that’s one example on how Ted Talks helped me.

If you don’t like watching videos, the the Ted Blog is stocked with posts that are just as motivational and intriguing as their counterpart. Whatever medium you choose, you will not be let down.

The Power of Music

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http://www.theodyssey.com

The documentary Alive Inside is a touching film about music therapy, and what a simple iPod can do to help Alzheimer’s patients. It will have you tearing up in the first five minutes.

Music is powerful. It wakes us up, it puts us to sleep, it makes us sad–even when we’re not particularly down at that moment. We listen to our iPods at work to take away the dullness of being in an office all day; we go to concerts to escape our problems. It brings people together, no matter what language we speak.

I was always interested in music, from being in band to playing guitar. My iPod is filled with different genres, from rock and instrumental, to Oldies and country. I get songs stuck in my head for days. Sometimes at random.

What would life be without music? Think about all of the moments in your life, good and bad, and tell me if music wasn’t present in each of them, or at least majority of them. I’m betting more than half of your memories involve music in some way. There’s nothing else I can think of that touches each and every one of us in profound ways. Can you?