Curating Your Life…


As a teacher of a creative, healing journal-keeping process for 40 years the thing that has been the greatest disappointment to me is that somewhere along the line I petered out. Well, I can tell you precisely when and how it happened. It happened because I started blogging. I gave the energy for that kind of writing, though certainly differently on the blog than in my private journal — a little more polished and a lot less personal in the nitty gritty details, though I have told more and more of them over time — to the blog and I journalled less and less. Even the ability to use photos and graphics took away the fun of being artful and collaging in the journal. Soon I was blogging passionately and journalling not at all. This would have been especially sad if I were still planning to save all of my journals for my children as I had pretty well written down anytime anyone moved or breathed, all of our Christmases and birthdays and who got what, all of the family milestones, but woven in and around and between all of that was decades in therapy especially dealing with extensive childhood sexual abuse and other therapeutic issues, and finally one day I realized that what was lost was not as important as what my children could one day read that they really didn’t need to be reading, nor did I want them to see. At the beginning of 2010 when I bought the cottage and moved in here I destroyed over 300 volumes of journals.

I have tried and tried to recapture my journalling fervor to no avail, buying all kinds of journals and sketchbooks only to go at it awhile and peter out. Finally last fall I decided I was going to start again and stay the course and I went at it with great gusto, for awhile, and then I went through a long period of depression and bipolary times that were difficult to handle and I stopped, but I have picked it up again and again, determined not to focus on the gaps but the courageous attempts at re-entry back into the interior and I did it again today. And this time I think, I hope, it will stick, because I have decided to go at it a new way. I have decided to curate my own life.

Above you see the beginning to my Saturday morning, and the things that are central to my days and life. The journal as I listened to a wonderful podcast with Krista Tippett whose “On Being” series I love, and today she had an especially good one, an interview with Maria Popova, whose “Brainpickings” project is all about curation of a literary sort, and it gave me the idea for this new project. My latte, the shawl I am knitting, my fountain pen, the computer. I move back and forth between the different things which keeps my bipolar brain busy so it doesn’t act up. Keeping it busy is important.

I fell away from the journal because my journal writing was comprised of long, thoughtful entries about my life and days, thoughts and feelings, and finally I think I got tired of listening to myself “talk outloud.” in the journal. Now I intend, like a curator at an art museum, to pick out the things that I love, that are important and special to me. It needn’t be chronological but I made notes in my journal this morning chronicling my life with animals back to my early childhood, with dogs and birds, fish and hamsters and mice, my beloved horses of my middle school and early high school years, and saw the threads from early childhood when my animals were my solace during the terrible years of abuse, all the way to today where my 4 pugs are literally, on many days, my salvation. I will write more about that as the muse moves and thoughts arise.

I am enjoying drawing, using washi tape, painting, doing collage in my journal to make it pretty and colorful and a delight to spend time in. Kind of like decorating your house so you want to spend time there. I will put washi tape all the way around the edges of a page or two page spread and it changes the whole tenor of the writing.

Curating for me is gathering moments and at 61 I want to gather the moments that are precious and special in my life today and in these years of the last quarter of my life. When one day I have trouble remembering these things I want to have journals to look back over. I am now journalling for my older self. I will curate my life as I go, and draw things from the past when they arise as I am writing, so that the old lady I become can remember the life she has lived.

And another way I am doing this is on Instagram. I take several photos each day that I post there, and there is a widget over in the right hand column, so that I can scan the photos and feel the life and days as they pass. I find this very satisfying. The progress of my painting, the days with the pugs and Miss Scarlett and the garden, making my lattes, the life inside and out, and even when I make little forays out into the world like going to the park wherein I drive through some place and get a latte and then sit in my car and look at the pond in the park with a bridge like in Monet’s garden, weeping trees, geese, so much beauty. I am agoraphobic and I don’t get out of the car but I carry with me my phone to take pictures, my journal, something to read, and I will capture those moments for the new Curating pages.

Perhaps these shorter more frequent blog entries are a kind of curation as well. It is a whole new territory, kind of snapshots instead of long ruminations, though I will still do those too. I am finding my way into a whole new landscape, an adventure, an exciting new journey. This is the journalling of an armchair traveler, taking old fashioned steam engines back to my past, and riding a motorcyle or a jet into my future in the pages of my journal. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. I will share it here with you.

Finally I am creating an ecourse titled “Curating Your Life” for those who would like to try a whole new way, perhaps less threatening way, to keep a journal. Stay tuned!

Have a beautiful Saturday. I send you blessings and love in abundance…


Make this the year your resolutions come true!

Make this the year your resolutions come true!


  1. I have 40 years of handwritten journals and am trying to figure out what to do with them. There is plenty there worth remembering — bits of parents’ and grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ history, for instance, and many anecdotes about moments with my children — but also much to be discarded.

    I’ve thought that one day, say when the place I work is sold and I’m out of a job, that I’ll go through them and glean. But I realize that may never happen, and other things (death) may happen before it does, and so I need to get started “curating” … though it’s a dull process if I do too much at once, because I’m done with those years and much of the twaddle I was writing, and neither want to relive it or reread it.

    Anyway, just to say I’m glad you’re inspiring me, as I’m looking for ideas.

  2. i too write in my journal less and less (i already have over 500 in my cupboard!)
    i tend to write there when i am teaching my lifestories classes (i write in my journal in class), and very occasionally on my back porch. but of late, much time is spent compiling chapbooks for my archive, which in itself is curating!!! as for curating the pearls of my many journals, ye gods, when will i have time for that? i’m not really sure what you mean by a whole new way of journaling (curation) maybe in another blog you can be more specific. thankx dear friend xo ka

  3. Maitri, I relate to blogging taking so much energy. Each time I have started a blog I spent concentrated hours on it and then burned out from it. I think it had to do with the fact that I AM a writer, artist, photographer, and I edited every thought and image so carefully, mindful of its being published and sent out into the world.

    The exceptions to this pattern of blogging burnout have been when I created posts about specific creations of mine, or when a series of three monthly jewelry design blog posts was required by the B’Sue Boutiques Build A Line Challenge. And even the latter required bursts of energy that took a week or so to recover from.

    For decades my nearest to journaling has been Morning Pages as defined in The Artists Way program, three pages of whatever is going through my mind in the morning, with the occasional sketch, cartoon, list or diagram along the way. By definition a lot of this is “mental flotsam” being cleared away by the process, but stories and remembrances and anecdotes live there too, and hysterical rants and poignant reflections…….some quite entertaining years later, but going back and “curating” them is unlikely.

    I also have a habit of carrying a camera wherever I go, so moments are captured from day to day but the photos are never organized with a life story in mind.

    So I look forward to seeing you develop the concept of “curating a life.” It sounds like my cup of tea, er, latte?

  4. Dear Maitri, I’ve read quite a few of your writings now and find them deeply interesting and inspiring. One thing that amazes me is that even though you suffer with bipolar and agoraphobia you keep “write” on working and sharing. I, too, suffer recurring major depressions, and am a writer, but during my depressions I become so unmotivated and low energy that the biggest thing I do in my life is “nothing” which makes me very sad. I tried blogging many months ago but did not continue it after another deep depression set in. So kudos to you for keeping on keeping on! You are making a difference in the world! Thank you.

  5. My years of journals are fodder for the memoir I am writing of my years as a reluctant farmer. These days my life is on a pretty even keel, and I no longer feel the compulsion to journal, but photography and blogging connect my inner and outer lives in ways that are deeply satisfying. Tapping into the writing of people who speak from the heart keeps me plumbing the depths of my own journey. What a privilege it is to have this online world, where people like you open their souls to us.

  6. Olive Appleby says:

    Hello Maitri……another inspiring blog post. Like some of the other comments, I too suffer from depression (take medication) but when I get into a low state it takes so much energy
    to get back to “normal” which is where I am at present due to personal circumstances. Your blog posts give me the strength to at least try and be creative until the fog clears and I can see and feel life is good. We all need mentors and I feel that is what you are for me and hopefully, others like me.
    Hugs. Olive xxx

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