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On this regional public affairs program, St. Paul writer Christina Baldwin discusses her book “One to One: Self Understanding Through Journal Writing.” Baldwin has kept a journal for 17 years and also teaches classes on using a journal as a form of therapy.

Baldwin also shares her thoughts on listening to Gretchen Kreuter speech on women's diaries & letters.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

We have in the studio with a snowy Christina Baldwin who's the writer who lives in St. Paul? She's kept a journal for 17 years. She's written a book on Journal writing called one to oneself understanding to journal writing and she's taught to seminars on using the journalist therapy. Why don't you tell me first of all as a journal writer and as a woman what you thought of that speech how do you react to it? I thought it was delightful.It down verifies both those parts of myself particularly the sense that you are autobiographical writing such as letters and in a more formal form a journal or diary. There's really an alternate history of the world that's been left lying around and dresser drawers and addicts by which really excites me that there are voices that survived from the ordinary people and that everyone can participate right? I feel at one of the things about a journal that really turns me on is that it's not identifiable is coming from one class or One race or one educational level, but that anyone who has really the. Desire to communicate and just basic instruments of paper and pencil or a grocery bag and a pencil can keep it DurhamWhy don't you tell me before we actually begin talking about your book? What a journal is. I use the word Journal because it seems to me a little more inclusive than the word diary and looking this up in Webster's a diary seems more of a record of external events and a journal can include of feelings and other things more readily. So I've just come to use the word journal to me. I dated notebook that includes anything that the writer wants to put in it. There isn't a specific way. It should be your look. Okay. Let's talk about your book. Maybe maybe the best way to do that would be for you to tell me how it grew and why you wrote it. All right, and I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and started keeping a journal 1960. And have been keeping one at basically ever since and I kept one for years and years all the way through college and and moving around the country and coming back to the Twin Cities Without Really ever looking why I was investing all this time and energy into writing. It just became a habit and I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a journal Junkie. I have to write it's not just and it's it's fun and it's not a disciplined something that I I hate doing. It's obviously fun. I wouldn't still be doing it but about three and a half years ago. I was taking a course around the university and I suddenly decided that I would like to talk about your in a riding with someone and I asked the coordinators at the Southeast Community Education Program if there was a course I could take on it and they said no why aren't you develop one? That made me become conscious for the first time of what it was. I was doing what I was putting down on paper. Why was spending energy what the issues were for me? And the book one to one has really grown out of the course. I began developing then and the experiences that I've had with groups of people and I've probably worked with a total of five or six hundred people. Now, I was I was really interested in reading the book at all the sorts of things that you could use a journal for 2 to find out who you are to control your time to explore your feelings, too. Solve problems to to transcendia. It was just really fascinating to me. How did you discover that and it maybe you could tell our listeners a little bit about the different kinds of things are Journal could be used for him and why they would want to keep one? Okay. I think I discovered all the different things one could use a journal for by going back and reading between my lines. Bad, I naturally began to include a wide variety of topics and interest in the journals because it's part of my personality and what I began to separate that out. I could see how many different things I wrote about and the way that my writing would follow certain patterns and I began comparing that with people who were keeping journals that took my seminars and workshops and just began just of ballooning if there are some things that are basically consistent in most people's journals and other things were at and not consistent at all. What I did in writing one to one was to to work on two areas want us to give people a sense of permission about writing and why do they need permission because not all of us are comfortable with the written word. And unless we are there's that sort of fear of the blank page know that if you go out and buy a blank notebook or something like that and end date the top of it. There's a sudden overwhelming send him. Oh my goodness. I have to write so I have to write something I see. How do I protect my privacy? How do I develop an agenda for myself and writing who's my audience? I mean in the back of my brain, who do I think is standing there judging this are all reading it what's going to happen to it? And then some basic exercises to become comfortable with the process of writing down and begin to teach us to look between the lines. then the second part of the book is called the journalist therapy and what I mean by that is really opening ourselves up that we use the word therapy in these days to me going to see the shrink and I'm talking about an opposite process of taking responsibility for our own selves and our own mind and opening that up becoming intelligent about Who We Are And in that section I deal with things like Memories the inner child within the adult by the use of dreams and Fantasies looking at art gives me looking at our friendships and relationships time structure a sexuality mortality and immortality. That's really fascinating. Maybe you could tell me in in writing your own journal how if there was a progress in those things. I was really impressed by some of the excerpts that you printed in the book from your journals. They were extremely personal and and some of them very painful reminiscences, like going back to your childhood didn't end and discovering that you felt her that you weren't love Dan and so forth. And and what did you have to do to get to that point? And what kind of a process did you go through Okay. The reason I put entries from my own journals in the book was that I I realized that I was asking people to take a definite risk exposing themselves exposing themselves not to me not to their family since it's early but two of themselves and I became aware that the journal for me has become a very safe place where I can deal with what would perhaps normally be secrets that we keep not only from our social relationships, but from ourselves. And I'm putting my own entries in the book. I discovered that I had made peace with those secrets and yes, there's some painful and trees and included there and I put them in to show that there may be pain involved in what I'm talking about, but that there's also a sense of resolution a sense of process so that I'm comfortable with having expose myself and with my own personal history, and I guess that's what I want to say is that the journal helps us become comfortable with our personal history. And with who we are as people one of the key phrases in the book seemed to me or are you said you use started keeping a journal when you were growing up when you when you saw Life as a journey a Continuum and not a set of goals because here to hear it's a very hard thing to do. I think we're always taught that there's some kind of destination no life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that Going to cross a border someday between these imperfect messy sloppy human beings that we are now and get there and wherever that whoever that is and whatever it is. You're happy you wake up someday and you think this must be it life liberty and happiness and I feel that the journal continually validates Evolution my own Evolution and makes me feel a lot more comfortable with dealing with life is change instead of a finishing point. You talked about the end of the process and I and I hope this isn't jumping the gun because I'd like to talk a little about specifically how people can can keep journals, but the end of the process as as transcending yourself and realizing immortality, which is a very heavy thought. Could you talk a little about that? Yes, I included the chapter at two chapters on mortality and immortality because I have the feeling this so much emphasis put these days on are psychology's and there are hundreds of how-to books on the market. On how to get cured of something, you know, whether it's stress or anxiety or overweight or you know, anything you can be cured of and I wanted to make sure that this book wasn't that I didn't lead people in that direction and leave them there because I have discovered in my own riding and in talking with other riders that the journal leaves us trembling many times that we don't finish the journal and what I'm trying to say in the end of the book. Is that even though we place all this emphasis on psychology disappointed. Which psychology desserts And we then transform the language of psychology back into a wider round whether it's mystical or spiritual or accepting our place in history when it doesn't have to be any kind of specific religious awareness. I'm just saying that it gives us a sense of being grounded that it's all right that the journal becomes a letter to the Earth in some ways and at the point at which we wear down in some state of crisis in our lives that sense of how am I going to get through this the journal can help us just open up the door at the point. We thought the journey was finished and I I really believe that it's necessary for us to continue struggling on that level. That's very interesting. Tell me about the classes you teach and the ways that people begin keeping a journal particularly someone who's not comfortable with writing. I find since I became a radio woman that it's very difficult to sit down and write a piece of prose and I think a lot of people feel that way by the classes have been taught in various places around the community has taught them in church basements and a chrysalis Center for Women where I was working last year and around the university. I will be teaching 8-week courses this fall or two at the continuing education for Women program at the University and one at st. Catherine's College. and what I basically do is go through some of the things that I was talking about earlier in terms of giving people permission and developing a sense that this doesn't have to be Pros that we can approach the journal and Define it for herself and it will usually start off talking about things that we think a journal should look like having red and Frank or tomorrow or Lewis and Clark are are there are on the East name and then it would come to the class with an idea of what a correct Journal is and how different ours is in style and form and I just love it because so many people is both men and women bring the in most creative things to that class one man. Took my course who kept his journal entirely in code. Another woman took the course who divided her journal pages in half and wrote book on one side of the paper her subjective feelings and the other side and objective report repertorio kind of thing of here's what's going on here for another woman had a journal of that was based on several relationships that she didn't really have her fantasy relationship. But I love watching the way people's minds work. And then we spend the rest of the time going through some of the topics that I listed spending the week looking at time structure spending a week looking at friendships spending a week looking at sensuality. I went to artificial and I realize that but trying to give us a grounding in the range of topics and then people going back to their own flow of Friday in ensuring these things in class if they choose perhaps but one of the things I feel very strongly particularly for beginning Eternal Riders is the need to experience our privacy. So the Group shares many things but not necessarily journal entries because we need not to write for an audience. That's an interesting point. Are you supposed to write for an audience? I mean people do I think I'm consciously but you get to the point where you don't and how and I can't imagine writing for nothingness, and now that people write for very different audiences. And what I encourage us to do is to become conscious of who the audience is and how that audience affects the writing rather than trying to change it or obliterated some people write for parents or start off writing for an authority figure of some kind. I guess. I've ended up feeling that I'm writing for myself as I am becoming you're not for how I am today and how I was last week before how I'm going to be next week. Assertive a short to let them know that you're coming along. It leads to another question, which is an interesting one. You must have just bundles of journals. What do you do with all that stuff and some capers in? I protected you know, basically that's my basic attitude toward it is is with the journals and the writings I have which go back to myself at age 9. What I do is I protect them and I'm not sure what they will come to Mean to Me by the time I'm through right now. I know they're very important to me to have and occasionally I go back and review them and I really haven't done that very much. I don't spend hours reviewing my life last summer when I was writing the book this was necessary and it was the first time I had gone and consistently gone through the journals. That was a very interesting learning process for me. I discovered a sense of sympathy for myself. That was very detached. It was almost like having a conversation with someone else to read three months of myself at age 25 and this is it ties in with what I have developed in the way of a theory about memory that we have to keep track of our life on four levels the first level being an event level of just what happened during the day and the second level is the story that we tell at the end of the day and I'm just your basic. Well, here's what happened today. The third level is how we felt about it. And the fourth level is what I call synthesis or the personal myth and the Journal Record all four of those levels without a journal. All we have left is synthesis. So that I'm walking through life with this exact replica of myself off. My left hand shoulder the start of invisible Christina Baldwin and when I meet you, I introduce both of us now. I not only introduced how I am this morning, but he introduced I'd like you to meet my story of how I got here. And when I say that I read the journals of myself at 25 what I got back in touch with of course was the present tense of being 25 and now how I feel about being 25 now, which is smooth out and went in the myth. We smooth out the highs and the lows and we should have had this mellow mellow God. I was unhappy teenager. And I met all mythology talking because of those feelings were really present when we said them our voices would crack our faces with tear you know that we aren't really in touch with the present tense of feel. What would you like to happen to them? Do you know will you will them to anyone or burn them when you die or I don't know. I don't know. I think this is this is a tension that every Journal writer. I know lives with and some people say I will burn them for nobody but me I haven't made a decision I I don't know why I'm doing it. I feel compelled somehow right now. I'm working with an organization called the international women's riding Guild which is a network of of women connected to the written word across the country and we are starting exploration for a national repository women's Diaries and we're looking for an institution that would be willing to be the caretaker where people could will their Diaries or will the Diaries of family members many people are carrying around Grandma's letters just like Ratched Creator was talking about and if these people didn't ever become public people, nobody knows what to do. Nobody knows what to do with them Why women's Diaries as opposed to men's I'm sure I mean, I don't want to devalue men's diurese at all. But I have the feeling that as part of of women's awareness right now in a literary field women are becoming aware that our history is mostly in personal writings. The her story is in personal writings and the history is in the textbooks etcetera and that there needs to be at least for awhile Special Care taken to women's experience and the records we have left which have not been valued and published by and large so that a woman's repository of Diaries would be a way of having a specific place to look at her story. Tell me the story about the Indian woman cuz I like it. This is the story of Sacagawea which fascinates me. I remember being fascinated by Sacagawea's a child and reading about her and when I got into looking at Diaries and journals, and I realized in reading the journals of Lewis and Clark that there was reference may to the squab charbonnet. And at one point they are in the Missouri River Crossing some point in the Missouri River in Montana, and one of the canoes is flooded with water and all these great explorers have never learned to swim and they're panic-stricken and Sacagawea sitting in the middle of this canoe very calm because she knows how to swim of course and she's got these big bundles of leather that are all bound up in the bottom of the canoe it start to float away. It's just reaches into the river and pulls them back into the canoe whenever they float out of Swamp canoe and it turns out that what she saved literally was the Journal of Lewis and Clark. Oh and it's written right into this official government document that the squaw save the journals. And I began looking around for Sacagawea side of the story and found that socket. We had disappeared and was not a folk hero. For many years and then in the turn of the century and then the early nineteen hundreds of women Anthropologist went out to Wyoming to look for her and she had died as a very old woman several years earlier. But what she found was an oral tradition in which socket Julia's quote Journal of the trip to the everywhere saltwater have been translated into Indian sign language and was still being told literally around the campfire. So the reservations so she became very interested to send later on a man wrote a book called The Story of grass woman in which he went out and he translated to sign language into the written word and preserved at end. It's in the Saint Paul Public Library around and that I can sure the book is out of print that I became fascinated that even a woman who is illiterate could leave a journey through the use of her hands and her friends would begin the introduction to her journal by saying this is the story of grass woman on her trip to the everywhere salt water and then they would just tell the same. It's like it was passed on in a very specific manner. That's a lovely story. I really like that. We don't have much time left. Is there is there anything that I haven't asked like I could think of any questions but if there's something that you want to cover that that we might not get a chance in the next five minutes. What I want to say is simply that what emerges for me and this conversation is a real sense of security that our personal lives are important and that the journal is a statement of self esteem and self affirmation and that each one of us without ever becoming famous people reflects the hole that the single person reflects the collective person and that the journal is a neat way of experiencing that of celebrating it in our own lives and just letting it happen. How much time do you spend a month? Ice I write in the journal probably four times a week, maybe half an hour to an hour and a half at a time. It's a very natural part of of my rhythm and I don't really keep track of it. I just take time. What do you tell people who are beginning to tell them to write every day or two right when they're comfortable. I tell him to make a contract with themselves between Class sessions about how much how long they want to ride. This is as we're developing a sense of agenda and if people are having trouble with that I say, okay turn the timer on and on the stove time a kitchen timer and set it for 10 minutes and don't let yourself right more than 10 minutes and pretty soon as you've course getting to your thoughts to the point where it's no longer enjoyable to stop. That's all in the book. Yeah, and what should a journal look like call so it should look like the person is riding it and be anything anything. I mean, it's the Niagara Falls notebook to a huge newspaper pad size of speed. So it's really is eclectic. I was interested also just before we go and there is not time to talk about this at all, except you only touchdown in the book and in using a journal for dream interpretation. That's another I think very popular psychology sort of thing you do that did you do a lot of reading to prepare yourself for that or I did some I did some and I think if you read one or two dreambooks if that's enough because you just read a book and it starts remembering your dreams so you don't have to study it and do you carry it? I noticed you have your Journal here on our table do. For inspiration. Sometimes I carry it because I think I might find a corner to write in and sometimes I carry it like to this interview just as my security blanket reminds me of where I'm coming from. Well, Christina Baldwin, thank you very much. I have really enjoyed talking to you, and I enjoyed reading your book. I'd like to remind the listeners again that the book is called 121 South understanding through Journal writing and it's available. I got it Amazon bookstore. It is it's available available around OK and again, you'll be teaching several classes next. We are at the University through the continuing education program for women, and it's Saint Catherine's in their evening school program and publicity will be I'm sure around and bookstores. Okay, and we'd like to remind the listeners. Also again that if you would like a cassette copy of Gretchen craters tape, you may write us Minnesota Public Radio at 400 Sibley Street Saint Paul, Minnesota. The ZIP code on that is 55101, or you may call us at 291-1222 in the Twin Cities or Use the Watts line if you live outside, that's one 800-652-9700. Is there anything else that you dropped pictures in your journal? Sometimes you figure sometimes to remember them? I did it's just a lot of fun and I never get tired talking about it because I learn something every time that I share with other people.


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