Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, Diana M. Raab

Please join me in welcoming author Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN, as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her WOW Virtual Blog Book Tour.

Diana's current release is HEALING WITH WORDS, her second memoir. Having survived two scares with cancer, she joins us today to talk about how journaling saved her life.

On more than one occasion, journaling has saved my life. The first time was when at the age of ten, my grandmother committed suicide in my childhood home. In an effort to help me cope, my mother handed me a red leather journal to pour my grief out onto it pages. The journal not only became my lifeline, but it also became my best friend and confident. Writing in my journal transformed me from a broken-hearted, shy ten-year-old to someone who was able to express her profound pain and sense of loss. For many years after, I turned to journaling during turbulent times, such as coping with the angst of adolescence and the loss of friends and parents.

In 1983, while pregnant with my first daughter my obstetrician prescribed bed rest and during my seven months in bed, I chronicled my pregnancy. This evolved into a self-help book for other women encountering similar experiences. Last year the book was updated in collaboration with Dr. Errol Norwitz from Yale University, under the title, YOUR HIGH-RISK PREGNANCY: A PRACTICAL AND SUPPORTIVE GUIDE.
When diagnosed with early breast cancer (DCIS) in 2001, I once again  turned to my journal for solace. Then in 2006, when diagnosed with yet another seemingly unrelated cancer, I again turned to writing. In fact, my second memoir, HEALING WITH WORDS: A WRITER’S CANCER JOURNEY was born on the pages of my journal. It’s not only a memoir, but another self-help book with blank journaling pages for others to share their stories.
Keeping a journal has many advantages, but I think the most important is that the journal listens and doesn’t talk back. Sometimes when we’re not feeling good, we might not even want to talk to other people, but we can always turn to our journal to pour out our feelings. Regular journaling also brings us answers as we write through our problems. If I’m not feeling up to par, I typically begin by writing the words, “I feel,” and then see where my words go. 
Learning to open up about personal issues even in a journal, does not happen over night, but it’s a part of the healing process. Whether affected by trauma, change, loss or pain, finding the time to write is vital for mental health. 

To summarize, there are many great reasons for keeping a
journal or notebook, including:
* it is a companion and best friend
* it is a place to work through an illness
* it witnesses the healing process
* it increases awareness
* it is empowering
* it clears the mind
* it builds self-confidence
* it improves communication skills
* it improves mental health
* it is a safe place to vent bottled up emotions
* it is a vehicle for letting go of cloudy thoughts
* it encourages reflection

Good luck and may you be inspired to write!

Diana, thank you for guest blogging here today and sharing your story with us. I can understand where writing in a journal can be a lifeline and help during difficult times.


  1. I loved this. I am writing a memoir and I loved how she spoke about her journey. Thanks for the post. :)

  2. Hi Mason and Diana .. great to be here.

    Your mother must have been one strong positive character to be able to have the 'sense' to give you the journal.

    Then what a life-line it became .. and you've carried on using it through troublesome times - to say the least .. but to have that record and for others to be able to read and learn from your experiences must surely help.

    I love the summary of the reasons for keeping the notebook .. really eye opening ..

    Thank you so much .. the books look extremely interesting .. and I must note them, so I can refer to them for friends in perhaps similar situations .. excellent - Hilary

  3. Excellent guest post, Diana. I've long been a journal keeper and agree with all your good reasons for keeping them. And "WOW" - what a great name for a virtual tour! Best wishes with it and many sales to you!

  4. I'm sure a journal would be such a wonderful tool to help work through such a scary time. I've always journaled, but have dropped it the last couple of years. Thanks for the reminder to pick it up again!

  5. Diana, thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on journaling with us. I think I need to take up journaling again.

    Tabitha, thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Hilary, the summary for keeping a journal is very revealing. It would be a great gift book.

    Marvin, for some reason I'm not surprised that you have been a journal keeper. It fits you well.

    Elizabeth, sometimes its good to have a reminder of some that has helped us in the past.

  6. I do have journals, but use them for keeping my weekly writing itineraries. It's funny, though, when I look back at the past lists how much of my life really does show through in the scope of the itineraries I'd made.

  7. I began journallng in 1978 as a way of coping with losing custody of my son. It saved my sanity. It has been a tool that has served me well throughout the years. Thanks for hosting Diane, Mason. Wonderful.

  8. Mason - Thanks so much for hosting Diana.

    Diana - Thanks very much for sharing your own journey to healing through journaling. Journaling really can help focus one's thoughts, put things in perspective and release the trauma when hard things happen. And as you say, it does help improve communication skills.

  9. That's a lot for one person to endure!

  10. Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Diana's post is very inspiring.

  11. Great post and great message. Journaling is so beneficial... Thanks for reminding us of that.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.