Keeping List

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Fri, 07/10/2020 - 13:56

Creating a list is a quick way to organize your thoughts and fill a blank page. Lists may be finite or you can continue adding to them as you think of new things. You could fill an entire journal with lists or you may use lists to springboard into other, longer journal entries.

Some ideas for lists include

  • An hourly log of your daily routine or a weekly log of your activities
  • The top books, music, movies, television shows, and/or other media you've enjoyed most during the first part of 2020
  • A list of your accomplishments so far this year, big or small
  • The most valuable life lessons you've learned
  • Your goals for the rest of 2020

Letter to Yourself

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Thu, 06/25/2020 - 15:30

A common journaling exercise is to write a letter to yourself. It allows you a moment to think about where you are in your life, how you’ve gotten there and where you hope to be. If you find that you’re facing a blank page and aren’t sure what to write, consider composing a letter to yourself.

  • Letter to your past self: When writing a letter to your past self, think about where you were when the news of COVID-19 first appeared. What advice would present-day you tell past you? Are there any pitfalls you experienced that you would warn yourself about? What moments would you tell your past self to cherish most?
     
  • Letter to your future self: When writing a letter to your future self, think about everything you’ve gone through so far regarding COVID-19. What would you like your future self to remember about this time? What do you hope the world looks like for your future self? What lessons do you want your future self to have learned by living through this moment in history?

Expressing Yourself Through Poetry

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Wed, 06/17/2020 - 15:24

Some people may find it daunting to record their thoughts in long prose but poetry can offer a creative outlet to express thoughts and experiences.

Poetry as a way of recording historical moments has a long tradition. Some examples include “Million Man March Poem” by Maya Angelou and “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?” by Langston Hughes. Both poems highlight a moment in time and the authors’ thoughts about what that moment means to them as well as what those moments mean in a larger context.

There are many ways to write poems. Short or long, serious or light-hearted, poetry is a flexible art form. Your journal could be all poems or you may wish to sprinkle them in as inspiration hits.

One way you can try creating a poem is through blackout poetry. Cut out an article from a newspaper or magazine and use a pen or marker to black out all the words except the ones you want to be the text of your poem.

Going Back to Work

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Mon, 06/15/2020 - 16:22

This month as New York starts to re-open many of us are heading back to our offices and workspaces after two or three months of telecommuting or being furloughed. Most of us are encountering new safety measures, reduced staffing, and desks that seem like time capsules from the last time we saw them.

As we start this phase of re-opening some things you may wish to document in your journal are:

  • What, if anything, has changed for you at work?
  • How do you feel about going back to your workplace? Is it stressful or are you happy to get out of the house?
  • What did you miss most about your workplace?
  • What is something you'll miss about telecommuting?

The Personal History Initiative Is for Everyone

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 16:33

For future historians to know and understand this time in history it is vital that every voice possible is included. This is especially true for historically unheard voices. Your perspective is needed, your voice is important, your experiences will show a fuller picture of life in New York at this time.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) is a clear example of someone who represents several historically unheard groups. A black transgender woman who dealt with mental health issues and was economically disadvantaged, Marsha was an outspoken gay liberation and AIDS activist who protested in the vanguard at the Stonewall riots in 1969. Following Stonewall Marsha and her friend Sylvia Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization which sought to help homeless gay youth. Marsha was also a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a group working to end the AIDS pandemic.

Though well known in her community, Marsha's legacy of kindness, caring, and wit coupled with fierceness and tenacity for the people and causes she loved went largely unrecognized in the wider world for a long time following her death. Thankfully her friends continued to tell her story, to highlight Marsha's work in and contributions to gay rights causes. Her legacy of advocacy has been recognized by those outside her community and her efforts celebrated more widely.

History is richer when it includes as many perspectives as possible. Please consider contributing your story.

Social Media as a Starting Point

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Fri, 05/29/2020 - 15:12

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread throughout the world and eventually came to New York not everyone began to create a journal of their thoughts. However, many of us did turn to our various social media accounts. We raised questions and concerns. We shared our worries and, as time went on, our creative solutions to quickly changing situations. We posted pictures of new working environments, our furry co-workers, our changing routines, anything we thought worth sharing. All of this is a place to begin your journal or add to an existing journal.

You can look back on your old posts, write down noteworthy thoughts in a journal, take screenshots and include them in a digital journal, or even print or organize images you've shared. Knowing what you know now you may wish to respond to your posts, adding to and expanding your initial thoughts. Have things gone the way you thought they might? How different do you feel now compared to when you first posted about the pandemic?

Journaling for Kids

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 15:39

Children's voices are underrepresented in the historical record but children live through and experience the same events adults do. Hearing their voices will add to the future understanding of life in 2020.

If your child is old enough to write on their own you can encourage them to create their own journal. Adults can assist younger children by asking them questions and recording their answers. All children might want to create drawings or other artwork to add to their journals.

Some questions to help get children started on a journal:

  • How did you feel today?
  • What has been your favorite/least favorite thing about staying home?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What would you like to change? What would you like to stay the same?

Empty Spaces

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Mon, 05/11/2020 - 14:45

As you record different changes you notice in your everyday life, also think about the places you went to before the pandemic. What do some of those places look like now? Maybe you see a movie theater with empty parking spaces, a shuttered storefront, an empty restaurant, or quiet streets that once teemed with people shopping or patronizing restaurants and bars. What has caught your eye or caused you to pause and think about the time before and what may change in the future?

The Importance of Community

Submitted by NYSL Staff on Fri, 05/01/2020 - 14:40

In these uncertain times, with so many people feeling isolated under stay-at-home orders, community has become an important part of how New Yorkers are coping with the COVID-19 crisis. Individuals are doing their part to serve their community by making masks, donating food and money to those in greater need, and generally coming together through online channels and social media to organize relief efforts, big or small.

As you document your experiences, think about ways that your community has been supportive during NY's PAUSE period. What has someone in your community done for you to make this difficult time a little bit easier? What have you done to aid your friends and neighbors who may be struggling?