It’s a good thing journals are private; oh, wait

AMY FENSTER BROWN, Special to the Jewish Light

As an homage to the great Marcia Brady, I’ve been keeping a diary, or as the cool kids call it, a journal. Articles and podcasts aplenty tout the benefits of journaling. Apparently, it’s good for you. 

Plain journals come with blank pages, and fancy ones with prompts and activities to help you empty your brain in a trendy way. 

Mine is an old spiral notebook my kid abandoned at the end of the school year, the inside back cover filled with sketches of what I assume to be reproductive organs, plus colorful graffiti with very colorful descriptions of said doodles. My innermost thoughts live on these pages. Today, I share one week’s journal entries with you. 


Today, I feel stuck in the middle. Sometimes I feel trapped in the center of being too much and not enough. My generation is between baby boomers and millennials. I came of age between free love and safe sex. My kids are in between innocent playdates and bad decision parties. I’m smack dab in the middle of raising kids and caring for an aging parent. I’m so glad I can use this journal as a safe place to let out my private, deep, introspective thoughts. It’s not like I’m going to publish this for people to read. 


I saw a friend today and she looked great. I said, “You look great!” She said, “Ugh, no, I look like a mess!” Was I supposed to keep telling her how great she looked, or agree with her? She did look great, and she knew it. I could tell. It seemed like she was being negative so I’d come back with more positive comments and compliments, putting herself down so I would immediately disagree. It reminded me of grade school art class when some kid would show their project and say, “Mine looks soooo bad!” Then everyone would rush around telling them how terrific it looked. Then some other kid would pull the same mishegas in search of compliments. It was exhausting. 

We should flip the script. From now on, if someone puts themselves down, I won’t fall for the negativity. I’ll be positive by confirming what they say. So next time someone complains about their weight, I’m going to reply: “Actually, yes, you do look fat.”


I don’t want to journal today. Journal is now a verb. By writing this down, I’ve just journaled, thus fulfilling my journaling obligation. Self-care is my jam.


I had the unfortunate experience today of hearing another couple bickering in public. Maybe it was fortunate because I learned a valuable lesson. 

Every couple literally has the same arguments. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Jeff that we are normal. Before I was with Jeff, I was in a mixed relationship with a guy. I was Jewish and he was a horse’s ass. Those never work out.


Reminder: My now prepares me for what’s next. My here prepares me for what’s there. I am so glad I have this 100% confidential journal so no one knows what my actual thoughts are and they can just think I’m funny and lighthearted all the time. 


I’m overwhelmed today. I don’t know if I should go with meditation, medication or a combination. Maybe I should start a meditation business to help others in my same situation. To make it super customer friendly I will offer other services. I’ve come up a few:

1. Meditaters: It’s a Mediterranean-themed mediation studio and potato café. We meditate and then eat tater tots covered in hummus and feta cheese. 

2. Medicaters: It’s a pharmacy with onsite catering. We meditate and then eat gourmet appetizers encrusted in Xanax.

3. Mediation station: This is a meditation studio at public transportation hubs. You get a quick mediation in before hopping on a train, bus or subway. 


I am not completely gross. I am completely thankful for this secret journal to write down these secret feelings I would never share with anyone else ever in a million years. It’s for my eyes only. No one will ever know.

Columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.