The Journals of Mary Dodd, A Novel


By Caroline Aguiar

I started journaling in Junior high school.  As I remember, these were turbulent years for me.  I turned to writing as a way out of the turbulence which I felt at the time, surrounded me on all sides.  I still journal, and yes, there’s still an occasional gust of turbulence from time to time, but these are the lessons life often throws at us for our learning, and growth.  Like it or not.  It’s always good to have an avenue of understanding which I think comes from journaling. I believe those of you who write will understand this on many levels.

Why do people journal?  It’s not a topic which is readily talked about.  I suppose journaling is a private activity because when we journal, we often pour our hearts out onto the pages of our journals, and often enough, this over flow of heart is not something one would openly discuss .  Journaling is quiet, private time, and for some of us perhaps our sole opportunity to express our truest thoughts, our hopes, and desires. It’s also a chance to vent when we think know one else is listening as we lay down the law on any given situation, or the people in our lives.

It just so happened this very topic came up at the ranch this weekend with a lovely art group who visited us from San Diego, California. Once again, at the mention of a topic we all shared a common bond with, this time it was journaling,  the overall energy of our group quickly changed.  Suddenly, we drew closer together as we dove into deep conversation, and a conversation who’s fundamentals we all understood extremely well.  This energy I speak of changed from one of light-hearted “getting to know you” energy to that of human camaraderie, and deep understanding.

I heard some interesting opinions on what journaling means to them.  What struck me most, is a few of them said they refrained from writing anything someone else might find which could cause problems later.  I had to smile at this because I totally understood their point.

On a side note here, did I mention I have a special box in my closet where I keep my journals?  No one knows about it, and since no one in my family reads this blog they still won’t find out.  I figure after I’m gone, they will discover the box, and if they decide to read the journals, they will discover who Mom really was; nothing incriminating, just Me written in between the lines, and across the pages of my precious journals. 

Back to the group’s opinion on journaling.  I thought to myself, what’s the point of keeping a journal if I’m not honest with myself when writing in it? Why not write my true feelings?  If someone finds it after I’m gone, so what?  Journaling, I think, is not only a means of venting our frustrations at the day, or at other people, but it’s also a means of therapeutic writing.  I’ve found writing my thoughts down helps me figure things out when I feel garbled inside, and my thoughts are muddled.  As I write, understanding comes, like when talking with a close, friend.  By the way, blogging is a means of journaling too!


“This pouring thoughts out on paper has relieved me. I feel better and full of confidence and resolution.”
Diet Eman, Things We Couldn’t Say

My favorite place to buy a new journal is Barnes and Nobles Booksellers, and buying a brand new journal is always a special occasion, as is finishing the previous one.  It’s like when a woman buys a new purse.  It’s personal, and it has to be the right one. It’s size, and shape, perhaps even the color are extremely important, as is the journal for me.

One Thousand White Women, The Journals of Mary Dodd by Jim Fergus


This is the second time I’ve read, A Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus.  It’s a fictional story about a woman named Mary Dodd, who lived during the mid 1850’s.  There seems to be some question as to whether or not this really happened, but at a meeting in For Laramie, in 1854, or thereabouts, a prominent Northern Cheyenne chief requested the gift of 1,000 women as young brides for their warriors.

Because theirs was a matrilineal society in which all children born belonged to their mother’s tribe, this seemed to the Cheyennes to be the perfect means of assimilation into the white man’s world, a terrifying new world that even as early as 1854, the Native Americans clearly recognized held no place for them.  Needless to say, the Cheyennes request did not go over well with the white authorities. The peace conference collapsed, the Cheyenne went home, and of course the white women never came, but in this book they do.

Mary Dodd is one of these women.  Throughout this book her entire experience is recorded in her journals which she kept during her life with the Cheyenne people.  Mary is the central figure of this book, and her life experiences, her sorrows, and joys are all expressed within her journals which takes the form of a novel.  She was a heroic woman. She was compassionate, and strong, but often misunderstood.

Here is an example of a woman, who, through journaling, came to understand herself, and the often dangerous situations around her as she recorded the people, places, and events which shaped her life.  Some of us may think twice on what we write in our journals, but as the reader will see, it was Mary’s journals, and her heart-felt honest writing in the documentation of her memories which brought great enlightenment as to who she was as a person, and the answers to the many details of her life her white family members never knew about, or in fact, did they ever tried to know until after she was gone.

I highly suggest this book to anyone who believes in the power of the human spirit, especially when it comes to overcoming adversity on all sides, and what may seem as endless emotional, physical, and mental discomfort.  This is a story of true courage, and heart.

And to those of you who journal, keep it up!  How many of you keep a journal?  I’d love to hear from you, and your thoughts on journaling.

 Warm regards, and happy journaling,


I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a reply. :)

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