My mom bought me my first journal when I was in 3rd grade. She boldly wrote my name on the orange cover and told me to write whatever I wanted on the pages. Of course, she had an incentive for us to complete a yearly journal…a box of NAME BRAND cold cereal. I filled up a lot of journals in my youth. And ate a lot of Lucky Charms. The habit continued all the way through college, as I wrote about potential crushes, current crushes, and out-of-my league crushes. After marriage I was less diligent about writing daily, instead trying to catch up on my life months at a time. Not the best approach. As I wrote my memoir I realized the power of daily words, and a snapshot of my life that memory on its own would have faded. I have made a new commitment in 2013 to write each night about the happenings of my life.
To make journaling successful try these tips:
- Use the journal “One Line A Day,” a handy bedside record that side-by-side compares five years of your life. I started mine in 2011 and love reading the one most important event of each day.
- Add quotes. Did your child say something so adorable that you think you will remember it forever? You won’t. Pen it! Add in quotes of friends, your spouse, inspirational quotes that move you…all of those words will add color and reality to your journal.
- Typing a journal can be handy and legible, but handwriting itself is a type of record that will, for years to come, be a mark of personality and brand. I still miss getting birthday cards from my Grandma, her fine cursive penmanship as elegant as the rest of her.
- Teach your children to write in their journals. Yes, bribery helps. But even though my mom spent a small fortune on cold cereal for me, it doesn’t compare to the treasure of words I have from my young years.
- Try and maintain the same type of notebook year over year. This helps in keeping your records organized.
- Use full names when not referring to your immediate family.
- Be honest. My daughter starts each entry with: “Today was the best worst day of my life.” And then writes the best part and the worst part.
8. If you are an aspiring writer, keep a separate notebook to jot down ideas for books, short-stories, or articles.
Years from now you will thank yourself for keeping an account of your life. You will see the growth you have made as an individual, and how the small daily efforts created your path. And when you are gone from this life others too will read about you and admire the legacy that you started. One day at a time.
The past two weeks I have felt like I have lived in a slow lifting fog. My days feel longer than usual, and the nights can’t come fast enough. On Tuesday, I went to the mall on my lunch break to distract myself from missing Katie. Wishing I had more chances, more time, more calls and more good days before the bad days so abruptly arrived.
After eating a quick food court lunch I made my way to Buckle. Shoppers moved around me, unaware of the shadow of grief I left in my footsteps. For some reason the normality of people going on with their own lives right in my path made the sting of reality even stronger. I ran my hands over the clothes, pulling a pair of jeans and matching top from the racks.
Right away a sales woman approached me and asked if she could get me a room started. “Sure,” I said and handed her my items. (Insert honesty: the Buckle girls are highly intimidating to me – gorgeous and confident. This one was no exception!)
She hung my clothes up, and then came right back to me and asked, “What’s your name?”
“Amy,” I said.
She lit up with a huge smile and said, “I knew it was you! I saw the video of your life on YouTube and recognized you when you walked in!” (Insert more honesty: I loved that she recognized me! I loved even more that she told me!) We visited for several minutes and she told me she had shared the video with her daughters, and had felt inspired by my message. I cannot express how touched I was in that moment as rushing joy replaced my deepest sorrow. Her name, as it turned out, was Kate. So much like my Katie’s name who I was missing and needing. Ms. Kate Bell. A timely source of needed love. A quick boost to my low. A blonde bombshell angel. I needed Ms. Bell in that very moment.
Did I buy the outfit? Yes. And each time I wear it I will think of the act of kindness that accompanied it and the power of one beautiful stranger (turned friend) to reset my course in a most positive and uplifting direction.