We always tell ourselves, “I’ll never forget this moment.” But memories are fragile and time is fleeting. I often find myself looking back at pictures of my children and wondering what we talked about that day. What were their concerns, hopes and dreams? What were mine? Was anything bothering them? What seemingly mundane tasks were we doing? I wish I could remember all of these things, but I can’t. I take lots of pictures, so I have a lot of opportunities to reflect on them. However, they sit on my computer, waiting for a pretty book to be put in or even just to find the time to send them off to be printed.
Someday I’ll have more time. Someday I’ll write beautiful words about when my children learned to walk or what their favorite toy was or what their temperaments were. Someday my bookshelves will be lined with perfectly bound books of aesthetically pleasing memories. Reality is very different. What I’ve discovered is that it’s important for me to write things down, in any form, so that I don’t forget the important little moments that string together to make up a life.
Usually when I think about journaling, it drums up emotions of guilt and trepidation. I want things to look nice and sound lovely, so I don’t write them down or scrapbook. I have had trouble finding the best way to journal for my life. It seems strange to write down deeply personal experiences next to a simple list or a poorly drawn sketch. At one point I tried having different notebooks for each type of journal entry. What resulted was a stack of notebooks, each with only a few passages written in them.
I finally found a method that works for me. I use two notebooks. One includes pretty much everything. I write down lists of things that happened, passages, personal experiences, quotes of something funny my kids have said, sketches and lists of websites I want to check out. I take it a lot of places. The other notebook is reserved for deeply personal spiritual experiences. I don’t carry this notebook around with me. Although I found what works for me, it’s important to try a lot of different ways to journal in order to find what works best for you. Find something that you like and can stick to.
There are so many options out there for journaling. First, think about the type of person you are. Are you a social person? Writing a blog might be best for you, as it will help you to feel connected with other people. Do you like to check things off your daily to-do list? Maybe you should look into a question and answer book where you fill out a few questions each day. Do you find that typing on the computer is easier for you? There are a lot of computer programs and websites available for journaling. (Be sure to back your entries up so you don’t lose them if your computer crashes.) Do you prefer the feel of pen and paper? Look for a journal that suits your needs.
You can also ask yourself the same type of questions for scrap-booking. Do you like a lot of embellishments or do you prefer more of a simple, clean look? Do you want to be able to record little tidbits about your photos, or do you feel that a picture is worth a thousand words? Do you prefer digital scrap-booking or the real thing? What about pockets for treasures and keepsakes like tickets from a concert or train ride? If that’s important to you, look for a binder that can hold sheet protectors or baseball card holders that you can slip your mementos into.
Whatever you decide on, make it a priority to take a few minutes every day or every week to write something down. Keep your camera handy and snap photos of everyday life. I find that when I write things down, it preserves my memories for the future. It also helps me to live more in the moment. I am able to notice the little things that go on in daily life and appreciate them more. I have found the best way to cherish the little moments in life is to record them.
QUESTION: How do you record your everyday cherished memories?
CHALLENGE: Think of several recent special memories and be sure to record them in a manner that works best for you.
Photos by Camille Garrison.
Originally published on December 20, 2011.