What do you have to show that you lived, thought, worked, created, dreamed, and did stuff?
Holy cow—it’s February already!! Where did the New Year go? What happened to January? Is it just me or do you also feel like time is just zooming by? I have adopted a new saying: “Whether you do something or not during the day, time will still fly by.” So, what do I have to show for it? Sure, there is my daily calendar/schedule. I can look back and see what I did or did not accomplish. But in the end, it’s just a list of things that happened. No emotion. No details. No memories. That “being in the moment” just isn’t captured. And isn’t it the moments that are supposed to matter most?
When I was 15 years old, I read the biography of the leader of my church at the time, Spencer W. Kimball. The preface of his story began in 1951 when Kimball was suffering from heart trouble and thought he might die. Kimball had faithfully been keeping a personal journal – typing out his memories and putting them in identical black binders that filled his study shelves – for the past eight years. Of those journals, he wrote, “I might hope that my children will take from my many journals and write a simple story or biography for me. I would like my posterity to remember me and to know that I tried so very hard to measure up and live worthy.” The image of all those black binders on a shelf, containing thoughts, events, dreams, activities of a good man, inspired me to want to do the same for me and my posterity. So, I rode my bike down to the local art store and purchased my first black, archival quality paper, blank sketch book and began to write a journal. That started me on a habit of regular journal writing for almost 35 years. Today, I have 56 of those black book journals on my study book shelf.
But in 2010, I started blogging and with it a new way to keep track of my thoughts and activities. While this has proven to be a worthwhile way to remember key events, I miss the consistent effort that writing a journal takes. Because with that consistency, came a more thorough record of how I was spending my days, what I thought about those days, and what mattered most to me at the time—things that only regular journal writing offers.
The health benefits that are most important to me in midlife are stress relief and memory loss. Organizing ones’ thoughts in a journal can help facilitate problem-solving and therefore reduce the stress of negative thoughts and troubling situations. And because journal writing is a dynamic process, the brain gets excited with written material, strengthening its retention abilities.
What inspired me to start a journal – having a way for my children and grandchildren to really know who I am – has been lost somewhat. Sure, they have a reliable source in those old journals that chronicled my high school, college, newly and early marriage, child rearing years, but what about my midlife years? My empty nest years? My grandparenting years? Aren’t these experiences and thoughts just as valuable to me and my posterity? Of course they are!!
Just like anything else, journal writing will not get done unless you schedule it. Having a separate journal book keeps your memories in a designated place for you or your family to find. It’s important to spend a few minutes thinking about your day or week first so that you stay focused on what matters most. And if you have a hard time getting started, begin with writing a sentence or two on what was the most important thought or action of your day.
Do you have a journal book? I want to make it easy for you to get started with your journal writing – by giving away a journal to 2 lucky winners. To enter, just comment below which health reason above inspires you to write a journal by midnight, February 10th. I will announce the winners using Random.org Number Generator on February 12th- Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (he was a pretty good journal writer himself!!) Good luck!!
Your living an amazing midlife chapter. Don’t let the moments fade away. Write it down in a journal for yourself and for your those who mean the most to you.