Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gratitude 30/30 (!!!!): Memories


I was JUST thinking about how I should have added this journal to my "Love" post, and then Memories came up! It was meant to be. 

I like to think of myself as a writer but I've always struggled to consistently journal. Some days, the idea of putting my thoughts to paper feels daunting. Other days, I get frustrated trying to find just the right words. And then still other days I just forget or don't feel like anything of particular import happened. And unlike the blog, I can't rely on pictures to balance out where my narrative is lacking. I remember finding my journals from adolescence (OMG, I wish I still had them!) and feeling kind of sad and disappointed in myself that I only ever wrote when I was sad or angry or angsty (which admittedly WAS often, but not always). I don't like the idea of only memorializing the bad things, and there's so much research around  gratitudes, but at the same time, I knew I wanted to keep a record both good and bad. 

I have scores of partially completed journals. Gratitude journals. Bullet journals. A notebook of funny things the kids said that I'm really sorry I didn't keep up on. All of them petered out either because they turned into bitch sessions or I got busy or I got writer's block or life happened. I have one journal that stops abruptly the day my dad died, and it felt too symbolic and weird to have a time gap so I just...didn't. So even though all evidence pointed to the idea that I was not a daily journaler, I still wanted to be. That's what was so attractive to me when I first starting hearing about the idea of a "One sentence journal."  (This is a great article that talks about the idea) So a couple years ago I gifted myself one for Christmas and then let it sit in anticipation until January 1 (I couldn't start the journal on December 26th because I'm not a psychopath, obviously). 

I have missed, I think, a total of about three days over the last two years. I love this journal and this year it's been so interesting to see what I wrote the year before. Kind of my own personal "On this day in history." For example, on this date last year apparently the most salient thing that happened is that C and I argued about ant farms. 

What I love about this format is that there is no pressure. Each page is split into fifths, so you really only get about two sentences. Many days are just a funny thing a kid said, or something notable in the news, or just "God. Some days are SO LONG." But they're also things that would have gotten blurred in the totality of my memories from last year. Instead, I get a tiny, crystal clear glimpse back. 

My grandma kept a journal all of her adult life and while I never got to see them, I love hearing my mom describe them. After she died, my mom snuck into her room to peek at them, to see what the most innermost thoughts of a very stoic, pragmatic mid-western woman were. Each day she noted the high and low temperatures (SO mid-Western!) and a brief sentence or two about the day's events. When she looked back to the day my grandfather died, it was a high of 72 and a low of 57. "Bill died." It's about the most Juanita thing she could have written and I love it so much. I hope someday that my kids will peek into my stash of line-a-day journals to see what I wrote and discover that on December 15th, 2020 the prison their mom worked at declared their first COVID outbreak and remember that on November 26th, 2021 we watched Son-in-Law and ordered Chipotle. 


  1. Now I’m researching these journals… : )

  2. Happy that you found a pace of journalling that was sustainable and rewarding for you. And I'm SO GLAD I got to read you every day this past month!

    In the past couple of years when I've been blogging (near) daily, I find that a daily writing practice--no matter how small--makes other writing easier, whether for different types of work or play. Does this happen to other people too?

  3. It was very cute to read about your grandmother's journal. My grandma had a similar journal - mostly about what she bought at the market daily instead of temperatures. I have a whole slew of half finished journals for the same reasons you do, starting from 4th grade (!). Hopefully it will inspire me to write more!

    How do you reconcile what you'll write in your blog vs your personal journal? Do you save certain topics for your blog?

    -Megan Lung