I hate journaling. I have started maybe 20 journals in my life. For some reason I just keep buying them (it probably has something to do with my obsession with school supplies). I start with the best intentions and I’ll write maybe 5-6 pages then store them away and never really look at them again. And if I did go back and read them years later I think, “Who wants to read that? My life is so boring and average, why does it matter?”
A few years ago my husband’s cousin, Season, passed away unexpectedly. Besides the fact that I knew her and loved her, we were both young mothers of two with brand new baby girls, and her death hit me hard. As I attended her funeral and we celebrated her life, I looked at my baby girl and thought about her baby girl and I just felt this pit of sadness in my heart that her baby would not get to know her mom. But the thought that followed that feeling of sadness is something I will never forget. You see, Season was a storyteller. At her funeral display tables were set up that were full of photographs, albums and photo books that she had used to record her life. As her family spoke about her, they referenced journals that she had kept throughout her life. I quickly realized that because Season recorded her life and her family’s lives, her children would know her. They would know her life and her struggles and her triumphs because she recorded it.
Since then, I have become an avid journaler. Because as much as I hate the idea of traditional journaling, I LOVE a good story, and I know the importance of family connections.
Our stories connect us to our family. When we learn about our ancestor’s stories, a link is formed between us and them. When we record and share our own stories, we are doing our part so that same link can be formed between us and our future generations. We are participating in the spirit of Elijah to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).
After that experience, I realized that as un-exciting as my life seemed on paper, it was my life, and my story to tell. I realized those little “boring” and seemingly un-important details make up who I am and that for my children and future generations to really know me, I would have to record them.
“EACH OF US IS IMPORTANT TO THOSE WHO ARE NEAR AND DEAR TO US—AND AS OUR POSTERITY READ OF OUR LIFE’S EXPERIENCES, THEY, TOO, WILL COME TO KNOW AND LOVE US. AND IN THAT GLORIOUS DAY WHEN OUR FAMILY ARE TOGETHER IN THE ETERNITIES, WE WILL ALREADY BE ACQUAINTED.”
– Spencer W. Kimball
So where do you start telling your story? Below I’m sharing 3 quick and simple tips to help you get going telling your story!
1. Start simple, start now. Seems obvious right? But this is really the hardest part. Getting started helps you get a feel for what does and doesn’t work. Don’t wait until you find the “perfect” method. It’s about progress, not perfection. It will be messy and unorganized at first as you find what suits you best. You’ll miss days (weeks…months…) but keep going. Even if it’s a little chaotic, it will at least be recorded!
2. Find a method that works for you. You don’t have to go out and buy a traditional journal that you won’t ever use (just like I’ve done so many times). Think about your life and what’s realistic for you. I keep a small journal in my purse so I can write whenever the moment arises. I also love Day One for digital journaling, and bullet journaling is great for those of us who love making lists. There are art journals, journaling prompts, even social media counts if you do it intentionally!
3. Don’t start from the beginning.Because of how our brains store memories, starting from the beginning and going chronologically is actually far more difficult than piecing together stories at random. Thinking of recording your whole life story can feel daunting, but feels a lot more doable when you start by casually writing what’s happening now. Then, you can start recording some of your most prominent memories. Of course, you can organize them chronologically later if you’d like, but to get started, just write!
The best part about telling your story is that it’s not as hard as it sounds. You’re probably already off to a good start in some way, whether it be a traditional journal, taking pictures, sharing recipes or using social media! The trick is figuring out what that is and making sure it is recorded and preserved so you can share it with your family and with future generations.
xo – Sarah