This story is inspired by Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the philosophical trail of reminiscent inspiration that came of my daughter getting a school assignment to keep a daily journal.
If you give a girl a notebook…
This past week, my daughter, Neena’s teacher asked the class to keep a daily journal for the rest of the school year. Each day’s entry should document something different; from who you are quarantining with to which activities you are engaging in to keep busy.
We delighted in the opportunity to select a fresh new notebook for this endeavor and made the trip to her bookshelf to pick the perfect one. Like her Nana (my mother) and me, she had plenty to choose from. If you are a notebook person, you know exactly what I’m talking about and any excuse to crack the spine on a beautiful blank book lights you up inside. Trust me, it’s a thing – it even has a comforting smell that warms your heart. Ahhh!
We found a pretty unicorn notebook with her name embossed on it; given to Neena by Nana this past Christmas. Then, Neena grabbed a matching pencil (because a notebook person LOVES a matching pencil) and secured a place at her desk to embark on this new activity.
…It will inspire me to look at my old journals
I have a collection of old journals. Just recently, while cleaning out our basement, I found my middle school diary. Lord have mercy! I came across some chuckling moments and some mortifying ones.
Years ago, I bought small pocketbook sized ‘calendars’ at the dollar store for each one of my kids. I kept them in a kitchen drawer and captured all the funny things they said when they were young. Each calendar provided a record of that year. Over time, there were so many good ones that I ordered coffee mugs with their hilarious quotes printed on them!
…Then, I will realize I have many journals and they are mostly blank
I have too many journals to count. I have them in all forms…from leather-bound to spiral-bound; from small to over-sized, and from plain to brightly colored.
Each time I decide to journal and document my life, I do well for a time, but then fizzle out. I’m working to keep up a routine of using a gratitude and affirmation journal, but I miss documenting the daily mundane things.
…That will remind me of the beautiful leather-bound journals my mom used to keep
My mother used to order these beautifully soft, brown leather journals when I was a child. She was dedicated to writing each night. Documenting her days and the lives of our family ultimately serves as a beautiful memoir, but it was also a therapeutic coping mechanism when my grandmother fell ill. Writing brought her peace.
…Then, I will want to call my mom
We talk on the phone multiple times a week. She’s in Florida right now, preparing to travel home to Michigan in a time when flying is not ideal, given the global pandemic we’re experiencing.
During our latest call, she thanked me for sending her filtered masks, fabric masks, and gloves. I mentioned Neena’s assignment and she is thrilled that Neena is using the unicorn journal. We reminisced about Mom’s journaling practice and she told me she still has all of her old journals.
…That will make me look forward to the day she shares her journals with me
It’s comforting to know that one day I’ll get Mom’s journals. Reading them will undoubtedly be like reliving my childhood. It will transport me to a simpler time and the most beautiful place: the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where I grew up.
…Then I’ll realize I’d really like to have a record of my family’s memories
My goal is to leave a similar legacy for my family. I even Googled a new beautiful leather-bound journal during my phone call with my mom.
…But, I’ll be shocked to learn that mom now uses a new kind of journal
Surprisingly, my mom now utilizes an app for journaling. The app is called Day One. The app can keep location, photos, the weather and more. Better yet, the user can set a reminder each day offering a prompt to ‘write’.
Mom adds one picture a day into Day One. With that simple act, she has a snapshot record of the day; even if she doesn’t get around to writing that day.
…And chances are whatever my mom does, I will follow suit
Naturally, I downloaded the app right after I ended the call. It’s not a beautiful leather-bound journal, but it’s a journal nonetheless.
It’s easy and that’s important to me. Plus, I found a way to email my entries right to the app, so I won’t be fumbling with my phone to record my day. I will, however, open the app to add a picture, just like mom.
Additionally, Day One offers book printing. I can transform my digital entries into a high-quality printed journal.
And so, I am determined to do this moving forward. I will make a keepsake of my family memories and pass on my journals to my kids.
Are you keeping a memoir to leave your legacy? If so, share your version with us in the comments below. If not, we hope this story inspired you to start!