Not all that many years ago, I remembered everything – my assignments, my social calendar, events 6 months out, anniversaries and birthdays of random people, the words to pretty much any song I’d ever heard….you get the picture.
Then there was a mix of age, technology, busy-ness, and baby-having that turned my calendar-brain and my to-do list brain straight to mush. (I still remember song lyrics, movie quotes, and the phone numbers and birthdays of my best friends from grade school….so there’s that.)
Of course, this is also the time in my life when there is so much, so quickly that I want to remember. Stuff with the kids, the life we’re building, and so much more of the every-day-ness that I don’t want to just forget.
For a long time, I balked at the idea of keeping a journal. “I’m not a journal-er,” I’d say, as I started tapping out blog posts, scrawling along the edges of my Bible, filling margins of books I read and re-read.
Guess what? I was a journal-er. Just not a very organized one.
And by starting to take time to scrawl out my thoughts, I was starting to see bigger pictures, right there in the every-day-ness. I was starting to see growth, and change, and milestones that look like inches being reached if I forgot to add those inches together.
Things I didn’t want to forget.
So I tried starting a journal for this, or a journal for that. And pretty much kept every journal now like every diary I had had as a child….one week of super diligent and detailed writings followed by sporadic, chicken scratch sentences, followed by silence.
Until I wanted to start looking, noticing, and focusing on what was all around me to be thankful for.
And then I knew I needed to write these down. I didn’t want to forget these things or miss the deep patterns and bigger picture emerging from the simple every-day-ness of my life.
But I also know that a notebook isn’t for every one. So here’s my list of ideas for starting and keeping a thankfulness journal (notebook included):
- Get a notebook: Listen, a notebook is a notebook, and in pretty much anything, that’s how I feel EXCEPT when I know I’ll want to carry it around and it’s something to think about that I don’t carry a purse and I don’t want it ruined in a diaper bag so it needs to nestle nicely into my stack of Bible, journal, books I use for quiet time. It can be fancy like this or plain and simple like this. I also like to get some pretty pens, because, well, I have a school supply problem. I like multicolor options because then I change the color every day and I see where days start and end when I look back.
- Get on social media: Use your social media to fuel your desire to keep track of what you’re thankful for. Twitter is a great place to say something succinctly. Instagram you get to include a picture. Here’s what I recommend : I’d use both and create a hashtag so that I didn’t ONLY have to write or ONLY take pictures. I’d still number them and then include the hashtag. I use the hashtag #faithfulnessatnight because I feel like thinking of even one thing to be thankful for is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life. But it’s your journal so hashtag away.
- Get on your computer/phone: Notepad may look old school, but it comes on most computers at no additional cost. Word documents are good. Google docs are good. Note-taking apps on your phone are good. It’s all good.
- Get small paper: Like small sticky notes, index cards, or gum wrappers if you are a gum-chewer. But have a plan for these or they will get lost, turned into spit balls, or used to spit out gum. Maybe a shoe box or something under the bed, or a jewelry box or something bigger or fancier.
- Get a blog: Maybe you’ve always wanted to have a blog but you never knew what to write about. And before you think that blogging has to be this big thing, you could simply make a post out of each item that you’re thankful for. No more. No less. This certainly isn’t the time to get bogged down by technicalities. You can go through the process to setup a WordPress website on your own domain through Siteground hosting. It’s an easy process and what I use for this blog.
And then, Write! Type! Scribble! Short hand!
I like to number them. Then I mark when I make it to a “landmark” or I try to challenge myself to think of so many in a day. But hey, that’s me and some of my quirkiness.
Just make it a habit – just before bed, first thing in the morning, or with the kids when they sit down to dinner.
Do it by yourself or as a family.
Share your list or keep it private.
Go over your list from time to time and look and see the patterns and the days and milestones.
What are your ideas for a thankfulness journal? How do you like to remember things that you’re thankful for? I’d love to hear them in the comments!!