January. The month for getting organized, eating right, hitting the gym and starting something new.
I thought I was ready to skip the paper and rely on my iphone to keep my important dates, even send little reminders and be in electronic sync with others. I also read about “bullet journals” a hybrid between a to-do list, planner and diary that is good for people who would really like to keep a journal/diary but are having trouble sticking with the habit. I didn’t want to be locked in to someone else’s system, having relied on pocket sized Cavallini or Moleskin planners in the past few years.
I came across my mother’s 1958 calendar, the year I turned two and dad built the house.
Her neat penciled entries tucked inside the confines of one day. She didn’t use it to mark appointments or track social commitments. These events were recorded after the fact. In her case she didn’t use it as a planner, more of a diary.
The unusual weather events, “February 26. It got up to 59 degrees today. Wendy and Debbie wore their in-betweeners.” The progress on the house “Dick started putting on the rain gutters this evening.” The birth weight of babies born to friends, “Michael Thomas, 9 pounds, 1 oz.” Excursions “Went to Dayton’s Daisy sale with Pat. I was on the Randy Merriman TV show! Won a pair of shoes.”
This daily diary became the start of a 60 year habit for Mom, of capturing the large and small events. They were not expansive or reflective in the way we think of “journaling” now, but they created an account of what happened-a record of her life. I haven’t looked through her whole collection of journals, or diaries, as she called them. It’s not that I think it would be a violation of her privacy, I just haven’t. I see them when I pull into the garage, stored in a clear plastic bin labeled “Journals.” A stack of bins I promised Phil I will sort through–soon.
As a girl, I wrote sporadically in a diary with a latch that locked, wanting to keep out any snoops.
But really there wasn’t anything THAT juicy in my grade school life, instead mostly sweet things- the day our dog died “My baby puppy Daffy was killed by a car at 6:00 pm.” My loopy cursive punctuated with dog hair plucked from the bedspread. There is a pencil drawing of Daffy wearing a collar she never had. A list of boyfriends, my certificate of membership to the Girl Scouts of America, and a very dry, brittle pressed carnation from my confirmation.
I graduated to a speckled composition book in college when I started asking more complicated questions of myself and opened myself to new adventures. Seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic from Fort Lauderdale beach. Impressions of new friends on campus.
Now as I read the entry of December 31, 1979 flying into Gatwick it lets me feel my excitement. The me of an earlier time.
I don’t think we need to guard and hide our words from others. Unless you are a famous figure, the journals we keep will languish in a chest without anyone knowing their contents. Unless we crack them open.
I continued Mom’s practice of keeping a diary-a Hallmark pocket calendar, an illustrated travelogue covering my impressions of Europe as a first timer, a red book chronicling the progress of home improvement projects on our first home, and then journals of motherhood for each of our children. Later I moved on to longer entries in various styles of notebooks that became less diary and more journal. It provided an invitation to capture ideas, recount stories, solve problems and act as an incubator for subjects to write about later. All in one place. I find I use my paper calendar as a way to do this too. Little doodles, illustrations, quotations, clips and bits of ephemera tucked in to the pages.
I WANT to keep a paper calendar to capture these things, to share what I have discovered about myself and others. What about you? What inspires you to keep a record of your life, whether it is calendar, diary or journal? Or what might keep you from it?