Joan WeiskottenYoung Adult Librarian
Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library
I have kept a journal since I was in 7th grade. It was very sporadic, but the main theme was which boy I was in love with that week (noted by his name in a heart) and which friend I was fighting with or how unfair my parents were. It was all very dramatic and superfluous as I look back on it, but it gave insight into some of my interests and the mind of a 12-year-old girl.
My older journals focused on the love of my life, my husband Lucas, and then when I became pregnant they also focused on my other loves. From the moment I was pregnant with Nick I wrote to him. I wrote about my dreams for them and a bit about what their father and I were doing at that time. After they were born it was all about them and our extended family to a point. I think because I love history in general and because with my Dad's death we lost so many stories, I'm obsessed with recording every word, moment, deed, and life experience.
But as I go back and read the journals, I realize that something is missing. My and their father's life story. We write so much about what is going on now, which is wonderful as Stephen will be able to look back and tell his kids about his crazy childhood stories and he can bring his brother's life to light with all that has been recorded of him. It's priceless, but they don't know about my crazy antics or their father's.
Then I thought about my mom and how she has so many stories that we don't know about. So I did the only thing that a writer could do--I bought her a journal. She asked me what she should write in it. I thought about it and said, "Write about your earliest childhood memory."
Well, she started laughing hysterically and told me a story about my TheAnna that had me cracking up too! Sorry, but I can't even share it here. I will ask her permission first. Mine was very mellow in comparison, but I remember I was five years old and my younger sister, Michele, had just been brought home from the hospital. I must have been in the back seat of our car because I remember my mom holding Michele on her lap. There weren't car seats or seat belt laws back then! Next we were in the living room and I kept looking at my little sister and I couldn't pronounce her name. I think I may have called her "shell" but I can't remember. It's a great memory, because she is my best friend! My husband's was sitting in his kitchen cabinet banging pots and pans!
My mom said, "All right, I can do that, but my OCD won't let me write out of chronological order."
I laughed. Journaling doesn't require editing or an order unless you plan to submit it as an essay or write a memoir. It's writing your history, it's cementing memories in a way that others can enjoy. Writing down your history opens up the path to other memories and hopefully brings joy to those who write. It can also be cathartic and healing.
So each week my plan is to give my mom a writing prompt so she can write her personal history. And just to get her OCD going, I'm purposely going to go out of chronological order! Maybe you want to give it a try. You can write on a computer, get a fancy journal, a notebook, your iphone--it doesn't matter, but if your point is to share it with someone eventually, you want it accessible. If not, then any medium will work.
So get your journal and write about the earliest childhood memory you have. Feel free to share it here or with your family.
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Go write your His or Her Story!
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