Documenting Life’s Important Moments

Calendar3

I love to commemorate the passage of time, to celebrate each new chapter of life. I try to reflect on the positive things that have happened, and I enjoy daydreaming about the excursions and special events that are coming up.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with a variety of record-keeping techniques in order remember the most important moments: themed journals, special photo albums, organizers, phone apps. Most of them were a waste of time, but I found five that did add meaning or usefulness to my life.

For years, I’ve been keeping a nature photo calendar right in front of my desk (see the photo above). On the first day of each month, I look forward to turning the calendar page and discovering the next scene. Usually, as I admire the beautiful landscape and read the inspirational verse below it, I feel excited and hopeful about the month ahead. I’m reminded of the many possibilities that this month could bring.

The second way that I like to record time is by keeping a 5″ x 7″ notebook of my weekly activities. I use one page per week–and I write down the week’s special events, appointments, goals, and tasks. The most enjoyable part of keeping this notebook is the act of crossing things out after I finish them–and ripping up the page at end of the week. I’ve finally accepted that I’m kind of addicted to accomplishing goals: I like the boost of adrenaline that finishing tasks gives me.

Notebook

I also keep a gratitude journal. I started one when I was sixteen–during the worst of my depression in adolescence–and it’s probably kept me from being depressed for most of the last fifteen years. I use a special planner (see the photo below). In it, I write five things that I’m grateful for each day. Whenever I’ve tried to do more than five, I’ve ended up feeling overwhelmed. But since then, I’ve realized that five is a manageable number and that it’s even easy to remember five positive things for a day that I’ve missed. In my gratitude journal, I record the happiest moments of the day: an activity, a new experience, beautiful scenery, energizing music, a great meal, a new favorite movie, spiritual reflections, a completed goal, time with Tony, or conversations with friends.  At the end of the week, I read over all seven days and write about the highlights of that week. Then, in the back of the journal, I write about the best moments of each month and finish the book with my end-of-the-year reflections. By consistently focusing on the positive things in my life (even when I haven’t felt like making the effort to), I’ve been able to create this special logbook. And as I’ve read through its pages, I’ve been reminded–many times–of the reasons why life is worth living.

Gratitude Journal

I also use my camera to visually capture my favorite moments: a sunset, a dinner out with friends, a road trip. For easy access, I keep my photos and videos in organized folders on my computer.

Now I’m enjoying a new way of recording the passage of time . . . social media. Yes, that includes writing this blog–in addition to uploading my photos, videos, musings, and pins to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

I have many things to look forward to in the month ahead. My birthday’s in September, and this isn’t only a month for celebration, but it’s also a great month to reflect on the past year and to clarify a new goal. Two years ago–in September–I decided that I wanted to become a writer. This year, I’ve decided that I would like to increase my patience: to treat others with more forbearance, to be less consumed with my need to achieve goals, to be more content with how long things take, to stop fretting about my biological clock. This September, I also have something exciting to look forward to: a road trip to see friends, with a stop in our country’s oldest city . . . St. Augustine. (I’ll keep you posted!)

What are you hoping for or looking forward to in the month ahead? How do you document the important moments in your life?

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