“It’s More Than a Journal,” Ensign, Dec. 1983, 62
I’ve enjoyed keeping a detailed journal for about ten years now. In doing so, I’ve learned that you can have a lot of fun if you express your own personality in it.
I purchase large journals so I can add things like pictures, newspaper clippings, obituaries, and graduation announcements without making the book too bulky. My journal is much more than a scrapbook, however. It contains thoughts and feelings as well as details of events and activities.
As I start each new year in my journal, I include several items:
1. I sign my name so posterity can see how I wrote it.
2. I make a photocopy of my current temple recommend, library card, company identification card, and driver’s license—all on the same page.
3. I trace my left hand (because it has my wedding band on it), and my right shoe (I think I’m right-footed). It’s been fun to go back and look at the outline of old sneakers or boots I’ve worn over the years.
4. I glue onto a page recent school pictures or snapshots of each family member.
5. I include an updated version of our ever-changing family group sheet.
6. I write down what I would like included in my obituary and funeral program. This might sound like a gruesome task, but it’s really quite fun—and I’m sure it would make my family’s decisions a lot easier if they happened to need it during the year. My wife, Shauna, knows where to find it.
7. I review my old journal for a few minutes, select the top ten events from the past year, and summarize them in my new journal. Some of my past Top 10s have been births, my mother’s cancer surgery and recovery, the death of a close friend, a unique experience, a new church calling, a hole-in-one on the golf course, a miracle, a special talk with one of the kids which changed both our lives, a trip, a daddy-daughter date.
8. I write a two-or-three-paragraph synopsis of the past year for my personal history.
9. I list a couple of goals that I want to achieve in the coming year, and I review my goals from the past year to see how well I did.
10. I write down my testimony, addressed to my wife and children, making certain that it includes my love for them, for the Savior, and for the gospel. (My father died before I turned eight. We had eagerly been awaiting my baptism. How I would love a handwritten copy of his testimony.) It’s a wonderful experience to go back ten years and see how my testimony has grown.
I’ve learned that it’s important to write in my journal daily so I don’t forget how I feel and can include my thoughts as well as the bare facts. Sometimes I’ve slipped out of bed fifteen minutes earlier, or stayed up fifteen minutes extra at night. Now I write during my lunch hour.
Have fun keeping your journal! Adding personal items and details like these can make it come alive for you and will be splendid reading for later generations.
And don’t wait until the new year to get started! Jon B. Fish, Peoa, Utah