31 Days:: Journaling My Story

by jessicaturner on October 12, 2011

This is the 12th day in a series: 31 Days of Memory Keeping. Check out all the posts here.

Lately, I have had a renewed sense of commitment to recording my story through words.

I think this is partly because I gave my 85-year-old spry grandma a book of prompts to record her life story. She lives alone and I thought it might be something she could work on for just 10 minutes a day. She has beautiful old-fashioned cursive handwriting and has never shared a whole lot of her story.

I hoped that this book would get her to write down some things we might not otherwise know.

Can you imagine? What a treasure this book would be for generations to come!

Unfortunately, the process overwhelms her and despite my pleading, the book just sits on a table in her den.

And so, I decided I would record my story. Better to do it at 29 than 85, right?

I got this journal, Reflections From a Mother’s Hearta while back, but have just started filling it out. The book is divided in to 12 months, with 12 questions a month. You certainly do not have to start it in January though! Every page has a question on it. I have been answering four-six questions a week. Sometimes I do it before bed, sometimes while sitting in the bathroom while Elias is in the bathtub. It doesn’t take long to answer a question (probably about five minutes), but I know that the book when I have finished it will be a beautiful keepsake of stories I otherwise wouldn’t have recorded.

As memory keepers, I think that when it comes to our own childhood and early adulthood we often don’t record much of our own memories. Instead, we start in the place where we are.

Going backward feels too overwhelming.

And for the most part, it is.

But, I think this journal is the perfect solution. It is easy to answer prompts and it doesn’t take much time.

The finished product is a long-lasting legacy of you – your words, your handwriting, your memories.

And nothing is more special than that.

Write your story down too.

And if you think your husband would be interested, there is a A Father’s Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words too.

Disclosure: compensated affiliate link used

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica October 12, 2011 at 6:59 am

That’s a neat book to facilitate the journaling. During my adolescence, I journaled like crazy, but those don’t include the basics of my life that my kids and grandkids would want to know.

In 2010, my two remaining grandparents died just three months apart, and we were so sad that we didn’t have longer with my grandmother “by herself,” because my grandfather was always the talker, the dominant one, who told us stories of his life over and over again. After her death, though, we found that my grandmother had typed up a short autobiography (maybe 20 pages on a typewriter) and we are so glad to have those memories and that record from her life that she never got around to sharing verbally.


Sheila @e2gather October 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

You’ve inspired me ; )


Coby October 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I received this book as a wedding gift 10 years ago (and my husband got the one for fathers). While I don’t write in it every day, every few – okay, several! – months or so I pick it up and write a couple of entries. It was one of my favorite wedding gifts!


Sandra October 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Awww – what a neat gift to give your grandmother and what a bummer that she won’t write in it. :-/

I love the idea of this – I don’t journal, but think this book of prompted questions would be great – I’ll have to look into getting it for myself. Thanks!


Angela October 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I’m thinking this will be a great Christmas gift for my mom and mother-in-law. And maybe a little gift for myself as well! Thanks for sharing.


sandy October 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

My sister gave our grandmother a similar book one year for Christmas. Granny worked on it all year and then gave it back (completed) to my sister the next christmas.

One night when it was my turn to sit with Granny during her last days, my sister gave me this journal to read, to help keep my awake. I laughed and cried as I read the words she had written in her tiny chicken-scratch handwriting. I learned so much about her…her hopes, dreams, failures and her love of family.

This is a priceless gift.
Find the time to write in one of these journals..your story will continue to be heard for generations to come.


Margie S (Nihao, Cupcake!) October 13, 2011 at 12:49 am

Several years ago, I gave journals like these to my mom and my mother-in-law. I know they have both started theirs but I have no idea how much progress they have made. Perhaps I should follow up! I think it is a great idea that you are doing one. I might have to try it too. I love the idea of following a prompt – brainless and simple to do in small snippets.


Karna Converse October 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Jessica – Google+Sparks just introduced me to your website and this 31 Days series — I’m looking forward to going back to the first 11 days. I’m a huge fan of capturing our family’s moments on paper and can’t agree more with your comments (here) endorsing writing prompts. Sometimes, a suggestion triggers a whole page of memories! I write a weekly prompt for Literary Mama readers (I call it For Your Journal) and can’t believe how often I’m smiling about my family’s antics.


Brooke October 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Love this! When we found out we were expecting our first child we gave a Grandparent book to my parents. A place for them to record little bits about themselves and memories they have created with our son. They haven’t filled any in yet, but now my Mum is retired I might need to give them a little push to write in it every now and then. I have always wanted this kind of memory from my own Grandparents, but much like yours it’s a little overwhelming for them.


Chelsea October 17, 2011 at 1:10 am

Is the book you gave your grandmother the same one you show in your post, “Reflections of a Mother’s heart” or is it a different book??? Please share I’d love to get it!
Thanks so much for your fun series on Memory Keeping, it is so inspirational!


jessicaturner October 17, 2011 at 5:47 am

The book I bought my grandmother was MUCH bigger, but I got it on clearance at Barnes and Noble years ago. (it was exclusive to them and I don’t think it is made anymore)


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