See the Happy

Journal Writing- Leaving Your Personal History



My Grandmother on my mother’s side (LEFT-we called her Mormor) was diagnosed with polio the day after her fifth birthday.  She was in the hospital for about a month and had to learn to walk again.

My Grandfather (RIGHT-we called Poppy) at 17 years old joined the coast guard to avoid being drafted into the army at 18.  He was on the U.S.S Cambria, as part of the “damage control” that would do ship repairs if it was hit.mormorandpoppy

My Great Great Grandfather on my mother’s side, Robert Aveson, left his home in England at 19yrs old to join the LDS church members here in America.  His adventure from there to here was just that, an adventure. Then once he made it to America he wanted to come to Utah.  He joined a wagon train, walking the whole way,  nearly giving up towards the end.  But through prayer and faith he miraculously made it to

I would never know these stories had someone not written them down.  I feel such an importance of writing things down, keeping a journal.  Some people may think WHY?  Why keep a journal, my life is so boring, my handwriting stinks, nobody will care.  I’ll tell you what, people DO care despite what you think, even if it is 50 years down the line. No one cares about how ugly your handwriting is (and hey, writing in your journal could give you practice to make your handwriting better).  And even if YOU think your life is boring, your grandchildren may learn from those boring “simple” days.  I wish I could read something that came from just an ordinary day in the life of my grandmother, raising children during the 50’s and 60’s.  That might give me strength to keep pushing forward through a hard, or “ordinary” day in my own life.

So much can be learned from a journal.  Personalities, hobbies/interests, illness/disease that runs in your family, how to overcome hardships, struggles that change or stay the same over time, mistakes made that could be avoided. I am just fascinated by stories of the past.  I feel a closeness to my ancestors when I read their stories.

Some people don’t know WHAT to write about. Well, there are so many things.

  • things you are grateful for
  • your problems and how you deal with them
  • memories you have
  • your likes and dislikes
  • silly things the kids do
  • your To Do list-imagine seeing your grandmother’s To Do list from 60 years ago
  • anything you feel is facebook/instagram/snapchat worthy, is definitely journal worthy
  • if you find yourself telling one person after another something that happened to you, write it down
  • doctor visits
  • a good thing and a bad thing that happened today
  • a vacation
  • inspiration from General Conference
  • goals
  • quotes you love

Here is a bookmark I made for my Sunday School class. I just printed it out on 4×6 photo paper and cut it in half. Keep this bookmark in your journal and you will always have something to write about. Download Hereuntitled-1

I have kept a journal since I was 8 years old.  I haven’t been perfect at it but I am so glad that I try.  I remember when I was young and my mom was trying to help us kids get into the habit of writing in our journals.  After church on Sundays we would get to have a treat (one I remember was chocolate milk and Mother’s brand cookies- circus animal, iced oatmeal, chocolate chip…) and find a quiet place to write in our journals.  A place I remember choosing was under the trampoline, Good memories. I believe this is why I am fairly good at keeping a journal, THANKS MOM!

I have tried my mom’s idea with my kids as well and added a journal jar to it, since many times I get, “but I have NOTHING to write about”.  I filled it with journal prompts that I found all over the web.  Here are a few sites: Journal prompts , 25 Gratitude Journal Prompts ,100 journal questions


You can do a family home evening about journal writing to help create a desire to keep a personal history through keeping a journal.  Emilie from “A Year Of FHE” has a Personal History and Journal Keeping FHE idea on her site.  I especially love this page she shares.  It has examples of pioneers who kept journals.  They kept them in different ways or for different reasons. I used this in my Sunday School class with the 12 and 13 year olds and they really enjoyed it.  Some had never thought to draw pictures in their journals and I felt that it got them excited to keep their own journal.  Click on her website to download this PDF.

Keeping a personal history doesn’t necessarily have to be in a journal either.  There are so many ways to keep track of people, dates, events that happen in your life and the life of your family.

  • Scrapbook-what better way to leave a personal history than to scrapbook.  Pictures, dates, events, experiences and so on, fill the pages of a scrapbook.  While scrapbooking, think of it as a type of journal where you share things, like how you felt, things that were said, favorites etc.
  • 3×5 cards-  I have a stack of 3×5 cards that I keep in my kitchen for sweet or silly moments with my children.  When one of my children say or do something silly- usually something that I want to share with others- I quickly write it down.  It only take a few minutes, but is enjoyed forever.  Here is one example-  “Today Harrison (14 yrs old) smashed his finger-well thumb to be precise-in the dryer door.  He told me his first thought was ‘oh crap! now I can’t play Halo’ because his thumb was numb.He iced it all the way to school.  Later in the day he told me how silly it was that he thought that.LOL”  My kids get a kick out of reading these cards filled with things that are easily forgotten.  Sometimes when I scrapbook I will write these down with a picture that doesn’t really have any explanation to go with it.
  • Gratitude journal-  keep a small notebook by your bed and each night take a minute to find 2-5 (or really whatever number you want) things that you are thankful for each day.  This will not only be a type of journal and something good to look back at but will help you focus on the good in your life.
  • Quote journal- something else I like to do is keep a small book that I write inspirational quotes down from books I read or movies I watch.
  • Another thing I do that could be kind of weird is that I keep my calendars.  My calendar is filled with our comings and goings and just how crazy life is at our house.  I am sure it would be interesting for my grandchildren to see those one day.  I often refer to them as well, when I need to remember dates and times of years past.

I promise you, if you do whatever you can to write things down you will NOT regret it.

In all my years of keeping a journal I have learned:

  • It is better to write something down when it is fresh in your mind
  • Taking a few minutes each day (which I am SO not perfect at-that is why I have learned this lesson) to write a little something is so much better than playing catch up once a week or once a month. When trying to catch up on a very crazy week, I have spent 2-3 hours writing… not so fun!
  • Sometimes it is therapeutic to write things down
  • The experiences that you write down can benefit someone else down the road.
  • Kids LOVE reading silly things they said or did “when they were little”.

“Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies.”                  -President Spencer W. Kimball




Journal Writing-Leaving Your Personal History/thoughts on journal writing, why and what/

2 thoughts on “Journal Writing- Leaving Your Personal History

  1. Sara

    This is such a great article! I really have to work on my journaling for the sake of my posterity, otherwise, they’ll just know about my silly teenage days…
    Love the list of ideas of what to write, and also the different ways of keeping track 🙂

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