Christmas 1998 (OMG that’s twenty one years ago) I gifted my mother and sister a hard covered journal which included a scattering of personal testimonies and some inspirational quotes within the pages. I extended the gift to myself with the intention of writing my thoughts and feelings and capturing the five things that I was grateful for each day. The ideal of a ‘grateful journal’ was something that Oprah Winfrey was making popular at the time.
My first entry was 2/1/99 where by I included the things that I had been grateful in the previous year:
- The love and devotion of my wonderful husband.
- The joy my children give me, although often I have to look past the fights and failings, they are always in my thoughts with love.
- Health and happiness, we have all been blessed with this in the past year and I hope this shall continue in 1999.
- Financial stability, we have started to build a base towards this and I will endeavour to make this more secure.
- The joy of life, the ability to laugh and cry, share experiences with others having both loving and friendship relationships with those within my life.
My wish for the year of 1999 that lay ahead included:
- Improve my skills, these include skills needed to be a good wife, mother, daughter and friend while also improving my skills in work related areas.
- Happiness and health to all! I am also endeavouring to improve my fitness and thereby shed some weight in the process (dieting is out of the question but being healthy is the aim). Well here goes…
That journal still exists today, and although the intention was to record things daily in reality it became a longitudinal collection of events and feelings of the years since then, both of our family and the world around us. The Christmas New Year period is generally when I check in with my personal goals and plan for the next year making it the ideal time for updating the journal, although not updated every year each entry includes the highlights and heartbreaks of the years between the previous entries.
What I have become most grateful of is the fact that I have taken the time to document the past twenty one years and it is a privilege to read the entries as it acknowledges and captures a life lived and gives insight into the pride, joy, love, goals, achievements, heartache and grief that is our family history.
Emotional thoughts and disbelief include those related to world events like September 11 2001, with the realisation that no one was immune from terrorism with the attack on the twin towers and the Pentagon. Many other acts of terror and wars against terror have occurred since then including March this year with the act of terror in Christchurch where 51 people were shot and killed whilst they were in prayer at their local Mosque. Occurring on our own back doorstep, resulted in a struggle to understand like no other, with our previous assumption that ‘we are safe in New Zealand, as we are not big players in the world economy’ was shattered. The world praised us on how we responded as a community with love and support however our security of a safe place to live has gone forever.
Even more heartfelt are the entries of love and emotion relating to family achievements, celebrations and heartaches that abound throughout the years which I am most grateful to have captured in detail, as their significance may have been lost as memories diminish. Major events can consume us, in particular illness and accidents can stretch a families resilient and love to the max, but by having both positive and negative events captured allows perspective and gratefulness.
Gratefulness is what I aimed to achieve by recording five items a day, although I failed at this, what I have achieved is much much more. By capturing the inspirational accounts of struggles to achieve goals or battle illness, and documenting both the small and large milestones and recounting holidays in the sun speaks to the success of us as a family, our family bond. Our family knows that ‘goals’ led to ‘achievement’ and to ‘aim high’ but high can be very different for each of us, acknowledging our differences is important and capturing this across the years is a gift.
2020 is almost here and my original journal is full so I am about to start a new one (which just happens to be the one I gave to my Mum many years ago which remains empty apart from my inspirational snippets) hopefully it to will capture the joy that is living for our family for the next twenty one years. I urge you to start a journal and reflect on the things that affect you both positive and negative, after all life with wrinkles is a life lived.