The world’s best journal


Best journal ever

I swear you will not regret starting this journal.

Way back in 2006 I bought a small wire-bound journal with penned indecipherable cursive writing atop its ivory cover.

Barry and I had experienced too many conversations that went like this:

“When did we Grandpa Elsholz die? How old was he when he died?”

“When did the old Sentinel building burn?”

“Hey, do you remember when I got my wisdom teeth pulled out?”

“When exactly did we have that Downhill Slide party at our house back in the 80s?”

“When did we go to that boat show in the eastern Upper Peninsula?”

And so on, and so on.

Of course, we rarely recalled the appropriate date.  We THOUGHT we remembered, but who knew?  We could discuss it until next May and never know for sure.


Way back in 1982 I was scribbling important days and events and outings and births and deaths on calendars.  Then I stored the yellowing calendars in boxes in the musty corner of the basement. But who goes into the dustiest mustiest corner of the basement and sorts through dozens of old calendars to find out, say, when we went on that women’s weekend in Green Bay, or when I started hanging out with Susan D, or when Barry started playing in a band?

Until 2006 when the Universe knocked me alongside the head (very gently) and suggested, “Hey, Kathy, how about start recording all these things in a journal? Not a journal where you agonize over thoughts and dreams and hopes and desires…but a journal where you just record Important Happenings.”

So I painstakingly dug out all the calendars and started the journal.  On Page One (labeling it 1982 just for a convenient starting point since it was the birth of Child #1) I listed Christopher’s birth date and time.  A family wedding which followed immediately thereafter.  My one-afternoon-a-week job at the Red Rocks Co-op in L’Anse.  Then I listed all the grandparents birth days and anniversaries.

On to 1983!  Apparently the calendar proved thin.  Kathy freelanced odd typing jobs.  We moved into our Little House in the Big Woods.  Barry’s place of employment burned to the ground.  And, yes, Kathy got her wisdom teeth plucked.


Journal in snow

It took several weeks, but 1982-2006 soon fleshed out in the journal.  It tells when we bought Christopher’s new bed.  When Barry first motored over to Isle Royale on John’s boat.  When Kathy got bifocals.  When kids came home to visit.  When we visited kids.  When Kiah and I traveled to Europe.  When I learned to play cribbage.  When I lay on the floor of a public bathroom in Florida curled in the fetal position as my darling gall bladder finally gasped its last. When my sweet dad died.

And now the pages of 2016 have been faithfully recorded, and 2017 spreads its wings to reveal many unknown happenings which will someday be penned into the journal.  These years I divide about two journal pages into months.  January (it says in 2015):  Enjoyed New York City.  Met K’s boyfriend’s parents.  Stranded in Chicago on the way home, flew to Green Bay, rented car and drove home.  Bad road conditions–near-accident in Chassell.

I cannot strongly enough recommend this journal to you.  You will look up monumental family events dozens of times.  Your children and grandchildren will someday slowly peruse your journal thinking of long-dead great-grandparents, nursery school graduations and the particulars of when little so-and-so birthed into this strange and delicious world.

Even if you can only remember a few things from, say, 2011, write them down.  Even if it’s a tiny scrawled journal.  You will not regret it. You will think of it as the World’s Best Journal, I swear.

Any of you have a precious practical journal like this one?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in January 2017 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The world’s best journal

  1. dawnkinster says:

    What a great idea!!! I sort of feel like I use the blog for that…but it only started in 2006 or 2007. I forget. I wonder if I could reconstruct years earlier..and what would be the best year to start. Maybe the year we got married. If I can remember other stuff from 1990 and such. and of course I do have several years of calendars too….for the past 10 years. Hmmmm…..

    I do know that your kids and grandkids are going to LOVE this years from now, long after we’re both gone. It’s an amazing thing that they can read in your writing the history of all the little and big things that happened while they were growing up and since.


  2. Joanne says:

    That’s such a lovely thought – one day in the future your descendants will read about your day to day life and understand how you lived, way back in the ‘old days’. 🙂

  3. Debi VanDyke says:

    I’m a writer at heart and write in any spiral notebook I can find. I always date the page and write away about whatever comes to mind. I would go crazy without journaling…I just don’t have the neat book but thanks for sharing!

  4. jeffstroud says:

    Isn’t that what the Matiarch of the family does… I suppose it is up to whomever finds keeping those facts for the next generation… Of course we know have google… I had to check to see how old my sister was, Oy!

  5. Janet says:

    Awesome, awesome idea. I will pass this on to my children, too. Love it!

  6. Carol says:

    I rely on photo albums for that. It would have been a great idea had I started one 50 years or more ago.

  7. i journal, and keep a calendar. I have always used a day book, and recently started a bullet journal, that is working well for me. This journal transcends all of that, just as you say. I’m going to make one! Thanks, Kathy!

  8. Elisa says:

    hi! I keep being moved to write in such books and then they seem too rigid to follow my thinks and my doings(or i am too loose!)
    I have one that has a date place blank and a day of the week
    i have rather been keeping track of what i do in a day
    some days more track than others
    thyroid and things have me forgetting everything, even how busy i can really be in a day
    due to other things old things simply vanish or get lost
    i’m not sure memory is important to me
    however i do get dismayed that others wonder that i don’t seem to care
    (that’s what they call my inability to remember things or to work with numbers and dates and years of things in my head.
    maybe i can do this with the book i am keeping OR I could get another one, how do i know in a day which things will be important later, when at the time , they are just my normal?

  9. Like you, I hang on to my calendars (since 1975) full if important happenings, but not in a musty corner of the basement. They sit on a dusty (but not musty) shelf in my bedroom. You have given me a great idea ~ perhaps I will start transferring the information to a journal one of these days. Yours is very attractive. It must be handy to pull out one volume, rather than a stack of slippery (glossy) calendars of various sizes.

  10. rehill56 says:

    The “memories”thing on Facebook proves useful at times. I thought we were so late leaving on our trip this year but that memories thing popped up and two years ago we left on the very same day!! 😀 Great idea Kath. I’ve done this at times but not consistently in one place.

  11. Anne says:

    I have endured much laughter at my habit of keeping a journal over the years and yet, I have dug up useful information from them so often now that I am often asked instead to “see if you wrote that down” – and very often I have!

  12. Your journaling is interesting and it proves to me that you are quite well organized. I’ve never kept a journal and if I had or did, I’d promptly lose it somewhere amid a pile of papers, spiral notebooks or books that are stacked in various places in my room. Your journal is something to be passed on to your children. And that’s a good thing.

  13. Robin says:

    This is such a wonderful idea! I wish it was something I had done years ago. Maybe I still could do it although it would take a while. My blog has served as something similar for the past ten years, and then there are photo albums prior to that. I could consult those oracles and put something together. Maybe. 🙂

  14. Bonnie says:

    I have kept many journals over the years, but most of them have been discarded, destroyed, ripped up, etc. For the last few years I have maintained a daily journal, mostly keeping track of things that need to be done, and when, but also noting important events and some thoughts. It helps me know what day of the week it is, if nothing else. 🙂

  15. Debbie M. says:

    My grandfather (deceased many years ago) kept a journal. He didn’t write much, but he would record the family’s events/news on a daily basis. Sometimes the entry was simply that he went to the grocery store and spent a certain dollar amount. This year, I started a three-year journal, “Happiness is… one happy thing every day.” It is my reminder to write down one happy thing for each day. There is not much room, so my real challenge is to keep it short and sweet.

  16. debyemm says:

    What a brilliant idea !! How organized you are !! In my dreams but I do see the value – maybe someday . . .

  17. Reggie says:

    What a wonderful idea, Kathy! I used to keep a diary and a journal and always noted down birthdays and anniversaries on several 12-month calendars, which I put up around the house. But life has become so busy over the years that I no longer keep a diary or a journal, and now I no longer remember exactly when important things happened. Like Bonnie, I also ripped up and discarded many of those old calendars and diaries. But I have kept important emails, letters, cards etc. to and from family and friends, as well as photographs and my various blogs, so those can also be used as sources. I love this idea, Kathy, and really like the tangible and tactile nature of it – using your own handwriting in a proper journal book… all the electronic and digital parts of our lives feel so much more vulnerable and fragile somehow… now to find/make the time to do it….!

  18. bearyweather says:

    Great idea Kathy. I am bad at keeping up with my journals … great at starting them. One book that is still going is a house warming gift a friend gave me to put by my door. Visitors are asked to sign it and leave me a little note about their visit. Not everyone remembers to sign as they leave, but it has been a nice record of events and visitors to my home … and all I have to do to keep it going is remind them to “Please sign the book”.
    I have a new baby nephew and I was pretty good about starting a photobook for him, but not so good about writing down little tid bits of our visits and trips together … hopefully, I can sit down and remember a few things from his 1st year of life (2016) to add to the photobook .. while it is still relatively fresh.

  19. nirvana0 says:

    i also used to write journal but from being a college student to a working professional, somewhere in between the habit changed…
    But i agree with you. The journal is one of the most precious things that i hold….

  20. trippynikki says:

    This is such a great idea!

  21. sonali says:

    I so love your enthusiasm about things. Assigning importance to small things. Very nice.
    I’m just tooooo lazy …. just toooooo lazy ……..
    How are you, dear Kathy? How’s life? 🙂

  22. This is such a great idea! I can’t wait to start my own. I KNEW my first stop after returning had to be your blog because I always find such wonderful thoughts and ideas to ponder here. Thank you!!

  23. Miss your musings, but it appears you have been flitting in and out of the blogosphere as have I! Your journal reminded me of the calendar I kept on the boys’ walls when they were babies — jotting down the little notes on a daily basis that I would otherwise forget!

  24. Pingback: Two weddings, a dam, a journal, death and family photos | Lake Superior Spirit

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