Do you have an ancestor who kept a journal? What impressed you from the words they left behind? I have several ancestors who were prolific in their writing and others who left very few traces.
Whatever the length, I treasure every word. Whether they wrote about hard times or joyous occasions, there is something I learn from each of them and the words they left in their journals or biographies.
My great-great-grandmother Hannah Cropper Ashby was a poet and avid writer. Hannah was born in 1879 and died in 1976 – just think of all that happened in her lifetime! She wrote a letter to her descendants talking about the current state of the world (during World War II) and what she hoped for the future. She was very educated and aware of world events, yet she remained hopeful and optimistic.
Lately, I have wondered, what stories will I leave behind for my descendants? What have I learned in the past year? I’ve mostly shared thoughts and feelings on social media lately so my goal is to get those posts made into a Chatbook for the year 2020. Now, this may not seem like a journal in the traditional sense, but I like to think that it counts.
What does journal writing look like for you? Do you document your life on social media? Is there a favorite bound journal that you love – do you enjoy that feeling of pen to paper? Are family videos more in your wheelhouse? Have you gone high tech with an app? Or have you heard about the line-a-day journals? You write a single line each day of the year and then start over in the same journal the next year. I am tempted to try that one.
However you save your story, I hope it brings you peace this year. I hope it gives you the chance to reflect, to process, to set free some of those thoughts that have been percolating.
Don’t know where to start? My friends with the 21-Day Family Connections Experiment have created a beautiful 21-day printable journal. The writing prompts can help you start telling your own life story as well as write about current events. You can access the free journal here: