Have you ever looked back on the life of an ancestor and thought “I want to know more! I want more than this photo, this census record, this marriage certificate…I want to know the thoughts and yearnings of this relative. I want to know their hopes, their grandest desires…What did they do on an average day? What did they care about? What did they wear, eat, drive, pursue? What was happening in the world around them as they lived?”

Immersed in Family History, this is what I have wondered most about my ancestors: What was in their hearts?

Journaling is so exciting. Maybe we can’t know all the details of all the lives now. But our posterity can know more about ours.

Journals are a source of joy in our family. But this was not always the case. In the past, many of my invitations to write have been met with the kind of groaning usually reserved for stomach pain. There had to be a way to entice them!

At last, there was.  This is what we have been doing: After dinner and dishes, we join together in the same room (living or family room). The promise to the children is “You only have to write or read for ten minutes”. We offer the reading option, because reading together quietly in the same room provides its own magic. Some kids might not want to write in their journals on a given night. Further, some children might not ever want to write. But the gentle space is provided. 

I also provide soft instrumental music, and treats (healthier, delectable journaling treats are out there. Please see a future article I haven’t yet written. It will happen! :). We may read, munch, type or write…it’s all low key. But the awesome thing is…people most often want to keep going after the ten minutes!! (We try not to go much longer though, so this experience stays fresh on the regular).

When people get past the “Nah, I would rather do something else” internal opposition we all feel sometimes, journal writing can become compelling.

I tell my teen daughters: “You know life is hard sometimes. There are lots of little knots to work out. A journal is a fantastic place to work out these emotional knots. You truly get to know and understand yourself better when you journal. It’s cathartic.” I think they have been picking up what I have been putting down. They are also picking up their pens and putting themselves down onto our comfy couch, where we are all tucked into together, in the soft joy of togetherness…

And someday, our posterity will profusely thank us for the stories!

P.S. If you would like a bound book to collect all of your stories, or the stories of others, you could google StoryWorth, online. I have no connection with them, but I am impressed with their system.