The Power of Story, or the Day My Journal Heart Died.

I had a Hello Kitty Diary when I was 10.  I wrote in it on and off until I graduated from high school.  When I got to college, I was a little better about writing stuff down because I think I began to realize that I was at an age where all the little details of my relationships and activities had possible implications for my future. Once I started getting ready for my mission, my journal became more important.  I had excitement and fear and lots of fun going on in my life, and I wanted to capture it.  I was a meticulous journal-writer during my 18 months in Argentina.  I was having the time of my life, and I didn’t want to forget.  When I got home, I was involved in so many things, and my life felt so busy, but the mission habit was still there, and I kept a detailed record of the ups and downs of friendships, college living, school and work responsibilities, but especially dating.  There was much drama to behold.  I met Matt (almost 5 years later) and my journal was a place to capture all the magic of the miracle called falling in love.

I love– really, really love– these journals.  I pull them out and reread them on occasion, and sometimes that results in several nights of marathon reading my life, chapter by chapter.  I started a new journal when Matt and I got married, and it included our life as newlyweds, my first real job, his graduation followed by job offers, our move across country, our first house, and a couple years later, the news we were expecting our first child, Grant.  I wrote about my transition into motherhood and all the adventures and adjustments, and tried to capture the essence of our little family’s life.  18 months later we welcomed baby #2, Clark.  I was really busy now, the kind of busy that rarely allows you to sit down and write it all out, but I tried. Almost 2 years later, I was expecting again, this time with our little girl, Natalie, and we moved from North Carolina to Minnesota.  Amidst all the boxes and unpacking, I put my journal and my scriptures on the bed in our new master bedroom, thinking it would help me remember where they were and find a special place for them.  I do not know what happened, and I still don’t until this day, but my journal disappeared.  I can only imagine that it somehow got tossed out with some packing materials.  I just don’t know, but, oh, how I mourned it.  It had my entire married life up to that point.  My journey to motherhood– lost.  The story of my boys’ births– gone.  I was sooooo sad.  And bitter.  And my journal heart died.

I didn’t even try to write anything down any more.  It was spite.  Natalie was born.  She sat up.  She crawled.  Almost a year had passed, and still no record-keeping.  Then I went to a sacrament meeting where the speaker was talking about Elder Ballard’s mandate to use technology for good, and I got stabbed with a message for me.  I could do that.  I should.  So I called up my brother-in-law, who is a graphic designer, and he walked me through the step-by-step of creating a blog and how to interact in an online blogging kind of world.  I was very, very green.  And on August 17, 2008, I wrote my first blog post, and by default, my first journal entry in over a year.

   So my oldest child, Grant, just lost his first tooth and I’m thinking to myself, “It wasn’t that long ago that he got his first tooth!  And he’s already losing them?!”  Other moms (the ones who had toddlers and preschoolers a long time ago and actually lived to talk about it) always say, “they grow so fast.  Enjoy it while you can,” and you know how inside you say stuff like “yah, whatever…  I’ve already planned in detail the first 3 weeks of activities once my youngest gets into school, and don’t even get me started on retirement…”?
Well, this tooth thing has made me think that maybe I do want time to slow down a little.  I mean, come on, kids are just never as cute once those big ol’ crooked horse teeth start growing in.  And now he’s starting kindergarten in a few weeks, and even though I’m thrilled about the tiny dose of “freedom” it might offer me, I dread the influence of “bad kids” and elementary school Darwinism once he’s out of my watchful eye.
I find comfort in the scripture in Ecclesiastes that says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  Then it talks about things like dancing, crying, etc., but I think that it really does mean every thing, like losing teeth, going to kindergarten, and retiring.  I can’t help but think that God wants me to take in each season and actually live it through, the same way I must live each season of the year . . . I can’t just skip ahead or pause or rewind the calendar.  So, I’ll just start to enjoy the toothless years in one child and the teething years in another and just take the moments as they come.  (But, seriously, don’t you think God must laugh a little when he puts those ugly big adult teeth in little kids’ mouths?)

So Diapers and Divinity was born, and the rest is history…. actually herstory, or MY story.  It is a record of my family, my feelings, my testimony, and the things that matter most to me.  My blog is the continuation of my Story, and it made my journal heart live again.  In the last general conference, Elder Bednar testified of the wonderful marriage of technology and family history.  I like to imagine that someday, my children’s children and theirs, too, will click through the pages of my blog and meet me… hopefully even like me, and learn what makes them who they are.  I hope something I’ve said or written will help them understand their own testimony and challenges even better, and give them courage to fight the good fight.  I’m a little ambitious, perhaps, but I want to be a piece of family “scripture” someday.

So, with all this in mind, I want to personally invite you to what should be a fantastic, meaningful event: The Story @ Home Conference.  It is an event to help all of us create stories in the spirit of family history in our own way– whether it’s a high-tech blog with ads and polls, or a pile of family group sheets and name extraction cards.  All of it creates a story about who we are and where we came from.  Here’s some more info:

  • The dates are March 8-10, 2012.  I think you can do the whole thing or pick and choose the dates and times that work for you.
  • The event will be held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building  and the LDS Conference center, both in Salt Lake City on Temple Square.
  • This is hosted by FamilySearch, but this is not a strictly LDS event.
  • Presented by Cherish Bound, a company that helps people create stories.
  • Tickets are just $79– quite reasonable, folks.
  • Go “Like” their page on Facebook so you can stay apprised of developments and enthusiasm.
  • FamilySearch has pre-reserved some tickets specifically for bloggers, because we are, after all, a very special kind of story makers.  There’s even a special conference track for bloggers.  Go grab your tickets soon, before they get released to the general public.  How fun would it be to have a little army of us mommy bloggers there, just giggling together on the back 10 rows?  :)

Above all, keep writing your story somewhere.  And don’t leave it sitting on your bed while you’re moving.  Just sayin’.

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8 thoughts on “The Power of Story, or the Day My Journal Heart Died.

  1. I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost any of my journals! My aunt gave me my first journal for Christmas when I was about 10 (back when I wanted to be a writer) and wrote in the front about how I needed to write every day (or at least every other day) to be a writer. It was a big journal and I wrote in it from that Christmas until just after I graduated high school. I wrote a LOT. I have two other journals that were smaller which I wrote in before I got my most recent journal. I have been meaning to scan the journals in to my computer so that I can have a digital copy of them as well (what if my house burned down! or there was a flood, or earthquake, or who knows what else!? Maybe I should just keep them in a fire/water proof safe…. would that make me seem weird?) I LOVE writing in my journals (and I like re-reading them, too).

    I’m glad you got your journal heart back! :) I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, and I bet your kids will love it, too (I have the same hopes for my blog)

    The conference sounds like fun!

  2. I remember the first time you told me this story. I was lamenting the loss of all the pictures of a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Peru — taken hostage by a suicidal hard drive — and 4 years of journalling taken hostage by yet another kamikaze computer. Them you shared your story with me, and we both expressed how great it was that we could now put all of those important memories on our blogs. Thank you for sharing your feelings about the Story at Home conference with your faithful readers. It really promises to be something very, very special.

  3. Oh Stephanie… I feel your pain. My son lost one of his journals, he thinks somewhere on a commuter train in the huge city of Taipei. Although its seemingly impossible to soothe the pain when something like that happens, here’s what I’ve learned about a writing in a journal. In fact, I’ll be talking a lot about this at the Story@Home conference.

    When we write about our lives, we live more deliberately. The magic was happening every time your pen glided across the pages of your journal. And, I believe a God that promises a hair of our head won’t be lost, has a special place he tucks away lost journals – no doubt you will read it again.

    This is a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, this one and all of the rest, and thank you for creating this forum and allowing us to be part of it!

  5. I was really feeling pushed about this topic, and have started a new Journal since Nauvoo. Ijust need a recording of you telling me “Write this down!” every night to motivitae me! Like you havent said it 84 times allready. Perfect timing on the post.

  6. I once lost my journal, (it was acutally in a bag that was stolen) and to think that the thiefs just threw it away like trash broke my journal heart. It was the record from halfway through our engagement through our first baby being born and into his first year. I still haven’t really recovered, journal-wise, and that was 10 years ago. Thanks for always being willing to share your thoughts and make us think.

  7. Losing a journal would have killed my journal heart too! I kept my journal and a family journal when my kiddos were younger, and transitioned to blogs also, just as a way of sharing stories, history, events, and sharing with others. We still laugh hysterically about the stories in the family journal from when the kids were younger, and I keep saying I’m going to transport it to blog somehow…someday. And the conference sounds great!

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