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Capturing Our Memories With Journals

By April 13th, 2022No Comments
Young girl keeping a journal in pink bedroom

We’ve previously encouraged everyone to start keeping a journal as it is a great way to not only capture what you have been doing but how you are feeling.


By writing, drawing, making lists, creating collages, you are building a keepsake of memories that you will be able to return to in the weeks, months and years ahead. Not only is the product at the end of your efforts fantastic (think of the wisdom we have learnt from The Diary of Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself) but the process of keeping and reading back over a journal is really beneficial.


I started capturing my memories when I was in Year 5. I was given a diary by my parents – one of those ‘old-school organisers’ that had a week over two pages. Each night I would write what had happened through the day, often in order from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. At the beginning it was easy to write every night, but, as the year went on, I would get tired or too busy and end up missing a couple of days. I would feel guilty that I had forgotten or missed things since the time I last wrote in the diary. So, instead of trying to remember all that I did, I started to write about how I was feeling.


“By focussing less on what had happened, and more about how that made me feel, I moved from diary writing into journal writing. As I grew in confidence, I began to experiment. Instead of writing in narrative form, I would brainstorm my emotions and experiences.
I included drawings that friends had given me, quizzes from magazines, poems that made me cry, and recipes that I had made with my sisters. I came to understand, that while the events were important to record, what was more important, was how these events made me feel.”


There is a lot of research that shows the benefits of journal writing, particularly during challenging times. 500 years ago, St Ignatius of Loyola wrote about the benefits of journaling, and more importantly, the impact of reading what you had written; he called it ‘time with your Listening Book.’ This process of journalling invites you to do more than just record, create and reflect; it invites you to listen to what you have created and learn from your own wisdom. Imagine if we all spent some time over the coming weeks and months, being creative and nurturing our own wisdom. We might emerge from coronavirus as courageous, peace-filled and forgiving as Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela. Wouldn’t the world be an amazing place then?

Rachel McLean is the Leader Formation at Cairns Catholic Education