How to Journal: Stepping Stones

journal and penSo far this journaling series has focused on Spiritual Journaling and Emotional Journaling. The next few weeks we are going to focus on Legacy Journaling.

I am passionate about writing our stories for future generations. The good, the bad, and all the times in between. I believe we should document our core values, our beliefs, our temperaments, our experiences and then show how they all weave together to create the tapestry of life.

Today we will focus on journaling life experiences.

I believe that where I am today is exactly where I am supposed to be.

The experiences of my past have brought me to this place, and each experience has helped me become closer to the person I am intended to be. These experiences are my stepping stones, and they have prepared me for the next logical step in this journey of life.

My stepping-stones look something like this:

  • 2nd grade (1968) – we visited a family friend just after he returned from a junior year abroad in Paris. I sat at the table looking at all the photographs and vowed that some day I would do the same and travel the world.
  • 11th grade (1977) – as a part of my high school’s foreign exchange program, I went to Paris for four days and then lived with a French family in Arcachon for three weeks. This experience cemented my love of international travel, and influenced my decision to major in French.
  • First Job out of college (1982) – I learned that even though I had the skills for office management, I did not have the passion for the job, and subsequently, I was miserable. I missed academia and could not accept the status quo of mediocrity.
  • Second Job out of college (1984)– I became a market research analyst for a major New York City bank. I adored analyzing the data and writing the reports, although I could care less about the subject matter (financial services). Analysis and writing continue to be my two biggest passions.
  • Stay-at-Home Mom (1986-2001)– while this was my greatest desire, I should have known that it was not my only calling when one day my eldest commented, “Mom, does everything have to be a teachable moment for you?”
  • Amway Distributor (1995-1998) – while there are many aspects of this experience that I would rather forget, I cannot underestimate the value of learning about the Self-Help books section of the library … and the term “getting out of your comfort zone”
  • Creative Memories consultant (1998-2007) – if it were not for Amway I would not have had the confidence to become a CM consultant. I did not enjoy sales, but I adored teaching others about preserving family memories.
  • Teacher (2001-2014) – if it were not for Creative Memories, I would have never had the opportunity to teach sixth grade at a small private school. I was not looking for this job – and in actuality, I did not willingly accept this call – but ultimately it became the most rewarding career I could have ever hoped for.
  • Bread Loaf School of English (2009)– in the hopes of proving to myself that I was qualified to teach (even though I was not certified) I enrolled in a masters’ level program. One of the classes I took, How to Revise a Life, was truly life-changing. I learned that I enjoy writing – that I need to write – and that I desire to teach others the joy that can be found through writing.

I believe that all life’s experiences are valuable – the good as well as the difficult ones. The ups and downs of life help to develop us to become who we destined to be.

What do your Stepping Stones look like?

Think of the milestone moments in life first – watershed moments that you never forget. Place those on the timeline of your life.

Next, think of the distinctive phases in life. These might look like:

  • Birth to age 5
  • Elementary School years
  • Middle School years
  • High School years
  • College and/or young adult
  • Newly married and/or 20s
  • New family and/or 30s
  • Raising family and/or 40s
  • Empty Nest and/or 50s
  • Retirement and/or 60s
  • Post-Retirement and/or 70s, 80s, 90s….

Remember, Stepping Stones are the key events in life. Later in this series we will discuss mining these same phases of life for beautiful narratives to develop into personal essays. Several essays work together to form a memoir which is then passed down to future generations.


One thought on “How to Journal: Stepping Stones

  1. Pingback: How to Journal: Introduction | Revising Life after 50

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