Loopchanger - Woody - has done what I think is an amazingly awesome thing. I asked him here to tell you about it. Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrreeeee's Woody:
Thanks! I'm really happy to be given the opportunity to share what I've learned through this process that is currently 55 days old (and counting). It has been an absolutely amazing experience and I believe it has enriched my life tremendously. Even if the Journals were never read or enjoyed by my Wife and Kids, the benefit that I've gotten is mind boggling.
So awhile back, I was at a conference and one of the speakers was discussing that he keeps a small journal for each of his children. In this journal, he generally writes a sentence or two every so often when something neat or funny happens. The amazing thing was that he has 6 kids!! I can't even imagine. Anyway, I had actually kept a journal for my first born with sporadic entries through my Wife's pregnancy and into baby/toddler life. I was probably writing once a month or so.
Unfortunately, when my second child was born, I found that my writing completely dried up. I think I felt a lot of guilt over the fact that my first born had gotten a lot more entries and at their current age (5 and 2) there was an awful lot more 'interesting' going on with the 5 year old than the 2 year old. Anyway, this fear of in-equality led to me abandoning the project completely which is horribly sad. But anyway, this speaker inspired me to begin keeping separate journals for each child with an entry of some kind written every day.
As sort of an add-on, I decided, why not add my Wife to the mix as well? And so it was that I decided that I would commit a small part of each morning to write SOMETHING to each member of my family that I got, enjoyed, laughed at or regretted about the previous day. This was a daunting and scary commitment, but with the help of loopchange and a belief that there was a lot of good that could come from such a project, I committed to a 21 day trial.
It turned out that with practice, I was able to complete my journal entries in just about 15 minutes. Quite a small price to pay for such a (potentially) meaningful project. In just the first few days, I experienced some absolutely amazing realizations. Before this project if I were asked "how are things", my response would have been "nothing new, same old stuff". But with only 15 minutes of focus each morning, my eyes were suddenly opened.
Every single day, awesome, inspiring, lump in your throat inducing, hilarious things were happening in my life but somehow I wasn't taking notice of them. I wasn't dwelling on them. I wasn't allowing myself any moments to reflect on them and store them away in my memory. They were very literally passing before my eyes and disappearing from my mind forever. In retrospect, I find it horribly sad that so many wonderful memories are just lost. Forever!
As time has gone by, the sense of wonder I get when I reflect on the previous day hasn't diminished at all. Sure, over the 50+ days there have been plenty of entries where I've phoned it in (normally because of some distraction in my life that is preventing me from getting 'peaceful' before beginning my 15 minutes. But all in all, it has been wondrous. Sometimes I write a single sentence. Sometimes I write a full page. Some things that I've recorded that stand out in my mind (it will be incredibly difficult to limit this to 5 each):
With my Oldest:
- first time riding a two wheel bike without training wheels
- coming to me to talk it over when I'd accidentally hurt her feelings
- collecting roly-poly's in the yard and researching on the internet what they eat so she could keep them
- first run-in with some girls at school who didn't like her
- reading a book by herself for the first time
With the youngest:
- first time he said "i yuv you"
- first time playing with a baseball and bat
- first time he said "I'm Daddy's boy!"
- first injury - a little cut over his eye
- first trip to Disneyworld (complete with kisses from all the princesses)
And many more, just as good about my Wife. My only 'rule' is to keep it positive. I don't re-hash arguments or use the journal as a means of getting in the last word or re-hashing arguments. All in all, this mission has very literally changed my life. It has also given me an entirely new 'approach' to parenting and marriage.
If I don't have SOMETHING interesting to write each morning, some interaction, something to laugh about, something interesting, something touching, etc then I'm not doing it right (it being parenting and being a husband).
To sum up - EVERYONE should be doing this. It will absolutely change your life.