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DIY Perpetual Journal

Last December, my son and I visited a high school friend of mine who lives in California. We chose to visit after Christmas and to ring in the New Year together. It was a wonderful four and half days of warmer weather, reflection and dreaming.

Every morning, I would get up and get a cup of coffee and sit at their lovely little table just inside this large window and stare at the view. In addition to reading my Bible and journaling about the past year and my very recent divorce (less than a month old at the time) I would reflect upon the year 2014.

Rather than toting my many journals across the country with me on this mini-vacation, I brought my perpetual journal along. Similar to the accounting journal, a CREATIVE perpetual journal (or a year box) encourages you to simply focus on the highlights of your life.

I first found perpetual journals on Pinterest; see some herehere and here.

THE INSPIRATION

Though mine looks nothing like this one, it was the image that persuaded me to pursue keeping this type of journal. Even though I journal (pen to paper) almost daily, the idea of having a snapshot everyday for ten to fourteen years at a glance, was really encouraging to me.

I don’t consider myself an incredibly crafty person – perhaps it’s that I’m not very patient with arts and craft type projects – but I was committed to bringing this one to fruition.

THE SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED

4×6 notecards, at least 100 – date stamper – stamp pad  – a box – scissors & paper cutter – dividers

I got the box from Target, I think – it was holding some candles or a part of some sort of gift pack. And until I repurposed it for this project, it was holding our remote controls. The notecards and date stamper were easy buys at Target as well. And because I’d attempted scrapbooking back in the day, I had plenty of good scissors and a decent paper cutter, which made the prep work go so much more quickly.

I searched a scrapbooking store for notecards/postcards to use as dividers and found the most perfectly beautiful Parisian set. They not only separate the cards for each month, they also remind me of my desire to return to Paris for an extended stay to celebrate another big birthday in my future.

My setup is pretty simple and pretty much me. I didn’t do any of the fancy things to make it more appealing to the eye because the memories are the most important thing. If you do decide to make your perpetual calendar more aesthetically appealing, you’ll want to get those supplies before you sit down to prepare.

The only really “fancy” thing I did with my perpetual calendar that I recommend you do with yours is to get colored 4×6 notecards for those special days that come every year. I have a green card for December 25 (Christmas), yellow for January 1 (New Year’s Day), pink for my birthday in February, and blue for my son’s birthday in June. I also got a wood letter “R” from Urban Outfitters that I stick in the box in between cards for a reason that I’m not sure I can say other than, it looks cute. And I didn’t have to make it.

All of that to say, make it yours.

PREPARATION TIPS

Be sure you’re cutting the daily cards the same size and that your assistant has a calendar and a solid awareness of how many days there are in each month (still love him). We started the actual preparation during the days before the New Year that year.

We put on some movies we’d seen before and I cut and stacked the cards and he stamped the dates on them for me. I may negotiated for his help with this project, I can’t recall what at this time, but I’m sure he was getting more out of it than craft time with his mom.

The entire process took us about two movies and a lot of patience with one another and the process, but it was memorable and it’s been worth it.

BENEFITS OF THIS JOURNAL

I took my cards to California on our trip last December. You can see the plastic baggie I packed them in to transport them.  As I completed the remaining days of the year while we enjoyed our trip, I also took a few extra minutes each morning to read through the past year’s entries.

While sipping yummy coffee and enjoying the view in their quiet space, it was clear to me that this would become a very special tradition.

Though an annual tradition in the works, I’ve at times pulled out a month’s worth of cards to look for some patterns and pick-me-ups this year even though we’ve not yet come to the end of this year. And since I choose to write what stood out to me or that I’d like to remember (even if it’s bad), I’m always grateful for the memories marked in my perpetual journal.

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A few examples:

My son’s enthusiasm for decorating the house for the holidays | The first showing of our last house | My son listing 42 things he loves about me as my birthday gift | Date I officially rented our TX apartment | A day of creative reflection | A day of rest & nothingness (there have been many of those) | Ongoing conviction from God | Divorce Court | Divorce finalized | Found New Church – My son’s baptism | Reading Relay

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Sometimes I fall behind but not often. When I travel, I take the cards with me, tucking them into a book that I’m taking along on the trip. So much more light weight than bringing my full sized journal. And when it’s time to charge my phone and wash my face before bed, I’ll take a minute to record one moment from the day onto the matching card/date. I keep a couple of special pens in the box alongside the cards, so the entire process goes even more quickly. It’s so fast!

It’s been a blessing lately when I have so many wonderful things – the littlest, smallest, most fulfilling experiences – to choose from.

If you don’t currently  journal, I hope you’ll consider this type of documentation of your life. It’s a great way to engage in the practice of journaling, just keep it real. Avoid only recording the positive or best things, include the happenings that are shaping your life, even if it’s not pretty, because even the less than favorable parts have a role in shaping your years.

Believe me, you’ll be so glad to look back on all of the memories you get to claim as you journal life.

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