A Place to Record the Fleeting Moments

I decided to start a one-sentence journal...This journal became a place to record the fleeting moments that make life sweet but that so easily vanish from memory...Even after this summer had faded into the past, I’d have a way to remind myself of unmemorable but lovely moments.
— Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

October 17, 2017 was my first day writing in my one-sentence journal based on The Happiness Project. Now that a year has passed, how interesting it will be, with each new entry I write, to read and remember the little thing I wrote down on the same date the previous year. I don’t want to get older, but if I have to, I at least want to do it aware and awake.

This was the day we killed the snake Cash found in the chicken coop. This was the day I first put on my wetsuit to ski. This was the day I picked 5 pounds of blueberries from the bushes in our yard. This was the day TJ and I drank a $30 bottle of wine we bought to celebrate my birthday. This was the day of Anne Lamott’s birthday. This was the day of my makeup lesson with Tab. This was the day I went to check out the Lida Falls Ski Club. This was the day Matthew did homeschool with us. This was the day I realized I had been spelling my friend Janna’s name wrong. This was the day MaryMa died. This was the day we met the Cains at the pool. This was the day we first got seven eggs from our chickens. This was the day I fell going down the stairs with Sailor after her bath and I hurt my right arm. This was the first waterski day of the season. This was Story’s first day of dance and the day Cash’s soccer practice got rained out. This was the day I stayed up till midnight watching the two Russian girls’ Free Skate program.


So much happens in a year. And so much that would be forgotten is called to memory with just a few pen strokes before bed each evening. After I remember a piece of the day and record it, I put down my pen and pick up whatever book I’m reading until I get too sleepy to go on. I’m almost done with Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw, just in time for Anne Lamott’s new book that comes out this week.


Speaking of Annie, I started copying quotes from an old book of hers called Stitches a couple nights ago, and I need to remind you of two things: #1 - I love Anne Lamott as much as ever, and #2 - Whatever you want to get done, just set your timer for twenty minutes and work on it every night, or almost every night. I copied quotes from Annie’s Bird by Bird recently, in twenty-minute blocks, over eleven evenings. Then I moved on to copying quotes from Frederick Buechner’s The Sacred Journey, which took me four nights of twenty-minutes blocks. I don’t copy quotes every night, but I also never stop coming back to it.

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Just stay in touch underneath with your commitment for this wild, silly, and wonderful writing practice. Always stay friendly toward it.
— Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Natalie Goldberg’s mindset is what I have tried to do with my writing practice, but it can also be applied to other areas of life. I want to copy quotes, so I stay friendly toward my quote-copying. I want to remember what my days are made up of, so I stay friendly toward writing in my one-sentence journal. I want to improve as a cook, so I stay friendly toward the gathering and trying of new recipes. I want to be a good mom, so I stay friendly toward my kids and try to be aware of their feelings. I want to be a human, so I stay friendly toward my imperfections and weaknesses. I want to be a writer, so I stay friendly toward my letter writing, blogging, journaling, and other forms of writing practice.

I’ll end with two more quotes I’ve copied:

My ideal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I don’t do that. No one lives up to his ideal.
— Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
One of my most helpful Secrets of Adulthood is ‘What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.’
— Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

So most days, I do the things that make the life I want to have. I am not perfect and I do not always live up to my ideal. My ideal can easily become an idol, so it’s good to practice being human and to record my human moments, like This is the day I made coffee without coffee grounds, or This is the day I dropped the first chicken’s egg, or This is the day I was freezing while I waterskied. Life is full of fleeting moments, good and bad, and I want to always stay friendly toward both.