Jillybean's Blog

{October 17, 2012}   “Say It Forget It, Write It Regret It…” or not…

These times tend to creep up on me.

And, as stated in previous posts, ideas usually knock on the door while I’m in the shower.

(What is it about the shower, anyway?)

Actually, what is about this year? The bulk of my thirties’ self-realization started with random bits of wisdom thrust on me whist driving the gorgeous Ohio freeways this spring, peaked when I lost my Grandmother in the summer, and seemed to have landed on my lap in a heap on a cold October day in LA.

In short, it’s been a helluva year.

But I’ve realized…one seemingly little habit has made things exceptionally beautiful. And rewarding.

I keep a notebook on me at all times. ALL TIMES.

I don’t want to miss anything.

I’ll explain.

This habit actually started as an experiment triggered by something I read in one of Maria Shriver’s books when I was 20. She said it would be wise to write down all the things that make you laugh, because you’ll inevitably forget them down the road. So that’s what I did.

In college, I began to ritually check my purse before leaving the house to be sure I always had a piece of paper and some writing utensil with me. Most times, a receipt from the gas station would suffice.

And later, while hanging out with my friends, someone would say something stupid or funny under the influence of alcohol (of course it was just alcohol), and I’d be in a corner somewhere…pulling out my notebook and taking notes that were destined to resurrect echoes of laughter for years to come. Granted, if YOU’RE the person in the corner, writing while your friends are relaxing, relating, having a good time, you’ll draw suspicious looks. In fairness, from their point of view…what sane person writes while everyone is interacting? And what does said person intend TO DO with this “on-the-record” hilarity? It can be quite conspicuous in the moment.

I had managed to illicit paranoia from friends of all walks of life over the years, merely by clicking the pen and hoping my scribbles would translate in the morning.

And in the days to follow, I’d pack the notes away with plans to resurrect them once time had allowed them to steep a little.

Eventually, my note-taking tendencies evolved to not only chronicle the hilarious moments (stories of nudist colonies and outrageous escapades), but also the tender moments. Soon I found myself scribbling notes in the restaurant ladies’ room mere minutes after my last boyfriend first told me he loved me years ago, had a pen out while my Dad was helping mend my heart over the phone shortly thereafter, and looking like a stenographer while my boss delivered words of encouragement and/or praise at review time.

It’s not graceful to be sifting through your purse (and why, WHY is it so big and unorganized when I just want to find the damn pen already!?!?) while girlfriends I’d had helped with major decisions by offering advice (of which I wasn’t prone to or capable of taking myself) graciously thanked me for loving them.

This carried over to moments when my Mom would say she was proud of me, and I’d say, “I’m listening,” as I wrote.

Case in point…after my graduation from USC, my family sat in my living room in Downtown LA, recalling stories that could easily be repurposed for a future sitcom. Laughter was in the air…and meanwhile, I sifted through a basket under my coffee table.

“Where’s the damn notepad?” I thought as I pulled random items out.

We’d all had tears in our eyes, laughing as Dad regaled us with descriptions of raising us from a PARENT’S point of view.

I was glued to his words, while scrambling for the damn piece of paper.

Then I frantically started writing…

“’And my daughters would get mad at me when I yelled and got upset, and yet they didn’t realize they’re the ones who put me in that position…that I was merely the victim of circumstance!!!’ …OK, got it!” I victoriously, yet silently, sighed as I successfully captured the memory.

There was a break in the laughter while everyone stared at me.

The silence startled me, so I looked up.

“What are you WRITING?” Dad asked.

I said, “You all will thank me later.”

I came across this notebook right after my grandmother’s funeral, a year later. Our sentiments, the ones we’d all forgotten, leapt from the pages and we were miraculously able to resurrect otherwise forgotten moments, destined to heal us at a later date…adding lighthearted memories of levity to an inherently heavy atmosphere.

There was a lesson here. A theme was emerging.

These recorded times were all times I wanted to remember.

I hadn’t taken time to revisit these moments until recently.

My mentor and friend at work made the sad announcement a couple months ago that he was leaving the company. After three years of bonding, professional intimacy, and achieving work-wife status, I was now was facing “divorce.” What was I gonna do to cheer up? How many times would I be called upon this year…to let go?

What started as feelings of despair eventually gave way to a higher-evolved gratitude for the time we had already spent together…

…because I had the notebooks.

We spent our last days together as colleagues reliving good times that were long forgotten, reviewing notes I’d kept through the years. Yeah, they were a pain in the ass to write in the moment (the classic feeling of…do you take a picture or just enjoy the view?), but the effort ultimately yielded dividends.

For the reviewing of notes I’d taken many a night, quoting his funniest and most irreverent comments to the crew, gave us hours of laughter as we reminisced, flipping through the pages. My goodbye gift to him materialized as I sorted through these books, one surprise after the next. Chances were good, that now, he’d remember us all a little better. And I’d be cheered while indulging a few soft spots.

And now, dear friends, that secret is my gift to you…the reminder to write it all down…even the seemingly trivial. Write down the funny, write down the touching. Good ‘ol pen and paper is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Writing down notes makes students into doctors and quiet observers into novelists.

Tonight, I sit among these notes, laughing at what I’ve forgotten, and feeling proud for how much has changed over the years. In a way, it’s like that marker some parents keep on a doorjamb as their kids grow. These notes and the documenting of personal accomplishments serve to show how much you can grow in a year. In a decade. In a lifetime.

Someday, maybe a few years down the road, you’ll retrieve this gift to yourself when you need it the most…you’ll remember who you’ve been, and hope for the person you will become.

But most importantly, you’ll probably laugh. A lot.


Sandy says:

Wonderfully inspiring Jill. I always look forward to a blog from you. They are always insightful, well written and motivating. I wish you would blog more often.

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