Keeping Track of Time

Probably one of the smartest things I have ever done was start to keep a journal my senior year of college.

I can’t say it was my idea. A friend of mine was relentless in keeping track of her day to day life in a book I first met her in the dorm while we lived at the University of Maryland.

Trish had been doing it since she started high school. She was a smart young woman, starting college at 16 and finishing law school when most are getting their undergraduate degrees. I am still in touch and she is a professor at the University of Maryland Law School. No surprise to me.

Back then, we just clicked.

My dorm mates used to kid me about by Trish’s constant company and said I would fall to “Trish the Dish’s” (college can be so juvenile) attentions.

It wasn’t going to happen.

I was dating Smitty, co-captain of the Maryland Pom-Pom squad and straight A pre-med student, and she was a couple years older than me. Going out with a 21-year-old at 19 is very cool. At least it was to me. Why she wanted to date me versus all the jocks at Maryland that were in her sphere was a mystery and I was going to do nothing to threaten it.

Still, Trish was super smart and I respected her. We did hang out a lot. When she explained that keeping a journal let her look back at life and see where she had grown, I was curious.

I got a journal in my junior year but honestly there were less than a dozen entries by the time I graduated.

Maybe it was living on my own, but my summer out of college had me writing almost every day. So at age 21, I started a serious chronicle of my life.

Over the years, I have slacked off to where it is once or twice a week versus every day. My entries can be a page or several, depending on what is happening.

I not only have a journal for my daily (weekly) life but, when I turned 25, Trish gave me a separate journal to keep track of really important events in my life. Months, even a year or two, can go by before I put anything in it. Eventually it filled up in my mid-thirties and I got another. I am actually on my third, but it is huge and I suspect it will be the last.

I just started writing in my 41st regular journal.

The beauty of keeping a journal is I can go back exactly to what I was doing, say, 10 years ago.

Looking back at mid-September 2010, I can see I was on a tour of distilleries across Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia for the import company that I worked for in Shanghai. My job was to go and try different products that I thought might be good for the Chinese market. As I read back and see what was important back then, it is funny what has changed and what has stayed the same.

It was also interesting to read when I was working for Scott and Michelle McIllvaine at the Lazy River Cantina during August 2010, before I took this trip of discovery on distilleries.

I read about Togie people and things I did 10 years ago. Names like Kirsten Campbell, Leigh Hanemeyer, Carrie Craig and Keith McLendon popped out at me. Also my beloved pup Cassie was in many entries. I was reminded how amazing Penny Olsen was in taking care of my “old girl” while I was in China. What an excellent lady and good friend to me and my dog.

Journals remind you who has helped you out in life.

On the day I am writing this, 10 years ago to the day, I was in Bardstown, Kentucky at the Heaven Hill Distilleries. They make Evan Williams and Southern Comfort to name a few products.

My journals are fairly detailed when I am talking about tasting liquor—so are my notes for the Shanghai import company. Its funny to me to read about this guy, who lived and breathed , learning about the spirit industry back then.

My life has changed tons since I was writing about going to the different places in the south 10 years ago.

Many friends (including Cassie) have sadly passed on and I am not deciding what American liquor products are going into the Chinese market.

I hardly ever speak Chinese and I own two houses in Hanna versus the one. There are remnants of what was going on in my life 10 years ago, but most has changed.

That is why the journal is important. I can’t tell how important it has been to me to go back and see how I have changed.

Pictures do this too, I guess, but not like words. In addition to recording day-to-day life, there is something about reading my hopes and fears at a juncture in life that gives me an understanding why little stays the same. At least for me.

I have learned from my journals that there are traits in me that are probably here to stay. Then there are things I see that I need to gravitate back towards.

An example, I was a major gym rat. It didn’t matter where I lived, I found a gym and work out center. One of the reasons I love living in Hanna is that it has an excellent recreation center.

The past couple years I fell off the wagon, so to speak. It is showing in weight and attitude. Last Friday, I went swimming at the pool and felt way better. I remember why I was so relentless about exercise and recording it. It feels good and helps your body.

I don’t know if I really need my journals to remind me of this, but it helps to see for decades something important to me helped keep me healthy.

The rereading of these journals often have me making these realizations.

I think keeping these journals are invaluable to my life. It is why I commented in the beginning, keeping a journal may have been one of the smartest things I ever did.

I know I started early, but I believe it is never too late to start.

It is sort of like exercise. Once you get into a steady rhythm, and do it with frequency, there are only benefits to be gleaned.

Plus there are some magic moments in life. If recorded well, they give a chance to relive them over and over again.

When I am feeling a little down about whatever, those uplifting times I go back to read, encourage me there will be more good ones to come and I just have to wait.

Then those moments will be recorded.


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