In August of 2016, my mother and I flew to the East coast to start my next chapter at the University of Vermont. I stayed in the rental car while my mom went in to check into the hotel. Time seemed to be moving in slow motion with eager emotions swirling through me. My mom had a journal sitting in her purse and I, a notoriously nosey human being, pulled it out and started reading. Throughout 2016, my mom had recorded milestones to highlight the last year of having both her children under the same roof. Reading her perspective on my senior year of high school brought me to tears. I was struck by how beautiful and meaningful it was to have all of these memories written down to reflect on. Was it ethically sound to read her journal? Not necessarily, but it prompted me to start my own practice and now, my mom has full permission to read through my Moleskine whenever she pleases.
The origin of this journaling practice is in my grandfather who is a force to be reckoned with. He is 84 years old, downhill skis every weekday he can, picks up trash while on long walks, and writes a recap on each day’s weather and events. When he does so, he also announces what happened the previous year on this date. He has filled enough journals to share decades of experiences that took place on any given date. I love being at my grandparents’ house with a cup of coffee in hand and listening to his reflections.
While I sat in the car on that muggy summer night, I made a promise to myself to write down the highlights of each day in college and beyond. While I was setting intentions, my mom was figuring out that she had booked a hotel room in Burlington, Canada instead of Burlington, Vermont. We slept in our rental car in a random cul-de-sac with my ski bag as a pillow. Instead of viewing this event as setting college off on the wrong foot, I wrote it down as a highlight. My exact entry was, “Rental car sleepover, brushing teeth at new favorite coffee shop, maple latte, unusually early start to move-in day, delicious brunch, powering through the “tireds,” beginning a new chapter, meeting wonderful people, first meal in a dining hall, first night in new home.”
Since this night four years ago, I have written down the best parts of almost every day of my college experience. The emphasis is on the little parts of my life that bring me joy and as a result, I have fallen in love with every part of the process. This practice also helps me find the light in the face of adversity. Whether it is lackluster ski races, my struggles with disordered eating, my parent’s unexpected divorce, or days when I just feel off, writing in my Moleskine journal is a sacred place to reflect on every part of this crazy, beautiful life.
The best part is now I have black, green, red, blue, and dark green books which are portals to my past experiences. Whenever I read through them, I find unbridled gratitude, catch myself giggling, and find webs of meaning within my memories. It is an excellent reminder of how fortunate I am to be living this life with a positive mindset. Additionally, it teaches me that my past afflictions and moments of bliss contributed to who I am in the present moment. In the chaos of everyday life, I challenge you to take a moment for yourself and write down the little things. By no means does it have to be perfect, but as an athlete and human being, I find it extremely meaningful to look back and see how far I have come.
Lizzie Larkins is a recent graduate from the University of Vermont where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Food Science. She raced all four years on the UVM Nordic Ski Team and is now transitioning into a full-time ski coaching position. Lizzie is a coffee connoisseur, runner, backcountry skier, and type 2 fun enthusiast who thrives on gratitude and positivity!