Time is a funny thing, so fluent yet so steady, always the same but somehow not at all. Many days are gone in a heartbeat, while certain minutes never end. Being a kid I already questioned it, wanted to get to know this weird concept better, understand its peculiarities: Why does it feel like forever until we finally do our yearly family trip, while all the grown-ups tell me time is running by like crazy? Is it just one of those things they say or are they living in some kind of parallel grown-up dimension I got no access to? Will I ever find out?

Well… the truth is: Although a lot of time has passed by since then and I’m officially “old” now… I still don’t know. Maybe because there is nothing new to know? After all we all live in the same dimension, the question is what we are making out of it. What a spoiler, right?

What I do know is that I recently caught myself, wondering why I feel so rushed sometimes, somehow unable to soak in all those new memories, really embrace them, be present in the moment, just like we all want and claim to be.

Jiggling so many things at once my brain often feels like it’s just running out of capacity, almost like there’s just not enough space left for all the things I want and need to experience and remember. And that is a pity. And just not true, that good old hard drive of mine is not full AT ALL. Luckily. There is so much more I want to learn, see and explore. And I’m so insanely happy to be able to, I feel so blessed, curious, adventurous, excited, loving…

And I know that all those wild emotions are totally able to overpower any feeling of overextension, stress, fatigue. I just need to remind myself every now and then. And that brain of mine.

As I know that a lot of us are dealing with thoughts and issues like this and easily get caught up in everyday life with all its ups and downs, I’m sharing some ideas with you on how to be more present in the moment and properly store everything in your heart and mind. Because building, experiencing and capturing your very own memories is important. All those beautiful journeys, the ones including actual travels as well as your life ones matter. They really do. So let’s be attentive and remember, shall we?

1. Be present

I’m sorry if I’m being repetitive, but if you want to remember a certain moment or experience you really have to be present. So what does that mean? If you are by yourself focus on everything you see, smell feel… just notice, don’t judge. Let things happen, be open. If you are with others really listen to them, try to understand their perspectives, ask questions, because you mean them and look each other in the eye. Oh and please just put this phone away, you don’t need it right now. Ideally just turn it off.

If you have a hard time letting go of all your everyday life tasks or if you are on holiday of your job life make sure to write down a to-do list with everything you want to finish, do or work on (another time) before unwinding. Doing so will help your brain relax as it can be sure all the other things are stored somewhere else and it does not have to anxiously browse for all the tasks yet undone. Therefore it actually makes sense to write things down by hand. Make that poor, little brain feel extra safe.

2. Be emotional

Do people often tell you you are being (too) emotional? Well good for you, it’s scientifically proven, that memories, connected to strong emotions will more likely be saved by your brain. As that might also count for traumatizing experiences it also works for the joyful ones, so make sure to allow yourself to feel all the emotions and soak it all in, there’s nothing bad about doing so.

3. Buy a film camera

Some practical advice: Photographing since I’m 10 I figured, that I used to memorize things way better when taking less, but very specific photos. That mostly applied for my little 35 mm Olympus, that I use to drag along with me since then. As much as I love all my digital gear and nerdy new things, an easier tool with a limited amount of shots can help to focus on what matters and only photograph those moments. You’ll also have actual prints when having your film developed to browse through all those sweet memories. Maybe give it a try, it’s really fun!

4. Write a diary

I’m very bad when it comes to doing things on a frequent basis and building something like routines, so I’d be lying if I told you I’m a frequent diary person. However I find it helpful to write down certain things and writing always helps me to memorize and calm down my brain. It does not have to be much or on an every day basis, but it makes sense to treat yourself to a pretty pretty notebook and try bringing it along with you. If you are not that much of a writer you can also use it for drawing, taping things into it or using it as a photo-book. You decide!

5. Have more (evening) walks

I’ve always had a thing for the sudden calmness the evening or night brings and I love to walk. One thing I thus find helpful to process the things I experience during the day and remember are little walks in the evening or the night. If you are not that much of an evening person or feel unsafe in the dark you can obviously also have a walk during the day or morning in preparation for the day. The important thing is the act of moving your feet (and feeling good about it) as it actually is proven to help sort your brain and clear your mind.

6. Rest and reset

You are literally and physically unable to properly store all those wonderful new memories if you don’t rest, so make sure to get enough good sleep and make time for yourself on a frequent basis, also or especially when traveling. As hard as that often seems (I know what I’m talking about) it will really help and even just a few minutes can work magic. If you are familiar with meditation or yoga practice try to work those into your everyday life frequently, also when en route. If that’s nothing you are doing so far maybe look into it, there are many helpful tools out there, specifically designed for beginners, for example Headspace. 

7. Collect moments. And possibly souvenirs. 

If a moment is really special, beautiful or important to me I always try to be still for a few seconds and take an inner photo of the scenery and all the emotions and thoughts attached to it to be stored in my heart and mind. I call it “collecting moments”. Sometimes I also take an actual souvenir with me as a reminder, I love the idea of charging things with thoughts, memories and ideas only I know of. Looking at them always takes me back to that moment.

8. Think about the route there as a part of the destination

I know, this is such a cliché saying, but it’s just so darn true. If you are always yarning for that final, perfect moment, bringing you the perfect memory you’ll most likely miss a lot of very special moments in between. Your everyday life can feel like a vacation if you are open and give it a chance and when you are on holiday you can also be happy when not finding that picture perfect spot you’ve been seeing on Instagram. It’s YOUR journey and while you are figuring things out is exactly when you are creating your memories. Something to think of.

9. Learn some facts

Okay, I promise, this is gonna my last nerdy science argument, but it is proven, that connecting newly learnt facts with a certain experience will help making it more memorable. For traveling to new countries or cities this comes in handy, as it is great to be informed about the culture you are visiting anyways. If you have the time make the effort to find some information about where you are going to from reliable sources beforehand. Ideally you also find a local person to show you around and tell you their version and perspectives: How did the history of the place affect the people? What are local specialities not to miss out on?, where do they work… ? A fun and interesting way to learn new things about our world and make your trip unforgettable.

10. Send yourself random reminders

Okay, you can turn on your phone again. A maybe little weird, but quite cool thing I used to do for some New Years was writing myself a letter and exchanging it with a friend to be sent to me at the end of the year. The modern version would be typing in a reminder for a random day some time in the future to recall a certain special memory, e.g. “Remember this special sundown at the beach in August in Italy? A light pink bikini, sand everywhere a plastic cup full of luke warm, cheap red wine, that felt like the tastiest thing in the world… Don’t forget this.” or that special early summer day with the most pastel y sunset back and all the feelings on that deck in Hamburg?

I promise, you’ll be quite happy surprisingly receiving this note from yourself on a grey day in November…or any other day.

So that’s it about me, how do you like to make memories and make things unforgettable? We’re curious to hear. ♡

All photos © Tabea Mathern