Friday 23 March 2018

To Use, Or Not To Use -- That Is No Longer The Question

I love journals.

I love the empty pages, the smoothness of the paper, the compact size, the attractive selection of covers, the potential of the empty book just waiting to be filled with wonderful things: thoughts, memories, plans, lists, quotations, sketches . . . anything my heart desires.

Here are ten of the twelve journals currently in my possession:

I forgot to include the other two when I took the picture. And I had two more but I gave them away because I had duplicates and I needed a small emergency gift.

Would you like to know how many of my twelve journals I am currently using?


Because I can't bear to write in them.

Of the two I've used, one is very plain, specifically because I knew it would be easier for me to actually use it if it wasn't as appealing to me. The other one I've used is one of the pink ones in the left of the photo. I had to force myself to write in it, and only did so because I had three more just like it for backups.

WHAT THE ....???

What is wrong with me? Feel free to analyze me, my friends. I won't be offended.

I don't spend a lot on these little books. They were all bought at the dollar store, which does not mean they cost a dollar each, because our dollar store doesn't live up to its name; however, some cost $1 and the most expensive was $2.50.

I particularly like the pink ones already mentioned (first photo). And the brightly striped one and the oriental looking satin covered one (above). Note that they still have their paper-strip wrappers on them. Pristine. Just the way I like them.

And here's a closer look at why I bought the "Time Notes" journal (above):

It says:" Today should be done not to do tomorrow morning is delayed."

What does that mean, people? WHAT DOES IT MEAN??

This says: "Ordinary people merely think how they spend their time, a man of talent tries to use it."

Okay. I think I understand that one. By this definition, I'd say we are ALL talented.


This says: "Abandoned people today there will be no tomorrow" with not a speck of punctuation to help make the meaning more clear.

Once again, I am confused.

But the delightful confusion was part of the reason I HAD to buy it. That, and the fact that there were only two on the shelf. If I didn't buy one, there was a good possibility both would be gone by the time I thought about it and returned to the store. Also, I tend to think that this is a magic book having something to do with time travel, and I didn't want to lose the chance to find out.

So far, the furthest it has travelled is home from the store with me, and from the pantry to the kitchen counter to have its portrait taken, but I still have hope.


Journals aren't the only thing I hoard/collect. Let me just say: NOTEPADS.

The more interesting items in my notepad stash.

Let's have a closer look at that happy face notepad:

Note the plastic wrap is intact. I don't actually use any of my notepads, either. I cut up old computer-printed pages and use those for notes. Gah. I need help.

To be serious for a moment, I've really been stuck in a rut of not getting anything except the necessities done lately. Like for about six months now. Even my crafting in the fall was done because I had made a commitment to my craft group to take part in our annual sale, so my brain saw that as "necessary" and I got it done. But other than that, I've done nothing much toward my loosely defined goals of "organizing and decluttering my life so that my family doesn't have to do it if I should kick the bucket before they do."

So I've been thinking really hard about using my journals as a way of corralling my thoughts on what needs done, using a different journal for each area of my life.

I've been thinking about this for at least a month now, and only yesterday did I take the first step toward doing it. I chose one of my least favourite of my babies (shhhh, don't tell it I said that, and really they are all favourites or I wouldn't have kept them), the pansy-covered one, and opened it, pen in hand, to start listing . . . things.

And I didn't know what to list.

But then, just as I was beginning to panic over my inability to even FREAKING MAKE A LIST OF ANYTHING, JUST WRITE SOMETHING TO GET STARTED ----- I had a brainwave.

THAT book, my friends, is going to be a list of the things I'm going to list in the OTHER books.

That was a good day's work, so I closed the book - still empty - and put it all off for another day.

But now I've got a plan, and I've written it down (exposing myself to public humiliation in the process), and I WILL start that list. Tomorrow.

That's how you put the "procrastinating" in the donkey, people. Wish me luck. Please?

Have you ever been in a morass of undone work, stuck so deeply that you are floundering around being totally ineffective or even (like me) frozen into immobility? Okay, I know it's unlikely, but I thought I'd ask, just in case you have any tips for me.

Wishing you a productive, fulfilling, organized weekend full of clear thinking and level-headed decisions.

I'll be here again on Monday with a poem about "my favourite thing to see (or do)" . . . join me if you like :)


Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes.
And when the job is HUGE I get overwhelmed and do none of it. So it gets bigger and uglier. And I long to crawl under the bed and velcro myself to the carpet (like the cats when they know a vet trip is on the agenda).
I have found that the solution for me is lists. To-do lists which always include at least one thing I CAN cross off (clean teeth, feed cat). Having crossed something off I feel a bit productive and continue.
Well it works for me anyway.
Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. And I do love your journals and note pads.

dinthebeast said...

Yes I have, and what's more, I've on more than one occasion got so far off into preparing for something that the preparations consumed all of the time available for the actual task, and I ended up perfectly ready to begin right when I should have been finishing...
I tended to use medium sized, college ruled, spiral notebooks for my journals, and after I had a small stack of them filled, I sort of had this epiphany: I was creating these artifacts, and I should try to make them readable.
I don't know whether they are or not, but it definitely marked a change in my attitude toward writing.
I have one journal that is decorative, and specifically made to be a journal, but it was a gift. As I recall, I wrote a story in it that I was quite serious about at the time, which was the aftermath of 9-11. I haven't read it in years, so I don't know if it's any good or not.
I used to be a big list maker, probably because working in restaurants I worked off of a prep list, and that seemed to work well. I don't do that much any more, though.
My retired friend JT got me into journaling, really, by suggesting to me that I just jot down what I had done each day, as a way of gaining enough perspective about what my behavior was to be able to change it if I wanted to. I believe the first entry I made was on Thanksgiving of '93, and mostly consisted of a list of personal effects I had managed to carry with me to that place and time.
He was right. That motivated the hell out of me.

-Doug in Oakland

River said...

Stuck in a morass of undone work? Yes. The first few months after my Angel got stolen I was a complete wreck sunk in depression and didn't do much more than eat and wash dishes.
I used to buy journals, diaries and pretty notepads and never used them, just like you. I used exercise books like the kids have in school, for everything. Shopping lists, notes and reminders. Then one day I started using some of the many notepads for shopping lists and found out how inadequate they were being long and thin, when I was used to the larger pages of an exercise book. I packed up all the unused journals etc and sent them all to a thrift shop.

crafty cat corner said...

So pleased to find another journal nut, lol
I have unused books from years ago that occasionally get taken out stroked and put away again, I, like you can't bear to write in them. lol

LL Cool Joe said...

I must introduce you to one of my blogging buddies! I think you'd get on well. Kelly is into journals, notebooks, bookmarks etc etc.

What if I don't want a productive, fulfilling, organised weekend full of clear thinking! :D I go through stages of being very productive, and then other times when I faff around doing nothing but talking about all the stuff I need to do. :D

Marie Smith said...

I am a notebook person too. Everything in one book but a spare in the wings, waiting for its time in the limelight. I love my notebook, with its finances, book lists, phone nubers, addresses and so much more. It is like a tangible extension of my mind.

My most undone item is the organization of genealogy material which is on numerous pages of my notebooks, past and present. I hope to live long enough to “git ‘er done.”

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Jenny, you are a wonderfully strange person and I am so glad that I found your blog. Of course, I have been called strange myself and I wear it as a badge of honor.

The meaning of things has no meaning.

Red said...

I'm a firm believer in journals. Do I write a journal ? No. However , I did write a journal for two years and every time I look at it I kick myself for not continuing. . As for organization? Don't talk to me about it. I'm completely chaotic.

Anonymous said...

Someone after my own heart! I too love stationery, all kinds and types of stationery, not just notebooks and notepads.

I had so many notebooks 'hidden' in my bureau that when it came to our move from Wales to here and I got them all out to pack, I said to myself that I thought I had enough. Patterned ones, plain ones, index notebooks, project notebooks, lined and plain paper ones. All of them unused!
I have now made myself not to even look at notebooks in any shop I go into. It's hard, but it has to be done,lol.

I've been making a few cards too, so consequently I've been collecting patterned paper and cardstock and that is breeding by itself too.

Funnily enough, my poem for Monday is all about my obsession with stationery.

See you then,
Joan (Devon)

Joanne Noragon said...

As I packed for vacation in another climate I also sorted out stuff I'll no longer use and put it in RECYCLE. There ya go.

The Happy Whisk said...

I am a huge fan of journals and blank books and I used to have a hard time using them. Now, I use them all even the ones I was saving.

But ... that came after donating and ditching a ton of my stuff back in 2016. It was either, use the journal or it has to go.

So I used them. And what a sense of freedom it was. So much better on this side. Come on over and play. It's great fun to write on those pages.

jenny_o said...

Thank you for that mental image of cats and people velcroed to the carpet! That's just what cats do and I'm positive they also know how to make themselves weigh twice as much.

To-do lists are the only way I've ever gotten things done. But things have been piling up so badly I couldn't even get the gumption to write it all down. Maybe I need two lists - the Big List that I'm trying to make, using a journal, and the Daily Lists which would include things I can be sure to be successful doing, as you described.

I wonder if analyzing how to get stuff done is considered to be just more procrastinating?

jenny_o said...

Intriguing about your friend's suggestion and how it helped you. I could benefit from that too, I think.

How does a prep list for a restaurant work? What would be included on it? That's intriguing to me, too.

You should get your story out and read it! And then start a $#%&! blog, Doug! lol

Terry said...


I used to have a journal when I was a kid. I remember it now. How could I ever forget it? I wonder why you didn’t fill yours with poems? It was good having a journal. I felt important even though I wasn’t. It was about the time I became interetested in St. Trinians, Maths and cricket. I must have been about 14 at the time. It’s strange how memories come flooding back. I haven’t thought about it for a while. It’s best that I don’t because it was a bad time for me.

jenny_o said...

I'm thinking exercise books (what we call scribblers here) might work for me as well. They are more utilitarian and I wouldn't worry about throwing them away after use.

And I think it is not surprising about your reaction after Angel disappeared - depression whether temporary or prolonged makes it hard to get out of our own way.

jenny_o said...

LOL! I'm happy to be finding my tribe by writing this post! I'm starting to re-think using my journals after all - maybe I'd be better off to treat them like ornaments and just admire them. I'm half-joking but I'm half-serious, too :)

jenny_o said...

Another rabbit hole to fall into, Joey! (Kelly's blog) I love it. I've had a first look but will be going back.

LOL - if you'd rather have a laid-back, restful weekend where you don't have to think at all, I'll wish that for you instead! Actually that sounds pretty good to me, too :)

jenny_o said...

You sound like a very organized person, Marie. I've tried the all-in-one notebooks but they didn't feel right for me. Maybe it's time to give them another chance.

Good luck with the genealogy work - I have a file of that kind of stuff, too!

jenny_o said...

Then I, too, will wear "strange" as a badge of honour :) Especially "wonderfully" strange - I like that!

I'm glad to have found your blog and you, too, Arleen. Blogland has brought me so many good people.

jenny_o said...

That's odd, Red - I wouldn't have pegged you for the chaotic type! You certainly hide it well!

jenny_o said...

I'm looking forward to your poem, Joan! I hear you on stationery and card-making supplies - I was going to add those to this post but knew it would be too long! lol

jenny_o said...

Now coming from you this does not surprise me IN THE LEAST :) You are a no-nonsense lady and that's probably how you get so much done!

But me? It would be like throwing my children away! ha ha

jenny_o said...

Nooooooooo!! Heresy!!

I think I have to do a follow up post on this topic! Readers' comments have triggered so many more thoughts on it.

I do like your thought process on either use the journals or let them go and will think more about that aspect of the problem. Stay tuned.

jenny_o said...

Maybe your journal helped you get through those bad times a little easier? I hope so.

I didn't really write much poetry until Diane suggested Poetry Monday. Maybe I should put my poems from here into one of those journals. I'll have to ponder that. Thanks for the idea, Terry.

Anonymous said...

I have used one of my notebooks for the poems I've written. Keeps them all together instead of bits of paper, which easily get lost.

Joan (Devon)

dinthebeast said...

When you work in a kitchen, the first thing you do (or I did) is go around and sort of inventory what you have, while deciding what you need for your shift, and what you should really have on hand for the next shift.
This manifests as a to-do list, and the better it is, the more successful you will be that shift.
When you get really good at it, you learn how to prioritize the items on it for the specific conditions you know you will encounter (produce you need to get served before it goes bad, ingredients for specials that are selling well, items the breakfast shift will need because it's a weekend, etc.) In fact, there were a couple of times when I was too sick to work, but agreed to come in long enough to make a prep list, so they would know what should be done...

-Doug in Oakland

Martha said...

Oh yes...I get that way sometimes, especially when there is an overwhelming list of things to do. Speaking of lists, now that you put it out there, we're going to have to nag you to death to make that list.

Like you, I LOVE journals and notepads. And like you, for the longest time I wasn't able to write on any. I would buy them and tuck them safely away. But then we moved and the de-cluttering began. And I took that opportunity to give away my least favourites. The rest came with me on the condition that they'd get used. If not, they would have to find a new home here. So now I use all my paper goods! Life is too short to store them. They need love. And if you don't write on them, they'll feel unloved, unappreciated, not worthy of your time. So show them some love with words :)

You see, I have issues, too :)

Happy weekend!

Mr. Shife said...

I think if it makes you happy then you keep on collecting them. I have a lot of stuff lying around the house that needs to find a new home but I keep hanging on to them because I am sure I am going to use them some day. Take care, jenny_o.

jenny_o said...

Interesting. I can see how writing it down would help make the shift successful - everyone is aware of what needs done and can get right to work. Thanks for the explanation!

jenny_o said...

You make a very good point!

And I don't mind having issues when I have good company along the way :)

jenny_o said...

Well, I like your thinking, Mr. Shife :) Really, they don't take up much room, so maybe that's the best answer of all.

Diane Henders said...

Your inscrutable journal quotes made me laugh - I completely understand why you had to buy them!

I understand that overwhelmed feeling, too. No fun at all. When I feel like everything is in a shambles, I choose JUST ONE thing (not a giant thing) and do it. That's all. No pressure to do the other things. It's like starting in the corner of a huge messy room and only cleaning that corner. Before I know it, I've moved on to the next thing, and then next; and pretty soon the shambles starts to look a bit more manageable. Getting that first thing done is what makes it work!

e said...

And here I sit, down to my last bits of paper after having used all of the others up...I need to write letters and have no paper...

Steve Reed said...

Ha! I never used such nice journals for my own journalizing (?) -- I just bought lined spiral notebooks. I can see how writing in such nice books would seem WRONG somehow. But it's not. Use them up! And use up those notepads, too!

I think a lot of people have a sort of fetish (in the non-sexual sense...I think...) for office supplies. I had a friend who hoarded them. And I get it -- all those nice clean paper products, all those shiny pens, and everything is so HANDY! Except that very little of it ever gets actually used. At least, in my experience. (And especially now that everything is online and "virtual.")

jenny_o said...

I've noticed that the hardest part of any job for me is just getting started, and I need to remember that - really remember it . . .

"Inscrutable" is just the word for those quotes!

jenny_o said...

I completely cannot imagine not having paper around. I wouldn't die or anything, but it would be a very strange feeling!

Do you have toilet paper or an adding machine tape handy? I've received letters written on those! (from a prankster friend)

jenny_o said...

You've hit on one of the reasons I don't use those journals - when I want to write anything other than a reminder note to myself, I use the computer. It's faster and neater and the delete button is a feature that is sadly lacking with handwriting! (I can't stand crossing things out when writing) Even though I said I would use one journal for my master list, I couldn't do it when it came right down to it. I picked a notepad instead! I'm not right, I know :)

only slightly confused said...

Yes, I most definitely HAVE been complegtely paralyzed by the over abundance of 'things to do'... The notebooks? Well, I think you are buying possibilities, not notebooks. I bought myself a lovely notebook once and then couldn't think of anything special eough to write in it. Now I just walk past them. I buy steno pads by the bundle and use those. I have no problem with ripping pages out of them, doodling in them, whatever.....

jenny_o said...

"Special enough" stuff to write in them - bingo ... that rings a big loud clangy bell between my ears, Delores ... sigh

And I'm glad it appears I'm not the only one who gets paralyzed.

Geo. said...

We must write down notes, ideas, schedules, feelings, and most certainly poems in our journals as well as our blogs. Otherwise our history depends on electronic writing, which --if the wrong plug is pulled-- amounts to disappearing ink.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Thank you for arriving on time for your appointment Ms O'Jenny. Now if you would please take your coat off and lie down on the couch. Thank you. Are you comfortable?

I want you to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Picture a journal in your mind. The pages are crisp and empty. Now imagine a hand holding a silver pen. The pen alights on the paper and words flow from the nib. There's no need to tremble Ms O'Jenny. Just relax.

And the pen leaves written words throughout the journal on every page. The writing is bold, confident and furious. You are writing about everything. It is as if a dam has burst. Poems, lists, memories, ideas. You are writing away like a dervish until finally the journal is filled, completely full. You smile at your success. You feel at peace with the world.

Now when I snap my fingers you will slowly open your eyes and return to this leather couch in my consulting room.

The job is done. That will be $250. Please pay my secretary on the way out and don't forget your coat.

Julia said...

I have lots of large hard cover journals that are filled cover to cover sitting on a high closet shelf. I think I have over 20 of them. I wrote in them every day until I started blogging and I stopped and never went back to it as I intended to do... As a matter of fact, I was going to make a blog post about it but never did. But once in a while when I dust the shelf, I'll read something from it and it takes me back to something that I had totally forgotten about.

I had the opportunity to take the St Ignatius Spiritual Exercise and it was required that we journal every day and that how I started.
I had a reason to start because it was a requirement. Now I'm so glad I did as i've discovered a lot about myself that I had no idea about.

I would suggest that you take the one journal that you least like and open it and get a pen or pencil and start to write without stopping to think, just write whatever comes into your mind about why you're not using these journals, never mind about the spelling or grammar or neatness. If you can't bear to do this in a journal, then just use a plain piece of line paper and just keep on writing till the page is full or fill another page or as many as you can if you want. Then go back and read it. You may find the reason why you can't use these journal.

Sometimes, we overthink and get nowhere.
Thanks for your comment re. my budding little photographer on Terry's blog.

jenny_o said...

This is true, Geo. I know this but fail to remember it all the time. Thank you for reminding me; it will be a motivator to get more written on paper, even though I do not like to physically write. I have some carpal tunnel pressure which causes my hand to go numb after a short period of writing. Also, my handwriting is not very pretty :) So those have been factors in not using my journals. But your comment is making me think more deeply about not just what is comfortable but what is important.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Dr. Pudding. Unfortunately I left my purse at home - I'll just put the cheque in the mail!!

jenny_o said...

It's surprising how much we can discover by getting things on paper, isn't it? Just by writing this post, and answering the comments on it, I have increased my understanding of why I do what I do with those journals. I will use your idea to help me even further. Thank you for dropping by and commenting - it has been helpful.

baili said...

wow what a coincidence my dear Jenny !
either i LOVE to have personal journals though i liked to fill them up when i was young and it seemed that front of the flow of my spontaneous thoughts journals will be less and then we were not in position to buy extra stuff rather than just school text and notebooks

kylie said...

I love the oriental patterned one best but they are all good!
I also love journals and notebooks but never use them. Little girls always love stationery (hence the success of smiggle) and some of us never grow out of it.
I have to admit, when i use a journal I usually use one or two pages and then abandon the idea so when you say you want to use all of them for different things I just want to cry out "nooooo!!!" I wouldn't want you to ruin all those nice books with one or two used pages!

Sinking in a morass of undone work?? nope, I have no clue what you might mean by that.....

Julia said...

I hope the exercise is helpful to you. It was an exercise I had to do a long time ago and it made me pinpoint what I couldn't admit to myself. Funny, I can't remember what it was all about but I remember the exercise was beneficial to get things out.

jenny_o said...

When we were young, there were no computers to give us paperless writing, correct? So I think more people had handwritten journals because of that. It doesn't surprise me that you were a journal writer!

jenny_o said...

At the time I wrote that, I sincerely, truly meant it. Less than 24 hours later, I had come up with a way to NOT use them after all . . . My inner reaction was like yours: Noooooooo! I have a different plan now, which will be in Friday's post :)

I believe you, too, on not having a clue about undone work :D ha ha

Chicken said...

Yes, Doug, You SHOULD write a blog. I suspect there might be a Doug blog out there that we don't know about. Or some books. Because Doug is a writer, it's that simple. We just have to ferret them out, Jenny. And if there's not a blog or any books for public consumption, well, now we know there are a series of journals dating back 25 years. That sounds like good memoir material to me, Doug.

Chicken said...

I favor the plain journals, about 8 x 5 or so, in jewel tones. I have several of them. Unlike you, I have occasionally written in them, but never with any regularity. About 3 months ago, I set out to form some new habits and one of them was journaling. I don't know why, maybe it was the time of the day I do it, but despite not being good at being habitual (and sometimes that's a fortunate thing, as well), it somehow has stuck and I do it most mornings now. The downside is that it uses the time I used to try and devote to blogging. I'm hoping to get a blog post out there soon about the whole thing. I have something to say to you about your lack of energy for getting things done, however, even though I'm wondering if maybe what you perceive is a lack of energy is the way the rest of us live most of the time. I.E. vacuuming out the back of the fridge. I don't want to gross you out or anything, but I think the only time I've ever done that is when I'm in the process of moving. And the fridge is coming with me.I may need to start keeping a list about the fridge, too, although I kind of feel like if it were meant to me moved it would be on wheels. Anyways, after my Dad passed it took a long time for me to start feeling normal and it definitely sapped my energy. I mean, it was a couple years. Maybe a few. Again, maybe I'm not normal but maybe I am and maybe you are still in that stage? Just a thought. Meandering. Through time not saved but not well spent. Ha. I think your time journal may have been produced by Yoda.

jenny_o said...

Well, that makes two of us who will follow you, Doug . . .


jenny_o said...

We have cats so the back of the fridge gets filled with cat hair; also, just because I WANT to do it more often doesn't mean I've done it much in the past! lol

I've wondered about the grief thing and I do think the first two years after my father died were low-energy because of that. I think now I might just be into a bad habit. It's hard for me to get out of bad habits; I don't have much willpower. Or energy. There, the circle has closed once again :)

I'm impressed that you have created a new, good habit with your journaling. And there's only so much time in a day so something has to give when we take on something new. Maybe if you look at writing of all kinds (journals/blogs/whatever) as a category, you wouldn't have to look at less blogging as a downside of journaling. It's all writing, and it's all good. Although if you're journaling for a specific reason or result, and you don't get that from blogging, that doesn't work.

Yoda. I love that thought!

Chicken said...

I'm doing the long hand version because I've read in a couple of places that it takes away the pressure to be perfect and it encourages activity. Something about the process of pen to paper. I haven't noticed any creativity surges but I do kind of enjoy the process. But I don't want to lose the blogging, either. I just have to find a way to fit it in, WITH the journaling and WITH my new job I'm commuting to two hours a day. It's a lot. But I'll be back!

jenny_o said...

A two-hour commute??? Oh, man, I feel for you. How do you pass the time? I'd either die of boredom/terror or from the danger created if I tried to listen to music or a book on tape. I am a uni-tasker, if that's a word.

I do hope you'll be back. I miss your writing.