Today I Got To:__________

My dad passed away on January 22nd, and ever since then I feel like I’ve been running on a hamster wheel deciphering confusing mail, filling out inscrutable forms, and settling his financial affairs with an array of agencies, businesses, and people. My lists have sub-lists, an abundance of color-coding, and pages of carefully written explanations of what I’ve done and when I did it. There’s lots of waiting for other people to do things, which they seem to get right about 60% of the time. My brain is a Tilt-A-Whirl of tasks, appointments, and emotions. Wild times.

I bought a 5-Year Hobonichi Journal from Wonder Pens late last year and have have been faithfully jotting down a few lines about each day. For the first month and a half, my entries were simple recaps of my day, trending toward the negative. “Slept badly.” “Work was nuts.” “Cat still sick.” “Dad is failing.” Yeesh. As the entries piled up, I realized that compiling five years of complaints was not how I pictured this project going, but my brain seemed stuck in a “glass half empty” mode.

Until the universe—well, the universe in the form of Johnny Gamber—gave me a way out of the wallowing.

I’m a “Nubbin Stage” supporter of The Erasable Podcast via Patreon, and every so often, the three podcast hosts send little bonuses to us. In February, a sweet pocket notebook printed by Johnny’s Pencil Revolution Press arrived in my beleaguered mailbox. Ahhh, happy mail! While the notebook is great, it’s the list of writing prompts included in the package that’s made all the difference. In particular, Johnny’s prompt (pictured below) flipped my mental switch from the staticky “overwhelmed and anxious” channel to the crystal clear “grateful” channel. Just. Like. That.

Now I write about my lunchtime walks…

and the lazy days…

and letters and cards I’ve written…

and even those pesky appointments that now seem like something to celebrate rather than complain about.

Today I got to: Thank Johnny for his idea—for these four simple words that are helping me find the gems in even the trickiest days. These entries have become a kind of puzzle to solve every evening—looking back through the day to find the goodness, smiles, joy, humor, and connections—all a balm for one’s soul. I honestly can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.

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9 thoughts on “Today I Got To:__________

  1. Thank you (and Johnny)! I bought a 5-year Hobo in 2020 and tried using it as a sort of quick-and-dirty daily log/daily summary. Had the same experience as you. Went back to my regular Techo for planning & logging; have hated to waste the 5-year Hobo but didn’t know how to better use it. I’ll begin “Today I got to” this evening.
    My sympathy on the death of your father. The months after such a loss are challenging time in so many ways.

  2. I’m so sorry about your father… I remember how hard it is to get all that “stuff” done while also grieving. But what a great journal prompt! I use a similar tactic in my 5-year Leuchtturm: I begin each entry with “I appreciate…” or “Kind thoughts for…”

  3. Thank you for this post. I just wanted to let you know that I have now adopted the “Today I got to…” prompt for my daily journal and have immediately felt in better and more positive mood, instead of writing down all the tasks to be done and perpetuating the work pressures and stresses. Thank you for this!

  4. Thank-you for posting this, I will give it a try. Sorry to hear about your dad. My mom passed in October. I’m right there with you with all the things there are to deal with. Its draining. I know gratitude helps and I like this twist on a typical gratitude list.

    • Sorry about your mom, Matthew. Sending sympathy and solidarity. Thanks for commenting…glad the prompt is helping you, too!

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