Keeping Them Honest. (And by “them” I mean “me.”)

I love Anderson Cooper’s “Keeping Them Honest” segments on CNN.com where he takes the day’s political stories and reviews the facts versus the spin. I thought I’d do the same for myself, as a way to look back at 2018. Where did I fail? Where did I succeed?

Let’s hit some areas where I fell short.

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I believe I declared that I was going to clear out my backlog of notes and stationery by mailing a card or note to someone every day of 2018. That habit stuck for awhile—into March, I think. And I DID send a good number of cards, but lesson learned: you’re not going to do ANYTHING every day of the year*. This basket, I must admit, looks pretty much the same as when I made that declaration. Not only that, but I bought even more cards and notes (at 75% off at Barnes & Noble, but still) so the stationery situation is actually a little worse than when I started. Something to work on in 2019.

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I also started scoring my days, drawing the weather, and charting my mood in my Hobonichi Techo. That venture petered out after a month or so. I do like looking back at those pages, but I don’t think I was gaining much insight from the practice, so I just stopped. I’d like to use the monthly calendar pages to track something, but I haven’t given that much thought yet. It’s only January 6th. There’s still time. (A friend suggested, just today, that we get back into running so this might be the perfect place to log those workouts. And my mood. And the weather.)

There are certainly other areas where I fell far short of my goals, declared or not. I acquired more pens than seems healthy, and didn’t dip into my own collection of under-used pens when I had the hankering for something new. Definitely working on this in 2019. Six days in. No new pens. High five!!

So…where did I succeed in 2018?

I started dream journaling.

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This isn’t something that I do very often, but I do do it every now and then. Especially vivid or meaningful dreams get recorded and drawn, and I do my best to tease out the significance of the what I experienced or felt. Sometimes what seems like a stressful dream actually delivers a positive message when I sit down and dissect the images and emotions. This is a “sometime” kind of journaling, but it’s sticking. Success.

I finally made it to CW Pencil Enterprise. Twice. LOVED IT.

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I’ll do a separate blog post about my experience in the store, but let me just say that this little shop feels like home. It’s warm and wonderful, full of delightful people and pencils. There’s a little bit of magic there. I’ll be returning in 2019. For sure.

I’m still writing my morning pages. Every single morning.

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I started this practice in the summer of 2016 and once that switch flipped on, it’s never been turned off. I can’t imagine my morning without coffee (french-pressed cold brew) and my journal.

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A few days before Christmas I started my fourth 480-page Nanami Paper journal. That’s a lot of ink and words—a lot of whatever spills out of my groggy head and onto the page. A lot of struggles, doubts, anxieties, pep talks, and precious memories.

2018 was a weird year. Lots of drama and changes (ongoing) with my elderly parents. Very little blogging. 2019 will probably be weird, too, but I hope to do significantly more blogging. And if I don’t, feel free to keep me honest.

*Edited to add: Tina correctly pointed out, in a comment, that I have maintained a daily journaling habit, so clearly I can do something every single day if I really want to. She’s right. Because I’ve scheduled this, and made it an ingrained habit, I’ve been successful at maintaining this streak. Something to think about as I work to make improvements and tweak my priorities in 2019.

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EXACTLY what I needed: Baron Fig’s Wander Dream Journal

“Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy. ” ― Ray Charles

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I dream epic dreams, full of technicolor details and heart-pounding scenarios, almost every night. I’d love to dream that I’m simply lying on a beach reading a favorite book—all peace and tranquility—but that’s not how my brain works. I’m sometimes wandering around an unfamiliar city or navigating narrow corridors and twisted stairways in a strange and cramped building. Or my basement is filling up with hundreds of unfamiliar cats (this is a recurring one). I must be burning calories with all of this nightly exertion. No wonder I need coffee as soon as I step out of bed.

I’ve thought about of recording my dreams but never followed through—until Baron Fig released their Wander Dream Journal. This perfectly designed, star decorated, clothbound notebook is exactly what I needed to turn that vague urge into concrete action.

Each two page spread contains simple “checklist” style prompts, in the margins, that make it quick and easy to record basic dream parameters, like Emotion…

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Sleep Quality…

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Time…

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Color…

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Viewpoint…

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and Type…

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The prompts are a great idea and I often check them off first thing in the morning, even if I don’t have enough time to record the dream’s details until later.

To capture the plot, specific details, and meaning of each dream, the pages are divided into three sections—Recall, Visualize, and Interpret. So you can see exactly how I use my Wander journal, I’m sharing the dream I had two nights ago—one in which I had a dream inside my actual dream. First time that’s ever happen, I think. This unusual double dream absolutely called out to be documented.

In the lined Recall section, I described what happened in my dream within a dream. How I was driving but couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of my car. How I was sure that I’d crash before I got to my destination. How panicky I felt. (Where is that beach that I so crave?!?!)

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The blank Visualize section is where you’re prompted to record what the dream looked like. This is the tricky part for me, as my drawing skills are not very well developed. It’s usually the last part I complete because this art piece doesn’t come naturally to me. But—surprise, surprise—it’s the part I’m having the most fun with.

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When I figure out an image that I want to use to represent some aspect of my dream, I google doodling websites to get some basic guidance, then take an amateurish stab at it. What a great way to practice a skill that I’ve always wanted to get better at—sketching and drawing. Tamping down my perfectionism always takes some doing and this feels like another step in the right direction.

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The dot-lined Interpret section is where you can take a stab at interpreting your dream. I’m going through a pretty stressful rough patch with my elderly parents (health issues, anxiety issues, complicated life decisions to be navigated, all while working full time) and so my “driving blind” dream didn’t take a genius to unravel. But—oddly enough—as I wrote out my thoughts, I found a positive message in what seemed to be a very negative dream. I felt relief, and just a little bit of the mental peace that’s been in very short supply lately. Had I not written out my interpretation of this dream, I doubt I would’ve discovered this optimistic nugget.

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Baron Fig’s Wander Dream Journal is obviously a niche product. If you rarely remember your dreams, it’s probably not for you. And if you’re happy recording your dreams in a regular notebook, that’s fine, too. But for those of us who dream ferociously, and who like contemplating what those dreams mean, this is the perfect product. With its simple guided checklists and trio of prompts, this is a journal that provides the perfect balance of structure and space to explore those nighttime stories and mental mysteries.

I started writing morning pages over two years ago and that habit is now rooted so deeply that I’ll never give it up as long as I can hold a pen. I can see dream journaling becoming just as important. I’m thrilled to be recording—and drawing—my dreams after  casually kicking around the idea for years.

Baron Fig’s Wander Dream Journal is exactly what I needed to make that daunting leap from inaction to action. From “I should” to “I am.” From dream confusion to dream insight. How could I not love this notebook?

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And who knows, maybe someday I’ll be drawing that beach.

“Dreams are stories made by and for the dreamer, and each dreamer has his own folds to open and knots to untie.”
Siri Hustvedt

Sweet dreams, my friends.

The Baron Fig Wander Dream Journal was purchased with my own funds, as were all of the products pictured in this review. 

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