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.

img_3509

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.

img_3716

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.

img_4002

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.

img_4026

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.

img_3669

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.

img_0135

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.

A Week Away

IMG_3856

I spent last week at a conference in Spokane, WA. I learned, laughed, and networked. We rarely got out of the hotel until evening, but that was fine as the sights were still spectacular. I love walking in new places with old friends.

IMG_3866

Since the conference was scientific in nature, my Baron Fig Experiment made the trip with me, and got considerable use. The green ink pops so I used it to write down those things that I want to come back to—issues, questions, things to think about.

IMG_3877

My roommate and I were often the first ones at breakfast so I’d sprawl a bit—coffee, water, Nock Co. case wide open, Hobonichi ready for updating. I took a pared down selection of pens, but enough to keep things interesting. The pens that got the most use were my Lamy Aion (black, fine) and my clipless Karas Kustoms INK (tumbled aluminum with a wonderful titanium medium nib), both filled with Colorverse Cat. I took notes in a Nock Co. A5 DotDash notebook which was the perfect choice in both size and performance. I almost filled it with my conference notes and will use the remaining space to flesh out thoughts and ideas that popped up during the week’s sessions and conversations.

But ya gotta have some fun, too.

IMG_3900

Atticus Coffee & Gifts (222 N Howard St, Spokane, WA) was definitely my happy place. I could’ve spent all of my free time there happily browsing through their selection of books, mugs, t-shirts, unique cards, stickers, pencils (Blackwings!), pens, and journals, or settled at a cozy table with some cold brew coffee or huckleberry tea. What a cool and comfortable place.

IMG_3902

A “must buy” sticker. (I also bought the t-shirt. HAD TO.)

Saturday morning, I made one last visit a few hours before my flight back east, and walked away with a nice little bag of souvenirs (t-shirt, novelty pen, tea, travel mug, stickers), as well as a much needed caffeine boost.

Flights went well, the weekend went fast, and Monday arrived as it always does. A friend on Facebook said, “The Monday after a week away is the Mondayest Monday ever.” She’s so right—re-entry is hard.

Well, I thought, if I have to work, I’m using my new pen. Which is exactly what I did.

IMG_3907

And you know what? It kind of helped.

———————————————————–

Are YOU having a Monday? Do you need a rubber feather pen? Atticus Coffee & Gifts doesn’t appear to have an online presence, but I see the pen is available HERE. There’s also a grass pen that I should’ve bought, too. You know, for those pesky Tuesdays.

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

The Best Night

Sixteen year old Sawyer Fredericks auditioned on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2015 with the song I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” I’ve been a fan ever since, especially because Sawyer is a local boy. Well, local(ish), having grown up in Fultonville, NY, about an hour from here.

Sawyer went on to win “The Voice,” released a post-Voice album, but ultimately decided to go independent—a decision that makes complete sense. He’s a unique talent that doesn’t fit the corporate record company mold, and has his sights set on making his music his way. He’s an old soul in a young man’s body—quiet and kind—with a voice that gives me chills.

One of my favorite songs is “Four Pockets,” which he wrote at age 14(!!!).

Last Sunday night, Fred and I attended our first Sawyer Fredericks concert at The Glove Theatre in Gloversville, NY. We purchased $30 VIP passes which included a pre-concert reception, priority table seating, and a post-concert meet and greet. Immediately before the concert, Sawyer premiered his latest video, “Gasoline,” which was filmed in the same venue.

After the concert, about 40 of us lined up to meet Sawyer. His mom was on hand to take photos with our phones, and he graciously signed his fans’ tickets, programs, and VIP passes. I had the presence of mind to bring my Hobonichi and decided to ask him if he’d sign the June 3rd page.

As you know, my Hobonichi has become my “everything” book—the place where I document the details of my life—so it seemed like the perfect place for Sawyer’s autograph. AND I think I have a better chance of hanging onto a Hobonichi through the years than I do a single concert ticket.

So sure, he signed our tickets and VIP passes, AND my Hobonichi.

IMG_3734

As he picked up his Sharpie, he quietly said, “I hope this doesn’t bleed through,” which I thought was adorable—his concern for my notebook. We had to move along so I didn’t launch into an explanation of Tomoe River paper, but just laughed and told him that I really didn’t care. I SO did not care.

IMG_3735

Sure there’s some show-through, but no big deal. I was just thrilled to meet him, capture this memento of a special night, and to say thank you for his music and kindness.

IMG_3733

It really was the best night.

SaveSave

SaveSave

#mykeisprobablyright: Daily Tracking in My Hobonichi

IMG_3626

The best guys

One of the thrills of the Atlanta Pen Show was FINALLY meeting Myke Hurley. I’ve been a fan since his 70decibels days, and love seeing his hard work pay off with the success of relay.fm. I religiously listen to The Pen Addict, Analogue, and Cortex podcasts, bumping each new episode to the top of my bloated queue. I think he’s great.

Knowing that I’d be meeting him, I pictured myself waxing eloquent when it came time to tell him how much I admire his work. Instead, I sputtered out some jumbled praise, never really getting traction with my words. But Myke was gracious and kind as I garbled my compliments.

One point I did manage to successfully express was how I’ve taken to copying his latest foray into journaling. On Cortex, he’s talked about answering a series of daily questions in a journal, using different pens every day. I gave that approach a shot, but, so far, I’m having trouble making it stick. My evenings tend to be a crapshoot, with available time magically evaporating. But I haven’t given up on this. Morning journaling is now an ingrained habit, and I think I can make this evening journaling work as well. I’m going to keep trying.

The other day, on another episode of Cortex, Myke talked about using the monthly pages in his Hobonichi to track a handful of goals on a daily basis. This idea REALLY appeals to me, especially because my monthly pages are just sitting there waiting to be filled with something.

I love the idea of a quick way to track daily habits and goals. But which ones? Obviously Myke’s goals are not mine, so I had a little thinking to do.

After doing some brainstorming during my daily walks, I came up with a list of five goals (I guess you’d call them that) to track.

  • Eat well
  • Exercise & movement
  • Connect with/support others
  • Write/create/blog
  • Fun/laughter

These may change on a monthly basis, though I know that good nutrition and exercise will remain as constants. I set a scale of 0-3 for the daily score in each category, with the highest possible daily score being 15 (math whiz here).

IMG_3706

I also added a mood tracker—a simple hand drawn emoji—to document my overall mood for the day.

IMG_3707

And today I decided to also track the weather with a very quick sketch. I might as well use some of the colored pencils I have laying around. A tiny sketch is better than no sketch.

IMG_3710

I have no idea what all of this will tell me, but I’m curious to find out. Will my mood affect how successful I am with my goals, or vice versa? Does the weather affect my mood and my daily success? Will I be able to extract anything of value from this data? Will I ever score the elusive 15? That’s all yet to be determined.

If nothing else, I’m finally using those empty monthly pages. I’ve documented what I want to focus my attention on, which means that I have a better shot at success. I may discover something about myself, but even if I don’t, this is a quick and easy way to look back at my day and think about how I used my time and energy. How do I feel? What did I accomplish? What needs improvement? How can I make tomorrow better?

So Myke, keep doing what you love and trying new things (that I can copy). I’ll always be a fan of your work ethic, humor, honesty, and podcasts. And with this daily tracking, I’m thinking…

#mykeisprobablyright

IMG_3715

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Dear Hobonichi Techo

IMG_3532

When I met you in 2016, I wasn’t sure that you were my type, that I’d be able to commit. But here we are in 2018 and I’m more in love with you than ever. You’re where I share my secrets and the mundane details of my days. Always with me—a true companion—you inspire me to record the small joys found in ordinary days and are the keeper of the quotes that touch my heart.

If anything ever happened to you, I’d be lost. You mean that much to me.

IMG_3530

You’re my journal, appointment book, to-do list, mood-lifter, and philosopher. You’re the archive of my simple and quiet life.

I love you—now and always.

Mary

IMG_3529

Truth. The quote, not the pancakes. Well, maybe the pancakes.

 

SaveSave

Heading Off Hobonichi Heartache

Usually my cautionary tales (lost ink, spilled ink) are tales of woe, and a lesson for you to learn from my careless mistake. This time, I’m hoping to head off some heartache BEFORE I experience a catastrophe. Progress!

IMG_3286

I started using a Hobonichi planner January 1st, 2016, and immediately bonded with the thing. It’s become the place where I record my appointments (always in pencil), jot down the good things from my day, and copy down quotes that capture an important thought or feeling. You’ll note that I also record our dinner, as prompted by the tiny fork and knife icons in the left hand margin. Every page is filled with the details from my day. By the end of 2016, I realized that this diminutive book held the story of my life, so of course I ordered another for 2017, and now a third for 2018. This is a habit that’s stuck.

IMG_3287

There have been days where I’ve accidentally left my Hobonichi at work, and even though I know it’s there, I feel edgy until I walk in the next day and see it on my desk. I often flip back to read about a day, to see what some of the highlights were, what I was thinking, what I was inspired by, what I ate. To lose the precious volume that I’ve filled day by day by day would make me incredibly sad.

IMG_3290

I carry a Tile on my work and car keys so they can be tracked down if I misplace them, but until recently, it hadn’t dawned on me to safeguard my Hobonichi the same way. The Tile website describes the device this way—”Our little Bluetooth tracker, paired with our intuitive app, makes it easy to find everything that matters.” Once paired with your keys or purse or, in my case, Hobonichi, you can activate the app to ring your lost item, track its last known location, and connect with the larger Tile community to find what you’ve misplaced. While not a perfect solution, having a Tile tied to your critical belongings makes it more likely that you’ll be able to find them when they’re misplaced, especially if it’s just in your own home or office. No more time consuming hunts through rooms and desks and piles of paper. Activate the app for your lost item and Tile plays a sound while also helping you hone in on its exact location. (For more details on how Tile works, check out this link.)

IMG_3284

I recently purchased a Tile mixed 4-pack (two Tile Mates and two Tile Slims) and after connecting one of the Mates to to my keys and another to my dad’s cane, I had the two Slims left over. That’s when it occurred to me to slip a Tile Slim inside the pocket of my Hobonichi cover.

IMG_3285

I may never need it, but boy do I feel better knowing it’s there. And my other Tile Slim will get tucked into my pen case when I head to Toronto for Scriptus. (At the DC Pen Show one year I recall a frantic search by someone who had misplaced a full case of pens somewhere in the hotel. I do not want that to ever be me.) Having a Tile in your pen case might help in the unthinkable situation where your pens are stolen, as happened to Dan Smith, especially in a metropolitan area where there’s bound to be a larger number of Tile users.

Hey, look at me…taking steps before a disaster happens! It’s like I’m an adult or something!

That feat only took 58 years.

I purchased all of the Tiles mentioned here with my own funds and have no affiliation with tileapp.com. I was not compensated in any way for this post. I just wanted to share my idea. Hope this helps, or at least makes you think about protecting your important belongings.

Edited to add: As Ana Reinert noted in the comments, your Tile can also be used to find your cellphone as long as it’s nearby. Double-press the “Tile” button and your phone will play a tune so that you can figure out where you set it down. I don’t use this feature too often, but it’s good to know that it’s an option. Here’s a link to a more detailed explanation of this phone-finding feature.