What, me worry?

After writing last week’s “Using the Hoard” post, I created a few of the specialty pocket notebooks that I wrote about in that post—the Pen & Ink log, the Menu/Grocery log, and the Worry log. Of the three, the Worry log has been the most-used this week—a real game changer for someone who is prone to stewing about life’s complications, large and small. Perhaps you’re the same?

I chose a Field Notes pocket notebook from an open pack and labeled it up.

Then I simply added start and end dates to the first page.

Now let’s get to the good stuff—the worries!

On the left-hand page, I list my current concerns—the stuff that’s bugging me. Each worry gets its own sequential number and a little checkbox. (Hand-drawn checkboxes bring me joy.)

This simple action makes it pretty darned clear which bothersome issues I have control over and which I do not. This realization is key to breaking the cycle of all of the mental grinding that wears me down. Those things over which I have no control are released to play out as they will. (Not always easy, I know!) Those things that I CAN control are tackled by taking action. Just noticing this distinction helps to clear my head, and gives me an illuminated path out of the fog of fear and anxiety.

On the right-hand page of the spread, I record the resolution (or progress) associated with each particular worry.

Some problems take longer to solve than others (Captain Obvious here!), so there may be multiple entries on the Resolution/Progress pages before a particular situation is fully resolved. In-progress worries for which action is being taken, get a diagonal line drawn across the checkbox to indicate that work is underway. Once a problem is fully resolved, the associated checkbox is completely filled in. Bye, bye worry!

Worries that are not at all under my control—typically having to do with other people—will get an “X” in the checkbox. I have no control over my mom’s eye surgery scheduled for July, so I’ll “X” that one out and release that worry. Again, easier to say than to do, but learning to let these things go gets somewhat easier with practice.

One more thing—starting from the back of the notebook, I record quotes and sayings that help me in anxious times—a little reference for boosting my mood and spirits.

I come upon these gems in books, on Instagram (e.g., Ryan Holiday), from wise and wonderful friends, from Stephen Brown’s videos on Stoicism, and from curated newsletters. Rather than letting the quotes and passages simply pass through my mind, I make a point of recording them for future use as there will always be troubling times and situations for which I’ll need perspective, comfort, and wisdom.

I have to say, I really love how this came together and how much it’s been helping me in just one week.

Are you a worrier, too? How do you tame the worry beast?

Using the Hoard

Brainstorming with my Waterman Phileas and Diamine Meadow ink

On a recent episode of the Take Note podcast, Adam and Ted talked about using pocket notebooks for super specific purposes. Some of the ideas they discussed piqued my interest, like:

  • A food journal
  • A dream journal (as someone who has full-color, cinematic dreams, this one’s a no-brainer)
  • A journal that you only write in when it’s raining
  • A journal of ideas about writing
  • A weather journal
  • A shared journal — each person writes one page then passes it along for the second person to do the same — a compilation of notes/letters into a single notebook (kind of love this)
The tip of the Field Notes iceberg

Since I have what could be called a “healthy supply” of pocket notebooks and only so much time to use them (a sobering, but also motivating, thought), I found myself brainstorming my own ideas for filling up, and using up, my hoard. Off the top of my head, I quickly came up with a very Mary list:

  • A walking journal — where, when, weather, distance, mood, observations, thoughts
  • A Spyder riding journal (once the weather improves) — same parameters as for my walks
  • A book journal — I’m a slow reader so this one would take awhile to fill.
  • A letter writing journal — notes from letters received as well as thought/ideas/events to write about in the return letter
  • A worry journal — what’s bugging me right now, then, eventually, how the worry resolved with or without my intervention
  • A Sunday afternoon ride journal — My mom and I take a long car ride every Sunday afternoon, and we we’ve done so for a couple of years. I think we’ve been on almost every road in a 60-mile radius. Why haven’t I been documenting these rides — our route, her chattering, wildlife seen, funny signs (like —”DANGER! Dumb geese, ducks, and deer!” recently seen by the side of a country road), weather, ice cream details?! Time to start.
  • A pen and ink journal — No matter how sure I am that I’ll remember what ink is in which pen, I too often don’t. Here’s an obvious solution to that problem.
  • A photography journal — Print photos with my Sprocket printer and stick them into a pocket journal with some notes about the photo. Analog Instagram!
  • A bird journal — Who’s visiting our feeders and the woods behind our house; who’s singing on my early morning walks.
  • A wonder journal —capturing those tiny moments that light me up before they poof away
  • A grocery list/menu journal — I’ve been using index cards for this, but it might be cool to fill up an entire notebook with weekly menus, recipe notes, and grocery lists —a reference for when the “What’s for dinner?” well runs dry.
Some Write Notepads beauties

I also aspire to simply jot down funny moments, overheard conversations, and life’s absurdities, much like Adam and Ted do. Like my pen and ink pairings, this material needs to be captured in the moment or it’s gone. Carry a notebook. Or ten. Take notes. Make notes.

Use that hoard, Mary. Time’s a-wastin’.

Filled and filed pocket notebooksproof that I do make good use of my stash, just not fast, or creatively, enough.

UPDATE: Menu/groceries notebook now in play. One down, many to go.

New Tricks: Write Notepads & Co. Pocket Notebooks

The pen, pencil, and paper world seems to be awash in pocket notebooks. Very nice pocket notebooks made by very nice people and interesting companies. Cool notebooks. Coveted notebooks. You know the players—Field Notes, Doane Paper, Story, Baron Fig, Word notebooks—all with their own personal style. I’m a daily user of Field Notes and dabbler in some of the other ones. I enjoy a pocket notebook because it doesn’t seem as precious as larger journals. I can hit the page running without that stupid worry of my words and ideas being unworthy. I can fill them up and file them away. I can pull them out later to find a scribbled down quote, the details of a doctor’s appointment, some notes from a meeting at work, the particulars of a day’s to-do list. They get filled up and worn out. They’re both insignificant and significant at the same time.

So many notebooks. So many players. You might think that there’s not any room for anything new. You might think that, but you’d be mistaken.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks

Chris and Mark Rothe, of Write Notepads & Co., recently released their own version of the pocket notebook. Being a fan of both Mark and Chris, and their aesthetic, I knew I had to pick up a couple of boxes. And what cool boxes they are. Rather than being wrapped in plastic like most other brands, the Write Notepad & Co. pocket notebooks come, three to a pack, in the box pictured above. With the silver foil stamping, it’s got that Write Notepads vibe—vintage, but still very fresh.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks

The old-school look continues on the notebooks themselves. Simple. Unadorned. In classic colors. They’re refreshing in their lack of gimmicks. The covers are letter pressed with “Property Of” and a line for your name, paying homage to the notebooks of my early school days. Nostalgic. But still cool.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks

Rather than being assembled with staples, the Write Notepads notebooks are bound with glue. I know what you’re thinking. The glue will give way and the pages will fall out. But again, you’d be mistaken. If you follow Write Notepads & Co. on Instagram (@writepads), you may have seen a video post where Chris is bending the heck out of the red pocket notebook, bending it back and forth in sort of an “S” formation that is undoubtedly more extreme than any sort of daily wear and tear. The spine shows some wear, but when he opens the notebook, the pages are perfectly secure. I haven’t put my notebooks to that kind of stress test, but I have cracked one wide open, and have found the same—the pages remain intact. So the absence of staples is not a cause for concern.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks

Each boxed set of the 3-3/4″ x 5-1/2″ notebooks comes with one blank, one lined, and one graph version.  I’m a bigger fan of graph paper than I am the other two, but can certainly find uses for all three versions. At some point, though, it might be nice to be able to buy a set with just one style of paper. I’d go all in on the graph version, for sure. The notebook covers are made from 100-pound stock, while the inner pages are made from 70-pound paper stock—really great stuff.  Each notebook contains 64 pages, rather than the typical 48.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks writing sample

I used a variety of inks (gel, fountain pen, ballpoint), along with one pencil, to test out the performance of the paper, and came away very impressed. My Visconti Opera Elements is definitely a wet medium, and I was hard pressed to see any feathering with that pen and the SBREBrown ink it’s filled with. Even up close, the lines look quite clear and crisp.

Close-up writing test

A look at the other side shows how well this paper handles my ink test samples. There’s very little show-through, and no bleed-through.

Back side of ink test page

100% American Made in Baltimore, MD, these pocket notebooks can handle your day and your ink, but they also perform community service. Or rather, YOU perform community service when you buy them. For each pack purchased, the guys at Write Notepads donate a student notebook to one of Baltimore’s inner city schools. Each pack come with a 5-digit code that allows you, the purchaser, to log onto the Write Notepads & Co. site to see which specific school your purchase has benefited. I think this is the coolest thing ever, and says a lot about this company and the guys behind it.

School Code

When I entered my code, I see that Write Notepads will donate a student notebook to Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary thanks to my purchase and the guys’ generosity. Chris remarked, during my 2014 visit to their company, that he wasn’t sure what to expect from the students in this age of digital everything. Would a notebook get a reaction from a school child? Chris reports that, yes, the students get visibly excited when they receive their own notebooks and pencils. These seemingly simple gifts are very much appreciated and well-used.

Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks

The back of the package details the main features of the notebooks:

  • 3 pocket notebooks
  • 1-Plain, 1-Lined, 1-Graph
  • 64 pages
  • 70-pound white offset
  • 3-3/4 inches by 5-3/4 inches
  • 100% American Made

You’ll find the word “Write” on the packaging in several places, obviously a reference to the full company name, but also an important reminder that notebooks are meant to be written in. Not collected. Not stashed away for “someday.” “Write,” the box says. Mark them up. Fill them up. Make them yours.

WriteNotepads Pocket Notebooks

With their superb paper, a glued binding, and stylish packaging, this Write Notepads & Co. offering brings a number of new tricks to the world of pocket notebooks. But maybe the best trick is the one that makes it possible for Baltimore city school students to have their own notebooks.

Who knows where that simple gift may lead.

The notebooks reviewed here were purchased with my own funds. I was not asked for a review, nor was I compensated in any way. Available for $9.99 per 3-pack, these are pocket notebooks that you can feel good about buying and using. And using. And using.