A Necessary Pause: Full-Time to Part-Time

After my restart back on the road full-timing, I experienced some further issues that made me head back to the Midwest for more advanced healthcare support. This time, I connected to the University of Michigan’s famed cardiology center in Ann Arbor for a round of “what’s going on” tests.

Happy to report I aced all tests and no issues with my thumper or its body-wide system. So the unsettling symptoms experienced in the wild–not a good place to be feeling poorly in mysterious ways–are not cardiac or related to the June stent. I believe, however, I’ve identified the culprit.

All that sums up to deciding to stop traveling for a while and take time to resolve the off-and-on-again nagging thing. That, plus winter is coming–my least favorite travel season (but a forever, memorable phrase from Game of Thrones). As an added bonus, staying in one place for six months should help me to catch up on writing projects including finishing two books in progress.

The decision to winter in Ann Arbor was not an easy one, but I have a friend here I can stay with comfortably plus a great, nearby RV storage place. For now, Tamasté’s parked (other than two short day trips per month to keep things working) until I travel west in March.

Some would say the phrase “wintering in Ann Arbor” brings shivers, and yes, it’s not as nice as saying “wintering in Barbados,” but it’s the place I need to be for all the reasons above and more. Ann Arbor has always been at the top of my list of landing spots after full-time nomadic RV traveling is over, so this is also a chance to test winter here (as a retiree who won’t have to get out when it’s nasty I’m hoping that will make it tolerable).

Now that I’m settled in my rented room, set up with my former writing studio’s books, supplies, dictionary stand, and such, I feel jazzed to get the work done. It’s nice to be pampered by space and essentials too. Funny, but fellow Travato traveler and writer Sarah hit the same notes when she posted about the experience of extended house sitting after traveling…the full kitchen, showers without timing the water running, real beds, couches, etc., all a siren song of civilized (nay, decadent!) living.

Nomadic traveling has its soul-satisfying reasons to be out there, but hard to beat…for now…a big refrigerator and pantry-a-plenty, washer and dryer, and access to the arts and culture that Ann Arbor offers daily.

Plumbago Zine Article Published

Quick mention of an article I wrote, “Nomadic Writing,” published in friend and pencil guru Andy Welfle’s bi-annual pencil zine, Plumbago.

Andy’s one of the three hosts of the Erasable Podcast and the active pencil fanatics’ Erasables group on Facebook. Plumbago articles come from those who use and love pencils and analog tools for creative and everyday work. Always a great read for stationery nuts, Plumbago’s sixth issue focused on Travel and Nature.

If you want to grab a copy of the zine, click on the image above. Or to read a PDF of my article (apologies on the quality; used iPhone photos to create the PDF), click on the image at the right.

Stationery for a Nomadic Year-Long Sojourn

What does a stationery fanatic and writer do to haul the necessary tools and paper for a year-long sojourn? Many have asked, so here’s the lowdown on the what and how. Granted, I can pick up things along the way, but I tried to estimate usage over a year and likely will fall short in some areas, and over in others. Photos with explanatory captions below.

 

This is where it begins. One of the linen totes holds the paper, and three of the plastic boxes hold the supplies.

 

Here’s everything spread out a bit. Pencils and office supplies in the upper left bin, center has one bottle ink bin and another cartridges, erasers, etc. Upper right is the paper bin, and spread out are the journals in use.

 

Paper tote, containing backstock of notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, etc.

 

And finally, the working crew spread out. These are not stored in the upper cabinet with the rest, but spread out in Tamasté and in my EDC bag. L-R, upper row: dream journal, self-care journal, weekly planner, monthly planner, Steno general notes, back pocket notebook. L-R, bottom row: personal journal, travel journal (will include some sketches), free writing journal, add’l planner I’m not sure what I’ll do with, and the Field Notes Dime Novel which is another personal journal that travels in my EDC bag.

Journey

Had a great, intense journaling session this morning, which included an unplanned (best kind!) sidetrack into thoughts about “journey.” Sharing a part here in hopes you find my thoughts useful in prompting your own thinking on journey. It is shared as written and unedited, but I think you can read my writing well enough to make out all the words.

For the stationery-tools curious:  written with a Franklin-Christoph P66 (Masuyama italic cursive nib) fountain pen, Robert Oster Caffe Crema ink, in a Nanami Seven Seas A5 Writer journal.

 

Grow Your Soul, Nourish Your Spirit

In an overcrowded, stess-inducing, crazy world, where does one find solace and relief?

Modern “civilized” humans are no longer naturally conditioned to spend time just thinking, or devoting sacred time for turning within. It can be easier to work with a therapist, take a pill, another drink, or just chin-up-it and perc along hoping things will get better on their own, as though time alone is a restorative curative for what ails one.

There is another way to grab back some sanity and self-discover what is really going on underneath the stress and consequences of this modern, hectic life: journaling. I’m not talking about keeping a diary, although it can be that if that is what you need, nor is this just expanding on your day planner by tracking what you did or who you saw, although it can hold some of that as well. I’m referring to the frequent (if not daily) habit of writing in a journal or notebook and capturing your inner thoughts, true feelings, and surfacing hidden or suppressed emotions. This method is an excellent path to take on the way to growing your soul and nurturing your spirit.

Journaling can take many forms: by keyboard, keypad, handwriting, audio recording, or any method that works for you to motivate and keep you writing. Those who start fresh will likely notice their journals in the beginning are mostly daily what-I-did captures of things in a journalistic, recorded way … at first. Over time and through a repetitive, daily writing habit, you will likely discover thoughts coming through your fingers unexpectedly, revealing emotions and true feelings about something that has been bothering you. It is not uncommon to surface something old or long-buried under the modeled behaviours and trained thinking we all grew up with. The consistency of daily (or at least frequent) writing coaxes out those bits to resolve that will be balm for your soul and elixirs for your spirit.

Whether you are a veteran journaler or just beginning, here are some approaches and methods to try out. No one way is better than another, and this list is by no means all forms possible: think of it as a starting menu to mentally dine from and eat experimentally. What you write about is up to you and my best suggestion for whichever method or approach you try is to just keep the pen, pencil, or fingers moving and see what happens.

  • Morning pages – First thing each morning, write for X minutes or X pages non-stop, and keep the writing instrument/or fingers constantly moving. 15 minutes or two-to-three pages is a great start. This method is excellent for a mental dumping of whatever has bubbled up in your consciousness (or sub-consciousness) overnight.
  • Timed journaling – Similar to morning pages, but instead establish a duration (15- or 20-minutes is good) to write about whatever comes to mind. Keep your thoughts going, but not necessarily with a constant moving of pen or fingers. Intent is for more focus on capturing thoughts or events in whole rather than a mind-dump as with morning pages. Works well any time of the day, and a variant late at night can be beneficial for reflecting back on the day’s events and thoughts.
  • Journal prompts – Like guided meditation, this method is worked via a specific prompt to keep you writing and thinking along the prompt’s topic or question, as opposed to whatever comes to mind. The internet is bulging with writing/journaling prompt suggestions, so toss a search phrase out in Google and you will be overwhelmed by options.
  • Journal challenges – Best one I know of (and use myself) is the organized NaJoWriMo, a cousin to the famed annual November novel-writing challenge. Check out najowrimo.org for the next monthly challenge to join (I believe Bakari runs them two-three times per year). You can also purchase a month-long daily prompt from Bakari focuses on the challenge’s topic (I did just that for April and loving the guiding prompts!).
  • Trigger word – Think of a concept that you struggle with: commitment, sustainability, participation, activism, doing art, doing creative things, exercising, etc., etc. – could be anything. Then spend a timed effort (or even free-form) writing about that concept: how you feel, how it makes you feel, your barriers/desires/wants/needs, etc. This method can be quite powerful and surprisingly emotional if you let yourself get into it, but then, that’s the growing/nurturing you may truly need!
  • Self interview – Useful for working through issues you are blocking or resistant to talk about at a deep level, the self interview consists simply (but powerfully) of emulating a journalist by asking yourself questions interview-style. Each answer then leads to a follow-up question that leads to another and so forth. This method can be both fun and a bit challenging, depending on where you want to take it and what surfaces in the process.

There are many more targeted uses for journaling, but one or more of the above methods should help you on your way to growing your soul while nurturing your spirit!

Have success, challenges, or failures with any of these? Let me know in the comments, where I would also love to hear about other ways you use journaling along your life’s path.