Recording a Life’s Events

Some of you may have tried user the multi-year diaries before, designed to capture highlights on specific days across three-, five-, or ten-year spans. I’ve dabbled in a five-year version, but wasn’t consistent enough plus didn’t really like the layout, and five-years felt like an enormous commitment… so I abandoned it.

Being a stationery nerd who occasionally just has to check out the latest on, I stumbled onto this Midori three-year diary late last year and loved the layout, the size, and ooh-mama that slipcase. At the time they were out of stock, but recently my color choice finally came back in stock. How did I know? What kind of stationery nerd would I be without a JetPens wish list and the de rigueur “notify me when back in stock” button clicked?

What follows is mostly a visual review, but here are some stats and impressions I have, although I’ve yet to write in it.

Oh, and if you think these are for January-December timeframes, ain’t necessarily so. I plan to start my three-year devotion to capturing each day’s highlights and importance on my birthday in March. Seems like an appropriate anniversary and look-back date for the next three years.

Specs & Initial Impressions

  • Size: 4.5″ x 7.3″ x .9″ thick
  • Layout: Three days per page, all open dated (20__)
  • Pages: ~ 480, ivory color
  • Line spacing: 6.5mm
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Extras: Two ribbon markers, slipcase
  • Cost: $35
  • Color options: Three-year brown/green or light blue/red; five-year black/brown or red/pink
  • My impressions:
    • Midori paper, fountain-pen friendly and should be a delight to write on
    • Lines available should be sufficient per day
    • Binding quality is superb
    • Love the slipcase for long-term keeping

The Love of Older Reference Books

I admit to being a nerd about obtaining reference books for my personal library. And extra nerdiness happens when said books are vintage. There’s something about paying homage to these elderly veterans from many a library bookshelf in their days.

My library used to contain hundreds of reference books. The Internet’s unfortunately proven to be so bloody useful and quick for frequent needs, that I eventually sold, traded or donated away most of my reference books. What remained were the unusual or the old, wise, referred vintage-is volumes whose info still might be Googleable but never anywhere the delight of having them ready for browsing on my shelves.

On a recent trade with local West Side Book Shop, I added these two interesting ones (three actually, since one was a two-fer) to my library. Seems I’m always on the look-out for older reference volumes, and they’re becoming difficult to find these days.

While I expect these new ones, like my other, similar library residents, won’t see deep use, I do expect when I open their seasoned covers and browse within it will be a pleasant, analog experience.

One Mouth, Two Ears

The philosopher Zeno once observed we have only one mouth yet two ears for a good reason: listening makes more of a difference than talking.

When we are silent and open to thinking, or quiet and open to learning, we almost exist in an extra dimension. Some might even say the ability to go silent is a superpower. Being silent better prepares us to learn to minimize noisy distractions and stimulations. Eliminating sound creates more room for deeper understanding and awareness of what’s around us and within us.

Thoughts will not work except in silence.
– Thomas Carlyle

The path to better listening lies in becoming better at silence. Learning to be silent, and steep in that world of quietness where epiphanies and creative ideas can bubble up to the conscious surface, is a sure way to increase one’s awareness within.

  • Composer John Cage, well before his famous (some would say infamous) 4’33” composition, visited an anechoic chamber, a special room designed for complete silence. Is there such a thing as complete silence? As Cage discovered, no. He heard two sounds, one high and one low, that upon discussion with the chamber’s engineer, were Cage hearing his own heart pumping blood and nervous system firing throughout his body.
  • In Helsinki there’s the Kamppi Chapel, designed not for worship but for seekers of spiritual quietness amid the noise of the surrounding city.
  • A study of hundreds of CEOs and financial leaders revealed a common aspect in how they spent their downtimes: activities ensuring an absence of voices.

So set aside some time each day, matters not how little or much, to sit in silence and embrace the absence of outside noises and voices. Over time, you’ll become a better listener and more aware of your own valued internal thoughts.

That quiet is so rare is a sign of its value. Seize it.
– Ryan Holliday

Gotta Love Analog Timers

In my writing practice (and tea making!) I use several electronic timers, and sometimes my iPhone’s clock app, to ensure I don’t forget to stop. A favorite for writing work is this countdown/count-up one I got because it has a switch to change from beep to vibrate. So nice to avoid an obnoxious, harpy-like beep.

This digital sidekick at the left is one I use for writing sprints, or to ensure pomodoro-like break reminders to get up and move around a bit. I’ve also used it sometimes for timing my morning pages… until now.

I’ll let this unedited snippet from this morning’s journal work tell the rest of this tale:

Trying a timed approach to morning pages using my new, 30-minute sand timer. Fun analog toy that may help improve my ambience when long-hand writing. Too many toys and tools can lead us apart from the core intention of any activity, but in this case the old school hourglass timer is my patient, but watchful, “mentor” reminding me to keep the hand moving and not stop until the sands run out in 30 minutes.

I’ll continue trying out the sand timer for morning pages since the whole analog vibe it imbues is enjoyable. I noticed it helps push me a little further, whereas untimed morning pages sessions sometimes see me bail out early, eager to get to fresh article drafts or pick up working on a piece left unfinished from the day before.

Word Wise: Anxious

An infrequent series of posts about curious, misused, onerous, or strange English language words.

There are some English words we ingrain in our thinking for certain situations and believe they’re the right ones. An example is saying “anxious” when that’s not exactly the intended meaning:

I’m anxious about meeting you!

I’m anxious about finally seeing a new Star Wars movie!

Anxious is one of those commonly misused words lazily dropped into our conversations. The meme I’ve used to help me keep things straight is to remember anxious = uneasy (visually that “anxi” combo looks uncomfortable, so works for me).

Substituting “uneasy” in the two examples above fixes the confusion… and it’s obviously not the best word to use!

“Eager” or “enthusiastic” is, in this usage, what we mean to convey. In the past (as many others) I’ve said “anxious,” thinking it conveys excitement. I’ll try to remember Inigo Montoya’s classic phrase and stay word wise.