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    Musing: My Ugly Journals

    Ah, December. Santa Claus and reindeer. Twinkling lights and snow. Cool days and cold nights. Fresh journals and planners for the new year.

    If that last sentence isn’t part of your end-of-year ritual, I’m sorry, but it’s a highlight for me. A fresh stack of journals arrived last week and sit in front of me, waiting for the start of 2023. Yes, paper journals.

    It’s funny how I’ve come full circle. My planners early in my career were paper—because I’m old and computers weren’t everywhere yet—with time slots for appointments and lines for tasks. As the to-do list grew and the never-ending committee meetings expanded, my paper system became increasingly complex. I was busy, if not always productive.

    My paper became electronic with the arrival of the Blackberry. Cutting-edge stuff, as long as I didn’t lose the stupid little stylus needed to type an item letter by letter. Or the sync with the corporate Outlook server didn’t fail. Or I misplaced the entire, little device.

    By the time I left the corporate world, phones and tablets were ubiquitous, supposedly a giant step forward. Tasks could be rapidly added either by me or by others. Again, busy, if not productive.

    For a period of time as I reoriented my life, I remained with the technology, but as my calendar grew less cluttered and my to-do list became solely my own (well, except for the honey-do list), I returned to paper.

    I’ve found an analogue approach of paper journals is so much more freeing than computers and phones. Working for myself, I want productivity. I have no one to impress with busyness.

    Much of my time I want focused on family, not work. I am intentional about my personal time each day and want it to be pressure and distraction free. Family, walks, gym, and meals are scheduled first. 

    The remaining time is allotted to work. A paper journal sits front and center on my desk to capture ideas and thoughts. For such an important tool, I’ve become selective about what I will use, so it’s a Leuchtturm 1917.

    Since the internet algorithms know more about us than we know about ourselves, I get bombarded this time of year with advertisements for new journals and systems. Long ago, I adopted the Bullet Journal concept and then evolved it to meet my needs (which is the point of BUJO). So, of course, that means I’m susceptible to all the YouTube videos of Bullet Journal methods and I check them for ideas to improve my process.

    But I have a problem. All of them show pages that look something like this:

    Anyone who has ever seen my chicken scratch knows I can’t achieve that. My mother has always chastised my penmanship. And as bad as my handwriting is, my artwork is worse.

    If you scroll those same videos about journaling, you will find someone writing about time outdoors playing with their dog. They will include a “doodle” that looks like this:

    Please. If I tried that, the result would be:

    And if you think I’m kidding, I actually drew that last one. Personally. That means it’s copyrighted. Don’t dare try to steal it. Like you would want to.

    As I was perusing YouTube the other day, I stumbled across a channel dedicated to men who bullet journal. I had great hope that this would finally be something that catered to the artistically challenged like me, but those hopes were dashed when his list of needed tools included watercolor paints and a brush.

    No, that is not a joke.

    I do, however, have to give him credit. He does share some good ideas and even is open to showing mistakes in his process, but I had to laugh at the watercolors.

    So, I’ve decided I am once again on my own. I gathered my tools. A journal. A pencil. A pencil sharpener. An eraser.

    That’s it. And, no, I don’t use ink. I’m not that brave.

    And no stickers. And certainly no watercolors.

    So pardon me while I head off to work on my boring journals. I will scribble my notes, track my progress, and journal my random, weird thoughts. Hopefully, I will be able to read them.


    Enjoyed The Story? How About A Novel?


    Gratuitous Dog Photo: That Ridiculous Tail

    ‘Tis fluffy

    Landon watching a neighborhood deer wander by the house as he shows off that ridiculous tail.


    On The Website This Week

    Read a new-to-me author this week, Louise Sharland, and her debut novel, The Lake, about a grieving mother who isn’t convinced her teenaged son’s drowning was an accident.

    Spectacular Vernacular Word of the Week: When you hear someone take a logical argument to an erroneous conclusion, you may have just witnessed sophistry.


    Until Next Monday

    Journal however you wish, but feel free to ugly journal. It’s quite freeing.

    See you next Monday.

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    5 Comments

    1. Jean Burkhardt on December 5, 2022 at 6:08 am

      Today’s post started off my morning with a chuckle. I tend to be old school too with my appointments etc. I STILL carry one of those wallet sized appointment books to keep track of doctor appointments and the like. I’m so glad now you seem to have come to a mix of technology you like AND the tools of the trade such as pencils and erasers-lol Your drawing is really something!!!

      Landon’s tail is beyond description!!

      I also want to read that book The Lake!!!

    2. Juno's mom on December 5, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Keeping things simple is very liberating. Love that tail!

    3. chris on December 5, 2022 at 2:08 pm

      I love journals and will always choose that over something that can be done electronically. And my doodle would be like yours. Love it. Who cares what it looks like, it is about your style not whether someone else likes it.

    4. Patty Markiewicz on December 5, 2022 at 2:56 pm

      Hubby and I are also paper freaks. Wall calendars, note planners, and lots of spiral note books for journals. It is so liberating to write on paper, especially when it comes to thoughts and feelings. Plus, it’s guaranteed private. Can’t beat that!

    5. Rachel Churchill on December 6, 2022 at 4:29 pm

      I’ve been a planner junkie for years. I love stickers and own lots. However, cute planners take too much time. I need to get stuff done! I like (and have used) the bujo method – but I’m so minimal that you might as well just call it a list. I don’t even always remember the dot…

      I have gone to a 3 “book” system. An online calendar for appointments and repetitive tasks. A blank journal for memory keeping and random stuff (stickers, memorabilia, ephemera, the rare photo, etc.). The third is my journal/sketchbook for my paper crafting. It is a whole different story…lots of messy sketches, unreadable handwriting, ideas, etc. Mostly a hot mess of creative brain dump.

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