If It Brings Joy

In general, I don’t like “stuff.” Clothes shopping is a rare occasion for me. I can’t remember the last time I bought jewelry, knickknacks, or something that was a want and not a need.

So you’d think I’d be an adherent to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that don’t bring joy. In an ideal world in which I live in my own neat little bubble, I would be, but it’s hard when I have a husband who is a pack rat and a baby who will naturally accumulate tons of clothes, bottles, books, toys, and other accessories. (I’m dreading the days when I have to avoid stepping on Legos and K’nex!)

Books are probably the physical object I love the most, if I had to pick something. Not only are they useful, they are decorative. Little is more aesthetically pleasing to me than an organized bookshelf. Notebooks and journals are also difficult to part with, even if they’ve never been written in. They are essentially books and have that same pleasing aesthetic quality.

But the sad fact remains that books take up space, which is a precious and rare commodity in our apartment. So I pared my book collection down to only 30. To be honest, it wasn’t all that difficult. Every reader has books in his collection that are destined to be sitting on the shelf for years, never read and never touched. Probably 90% of my books fell into that category.

Every reader also has books that, for whatever reason, he will never part with and would probably be buried with, if given the opportunity. Those were the 30 books I kept. Only two were fiction (both by William Faulkner). The others were writing related and other nonfiction. Religious books didn’t count because my husband wanted to keep most of them; I think if I had included religious books in my 30, it would have been a lot harder to choose only 30. I did cheat a little by keeping two “keepsake” books and another written by a friend, but all three are pretty small and won’t take up much room. 🙂

Is it easy or hard for you to part with physical things?

Day Designer

Beginning-of-post apology: I should have written this post at the beginning of this year. Oh, well. Time got away from me.

Planners. Boy, am I picky about choosing a planner, partly because I have to look at it and use it for an entire year and partly because I am a huge fan of stationery in general.

A planner can’t be too big because it would be too bulky to fit in my purse (or diaper bag). It can’t be too small because I combine my work and personal stuff into a single planner and that can sometimes take up a lot of room. It can’t be too flimsy because, as I said, it’s got to last the entire year. It has to go from Monday to Sunday, not Sunday to Saturday, because I’ll get confused and write stuff on the wrong day. The planner also has to lie flat when open or be spiral bound so I can fold it over (the better to write things with one hand).

It’s helpful if the planner has room in the back for general notes, and it’s extremely helpful if the planner has a pocket in the front (or somewhere). It’s nice if the planner looks pretty, but I choose functionality over looks all the time. Last year’s planner was plain old black, but I covered it with stickers to make it look more exciting. (No, you’re never too old to cover things with stickers.)

So anyway, all my nitpicking nonsense aside, I found the Day Designer planner at Target at the end of last year, and it checks all the boxes. Bright and colorful? Yes. Spiral bound? Yes. Not too big and not too small? Yes. Durable? Yes. Inside pocket? Yes. Blank pages for notes? Yes. Week starts on Monday? Yes. Enough room to write without having to make my handwriting too tiny? Yes.

My only issue with the Day Designer is the name. When I first heard it, I thought, Ah, the best-laid plans… You can “design” your day all you want, but days have a way of getting away from you. Calling it a “planner” doesn’t sound quite as ambitious, so that doesn’t rub me the wrong way. I suppose “agenda” is an even better term (that’s what we called it in middle school), but it always makes me think of ulterior motives and hidden agendas.

*brace yourself or click away; this post is about to get religious* I’ve come to realize, after years of fighting this reality, that God is the ultimate Day Designer. Humans can plan all they want, but in the end, God decides and designs your future. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans at all, but be mindful of the fact that your plans could change at any time. I am still so bad at accepting this, but having a child has made it easier.

So I covered up the “Day Designer” text on the cover of my planner with a sticky label and wrote “God makes all things new” on it. That reminder is good enough.

Journal Review: Peter Pauper Press

Usually, I don’t buy super-fancy journals and for good reason: my handwriting sucks, and I don’t want to ruin a gorgeous journal with sub-par handwriting. The secondary reason I don’t buy them is because they’re often too expensive, and the tertiary reason I don’t buy them is because I think it’s a little pretentious to have a really fancy journal, like your thoughts are somehow super awesome and worthy of being kept in lovely binding and paper.

But my husband bought me this journal designed by Peter Pauper Press (I believe he actually bought it at Barnes & Noble):

It is easily the most beautiful journal I have ever owned. It’s bound like a book, which means it is very sturdy, and it has a ribbon bookmark—always helpful. The pages look like they are trimmed with gold, which has that pretentiousness factor to it, but I had to ignore that. After all, the worst type of journal is one that’s been sitting around your house for years waiting to be written in, so it would be a terrible sin to not write in this one. The journal isn’t too large and isn’t too small (6.25″ wide and 8.25″ high), so it’s not a pain to carry around in your purse, briefcase, or backpack.

At first, I thought the binding would be stiff and make it difficult to write in, but that thankfully wasn’t the case. The journal stays flat when it’s opened, so you can write in comfort. I prefer spiral binding or some other binding that will allow a journal to be folded over, but lying flat is the next best thing.

The only thing I could think of to complain about were the two gold pages used after the front cover and before the back cover. The gold rubbed off onto the last journal page a little bit, but that’s an extremely small complaint.

Would I buy another one? No, but I would give one to a fellow writer as a gift. Would I use another one if another was given to me? Heck yeah.