One of the drawbacks to keeping a journal, at least for me, is that when you use the written word to process and cope with whatever’s going on in your life, you can end up writing too much about problems and negative, stressful things. It may be therapeutic to get all that stuff out, but you’re left with a record of your life at that time that portrays it only as difficult. The comforting, amusing and inspiring things that happened are passed over and forgotten. If you want to make sure you focus more on the positive things in life, a gratitude journal is a great way to do that. It’s also an excellent prompt for those who have difficulty starting to keep a journal in the first place.
What is a gratitude journal? It’s quiet simple– find a notebook you like, and each day, sit down with it for a few minutes to write down two or three things you felt thankful for that day. Maybe it was an email from an old friend asking how you’re doing. Maybe it was a walk on the beach with your dog. Maybe you knocked a few difficult tasks off your to-do list at work. It can be that simple.
It’s so easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves. On a bad day, you might think you have nothing to feel thankful about. But if you can’t think of anything, you’re just not thinking enough about how lucky you really are! Be grateful for your health, your family, your home, your senses and all the things they reveal about the world around you. There are lots of obvious things to be thankful for, but if you stop and think and write about it, you’ll find the more subtle things we should all appreciate but can so easily forget.
A gratitude journal doesn’t have to be kept in any particular way– you can write a lot or a little, draw pictures or paste in a photo. It doesn’t even have to be a separate journal– you could just set aside space on a page in a notebook you’re using for other things. The important thing is just to find a few minutes each day to stop and think about gratitude, to open your mind to new ways of seeing the positive in your life, and to lock in that feeling by putting something on paper.
If you’re really stuck as to how to begin, start by appreciating your gratitude journal itself: the look of the cover, the feel of the pages, and that you have the means to buy it. And in this holiday season, I’m sure you’ll find many more things to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!
This Thanksgiving special thanks to our Lovenotebooks.com Blog contributors. The above blog post by our guest blogger Nifty from notebookstories.com
How do you like your notebook pages: plain, lined, or squared? I’m personally a big fan of squared/graph paper notebooks and pads, since they’re very versatile for writing, drawing, and copying over Sudoku and KenKen puzzles when you’ve made a mistake and have to start over! I’ve used many brands, particularly Moleskine, as for a long time they were the only pocket sized hardcover notebooks I could find with graph paper. Now, of course, there are more choices available, and due to some design choices at Moleskine, some users might be considering other options.
I recently posted a link on my own site about the blogger at Recording Thoughts, who decided to switch to Leuchtturm after noticing a change in Moleskine’s squared notebooks: Moleskine Monday: Hello, Goodbye.
My own observations confirmed what I read at Recording Thoughts: the graph lines on newer Moleskines are darker. You might think this sort of thing wouldn’t be noticeable, but it really is! Below you can see an old Moleskine in the foreground, and an older one underneath.
I thought the dark lines might be a defect confined to a particular print run, so I submitted a query via Moleskine’s quality control page on their website. A day or two later, I received a reply informing me that the darker lines were not a defect, but in fact a design change prompted by complaints from people with “sight problems” who found the old lines too faint!
I guess that goes to show that you can’t please everyone all the time. But since I care about pleasing ME, I immediately contacted LoveNotebooks to see if their stock of Moleskines included the older versions with faint lines. And here’s the good news: if you use pocket size squared notebooks, you can get the ones with faint lines at LoveNotebooks (while supplies last). If you use the large notebooks, their stock on those has the darker lines.
In the meantime, I’ve still got about 2/3 of my current notebook left to write in. For the first few days those darker lines were really driving me nuts, but I’ve started to get more used to them now. I’ve also been using a wider pen and writing bigger, to compete with those dark lines, and to use up my pages faster!
Guest Blog Post by Nifty, follow her passion on www.notebookstories.com
Have you figured out your Halloween costume yet? Did you jot down some
ideas in a notebook, or perhaps even sketch something in a notebook?
Better yet, are you going to dress up AS a notebook?
I’ve never actually created a notebook costume myself, but here’s a
few ideas I’ve had for how to do it:
Old-fashioned spiral notebook:
I’d buy some thick, flexible aluminum wire at Home Depot. Then I’d
take two big pieces of cardboard and paint them to look like the front
and back cover of a notebook. Punch holes on one side and loop the
wire through, forming it into the spiral binding. Then make some kidn
of shoulder straps so you can wear it! You could also paint your face
white with blue lines to look like lined paper.
I’d find an old black t-shirt and speckle white paint on it to look
like the classic marbled composition book. Then use a piece of white
paper or cardboard to make the rectangular white label in the middle
that says “Composition Book” and tape that to my chest.
Again, you’d have to dress all in black. You could add a white stripe
running across your shoulders and down one side to represent the white
edge of the pages. Get some kind of thick black ribbon and attach it
to one shoulder for your ribbon marker. If you really want to get
elaborate, make a black “cover” out of cardboard (or even better, a
piece of black PVC!) that you can open up, and then on the inside add
the lines where you write your name and the “if lost” reward. Then
figure out some way to emboss the word Moleskine on your butt!
Of course, the best notebook for any Halloween usage is Rhodia: that
orange and black color scheme is perfect!
Please share your own Halloween notebook ideas in the comments! (Use a
notebook for logging all the candy you collect, perhaps!?)
Blog post by guest blogger Nifty. You can follow her notebook adventures at notebookstories.com
P.S. how about a partner dressing up as a pencil and the kids as a classic eraser or crayon?
Anyone who knows me knows I love planners. I’m always thinking of ways to use planners beyond simple appointment scheduling. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for using planners in unconventional ways. How many more ways can you come up with?
Your planner can help you get there. Something that I like to incorporate into my planner is goal-setting. I find it very useful to track my goals in my planner because I look at my planner several times per day, and seeing my goals often keeps them at the forefront of my mind. And beyond just writing my goals, my planner helps me see where I’m going to fit those goal tasks into my day. Whether it’s working out to achieve my fitness goals, writing a blog post to reach my personal goals, or cleaning out the storage room to fulfill my household goals, my planner gets me where I’m going.
Your planner can tell you where you’ve been. Rather than strictly for planning, planners can also be used to record your day as a logbook, or for tracking specific aspects of your life such as a food journal, exercise diary or expenditures record. Parents enjoy writing milestones and cute things their kids said and did in their planner as a wonderful record of their kids growing up. Many people use a planner as a gratitude journal to help them appreciate each day.
Your planner can help you make money. Freelancers and contractors have to keep track of billable hours on multiple projects at once. Writing this information into a planner provides a chronological, permanent record of billable time. I have a friend who is a professional dog walker and she uses a planner to keep track of which dogs she walks each day. At the end of each week she easily totals up billable hours for each client. This type of record can be very useful for budgeting time, and should be kept as a record of hours billed for tax purposes.
Scientific records in planners. Many scientists use planners to record information as field notes. Separate from the detailed notes written in their field journals, planners can record chronological events in the field. Anthropologists use daily planners to record events in their study villages, which becomes very valuable later to see cause and effect. Ornithologists (professional and amateur) can note in their planners the species of birds observed each day, which helps them notice when birds migrate for the winter and return in the spring. Comparing these dates over a period of years shows patterns such as whether birds are migrating earlier or later than usual. Using a planner for field notes creates a permanent record that is portable in any field bag and never needs batteries when you’re out in the field.
Uses for past-year planners. I had a fascinating conversation with Jeroen of Love Notebooks about some of his customers who buy past-year planners. Love Notebooks has past-year planners available for purchase (click here to see) and it was fascinating to hear what people use these for. He said he often gets authors of books and screenplays who want a planner of the year their story takes place, to write the timeline and to have accurate dates of when things take place within the story. People also use them as movie and stage props for the year the story takes place. (And you know with HD TV now, you don’t want anyone zooming in on the picture to find the planner prop is of the wrong year!) Also, lawyers working on a case could find it useful to use a planner from the year the events took place to recreate the chronological sequence of events. It’s so interesting to think of ways to use past-year planners! Of course one option is to keep it and use it later–dates recycle every 7 years so you can keep unused planners until the year when the dates match up with the days again!
As a notebook. I know some people who like to use planners as notebooks, ignoring the dates. Some people do this with past-year planners they didn’t use and don’t want to waste, or they particularly enjoy writing on the paper. Something else to consider is that planners typically have a different number of pages than notebooks. Day-per-page planners usually have more pages than notebooks, which is good for people who write a lot and go through notebooks quickly. A 12-month weekly planner usually has fewer pages than a typical notebook, which often results in a slimmer book than can easily slip into a pocket or bag.
Do you use your planner in an unconventional way? Can you think of more uses for a planner?
Post by guest blogger, and one of the Internets foremost experts on everything planners, Laurie, from plannerisms.com
I first discovered Deafmessanger notebooks on Notebook Stories blog, and quickly became obsessed. These notebooks are made by hand in Prague by an artist named Kucin. The books have a very cool, street art look to them. I wanted to order one of their 2011 planners but by the time I got around to it they were already sold out, much to my disappointment.
So when the kind folks at Lovenotebooks offered to send me one of the Deafmessanger noteboooks to review, I jumped at the chance! They very generously sent me the Square Journal Cykorka to review. I was so excited to get it and check it out! I’ve never seen a notebook like this before.
The notebook is 6 ¾ by 6 ¾ inches, which is a great size to carry in your bag with you to write or sketch in anytime inspiration strikes.
The stiff cardboard cover has a stenciled design on the front (I love the bird). The cover is held securely shut at the corners by red elastic.
Inside, the message “Treasure Inside” makes you want to come up with a Very Special Purpose for this book. There’s even a pencil included so you can get started right away!
There’s a red ribbon placemarker to find your current page easily. The recycled paper is surprisingly smooth and nice. You can see little flecks in the paper, giving it away as recycled, but it is smoother than I expected it to be. This was just one of the many pleasant surprises inside this book.
Throughout the book there are bits that were found by the artist that have been bound into the book on the rings, not stuck on the pages. This has the double benefit of not covering any precious page space, and allowing you to see both sides of the object (all of which are fascinating and unique).
The bits include things like old post cards, maps, and magazine pages. My favorite is this hand-written page from a ledger of some kind:
In addition to the items stuck in, on random pages there are hand-stamped quotes designed to inspire and get your creative juices flowing.
The last page has a stamped signature and message against animal suffering. At the bottom of the page is the stamped message, “to be continued…” which reminds us all that creativity is always a work in progress.
The edge of the inside back cover has the artist’s website and email address. I strongly encourage you to check it out:
The back cover has the stenciled message, “what u risk reveals what u value.” There’s also a tag attached to the back cover that says, “Made from Prague, Made in Prague.” That’s important to point out: the bits stuck into the book are from Prague, so in the book you get a part of the artist’s home, and in his art you get a part of the artist himself.
The result is an absolutely unique book that’s hand made for only you. It feels like a personal gift from a good friend.
You can now buy a wide selection of Deaf Messanger notebooks in a variety of sizes and styles at LoveNotebooks! Click here to see the product page.
Many thanks again to my friends at Lovenotebooks for giving me the chance to review this awesome notebook!
Post by guest blogger and fellow lover of fine paper goods Laurie from plannerisms.com
Notebooks for students go beyond just taking notes in class (although of course they are great for that too).
Students are in a very creative time in their lives, and notebooks are perfect for capturing that creativity on the go and preserving it for years to come.
My college roommate’s boyfriend carried a hardcover sketchbook with him wherever he went. I was fascinated by it, and loved to flip through the pages. In his book he sketched something reflecting where he went that day, what he was doing and especially people he was with. It was like a visual journal capturing each day. Today it must bring back amazing memories of his college years.
When I was in college I took copious notes in class, partly to stay focused during lecture but mostly because I am a visual learner. I remembered much more material from reading my notes than I ever would have remembered just from listening to the lecture. I’m so visual that during exams I would recall information by visualizing the page in my notes, even which side of the page it was written on, and that would trigger the memory of the correct answer. Despite being a visual learner I don’t have a true photographic memory, unfortunately. That would be very useful! Because I relied on my notes for learning, I was never without a notebook. When I could afford it I treated myself to a cool notebook with good paper to make the daily task of note-taking pleasurable.
Styles and types of notebooks abound, but it’s worth investing in good notebooks to write notes in, especially in graduate school. Your notes need to last for several years, and will be a record of your research and progress toward your degree. Make sure you use a notebook that’s up to the task at hand. A couple of examples:
Your research notes are precious, and must be kept in archival books. Leuchtturm notebooks are especially great for science lab notes and research because of the numbered pages, index and archival quality paper.
Students of geology, ecology, archaeology and others whose research and coursework takes them outside depend on an all-weather notebook to capture field notes in any condition. Rite In The Rain notebooks are the gold standard of outdoor notebooks and can handle outdoor use no matter what the weather.
Of course the goal for any student is graduation and life beyond school. Notebooks are a great place to plot your future. Mind maps and timelines are best drawn in notebooks to give you an idea of what needs to be done to help you reach your goals. The open pages give you the freedom to explore and imagine your options, and record them for future reference and further re-working.
Every student should keep a notebook with your list of graduation requirements (including mandatory classes, credits, projects etc.). Each time you complete a class or other requirement, check it off your list and record the grade or result. I found this was especially important when I was in graduate school. At the beginning of my studies, my advisors and I agreed on what my requirements were for graduation. Because I did a multi-departmental degree, it was up to me to keep track of what all of my advisors had agreed on. At the beginning of my final semester when one of my advisors tried to demand I do additional coursework that would have added another semester of classes, I was able to bring out my list of agreed-upon requirements and make my case that I could graduate when they were completed. Good thing I had kept that list or I might still be doing “one more suggested class!”
Notebooks are essential tools for students when taking notes and planning for graduation and your life beyond. They are also a source of creative expression and a way of recording this unique time of your life.
Best of luck to all you students out there on your progress toward graduation and your professional life beyond!
Post by guest blogger and fellow notebook aficionado Laurie from Plannerisms.com
It is no secret, and we are not afraid to admit it, Sara and I love Paris, especially in spring. As the gray skies in Portland are only slowly and tentatively giving way to the sun and warmer temperatures, we are told are just around the corner(not this one the other corner). We dream of escaping to Paris. Alas airplane ticket prices are sky high and our kids need to go to school, have diapers changed etc. Today we received a newsletter from Paperblanks. We get a lot of newsletters and have to admit, that we do not open them all right away, or at all. This one we did and we discovered a little gift. A lovely new video celebrating the new Paperblanks Literary Art Deco Notebooks and Paris nostalgia of the 1920′s and 1930′s, which viewed through the hazy lens of history seemed to be a time when the grown-ups were having all the fun. We enjoyed the video and it took us on a little mental trip to a different time. The “Jazz Age” music is so infectious you may find yourself doing the Cake-Walk, the Turkey Trot, and the Bunny Hug all at the same time. While writing this post the sun broke through the clouds feeling better already
The hard-cover book is big and substantial. The cover has velvet textured fabric and whimsical art.
Inside the front and back covers of the book are richly-colored illustrations giving you a preview of scenes throughout the book.
Throughout the book are pages with amazing illustrations of each sign of the zodiac, with an acetate overlay for each:
So when you open the acetate you can see mirror images of each scene:
The pages are wide-ruled with margins, gilded edges and the Christian Lacroix logo at the bottom of each page. There is a woven fabric bookmark to mark your page.
The book is a total sensory experience in the true maximalist Christian Lacroix style.
This book would make an amazing gift or an excellent addition to your own collection.
LoveNotebooks has a wide selection of Christian Lacroix Papier notebooks and stationery items that must be seen to be believed!
Many thanks again to Lovenotebooks for giving me the chance to review this spectacular notebook!
Product review by Laurie from Plannerisms
I’ve been taking French classes for a few years, and lately we’ve been reading the play “Fanny,” by Marcel Pagnol. (The author of the novels that became the wonderful films Jean de Florette and Manon de Sources.) There’s a scene in Fanny where a group of men are chatting in a cafe and one of them calls another “commodore de la moleskine.” It’s obviously a teasing insult, so I imagined it as the 1930′s France equivalent of saying “you’re a poser who just sits in cafes with your little moleskine.” I found this reference to the line in an online French dictionary, which explains that the character is a supposed sailor, but really is just an “admiral of the cafe seat, commander of the moleskine”:
COMMODORE, subst. masc.COMMODORE, subst. masc.
A.− [Dans les marines britannique, américaine et néerlandaise] Capitaine de vaisseau commandant une division navale. Épée de commodore. En face, une sorte de commodore américain, boulot et trapu, les chairs boucanées et le nez en bulbe, s’endormait (Huysmans, À rebours, 1884, p. 176#.
− Par dérision [Appliqué à un marin qui passe sa vie dans les cafés] M. Escartefigue, amiral de banquettes de café, commodore de la Moleskine #Pagnol, Fanny, 1932, I, 1er tabl., 1, p. 11#.
B.− P. méton. Vaisseau d’un commodore #cf. Crèvecœur, Voyage dans la Haute Pensylvanie, t. 1, 1801, p. 198).
————– end quote—————-
I then decided to look for a definition of the word “moleskine” in that same website and found this:
A. − Étoffe de coton très fort présentant une face croisée et qui servait à faire notamment des doublures de vêtements d’hommes. Le Monsieur en habit de moleskine, qui regarde son bracelet-montre et ne quitte plus son tabouret de bar jusqu’à la sortie (Cocteau, Théâtre poche, 1949, p.17). Moleskine. − Croisé très fort. Combinaison de tissage donnant d’un côté l’aspect satin et au revers, l’aspect croisé (Thiébaut, Fabric. tissus, 1961, p.71).
B. − Toile de coton recouverte d’un enduit, mat ou verni, qui lui donne l’aspect du cuir qu’elle imite. Sur la molesquine d’une banquette, La Guillaumette et Croquebol s’étaient affalés côte à côte (Courteline, Train 8 h 47, 1888, 2e part., 7, p.171). Un divan de moleskine, moelleux comme un lit (Martin du G., Devenir, 1909, p.187). Il me souvient encore des premières sensations de ma vie scolaire: l’odeur spécifique des cahiers vierges et des moleskines cirées des cartables, le mystère des livres tout neufs (Valéry, Variété IV, 1938, p.293):
. Après avoir déjeuné de pain et de lait, à sept heures trente-cinq, comme de coutume, portant sous le bras ma serviette de molesquine, que j’avais pris soin de ne point trop bourrer de livres, je descendis l’escalier…
A. France, Vie fleur, 1922, p.320.
Prononc. et Orth.: [mɔlεskin]. Ac. 1935: moleskine; Littré, Rob.: -leskine ou -lesquine; Lar. Lang. fr.: -leskine. Prop.Catach-Golf. Orth. Lexicogr., 1971, p.206: -lesquine. Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1838 mole-skin «étoffe de velours de coton, que l’on emploie pour faire les doublures de vêtement» (Musée des Modes, p.5 ds Bonn., p.95); 2.1858 (Chesn.: Moleskine-cuir ou cuir végétal, matière qui remplace le cuir vernis pour la chaussure et les confections de la sellerie). Empr. à l’angl. moleskin, comp. de skin «peau» et mole «taupe», att. dep.1668 comme terme désignant la fourrure de peau de taupe ou toute fourrure dont le rasage des poils lui donnerait un aspect semblable et att. dep. 1803 au sens 1, la surface du tissu étant rasée au cours de la fabrication de ce velours (cf. NED). Fréq. abs. littér.: 50. Bbg. Weil (A.). En Marge d’un nouv. dict. R. Philol. fr. 1932, t. 45, p.29.
The passage I bolded jumped out at me, as it seemed to say something like “I still remember the first sensations of my school life: the specific odor of brand-new notebooks and polished moleskines from my schoolbags, the mystery of completely new books.”
On reading it more closely, I realized that it probably just refers to the “moleskine” material the schoolbag is made of– the rest of the definition talks about moleskine being a cloth or leather-like material used for clothing or furniture upholstery. So being a “commodore de la moleskine” probably just means “commander of the vinyl,” rather than anything to do with notebooks.
It’s interesting to read these quotes as showing how people’s feelings about notebooks remain unchanged over the years: some people scoffing at them as symbols of creative pretension, but for others, carrying a strong sensual association, a brand-new notebook marking a new phase of life yet to be lived. Unfortunately, that’s probably just my notebook-obsessed bias in translation! But since both of these quotes are from the 1930s, it’s a nice reminder that the term “moleskine” has been used to refer to notebooks and other items for decades, long before someone decided to trademark it.
Blog Post by Nifty. You can find out more about Nifty and her passion for notebooks at www.notebookstories.com
I was wandering around Brooklyn on a recent weekend and surreptitiously snapped this photo:
It’s funny, but seeing this guy writing in his large Moleskine made me want one! I don’t tend to use that size these days, and I am not sure what I’d write in it. I used to use larger notebooks when I was involved in some writing workshops, but now most of my writing is either online blogging or journaling in small notebooks. There is no logical reason for me to buy a notebook like that– but I had one of those covetous moments.
I think there’s just something about other people’s notebooks– you know, that “grass is always greener” thing. Whenever I see people at work with notebooks, I kind of zone in on them. Sometimes they’re battered and bent and stained– even better! It’s like a pair of jeans– someone else’s that are totally worn in always seem nicer than the pair you already own or just bought.
Anyway, I have no idea what this guy was writing about– I’m curious but I’m not that much of a snoop! At one point, he got up to get more coffee, which allowed me to snap another photo:
The friend I was with was watching him the whole time and said he kept turning around to check on his stuff while he waited for his coffee– I wasn’t surprised. I would never leave any of my notebooks open and unattended like that in a public place, I’m way too paranoid! But I’m glad I come across other people who don’t have that hangup.
Blog entry by guest blogger Nifty from Notebookstories.com