Journaling with Evernote

“ I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.”

⁃Helen Keller

I have found a feeling of vulnerability since becoming a parent. Not only aware of the fragility of my children’s lives but the fragility of my life and the speed that the years fly by.

If I was to die tomorrow I’d like the children to know who I am. Not to be told your dad was like this or that he thought this about that subject and so on. Or worse, for them to be told you are like your dad. I want them to know exactly who I am ideally from sharing a long fulfilled life together.

If that isn’t an option I’d like them to know who I was and what I thought from my own words, which lead me to writing a journal.

I struggled to write a journal I would aim to write it daily. It isn’t something I am able to carry with me on a daily basis. So it’s something I would write at the end of the day.

I started well sitting down before bed and writing thoughts and synopsis of the day, slowly it became bi-daily and then weekly and eventually a chore. Trying to remember a weeks worth of thoughts ideas and events became something of homework I didn’t want to do.

I began writing down notes on my phone as thoughts came to me or funny moments that I wanted to share along with a brief daily synopsis to then transfer into my journal. This became even more of a chore and felt like it was taking up too much time copying one to the other. I looked at several apps as I always have my phone on me. It had to be free ( Tight git ) It had to be accessible to others if I die. It had to be backed up some where without a data or word cap on it. I tried several but non were as customisable as I wanted. I was still new to journaling and struggling with getting my thoughts across and brief if time was short.

Ideally you should, I feel find the time to sit in a quiet corner and really focus on the day and what you want to put down in your journal. However this isn’t always possible. So I looked for a hack a quick and easy way to journal.

Which lead me to bullet journaling.

There are hundreds of YouTube videos of beautiful and amazing bullet journals and ideas. Which as clever and creative as they were, again became time-consuming. I really like the idea of bullet journaling and the several categories and symbols you can create. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to bullet journaling. But once again it would involve carrying a journal around with me or making notes and adding them to my journal. Again searched for apps but found none of them were as customisable as I wanted.

Whilst searching for ideas I was reminded of Evernote a place to store documents on-line and control who can see the notes and documents you post. It’s also fully customisable as I want it to be.

In Evernote you create notebooks with these notebooks you can create stacks.

As seen here

You can see that I have created several stacks.

With stacks Evernote always puts them in chronological order.

So ensure you number them in the order you wish to have them appear.

Each stack is basically a list of notebooks. Within these notebooks you can add unlimited amounts of notes. Again they show in chronological order. I always put the date as the title so they show in order of latest entry.

Within each stack I have notebooks with my customised categories.



Daily journal.

This is my everyday journal. Not always a written journal sometimes it can be a photo or photos that I have taken of that day.


This is a list of philosophy and poetry that have struck a chord with me. It is always growing and I will often go back and re-read it.


Books to read.

This is a list of books I have read and yet to read.


Selfish wants.

This is an unusual list.

It’s a list of material things that I would buy if I could. They are not huge items. It’s things like a watch, trainers, camera etc. Things I could afford but it would mean pulling money from one area to another. It’s things I can do without to make sure it’s spent on the girls. It’s more of a backwards reminder for me, to remind me what I am happy to go without.


Places to see with the girls.

This is a list of places and things that I’d like to see and do with the girls. Something’s are ticked off and if they are a description of where, when and what we did with photos is attached to that note.

One very good feature with Evernote is the ability to search via keywords. So if you have a particular day or trip away for example you can easily search it out.

If I struggle for something to write that day I always refer to my journal ideas and questions.

Journal ideas

Feeling proud today.

Internals rather than externals.

Thought for the day.

Mood of the day.

Failed/ struggled with today.

Something nice for someone today. “Altruism”

Trained today.

Brief description of the day.

Hopes, adventures and future plans

I also decided to become organised and adult a little.

I have a finance stack.

Within this is a list of monthly bills. Outgoing’s, dates and the amounts etc..

I also have a notebook where I can scan receipts and store them for safe keeping. Warranties etc.. fortunately, touch wood, we haven’t had to buy or replace any large items or white goods.

But it’s handy to have if we need to.

I should add a caveat here that this isn’t sponsored or paid and endorsed by Evernote. It’s something I use and found extremely useful.

Do you use a journal?

If you have any tips or ideas to use as a busy parent please share in the comments.



Middle class wanker.

“I want to burden the conscience of the affluent with all the suffering and all the hidden, bitter tears.”

Rosa Luxemburg

I recently went to a talk from a person who had climbed Everest. It was the most patronising and middle class presentation I have ever had the misfortune to sit through.

So much so it inspired me to write the piece below.

What is it like to be you.

You have no idea what it is like.

I have no idea what it is like to be you.

What is it like to be you ?

To see this world the way you do.

The way you can buy anything you want.

To do anything you want.

To be anything you want to be.

You say it’s easy

just go and do it.

I Can’t afford to take 3 months out of life.

It’s easy if you really want it, you just have to do it.

I can’t afford to lose 3 days you talk of 3 months.

You know its easy, you say you can go and just do it.

So you say.

Just get out there you can do it. You say it with confidence, confidence of a big fat gigantic safety net to fall back on.

I’m on hard times there is nothing soft to fall back on.

Just get a sponsor or a member of your family.

They can pay for you to do it.

I know no one.

Nobody to open these doors you speak of the doors that only you have the key to.

I can’t ask those who struggle to pay, to send me to have a good old jolly at their expense.

Anyone can do it just book a plane and go do it.

What is it like to be you ?

To see this world so simply.

To have an idea and just be able to go do it.

To not have to worry if your children will eat that week, to not have to worry what would happen if the washer breaks.

How will feed your family and pay for the laundry until you can find some money searching facebook for a second hand replacement.

What is it like to be you.

To see the world in black and white, yes and no’s.

No gray or murky colours.

No maybes or I’m not sure yet.

No wait and sees.

You talk of 600 pound boots 2 pairs just incase.

Whilst I’m sat here with holes in my shoes.

Cease the day you say to me.

Cliche followed by cliche after  cliche.

Oh what is it like to be you.

To have to pay to have a challenge.

To have to pay to feel fulfilled.

Every day is a struggle and a challenge for me.

Everyday is fulfilled, fulfilled and proud that I made it another day.

Paying to inject passion into your life to feel some form of life run through your veins.

What would is it like to be you.

I’m so glad I’m not you.

Go out, Go hug a tree

We are telling our kids that nature is in the past and it probably doesn’t count anymore, the future is in electronics, the boogeyman is in the woods, and playing outdoors is probably illicit and possibly illegal.

-Richard Louv

There is no better sound than the sound of children’s laughter. There is nothing better than seeing children playing in nature with muddy fingers and hand drawn muddy war paint.

We always make sure that we regularly get out in nature, be it a woodland walk or an afternoon sat by a lake. If it gets too long between getting out and about the girls always ask if we can go for a walk.

Then, then you know you are doing a good job and raising them right.

Recently we went for a woodland walk around the local reservoir it was cold, crisp and misty with intermittent down pours.

Exactly what we needed.

Last summer I introduced the girls to the game of camouflage.

If you are unfamiliar with camouflage I suggest you give it a go and play it. Adults and children alike love it. It isn’t too dissimilar to the game what time is it Mr wolf.  Simply choose an area of woodland or a field with long waist height grass. One person turns their back to the group counts to 30 out loud and Shouts camouflage and turns back around. At this point everyone should be camouflaged. If the person can see any person they must describe where they are and that person then stands up and is out. The person turns back around. Counts again and everyone must move forward, at no point can you move backwards. Continue until everyone is out or you are unable to see the last few.

Try it.

It’s a Brilliant simple game and it’s amazing how many people can disappear in front of you. I once had a class of 36 children plus teachers disappear, their camouflage skills were that good.

We had to call an end to or game in the end as we were unable to find the girls.  Even with a bright pink flower puffa jacket.


Be like Goggins, Live like Jay. 


Finding Me

“No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.”

Last year I did the 3 Peak National Challenge with some colleagues. Britain’s highest mountains in a 24 hour period. Unfortunately we couldn’t complete it in 24 hours due to a road accident on the motorway. But complete it we did.

It was my idea and a way to help bond with a close-knit group of people in the new small company I had begun to work for. We set out to raise money for a local charity who financially help parents of terminally ill children to be able to spend the last few moments with their child and not have to worry about work and covering bills from loss of earnings due to taking time off from their employment.

I once worked as an outdoor pursuit instructor. Before taking part in our challenge it had been a good ten years since I had last stood on a mountain. I hadn’t realized that I had been missing it. I can’t explain the joy and emotion of being on those hills. The feeling of been at home and comfortable in a tough terrain even though physically every muscle was aching, that feeling of pushing yourself against a clock.

The feeling of living. The feeling of being ALIVE.

I entered the London marathon Lottery draw but was unlucky and didn’t get a spot. I am unable to commit to a charity as I doubt I would be able to raise the required funds. We had spoken about doing another challenge in 2017 to help another local charity. Often an obstacle race had been suggested but having done them in the past I find them more of a fun day out than a challenge.

I’ve thought of marathon distance as unattainable but was willing to train for it. Then listening to the Rich Roll podcast he interviewed David Goggins if you have not heard this interview I strongly suggest you do. Then save it and listen to it again.

The original title of this blog was road to Ultra.

Apologies as I was writing this post has a pretense to “look at me I’m doing a ultra” but fuck that. I’ve done blogs in the past and I’ve always aimed it towards an imaginary audience. To some stranger to say to me well done.  I fucking hate running ( so doing a ultra for no other reason than I want to. Nope ain’t happening )

I aim to get fit again as the 3 peak challenge showed that I’m way off where I use to be and want to be. Granted where I was, was 20 years ago but I keep trying to be who I think I should be when I just want to be me again.

Over the past 15 years life as beaten the shit out of me again and again and again. I’ve got up. But got up slower and slower each time with open wounds and aches that won’t go away.

I’m in no way who I used to be. Nobody should as we all should grow and move forward. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad things have changed in some ways as I was a bit of an arrogant selfish prick, but that’s also just youth.

I miss my confidence. I miss my self-esteem. I miss my get up and go. Not motivation, but oomph !!!!

I was the yes man. The guy who was up for anything and everything.

Do you want to go here do this.

Yes !! without a second thought, yes.

Feeling knackerd, hell yeah I’m still up for it.

You won’t know anybody ?

so what !!!

I will know everyone by the time the evening is out.

Where did that confidence go ?

Life isn’t like that now which I understand I’m not meaning to sound like I want the good old days back of care free-living.  Although it would be nice for a day or two. But there is opportunity out there of new adventures. New friendships. New experiences and new opportunities that I wouldn’t have thought twice about. Now, now I think about them, i dissect them. I talk myself out of it then moan and blame life that I’m not doing it. I feel old and tired.

At some point I’ve become fearful.

At some point I’ve become Nic’s husband, Willow’s Dad or become that bloke who works for so and so.

I feel Nameless

You know Andy don’t you ? I doubt it I don’t even know who I am. I feel though I’m finally beginning to rebuild me and find out who I am.

Adversity isn’t always about doing a challenge. Sometimes it’s about getting through day-to-day life. Meeting the day head on. It’s getting up in a morning when the kids are shouting for breakfast as you’re trying to get out the shower. Doing a good job at work whilst having had little or no sleep. Coming home and been a good husband and Dad helping with the loving family you have built and created together.

If I am just Willow, Norah, Genevieve and Meredith’s dad or known as Nicola’s husband then that isn’t too bad.

Because nobody can do those roles better than me and I’m proud to be known as just that.


Be like Goggins and Live like Jay.