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.

Reflection.

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.

Andy.

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The Bug

I am tired of being tired and talking about how tired I am.

– Amy Poehler

Currently in the UK we have the bug.

A sickness bug.

Traveling from area to area from school to school.

I generally lack sympathy. I am very empathetic but sympathy for people I have non.

Which might be some what of an oxymoron. I don’t know.

Children are pretty much little walking Petri dishes of bacteria and illness ready to attack at any point.

This weekend we had our 3 year old daughters 4th birthday party. All week building up to it kids have been pulled out of school or worse, children were been dropped off looking an interesting shade of green whilst their parents disappeared like a flash out of the school gates. Reports of children been segregated into the ill class room with other children who had the bug at both ends. Parents strangely we’re now Un-contactable.

With this information we decided to take all our children out of school for the last 2 days of the week.

We have spent a lot of money ( to us ) on a party with surprise magician clown and we did not want her or her sisters missing it due to catching the dreaded Bug.

My wife took them to the new local library. Been educational and all since they were out of school. 5 minutes into been there a child puked all over the place. The mother of the puking child did very little by apology and tried to rub it away into the shiny new carpet.

So after that we had two days of lock down. We did it. We managed to have them all there with no sign of the dreaded bug.

A great party and a great fun day.

11 pm that night.

Shit.

Pukesville.

Our eldest can not stop throwing up.

What a trooper though, she amazed us. She is very much the dramatic and sensitive one.

Too tired and too ill to moan she wouldn’t leave the side of the toilet incase she was going to be sick again. Which in turn means tag team time for me and my wife. Passing each other with heavy bags under our eyes.

She is fortunately better and now back to her normal self.

Moaning about anything and everything.

Now I just hope we have managed to keep her quarantined enough that the others do not get it.

Because I’ve got really tired of it.

The hardest thing as a parent especially in a larger family is the ability to be able to function when one or a few of you are ill. The border line sleep torture followed by a lack of much needed structure means daily happy life goes out of the window. Tempers fray due to the lack of sleep and generally feeling like crap.

I can’t wait for normality to return. Or at least children with the energy to moan and for me to have the energy to cope with it.

Andy.

Stoicism saved my life and makes me a better parent.

“The task of a philosopher: we should bring our will into harmony with whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen. “

– Epictetus, Discourses, 2.14.7

A cliché I know.

For a while now I have been on a journey of self-improvement of mind, body and spirit.
It as been my saving grace, along this journey I have found ( as enlightening as “found ” sounds ) Stoicism

Stoicism has saved my life.

I am depressed in the same was an alcoholic is an alcoholic. In the same way that once you are an alcoholic you always will be an alcoholic. Hopefully a sober one.

I’ve looked back to try to pinpoint when I became “depressed” to continue and use the analogy of an alcoholic I don’t think they is one specific moment when I had my first drink and that was it. It’s been somewhat of a life long slow spiral which ultimately resulted in hitting rock bottom and almost taking my life.

I hate excuses and actively try not to make them for my circumstances or frustrations or for the reason that I am depressed.
Our actions knowingly or unknowingly ultimately lead us to the lives we live and are living today. It’s then for us to adjust it accordingly. This can mean taking several paths constantly trying to change the course of our journey as we take every step. Many of us live in a system we can’t change and for many years I fought against it. Blaming the way the world is set up as the reasons for my depression and frustration.

Stoicism as helped to change how I think and view the world. I would often stay awake debating in my head how I could help countries that I’ve never visited change their laws and the way they treat their citizens. Frustrated at the way people are forced to live, in my own country the depriving situations people find themselves in. Angry and deeper into my depression, using the excuse of the way politicians act to justify how I acted and felt. Blaming them for my situation and unhappiness.

The repetitive consistent daily practice of Stoicism along with regular exercise keeps me balanced more than any medication, like many things in life you can’t change and become “better” until you are open and willing to. Thankfully I was willing to.

The one thing that Stoicism has given me is the tools and a different way of thinking to deal with life. Tools I either forgot, lost or never had before.

Tools that I try to pass on to my children.

I don’t want my children to be depressed. I don’t mean sad. I mean depressed like I am at times. Unless you have felt or lived with the suffocating feel of depression its a very hard thing to imagine or sympathise with.
I want them to be strong.

Mentally strong with the tools to handle life and the shit that is often continuously and relentlessly thrown at you.

For a long time I saw parenting as a sprint race I wanted them to know me and all the skills needed for life, now !!!!
I didn’t expect to be alive and was very aware of how quickly it could all end.
I now see parenting as a long ultra race. Months and months of preparation ready to steadily hit the path in front and keep going through the highs and lows along the way.

Toddlers lose their shit at the slightest thing.
Their socks feel funny, the kiwi fruit looks too hairy, their sister said they’re a poo head. The list goes on and on.
I would try to force wisdom into them at these moments explaining that a hairy kiwi was normal, that this is how it had grown. That the amount of hair on the outside was irrelevant when all the tasty bit was inside of it.

yes it went as well a you are imagining it went.

I now try to lead by example, not losing my shit when I get cut up in traffic or when the cashier at the till is rude.
Little sayings and mantras are drip fed without their knowledge. Mantras they now repeat, changes in behaviour with each other and there frustrations as become visible to us for the better. slowly but surely we are all getting better. slowly there are developing coping measures that they need to live life.

Of course all of this is well and good until they lose their shit over the last crisp they are eating falling on to the floor.

At which point my Stoic practice goes out of the window and I go and rock in the corner until the crying stops.

Realising I know nothing and to just try to hang on to my own sanity and hopefully they will turn out right.

If they don’t I’ll give them a few books and wish them good luck.

Andy.

Be like Goggins, Live like Jay

Aside

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.

Andy.

Be like Goggins and Live like Jay.