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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Fun

“I have learned that you can go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do and buy all the things that you want to buy and meet all the people who you want to meet and learn all the things that you desire to learn and if you do all these things but are not madly in love: you have still not begun to live.”

―JoyBell

I love my family and as much as I moan about them and the trials and tribulations that comes with it I wouldn’t change them for the world.

At times it becomes almost unbearable and you just want to run away to a time before.

Which lead me to writing this spoken word piece. Time is something that’s un-negotiable. It’s a fixed set amount. I have to be at work at a certain time to a certain time. The girls have after school clubs they attend they need taking to at a certain time. The baby goes to bed around a certain time to save our sanity the next day. This leaves little time to catch up with the wife. Be able to work out. Catch up with jobs around the house. To have any alone time. To be able to find time for fun. Fun selfishly just for you.

Fun

Fun.

But at what cost.

Fun things for you to see and do.

Just you.

No partner, no kids.

No wife and kids coming along too.

Fun.

Fun things to see and do.

Just for you.

At what cost.

Kids screaming they want to go with daddy too.

A wife who complains she doesn’t get the quality time she needs with you.

Fun.

Just fun.

Just for you.

Some time alone doing just what you want to do.

Sitting and relaxing when you want to.

Turning left instead of right because you want to.

Something catches your eye wandering over to look and explore it.

No rolling of eyes as you suggest it.

No screaming I need the loo, me too and me, me too.

Some time alone doing just what you want to do.

Exploring the world and shops in your little town like you use to.

Peacefully wandering and looking at what you want to.

Coming home, turning on the crap that you want to.

No screams of I’m not watching that.

Escaping to listen to your favourite music.

Relaxing and meditating.

Closing your eyes and feeling the music run through you.

Prodded in the head and asked what are you up to.

Can I listen.

Can I watch pig on your phone.

Peppa. Peppa ringing in your ear.

Fun.

Oh What fun.

Fun at what cost.

Escaping without the guilt.

Asking if it’s ok if you can go see this.

Like a teenager nervously asking to stay out late with friends that your parents don’t like.

Reminiscing of the fun you use to do.

Getting up when you want to.

Leaving the house for anywhere and nowhere just going because you want to.

Now to have that fun it comes at a cost.

A cost.

A cost that you always have to ask yourself.

Is it worth it.

All this fuss.

Just to go.

To go.

To go and have some fun.

Andy.

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

Is there anything better

The washer has been replaced.

image

There is nothing better than your kids clothes been clean and no more visits to the launderette.

I think we found out what was wrong with the old machine.

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Feeling fortunate.

Andy.