I recently finished up a journal, a Life Noble Note A5, which always feels like an accomplishment and a celebration, a reason to acquire more washi tape for the next journal or to ink up a few new pens despite the dozen I have already in a pen roll. Maybe just a bubble tea—although there is no just when it comes to bubble tea.


There is nothing like the satisfaction of finishing off a notebook, and I can attest to this as someone who has their share of half-finished (or barely-started) notebooks on their shelf. In my defense, sometimes I’m testing out a page or two on a new notebook for research.


I’ve been doing my journal club since October in addition to my own mostly-daily journaling and have filled this one in what seems like record time. I had a few pages left in a previous one when the journal club started, and got into this one in November, so it’s taken just under three months to fill. Part of the reason it’s gone by so fast is that I’ve also been gluing in and taping in things from magazines or life, bits of packaging or notes from the kids, along with washi tape and stickers. Not only have I thus filled my notebook quickly, the process has also given my notebook noticeable heft, which I love! I’m fattening up Hansel for consumption and looking forward to Gretel next, cackling all while.



Here’s a picture of it from some time early on, a bit bare, getting ready for journal club, or maybe just finishing up.



The back of my old notebook, and the fresh new one beside it. I enjoyed it so much—or maybe it went by too quickly—that I’m going with the exact same one again.



I don’t always put stickers or collage onto the covers of my notebooks because they’re often inside leather covers, but I put this inside a Midori MD Clear Notebook Cover, and it was just a magnet for things in my life.


This bit of a National Geographic article and the photo from a different article entirely, together, seemed like the start of a good adventure, perhaps two kids opening up a stationery shop a decade ago. (Or, more accurately, a month or two after opening the shop.)


I’m going to modge podge over it before I put it up on the shelf. Inside the plastic cover this dinosaur was safe, because who doesn’t sleep a bit better under a clear coat of modge podge.




I think of one of my end goals as using up my supplies: filling up my notebooks, drawing up that last drop of special edition ink into a pen and out onto a page, affixing those vintage stamps onto an envelope. Sometimes I have a hard time with that one roll of Christmas washi tape I have left, but then I think to myself that you only live once, and there’s no guarantee for tomorrow. That sounds dramatic, or perhaps I’ve been having too many existential thoughts late at night, one heavy potato sack of a baby in my arms. I guess I also mean to say that sometimes just having the special things can be a nice feeling, but at a certain point, it’s even better when you get to use it.


I’ve relinquished the idea of keeping a notebook for only one purpose, which means I do sometimes take a notebook I started for one thing and end up using it for another. While the concept of having a notebook for a project or a purpose and using it up to its last page for that project or purpose is great in theory, that’s usually not the reality for me. I think there is a different satisfaction in not having everything work out perfectly in terms of my notebooks and projects lining up, but in filling up my notebooks.


All of the words and projects and ideas and funny things the kids say and anxieties and friendships and stories of my life filling up the pages can be itself a reflection of the fullness of my own inner life, or, maybe, my efforts to make the most of it. Rather than holding myself back because I haven’t got the perfect pages or the perfect notebook or the perfect analogue system, I’m just going to dig in and see what I find. The treasures can be scary but also delicious and a delight.


Mostly I just have to keep at it, even if I miss a day or two or more. The work of getting it down on paper is worthwhile. One page after another, one day at a time. And then I get a chunky, thick, lovely notebook out of it.


Please consider joining our journal club if you’d like some company on the road. Twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, we meet at 9 pm, share a prompt, and fill up some of our pages.


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January 21, 2023 — Liz Chan



Mary said:

I am curious how you use the translucent sticky notes!

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