August 2015

Considering Daybooks “look to this day”


(a post from Wisteria & Sunshine from a few months ago…sorry the fonts look a bit small, something in the transfer to this page…enlarging the page helps!)

“Look to this Day!

For yesterday is but a dream

And tomorrow is only a vision;

And today well-lived, makes

Yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well therefore to this day;

Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!”

-Sanskrit poem


Looking through my long row of daybooks and journals, I pulled out the ones I had used for at least more than a few days. : )  The oldest was a simple cloth-covered journal I took on a trip to England in 1981 and that is where I found the lines from Look to This Day. And it seems to me that those words sum up pretty nicely what we are doing when we turn to our daybooks.


In my younger days, and off and on since, it was mostly to look back on a day or trip or experience, for memory’s sake. I didn’t feel the need to organize my days until my second son was born. Since that time, I would say that my daybooks have ranged far and wide in their purposes…from journaling to household organization to calendars to systems of all sorts to scrapbook-like cutting and pasting….usually with a separate book for each purpose.


Pulling each daybook out of the cupboard, I could remember what drew me to each in the first place and why I gave it up. Sometimes, the reason was a material one…the binder was too wide to carry and use, the paper or designs didn’t please me, it wasn’t adaptable enough and soon felt confining…


More often, or at least as often, I think the reason was within me…overthinking…perfectionism…or just not knowing what I really wanted and needed to be putting down with pen and paper. And I can see now that, for me, too many places and choices (too many containers, really!) kept me from focusing and deepening with the practice of Looking to My Days. It is not everyone’s challenge, is it? Some women seem to rest easy with just grabbing the nearest notebook and getting on with what they need to put down in it. Or they’ve had a life-long love affair with their Filofax. Perhaps they get real pleasure from seeking out a new approach…I know I used to.


At this Rosehip season, tho’,  I’d like to hone in, and that is why it feels right to spend more time and thought than I have in the past finding the best “container” for the papery part of life. My cupboard of notebooks is full. I’d like to look back in a few decades and recognize the year I settled in with my own particular way of planning and capturing and chronicling. For my days to feel “well-lived”, I must spend less time figuring things out and where to put them, and more time doing and growing and being.


Look to this day:

For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course

Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.

The bliss of growth,

The glory of action,

The splendour of achievement

Are but experiences of time.

What has your own journey with pen and paper looked like?

Considering Daybooks “a small portion of attention”

daybookspale(a post from Wisteria & Sunshine from a few months ago)

It came to me, as I was considering how to blossom with both the using and creating of a Daybook (which you may remember I would like to be my “one notebook for everything”) that it might be helpful to figure out exactly what a Daybook means to me. And then before I could even look into my own thoughts about it, or trace my own history with diary and planner-keeping, I remembered the archival box full of such things that I collected in my more acquisitive days…


And they led me on a journey to understand the whys and hows of women keeping Daybooks (which will be my word to encompass diaries/calendars/journals and all of the other papery tools) over the years. Oh! The fascinating things I’ve learned today (and which I share further on). And so, our Considering Daybooks series was born. Today’s installment will focus on the history, in general, of such recordings. Tomorrow’s will shine a light upon my own history with them and the sharing of yours in the comments. On Thursday we shall have a poll and conversation about what we are seeking in our Daybooks right now.


Here is the first article I found, and I took note of this line…

But a planner is more than a tool: It’s also a way of seeing the world. The way it organizes time, what it prioritizes, how you choose to fill it in—all of these things reflect a set of values, and one that has changed since the planner was born.

Then this one, which has several interesting bits, most especially the delightful excerpts from Ben Franklin’s diary. I fret about the same challenge as he did!


I eventually meandered into the more personal, everyday diaries (the sort I have in my own tiny collection) and had to agree with this post that “Diaries can inform, inspire and delight” and that “Diaries are special that way—they are records of daily life.” Click on the second photo to enlarge it if you would like an eyeful of antique, papery pleasure.


And then I found the best article of all “A Pocketful of Days“. Twenty-some pages of “Pocket Diaries and Daily Record-Keeping of Nineteenth-Century New England Women.” It was captivating, and gave me deeper insight into the worlds I’ve glimpsed through the diaries I’ve read and treasured over the years. I have a few very like those described in A Pocketful of Days.


My most precious old diary is this one which belonged to Miss Loanda Lake. I can lose whole hours reading her entries, one for each day of the year of 1876. The main entry on each page is brief record of her day-in rhyme! At the bottom of the pages she records, upside down, the more prosaic jottings. In the side margins are the names of birds (or hens…perhaps those who laid an egg?) for a little while, then tiny decorative swirls, then nothing. The back pages have lists of letters sent and received and careful notes on every payment received and given, and her family history.


As usual, when I dipped into her diary, I was first charmed and then drawn into caring about her. Listen to today’s entry…

It seems rather cold

But sunny and fair

The wind brisk & bold

With a rush & a tare

Had a mission to do

What I cannot tell

But it blew & it blew

And scattered things well-

I washed dirty clothes

And hung them to dry

They had no repose

From wind passing by

Had three pair of sheets

Twelve pieces besides

The looked white as fleets

Beyond oceans tides

Painted my cricket white

It looks really neat

And pleases my sight

Although it looks cheap

Piled 400 sticks

Pine wood in my shed

Feel some in a mix

And am going to bed-

400 sticks! Loanda Lake deserves a whole post to herself, or a series. I’ve discovered so much more about her today. What I am thinking of at this moment, however, is what someone in the future might make of me if they found my Daybooks….should that enter into my ponderings (even ever so lightly)? How much of the poetry of life and the prose do I want mine to contain?

Please share your own thoughts on this today and in the days to come, and in the meantime, I will leave you with a few pages from the little magazineI created almost twenty years ago, with some scans of Miss Lake’s diary pages….


loandalakethreeP.S. August update…I was sad to discover that the link to the “Brief History of Time Management” no longer works. It was such an interesting post and is where the “small portion of attention” in my post’s title came from. It was something Ben Franklin wrote, I believe, but I can’t find a trace of it anyplace online now…