What’s your preferred way to keep track of time?
I have kept a paper journal or day planner for as long as I can remember because there is something about putting thoughts directly from pen to paper that connects with me.
After experimenting with countless electronic options, I always go back to a physical book as my primary calendar.
In these pages are my personal thoughts, inspirational quotes, jots of outrage, goals and ideas, work notes and interviews, appointments, special dates and all sorts of random things. I’m lost without it and my trusty book is generally close at hand.
When I forget things, chances are that they weren’t written into the book.
While not a traditional journal, flipping through the pages of any of my day planners would give even a stranger a solid idea of what kind of person I am and what kind of life I live. My highlighting code is pretty easy to decipher and the stories can be followed as the pages are turned.
When each year ends, the well-worn tomes take a place on my bookshelf. I sometimes find myself looking back to them, either for specific information or just randomly in reflection.
Everyone at the office knows better than to mess with my book. It’s fine to add an important date or note, but anyone with sloppy handwriting is best to stay away.
Ask my niece, who once dared to write details of her wedding plans into my brand-new book. I kept things civil and refrained from snatching it out of her hands but I’m certain she quickly realized that a line had been crossed, as silly as it may have been.
Getting a fresh day planner makes me think of Steve Martin’s reaction in The Jerk when the new phone book arrives with his name in it. Fresh pages to fill always come with a feeling of readiness for a new life chapter to begin and a sense of excitement.
Day-planner people typically are set in their ways. Once a layout is found that suits their needs, ensuring that the next year’s calendar is ordered as soon as the reorder page pops up is a task that needs no further reminder.
My 2022 book has more light-green highlighting than any previous one has. The green appointments are for my husband.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll already know that the past year has been largely dominated by our journey with Jim’s terminal cancer. Appointments, scan results and notes from every stage all reside in my 2022 journal.
I intend to write a book about the experience and many of the random thoughts and ideas have been written here, along with the specifics that will guide the process. Also in this book are the planning details for our wedding, the dates my family visited from Saskatchewan and many, many other happy memories.
It’s all there, the good and the bad days of the past year.
A few weeks ago I got to the reminder page and promptly connected with Blueline to make sure the style I prefer, and have gotten Jim hooked on as well, was available. The pause in ordering two books was miniscule, but it was there, if only for the briefest moment.
The biggest thing we have learned in 2022 is the value of a day. We are grateful for every single one and for the people we spend those days with.
Last week we received positive news — the new treatment is working on one stubborn tumour that nothing has been able to slow down so far. It is written in my book with GIANT letters and multiple exclamation marks.
The next day, Jim’s new day planner arrived. The timing could not have been more perfect.
On my calendar for that same night was my monthly cancer caregiver support group through Wellspring. I was able to share our good news and a few words of advice: never be afraid to buy next year’s day planner. Every page you turn in it will be a blessing.
Dec. 13 note from the author:
This article was published in the Nov. 16 issue of Shootin’ the Breeze. Many positives were written in my 2022 day-planner and special days ahead added to the 2023 edition.
On Dec. 5, this included planning for the Breeze Christmas dinner and for Jim to go goose hunting the next day. We went to bed that night with happy future plans.
The following morning, Jim unexpectedly passed away. While I am sad for the things he will miss, especially Christmas, I am glad that we were planners and that he was ready for good things to come the next day.
After much consideration, his 2023 day-planner was gifted to a friend who has also had a challenging year. I hope she will be able to fill it with positives when she begins turning the pages in 2023.