Journal Without Journaling (Using Day One)

It only occurred to me at the beginning of the year, when I casually mentioned that I was printing a book of my Day One yearly journal ( Day One allows for multiple journals and I organize my journals by year), that I don’t really use Day One for journalling in the traditional sense. I prefer to do that by hand in a paper notebook. That’s where I may capture thoughts and feelings about the day or, in the case of my Daily Log, what I did and when I did it. I use Day One to capture all of those other things that are not journalling in the more traditional sense but, in a way, are as much journalling as anything else.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that this may be helpful to others — especially those that have struggled with traditional journalling, have desires to do so, but can’t seem get into the rhythm or make the time. Here’s what goes into my Day One:

  • Instagram — Do you use it to post photos of what you eat? Vacations? Pets? Selfies? Any or all of the above? Maybe you add a short caption. Well, these are snapshots in time. These are “here I am and what I’m doing”. This is journalling. And, instead of just leaving it on the doorstep of some Facebook owned silo where you are unlikely to go back and reflect on your days, you can hook up Instagram to Day One and have those photos automatically imported in. Now, instead of your snapshots being blasted into the ether, they can become part of a meaningful record of your life.

  • Twitter — I use IFTTT (If This Then That) to pipe every Tweet I post on Twitter into Day One. Once again, if you are using Twitter beyond posting links to news sites to own your perceived enemies and, instead, are posting what you are doing and thinking — that is journalling. Why not make it less ephemeral and more lasting, intentional, and meaningful by sending those Tweets to Day One?

  • Blog Posts — Everything I post to my blog, Rhoneisms, gets routed to Day One via IFTTT as well. Since I often use my blog in a way many people may use Twitter and Instagram, it makes sense in the context of what I’ve said above.

  • Tweet Without Tweeting, ‘Gram without ‘Graming — Maybe there’s a thought you have or å photo you take but you don’t, for whatever reason, want to post it to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. Maybe it’s too personal or not completely formed. Maybe you’re afraid it might get taken the wrong way or you just simply want to keep it to yourself. Well, why not “post” it into Day One? Not everything has to be out there for the world to see. Some things can be just for you.

Also, here’s another thing to think about while setting all of this up: How might it change what you post to Twitter if you know those things are going into a personal journal? One that you plan to print and maybe pass down to those you leave behind. How about what you post to Instagram or Facebook? Would it become more personal? More a reflection of what you did and how you feel about things? More like the old days of Twitter where the post box asked, “What are you doing?” and posting “Eating lunch” or “Stuck in a boring meeting” was not only OK but was what everyone did? Just some thoughts….

So, for the most part, my Day One journals are populated automatically. They capture those things that would otherwise be forgotten in a corporate silo. But, here’s another thing I do to make sure they are a lasting a permanent record…

Because I organize my journals by year (my current journal is titled 2021, for example), on January 1st I order a printed book of the previous years entries directly within Day One. Because, as many know, I’m a firm believer that if you really want something to last for generations, it should be on paper. Plus, I find it nice to randomly and occasionally pick up a journal from a previous year, flip through, and dwell in those memories.

My Reading Plan for 2021

As has been the case for the past few years, I develop a reading plan for the year. Having a plan helps provide some gentle guidance in my reading choices and helps ensure I don’t get stuck in reading ruts. For example, in the past these have included such things as reading more recognized classics that I’ve never read or more mass market paperbacks that are easy to take with me and occupy my attention instead of a screen.

This coming year will be no different. Here’s the plan…

Read big books that scare me.

That’s it. That’s the plan. What does it mean and why? Well, there are a number of big books (500+ pages) that I have always wanted to read but I avoid them when it actually comes time to choose from my to-read pile. Here’s why…

  • I’ve always been a slow reader. So I see them and think to myself that I could read two or three books in the time it would take me to read those.

  • I tell myself that I don’t know if I could spend what for me would be a whole month or two in a single book.

  • I tell myself I can’t finish it.

  • I tell myself I’ll get bored.

  • I tell myself I should be the sort of person who reads at least 20 books in a year (my wife averages 75+) and choosing the big ones will make that impossible.

Bottom line, I need to stop this. After all, looking back over my reading list there are several big books on it. There were years when I read The Mueller Report, Hamilton, or the Steve Jobs biography and still managed to feel like I read “enough” books for the year. If I only read big books and only read 10 for the year, does it really matter? No; not in the grand scheme of things.

So, I’m going to use this year to tackle some of those big ones I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m going to let go of any numbers-based reading goals I have. I’m going to acclimate myself to getting lost in a single book for a month or more. I’m going to show those pages who’s boss.

Christmas Eve Lefse

Our Christmas Eve morning tradition starts with getting out the griddle and tools. Coincidentally, the brand name is the same as my wife’s first name — Bethany.

The tools of the trade.

The hardest part is getting the dough just right — not too sticky and not too firm because flour will be added in the rolling process.


Beatrix handles the rolling and the delivery to Mom in at the griddle.

Mom does the frying.

Leaves quite a mess.

But the finished product is worth the cleanup.

Making Lefse (Day 1)

Lefse making begins in lead up to the cooking Christmas Eve morning. Today I’m boiling and ricing the potatoes so that they can then be refrigerated for a few days to let the moisture evaporate.

I use a KitchenAid equipped with the meat grinding attachment to do the ricing.

Here they are after they’re riced.

The $10 Time Machine

Almost 16 years ago, my wife and I had recently began dating when I invited her to come to San Francisco with me. I was going out to attend Macworld as I did almost every year. And though we had not been dating very long by that point, I knew this would be a lifelong love. Thankfully, for my sake, she felt the same and agreed. It was a fantastic trip. One that I remember every detail of and likely will for the rest of my life.

Just before leaving for the airport to fly home, we decided to squeeze in some last-minute shopping. Amongst that we popped into the Old Navy flagship store in downtown San Francisco. As is my habit, I made a beeline to the clearance section to see what treasures I might find there. Lo and behold, stuffed at the end of the rack was this pea coat. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only had I always wanted a pea coat, but for Old Navy this one was particularly and surprisingly well-made. The sort of thing one might find in an Army/Navy store. Heavy wool, top shelf construction, a classic. But the kicker, the truly unbelievable thing, was the price — $10. Yes, you read that right, $10. A no-brainer.

I’ve worn this pea coat every winter since. It’s the most favorite thing I own. Not just because of its utility, the fact that it will never go out of style, that it’s built to last a lifetime, but also because I’m flooded with memories of that time — being so freshly in love with the most important person in the world to me and our first of many trips together.

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of our first date.

I was wearing this coat when I proposed to her.

Today, as I do every year, I spent time cleaning it up with a lint brush and prepping for another winter together.

This year, at a time we can’t travel, these memories are especially precious.

And I have a $10 time machine that can take me anywhere.

For some, mental health day is every day…

World Mental Health Day came and went last Saturday. I failed to post anything about it. But it is not because it’s not a subject that I care deeply about; quite the contrary. I’ve written about my own personal mental health challenges many times before. I’ve written about what it feels like to live daily with a mental illness. I’ve encouraged others to tell their stories too. I could name a more than a dozen of people just off the top of my head who I knew personally who have taken their own lives due to their own mental health struggles. Finally, my oldest child is currently under state civil commitment for her own mental health treatment as she was deemed a danger to herself and others. I could go on and on about how personally this affects me and the people I love…

For me and so many others, every day is mental health day in our worlds.

As you may (or may not) know, I serve as a board member for Mental Health Minnesota. I recently became the board President (an honor I accept with pride). The organization offers free and anonymous online mental health screenings, referrals to treatment and services, and peer support. As you can imagine, they’ve been busier than ever, with so many people facing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and depression related to COVID-19 and so many other recent events. In just the last three months, nearly 7,000 people have taken online mental health screenings offered through their website. That’s more screenings in just three months than during the entire year of 2019. Two-thirds of those taking screenings are under the age of 24, and many are looking for help. Use of the other services offered by Mental Health Minnesota has also increased. The Mental Health Helpline, which provides information about treatment and services, has more than doubled. And the Minnesota Warmline, which provides peer support for people struggling with their mental health, has seen a record number of calls.

You may have heard me talk about this organization before, or maybe some of you local folks have been to our fundraising events in the past; especially our annual event at Surly Brewing held in honor of World Mental Health Day. This is our largest fundraising event of the year.

Unfortunately, fundraising events are off the table this year because (glances broadly at the state of the pandemic), so I’m asking you to help me raise a little money for them

In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10, we are seeking at least 100 donors to give $25 (the cost of a ticket for the Surly event in the past) between October 10th and October 16th to support our work. I believe that World Mental Health Day should be about making sure everyone has a chance to get the help they need, when they need it. But, the truth is, those of us that live with mental illness need the help organizations like this provide every day. I hope you’ll join me in making a contribution that will help so many by donating here. And if you want to learn more about Mental Health Minnesota’s work, I hope you’ll visit their website at www.mentalhealthmn.org.

These Protests are Not Those Protests

I’ve heard many folks, including some of our Black Elders, compare and contrast the most recent protests against racial injustice and police accountability with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s .

Making such a comparison is, frankly, ridiculous . We live in a different time with different technology and different circumstances and reasons for protest. The two are no where near the same. This is not that.

Now, I’m only 52 years old. I was not quite yet born when most of those early protest actions were going on. But, my Mother and Grandmother were very involved in them. They participated in marches and sit ins. They let themselves get arrested at “Whites Only” lunch counters and filled the jails next to their neighbors. I heard the stories in great detail when I was growing up. What was sacrificed for me, a Black child, to be able to go to a desegregated school. So, I know quite a bit, from first hand accounts, how those marches and sit-ins and jail-fills came to be.

They were organized by leaders in the movement (local and national) and planned months in advance. This was done in secret — in homes and church basements and businesses after close. Word spread around mouth to mouth to those who could not make it to the meetings. They decided how they would dress, what they would do, where they would go, what injustice they would target, when they would do it, who would be in the front of the march and who would be in the back. In what order they would take their seats at the lunch counter. All of it would be planned within an inch of its life.

It was not published in the newspapers. There were no flyers posted. It wasn’t even spoken about on a telephone (because in those days operators could and did often listen in). Because, if the word got out that something was going to happen, those doing the planning would be hung from a prominent tree as a message to the rest. There was little chance of word getting out of the circle of those in the know ahead of time, unless there was an infiltrating informant in the midst. That did happen from time to time and people got killed because of it. But, in general, a march or sit-in or other civil unrest action was not known by the wider world until it happened.

This is not the way protests are planned today. In fact, most are barely even planned.

To the extent these things are organized today, it happens online. Publicly. On a social network. It happens largely spontaneously. There are no leaders in the traditional sense. It’s mostly a critical mass. And while there is much power and speed in getting something together after, say, a Black man is murdered on video by police (which is also only widely known due to those same social networks), it is mostly spontaneous. There’s no real plan. No real coordination. Just a call to show up and make your voice heard.

Of course, this also means that those that wish to infiltrate an otherwise peaceful protest to commit violence, loot, and/or advance an agenda also know about it and show up too. They see the opportunity to ferment chaos and they use it. This is what they do. Thus, what was otherwise a peaceful protest becomes a “riot” in the eyes of all that were not there. What are otherwise the majority — citizens peacefully yet vocally demanding justice and equality — are lumped together with a violent minority and the message drowned out.

Now, are there lessons the current movements could learn from the past ones? Sure, there are always lessons to be learned from history. That said, the technology has change so vastly that the results, good and bad, would likely still happen all the same.

So, I get very, very annoyed when these two movements are compared without the context of history and technology considered. Doing so only serves misunderstanding and propping up straw-man narratives.

These protests are not those protests.

This is not that.

The WhileWeAreAtIts

The project started off with a well defined scope. It was moving along slowly but suredly. then, the “WhileWeAreAtIts” started to creep in.

“While we have everything already moved out, we could install shelving.”

“Since the mattress that was in that room was no great shakes, let’s get a new one.”

”Let’s touch up the paint here since everything is over there”

”While we’re at it, why don’t we…”

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these are valid things to take care of. They make sense both from a practical perspective and in the grand scheme of things. It’s just that these extras were not considered and accounted for in the project at the start. What should have taken X amount of time takes Y. What should have been done by now is not.

All too often, it’s hard to account for these things. You don’t tend to think of them or even see them until you do. Not until you are in the weeds of a project do the WhileWeAreAtIts reveal themselves.

Just know that, more often them not, when taking on a big projects the WhileWeAreAtIts will likely be there waiting to pop up. Do your best to adjust your expectations accordingly.

The revolution *is* televised…

It’s on the 24 hour news channels. An everlasting mirror of who we’ve become. Gil said, “The first change that takes place is in your mind.” But now, our minds are all online.

We broadcast our loves and our hates. We retweet our support for our heroes and disdain for our enemies. We transmit every transgression and cancel those that fail to meet the mark. We all have cameras now, so we film the “Karens” and the cops. We are the anchors and the audience. Everyone is reporting live, local, and up to the minute.

We air what we’re thinking, who we’re voting for, and what we believe in. No investigation is needed because there are no secrets – only news not yet discovered. Any harbored thought not shared is deemed suspect. Your dreams are live in three, two, one…

All the news that fits the narrative of now, breaking and live, for the whole world to see. Delivered the way you live your life. Seeing the world as it is — not fair and unbalanced. We’re mad as hell and can’t stop taking in more and more of the feed. The ticker tells the tale of our discontent with it all.

When the screen is off it’s a mirror, reflecting a loneliness we can’t bear. Yet, when it’s on, it’s a mirror of a different kind, reflecting the humanity we’ve let slip away.

Gil said, “You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move…It will just be something you see and you’ll think, “Oh I’m on the wrong page.”

The real revolution, therefore, is not on the television or on the front page.

The revolution we need will be a buried lede.