“Now, You Must Promise Me to Start Using It Right Away.”

This week I was going through an old blog looking for an article I wrote 11 years ago. Although I didn’t find the article, I found this post that I wrote almost exactly ten years ago. To my dismay/surprise I realized that I could re-publish this post right now because nothing has changed.

It went like this:

“Today I was going through a cupboard of drawers, sorting cards, pens, note paper, stamps, receipts etc. when I came upon some beautiful journal’s I received this year and haven’t used. Later on in the evening when I returned to this re-organization, I also found a wonderful reminder of what to do with these books, from my friend Patricia, who wrote the book Improv Wisdom an all-time favourite of mine.

This note had accompanied a beautiful journal she gave me on one of my  Birthday’s and I had kept it tucked away in a safe place and happily rediscovered it tonight. This is what she wrote:

“Now, you must promise me to start using it right away.

Don’t wait for something ‘special‘ to put in it. That way it will sit on a shelf forever. (I know, I have a half dozen blank books unfilled). Keep it as a ‘nothing special‘ book…jot down recipes, to-do lists, poetry; clip stuff and paste it in. Don’t make it a precious book. Use it by the telephone to write down notes or addresses. Find some way it gets USED! Promise it won’t be kept for some high purpose. Make it a lowly thing that gets used a lot.”

Her note continues with an assumption: “Good! Use it. I’m delighted you’ve started. Now keep on using it. Don’t stop to answer: ‘Is this worthy of the book?‘ Nonsense, if it strikes your fancy, add it. My friend Dalla has kept an ‘everything book‘ going at all times. She pastes and writes and scribbles…putting phone numbers, recipes, quotes, diary entries, poetry snippets…whatever is passing through her life at that moment. She keeps them by year or date. It is a great way to use such a book. Please do use it for everyday things. They are important.”

I continue:

Good grief! This is  the reminder I need. Tomorrow I will paste on the front page of Patricia’s beautiful book this advice, and follow-up with the stack of little paper treasures sorted on the guest bed. I wonder if you have beautiful untouched journals stashed away.  If so, what on earth are we saving them for?

Thank-you Patricia for this timely advice. I can hardly wait to get started on using my wonderful books.”


Present Day – Here’s the rub:

I just now opened a treasure box of things I brought with me to Ottawa and there it is, this lovely book. Safe and sound and barely used. I did paste the note onto the front page and place a few beautiful items, loosely, inside. I also scribbled a few commonplace things onto three pages, but I must have got cold feet, as it all came to a grinding halt.

Deciding is not doing. How many times did you decide to do something, and not do it? Of course, not everyone is like that. My daughter being one of the latter.

So, I brought the book out. It is sitting on my desk now, beside this computer, with a glue stick and a pen at the ready. By using the book every day, I honour my friend’s gift. There is no shortage of poems,  quotation’s, images or fleeting glimpses of insight that pass through my day. I will write them down at day’s end.

It can be my commonplace book until it is filled, and then I will start on other slightly used books in that same chest.

This isn’t a chore but rather a joy. A fun thing to do. A chance to write down serendipitous moments that can be memories for later years.

I bet we all have lovely things that are tucked away. Time to bring them out and put them to their rightful use.

What are you not using?  Your watercolour brush, guitar, a half-finished poem, family photos, samples of your pottery class that you loved but didn’t get back to.

Perhaps the time has come to re-discover the treasures tucked away in your own cupboards and bring them out to see the light of day. You may find treasures to pass on to someone else who would love those watercolour brushes, if you are not ever going to use them again. Many possibilities.

It could be fun giving new life to old things.


Note:1) I had such a good day with a friend visiting the National Art Gallery, and seeing an amazing exhibit called Abadakone: Continuous Fire. This is a series of presentations of compelling contemporary international Indigenous art, from 40 Indigenous Nations and 16 countries.

Note 2:) Do not grasp at the stars (alone), but do life’s plain common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” Lord Houghton

Note 3:) The photo today is a gift from the same friend Patricia. It is a Japanese folkart called Etegami.

Note 4:) Today is the last Wed in November. Hard to imagine. I can only continue to say thanks to you for opening the Wed email and clicking on “read more.” A deep bow of appreciation to you all. I wonder how you are all doing dear readers. Best wishes and warm greetings, Trudy




5 replies
  1. Tamara
    Tamara says:

    Dear Trudy
    I love books. I have journals not used and actually gave my granddaughter one when she moved to Scotland. A difficult decision to let it go. I have many notes and cards tucked into my journal I started at the journaling class with Wellspring. Its time to start using it – tomorrow. I’m not using my watercolour brush and my ukelele. Yes it’s time. Thank you.

  2. Janice
    Janice says:

    Oh my, this has my name on it! just received a beautiful leather bound blank book which sits quietly in my drawer waiting for …. Maybe I can use it for nothing ‘special’ because everything is special, the point is to use it. thank you dear Trudy for this timely reminder. xoxoxo

  3. Mary MacKenzie
    Mary MacKenzie says:

    Since you asked specifically, I will tell you I am doing GREAT!
    This is a great post – thank you so much – I have a few scribblers, with little in them … many, many little notes and scraps of paper which I will get round to one day!! And so the story goes … I am BOOKING in time on Sat. to begin. Love the quote in Note 2 as well as the quote “life is a gift, not a given”. All the best, Mary


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