Notebook Love Guest Post: Lauren

Hi!  I’m back from the most magical little trip.  I’m at the end of my second day home and my apartment is still in post-vacation-disaster mode despite my fervent and continuous efforts to set it right again.  I’ve decided to give up for the night, change into my sweats, and spend the rest of the night in bed writing and reading. (I got really happy typing that just now!)  I have much to post, but while my words sort themselves out, I have a guest post to share with you!  Lauren is a fellow notebook-keeper and seems to understand and share my love for it.  She blogs over here and is fantastically entertaining, thought-provoking, witty and well-written.  Somehow I roped her into writing this for me and I love how it turned out!  Also, she introduced me to the word logophile which I will forever be grateful for (and which I can’t believe I didn’t already know because hello–lover of words here).  You should read the whole thing, because it’s awesome.  Without further ado, I give you her thoughts on the topic:  how the very process of writing and recording helps you see and understand things differently.


I find one of the most interesting things about keeping a notebook or journal (I use the terms interchangeably) dedicated to, in some way, recording your life is the answer to the question; how does one do it in a way that is both personally satisfying and honest?


Personal satisfaction can be tricky if you are not a fan of writing or recording, have fallen out of the habit, or find it difficult to put pen on paper in any way. It means you have to work to find a type of writing (doodling, listing, recording) that makes your heart sing and the time intrinsically ‘worth it.’


Honesty can be (is) hard because being honest with yourself has no aspect of 3rd party feedback, suffers from 100% bias, and is often shaped by a depressing pile of “shoulds” (“should be,” “should feel,” “should do,” …).


In my past writings I have discovered that this can cause me to want to either write about myself and/or my experiences in a rosier glow than maybe my heart tells me is entirely accurate, or in a darker matte of criticism — focused on myself, events, or others — that is typically also inaccurate while also failing at being productive, or healthy. However, with the experiences writing in both ways behind me I do feel I have accomplished some semblance of middle ground.


I do not fear writing about my hard days. I have started more than ten entries (I just wanted a number there besides one) with the very unoriginal line “Today was hard …” followed by a lament on what made it so. I do make a concentrated effort, however, to not just be as honest as possible, but to also try and be productive. I do not write only about how I feel, I write about what I think the event was that caused the emotion, or the chain of events that has left me feeling rotten. In doing so I find that a couple of things tend to happen. The first is that I am forced to look at my day again. It is easy for me to slap a label on my day at the end of it and conclude that everything about it must have fit under that label because that’s how I feel at the moment. But in recording my day I come to find that the way I feel in the final hours of it, when I am most likely to file that day away, is often not actually how I have felt for the majority of it.


I have also come to appreciate that my emotions are more nuanced than I give them credit for. Journal writing has given rise to an entirely new emotional vocabulary I use to express myself, and more accurately label my days. I rarely ever use word like angry, sad, or happy anymore, because I have discovered they do my life events a disservice. I have found that in actuality I value feeling peace far more than I value feeling ‘happy.’ Or, on the other end, I am far more often irked or feeling snarky or irritated than blandly ‘angry.’ And while it may sound simply like I am hopeless logophile (which, in all honesty, I may be), it is more than that. It means that as I write I am more accurately assessing and caring more deeply that what I record matches what I feel. This is important to me because it results in records that teach me about myself. What triggers my weaknesses? What fills up my heart? How would this situation affect me through the lens of yesterday, last year, or the last time I felt the way I do now? It also gives me better communication skills, a more careful grip on my knee jerk reactions, and a healthier relationship with the parts of me over which I have no initial control … my feelings.


I love my journals (notebooks 🙂 ) because they represent me. They track my progression (or regression depending on the year you pick up from the stack) as an individual, and at the same time deepen my appreciation for the patterns, experiences, trials, and triumphs of my life. Writing has allowed me to see how beautiful life is because it requires that I take time to care about it, to do it purposefully. It gives me room to take ownership of my experiences, while also helping me appreciate that those experiences are a gift and more often than not they build on each other in ways that I sometimes can only feel overwhelmed with wonder over.


And to quell the risk that I have vaunted the glorious act of personal records to a sphere too great to seem attainable I will also note that I have been at this for a good while, and it means a great deal to me. But for every in the moment personally earth shattering entry I have written I would estimate a good 20 that at the time they were written I found to be utterly benign. I would stress that the power of a notebook is in its ability to be a reflection and a retelling. You just never know what you will need to hear from yourself somewhere down the line. And if you will allow me some shameless promotion of Dana’s crazy skills; it always helps to have your records down in something that brings you joy to look upon. Thus amidst the fervor to write I know my words have naturally inspired in you I would nudge you to go consider investing in a notebook from the Scribble and Jot shop ;).


just some things about today

I didn’t particularly like today.

In fact, I particularly didn’t like today.

And I don’t have a bad day play by play for you but just know that Camryn skipped her second nap which nap is crucial in every way to my sanity and hers.  Also–I burned the second batch of cookies.  Why, oh WHY do I always burn the second batch of cookies??  I do it all.  the.  time.  and it’s one of those things that just makes me so unreasonably angry with myself  Like,  why can’t I do this right?  Why am I so stupid that this really really simple thing I just can’t do right? and I swear that I will learn my lesson and never do it ever again– and then I do it again.  And now my whole apartment reeks the lovely scent of charred oatmeal.  


other things that happened today:

I overheard this conversation at the park between 2 boys (age 6ish?):

boy 1:  “So, what’s your name?”

boy 2:  “Canola.  what’s your name?”

boy 1:  “Doercon.  D-O-E-R-C-O-N.  that’s how I spell it.”

??  what on earth??  At least Doercon has the smarts already to know that he’s going to have to spell it out for people.  And canola? Like the oil?  yikes. (no offense if you like those names.  I obviously, do not)

I also chatted with a fellow mom who gave birth one week ago in the parking lot of the ER because she didn’t make it there fast enough.  Her total labor and delivery time:  1.5 hours.  For her first baby it was 10.   My first labor was 5.5 hours, so my quick math tells me that if I follow the same pattern (and obviously, a sample size totaling one random woman in the park is a good measuring stick for this kind of thing)  I will have less than an hour to make it to a delivery room on my 2nd baby and heaven help me on the rest of them (legend has it, they each come faster than the one before) or I may just be having all of my babies in parking lots, cars, or my own bathtub!

A while ago (a looong while ago) I sent in a maintenance request for our windows to be cleaned, since we live on the second floor reachable only by ladder and there’s a pretty good chance our bedroom windows haven’t been cleaned since the building was built.  I lie not.  Ever since my birthday when Tanner got me a great table/work desk for bookbinding and we set it up right in front of the bedroom window, I have spent a lot of time looking out of a really dirty window (really, bird poop and all, it’s not pretty) grumbling internally about management and how annoyed I am that they won’t clean the dang things.  And today I mentioned it to my neighbor and she’s like “oh ya! they did it on Saturday”  4 days ago.  And I haven’t even noticed.  And that’s how life is sometimes.  And sorry that story was longer than it should have been.

I think Tanner taking finals makes me way more grumpy and dying for the semester to be over than finals week ever did when I was taking part in it.  I would like my husband back, pretty please.  With his cheerful disposition intact if that’s not too much to ask.

snacktime in 3 parts

Lucky you guys, I’m giving you a little video sneak peak into snack time at the Staples house.  This is what I get to do all day!  Apparently my smoothies have magical happy powers (I already knew that, but it’s nice to have the toddler affirm it)  and I promise they aren’t straight up caffeine and sugar though video #1 might give you that impression.

Good news X3!!

I have some very exciting news!  3 pieces of it in fact, each representing a new member of my family this year.  I’ve been holding them in, but now that they are all facebook official, I can share them.

My sister Alison and brother-in-law Zach adopted a baby!! new family member #1:  Owen Zachary Alleman.  Isn’t he the cutest little guy?  We are so excited he is here.  Many people have prayed for this baby for a long time and we are so so happy for Zach and Alison!  I cried and gushed like the proud aunt that I am when I opened the email informing us of his arrival.  I knew adoptions could happen quickly but it still was such a surprise–one day they got a phone call, and the next they were holding their new baby.  I’m just the tiniest bit jealous that they stole the name Owen since it’s probably the best boy named I’ve ever heard and now I can’t use it, but I think I’ll get over it.  Now I just wish they didn’t live in Texas so I could meet him right away!


Next up, my little brother is engaged! (unknowingly made official the same day as my sister’s adoption.  When it rains, it pours in the Bramhall family–or whatever the opposite of that is since this is all GOOD news)  Congratulations little dude, Kelsey is awesome!! We love her– I’m so glad my brother has such good taste.  Not to mention they kinda look like a model couple who belong in a magazine or something, no?  An August California wedding is in the works.


Last but not least, my brother-in-law Jordan is engaged to the lovely Lauren!  They are also fabulously good looking and really great together.  It happened pretty fast, so we are really excited to get to know Lauren better and have her join the family! We’ll be the only 2 Staples sister-in-laws, so we’re kind of destined to be the best of friends whether she likes it or not 🙂


So the moral of the story is that my family is multiplying at an alarming rate and I couldn’t be more happy about it.  To one and all, welcome welcome, and a big fat beinvenido to the family!!

(and hopefully no one minds all the stolen facebook images)

LOTOJA 2013 here I come

Let’s talk about how I have submitted an application to ride in LOTOJA 2013!  And about how every time I even think that sentence, I get anxiety of the athletic variety I haven’t experienced since high school track meets.  If you don’t know, and are too lazy to google it, LOTOJA is a 206 mile (!!) one-day bike race from Logan, Ut, to Jackson, Wy.  (Get it?  LOganTOJAckson?)  So, what you’re probably thinking right now is “whoa, I had no idea that Dana was so into biking/ a serious competitive rider.  Well, umm, you didn’t know that because I’M NOT!!  And I am very much going back and forth between 2 modes of thinking, the first and less dominant being “I can totally do this.  I’ll train like crazy, mile by mile, I’ll get much stronger, people do this, I can do this.”. . . and the second being “what the freak was I thinking??  I’ve never even participated in one single bike race in my entire life so where do I get off thinking I can start with the one that happens to be the longest single-day race in the entire United States of America?  I don’t know a thing about biking!  I can’t even properly change a tube.  I’ve never ridden loner than 30 miles.  I don’t have time to train for this thing.  WHAT AM I DOING???”

So, ya, that’s going on in my brain.

And often, heaven knows why, my remedy for calming myself down seems to be the automatic question “what’s the worst that can happen?”  And guys, that is not a good question for the active and extremely creative imagination that I happen to possess.  There was that time my dad crashed and had a cantaloup sized bump on his hip for a couple of months.  Broken bones, legs mutilated by road rash, getting hit by a car.  Then there’s LOTOJA 2005 when riders pretty much rode through a freak September blizzard the whole time.  Hypothermia, pneumonia, frostbite.  Or–heatstroke and sunburn.   Two participants died last year.  I could get injured and not even be able to participate, in which case I will have wasted a lot of entry money (no refunds), be sorely disappointed, and look pretty stupid.

The idea came in the first place because my dad is a biker and has completed LOTOJA I think 6 times.  For a few years I’ve been thinking that I’d like to do it someday and one day I realized that if I’m ever going to do it, this year would be a great time.  Not just in the carpe diem sense, but logistically.  This is the last year we’ll be living in Utah, and the last year in a long time that Tanner will have any sort of time to take care of Camryn while I train and train himself (he’s signed up with me!)  Also, right now I have one child to take care of instead of . . . more.  And more would undoubtedly make this kind of time commitment a lot more difficult.

So, the opportunity presented itself, and since all of the above worse-case scenarios are highly unlikely, the biggest and most likely worst thing that could happen is what really has me nervous:  what if I start and can’t finish?  And when I realized that this was my real fear in entering –that’s when I decided to do it.  I like to consciously avoid not doing things because of fear of failure. I’d rather regret the things that I did do than the things I did not.  In the words of J.K Rowling:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

When I think about my life and the things I have done, the things that made me ask “am I crazy for trying this?”  turn out to be the best things I’ve ever done.  Or at least the most memorable?

And so, call me crazy, but I am currently in training for LOTOJA!  78 miles down and a lot more to go.

Scenes at the Staples place

Scene 1

Dana (via text message to Tanner):   I’m doing our taxes and I’m 95% sure that we’ll be getting (insert ridiculously huge sum of money, the likes of which our bank account hasn’t seen in a very long time) for our tax return.

Tanner (bursting in the apartment after work looking like he just won the lottery):  Are we really getting that much for our tax return!??

Dana (mostly seriously but partly trying to get a rise out of Tanner):  ya!  isn’t that awesome?!?  we can pay off our car, catch up on all of our bills, stock up on essentials, and still have some left over to put into savings!

Tanner (whose face has fallen faster and harder than any I’ve ever seen and whose visions of season ski passes, new snowboard, and much dining out have been crushed with one fowl swoop):  oh.

Scene 2

As all of you faithful blog readers know, a certain baby that I take care of is rather fond of pooping in the tub.  On a daily basis.  But said baby’s father had yet to experience such horrors–until last night.  When he did.  And let me tell you that man is a DRAMA QUEEN in the face of toddler feces.  He let loose an endless string of oooohhhs and uuggggghhhs as I laughed and yelled protocol instructions from the kitchen letting him know where to find rubber gloves and the bleach.  Nevermind that I deal with this on the daily, based on his reaction, you would have thought she threw it in his face and rubbed it in his hair.  Too graphic?  my apologies.

Scenes 3-27

Camryn scooting into a room, pushing the door closed, and then banging on the door until we come open it again.  Repeat.

And here’s a mostly unrelated video that I shot a few weeks ago.  It’s the infamous scoot with a little bit of gallop.

Notebook Giveaway!

Exciting news, I’m doing my first giveaway on my friend Mandy’s blog and giving away this beautiful notebook!

Dana's book giveaway

Please go enter to win! (pretty please, do it for me?) I would love one of my lovely blog reading friends to win it!  There is also a couple code on her blog to get 15% off anything in my shop until the end of April, so if you’ve had your eye on something, this would be a great time to get it!  (mother’s day gift, anyone?)

Go enter:  here!