My Long Road to Planner Peace

by Maria McKneely

December 2018

In 1996, during a flight from Las Vegas to Omaha, a man across the aisle from my window seat was tapping on this little device in this hand.  It kinda looked like my handheld Nintendo at home.  While waiting at baggage claim, I asked him what it was and he said “Palm Pilot!” 

I was in my early 20’s and at the time, I didn’t have much to remember.  I had a 9-to-5 job and I was single.  So, everything was either in my head or I could count on mom and grandma to remind me whose birthday was when and whose house to show up to on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But, I was so intrigued about this Palm Pilot and I bought one as a birthday present to myself that year.  OMG! That Palm Pilot introduced me to the concept of paperless everything! At first, I started typing addresses, phone numbers and birthdays of my family members. I came from a Catholic family – my mom had 7 siblings – so I had a lot of practice entering their names, etc. 

Jump to June of 2007, when Apple released the first iPhone. Yes, I was one of those who was in line for days to get my hands on one.  I was the first one in my circle of friends and family who had an iPhone that year.  And every time Apple released a new iPhone.  I love everything Apple … as I sit here writing this on my iPad Pro, my iMac, iPhone X, MacBook Air and iPod are all within arm’s reach.

Another jump — this time to 2015.  It was a challenging year for my husband and I. We lost my mother-in-law in February of that year.  My husband had total knee replacements on both knees (he was 46 years old), out beloved Rottweiler, Grizzly, died, my 22 year-old step son was killed in a drunk driving accident, and I was on the front side of a rear-end collision. Twice. 

A lot of life happened in 2015 for me.  I remember waking up one day and thinking, I want to write what I am feeling on a piece of paper.  Somehow, typing on my iPad or my iMac felt so….electronic.  I wanted to feel the pen in my hand and the paper under my hand.  I wanted to hear the pen scratch the paper and I wanted to see my feelings written in my own handwriting. 

In October of 2016, while recovering from back surgery (as a result of the 2 rear-end collisions), I tore off a piece of paper from my journal to write down dates and times for physical therapy and follow up appointments with my doctors.  As I was watching YouTube one day at my doctor’s office, I came across a planner video.  I can’t remember what it was, exactly, or who it was but I remember she had an Inkwell Press Planner.  So I ordered my very first planner from Inkwell Press. 

After watching hundreds more videos on paper planning, I ordered numerous planners and travelers notebooks from different companies.  I also became intrigued with fountain pens and (willingly) fell down the Goulet Pens rabbit hole. I have tried most everything – TN’s, coiled planners, uncoiled planners, A5, personal, B6, from the inexpensive ones from Michael’s to my two favorite ones — Louis Vuitton and Gillio.  I also (regrettably) got into Etsy and ordered stickers – sheets upon sheets upon sheets and kits galore.  I ordered so many that my Raskog cart is filled with nothing but stickers.  Ok…maybe an occasional pen.  But mostly, Etsy stickers. Most of them are unused and still in their original plastic packaging. 

After about 2 years of playing with planners of all kinds, I found planner peace in medium or personal size ring planners.  I carry an A5 planner once in a while,  in the form of my Louis Vuitton agenda GM, but pretty much, I am most content in my personal size Gillio or Louis Vuitton agenda MM. I am a minimalist and functional planner.  I use one planner every solitary day of the week.  I use my planner for both home and work.  My hubby is a lawyer and I work in his law office with him.  We have a Rottweiler and 4 cats.  I like white space in my planner. And I carry my planner with me everywhere. 

My blossoming love affair with pens and paper was borne out of one of the darkest times in my adult life.  I am grateful to have been led to it.  I still love my Apple products and use them everyday.  Except for calendar and notes.  I now use pen and paper for journaling, calendar and note taking.  One of my guilty pleasures is watching colorful planner spreads on YouTube, with stickers covering every white space.  I love the planner community as a whole.  I learn something new everyday. 

In the spirit of giving back, twice a  year,  I plant a tree, in my hometown, to “replace” all the paper I use throughout the year.

As we all decorate (or, in my case, not decorate) our planners for Fall, I encourage you to be mindful of the many gifts this season brings.   As the leaves turn a million hues of reds and oranges and mulberry, and as they fall from the trees, I am reminded to also “let go”.  When I let go, I gain space in my head, my heart and my life for the things that truly matter.  May your autumn season bring you (planner) peace. 

Maria McKneely is a legal assistant by trade.  She enjoys yoga, Pilates, taking their Rottweiler (Jag) for walks, crocheting, reading and volunteers at her local library.  Maria and her husband, Bo, are avid hikers and although they like to travel, they do not like leaving Jag and their 4 cats at home. 

Maria is new to paper planning and finds inspiration on YouTube and Instagram.

Bo, Maria and their fur babies make their home sweet home in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “My Long Road to Planner Peace

  • December 18, 2018 at 7:02 PM

    Thank you so much for articulating what I think of planning. As I sit here with 5 new unopened packages of stickers from etsy. They are beautiful and I love watching the planner set ups but
    I run a construction company and really don’t have the use for them. Carie’s planners fascinate me and I think she is probably the most organized person I watch on YouTube. But really I color code everything from calendars to filing systems so I don’t need to really think much. Just go to the color section that I want and I’m good to go.

    Hopefully, you and your husband are doing well. Sometimes life throws us too many problems at once.

  • December 18, 2018 at 10:48 PM

    I’m so sorry for all the pain you and your husband have endured.
    Wonderful article!


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