Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
A is for..
adversaria: a miscellaneous collection of notes, remarks, or selections; a commonplace book
Commonplace books have been kept by people for ages, and were especially popular during the Renaissance and later the 19th century. They’re meant to catalog knowledge and information learned from books, from mentors, and peers, sort of like scrapbooks filled with useful facts and concepts. Rather than the personal musings that is far more common in the journaling we do today, commonplace books were collections of words and works of others.
While I don’t keep a commonplace book per se, I actually do work with something I consider a hybrid. I keep a large basket that I fill with miscellaneous paper ephemera – postcards and interesting things that have arrived in the mail; bits of poetry I love; quotes I find meaningful; things I’ve printed off that intrigued me or sparked my curiosity; bits and samples of interesting paper and strange envelopes; an assortment of colors and patterns and words. I gather all these things like a well-trained magpie and simply set them aside, filling the basket with a paper nest of treasures. Then once a year, during the time between the winter solstice and the new year, I take all these bits and assemble them, along with plenty of blank pages mixed in, and create the journals I’ll use for writing during the year. As I’m binding, I tip in envelopes and pockets to tuck additional writing in, and create flaps to write on as well. I always end up with a myriad of secret things to fill and to find once again later.
As I’m assembling and binding these journals, I like to think that everything I randomly include in each is a little seed. I’m not sure what will grow from them, but each has potential.
These journals serve me well. While obviously I can write about whatever I choose, I find having these little “inspirations” to bounce off is immensely helpful and interesting. And because I’ve collected the material over the course of the year, when I look at it again it’s all fresh and new-to-me again, ready to reignite sparks.
Here are some photos:
I’m by nature a reflective person and I find great satisfaction in contemplating the world around me as a way of understanding myself more deeply. I believe we live in a deeply oracular world that offers us many clues, and that everything, including others, can be used as mirrors for seeing ourselves as well.
That, in fact, is what these journals are for me. I call them my without/within books. Using what is outside myself to mine for the treasures within myself. And to understand the world around me better as well.
I like what Mia Howell wrote: “The Japanese say even the other side has another side. We need to keep turning things over in our minds until we can see them in circles of motion, in spirals, in the complete roundness of their being, through all cycles of becoming, undoing, renewing.”
I love this concept – it’s something I strive for – folding everything back into wholeness.
What about you? Do you journal? Include things from others in your journals? Are as enamored of layers and secret pockets as I am? Do tell – I’d love to hear.
Hi Deborah – Adversaria … wonderful and I’ve always loved the Commonplace books … I’m not that organised I regret, nor am I crafty … so that doesn’t help either. I’d love to be more organised and not rely on my brain to remember things … thank goodness that’s still around. So pleased you’ve worked out the best for you … and enjoy the A-Z .. .I’ll be around on occasions. All the best – Hilary
I’ve always imagined you as quite organized Hilary – with all your extensive research on wide topics, and your uncanny ability to tie things together. I’m always amazed and delighted. Thank goodness for our brains indeed! And thanks for stopping by and your all your support.
Hi Deborah, I’ve been excited for the A-Z challenge because of you. I love your posts and look forward to A-Z as a time when I can hear from you every day for a while. My blog has gone dark as I do a great deal of ‘within’ work which, like you, I am absolutely loving.
I have kept commonplace books and I have kept journals, many of each for more than 40 years. Half a dozen years ago, I transferred my commonplace book jottings to DEVONThink, software that allows for searching at increasingly intricate levels. And, much more recently, I’ve started journaling in an app called Notability which allows me to put photos, drawings, collages, even sound files, alongside my words. But even as I love the ability of these two apps to capture everything I want, and make it easy for me to find it later, I’ve been planning to take all of that online material and, after doing some selective editing and synthesizing, put together a series of pieces on different themes. I’d been thinking of going the digital print route and having one-off magazines produced but, like you again, I absolutely adore gorgeous papers and envelopes. Thank you so much for the idea of the without/within books, Deborah. I will modify it a bit so that the commonplace materials I collect are related to the theme and then it will be the perfect solution for some of my themes, while magazines will continue to work for others.
You’ve made my day! Best. Karen
Oh Karen, thank you for your kind words – you’ve made MY day! I’ve not heard of DEVONthink or Notability, both of which sound like wonderful tools. I absolutely love your idea of now using that material and putting together some pieces. Sounds like some really fun projects ahead for you, and I’ll look forward to hearing more about them.
I USED to do a great deal of journaling and scrapbooking (in the commonplace sense), but now tend to see my blogs and those of others as the alternative. I do like the idea of our bowl collection for bits and snippets though… Lovely start to the month! YAM xx
I’m always fascinated about how things shift over time, and what things we choose to keep as practices. Life is an endless curiosity isn’t it? Wishing you a wonderful April Yamini.
I did some journaling when my older daughter was first pregnant and I couldn’t tell anyone. Now she’s 7 months along and everyone knows, so I’m back to blogging, and sharing my thoughts with others. I enjoy getting others’ perspectives to bounce off my own. It helps me narrow down how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I have a basket too! There are treasures in it like letters I want to keep, but also car keys and other mundane stuff.
Not sharing your daughter’s news must have been difficult for you Margaret, but I’m glad that’s no longer an issue. As blogging becomes less and less a seemingly viable/worth-the-effort option for so many folks, I wonder how many of us still doing it, consider their blogs journals. Interesting question in my mind.
What a great tradition! Your journals look beautiful. And I love that Mia Howell quotation. I have three or four books on the go, for various different purposes: a week-to-view diary that I’m using as an agenda journal, one notebook in which I’m recording my ever-changing thoughts about one particular theme; another in which I have conversations with myself…
Thanks Kathleen. I’m a big fan of multiple journals as well, although every so often I think it’d be really much easier to consolidate and just have one. But those are fleeting thoughts, and I’ve long resigned myself to cross-overs in journals and a never-perfected way to keep track of where something I remember writing currently lives. 🙂 But that leads to delightful rediscoveries when least expected, so it’s actually a win.
Oh, Deborah what a wonderful idea. I do save bits and pieces of paper with quotes on them and started making a junk journal to hold them all, complete with pockets and envelopes! Great start to the A to Z, although I thought adversaria meant more like an adversary. I like your word better!
Sounds like a wonderful journal Janet – and yay to pockets and envelopes!
How I’ve missed thee and thy words Dedorah!
I know I’m sounding ancient but those words wrote themselves in this comments section before I could stop them:)
Homecoming—feeling at home—is how I feel when I read your posts.
I was absent last year. Happy to be back now.
Like you, I keep adding to my ‘nest of treasures’ with words, cards, quotes and scarps of paper. But unlike you, I don’t store or go through them methodically. Many nooks and bookshelves end up holding these ever-growing nests. But somehow, as if my magic, I end up picking a card or reading a quote just when I need to. I feel if I’m open to receiving them, the words will find me.
Oh Arti, what a delight to find your visiting! Consider yourself given a warm welcome and a heart hug. I love your way of gathering treasures in various places – it’s always wonderful to be surrounded by them! And I love how the magic of always receiving the perfect thing. It’s one of the delights of the universe isn’t it? Happy April and happy challenge.
As soon as I saw your word I got curious as to what its relationship might be with “adversary,” since they seem so opposite. It seems they both come from the Latin root “turn toward,” and you can think of turning toward someone as antagonistic, as in facing off against someone, or you can think of it as considering, hearing, mulling, revisiting… Your way is so much better!
I keep a very straightforward journal (just daily writing on the events and thoughts of the day), but I do love the idea of secret flaps and pockets!
Black and White (Words and Pictures)
Oh good for you checking that out Anne, and thanks for sharing your findings.
And now you’ve got me thinking about Janus words, or contronyms, whose definitions hold opposites. I have to be careful not to fall down too many rabbit holes though. 🙂
I highly recommend pockets and secret flaps. And I can certainly see you carving one to stamp on everything. I’m not just April fooling either.
My journal has sat untouched a few days, unfortunately. I add a quote a day from someone who sends them to me daily. I make promises to myself, and list things that would make today awesome and things I’m grateful for.
I also write affirmations and reflections on what went well.
I love the idea of you compiling these journals, one-of-a-kind. I think I’d like to try.
I love how you use your journal Eli – sounds wonderful. I also get how it can sometimes go untouched. I’m sort of laughing at myself at the moment, because it’s only day one of the challenge, and I’m feeling way behind on everything. How is that even possible? I always understand April gets crazy with the fun of writing and visiting other bloggers, but today’s been one of those days where everything else is demanding immediate attention as well. I’m hoping it’s just an April Fool’s joke and not a permanent pattern for the month. 🙂
I don’t keep a journal. I write my blog, of course, but never think of it as a journal; it’s more of a lifestyle column in a newspaper I have a desk drawer where I toss quotes I find and ideas I’m thinking on, making it kind of like a commonplace drawer, if you will. I do turn ideas over in my mind almost constantly, not in a nervous way but in a ‘what can I learn from this?’ way.
What a fabulous descriptor – a commonplace drawer! The idea of your blog as a lifestyle column is fun and perfect. I hadn’t quite thought of it like that before, but it certainly fits. And it’s the best of the newspaper world – where you get to be the reporter and the managing editor.
‘a paper nest of treasures’ such a delightful phrase and a meaningful exercise. I believe in signs and also in paying attention to things. Yours seems an excellent tool to keep being mindful.
Adversaria – I was rather pleasantly surprised, because I thought it would have something to do with adversary. The real meaning reminded me of the Victorian title – enquire within upon everything? something like that.
Great start to your A-Z! Loved reading as usual.
Oh what a great connection – Enquire Within Upon Everything! I only discovered that title a few months ago, but it keeps popping up in my brain begging me to do something as a cover/tribute. The title just makes me smile in delight. Of course, in a way, the A2Z challenge is kind of like that – so many topics, so many viewpoints. So much fun!
I think the little corner of my world is an Adversaria. Scraps of random papers have notes and drawings (well sketches). My journals have words that float in a non-linear course like a beeline.
Thanks for a glimpse into beauty.
Thanks too for your visit.
Enjoy the creative days of A to Z ing
Lovely, lovely, lovely Leslie!
Those are some very attractive notebooks. A good start for the Challenge!
Thank John – and thank you for stopping by.
I have given up on journaling… I re-read some from many years ago and decided I hadn’t learned a thing! Your sounds lovely, which might encourage me to write again.
LOL – I’m pretty sure that’s not true Beth. But we certainly can get mired in our positions and our focus so it can seem like it. But journaling isn’t for everyone, and there are as many ways to do it as people. Right fit is everything, don’t you agree?
I didn’t know there was a name for it. See, I’m already learning. Yes, I am surrounded by notebooks and scraps of paper that I sort through from time to time. They often are like mini to-do’s.
I’m doing A2Z on essential oils at: http://tao-talk.com/2020/04/01/a2z-2020-essential-oils-a-argan-carrier-oil/
One of the things I most love about the challenge is all the things I learn during the month. So much fun! Thanks for stopping by Jade, and I look forward to checking out your posts.
From Toffee the cat: Unlike your very intelligent commenters, I am not very bright. However, I do keep a diary, although it features lots of prawns, sleeping, being annoying, keeping the staff in order – that kind of thing. However, my old woman says she LOVES your blog and will be back to visit soon. (P.S. She’s thick as a brick too.)
Well Toffee, I can tell you are a very wise cat to keep a diary – it’s important to keep track of when the snacks are served and what quality they are, and all those important things. However, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you, as I’m quite certain that anyone who loves my blog cannot be “thick as a brick.” I feel they must be quite brilliant instead. I fear you may have cloudy vision on this matter. Perhaps a nap in the sun, with a follow up nap on the clean clothes in the laundry basket, will sort things out. Your faithful admirer, Deborah.
This is lovely. And I adore layers & secret pockets! This quote is great. I’m going to keep it–I hang on to words the way that you hang on to bits of fabric + paper:
“The Japanese say even the other side has another side. We need to keep turning things over in our minds until we can see them in circles of motion, in spirals, in the complete roundness of their being, through all cycles of becoming, undoing, renewing.”
Thanks for teaching me the word adversaria.
What an inspirational blog. 🙂
Thanks for your kind words Sati, and I’m delighted you stopped by. I’m enjoying imagining you hanging on to words, and then hiding them in a secret pocket for someone else to discover at another time. Wouldn’t that be fun?