12 55 North, 071 35 West. Why I always keep a notebook in my bag

We’re past Venezuala and now 30 miles off the North Columbia Coast. We’re
sailing well and the flat seas are gifting us time to write and think,
especially when we have extra help with diluting the energy of our children.

A little while back, we promised that we’d share the next instalment of
developing Nichola’s mission and business. So.from the desk of
Nichola.here’s the next installment..

I realise that my love of paper and organisation started many years ago. I
recall at the age of about 9 or 10, loving to receive a WHSmith voucher for
a christmas or birthday present – it meant I could spend hours in my
favourite shop and pour over the stationery, notebooks, paper, pens, files
and decide what exercise book, notebook, diary, journal to buy. I loved to
write lists and lists, I loved to keep a journal even if the entries were no
more exciting than what I had for dinner or went to the cinema for my
birthday. I still have those notebooks and journals and from time to time I
look back over them and it makes me smile and takes me right back to those

I am not 10 any longer – quite a few years have passed. As well as the
addition of years so has come the addition of responsibilities and with that
the length of the now seemingly endless to-do list. I know it makes me feel
overwhelmed and rather than working effectively, I have experienced
paralysis, the feeling of not being able to cope as I stand still and watch
the jobs pile up and I retreat to my cave. At this point, my iPad, computer
or phone have not helped me – the sheer pace of social media and online
communication add their own pressures and distractions – maybe the top one –
the pressure of keeping in constant contact with everyone around you as well
as maintaining your own life. What has helped me – retreating to simplicity
– my notebook – opening it on a clean page with pen in hand is like taking a
deep breath, taking stock of my life and getting myself on track and working
through my list one step at a time.

For several years I was a practising barrister. I would go to court on a
daily basis, my brief in hand and represent my clients. It was a paper life
– yes we had computers as word processors but ultimately life was all about
your notebook and brief. Very early on in my career I recall the expression
of one of my pupil masters, “loose paper” is your enemy – the one to find
the information is the one that wins the case”. This might sound a little
dramatic but was in fact not far from the truth.  The more orderly your
brief was, the more your mastery of the case, the more you were likely to be
on top of your case and in fact maybe even be more successful as a result. I
remembered these words and I took them to heart – my brief would be neatly
hole punched and then filed into a lever arch file. It was organised and I
knew where my paper was, it gave me a settled feeling that whatever came at
me in court, I was ready to deal with it.

With this in mind I am developing my ideas into a business – by sharing my
ideas and bringing products that I would use. Helping other women to be more
organised and able to do more of what they want. My love of organisation and
in particular notebooks, helped me as a barrister, as a mum of 3 very lively
children, to run an online business and to make and execute the plan to sail
around the world with my husband and children. It got me thinking that the
harmless love of a notebook has a more powerful outcome – by being more
organised, you get to do more of what you want and you get to feel more in

My love of the notebook has never left me. I still love going to stationers
and spending time looking at notebooks and paper – feeling the paper, the
binding, the cover – imagining what I will use it for. Its a personal thing
– very unlike the use of the computer. Don’t get me wrong, I have the
obligatory Mac, the iPhone and the iPad at my disposal and all of these
tools are excellent and have their place in my life but none of them in any
way replace my notebooks. Notebooks are my friends – somewhere I can share
my thoughts and fears, I can write my to-dos, I plan my life. Its thought
provoking and exciting. There is nothing as unencumbered as the simplicity
of the notebook and pen – just open  up at a new page and start writing or
drawing or doodling or colouring or anything you want.but most of all its
the feeling of control that I have. It makes me feel organised – just like
those days in court – I have my thoughts, plans, to-dos set out in my
notebook and it makes me feel that I am in control and that I can deal with
anything that comes at me.

This is early stages and I will post more as the thoughts evolve. Please
keep posted.

Team Aretha sailing the Columbian Coast, Out.

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  1. Hello Aretha Team;

    All journeys come to an end, but in your case it looks to me that your “camino” is still going on and great things are to come.

    Nichola’s idea looks to me great, specially with this womanly touch.

    Have the best on this ending journey and the next starting one.

    Keep updated on your following succeses.

    Best regards


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