The agony and adventure of choosing a planner (and how it changes me each year)

Meredith Cummings
5 min readDec 31, 2021
Some of my planners through the years.

I should have found my voice by now. As I creep toward the second half of my life, I guess it’s no surprise that I feel like I haven’t. I’ve been telling the stories of others far longer than my own.

But a writer’s voice is ever-changing. The voice I had at 21 is not the voice I have today.

Red is my favorite color, reflected in my 2009 planner.

This occurs to me as I search for a 2022 planner. This is a job I take seriously. I’m not one of those bells-and-whistles type of planner people. I don’t line up various colored pens or have a system. Although I do have conditions: It must not have spiral binding. It must be smaller than a sheet of paper. It must lie flat as well as fit into a laptop bag easily.

I have not kept a diary since I was 10. A cartoon of Garfield decorates the front of that one. What I do, friends, is keep a detailed planner.

The year I started college my cheesy, Hallmarkesque “What is a friend?” calendar served as a planner. Soccer games, babysitting, Latin Convention (I own my geekiness) and the like scrolled into each tiny square. Notes like, “Jen’s birthday!” and “To Atlanta” pepper the pages.

Later, “freshman orientation,” and “first day of class” gave way to sorority parties and this gem: “B-52s concert.” I was coming out of my shell and it is reflected on these pages.

My 2018 planner was all color and happiness.

One day in 1990 is inexplicably marked “$310 bucks coming my way!” which, at the time, was a lot of money for me. I neglected to note where this money was coming from or why. Mystery.

Four years later my Degas ballerina calendar would replace freshmen study dates with sorority formals, midterms, paper due dates and a birthday for a friend who passed not long after.

When my friends were sick, I noted it. When I was having fun, it was mirrored on the pages.

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Meredith Cummings

Freelance journalist, Teaching Assistant Journalism Professor at Lehigh University, Essayist, Book reviewer