Wednesday Wellness: Journaling

Welcome, Friends! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesday’s as I noted many of my friends an creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey as I explore mental health and self care, stumbling along the way!

Even before I was an author, I was a writer. I vividly remember when I was six years old, I insisted that my dad drive me downtown to buy a diary. I have always written in one form or another: journals, stories, blogs. (If you write a blog post and nobody reads it, is it a journal?) Did you have a pen pal when you were a kid? I had several. Some of those letters were epic, let me tell you! It was a form of journaling.

Currently I am journaling in no less than five journals. And that’s not even all of them! I can think of two more which I have only temporarily abandoned, and one more which I would like to replace. (Then there’s a really fun one I might want to start up again!) Let me explain.

Each journal has its own function and purpose. I can keep five journals simultaneously because each has its own design and intention. First, I’ll start with my daily planner. Sure, I use it to organize my future plans. But I also use it to keep track of what I do from day to day. See my posts on creative, decorative journaling and how it helps me manage my anxiety. #PlanforMagic Journal No. 1.

Journal No.2. This is my work notebook. Similarly, it is my list collection of daily activities, but at work. This is something i reference often something when I have a similar instance, and want to recall how i processed something. Recently, I changed the way I use it. I now refer to it as my Success Log. See my post here on how to keep a success log. Basically I now track what I did, instead of listing what I have to do. I find this mindset helps keep anxiety at bay. Of course, I till need to track my To Do items, so I write them on Post it’s and stick them on the facing page. This practice reminds me of the Word Banks that we used in creative writing in school. Use these words. Do these things. But it’s okay to keep moving them to the next day, accordingly.

Journal. No. 3. At my birthday brunch a couple of months ago, everybody gave me a journal. How delightful! My besties know me so well. Here is one of them. Isn’t it gorgeous? This one reminds me of Lucy’s journal in the TV series Timeless. I am using this one for traditional journaling, by this i mean recording feelings and processing difficult subjects. Like what, you ask. Oh just the basics, you know, inspiration and mortality…

Journal No. 4 is my book journal. This is a entralized place dedicated to my book writing. It is part organization, part freewriting, part collage. I cut and paste in images, doodle, list, the like. I have some larger worksheets that I fold and insert in the back. I may list questions that I have for further research. I may list websites which have been helpful to reference.

Journal No 5. I received this one as a gift. With my success with my work journal and my personal daily planner, I decided to try this one. It is basically an interactive goal-setting workbook. I appreciate how it guides you. This one is designed for career and professional goals, but I think I am using it more for personal goals. It is like having a personal coach in your back pocket. In the past, I have used Leonie Dawson’s guides for this purpose. Here is a link to the Acheivement Journal I am using now. Here is a link to the Life Goals workbook I have used before.

Not pictured: Gratitude Journal. Last year I used a guided gratitude journal that was in almanac style. I realized quickly that my daily planner (journal no 1) was the source and reference for completing my gratitude journal. Although you can use a gratitude journal daily, I found that I would often have Gratitude Sessions, in which I would sit in a cafe and open my daily planner to where I’d left off in my gratitude journal. I’d review the planner, taking one thing per day to write about in my gratitude journal. I found it to be a great way to savor my memories, as well as my coffee or tea! I began to look forward to my practice of self care in this way.

Travel Journal: I always encourage my children to keep a journal when we are on vacation, just as my parents did for me, when I was a kid. Last summer my daughter and I each created our own travel journals: smaller booklets with diary entries, weather tracking, memorabilia and photos. This is a good, first activity if you are overwhelmed by the idea of journalling, because it is contained and limited in scope. Read my post “Dear Diary” about how special it was to read my friend’s travel journal after she died.

Training journals: I keep a notebook for professional trainings I attend. I keep a separate notebook for personal development sessions- coaching, podcasts, or webinars.

Collage Journal: This was a favorite activity I started in 2011. The memorabilia and paraphernalia is what makes the collage journal magic. Here is a sample of my collage journal spread.

Bullet Journal: this is a modern minimalistic journal practice. It is very trendy now. I have seen examples that are simplistic habit trackers and goals/ lists, and others with ornate doodles and drawings. Usually done with a small journal with grids, you make a table of contents and may use a code. Bullet Journaling/ Bujo also has a cult following. This is another good introduction into journaling. This can be an “everything” journal, in which case you may need to replace it every month. Try it for 30 days. See if it works for you!

Do you journal? What kind of journalling do you practice?

Wednesday Wellness: Success Log

Greetings, Friends!

I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted how many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my quest for wellness as I stumble along the way– literally!

Accidental Planner

If you are reading this you likely already know that I am sort of the Accidental Planner, as a creative spontaneous type I eschewed formal list-making and such, until I became a mom.  I happened upon the Planning Community only two years ago and it really has changed my life.  Now I enjoy planning!  There are so many creative tools available to personalize your planning experience.  There are so many etsy shops with creative and functional stickers. There are Facebook groups and instagram for sharing layouts and ideas. It has taken me a little while to get into the groove, but now I know how to really USE my planner- in a way that works for me.

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Good Vibes

 

What Works for Me:

I use a vertical weekly planner with 3 sections and no time stamps.  I like to list and use color, and of course, sticker! This was working very well for my life and life/work management.  I wanted to keep work details separate, so I keep a work-only notebook on my desk.  I used to keep To Do lists, but I found that to be somewhat anxiety-producing, so now I keep a Success Log.

I keep a running list of what I do all day, as I do it. This allows me to feel more accomplished.  Instead of getting stressed about what I need to do, I feel satisfaction at having completed it.  At the end of the day, it looks like a To Do list, only it’s all Done.

success_log

Success Log

When I Stumble

Recently I took a bad fall and had to recover at home for a week.  My planner was a great tool for me during this time, as I had previously decorated it with inspiring stickers for the week. I also used some stickers that said “Over It” “Survived Today” and “Let myself rest.”   And my daily list became Reminders: Rest, Meds, Ice, Repeat.

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Got Ice

But What About Deadlines?

I do keep deadlines & priorities in the forefront of my mind by using the weekly sidebar on my life planner.  For my Success Log at work, I use a project management spiral notebook which has a blank sidebar, and numbered lines.  I also use the reminders feature in Outlook to keep my digital work calendar up to date.

Memory Keeper & Gratitude Journal

My life planner weekly spreads are so fun to create and decorate!  I often write in what we actually did, and even name the shows we watched and food we ate (or the amusement park rides we rode!).  It then becomes a memory keeper, which I can reference as I write in my separate Gratitude Journal. This is a good practice to keep staying positive.

Quotes of the Month

There is a blank page following the last week of each month in my planner.  I use this area to write funny or significant quotes that my family members say.  I found this was a really neat way to memory keep, as well.  Each member of my family has a different color for their events and quotes in my book.  My daughter is pink, and my son is orange.  So I can tell at a glance who said what.

How do YOU stay organized?

Please let us know in the comments!

Read about my Plan to Have Fun philosophy here.

Read about my 15 -year Historical Spreadsheet for Holiday Gift-Giving here.

Wellness Wednesday: Applesauce Cake

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted so many of my friends & creatives struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my humble journey to wellness, picking fruit along the way, but also stopping to rest, once in a while.  

I am mixing it up today, in honor of Apple Sauce Cake Day.  Apparently, that’s a thing.  Click here if you don’t believe me.  So I decided to share another excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes – a collection of stories and recipes.  Here is a true story about apple sauce, followed by one of my favorite of my mom’s recipes: Applesauce Cake.

A Sticky Situation

My sweet young baby boy loved his applesauce when he was

a baby. I often would blend cooked carrots into his

applesauce, at home. Nana would make him applesauce from

scratch. After trick-or-treating, he proudly counted his shiny

wrapped candy bars, and then requested applesauce.

Normally, applesauce is not a bad thing! But, we once

experienced quite a sticky situation involving applesauce.

Whenever I hear Def Leppard’s song “Pour Some Sugar on

Me” this is what comes to mind.

My Dear Son was a man of few words when he was a toddler.

We had started calling him Mellow Man. He was

extraordinarily well-behaved, though, and a delight to take to

restaurants. Yeah I know; this is rare.

On this particular day in the Adventures of Mellow Man, I

brought him to lunch with our dear friend, his Auntie Rachel.

Although she’s not related, she grew up with my husband and

she’s the one who set us up, so we call her family. We were

dining at Bennigan’s, a delightful American restaurant chain

with tchotchkes on the walls. Like every other American

restaurant chain, right? This one has some pretty special

broccoli bites or something, as I recall. These were broccoli,

cheese, and bacon, battered, and deep-fried. (Right? I know,

my arteries just got scared, too.)

The two-year-old was seated happily in a wooden high chair,

pulled up to the table. We enjoyed lunch and conversation,

laughing as we do whenever we get together. We were

reminiscing about some of the fun we’ve had together, like the

time we went to all the Burger Kings in South San Jose for

“Free Fries Day.” And the time she screwed up the words in

the Alleluia verse so badly, she voluntarily removed herself

from the cantor podium with an imaginary hook and cane. Or

my wedding video, in which everyone else in the wedding

party said “Thank you for choosing me to be in your special day…”

and she said, “You’re welcome.” I hope everybody has a

special friend like this.

I had ordered apples instead of fries for his kiddie meal—as

apples are healthier, right? They came in a heated bowl with

raisins and sugar—it was more like pie filling. I took out the

apple slices, diced them some more, placed them on a clean

bread plate for my son, and gave him a spoon. He seemed

content, and we gals continued talking and digging into to our

lava cake.

Suddenly, I look over at my son, who is visibly discontent as

he is trying to wipe off the gooey apples from his hands. Quite

unsuccessfully, I might add. In fact, in his attempts to wipe the

goo off, he inadvertently had wiped sticky sugary apple-y goo

all over his hands, and up and down his arms, as well.

“Oh, My God!” I exclaimed. And then, to Rachel, “Can you

grab an arm?”

Rachel says he was all oiled up like a pro-wrestler. (I don’t

watch wrestling, so, whatever.) Seriously, he was glistening. It

took each of us two pre-moistened wipes and two napkins to

erase away the goo. Then we had to wrestle him out of the

high chair and to the bathroom sink. We were laughing

hysterically as Auntie Rachel held the toddler in front of her at

arms’ length while he, in turn, held his arms out in front of

him, like a little Frankenstein. We managed to get him to the

bathroom sink and she balanced the boy between herself and

the sink, while I scrubbed his little hands and arms with soap.

Pour some sugar on me.

Applesauce Cake

This is one of my favorites of my mom’s recipes.

It’s delightfully sweet and unique.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (optional)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cups Applesauce

1 cup raisins (soaked in warm water and drained)

½ cup oil

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Dump dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Add one at a time without mixing, applesauce, raisins, oil

and walnuts.

Mix well, then pour into well-greased angel food

or 13×9 pan

Bake in 350 oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Test with toothpick

for doneness.

(Cupcakes: only 20-25 mins)

 

Wednesday Wellness: Information at your Service

Happy Wellness Wednesday! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey towards Wellness, along the yellow brick road, acknowledging all things shiny along the way.

One of my first jobs was working at the bookstore at the mall. I loved to work the Information Desk. It was a really neat way to be helpful and also learn things along the way. Many times somebody would ask me a question and I didn’t even know that I knew the answer until they asked. This continued as I moved on to the bigger flagship bookstore. I would put books on hold for myself, but after a few days return them to the shelves, as it seemed just thinking about them helped me realize what I needed to about them. Information was everywhere. So many books, so much information. It was my job to help people, but they were helping me, too. They were helping me develop my intuition.

I’m only just realizing that my current job (of twenty years!) is kind of like that, too. People come to me for assistance, and I assist them. They might ask me for information. I might know the answer, or I might know whom to ask to get the answer. I am providing information, as well as learning information. Sometimes still, I am able to provide the answer, not even realizing that I had already known the answer until that very moment. A little glimmer of a whisper in the back of my mind comes forth. And I am humbled.

The Doctor is IN

I am NOT a doctor. But I can help you find a book.

My dear friend Noel was a kindred spirit, and we both used to improvise playing piano.  When people said they liked her piano playing, she’d say “Isn’t it great? It’s the Holy Spirit!” She had a way of playing a song that is commonly known as “faking it.” There are Fake Books published, and this means the basic notes of the melody are noted and lyrics, but no other music is provided, only the Guitar Chords. It is an outline for the recipe of the song, if you will. There are many ways of making chocolate chip cookies, but in the end, they are all chocolate chip cookies. I love to improvise as I play piano, in fact, I even ignore the written accompaniment, now. If you listen hard enough, you can play the tune. You can play notes, or you can play music. You can follow a recipe, or you can make a cookie.  Are you with me?

So often something reminds me of something else.  Many times, I find myself looking for something, when, in fact, I find something else which I had been looking for before. Whomp, there it is.

Call it The Secret, the Law of Attraction, remote preparation, seek and ye shall find.

I truly believe that having an open mind allows one to perceive truths one might not otherwise recognize.

Everything in your life thus far has prepared you for the next moment. It’s synchronicity.

This afternoon as I drove around during my lunch break, the 80s station played that song “Pure Energy” by a group called Information Society.  Upon entering a place of business, I heard their radio station playing “Meant to Be” by Bebe Rexha.

What I know for sure, is that I am not yet aware of all that I already know.

What do you know?

Wellness Wednesday: Organized Chaos and Magic Words

My friends, I started writing about Wellness on Wednesdays, as I noticed so many creative souls struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my journey to wellness as I follow the yellow brick road, marching to the beat of my own drum, stumbling along the way.

I reached a milestone this year, and something has happened.  People are asking me what I think and I realized I have something to say.  Truth is, glimmers of whispers have been brewing, like quiet storms in the back of my mind- for some time.  And that’s part of what I want to share with you today.

I haven’t always been a planner. In fact, as an Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiver (INFP on the Myer-s Briggs Type Indicator), I often eschewed organization, preferring spontaneity and the freedom I perceived.  But in college, grad school, and then being a working mom, I began to see the benefits of planning.  I developed my own way of planning- that is Plan, to Have Fun.  Research and mapping activities sure helped get things done! When we go on a family trip, I know exactly what we need and when we hope to do things. There’s a lot of planning in advance, as well as some down time and flexibility. So, I’ve come to recognize planning as an important step. Otherwise, you are wandering a theme park not getting on any rides like the Heck family on the tv show The Middle. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Holiday Collage

Planning for Chaos (Tis the Season)

It was only a couple of years ago that I finally discovered the magic of using a personal planner.  I have to say, finding the right one that works for you is everything.  I had used a Bloom planner, then the Shining Year (before it was discontinued) and now I use the Erin Condren Life Planner (vertical).  Michael’s Recollections line is very similar, and Happy Planner is another planners’ favorite.  There is also Passion Planner. All of these planners can be used quite creatively, you’ll see.

The magic is in writing it down.

I started using the spaces in a vertical planner for timed activities, but then I had these long lists that didn’t fit at the bottom.   So I learned to use the boxes for checklists and inspiring quotes. I use the lines for weekly focus, daily water tracking, goals and interests.  The thing about writing it down is that it makes it more concrete.  Our lives are so digital these days, we’ve literally lost touch.  But once we dare to write things down, we can see that more things are possible.  It’s visual. It’s real. Even long term goals and dreams become less intimidating once we break them down into steps. Successful athletes are known for practicing visualization to better their sports performance. Commedienne Ellen DeGeneres visualized her first Tonight Show monologue to the detail of crossing the stage to shake Johnny Carson’s hand. Envisioning success helps achieve success.

The trick is to find the words that motivate or inspire you.  Which word means more to you:  Motivation or Inspiration?  I am an inspiration girl working in a “motivation” world.  When I start to hear too many buzzwords, jargon, and “productivity-ness”, part of me shuts down and I actually get de-motivated.  You know the sounds that the teachers make in Peanuts?  Wah wah, wah wah, wah.

NOTIFICATION

NOTIFICATION

The kinds of words that means so much more to me (personally) are words like personal growth, inspiration, creativity.

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“Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth.” – Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, 1989.

Writers and speakers know the importance of the adage Know Your Audience. Well, my friends, YOU are your audience. Plan accordingly. Use the right words for you: motivational or inspirational. And use your tools. Maybe all you need is black pen and the occasional highlighter.

Or MAYBE you are like me and you like COLOR! and STICKERS! and WASHI TAPE!

coffee

Focus on the Good Coffee (weekly spread)


I cannot tell you the joy I have found in discovering the creative planning community. I buy hand-drawn embellishment stickers and kits via Etsy. And I decorate, that is, pre-plan my week. My young daughter is doing this with me now, too. We are looking forward to using our planners. We fill them in and make check marks with pride. If I had forgotten to list something that we did, I will go back and add it. Then, my planner becomes a memory keeper, as well, which I reference when I complete my separate Gratitude Journal. I also write down funny/significant things my family and friends say. #quoteofthemonth

My life has changed since I started planning creatively. Sure there are things I haven’t quite got control of, yet. But I keep listing my tasks and dreams. Since I started planning creatively, I have written and self- published a book, earned a promotion at work, saved money by reducing bills and trading books/cds, made investments, and attended webinar trainings for work and personal growth. I’ve achieved a kind of work-life balance as I’ve learned to prioritize some things over others, at certain times, and then maybe getting back to them or just letting them go! If you haven’t watched 19 episodes of that show on the DVR, then maybe you are not really watching that show, are you? Time to let it go. Overall, I am much happier, and way less anxious.

Finally, I wanted to share the importance of remembering what’s in your wheelhouse. I keep a lot of what some people may call clutter, but I know these ideas and things will have usefulness. You never know when something you did long ago or kept will become needed. This has happened to me so many times, personally. I had saved a vinyl tablecloth, which I used again as a picnic blanket. My sister’s wedding singer cancelled last minute, thank God I studied church music and could literally just step up and SING the whole Mass including Schubert’s Ave Maria (with no rehearsal). (I’m still waiting for that opportunity where someone says, Denise, I will pay you a thousand dollars to sing a Karen Carpenter song! Alas, that has not happened yet.)

Having access to your own personal toolkit invites serendipitous synchronicity, which is when you are uniquely qualified and prepared for something, like when I got to sing for my sister’s wedding. Or when I used my experience training volunteer choirs to sing diphthongs to help teach my young child to correctly say the letter Y.

Or writing this post.

How do you plan? Are you organized? Do you like inspirational or motivational words? Let us know below.

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Planning Ahead for the Holidays and Gift-Giving

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends! I started writing about wellness as I noted that so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey!

I haven’t always liked to plan. I’d been spontaneous all my life, until becoming a mom.  Then I started seeing the value of planning, researching and mapping out. I discovered the crafty stickering planning community. I still love the shiny sparkles of whatever whims, though, and the stickers really help!  (Read more about my planning here.) Yes, organized chaos is a too a thing.

I just dusted off my 12 year historical gift giving spreadsheet, as I do every September.  I review the prior year for completeness, copy and paste a new year, and clear the contents.  I also add any new recipients, and sadly, hide anyone necessary. I don’t actually delete anyone, I just hide the row.  I may need to check what I got beloved Aunt Barbara before she passed away, as it may be a good idea for somebody else in the future. I also study last years budget vs. spend.  If I spent less for somebody, maybe that’s my new budget.  If I spent more on somebody, maybe that’s my new budget!  My niece became a teen this year, so her new budget is now the same as her older brother.  See?

This is a gift-giving list, reference, and budget, all in one. My own family has a ton of birthdays September through January, so I track those here, too. Many times as my own children approached certain ages, I’d scroll back and look at what I got my godson when he turned 12, for instance. Or, where did I get that musical teapot that all two year old girls seem to love?  Scroll back- and I see the store and the price.  Have I already given so-and-so my favorite book?  Scroll back to that year I gave most everybody the same book… oh look, so-and-so wasn’t on my list yet at that time.   See what I mean? Super helpful.

Here is a snapshot of a clean year.  I started on Excel, but I moved it to Google Sheets last year.  (I blacked out my budget so that my dear family members won’t see what I’ve budgeted for them.) But you can see from this template what I’m doing.  Many of my family members have two entries for their two occasions.  So I start shopping in September, and spread my shopping budget over ten paychecks (through January).

Pro-Tip: Enter your spouse and children’s gifts in white font, so they won’t see it on the printout.

list

Nota Bene: Creative Gifts. Two years ago I made necklaces for my best friends and sweet cousins. So last year I made a different kind of necklace for them.  Earlier this year, my daughter and I made her a memory quilt using her favorite t shirts that she had outgrown.

quilt

We made this Memory Quilt together!

As my godson approaches college age, its something I’d consider doing for him.  But I may outsource such a big project.  This may change my budget.  Or, I may bookmark that for his Graduation. I’m learning how to knit, maybe I will knit scarves and give some out as gifts!  Oh hey, I WROTE A BOOK THIS YEAR! maybe I can give somebody on my list a copy of my book.   (Maybe I can afford to outsource that quilt after all.)

I hope you enjoyed learning about my planning tool.  Let me know if you try it this gift-giving season!

How do YOU organize your shopping?

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Planning to Plan

Good Afternoon, Friends! I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my journey of mishaps, happy mistakes, and discovery.

You’ve heard the lyric “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” from Disney’s Cinderella, right?  Well here’s the thing.

A dream is a wish your heart makes, but a goal is a plan your mind makes.

Are you with me?

I love dreaming, but I have not always loved planning.   I’ve sort of just figured it out.  There’s a certain magic in writing things down. Lists, steps, contacts, appointments, plans. Call it the Law of Attraction, or whatever you like.  Writing it MAKES IT HAPPEN. you’ll see.

plan

I’m planning to start my son doing his own bullet journaling.  He’s got lists and a phone, but I think the writing in his own bullet journal is going to be key.  I already bought him special micron pens.  You gotta have the tools.

I think my young daughter is also ready for her own planning journal.  She’s got a collage journal and a story-writing journal already, but the listing of dreams and goals could also be good for her.  Right now my favorite Leonie Dawson Shining Year planner is 50% off. Again, tools.

Another way to get things done is by finding support.  It’s free to find likeminded souls in groups on the internet.  Just following inspiring instagram and pinterest users can jumpstart or reignite your own creative ambition. There are an infinite amount of webinars and podcasts available for you.

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“Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth.” – Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, 1989.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was a night owl and a late sleeper.  And now, thanks to Zero Period, I’m allergic to sleeping in. Thanks to planning, I’m more productive.

In addition to mapping out all the family’s activities, I am planning my reading and writing time.

What are you doing this summer? Are you planning to have fun?