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?

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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!

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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.

 

 

Blog Tour Continues: Dee’s post on RachelintheOC Today!

Hey Everybody!  The Book Tour for Dee’s Dishes continues!

I’m so honored to be featured on RachelintheOC’s blog today!

How Writing Takes Me Out of the Crazy is here!

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Have you checked out the other stops on this tour?

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Don’t forget to stop my virtual party on Facebook tomorrow!  Follow this link to RSVP: Dee’s Dishes release party

I really hope to see you there!

Peace,

Denise

Wednesday Wellness: Perspective

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noticed so many of my writer friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey and let’s chat!

My superpower is anxiety.  I’ve only recently decided to claim it as my superpower, and just doing so has already changed me.  More on this in a minute.

Recently, I shared a story at a family dinner.  The story included my oldest child, when he was but a baby.  My daughter asked me to tell her more stories about when she was a baby.  So I started rereading my personal blog posts from eight years ago.  Of course I discovered and remembered many delightful stories that I could share with her and my family. But there was more.

As I reviewed my own writings of the past eight years, themes and patterns became obvious.  Some of them painfully so.  Sure, some posts chronicled my agonizing year of regular gall bladder attacks and subsequent surgery to remove the darn thing, and then my “recovery.”  This was during the year of my husband’s job search, so there was anxiety and depression, as well.  Earlier our oldest child had received a diagnosis, actually both children have undergone surgical procedures as well as been hospitalized for days for illnesses. I know after sleeping in the chairs in hospital rooms so often, I have learned to pack my travel neck-pillow. The only reason I can come up with for  all the suffering in the world is because somewhere, somebody learns something from it. Somebody somewhere is going to find the cure for cancer.

As my friends and readers know, I am a writer and a reader.  I love patterns in fiction and in music.  I am a believer in the hero’s journey and a sucker for the sonata form.  I can’t even take a personality quiz anymore, because I find the pattern and skew the results to what I want.  (Does anybody else do this?) Even still, I was kind of surprised to see patterns before me in black and white.

In my never-ending pseudo-dieting, it sure seemed that once I did a cleanse, I was on my way to that weight loss.  I’d find prompt results and relish in my “success” for a little while. Eventually, I’d cheat and then stop altogether.  Many times this cycle repeated.  Wow. It was almost kind of depressing reading this.

But also it was enlightening, seeing what worked. Here’s what worked for me.

Cleansing as a jump-start to eating well.  Doing a cleanse is a supercommittment and opportunity to focus.  It’s not easy, but it works.

Tracking calories using an app on my phone.  Pretty much when I stop tracking, is when I start cheating.

Practicing Gratefulness.  When I journal and write and speak of my gratefulness, it is underscored.

Practicing Yoga. Reading about how good it made me feel, made me wonder why I’d stopped.  Even if I don’t do a DVD, just taking the time to remember my favorite positions is wonderful.

Visualizing.  Envisioning positive results from whatever my struggle du jour may be. Also, breathing loving energy directly to parts of my body helps the aches and pains.

Creating Art.  After my first essay was published, I got the bug.  Writing and self-publishing my poetry collection  A Maze in Grace was a journey in itself.  But also, taking the time to collage journal and color with my children. Singing in the car.  I recorded a Christmas album and shared it with my friends and family. (Would you like an mp3?  Send me your email addy!)

Writing. Personal journal entries and blog posts.  Poems and lists.  Ideas for my breakout novel. And jukebox musical. Hey- it could happen!

Perhaps it is my writer/ reader connection with the hero’s journey that allowed me to finally accept my anxiety for what it is.  Years ago I attended a Marianne Williamson lecture in San Francisco, and she stated plainly that AIDS was a call to compassion.  I get it now. Anxiety is the Catalyst.  In the Hero’s Journey, something happens to the main character which changes everything.  It is the Call to Adventure: when Luke goes with Obi-wan to Mos Eisley, when Harry Potter gets on the Hogwarts Express.

And so I have changed my perspective on my anxiety.  How lucky am I that I have a prompt to get me back on track.  It’s like my secret superpower.

What’s yours?

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Well, Well, Wednesday

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Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is NOT to write a wellness post on Wednesday.

Sometimes I spend my entire lunch period wondering about where I should go for lunch, and then it’s too late to go anywhere. Lunchtime is over.

Wednesdays are like that, too.

I am learning to be more flexible and expect the unexpected. Again.

When I was younger, I was so carefree.
I lived life as an INFP*,
Never knowing or caring where I would be
Improvising, literally

Adulting’s responsibilities
caused me anxiety
stifling my creativity

I’m finally coming back
I’m coming home
To being Me.

See? And here I thought I was going to type a post about my reading list and the virtues of paperbacks. Maybe talk a little about writing my new book of stories and recipes. Instead I wrote a poem.

Welcome to the Key of Dee.

*Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality theory. Check it out on http://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/mbti

Message in a Bottle

Is it just me, or do you feel some strange energy?

I have some big plans and big ideas. I start to get overwhelmed, as I do. And I can’t remember that one little detail I thought of long ago. I even waste time on Google trying to remember my magic words.

Then I remember I may have emailed it to myself. Ah, Yes I did! Or, upon reviewing my collage journals from 2011-2012, I find I’d already jotted down a basic premise for the magic recipe.

And I’m somewhat relieved, although a bit spooked, as well.

What else have I forgotten that I remembered?