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.

 

 

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Wednesday Wellness: Back to School

My friends, I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted many of my artist and creative type friends struggled with wellness, as do I. 

I have never been a morning person.  In fact, I am a known night owl.  But my firstborn started high school two weeks ago, and he has Zero Period beginning at 7:05am.  So now we wake up at 6:00am.

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Sunrise (c) Alexander Briel Perez via Dreamstime

 

Waking early with a focus is changing me.  Somehow it is easier to do more extra curricular activities at night, now, too.  I think it is because I am getting to work earlier, so I am also leaving work earlier.  I go to sleep earlier.

But I am also happier.  I am no longer so obsessed with some of those dark, unhappy thoughts.  I am not finding a lot of time to write, read, or watch TV. But I am considering volunteering- both at church and with marching band.

My daughter and I watched her brother’s marching band practice for an hour yesterday.  They’ve got great music and remarkable skill.    I remember my own days in marching band quite fondly. Some of the deepest friendships I have had were born in marching band.    Even today, there is not a day that goes by that I am not in contact with one of my marching band friends, usually in social media and online games.  I just know that my dear son is forming some life-long friendships right now!

As I lay down to sleep last night, I reflected on all that is going on in our lives, and how content I was.  I did some deep breathing and practiced gratitude.  I was so ready to sleep, I was astonished that I didn’t even have any of my anxiety remedies deployed!  (Lavender sleep mask, crystals, hematite worry stone, collagen under-eye treatments…)  I didn’t need them!  I said a prayer for the missing girl from my small town, that she is found and returned safely.

God is great.  Life is good.

Wednesday Wellness- Wait, What?

Happy Wellness Wednesday!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my creative artist friends struggle with balance, as do I.  I hope that in writing about it, we can start a conversation and  wake up to wellness!

It’s Wednesday, again. Wait, what?

I’m still juggling everything on my journey.  Sometimes the best I can do for my own wellness is to look at everything I am juggling, and just stop. I need to work on giving myself permission to stop.  That is the harder part for me, truthfully.  I can stop for a second and tune out, but then I seem to get overwhelmed again and even berate myself for having had stopped in the first place.  Does this happen to anyone else?

I’m learning to strain the stressors and seek strength from within.  It is a process for me.  I’m actually naturally flexible, it is society and responsibility that is seemingly inflexible, sometimes.  Am I right?

Watching a movie or reading a book can do wonders for me.  It takes me out of my own mind for a bit.  But, be careful what you are reading/watching.  After watching the recent release of  Batman vs. Superman, I experienced a cinematic PTSD.  But after watching the earthquake movie San Andreas, I felt inspired.  I read the Harry Potter & the Cursed Child script,  somehow finding three hours yesterday.   But that did not bring me the peace I had hoped for.  After finishing, I was tempted to return to my Star Wars books I’d been reading.  But something told me I needed a little bit of a break.

Last month I was working on letting things go. I had consulted Coach Reba Linker with regards to decluttering, and soon after, as it happened, we had scheduled an appointment with an appraiser.  How’s that for inspiring?  I returned borrowed items and donated or sold a bunch more. I also started looking deeply within and began to acknowledge what else might be let go of.  I had a couple of strained “friendships” and  finally started letting them go.  To be honest the relationships had already dissipated, it was time that I recognized it as such, and let them go with my blessing.  Make no mistake, this is not easy.  And I still have more to ponder.

This month I am working on letting love in. I am focusing on gratefulness and recognizing that which is good. There is a lot of good out there. I recognize that we live in turbulent times, but I am confident there is an awakening and people are starting to come around.  I think I will work on writing a new short prayer for my children to add to their evening prayers rotation.

My car overheated on a hot day, and required a bunch of repairs, including fixing the air conditioner.  Then, our air conditioner in our house stopped working, on one of the hottest nights of the year.  I called 27 service providers on Saturday morning, and only one was available to come to our home that day.  I’m certain there is a message in there somewhere.  Like, maybe- regular maintenance is required for living comfortably. It wouldn’t be the first time the Universe has spoken to me through my car.

Something else I have been awakened unto- my cruise/ vacation wellness practice has been leaking into my daily life.  I noticed that much of my wardrobe is now cruise friendly, iron free and wrinkle free. I’m perfecting my minimalist beauty routine, using only what I would travel with. Planning, to have fun- and making time for self-love.

My post on Cruisin’ 101 was featured on Wellness Warrior.  My book earned another 5-star review on Amazon.  The book containing my Harry Potter & Autism essay went on sale.   Teaching with Harry Potter  is now $9.99 on Kindle! My music publisher mailed royalty checks on Monday- crossing my fingers that I made the minimum for them to actually cut me a check this time, LOL. Just when I was wondering how I might make a little more money, my children’s lessons were cancelled for the weekend, and I got called in to play piano for church.

It’s like God is telling me: You already have the tools,  Just open your eyes.

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Cruisin’ 101

Happy Wednesday!  Today I am going to do something a little different for Wednesday Wellness- I am going to talk about how to cruise.  I had never been on a cruise until last year, now I’ve sailed on three.  There’s always a bit of stress when planning and packing and travelling- but with a little preparation,  you can manage the challenges and even practice self-care. Here are some tips I’ve found. 

Cruising 101– choose your destination and your cruise line wisely.  There’s nothing wrong with Princess, but they don’t have a surf simulator like Royal Caribbean, for instance. If you are travelling with kids and multi-generations, make sure there is something for everybody.

The staterooms are small. NO, really.  Even if you have researched and studied Pinterest, as I did, you will not pre prepared for the minuteness of the bathroom and the army barracks of  bunkbeds.  If you pack light and smart, you can deal.  We pack for 4 days, wearing our bulkiest jeans and tennis shoes on the plane.  Plan to do a load of laundry on the ship.  There is not a self-service laundry in every ship- so do your research.  Otherwise you may be spending $30-45 a bag for wash & fold service, but it is a 48 hour turnaround, and what are you going to wear while you are waiting for your laundry?  You can also bring detergent and hand-wash in the tub.  If you have a bathtub, that is.

Hanging Shoe Organizer is a necessity.  Hang this over your bathroom door to increase counter space for your toiletries.  I got mine at Walmart for $3.  Such a space saver.

Travel Surge Protector is another must-have item.  There’s only two plugs in the stateroom, and so this little gizmo increases your ability to charge all your family’s devices.  This one has two usb ports in addition to three American plugs.  If you are travelling internationally, bring a converter, as well.

LED Tea light(s) are important as the rooms get pitch dark.  You don’t want to waste a plug for your kid’s favorite nightlight.  Just bring these.

Hand Wipes my family is never without these.  Cruise ships don’t have toilet seat covers.  Use a wipe to clean the toilet seat before use.

Sticky Notes are great for leaving notes for each other, or for your stateroom attendant.

Trial and Travel size toiletries.  Save money by not paying extra to stow your baggage on the plane. You won’t have too much room in the cabin for all your big bottles of your favorite shampoos, etc., anyway.   These little gems will fit nicely in your shoe organizer.  In addition to shampoo and conditioner (which ships may not provide)remember sunblock, lotion, Clearasil, medications, etc.  If you have curly/ frizzy hair like me, you’ll like this  gem I picked up in Vegas: Frizz-Ease touch up crème.  Though in a pinch, a little hand lotion will also help calm the frizzies. Don’t forget you will be in stale air on the boat for hours at a time.  I recommend eye drops, hand lotion, hair serum, and collagen under-eye treatments.

Now we get to the fun part.  I love travel clothing.  Multi-purpose clothing, skirts with pockets, sundresses that can be worn on formal night, reversible jewelry, mary janes which are great for casual and formal.  Today I am wearing my Essential Dress (2014)from Royal Robbin- works great for casual or even more formal with some sparkly jewelry.  I brought this awesome dress for my recent cruise and wore it for both formal nights- once with my hair down and the green necklace, once with my hair up and the reverse side of the necklace showing.  All clothing should be able to be rolled, for packing.  There are no irons in your room.  But who wants to be ironing anyway?  I brought a wrinkle release spray, but we never used it. My husband and son wore khaki’s and polo shirts to dinner for formal night.  No sweat.  My young daughter wanted to bring 7 dresses,  I let her bring 4 (one of which was reversible).  Pack a maximum of 3 pairs of shoes per person: sneakers (wear on plane and excursions), crocs (for swimming and late night snack breaks), and flats (mary janes for formal and casual dinners).  There is no reason to bring heels when you are on a boat which may be rocking in 100 nautical mile winds. (My son has black tennis shoes, so those also worked for formal night.)  You just need a light sweater/jacket for being on deck, and something water resistant for your excursions.

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Backpacks and totes:  I didn’t bring a purse. I carried a backpack on the plane, as did each of my kids.  I packed collapsible daypacks (drawstring backpacks) for our excursions. At night, I wore a phone purse which also held my cruise card,  lip gloss, and a pack of wipes. My daughter carried her own little purse which also held our Mio (water flavoring)  I also had a passport holder that hangs from one’s neck, and this waterproof phone lanyard which has come in handy while zip-lining on Guam last year!

Kid stuff: my kids pack their own backbacks with activities and books and headphones.  My daughter also brings art supplies. Journals and pens are essential.  I also brought lanyards for each of them for their cruise cards.   A mobile phone/ tablet comes in handy for “down times” but also the cruise selfie scavenger hunt challenge activity.  For excursions in crowded cities last summer, I had them wear brightly colored neon clothing.

Save Money: We didn’t pay extra for beverage plans.  Rather, I paid for a couple of coffee drinks or sodas at random.  I did prepay for the surf-only internet plan for one device.  I would log off and share the code with my husband when he needed to log on for work.  That’s all you need and it was pretty reasonable.  We never dined in the specialty restaurants, which have a $25-40 cover charge (last summer my young daughter proudly ordered alphabet soup at the fancy shi-shi cruise restaurant).  I did order a filet mignon in the main dining room for $16.95 (9 oz.)  (The filet mignon was actually more expensive and only 6 oz in the specialty restaurant.)

Wellness practice There is a gym on board, and we often took the stairs over the elevator.  I had saved money beforehand for a Swedish Massage, which would be my little treat.  I listened to music and meditations if I wanted to tune out.  I brought along books and ebooks. Watercoloring with my daughter was also a highlight of the trip for me.  It is a wonderful way to connect (we honor my dear friend who passed away by continuing her tradition) and preserve memories of the astonishingly beauteous sea- and landscapes.  There are glaciers and whales just off your balcony, and this glorious view from the top. It’s not too hard to be grateful. ❤

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How do you stay well when travelling?

Stay tuned for my travel journal from this Alaskan cruise!

 

 

 

 

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

Wednesday Wellness: Warmth

The California Sun burns bright on this Spring day: 88 degrees in the East San Francisco Bay. One of my online groups shared “warm fuzzies” or affirmations today, and that got me thinking about warmth.

As a highly sensitive empath, I find it difficult to trust people who exhibit a lack of warmth. Somehow in our modern world of social media thumbs-up’s, we’ve forgotten how to truly acknowledge people. It doesn’t take too much effort to acknowledge when people do a good job. I think it is really important to express to the special people in your life, that they are indeed, very special people in your life. And I mean, really acknowledge. I don’t think it counts when someone says “I’m sorry,” but they don’t even sound like they mean it. Sadly, people can say “You’re pretty,” or even “Good Job,” in that same hurried, flat tone.

Say it with meaning. I like to add in some unusual, uncommon words. Then, it works even better. The listener perks up at the unusual phrase, he or she knows you thought about it, and hopefully they will remember the compliment and affirmation. Here are some phrases I like to use.

“I affirm you.”
This is a powerful statement. “Good job,” is something you say to your dog.

“How beauteous!”
Using the Shakespearian word for beautiful underlines the enhanced beauty.

“Thank you for all you do.”
Gratitude for not just the thing right now, but all of the things from before, and all the good things to come.

“Know that you are very special to me [and my family].”
Hopefully they already know this, but saying it out loud affirms your respect.

How will you show your warmth today?