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

listHappy 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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

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Wednesday Wellness: Plan for Magic

Happy Mid-Week, Friends!  I started writing Wednesday Wellness because I noticed a lot of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey to wellness, complete with detours and lucky pennies along the way!

My friends, I started creative planning only a couple of weeks ago, and I have already noticed the magic.

I spent most of my life resisting planners and organizers, preferring the spontaneous creative INFP lifestyle.  But I did learn a few planning tricks in college and in grad school.  Then when I became a mom, I learned how mapping out the weekends got things done.  That’s how I came up with Plan, to Have Fun.

I discovered the crafty/ creative planning community and was delighted.  There are scores of stickers and embellishment products to add to the planner of your choice.  And there are MANY planners to choose from.  I use Leonie Dawson’s Shining Year.  People love their Passion Planners, Happy Planners, Erin Condren planners, Bloom, etc. You can get inexpensive versions at Target and Michaels.   Mochi Things has a nice undated planner that you can start using at any time.  I follow a few planners on instagram, and we post photos of our weekly spreads.  It’s inspiring.  I found a local group on Facebook, and signed up for a Loaded Envelope Swap.  I was so lucky to be partnered with a friend from high school, and we sent each other our #loadedenvelopes of #happymail: tabs, stickers, decorative paper clips and washi tape.

I  love the fun of adding stickers and embellishments, but that is not for everyone.   There’s great magic in just planning with pens! (Hello, Bullet-Journaling! #bu-jo) Writing itself, is a kind of magic.  I do think that organic handwriting is a bit more magical that electronic planning, but that’s me.  I rely on my smartphone for alerts, that’s for sure.  But I am excited to decorate my weekly planner!  I found a cute sticker for  keeping track of how much water I drink daily.  I found sticker kits on etsy with themes of Book Lover Girl, Office Girl, and Stargazer Girl.  I purchased some basic, functional stickers, and I still write with my trusty 4-color pen (pink, sky blue, purple, and  lime green) and gold calligraphy pen, as well.  This Mix Tape Washi Tape is the best, isn’t it? (See pic below.)

Here’s the thing.  Once I started planning creatively, the magic started to happen.  I was accomplishing my tasks and goals. I noted my gratefulness, and set intentions. Visually I could see that everything was possible. Not only that, but I saw that I had room for more.  Did you see that? Room for More.  Room for whatever I want.  Me time: read a book, write another book (!), listen to webinars, plan a vacation, follow more dreams.

During this time I also did some decluttering. I have resisted this forever, too, but once you start, it becomes easier.  I’ve decluttered at work, the kids’ rooms, my car*. (*in progress)  I have a ton yet to do at home, that’s for sure!  Don’t tell me about that Marie Kondo book, I tried reading it, but it didn’t work for me.  I keep things that give me joy.  The trouble is, that all of these things  bring me some amount of joy, or I wouldn’t have them!   Am I right?

I also started reviewing my finances.  I looked hard at what I can lessen or do without.  I  cancelled some monthly and annual subscription/ memberships and updated my credit card so that any auto-renewals won’t happen.  Are you ready for this?  So far, I am collecting over $250 in immediate refunds.  I have to decide about two more subscriptions. Maybe I can find something cheaper than McAfee, for example.  And Shutterfly’s ThisLife may be redundant now that we have Google Photos, right?  I stopped monthly drips to the tune of $173 a month.  Drip Drip Drip.  I decided to increase my 401k contributions, and since less take-home money is being taxed, I’m seeing an increase in my paychecks. Win-Win. (I am NOT a tax advisor- check with a professional if you are considering doing this.)

Here’s an example of my weekly spread before I start planning:blank_week

Here’s my current week:current_week

What magic can you start planning?

Do you use a planner?  Leave a comment and let us know!

 

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Happy New Year!

My friends, Happy New Year!   Have you survived the Darkness of Winter and are you rejoicing in the return of the Light?

Something about the turn of the calendar and I am inclined to reflect.  Does this happen to you?

This year I am beginning with my Shining Year planner by Leonie Dawson.  I happened  to discover it last year after I had already purchased a planner. But I finally bought one mid-year, as her followers were just so enthusiastic about how the workbooks helped them lead happier lives, reaching their goals. Even now, I wonder if I should have purchased one of the bigger planners, as the workbook enthusiasts are posting their success stories and swear by the planners.

My kids are still on Winter Break, so we have been able to enjoy doing things together just a bit longer, it seems.  Although it is the same number of days off as they usually get, somehow returning on the 9th of January just seems more relaxing, doesn’t it?  We are enjoying watching movies and going to bookstores and redeeming our giftcards and reading and playing music. My crafty daughter and I are starting a keepsake quilt made from her favorite tee shirts.  Hmm maybe we will make a video  tutorial!

It’s been a year since my Manifesting Money post, and I’m happy to report that even after all those DVDs I traded in for cash last year, I STILL HAVE MORE.  And the stack I kept in case the kids wanted to watch them sometime, well seeing as they haven’t in A YEAR, I’m trading them in! CD’s, too, as I kept a ton just in case, but my new car doesn’t even have a cd player in it, so. Bye, Bye, Bye, BYE BYE!

The best thing I did for myself last year was find like-minded friends in groups.  Two of my online friends have started groups this week, and that made me think maybe I could do the same.  Stay tuned.

After the shocking deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, I decided to schedule a routine physical with my doctor.  My heart and blood pressure are fine. My new doctor gave me some reading on relaxation techniques.  And I found that the maker of one of my favorite supplements also makes a blended product containing something new I wanted to try.  #PracticingHealth

And the most exciting news: I finished writing my book!  I am so excited to share it with the world! We have finished editing, and it is now with the formatter.  I would expect to launch in about two weeks.

Dee’s Dishes is a collection of stories, reflections, and recipes.  Have you ever had Pepsi thrown on you?  For me, more than once.  Wouldn’t you like to find out more about that?  And then there’s my recipe for Pepsi Brownies.  Sounds good, right?

Stay tuned, my friends!

What are you doing in this New Year?

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Plan to Have Fun

Today for Wednesday Wellness I am writing about planning, that is, planning to have fun.  Despite being an extreme INFP (this means non-planner), I have found that taking the time to plan is invaluable.

I am an Administrative Assistant by day, and a Manager of a household of a family of four. I manage my executives’ expenses and calendars, as well as my family’s. When I map out my weekends, everybody has what they need and everybody gets to their activities on time.  Managing a household of a family of four people- each with divergent needs- presents its own challenges.  OH, and I’ve managed my Christmas/Birthday Shopping List by spreadsheet for um, 12 years now.  Hey, it works.

But sometimes I just want to not plan and relax.  Guess what, I have to plan to do so.  Like for my birthday, for instance.  There were no outstanding obligations, and then it rained (in California!  Wuhoo!), so I was delighted.  I planned to meet my besties for my annual birthday brunch, then I picked up a special light bulb for my new piano lamp (birthday gift from my husband and kids) and then I played piano in the afternoon.  For dinner we met up with my parents and my sister’s family to celebrate my own birthday, as well as my mother’s and father’s birthdays (yes, we all have out birthdays within 8 days, the week before Christmas!  My poor sister- the June baby- at least she has the month all to herself!) Then afterwards we headed over to the award winning Christmas Lights crazily lit house  in the next town.  Delightful Birthday.

I have a new planner by Bloom, which I love because it has some cool reflection pages.  Here’s how I am managing this week.

PTHF

PLAN, to have FUN!

Here at my day job, one of the six documents to be presented at this afternoon’s board subcommittee arrived late.  Four others had last minute revisions, some multiple revisions.  Good thing I planned to hang out on campus today, in case I was needed.

Now I can write a nice green check on my planner:  next to Write Blog Post.

How do YOU plan to have fun?