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.

good_vibes

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.

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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.

got_ice

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.

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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.

Carriehqdefault

“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?

 

 

Travel Tips: Family Getaway

For a recent family getaway, we went to Las Vegas for two nights.  We enjoyed a wonderful time, and I will detail our activities in a future post.  But today, I wish to share with you some of my travel tips.  This is not a sponsored post- no one is paying me to talk up their products.  Just a couple of tips and tricks I have picked up along my journey.  I am a strong believer in “paying it forward-” and I hope my experience may help you plan your own fabulous vacations!

paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Las Vegas

 

We packed for all four of us for two nights.  Happily everything fit in one big suitcase. (Always pack your medications in your carry on.) Basically we packed two day outfits for each person, plus pajamas, underwear and bathing suits.  Everyone wears tennis shoes on the plane, and we pack flip flops for swimming. For myself, I packed an extra dress and flats, because I like to dress up if we are going to see a show.  My daughter wore cute skorts that were comfortable in the day and pretty for evening.  My husband and son wore khaki shorts and a polo shirt or t shirt.  We were in Las Vegas, after all!  Where is was no less than 105* F.

When I am in a hot, humid location, I prefer to use liquid makeup.  I find this keeps my skin moisturized and not itchy. I use liquid foundation and concealer, as well as liquid lipstick.  A tube of lipstick can melt.  A liquid lipstick tube with applicator fits the bill.  I also bring along these Almay Q-tip eye make-up removers for touch ups.  When traveling, I bring eye shadow crayons, like these double sided ones I found on Avon (similar here).  They are super convenient! Six colors on 3 sticks and I can do “Sunset Eyes.” sunset eyes Read more about my travel make-up case (and other tips!) here in my post “Cruisin’ 101”

The best tip I have for you is to bring along these microfiber towels.  You can find them in Target, or on Amazon. I hold them one at time under the faucet to fill it with water.  Then you must really wring it out.  A quick “snap” and you are ready to go.  Wear around the neck for instant cooling sensation.  So important when we are traveling in the hot summer.  If you can keep cool, you can keep your wits about you- am I right?

cool kids

Cool Kids

Here is an awesome bag I found on the internet last year. It is called Not-a-bag and it folds into itself for easy storage, then opens up to a regular tote bag, or you can pull the straps through to turn it into a back pack. 25 Euro and worth it.  I pack it in my airplane carry-on, just in case. It is perfect for when you are walking down the Strip.  Sometimes places do not allow backpacks for security reasons (sport arenas), and so this is convenient alternative.

One more thing- I love to read but I did NOT bring a book this time. I had finished my “vacation” book the week prior, because it was so good!  And the next book I wanted to read was a big and heavy paperback.  So I downloaded the free sample from Amazon Kindle (usually 1-3 chapters) and brought a magazine.  #PackLight

I will detail our travels in a separate post, but for now, let me share with you that in Vegas, I prefer taxiing versus using Uber.  Uber is only very slightly lower in price, but the designated pickup spots are NOT at the front of the hotels.  They are in weird locations such as the parking garage, 3rd floor. If you are in Vegas without a car, you don’t want to even enter a parking garage.  For that reason it’s so much easier and more convenient to just take the cab.

Finally I want to underline the importance of planning.  Do your research before.  Think about what you want to see and do, and mock up an itinerary. I used minitime.com for this trip. I am so glad I did, because I found out that a couple restaurants we wanted to revisit had since closed.  Understand that you may need to be flexible.  Things happen.  And in a taxi town, everything takes longer to get to than you think.

Tune in next time to see what we did!

What are your favorite travel tips?

 

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?

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday: What I’m Working On

Happy Midweek, Friends! I started writing about Wellness topics on Wednesdays because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me as I journey to wellness and balance and make mistakes along the way.

I am tardy for Wellness Wednesday this week, but I am okay with that.  Because I am working on Letting It Go.

Holiday Collage

Tis the Season

This is something I have been working on for some time, in many forms.  I lost some friendships over the past couple of years and that really made me realize a couple of things.  Sometimes I just need to let them go.  Even though they may have been wrong and I may have been right, it just doesn’t even matter anymore.  We didn’t need to be friends anymore and I didn’t need to even tell them so.  I let it go. (Ok so one still hasn’t returned my things.  I admit I am keeping a Messenger open in case that happens. Alas.  Maybe I should just let that one go, as well.)

I downsized from an SUV to a sedan, and I had to learn how to deal with trunk storage efficiency.  (still learning) Then my office was being remodeled and I had to work in a different city. I took advantage of the time to review my boxes and remove what was old and unnecessary.  I was able to shred a ton of old papers, have one box contents imaged digitally, and for another- I am going to transfer the cd files to the digital archive. Progress!

A donation truck comes round our neighborhood tomorrow.  I was saving some clothing items for a former co-worker’s son- but it’s been years since I’ve seen him.  So tomorrow, out they go.  Sing with me now (to the tune of Let it Snow): Let it go, let it go, let it go!

I am so blessed as I have some wonderful friends and family members who are such outstanding beams of joy- but perhaps it has made me have high expectations of others.  I’m learning to tone down my levels of expectations and realize that other people have their own stuff going on and sometimes they just can’t see their actions.  When my daughter’s friends parents (who only have one child) don’t even acknowledge my older child,  I admit that does make me kinda furious inside.  But likely they don’t know better,  they don’t have older children and so sometimes don’t even know how to talk to them. Other people may have their own blocks, or they’re too far invested in their perceptions that they aren’t likely to change.  Can I let them go?  Some people I can let go, as long as I don’t see them.  Right?  Bueller?

I admit I have high expectations of myself.   I wrote two books, one musical, and recorded an album.  Why aren’t I more successful? Why can’t I find time to sit down and write my next book?  Why don’t I have more savings? Why did I forget about that school thing? Why didn’t I see that email?  Why can’t I keep up blogging three times a week?

Why can’t I just love myself and let myself be?

I am pretty aware, and I do have a lot going on, but I also have a pretty good support system and many tools available to me. I can focus and start using them to my advantage.  You know how when you have the right mindset, things just come to you?  Like that year when I truly believed that I was lucky, and I kept winning everything.  I want to live there.  I’m working on it.

Lots of times I do one thing, or see another, and then I think: Is this my thing?  Maybe this could be my thing.

Like that time I wrote a book.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I wrote that essay on how Harry Potter helps my family with Autism. Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started making collage journals.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started travel writing.  Maybe this could be my thing.

The thing is- they are all my thing. I am me, and I am comprised of all these things.

I just discovered a crafty planning community.  I love the integration of scrapbooking elements with planning.  Remember I like to Plan, to Have Fun.

Integration.  Maybe this is My Thing.

What’s Your Thing?