Friday Friends: MeganReneePlans

Happy Friday, Friends! On Fridays I like to feature individuals who are creative. Hope you enjoy this week’s spotlight on MeganReneePlans!

I discovered MeganRenee via Etsy as I searched for decorative stickers for my planner. I fell in love with her Beauty and the Beast Kit, which includes inspiring quotes. My daughter and I also use her sports stickers in my planner for notating practice and games. I particularly appreciate these because they were customizable. I chose the hair color as well as team color for the stickers.

Read on to meet MeganRenee!

1. So, what have you created and produced? 
For the past three years now I have been creating planner stickers and inserts for my Etsy shop. 

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?
Autism Speaks has been my number one cause since college. They are my sorority’s philanthropy and I’ve tried to keep them on my donation list since then. 

3. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
It varies and changes all the time. I usually try to work on at least three or four projects at a time. Sometimes I’m just burned out with all the mom life duties that I rarely design. I try to find artwork that hasn’t been used too much in the planner community and then put my spin on putting it together. 

4. What do you like to do for fun?
Designing sticker kits is actually fun for me. Other than that I love reading, going to the ballet or just out to dinner with my husband. 

5. What is one unusual thing about you?
I hate mustard! With a passion. I don’t know why exactly. But just thinking about it makes me nauseous. 

6. What music inspires you?
I love music! Almost any genre, except country. Lately I’ve been finding more inspiration from contemporary Christian. 

7. How many books did you read last year?
I think I only read 10 or 11 last year. 

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?
Definitely ranch!

9. What are you working on right now?
I am working on prepping for my shop’s 3rd anniversary sale. Also finalizing details to being foiled stickers to the shop. 

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?
I don’t watch much as my sons usually take over the tv. But I make sure to keep up with Arrow and The Flash. 

11. Do you have a theme song?
I don’t think I do. There’s always multiple songs running through my head during the days. 

12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
That it’s ok to let yourself be who you are. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. 

Website : http://www.meganreneeplans.com
IG : http://www.instagram.com/meganreneeplans

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?

Friday Friends: Sapira Cheuk & Dolce Planner

Happy Friday, Friends! On Fridays, I like to feature creatives. I am delighted to spotlight artist-entrepreneur Sapira Cheuk of Dolce Planner. I personally have found her hand drawn designs to be the perfect enhancements for my daily planner. Her work is inspiring, literally inspiring us to do more, and to love our lives. Be sure to check out her online store! I hope you enjoy the interview. Welcome, Sapira!

1. So, what have you created and produced?

  1. I have 2 main creative outlet, first is my contemporary art practice and the second are my planner stickers. They are very different from each other and serves different purpose. I don’t see these two outlets as contradictory even tho they look and represent very different things, rather, I see them as different ways of expressing.
  • My contemporary art practice are mostly ink paintings on paper influenced by traditional Chinese brush paintings, the subject are usually about women’s embodiment and subjectivity. 
  • My planner stickers theme usually revolves around different girl themed activities or identities. 

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

  • Most of the works I produced have the female experience in mind. While I identify as a feminist, that identity is rooted in the believe of equality. 
  • 3. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?

    It’s magic! Sometimes it feels like making a half-remembered dream real, sometimes I just start drawing and whatever takes shape, takes shape.

    4. What do you like to do for fun?

    I love to eat! I know it’s not good to link food with reward, but it’s sometime I look forward to mostly. I also love to draw, play Switch, drink wine, and go to museums/galleries.

    5. What is one unusual thing about you?

  • I love Star Trek, my favorite is TNG
  • 6. What music inspires you?

    My music taste is kind of all over the place, I would describe as indie electronic/pop. I keep a playlist on spotify specifically for painting. 

    7. How many books did you read last year?

    20ish – mostly audible 

    8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?

    Both!!! Both I especially love Ranch with pizza

    9. What are you working on right now?

    March Passion Planner Sticker subscription designs 

    10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

    I don’t watch a lot of TV, on weekends I like action movies. 

    11. Do you have a theme song?

    No… not yet

    12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

    Do what you love and don’t give up! 

  • Thank you for letting me share a little bit of me today!
  • Websites: 

    www.sapiracheuk.com

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?