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.

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Wellness Wednesday: Applesauce Cake

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted so many of my friends & creatives struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my humble journey to wellness, picking fruit along the way, but also stopping to rest, once in a while.  

I am mixing it up today, in honor of Apple Sauce Cake Day.  Apparently, that’s a thing.  Click here if you don’t believe me.  So I decided to share another excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes – a collection of stories and recipes.  Here is a true story about apple sauce, followed by one of my favorite of my mom’s recipes: Applesauce Cake.

A Sticky Situation

My sweet young baby boy loved his applesauce when he was

a baby. I often would blend cooked carrots into his

applesauce, at home. Nana would make him applesauce from

scratch. After trick-or-treating, he proudly counted his shiny

wrapped candy bars, and then requested applesauce.

Normally, applesauce is not a bad thing! But, we once

experienced quite a sticky situation involving applesauce.

Whenever I hear Def Leppard’s song “Pour Some Sugar on

Me” this is what comes to mind.

My Dear Son was a man of few words when he was a toddler.

We had started calling him Mellow Man. He was

extraordinarily well-behaved, though, and a delight to take to

restaurants. Yeah I know; this is rare.

On this particular day in the Adventures of Mellow Man, I

brought him to lunch with our dear friend, his Auntie Rachel.

Although she’s not related, she grew up with my husband and

she’s the one who set us up, so we call her family. We were

dining at Bennigan’s, a delightful American restaurant chain

with tchotchkes on the walls. Like every other American

restaurant chain, right? This one has some pretty special

broccoli bites or something, as I recall. These were broccoli,

cheese, and bacon, battered, and deep-fried. (Right? I know,

my arteries just got scared, too.)

The two-year-old was seated happily in a wooden high chair,

pulled up to the table. We enjoyed lunch and conversation,

laughing as we do whenever we get together. We were

reminiscing about some of the fun we’ve had together, like the

time we went to all the Burger Kings in South San Jose for

“Free Fries Day.” And the time she screwed up the words in

the Alleluia verse so badly, she voluntarily removed herself

from the cantor podium with an imaginary hook and cane. Or

my wedding video, in which everyone else in the wedding

party said “Thank you for choosing me to be in your special day…”

and she said, “You’re welcome.” I hope everybody has a

special friend like this.

I had ordered apples instead of fries for his kiddie meal—as

apples are healthier, right? They came in a heated bowl with

raisins and sugar—it was more like pie filling. I took out the

apple slices, diced them some more, placed them on a clean

bread plate for my son, and gave him a spoon. He seemed

content, and we gals continued talking and digging into to our

lava cake.

Suddenly, I look over at my son, who is visibly discontent as

he is trying to wipe off the gooey apples from his hands. Quite

unsuccessfully, I might add. In fact, in his attempts to wipe the

goo off, he inadvertently had wiped sticky sugary apple-y goo

all over his hands, and up and down his arms, as well.

“Oh, My God!” I exclaimed. And then, to Rachel, “Can you

grab an arm?”

Rachel says he was all oiled up like a pro-wrestler. (I don’t

watch wrestling, so, whatever.) Seriously, he was glistening. It

took each of us two pre-moistened wipes and two napkins to

erase away the goo. Then we had to wrestle him out of the

high chair and to the bathroom sink. We were laughing

hysterically as Auntie Rachel held the toddler in front of her at

arms’ length while he, in turn, held his arms out in front of

him, like a little Frankenstein. We managed to get him to the

bathroom sink and she balanced the boy between herself and

the sink, while I scrubbed his little hands and arms with soap.

Pour some sugar on me.

Applesauce Cake

This is one of my favorites of my mom’s recipes.

It’s delightfully sweet and unique.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 tablespoon corn starch

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (optional)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cups Applesauce

1 cup raisins (soaked in warm water and drained)

½ cup oil

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Dump dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Add one at a time without mixing, applesauce, raisins, oil

and walnuts.

Mix well, then pour into well-greased angel food

or 13×9 pan

Bake in 350 oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Test with toothpick

for doneness.

(Cupcakes: only 20-25 mins)

 

Wednesday Wellness: Information at your Service

Happy Wellness Wednesday! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey towards Wellness, along the yellow brick road, acknowledging all things shiny along the way.

One of my first jobs was working at the bookstore at the mall. I loved to work the Information Desk. It was a really neat way to be helpful and also learn things along the way. Many times somebody would ask me a question and I didn’t even know that I knew the answer until they asked. This continued as I moved on to the bigger flagship bookstore. I would put books on hold for myself, but after a few days return them to the shelves, as it seemed just thinking about them helped me realize what I needed to about them. Information was everywhere. So many books, so much information. It was my job to help people, but they were helping me, too. They were helping me develop my intuition.

I’m only just realizing that my current job (of twenty years!) is kind of like that, too. People come to me for assistance, and I assist them. They might ask me for information. I might know the answer, or I might know whom to ask to get the answer. I am providing information, as well as learning information. Sometimes still, I am able to provide the answer, not even realizing that I had already known the answer until that very moment. A little glimmer of a whisper in the back of my mind comes forth. And I am humbled.

The Doctor is IN

I am NOT a doctor. But I can help you find a book.

My dear friend Noel was a kindred spirit, and we both used to improvise playing piano.  When people said they liked her piano playing, she’d say “Isn’t it great? It’s the Holy Spirit!” She had a way of playing a song that is commonly known as “faking it.” There are Fake Books published, and this means the basic notes of the melody are noted and lyrics, but no other music is provided, only the Guitar Chords. It is an outline for the recipe of the song, if you will. There are many ways of making chocolate chip cookies, but in the end, they are all chocolate chip cookies. I love to improvise as I play piano, in fact, I even ignore the written accompaniment, now. If you listen hard enough, you can play the tune. You can play notes, or you can play music. You can follow a recipe, or you can make a cookie.  Are you with me?

So often something reminds me of something else.  Many times, I find myself looking for something, when, in fact, I find something else which I had been looking for before. Whomp, there it is.

Call it The Secret, the Law of Attraction, remote preparation, seek and ye shall find.

I truly believe that having an open mind allows one to perceive truths one might not otherwise recognize.

Everything in your life thus far has prepared you for the next moment. It’s synchronicity.

This afternoon as I drove around during my lunch break, the 80s station played that song “Pure Energy” by a group called Information Society.  Upon entering a place of business, I heard their radio station playing “Meant to Be” by Bebe Rexha.

What I know for sure, is that I am not yet aware of all that I already know.

What do you know?

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?

 

Wednesday Wellness: Rebalance

Hi, Friends!

I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with wellness, as do I.  Join me on my journey as I muse and make mistakes.  And some discoveries along the way.

It has been a while since I posted on Wellness.  I worked really hard on completing my book and launching it.  The soft launch and book tour went really well. And then I got a little overwhelmed.

Which means I need to practice some self-care.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to NOT write a blog post.  It sounds counter-productive, but it’s true.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is to Not Eat That Cookie. But sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is to Just Eat It, Already. Sometimes I need to crank up the 90s angsty music and sing along, but not if it’s going to make me grumpy the rest of the day.  Sometimes I need to watch TV with my husband, but not if it will keep me up past my bedtime.  Sometimes I need to skip going to Mass, and instead take a long drive to go see the Harp Twins perform live in concert. You get it.

Sometimes it is time to rebalance.  You know how you should look at your 401k allotments once a year to see if you need to rebalance. Anyone?  Well, sometimes you need to do that in your life, too.

I have just discovered creative planning.  I happened upon this subculture of crafty planners on instagram and on Facebook.  Now my readers know, I am an INFP and I had always preferred spontaneity to planning, until becoming a working mom.  Then I discovered the value of Plan, to have Fun!

I used to scrapbook, and I also do collage journals.  I am currently using the Leonie Dawson Shining Year planner– which I think is really fantastic for planning goals and achieving dreams.  Imagine my delight when I happened upon a planner community that uses creative embellishments in their planners!  TA-DAH! And a choir of angels sang.  Or, Ewoks.  Allelu- Ta-Dah! Yub! Yub! (original release, people!)

As I looked at my weekly spread for this week, and I noted that all the entries were for my kids ‘  activities.  It’s softball season, and there’s also band practice, drum lessons, 3rd Grade Musical, mentor sessions. It’s a lot to coordinate. And don’t get me wrong, I love it.  But sometimes seeing it all written out like that, makes it painfully obvious.  I need some Me Time.

journey

So I am going to see my favorite massage therapist during my lunch, today.  And maybe pick up some Kombucha on the way back to the office.

What are YOU doing for yourself?

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Wednesday Wellness: Prepare Ye

Happy #WellnessWednesday! (Or is it Wednesday Wellness? I can never remember.) I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I notice many of my friends who are creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my humble journey to wellness.
IMG_5526.JPG
Having just survived that family ordeal which we call Thanksgiving, we are now entering my birth month, otherwise known as that month which always has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, run over by a train. (Writing run-on sentences and mixing metaphors, apparently, too.)

Let’s just all take a moment to acknowledge the winter holiday struggle and invisible illnesses, shall we?  Here’s “Unwell” by Matchbox 20.

Sing it, Rob

Here are a few things I am doing this year to help me find the light and keep the darkness at bay.

Honor Advent.
Many world religions celebrate the winter solstice. Read this. http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_conflict1.htm I have a book of meditations that I like to read at this time of year- part Christian, part Zen. I am also singing at church on the second and fourth Sundays.

Practice Self-Care.
I listen to guided visualizations on my phone before bed. After some basic yoga and maybe the plank challenge.
https://www.amazon.com/Basic-Yoga-Workout-Dummies-Ivanhoe/dp/B00005LQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480533014&sr=8-1&keywords=basic+yoga+for+dummies
http://gettinmyhealthyon.com/2013/09/20/30-day-plank-challenge/
Organize.
I am near done purchasing my holiday gifts, and just have to wrap them. Thanks to my handy dandy historical gift-giving spreadsheet, which I have kept up since 2004. I also search online for lists of books containing characters with my children’s and nieces’ and nephew’s names.

Give.
Tis the Season of giving. Many social justice organizations need your help now more than ever. Feels good to donate even just a little. If you are a homeowner, your charitable donation may have tax benefits, as well. There are many ways to give, starting with collecting unneeded clothes, books and toys in your home to donate to a local charity, many which swing by your neighborhood on a regular basis. Your old glasses could give someone the gift of sight. You can also donate your time. Sign up to volunteer with a local food bank or charity organization to sort or distribute donations. Sign up with a friend or family member and share the experience.

Write.
I do want to journal and blog more. Right now I am working on self-editing my new book, so hopefully I can return to regular writing in just a bit.

Calendar.
Maintaining the family calendar of all our events. We have orthodontist appointments, church, religious instruction, pageants, school, band practices, band performance, the Nutcracker, recitals, and three family birthdays. Still it’s all manageable with clever calendaring. I’m so excited that my 2017 Diary Planner has already arrived! https://shiningacademy.com/2017-workbooks/

Say No.
Even though singing with a volunteer choir sounds fun, I don’t have time for all the rehearsals. So, Ive learned to say “No, Thank you. Maybe next year.” Try it.

Read my other posts on Advent here.

Advent Calendar

Peace,
Denise