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

Wellness Wednesday: Music

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends!  I have been away from the blog, as I wasn’t feeling too well, myself  But I’m back- sharing my perspective on wellness for my creative friends, readers, writers, and art-makers…

music

Recently Sirius XM Radio announced the Billy Joel Channel.  I was delighted, as I have a free trial for another little bit here, and I can enjoy Billy Joel music 24/7 while I decide if I will subscribe.  Billy’s music has been so special to me and my family, and I had even seen him perform in concert several times.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to listen to his music more often.  He has an expansive catalog, covering decades of music in many styles and voices.  So much of his 80s and 90s music is central to my individuation, and I kinda love the 70s throwbacks, too.

My new car doesn’t have a CD player in it.  Yeah, it was kind of surprising to me, too.   There is a wonderful USB auxiliary port which connects to my phone quite nicely.  But it is not the same as popping in a CD.  (Don’t even get me started on my mix tapes.)

I have been enjoying the Sirius satellite radio free preview and have my 80s music channels pre-sets all dialed in.  Yes I know people don’t say dial in anymore.  My kids correct me whenever I talk about “taping” TV shows. “We record, now, Mom.” Yeah, whatever. Tape.

I was not prepared for how wonderful the Billy Joel channel would be, and how it has helped my wellness journey.  I dig the music and it is a treat to listen to it in live versions.  But I also love the callers’ testimonials and Billy’s recorded words about certain songs and phases of his life.  I love how he plays piano as he’s talking and plays his own music in the style of Mozart.  Brilliant.

His music is so melodic and his lyrics so poignant.  They can take me back to a time or take me to a higher place.  I do also enjoy the rougher rock side of his music, that may be as black as my shadow gets, LOL.  I love rediscovering the reflective gems that are typically the last slow songs on his albums.  Souvenir. The Night is Still Young. I could go on and on…

I’ve recounted some wonderful concert memories for my kids, including the best triangle solo ever!  I’m teaching my young daughter the echo vocals on River of Dreams.  My son now drums along.

If you ever need to release some Pressure, try teaching your kids to yell “Pressure!”  in the car whenever Billy Joel sings it.  Great way to relieve pressure.  I promise.  Try it!

What’s your go-to music?

 

Wellness Wednesday: Eczema, Cream, and Kindness

Happy Wellness Wednesday! Okay, I know it is already Thursday. Sometimes I just need a little more time- and that’s my wellness practice for the day- practicing flexibility.  Do you know what I mean?

I was going to write about my eczema. Then I observed something today.  And it all tied together.  You’ll see.

In times of stress and too much gluten, I have this handy dandy recurring eczema on the back of my right hand. It is like an indicator button. Seriously.  It is round and red.  And it itches- screaming: Do Something!  Slow Down!  Lay off the gluten!

One time I tried eating Paleo for like a week. But it made me cranky.  And so I decided I had nothing against rice and grains, for one.  But I noticed that my eczema had disappeared.  Wait, what? So I read Wheat Belly and tried eating Gluten Free, for several months.  But then I’d go on vacation and the Sourdough bread at my favorite restaurant was calling me.  Or, hello, in Italy- how can one NOT eat pasta and pizza?  When in Rome…  I’d also tried alternate flours and alternate “breads,” but there’s nothing like flour.

So this past week or so had been a big eczema flare-up. I was just coming off a cold.  None of my lotions, oils, or serums were working their magic.  So I had resorted to using antibiotic-treated bandages, and covered the areas on my hand, finger, and wrist with them at night.  That seemed to help until the next day, at least.

I mentioned this to another soccer mom, and she listened, responding that she buys this special lotion for her daughter. She sent a tube along to school with her daughter for me, and Oh My Goodness!  This stuff really is magic!  It doesn’t itch anymore, and the big boo-boo is shrinking in size, slowly returning to my normal skin color.

I offered to pay her, and she said, not gonna happen. I said I wanted to do something nice for her.  She said, “Your relief is my gift.”

I am so touched by her kindness.

Then, this morning I witnessed a woman bring a homeless woman to McDonald’s, to dine together. She asked about her life.  I was close enough to hear them behind me, and I observed my young daughter looking intently.  Perhaps it was at the woman’s makeshift maxi skirt, made from regular t-shirts, one worn around her knees.  On this first day of Fall, we’d noticed evidence of precipitation on the roses in our yard this morning.  I can only imagine what a difference it makes to those sleeping out in the cold.  As I listened to their conversation, I was impressed with amazing warmth shown by the giver.  Treating this woman like a friend.  Asking her about her life, her feelings.  Providing food and companionship.

And I felt stupid and useless, because I wasn’t doing anything to help.

But I was providing witness. I was also providing an opportunity to show my daughter that kindness matters.

I am now inspired to gather our unused blankets at home. Lord knows, I have a ton of old purses and totes that I can fill with supplies and donate.  I may not find this woman in the pink t-shirt skirt, but somebody somewhere needs it.

Kindness and warmth.

 

How is your wellness practice this week?

 

Wednesday Wellness: Mantra

Hi, Friends!  Happy Wednesday Wellness!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, because I noticed so many of my creative friends struggled with wellness, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey as I fumble and stumble and keep trying.

Last week I caught a cold.

It was kind of a bummer, as I am now a early bird and need to be awake and alert and functioning at o’dark thirty.   And as luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend an all-day training seminar and take my notary public commission exam.  This is my teeny tiny desk area before the start of class.

desk

DoubleShot

Okay, so we have to register and get our passport photos taken, as well as fingerprints scanned. This all takes a long time and should be done prior to class start at 8:30am. I thought, I’d go to the nearby CVS drugstore and just pick up some Sudafed and I’d be good to go! But no, the CVS wouldn’t open until 8am, and I had to register, so I found myself at a gas station convenience store that didn’t sell Sudafed. So I got Benadryl.

The Benadryl sure kicked in and even though I had also enjoyed the Starbucks double shot with protein in a can, I just wanted to put my head down and go to sleep. This was not my first training, in fact, this is my third renewal, as I have been a notary public for 16 years. Thankfully. The meds dried up my sinuses, and I ceased being the loudest sneezer in the room.  But then the A/C kicked in, and I was sneezing anyway.  We finished a module (chapter) at 11:50 am and I seriously started packing my things.  But the instructor cheerfully informed us that we would be continuing.  Really?  At 12:06 pm,  I practically sprinted to the Starbucks, ordering myself a Venti Mocha and a breakfast sandwich.  Even though I had recently discovered cafe latte flavored nutritional shakes and kicked the Starbucks habit, I knew this day was different.  Upon finishing my meal, I got back in line where the barista remembered me, ha ha.  “You came back!”  he said. Uh, actually, I never even left.  I ordered a Venti Cold Brew for the afternoon.  I remember noting the time the Benadryl effects finally faded.  Oh, yay!  my medicine’s up!  Oh no, my medicine’s up!  What am I going to do? I didn’t think they’d let me bring my Kleenex box into the proctored exam.  Proctors, man.

I think I aced the exam, and I even managed to pre-order my kids’ prescriptions to the local pharmacy branch and picked them up on my way home, thank you very much.   #supermom

This is a long way of saying, yes, I still struggle with balance and wellness.  I am working on my next book, which contains stories and recipes, many from my mother’s island.  I was thinking about her oldest sister,my dear Auntie Ling, who has since passed away.  I remember her saying quite confidently and comedically, “None of that is mine,”  whenever someone else was crazy-making.

And I was inspired.  That’s really profound!  I often let the crazy-making of others affect my state of being.  You probably have heard the saying: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  This is the same thing, only more meditative. It’s hard to truly release the crazy-making circus monkeys when you are identifying them as such. Am I right?

So I started deep breathing and reciting in my mind: None of that is mine.  None of that is mine.  Then I switched it up so that “is Mine.” is on my inhale, and “None of that…” is on the exhale.  This is a little harder to do, and you have to concentrate to get it right.  But in my experience, it is so worth it. This way I can physically release the breath and psychically release the crazy-making  at the same time.    It’s my new meditative mindfulness mantra.

Try it and tell me what you think!

What mantra works for you?  Let us know in the comments!