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Category: Family

How I Got Out of My Planner Funk

At the beginning of the year I bought a new planner and was so excited to start using it, but around the middle of the year, it had lost its luster for me.  It wasn’t working….for me.  Now, this has happened in the past, I have tried all sorts of planners and types of planning systems and I’m all gung-ho for a while then it peters out.  Usually, this happens after the newness wears off, but also because I realize that the brand new shiny planner won’t actually do my work for me – it’s just a device to keep track of my things.  My tasks, my goals, my daily to-do lists, etc.  It’s a device, not a robot that’s going to write my blog posts, my novels, my short stories, do my day job work for me.  It’s not going to grow legs and clean my bathroom or do the laundry.  That would be awesome though, but it’s not going to do that so I get in planner funks when I realize that I’m still me – just with a new planner.

So, this time I actually realized that and instead of just jumping into a brand new shiny planner without thinking, I stopped and researched and did some reading and came to the conclusion that a new planner wouldn’t necessarily help me, but that I had chosen my current planner without doing some thinking about what I actually needed a planner to do.  I read an article called Being in a Planning Quagmire (which, btw – awesome word!) and this basically gave me some insights into why I was having problems with my current planner and why I had such issues in the past.

The questions at the beginning of that article helped me realize that I wanted a bullet journal type planner but I hated having to write out the monthly calendars vertically like the original bullet journal concept and I didn’t want to draw the calendar grid every month like I had seen on Pinterest.  I  knew a larger planner wouldn’t be a big deal because I rarely carry it out of the house. I also knew I wanted good paper and bright colors.  Then this question hit me: Are you in a Planner Quagmire because what you REALLY want is too expensive or otherwise out of your reach, and nothing else will do it for you?


This was the mother lode question because I had been pinning for an Erin Condren Life Planner for years but they were pricey so I kept finding other things, other workarounds. I wanted the bright, colorful, sticker-filled fun that was the Erin Condren life planner, but on the other hand, I really wanted a more simplified Bullet Journal style.  So I started googling and low and behold – Erin Condren had released a new version of their Deluxe Monthly Planner style that was monthly calendars in the front (mine runs August to July because it’s an Academic style – works for me as my son is in school and I like starting a new year in September when school starts) and then a boatload of lined pages in the back.  


In between the monthly spreads are planning pages for each month too.  All of a sudden I had these ideas running through my head of exactly what I could do with each section.  This was the bullet journal I was looking for.  Monthly grids all laid out and colorful, planning sections for monthly tasks lists and goals, and blank pages for my daily to-do’s and lists.  I added a smaller dot grid journal for collections (plans, larger lists, year goal matrix, ideas, etc. And so forth) and my system was complete. Side note:  If you’re in the market for a new planner, click HERE for my referral code and save a little bit.

The beauty – once I made the decision and signed up for an account, I got a discount code right away and then because I had linked from a planner girl YouTube friend of mine I got another discount code and then…I discovered the planner was on sale!  It was like the Universe said, okay – you’ve done the work, you made your decision – here’s a gift.  It took awhile to get to me, but it was so worth it.  I’ve been using it for a few months now and I’ll be honest – I still catch myself getting upset that my planner is not doing my work for me, but not as much as I did. HA

Let’s dive in shall we? Get ready, because I’m about to hit you with a ton of pictures!

This is my monthly spread.  

I use color-coded stickers to mark events and birthdays.  I use washi tape to mark vacations. I keep my monthly spread simple.  I realized that the stickers that come with the planner are going to run out, but luckily Erin Condren’s website sells them separately so I’ll be doing that soon.   I like being able to get a large overview of the month before drilling down to weekly and daily tasks. 

This is the page before the monthly spread.

I use this blank dot grid as my Monthly Task List.  I will add to this throughout the month as things come up that I know need to get done that month but aren’t time or day specific.  For example, my son’s Halloween costume.  We needed that by the middle of October but otherwise…it was a pretty open task so it got added to the large monthly task list. I’ve also checked this off as my son chose a very cute, Jack O’ Lantern costume for this year (he’s 6!).

After the monthly spread is the planning pages.

The first page has five sections.  I have divided my life up into sections: Writing, Family, Health and Wellness, Apartment, and Misc. and I write a few goals for each section or tasks that I want to complete that month in each part.  I like this fine, but I am also thinking about using these boxes for each week and writing my Top Goals for the week here.  I might try that one month and see which I like better.  

The next blank page has my social media stats so I can see growth (or lack thereof) and I’ve given myself note space to write down goals, things I need to work on, or things I want to touch on during the month.  The little side column is where I write down my tasks for the Rising Heroes health and wellness online game that I am a part of (and talked about HERE). For now – I really like this page and don’t see much changing.

In the back of the notebook is lots and lots of lined blank pages.  

This is where I (currently) write my Weekly Top 5 tasks (Blog posts, Novel, Short Story, Apartment projects, School stuff, etc.) and then start my daily bullet journal style to-do list with boxes, triangles, and arrows to mark various tasks, appointments, and notes.  I like to use stickers to add some extra color and flair but those things change weekly.  I am Team Blue when it comes to pen colors but I can also see myself using color-coding at some point, but that involves always making sure you have the pens with you…and right now, I’m keeping it simple.

This is my collection book.  It’s matchy-matchy, but not exact and has dot grid paper inside. You can see from my Index page what kinds of things I keep in here, but I’m also hoping to add a page for Fiction Books to read, Non-Fiction books to read, online course tracking (I’m currently in one about Self-Publishing but am getting confused as to which modules I’ve watched or ones I need to re-watch), and I’m thinking of adding a Monthly Habit tracker to this as well- but I also have an app on my phone I like so we’ll see.

So…what do you think? Are you in a planner funk (or quagmire?) – are you strictly an app/phone/digital person or do you like paper and pen and stickers and washi? What do you track in your planner? What ideas do you have for me on how I can utilize my system better?   I have another post planned where I’ll be talking about my favorite writing tools and I will be talking about the apps and software programs I use, but my planner will also be listed so if you want to know more about anything I’m using or want an update – let me know.

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Let’s Get a Little Real

So, today I’d like to slow things down and get a little real.  The past few years have been hard for me, personally.  I lost my older sister three years ago to pancreatic cancer.  I miscarried a very wanted baby girl two years ago. And my sweet five-year-old started kindergarten.  And if you think that last one isn’t quite the same as the first two, you’re right in some ways, but my son is autistic and he went from a very small loving preschool program to the New York school system in a bigger class, with all new teachers and kids.  To say I was worried and feeling lost was an understatement.  
I wasn’t dealing with things well after last September.  We had just moved and although I loved our new apartment and neighborhood, I was feeling sad all the time.  I managed my day job okay (I work from home) but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I did the work but wasn’t happy.  I cried a lot, watched too much Netflix, and ate nothing but crap.  I was depressed.  This has happened to me before.  Also, I have a history of binge eating – and I started to see myself creeping back toward those old habits and I didn’t want to go down that road again, so I recalled what I had done about 6-7 years ago and took action this time.  I started seeing a Nutritionist and a Therapist.

Yes…both, at the same time.  Why?  Because having support and help from multiple people is exactly what works for me.  This time, I delved into the serious loss I had felt over the last few years (I also lost extended family members in the past five years that I loved dearly), the loss of having my baby start Kindergarten, the general malaise and hurt feelings I’ve been holding on to for too many years about my career and lack thereof.  It took many months, but I can say I’m finally feeling like myself.  Happier, on the road to healthier, and I’m actually kicking butt on my goals.

The thing that both my nutritionist and my therapist have been instilling in me is Health at Every Size (for more info, click HERE and HERE) and Self-Care/Self-Love/Self-Acceptance.  Learning to love who I am, right now, right here today and not When I Get to Be a Perfect Size….because that’s BS and that attitude was holding me back.  I’ve been adding in self-care to my daily plans – reading time, planner time, showers (yes…when I get depressed or I start hating on myself showers go right out the window), facial masks, tea and cookies, and music, going to bed and getting sleep, etc.  I’ve also been working on Intuitive Eating and listening to my hunger and fullness cues.  That has been so hard, but I’m now starting to tell when I get hungry and I listen and ask questions – am I really hungry or thirsty?  When was the last time I ate?  What did I eat?  Was it filling?  What can I eat now to satisfy myself? How can I make things easier for myself?    If I start feeling hungry and I know I really shouldn’t be hungry, I think – what’s going on emotionally? Can I do something else instead of eating to help me feel better?  Sometimes the answer is NO and I go ahead and eat, giving myself permission to fully enjoy whatever I decided to partake in.  This keeps me from binging and feeling guilty for giving myself what my body is craving.

Along with the help of my nutritionist and therapist (and my family – shout out to Mom and Hubby and my cute son, for keeping me going when times were tough), I’ve started getting involved in the writing community online and I joined a Mastermind group that has been amazing.  The leader is big into Mindset and I’ve been doing a daily mindset practice for a few months now and I was ready to start up-leveling my life in a few areas – one being my fitness.  Yes, I love myself today just as I am, but I also knew that I needed to be able to walk up my stairs without feeling like I’m going to die, run around after my cute kid, and walk around Queens and get stuff done.  I sit all day for both my day job and my passion work so I needed something to help me get some exercise in and start feeling stronger.  Enter Nerd Fitness and Rising Heroes …it’s an extremely geeky online role-playing type game that helps you complete missions and earn points all centered around health, fitness, hobbies, your environment, and more. 

I created a code name – Caffeina (the Roman goddess of Coffee!), took the first self-assessment and was placed into a faction (like a Harry Potter house), joined a Squad and a Division and started walking, doing bodyweight exercise circuits, and drinking more water.  It’s only been two weeks but I’m really enjoying it.  It does cost money (I think I paid about $100 for the year) but their Facebook group is active, helpful, and funny.  The geeky online game and backstory is a bit over my head, but maybe I’ll get into it more once I complete all the beginning missions.
So…what do you do each day for self-care? Do you have a plan?  I try to jot down 5-6 things at the beginning of the week and then check them off as I do them.  Do you work out?  Do you enjoy it?  I’m still also doing my yoga, but I knew I needed some variety, some help, and I find I really enjoy the bodyweight circuits – I feel strong and all amazon goddess warrior type afterwards. 

Muddled Moments: Not Cooking with Gas

Today, I’m starting another new series I’m starting on the blog called Muddled Moments – little slices of my life (that’s not necessarily related to writing) – today is about the lack of gas coming into our apartment building.
What happened?
So….a few weeks ago, right around the time of Career Day actually, there was some issue with the gas heading into our apartment building.  From what I’ve heard, the gas company was checking something or doing some work and they overloaded our pipes and a small pop-like explosion happened.  This didn’t cause any permanent damage, but the gas needed to be turned off immediately. So far, it hasn’t been turned back on to the apartments (it has been turned on to the water heater though so we can shower and do dishes).  Our management company felt bad since it wasn’t their fault, so they gave us a 2-burner hot plate. 
How will we cook?
We cook with a microwave, the hot plate, an electric kettle that my Mom gave us, our crockpot, and a toaster oven.  It’s been like cooking in a college dorm. Also, I’m not much of a chef, but I swear the last two weeks all I have wanted to do was bake.  Seriously, I keep dreaming about banana nut bread, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and all sorts of tasty treats that I can make, except that I can’t.   It’s been…tricky, but we have actually been managing fairly well.  We found some new crockpot recipes to try, some old favorites to pull up on Pinterest, and some new ways of cooking veggies and steaks. 
It affected the laundry room too?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I started laundry one day, threw my two loads into the dryers and headed back upstairs.  I went down 30 minutes later and my clothes were still wet and cold.  Thinking that the dryer was just having an issue, I ran it for another 30 minutes….again, wet and really cold.  I finally called our super and found out that the dryers should not have been plugged in, as they were affected by the no gas.  Great!  I wound up at the apartment building across the street finishing up my clothes.  Fun day…NOT.  Lately, we’ve been using the laundromat pick-up and delivery service down the street.  It’s nice having the clothes come back home all clean, dry, and folded. 

This no gas thing has been interesting, to say the least, and has caused my husband and me to get really creative on meal planning. Do you have any favorite crock pot recipes?  Have you ever had to get creative with cooking due to an unplanned issue?  Isn’t apartment living the best?  
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Hello Again, Internet!

Good Morning, Internet!  Sorry, was that too loud?  I’ll try to use my indoor voice from now on.  (Also, it’s afternoon – I should really look at a clock now and then.)
See, I bought this domain name a few years ago while I was working on my solo cabaret show.  It had promo pics of me, the postcard for my show “The Facts of Life”, and I kept a blog about the whole process.  Since then it’s sat idle while my life has completely changed.
I’m now a Stay-at-home Mom with a 20 month old son.  I’m revising my coming of age Young Adult novel currently titled The Art of Lying (this might change).  We moved out of Manhattan and into Queens, and I haven’t taken a music or singing class since I was 5 months pregnant – although I still sing around the apartment, much to the amusement of my Little Man.
I’m hoping this revamped blog can be a record as I work through the revision process and into the submission process, a place to showcase my short stories – in a segment I like to call Quick Fix, and somewhere I can talk about music, television, movies, books, kids, family, travel, Disney, chocolate – you know, the other stuff in my life.

Come along, if you dare, on a crazy adventure with me for although my life and to-do list are jam packed my muddled (but organized) mind has many things to share.
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