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Category: Health&Wellness

I Hate to Cook, but I Love to Eat!

I’m on a quest this year to take better care of myself and my health.  This includes spending time in the kitchen cooking meals with real food.  If you love to cook this isn’t hard, but I hate to cook…I’ve had panic attacks in the kitchen while trying to cook.  Even just thinking about cooking can send me into cold sweats, but ordering in or eating crap food makes me feel crappy and keeps my weight at a place that doesn’t make me happy.  When I eat more veggies, more protein, and other real foods I feel better.  I have more energy and I get more done.  I have more overall patience and can take care of others better because I’ve taken care of myself first.


My word of the year is Courage so my nutritionist asked me to take that word and apply it to the kitchen, food, exercise, and my health in general not just my writing goals.  We came up with a list of ways to do this including trying new foods (both at home and when going out or ordering in), cooking more meals, and being more creative when it comes to meal planning and shopping.  So, I took some of my Christmas money and bought a cookbook called The Can’t Cook Book! By Jessica Seinfeld and I went through it and picked out one recipe to try.  Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings and it was fairly easy to make and was super tasty so we added it to our monthly rotation of meals.  Then I picked out a 2nd recipe (who am I?) and tried that one – this time Chicken Drumsticks with various marinades – we chose the Mustard Rosemary option and I cooked those.  Again, fairly easy and really yummy!

Crock Pot

As you may remember, the gas in our building was turned off due to a small explosion (and then the building needed to upgrade pipes so it was MONTHS before it was turned back on) and we got quite a bit of use out of the crockpot.  Well, that was easy for me to throw stuff in and set it and forget it while working from home so I’ve been doing 1-2 meals a month this way, especially since my husband has been working a lot of over time (normal for this time of the year).  Usually I would just fix crappy food for myself for dinner, make sure my son had something to eat and call it good, because hubby is the one that really loves to cook and is good at it too, but this year I’ve been really trying to eat better even when he’s not home to cook dinner.

Done, not Perfect

Am I perfect?  Heck no, I slip up and fall back into old patterns all the time, but it’s one meal here or there not all the time.  I had already added good breakfasts and lunches into my routine a few months ago, so adding in dinners and working on my snacks (which I’ll talk about soon) was the next step in my journey to Intuitive Eating and being mindful about what goes into my body and how I feel when I eat a certain way.

What are your favorite dinners? Do you use the crockpot or the new favorite, the Instant Pot, to make dinners easier?  Do you have a great easy cookbook you could recommend?  I use Pinterest a lot to find easy meals, especially for my slow cooker, so hit me up over there with your ideas and suggestions!  And do you love to cook or do you tolerate it? Or…do you ignore it like I used to?  Maybe we can keep each other accountable in this area – just let me know in the comments!

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9 Ways to Keep your Inner Child Happy

Sometimes being an adult can really suck – dishes, laundry, bills, work, responsibilities – they all pile up and keep coming like a runaway train.  We can’t always take a vacation day (or week or, let’s be honest, a month) when we get stressed out so it’s always a good idea to have some fun activities around to bring out your inner child. 

This list might seem similar to my Self-Care list from a few weeks ago but that’s because my stress reduction techniques and my self-care techniques are one in the same, but these are more things you can do to be silly, remember that play is OK, and keep things light and easy when life gets dark and hard.

1. Playtime

Whatever this means to you – for me, it’s singing along with my favorite pop stars but for you, it might be painting, adult coloring books, a musical instrument (just for fun – not practice or drills), or sculpting with clay.  Whatever play or art or messy crafts mean to you, that’s what I’m talking about here.  Get dirty, have fun, try something new, do something for fun not because you need to do it – do it because you just want to.

2. Markers

I love using bright colored pens or markers in my planner – it helps make my boring old stodgy to-do list brighter, more fun, gives me some instant happy feels, and can even help me color-code my tasks to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed.

3. Stickers

This is also something I use in my planner or on my to-do lists to make me smile.  Yes, I have stickers that can be useful – like a laundry basket or half-boxes to keep track of a scheduled event, but what I’m talking about here are shiny sparkly stars, cute cupcakes or coffee cups – fun stickers that literally just make me happy. I was a child of the 80s so I had stickers books and traded fun ones with friends, and this reminds me of those carefree days of my childhood.

4. Laugh

You can watch funny YouTube videos (like this one), a comedy on Netflix or another binge site, or call up your best friend who always makes you laugh and ask them to tell you a funny story – you know they have one!  Just make sure you spend a few minutes each day laughing and enjoying life.

5. Nap time

Remember when you were a small child and you ran away from nap time – well, if you can, embrace that down time now.  Curl up with a good book if you can’t actually take a nap (this is me, I really have trouble falling asleep but laying down with a few chapters does the same thing). Basically, make sure you get your rest in – kids get cranky without nap time and adults get cranky when tired too.

6. Snack time

Another way kids get cranky is when they don’t have food – adults too (I mean, have you heard the phrase hangry – hungry and angry – there’s a reason) so make sure you keep good food on hand for easy snacking.  Now, this is another way to add in some fun – what did you like to snack on when you were little?  Ants on a log? Apple slices with PB? Teddy Grahams? Animal Crackers?  Pick up something fun to snack on and actually take the time to eat, relax, and breathe – even if just for 2 minutes.

7. Pick Your Battles

I’m a parent of a 6-year-old boy, so I know all too well when to pick my battles and when to let the little guy have his say.  It’s important for your inner child as well – pick your battles, if you’re trying to do something that you think is fun, but is more educational and your inner child is screaming for finger paints and a nap – then let the little one win and go do the fun, not so educational thing every once in awhile.  Trust me…it will be fine!

8. Time Out

Nap times are long times of rest, but timeouts are when you are close to meltdown mode – when one more thing is going to totally make you lose it – this is when you give yourself a timeout.  Even 5 minutes of deep breathing, meditation, a YouTube video, or making a really nice cup of tea can help fill your cup back up and calm the crazy.  The world will not fall apart if you take five minutes, I promise.

9. Reward charts

Are you trying to implement a new habit?  Drinking water or eating so many veggies a day?  Then use a reward chart – make it bright and colorful, use stickers – and give yourself a real reward.  You can make it any length of time you’d like – did you drink 8 glasses of water all week?  Give yourself a check and a treat.  Did you eat a green vegetable for one whole month?  Awesome, give yourself another treat!

How do you keep your inner child happy?  Do you have other ideas I haven’t listed here that work really well to keep you smiling, keep your joy shining, and pretend (even for just a few minutes) that you’re 12 again?  What YouTube channels make you smile? What movies or TV shows have you been binging on?  Need a list of my favorite sitcoms – go here!  If we can remember the innocence and joy of childhood even as an adult, I believe we can be happier, healthier, and have more fun!  Enjoy!


Five Minutes to Greatness

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Stressed out and anxious – especially when looking at your to-do list, project lists, goals, or general environment?  I know I do.  I was telling my therapist a few weeks ago that exercise and decluttering my messy apartment felt insurmountable.  Like I just couldn’t get past this unseen hump of “too hard” to actually start again.  She told me to start simple.  Really, simple.  Almost stupid simple.

Only one thing and one thing only

It seemed too easy, at first, but then I got into the rhythm of it and found that this is really good advice for just about anything.  So…if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or like you can’t get over whatever stands in your way of having what you want (a decluttered apartment/house, a toned body, better health) then start really small.  Tiny, tiny, tiny. Think of an action, then ask – how can I make it smaller.  I rolled my eyes at her when we did this exercise a few weeks ago in my session, but I’m telling you – it works.

So, for the apartment – I declutter one thing a day. I pick up one thing and ask myself a few questions.  Does this need to stay or go?  If it stays, does it need to live here or somewhere else?  If somewhere else, where? If here, how can I group it with other similar items?  If I can’t do that right now, then I put it back and have a plan.  If it goes, does it get thrown in the garbage or can it be donated?  Done! Now, it’s been a few weeks so I’ve slowly moved on to doing one bin or basket or shelf or section of books.  But still, one small tiny thing.

Turtle Slow…but who won that race?

I know, you are doing the same thing I did in that session – you are saying to yourself, come on, things will never get done if I do them that slowly.  My apartment or house will still be a mess 6 months from now at this rate. Maybe, but if you don’t do anything what will it look like it 6 months? Exactly.  At best it will look the same and at worse, it will look more cluttered and drive you even more nuts!  Trust me, I thought the same thing and I said the same thing, but in just a few short weeks, I have areas cleared off enough to add some pretty – a few statues, small paintings and pieces of art, and plants to areas that were once a giant pile of mess. It makes me feel better when I look at those areas because I know this one tiny small thing is working.

Okay, sounds great…but how do you scale this down for working out?  Well, we came up with 1 down dog (yoga pose) a day.  That’s it.  Again, I decided as I was doing this that I like to get into table pose and run through a few cat/cow stretches then go into down dog, but again – one thing.  One move but with full intention and questions. How does my back feel today?  How do my legs feel?  How about those shoulders?  Where can I release stress and tension? Then I come out of the move and usually go into child’s pose for just one or two breaths. Then I’m done.  I can check off that little box.   Will I always just do one yoga pose a day?  No, probably not. In fact, I’m already working on a plan to start doing a 7-10 minute bodyweight routine in the morning with an app I found on my phone.  Because exercise doesn’t seem insurmountable anymore.  Decluttering my place doesn’t seem so “hard” anymore.  I made it easy so I could check off the DONE box and make myself feel good about my progress.

Done is better than perfect!

I like to call it 5 minutes to greatness – because I usually do my down dog and my decluttering together in one 5 minute segment and when I’m finished I feel like I can take on my whole day.  Here’s my tip – do one thing.  Just one thing today.  Don’t try to do five small things for five different areas.  Start with the thing that’s really bugging you.  Your space, your health, a goal that just seems out of reach and think of one tiny daily action you could take that would help with that.  Declutter one thing, one exercise move, write one sentence, floss one tooth – think of the smallest daily action you can take then go do it.  And then congratulate yourself. Don’t tell yourself, this is stupid – it’s too easy – it’s too simple.  NO! That’s the whole wonderful point.  Say to yourself, holy crap I did it!  I did my thing! And go on with your day. Wake up and do your thing again tomorrow and again and again and feel good about yourself and your progress.

Your turn

What small action can you take today? How can I help you?  Do you need motivation? An accountability buddy?  Drop a note below and tell me what small tiny wonderful action you’re going to take today to work on your goal.  And remember – Done is Better than Perfect!

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10 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Self-Care

Well, it’s 2018 and that means New Year’s goals and resolutions have been set and laid out.  One of the things I wanted to be more mindful of was taking better care of myself – or Self-Care – but who has the time? Am I right?  So here are some sneaky ways that I’ve found to fit in some very basic, very needed self-care during the day.  NOTE:  I am not a therapist, and I don’t know what your stress level is like, but these are some tips I came up with for MY life.  If you need help, please seek it out – don’t just think a candle and some veggies are going to solve your problems.  Word!

1. A favorite mug or glass

I have two coffee mugs that I adore – one says Writer and has a typewriter on it and one is an artsy mug with a Matisse print on it.  They make me smile and give me a sense of feeling special when I drink my coffee.  I also use either one of our tall glass glasses for water or my plastic Mickey Mouse cup with bright colored stripes. This makes water way more fun to drink!

2. Music!

As I write this, I’m listening to a playlist I created for myself on Amazon Music (you can listen to it here.) It’s all pop music, really new stuff (like JT from the Trolls soundtrack and Ed Sheeran) because that’s what I was into the day I created the playlist.  But if you’re like me and music feeds your soul, then listen to something, sing along, get out of your head and into your heart.  It’s the best way for me to instantly feel better.

3. Candles, Incense, and Essential Oils

Basically, light something or use something that smells nice. I got an Essential Oil diffuser a while back and it makes the whole apartment smell nice.  I also have a lovely Peach scented candle and some fun sage cone-shaped incense and a tiny holder that makes me feel cool, high energy, and grounded.

4. Lotion

To go along with the nice smelling stuff, grab a lotion and keep it by you all winter long.  Put that stuff everywhere!  It helps keep your skin looking amazing and keeps you smelling nice….and let’s face it, giving yourself a mini massage when you rub the stuff in is an added side benefit (and keeps you warmer!)

5. Top 3 List

I know for me, I can get overwhelmed looking at my massive to-do list, so I started creating a Daily Top 3 of the highest priority items in both my personal life and day-job life categories.  Anything else that gets done is gravy.  I know, this might not seem like self-care, but keeping from being stressed out all day every day definitely helps me feel better.

6. Stretching

I have found a really sneaky way to fit this in – every time I switch tasks I stretch.  Holy moly does it feel awesome!  I either do a whole body type stretch or I deal just with my shoulders or lower back.  Try it, right now…stop reading and stretch just one area – do you feel better?

7. Deep breathing

And when I stretch I take really deep breaths, at least five of them.  In slowly, hold, out slowly – rinse and repeat.  I try to sync the stretching with the breath but sometimes I do one then the other.  Depends, but I do this every time I switch tasks.  I take just a few minutes and give myself that pause that my brain and body needs.

8. Healthy Snacks

My biggest vice is snacking and chocolate so I started writing down a list of easy, quick grab snacks and keeping things on hand like cut up veggies, hummus, cheese cubes, fruit, peanut butter, nuts, and hard boiled eggs.  This makes it so easy to snack on something yummy, tasty, and healthy.  I also want to find a brand of dark chocolate that I like (it’s not my favorite) so I can eat a tiny bit each day with a cup of tea for an indulgent treat. Suggestions?

9. Flowers or something visual and fun

We live in New York and for some odd reason, cut flowers here are fairly cheap.  My husband and I both like vases full of flowers, but when my son was little we stopped buying them because he wanted to pull the petals off and we were afraid he would knock the whole thing either on the floor or on his head, but since little man is getting older I think we can definitely go back to buying weekly bouquets.  Also, I love having bright colors, images, and inspirational quotes around me – see my vision board for this quarter, it has my main goals at the top and some images to help motivate me throughout my day (and yes, that’s a picture of Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle telling me to write).

10.  Accept a complement

I find this so hard to do, but it actually helps your self-esteem.  When someone pays you a complement don’t shy away from it – say thank you and let it really sink in.  Don’t wave it away or say, No or Don’t….allow them to say something nice and really believe it.  The more we accept compliments in this life, the more we receive them.

So, what have you been doing to get a little sneaky self-care in your daily life?  Let me know in the comments which tip was your favorite or which one might be tricky for you and why?  I’d love to help you!


Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Ah, another year is coming to a close.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, that weird old man is retiring and baby new year is bouncing onto the scene.  Side note: how does that baby age so much in one year?   Okay, back on track.  This is my last post for 2017 and I thought I’d talk about what most people are talking about at this time of year – goal setting.

Now, I use quite a few systems that I’ve learned over the past few years to plan out my goals.  I’ve gotten them from various webinars, books, courses, old planners, and online blog searching.   I have no idea who to attribute most of what I’m going to talk about to specifically because at this point it’s a hodgepodge of styles with my own added flair!

I like to start with a general brain dump of things I would like to get done, accomplish, get better at, finish, etc.  That list usually looks like a hot mess, but from there I’ll separate the do-able from the wishes, the first things first to maybe if I have time, and then I make a quarterly plan.  This year was easy, actually, because I know I want to launch my newsletter (with that freebie I keep hinting about) in February and my debut novel will be self-published on Amazon (more about that in 2018) in either March or April so my Quarter One goals were set.  I have a few things bulleted out for Q2, including writing the 1st draft of book #2 and researching blog guest posting, and then I just have a list called: ????  This is a maybe/future list that includes starting a YouTube channel, planning our August family vacation (we know we’d like to go somewhere this summer, but we’re not sure where we’re going this year yet so, for now, it’s on the ???? List), and when to publish/launch Book #2 – only because I have no clue how fast I’ll be able to write and edit since this current novel has taken me years!

I also added some health & wellness goals to my list, music and hobby goals (I want to start singing again and I think I’m getting a hand-me-down acoustic guitar and would like to learn that as well), and some overall family goals (like taking my little one to more museums, doing more things around Queens, and getting the rest of the apartment organized and finished).  My year is shaping up!  It’s all very exciting, shiny, and new.

I am definitely getting excited, especially after I did one final step of my yearly planning…the tarot cards!  I bought Biddy Tarot’s 2018 Planner this year but not to use as a plan-your-day type calendar (I’m still using my Erin Condren bullet journal hybrid), but to help with tarot study – it has monthly spreads, weekly cards, new moon and full moon intentions, quarterly reviews, and some fun journaling prompts along the way.  I did the big New Year’s Eve spread and that was nice, but then I went ahead and also did the Q1 Manifestation Spread (where you talk about your biggest goal for the quarter – mine was launching The Art of Lying) and baby, hold on to your socks – because this was a doozy of a spread.

You basically go through questions about where you are right now with your goal, what weaknesses and strengths you have surrounding the goal, what you need to let go of, what action steps you need to take, and what…overall…the next three months might look like.  These cards were totally speaking to me, they were extremely positive and point to the fact that I am on the right track to finishing Q1 strong!

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but I will share with you what I wrote in the summation box of the planner:  This spread has shown me that I need to continue the New Year with hard work and expert planning.  I need to let the creative side celebrate her wins and much earned success, while my business side makes decisions based on knowledge, research, and gut intuition.  I need to stay true to myself, be authentic and human in my marketing and promotions, stay down to earth, but don’t neglect my health in striving for perfection!  If I do these things, keep up my confidence and courage, I should achieve my goal!!!

Now, I’ve done quite a bit of 2018 planning – last week’s Word of the Year and this week’s goal planning, but I’m not done yet.  The writing mastermind I am a part of is having a big Planning Party soon and my mentor will be sharing a workbook PDF that will have questions, prompts, and other goodies for us – now I doubt any of that will have me changing my plans much, but it might help solidify things for me – things I’m worried about, things I’m trying not to freak myself out about (like all the decisions that business side of me actually needs to make soon), and it might just help me narrow down my daily tasks and to-do’s better.  And, I love a good planning party.

So…what have you been planning for the new year?  Any goals you’re just itching to get started with?  Do you do the whole goal setting thing or resolutions?  I personally think both can work as long as you have a plan in place and not just a wish…like I wish I was 25 pounds lighter, but actually, say – I will work out three times a week, cut down to carbs at one meal per day, and meditate daily to help alleviate stress – now that would be a plan!  Also, that sounds very similar to my plan for health and wellness.  HA  So, share!  I’d love to hear what you’re working on next year and where we can maybe each other stay on track.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,  and a Lovely 2018 to you and yours!!!

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One Word to Rule Them All

I’ve spoken about this before, but you know that this past year has been all about inner change for me.  I’ve worked on my mindset by fixing beliefs I had about myself and my body.  I’ve worked on things with my therapist and nutritionist through journaling, talking, and other exercises to help me deal with issues I had surrounding food, exercise, and self-hatred.  I’ve declared myself a WRITER to the world and to myself by joining groups, continuing work on my book, sending it to an actual editor, and making real plans to self-publish in the new year.  And through this whole journey, I have used one overall word and two supporting words to guide me.  I used Susannah Conway’s method for finding my Word of the Year in December of 2016 and decided upon the trifecta of Nourish, Patience, and Compassion.

Nourish came into play with everything from making time to write, to eating nourishing foods, to giving myself time to rest and practice self-care.  Patience reminded me to be patient not only with others (especially my six-year-old son) but also myself as the process to change was going to be very long.  Compassion reminded me to love myself as a best friend and to give love and acceptance to those around me.  I journaled and planned and thought about what those words would mean, I talked about them during sessions with both my nutritionist and my therapist, I thought about them as I worked on my book and my blog, and I thought about them as I went through my daily life.  They became a part of my year-long journey and as the year comes to a close, I’m kinda sad to see them go.

The thing is, I redid the whole process again this week and came up with my words for 2018.  While the words I chose for 2017 were very inward and introspective, the words that came up for 2018 are all outward words – big and loud and scary words.  Exciting and daring and a little Holy Crap…but I know they are the perfect three words to support me as I step more into the role of Professional Self-Published Writer, as I become a real Authorpreneur, and as I make decisions about my business and my career.   Are you ready?  The two supporting words this year are Open and Magic and my big overall word is Courage.

I’m hoping to carry these words into all aspects of my life from my relationships, my food and health issues, my therapy sessions, my writing, my self-publishing career, and the way I interact with others and myself in general.   I am hoping for big, scary, amazing things to happen next year and with the support of these words I know I can handle anything and everything life has to throw at me.

So, do you choose a word (or words) to help you through your year?  Do you choose a mantra or motto?  Do you make a vision board (I’m planning on doing this again soon) and create a visual reminder of your yearly goals, hopes, dreams, and plans?  If you do, I would really love to know what word or motto you chose and why, what helped you make the decision, and what you’re planning to do to remind yourself of the word throughout the year.  I plan on having the courage pictures and quotes from this post on my cork board over my desk, and I plan on asking myself the following three questions every day. What can I do today that would be courageous?  What can I do today to be more open?  What can I do today that would help bring some magic to my life?

As the year comes to a close, give yourself time and space to reflect and think back on how much you’ve changed over the last year – then give yourself time to dream and plan and bring some hope as we usher in 2018 and a chance for even more growth and learning.  Isn’t that an amazing thing?  We always have more to learn, more to be, and more to give.

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The Care and Feeding of a Writer

As you might remember from this post I am working on my health in various forms – mental health with my therapist and journaling and self-care techniques; physical health with exercise and eating more nutritious foods; and my spiritual health with tarot, meditation, and quiet contemplative time during the day.  Now I am not one to love the kitchen, in fact, I have been quoted numerous times as saying, “I hate to cook!” I get very anxious around non-cooked food – I’ve had panic attacks in grocery stores and in the kitchen, but when one is trying to become healthier and lose some weight while maintaining a positive attitude about their body and self, well cooking becomes necessary.

My nutritionist and I started with a few basics – more protein and more veggies in my diet.  To accomplish this I’ve been adding soups to my lunches and making egg and veggie scrambles for breakfast for the past few weeks.  For the first two or three days of cooking veggies in with my eggs, I was near panic, although they tasted good, they didn’t really look good or they stuck to the pan or I just felt so tight by the time I sat down to eat that I was near tears.  But I talked things over with my husband (who does love to cook) and kept trying things.  For starters, I changed skillets.  We have a few and I was using an older one who’s coating isn’t the best so I grabbed the one my parents bought us a few years ago and that solved the sticking problem.  Next, I added butter and sautéed the veggies first, then I added a tiny bit more butter and finally the eggs.  I’ve been doing this for a few days now and I’m getting pretty good at it.  They’re still not always attractive, but they taste damn good and are totally filling.

I usually add spinach and bell pepper, but I also like tomatoes, ham, and lots of cheese!  Next, I’m planning on making my own bone broth soup with chicken bones and my crock pot.  Fingers crossed, please.  For now, I’ve been eating canned soups with lunch or as a pre-lunch snack, then having my normal cut up veggies with my protein of chose at lunch.  So…extra protein and veggies CHECK.  If you have any good recipes for eggs or soups, link below because I’m going to need them.

The other thing my nutritionist wanted me to do was to drink more water so I re-downloaded an old app I used a while ago called Plant Nanny where you plant these cute cartoon-y plants and every time you drink water, you water the plant.  They go through a few changes per plant and then you can add them to your garden and you get to plant a new one.  Cute idea, but after awhile I get tired of the concept, but it is helping me drink more water and be more mindful of how much I drink during the day so that’s a bonus.  I’ve also seen a few non-cutesy water-minder type apps that I might like to try as well.  So, more water CHECK.

For self-care lately, I’ve been making sure to use lotion.  I have pretty dry skin, but in the winter it’s horrible.  I use lotion after showers, but I’ve also been carrying around hand lotion and trying to give my feet some extra attention lately too.  I also bought a Burt’s Bees cuticle cream that I’ve been using since I tend to bite my nails (I know, it’s totally disgusting) and this kind of helps me curtail that somewhat.  I’ve also been getting back into yoga and I’m finding more time for my tarot cards.  Self-care CHECK.

The last thing I’ve been doing lately, and want to do a whole lot more of in 2018 is my singing.  I was a theatre major with a voice minor and moved to New York to do the whole Broadway thing many moons ago.  I also took Cabaret classes and performed many showcase shows and my own solo show back in 2007.  Since having my son, and switching my focus to motherhood and writing I haven’t been singing as much. I sing along to the radio, sure, but nothing consistent and my voice shows it.  I had built up this beautifully rich sounding instrument and that’s well, pretty much gone.  I think it will come back quickly with daily practice and work, at least I’m hoping that’s the case.  I have all of my old voice lessons recorded on my computer so I’m going to start with those and then see where I’m at come summer time – I might try to get back into performing next year.  So, music CHECK.

So, what are you guys doing to take care of yourselves this month?  Do you use apps to help you drink water? Or remember any other habits?  Do you make time for self-care and hobbies?  It’s hard this time of the year, but I encourage you to try at least 15 minutes a day where you can say, “World, I’m stopping to show myself some love!” it will do wonders for your mental, physical, and spiritual health I promise.

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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. 

Muse? Muse? Where are you Muse?

I’m stuck and feeling bored. I’m tired of revising my novel. I’m tired of not writing new words. I’m fed up and my muse has all but left me alone and desperate. I feel like a bad writer and I want to just give up. 
Luckily for me, I have amazing supporters. My mom and husband have both listened to me cry, bitch, and moan about this book for years. I love the main character, love the plot, the twists, and especially love the setting…but I’m starting to get anxiety when I come to the table to actually work.  Mom and Bradley have both told me the same thing, gently – Jennifer, take a break. Don’t throw it out, but push it aside for a bit.
I wanted to throw the thing away, but they were right, I just need a break. I need some time to have fun, rediscover my muse, rediscover my love of writing because lately it’s been felt like drudgery.  So….now comes the question: how to find my muse.
I’ve come up with 5 things I think I’ll try in the next few months:
1. Writing Exercises
I plan on using my tarot cards and some stuff I’ve found on the internet to help me come up with some different characters and plot lines for some short story ideas. I also want to use some pictures I’ve found on Pinterest to just write…for fun…for no other reason than to describe something, learn something, discover something.
2. Walking and Yoga
Now that the weather is feeling more like Spring, I want to get out and walk – we’ve lived in this part of Queens for almost five years and I still don’t know much about it. That’s sad. Also, my yoga practice is a great way for me to be quiet and listen to my body. Maybe my muse needs to be coaxed out a bit.
3. Other artsy stuff
I was a theatre major, but haven’t done much singing or acting in a long time on an actual stage but since finding the Hamilton soundtrack on Amazon prime music I’ve been listening and singing and acting out the show non-stop for days.  I feel more alive, more in touch with who I used to be. I also have some crafty type projects lined up – like finishing my son’s baby book (he’ll be 5 in September) and my wedding/honeymoon scrapbook (we have our 10 year anniversary coming up) to complete. 
4. Meditation
Like yoga, I’m hoping mindful breathing and visualization can help me chill out, become more mellow, and achieve a “go with the flow” type attitude about my novel and my writing career.
5. People
I think I also need to be around people more often. I work from home, just me and my computer all day long. I have a new day job, but it’s all online, virtual assistant…but that doesn’t mean I have to stay home. I can head out to Starbuck’s or St. Louis Bread Company (okay, here it’s called Panera’s…but I’m a St. Louis girl at heart still), ordering a latte and a muffin and write or work right? I’ve never tried this so it makes me nervous, but I think just being around other people, looking at them also working and eating might help me.

So…what else should I try? What do you guys do when you start feeling this way? Or….please don’t let this be true….am I the only one who gets this way sometimes? 
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