I haven’t written in a while…

Life gets in the way sometimes, but I have a goal of writing more often on here. I need to watch some Skillshare videos on how to be a better blogger. I also need to make an editorial calendar. It’s gonna happen, friends, I promise!

But you all know I’m still alive because I’ve been posting every day on Instagram for the February #planwithmechallenge. I’ve been really diligent about keeping up with it this month, and I’m happy about that! 

I just finished this really long post that I figured I’d put here, too. Today’s theme is my “Planning Journey” and I just kind of went crazy with it because this whole last year or so planning has been a RIDE! 🙂

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Y’all. My planning journey has been pretty much amazing. I started out with the Passion Planner last year, which at the time was a huge help in getting me organized and on the right track with my job at the time. It was also my gateway into alternate forms of planning besides the generic planner you buy at Staples come the beginning of the year. 

I loved the idea of creating a mind map in the Passion Planner and it’s something I’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of the year. I just have so many spreads I want to do! Perhaps it will be something to implement in my new Bullet Journal once I start a new one (which is very soon!!!) I do have so many goals in life and I think that was kind of a peek into a different world of, “Well, maybe I can do this!”

I dabbled in Bullet Journaling then, too, and did use a very stripped down version to keep track of my work to-dos. I hardly ever kept personal to-dos on that list unless it was to pay a bill or something along those lines. 

I also felt like I was stagnating creatively then. I was using a lot of energy at work and most of my ideas came to me while I was driving and quickly floated away once I got home. I was exhausted and not using my time to the best of my ability.

I got my dream job last August and it’s helped me soar personally and professionally. I never thought I could be capable of the things I’m doing now, but I do them every day! It makes me more and more confident every passing week. 

I don’t remember how or when I decided to revisit Bullet Journaling, but I knew I needed a better to-do list and a better way of keeping track of my accomplishments as well. 

I can’t even explain to you how amazing it is to have a person ask me if that’s really my handwriting in my journal, or if I “really drew that out by hand?!?!” I was just at a doctor’s checkup yesterday and she asked if I kept a log of what I eat and I laughed and said “Do I?” Then I showed her my Bullet Journal. It’s something I’m very proud of and I love talking about it!!

It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve learned so much. I would never have paid attention to Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (which I am getting ready to finish and implement the 30-day Challenge–thanks for the inspiration @Boho.Berry!!) if I had not started Bullet Journaling. 

By participating in this challenge, I’ve met so many wonderful people. Like, seriously, I have 1,500+ followers now? Goodness! I cannot believe that, but I’m grateful for each and every one of you.

You all are amazing people, from all facets of life and I love this community so much! I love the fact that we can be across the world from each other, but we still love sharing our journaling tips and hacks with each other and participating in this awesome planning challenge. 

Time and energy

I feel like I’ve been coasting lately. 

I have been living from day to day in a haze of busy-ness and then recovery. I have not had the mindfulness in my life that I should have. And I know that is when I need to focus the most. 

When I get a break, I waste it by watching TV or looking at my phone or both. Then I end up staying up later than I should and the cycle just keeps on going. 

I haven’t worked on my story at all in the last week. I hit a snag and am unhappy/lost about my storyline. I definitely need a plan, and desperately need the energy and time to work on one. I don’t have either lately. 

I have also stopped walking with Grant and Baillie in the mornings. It’s stopped for all of us. What brought me so much joy is no longer part of our routine. No energy. No time. And it’s cold…

I still Bullet Journal every day, but not with the vigor I had when I first started. Perhaps because I haven’t participated in the #planwithmechallenge this month. Perhaps for other reasons. But again, time … energy.

I go to yoga, too, but not as often. I still help around the studio because I love it there, and when I do go to class I wonder why I haven’t been participating as often. 

On days when I don’t go to class, I drop by, help clean/replenish towels and then go home. Most of the time it’s because I’m late. Or don’t have the energy. Are we sensing a theme?

I know when I don’t have the energy for yoga is the point when I need it the most. But I Dont. Have. The. Energy. 

The grief I feel for Paris, Beirut, Kenya, everywhere, does not help. The grief I have for those nameless people whose refugee status will be affected by those evil, evil people who used the system to promote their agenda with terror. 

It makes me sick that those people do not value their fellow human beings’ lives. It makes me sick that some politicians in my country want to cut off Syrian refugees and even worse, limit them to a single religious group. It makes me sick that I can’t even really do anything.

I’m saddened some want to go to war. I’m saddened France has already begun the war. I don’t want war to be the answer. I don’t think it is. But I can’t figure out a better way. 

Sometimes I feel as though I carry the world’s worries on my shoulders. So I sit here. Without any time or energy and worry about that. The state of the world, of peace, of humanity. 

Embarrassment

I’m sure you all remember I was reading “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert to prepare and inspire myself to write this novel that’s been stuck in my head for a while. 

I finished reading “Big Magic” a few weeks ago, and it was AMAZING!! Definitely inspired me to get up early and just write every day. Seriously, I’m in love with her ideas on creativity and her ability to usher people into a creative mindset. 

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to talk about embarrassment. 

The event was hosted jointly by the Nashville Public Library and Parnassus Books, owned by another successful author, and Liz Gilbert’s friend, Ann Patchett. Ann prepared notes and questions to lead Liz through the night, which turned out to be more of a discussion between two creative souls that just happened to be witnessed by hundreds of people. 

I was totally enthralled for the first hour, and then the Q&A session began.

I had a burning question. It’s not really all that relevant to me anymore since I have a job now where I’m not writing the news every single day, but I still wanted to hear her thoughts on the matter. My question: How does one summon creativity after a day of writing sad, stressful, deadline-oriented articles. 

You see, writing general news stories can be very mathematical in that there is an equation to each story: lede, nutgraf, quote, paraphrase, quote, research, quote, paraphrase … you get the picture. Because of Miss Gilbert’s experience as a journalist, I thought she might be able to provide some insight to this.

So I had this question prepared in my mind. My anxiety-riddled soul, who is sometimes terrified to simply have a meal with a friend, was fully prepared to get an answer to the question. My creative soul was more curious than my anxious soul was scared. And so I raised my hand. 

Of course, they didn’t call on me first. I was sitting in the very last row, dead center to both speakers. Then Ann pointed at me and said something like, “In the very back.” I pointed my already raised hand at my head, and received a nod in return. 

So I stood up and began nervously and absentmindedly (because I momentarily forgot my question) and began, “Hi, my name is Allison! …”

Did I mention there were hundreds of people?

Turns out when Ann said something like, “In the very back,” she added, “in the balcony.” I hadn’t heard that by then because my mind was already racing to find my question and stand up like a normal human being. I wasn’t sitting in the balcony. I didn’t even know there was a balcony. 

And so, gently, Grant tugged at my arm and said she hadn’t called on me. I felt my face go hot and all sorts of noise rush through my ears. 

I. Shut. Down. 

I didn’t hear the rest of the presentation at all. I just wanted it to be over and to get out of that room.

Grant and I went for a bite to eat after. While I was washing my hands before I ate, I ran into a girl who I’d seen at the parking meter and was going to the same show. 

“Oh hey, I saw you at the parking lot,” she said. “We were both going to see Liz Gilbert.”

“Oh,” I said. “Then you saw my embarrassing moment.”

“Oh my gosh, you’re Allison?” she said. 

Sigh. 

She saw my face and continued, “Don’t worry about it, not very many people heard you. It was kind of cute, anyway.”

It did kind of make me feel better, but I was still a little upset about the incident.  

When I got home, Grant comforted me and told me that it wasn’t that big of a deal. No one would remember me or care later. He’s right. But I still felt like yuck. 

It took a whole day to get over it, but I did. And I think that’s the lesson I learned. That, yes, I’m going to be embarrassed for a while after something like that. Who wouldn’t? But people get back to their lives and become engrossed in whatever they’re experiencing at the present moment. It’s interesting how fleeting things like that can be. 

Thinking about it later, the whole incident kind of reminded me of a chapter in “Big Magic” called “Nobody’s Thinking About You.”

“People don’t have time to worry about what you’re doing, or how well you’re doing it, because they’re all caught up in their own dramas,” Miss Gilbert writes. “People’s attention may be drawn to you for a moment (if you succeed or fail spectacularly and publicly, for instance), but that attention will soon enough revert back to where it’s always been–on themselves.”

She says a great deal of release can be found in this notion, and that you are free because everyone is “fussing over themselves to worry all that much about you.”

Once I was out of the situation and back in real life, I remembered this part of her book and the embarrassment melted away. Now it’s just a funny story to tell at parties. 

So thank you, Miss Gilbert, for helping me get through an embarrassing situation at your very own presentation about not worrying what others think about me. 

And anyway, the whole incident was kind of worth it. I did get a signed book out of it. 

An ode to road rage

If you cut me off, I will write you a poem.


You cut me off

You dumb SUV

I had stopped first

Why’d you proceed?


I could have used the finger

But then reconsidered

Mom says road rage is real

And I could get murdered


But you don’t look dangerous

You puny human being

Your car is a behemoth

Are you compensating for something?


Look at you with your slick hair

With your nice tie and jacket

You’re more like a car salesman

You horrible squirming maggot


Ugh here I go again

I’m angry over nothing

Funny how driving does this to us

Like the others aren’t living


It’s an entitlement thing

“How dare they offend me?”

Like I’m the only person on earth

And no one else can be free


You probably have kids,

a dog and a wife

You might have a home

And you may have a life


You’re probably just a person

Who’s in a bit of a rush 

Or maybe you’re caravanning it

Keeping up with your friends


Everyone’s just a human

We all make mistakes

I’m certainly not perfect

As I’m sure you could see


I’m sorry I made that face

And the angry gesture

My car makes me impatient

I apologize for my temper


I went on to my yoga

And tried to forget you

But the moment wouldn’t fade

So I wrote you this tribute

Never enough time

I have too many interests. I wish I were really good at just a few things, but I find so many creative outlets interesting that I never have the time to get super good at something.

They ebb and flow, sometimes I’m incredibly interested in sewing and other times I’m obsessed with knitting or crocheting. One time I got really into Zentangle for a couple of weeks, but that kind of died down (although I’d really like to get better at that).

I like to play musical instruments, sing, bake, cook fun vegetarian dinners, blog, Instagram, read and a whole host of other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. On top of all this I try to keep on top of my exercise routine (a walk every morning and yoga three times(ish) a week). I also try to make sure I get at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night, but have been slacking lately.

Oh, and did I mention I have a full-time job? And, you know, have to help Grant keep the house clean and cook dinner every once in a while?

I love creating. It’s so much fun, it really is. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day and it makes me sad that I have to choose. Now I’ve gotten into Bullet Journaling, which I’m sure I will keep doing because I need a good way to keep track of my work stuff and home stuff and everything else essentially. But that has become a huge time suck — not in a bad way, of course. 

Then there’s this blog, which I thoroughly enjoy, but is also a time suck. 

What I’m getting at is that I really, really, REALLY want to write a novel and I just need to make the time to do what I really want to do. I have to choose. 

I was talking to one of my yoga teachers the other day about this teacher training program they’re doing come January. I also REALLY want to do that and I’ve said for a while that I want to become a yoga teacher one day. I just sort of told her that I do want to attend the training, but I’m not in a place financially to do that so soon. She responded with a bit of truth that I expected but still made me think long and hard about lots of stuff, not just yoga teacher training. 

She said that if I really wanted to do it, like deep down in the depths of my heart and being, that I would find a way to do it. And that’s how I feel about this novel thing. Yes, I’ve wanted to become a yoga teacher for a while now. But I’ve wanted to become an author for even longer. And that’s what would make my heart happy now. 

Since high school I’ve said I have three life goals:

1. To write a book

2. To become fluent in a second language

3. To go on Jeopardy (This might not stil be a life goal, but it would be cool.)

I have a few more I could add to that, but the book is numero uno right now.

My character is itching to exist on paper. Her story, her family’s story, her friends’ stories want to be told. 

I think my procrastination through creativity is a sign I’m scared. Of what? I don’t quite know yet. A lot of things, I suppose. 

Anywayyyyyy back to the point. I know I said I want to write this blog every day. And I do! But I think I will have to scale back a bit. Just so I can achieve this goal that will fulfill my creative being. 

Anyway, I had to get that out there. The struggle is real, y’all. I need to get on this!

Yoga for writers

I spent about three hours of my day yesterday at a workshop designed for yogis and/or writers. 

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had some trouble getting back on the creative writing bandwagon, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to practice. 

We started out doing some streches and learning poses to help open our shoulders and wrists. Which, if you’re a writer, I highly suggest taking any sort of yoga class with shoulder openers … or hip openers, for that matter, since a lot of us sit for long periods of time. 

The middle of the class focused on writing and we did some timed writing exercises after hearing a short play based on and poem from the Bhagavad Gita. I really must say, it’s been quite some time since I did any sort of writing like that — in fact, the last time was probably in my Writer’s Craft class in high school. Yikes. 

The workshop was great, too, because I felt at home with other people who are of a creative mindset. It was really great to read some poems and passages together then discuss them. It was like being back in English class. Boy do I miss those. 

Anyway, I just wanted to post about how much of a great time I had doing this and that it helped me with another tactic to get this novel I want to write out of my mind and on to the page. 

Just another step on the path of creativity! 🙂

#PlanwithmeChallenge Day 1 and 2 – “Hi! Planner Selfie” and “My October Setup”

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If you stopped by my Instagram page yesterday, you may have noticed I started the #PlanwithmeChallenge for October.

This is basically a challenge on Instagram to take a photo of your planner every day this month, based on a theme. Yesterday’s was “Hi! Planner selfie,” and that’s why you saw my silly mug next to my planner.

Today’s theme is to take a photo of your October setup, which I had to redo because I initially created the original monthly setup and then realized that wasn’t quite working for me, so I did a regular calendar with a bunch of pretty washi tape. I’m super happy with how it turned out.

Like I said before, this system is versatile, so if you don’t like the way you set your planner up today, change it tomorrow!

I love the orange sparkle washi tape and the pretty pink/orange tape that I picked up the other day. The two go so well together, I think, and kind of give my setup a fall feel. I put them in spots on the calendar that are another month just to add a little oomph.

I’m also kind of obsessed with this font that I found on the app Phonto (which you should really check it, it’s so cool!) called Fredericka the Great. It might be somewhere else on the Internet, but this is the first place I saw it. I decided to imitate it and have been using it for all of my headers recently. It just looks so damn cool! I decided to color in my October header with an orange pen, too, since it kind of goes with the fall color scheme. I’ll probably doodle in a pumpkin and fall leaf here and there as the month goes on, but this is how I like it now.

Because I use the grid, it made it a little easier to draw the calendar in. I just did a little math and ended up using a 6×6 square to fill the whole page. I’m sure you can tell I drew my lines a little bit too far on the right side, but that doesn’t bother me all that much.

I ended up with some space at the bottom, so I just made it an area where I can write down my goals for the month. I’m still working on my S’s with my handwriting, but I’ll get there if I keep practicing.

I’m excited to see where this challenge takes me and I’m also looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up for their October setup.

Happy Bullet Journaling and thanks for reading!

What is Bullet Journaling? (Part 2) Spreads and collections

Just a quick post this morning because I know I said I’d write about the Bullet Journal spreads the other day and then got way busier than I anticipated!

Calendar spread.

So I actually don’t know off the top of my head the true meaning of what a spread is according to the official Bullet Journaling website. But I’ve kind of deemed it whatever takes up the two pages you have open.

I don’t believe your typical task list, etc., usually counts, but I think the way I set my pages up does. I generally take up two pages to use for my bullet journal because I do a lot in the day and if I don’t, I like to write about it.

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Future log.

Other spreads include your Bullet Journal calendar spread, the future log (which I hardly use and will probably nix in my next one), your weekly spread and really anything else you want to take up that two-page space. Collections are another thing I forgot to mention.

If you find yourself writing something every day with a similar theme, you should probably make that a collection. It could also be used to keep track of your expenses, have a running “To-Read” list, a list of movies to watch, your grocery list — the possibilities are endless!

So there you have it, my short but sweet little description of those two important elements to Bullet Journaling. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading. 🙂

What is Bullet Journaling? (Part 1)

I’ve been posting some photos of my Bullet Journal for the last few weeks and I’ve had a few friends ask me what it is. 

So here we go!

Quite possibly the best explanation is given by the creator of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll. He has a few videos and a beautiful website that takes you through the basics. 

Here’s the thing about it, though. Because the system is so flexible, you can really make it your own. I’ve followed a few Instagrammers, bloggers and YouTubers to gather ideas for decorating, handwriting and overall organizing for my journal. 

It’s essentially list making. 

Before I found this system, I just had a running task list of all the things I needed to get done that day. At my last job, people would often come into my office to ask me to do something for them and before the Bullet Journal, I was lost in a sea of Post-It notes and memo books with lists upon lists. 

 

My index.

 

The key.

The Bullet Journal system enables me to divide my tasks by day, transfer ones that can be done tomorrow and also keep me driven by seeing the impact I’m making to my list. It brings order to my chaos.

The gist of it is that you use a few different symbols, a check box, circle, triangle, bullet, astrix and an exclamation point to help organize your list. 

You begin by creating the Index and Key, which you can see in my photos. I added an eye and a little spoon and fork to indicate something I should look up and what I had for a meal, respectively.

I use the check box for tasks, a circle for an event that occured that day, a triangle for an appointment or meeting, a bullet point for a note, an asterix for something that is deadline and the exclamation point for an idea. 

There is a language to the check boxes, too. A filled in box means the task is complete, half filled is in progress, with an x is canceled, with an arrow is migrated to the next day and with a line through it is irrelevant. 

You can get even more creative and use color coding, which I do for just my personal and work tasks. I keep them all in the order they pop in my head, so I generally have a good mix of pink and green (personal and work) things in my to-do list. I did try keeping them separate, but it’s just a lot easier for me to keep them all in a running list.  

By the end of the day, my bullet journal looks like a half to-do list, half journal. That’s the point. It’s for keeping track of what’s happening now  

My Sunday task list.

 and what happened in the past. I even make a note of fun statements and funny things that happened to me that day because it’s all part of my life — the work stuff and the personal stuff. If I have any room left over, I usually just write about things that happened that day to fill it out.  

 The cool part about this is how customizable this all is. You could keep a plain journal with just a black-and-white color palette, or you could go full-on scrapbooker with stamps, washi tape, colored pens, stickers and pretty designs if you want. The system really answers to all journaling preferences. 

For the last few weeks, my design style has kind of started to show. I like washi tape, pretty lettering and stamps. My favorite stamp is of a giraffe I call Monty who I’ve decided will give me a little inspiration or encouragement when I need it. 

 

Monty says!

 Spreads are another huge part about Bullet Journaling, but I feel like I’ve written enough for you here now. But I will do a part 2 tomorrow about spreads and functional they are to me.   

In the mean time, I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment here. If you want to see some more photos of my Bullet Journal, just visit my Instagram account, which you can see here or on the right side bar, where I’ve been posting more photos of my daily Bullet Journal creations. 

Enjoy!

Free stuff and weekend Bullet Journaling

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Grant’s new desk. It looks so professional!

This weekend has been quite productive so far and I’m kind of proud of myself for it. 
I mean, I wrote that post yesterday and … oh look! … I’m writing another one. 🙂

I think the coolest part of my day yesterday was that I found a desk in good condition just sitting by the dumpster at our apartment complex! So I ran to grab Grant before someone else took it and we loaded it in his car (with the help of a nice stranger looking at the other junk there) and took it home. 

Grant started working from home a few weeks ago and he was working off of two TV tray tables, so he really needed a desk. Once we got it cleaned off and everything reorganized, it really looks great! I’m so happy he’ll have a nice place to work now. 

HipstamaticPhoto-465067310.912162HipstamaticPhoto-465067336.748666Towards the end of the day I spent a long time getting set up for the weekend and October in my Bullet Journal. I didn’t have much of a check list/bullets to put in yesterday, so I just did a regular journal entry. 🙂 I love this method because it really does leave room for versatility like that. 

I’ve been following a few bloggers since I started doing this to get ideas for headers and how to decorate it. Luckily I found a gal, Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, who’s had a handwriting theme all month. Most of my headers have been an imitation of hers. One day I’ll get better at handwriting. I just need some more practice. 

Another great inspiration has been Kara on her blog, Boho Berry. I really love the styles both of these ladies have and try to emulate them. I’m still trying to figure out how to organize everything, but that’s the great part about all of this. If I don’t like a spread, I’ll just change it around the next time. 

Anyway, time for me to finish up the rest of my weekend! Let the Sunday chores begin!