2014 gratitude jar

The idea is that you write down things you’re grateful for, things that make you happy, memorable events, throughout the year, put them in the jar. The on New Year’s Eve, you dump out the jar and read all the good things. And start a new jar the following day.

This is my jar. I used a Lipton Tea jar and glued on the banner, the image of the jar in the back, the quote at the bottom, and the photograph of the gorgeous key. The rest are from a pack of stickers I got. I didn’t think I could go wrong with a yellow cat wearing purple glasses, right?

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introducing trudi, my dayplanner

Yesterday, on my way out to the laundry room to get the Wednesday wash done, I dropped my dayplanner into my bag and stopped to get the mail. Didn’t think anything about it as I’ve been trying to get into the habit of taking my planner with me everywhere, and though it was early, I thought I’d see if the mail had already run.

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Why I thought I might need my planner in the laundry room, I had no idea. Like I said, I’m trying to make taking it everywhere a habit. So far, so good.

After I got the clothes in to wash, I sorted through the mail – sales papers, but I always go through them in case other mail got stuck in there somehow. I can’t say how many times we’ve almost lost/recycled/thrown away something important (tax returns, mail from Preston’s parents, lightweight letters, etc) because it’s been jammed in with the sales papers. And low and behold there were the Container Store planner stickers I’d ordered two weeks ago.

I spent the next half hour arranging stickers and taking pictures.

Love my divider pages! I ordered them from an Etsy shop, and the designer cut them down to fit my compact planner! The Hello Kitty stickers came from an eBay shop. I printed and cut down the menu sheet – and sheets that can’t be seen: “about this week” and an adorable “to do” sheet. There’s also a “right now” sheet I printed and cut down. (I really need to get a paper cutter!) The page sticking out the pocket in the back is from where I was going to get my yearly mammogram – they shut it down to consolidate it with the Markey Cancer Center on campus.

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This picture is blurry; sometimes I just can’t get steady pictures with the camera on my phone. These are probably my two most-used tabs. The labels are from the stickers from the Container Store, and the divider tabs are from my Etsy purchase. For Projects, I created a “client sheet” for the editing and book reviews I do, so I can better keep up with what I’m doing for whom and when, payments and so forth (I don’t get paid for reviews; just editing). That section is a bit thin right now, but I’m taking November off for NaNoWriMo. Schedule is where my daily planning sheets start. For the rest of this year, I have the standard wo2pp that comes with an FC planner. (I have my pack of do2pp starting ready to go when I need it; I already have January in my planner.

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Here she is from the top. The black piece is the top page lifter; I have one in the front and in the back. They didn’t come with the planner, so I ordered them separate before I ever thought about getting custom dividers. I may not need page lifters with the dividers, but this way I know my dividers won’t get damaged. Right?

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I got the Blooms monthly divider pack from FC for the color, and they’re great. The borders are a little bit more pink than I care to have in my life, but I keep telling myself they’re “more pale lilac”. I stuck my monthly and daily Etsy stickers over the FC tabs. Again for the color. And they’re easier for me to find and to read. I really like having the daily stickers! Those will come in so handy at the start of the new year when I get to start working with my actual daily pages. The Santa is from a card I got from my sister last Christmas. (When you journal, you save bits and pieces of everything. I’m up to two boxes and five folders of ephemera from nothing this time last year!)

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She’s a bit fat, but I have another planner due to ship next Monday. It’s still a compact, and the same model (this one had a defect with the closure), but maybe by the time it comes in, I can figure out what I really need in here and what I don’t. What helps is that this model (DayOne) can also be used as a wallet, so I won’t have to carry a separate wallet around!

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Why did I name her Trudi? After noticing on the Planner Addicts group on Facebook that the other ladies name their planners, I boiled it down to a choice between Trudi and Priscilla. I’m not entirely sure why those two names came to me, but that’s what did. I asked PA for advice and got some really great suggestions, including Molly – which I’d have totally gone with, but right now she’s a character in my YA project, and I don’t want to get them conflated somehow. I thought I might go with Priscilla, but every time I picked her up, I called her Trudi. So here we are.

Why a physical dayplanner? I realized with my ADHD I needed something physical outside of my Outlook calendar, especially these days since I don’t leave Outlook on 24/7, so I’m not able to get my reminder pings (and I don’t carry a smartphone). With the ADHD (I have the distractive/inattentive type), I’m more visual, so need visual cues and reminders. Otherwise I’d forget my own name some days. I started by using a Moleskine daily planner in January and liked it a whole bunch. Over the course of the year, I saw all these beautiful, creative planners and wanted to be able to do more with my planner – including organizing it to suit me instead of how a book binder put it together for me.

I got to thinking about ring binders. I’d used one from 1997 to some time in the early 2000s. A tiny thing, and I don’t think Mead makes it any more. Fat Little Dayplanner. I still have the binder! I did some digging around and some research and thought about the planners anyone can buy at Wal-Mart but wasn’t sure that was the route I wanted to go. Then someone at either PA or JJ posted a link to an FC DayOne on sale for $9.95. I waffled for some time but decided I couldn’t go wrong with FC and especially not at that price, so I had some spare money and bought it and waited for it to arrive.

It arrived, and I went nuts customizing and organizing it. Buying dividers, stickers, tabs, post-its, and gods know what all else. A pouch to carry said stickers, post-its, and pens in, of course, but I’ve already almost outgrown it and have barely had it a month!

But I’m set on starting 2014 organized and ready to hit the floor running, as they say. With my head on, my shoulders back, and knowing what needs to be done and when and where I have to go and why. And so forth. That makes a huge difference in my life. I realized before I knew about the ADHD that I need a structured schedule. Daily. Even if all I have down for a given day is a list of household chores. (Speaking of which, I never ran the dishwasher last night. Oy! See?) The daily pages I got are divided up into an appointment block running from 8am to 9pm, which is perfect. There’s also a task list and a daily tracker (for whatever I need to daily track). The second page is more like a diary page.

When I get my January calendar all set up and start setting up those daily pages, I’ll take more pictures. With hope, it won’t take me two months to post again!

Now you know where I’ve been the last while! I’ve been eyebrow deep in dayplanning and organizing! Also, I’ve been doing a bit of writing again, but mostly on that front I’ve been doing the NaNoWriMo-Plano for next month. Which includes getting what manuscript I already have written (I write longhand) typed up into Word, so I don’t have to worry about that next month and get on with the actual writing again!

i’m still alive!

I’m still here. I’ve just not been blogging. Nothing to write home about? Yeah, well, that’s where I’ve been. I did NaNoWriMo again last year and managed to get 35,000 new words for Destiny (which is still searching for a new, real title, by the way). Also, I picked up some editing and reading for hire and will be picking up more.

I’ve also been going through this big organizational project. The apartment, myself, my life. Everything.

I got a 2013 Peanuts Moleskine dayplanner and finally got over my fear of actually using my Peanuts 60th Anniversary Snoopy Moleskine journal. This is all helping getting my life/mind/home “still” and organized. Organized isn’t really the word I’m going for here. The ADHD isn’t letting me find the proper word for this, of course. I know what I mean but just am not able to convey it right now.

I’ve wanted for a long time to get back into scrapbooking, the kind I did all through school while I was growing up, but I’ve never been happy with all the themed scrapbooking stuff that’s been out there for the longest time now. Scrapbooking isn’t supposed to be that orderly! So I just never did. Then last Summer while I was thinking real hard about getting back into journaling and trying to get my mojo going again, I ran into ‘smashbooks’. What neat things! And they’re so portable!

Like I said above, I got over my fear of using my Moleskines, and I’m so glad I did! Both of the ones I have are the 5″x8″ size, which is perfect for what I need them for. The dayplanner isn’t huge or bulky, and the journals isn’t one of those daunting 9″x11″ books I was hooked on for twenty years. Seriously, I think that’s why I burned out. I was trying to fill up those enormous pages with every thought and activity I had, and with the uncontrolled, undiagnosed ADHD I had going on, I got some righteous burn-out.

As for the dayplanner, I’ve known for some time (like three years) that dumping everything into Outlook Calendar just wasn’t cutting it. Especially over the last year. I’ve not been keeping Outlook open around the clock like I used to. I’ve not allowed myself to continue being a slave to e-mail (as a result, I also have a continuous backlog of e-mail, but I’m trying to break that habit, too). I don’t need it on 24/7, so I leave it off. But I needed something to help me stay organized and on task through the day, and everything I’ve read for months about ADHD is that having a physical dayplanner is a blessing. And it has been. It helps keep me on task.

Getting over my fear of actually using my Peanuts journal took a long time. But I’m glad that I did. Honestly, what got me going again was the time I spend on Pinterest and Flickr looking at beautiful and creative (and beautifully creative and creatively beautiful) things. I was searching for inspiration, and one afternoon, I found it, and got my books out and started using them. It’s made a world of difference.

I got into this whole journaling/dayplanning thing so much that I created a group on Facebook. The group is just over a month old, and we’ve all had so much fun and learned so much from each other already. Everyone supports one another. It’s been amazing. If you’re on Facebook and keep a journal or are considering picking the habit (back) up, if you scrapbook, art journaling, anything similar, we’d enjoy having you as part of our group. Daily, we start a Link thread to keep everything as corralled and orderly as we can. So like, if it’s Tuesday, someone will start an empty thread titled Tuesday Links, and everyone is welcome to post up outside links to anything journaling or scrapbooking related. We have a long thread about handwriting, even! (I’ve been working hard on improving mine, and it’s working.)

One thing I’ve learned over the last six or so months is that I’d been journaling wrong for the last thirty years. Wrong for me. I wasn’t exploring it as a creative outlet. I had, for all that time, created what could be called nothing more than Bitch Books. Finally, at one point, I sat down with the ones I’d kept from 1992 through 2007, when I stopped (I’d told myself I didn’t need to journal any more because I had my biog!). I went through some thousand pages of crap. Serious. I kept only what I found important. My poetry, good quotes, pictures, cards, letters, some stickers, comic strips. Stuff like that. I took, wrapped in two tightly tied T-shirt bags, and chucked them into the nearest dumpster. That act along took a load of weight from my shoulders. Amazing how stuff like that works out! I wanted to burn those books, but when one lives in an apartment, one does what one can with what one has.

Since then, I’ve gotten everything I saved, which was little, into its proper scrapbook or journal with the exception of my poetry. I still need to see what I already have in electronic copy and type up what I don’t. I think there are maybe eight poems I need to go through. Yeah, real hard work.

But like I said above, I’d been journaling wrong. I had approached it my entire life as a repository of gripes and sorrows, rants and raves. While I ripped those books apart, I rarely found anything good. That, and I’d insisted all that time in writing in 120 page, 9″x11″ books. All of them beautiful. I refused to buy them if they weren’t pretty! So on days when I didn’t have anything to gripe about, I just didn’t write. Those large pages were intimidating, and I allowed them to intimidate me. The odd part is that I had (a few months ago) a small slew of 5″x7″ journals that I never used. I bought them because they were pretty and just never did anything with them. I still have two I need to find a home/use for.

Then I searched “Moleskine” and “Journal” on both Flickr and Pinterest. My eyes were opened. Wide. What a wealth of creativity!

I don’t have to write an entire page to record my entire day. I don’t even have to write. I don’t have to do it in chronological order. Nor do I have to orient every single page “top to bottom”. When I was in therapy at Comprehensive Care in 2010/2011, my therapist “had a thing” about coloring therapy. I rediscovered coloring and art because of her. She especially favored mandalas and bright colors. Google “mandala” and “zentangle”. Wonderful things. I searched for and found good, easy to follow (and free!) drawing instructions at the art is fun website. My journal is littered with mandalas, doodles, lines, circles, shapes. I’ve filled it with pictures I’ve drawn and colored. I’ve added stickers. I started a collection of ephemera. I bought crayons, pencils, markers, and other things (including a box to keep it all in).

I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed this, how much it’s all helped me already.

Below, I share some pictures of pages I’ve made. More to come!

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This is the opening page in the Snoopy journal.

 

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This is the opening page in the dayplanner. I can control only what’s inside my hula hoop.

 

dream page

This is from my K&Company Smashbook. I got the Retro Blue one – because it’s blue and because I liked the pages inside; they’re all themed. I don’t generally care for themed scrapbooking or journaling, but most of the ‘prompts’ are great. I also got a themed ‘smash pad’ which is also great for prompts. You pull what you want to use on a given day from the pad, glue or tape the whole thing (or part) down, and write on it. Then decorate the page the best way you see fit.

 

hch page

This is the page I started for HCH. It’s not finished. I still have a ton of ephemera I want to stick in. The left-hand page is made of up a recent Harlan County map, a Harlan County directory, and the US 119 tag is from a packet of information I got from a Pine Mountain tour thing several years ago. The places I highlighted in yellow are settings in my Harlan Vampires stories. The right-hand page is a postcard about HCH and the welcome card from the book launch at The Morris Book Shop.

 

midnight page

This is the Midnight page. Totally unfinished. I started with printouts of the 100 word blurb, snippets of poetry that didn’t make my final cut as chapter headers, a writer ‘trading card’, maps of Loyall and Harlan, and excerpts from the book. Then, when the books is published, I’ll add more things in. Lots more things.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last six months. Embroiled and enjoying it. I’ve also relaunched my editing service – which now has a name! – and have taken in three projects so far. I’ll be free to take in more near the first of April. And yes, I’m still working on the apartment. Organizing, cutting down, simplifying, scrubbing everything to a showroom shine.

All of this has been so very freeing.