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Planners, notebooks, calendars, and journals. 

Kickstarter Bullet Journal, Hobonichi and Midori stacked up with my novel revisions. And my fountain pens.

About two years ago, I realized that digital planner was not cutting it. I didn’t use my calendar on my phone or my computer, and I was still trying to keep track of things in my head. That used to work fine for me only one list on my computer and the running one in my head. Now, however, I had two kids to keep track of, a job, a house, and my own personal goals and I was forgetting things.

I used to start each school year in college by buying a date book, and then filling it with course calendars, show calendars, work dates, personal appointments and it was brilliant. I kept this up while I was working in theatre as well.  Once I got out of theatre and before I had kids, life was pretty simple, and I stopped. I still have these and they are lovely little snapshots of how busy I really was.

When I realized I was having a problem keeping track of things I researched and purchased a Filofax, the British cousin of Day-Timer, and started writing it all down again. I put in daily tasks, and decorated the pages, and carted it everywhere.

And then I kept researching planners and I learned about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. A simple leather cover with notebook inserts that ranged from sated calendars to blank watercolor pages.

And then I learned about the Hobonichi Techo, another Japanese datebook/planner that was immensely well laid out book with a page a day, on amazing paper that holds up to water color and fountain pen.

And the, I heard about Bullet Journaling, a system of task management similar to the Frankly-Covey/Getting Things Done method, but instead of using expensive proprietary materials, it just used a gridded notebook.

Hobonichi Techo and a brand new Hobonichi Cousin for 2016.

All of these now reside in my stack of daily journals. And you know what? I use them all. Not all every day, but most days several of them see action. My Filofax lives in my purse and has my calendar of appointments and holidays and all the various schedules for the family. (Which is echoed on the giant wall calendar in my kitchen.) My Midori has my novel and story planning and the long hand writing I do when a computer is not an option. My Hobonichi is a daily journal where I just jot down what we do each day, and paste in small pictures of bits of paper that chronicle our daily life.

Then there is my Bullet Journal. It is sadly the most neglected of the group, and it needs some reworking. I used it for daily task lists, but daily I was writing:

  • Dishes
  • laundry
  • tidy
  • read out loud
  • write/journal
  • make dinner
  • homeschool

I’ve found that a list that highlights the repetition of my day to day life and makes it even more boring does not induce me to look at it frequently. Wanting to look at my journals is key to actually using them, and yes sometimes that means decorated pages and overly saccharin stickers. Plus I kind of knew the routine, and did I really need to check off the same 5 things each day?

As I approach NaNoWriMo, I know I need to start tracking and planning my writing.  We are heading toward getting our windows replaced soon, and I need to get the house to a point where someone could potentially replace the back wall of my house (yes, that’s a possibility thanks to faulty siding and dry rot) and we need to move out of our storage unit at the same time. Enter my Bullet Journal.

I have a lot of books to keep track of things, but so far the system is working out. I didn’t mention my homeschool notebooks – one for daily schedule and one for tracking project work – or my various art books, but those are there too. Sometimes I look at the stack and wonder if one would suffice and maybe, it might, but I haven’t found the perfect system to track all of the things yet.

What kind of calendar, planning or journal set up do you use? Are you a multi-book person or do you believe in one journal to rule them all?

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Moving vs. Fleeing

I chose a word to represent what I wanted to do this year. This is only the second year that I have done this, having thrown resolutions by the side of the road long ago.  A word, though, that is something I can refer back to, to see if big changes (or small) are keeping me going in the manner I laid out with my word.  This year’s word was “moving.”

For me, this word means moving forward, keeping up momentum from last year, and hopefully, moving house. It also means moving my body, an area I have been rather underfunded in this past couple of years.  But mostly, it means to not get stalled, to not get into that holding pattern that is so alarmingly easy when you have small children. Even more easy when you homeschool them.

Keeping moving for me means facing a lot of fear, and a lot of doubt about myself and my ability. It means confronting the idea that I deserve something, or that I am good enough for…well, anything. It means overcoming the urge to sit still.  I didn’t choose the word lightly, I know what a challenge it is going to be to keep moving this year. The downhill slide of last year had a lot of momentum, but I have found myself running into the wall of fear and doubt quite a lot recently.

When I bring up moving, especially among people who know about my current house, folks get excited.  They offer insight and opinions and helpfully look for houses online.  They tell me about realtors, and lenders and what their brother’s cousin’s wife’s sister did to get out from under their mortgage.  They talk to me about renting this place out and how easy that would be. Or they tell me I should just find someplace to rent for us.  I think that real estate might offer up only slightly fewer opinions that being pregnant.

And I listen.  And I explain our situation.  And I feel like I am that person who just says “No, I can’t!” over and over again.

But, as I have thought about the idea of moving (in all its facets) recently, I realized that a lot of people aren’t moving in a planned manner, but fleeing. And I realize that a lot of my moves have also been fleeing. Running like hell to get to the next thing, and landing where I end up – not always where I wanted to be.

I want to move out of this house. I want to live somewhere quiet, with a yard, and with no attached walls. But I am also realizing that I need to move, not flee.  Fleeing was how we landed here, moving out of our rental a month before Bee was born, and trying desperately to find a house. And in that dwindling time before the baby made her appearance, we felt pressure to make a move whether we were ready or not. Fleeing to find shelter before we needed it.

I think that a lot of life’s decisions are made in just this manner.  Fleeing before some oncoming thing, rather than planning out the steps. I get it. I have done it more times than I can count, and probably a few I don’t think about. This year though, I want to move, in a directed fashion, in a planned manner. I don’t want to flee.

It is very easy in this time and place to find a quick way to do something. It is easy, now more than ever, to flee – and to keep doing it until something catches up. It is harder to wait when you want a change, to watch and weigh options, to hold out even when you hate it.  But I think that it will be worth it in the end to move forward one small step at a time, walking, not running.

Find the language

Finding the language. This is my fight right now.  Finding the language that will convey what I am feeling, that will make people sit up and notice, that will relay a message.  I feel like right now everything I say is bogged down.  Either in trying to not blame someone (or make sure they don’t feel blame), or in trying to translate into 7yo-ese, or toddler-ese, or just because I don’t have the words.  I have always been confident in my ability to communicate clearly.  I can illustrate and teach, give examples and craft words. But now….right now…everything seems sticky. LIke wading through tar. All the things I am trying to remember are cramming up into the same small chute, trying to come out in an organized manner and get themselves HEARD, DAMMIT!, and instead I end up with word salad. I use words too big for my daughter to understand, and she tunes me out.  I ask unreasonable things of my baby and she gets frustrated. I try to convey what I am feeling to my husband and nothing registers. Is it me? Is my universal translator broken? Am I really, finally not making sense?

Where is the language that can convince big kid how much I love her? How much I think she is the most awesome and lovely and kind and smart girl I have ever met. That I think she is incredibly talented and that I hope she chases her dreams down and sits on them until they give. That I want her to be happy more than anything.  That I miss the time with her when it was just us and we were a team.

Where is the language that will let my toddler know that she is an amazing surprise and every day I fear I won’t have enough time with her to get to know her.  That all I want to do is cuddle and hang out and love on her.  That when she gets so frustrated that all she can do is cry, I want to move the world out of her way and make it better. That her hugs and kisses make my world right.

Where is the language that shows my husband that I am running on the edge? That the juggling act I am performing is in dire danger of falling to the ground. That each day seems a bit harder to get everything done. The language that explains how much I feel like I’m missing with my kids each day trying to manage it all, and how much it hurts my heart when I have to juggle the kids to do something I hate. How do I find the words to let him know that I know work is hard on him too, and I miss him and I’m sorry I complain so much?

Do they know? Is any of the language being found?

following the daily prompts for November from Writealm.com

Regret(s)

I used to say I didn’t have any regrets. That every single think I had done had move me to where I was, made me who I was. I still stick to that – mostly. I never saw the point in spending a lot of time regretting what I had or hadn’t done. I couldn’t change it, I could only move forward.

Even now most of my regrets are about smaller things. I regret not saving more money, or using my credit cards too much. I regret not getting good grades in high school (and college). Small things in the grand scheme. Things that can’t be changed, and that I didn’t need to dwell on.

But there is the one thing that I have come to regret. While I was pregnant with Tiny, the situation in my house changed pretty dramatically. And it wasn’t awesome. For me, for Big Kid. I was not the mom I wanted to be, and I am still getting my parenting legs back after that. But the thing I regret is that the last 6 months I had with just Big Kid was derailed and (I hate this word, but it fits) ruined. I was focused on things that were ultimately not my problem and shouldn’t have been my focus. I can’t get that time back ever. I can’t go back to it just being me and Big Kid and have those months back. And I bitterly regret that. It is going to be a while before I can forgive myself for making the decisions that led to the situation.

I dislike having regrets. I feel like I need to make up for it, to fix it somehow. It feels like a weight that I have to carry around with me all the time. All interactions with Big Kid are weighed on that time, and how much I failed her, whether or not she is mad about it, if she will remember it. I can’t change it, but I haven’t quit figured out how to let go of it yet either.

following the daily prompts for November from Writealm.com