my everything books…

In my last post, I mentioned how surprised I was by one of newest projects–I really never thought I would jump on the bullet journal bandwagon. Annie’s been bullet journaling for a while, but it just never captured my attention. That is, until I saw some of the pages that Kara (BohoBerry) had in hers–they most definitely captured my attention. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could take what I liked about bullet journaling and combine it with what I liked about fauxbonichi journaling and just do what felt right to me. I know, not exactly rocket science, but hey, sometimes it takes me a while to figure even the simple things out. ūüėČ

So I’ve done what I think most people do, and fiddled around until I came up with a way I thought¬†would work for me. The truth of that remains to be seen, I suppose…but so far, so good.

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These are my books. Yes, plural. And I totally get how many people would likely find that silly. But so far at least, it works for me. One is for 2016 as a whole. And one is just for the month of January. Which yes, means that I’ll end up with 13 separate books by the end of the year. I know–that sounds so excessive. And maybe in the end I’ll find that it feels excessive to me. But for now, I’m going with it. I’m using Fabriano EcoQua spiral bound grid notebooks. They’re fairly small (70 pages, I believe). I love that they’re spiral bound so that the pages can lie flat.

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My 2016 yearly journal starts with a simple overview calendar. Following this, I have a two-page spread for my “table of contents.” (I know that in bullet journaling, people tend to call this the index, but it seems more like a table of contents to me, so table of contents it is labeled.)

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I generally bury myself in a bazillion goals for the year, which inevitably leads to feelings of complete failure. So this year, I just came up with a few things to focus on, some of a more general nature, some a bit more specific. And I recorded them here, to have one place to refer to to remind myself. And the next page is just a place to record the birds I see this year.

Following this, I so far have a page to jot down future gift ideas, pages to record TBR and TBW additions (and whose fault it is that I now want to read/watch said additions), an “In the Future” page to jot down appointments, etc. that I will need to add to future monthly journals, “Read in 2016” pages (which will be redundant because I also have this in the monthly version, but I don’t care because I just really wanted it in both places ūüėõ ), pages to keep daily(?) track of my “Read a Million Pages Before I Die” goal, and a “new-to-me words” page. And I do have more pages I’d like to add when time permits. (Why yes, I could be doing that now instead of writing this silly post.)

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Okay, as much as I do love the yearly journal, it doesn’t compare to the love I have for the monthly version. It too starts out with a calendar, but just for the month, and with a wee bit of space to jot down specific events, appointments, birthdays, etc. (Post-its are to protect others’ privacy while taking this picture, not for decoration.)

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This is again followed by the table of contents. And then a spread for my monthly goals. I took it easy on myself for the yearly goals thing; questionable if I can claim the same here. But they’re absolutely doable.

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And then I have my Daily Tracker. Some items are definitely there to help me remember to do them, and some are there more to give myself an idea of how often I do certain things. I don’t expect this will stay the same every month.

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Next up, what some people call their gratitude log. For me it’s always been “good stuff.” I’ve long¬†kept track of this (sometimes more consistently than others), and by moving it into my monthly everything¬†journal, I can eliminate the separate journal I used to keep just for this.

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Next I have 3 1/2 pages of January homeschool prep tasks. (Another separate notebook eliminated.) And those spots where there’s a partial page left are great for adding favorite quotes. (I have one on the half page at the end of my “good stuff” log too.)

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And then there are pages to record January’s reads and views (and there’s also a page for what I made in January but it looks just like these ones).

IMG_7900Finally, we’re to the daily pages. Where I have my bullet list of to-dos for the day. I do the little weather thing like many other people do. And any little tidbits I happen to record about my day. While none of my days so far have had a ton of extra journaling or a lot of decorating, I suspect on days when I have more time, they will. One thing I love about having a separate notebook for each month is that I have room to make a two-page spread for a single day if I have a lot I want to journal about.

IMG_7901And interspersed throughout, there will be lists. Because LISTS. Here between days 2 and 3, I made my menu plan for the first week and made a list of thank you cards I need to make. And because of the table of contents, I can easily find any of these lists I need to refer to.

IMG_7902I know my journals are not as gorgeous or fun to look at as some, and that’s totally okay. I think I’ve finally found a way to combine my planner and my to-do lists and my journaling and my endless piles of lists all in one place in a way that really works for me. *fingers crossed anyway*

projects, new and old…

Anyone who knows me, knows I love my projects. Anything I can turn into a “project” inevitably becomes more fun to me. And I have some wonderful ongoing projects that I utterly adore. But…they seem to be among the first things to take a back seat when life gets too busy. And frankly when doesn’t life get too busy. So my projects¬†tend to¬†get neglected for vast periods of time.

In this year of “taking my life back” (god, that still sounds so ridiculously melodramatic), I’m going to make a concerted effort not to let that happen. I love my Happiness Project and my 50×50 and Rich’s and my Million and One. And oh how happy it would make me to complete item after item after item from each of those.

I’m still interested in all of my personal reading challenges, especially Read the World, but for 2016 I’d like to focus on reading what is calling to me in the moment rather than putting any “obligations” on my reading. (Homeschooling adds more than enough obligatory reading to my plate.) So I’ll try to continue to record any reading that works for my reading challenges, but won’t go out of my way to find books that do.

And I have a couple of new projects I’m excited to start. First of all, I’m jumping on the bullet journal bandwagon. Something I never thought I’d do…until I stumbled upon this blog post¬†at Boho Berry. I can’t for the life of me recall what I was googling that day, but I assure you it was not bullet journaling. But wow–I was sucked right into her post and was fascinated by the way she approached it.¬†It was the first time I had even an inkling that it might be something I’d enjoy. But, as I think everyone needs to do, I’m doing it in a way that appeals to me. And part of that means I’m combining it with my fauxbonichi style of journaling. (I’ll probably do a post and share some pictures in a few days.)

I’m also starting a scrapbook/life storytelling project. I absolutely love the idea behind Ali Edward’s December Daily project (despite the fact that I’ve failed to follow through with it umpteen years now). And it dawned on me what a wonderful thing it would be to do that for an entire year. One story of our lives every single day. I know that I won’t be able to make time to scrapbook every day, but I can make the time to jot down a few sentences about what story I want to tell from each day and note any relevant photos I took. And then when I have an hour or two, I can actually document those stories. A whole year of itty bitty stories will likely add up to a wonderful record of what our life looks like overall.

My older projects are tried and true, so I can’t see ditching them. But if my new projects don’t bring me the satisfaction and contentment that I’m hoping for, out the window they go. This year is about making *smarter* choices for a fulfilling life.

I also have a few shorter projects in mind for February, my most favorite month of the year. It would no longer be February without Comics February (and thank you leap year for providing an extra day of comics love this year). I also have a completely decadent birthday project in mind (I’ll share more about that later).

So here’s to happiness-inducing projects and living a more intentional life!

hello 2016…

I have declared 2016 as “the year I take my life back.” Oh my, don’t I sound ever so melodramatic. Not the intention. No, it simply means that my overriding goal for the year is to remember that this is the only life I get and that’s it’s up to me to make it what I want it to be. No one else can live it for me.

It’s somewhat inevitable when you make the choice to have children that you will give up some¬†amount of freedom. In many¬†ways even more so when you have what I tend to call a “high maintenance” kiddo (by no means a perfect term, but I prefer it to “special needs”). But the responsibilities of parenthood aren’t to blame for me failing to take myself seriously. I know that I have internalized the messages of society of “woman as caretaker” and especially “mother as caretaker” very deeply. Despite having it click over the last decade (thanks to some wonderful friends) how incredibly unfair and unhelpful that is to everyone involved, it is a message that persists in the core of me: Everyone else must come first.

It’s not that I plan to run off into the sunset and leave it all behind. There are no plans for drastic changes. More like baby steps. A few projects to start that are exciting me at the moment. A determination to carve out me-time every day. An attitude change that makes¬†me ask, “Do I really *need* to do this, or do I just feel like I *should* do this?” A willingness to let go of things that are no longer making me happy.

So I’m starting 2016 full of hope. There’s just nothing like a fresh start, is there? And I have to say that waking up to snow falling on this first day of the new year seems like a very happy sign to me. ūüôā

Happy New Year, friends! Happy New Year, strangers! Happy New Year, world!

babblings…I’m feeling…

*lucky. So much Charley lovin’ going on in this house. After all the pain and loss this summer, I can’t begin to explain how blessed we feel to have Charley join our family. This dog. Oh my, this dog. He has the sweetest, most gentle essence about him. He is the best medicine I can imagine. And every day starts a bit brighter because of Charley. He awakes so happy and high on life that you just can’t help but feel better about life yourself. He is an absolute love.¬†And¬†I can’t even put into words how much of an understatement that is.

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*insightful. Ha! Yeah, that may be overstating it. But I have had a few things dawn on me recently. I’ve been in perhaps my¬†most all-encompassing painful fibro flare to date. There is a weird balancing act that goes on with me and fibro, between refusing to give into it and yet accepting that I have to respect it. One thing that has dawned on me is that this seems to be the place I need for my mental wranglings. It’s just not something I feel comfortable talking to other people about directly. I’ve noticed that when people ask me how I’m feeling, I tend to sidestep. And another thing I’ve noticed is that I am so often apologizing because of fibro. Because of the things I just can’t seem to get done when in the grips of a bad flare up. Apologizing to people I love and care about for letting them down in myriad ways–from not returning emails and letters to not cooking the supper someone was really excited about.. Thing is, I’m blessed with the kindest, most understanding family and friends on earth–and they always find my apologies unnecessary. And I think it’s time I learn to let go of some of the guilt that comes with this chronic invisible illness.

*incredulous. Gray turned 15 yesterday! I am grateful every day that I get to be a part of this amazing kid’s life. Again with the understatement.

*weirded out. By the fact that I just can’t seem to make myself read lately. Since Dewey’s Read-a-thon a week and a half ago,¬†the only reading I’ve done has been for homeschooling. Nothing that was just for fun. What I read for read-a-thon was awesome though!¬†Loved all three books I read: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (though I think I’m in the minority of people who actually liked his¬†Lost at Sea better),¬†March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (can’t wait for final book of this trilogy), and¬†Murder is Bad Manners¬†by Robin Stevens (reminded me of how much I adore awesome middle grade fiction; seriously, I was smitten). Just remembering how much enjoyment I got from those books, makes me think that today is the day I need to pick up a new book–like maybe¬†Hark! A Vagrant, before I have to return it to the library.

*numb. Over¬†The Walking Dead. Not numb as in “I don’t care,” but numb as in “I care too much, and I’m not sure how much more I can take.” This season has been nothing short of brutal thus far.

*panicked. But amazingly calm about the panic. Which of course is completely contradictory. There’s no way I’m going to get all the gifts made for Christmas. It’s just not going to happen. *sigh* And still I don’t stop trying. I worked on Chris’ gift much of the last two days, and can’t believe how little progress two days looks like. On a side note, I binged on the entire first season of¬†How to Get Away with Murder during those two days. I do believe Annalise Keating may be the. most. intriguing. character I’ve ever seen on a television show.

 

tidbits…

*So much Dmitri loving going on around here. It’s been a joy seeing¬†the various bits of his personality emerge as the days go by. Affectionate. Independent. Silly. Needy. Aloof. A study in contradictions. What cat isn’t.

*Frustration. Lots of that lately. With lots of things: flare that won’t end, getting further behind by the day with school, inability to get everything organized, the slow pace of gift making. Thing is though, I’m proud of myself. Yes, the frustration is there, but I’m not letting it overwhelm me.

*The search for a dog to fit into our family has begun. I still miss Bacon more than I can say. So many times I have to stop myself from calling him when a bit food falls on the floor, so many times I¬†imagine the sound of this tags jingling, so many times I see that sweet beagle face in my mind and I just can’t stop the tears from welling. He wasn’t there singing “Happy Birthday” with us for Rich’s birthday or for Max’s birthday…and it sounded so wrong without him howling along. Christmas will never be the same; Bacon had more Christmas joy than any person I’ve ever known. No one wants another dog to take his place. Which is good, because no other dog ever could. But I think we’ve reached the point where we’re ready to welcome a new personality into our home. A dog to make her/his own place in our family.

*Enjoying autumn. Finally. (Summer weather both arrived a month early and departed a month late this year.) And it’s been a very mild autumn for the most part thus far. (Though maybe snow this weekend–trying not to get my hopes up.) Anyway,¬†enjoying the goodness of the season, yes indeed. Oh how I love all the¬†seasons. The reds, the oranges, the yellows–all my favorite colors. The pumpkin, pumpkin, everywhere–pumpkin waffles, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin snack cake. All the creepy, mysterious, unsettling reads. Oooh, and a new discovery–Tim Hortons’ hot caramel apple cider. Heavenly.

*Flapjack, Flapjack, Flapjack. I can’t help but feel amazed on a daily basis over what a large chunk of my heart you have taken. How did I ever survive the first 51 years of my life without a sweet guinea pig like you in it?!!

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*Tomorrow is Dewey’s Readathon. As I started to type those words, I got lost in a million thoughts. Yes, there is still a very real feeling that my heart is being crushed because¬†I miss her so very much. But there is so much happiness in my memories. And so much gratitude for all the things I encounter throughout my days that remind me so powerfully of Dewey. I sometimes envy those who believe in an afterlife, and maybe it’s the fact that I don’t that makes me so profoundly comforted by and thankful for every piece of her that lives in my memories. And, I’m not sure how to put this into words, but I’m comforted also by the fact that all the other people who where lucky enough to know her carry around their own memories, and across this world there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of different memories of her living in hearts and minds of people. I don’t know if that’s weird or overly sentimental, but I know it helps me to know that.

in the reading room this past week…

Seasons of Reading’s Fright Fall Read-a-thon took place this past week. I completed the solo requirement of reading a spooky/mysterious/thriller sort of book. Beyond that, I’m not sure if my week should be considered a success or not. The amount of time I spent reading didn’t suck, it just didn’t involve as much “fun reading” as I had hoped it would. This also means I’m not as far along on Andi’s #15in31¬†(only 2 of 15 so far!) as I might like. No worries–so not stressing about it. So, what have I been reading this week?

*The one book I did finish was¬†Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. The first of the Alex Cross books. And a book I’ve read before, oh at least 20 years ago. There was a time I thoroughly loved this series, but after the first ten or twelve I just grew bored and eventually quit reading them altogether. At our recent library sale, I picked up the first several in the series again, figuring they would be the perfect sort of reads for flare ups when my brain just refused to work. And it was the fact that I’m experiencing one of those times that led me to read this book now. If I’m being honest, I think that I sort of hoped that I wouldn’t like it this time around. Like I was hoping I’d “matured” or something. Ha! Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds. Whatever. Fact of the matter is that I did enjoy it, whether I wanted to or not. ūüėČ ¬†I didn’t remember a lot about the book, but the two things I did remember were pretty important. But even that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Anyway, as far as thriller-type books go, I still think the early Alex Cross books are great. Of course, I don’t read this type of book all that often anymore, so I can’t¬†compare to what’s out there in the genre today. This counts as book 6 for RIP.

*In the “school reading” category, I conquered a few more chapters of our astronomy textbook. Reading this is work for me. Not in the sense that I hate it, but in the sense that it is a struggle. I have to read some sections three or four times. And even then, all I come away with are the basic concepts. I’ve sort of given up on the math involved. That’s okay, we’re doing an integrated sciences course of which astronomy is only a small part, and yet we’re reading nearly an entire college level astronomy textbook…so I’m going to be forgiving of us both if we don’t walk away remembering, or even understanding, every little detail.

*Also in the “school reading” category, I’ve read several chapters of¬†Reigns of Terror by Patricia Marchak. In the intro, she suggested reading Part II before Part I. Part II contains chapters for each of the 20th genocides/politicides/crimes against humanity that she focuses on, explaining the¬†historical context, what happened during the genocide, and the external influences at play; Part I is where she gives her arguments about the preconditions and similarities that are present¬†among nations where these violent crimes against humanity occur. So I understand why she suggests reading Part II first, but I don’t understand why she didn’t just place it first in the book. I’m a few pages short of finishing Part II, and as such have not yet gotten to the meat of her arguments and can’t yet judge how I feel about the book as a whole As important as I think it is that we’re doing this course on genocide, crimes against humanity, and human rights, I have to admit it is mentally and emotionally overwhelming.

*Back on the “purely for pleasure” front, I started reading¬†Umineko: When They Cry, Episode 3: Banquet of the Golden Witch, Volume 1 by Ryukishi07. Annie convinced me to read these so she had someone to talk to in person about them. ūüôā ¬†Annie actually hasn’t even read the mangas yet, but she’s read the visual novel a few times. Anyway, it’s a massive (page-wise) series. There are 8 episodes, each broken down into volumes for the manga. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 each consist of 2 volumes, though I believe the later Episodes will each have more volumes. And each volume thus far has clocked in at about 500-700 pages. It is such an intriguing ride! Influenced by Agatha Christie’s¬†And Then There Were None. But very much it’s own story. It is mind-twisting for sure. It plays with logic throughout. Being slightly more than halfway through the first volume of Episode 3, I can say unflinchingly that I have no frickin’ clue what is going on. ūüėõ But I am enjoying it immensely. The characters are flawed, but there is a depth to their individual stories that helps up understand where many of them are coming from. Battler Ushiromiya is our protagonist, and at this point I find him both likable and a twit simultaneously. He’s 18-years-old, a bit sexist, and obsessed with big breasts. However, I was talking with Annie the other day, and she assured me that he actually grows a lot throughout the series. For all it’s fun with logic and mystery-solving, it is a violent, gruesome series. Duh–we’re talking multiple murders here. But really, it goes far beyond the cozy sort of mystery that I would classify Christie’s stories as.

*And finally, I started a new audiobook.¬†The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I needed a new audiobook while I waited for¬†Symbiont¬†to become available, and this was the first one that popped up during my browsing that caught my eye. I had no clue what it was about, but have enjoyed Holly Black before (and really need to read¬†Doll Bones !!!), so I figured “why not?” LOL–I said a few weeks ago how vampire books just weren’t my thing, and here we are with a third book in two months that have vampires! I’m guessing I’m about a third of the way through it, and am definitely enjoying it. I wouldn’t call it overwhelming love though. I have this feeling that I’m really just now getting to the meat of the story, and that I may just fall in love yet. Or it might totally fall apart on me. Eager¬†to find out which, if either, will be the case.

so very Gray…

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So very Gray.

Gray very rarely allows us to take his picture anymore. Be it introversion, or social anxiety, or Aspergers.¬†Or none of the above, and he just doesn’t like it.

It’s okay. As much as I miss having as many pictures of him as I do of Annie and Max, I respect his decision. And occasionally, if I ask with the promise that no one but our little family will see it, he’ll allow me to snap one or two.

But there are so many ways to capture Gray in photos, without him even being there. I was taking some laundry into his room, and this was on top of the little set of shelves near his drawing table. (There were actually even more sets of other brands of pens and markers, all laid out in rainbow fashion with¬†these, but I couldn’t get in position to capture them all with the camera.)

I couldn’t help but smile.

So very Gray.

babblings: moving forward…

Lots of ruminating going on here since I wrote my last post. Of the pensive variety, not of the chewing the cud variety. (Personally, I’m grateful I have only one stomach.) Thinking about how I might begin to live that more deliberate life, a life that is¬†more acting-as-opposed-to-reacting.

Then I got this email from Chris in response to that post. There’s a reason he’s such a phenomenal therapist. Not that I see him as my therapist, obviously. Just that a lot of the things that make him such an amazing, amazing friend surely play into making him an amazing therapist too. Without demeaning my struggle in any way, he was able to remind me of what was already “right” with my life, remind me of the ways I was already leading the life I want. Essentially he reminded me that I don’t need to start from scratch here.

With that in mind, I figured out that there were two types of changes I wanted to make: the real honest-to-goodness changes in behavior, and the more subtle, but nonetheless real and important, changes in perspective and attitude. For example, I so often let myself get frustrated, even resentful, of the overwhelming amount of time I have to spend on homeschooling. It’s not that I want to beat myself up for those feelings, but maybe I could work on redirecting my perspective. Because when I look at it, every moment I spend on homeschooling, I’m living a giving life. And in some very concrete ways, it’s helping me live a more informed life as well.

So over the next month, I’m going to adopt two strategies. I’ll evaluate after the month is over to see if they’re actually helping. Now it may be that I end up mentally turning them into something else for the to-do list, in which case I’ll ditch them and try something new. But I have high hopes.

The first is to just keep myself a tally sheet, with the categories of “a more appreciative life,” “a more informed life,” “a more sustainable life,” “a more creative life,” and “a more giving life.” Every time I realize that I’ve done something the qualifies for one (or more) of those, I’ll add a tick. My hope is that this makes me more mindful of how I spend my time, and helps me view the life I already lead with a brighter perspective. I’d love to find that after a couple months of this, I won’t need to do it anymore because I will have internalized this brighter perspective.

The second is a little more proactive. Each week, I want to add more of each category to my life. I’m going to start small, with half an hour for each category, but would love over time to up that amount. And I’m not talking about things I already do, but about setting aside the time to add, with deliberate mindfulness, more of the things that to me make for a richer life.

We’ll see how it goes.

babblings: lost at sea, yet feeling inspired…

I can’t even count how often I’ve just thought of ditching the whole blog thing. Keeping a blog, that is. (I can’t foresee ever¬†giving up reading blogs.) Thing is, my idea of what I want my blog for–a place just to record my life and work through my thoughts–always gets distorted the second I start thinking that someone else could read it. I somehow can’t get past the paralysis of that thought. Anxiety sucks.

Been sort of feeling lost in a lot of ways lately. Adrift. Not sure how to get my footing. I’m talking about life here, not my blog. Though it does sort of apply there too.

Thing is I do know what I want. I say so right there in the tagline. I sort of wrote that as my mantra a few years back, and it still applies. A more creative life. A more sustainable life. A more appreciative life. A more giving life. A more informed life. Yep–still want all those things. Still know¬†those are the things that matter to me.

But it’s not the life I live in my heart. I feel like the life I live is “an obligated life.” A life of “musts” and “shoulds.” And I know to some extent there is no escaping that. Being human comes with responsibilities. And while I’m sick to tears of even the mention of fibro, there’s no avoiding the fact that it is of late sucking much of the optimism from my life.

Ah, but on the flip side, I’ve been feeling inspired lately. By my dearest friends.

One has been inspiring me to grasp opportunities and live in the moment and be open to the awesomeness of life despite it’s capacity to hurt us. She’s been reminding me of the joys that sharing brings. She’s been reminding me that being alive is a blessing, and that nothing could be more important than the connections we make with others. I love her so. damn. much.

Another friend has been inspiring me to accept what is. To grasp what good and wonderful and beautiful we can from even the most heartbreaking and painful of circumstances. And he’s been reminding me that we’re all full of contradictions, and that that can be confusing…but that sometimes we just have to roll with it. I love him so. damn. much.

And yet another friend has been inspiring me to embrace the magic of quiet pursuits. Ours lives are very different in some ways, but her deliberateness in choosing how she spends her time has been reminding me that I could choose more wisely myself at times. And that I should¬†count myself as a worthwhile recipient of my time. And yep…I sure do love her too.

So have my babblings gotten me anywhere today? I suppose it remains to be seen. But I hope like hell that I can start living those inspirations. And that I can remind myself more often what it is I do want from this life. And that maybe, just maybe, I can drop a few of those shoulds.