Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Welcome to (a Purposeful) 2016.

Wow. Here we are in 2016 already. I cannot believe how fast the Christmas break has gone by. No sooner was the tree up and the Christmas dinner scoffed down than it was back to work and school and business as usual.

The beginning of January does mean that it's time, once again, to think about my guiding word for the year. Last year's word (you may recall) was CONSISTENT. If I am absolutely honest..... I SUCKED at consistent. I mean really, really sucked at it. I didn't manage to get to karate for anything more than a 4 month stint at time without taking a break, my eating habits were all over the place, I made no impact (whatsoever) on the house. My consistent 2015 was a wash out! *SIGH*

Not to be daunted by the epic lack of success last year, I once again worked through Susannah Conway's "Find your Word" mini-class. This is a great set of prompts over 5 days to really get you thinking about what guiding word might be right for you.

At the beginning of the process I'd been kicking around the word "abundant" which for some reason kept niggling at me. It wasn't quite right though and working through the 5 days of prompts other things began to emerge.

I'd definitely noticed the last few months a feeling of coming to the surface after being underwater for a long time. Since my Mum and brother passed away I've very much been treading water on a day to day basis - just getting through the day, and the week, and the month. More recently I feel like I need to start moving forward with things, that I need something to drive me out of the stagnant puddle, that I need some renewed purpose.

After chewing around those thoughts for a while, there was my word poking at me.


Purposeful will be my guiding word for 2016. As soon as it came to me I started to think about all the aspects of my life I could impact. Things starting coming so thick and fast I had to get a pen and write them down so I wouldn't forget. The result of that frantic writing session was my "purposeful" mind map:

So, how will PURPOSEFUL work for me in a practical sense?
In General
Well, overall for any action taken I will ask myself about the purpose - the "why?" of it. If it's not something that brings benefit, health, happiness, prosperity, comfort or joy to my life then why would I do it?
At Work
In terms of my career, my job role has evolved so much in the 8 years that I've been in place that my job description bares no resemblance to what I actually do and my salary in no way reflects the additional responsibilities I have. This year I will be taking purposeful steps to move forward with a re-evaluation of my role and recognition for the work I do.
For Health
I am back on the Slimming World bandwagon these last few months so I will be sticking with that and making purposeful choices about what I use to fuel my body. I have also rejoined the gym and I'm looking forward to increasing my strength and fitness. The purpose of this is that I potentially have 2nd Black Belt grading looming this year. I need to be fighting fit for that.
With Money
I want to be aware of what our funds are spend on. To move forward with a strict budget with the purpose of eliminating some of our debt and putting us in a stronger financial position.
At Home
Our house needs to be a haven. We spend a lot of time there (my introvert nature makes me a homebody) so we deserve for it to be a place of comfort and loveliness. At the moment it's mostly messy and cluttered and overwhelmed. Some purposeful decluttering of "stuff", moving forward with my P333 wardrobe (which I LOVE), a revamp of our bedroom (I am turning 40 in May and have decided that for my birthday I will finally be getting the new bedroom I've been dreaming of for years!).
For Creativity
I love making things and don't always make time for my creative activities. I need to accept that creativity in itself is a value pursuit, that it has purpose of it's own accord, because it brings me joy and is a huge part of my self care.
In Mindfulness
Part of the purposefulness will come, I think, from being more mindful. I'm guilty (as we all are) of getting caught up in the rat race, in the technology trap, in rushing from here to there, dashing through meals without thinking about what I'm eating, hurrying the kids along when they want to dawdle and just generally being mentally somewhere else instead of in the moment. I'm looking to be more purposeful with how I spend my time (our most valuable commodity?) particular with the family. The kids are growing up so fast. Miss Grace is turning 12 tomorrow (how can that be?). The won't be kids for much longer and we need to enjoy it why we can.
So that's it. That's the round up of my guiding word intentions for the year. I'm thinking I might put a page in my Bullet Journal for a weekly summary on how purposeful I've been in in these areas (Work, health, money, home and relationships, creativity, mindfulness) to try and capture where I'm succeeding and failing and to keep me on track. On a last note I'll leave you with my "Purposeful" mandala to finish off with a bit of pretty :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December Challenges

In an attempt to kick my creative butt into gear I'm taking part in a few creative challenges in December.

First off the bat is the Better Lettering Course challenge from I took the Better Lettering Course in the year (a really lovely course to improve your hand lettering). The prompts for December are all about reflecting on the year.

Prompt 1 is "Best thing that happened".

This was strangely a tough one for me. We've had a couple of pretty turbulent years lately and things can still be a little bumpy. I had a trawl through my 2015 Facebook feed for some inspiration for some good stuff that had gone on this year and this photo was the one that spoke to me:

We went to Porthmadog in North Wales for a week in April and had a lovely time. Snowdonia is a beautiful area and it was lovely to get out together as a family in the spring fresh air. So here we are for the better lettering prompt:

The second challenge is the December #PlanWithMeChallenge which is hosted by these lovely ladies:

* Jessica // Pretty Prints & Paper:
* Kim // Tiny Ray of Sunshine:
* Kara // Boho Berry:

There's a Facebook group and Instagram group for the challenge where you can play along. The idea is to encourage the sharing of planner ideas.

As mentioned in the last post I'm back to bullet journaling for December (still in my fauxdori).

Currently my set up is looking like this:

(Gotta have the month on 2 pages on the go. This is from Marsia Bramucci on Etsy. ADORE her stuff!).

(Quote and sticky notes (gotta be done for some plannering)).

(A squared moleskine large cahier notebook for my bullet journal).

(A monthly spread for December - looking pretty full already! This was my prompt photo for the first #PlanWeMeChallenge prompt. Day 1: Planner Selfie).

(Goals for December and a habit tracker - WIP on these!).

(Prompt lists and a gratitude section).

I think that's enough for now. More sharing to come, I'm sure.

Finally, I'm also thinking I will take part in Journal Your Christmas this year. I haven't done it for an age and was vaguely excited by the thought of playing along this year. I'm cooking up an album plan. First prompt is expected later so we'll see if that actually transpires.

I swear it never used to take me so long to write a blog post! #outofpractice!

More soon.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Distracted by the shinies and other planner musings.

When my kids were little, they used to watch a TV programme on CBeebies called "The Shiny Show".

It was a quiz for little people which involved watching videos and answering questions about them. For every question the character answered correctly they received a "shiny". The one who answered most right at the end was the winner of the "Super Shiny".

Like my kids, I'm clearly easily distracted by the "Shinies". For me though, they tend to shinies of the planner variety.

You know what I mean, I'm sure. You disappear down the Instagram/YouTube/Tumblr rabbit hole for a while when suddenly you see a planner shiny. Something that catches your eye. You hop on over to wherever you spotted it and suddenly, there it is. This is clearly THE THING that is going to make all your planner dreams a reality. You must have it/implement it/set it up immediately. Planner peace awaits, right?? Mostly wrong it seems.

Since I stumbled into the online planner community at the beginning of the year my planner has been through more reinventions than Madonna. Then, after months of becoming enraptured with the planner shinies, I finally had the dawning realisation that it wouldn't matter what happy new shiny planner gadget/decoration/tool I had. If the basis of my system wasn't there. If I wasn't using it consistently. If it wasn't making me more organised, it wasn't working.

Some of you, I know, know this already. I would say why didn't you say something and save me the months of pain, but I know, realistically, that this is a thought process all planner addicts have to go through. We need to get our shiny loving phase out before we can get down to business!

In August I abandoned all pre-printed journals/inserts/shinies and pulled out large, squared, plain covered moleskine cahier. It fits in my fauxdori (which I deliberately made with overhang) along with a couple of other notebooks. That's what I've been using to plan the last three months. I'm slowly working out the tweaks of what I need and what I don't need. Reviewing regularly to see what I'm including and what I'm not. Things might actually, finally be coming together for my planning.

So, what I have learned by letting go of the planner shiny distraction? Quite a bit, actually.

1) I like the TN style of notebook. I like a separate planner bit and a separate journal bit and a zip pocket and I like being able to switch books in and out.

2) I absolutely MUST have some sort monthly spread going on for birthdays/appointments and forward planning. I also like them all in one place and like Mo2p spread that has room for reasonable squares. With a Monday start (who starts their week on a Sunday? Bizarre! LOL).

3) For daily pages, regardless of what else I used I always end up using a bullet journal style for notes. Something about Ryder Carroll's Bullet Journal idea just clicked with me. It makes sense. It works. I always come back to it.

4) I like an index, and I like some colour coding. Just 4 or 5 colours (one each for family and one for work). That's enough and works for me.

5) Whilst I like the pretties (washi tape/stickers/fun post its). I don't need it, and sometimes it distracts me from actually planning.

6) I need a least a large cahier/A5 size to plan in. Anything smaller just doesn't cut it.

7) I also need to be able to fit the darn thing in my bag because my planner needs to go where I go. I literally cannot keep things in my head for a more than a few seconds these days.

8) I need to write everything down. EVERY. DAMN. THING. Last week in work I thought of something I needed to do whilst having my lunch, I walked over to fill my cup with water and by the time I'd gotten back to my table I had forgotten what it was. WRITE IT DOWN!! Argghhhh!! Stupid, almost 40yo memory crappness!

9) I don't like a separate work and personal planner. I've been working in my fauxdori for personal and an A5 Filofax for work. It's not good for the planning side. I need one list to work from or I miss things. That said, I also need some sort of repository for meeting notes so a separate large evernote  moleskine seems to be taking care of that. All the minutes, all in one place.

I'm hoping to take part in a couple of planner challenges for December (because, clearly, December is not busy enough for a working mother of two! LOL). I've signed up for the December #PlanWithMeChallenge and I'm also going to do #OneBookDecember (being that I'm already planning to be in one book anyway). I'm hoping these will help focus me even more on what's working and what isn't so I can be centred on the planning and not the planner for the month.

Photos of the December set up will be along at some point next week, and maybe a video update if I can find a moment to record something in peace. Hah!


Monday, 10 August 2015

Who's butt is this anyway?

I find this photo disconcerting.

I cannot tell which Newf butt belongs to which Newf. That tells me Miss Ziva is pretty much as big as Master Jethro.

These puppies are HUGE!!

They like to share the sofa.

It's not pretty.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

One Book July #onebookjuly2015

I've decided to take part in One Book July this year.

OBJ is the brainchild of Rhomany (over at Rhomany's Realm) and is a project that she first ran last year in association with Carie Harling (at Dispatches from the Frat House) and MissVickyBee. (The Coffee Addict's Club).

The premise behind the project is to pare down your planners/journals/sketch books/notebooks and the writing implements/tools you use to just one book for the whole of the month of July.

One Book.

One Pen.

One Month.

Rhomany does a fabulous job of explaining the whole concept in her video for OBJ2015 on YouTube. There's also a run down of her set up here. Carie's set up here, and Vicky's set up here.

What I love about these ladies and their collaboration is that they all approach things from such different angles. For me, the point of getting involved this year wasn't necessarily about the paring down of books (I have a few planners/sketchbooks/notebooks on the go but not a horrendous amount). It's more about trying to get a single system in place that I can work consistently. Hmmmmm CONSIST? Where have we heard that before?

Here's what I have on the go currently:

These are three art journals (although to be honest, they haven't seen much action the last few months). The black one is a spiral bound (I think it's 10x18?) sketchbook by Strathmore. The kraft coloured one is a Dylusions Creative Journal by Ranger (which I've been using for some classes from The purple one is a handmade cereal box art journal which I made a while ago from Jenniebellie's tutorial on YouTube. These are what I use for art journaling most commonly.

The two MTNs are my fauxdoris. The pale one a slightly bigger than regular size and the brown one a field notes size.

I ADORE these journals. There are two problems though. First is that the large one is TOO large and the field notes size is too small. Second is that whilst I love the format, I love the printables, I love the feel of the leather, realistically I find it quite difficult to write in them (in a practical sense). I've tried several different systems in there. Inserts from a number of different places on Etsy but I'm just not using them consistently.

The Moleskines in the second photo above are my work note books. The soft cover one is a Bullet Journal, the hard cover is an Evernote moleskine which I use for meeting minutes. The Everynote is staying for OBJ. That's the "magic book" in our office which has all the important notes etc in it so I need to keep using it. The bullet journal is going on hold for July to see if I can get away with work and personal stuff in one book for planning and task management. We'll see I guess.

I deliberated for quite a few days between an MTN style and a hard bound book for my OBJ. After watching videos from all three of the Coffee Addicts club ladies I decided that the hard bound idea was speaking to me more so I went with that.

In the spirit of OBJ not being a stress I decided to go with a notebook I already had lying around so picked up this faux suede plain paper sketch book which I bought a little while ago in The Range. It was cheap as chips (£3.99) but the paper is reasonably think and not too shiny.

I've had this since May and did fill one or two pages at the front but I thought this page spoke to the whole OBJ ethos well enough so was happy to have it in there:

I wrote out a list of what I knew I MUST have in the book for July:

- month on two pages
- some sort of forward planning for the rest of the year
- week on 1 page with space for bullet journaling
- some post its/flags and some way of colour coding
- some pretties

I also wrote a list of what I wanted to accomplish with the book in July:

- a consistent system of planning and organising that WORKS
- somewhere for journaling (to encourage CONSISTENT journaling practice)
- somewhere for notes on Books, blog posts, stuff I'm thinking about, research/learning
- a place to encourage gratitude practice (I've talked about wanting to implement this before)

Previously when I've tried to plan in hardcover notebooks the haphazardness of it has irked me. The idea of sectioning off parts of the book that Vicky discusses in her video (taken from Clark Danger's ideas on journaling practice) really spoke to me. I've made some sections in the book along similar lines.

Here's what the inside is looking like currently:

Month on 2 pages

Forward Planning

Week on one Page (with blank sheets for bullet journaling)

 Post its/Flags/Colour Coding

I've split off the following sections:

The sections are pretty self explanatory:

- Journal
- Brain Dumps
- Book Notes
- Gratitude
- Learn Zone
- Blog Notes

I've delineated the pages with some washi tape to make the sections easy to find and the title pages I'll complete when I'm in a doodling mood.

My Pen of Choice for the duration of July will be this one:

Which is a Signo Uniball gel pen. I love the feel of this pen and who it writes. My only quibble with it is that it's quite a wide tip (0.7mm) but I can forgive that for the rest of it's good points.

For some colour-coding I've opted for my Derwent Academy Watercolour Pencils:

I've chosen these mostly because of the versatility. They're fine for highlighting over writing for colour coding events/note per person but also handy if I want a little colour in sketches etc.

So, that's it. I'm all set up for One Book July 2015 (just in time to begin today on the 1st!). I'm sure there'll be an update along at some  point about how it's going.