Fierce. Feisty. Funny. Fearless.
Happy, happy birthday, sweet Vivi, my bunny-bunny girl.
Fierce. Feisty. Funny. Fearless.
Happy, happy birthday, sweet Vivi, my bunny-bunny girl.
Do you BuJo?
Do you know what BuJo is?
It’s shorthand for bullet journaling, a creative, and personal way to chronicle goals, make plans, keep track of inspirational quotes and all manner of either mental glitter.
Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and Instagram have been swollen with tips, tricks, and ideas on how to get your BuJo on. YouTube has countless videos that turn dotted blank pages into drool inducing organizational layout.
Around the end of November, early December, I began to see more and more articles about bullet journaling. With the impending start to the New Year, bloggers and Pinners were touting how BuJo was the way to go for 2017. Track you fitness goals! Track your savings goals! Track yourself on how well you track your tracking! There were links to templates and guides. There were step by step tutorials on how to write in calligraphy using only a fine tip pen and some matches. No, not really with the matches.
When I wrote about making plans for 2017 while it was 2016, BuJo was on my list (gah, every time I write that (BuJo), I think this is exactly how I feel when I hear people say artisanal and bromance and moist).
But a place where to-do lists, a diary, and a planner all come together using wash tape, markers, and doodles?! Um, yes! Paper! Pens! Organization! Take my money!!
I order this gorgeous moleskin notebook and some fancy micro-line pens. Between December 20th and January 1st, I went all in getting my BuJo plan sketched out and BuJo templates ready.
You can make your BuJo as plain or as intricate as you like. Most articles say that a true BuJo has an index, a key, color coding, and calendar. You’re supposed to number all of your pages, set sections for future logs, monthly goals, yearly goals, and so forth. The more I read, the more inundated with ideas I became. I knew that I’d sink under the weight of all the possibilities, so I scaled back considerably.
On a separate piece of paper, I outlined the areas I wanted to focus on and tried my hand at drawing banners, arrows, and fonts.
My first task was to spend the first three weeks of January keeping a food and fitness tracker. I had a place to put in what the one thing I would do for the day would be. I had a spot for doodles, quotes, and other motivational tidbits. The backside of each page would be a place for me to write down my thoughts, ideas, and to do list tasks as they came to me. I called this page “Brain Dump”.
After I filled up the three weeks worth of pages, I set up some pages for goals related to family, marriage, self, and work. I had page dedicated to places I’ve been and places I’d like to go. I had a page for quotes. There was another for restaurants I’d like to try. All of the pages were decorated, doodled on, and thick with wash tape. Oh yeah, I was doing the most, per usual.
Several times, the Hubs would join me in the dining room (yes, I’m still working there) to knock out some paperwork. “That looks like a lot of work,” he’d comment, shaking his head, as I capped and uncapped pens, drew straight lines. As I furiously scribbled, I assured him that it was actually kind of fun. I love paper and getting crafty. I got shivers of satisfaction with each completed page, every straight line, and every color coded check mark. BuJo was tapping into all facets of my creative side.
What I failed to realize (or maybe just skipped over this part in all of my reading and scrolling) is that BuJo is time-consuming. Like, Facebook and Instagram time consuming. Like when you sit down and the sun is high and you look up and it’s pitch black outside. I would crack open my book, slip out my cool pens, and the next thing I know, the kids are holding out their cupped palms, imploring me to make them some food, Dickensian style. Dust was piling up like snow drifts on all available surfaces. Laundry lay in various stages of completion in buckets at the top and bottom of the stairs. I had to figure out how to add this newest spinning plate to the full service of dishes, cups, and what not that were already whirling like dervishes overhead.
Here’s what I learned: I couldn’t add another thing without putting something else down, intentionally or otherwise. When I gave BuJo 100%, the blogging fell off. That was no bueno, so I picked up the blogging, but the photography got pushed down. Can’t do that. My response time to emails and texts plummeted as I drew straight lines and bubbled in circles to denote how much water I had consumed. Finally, one Sunday when the Hubs ferried the girls hither and thither, I put the BuJo aside to attack the massive myriad of things I’d neglected. I didn’t pick up my fancy pens or my special ruler. I wouldn’t until I’d taken care of business.
Lots of the articles I read said things like don’t overthink it, there’s no such thing as perfection, you can make it as time-consuming as you’d like. I feel like they were talking me down from the ledge before I even got started.
Guess what happened? I went from this (left) to this (right).
BuJo wiped me out. Two weeks in and I was done. Of course, this wasn’t a challenge or a competition or anything. It was just me trying something new and seeing how it worked out for me. I hate to quit anything, so there is a little of something like failure trying to find a foothold in my brain. I’m not letting it get any purchase, though.
I’m keeping my new notebook, along with my daily planner, my stack of post-its, my mini notebook, and my book of random thoughts. I plan to flip it open when I’ve got an idea or when I need a reminder of some of the gems I’ve already captured that need polishing.
Or I can just fill it up with doodles.
Would you try bullet journaling to keep track of your goals? Tell me about it!
Yup, I’m writing a novel.
There, I put it out there.
I said it out loud. Well, I said it on the Internet, which is the modern-day equivalent of having it be the front page, bold-faced headline on The New York Times, The Guardian, and possibly, The National Enquirer. The fact is, I’m setting goals. In the past, I’ve followed this Instagram philosophy:
Set some goals.
Stay quiet about them.
Smash the shit out of them.
Clap for your damn self.
My philosophy has shifted a bit. I’m all about setting goals, smashing the shit of out of them and clapping for my damn self. However, I can’t stay quiet this time. I need to be held accountable. Recently I read that people who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve them than the ones who didn’t. Telling a friend increases this rate to 78%. Of course, I read this on Facebook, so the veracity of these statistics is up for debate. Still, it sounds pretty authoritative, so I’m going to go with it. I’ve written down my goal, signed it and dated it. 42% ahead of the game. Now, I’m telling you and we’re up to 78% — just like that.
Paul Coelho said that “When you want something, all of the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” Well, I want something. I want to write a novel. I want to write and publish a grown-up novel full of vibrant characters who are steeped in relatability and enmeshed in situations that make my readers say, “There but for the grace of God. . .”.
When readers pick up my novel, it’s because they’re hungry to read. When they move past the prologue and into the meat of the story, they’ve stayed because they’ve liked what they’ve tasted. They keep taking bites, steadily moving through the pages like a fork breaking off chunks of their favorite dish. When they get to the end of my novel, their eyes will linger on the last word before slowly closing the cover. Their fingers will drum across the hard back of the jacket as they recall the experience they have had of growing and changing with my characters.
At the end of my novel, my readers will feel satiated, that having spent time reading my words was the best time they have spent in a long time. They will feel transported and engaged, reflecting on the moments that took their breath away, the moments that had them pursing their lips in disgust at the choice a character has made knowing that it’s the wrong choice. They will look back at sections with fondness, others with incredulity. When it’s all over, readers will feel like they’ve eaten the most succulent, most decadent version of their favorite meal. Those initial bites will have become full on elbows-on-the-table-fork-biting-knife-scraping-sopping-up-the-gravy-with-a-biscuit-open-mouth-chewing-y’all-got-any-more- inhalations of literary goodness. They will continue to roll around my words and scenes in their brain, the way they would run their tongue over their teeth, re-visiting the flavors and nuances they can’t get enough of.
In one of the myriad of writing classes I took throughout my educational career, one of my professors said that the end of a good poem, story, piece of writing was akin to the lid of a box being snapped shut. When you come to the end, there should be the “click” of completion; the piece will have come to its rightful stopping place. As their eyes race from the top of the last page to the final punctuation mark, my readers will hear that firm click. They will lift their eyes from the page, wondering, “How was this exactly what I needed and I didn’t even know it?” They will be full and yet hungry for more.
I want my novel to interrupt the daily routines of those who read it. Responsibilities should be neglected — provided that no one gets seriously injured. Breakfasts, lunches and dinner become cereal. Text messages get ignored. Gym workouts are downgraded to machines that allow you to read while you move. Instagram feeds go unattended, unless they’re snapping artfully crafted pictorials of the book cover perched beside venti non-fat caramel mocha lattes, no whip. They will cancel plans to keep reading and be low-key thrilled when plans are cancelled on them. My novel will have my reader staying up late, “Just one more chapter,” falling from their lips as their eyelids sink shut and their heads bob down to their chests. My novel will be carried with my readers the way they carry their personal effects. When they leave the house, it will be book, keys, wallet, phone. They will read at every chance they get — in carpool lines, in waiting rooms, while pumping gas, in line at Chipotle, during the commercial breaks on TGIT. They’ll read my novel instead watching TGIT. Sorry, Shonda.
I want for my writing to grab you by the collar, toss you onto the page and bury you between the words. You will become emotionally invested in the well-being of the characters. You will root for them to overcome their obstacles. You will discourage them from going down the familiar road in favor of the one less traveled, the one that will force them to grow and change. You will hold your breath as they reach for their goal, fingers grazing it before they either take hold or fall short of the mark. You will look around you only to discover that your familiar surroundings have been replaced with a setting of my creation. By the end of my novel, you will have traveled so far that when the last line, the last word has been read you won’t know what to do next.
Am I setting some high bars for myself? Yup. Whenever I decide to take on any project or challenge, from photography to food to fitness, I’ve got a plan, though.
Instead of waking up at 5am to work out, I’m waking up at 5am to write. The alarm goes off and I head for my office. For an hour, I am committed to any endeavor that is related to my writing. I’m reading books on writing, plot, structure, and character development. I’m taking notes on what novels I consistently come back to and for what reasons. I’m pulling out all of the false starts I’ve ever had from boxes that have been pushed to the far reaches of the attic corners. There are reams of paper, filled with dot matrix printing of yarns that I spun from 1991 through early 2000. There are 3.5 inch floppy disks that I have no way of accessing without calling in The Geek Squad. And as I list off this trove of early ’90s writing relics, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the Little Mermaids song was floating around in my head — look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?
So much paper. So many words. So many ideas. Some of it is such drivel that needs to be redacted, reducing the page to a zebra hide with only the words “the”, “but”, and “okay” visible. Some of it is quality work that makes me wonder how in the world I came up with a particular story line when I find myself banging my head on the wall looking for another word for “nice”.
I love writing. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction. Nothing gives me a deeper sense of fulfillment and achievement than when I put pen to paper and the words come fast and furiously. When the ideas are bubbling, I have to drop everything and go. The words fight for position, spilling out of the pen and onto the page. My hand slides and glides across the lines, left to right. I fall into the rhythm of the motion, almost hypnotized by the repetition of the pen sluicing across the page. When I sit down to write, I’m just filling pages with ideas, notations, names of places and people who may or may not make the cut down the line. I’m flip through books of writing exercises as I stretch the muscles that are going to do some heavy lifting for the foreseeable future. Like I said, I’m setting some high bars, so I need to limber up in order to clear them.
As I craft sentences, stacking them like bricks to create paragraphs which in turn will create chapters, I’m envisioning my novel finding a home in the prime real-estate section of booksellers everywhere: New Releases and Best Sellers.
They say that if you want to achieve something, you have to put it out there to the Universe. You have to speak it into existence. You have to claim it.
This is me claiming it.
Let’s be goal diggers!
What goal are you going to write down and then share with a friend?
Tell me about it in the comments!
This week has been a veritable craft-a-palooza over here. And since I’m so crafty, I signed up to donate two gift baskets to an upcoming auction and what I thought was going to be relatively easy, has turned into a mad dash from craft store to Target to grocery store to Dollar Tree and back to the craft store. Why is making a Movie Night Gift Basket and an Ice Cream Sundae Gift Basket giving me night sweats? It should not be this difficult. Oh wait. . .I’m Type A. I forgot.
On top of that? Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and the girls are foaming at the mouth in anticipation of stuffing their faces on conversation hearts, lollipops, chocolate kisses and all manner of Cupid themed sugar love snacks. The Valentine paraphenalia has been out in prominent display at most retailers since, December 27th (not joking), so my girls are pretty much at the frayed end of their ropes as they wait for another chance to get crafty and get candy.
Of course, how could I have forgotten? If there’s a mascot for a holiday, my kids know about it and have their job description memorized — you know, so whoever is supposed to show up doesn’t short the girls on their due. I need to work an attitude of gratitude because the greed in their eyes would make Gordon Gekko re-evaluate his life choices.
Every February as the 14th approaches, I help the girls figure out what kind of Valentine they’d like to hand out. At first, it was pretty easy because M was the only one who handed out Valentine’s. C’s two years behind her in age and three years behind her in school, so I had, unknowingly, a bit of a reprieve until she started school. Since
I’ve they’ve started handing out little homemade love notes, I’ve been compelled to make each subsequent year a little cuter, a little craftier.
I know, I’m an idiot.
Truly, Valentine’s Day has become the Craft Olympics, sponsored by Pinterest.photo booth with hershey kisses. 2014 saw us put together Swedish Fish with a request: “Will You ‘O-Fish-Ally’ Be My Valentine?”. Last year, we did Kool Aid and Crazy Straws. This year, however, two things changed, namely that M and C didn’t want to do the same thing and that V wanted in on the craft-tastic action. So, here’s what we came up with.
Smartie Pants Valentine’s for C.You Blow Me Away Valentine’s for M. You’re All Write Valetine’s for V. We are just so “punny”! I was really surprised that M opted not to do a candy related Valentine this year. C is my candy-holic, so her choice was expected. As for V, I couldn’t remember if her morning class or her after-care class had allergies, so I decided to forgo treats altogether.
The girls and I put these crafty creations together two Saturdays ago, which means, it was still January. Yesterday, C couldn’t contain her excitement. She brought her treats in to school even though the class party isn’t until Friday. When I picked her up after school, she still had her treats, saying that her teacher told her she was too early. No big deal; we don’t have anything perishable.
A little while later, my phone started pinging. Texts were coming in from some moms asking me whether or not they could send candy in with the Valentine’s. Color me confused; did I miss something? Evidently, C shared with her pals what was in the bag — “I didn’t tell them everything. I just told them it was candy related.”
Oh, well. . .there you go.
Another text comes in and then another, each one wanting to delve into my commitment to send in candy coated Valentine’s on Friday. I asked C if her teacher said anything about the valentine’s not having candy. Trying to get a straight answer out of a second grader is an exercise in futility.
I vaguely remember a hot pink sheet coming home last Friday that had the class lists on it. Was there a “no candy banner” on there? I can’t recall. I text this question to a few friends who tells me there wasn’t anything on the sheet about it.
You know what? I’m not making new Valentine’s. I don’t have the parenting energy to deal with the inveitable snot-filled, teary fall-out that is sure to come once I tell C that we can hand out candy-grams. This is me going rogue, people! It’s Valentine’s Day and there will be candy!
Are you getting crafty with candy-filled (or candy-free) Valentine’s this year?
Tell me about it in the comments!
My kids love dessert.
I mean, they lurve it. They’re asking me what’s for dessert as they’re setting the table for breakfast. They come by it honestly, thoug. I love dessert, too (big surprise). What I don’t love, however, is how what started out as an occasional after dinner treat has mushroomed into an overwhelming sense of entitlement to some kind of post-dinner confection from my girls.
Do I only have myself to blame? Probably.
I don’t remember when we introduced dessert as part of the family meal to the girls. What I do know is that whenever they are insistent on having dessert every.single.night, I have to crack down. I start offering fruit as an alternative, which, as you can probably guess, is about as well received as paper parasol in a typhoon.
When the fruit alternative fails to quell their desire, I go all or nothing. Either you can have what I offered or nothing at all. There are tears. There is the renting of clothes. M may have gone so far as to don some sackcloth and ash on occasion, but she was stomping up to her room in disgust so fast, I can’t be sure. It was like seeing Bigfoot in the woods.
A friend of mine, C, told me how she stopped giving her girls dessert — cold turkey — after she and husband realized the additional sugar was making them crazy. Her girls were moody, cranky, refused to go to bed, and were all manner of unpleasant until C figured out it was dessert. So, she cut them off — ka-cha! — and for two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!), her girls went through the dessert DTs until their behavior and moods regulated, and the desire for sweets abated.
Whew! I don’t know if I could survive that. I don’t know if M,C, and V could survive me trying to survive them trying to survive that. Still, something has to be done. In truth, I go through phases with the dessert. If the requests come few and far between, then no problem. I’m happy to have you guys grab some ice cream or a novelty from the freezer. You can have a cookie or baked good if we have them. When it’s every night — can we have dessert? can we have dessert? canwehavedessert canwehavedessert khaved’srt — GAH! NO! No dessert, not now! Not ever!
I’ve tried to stop linking membership in the Clean Plate Club with membership into the After Supper Sweets Squad (yeah, I just made that up). I don’t want them to eat their dinner just so they can have dessert. On the other hand, I don’t want them to say that they’re no longer hungry, don’t have dessert and then come time for bed, “Oh Mom, my stomach is rumbling. Can I have a snack?” That’s happened more times than I’d like to count. And for the record, nothing is more panic inducing than being woken up in the middle of the night by your children crying for you. When you find out it’s because of hunger pains and they’d like something to eat, the panic stems from the speed with which you want to throw all your good parenting skills out the window.
We all know the media representations of what our bodies should look like is pervasive. We all know those representations are the exceptions, not the rule. I have my own hang ups about my body. I’m doing my best not to let my girls be privy to that. When they ask me why I’m working out or why I’m using measuring cups to portion out my food, I tell them it’s because I want to be healthy and to live a long time (not because I’m trying to get back into my pre-Christmas clothes).
In an effort to promote more healthy eating, we’ve told the girls that dinner is whatever I put in front of them. That’s usually a protein, a generous serving of fruits and veggies and maybe some kind of carb. If they finish their meals — without shoveling food into their maws — and truly are still hungry, they can either have more protein and veggies or they can have dessert. Those are the options. This plan has served me in good stead for a while. I started noticing that, even if they had the second helping of protein and veg, they were still asking for dessert. And sometimes, they were still getting it. Okay, a lot of times they were still getting it. After a while, the pattern changed. They began to assume that they were having dessert. It went from asking me, “Mom, can I have to dessert?” to “Khave d’sert?” to just opening the freezer or pantry and rooting around like a racoon.
Enough was enough.
The new plan went into effect on Monday. Each of my girls gets a set of three clothespins which ring the mouth of a quart size container. Whenever they want dessert, they must drop one of their respective clothespins in the jar. Do you remember I said each girl has a set of three? One set of three pins. That means you can only have dessert three times over the course of a week. If they decide they want to have dessert Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, fine. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday, fine. Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday? Whatever makes you happy, kiddo. There is no cashing in all the pins on one day, by the way. The pins get pulled out of the jar at the start of the next week and we begin again. This is totally going on Pinterest.
I had planned to make my own clothespins and by that I mean just write their names in cursive on a clothespin. When I found these pins at the Dollar Spot at Target, well, I couldn’t resist.
I had an unused quart container in my Tupperware cabinet. I’ve even got a cute little poem percolating in my mind to affix to the jar when I get the chance, too. I set it up, sat the girls down and explained it to them.
They were totally on-board.
Even V, who is still mastering the concept of the days of the week.
Today is Thursday and here’s where we stand on pins.
Kind of not surprised by the tally. Kind of expecting some fussing and some tears tonight after dinner. I’m going to hold up the jar, though, shake the pins and remind them of the new plan.
And after they go to bed, I’m going to have dessert.
Do you have dessert after dinner? What’s your favorite? Tell me about it in the comments!