Planner Friday: Washi Mermies

This week came on fast, and I was utterly lacking in fucks with regard to my planner theme, so I kept it simple.

I had recently picked up this set of Jane Davenport washi tapes at Michaels**, so I grabbed the mermaid-y one and used it as the main visual cue.  It’s all washi, plus one single sticker I had in my plannerstash (the light-on-ocean box in the left sidebar).  I didn’t even bother with my trackers this week.  

I like how it turned out.  Further proof you don’t have to make whole sheets of stickers or overthink your planner pretties.  Just whip out some tape and go to town.

This week also showcases my new bookmark from Stickebeans, who made the Marauder’s Map cover and bookmark I used last year.  I still adore both and they’ve held up very well – I’m sure I’ll switch back eventually. I just wanted something new to look at for a while, and Stickebeans makes such excellent-quality products I was keen to order more from her shop.  

(She uses wonderfully thick lamination and her covers/bookmarks can practically stop a bullet.  I really wish she did custom work so I could’ve had this year’s cover done so beautifully, but given the volume of order she has I don’t blame her for keeping things simple!) 

Note the little figurine of Pua and Hei-Hei from Moana that I found on Amazon.  (These pics are often taken on my desk at my day job, which is why you see my Funkos and such.)

I’ve been using the divisions just like I normally do – the top one for my to-do list, the middle section for events and things I did, and the bottom for writing progress.

**I like the tapes in the set, but I warn you, if you want to buy them:  The purpleish tape with the affirmative words has a spelling error in it, which kind of killed that one for me.  I can’t believe it got all the way into production without anyone catching it.  Several of the others however, including the mermaids and the blue one that says “I’m learning to fly,” are just gorgeous.

Incidentally the Marauder’s Map bookmark shown on Etsy also has a spelling error, but the real thing does NOT.  If it worries you mention it to the shopkeeper, but mine was perfect.  

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Note to Self #3: Don’t it Make Your Grey Days Blue?

Hey Sugarbanana,

Let’s look at a typical month in your mood cycle for a minute.  The average 30 days in your life, with the absolute minimum of self-care work and no external mitigating factors, break down something like:

2-3 Black Days – Unable to function. We talked about these last time.

10-14 Grey Days – On these days you’re basically functional but not doing great. You can accomplish most basic tasks, spend time with friends, but are easily worn out by social situations and often overwhelmed.  You feel worn out or numb most of the time punctuated by crying or going to bed right after work.

7 or so Blue Days – You love blue, so, in your case Blue Days are a positive.  On Blue Days you feel pretty well; you can enjoy fun things, don’t break commitments, you get writing done.  You even cook.  You’re not bouncing off walls but you feel about 70% capable and cautiously optimistic.

2-3 Teal Days – The coveted Teal Day is one in which you feel completely like yourself – and you are aware that being you is a good thing.  These are the days that you feel switched on, even hopeful; you come up with ideas, you’re excited about coming events.  Now, Teal Days can edge into hypomania, which is distinguishable by the underlying anxiety; hypomania is slightly agitated, more of a “I HAVE TO GET THINGS DONE WHILE I CAN” that leads to overscheduling, making grandiose plans, and eventually crashing.  But true Teal Days feel natural and expansive, not edgy.

4-5 Red Days – These are bleeding days, in which case, who the fuck knows?  Red Days, along with the transitional days that lead from one color to another, are unpredictable.  When you were younger your hormones were a much better predictor of how the overall month would flow, but as we head toward your 40s they’re getting less reliable.  Sometimes you feel great while you’re bleeding and sometimes you feel homicidal.  The only real constant is that on the days you’re bleeding the most you tend to feel horny as a ten-peckered owl.  You already know the self-care for that.

Now of course this is all a simplification – depending on the outside world, your physical health, and the whims of the meth-addled trickster god in charge of your neurotransmitters, any of these phases can be longer or shorter, and your cycles don’t run in a perfect monthly rhythm.  This is just a visual aid.

The goal of self-care, for you anyway, is to shift each of those colors into the next best shade or at least extend the span of Blue and Teal days so the calendar looks more like this:

Of course you’d love to get rid of the Black altogether, but let’s be realistic here – those days have always been with you.  As I said before, accept that they’ll come, plan for them, try not to judge yourself for having them.  

The obvious place to start is with Grey Days.  Faithful self-care routines have the most noticeable effect there.  When you’re feeding and moving and offering kindness to all the various parts of you, Grey Days turn into a soft grey-blue, and then into full Blue.  You feel stronger and more stable and from there you can even turn some Blues into Teal – just beware pushing too hard, or those Teals will tend more toward hypomania than happiness.  

Self-care also helps the Red Days skew a bit less chaotic.  If nothing else, movement and intentional eating can cut down on physical symptoms like cramps and body aches, and that’s always good.

That’s pretty reasonable, right?  The cool part is it doesn’t take a herculean effort to do this, just some small changes here and there. 

But where to start?

You start with The Daily 3.

What are three small, measurable things you could do to feel like you made a decent showing for yourself on a Grey Day? 

Remember, we’re talking about a day when you feel essentially functional – you wake up pretty sure you can get out of bed, make it through work, come home, feed yourself, and maybe do a thing or two off your endless non-self-care to do list.  You don’t feel particularly jazzed about any of it, but you know you can do it. 

Aim majorly low on the tree at first.  Maybe three minimums for you would be

  1. 1. get out of bed
  2. 2. brush your teeth
  3. 3. don’t get back in bed before 9pm

So, make it a goal to do those three things every day for a week during Grey Days. 

After a week take a look at those three things again.  Were they all way easy, left you feeling a little silly for checking them off?  Or was one of them much harder than you anticipated? 

Your next step is to drop the easiest one off the list and replace it with something a little harder.  Not a big leap, just something that requires you to stretch a tiny bit.  If you know getting out of bed on Grey Days is a given, replace it with something like Eat a Vegetable.  Still not difficult, but requires a bit more effort. 

Just take those three minimum things and play with them.  If you want you could even expand the list to four or five items when you’re feeling a little better, and have your minimum three plus something more ambitious that week to see how you like it.  That way if that fourth item is beyond your stretch you’ve still accomplished your essential three.  I wouldn’t go much bigger than that yet, though, lest you get overwhelmed.  Maybe make it “three things plus one” where that one is something off your bigger to-do list.  Remember, we’re starting tiny but solid, to give you something to build on.  

An important note:  Not accomplishing all three every day is not the end of the world.  In fact, one of the benefits of this activity is it can help you realize ahead of time that you’re sliding back toward Black, which can happen for a variety of reasons.  If you see that your 3 aren’t getting done for several days, it might be an alert from your brain that you need to take a step back and see where you really are.  As soon as you realize you’re in a bad way, stop worrying about your Daily 3 until you feel better. Do NOT make this a way to judge yourself. Just back off and start over.  Every day you wake up still breathing, you have a chance to try again.  This whole thing is meant to help you design a self-care practice that’s both dependable and flexible, that both responds to your life and can help shape it.  There are no absolutes here, only adaptation.  

Your goal at first is to get to know yourself better.  Some of the things you try on your Daily 3 are going to be really important for a long time, and some you’ll drop almost immediately when you realize they’re just not a priority for you.  You will likely surprise yourself with what you are able to do and how good it feels to check things off.  

Eventually that Minimum 3 can evolve into something pretty awesome, because you can use it to help you achieve long-term goals and create a more ambitious self-care practice through the almighty power of the LIST.  *maniacal laughter*

We’ll talk more about that next time.  

Till then, love much,


PS – Perhaps you’re a planner sort of person and want a way to keep track of your Daily 3?  You’re in luck – I’ve made some printable stickers for you.  You’ve got three options:

Muted Colors

They’re sized to fit in the sidebar of a great many planners and calendars.

If you’re less of a planner sort, or if you use an A5 binder, you can download and print out this version which is a half-sheet sized tracker you can hang on your fridge, tuck in a notebook, or whatever tickles your fancy.

My Daily Threes pdf

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Planner Friday: It’s Spring, Y’all

I make no secret of the fact that I was born and raised in Texas.  I also make no secret of my loathing for my home state.

Let’s face it, this is an embarrassing place to live if you’re a liberal.  Just this month we heard that opposing trans folks’ right to pee like human beings is the same as fighting at the Alamo and that doctors should be able to outright lie to women in our longstanding “No Fetus Left Behind” program. 

But hey, we’ve got barbecue.

Of course I’m a vegan so giant hunks of charred animal flesh don’t really endear the state to me.  

But it’s not all idiot politicians and severed animal heads hanging on people’s walls, which brings me to one of the things I do genuinely enjoy here:  Spring wildflowers.

For a few weeks before the weather becomes scorching, our hillsides are blanketed from end to end under a stunning quilt of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, firewheels, and many others.  The landscape becomes soft and plush, and everywhere you drive you see people hauling their children and dogs to the side of the road to get the obligatory shot of a cherub-cheeked tot being swallowed by flowers.

I decided to celebrate this briefest and loveliest of seasons in my planner this week.

The only way to really do the wildflowers justice is to show them covering the land, so I made big long stickers for the bottoms of each page.  Above that, on Tuesday you see the iconic state flower, the bluebonnet; and on Wednesday one of my favorites, the firewheel (I think it’s also called an Indian blanket).

On Thursday we have the Indian paintbrush, which almost always shares the hillsides with bluebonnets, producing an intense red and blue carpet.  

And how could I not include the quintessential Texas image, a longhorn cow surrounded by bluebonnets?  The only thing more Texas would be if the cow was dead, cut into pieces, and slathered in sauce on a paper plate, eaten by a big white dude in a ten-gallon hat with a Trump 2016 lapel pin, his feet propped up on an immigrant’s back and his free hand signing a bill to force women to have vaginal ultrasounds.  

Okay, like I said.  I don’t like it here.  But we’ve got awesome flowers.  Yee-haw.


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Planner Friday: We Were Voyagers!

This week I took inspiration from the lush, gorgeous, hilarious, altogether fantastic Moana.  I’ve watched it about eight times since it became available for download on iTunes last week (I only saw it once in the theater, more’s the pity).  

Aside from the obvious wonders of the film, you know what I really love about it? Not once does anyone talk about how beautiful Moana is, or say anything about her appearance whatsoever; no one doubts that she’s physically capable (except Maui, who mostly has issue with her age and mortality, understandable given he’s a mega-strong demiguy) or intimates she’s in any way inferior to the long line of male chiefs that came before her.  There’s not even a hint of romance nor is it implied that she has to “find her prince” to be happy and fulfilled.  Sure, there are plenty of nods to the usual Disney formula, but they’ve definitely come a LONG way from Snow White and Prince Valium.  Plus…she’s not a rail-thin white girl!  Hells yes!

The font, a clone of the one used in the film, is called Vaiana (the overseas name of Moana) and is available here on Etsy.

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Planner Friday (and a freebie!): Rain, Rain, Come and Stay…

Sunday night here in Austin we had a wonderful, rather gnarly storm that I enjoyed quite thoroughly (with a big long sleep) but actually spawned some funnel clouds and nastiness.  That afternoon, anticipating the fine weather to come, I decided to do a planner theme around the best of all weather: rain.

The font is called Doris Day.

As you can see I altered my meal planning sticker business, and I like it much better – breakfast and lunch really don’t require as much variety as dinner, and therefore not nearly as much mental effort.  

However, I thought some of you might like to play with the breakfast/lunch/dinner sticker I made last time as my first stab at my new meal planning system, so here’s a downloadable pdf of a whole sheet of them in various colors.  Enjoy!

Happy weekend!

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