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What Plan-it Are You From, Anyway?

You’re going to laugh at me. Hell, I’m laughing at me.

But first, I feel it fair to tell you that I’m writing this from the midst of a genuinely awful week – I’ve kind of cratered, emotionally, and though I’m slowly edging my way back out, it’s taking just about all my energy to even think about something fun like this.  That sucks because I have larger things to talk about; I just don’t have the wherewithal quite yet.  But first things first:

I love my Erin Condren Life Planner.  I honestly do.  I’ve had so much fun customizing it, and making things for it, and best of all sharing those things with my customers on Tiny Relics.  I have no intention of quitting the latter.

I have, however, decided to move to a new planner.

Go on, get it out of your system.

It’s a common affliction among those of us who love our organizational toys.  You’re just sure this is The One, only to find a month or two later that, meh.

Now, my ECLP is not meh. Like I said, I love it.  But it became apparent fairly quickly that there were certain issues I was going to have to work around if I wanted to keep using it.  The primary one is this:  I have to customize nearly every aspect of the planner to make it work in my life.  I have to cover section headers, add stickers with lists, clip in some things and take out others, and continually remove pages as I go to keep the thing from being too wide to close.  That’s only in February!  Granted, I’ve had the ECLP Since August, so that’s a good six months of use, way more than I usually get out of a planner.  But by the end of 2015 that thing is going to need its own team of ponies to haul it around.

My thoughts immediately returned to my old idea:  make my own planner.  Last time I altered a composition book, and it suffered from a total lack of structure.  Then it occurred to me that Etsy is full of printable pages for Filofax and other planners; people buy and print out the guts for their planners and keep the binder year after year.  I could totally do that, but make my own guts from scratch, and have them totally personalized to what I need my planner to do (meaning hold onto the little things flitting around in my brain, like dates and events, that I won’t remember thanks to my meds punching tiny holes in my memory for years).

So I sat down with my vault full of clip art and fonts and a huge variety of examples from all over the internet and got to work.  So far, I’m loving the results. Here’s an idea what I’m going for:

Note that Owen has already Christened it with his aggravating man-claws.

Note that Owen has already Christened it with his aggravating man-claws.

As I said, I bought this binder empty on Ebay for about $7.  You can get the Harmony brand new in brown and red, but apparently the green’s hard to find.  (Faux leather, embossed spine, neoprine or its nearest cousin) You know me – it was green, it had leaves on it, I was sold.  Also, it’s an A5 size, so its pages are just a regular 8.5×11″ sheet cut in half; that makes life easier for both making pages and using any I might one day download. That’s basically the same size as the ECLP, but with rings instead of spiral binding, which makes adding and removing pages soooooo much easier.

Here’s where it gets fun.  I sat down and wrote out a long list of everything I need a planner to do – if I could put anything I wanted in it, why not go for it?  I included spots to record writing progress, monthly goal setting pages, a page for my monthly Tarot reading, books I’ve read – you name it.

Then I made pocket dividers out of some decorative paper and loosely divided the whole thing into “current month,” “calendar,” and “lists and projects.”  My plan is to have a daily page for, say, March, as well as a weekly blog and meal planner; then when the month is over, compile any significant events onto the monthly calendar and put the daily pages in storage, leaving room for April.  That way I can keep the monthly spreads all year so I can reference the past, but without making the binder so full and heavy.

The daily page, first unadulterated and then labeled:

daily pagesdaily page

 

Right now, the rest is just lists, lists, lists.  I’m using the monthly goals sheet I shared here recently as well as some stuff borrowed right from my ECLP, like the bills tracker I made.  I’m taking the opportunity to try and combine planner, journal, and mind palace (at least a few rooms) by leaving the backs of the daily pages blank for notes and doodles; and there will be plenty of pasted-in and drawn quotes and ideas throughout.

So far I’m having a blast with this project.  All my experiences with different planning systems have taught me a lot about how I manage time (when I manage it) and what’s important to me; I’ve also learned a lot about tracking goals and creating habits, another thing this planner will hopefully help with.  I’ll be officially switching over to the new system March 1 (drumroll please!).

Here are a couple more pics of what I’m working on; if you’re interested in creating your own planner and aren’t nuts enough to start from scratch, I’ve created an Etsy Treasury to point you toward some really cool pages and sets.  Believe me, there’s one out there for you, no matter what your style or needs!  There’s even one for each House at Hogwarts.

My Etsy Treasury Page

Happy Planning!  I’ll be back soon with some more news (about something besides planners, honest).

 

monthly goals gifts and check out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Word of the Year, 2015, v2.0

I was all set: the blog post was written, I’d done the lettering in my journal. All I had to do was make a nice graphic for the post. Even that was almost finished.

I sat there staring at it for a minute. I had chosen a Hindi Word: arjava, meaning “integrity.” Between the dishonesty that flows so easily off my Scorpio tongue and my inability to commit to anything meaningful (whether veganism or a blog series) I needed desperately to explore and nurture my integrity. Living in a constant state of cognitive dissonance is incredibly stressful, as is feeling like a fraud – most creative people have Impostor Syndrome to one degree or another, but this was my entire life, not just my art. Integrity! And lo, there’s a fancy Indian word for it! Perfect!

Except for one small problem: that was absolutely not my Word. I hadn’t felt terribly enthusiastic about it, but I thought, it’s February! The year is 1/12 over already – enough dicking around! Pick a word, you can always change it later, it’s not like there’s Word Police out there watching to put you in Word Jail.

Okay, I thought. Let’s start where we are, and hit thesaurus.com to see if it’s just the word “integrity” that’s the problem or the whole concept. From there, I came to “commitment,” and that sounded better, but not quite there. I ran through synonyms – even two words that technically mean the same thing can have different connotations and associations. Variously, I got,

Commitment: engagement, duty, pledge, guarantee, vow, obligation, allegiance, dedication, consecration, devotion…

*record scratch*

My brain immediately queued up memories of my self-wedding, and how utterly I’ve screwed the pooch in keeping those vows.

Also, I lost my wedding ring.

AGAIN.

As I type this I still haven’t found it. There’s a good chance I’m going to have to replace another ring representing my commitment to myself.  In script and novel writing that would be considered an “anvil” – a Big Important Message that clobbers the characters over the head in an obvious, often over-the-top way.  God is usually pretty softspoken, but does occasionally delight in a nice anvil.

After that my brain said, “Hey, remember how you wrote that whole book centered around the idea of devotional rituals and stuff? That used to be really important to you. What are you devoted to now?”

*blink*

*blank stare*

Well, shit.

Nothing, really. If you were to look at what I actually do from day to day, where my time goes, it would be hard to tell I’m even a writer. You wouldn’t see spirituality except for my altar and the number of books I have on the subject. You might get vegetarian, but you wouldn’t get anything about veganism, animal rights, eco-consciousness, any of that – you wouldn’t get positive body image, that’s for damn sure, or self-care.

I am only these things in my head, it seems. And considering in my head I could also be Queen Victoria and shoot freeze rays from my nipples, that doesn’t mean very much. If your beliefs water down into ideas, but never make it past your mind, they’re nothing but ideas. There has to be action to back them up.

Dictionary.com yields this:

Untitled

Whether to a deity or a cause, devotion is not passive. It demands engagement. It demands that you walk your talk – otherwise it’s just a fantasy you’ve built for yourself to feel better about acting against your values.

I’m sure this all sounds self-castigating, but it really isn’t. These thoughts have been working their way through my mind for months now, and looking for a Word for 2015 has helped shape them into something I can work with instead of a scattered bunch of “dammit, why can’t I…?” thoughts.

Thus, I give you my 2015 Word of the Year:

devotion2015

 

I’ll have more on what exactly I’m going to do with this word soon.

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One (Almost) Down…

busyTo start off, a quick reminder – if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please consider doing so in the sidebar off to the right.  Last month subscribers were treated to the first unpublished chapter of Shadow World book 6.  I’ve got another cool surprise in store for the February newsletter, which will go out on Monday, as well as a nifty announcement (which I’ll also be detailing here, later in the week).

Here we are at the end of January – already!  Time has been passing very strangely for me since I moved. The workday crawls by one inch at a time and then my off time causes the days to blend together in a blurry mush.  Overall, though, I’m doing a lot better than I was a couple of months ago, and I think living with another human has been good for me; I spend less time in my bed, more time in the craft room (we turned the master bedroom into a huge art/craft/sewing studio (aka the Room of Requirement) and each took one of the smaller bedrooms), more time making things.  That’s why the amount of stuff in my Etsy shop has gone up so quickly – and I’m working on a third set of decorative box stickers now that’s almost done.

Meanwhile, I found I was missing a place to write out a quick review of the prior month and jot down a few goals for the upcoming.  There’s not really a handy space in the Erin Condren Planner for that – there are a few spots I could create a sticker for, but I’m really trying to minimize my sticker usage to the ones that are the most helpful and most inspiring, so the whole thing won’t be eight inches thick by June.  I’ve removed as many extraneous pages as I can, but it’s still going to expand due to the number of layers of paper on every page.

In retrospect making a sticker would probably have been a thinner solution than what I made, but oh well – I can always change it later.  I created a clear-front pocket to clip into my planner (and move each month) that holds a pretty goal-setting graphic (which has a past month review on the reverse side).  I thought it was pretty ingenious, myself, and whether it ends up being a long-term solution or not (I’m constantly, constantly changing how I use this thing, for reasons* I’ll discuss below) I think it’s cool.

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The empty pocket.  It’s made of black cardstock covered in decorative paper (which is why I suspect it’ll be too thick to really be practical), and the front frame has been backed with clear plastic I harvested from inside an accordion folder.

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The back. I love this paper – I’m going through a teal/purple/green thing these days (wait until you see my new bedroom).  The pocket is held in with two EC Coil Clips; I’ve tried using the DIY clips you can find on YouTube, but they’re awfully flimsy for stuff you’re going to need to move around a lot.  Much better for mementos and pretty decoration stuff like cards and drawings, in my opinion.

I’ve been making a small sleeve similar to this one in my shop, using a photo protector I found online in the perfect size; I just wanted something a little larger.  The whole thing is held together with Scor-Tape, a truly badass double-sided tape I go through like Kleenex.

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Last we have the pocket with its insert.  I drew the doodle with pen and scanned it, then added the text, dividing my general goals into categories with space beneath each for an item or two. On the back is a “here’s what went down in January” form.  I plan to color the graphic with fineliner pens once I have everything written out.  Then, if I need to keep ephemera for the month’s goals I can stick it in the pocket and keep stuff together.

You’re welcome to gank this graphic and use it for your own planner, journal, or whatever – just click on the image below and it’ll take you to the full-size, which you can right-click on and save.  The graphic is for personal use only, please, but I really don’t care what that entails as long as you’re not selling stuff made out of it.  I deliberately left it black and white so it’d be easy for anyone to print and personalize.  Enjoy!

Scan

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Cover Your Face!

Something fun for you guys today – I’ve been futzing around with making Facebook cover images for my Timeline, and I’ve also had a couple of people mention they really like the one on  my fanpage; so, I thought, why not share all of that with you?  I’ve made four cover images – click on each to go to the full size and save (usually with a right-click).  Credit isn’t necessary, though if you’d like to plug my work in some way I certainly wouldn’t object.

I changed the fanpage cover, of course, so that people besides me could use it.  Enjoy!

shadow world fb cover

fbpersonalcover

facebook cover 1

blessings

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