Planner Friday: Out With the Old…

I want to go into the things that have evolved in my planner this year, but that’s another post – today let’s just have a nice look at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.

For the last week of the year I just wanted something pretty and easy, so I took a watercolor texture I had and basically cut it into pieces, slapped some titles on it, and voila:

Since the Aurora Borealis is a bucket list item of mine I used one of my two related washi tapes as an accent.

The font, surprisingly, is called Northern Lights.  I got it in one of those big font bundles Creative Market often features.

Now, allow me to introduce you to the new hotness, my 2017 Plum Paper Planner:

She’s essentially the same planner as I used in 2016 – for the first time I used a single planner the entire year, which I think was at least partly because of how much fun I had decorating it every week.  So I stuck with a sure thing, the vertical lined column layout.  It gives me the structure of columns but without dictating what I put where, aside from the pretty much useless daily checklist box at the bottom.  (I usually just cover that up with pretties.) 

I designed the cover using this gorgeous watercolor background set and one of my favorite quotes, then ordered it through Erin Condren since they have a custom cover option.  Erin Condren covers fit Plum Paper planners in terms of the coil size, but note that they are a bit narrow, so my tabs stick out a bit.  The Marauder’s Map cover I got for 2016 is wide enough to cover the tabs.

(Don’t worry, I’m not getting rid of that cover – I adore it.  I just wanted something new for a while.  I’m still using the bookmark and the cool thing is I can switch out the covers whenever I like.  If you’re looking for a cover I highly recommend Stickebeans on Etsy – the quality of her merchandise is phenomenal especially given her awesome prices.)

Inside the new planner I started off by adding a bank of sticky notes inside the front cover and pasting in my Core Desired Feelings for the year which I mentioned in my last post.

I really like using the same font and watercolor botanicals I got for the new blog design.  Speaking of which, I took it a step further with this week’s New Year theme.

I found the watercolor graphics over on Creative Market by OctopusArtis, whose images are flat out gorgeous.  The download had a limited commercial license, but all I wanted it for was my blog and for personal printed stuff – I’m not going to sell the theme or anything like that, even though in my opinion it’s lovely.  I adore how the Dailies tracker sidebar came out.

In addition to the botanicals I added in some Pinterest-harvested images of things I want more of in my life this year – reading, writing, meditation, yadda yadda.  I like the sense of serenity and space the theme gives this week.  It certainly needed it, as did my blog, in my opinion.

I also included my list of Core Desired Feelings as a sort of invocation.  Overall I’m pleased as punch.

Whatever’s in store, I think 2017 is off to a rather fetching start.




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That will be all, 2016. You may go.

Let’s start the year with a long-ass confessional post, shall we?

Like most people I’ve always tried to hit the ground running at the New Year, or at least on January 2.  (I figured January 1 was kind of a wash for most resolution type things, as I’m usually tired or hung over or unprepared for whatever it was I wanted to start.)  

Some people are natural sprinters (Dwarves mostly).  I am apparently not one.  Every time I do a “I’m going to start this lifestyle change or improvement on THIS day,” something happens to make me push that date back, and back, and before I know it it’s a week after NYD and I already feel like a failure.  

Not today, Satan.  This year I’m trying something different.  At the risk of using a self-help buzzword, I’ve decided to try “leaning in.”

I decided that the whole “40 Things Before I’m 40” thing isn’t going to happen.  It’s a great idea, but even those tiny goals were already a source of mild stress, since some of them were things I’ve tried and failed to do before.  When I really got down to the truth of things, I realized I need to focus on exactly two things this year:  Writing and veganism.

As I told my Patreon peeps last week, I have lost my passion for my work.  The last couple of years of financial stress and career disillusionment have turned my writing into a job, and therefore a burden; long before I actually managed to get a day job I had realized I couldn’t be a full time writer and do nothing but “hustle” (there’s another buzzword you hear all the time these days, which basically means “work yourself to death and maybe the stars will align for you”) with promotion and marketing and all the things I hate most in the world without it totally killing my creativity.

Some people can do what they love for a living, and the uncertainty and instability and sacrifice just fires them up more.  I need to buy cat food and hummus and prescription medications.  I want health insurance and a bank account free of overdraft fees.  And most of all, I need to love writing and I just…don’t right now.  My relationship to my work has gone from a passionate love affair to a sexless begrudging marriage.  I can’t live like that.

So, saving our relationship is going to be my 2017.  I’m going to start by dedicating time and space, silly things like a desk and hopefully at least one new project.  I’m not putting anything on hold, but I have no release date for Shadow Rising because it’s not even half finished and I kind of hate it right now.  

My other goal is tied into pretty much every aspect of my life, because it touches on issues of self-esteem, self-care, integrity, compassion, making a difference, and doing more than just mourning the world we seem to be losing piece by piece.  Veganism is a spiritual practice to me, and it was certainly never a “diet;” it’s always about the animals, the Earth, and my own integrity.  These days that integrity feels even more important than ever – surrounded as we are with corruption and hatred, I might not be able to do much right now but I can become more of the kind of person who embodies what I want for the world, not what I fear.  

This year instead of a single word I’m working more with Danielle LaPorte’s Core Desired Feelings; I’d read The Desire Map but wasn’t all that inspired by it, but among the half dozen or so end of year workbooks I read this year was her Goals With Soul, which somehow struck a chord with me this time.  I wrestled with a lot of seemingly contradictory feelings until I had the list down to something manageable:

One thing I learned in 2016 is how much of my life is governed by fear.   I am tired of my energy being drained away by fear and anxiety. I doubt I can become truly fearless, but I can work on it. 

Another unexpected but long-time-coming realization was that I have trouble making genuine connections to people; even those I love best know precious little about what’s going on in my head. I’ve been getting the Singer of Connection card from my Faery oracle for YEARS and never really did anything with it; the idea of trying to reach out to people makes me deeply uneasy…which of course means it’s what I need to do. I have no idea how to do that, or how far I want to go, but I know I need to learn more about what it means to feel connection, to like it, to nurture it.

Integrity is a big one for me, both in the veg department and in my whole life. I am terrible at keeping commitments.  Terrible.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve gotten involved in (usually when I’m hypomanic) only to realize halfway through I never wanted to do it or I got into it for the wrong reasons; then it’s too late to back out gracefully, so I…vanish.  Or make something up.  Or forget all about it.  I try to keep my word with other people, but when it comes to organizations or plans, I have dick for follow-through.  Obviously I don’t want to be that person.  

Now, the last two are the kickers, because they might seem to contradict the spirit of the first three. Delight and Ease?  With heavy ideas like Integrity?  WTH, Sylvan?

Well, that’s where self-care comes in, because my goal is to explore these feelings while still focusing on ease and delight.  By not kicking my own ass, by not “punching today in the balls,” or “hustling” or “putting some gangsta rap on and dealing with it,” to use yet more of the slogan silliness you find on Pinterest if you look for inspirational quotes.  (Man white ladies love to talk about gangsta rap and “thug life,” don’t they?  I wonder if they’re just really high from all those pumpkin spice lattes?)  

I don’t want to do any of those things.  I realized that in 2016 about the only delight I had was at the movies.  There were lots of great movies in 2016, and when I think about real fun or really enjoying something, that’s all that comes to mind.  It’s been so long since I was genuinely excited about something new, or enthusiastic about anything – I was under so much stress about money for so long, now that I have a stable job that (mostly) pays the bills I’m seeing how much of my life got ground under the heel of that fear and sense of failure.  

So I want to spend 2017 seeking out ways to develop my spirit and heart without it feeling like constant backbreaking labor.  I want to breathe deeply again, and I want to fill my cup with something besides poison.  It’s pretty much empty right now, which is sad, but at least offers the potential of something less bitter or, at least, more nourishing to drink.

January therefore is leaning-in month here at Sylvan; I’ll be shifting to 95% vegan from the 80% I’ve been hovering at for over a year (which is still pretty good, all things considered) and also upping the amount of actual plant foods in my diet to help me feel a little better.  The amount of junk food I’ve put in my body this year (especially the last few months thanks to the move) is kind of scary.  I have no desire to lose weight but I have gained quite a bit in a very short time and to me that’s a warning bell – it means my self-care has gone perilously awry.  But my body is strong and adaptable, and she’s weathered the storm like a champ.  I’m unutterably grateful and I want to do better by her.  But I want it to be fun, and delicious, and easy, not a regimen or a 21-day anything.

I don’t have a plan for my writer-rescue, but that’s okay.  I want to cast about in my mind for a new idea, a new story to tell; 9 times of 10 when I get into something new it also energizes all my other work, so having a new book to work on or what have you will benefit all my stories.  I have a few things percolating.  I’m hoping to blog more just about random weird stuff, just to write; even my readers have always liked it better when I just wrote about whatever was on my mind.

So, to make a long post even longer, that’s how things are here at the moment.  I’m not going to dwell on 2016 any more than I have to – that’s why I did the workbooks I did, to look deeply into what went wrong in 2016 and clarify what I need to take with me so I can drop the rest.  This year is going to be a challenge, to say the least, in so many ways, so I’m doing the best I can not to make it any harder on myself than I have to.  

It’s good to have you with me.  

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Sylvan Points at Stuff: Shaking My (Glittery) Fist at Fate

I know these days it seems extra trivial to care about little happy things…but right now for a lot of people (myself included) little happy things are the only things preventing meltdown. The world has become pretty awful pretty quickly (okay, let’s be precise: the awfulness that minorities and the marginalized already knew was there now has license to show itself and has thrown a mirror up at the collective batshit insane nastiness of large swaths of our country, and even without petrifying fear of the future that realization is a hell of a thing) and by damn if a bottle of pretty nail polish helps me smile enough to keep showing up and not bury my head in the sand, it’s a worthy enterprise.  

I am desperately trying to balance knowing what’s going on – not allowing it to be acceptable – and staying at least marginally sane, which was already a loaded proposition for me.  Part of me wants so badly to shut down social media and stop reading Tweets, but I refuse to allow myself that privilege.  There are people being hurt and a lot more who will be, and even if I can’t fix it, I won’t turn a blind eye.  (You hear that, you tangerine dickbag?  I will not go back to sleep.)

That said…even social justice warriors need their pleasures.  These for example:

1. Zoya “Olivera” nail polish

At the risk of sounding like someone who’s into fashion and such, Zoya is one of my go-to brands. They sell vegan nail polish (and also lipstick, which is fairly new) in about a zillion colors.  This winter they debuted a shade so gorgeous I nearly sprained my finger clicking “buy.”

It’s called Olivera, and they describe it as “a spellbinding color-flip metallic with an indigo base and a green and purple shift“  Basically that means it looks dark, dark blue in some lights, peacock green in others, gold-flecked and a little purple in others.  Zoya’s dark polishes are nearly single-coat, they’re so smooth and rich.  I’m also very fond of their polish remover, which has lots of conditioners and such in it and comes in a neat bottle.

2. Califia Farms Caramel Pecan coffee creamer

Califia Farms is one of the best brands of nondairy milk to debut in recent years – as if their cool-ass bottles weren’t enough, their products are top notch.  I’ve had a devil of a time finding a coffee creamer that I really loved, and this one’s amazing

Califia’s cold brew iced coffee is also a thing of beauty – their mocha, which is blended with their amazing almond milk, just needs a bit of vanilla syrup to sweeten it up and bam! Instant deliciousness without having to wait overnight and strain and strain and strain to make my own cold brew.  I’ve heard their holiday nogs are great too, but I haven’t tried them yet.

3. Funko Pops

Yep, I gave in.  I’d been puzzling over these weird little toys for months trying to figure out the appeal, and then I started seeing them for characters I loved…and I was doomed.  I’m trying to stick only to the few that represent my true favorites, but I suspect soon my desk at work will amass a small, giant-headed army.  Right now I only have three:

That’s Dorothy Zbornak, Patty Tolan from Ghostbusters, and Dr. Stephen Strange, hanging out on my printer. 

I’ve even got a separate Amazon wish list just of Funko Pops.  Doomed, I tell you. Doomed.

4. Mad Lib Theater – Jimmy Fallon and Benedict Cumberbatch

I posted this one on Facebook right after it aired, but I think it deserves another showing – I still cannot watch this without laughing my ass off, especially the parts where they both break “character” and barely get the lines out. 

There’s just something so fantastic about seeing actors lose their shit in the middle of a scene.  Those were always my favorite moments on shows like The Colbert Report – this one in particular gets me every time:

5. Supergirl’s Coming-Out Plotline

(SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY)  When I first started watching Supergirl last year, at my roommate’s behest, I thought it was cute but pretty cheesy.  Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of Kara won me over, as did – miracle of miracles – Calista Flockhart’s performance as her mentor/antagonist Cat Grant.  Sure, it had plenty of goopy saccharine plot points (they beat the bad guys with the power of hope? Seriously?), but the upbeat tone and its refusal to become another dark and dreary DC show like Arrow (don’t get me wrong, I love Arrow too, but all the superhero shows seem to use the same dull color palette and the same brooding antihero emotional palette as well) somehow made it even more appealing to my little Scorpio heart.  Go figure.

This season with its move to the CW, the show has been damn near brilliant in a lot of ways, and one of the best is the storyline in which Kara’s adoptive sister realizes she’s gay and slowly accepts it about herself – and her loved ones do the same.  Alex’s confusion and her slowly growing pride, and her family’s support, are perfectly in keeping with the hopeful world Supergirl shows us in which our better selves can, and will, prevail.

That kind of positive visibility is so important, and there’s no better illustration than this story from Twitter about a woman working at a comics shop and a young LGBT woman who, thanks to Alex’s storyline, was able to find a measure of acceptance for herself.  I’m so glad that Chyler Leigh, who plays Alex, heard about the story too.  I’d post the whole thing here but it’s pretty long, so go have a read on my Tumblr – I hope it makes you feel the kind of hope I did.

That’s all for now – you might have noticed this wasn’t a Planner Friday post, but that’s because I didn’t do a damn thing to my planner this week.  I just wasn’t feeling it, and by the time I realized looking at those empty pages made me sad, it was so late in the week I decided screw it, I’ll just make next week awesome.  Stay tuned.

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(Belated) Planner Friday – When Single Shines the Triple Sun

If you actually look at my blog instead of viewing it through a feed reader or similar, you’ll notice things look pretty radically different here today; and even if you don’t, you’ll notice things like the post signature, which is a bit different too.  I’ve redesigned the site for the new year, simplifying things a lot and trying to reorganize content so it’s easier to find what you’re interested in.  Things will continue to shift and pretty-fy for a few more days while I figure out exactly what I want where.  Hope you like it!

This week’s planner wasn’t one of my favorites – it’s in honor of one of my favorite movies, but I just didn’t like the color scheme.  It was really washed out until I added the bits of washi over the column headings, and I never was fully satisfied with it.  But they can’t all be the most awesome!  Still, I have a deep and abiding love for Jim Henson’s weird little collaboration with Brian Froud – you know, the one that wasn’t Labyrinth.  (Labyrinth was never my favorite – I hated the main character and the creatures were a little too creepy for me.  But it did have David Bowie, and David Bowie’s epic tights, so it wasn’t without merit.)

I give you, The Dark Crystal.

Font: Worstveld Sling Extra

I have to beg indulgence from my darling niece Alysha – I totally put her birthday on the wrong damn day.  *facepalm*  It should be the 10th.

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Planner Friday: True Colors

Well, so, November happened.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Last week I defaulted to a theme I already had made but hadn’t used, keeping with the unintentional monthlong monochrome metatheme:  Pink!

It’s known to a select few (and now all of you) that I hate pastels, and most of my life have detested pink, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve had to admit there are some shades I actually do love, preferably combined with black and covered with skulls.


For this week, heading into the new month with absolutely zero holiday spirit (even less than usual, gee I wonder why), I decided to ask myself a deep question:  What can brown do for me?


As usual, you won’t be seeing a lot of Santas and Christmas trees in my planner; to me Christmas is like that band Twenty-One Pilots – hugely popular in the mainstream, kind of ubiquitous, but tends to make me stabbity unless I’ve been drinking.  Thus I’m not sure what sort of themes I’ll be doing this month, though I’ll try to keep the Grinching to a minimum.



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