Planning

My Dilemma: What To Pack?

Have you ever just thrown the suitcase on the bed, started grabbing random things and stuffing them in the night before you leave? I have. Those were times when I got where I was going and forgot the toothbrush, the important pair of shoes, shampoo, or the one article of clothing needed for that theme night. And these mishaps changed my mood. Instantly. I wasted time in search of what I forgot in towns I didn’t know. I had to pay gift shop prices which translated to less money for fun and food. And, well, made me cranky. No one wants to be around “cranky” on vacation. Do you? So my dilemma for this trip is avoiding packing pitfalls and making sure I have everything for two trips, business and pleasure, so I am sure to leave my cranky self at home.

I am sipping coffee and pondering what I need to pack. I will be in travel mode for 14 days. Being away from home for two weeks makes me think I need to pack the whole house. Umm. Really? No. But it can seem that way and become overwhelming. I don’t think packing is fun. It is painful to me.
I will endure a little pain for my favorite annual vacation, The Rock Boat. I need to be prepared for my heaven on earth. This floating music festival will be sailing out of New Orleans at the start of Carnival/Mardi Gras season. I get to spend time with hundreds of friends I have made over the past 18 years. And this year is going to be fun because we are headed to New Orleans early. So more to pack and more to plan. Knowing that I have events, theme nights, and a business trip on the flip side means a lot to consider for my luggage. Some people go all out on the theme nights with cruise wear by day and costumes by night. I used to. I decided a few years back to be selective and simplify. So glad I did. Makes packing even more of a struggle and I have never been the girl who will leave a music set in the middle of fun to go change into a costume. Many years the costume stayed in the luggage. Why pack it? One year I wore a pirate costume that was fun and comfortable. Another year I dressed up in a formal dress and heels and wanted to trade the darn thing with pajamas within thirty minutes. That was one of my last minute packing trips and I didn’t pack an optional pajama or extra clothes. Woops! So I sucked it up and was cranky. And..I digress. Back to the plan.

I looked at my weekly spread this morning to think about my day. And I realized I was supposed to start my packing list. Again, woops! This morning I reset and here I go into planning mode while grabbing coffee cup number two.

When? Where? What?

I have to ask myself these three questions. Because 14 days is a long time and having theme nights, meetings, three flight days and events along the way can seem daunting to a planner. So I mapped it out. I will continue filling in the details a little each day. I need to look at the weather forecast. So many climates to consider!

Study before the big list is final…

There are things I don’t need to pack. Every cruise cabin and hotel room include amenities. So I will double check the sites of my hotels to hopefully leave home the blow dryer, the travel iron, and anything else I can scratch off the list.

What do I think I need?

Well I certainly do not need the kitchen sink! No matter what I think. But the list I have so far is long and I am sure there may be more items. And some things may get eliminated because as I really begin to pack I ask myself the following questions:

  • Will I use this hat/shoes/spray/essential oil (insert any item) every day or more than one time?
  • Do I really need this?
  • Is there anything I have already packed that works instead?
  • Can I wait to buy this in Florida for my business trip? Can it be expensed? Can I order it on Amazon to be delivered to the hotel?
  • Can I send this to the ship laundry and use again later in the trip? (I get free laundry service as a frequent cruiser…maximize the benefits!!!)

The last thing I need is 25 t-shirts for the 10 days of casual wear. And if I don’t have room for small essentials like toothpaste or deodorant that is a problem! I just invited cranky me on vacation.

As you noticed on my weekly plan, I am packing at the end of the week. I will tell you how it went and show you my lists and my bags to see where I land with these plans.

Do you have any sage advice? What am I forgetting? What should I not bother packing? Do you have a packing list you use? Comment below on anything that helps you (and me) get ready for travel.

Family · Goals · Planning · Reflection · Vision

Managing Mondays with Weekend Wisdom

“Six o’clock already…I was just in the middle of a dream.” Do you remember that song, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles? What about, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters? Why do we let Mondays or whatever day is the start of our week influence our moods such?

There are some Mondays when the unthinkable happens and it just seems that Murphy’s Law presides. The alarm clock didn’t go off or I slept through it. I am out of coffee! (Gasp!) The kids refuse to get up. My dog (any of the three) took off with one of the shoes I planned to wear hoping that keeps me from leaving. It is pouring rain. I can’t find my lunch box or my work I.D. Some Mondays just seem like the worst day ever before I step foot out of the house. Tell me I am not alone.

It always seems that Manic Mondays turns into a snowball of a week that continues to get bigger the next day and the next. On a week like that getting to Friday seems to be impossible and all I want to do is crawl under the covers each day in defeat asking if there is a “do over” button somewhere.

Here I am. Another Monday. It has a way of sneaking up on me. Today is not rainy. It is not manic. I am sipping coffee and I am enjoying my quiet time. I am working from home. There is no school because it is MLK Day. But not every Monday is so simple. I decided last year to do my best to take back Mondays from Murphy’s Law. To do that I had to find a way to manage the day. And step one for every Monday starts with some pre work over the weekend.

Weekend Wisdom

I am like many folks and I have certain tasks I plan to do every weekend. I run errands, launder clothes and complete other household chores. I used to feel accomplished but I also became annoyed because it didn’t feel like we were enjoying weekends as a family or with any rest.

My kids are older now and can share these responsibilities. Communicating expectations to everyone is important. So Sunday is my planning day. I plan menus, I set a cleaning schedule, and I batch cook ahead a few meals. I post these lists on the refrigerator and everyone knows what is for dinner and when I would like things to get done. We share the load. With work, school, activities and busy schedules deciding who does what when is something we each own our personal share. I also note important days to remember and post it on the fridge. Then, we can enjoy time together and I nag less. Who wants a nagging mom?!?

Here are this week’s beauties. (As you can see, I don’t make these pretty every time. I should use a pen that erases and I am sure a sticker or two with a splash of washi would be good. Depends on my day and how I am feeling. The kids don’t seem to notice or care.)

Visualize the Week Ahead

Sundays relax me. I love cooking and being in my kitchen. It gives me time ro meditate and start thinking about my upcoming week. I also love the thirty minutes or so I set aside on Sunday to create a visual for my week. Goals and lists. Planner crafting! These tools help me focus. Having a visual plan helps me Manage Mondays. I have more time to sip my coffee when I set my mind at ease knowing what to expect. I spend more time meditating which reduces my stress at the beginning of each day. Next Monday, I will share how I make my weekly visual, another secret weapon in my arsenal of managing Mondays.

Do you have secret weapons to help you plan and organize your days and weeks? Do you menu plan or have a cleaning list every week? How do you Manage Mondays? Please share below in the comments.

Books · Goals · Planning · Vision

Reading Inspires and Relaxes

Are you like me? Do you have books stored in your Kindle? Is there a “to be read” list in your GoodReads account? Are hard covers stacked on a bookshelf? Are random paperbacks lying around the house or stored in boxes in a closet that still need to be unpacked? Are these books something you intend to read and never seem to get to? I have a plan for 2018 that is going to change that.

It all starts with…Why?

Why am I not reading? Why do I want to read? Why do I have books and lists about books everywhere?

As I sip coffee and get honest with myself I know why. I have been allowing myself to waste time on other activities. And one of the biggest time wasters is the ever present screen: the laptop, the television, the mobile device. I get quick reading fixes on social media and justify my lack of time to read a book by hopping in to read articles or blogs or tweets as sufficient. Reality check! Before social media I would have opened a book and read a few pages.

Coming home and turning on the television or sitting down with my teenage daughter to mirror her zombie-like stare at the big screen watching whatever she has on is almost a Pavlovian response at the end of a busy work day. And with streaming devices everywhere in my house picking something to watch that is new or an old favorite takes no time at all. Let’s face it, there is a certain instant escapism in these actions. It wasn’t so long ago that books were my friends and the characters and settings took me away from day-to-day life. How did that happen? I tried telling myself that life got in the way. Liar! I got in my way by choices I made. It was easier to watch endless hours of screens and hop from article to blog, from tweet to movie or series binge. I used to binge read books: two or three a week!

Now let’s move to How…

Sipping from my second (or maybe third) cup of coffee, I have to ask myself, the girl who always has a list or a plan in mind, how will I ever change? I love movies and T.V. I have YouTube channels that I subscribe to. My mobile devices are full of apps that quickly take me to some mindless place in cyberspace to waste time. Well, I have a planner for that and a place of accountability.

Late last year I joined the Facebook group of one of my favorite authors, Brenda Novak. This amazing community is filled with avid readers, wanna be avid readers, and lurkers. I was admittedly a lurker. I follow a lot of authors on social media and have for years. I have big dreams of getting published (that’s a story for another day) so having them in my social feeds is inspiring and educational. Brenda’s community is always buzzing because she is a genius. She hosts games, chats, a book club, and she sponsors a Book Buddy program. I decided in December that I should hop off the lurker shelf and join in the fun. I signed up to participate in the book club, checked in to accept the book reading challenge, and asked to be matched to a Book Buddy. Instant Accountability!

Are you overwhelmed by everything I agreed to do? I was too. Not for long. Brenda certainly knew someone like me might be. She offers a monthly subscription box program for readers. You can also opt in from month to month based on availability and order in advance. I am so glad I jumped in to try the January box. Her boxes always include a couple of box and some extras. January’s box was sheer perfection for this reader because it included this planner and basic supplies.

Washi tape! A pencil holder! Pencils! I was in heaven. And two very creative reminders…

She also sent these cute coasters. Readers love to enjoy beverages while they read. My cup looks great on it. Doesn’t it?

My crafty brain is already thinking of how I might repurpose a couple of them another way.

In the planner she has important events and activities already pre-printed. She included places to take notes, make lists, set goals, plan, and all the white space is just waiting for sticker, washi tape, and pen colors. As a girl who loves planners and likes to focus certain planners by purpose or life areas you know I am in love!

What next?

I am going to get the pens, washi, and stickers out today and personalize as I plan all my 2018 aspirations to be an avid reader. I want to turn off the screens more as I make choices to discover new writers, make new friends, see what inspires other readers, dust off the kindle and the shelves, unpack the boxes and ultimately….in December…see what I accomplished on this journey.

I need recommendations to fill up these pages and so I can exceed my goal of 50 books in 2018. Please post your suggestions in the comments below. Are you in a book club? Share what you and your club are reading right now. What is your reading goal? Are you part of a particular author’s group? Which one?

Crafting · Family · Planning · Vision

Crafty Corner

I learned in the past few years that I love to craft. So as I sip coffee this rainy morning (so rare in Phoenix), I look at my Vision Board. Three areas tie to this:

  • Relationships
  • Creativity
  • Home

I want to encourage myself and others. I want to be frugal, and I want to get crafty.
Over the holidays I made holiday d├ęcor for my home, holiday cards and gift tags. It was fun and I enlisted help from my girls that turned into fun together time watching Hallmark Channel.

in 2018 I am determined to do more and share here inspiration, craft fails and wins, and ways to faithfully and frugally plan this fun into daily life.

Here are some things I made in December.

I need to be better organized and devise a plan. I have unfinished projects as well.

Guess I need to start making lists.

January is my organizing, goal setting, and reset my focus month. So today, I am starting here:

Each week I will come back into this virtual crafty corner and hope that I inspire your creativity in posts from my Crafty Corner. You know I will be sipping coffee then too.

Goals · Planning · Vision

I Have a Planner for That, Part Two

My 2017 Planner strategy was a fun and creative adventure and definitely had a strong influence on what I am using in 2018. Let me share how I turned my planning solutions around.

My 2017 Needed a Plan

As 2016 was coming to a close, I knew I wanted to start using my planner for more than work and basic important personal dates. While on the Covey site, I noticed they were selling flair for decorating planners and I began to wonder when that became a “thing.” So I, like many people, consulted YouTube. Who knew?!? I found out there is a whole world out there of planners. Eric Condran, Happy Planner, Carpe Diem, and so much more. How would I ever choose? After hours of advice obtained through bloggers and YouTube-ers I had to think of what I needed. So I made one of my famous lists. I wanted a planner that helped me with:

  • Budgeting
  • Weekly and monthly cleaning
  • Family stuff: school, activities
  • Personal goals
  • Work goals
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • To do lists
  • Daily schedules
  • Stickers to make my plans pretty

With the research and the realization that I had a lot to track, I decided that a buildable, customizable, and pretty option was the way to go.

Visiting my local Michael’s as suggested by all the online sages, I grabbed the basics.

And I fell in love with how I could fit all of the pieces into one place. A new planner became an exciting adventure and my 2016 Christmas present from Santa was done!

2017 Changed…So did the planner

By March, I realized that I needed more rings and more for home. So I built a home planner that separated the home care, budget, cleaning, and shopping into a separate planner. Best idea ever. I only needed that stuff once a week and it added bulk to my daily routine. And when I was researching Happy Planners for home I found out they had a recipe planner too.

I went from one to three planners instantly and have been centralizing my recipes into one place over time.

I love the format. Even here I embellish. I want my kids and my future grandkids to know where special recipes came from. This one is from my grandmother and we make it every Christmas season.

Making three separate places for things has been an amazing evolution. I focus more in monthly planning and imagining and creating. Because HP styles foster such time and the creators have thoughtfully designed tools that make my heart sing. Here are some of my pages.

Washi tape and stickers have become an obsession of sorts. They make me smile and I use them on everything now.

I have flexibility and a place for every personal and professional goal. And it I can track anything I want. Here is the bonus: I want to use it! I don’t struggle with it. And on weeks where I am busy or just not feeling it, I still use it and just ink it up and keep the stickers and washi for another time.

So at the end of 2017, I had a decision to make. What planner? You see, I new Happy Planners work for me. So that part was easy. I was fully invested in the product. But until you have spent hours through the year with the HP Sages, you have one major decision. Of all the new dated planners (and there are many) which will my new favorite design, layout, and size?

That, my friends, is for part three of this series. I will share how I plan to plan in 2018. And it will be the introduction of my upciming weekly series called Managing Mondays.

Do you use a planner? Which one? What do you love and hate about it? Share photos please! I love seeing how people use their tools. There is so much to learn from each other!

Goals · Planning · Vision

Vision Board 2018

Planning is more than goal setting. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They seem restrictive in the traditional sense. They make me feel like I am setting up myself for failure instead of setting myself up for success. And planning is more than making to do lists. At least for me. When I looked back at what I visualized in 2016 and all the great things that manifested in my life over the past two years I can link every accomplishment back to that board.

Setting a Vision

At the end of 2017, I prayerfully and meditatively sipped coffee as I chose my focus for 2018. I shared in my previous post how Strength and Dignity came to be my focus.

So with this particular scripture and those two words I began to dig deeper into their synonyms, definitions and images that seemed representative and applicable to key areas of life that I want to empower, improve, and manifest more good. I gathered these ideas to make a new Vision Board.

The notebook above will be highlighted in part 2 of I Have a Planner for That.

Ready to Make

Two areas I want to foster are my crafting/creative side and my relationships with family and friends. So when I planned time to do my vision board, I suggested that others join me in my crafting time. Instead of vision boarding alone, I opened my home, my heart, my supplies, and a bottle of wine to anyone free to join.

Some friends joined me last night (I will have a second session next week for a few more friends) and we made this beautiful mess together.

Creating a vision can and should get messy. And for me nothing is more fun than mess making with others. What I enjoyed the most was how we looked out for each other and suggested words and images we ran across in magazines, in sticker books, stamps, and paper. I saw a friend who didn’t feel she was very creative take on stamps and ink pads and make herself smile at that accomplishment. I loved what she created and wished I had thought of it.

Three hours of quality time with my daughter, future daughter-in-law and a couple of friends brought us to conclude that our boards were well underway with room to evolve as we consider the remaining whitespace and what else we might look for to complete them. Visions take time and don’t need to be rushed.

Here is my work in progress so far…

I will update this post in the next couple of days with the finished product. This will include smaller complementary one(s) to use for travel. I want to empower continuous focus on what I want to achieve to be a better me in health, home, relationships, faith, work, and creativity/learning. Having the big board at home is key. I want to embrace it and take it on the go too.

What about you?

Do you want to make a vision board too? There are many videos, how-to blogs, books, and articles at your disposal. My most recent inspiration for choosing a word (or two) came from The Reset Girl who is one of my crafty and faith influencers. She hosts a monthly late night crafty class online and last weekend I joined live and it really helped me to be more focused and prepared. It made it easy to open my home and let others in on the journey. Although the online party was live, Cori from The Reset Girl posted a video from last year that I wanted to share here. It is engaging and spot on with what and why a Vision board can help. Here is the link:

Https://youtu.be/4pAU5VpsXz0

As I finish sipping my coffee this morning, I encourage you to create and share your vision boards and 2018 words with me. Relationships include being a strength to one another and I want to be an encourager to everyone.

What is your vision? What area of life are you wanting to focus on? What is your word?

Link credit: Cori @ The Reset Girl