Books · Goals · Planning · Reflection · Uncategorized · Vision · Writing

Book Talk – Am I reading more?

Happy Friday! Yes, I’m sipping coffee and I’m wishing I could take the day off to read. It dawned on me that I have yet to share much about my Vision Board and my plans to read more. I used to be an avid reader. A couple of books a week was a typical average. Life got in the way. More like Igot in the way of reading!

I read an article earlier this year about how some of the world’s most successful leaders read every day. So if they can make time to read, why shouldn’t I? In all honesty, I love reading and once I started down this journey of rediscovery this year, I wanted to read more and more. Joining Brenda Novak’s book club and reading challenge was a great launching pad for me. And my “to be read” pile grows larger every day. The more I read, the more I find I want to read.

Let me share with you some (not all) of the books I’ve read so far this year. In each of the books, I will share an overall impression of the book and maybe even a link so that if you want to read it to you can. Full Disclosure: If I provide a link and you use it to purchase it via Amazon, you will be helping me sock away a bit of money to help support this site. I thank you for that.

Reading For a Better Me

<a href=”Shaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure is a great book that is packed full of motivation for physical and spiritual fitness. I love watching her in movies on the Hallmark Channel and I loved watching her grow up in Full House. This book was her way of sharing how she went from that chubby girl to a healthier and happier version of herself. I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t a diet book. It wasn’t a book that pointed out everything I do wrong. It was simply her view on how through faith and family and introspection she worked to make small changes over time that have been maintainable. As such an easy read, I keep it handy and actually pick it up every once in a while to look at end of chapters where she provides recipes and scriptures plus a little practical advice. It never hurts to reconnect. I really enjoyed it and hope you might too. Check it out.

OOLA: Find Balance in an Unbalance World by Troy and Dave the OOLA Masters. Now this book is not new to me. I got it a few years back and with my refocus using a Vision Board, I decided to pick this one back up because I wanted to revisit it. Everyone talks about work life balance and how important it is. I hear it all the time at the office. I preach it all the time to my colleagues. Does anyone really know what it means or how to do it? This book is full of how to put that into practice. I love that it even gives you an assessment to help you learn which of the 7 areas of a balance life may be needing more attention. The OOLA masters don’t tell you “how” to fix yourself. They share real stories and examples which allow you to reflect. Then they offer encouring nudges on how to find your action plan starting small and going bigger and bigger until you feel OOLA complete.

If you don’t get any other book this year, get this one! I have enjoyed reading it again and I’ve also enjoyed comparing my Vision Board for 2018 to their suggestions of an OOLA board and recognize that I have work to do to help me get balance. I also realized that I think reading this book in the past truly helped me subconciously as I was building my vision. My focus areas are closely aligned to the Seven Fs.

Reading for Joy

I have to be honest that I don’t always read books that show me “how I can do things better.” I have to read for the sheer joy of reading. It is my great escape. I love diving into other settings with fun characters and seeing what happens in their lives. Sometimes I have books that I really wanted to read but I struggle to find the time or just have a challenge connecting. Don’t you? Then there are times where I’m so engaged that I cannot put the book down and procrastinate everything else I should be doing. It is important to make time for this kind of joy. I think that even the world’s leaders have had books of fiction or non-fiction that really and truly were escapes into other settings. I learn from these characters and story lines too. So, I made sure I read from this “To Be Read” pile too. Here are some highlights on some of these other books I read in the past two months.

Edge of Darkness (The Cincinnati Series)

“>Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose was a great book. This was part of Brenda Novak’s Readers Book Club. Last night was the book club discussion where Brenda visited Karen and they hosted a Facebook Live discussion that allowed all of us to be part of the interview and discussion. I haven’t been much into mystery and supsense books but I’m a converted fan after reading this book. It is part of a series and I have added all of the other books in the series to by TBR pile because this book was that good. Her characters are real. Her settings were vivid in my imagination. And I didn’t know who did it for certain until she revealed it. I had a good guess, but I wasn’t 100 percent certain. In the discussion she let us know which of her characters in the series she has planned to “star” in upcoming books and I was very excited to know that I can look forward to some of my favorite secondary characters taking the front seat in future books. I learned a lot about how Karen manages her writing including how she keeps track of all of the characters in the series. As a writer myself insight to the writer’s life and learning tools and tips I might apply to my own work in progress and ideation process always gets me motivated and excited. She is a huge fan of Tami Hoag so I’ve decided I must prioritize some of my TBR list to ensure that I read one of those books this year instead of continuing to put it off. Funny, how an interaction with people can change your thinking in only an hour’s time.

Any Dream Will Do: A Novel

“>Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber is probably my favorite of the books I’ve read recently. Do you watch Hallmark Channel Movies? I do. And Debbie is one of those writers who has had several novels made into movies. Her stories are just that captivating and full of real people and sweet outcomes that they lend so perfectly to the Hallmark lineup. I’ve watched so many and realized that I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book. So when I was taking up the challenge to read a book in February based on the look of the cover, this one stood out to me at the supermarket. And I’m so glad it did. I just loved Shay and Caden’s story. Shay is so imperfecttly perfect that she melts my heart. So much of her personality resonated with me. I felt a kinship of parts of me in my younger years when it comes to choices in trust and relationships. And much y favorite character really was probably Caden’s daughter, Sarah. She said it as she saw it as any youngster would but her insights and observations were just so simple and true. Perhaps she reminded me of my daughter at that age. Such wisdom from those so young! I hope you pick this book up and just dive into the characters and watch them grow personally and together to make a new heartwarming family unit. You will feel so good at the end. I assure you.

Her Secret Daughter (Grace Haven)

“>Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne was a sweet “commercial” and I picked this book up so that I would have a quick read. I like the Harlequin series books for the short read. Often this is a book length that I can finish in an afternoon while sipping coffee. I enjoyed this book about Josie and I really fell in love with the characters from Grace Haven. Have you ever read a book where you love the secondary characters more than the main ones? This was definitely one of these books for me. Addie is the “secret daughter” and she was a little girl who could have been written so differently considering what she had been through in life. The author, Ruth, really had me cheering this sweet girl on because I just knew that she was surrounded by people who loved her and having a chance to know her biological mother would maybe confuse her but in the end could just be the thing to help bring her that much more joy. I was rooting for Addie more than I was rooting for Josie. And honestly, at first I wasn’t sure I liked Josie and wasn’t sure I wanted her for Jacob. In the end, Addie is who changed my mind about that. Check this book out one afternoon and enjoy it with your favorite beverage in a comfy chair.

I guess I was all about the kids in my books this month. And it proves to me that secondary characters are critcal to any story line and matter to readers. I am looking forward to the next few books on my pile. If you pick up and read any of these books, please come back and let me know what you thought of them. I’d love to hear. What else should I put on my list? Any suggestions?

Goals · lists · Planning · Vision · Writing

Managing Mondays-How I Planned

On Sunday, whether sipping coffee, iced tea, or wine I plan out my week. At least as much as I can. Everyone has a process. And for me personally, there are three basic steps with a lot of flair.

How I get from step to step depends on my mood or something specific about the week that might help drive a theme.

This week launches the first day of spring so flowers sprung to mind. Spring colors are popping up all around the neighborhood and in my house as we switch up accents like pillows, kitchen towels, placemats, and flowers. Our neighborhood had planters and flower beds being refreshed with daisies and petunias. Oh the joy of Phoenix living! Many places are still getting snow and ice and we are already battling seasonal allergies as the smell of orange blossoms begins to fill the air.

Since the outside is blooming, I want my page to bloom too. So, I went through my vast supply of papers, washi, and stickers to celebrate the first day of spring.

With my garden of materials ready, I began the real first step of pulling my pages out of the planner. It really does make it easier to not have the binder discs in the way. This is really one reason why Happy Planners make me so happy. (Pun intended)

I wanted to demonstrate that buying stickers is not the only way to embellish a page. Pen and paper really can go a long way and can be more affordable in the long run. I may have to write a post on finding pretty paper on the cheap. Yeah?

One page I selected had cute items that would make great tips for my spread. So I cut them out.

And I saw some colored designs I thought would look great as blocks in my vertical spaves so I used my HP Classic Punch to make a few for my layout. (I often use a plastic template to make these. I will show you that another time. You don’t have to have a punch. I have only had mine for a couple of months and I love playing with it.)

I really love the spring colors so far. And the butterfly is simply sweet.

Now is when I get to have fun. I take all of these pieces and start placing them around until I love what I see. There is no science. Getting to a point that makes me smile is my goal.

And then I start gluing them in place. Now, this time I used a glue stick. If I want to feel less committed, I often use repositionable glue tape. Next time I will bring that along and show you how great that is.

All that is left to complete the Step (maybe I should call this a phase): Before Pen, is to get some washi tape. I have actually done some weekly spreads using only washi tape and pen. That can be fun and simple too.

Wow! I just love it so far. I did grab a few stickers to pop in some key events for the week. It wasn’t necessary but it was fun to sift through and find ones I thought tied into my theme. Now we are ready for the final phase with pen!

4 key focus blocks I tend to repeat are:

  • Goal for the week
  • Space to jot things foe next week
  • specific to do lists
  • Key appointments or meetings each day

Here is this week’s plan.

In one view I can see all of the most important tasks, events, and priorities for the week and by day. I have a place for important things to keep in mind for next week. I know when my work day really starts and whether I can roll out of bed and go straight to work after my morning quiet time or if I have to plan extra time to commute. And I love this little dashboard.

Do you plan your week? In a plannet? In your head? Would you like to see more of my weekly spread styles? I would love to hear from you on what I can share on Managing Mondays.

I hope your week is focused and rewarding.

Family · Goals · lists · Planning · Vision · Writing

Unboxing – Erin Condren Haul

Every once in awhile I come home to a box waiting for me. It feels like Christmas.

So, here is the latest box from Erin Condren! Isn’t that a pretty box? The word “enjoy!” and the pretty design lend a subtle clue that EC has blessed my step. I kinda dig when the box does not blatantly display a company name.

And when I saw this pastel beauty next to my front door I was a giddy girl. Ready to see what is inside? Me too!

Let’s open it!

The enjoy! theme is mirrored inside. I just adore when I order items and they come packaged like a gift. Personal touches is a trend that big box retailers miss.

When I was browsing the site I wanted a new notebook (Her planning system is not what I use these days) and was hoping I could find something with my words for 2018. This little gem ties nicely to Strength. So I jumped on in and customized to colors that made me happy. That is the fun of Erin Condren. You can personalize with your name and change the colors within her palatte range. And the paper quality is amazing! Let’s tour this notebook.

The cover is laminated so the inside can be used over and over again with the wet erase markers.

Instead of the standard lined notebook, I opted for the productivity notebook with a list margin. We all know i love making lists! I haven’t decided what I will do yet with this notebook. I know it is going to be for writing projects. And as a lover of lists I thought I could brainstorm in bullets or list what I might need to research.

The notebooks are filled with quotes and reminders of positivity which make me smile when I use them. I need more positivity. How about you?

Did I mention I love the paper? Made in the U.S.A. and a nice thick paper that won’t tear easily. I am in love and can’t wait until I have a block of time to play.

What else is in the box?

These gift tags were a freebie. I realized I shop regularly with EC and prefer online versus going to Staples for their limited inventory. And I never signed up for the EC Insider program. I finally took the plunge for the perks. And as a thank you they sent me these! What fun! Watch for a post in the not so distant future when I embellish with them.

Markers! I have to hide these from my teenager. I really do. Not only because she would likely borrow them with no plan to return but because I have been organizing in my office in my spare time and my marker/pen/highlighter collection is already put of hand. These are my first ever from EC. They were 15% off and the Wet Erase are needed for some other items in the box. And those are…

These laminated beauties were also on sale. I wanted to see how they work with any and all spiral notebooks. And I wanted to explore laminated or permanent reusable inserts for planners would work for me. Now you know why I needed the wet erase markers. I just love these colors! Watch for some future blogs where I plan with them. I am so excited.

Oh…that isn’t all!

I love pen holders that can be stuck in journals, notebooks, and planners. And these were on sale making them under $2 each. I have never tried EC holders. I have several from Happy Planner and Michael’s but they are not plain and simple. I am into the thought of the pen holder blending in and the pen of choice standing out.

And the Coil Clip Connectors allow you to put anything inside the spiralbound notebook, journal, or planner. A custom-made dashboard or checklist might be good to pop into one…and I have always wondered what to use. So I grabbed a couple to play around with and maybe share with my readers.

Last…but certainly not least. I love these daily dots sets.

And I have been meaning to play around with this on one of my planners. I cannot wait to show you how. I will also compare these to other daily dots that I have found via other retailers.

All in all I am happy with my new unboxing. The notebook feels so personal and was definitely a treat for me. I did pay full price for it. It is okay to splurge every once in a while. All of the accessories were on sale so I went a little crazy while still staying under my budget for my splurge. Don’t you love when that happens?

Watch for some projects coming up in the next couple of months as I put these to good use and compare EC products to other brands.

Have you ever purchased Erin Condren products? The company has quite a selection and not just paper and planners. The colors and desings change regularly throughout the year. I tend to place an order every quarter if one of the new designs catches my eye.

What do you think of Erin Condren products?

food · Goals · health · Planning · Planning · travel · Vision

Planner for that: Focus on Fit and Healthy

Of course I am sipping coffee.

It was a rainy week. And today, the forecast calls for more. In Phoenix? Yup. Unusual to be sure! January is usually a rainy month and not February. So with the rain, I have been feeling lazy. No walking around the neighborhood. To be honest I am still recovering from some illness that took over my body while in Florida on business. I tell myself every morning that I feel better but by the end of the day, my body wants to rest. So I let it.

In January, I set simple goals.

And this post is a way of being real with myself and everyone else. I did not meet all my goals. Not in the pen and paper sense anyway. My fitbit does track some but my planner has a lot of white space left.

I started strong as you can see in week one.

And week two looks similar.

But the last half of the month looks like I fell off the wagon.

I didn’t completely fall off. I was definitely more focused on food. I did monitor my weight. I did work on sleeping better. I certainly focused on moving more. I just epically failed on tracking everything.

What do you do when you recognize you failed? Do you ask yourself why bother? Do you reset and start again.

Me? I sat in my chair and I looked at my vision board hanging on the opposite wall and I remembered that this is no New Year’s Resolution fail. This is a journey to a better me. It is where I want to be.

And the healthier me remembered that I should take time to reflect and reset.

After reflection, a vacation and a business trip have passed, I am picking right back up for the balance of February.

I am keeping the same goals and focus for the month and reminding myself to be kind as I reset.

The bonus to all of This? There is one. I may have not been perfect but I did come home from vacation and a business trip maintaining my weight within a pound. Oh…and as of today I lost two more.

Perfection is nowhere on my vision board. Loving myself and focusing on self-care in easy manageable ways one day at a time is. Let’s see how I do for the next 30ish days.

How are you doing with your plans and vision? I would love to hear. Please comment and share.

lists · packing · Planning · travel · vacation

Seriously…What to pack?

Saturday and Sunday I started packing, I organized myself and got down to brass tacks. I am sipping coffee and reviewing my lists. Because, well, do any of you live in New Orleans? Southern Florida, Cozumel?

I think I may need to adjust my plan. I see lots of rain and plain old chilliness on some days in the next two weeks.

I did the laundry, got the suitcase out of the closet and checked the weather forecasts. Then I put only definite items in the case and set it aside. Because I decided today was the day to look at the forecast one more time and make final adjustments.

Is packing such a process for you? I am still trying to avoid cranky. Cold and wet cranky is like a wet blanket. I think I need a couple of sweatshirts and sweaters in the mix. And a beanie and gloves to layer with my jackets.

I saw this post from a friend on social media saying that the day we sail out of NO LA will be chilly. To this Phoenician that high in the mid-50s will feel icy. I might look like I am heading to Alaska as we sail away but I assure you I am hoping that our captain puts the pedal to the metal. (What is the ship speed equivalent? Anyone know? Full Speed Ahead? Or is my Trekkie-ness showing with that one?)

Anyway. I never really worried about forgetting any thing because my lists have been ready and I will follow them. The dilemma is making adjustments. A reader suggested some capsule bloggers who are masters at packing and wardrobe optimisation. I may watch a few tonight. If anything resonates for me to recommend I will share before I set sail and let you know how it worked. For now, I have some coffee to sip.

Any last minute tips? Any suggestions to add to my “while in NOLA” list?

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.