lists · packing · Planning · travel · vacation

Another Travel Dilemma…Eating Gluten Free

My excitement is building and I cannot wait to be on vacation. This past week has been a worrisome work week and my annual reset trip is just what I need to escape and come back on the other side with a renewed sense of strength and dignity to face the challenges ahead.

Traveling comes with worries because I have to avoid gluten. It makes me sick. Celiac Disease is not something that everyone understands and this post is not aimed to explain or complain about the challenges I face every day to maintain health. It is simply to share ways to plan options for healthy dining and ensure my traveling companions aren’t worried for me either.

Step One-while I count down days

Before I leave town I am making sure that I am taking care of myself all week. This includes:

  • Clean eating at home
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours each night
  • Taking supplements like probiitics, multivitamins, and immunity boosters like vitamin C
  • Diffusing essential oils at home. Thieves blend is in my diffuser while I sip coffee
  • Relaxation via detox and destress baths, reading, and quiet time whenever possible

Step 2-Know when not to worry

Once I am on the cruise it is easy. Norwegian, like most cruise lines these days ask for dietary restrictions and truly make an effort to provide safe eating options while on board. And for that I am very grateful. I feel quite special when the chefs and dining staff go out of their way to guide me on food selections and specially prepare foods for me when needed…even in the main buffet lines. As long as I seek the help offered I will successfully avoid gluten and fully enjoy my holiday focusing on friends, fun, and non-stop live music. One guideline I follow, no eating in ports. So eat a good solid breakfast and take a prepackaged snack from my go bag.

Step 3-Make a List

New Orleans is a whole different dilemma. Where do I find safe, inexpensive options so that my three days in an amazing city allows me to enjoy the sights and sounds? Research. Lists. Have a plan.

I relied on my friend, Google, and review sites like Yelp, Four Square, and Find Me Gluten Free. And will continue to research. Honestly, I am not the only person in my motley crew of rock boat family who are looking for healthy options. Well, they should be. So I will make sure we have options for vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and diabetic diets. And Coffee! I want to enjoy gumbo, crab cakes and king cakes and anything else that is part of the experience. I cannot eat beignets but my research uncovered a gluten free recipe so if I felt like I missed out, when I get home I will make some.

My list is ready and on paper and in my phone. Why both places? A phone battery can die. A phone can get lost or stolen just like the paper. I am that person who plans for all kinds of outcomes. Crazy? Maybe. But my friends and family, the motley crew, are used to it and sometimes glad because I tend to be the go to person on what to do and where to eat. It is a burden and a blessing. I love them and cannot wait to be spending vacation in a city that is alive with music and festivals.

Step 4-Pack options

As I finish packing, I also bring along in my suitcase and carryon safe snacks like LARA bars, cashews, pecans, Dang chips, and dried fruit. These items are small and can easily slip into my Vera Bradley hipster for times when I need something and in a time crunch, my friends can grab something from a place not gluten friendly and not worry about me. I can always drink coffee and chicory or some famous New Orleans drink and good company. I have a plan for everything.

Any recommendations on where we should eat? What we should see? I have 3 days and I am sure we can squeeze in more options into the plan. Comment below.

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?

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

Planning

I Have A Planner For That, Part One

I have used planners in some fashion for the past 20 years. I started when I became a corporate trainer and the company gave me a planner and sent me to a class at Franklin Quest. All you needed was a pen, the binder, and all the green pages within. Hey, this was before my company had a system-wide windows based calendar or email platform. Am I showing my 40-something age, or what?

Even with the evolution of technology, I still love the feel of paper in making to do lists, taking notes, brainstorming ideas, and planning. And I know that I am not alone. Until 2017 I used my Franklin/Covey planning tools. I evolved from the standard green to the pretty colors and designs because I love pretty things. Over time, the digital revolution limited the pretty options. Disheartened in selections and the changes the company has made in their planner styles, I tried new ones, and for a time simplified to my digital tools and used plain spiral notebooks and pens. I loved the traditional format of the two pages per day Covey layouts but realized I wasn’t using them daily. So why spend the money? Frankly, I like pretty things and working now in the technology space for my employer, I have adopted most of the digital tools for my work place needs….except where brainstorming, note-taking and list making comes in.

My life is way bigger than my job. And I have a creative heart that desires fun and joy. Working 60+ work weeks while being a mother, a daughter, a boss, and a friend, my personal time and self-care was sitting in a back seat. I was a passenger on the personal train, not the conductor.

As my grandmother’s health began the steady and rather rapid decline the latter half of 2016, I started crocheting again and teaching my daughter the art. It was my way to connect across the miles when she was not up to our weekly phone chats. I crocheted or made dishes from her recipes and spent time in traditions. In these moments where I stepped away from the rat race and social media, I revisited The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That book was transformational for me in my mid-20s. At 40-something, the currency and relevancy is poignant. I dove back in. I tracked my habits and began recognizing life is more than to do lists and time management. I reintroduced me time, sipping coffee.

In my me time I started the search for something new and different for fun planning. From Google Searches and YouTube binging, I found out about a whole world of planners. I researched EricCondran, Happy Planners, and many, many more. 2017 was the year of tossing bulky binders, notebooks, and sticky notes. I bought a Happy Planner and took it for a year long test,drive. I learned I can make my own pretty layouts and customize weekly and monthly to meet my lifestyle and feed my creative spirit. And I found a whole community of amazing people who I could learn from online and locally.

Look for part two, later this week to find out more about planning and planners. I will review 2017 and share what my 2017 planner plans will be.

Do you use only digital planning? If so, what apps do you like? Do you use paper? What are your successful methods?