Apr 30, 2015

Wave Quick, Before It's Gone...

Being a military family we see life through military-specific challenges (duh), but I think it's pretty universal that life is in constant flux. Even setting aside crises and big events there is NO WAY to take it all in. You could try to video-record all of it, but then the science says that if you're recording all the time you're actually not fully experiencing the thing, so then we're back at NO WAY to take it all in.

One of my favorite moments in The Office was during the episode where Pam & Jim get married.  They've received the advice that it will be impossible to take in and remember everything from their festivities, so they should take mental snapshots of their favorite moments along the way. So of course in their own nearly-cheesy-but-still-endearing way, they signal to each other with fingers and a "Click" when they are each taking their own mental snapshots.

I think this is a smart approach to a lot of things in life. Not that I recommend going around making camera-like gestures and clicking sounds all the time. Unless you really want to; I mean, whatever floats your boat. But I have made a practice of making note of little instances of gratitude and beauty and whatnot. Because this life flies by, and it's easy to miss. So you've gotta catch it.

This is all to say that a couple of mornings ago I caught the sunrise just right on my jog. My warm-up goes along a tree-lined road, and then I turn a corner into a wide open space before I duck behind a bunch of houses again, and that particular morning through the trees and cloudy skies I caught a sliver of brilliant pink and purple. Only, more like hot fucshia and electric violet, or some such crazy color names. What I could see was gorgeous, and I so badly wanted to get to the corner to see the full view of that piece of sky.

The only thing is, even though it's nearly imperceptible, that big old sun moves quick, and I suspected that the colors were diminishing as the sky around them brightened to a hazy grey-blue. I held my breath a little, and took a mental "Click" of the part I did see, and I told God "Wow, those are some really cool colors," just in case I didn't make it to the corner in time to see the whole picture.

Well I rounded the corner just in time to see the last hints of pink & purple waving to me as they faded. Kind of like when I have to say good-bye to friends just as we are getting to know and love each other, and we have to take in what is, instead of holding off for what will be. Kind of like when I send my kids off on a new milestone and I swear they have little baby-ghosts of their smaller selves, waving back at me as their more grown-up selves venture on just like they're supposed to. Kind of like when we wind up one location/season to move on to the next, and those hazy last few moments shout a cheerful goodbye and root us on toward our destination.

That pink & purple didn't have time to stick around & chat, but I knew enough to wave and take in the moment, and it was beautiful...

Apr 25, 2015

Skerrib and the Bullet Journal...

I've been messing with my journaling/planner system lately. Last winter, I found myself having to keep track of several things for keeping track of all my things, and I wanted to use only one thing to keep track of all my things, so I ordered a Monopoly Smiley Diary.

About three days (not really, but that's what it felt like) after I ordered the Smiley Diary, I saw a YouTube Video for the Bullet Journal (via the Art of Simple), and I was totally intrigued, but since my Smiley Diary was already enroute I decided that I wouldn't pursue it any further. I was committed to the Smiley Diary.

Overall, the Smiley Diary has been very good. I love the slightly-whimsical but still clean design, and it has given me both calendar space and daily pages to write down what I accomplished (incredibly interesting stuff such as back exercises and miles run).  The main drawbacks for me are the tiny list-making spaces, and the lack of scratch paper. So in addition to my teeny written list of main points, I've been using my Tasky app for ongoing and multi-step tasks.

Well, here we are a few months into 2015, and I couldn't get the Bullet Journal out of my head. It was just so mesmerizing, and I kept wondering if it would work better than my Smiley Diary. The best thing about it is that it's customizable, so I could see myself very easily setting it up similar to the Smiley, with added list space and pages dedicated to doodles, Brain Dumps, and other things I like to keep track of but don't necessarily have a set space for.

In a moment of weakness I went on Pinterest and searched "Bullet Journal," and of course it turns out there are a zillionty folks out there who have already taken the plan and run with it. Creative-types have added plenty of great ideas, little doodles and stickers, and Washi tape for texture and emphasis. Many of the ideas didn't interest me, but a few were just right to try.

Money held me back, or rather the fact that I didn't want to spend any money on something that may or may not work out, and a good Bullet Journal tends to use one of those fancy little Moleskine notebooks (or the Leuchtturm 1917, as I am learning about) made of graph paper. The graph paper alone makes my nerd-heart beat faster, but it also comes in, like, 20 colors. Colors and graph paper turn me into a puddle of goo on the floor.

Well, I didn't have a fancy little graph paper notebook, but it turns out I had a Moleskine lined journal that I'd gotten as a gift. I had started it a few months back, and then set it aside when the Smiley arrived, so I figured Hey, what better choice for a trial run than a notebook very similar to the very one suggested for such a task. Plus I figured I could keep two journals for a couple weeks and see if I gravitated toward one over the other.

It's not graph paper, but there are colors involved.
So I sat down with a ruler and pen. I folded a page to mark where I was beginning, and made my index page. I numbered a few pages and drew a calendar. I made a short list of symbols I could use to simplify entries. Then I thought of other reference pages I wanted to have and drew those in. Then I started making lists I wanted to keep. Then I started doing some daily pages. Then I bought a four-color pen (The black ballpoint did the job just fine; I just wanted to add some fun).

Within a week I'd stopped using my Tasky app, and by the end of Week Two I had set aside the Smiley Diary. I feel mildly guilty about this, but I keep reminding myself of two things. First, that these are notebooks, not people. My cute little red Smiley is not actually lonely in my nightstand drawer, particularly because certain small children still swipe it to doodle in. And Second, I can always go back to it if the excitement of the Bullet Journal wears off, and either way it gets recycled when 2015 is done.

The only remaining drawbacks are that a) it doesn't fit in my favorite purse, and b) my Bullet Journal interior is not as cute and eye-catching as those I have seen online. The Smiley doesn't really fit into my favorite purse either, so that issue is a bit of a wash. As for the latter, I'm not as artsy as some to begin with, and my system needs to remain very low-maintenance (to me). It's fine if I add little doodles and a few colors along the way, but if I make things too intricate, I'll never stick with it. So I've been looking for little ideas that would be easy to pull off. Mine will not have the quasi-scrap-book look that some do (not that there's anything wrong with that).

May Calendar with experimental not-quite-Washi tape on the corners.  It'll have page numbers by Thursday (long story).
Still, somewhere I have some cute little sticky doodads I can throw in to liven it up a bit. And in Office Depot today I saw (what I thought was) Washi tape, and grabbed it. After I opened the package I realized it was just colorful patterned regular tape, but I decided it would be workable since it's a practice journal and I'm still forming my system anyway. So Tiny E and I spent some time this evening playing with tape and putting it on pages in different ways to see how it could be visually appealing and/or even useful.

I love the Bullet Journal because it is relatively cheap. Fancy planning systems can be pretty spendy; even my cute little Smiley was around $30. Assuming I stick with it, once this notebook is full a new one will be $20 or under. And if you want to go super-cheap, you could grab the simplest spiral notebook at the back-to-school sale. The do-it-yourself approach is a bit of a tough call. Obvs it's nice if you find a system that has everything you need already printed out because, duh, there it is. But for customizability, you can't beat a pen and ruler or home-printed paper sized to fit in the notebook. Plus, if you're a creative, visual-type, you can putter with pens, highlighters, and paper-crafting products to your heart's content, making your journal awesome and fabulous.

At the end of everything, sometimes I feel a little silly talking about my planning system, like some sort of organizational guru who has lots of official appointments and meetings to keep, but again that's what is so great about the Bullet Journal. It tracks what you want it to track, which for me these days is home-running tasks and the Moving List of DOOM, and my strengthening regimen to keep my butt (and everything else) in line.

In conclusion, if you are into organization, or planning, or even just graph paper and colorful notebooks, go check out the Bullet Journal intro and see what you think. Then go make as many lists as you want--they'll be there waiting for you (as long as you enter them into the index)...

Apr 21, 2015

(Sarcastic) Letters to My People...

**Please put on your humour goggles, and remember that I love My People fiercely. Precursor done.**

I decided it was time for another edition of Notes, because they're fun and because I haven't done any since January. The following are notes regarding actual things my people have said to me. And by "my people," I mean any given member(s) of my family who shall remain nameless to protect the Meany-Pantses (deliberate or not)--

My People, thank you for asking me questions, and then when I do the intellectually honest thing and reply "I don't know," or "I'm not sure," responding by repeating the question. And then when I suggest we might look it up (depending on the question), responding by repeating the question Louder. And when I say, "Sweetie. I don't know," responding by YELLING THE QUESTION AT ALL-CAPS VOLUME. We all win here, people...

My People, thank you for licking your ice cream at a leisurely pace, taking a bite out of the bottom half of the cone before the top half of the ice cream is gone, and then handing over the entire dripping, goopy mess with the following challenge: "Quick! Eat it before it melts!!"  Thank you for sharing, my precious snowflakes...

My People, thank you for informing me that I smell anytime I complete the simple action of coming into the house from out of doors, regardless of activity or time spent outside, and THEN proceeding to insist that the AC be turned off and the windows open to "let the fresh air inside," even though the springtime air in Montgomery is of a sufficient dew point so as to make me sweat at any temperature above 70 degrees F. Thank you, sweat glands, and thank you, my people. I'll just be over here, sweating and smelling...

My People, thank you for telling me to feel free to turn the AC back on (after you leave), as long as I shut all the windows. And then rather than simply telling me which windows are open, making it a fun puzzle by telling me how many windows are open on each floor and sending me on a sweaty, house-wide journey to check them all. Thank you, my people...

My People, thank you for asking for help with your math homework, and then complaining when, instead of saying "You know, I bet that's an impossible question. You probably don't actually have to solve it," I begin going over the problem with you so I can check your understanding. You're probably right that my education and experience as an actual math teacher aren't sufficient here...

My People, thank you for making yourself sick by eating too much junk food, and then protesting when I instead tell you to eat some fruit or cheese. Please don't consider eating an apple instead of gorging on 13 granola bars and then suffering from digestive issues. Digestive issues are the best, my delicate flowers...

My People, thank you for suggesting that we begin to taper the pantry stockpile in anticipation of moving, and then complaining that "there's nothing yummy" to eat when I don't refill it to the previous quantity and selection of snacks. Please refer to the previous Note and have several granola bars. Please also crumble them on the carpet so the ants can have a yummy snack and I can find an ant in my bra as a sign of good luck...

All my love,