Having the right tools 

I used to sell Pampered Chef.  It was a great way to make some extra money, and my kitchen is still full of great stoneware, knives, spatulas, and other things that make kitchen work much, much easier.  One of our sayings in Pampered Chef world was “having the right tools makes everything easier.”

That is so, so true.

Two things I’ve always wanted to do consistently:  journal and use a planner.  That’s right.  I’m approaching 50 and have yet to consistently journal or use a planner.  I finally realized why, though. I didn’t have the right tools.

I love journals.  I love buying a new, spiral-bound or hard-bound journal and seeing all the blank pages in them.  It’s a clean slate; a new beginning.

It’s also a lot  of pages.  And to someone who’s coming off several years of writer’s block, it’s intimidating. Another speed bump in my desire to journal is focus. In that big, thick book, I wrote about everything and I would get lost.  If I tried to focus on one thing, other things went unsaid.  If I wrote about life in general, I wound up being vague because there was just so much going on in my life.

Then I found these.

Aren’t they beautiful?

And thin?  So very doable.  Writable.  Manageable.

Because they’re so thin, I use a different notebook for different purposes.  One is my food and feelings journal. After each meal, I write down what I ate and what kind of feelings I’m having.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  I don’t count calories or carbs or even write down portions most of the time.  Just food and feelings.  It’s helping me see patterns, though, and that’s good.  And I write in purple because (as you know), it’s my happy color.


The other is my examen journal. I use this app to look back over my day, review what’s happened, how I responded, and how I can use that to connect more deeply with God.  Different notebook, different purpose.


And this planner.  Oh, this planner!  How it has saved me.  I still use my calendar to keep up with meetings and appointments through the day, but this planner?  It helps me keep the big picture in perspective.  It helps me evaluate my actions.  Were they in line with my beliefs and goals? What was my mindset? The hourly list lets me pencil the fixed appointments and create a flexible plan for how I will spend the rest of the time.  This is the yoga version of this planner, but the same company sells one that doesn’t have a yoga focus.  I love this planner.

Having the right tools is crucial and to know which tools will be right for you, you need to know yourself.  Are you a detailed person or a big picture thinker?  Do you need help not getting bogged down in thinking about all that you didn’t do?  Do you need help focusing on what really matters?  If you’re a natural born planner, then mine might not be for you, but it has made a huge difference in my life.

You were created to do good work.  Find the tools that will help you do that.

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Food and feelings

For the last couple of years, I’ve been on a journey to not diet. To not view myself as a success or failure based on my size. To not put things on hold until I reach a magic number. 

Not dieting or tracking has done wonders for my emotional health. A lot of other things have been part of the journey — therapy and life-coaching to name a couple — but today I can say that I do not primarily view myself as someone is smart but… or pretty but… or talented but…   I am smart. I am pretty. I am talented. 

Lately, though, I’ve also felt like I’m not being completely honest with myself in terms of how connected food and emotions are for me. Since it was the new year and WW ads are everywhere, I had a brief thought of “what if I did it just to encourage me and to track? You know — accountability?” 

I know what that does to my mindset, though, and how easy it is to fall back into self-disparaging inner dialog. I needed a way to see things clearly, though, so I’m starting a Food and Feelings journal. Maybe it will help someone else, so I’m sharing it here. 


It’s a plain little notebook. I’m using purple ink because it’s my favorite color. I’m not tracking amounts or calories or carbs or anything. Just what I ate and how I felt. Sometimes the feeling will be physical: “headache” or “ugh. Why did I eat that?” both come to mind. Sometimes it will be like this one. I’m happy today, but I still have fears of being out of control with food, so I noted that. 

I’m not 100% sure what my goal is with this. Honesty. Integrity. A way to see patterns. Self-accountability. 

Because it doesn’t matter what shows up in the mirror if you can’t look yourself in the eye while you’re there. 

Today is the day

I go back to school today.

I have notebooks, pens, paper, dividers, sticky notes, and text books.

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That’s right.  I have text books. And when I picked them up, I had to resist the urge to do a happy dance and post a selfie with the books.

I’ve been around education all my life and have worked in higher ed for eleven years, so you would think this wouldn’t be as exciting as it is. The beginning of a semester should seem routine, but that’s far from true.

One thing I love about higher ed is that every semester is a new beginning.

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As a believer, my desire is to approach each day as a new thing. I want to forgive others and myself for things done and undone.  I want to bring fresh energy and fresh eyes into each encounter.  Even with that goal, it can be easy for attitudes and situations to become ruts. Having a clean slate and fresh start every semester is an incredible gift.

The beginning of the  year also calls us toward new beginnings.  I’m not a fan of resolutions; I prefer to set goals and choose a focus or theme.  My word for 2017 is love.  I want to act in love.  Respond in love.  Take information in through a lens of love.  With love as a basis for my thoughts and actions, I hope that my actions will provide others with a place of safety and courage.

Not only others.  Me, too.  My conversation with myself also needs to be within a framework of love.

The other part of my 2017 focus is to not shy away from hard things.  Hard conversations (done in love, of course), hard work (while still loving myself to honor my time and energy), and truths as I learn to love others (and myself!) more fully.

Listen to this.  Does it sound easy?

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It doesn’t to me.  It sounds pretty challenging.

But that’s love.  Actively seeking the good for others and in others while while also honoring ourselves.

And today is the day to start.

Confessions of a perpetual student

I confess:  I would go to school forever if I could.  I would learn and learn and learn and learn and listen and listen and listen and listen and take notes and take notes and take notes and take notes and make As until there weren’t anymore to make.

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I love school.  It’s my happy place.  It’s where I’m a fish in the water and where I know what to do and where I get positive feedback.  I like completing projects and having deadlines and plugging into a structure that’s been set for me.

So, yes.  If someone else would pay for my life, I would go to school forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. 

When I had a house full of young children and and the laundry and dishes never got done and I was never sure if I was being good enough as their mom, I would stand and think to myself, I need to go to school.  I need to make an A.  No one grades me on parenting so I how do I know if I’m doing an OK job?  School may be torture for some, but it is a happy place for me.
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So I’m doing it.  I’m going back to school.  I’m taking two classes that start next week and am planning to complete a masters in counseling over the next four years.  And I am so excited.  I keep eagerly checking my email to see if the online component of the classes have been published yet.  I want to see a syllabus. I want to look at assignments. I want a list of readings.

I’m ridiculously excited about being in a classroom with real, live people again.  Working on projects. Writing with purpose.  Learning new things.

Don’t worry.  I won’t therapize you.  I’ve always been a good listener and to you, my friends, that what I want to always be.  A listener.  A supporter.  An encourager.  A team member.  I’ve lived long enough and learned enough to know that life is best navigated with friends on your team, and being a good friend is my number one goal.

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I won’t pull a football (or anything else, for that matter) out from underneath you. Good friends don’t do that.  But if you hear someone being ridiculously happy or see someone doing a happy dance, it may be me.

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Because I’m going back to school.

New Year, same goals 

2017 will bring some new challenges for me. I’m starting a masters in counseling and will take two classes in addition to working full time. My youngest child will graduate from high school and this fall I will enter the empty nest years. 

I don’t have a lot of big goals for 2017. Mostly, I want to be more me. My authentic self. I want to face my distractions head on and tune in to what feeds my soul. 

Books 

Music

Writing

Learning

Faith 

And yoga. My dear yoga. 

I’d love to have your support and encouragement on my journey and I would love to support and encourage you as you rejoice in your amazing self. 

2017: let’s do this. And let’s do it as a community of support and light and love.