January RESET: Reflection

Welcome to the January RESET project! Throughout the month I will post different journaling prompts and topics to help you review the year behind and RESET for the year ahead.

I will be using the brand new RESET digital kit designed by Alexandra Rae Design (with some input from me). It includes lovely word art, prompts and elements, as well as pre-made quick pages to get you started right away.

The first week of the year is for Reflection on the year behind us.

**insert manic laughter**

Oh. Yea. Thinking long and hard about what happened in 2015 is going to be so fuuuuuunnnnnn.

I almost skipped this step altogether. Because obviously I KNOW what went wrong in 2015. Nearly everything negative last year stems back to one single thing that I had no control over. One single thing that will obviously not be a factor in 2016.

How much can I possibly get out of Reflection this week?

But I did it anyway. Because (shocker) I don’t actually know everything and self-examination is always useful.

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I love my title page. I love the simplicity. That ‘OKAY, let’s try that again’ journaling card is from Studio Calico. I’m not exactly sure when or how it came into my possession but it is SO perfect, right?

I love that photo of me with the flag. I realize it makes me look more patriotic than I probably am, but I love it. I was happy that day. I was doing something that I love (vacation in Washington DC) and I was moving forward from the heartbreak of earlier in the year. My only disappointment is it is a cell phone photo, so the image file isn’t terribly large. I’ll survive.

Turn the page … and a bit more introductory pages …

I have left the ‘This is my WHY’ page blank for these photos. Only because that is super super personal journaling, and it was easier to take the photo first, rather than blur it all out for the blog post. You will likely see a lot of that kind of thing in my pages throughout January. This is a very personal, and at time private project. Yes, I would love you all to join me throughout the month, but this album is my own little space and I will be writing things that are just for me.

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That mirror selfie is from my trip to Austin in September. When I saw some of my closest friends, met new people in my industry and let myself be talked into moving there. I felt super cute that day. I love this photo of me.

The ‘Dear Self’ 3×4 card is Ali Edwards. The 2016 filler card is Studio Calico. And on it I have handwritten a bunch of different words/phrases that mean RESET.

The THIS IS MY WHY printable page is included in the RESET digital kit, and I’ve backed it with just white cardstock. I have a lot to say on the topic :)

Turn the page …

More cards from Ali, Studio Calico, and that RESET kit.

More reminding myself 2016 is a new beginning. Some More / Less journaling. Basically it comes down to more things that I love and find MAGIC …. less things that I do just because I’ve always done them.

More being intentional with how I spend my time and money. Less being lazy about how I spend my time and money.

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Turn the page … more digital kit and Studio Calico journaling cards. A photo of me on a trip to Alexandria. In front of an enormous statue of George Washington!

I debated with what photo I wanted to put there. Again, wanted it to be something I loved in 2015 … but in this case, Washington will actually figure in my 2016 as well. It’s not a great photo if you want to see ME, but it’s a great photo for my life right now.

In designing the kit, Allie and I didn’t really specify which pages or elements go where. There’s no rules for how to use this kit, and if you want to save this quick page for next October or not use it at all, that works well too.

You’ll notice I didn’t bother to list out all the ways my 2015 was absolutely the worst year of my life. No reason for that. There are some smaller things from last year that I can work on, though. The WORKING card lists good parts I want to carry forward, the NOT WORKING card lists what I want to put behind me.

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This week’s focus is to look back at the last year. With honest eyes. What went right and what went wrong. What do you want more of and what do you need to say no to?

That’s it for now!

And, actually … I realized as I was putting this blog post together that I have more wins from 2015 that I didn’t document. I should. I’ve just been operating under the “2015 sucked, let’s move on” mentality, but actually some good things happened.

Like, I lost 30 pounds! Granted it was all anxiety-and-grief-driven lack of appetite. But still. I’ve kept it off so that’s something.

So, yes, I’m publishing this post as-is, but I will likely change around and add to these pages. Because the WINS are definitely worth recording.

So my REFLECTION section will get a bit bigger …. and then move into the RIGHT NOW section that I’ll show you next week.

(spoiler: It’s not actually done yet, because my intention is to complete these pages and this challenge along with you. I’ll record my RIGHT NOW sometime in the next week to share next Monday)

Are you RESETting this January? How was your process of looking back over the past year?

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One Little Word 2016: MAGIC

I love love love the practice of choosing a word to focus on every year.

After the last couple years … I need some fun in my life. I need something special. I need something larger than life. I need to be with people who care about me. I need to go on adventures and create things and hit my goals and feel good about myself.

I need magic in my life.

My One Little Word for 2016 is MAGIC

I’m taking Ali’s OLW course again! You can sign up on her site here. It’s a great price for a year-long reminder and prompts to help you stay focused on your word. Not an affiliate. I just love her.

A short list of some of the things I find magical:

  • travel
  • fiction
  • musicals
  • Muppets
  • hitting goals
  • storytelling
  • American History
  • laughter
  • singing and singers (like Adele and Freddy Mercury)
  • fresh starts
  • love
  • scrapbooking and memory keeping
  • being independent and strong
  • Harry Potter

So far my plans for 2016 include …

…. Moving to Austin, to be near my writer friends and to live in a place that is inexpensive enough that I can afford to travel more often. A truly fresh start.

…. Travel to Richmond on my own to spend a week taking in all the Civil War history and battlefields around.

…. Traveling to New York City, to see the musical Hamilton (it’s about American History, yo. It’s like it was written for me)

…. Tentative trip to Chicago to see friends, see Hamilton AND Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with said friends

…. Publish 4 novels. Write first drafts of 3 novels. Read all the how-to-write and creativity books I can find (Big Magic is already on my kindle).

…. Revel in fiction. Be more deliberate about the fiction I choose to read. Return to my M.A. in Literature roots by putting the priority on reading classic literary fiction that I love, rather than whatever new trendy Y.A. fantasy books just to see what the masses are reading.

Seems like a lot in a list like that …. I seriously cannot wait!!

But in addition to all of this …. I need to remind myself that I AM MAGIC.

I’m also going to use the word MAGIC to remind myself how awesome I am. 2015 destroyed me and my self-confidence. Which is ridiculous, because I’m awesome.

I am MAGIC.

2016 is going to be amazing!

P.S. I’ll be emailing more about my year of MAGIC, so be sure you’re on the list here to get those missives.

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in dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, TELL YOUR STORY

I’m starting over.

I mean. In everything. Almost literally everything in my life is starting over.

Including my memory keeping. I am starting fresh with a new album beginning with the last part of 2015.

Best part of declaring bankruptcy? I’m not even going to pretend that I will ever “catch up”. I will edit and back up those photos so I have them, but that’s it. I might, one day, print out one or 2. But I have no intention of scrapbooking 2014 or the first part of 2015.

 (related sidenote: I have also just declared email bankruptcy, so if I owe you an email please resend it)

My new Project Life album begins July 30, 2015. The day I left my home in California with a van full of boxes and my cats and started driving all the way across country.

I had 5 days of road-tripping to get to Virginia, and added in several extra photos of my rental van all packed full.

Now that I’m looking at these pages, I realize I want to add a list of everything I put in the van. Maybe I’ll hide it behind one of the photos ….

Products used include by Kelly Purkey, Ali Edwards, Studio Calico, Project Life and rukristin papercrafts.

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I’m sticking with what works for me. No point in trying to overthink it or reinvent anything. For my daily life, I like to use Project Life pocket pages design A. I like photos + journaling cards. I like little-to-no embellishments.

I will mostly stick with a 2-page-spread per week (Monday to Sunday), but weeks that are especially boring I may combine 2 weeks together.

Anything big (like my travel or history-related-day-trips) get their own albums.

This road-trip in particular was VERY emotionally difficult, and I had a lot of things to say that aren’t included in these pages. I maintained a small moleskine notebook over these 5 days (where my receipts and hotel keys and things are too), that is kept separately. Or maybe I’ll stick it in a page projector in between some of these? Hmmm…

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I cannot tell you how good it feels to be starting over fresh. To not feel guilty about being “behind”. To have freed myself from the perceived obligation.

I am genuinely excited about memory keeping again.

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Which is why I am so excited that my friend Megan will be running her AMAZING class Pocket Your Year again in 2016! (The sign-up should be up any day here)

I am so inspired to try new techniques and to tell all these stories of my new life. Megan does a fantastic job of fitting so many stories into her pocket scrapbooking album, and I can’t wait to learn from her.

Join me for Pocket Your Year in 2016. Set yourself up for a productive 2016 in the best way possible.

P.S. I won’t be posting my Project Life projects on the blog, but sign up for my email list for glimpses throughout the year.

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January Reset: Let’s try that again

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New year …. New start. THANK GOODNESS!

Last year about this time I was collaborating with my friend Allie on a digital kit specifically for helping document the new RESET beginning of January. It was wonderful and I loved it.

I LOVED the intentional way I really spent time with my goals. I loved making time to reflect on the previous year. I loved giving myself the focus on RESETTING.

I loved this project for the 4 weeks I spent with it.

And then at the very end of January everything in my life changed and I was struggling with day to day stuff, let alone working on bigger goals. So I gave myself permission to give up on the RESET project. I was far too deep in the messy middle to really be resetting anything at all.

I’m not going to lie — it makes me sad to look back over those goals and action steps and think about how differently my 2015 turned out from what I had hoped.

But, on the flip side …. I am so genuinely excited about what is next. I am so so thrilled to have this opportunity to start over and reset. This January will be so much more truly a RESET than last January was.

This year will me so so much better in every way, and my January RESET project will be such a magical way to begin it and really set the tone for 2016.

You can also see some examples from Allie on her page here.

We’re both using the digital kit. It’s **super** flexible. I am using some of the cards/pages straight out of the kit, I am creating my own cards with some of the kit elements, and I’m also adding in products from other creators (Ali, Kelly, Kristin, and more)

GRAB YOUR DIGITAL KIT HERE
(it’s ON SALE right now for the beginning of the project)

 

I will be posting about my own RESET project here on the blog in January, occasionally on Instagram, and also throughout the year on my newsletter.

Allie is also hosting an Instagram challenge throughout January and we would LOVE you to join us!

Begin your 2016 with INTENTION. Join us for a January RESET!

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How Morning Pages changed my brain

I’m having a hard year.

Things started falling apart in January, and by mid-year I was determined to do something. Anything. There was not a lot I had control over, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I have been hearing about for years.

I admit I have not (yet) read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but basically everything I’ve heard about it praises Cameron’s concept of Morning Pages.

I’ve been doing Morning Pages since about mid-May 2015. At the time I was in the middle of a course on prosperity, and our coach challenged us to just try what she was suggesting. To commit to the process, in spite of what we might think is silly or outside our comfort zone. I approached Morning Pages the same way.

I began them when I was going through a giant life upheaval and I think I’ll always wonder how much harder that experience would have been without the quiet, calming, letting go practice of writing every morning.

I had heard about Morning Pages for years beforehand, but I always thought ‘I don’t have time for that’. The first week or so I timed myself — 20 minutes.

20 minutes of journaling instead of 20 minutes of Twitter? I can handle that.

In the months since I began, I’ve missed maybe a dozen days. The first one because I just couldn’t handle thinking about things for any more time. The others because I was traveling and already getting up VERY early.

WHY

Morning Pages are my form of meditation. I have so much going on in my brain at any given time, I have had an impossible time trying to do real meditation, but taking 20-30 minutes to empty my brain writing longhand helps in a very similar way.

I love this post about the benefits of morning pages. I have absolutely found the same thing to be true.

Granted, I don’t really have a control-level to test it against — my whole life was a disaster when I started. But I totally believe I would be more of an emotional wreck without the daily brain drain as I pour everything on to the pages.

It’s part “dear diary”, part walking myself through that day’s to-do list, part big-picture future dreaming. I don’t know that I have come to any lighting-strike-realizations, but I certainly feel more calm and more in control of my life after starting morning pages. Both VERY important considering how the first half of my 2015 was.

How I do it:

  • Silence. No music. No one else awake in the house.
  • I write the date and exact time at the top. My morning routine is important to me and my productivity, so recording that data is an easy way for me to keep on track. It also serves as the perfect writing prompt at times. “Late start this morning because …. ”  or “I love being up before the sun. I feel … ” or similar.
  • Same place every day.
  • This pen. This notebook. 3 sides of paper. Fast handwriting. No editing.

I never put it “away.” I never have to hunt it out. I don’t have to think. I just start the coffee, then sit in a nearby armchair where my notebook sits the rest of the day. I usually finish my 3 pages shortly after the coffee is done brewing.

I’ve missed some days, but they have pretty much all been when I was traveling and my schedule was thrown off.

I have been LOVING this practice. It has totally changed my brain for the better.

Further reading about Morning Pages here ….

Try it this week.

P.S. I’ve started this Pinterest board about Notebooks and Journaling. Have any more good resources for me?

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in Amy, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, Onward and Upward, writing

Self Education: Never stop learning

I want to know ALL THE THINGS! I read at least 50 books a year, but still have more books on my to be read shelf than most people. I’m making up a U.S. History class for myself (going on 7 years now). I tell people to ‘assume I know nothing’ so I can get them to teach me all kinds of things.

If being a professional student was a thing I would totally do that. My favorite part of every semester was getting the syllabus at the beginning, and poring over the reading list and having that long list of things-I-will-be-learning to look forward to.

I don’t ever want to stop learning.

Turns out this is a common trait for both INTJs AND Enneagram 5s. Both me.

All I need is more time for all this info-absorption.

I have a few methods for finding more time to read — which sometimes includes reading-as-procrastination on work. I read on any break/lunch I take during the day. I don’t spend much time watching movies or TV. I go to bed early just to have time to read before I fall asleep. I take my kindle most places. Just in case.

I don’t take notes, and lately I’ve been reading some kind of fast, mindless, non-literature books. But for me really, I don’t have a goal for a certain number of books to read each month. I just will continue to read and read and read.

I want to know all the things.

Why? Well, among other reasons, a certain billionaire you might have heard of, Warren Buffet, estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking.

I’m not saying reading a book about Pixar is going to make me a billionaire, but I do believe that the smarter I am the more chance I have at success.

At the time of this writing, I’m currently reading a book about storytelling and have just started a book about President Polk.

What are you learning this week?

P.S. Have you heard of the Feyman Technique? Looks interesting. I miss graduate school and having a reason to invest so much time in super-close-analysis of novels. I can’t justify that time investment right now.

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Set aside time to create

What did you do this morning? First thing, as soon as you started working? Was it answering email? Maybe checking in on a Facebook group you help manage? Scrolling through Instagram?

Or was it creating? That big project you’ve been trying to chip away at? The one that you’ve been planning for a few weeks at least?

Up until a few months ago, I started my mornings slipping into the magic social media time warp and somehow spent all the time answering other people.

99U calls this Reactionary Workflow.

Maybe you do this too? You’re just filling your time reacting to what other people want from you or ask of you.

So once I got my head on a little straighter and realized I was making little-to-no progress on the major creative endeavors I was in the middle of, I made myself stop. I had to force myself. I LIKE feeling like I am helping. I LIKE the feeling of productivity that comes from answering emails and clearing out the inbox.

But those little things aren’t helping my long-term goals. Instead, made the concerted effort to remove myself from that loop of responding to what everyone else was asking of me.

I turned all notifications off of my phone — including (and especially) the notifications from my company’s instant messaging profile. I don’t work ‘on call’ so there’s no need to know the exact second my boss asked me to tweak a book’s product description. I took work email off of my phone. I made sure to close the email and internet programs on my laptop, so when I open it in the morning, I’ve only got my writing project open.

Most importantly ….  over the last 6 months I’ve been doing Morning Pages (as prescribed by Julia Cameron). That’s a subject for a whole post on its own, but let me tell you …. It has been so great for my brain to have ~20 minutes first thing every morning just set aside to clear my head and write something.

So I wake up, feed the cats, start the coffee, and then sit down and write by hand for about 20 minutes. Then (usually) I get to work on my writing project of the day.

I can get away with this schedule for a lot of reasons — I work part-time, from home on my own schedule. I get up SUPER early, so no one expects me to answer email at 6:30am ET when I am beginning work.

But you can do something similar:

Give your brain a break from input — resist taking out your phone when you are just waiting in line
Close out your Facebook tab
Turn off notifications from your phone
Schedule your creating time on the calendar
Meditate
Take your lunch break outside (without your phone)
Take a nap
Go for a walk (without your phone)

There’s a ton of ideas to take yourself out of the cycle of constant media absorption. Not every single second needs to be filled with entertainment.

Set aside time to make something instead. First thing. Before anyone gets in your way.

I’m still not winning this game. I’m still working on this every day and all the books I wanted to have done this year? Yea, not even close.

But I’m working on it. And every day I get better at it.

P.S. Be sure to register for 30 Days of Lists if you want a fun and EASY creative challenge for next month. You only need to set aside 5 minutes each day to create.

You can totally manage that.

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in FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, TELL YOUR STORY

I’m not doing December Daily this year. I know. *Gasp!* *Shock!* What kind of Ali Edwards fangirl am I REALLY?

I am, however, doing 30 Days of Lists in December (click here to register and join me).

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The truth is …. I need a break. I’m having a rough year. I am never going to finish my December Daily album for 2014. The memories associated are just too painful.

But I need something. Something easy and finishable. Something JUST FOR ME.

I can’t wrap my head around anything more than that.

I currently live with my parents. My family will be going on a vacation together AND my parents will hopefully be buying a house in December sometime and may need to do some work on it, or maybe we’ll be moving or … who knows.

Honestly. I don’t have anything for sure planned for December except 1 trip — and that gets its own album.

I don’t need to do December Daily.

But I DO need to record my right-now story. I need to not let this weird time of transition just pass me by. I need to make sure I have a project that is just for me, since the last 10+ years of my life I’ve been recording the story of an ‘us.’

So thank the lord for 30 Days of Lists.

I plan on just being …. simple. Easy. Low-key. Totally 100% doable in 5 minutes each day. Because oh man will December be busy anyway — even without anything specifically holiday-ish planned.

Maybe next year I’ll be ready for December Daily again … but in the meantime 30 Days of Lists is perfect for me.

Register here to join us

 

P.S. How are you documenting your December?

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A year of PRACTICE: Working for writers

This year I am working on PRACTICE. My One Little Word. My focus and foundation for the year. I haven’t been doing a ton exactly, but the idea has been percolating in the back of my brain all year. Like when I chose the word BRAVE, I think PRACTICE will remain long-term as an anchor for me.

Part of my year of PRACTICE is building up my daily writing practice. So I have been so lucky this year to surround myself with writers on all sides. Not only do I work for 3 full-time writers, but I have been embraced into the whole community of writers that surround them and their podcasts.

It was all kind of a stroke of luck. Last November (before I had even started thinking about my 2015 OLW) I emailed one of the writer guys I *kind of* knew and basically said, “Look. I’m awesome. You should hire me.”

And he did.

(for the record, the email said more than that, but that is the gist)

So for 10 months now I have been working very very part-time for 3 full-time self-published authors. It really is only 10 or fewer hours per week, but I have learned SO MUCH. I have more or less built my job into being their COO+Team Mom. I get to see behind-the-scenes as they build out their assets, decide how to market and leverage them, spend their resources, and so much more.

I get to see what a business looks like when you write 5000+ words/day. I get to see what consistency can do for you practically.

Every day these guys produce more before I’m done with my coffee than I will all week.

It’s amazing and so inspiring.

I’m still working on making my own fiction writing a daily practice, but the example I see in working for these writers is a huge inspiration. My plan for the rest of the year is to publish 2 novels and write the 1st draft of a third. Not too shabby (especially compared to what I produced the first part of the year).

What is your One Little Word this year, and how can you surround yourself with the people that can help you with it?

P.S. A few books I can recommend on building a writing habit are The 8-Minute Writing Habit by Monica Leonelle, 30-Day Author by Kevin Tumlinson and Writing Habit Mastery by S.J. Scott

P.P.S. I also know all 3 of those authors mentioned in the P.S. I’m telling you… surrounding yourself with the right people pays off SO MUCH.

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Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

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Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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