Tuesday, January 01, 2019

A new chance to get it right

I said in an Instragram post on New Year’s Eve that it’s all artificial, that one minute is the same as the next, but that isn’t really true. It always seems significant to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Beginnings seem fraught with meaning. In fact, every morning is a new chance to get it right.

I know from past experience that my New Year’s resolutions tend to be the same every year — lose weight, eat better, exercise — and generally fall by the wayside within a few days or weeks.  I remember one year that I vowed to give up meat, then had a ham sandwich at a New Year’s Eve party. The mind (and heart) is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Still, I have to do something. This year I have intentions. I joined a yoga studio and paid a monthly fee for unlimited classes. I visited the studio before I did that, of course, and took a variety of classes to be sure I liked the place and the teachers. I did. The studio is less than s mile from my house, so I really have no excuse not to go. My first intention is to take at least one yoga class a week, preferably more.

My second intention is do Morning Pages again (from Julia Cameron’s “The Writer’s Way”). The idea is a three page brain dump first thing in the morning before the world intrudes. I’ve done them before, and want to do them again. I want to try to get back into writing again, either blogging or journaling or something. I do miss it. There have just been so many other things taking up space in my brain that it has fallen by the wayside.

My third intention is to read over 100 books this year. Since I read about 150 in 2018, that shouldn’t be a problem. Fourth, to take my vitamins and pills every morning. I always take them, but sometimes not until later in the day, so the intent is to take them before noon. And the old eat better, drink more water, etc. Oh, and knit and sew more.  I need to make time to get more creativity into my life. My main creative outlet lately is my planner, which I adore. I love making lists and keeping track of things. That isn’t the issue. The issue is doing the things that I want to keep track of. We’ll see. Another chance to get it right.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Christmas every month

I've always had planners, but I haven't always kept up with them. I've written before how my planner saved my life when Bob was in the hospital for so long a couple of years ago. The first day I took a notepad with me, and it was immediately apparent that I would need something more, so I brought in the A5 Daytimer that I was using at work at the time. I loved that size and configuration. It was the two-page-per-day version. The left-hand page had space for a to-do list, an hourly schedule listing and a place for phone calls and expenses. The right-hand side was lined, but otherwise blank, for notes.

I wrote down everything--what doctors saw him and what they said, every procedure that was done and the result, everyone who visited, my thoughts. Bob's two closest friends are doctors, and one or the other (or both) would call me every night and want a report, so I took notes in preparation for that and for their explanation of what it all meant. And once Bob came out of the coma and was home, we went through it together and I gave him a timeline of what happened while he was out of it.

I continued to use that planner when I went back to work, then put it away when I got laid off the next year, because I didn't feel like I needed it. I was still doing freelance work for clients, and was also looking for a job, so I did need somewhere to keep notes and record appointments. So I switched to a pocket Daytimer, with a spiral monthly booklet, and that was fine. Then my dad went into the hospital, and about a month later he died. My planners help me keep my sanity during times of crisis, and this was one. The pocket DayTimer was with me during the first couple of weeks when I was keeping track of doctors and phone numbers, and questions that I needed to ask.

When it became apparent that he probably would not come out of the hospital, the pocket planner wasn't enough, and I switched again, this time to a personal sized planner -- I think DayTimer calls it the "compact" size. It's the one in between the A5 and the pocket size. After he died, I had a lot of appointments with the assisted living place where my folks -- and now just my mom -- were living, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, etc., and again the planner was my lifeline. It was full of phone numbers, notes, questions I needed to ask and instructions for things I needed to do as executor of his estate and my mother's representative, as I held her power of attorney.

At some point I had gotten kind of bored with the DayTimer. Occasionally over the years I would switch to one of the decorated planners that Franklin Covey or DayTimer offered, but I always came back to the standard plain white and green. Which is very professional and businesslike, but sort of boring, so I started looking around for something else. I used a Happy Planner for awhile, and bought TONS of stickers and washi and different kinds of paper and that was cool for awhile, but I kind of got tired of having to decorate everything. The Happy Planners come completely plain, and all the decoration is done by the user, with the aforementioned stickers, washi tape, colored pens, etc., and I enjoyed the creativity of it for awhile, but it got old.

I had seen Carpe Diem planners in the craft stores, and really liked the look of them, particularly the "Reset Girl" line. I loved that color palette and the design aesthetic, so switched to that. It was kind of annoying because again, the pages are blank, and in the case of Carpe Diem, always undated, so you had to go through and date the thing, in addition to decorating it. But I liked it, and used it for awhile. Then we made plans to go to the Dominican Republic with some friends the middle of January. I knew I wanted to take a planner with me to keep itineraries, plans, and notes, but the A5 Carpe Diem was just too big to carry around. It was great for a desk planner, but not to take on a trip. Carpe Diem had just come out with a personal size line, so I stocked up on that. A new binder, new inserts, new stickers, etc. And it was nice, but still kind big to carry around.

So I switched to a Webster's Pages personal size. The pages are the same size, but the binders are narrower, so a little easier to take with me. So as I'm preparing all this, my mother went into the hospital and died within 48 hours, and everything became even more complicated. We needed to shut down my mom's apartment, cancel utilities, credit cards, insurance. And more lists were necessary. But first, we had to go on vacation. My mother died on January 5, we had the funeral on the 10th, and we were leaving for the Dominican on the 13th.

Somewhere in that timeframe, I ran across Cocoa Daisy, probably in my Facebook feed. I was joking to a friend recently that my feed consists of planners, knitting and cats. Not joking, I guess. It really does.

Cocoa Daisy is a company that sells planner inserts and accessories. They don't make a proprietary line of binders, they just make the insides (although they do sell some binders made by other companies). The inserts are heavily decorated, and are different each month. The January set was in a travel theme, with maps and travel images, and it seemed perfect for January, new beginnings, and yes, also, we were going to be traveling!

The company has a subscription model. I wasn't ready to commit to that, so I bought just a pack of personal sized pages to try it out. I ran across a black leather zippered Kate Spade binder in a discount store which turned out to be great for travel, since I could throw it in a bag and not worry about the pages getting beat up. I didn't like it so well once we were home since it doesn't lay flat when opened, but the pages themselves were wonderful.

As I said, it's a subscription model, with some items available separately, although they quite often run out, i.e., if you don't subscribe you run the risk of not being able to buy what you want. Which is very annoying, but also sort of genius. AND, the subscriptions close at certain times of the month, so even if you want to go in and subscribe, subscriptions could be (and often are) sold out before they are even for sale. I still wasn't quite ready to commit to a subscription -- you have to sign up for 3 or 6 months and there is a cancellation penalty -- so I ordered another set of pages for February. By that time, I had drunk the Kool Aid and was waiting nervously for subscriptions to open back up. I ended up subscribing to the monthly personal planner kit, the planner "add on" kit, and the dashboard kit. It's VERY expensive -- my subscription came to about $50/month with shipping -- and it's probably not really worth it, but it's pretty wonderful.

Then my OCD kicked in and I got worried that I was going to miss something, so I added a stamp subscription and a sticker subscription and something so secret they don’t even tell you what is in it (the “Classified” edition). I believe my AmEx got hit for about $99 yesterday. A lot more than I was paying for a year’s worth of Daytimer inserts!

The thing is, every month is different. VERY different. And you don’t know what it’s going to be before you subscribe. I committed to six months (you get a small discount by subscribing). January was travel themed, and the colors and design were very “me.”  February was pastel floral and the company’s mascot, Simon the rabbit. It was okay. Cute. 

March was peacocks. VERY colorful. April is umbrellas and clouds and lilacs, and May is going to be birds and typewriters, which looks like it’s going to be another one that I will love. Every month is different, so you can’t get bored. And if you don’t particularly like one month’s design, it’s just a month until you get a different one. 

It’s a lot of fun to get the box each month. Planner pages, stickers, rubber stamps, patterned paper, and often little extras like a pencil pouch, decorated bulldog clips, paper clips, etc. it’s like Christmas every month!

Friday, November 17, 2017

What's in my bag?

This was my birthday gift to myself this year. It was expensive, but I used my 25% off VB birthday coupon. It’s the Vera Bradley Day Off Satchel in Classic Black, and it’s perfect.

It has a slip pocket on the front for my phone, a full width zip pocket in the back for keys, and a zip pocket inside, too. They’ve gotten away from that lately, and I’ve really missed it. I like my bag to be organized without a lot of crap jumbled in it, but a separate cosmetic case usually makes it feel too stuffed. This one is just right. Oh, and it’s lined in a bright print (Moon Blooms), not black, which makes it so much easier to find things.

The shoulder strap is adjustable and removable. I’ve attached a Bagnet, one if my favorite things. It’s black leather with a silver ring that matches the bag’s hardware. It has a strong magnet inside that lets you attach your bag to the metal wall of a restroom stall, a metal table base, etc., and keeps it off the floor.


Wallet (VB Turn Lock Wallet, also in Moon Blooms, of course)
Reading glasses
Black leather 3x5 card holder with cards
Keys, mine and my mom’s, both on VB key rings
Sunglasses and case
Hand cream
Lip gloss (Clinique Voluptuous Violet)
Lip balm (Nivea A KISS of Mint & Minerals and Eos Vanilla)
Hair tie
Pain relievers
Hand sanitizer
Phone charger and charging cord
Loyalty cards
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
Eyeglass repair tool
Nail oil
Emery board
Tiny zip bag with extra earrings in case I forget to put some in

In the wallet:

Credit and debit cards
A couple of loose checks
Drivers license
Insurance cards
Mom’s ID cards and insurance cards
Another pen and a few blank cards
Business cards

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Better than the alternative

This week has been hard for no particular reason. I started feeling depressed over the weekend and just decided to let myself feel it, and I would jump back in on Monday. I did, mostly -- I had work to do on Monday, and things to do, and I did them, but I'm still kind of struggling. It's something that I feel bad even mentioning, with all that's going on in the world, but like I end up saying a lot around here, it is what it is.

I went shopping for my mom yesterday -- she needed toilet paper, facial tissue, and cologne ("can you get me something that smells good?"), and then my sister and I went out and had lunch together, then went to Mom's apartment. She needed new batteries in her hearing aids, so my sister took them into the bedroom to work on them, and I was sitting in the living room with Mom. She would ask me a question and I would answer her and then she'd say "I can't hear you." She did it a second time and I just looked at her and then we laughed and laughed.

She wanted to watch coverage of the Texas flood, and I cried when the reporter asked a young mother in one of the rescue boats what she was worried about (which is always a stupid question, but I know they have to ask something) and what she said she was worried about wasn't her home (although I'm sure she was) but the fact that she had put her children in danger by waiting too long to ask for help.

My eyesight is getting worse and I need to do something about it, but I'm scared. My sister in Denver has some medical stuff going on and I'm worried about her. That's the reason I finally pulled the trigger on a new Macbook -- I was afraid that we were going to have to fly out there and if I had to stay more than a day or so I would need a computer, and the one I had was a piece of crap.

I'm constantly worried/concerned about my mom, and we have to do something about their house, and there's water in our basement and Bob saw a mouse in the garage the other day. I woke up in the night worried about having ordered a laptop case and I shouldn't have spent the money, but the one I bought at Target is crap, and will they let me return it without a receipt? And Dinah woke me up this morning at 6:30 by throwing up.

And politics. I tell myself that it doesn't affect me personally, so shouldn't have any effect on my mood, but of course, it does. 

I went to see my allergy/asthma doctor last week and I showed him a rash that I had on the back of my neck. He asked me all the usual questions -- had I changed shampoo or laundry detergent recently, etc. Then he asked, "Have you been under any stress lately?" When I told Bob that, he said, "You think?"


  • Going out to lunch with my sister
  • Laughing with my mom
  • Finally getting a new laptop.
  • Last night Bob took me out to eat and I tried, but just couldn't get out of the black mood. So he took me home and went back out and came back with a piece of key lime pie for me because I said I thought I needed sugar. (I told him at dinner that I hadn't had any coffee today and he said, "Well, that was a mistake,")
  • I won a gorgeous black leather tote bag in an Ebay auction for about 1/5 of the retail price. I actually don't begrudge that money at all -- I regret spending $21 on a cheap laptop bag at Target.

So I'm going to go put the flag out, and unload the dishwasher, and go out and buy Bob dental floss. And get on with the day because really, what else is there?

Bob's dad used to complain about getting old and Bob would say, "Well, it's better than the alternative!"

Friday, August 11, 2017

Stream of consciousness

Just a post to say that everything's okay, or as okay as it seems to be lately. I'm out at my Mom's as much as I can be, doing shopping for her, taking care of her business. I'm spending a lot of time paying bills and going through Dad's paperwork, and working with a financial planner to try to be a good steward of my folks' assets.

And we're trying to figure out how to handle getting the folks' house cleaned out, cleaned up, and sold, and it's such a huge undertaking that it's basically overwhelming.

I keep thinking that it's hard enough running your own life, let alone running someone else's.

My house is a disaster. When we were preparing for Dad's funeral, I hadn't planned on doing anything with photos, but Mom wanted them, so I went over to the old house and brought home all of the photo albums -- ALL of them, which was, I don't know, maybe twenty of them. I went through them and selected photos for the funeral and made a display, and now I've got all of those albums here. I don't really want to put them in the basement, because we have a water/humidity problem down there and I don't want to ruin them, but I don't have room for them upstairs so they're sitting in the hall.

And that's something else that's keeping me from working at the old house -- of course there are things there that I would like to have, but I have NO room here, and I think my sisters and brother are probably in the same situation. So we're going to end up selling or giving away everything. And my Mom thinks she might like to have some of the things from the house, but she can't remember what, and there's no way that we can get her over there to the basement.

Anyway, like I've said before, it's just life. This stage of life -- where we end up taking care of our parents -- isn't a whole lot of fun. I want Mom to everything that she needs and/or wants but I still have to be sure that it's the right thing for her, and the right thing to do. She would like to have a rocking chair at her apartment, and there is one at home, but I don't think they'll let her have it there because it's a safety risk, but I need to find out about it.

Now I'm overwhelming myself again and feeling upset. It will all get resolved and figured out, but sometimes it feels like a lot to handle.

Just a stream-of-consciousness update. More later.