Let’s Talk About (My) Pinterest Fail…

It’s Friday, the end of my week, and I thought, You know, Phe…let’s end this week on a light note.  To that end, I thought I would share one of my many Life Blooper Reels with you because, let’s face it, that archive is getting full.

So, among my friends it’s no secret that I like to batch cook my lunches for the work week – and I really like to try healthy(-ier) recipes.  Pinterest has been my go to source for new recipes for a while now, but it’s also fairly well known that no recipe survives initial contact with me.  I am, when all is said and done, a fairly decent cook.  I tend to tweak recipes to make them “better”, and usually, I just use them as general guidelines though when I’m cooking gluten-free foods, I tend to follow them to the letter.  (Full Disclaimer – I am not a Celiac sufferer and don’t often go down the GF road however, I have found that when making healthier snacks, eliminating flour and processed sugars, including coconut sugar, makes for a still satisfying, much better for you snack.)

Of course, even following certain recipes to the letter is never a guarantee of success, as anyone who remembers the Saga of the Sadness Muffins can tell you…but, tonight, we’re not talking about the Sadness Muffins.  We’re still trying to suppress that memory a year later… Continue reading “Let’s Talk About (My) Pinterest Fail…”


Why “Bullet Journal Hacks” Aren’t Actually a Thing

Today is my one year Bullet Journal-iversary and I spent some time looking back through the last few Bullet Journals I’ve completed.  Well, two.  I’ve filled two in a year.  I’m on my third now, and still madly in love with this system that, when I first learned about it on the Official Bullet Journal site, I dismissed out of hand immediately.  In fact, I had been looking for some new form of planner because nothing that came pre-packaged was working for me.  All of the Etsy printables and semi-custom planner inserts in the world did not satisfy what I needed, and since I had no intention of becoming a graphic designer and actually *gasp* making my own printables, I found myself straying from my planner more and more.

But at first blush, the Bullet Journal system invented by Ryder Carroll seemed too confusing, if I were to be honest.  Let’s face it – the world of Bullet Journaling and it’s adherents speaks a language unto its own and if you aren’t already in the know, it can be confusing at first.  A spread?  A collection?  A future log?  Migrating…what?!  I just couldn’t be arsed.

It wasn’t until I saw this post over at Buzzfeed that I decided that maybe I should look into this and see what, exactly the hype is about.  I credit Kara Benz over at Boho Berry for finally tipping me over the edge.  I ended up binge-watching her awesome YouTube tutorials (seriously, if you’re just starting out or want loads of inspiration, check out her YouTube channel!), breaking down, and ordering what I’ve come to think of as the standard Bullet Journal starter pack – a Leuchterm 1917 dot grid notebook, Staedtler fine liners, Faber Castell PITT Artist pens (size S), and Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

But here’s the thing – none of those things are necessary to start a Bullet Journal.  And here’s another secret I’ll let you in on – all of those Pinterest Bullet Journal “Hack” boards you see?  There’s no such thing.  The Bullet Journal itself is the life hack.  By it’s very nature, a Bullet Journal is as simple as they come – or as complex as you want it to be.  There’s no “hacking” this to make it easier or quicker.  It’s all what you want it to be.  If you want simple, Bam! Easy day.  Write the date, your tasks, appointments, and any other little notes you want to remember and you’re done.  The only way to make that any easier is to hire someone to follow you around and do it for you.  After all, all you need, literally, is any old notebook and pen.  You don’t have to get the Bullet Journal Starter Pack.

Because I am a magpie, I didn’t settle for keeping my Bullet Journal simple.  It is not, however, really artistic either.  It’s somewhere in -between because the truth of the matter is that if it doesn’t interest me visually, I won’t keep up with it.  And if I don’t challenge myself to try new spreads or collections or improve my handwriting or doodling, I may lose interest.  The beautiful thing about the system is that I can change it up monthly, weekly, or even daily – and very often I do just that.  I’m always trying new layouts for my monthly, weekly, and daily spreads.  The photo up top is my most current weekly, and I think I may have hit on something that works for a while.

If it doesn’t, I’ll try something new.  That’s why I love this.  It’s not pre-canned.  This month, I have a lot of collections going.  I’m tracking habits, medical symptoms, sleep, creative writing prompts, my ever present gratitude log…but in August, I tracked almost nothing because I wasn’t home much and my routine, I knew, was going to be shot so why bother?

Nevertheless, the Bullet Journal is my one stop shop for tracking swaps, letters, and anything else I need or want to – on top of keeping my schedule organized.  I’ll have more pictures later on in the Bullet Journal Spread page here on my site, but hopefully you get the gist for now.  There’s no way to hack a Bullet Journal, folks.  I said it above, and I’ll say it again – it is the hack.

How about you?  Are you into this or do you prefer the pre-done structure of a more traditional planner?  After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about what works for you.




Fighting the Fibro Fight – Striving for That Level 10 Life

This morning on my way to the office, the group of DJs on one of the local radio stations that still insists on having a morning show (because who doesn’t love to listen to inane chatter at oh-dark-thirty in the morning before you can fully function?) turned their talk to Fibromyalgia.  They didn’t seem to know what it was, given that one of them asked what it was and the others gave a collective, on air, “Fucked if we know,” reply.  The general consensus reached was that it was “like, just being achey, right?” and “Well, it probably doesn’t exist anyway.”

Likely owing to caffeine deprivation, I refrained from punching my boyfriend’s stereo through the dash.  This, folks, this right here is why I hesitate and hate, sometimes, to share that I have this thing.  But it’s part of me, no matter how “healthy” I look, just like depression, diabetes, or autism is part of anyone else – no matter how disease or disability free they may appear to you.

It’s not, and I cannot stress this enough, “just, like, aches and pains.”  I’ve spent nearly half my life in or working for the military, in jobs that were physical.  I’ve done more than my share of manual labor and hard work and I can tell you now, I know what aches and pains are.  What Fibro does to me quite transcends that.  But although I cannot take the medication available for it, I still consider myself lucky among my fellow Fibro-Kids.  What I don’t have are the myriad add-on diseases that tend to come with it.  And for now, I can still work and usually function – as long as I’m meticulous about managing it.

Yes, I do manage it as best I can, and I have to do it without medical assistance due to the high rate of adverse events I get to experience on the medication.  Yep – I tried.  And failed.  But that’s OK!  The last year has been a journey and it’s one I don’t think I would have been nearly so successful on had I not discovered the world of Bullet Journaling, and the motivation that bloggers like Kara Benz of Boho Berry or Megan over at Page Flutter have given me.  My typical day has changed so much in the last year, and it continues to evolve.

Why?  Because one of the interesting things about Fibro is that it’s like dancing on the edge of a sword.  At least, that’s how it feels in me.  Individual results may vary.  For me though, I find that if I do too much, I’m over the edge into flare-up territory (and if a flare-up is bad enough, I really can’t move for a while).  If I do too little, hey look!  Here we are again in that territory!  What this really means is being meticulous about routine, habits, and tracking everything.  For someone who would prefer spontaneity over habit, this…this was hard.

We’ll talk about the Bullet Journal another day, but what I will say right now is that I would be lost without it.  And in my never ending quest for the perfect layouts and spreads to try online, I found that there was this community within that is totally dedicated to living a better life.  Over time, with their inspiration and unknowing guidance, I’ve built a routine that I look forward to, even if it does mean getting up really early on a week day.  I definitely can see and feel a difference physically and mentally when I fall away from that routine too.

The other thing I’ve learned is that I need to forgive myself more.  With almost 20 years in military service, it’s really hard to undo a lot of what I “know”.  Rather, it’s hard to let go of the negative aspects of that training and life while retaining the positive.  I never had the ability to forgive myself for, as I would think of it, “being weak”.  But I’m learning!

These days, my routine looks something like this:

+ Morning writing – Before I do anything besides stretch (that mummy stiffness is…it’s something), I sit down and get everything that’s cluttering my head out onto paper.  Once it’s out, I feel a whole lot clearer.  I recommend checking out Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages post if you want to learn more.  Suffice to say, I can’t believe the difference this exercise makes.

+ Meditation – I’m really not a yoga or spiritual zen person, but I have to admit that taking just a couple of minutes after my morning pages to sit with my eyes closed and focus on deep breathing has made a world of difference in how I face the day.

+ Exercise – The interesting thing about Fibro is that it’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t disease.  I mentioned earlier that if I do too much or too little, I’m up a creek.  That means walking more when it hurts, and making sure I move for a few minutes at least every hour.  And exercise.  Again, the difference between suffering through 20 minutes on a stationary bike or treadmill, or doing a low-impact, high calorie burn workout (I use my Fitstar app for this), or doing nothing at all, is clear to me.

+ Habit Tracking – Back to the Bullet Journal.  I track the habits I need to keep up.  Everything from sleep, to calorie intake, to exercise, to creative time (that’s really important for my mental well being).  On the very next page, so I can see everything in one spread, I track my Fibro symptoms each day, and my mood.  If I can see a pattern between doing or not doing something, and symptoms decreasing or increasing, then I can try new ways to keep the symptoms low, or at least have a good idea of what I’m doing right!

It’s important to me that I rule this, not the other way around.  A key element of that is to ensure that I keep the depression that comes with it at arms length as best I can, and keep fit – again, as best I can.  Mind/body connections when it comes to physical health are absolutely real, and I need to make sure that I treat both the way they need to be.

I know that not everything will work for everyone; that Fibro is different for everyone.  I’ve offered a few ideas here to help if you’re at sea, but keep fighting, and finding what works best for you.


*Note:  I receive nothing in return for sharing the links associated with this post.  These links are not affiliate – they are only shared here as resources for those who are interested.

introduction, Uncategorized

Welcome to Renaissance Magpie

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally decided that not only did I want to get back into blogging, I needed to.  And while I fully understand the need to maintain a professional website to brand yourself, I also didn’t want to limit my topics of writing to just a discussion of my latest poem or artist trading card (ATC) or mixed media canvas.  That, to me, seemed way too pretentious anyway.

So, I decided to separate the professional from the personal (slightly) and establish a space where I could be as distracted by the shiny as I want to be.

It’s been a long, long journey for me over these last 5 years, but I am finally in a place and space where I can safely say, “The bitch is back,” and what better way to celebrate her return than to put myself back out into the world with my own brand of observation and take on life, the universe, and everything.

To that end, I thought that the image here was perfect.  This was my first foray into a new (to me) background techinque for art journaling – using saran wrap on layers of wet acrylic paint to create texture.  More importantly, the quote, “She believed she could.  So she did,” is one that I remind myself of every day.  I have never failed when I believed in myself.  Only when I stopped.

On that note, I fully expect this blog to evolve in look, feel, and content as time goes on and you share with me what most inspires you. So, welcome to the nest – and stay shiny, my friends!