Bullet Journalling, Healthy Habits, Mental Health, self-care, setting priorities

The Benefits of Unplanning

tempclosespirmaintNo, Renaissance Magpie isn’t closing, temporarily or otherwise, but I felt that this image spoke directly to what I did last week for myself.  It dawned on me that those of us preaching the good word of the Bullet Journal, productivity, mindfulness, and the benefits of forming and maintaining healthy habits never address the one true downside that all of this living better brings:  Spiritual Burnout.

Most of us have full and busy lives.  We blog, we write, we create, we work, we parent, and we try to build our own personal lives and realise our dreams.  We preach, we sell, we tell, we share…and inevitably, we crash and burn ourselves.

As I’d written in my previous post, the spring months have not been all that kind to me in terms of mental well-being.  I’ve had to take some serious steps back and re-assess my methods of communication and the energy I was allowing in, as well as sending out into the world.  I’d been scattered, moody, argumentative, and generally down.  Although I was coming around and out of that place by the end of May, I found that my bullet journal, and my daily routine, had become a chore.  A drudgery.  It was not (sorry, Marie Kondo!) sparking joy.  So, on Memorial Day weekend here in the US, I made a conscientious choice.  I put it all down.  I took my Fitbit off.  I set aside my bullet journal for the rest of May and instead, I set up for June in my new Citrus Bindery journal (another topic for another post that I can’t wait to share with you!).  I didn’t do dailies.  I didn’t track anything.  And most importantly, I didn’t beat myself up if I didn’t adhere to my morning or nightly routines.

In fact, the only thing I kept was my morning stretching followed by my morning meditation because those two “habits” really did bring me joy.

I set a “re-opening” date of 1 June and here’s how I feel:  Amazing.  Taking the time off from my own, self-imposed obligations, was like a mini-vacation without the stress of packing or travel.  I didn’t worry about anything and when I returned to my desk this past Saturday to begin anew, I felt completely refreshed and excited to get back into my routine.

I referred to this period as my “Un-planning Week”, but it occurred to me that this is a topic we see a lot of, especially in bullet journaling communities.  Posts from people who managed to skip a whole month, or who put their journals down one day and now don’t know how or where to begin again, even though they want to.

It’s like this:  Turn the page.  If you really feel that your routine isn’t cutting it, isn’t bringing you happiness, isn’t helping you be a better or more productive person, take that spiritual time out.  Close down for a week or a month or more if you need to.  But if you’re serious about picking up again (and I hope you are!), set a date to re-open. 

One thing I will caution against – if you’re working on forming habits and you’re still in the early stages where you really, really need to track them or you just won’t do them, it might not be the best idea to take a time out.  I still track some habits that are pretty well ingrained, but I knew that because they were pretty well ingrained, missing a few days or a week wasn’t going to set me back to square one – and it didn’t.  I track them because I know myself.  It’s OK for me to take a few days off here or there, but if I don’t keep myself accountable, well, no one else will.  If I was trying to form (or break) a new (or old, bad) habit, I likely wouldn’t have felt as good about taking this spiritual time out last week.  So do consider that when you’re assessing your state of spiritual or mental/emotional readiness or burn-out!

Most importantly though, be good to yourself.  When self-imposed tasks and obligations become a chore, it’s time to un-plan.  Set it down, walk away, take a deep breath, and re-center.  I guarantee that you’ll come back healthier, happier, and more determined to succeed than ever before!

Have you experienced this spiritual burn-out?  What did you do to get back on track?  We’d love to hear your words of wisdom, so feel free to comment below!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
Healthy Habits

It’s the Little Things…13 (Mostly) Little Life Changes that Make a Tremendous, Positive Impact

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about Bullet Journaling, in particular, my Bullet Journal, but this week, I wanted to shift gears a little and talk about some small lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day quality of life.  I was actually inspired to write about this by this BuzzFeed listicle.  For some reason, it popped back into my “For You” feed even though it’s 4 years old, and I like to peruse this type of content to see if there are any small changes I can try to make in my daily routine to make life a bit easier.  I then looked through a few more listicles and realized that, hey, I actually do most of the things suggested – and a few more of my own.  So today, I want to share with you the things that I have found that not only make my life easier, but have given me an overall better quality of life too.

This is especially important for me as someone with Fibromyalgia.  Part of keeping flare-ups and the associated depression at bay is maintaining, and doing, these 13 things to make life better for me.  Hopefully, something in the following list will inspire and help you too!

Please note that if you suffer from serious mental illness or depression, nothing on this list will supplement or replace medication, therapy, and medical care!  If you need help, please – reach out.  If you’re suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Now, on to the list…

Continue reading “It’s the Little Things…13 (Mostly) Little Life Changes that Make a Tremendous, Positive Impact”


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.


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