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PLAN WITH ME | September 2017 Bullet Journal Setup

This month is filled with doodles of leaves and Fall inspired pictures gathered from Pinterest. I love that the air here in Ottawa has gotten crisp and that I can wear cozy sweaters and drink heaps of tea to keep my hands warm. I went and bought my favourite candle, Autumn, at Bath and Body Works on August 31st. Since then it’s been burning and making me want to cozy up my entire apartment with candles and heaps of throws. How do you transition your home into Fall?

I wanted to set up a weekly layout instead of just doing some rapid bullet entries this month. When I’m feeling anxious I like to see my week at a glance. Coming up with new layouts also brings me so much joy. I recently saw Transforming Beauty‘s post on Instagram which reads: “May your life be well ordered so your art can be wild”. I’ve been trying to live that and I see so much truth in it. It’s what motivated this blog in the first place. I was living an ordered life when I began writing consistently, and was so creative during that season. I want to get back to that place.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bullet journal concept, it’s pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. You can find out more here. I’ve been using it on and off for the past three years, and I just love it’s flexibility and ability to store all the swirling thoughts in my mind. Please keep me in your prayers this week, that it might be well ordered, and that my art be wild.

SELF CARE

I hate the label, because I loathe how it is a lie, and does not truely define who I am, but it’s true; so very often I am a perfectionist. I can’t put things down/away. I keep working and working, and my mind is  constantly thinking of the next task that needs to be accomplished, and when I’m really burning out, I try and accomplish many tasks at once. Like writing this blog post way past my bedtime, because I need to be more consistent. Oh, the irony…

This is usually when my stress levels fuel me to be really productive, but also dangerously close to having an anxiety attack. I don’t like living in such an extreme state; thus comes the importance of self care. I cannot preach enough about it. See, the father of lies, Satan, makes us cringe at the term (at least I do). I so readily believe, and judge those who do, that practicing self care is selfish or lazy. WRONG.

28 One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ 29 Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’

Mark, Chapter 12

You must love your neighbour as yourself.

You must love (…) yourself.

The love you have for your neighbour is limited to the love you have for yourself.

In order to really love, we need God. Let yourself rest in Him. Resting and taking care of yourself doesn’t mean being lazy, it simply means adopting a changed pace for a little while, in order to let yourself breathe and find the love you have for yourself (that comes from Him), in order to take on the next crosses with a renewed sense of hope, faith, and love.

HOW TO PLAN A FIGHT, AND WHY IT’S THE LOVING THING TO DO

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One of my most recent Sunday tea dates with my Beau

Sunday is a sacred day of the week for me. I go to Mass. I’m intentional about praying and my relationship with God. It’s also the time where I’m intentional with my romantic relationship.

Sundays I plan on fighting. 

I know, “What, she PLANS on fighting?”.

Hear me out. Has your significant other ever done something to irrate or hurt you, but it was either around other people, or at the moment you didn’t know it hurt you (shout out to introverts who sometimes take longer to process…)? Have you ever harbored a grudge because you can’t tell them you’re hurt or upset and they just need to know RIGHT now and you end up blowing up in a really ungraceful way?

Yeah, I’ve been there… More than once.

Which is why I plan to fight. My Sunday ritual involves going to Mass with my boyfriend, then it usually is followed by having him spoil me and make me brunch. Afterwards we spend some intentional quality time, whether it be watching a Fr. Brown episode on Netflix and getting some cuddles in, listening to a good podcast, doing some window shopping, going out for tea/coffee, reading together, whatever it may be, we try and really enjoy each other’s company and relax.

At this point, when we’re both relaxed, is when we look at the week ahead, make our plans for our dates/when we’ll see each other, and then we open up the floor for discussing our hurts (a.k.a. fighting). By Sunday we’ve had time to think throughout the week about anything we may feel needs to be addressed, or perhaps can be let go. The beautiful thing is we’ve usually spent a few hours being filled with grace and being reminded of why we love one another before we jump into what can be a tough conversation.

Some weeks there are no fights, and we laugh, and count ourselves blessed to not have any hurts with which we need to confront the other. Other weeks, we have those difficult conversations, but by being so intentional about how we approach these conversations, we are far more loving and sensitive in how we go about it.

Have you ever planned to fight with your significant other? How do you go about bringing up your hurts? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to improve my communication game. It’s not my strength. I tend to bottle things up, and then forget about them until I later unexpectedly erupt like a crazy volcano (not fun for either party involved). Planning to fight keeps me accountable. It forces me to be vulnerable, and ultimately, that makes me far more loving. Healthy relationships require vulnerabiltiy.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

P.S. This is what is working in my relationship in my current state of life. It may not be what works for you, but you do you, boo. I would add that some fights do need to happen right away, because you risk being distant and unloving if you don’t resolve the issue.

MORNING ROUTINE EDIT

I’ve written about my morning routine before, but in 2016, I’m spicing it up just a little bit. For one, right after my meditation, I do 5 minutes of German. It doesn’t seem like much, but it will add up. I did a student exchange to Germany when I was in high school, but never really learned much of the language. I want to make up for my silly 15 year old self who was comfortable with everyone responding to her in English or French and didn’t make real efforts to assimilate the language of the country in which she lived.

The other thing I’m doing a little differently in regards to my morning routine is setting my daily goals in my bullet journal while I have breakfast. I didn’t have a set time to do this in the past so I would try and cram it in somewhere, but more often than not, it would only happen in a rushed way once I got to the office, and I just didn’t like having been up for 2-3 hours already by the time I get to the office, and not having any clear written down goals for my day. I think my days are going to greatly benefit from this order and 5 minutes it takes me to set out my goals.

Do you have any morning routine edits you are hoping to implement for 2016? Let me know! If you’re at a loss of what your morning routine should be, feel free to be inspired by mine 🙂

TREAT YO’ SELF

It’s lame when you can’t even take proper care of yourself, but it’s more and more common in a society that idolizes the art of being busy. Well despite the frequent sass from my spiritual director reminding me that I’m soooo lucky to have my job given I studied Classics, which is totally useless, I am going to disagree and say CLASSICS FOR THE WIN. I swear this is going somewhere: ars otium (the art of leisure). It’s an art. You need practice ;). So I present a list of ways to TREAT YO’ SELF, preferably, even if in a small way, each and every single day:

#1       First up, pencil it in. If you are notoriously stressed out and never finding time to unwind, you need to pencil it in. I’m super type A and organize far too much of my life, so it dawned on me I was totally failing by not planning to have some time to practice ars otium. Sundays are my day to look at the week ahead and pencil things in, so I make sure I have some time for myself a few nights a week.

#2       That dreaded mile long to do list? It’s your worst enemy. I know some people NEED to have everything written down because they are control freaks (cough cough, that’s me), but don’t let that list be your reference for your daily to-do’s. It blew my mind when my Beau was looking at one of my to-do lists (I have many) and commented: I should have a goal list too.

Let go of that iron clench, will you? You don’t HAVE to do everything on your list, it’s a goal. In fact, I find if I put more than three things on my daily to-do list, I will be overwhelmed and procrastinate. I obviously accomplish much more than three things in a day, but showing up to work and basic hygiene/nutrition are kind of a given 😉 If you keep an agenda, try not to overload your day and don’t set goals that would take more than 20 minutes to accomplish. I know this isn’t your typicial ‘take a bubble bath’ treat yo’ self list item, but seriously, you are taking good care of yourself by managing your expectations.

#3       Ok, how could I not follow that by ‘take a bubble bath’. This is seriously one of my favourite ways to unwind because it’s free (hopefully… don’t get me started on a basic dignity/right to water speech).

#4       Light a candle. Aroma therapy will chill you OUT.

#5       Find a path to walk that has some trees and take your sweet time walking down it. Don’t rush. Looking up at the sky, trying to spot some wildlife, all of these will slow you down and cultivate your expertise in ars otium.

#6       Change your linens. Slipping into fresh sheets at the end of a long day is pure bliss. Start adulting right and change those sheets!

#7       Have a cup of tea. You have issues if you are rushing through a cup of tea. It’s boiling hot. It’s perfect for a bunch of hyperactive nerves like me. You can’t rush tea, it forces your entire body to slow down.

This list could seriously go on for a really long time, but I need to practice my favourite technique of ars otium: SLEEP. I’m off to bed, but I hope this post motivates you to take care of yourself.

If you are not letting Christ love you, and yes, this comes in the form of taking care of yourself, you will burn yourself out trying to be the Messiah. Stop it. If God really wanted you to cross off that other item on your to-do list, He’d give you another hour in the day. Let it go and make room in your life for some leisure.

 

THE JUGGLING ACT: A FULL TIME JOB + A BLOG

I can be overcome by scrupules at times. I’ve often justified neglected my blog on account of a strong belief that I had to place my blog above my duties. I would, and still do, feel guilty for choosing to spend time writing over time working, whether at the office or on my to do list. Our duties should not be neglected, but there comes a point where one has to ask themself if said duties are not self imposed.

I believe if I’m not developing the talents God has given me, I am of no service to people around me. There is a hidden pride that disguises itself as virtue that would have us believe we must always give and never take. Virtue unbalanced is vice. God needs us to take His love and trust that He places desires on our heart for us to pursue them, fearlessly.

I best manage the guilt of taking time to write, by being intentional in planning my blogging. The more efficient I am, the less likely I am to feel guilty about wasting time. I’m not saying I have this balance thing down pat, so any suggestions you have, please, help a sister out!

Up top I have the letter P for photograph, W for write, S for schedule and PR for proof read. Sunday afternoons I sit down with my blogging notebook, make this to do chart, and schedule time in my agenda to do some bulk shooting or writing. I used to think all the planning would kill my creativity, but years of unplanned blogging have been far less fruitful than this method, so I’m sticking to it as long as He places that desire to write and create on my heart.

Do you have any tips for blogging consistently while maintaining a full time job?

HOW TO: DRESS LIKE A PARISIENNE

My advice for dressing like a Parisienne: go for understated. French women are not flashy. They like to be chic, elegant, and blend in. They don’t blend in because they lack style; they blend in because what they wear does not offend. Having spent some time in Paris, I observed women wearing a lot of neutral and classic pieces. I find my wardrobe is far more chic if I cull it and keep it stream lined. I try to capsule my wardrobe to pieces that are timeless and stay away from trendy items.

I offer this advice light heartedly, as in high school I had purple hair, a faux hawk and was known to wear obnoxious neon outfits 😉 Ultimate fashion advice: have fun!
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HOW TO: SURVIVING LONG DISTANCE

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to tame the heart ache (yes, heart ache, I am VERY melodramatic):

  1. Stay organized

Missing someone can make you feel like your emotional life is complete chaos, but making sure my agenda is up to date, my house is clean, my meals and blog posts are planned for the week has helped me stay sane. Yes, I’m a hormonal mess (when am I not, really?), but at least if I’m going to mope in bed, it’s going to be in clean sheets 😉

  1. Eat clean

Addendum to staying organized, meal planning helps me ensure I’m eating relatively healthy throughout the week. That means I’m not eating my feelings and feeling miserable about it. Eat good food and your spirits will be in a much better place. I like to remember that my body is a temple to the Holy Spirit and would you rather feed God some fast food or a homemade delicious nutritious meal? That being said, I think God is ok with me making chocolate chip cookies every now and then (and even eating some of the batter). He’s all about feasts and inviting us to His table. Moderation is key.

  1. Plan your phone/skype dates

If I’m being asked on a date in person, I like my man to have a plan. Same goes for a phone/skype date. I know I thrive in my relationship when my Beau and I are being intentional. I’m not saying have scripted conversations with no room for spontaneity. Spontaneity actually thrives within structure. It seems like a paradox, but believe me: I’m far more fun and spontaneous when I have an idea of what my date is going to look like. Prior to my Beau leaving, I bought us both a book with 9 chapters for the 9 weeks we’d be apart. That way one of our conversations in the week will be a mini book club (this may sound nerdy to you, but it’s quite romantic for us two nerds who started dating when we were in the same book club). I look forward to reading this book and talking about it with my boyfriend.

  1. Be grateful

Trust that this time apart, though it may be hard, will bring good. You will grow in affection for each other and if the relationship is of God, the distance will only purify intentions and emotions. Be grateful for the extra time on your hands (sure, I’d rather be on dates, but I do have a lot more free time right now). This extra free time can be used to pursue other relationships: with your family, friends, yourself and most importantly, God. I know I’m taking this time to increase my usual prayer time, but also to do something fun like blog more regularly!

 

I hope these tips can be of use to anyone out there who is also experiencing a long distance relationship. Don’t forget to countdown to your next visit!