Ask me about my bullet journal…


After people watch the bullet journal video or read my master bullet journal post, the most common question I get asked is: “How do I plan for the future?”

I used to keep a page marked “future dates” and just write upcoming events down and cross them off when I created that monthly page. But now! I saw where someone had stuck one of those cheap wall-sized year calendar in the back of their bullet journal so I stole the idea but used my printables (seen on my sidebar) and clipped them to the back instead! I don’t always actually use that page when I create the monthly page because it’s often sloppy but it’s at least a guide and a way to quickly add something coming up a few months from now. Since I usually have two “live” months going (the current one and the upcoming which I usually start before we get to the 15th of the current month) I’ll keep 10 months pinned to the back of the journal.

Do you have any other questions? I’m totally loving this new planning and bullet journal community I’ve found on instagram – so I’m having even more fun with my bullet journal than before. If you have any questions or concerns about the system that I could answer in a way to bring you do the dark side, I’d love to.


Cold Weather Running

I feel like I’ve done a few of these entries before, but every year I change up my arsenal of gear a bit and want to revisit it. So! Here it is…what currently helps me survive running through the winter.

DISCLAIMER: We only get into single digits a handful of times throughout a season, so if you live in a colder climate? This entry will probably just get you through the autumn.

DISCLAIMER #2: I have learned everyone handles cold differently on different parts of their body. I have friends who will be wearing expensive cold-weather running tights and $2 gloves whereas I’ll be wearing capris and $30 gloves because they get cold legs and I get cold hands. All that matters is YOU find what helps YOU stay warm because if you’re not comfortable, you won’t run.

DISCLAIMER #3: I’m not entirely sure that higher cost determines better quality. I’ve spent $40 on expensive running gloves that are only a fraction better than my $2 stretch gloves. Other’s swear differently. My favorite top running layer came from Target. But I spent $60 on my favorite running capris so…it’s hard to tell. Don’t assume higher cost name brands are better, thought. Even if they have 14 tags explaining the tech behind the fabric and why it keeps you warm.

Head to Toe

EARS: One thing I’ve been running with since 2006 (the first and failed time I tried to become a runner) is my Northface Fleece ear wrap. I have a few others I use periodically now, but the Northface one is still my favorite and since it’s old, you can’t buy it anymore. This one is close but fuzzier than the one I have. If you have hair I recommend an earwrap over a hat because it’s insane how hot your head gets when you run.

FACE: Next is something I started using sporadically two winters ago but didn’t leave home without it last year. here is the brand of the original one I bought but Donnie started using them too and we found them in a different brand in multi-packs last year. Those worked fine so don’t feel obligated to use the BUFF brand. You can breathe through them FINE, as a matter of fact, that’s what keeps you warm. A cold face is TERRIBLE. Especially under cold wind. If it was really cold I used two at once. I would get too warm, pull them off my face for awhile and then put them back on. Of course, if it was 20 or below sometimes while they were pulled of my face the moisture in them from my breath would freeze solid, but it only took a few breaths to defrost it and warm my face again. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Also? You look like a bank robber. A plus.

ARMS/CHEST: I get hot when I run, hence liking the ability to pull down a face buff instead of wearing a balaclava. I feel the same way about my upperbody. If it’s 40 degrees or warmer I’ll wear short sleeves and arm warmers. I tried several pairs but I like the softer fleece-like ones over the spandex-type ones. I do have to grease up my upperarms though because they will chafe me. They’re so easy to deal with if I get hot, which is why I love them. Sometimes I just roll them down around my wrists, other times I cram them in my hydration pack.

Now – if it’s between 30 and 40 degrees I might stick with the arm warmers on the trails where we’re often protected from wind. Also? I hate wearing two layers on my upperbody. HATE. And have yet to find any jackets or pullovers I just love, so keep that in mind.

BUT – if it’s 30 or below I’ll wear a second layer on top. Sometimes it’s a light windbreaker type jacket. They’re not warm but they insulate you pretty well and then pack pretty tight later if you get too hot. But for the teens and single digits? You need warmth. So for those days I wear a pullover that has a half-zip (too help me cool off if I get hot) and then those thumb hole things so you can use your sleeves for your hands to add extra warmth. I even have one that has a thumb hole and then a flip cuff to cover your fingers. (That’s the one I got at Target.) Really nice when it’s REALLY cold.

HANDS: I have yet to find gloves that will keep my hands warm under 35 degrees. Two winters ago my painfully cold hands brought me to tears on occasion, and that was wearing $40 gloves. I think maybe I just get really cold hands. SO! Last winter I invested in a bulk pack of Hot Hands from Amazon it was THE BEST THING EVER. I just wore them inside my gloves and they kept my hands warm for an entire run. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM. Some days I used two per hand.


LEGS and FEET: This is the one part I don’t stress about too much. I’m good in capris until below 35 and then I have full-leg running tights, but they’re not that fancy. I’ve worn them over stuff before, if it’s 20 or below. My legs and my feet just get warmed up eventually. I know people though who suffer from painfully cold toes and who wear full-length tights in 45 degrees, and they have specific brands etc that are warmer, but I can’t help you there!


The New Morning Routine

I started my new job in Spring, a job where I now need to be in an office (across town) early enough to leave the office no later than 4pm. I was fading out of my running season then, so the last 5 weeks or so has been an adjustment figuring out how to squeeze in my training miles with this new schedule. (Although – honestly – I never mastered the weekday runs even last year when I was working from home.)

Because I don’t like running in the dark, I’ve settled into heading to the Y to jump on the treadmill as soon as they open at 5am. I shower afterwards and head to work from there. HOWEVER, I’ve always had a substantial morning routine, since I hate doing anything in the evening. And while I’ve had to force myself to do some things at night, I still like doing most things in the morning (like blogging) and others just work better in the morning (like packing lunches).

What does all of this mean?

I’m now getting up around 3-3:30am most mornings. And y’all? IT’S WORKING KINDA NICE. I still get my morning wake-up time for all of my necessary coffee and blogging and social media surfing that I like to do to start my day. I get to play in my bullet journal a bit, and I get plenty of time to do any chores I might not have felt like doing the night before. I do hit a huge lull in the middle of the day, and now that I’m not drinking Diet Coke it’s hard to get past that, but an afternoon coffee or in desperation a Monster Drink (IT HAS B12!) has helped with that. For the most part, I’m still functional at least until 8pm at night when I crash and get a solid 7 hours of sleep if it’s a good night.

If you had told me in 2010 that in 5 years I’d be adjusting to a 3am wake-up time to make sure I get my 6-mile weekday runs in for my 100K training…I’d think you had lost your DAMN MIND.


But here we are, me and teh kittehs, doing it every morning and it’s not even a big deal.

I mean, I’ve always been a morning person but this is a bit outside of that realm, even for me.

And it works much better than trying to motivate myself to run in the evening which – as I proved time and time again last year – I just won’t do it. Even if I set up with a group and everything. 9 times out of 10 I’ll talk myself out of it. But for some reason a 5am date with a treadmill? I’ll keep. It’s just me and my podcasts staring at my own reflection in the TV screen because I have to turn OFF the screen or it screws with my concentration on the podcasts.

I can get up by 3:30am consistently for weeks, but I can’t watch TV and listen to podcasts at the same time.

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My History With The Erin Condren Planner

photo48Many moons ago…I think the first year I was the President of the theatre board at E’s high school…I bought an Erin Condren life planner. If you don’t know what that is, then just know it’s a customized (in some ways) day planner and it’s expensive and it’s gotten REALLY popular amongst the Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking crowd. (Which I am heartily a part of, I know.) The cool kids in the planner community (which kinda merges with the bullet journal community in many aspects and both communities ARE DORKY, I KNOW…BUT THOSE ARE MY PEEPS) now refer to it as an EC Planner. If you scroll through the planner tags on instagram, you’ll see that in a lot of profiles to explain what type of planner they use. It was a little bit of an ordeal just to get it, which I wrote about here, but I loved it when it came in. But – as you’ll recall – I was a planner addict. I would buy a new planner, totally adore it for a month or two…fade away..and then buy another one to start over with. However, I swore I wouldn’t do that with the EC because it cost SO MUCH MONEY.

And I didn’t. Quite.

I used it aggressively for at least the majority of the theatre season. It got me through planning a few shows but I always needed something else to carry with it. Like a note pad or a binder of notes. And then, when the theatre year was over? It went the way of the other planners. And I never even considered going back.


And I get it…I do…because I was a planner addict. But it just didn’t work for me. Because I learned that above being a planner addict? I was a LIST MAKING ADDICT. That’s why the bullet journal system of planning appealed to me so much, because it wasn’t about having a stereotypical grid-for-month, page-for-day, type of spread. It’s about a blank book that you just use one page at a time however you need. I have “book release dates” pages and “wish list” pages and “gift ideas” pages and none of that could have existed in my EC Planner. Except if I was smart with the blank pages at the end, which I never was.

I also can paste stuff into my bullet journal in the form of a type of on-the-spot scrapbooking. Like spectator maps from Ironman or theatre tickets from a night out with a friend. I put the kid’s art work in there or documents I might need to repeatedly consult for school. All things not easy to do with the EC Planner…or any planner for that matter. Using a pre-formatted planner means I lose flexibility to tape a coloring page into my journal on a day where I just need to color.

And the best of all? I get a new one when it’s full.

I think part of my planner problem was that I liked the feeling of a “fresh start” that a brand new planner gave me, but practically, you really can only do that once a year. But with the bullet journal? You get a new start when you fill up the old one! I switched to a Leuchtturm1917 from a Moleskin last volume and it has more than twice as many pages so it’s taken me 4 months to fill this one up and I’m itching for the new one which I’ll start in November.

When I stopped regularly using my EC planner, I could have flipped through it and seen things scheduled on certain days and maybe a few notes of experience here and there, but truthfully? There wouldn’t have been any point in keeping it. But my bullet journals sit on a shelf because in their pages are quotes I adore, printed posts I loved from Facebook, my kid’s artwork, my training logs…all peppered between daily To Do pages and monthly calendars.

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So, while an EC Planner might work for someone who is not addicted to writing things down, or saving bits of memories, it didn’t work for me. I didn’t know why for the 15’ish years I spent as a planner addict. I just kept feeling like I hadn’t found the right planner system yet. After EC I kinda gave up since it was so expensive.

I do feel kinda guilty sometimes. It would be like walking into a Starbucks and saying, “I actually prefer drip coffee from Folgers.” (Which I kinda do.) A lot of people in my circle of bullet journal and planning buddies (WHAT? WE GET IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FROM EACH OTHER. LEAVE US ALONE.) love their EC Planners and I hate to be all, “EH! Didn’t love mine.” But it wasn’t the planner itself, it was the SYSTEM. The planner itself was lovely, albeit a little geared towards some sort of female archetype with the “hair appointment” stickers and what not.

This entry is probably only going to appeal to 1 person out there…thank you for obliging me. Every since I started my bullet journal instagram account, and following other similar, I’ve realized how addicted people are to their EC Planners AND I HAD TO CLEAR THE AIR ABOUT IT.

I mean...what's not to love?

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Girl Who Gets Her Training On Track And Avoids Donuts

I’ve had a good month. My training is basically on track apart from a few blocks of days due to illness and travel. I’ve been watching my sugar intake (I’ll never do one of those detoxes, but because of the emotional instability I suffered even attempting one, I knew sugar was a strong influencer on my moods) and making sure my calories pack the nutrition I need for my training. I’ve been limiting my nightly beers to the weekend or the periodic week night. Nothing whatsoever has actually changed on the scale, but I look in the mirror and like what I see because I like who I am when I’m NOT looking in the mirror.

But man…when I am struggling to find time to be active and the gray mood sets in and I console myself with donuts and beer…I feel with 100% of my heart, mind and soul that I am the ugliest and grossest person on the planet.

Again…the scale doesn’t have to change AT ALL. I don’t even have to have put on any weight to feel like a fat slob. Although I know the cycle well enough to know the pounds will come, but they don’t have to come before I change the outlook on my body. And sometimes the gray moods sets in first and that mood is what keeps me from being active and then that just spirals the whole system towards the individual servings of cake that Publix sells by the cash registers.

The funny thing is, when I’m falling down one of those unhealthy spirals of hatred and shame, there’s a part of me that KNOWS how connected everything is. How I need to be active and avoid these sugar binges and daily beer and that if I don’t…I suffer terribly emotionally. I know this with every logical part of my brain. BUT…if someone (like my husband) reminds me of that I will DENY THE CONNECTION WITH EVERY BREATH.

NO! It’s because I’m missing Dad. It’s because I haven’t gotten any sleep. It’s because our house isn’t selling. It’s because the kids are misbehaving. GOING FOR A RUN WILL SOLVE NOTHING.

YET! Every time I get it all on track and I feel better…those other things are often still there. I only got 5 hours sleep last night. I’ve been missing Dad a lot lately. Our house didn’t sell and is now off the market. All of those things depress me greatly but I can handle them and stay at a more level emotional existence when I’m also working out regularly and avoiding sugar and nightly beers.

So, if you see me and I’m in my gray period and not running and possible hiding in my van and eating donuts…just know there’s no point it telling me to stop with the sugar and go for a run. I’m going to hate myself and hate you for suggesting the thing. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH.

I think I just want my emotions to be more complex that that. I want my body image to be something that relates to a journey and a system of checks and balances but you know what? It’s just very simple. If I avoid sugar and nightly beer and get my workouts in? I can walk past a mirror and think, “Damn, girl. Looking cute!” But if I’ve been getting too much sugar and not being active and having 2 beers before bed…I don’t even like to go in public with my husband because I feel like the only thing anyone thinks when they see us is: What is the prince doing with that troll?

Some people might say it’s all the sugar and I might not argue with that. I’ve learned how sugar affects my mental stability by trying to give it up. I can’t even do those detoxes because the one time I tried I fell into too deep of a depression. This is obviously a sign of how addicted I was/am, but I just can’t give it up 100%. But, I avoid the bowl of chocolate at work and go for the hard candy. I’ve been grabbing Larabars instead of the cheaper granola bars. So I’m keeping under control, but I’m not giving it up cold turkey.

I feel good. It feels nice to feel good. The numbers on the scale haven’t moved and that dress I want to wear in two weeks still has bulges in unflattering places but I like myself in it because I’m feeling good about myself in general. The trick is being aware of that and avoiding the missteps that lead me down the spiral. Yesterday was one of those almost-misstep days. The pressure in my sinuses was killing me so much my eyes hurt and when I don’t feel good I want to eat to console myself. I had a few beers with Sunday dinner which already had me feeling a little sluggish so I did eat more than usual at lunch…but I tried to at least make it healthy binging. I was already considering skipping my Tuesday morning date with the treadmill. Then a friend needed a running buddy and it was perfect because she’s been going through the same stuff – the I NEED A WORKOUT OR I GO CRAZY stuff – so that run kept me from falling into that pit of despair. I’m up early enough now to get my 6 miles in before work, and I didn’t consult my sugar addiction in a dark parking lot last night.

It’s exhausting keeping it in check sometimes. But I have to keep an eye on all of the unhealthy emotional triggers in my life because it kinda all needs to be in balance for me to stay above the gray. I’m glad I’ve been able to do that lately, teeter in the gray direction but shift other parts of my life (maybe get more sleep that night, or eat super healthy) to try to get the whole system back level. I’m not depriving myself of anything, I sometimes have that nightly beer, I sometimes enjoy a donut…but I’m just trying to keep it balanced and continue being active.

Because it feels good to love yourself, you know? That self-hatred thing is exhausting.

I mean...what's not to love?

I mean…what’s not to love?