Pen to paper

I have always put pen to paper. For as long as I can remember I have loved words, stories, and the connection and meaning they have on our lives. In elementary school, writing stories came naturally to me. Maybe it was because the crazy amount of books I read. The books inspired me to write and create my own version of reality. Writing for me came in a variety of forms. I often wrote in a journal and recapped my world, my questions, my painful moments, and sometimes the happy times. Although often I found I was lead to write when things were not good, as it was a way to process and formulate my thoughts and feelings.

For a few years in elementary school, I was the class representative to go to a Young Author’s Conference in my town, where you would bring your handmade book and had to read it in front of a group. If I remember correctly there were even finalists from the conference that went to a state version. In fourth and fifth grade, there was the “Little Hoosiers” writing contest, where we were to write about someone in our life that had grown up in Indiana. One year I wrote about my Great Aunt E’Beth, someone I had interacted with only a few times. She was related to us on my grandmother’s side of the family and had an interesting life. I researched her and her husband’s impact on my hometown in the early 1920’s. It was interesting to learn how integral and active they were in the community, and I found out later that I had won second place in Indiana for my essay on Aunt E’Beth.

Short stories, research/historical writing, and journal writing… there were so many ways that words inspired me. Then something happened. Life got crazy taking care of my mom, college, and then taking care of my grandma. Other things consumed me. I stopped writing and processing a world that sometimes did not always make much sense. Eventually I began to write in a journal almost daily. I made notes of quotes that inspired me. I made sure to spend time every day writing. But nothing like I did as a child. I wrote for me, but never really went back and explored the short fiction writing that I did as a kid. I think about it often and even dream about what it would be like to have a book pour out of my fingertips.

If you write, are a writer, or have that urge to let the words flow, I encourage you to write just a little bit everyday. There is something inside me that wants to go back to being that little girl and write all the crazy ideas that came into my head. I know one day my mind will quiet enough to let the words inside come out. For now, and over the last 3 years my writing has morphed into this blog, and I hope the ideas that have escaped my mind have inspired and uplifted those of you that read random olio.

100 Happy Days

I have been seeing a ton of folks embark on 100 Happy Days, and I think it is time I joined them. I mean why not right? I know the next few weeks/months are going to be crazy for me, and so why not add another thing to the mix? I have been wanting to begin taking more pictures, and if I do this challenge, my Instagram connections might hate me after I show them how boring the next 100 days will be and how much I work, but oh well.

Have you heard of 100 Happy Days? It is a challenge that is meant to get you to share a photo of what made you happy that day for the next 100 days. They have set it up so you can share your photos publicly or privately, but the main idea is that you focus on what made you happy that day. Here are results from the challenge that were listed on their website:

“Start noticing what makes them happy every day:

  • Be in a better mood every day;
  • Be in a better mood every day;
  • Start receiving more compliments from other people;
  • Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
  • Become more optimistic;
  • Fall in love during the challenge.”

Often at the end of the day I will write in a journal, as a way to decompress from the day. (Really it starts with my run when I get home from work, and the writing comes just before bed). I process, explore, and resolve my world through the words that come out of my fingertips. There are moments of gratitude, moments of frustration, and moments of aha. 100 Happy Days will take it one step further to require me to notice those happy moments as they happen, and not as I recollect them at the end of the day.

Want to join me?

Let the crap get you to your answers…

I just finished reading: “The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language” by Natalie Goldberg. Such a great book, especially if you enjoy writing and want to be inspired and pushed to a new place in your daily writing. I love how she tells you to just write, to just put the crap down, not to analyze it, but just write.

Even though I write 5 blog posts a week, I still actually write in a journal that is just for me. Sometimes it is a recap of events from my day, or how I am feeling about something, or I cuss, and go off on people. Writing in my journal allows me to make sense of my day-to-day world. It allows me to see what comes out of me, that I may not have known was in me. This was one of my favorite quotes from her book:

“Feel free to write the worst junk in America. You have to turn over your mind a lot for the gems to pop out. And really in True Secret Retreats and in writing practice we are not looking for the gems, but a way to meet and accept our whole mind. Writing down the boring, the complaining, the violent, the agitated, obsessive, destructive, mean, shameful, timid, weak thoughts allows us to see them, make friends with those parts of ourselves. They won’t then rule us. We won’t be running from them, or battling them in meditation—or in our lives. Writing practice asks all parts of us to come forward. And when we get out of the way and stop judging, aren’t they all their own peculiar impersonal gems?” page 21

She makes you think. Write the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I said earlier, writing helps us to know what is really in our mind, the front, back, and deep parts of what we are thinking. Sometimes we have to get through all our crappy thoughts, our anguish, our pain to see the real issues that baffle us.

So whether you write regularly, sporadically, or not at all, I encourage you to follow Goldberg’s advice. Write down the crap, write it all down, and I bet, if you stick with it, the letters that form into words, into sentences, will begin to tell a story. Maybe it will be just for you, or maybe you will want to share it. Those letters and words often tell us what is inside that we often do not know how to make sense of it. Let the crap get you to your answers.

Organize your life

I crave being organized. Many years ago I even thought I might become a professional organizer. While that never happened it is still a strong theme in my life. It keeps me balanced. When I have way too many things going on in my head (which is often) then sometimes my wires get crossed and the words that come out of my mouth are blended together. Somehow Chris understands me (well for the most part). So, staying organized keeps me and my life in order.

One of the ways I stay organized is with lists. I make them in my personal life and I make them at work. I have become a bit addicted with that sharp line I use when I cross something off the list. Since I like to stay inspired and creative in the process of being organized, the journal, paper, and pen that I use are very important. My pens of choice are Muji (.38) as I like to write with a fine tip pen, but not one where the point dulls after use, such as ones you might use for art. The Muji pens do not dull, so they fit me perfectly.

Journals are another thing all together. I am not one for lined paper, but if I have to used lined paper, it better be college ruled, because I write small. If I got what I wanted it would be graph paper, or paper with tiny dots, not to thin so the ink can be seen through it. It is the little things that make such a difference in the art of staying organized.

So a week or so ago when I came across this Fast Company article: “This Note-Taking System Turns You Into An Efficiency Expert” I was intrigued. See I forgot to mention that while in meetings or around anyone with a notebook or journal, I get curious to see how they organize their life. Do they do everything in their iOS device? Do they have a page for To-Dos, and a page for notes? Do they track by date? Are they using post-its? Why? I am always hoping I can vicariously learn from another’s organization process.

The Fast Company article mentions Bullet Journal, a process the developer spent 10 years putting together. It seems like a handy way to organize life. I am not sure it will work for my personal life, as I do much of that in the app, but I think it just might fit for organizing my work life. I tried last week, and decided to purchase a fresh Moleskin, graph paper notebook over the weekend. Sort of like turning over a new leaf. See below for a video about the Bullet Journal.


Unwind and abandon your funk

Do you ever have those days that start out all wrong? Your clothes feel tight, or nothing you want to wear is clean, and to top it off you are having a bad hair day? Sometimes your funk permeates your entire day and all you do is dream about doing a few things that will let you unwind and block out the rest of your day.

What would your list of favorite things be to unwind from a hellish day? Would it involve your kids, your spouse, or an empty, quiet house? Does it involve exercise, a massage, or gorging on amazing food? Does your list change based on your mood?

A list of my favorite things to do to unwind (in no specific order):

  • Going for a long run.
  • Taking a long HOT bath.
  • Hugs. Need I say more?
  • Finding a new journal, finishing a journal, starting a new journal.
  • Completing a shit-ton of items on my to-do list.
  • Snuggling with Chris during a movie, on a lazy Saturday morning…whenever I can cozy up with him.
  • Finishing a book I cannot put down.
  • Coming home to a clean house (knowing I do not have to clean it).
  • Salt. Anything with it, most often in the form of chips.

Some days I can come home and pick one of these items off my list, and the mere act of shifting my focus or pampering myself will change my outlook and let me forget my funk. Other times you just have to ride it out, crawl in bed, close your eyes and wake up freshly the next morning.

How about you? What do you do to unwind after a funky day?