Posted in Cool Tools, What Makes You Happy?

My Planner Isn’t a Bullet Journal. (It’s Actually a Sticker Book.)

E99C2305-00D7-45BD-89B4-3D802320474CThis is my Happy Planner. For those who care, it’s the middle size available. I chose the Happy Planner over other cool options because the pages are colorful. I got it at Michael’s on sale (you can catch the sales at the ends and beginnings of each year) and I bought extra cover sets on ebay. This is my current favorite cover, and it says, “If you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine.” I feel like I do that, or try to do that, for those around me. I wear the brightest colored clothing and hair colors I can find (and I wish other people would too). But maybe I just like it best because it’s got bright yellow on it, and yellow’s my favorite. In any case, you can catch a glimpse of my work desk and the Adventure Time skirt I got on etsy. I buy a lot of stuff on etsy. When you open the cover, you can see all the stickers I’ve placed inside, taped in sheets to the laminated pages.

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And that gets us to the back cover. The stickers in my planner take up about 1/3 of the heft of the book. I mostly buy them from all over etsy, but in case you’re dying to know, I’ve included what I hope is a comprehensive list at the bottom of this post.3525FFD0-95DC-4582-89C9-2A3E579F78BF Some of the sticker types I use are filler: rainbows, rainbow hearts, rainbow stars, pink hearts, yellow stars, yellow smiley faces, So So Happy encouragement stickers. They don’t really stand for anything, I just like the way they look, and they take up space and make everything more “filled out” looking. But for the bulk of my stickers, each one represents an action, a mood, something I want to regularly track. So rather than “make a plan” for the day or the week or the month, I actually use my planner as a visually recorded account of what I did/accomplished, and how I was feeling. Since I don’t want stickers for every action I take (poops, for example, which some people wish to track, but I do not) I try to focus my sticker collection on habits I want to encourage myself to keep doing / do more of: exercise, writing, reading, chores. I also want to track things like my period, if I was sick, my mood (I have cry-faces and happy faces and angry faces, etc.) and YES, I do actually write down upcoming appointments and To Do lists as well. Just not maybe to the extent that (actual) planning people do.

Some of my month spreads end up looking gorgeous and amazing. For Nanowrimo, for example, I used extra special stickers to track my daily word counts on rainbow typewriters. So my November month-view ended up extra gorgeous and hyper-focused. Winning! (On the sidebar, Doug’s homework word count, impressive!)

Glorious November spread

Another month that ended up looking gorgeous and amazing was my February spread, thanks to my awesome and amazing friend Karen, who bought a Valentine’s Day-themed sticker pack for me at Target. I held nothing back, as you can see. (Those little green guys are recyle days and paydays.)

Fabulous February spread

And then there’s the weekly view, which is the bread and butter of this industry. I love the way the Happy Planner breaks the week into seven days and the days into thirds. I use them for 1) before work 2) at work 3) after work. There’s a weekly sidebar on the left that I use for To Do’s. And different planner companies will give you the option, or not, to start your week on Sunday or Monday. Some people want the work week sandwiched by the weekend on either side, like bookends. I’m not about that life. The reason the weekend is beautiful is because it’s two days together, and hopefully, two days off together.

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I hope you enjoyed my sticker book, I mean “planner.” It must be a planner, right? It has the word right there in the name… So some of the stickers featured here I bought at the Container Store (these and these). But most of the stickers featured here were made by etsy artists:

Happy Cutie Studio UK
Planner Frenzy New Hampshire
Anna’s Planner Bubble Poland
Planner Studio California
iArtisans Canada
Plan Gorgeously California
Tiny Little Tulip Arkansas
Brianna Nicole Designz Wisconsin
Keena Prints Philippines
Domino 626 Virginia
Once More With Love Canada
S. G. Stationery Arizona
Hello Stickers Georgia
Ashwood Arts Texas

Posted in Cool Tools

750 Words

I just started using 750 Words and I’m pretty surprised no one told me how awesome it is. I hope you check it out and love it as much as I do.

Posted in General

2017 Year End, 2018 Year Beginning

want to read
Tried it, didn’t like it
Wasn’t in the right mood, want to give it another shot
Loved this book
Want to make something like this


So I named my character Dr. Cicely

In December 2017, I went offtrack with my reading challenges, and I didn’t end up being able to finish all of them. I was in denial for a bit, telling myself if I read most of a book in December and only finished it in early January, it could still be counted. But the truth was, there were certain books I just wasn’t making any progress with. I’d also fallen behind on the blog reviews about the books I had finished reading, even though I prepared the Instagram art for them and everything. I just sort of… lost my way. By January 2018, I’d gotten caught up in several addictive phone games, and everything else was shoved to the wayside while I fed my brain all the pellets my button pushing would yield. It’s only in the last several days that I’ve taken a look at myself and realized I didn’t like what I saw. So I’m back, And that for me means running every morning M-F; writing every evening; reading most evenings; and not being a slave to my phone. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone again, and many more that were eating up my time and attention. And I’ve decided to take up the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way challenge.

No idea what this is actually for but I’m always looking forward to the next nanowrimo 😀


So I had prepared two sets of Instagram posts to accompany book reviews that I didn’t end up writing, so here they are below.  D299146F-BED4-4B69-9CBD-031AAF44AECB59B390D2-DDCE-4014-B140-57061A6F196109E3CEFC-7D63-444D-96E0-4F63C226C1FF68B08FC0-BFC3-4084-BD1B-028134EDF79A97EDD58F-4261-46B9-A6DE-B76DF17B8110096152E2-AE13-483C-A0C6-51AF1E3A84FCAC1133AF-C85E-4F7F-B3E6-A1CC7E8F0E02A5F4A375-0C56-48AB-A0AF-F1AFA65FFF5A

I’ve also been thinking lately abt that Star Trek episode and how it relates to everything about Drumpf’s administration. Don’t think for a second that he should be dismissed as “just a crazy person.” He knows exactly what he’s doing.


Posted in Jobe Workshop Review, Writing Prompts

Creative Writing 101 for Teens: Workshop Review

I only had one hour instead of the two hours I’m used to, but I knew I could use the time to provide some starting pointers for the attendees. I told the class about my blog and let them know that if they were looking for inspiration or encouragement, “Thursday Writers” would be a good category to browse. I explained that writing is one of those awesome things that you can get better at just by doing it, whether you have a teacher or not.

I opened the class with the usual introductions around the room. Then we started talking about stories. Whether we’re used to writing or not, we know a lot more about story structure and content than we think we do. Because we all read stories, we all watch stories unfold on the screen, and we all tell stories about things that have happened to us or people we know. So even if we’re new to writing, don’t be scared to get started. And since even adults sometimes feel too self-conscious, I didn’t ask anyone to read aloud after each prompt; we just went around the table and talked about our writing or the ideas we explored.

I told the class that a main character always has something they want, and that’s relatable, because we all have things that we want too. So we dove right into our first writing exercise: Desire. Write about something you want.

After that we talked about how a story always has conflict. That conflict can come from another person who wants something different than (or the opposite of) what the main character wants. Or it could be an event that takes place, like a tornado or a breakup or an injury. For the second writing exercise: Conflict. Write about  someone or something in the way between you and your goal.

We talked about how story structure, no matter how complicated it seems, can basically be broken down into these classic categories: story_arc

The example we used was of a college student who wanted to study abroad. Maybe she’s rushing to get the paperwork in on time, but the office is closed early, but she happens to know someone who can still get her in—whether the story is a mystery and there’s a dead body in the travel location when the student arrives; whether it’s a romance and she meets someone once she arrives; if it’s a science fiction story and she has to travel off-world. No matter the genre, all stories follow the basic structure.

I wanted to make sure to mention some fun writing prompt sites so they could be on the lookout for prompts of their own. I told them about the weird and sometimes hilarious watchout4snakes, and I told them about the 7x7x7 exercise from Write to Done. We talked about how anything in life can be used as inspiration for a story idea, and that if a person were to carry around a little notebook all day and just write down all the interesting things they encountered, from overheard conversation to quotes from other writers, they might find a lot of content from which to spark.

Next I asked the teens to come up with suggestions for things that people are afraid of. They threw up some fun ideas: clowns, spiders, water, death, children, heights, social situations, stage fright, and technology. I asked them to call out some of the “touchy subjects” we’re not supposed to talk about: politics, relationships, sexuality & gender, religion, money, and personal views. The third writing exercise was to create a scene using one or two of these concepts as the cause of tension in the scene.

We made sure to do prizes for everybody, a Jobe class hallmark, and this time it was free books, select at your leisure.

Lastly I asked the teens to call out their ages. We had a great range, from 13 to 19. I talked about how some knowledge comes from immediate experience, and people who are older or younger than we are may not understand something as well as we do or be as familiar with it, because of age. For the last writing exercise, I asked the teens to write about something they know because of their age.

For more writing resources for teens, Read Brightly suggests Teen InkOne Teen Story, and (what used to be Figment and is now) Get Underlined. For writers of YA Lit, check out Go Teen Writers and Kim Chance, including this guest post from Lucia Brucoli. And if you still want more, pick up my all-time fave on the topic, Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.


Posted in Jobe Update, Special Announcement, Word of the Year

2018 Personal Word of the Year

You’ve probably heard of the concept of selecting a Word of the Year (WotY): it’s one way to focus your energy on some goal, feeling, or idea. I love this concept, and this will be my second year participating. Rather than pledging yourself to a New Year’s resolution with an inherent “win or lose” dichotomy, a word for the year is a theme that can’t be let down by wavering consistency. In other words, you can’t fail a concept. If you find yourself wandering away from your word, just return back to it. It’s that simple (and that awesome).

We can be more or less successful in arenas of our lives based on so many factors—our relationships with family, friends, or lovers; our environment at work or at home; our ability to get to sleep, stay asleep, get enough sleep; our mental health and the individual causes that can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression; our ability to earn enough, save enough; whether or not we’re eating, what we’re eating, when, how much, how often. Essentially there are countless factors that can influence whether we’re feeling better or worse at a given moment which may determine our likelihood toward success or failure on a given day. We’ve all experienced the day when everything seems to go right—or wrong.

But unlike a resolution, you can’t fail a word. If you’re the kind of person who feels discouraged by failure (aren’t we all?) and less likely to even try if you’re afraid you’re just going to let yourself down, thinking of the new year in terms of a word, a concept, a guiding principle, can be incredibly uplifting, encouraging, inspiring. Let’s remove the condemnation of bad days and stop beating ourselves up for the things we get wrong. Instead, let’s focus on the good, the big picture, and the habit over time.

Last year I chose the word “habitual” because I wanted to combine the associations of “habit” and “ritual.” Even though that’s not exactly what “habitual” means, it made sense to me because of the sounds of the words as well as the meanings. And your word is your own—it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else; you don’t have to justify it to anyone. This is such a personal choice for such a private journey, why not do this one thing that’s just for you?

Words I considered for 2018 included: steady, fearless, active, willing; momentum, frequency, agency, harmony; goldfish; conspire, complicit (I liked the idea of the sinister aspect of secret goals and desires). The worksheets below are part of a year in review packet made by the illustrious Susannah Conway, whom I adore.


In the end, I didn’t choose any of my brainstormed words, though the process of thinking through those ideas helped me come to my decision: I chose the word/phrase “get up and go.” Used as a hyphenate, get-up-and-go is a noun synonymous with words like gumption, moxie, umph. It is your drive tested over time, your get-started-ness and your stick-to-it-tive-ness. As a phrase, “Get up and go!” is a demonstrative command, encouraging the target (you understood) to “Act now!” I chose this because I want to nurture the habits I cultivated last year, those of writing and exercising regularly. (See how it builds?)

“Get up and go” (see also “rise and shine,” “get going” and other variants) is a very popular phrase in advertising, as you can see here:



The phrase “get up and go” is also used in a jokey, fun way for times when we feel like doing anything but:


But it’s also still a tried-and-true concept for earnest motivation:


Last year I was extrememly gung-ho about my WotY for the first few months, and then I kind of forgot about it, although I maintained the goals my word represented, to greater and lesser extent based on what else was going on. This year I made “get up and go” the tagline for this blog, so it’ll be impossible to forget! I encourage you to do something similar: post your Word somewhere you’ll see it often, and choose a word that will make you feel excited to strive toward your best self.

If you want help deciding on your Word of the Year for 2018, check out the fantastic Susannah Conway. And if you want to declare your Word of the Year for 2018, you can participate at My One Word and One Word 365. Also check out the cool stuff happening at My Intent.

Much Love,

Posted in Jobe Update

Lose, Gain, Maintain

This isn’t a weight loss blog or a fitness blog. I generally don’t talk about anything on here unless it is reading or writing related. But as the end of the year approaches, I’m in a contemplative state of mind, and I wanted to talk about what encourages or discourages us on our paths: as creatives, as women, as humans.

Over the last two decades, I have been every dress size from an 8 to a 22, no lie. Junior year prom 1999 my dress was an 8, senior year prom 2000 my dress was a 10. Undergrad 2000-2004 I fluctuated 10-12. During the tail-end of a long relationship and after its failure, around 2006, I was a size 16, and I remember it being a big deal because I had to go and buy new clothes (this was before shopping online was a default mode, so I went to Sears). When I returned home and lived in the city for a few years, 2006-2009, my size fluctuated in the 12-14 range, weight dipping lowest when my sister and I were taking regular ballet classes together. When I moved to Arkansas my weight stayed on the upper end of that range, as I abandoned vegetarianism and felt happy and comfortable within my relationship.

My wedding dress was a size 16, which I was fine with, but at the end of 2012 when I tried it on and it basically wouldn’t fit, I was undone with panic (Spanx saved the day, after some crying). 16 was the top of the “misses” or “women’s” clothing section. Becoming a size 18 meant I had to find the “plus size” section at Kohl’s, and I felt really low about it. In the last 5 years I’ve purchased much of my clothing online, on e-bay or etsy, and locally at a thrift store (now closed, RIP) called Saver’s. My size has been in the 18-20-22 range, around 2X to 3X. I’ve come to accept this, and wearing a larger size doesn’t stop me from feeling cute or beautiful or adorable or sexy.

I have a record of my weight fluctuations from the last 7 years because I’m an old holdout user from the Wii Fit era (read: blip) and I keep returning to it because it’s an easy way to weigh in and make a record without having to do much more than stand there.

2010: 200 rangeMaintained.
2011: 185-210 range. Dropped. LOWEST WEIGHT.
2012: 185-210 range. Gained. 
2013: 200-225 range. 
Gained 210 up to 225 (5 mos). Dropped 225 to 200 (3 mos). Gained 200 up to 210 (4 mos).
2014: 205-235 range. Gained 205 up to 235 (8 mos). Dropped 235 to 220 (4 mos).
2015: 210-230 range. Gained 220 up to 230 (4 mos). Dropped 230 to 210 (3 mos). Gained 210 to 220 (2 mos).
2016: 230-235 range. Maintained. HIGHEST WEIGHT.
2017: 215-230 range. Maintained (2 mos). Dropped 230 to 220 (4 mos). Maintained 220-225 (2 mos)Gained up to 230 (1 mos)Dropped 230 to 215 (3 mos).

I remember when 200 was the highest my weight had ever been. I remember how shocked I was when I realized it had climbed to 235, almost 240. During the time I had my own apartment and I was working out regularly, I hit my lowest recorded weight, around 180. Do you know what I did? Instead of focusing on how great I felt about the work I was doing, I took that information to the internet and asked all my female friends who were willing to tell me their heights and weights. I guess I was expecting to be able to imagine some grand chart where I fell in relation to other people I knew and just feel cosmic goodwill toward all. But when a friend of mine who I had expected to weight more than me said that she weighed less? I let that fact (which may or may have been fact or fiction, outdated, exaggerated, or accurate) crush me. I broke the one rule: NEVER compare yourself to others. Compare your current self to your past selves. Because it was easy to see how far I’d come tracking my own progress. But looking at someone else and thinking “I’m not there, I’ll never be there” was exactly what caused me to never get there. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Please don’t let my mistake be yours too. Never look at the work of someone else and think “why aren’t I where they are?” You have no idea what they’ve been through to reach that point, and you’ll never know how close you were if you give up.

My weight has fluctuated mightily, and I can note when I was in school, when I got married, when I bought a house, when my mom got sick. Every time my weight has increased, it’s because I’ve stopped paying attention to my body. Every time my weight has dropped, it has been a direct result of my monitoring my intake and exercise. Most recently my weight is down, because I’m paying attention and actively participating in my own improvement. I hope I keep it up and make future-me proud. As a little green-screen angel named Shia La Bouef once said, If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.


(found on Google images)
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Posted in diversity, Reading Challenge, Reviews

Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange

234934Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo by Ntozake Shange is a fantastic book full of beautiful, fluid language and the much needed representation of African American women. It centers around three sisters and their mother, providing a slice of life account of each of their journeys. Each woman is shown in her connection to female ancestral spirits as well as featuring her in her own agency in present day. Interspersed as part of the book’s narration are letters from their mother, dream sequences, journal entries, and recipes as dishes prepared in the text of the story.

Indigo is the youngest (and my favorite) and she practices magic, so her section includes spells. She lives at home with their mother in Charleston, South Carolina, and the book opens with her getting her first period. She starts out playing with dolls but ends up as a skillful violinist, admired by neighbors and strangers alike, in addition to Uncle John and her male peers, fellow Jr. Geechee Captains.

Sassafrass is the oldest sister who makes art of her woven tapestries and her delicious food dishes. She struggles to find herself while dealing with an abusive partner and his disrespectful friends who write lewd poetry “praising” (hypersexualizing) black women’s bodies while hypocritically dating only white women. Her story explores her intersectional identity and her longing to make something lasting. She moves from Los Angeles to stay with their middle sister, Cypress, in San Francisco.

The narration demonstrates how Cypress throws lavish parties and is willing to have sex with but not be tied to any particular man in a relationship, unlike Sassafrass. Cypress ends up moving to New York to pursue her dancing career, and there meets and falls for another female dancer, Idrina. Cypress enjoys being part of an all-female dance collective, telling stories of women’s bodies through their powerful performances. The romance crashes when Idrina’s lover returns from a long trip in Europe, and Cypress drowns her sorrows for a time frequenting late night bars, until she is reunited with Leroy, a friend she had tried to set Sassafrass up with back in San Francisco. Cypress’s story flows naturally through the feminist and civil rights movements of the time.

This book is so beautifully written, a summary cannot begin to do it justice. Just hearing the storyline is light years away from experiencing this deeply spiritual and artistic book for yourself.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:

December continues to tick away! Are you ready for the year to end?