Posted in Blogging, Planning and journaling

Currently… a little update on what I’m up to right now

I know I’ve been absent from my blog for a while but, as I’m now back enjoying writing again, I thought I’d do a little update on me and what I’m focusing on right now. It will be a useful reminder for myself to show how productive I’m being now I’ve got over my bout of poor mental health and it might also inspire you to do a currently list in your bullet journal or notebook or even on your blog.

Currently adjusting… to the situation we find ourselves in right now. Every day there are new recommendations advising of changes we need to make to help stop the spread of this awful virus. It’s stressful for everyone but we need to really focus in on all the positives and take extra good care of ourselves and others. Now is a time for solidarity and I’ve seen many examples of this over the weeks.

Currently buying… the essentials only. My husband and I haven’t done any panic buying and for a while I thought we were going to run out of toilet roll but for now we’re safe on that one! Phew! I’ve also bought a pair of yoga bricks and a strap to go with my yoga mat as my class has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I’m determined to keep up my practice but as a complete beginner, I need some equipment to ensure I can do the poses but not over exert myself.

Currently cleaning… door handles, light switches, our stair rail and anything else that might help to get rid of germs. It’s worrying to note that COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to 9 days but luckily there’s plenty of advice online about which surfaces of the home to pay attention to including this one here.

Currently enjoying… being able to get out into the garden to see the first few glimpses of Spring. I’ve been able to hang plenty of loads of washing on the line as it’s been breezy but sunny over the past few weeks. Lots of shoots are popping up and our daffodils are in full bloom right now. Unfortunately, the warm weather has helped the weeds to grow too so I now need to spend some time getting rid of them!

Currently exercising… to improve my fitness levels and strength. My weekly gym session and my yoga classes may be cancelled but I’m still trying to fit in lots of exercise. I’m currently going for a 30 minute walk each day and using YouTube videos to develop my yoga practise with the aid of my new equipment.

Currently learning… new brush lettering techniques whilst still practise the basics. I’ve turned to a copy of Simply Lettering that I bought a while back which includes a 20202 calendar with quotes for each month to copy. I’m a bit late with it I know as it’s nearly the end of March but I just finished it this morning and better late than never eh?!? I found the flourishes really difficult with being a leftie so if any of you left handers have any tips, I would welcome them!

Currently feeling inspired… to draw florals. Whilst perusing YouTube, I found a wonderful artist called Shayda who shows, step by step, how to draw a range of flowers. I’ve been having a go in my sketch book and, although my efforts don’t look as good as hers, I’m getting better with practise. You can find her YouTube channel here. She’s also a keen bullet journalist too and choses a floral theme each month. I also went with a flower theme in my BuJo for April with hibiscus.

Currently organising… my sock drawer! I’ve been a fan of the Konmari method for several years now so I’ve been folding and standing my clothes up for a long while now but I’ve always struggled with getting my socks to sit right. I’ve found a new way to fold them so they lie flatter and fold up more easily. I’ve even taken to giving them a quick iron although how long this will last I don’t know! If you want to know the secret to my perfect folding which differs from Marie Kondo’s suggestion, let me know in the comments and I’ll oblige and maybe even take a photo or two!

Currently planning… and setting goals. I kind of fell out of love with using my BuJo when I was poorly but I’m back to loving it all over again. Previously, I was just doing a monthly calendar, completely undecorated and then writing a very short to do list for each day on a piece of paper or in the notes App on my phone. Now, I’m doing a properly daily plan for tomorrow the night before and making lots of notes on future projects and things I’d like to try. I’m also setting a small number of goals for the month. It feels good to be back!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about what I’m currently up to. Let me know in the comments what’s taking up your time right now. Maybe you’ve discovered something new or gone back to something you used to enjoy doing now that social distancing has affected many of our routines.

Until next time, keep safe and well,

Posted in creativity, Planning and journaling

Setting up my bullet journal for April 2020 – Hibiscus floral theme

Hellebores in full bloom – March 26th 2020

For my bullet journal spreads for April 2020, I have taken inspiration from my own garden. This year, we transferred our hibiscus plant to a larger pot and it is now thriving and has so many flowers on it that it looks so pretty. I wanted to have a go at drawing the individual blooms and also the pot and plant. I hope my spreads inspire you to try out a nature theme this month too.

Drawing the flowers required a bit of research into drawing techniques but a quick Google search came up with a great tutorial that even I could follow with my limited sketching skills. Click here if you want to see how to create the basic shapes. For the colouring in of the individual flowers, I copied directly from my plant, but I relied on the demonstration to get the dimension and detail right.

I found this quote online and thought it was perfectly apt for me at the moment. I’m just starting to get better after a long spell of overwhelming anxiety and depression and with time and an increase to my medication I’m taking small steps towards the life I want. I accidentally stuck the piece of paper (which is incidentally covering my first version of writing the quote because I messed it up) on a bit wonky and couldn’t remove it as I used strong adhesive tape!

My April cover page is a simplified version of my actual hibiscus plant. I’ve drawn a smaller amount of leaves and a lot less blooms than there are in real life but I didn’t want to make the sketch too onerous. After drawing a rough image with pencil, I used a Unipin 0.2 black fineliner to outline the flowers, stems, leaves and pot and then coloured pencils from my WHSmiths set to do the shading. I’m quite pleased with the results although I think the leaves look a little un-natural as I made them a bit to uniform. Anyway, I’m just a beginner so there’s always something to learn!

My calendar page is a double spread as always, with boxes six dot spaces wide and tall. I like plenty of room to make note of each day’s events, including birthdays and appointments (although I just realised I probably won’t have any face to face contact with anyone this month due to COVID-19!). I’ve added a space for notes at the bottom in case I need to write about something at length.

I’m not tracking my habits this month as I don’t want to put the pressure on myself but I will be making sure to drink lots of water each day and need to keep applying moisturiser to my hands as they’re all dry and cracked from all of the handwashing. I’ll probably record my mood each day over the month but for this I’m going to be using the Bipolar Mood Scale chart to check that I’m not getting too hyperactive from trying to do too much in a bid to make up for all of the months I haven’t felt like doing anything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at and reading about my April Bujo spreads. I’m excited to see what everyone else has chosen for their theme this month. Drop me a comment below if you’ve shared yours on Instagram, YouTube or on your blog and I’ll be sure to take a look. This social distancing has meant that many of us seem to have got our spreads drawn up well ahead of time – we’ve got to celebrate the positives, right?

Until next time, stay home, stay safe and stay well.

Posted in compassion, life hacks, mental health, Mindfulness, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions, wellbeing, wellness

Practical ways to declutter your overloaded mind

Photo credit: Element5 Digital, Unsplash

There are a plethora of books and articles both online and in print about the benefits of decluttering your possessions in order to simplify your life and create more order. However, it’s not just our homes which can become cluttered and cause feelings of overwhelm and low mood. Our minds are equally susceptible and can easily become overloaded with worries, stresses and all of those emotions that come from spinning too many plates. Today’s blog post looks at practical ways of managing this mental clutter to improve our wellbeing.

1. Identify your current priorities in life

A good place to start decluttering your mind is to spend some time quietly reflecting on your life right now. Start to consider how you currently spend your time and use your energy and then begin to think about how satisfied you are with this situation. If you find yourself wanting to implement some changes, try focusing your attention on how you would like to live or what your ideal day would look like. This can help you establish what’s really important to you and enable you to prioritize. For example, you may decide that you are neglecting to look after yourself properly and need to give self care more of a focus or you might want to spend more quality time with your partner, your family or your friends.

2. Set some goals and instil some habits

When you know what your priorities are, you can work on setting some goals and creating some habits which help you to achieve these. For example, if having more ‘me time’ is at the top of your list, you may decide that you want to spend one hour per week learning a new skill or taking a class. If having more time together with your family is an area you’d like to work on, you might schedule a regular movie night, games evening or brainstorm or list of ways you would like to have fun together in your bullet journal or notebook. If you do use a bullet journal and like to have a habit tracker as part of your weekly or monthly spreads, your goals can inform the habits you choose to include. For example, if having a tidy space to study or work is one of your desires, you might choose to have a habit such as ‘ten minute desk tidy’ at the end of each day.

3. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is the process of bringing one’s attention to the current moment and concentrating on the flow of our thoughts, emotions, what is going on around us and bodily sensations without judgement. It can help us to reduce the time we spend dwelling on past events (rumination) or becoming anxious about the future and help us to become more calm and compassionate towards ourselves. Becoming more mindful can help to declutter our minds of worries and anxieties by creating a more relaxed state of being.

4. Take time to breathe

A big part of mindfulness and self compassion is about taking time out. Our busy lives often create minds which are full of mental chatter which we find difficult to silence. We can all find time to settle our minds by taking the time to slow down and a great way to do this is by changing your focus to a more soothing activity such as rhythmic breathing or a mini meditation. If, like me, you have a bullet journal or planner, try scheduling time to have a break as part of your daily plans or add meditation to your habit tracker. By being more mindful and checking in with your body and how you are feeling, you can also more easily recognise when you might need to pause or slow down.

5. Getting it down on paper

Another really helpful way of clearing mental clutter is to write it all down. There are many different ideas for how to go about doing this but popular methods include doing a ‘brain dump’ or regularly engaging in reflective journaling. A brain dump is basically where you put everything that’s on your mind down on paper or into a digital document. How you spill the contents of your brain is up to you. Some people like to just scribble down their thoughts and feelings onto a page of their journal or onto any random piece of paper they have available whenever they have lots on their mind. Others prefer the regular practise of creating ‘morning pages‘ where they dedicate time each day to writing it all down as soon as they wake up. Personally, I like to add thoughts and ideas to my daily plans in my bullet journal and spend some time each evening, reflecting on how my day has gone and writing a few things down underneath my bulleted lists. If you want to find out more about the bullet journal method for organisation, I recommend visiting Ryder Carroll’s website here or reading his book which explains the method in detail.

For specific projects, you may find that creating some sort of visual way of organising helps to get your thoughts on paper in a logical way. A spider diagram, is a popular method and one which you may have used at school. Basically, you start by placing your main thought, idea or topic in the centre of the page and then you add branches from this when you think of subtopics. These subtopics can then be broken down further by more branches, creating a kind of spiders legs effect on the page. A quick ‘Google’ search online shows lots of examples of this technique which can be a helpful way of structuring all of the information in your mind.

6. Avoid information overload

This point is particularly relevant to our lives today in the digital age. With so much information at our finger tips online, especially through our use of various social media platforms, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed and feel like we are ready to explode. There are many ways to avoid overloading ourselves with information, including limiting the amount of time we spend online. Also, if you have already spent time assessing your current priorities, then you can use this to inform what you focus on. For example, at the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to improve my gardening know how, so I thought about the steps I would need to take to do this and then spent time and energy improving my knowledge through reading about the plants in our garden, finding seasonal gardening tips online and watching gardening programmes on the television. I then recorded my learning in a garden journal. Also, avoiding negative and unreliable media sources can help your online presence positive and informative. For example, I tend to stay away from sensationalised news articles and always try to turn off my notifications for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a while when I’m super busy.

7. Out of your mind and into your body

In a previous blog post, I talked about ways to stimulate your vagus nerve and included plenty of suggestions about how to use the power of this cranial nerve to stimulate your body and relax your mind. By moving our attention to our bodies and reconnecting to the world around us, we create much needed space in our minds which helps us to gain better mental clarity. Going out into the garden to feel the fresh air, listen to the birds or get some sunlight on our skin, taking a quiet stroll in the local park, or even just putting on a favourite song and singing out loud whilst having a quick boogie can all help.

8. Take some time to unwind

Your brain needs regular breaks to rest and recharge itself and so creating white space in your calendar or planner is a must. Spend some time away from your phone or tablet and do something relaxing which makes you feel happy. For me, a walk in nature, reading a book or doing something creative, such as painting or drawing are some of my favourite ways to unwind. I like to create pages in my bullet journal for self care and ‘me time’ activities so that when I’m feeling frazzled, I can get some inspiration for self soothing behaviours.

Photo credit: Victoria Bilsborough, Unsplash

I hope you have found today’s post useful and it has helped to provide inspiration on how you might take steps to declutter your busy and active mind. I would love to hear any others ideas that you find work really well for you at times when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

Posted in art, creativity, Planning and journaling, watercolour painting

Setting up my bullet journal for October

Hi everyone. Hope you’re all well and enjoying the beginnings of Autumn. We’ve finally got some okay weather this morning so I’ve been able to take some bright enough photographs of my BuJo set up for next month and thought I would share them with you.

I decided to keep my spreads relatively simple and to a minimum this time as I found that I was tracking far too much in September and couldn’t keep up with it all and got quite overwhelmed. I’ve just done a quote page, a cover page which features a little watercolouring piece that I did, a double page monthly calendar and a planning page for my blog.

For my quote, I chose a simple Autumnal reference and as I was writing it, I had a vague feeling I’d used it before. I checked back in one of last year’s Bujo and there it was. I figured it didn’t matter and that I must really love it!

3 bright and juicy Crayola supertips plus a drop shadow using the grey tip of my Tombow dual brush pen

This watercolour was created using my new Daley Rowney Aquafine Travel Set. I followed an online tutorial and although the results don’t look the same as those done by the professional artist that created the step by step, I’m pleased with the results as I’m a total beginner. If you want to have a quick look at the tutorial, you can find it here.

Autumn tree produced on an A4 sheet from a watercolour pad

I then spent about two hours working out how to scan the image into a format that I could shrink to stick into my BuJo. After much perseverance (and a glass of wine which was most helpful ha ha!) I got it sorted. I ended up sticking a piece of paper over a mistake I made with my brush lettering but I think it looks okay now I’ve made it into a border for my picture.

October cover page

And here’s the two pages together. I think the bright colours look lovely. What do you think?

For my monthly calendar, I chose to decorate with some Autumn leaves and berries. I’m not wonderful at drawing but I think it looks okay. I used coloured pencils to shade them in but the only problem I seem to have it that when I write on the next few pages of my notebook the colour transfers. I’m not sure if there’s a solution to this, maybe I press on too hard? If anyone has any ideas, I would be grateful to hear them.

And finally, my blog planning page. On here I’m going to record days when I’m planning, reading researching as well as the titles of my actual posts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my spreads for October. I would love to hear about your chosen themes for the month and what you have planned for the Autumn. Let me know in the comments if you get the chance.

Posted in Planning and journaling

Journalling about nature

Last week, I went on a short walk in my local park and spent some time looking at all of the different trees. I wanted to find some pines as my husband would like some pine cones for a project he’s currently working on – a DIY bug hotel for our garden!

I found a huge cone but it was much too big so I left it behind and will return to the park another time in search of smaller ones. There were plenty on the trees but I couldn’t find any wind fallen pine cones of the size required.

This morning, I documented my walk and my learning about pine cones and bug hotels in my Webster’s Traveler’s notebook insert and though you might like to see my finished pages.

Remembering my walk with a little journalling to go with a photo of my pine cone find!
Some information collected from The Woodland Trust blog on their website
Some bug hotel images found online plus ideas for what to add to our bug hotel

I hope you enjoyed seeing my journaling pages. You can find plenty of bug hotel inspiration online if it’s something you would like to have a go at making. Watch this space to see my husband’s creation when it’s finished!

Bye for now,

Laura x