Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chronic Illness is Personal

A few days ago, I read a young woman's blog post about living with rheumatoid arthritis. She did not want readers to feel sorry for her; she wanted us to see RA through her eyes as she showed photos of her Rollator and her swollen knee from her perspective. I wish I had flagged it so I could provide a link, but I did not think of it until the next day. 

As I was reading, I felt sad that she had to be going through this at her age - early 30's - knowing that there is no cure (at this time). I felt guilty that I sometimes feel sorry for myself when she is 20(ish) years younger than me and has young children. 

Then, I reminded myself that each person's journey with chronic illness is different. Yes, there are days when we feel sorry for ourselves and times we wish we could go back to a time when we were healthy.

She is blessed to have a husband who has stuck by her, who helps her get out of bed and dresses her when she is in a flare. I have felt sorry for myself because I live alone. Then, I needed help with dealing with my current health situation and learned that I, too, have a support system. 

Serenity Prayer
My middle son lives close enough to me that he jumped into action when I asked him to go to the grocery store for me. (He was irritated with me that I did not call him for a ride home from the hospital, but I knew he would be at work.) 

A dear friend brought me soda and flowers. Two more friends picked up medicine, including my third antibiotic in a row, for me yesterday.

I have learned that many of my cyber friends are also dealing with chronic illness. We are here for each other, to listen and pray, and just be understanding because we each know what it is like, even if we have different chronic issues.

I do not want my readers to feel sorry for me, either. I sometimes have a "pity party" for myself. Unless there is a major medical breakthrough, I will live for many more years "ill," just as other chronically ill people do.

Maybe that could be my new motto: "Live with it, do not wallow in it."



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Planning When You Don't Have Kids at Home and Kit Review

I am sorry I have not been around lately; I was dealing with multiple health issues. One back outage for 10-11 days, 2 antibiotics, 1 short hospital stay, and a virus later, here I am. The next antibiotic starts soon. It is hard to believe that I used to be an incredibly healthy person.

My children have been adults for quite a while now, so it amazes me it has taken me this long to think of my planner differently. This is the third week I have been testing a new method, and I think this is really going to work for me.

Before and After:

I record appointments into the monthly calendar as they are made.


I do not have as busy a life as I did back then, or even before I became disabled, but I still have places to go,... The way I was using my planner until a few months ago was the way most people do - put appointments into the appropriate date/time slot. 

Then, at the end of each week, I started copying the appointments from the monthly calendar at the top of the next week's date column and disregarded the time slots. I used the rest of the column to list what I planned to do that day. 

As you can see above, it was pretty empty. I was reluctant to write plans down, because I did not always get things done on that day, so they would be migrated along the page - sometimes, to the next page. I had a pretty messy spread by the end of the week with the majority of it being plans moved.


I had an epiphany! I decided to use the dates as categories instead. 

Across the top, I labeled each column as Expenses, Calls, Inspirational Quotes, Errands, Goals (for me right now, they are blogging post categories with ideas for each), Appointments, and Household. At the bottom of each column is meal ideas. At the very bottom, I have Personal, Family, and Writing. The Writing area is also a place to doodle or jot other things down. 

Now, I list what needs doing this week down for each column. I can simply check things off as they are accomplished! The bottom sections have seven blocks after each item to "x" out each day I do whatever it is. This will help me to see where I have been slacking or what is an unreasonable expectation for me.

Review of Listers Gotta List Kit #5 - Fall Fun:

The following is my personal, unsolicited opinion. I have not been compensated, and I purchased this kit with my own funds.

I ordered some goodies from, the company that has been doing the #ListersGottaList monthly challenges. In the fall kit were three monthly tabs; I decided to put them on the top of the page, instead of on the side. (Other items from my order are in the box behind the book.) 

Since the place I store my Listers journal is rather tight, I need to place it upright. The repeated putting it in and pulling it out of the space would have ruined the tabs if I had placed them along the side. 

These are heavy paper stickers, so they are nice and sturdy. I think they are quite attractive, too. There is an assortment of stickers on the two sheet included in the kit including a kit little girl I used when I created a new dashboard. 

Isn't she cute? 

Also included in the order was the "PLANNING IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE" card above, which I decided to make into a dashboard. On the other side, I affixed a few different items to fill the space. The television journaling card and the "NEW SEASON, NEW STORIES" die cuts were included in the Fall Kit, as are the two small circle stickers on the bottom of the card. 

The "HEY GIRL..." at the top, and signature, cartoon, and quote on the bottom were from a note included in the box and were glued in place using a rock-star Ranger Ink mini glue stick also included in the kit. This was the first time using this brand, and I am impressed with its holding power. I will be laminating the card to keep it nice while using it as a bookmark in my 2016 Miquel Rius book.

I have used a little bit of everything in the kit, including the ink pad and the roller stamp. I ordered a few extras, including a couple more roller stamps, and I am quite happy with everything I have received.

I posted a video of the whole kit's contents here



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nostalgic Fall Memories

The older I get, the more nostalgic I feel. Maybe it is because I do not live in my hometown, a town I never thought I would leave. 
Jeff LaBrake Photo
This is Main Street, Lake Placid, New York. You can see that it is a small town. There is only one building in the whole town with four above-ground floors, and it is a hotel built in time for the 1980 Winter Olympics.  The photographer, Jeff LaBrake is a friend from kindergarten on - he reminds me of certain kindergarten things I did, too. He coaches figure skaters in Florida now, so I do not get to see him as often as I would like. 

Autumn always signaled the beginning of figure skating season in Placid. To this day, I can remember the excitement of going to Ruthie's Run to buy new skates, relearning how to stand up on the ice, finding out which group we were in that year, and the smells of the arena. 

My best childhood friend, Patrick, plays a part in many of my fall memories. We used to have a lot of fun playing in the leaves in my grandmother's and (her brother) my uncle's yard. (They lived across the driveway from us.) We would rake leaves into a big pile and jump into it from a maple tree. Then, we would rake them into "rooms" and pretend they were our house. 

On year, Patrick's birthday was at his grandmother's house, which was diagonally across the street from where I lived. I was recovering from the chicken pox, but I was allowed to go "if I stayed in the hammock." Well, being hyperactive, I could only do that for so long. At the end of the party, we all ran around the yard breaking the party balloons.

As a Junior Girl Scouts, we went to Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp with the Cadette Girl Scouts, where we would sleep in lean-tos with wool blankets covering the opening. One night, we heard a plane landing on the lake, which was pretty cool. What was not cool was when the pilot, a man walked through our camping site. We girls were hoping he would not lift the the blanket corner. Thankfully, our leader and her husband dealt with him. 

During the day, the older girls laid out a marked path for us to practice our orientation skills. I can still remember the pile of rocks and the arrow. I cannot tell you today what the pile of rocks meant. If you know, can you please leave a comment below?

Halloween time:

The weather on Halloween in LP can be comfortable or snowy or just cold, so costumes had to be big to fit over jackets. Mittens were needed sometimes, which made it harder to open our grocery-bag trick-or-treat containers.

A long-time activity in town was a snake dance led by our school band. Dressed in costumes, we would start at the beginning of Main Street (upper left of the picture) and wind our way back-and-forth across the street and end up at the school. One year, the trombone section - Patrick and Jamie - dressed in their grandmother's clothes; I loved my overalls, so I would dress as a farm girl. 

Photo by Nancy DeGarcia, foreign exchange student from Guatemala.
Funny thing: I do not remember what happened afterwards. Hmm.... 

When we got older, we could participate in "Doorbell Ringing Night," which was October 30. Now, I realize how annoying this was to the people whose houses we would ring doorbells or knock on the door, then run and hide to watch them answer the door with no one there. I promise you I did not do this, but the more mischievous kids would shaving cream or soap cars and store windows on Main Street. Some kids t.p.'d trees, too.

Of course, I remember sometimes making costumes for my own children. My oldest was Batman and my middle child was Robin, the Boy Wonder - the youngest was too young that year. Another year, they dressed as He-Man, Skeletor, and Beast Man. Remember that cartoon series?

Yes, this is a personal memory post, but have my fall memories brought any of yours to mind? Please leave a comment below with your favorite fall memories.



Friday, October 16, 2015

October is ADHD Awareness Month and More

Speaking of ADHD... I opened up Blogger to write this post about five hours ago, wanting to include a video I made. Well, I was having a horrible time uploading it, so I went to Facebook to see if anyone could tell me how to do so, started playing a game there after writing the post, cleaned up a lot of my Inbox (290 unread emails down to 127 unread), uploaded my video to YouTube, and watched a Kickstarter video before getting back here. 

I discovered in one of my emails that it is ADHD Awareness Month and thought it was just perfect based on my night, so far.

So, life has been happening between this post and last. My back went "out" on the the 8th, and it is still having fits. I looked up to see what it means after dealing with this for almost 30 years. It struck me that it cannot go "out" anywhere, and I knew, from experience, it was different from slipping a disc. Turns out it is a muscle spasm. Good to know.

Then, several days ago, I began coughing and my chest felt like a cat, not an elephant, was sitting on it. Now I am on an antibiotic for either pneumonia or bronchitis. That is what has kept me away for a few days. 

I have written a few posts here about the #listersgottalist challenges from The Reset Girl - June 7, June 8, August 2, September 30.

Well, I finally ordered one of her Lister's kits. I had not before. Previously, they were named after months, but they were always for sale after the month had started. I wrote to her about it; I am sure others did, too, because she posted a video about changing the names due to the confusion. So, I bought the first one since the change - LGL Kit #5: Fall Fun. (There I go getting distracted again - I started looking at her new items while I was retrieving links for here.)

When the kit came, I made an unboxing video. Now, this is only the second video I have ever made, and it is on my cell phone, so there are problems. I am going to share it here. Be kind if you choose to watch it. 

Here is the link just in case.

The Kickstarter video was for the 2016 Passion Planner. I have written about my 2015 version - May 14, May 17, June 5, July 27. Angelia Trinidad is offering three colors this year - black is the original, and two limited editions - blue and gold. What I like about this year's video is the new philanthropic campaign - for every one purchased, another one will be given away to someone in need. 

I invite you to watch the video: Passion Planner: Get One, Give One. If you decide to buy one, please let them know you were referred by me. For every three that are bought using my name, I earn a free one. In the spirit of the campaign, I will give away any free ones I earn. 

Well, now you are caught up with what has been going on.



P.S. Please shoot me an email or comment below if you 1) can give me some constructive criticism on my video, 2) can help me figure out how to use my webcam, and/or 3) buy a Passion Planner using my name as a referral. Thank you! 

Find me here this week.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

You Want to do WHAT with Your Hair?

When my sons were young, their hair was cut by their aunt, a professional hairdresser. She was moving quite far away, so I watched very carefully while she gave them one last haircut. I became their hair stylist. 

My boys were allowed to decide what they wanted for haircuts. When other parents would say something to me, I would tell them that it was really the only thing they could do whatever they wanted. It would always grow out or could be cut, depending on what they wanted to do with it. 

They had mullets, rat tails, bowl cuts, crew cuts, etc. And they never all wanted the same hair cut. The funny thing is, it would not be long before most of the baseball or soccer teams had the same hair cut. I guess the other parents started thinking the same way I did.

My oldest graduated with ringlets halfway down his back. It took a few years to grow out, but it was perfect for my musician's rock band, Artifice. Now this child never even had baby curls, so it was a surprise when his post-puberty hair turned out to be curly. 

OK, so that is Howard Stern, but we always thought he could play a younger Howard Stern in a movie. By the way, the girls loved Son #1's hair.

When my two younger sons were in high school, they died their hair blue for homecoming. They graduated in 2001 and 2003, so it was more unusual then, and even more unusual in this rural area. 

The youngest of my three had a featured role in a community theater production in early December of his senior year. Play rehearsals started right after Homecoming. The director asked if he was going to dye it back to dark brown for the production. (Asked in the way adults have of saying, "You WILL be doing....") He assured her it would be. 

A few weeks out, she started bugging my stubborn son about dying it. This was a mistake. He had every intention of dying on the following Saturday, but he did not do so because of her nagging.

She asked me a time or two (we were both in the play) about it, and I reassured her it would be his original color before dress rehearsal. Well, it came to the day before dress rehearsal, and his hair was still blue. Mrs. Director was having a conniption, but #3 and I stayed calm. Naturally, it was dark brown for dress rehearsal - it had been dyed after school. 

Well, now I want to dye mine, probably turquoise. I have plenty of time to decide, because I have been growing my normally short hair for the purpose of donating it to Locks of Love.

I donated once before back in 2002. It is very easy to do so, but there has to be a 10"-long braid or ponytail. "Layered hair is acceptable if the longest layer is 10 inches." I measured mine a few days ago, and the longest part is seven inches, so only three more to go.

If you interesting in donating your own or your child's hair, information can be found at:

Just because I could, I went to to try on different hairstyles for after it is cut. I think Penelope Cruz works well for me. What do you think?

Try it out for yourself. 



Friday, October 9, 2015

6 Ways to Use Graph Paper

I love graph paper! Now that it is out in the open, here is why: It has many valuable uses. The first one is traditional and mundane, the second came in handy for me at university, and the rest are more interesting.

1. Geometry and Calculus

In high school, we used graph paper in geometry class, then again in my calculus college class a long time ago. These were all done in pencil. (I have since learned that some people use pen to do math. I make too many mistakes.)

2. Economics

Five years ago, I tried to take Economics at when I was studying to get my MBA. I say "tried," because of the poor job my college economics teacher did. He told us not to buy the textbook - we would not need it. We would be using real life examples, instead. Funny, but my graduate school professor did not agree with him. (The college teacher was an adjunct who was not rehired, by the way.)

I realized before midterms that there was not a way in the world that I would be passing the test, much less the class. I asked to become a two-year student, which was usually only allowed for university employees. Before the next fall, I studied my notes very carefully and took a summer course for non-business majors going into the MBA program. 

And I developed a color-coding system for all the graphs we had to draw. The easiest way to draw graphs is on graph paper, right? I even used graph paper for my notes.

My system helped me to keep everything straight: Supply (S) = red, Demand (D) = blue, etc. I used graph paper for assignments and gave my professor an index card with my color key on it. He said he liked it, because it was easy for him to grade - no guessing at proportions since they were all graphed and ruled. (A little later, he said he wished others would do the same thing.) I passed Economics with a decent grade.

3. Rearranging furniture layouts without the heavy lifting. 

I do not know how she used to do it, but my mother was always rearranging the furniture. And I do not mean just around the room. I would leave for school in the afternoon with Room #1 being the living room and Room #2 being the dining room. When I came home, they would be reversed.  I never knew how the house would be situated from day to day. 

Not me. I plan my layouts ahead of time by measuring furniture pieces and room dimensions, including door openings and window placement. 

I then draw the furniture pieces onto graph paper, labeling them, and then cut them out. I do not have nimble fingers anymore, so the furniture pieces have to be big enough to be manipulated. Four squares to a foot seems to work best for me.  

I draw out the room(s) onto graph paper, also. I will tape  or glue pieces together to make the room layout to the same scale as the furniture. Once I am happy with the layout, I adhere the furniture to the paper.

This is very useful when one is moving residences, especially when using movers. Everyone will know where to put everything even without anyone having to direct them by referring to the chart. 

4. As a regular or bullet journal.

I discovered bullet journaling earlier this year and decided to make mine with graph paper. The squares make it easy to draw lines for monthly layouts, headings, and to keep writing straight.  I bought a blue Miquel Rius at

I adhered a lace and heart sticker I bought at Dollar Tree.

5. Create your own paper

I created this blue ombre graph paper using Excel. I am using mine to make my own bullet lists.

6. Create your own checklists
Blurred for privacy
How many ways can you think of? Let me know your suggestions in the comments below.



P.S. If you would like a copy of the papers, drop me an email:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

365 Questions for 5 Years

Last year at this time, I learned about the 365-Questions 5-Year Journal in a Facebook group I belong to. I followed this link to learn more about it because I am always intrigued by journaling methods. I know I have written about this before, but with the end of one year coming quickly, I thought some of my readers might want to participate starting in January. Posting now gives time to purchase, repurpose, and prepare materials for a January start.

Basically, it is the same 365 questions/prompts answered for five years. The questions were put together by Tami Taylor. Below is the October list.

There are many ways to keep the journal. I have seen examples in notebooks and using index cards - one for each question, so all five years are on an index card. I know others are keeping theirs on a computer, but I do not know whether it is in Word or some other format.

I am using a purple-leather Arc notebook found at Staples. The silver butterflies are clings from Dollar Tree. 

In the nine-plus months, it has received a couple of scuffs; I cannot help but wonder the character the notebook will have at the end of the five years.

The decorations I am using are simple: half of a file folder (laminated and punched), and a booklet of inspirational quote stickers by MAMBI. I am pretty sure I bought the file folder in a pack of three at Walmart. I added coordinating Washi tape before punching the holes to reinforce the edges. 

I write each month and the questions in turquoise pen, then use a different colored pen for each year - blue (2015), purple (2016), green (2017), red (2018), and orange (2019).

I look forward to continue writing each day so I can compare my answers over the five years. I am really curious to see what a gallon of gas will cost over the years. I will admit that I am happy I only have to write out all of the questions once. 

I hope some of you will participate. Please leave me a comment below if you choose to do so or have any questions about my process.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Which Planner Should I Use?

I found this article by following a link from a Facebook group post. I think it is very relevant to my readers and especially like that the author, Ariane Benefit, M.S. Ed, is an ADHD Coach. 

This is reprinted in its entirety as a copy. Ms. Benefit gives permission for her articles to be reprinted on others' blogs, etc.


Source: Amelia Vincent, 2015

Choosing the Right Planner for You


Choosing a planner to help you organize your life can be a daunting task.  Not only are there hundreds of types and styles to choose from, choosing a planner that will work for you is very dependent on your organizing style as well as on your personality and information processing style.

Assess Your Style Needs

Your personality style greatly affects how much time and effort you will put into using your planner.  If you try to use a planner system that doesn’t work with your natural style, more than likely, you won’t use it.   So don’t try to change yourself!   Don’t buy a planner just because it looks good or because you think you “should” be planning your days according to a particular system.  Instead, choose a planner that works WITH your style.  For example,
  • Are you a creative type who likes to be spontaneous?
  • Are you action-oriented and naturally tend to prioritize things?
  • Are you a planning minimalist or do you plan everything?
  • Are you a “hands-on” learner?  (If so, your planner will need to actually feel good in your hands.  You may also be the type who needs to physically write things down to remember them.) 

Your lifestyle and work demands are also important considerations in deciding what kind of planner you need. For example:
  • Do you make a lot of appointments?
  • Do you mainly do project work?
  • Do you need to see your days in great detail?
  • Is a page per week or month enough?
  • Do you need to track a lot of deadlines?

Other factors to consider when choosing the right planner for you include:
  • How mobile does your planner need to be? 
  • Where will you keep it? 
  • Do you need it to fit in a briefcase or purse? 
  • How often do you need to refer to it and update it?
  • Will you be comfortable with it and actually enjoy using it? 
  • Does it seem intuitive to you?
  • How patient and skilled are you with technology?

Decide on Technology or Pen & Paper

Technology is great, but it’s not always the best choice for time management, so don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you if you have tried an electronic system or PDA and not done well with it.  You are not alone! However, if you don’t want to take the risk of losing your calendar, technology does have the advantage of allowing you to back it up.  So if you want the security of a backup, but still want to use paper, you may like using an electronic calendar that you can print out such as Outlook, Google, or Yahoo calendars.

List Your Selection Criteria

Planners can range from free to hundreds of dollars.  To help you choose wisely, create a personal checklist of criteria for selecting your new planner.  Think of features you would build in if you were to design it yourself. For example, your criteria list may include that your planner must:
  • Be simple and intuitive to learn
  • Cost under $50
  • Be easily portable and lightweight
  • Colorful
  • Have a built-in reminder system
  • Have plenty of room to write in each day
  • Have space for my to do list and goals
  • Let me see a week at a time
  • Make easy for me to quickly see my availability, etc.
If you have never used a planner before, start with a simple, inexpensive one to get to know your style better.  If are currently using a planner, make a list of what you like and don’t like about it and add those criteria to your list.  It’s unusual to try several planners before finding the one that is perfect for you.

Popular Calendar Options

Here are a few planner options that I have found work well for myself and for people I work with.

Google CalendarI use my computer a lot so Google Calendar is a great option for me. If gives me the advantage of being able to set up recurring appointments and reminders for events such as birthdays, oil changes and dentist appointments, and I can set up multiple reminders for events to come to me via email.

What I love most about using Google Calendar is that I can access anywhere I go without ever having to synch. As a person with ADD, I find routine tasks excruciating, so I avoid them whenever possible. With Google, I never have to remember to synch my desktop with my laptop or my PDA!

The only sacrifice I made is that the printing options aren't as flexible as Outlook, but I've grown so used to my online calendar that I rarely print it. I don't have to because I can access anywhere that has an internet connection which is just about everywhere these days. !

Microsoft Outlook 
Outlook was a what I used before I switched to using Google Calendar.  But, I also need my calendar to be portable and actually prefer pen & paper for scheduling my time. I love technology but have no patience for inputting things in PDAs!  So, I print out my own calendar using Outlook.  I used Outlook’s flexible Printing Options and created a custom template for my needs.  I chose the one week per page layout with the days in linear columns.  I leave a couple inches of space for notes and reminders at the bottom of the page.  I print out 4 - 5 months at a time and keep it in a thin, lightweight binder so I can take it with me and have pockets to hold papers I need to take with me. What I like about this system is when a page gets messy due to multiple changes, all I have to do is reprint it!

Planner Pads 
Another simple, inexpensive, yet very effective planner system is Planner Pads (  I used them for years before converting to Outlook.  Everyone I know who uses it loves it.  It’s great for people who want a simple, flexible system with a week per 2 pages and lots of room for notes and To Do’s.

Great for moms or anyone who schedules many people, or is currently using multiple planners. It has a grid for tracking 5 separate people or projects every day / week. For example, you can use one of the columns to track family meal plans. (  

© 2007 Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed.

Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed, Coach, Author & Blogger is the founder professional organizers and Coaching and Learning Resources. As a Life, ADHD and Organizing Coach, she specializes in working with creative people, ADD and the chronically disorganized.She guides people in clarifying priorities, gaining insight, setting up systems, and making the difficult decisions needed to conquer clutter, change habits, and take charge of their lives. She is the author of the home office organizing book "Neat & Simple Guide to Organizing Your Office", and the popular organizing and decluttering blogNeat & Simple Living.

Find me here this week!