I Found It!

Woo Hoo!

For years I have searched high and low for the perfect planner, as well as the perfect handbag.  I’ve found the planner, the handbag I’m still on the hunt for. As you can probably tell, I’m huge into organization and these two tools are all about making my life so much easier and, well, organized. Sometimes I’ve gone through several planners in a year, unable to find that perfect fit. This one I’ve invested some time in, making sure it’s what I’m looking for. It is, and so much more than I’d hoped for!

What is it?

The Passion Planner!

One of my writer friends introduced me to it. And let me tell you, this is a writer’s dream for planning, organizing, and even writing. IMG_0493

There are pages to jot down immediate, short-term, and long-term goals and space to explore and expand upon game-changers to make your year the best it can be. At the end of each month are pages to reflect upon the month, in journal format, what you’ve accomplished and several questions to help you make the best of the new month, like:

  • What was the most memorable part of t his past month? Describe it.
  • What or who are you especially grateful for this past month?
  • Name three things you can improve on this upcoming month. What concrete actions can you take to work towards these improvements?

There are questions that make you think about what you want to accomplish, such as:

  • What is the biggest goal you would like to accomplish this year?
  • Who or what motivates you most?
  • Write some words of encouragement for yourself to read during hard times.

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There is space to create your passion roadmap, your passion plan, and tips on how to best make it a success. Each weekly layout contains:

  • This Week’s Focus
  • Good Things That Happened
  • Personal To-Do List
  • Work To-Do List, and
  • Space of Infinite Possibility.

There are motivational quotes throughout. And there are plenty of blank pages in the back for notes, story-ideas, plot planning, or to write whatever your heart desires.

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So I can be reminded of the important things daily, the inside cover of mine includes two special reminders, “Right Here. Right Now,” and “Be Someone You Look Up To.” It also includes my Life Verse (Philippians 4:6-8), and My One Word for 2019 (to be revealed later).

Thrilled with my discovery? I couldn’t be more so! I’ve always enjoyed spending time in December to plan the following year. It gives me time to really think things through instead of making rash, off-the-cuff goals that I can’t (and don’t) follow through with. This planner has just made my planning so much easier and more fun!

Do you spend time planning the upcoming year? What is your best/favorite planning tool?

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. 
― Benjamin Franklin

 

Black Friday

Black Friday

For every person who loves Black Friday, there’s another that dislikes it equally as much. I’m of the latter camp. Shopping and everything that relates to “stuff” is my least favorite part of the Christmas season. I’ll take the lights, the music, the uncomplicated joy of the season well before Thanksgiving–much to my husband’s dismay–but shopping? If I could completely forego it, I would.

REI, one of my favorite stores to browse (it’s the halfway mark of a 30-mile bike ride my husband and I enjoy in permitting weather) closes all of its retail stores on Black Friday so their employees can have the day off to enjoy the outdoors, sharing experiences. Their initiative started the #OptOutside campaign and encouraged others to do the same.

I love this idea!

REI Chief Customer Officer Ben Steele said, “When we started this four years ago, it was that consumerism was spinning out of control, in a frenzy of consumption–I’ve got to have it, I need it, I’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go get it.”

That’s a powerful statement. We spend Thanksgiving grateful for what we have and then get up early the following morning to go buy more.

“Black Friday: Because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Author Unknown

Many stores have even intruded into Thanksgiving evening to get the shopping started, using messages with a sense of urgency to get people in:

  • Limited Time!
  • Today Only!
  • Act Now!
  • Final Close-Out!
  • Deadline!
  • Offer Expires!

I’m not saying Black Friday is all bad. For some people, the sales are what allows them to purchase gifts for Christmas presents. And some people genuinely enjoy the shopping experience with family and friends. Though I have to admit I’m not one of those people. But what saddens me the most is when people go into debt buying “stuff” they don’t need or even want, simply because it’s on sale. When we buy what’s on sale because it’s “on sale,” we’re not saving money, we’re spending it. Too many times Black Friday leads to Red Saturday with people going into debt.

That being said, the Black Friday scrooge that I may be, sincerely wish everyone a Christmas season filled with family and friends, good health, peace, and experiences that bring you joy.

PeaceJoy

 

Holiday Spirit

Last weekend I participated in the Harvest Craft Fair in my hometown. I look forward to it months in advance and am usually a bit bummed when it’s over. Anticipation hangover. The craft fair signals the start of the holiday season with lights, music, and community. My favorite parts of the holidays.

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Each year I have one or two new books to add to my table. If I stay the course I’ll need to add another table. 🙂 The turnout, both vendors and shoppers/browsers, was the largest yet.

The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.
~ Terri Marshall

The rest of my week, and the weeks to come, are more centered around these books:

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For most people, it would be frightening to see these books on someone’s shelves. For mystery writers they couldn’t be more normal. And helpful!

And with that, short and sweet as it was, I’m headed back over to Birch Haven, Minnesota, the home of Melanie Hogan, to finish up NaNoWriMo strong.

Until next week…

Carpe Diem

Vacation in Birch Haven

Birch Haven, MN

I’ve been spending November in Birch Haven, MN. And it’s in the dead of winter there. Never heard of Birch Haven? There’s a very good reason for that.

It’s fictional.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where literally millions of people commit to writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. I’m happy to say I’m on track with writing book five in the Melanie Hogan Mysteries, Shear Fear. In fact, I’m a wee bit ahead so I’ve got some breathing room. Whew!

One of the best parts of writing a novel? You get to create any setting you want and spend all the time you want there. It’s truly magical. You get to create characters you like, people you don’t mind spending all of your free time with, protagonist, antagonist, and supporting cast, and they become your friends. That probably sounds a bit crazy to non-writers, but to all of you writers out there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

And with that, short and sweet as it was, I have to hurry back to Birch Haven before the portal closes to see what Melanie and her friends will get into next.

See you next week, with thousands more words under my belt.

Write On

Bye Week

No post this Wednesday due to keeping an eye on the election results and keeping extremely busy with NaNoWriMo. Back next week. Until then…Happy writing to all of the NaNo participants out there. Write on!

NaNoWriMo

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Writer’s Joy

Happy November!

November is shaping up to be a busy month in my writing life. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. There’s something about fall (and November is still fall, although late stages) and the  holidays that follow, that brings renewed energy and enthusiasm. And when anything having to do with writing gets thrown in the mix…well, it’s the perfect recipe.

For me the moral of the story is this: A rough draft is best written in the steam-cooker of an already busy life.  Chris Baty, Founder of National Novel Writing Month.

I’ve decided in the 11th hour to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Since I discovered Camp NaNoWriMo a few years ago and fell in love with it, I let NaNoWriMo fall to the wayside. Until this year. The differences between the two?

Camp NaNoWriMo: Takes place in April and July; campers are in virtual cabins with people who cheer each other on; we have virtual bonfires, s’mores, and all things camping; campers set their own goals, whether it’s word count, page count, hours/minutes; and there’s the opportunity to choose what to write–a new project, short stories, poetry, revisions on an already-written piece, etc. It’s flexible, a bit more relaxed, and so much fun!

NaNoWriMo: Takes place in November when the weather usually isn’t quite as nice so it allows for more writing time, not to mention the holiday weekends giving those of us with day jobs a couple of extra days off; the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days so one’s social life is pretty much put on hold for the month; the project? A new novel. Not one that’s already started, but a fresh, new novel waiting to be written, and will be written (at least the first 50,000 words of it) by November 30th at midnight. NaNoWriMo is much more intense than Camp, but the level of enthusiasm from the thousands and thousands of participants around the world, is infectious. The extra time spent in my home office–one of my favorite places to be, the sense of community, and the feeling of success, whether you’ve reached the 50,000 word goal or not, is an experience you’ll never regret. So this year, it’s on! I’ll be creating the first draft of book five, Shear Fear, in my Melanie Hogan Mystery Series.

The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline.  Chris Baty, Founder of National Novel Writing Month

In addition to NaNoWriMo, the audio book of Shear Madness, book one in the Melanie Hogan Mysteries will be released. I’ve finally gotten on the audio book train. Better late than never. And I really enjoy my narrator with ACX, Shelby Forbes. Shear Deception and Shear Malice will be soon to follow. Book four, Shear Murder, is due back from my copy editor any day with a release soon to follow.

Happy

And last, but not least, is the Harvest Fellowship Church Craft Fair on Saturday, November 17th. I participate in it each year, usually do pretty well, but more importantly have fantastic time with all of the vendors and the buyers. It’s a time to get in the holiday spirit, begin my Christmas shopping by supporting local businesses (in between people shopping at my booth), and to just have fun.

What does your November bring?

Annnndddd…Have a happy and SAFE Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

 

What is Minimalism–Really?

The Things You Own

The past couple of years have brought with it a desire to live fully by minimizing not only my possessions, but other areas of my life as well. With that desire came the discovery of The Minimalists. I’ve listened to numerous podcasts and read articles galore and always come out on the other side with a better, deeper understanding of life, happiness and contentment, these leading to a better life.

I’ve learned that minimalism isn’t about depriving oneself of any “thing” or it’s not about getting rid of everything except one utensil, one pair of pants, one shirt, one book…you get the idea. It’s not even about buying the cheapest of something or spending a minimal amount of money. It’s about only buying–or doing–what adds value to yours or someone else’s life. Minimalism keeps me aware of what I’m buying and why I’m buying it; what I’m doing and why I’m doing it; who I’m spending my time with and why.

For me, minimalism has never been about deprivation. Rather, minimalism is about getting rid of life’s excess in favor of the essential.
― Joshua Fields Millburn, A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

New things are always fun, but will it still be fun and add value to your life once the newness wears off? It’s not wrong to buy that new dress, that new car, or even that ATV, just know why you’re buying it. If the reason for the purchase is because so-and-so has one or because you want to look good, there are deeper questions to ask yourself. Such as:

  • Why does it take a new dress (or whatever the purchase would be for you) to make you feel better about yourself? Maybe some time for self-reflection would be a better option.
  • A week from now, a month, or even a year, whatever length of time it takes for the newness to wear off, will the item still add value to your life or just become another useless item on the shelf?

By cutting out the things that don’t add value to your life, you’re making room for those things that do, whether it’s “things,” people, time, etc.

Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. Rather, we focus on making room for more, more, more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment—and more freedom. It just so happens that clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.
― Joshua Fields Millburn, Minimalism: Essential Essays

One of the men from The Minimalists team packed up all of his things into boxes and for the next several months only unpacked those items he needed for that day. Only a small percentage of things were unpacked at the end of those months. Take some time to ponder what you really use–what things, friendships, activities, etc, you have/do that truly add to your life rather than take away from that which does add value. Take some time to explore minimalism and see what it looks like for you. I believe it looks different for everyone.

Minimalism