Tag Archives: volt planner

It’s Giveaway Time! (or I Want You To Have An Amazing 2018!)

If you’re been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love my planner from Ink+Volt! This is the 3rd year I’ve used a Volt Planner and I find it really helps me with my goal setting on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I have accomplished more in the past few years than I ever had and I know that it’s all because of the planner. I love setting aside time to work on my goals and reflecting on where I succeeded and failed because it allows me to keep working toward what I want and I am able to process it and move on. I don’t necessarily dwell on when I don’t accomplish something because I know there is another week to set that goal and hopefully I will be able to reach it then.

Well, all my posting about the planner got the attention of the team at Ink+Volt and I’m so excited to share with you all that they let me know they found an extra 2018 planner that I get to give to one lucky reader!

I am so excited that one of you will get to use a planner to make your 2018 as incredible as it can be! I have seen the proof of what can be done by following this planner and I’m always looking at more ways that I can maximize what I do with it. For some inspiration, Ink+Volt has some great guides on their website. They also have a blog and one of my favorite posts on it is all about ideas for the monthly challenges. I have that page saved because I know that from time to time I need inspiration on what I want my challenge to be (I’m already working on ideas for my challenges for the rest of the year). I really view the monthly challenges as the bonus challenges for me because they are separate from the goals I set each month and week. So I stretch myself with these challenges and I am always surprising myself in what I am able to do and what habits I can create just from doing one month of a challenge.

And while this planner is dated for 2018, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are missing out. Every week there are prompts to help inspire, encourage, and challenge you. You will have all the weekly prompts for the entire year and you can use them as soon as you win the giveaway! I bet working on one extra prompt a week would be amazing for self-discovery and reflection on the year so far!

There are so many things you can do with this planner. You can use it like a normal planner and use it for your appointments. You can just do the goal setting sections and leave the calendar blank or for drawing random doodles. You can turn the weekly calendar into something unique for yourself (I use mine for my daily gratitude lists). The possibilities are endless and I love that this planner allows you the freedom to decide what the best way for you to use it will be! And I’m always trying new things out and seeing what connects with me at that time. My planner changes throughout the year because my needs and wants change and this accommodates that so nicely!

This giveaway is open to readers in the US only (sorry international readers!). There a lots of entry options, but there are 3 that you are required to do in order to be in the giveaway. You must comment on this post, you must follow me on Instagram, and you must follow Ink+Volt on Instagram. You also have options for extra entries by tweeting about it each day! The giveaway ends on the 28th and I will be using random.org to select a winner from the qualified entries. I will be emailing the winner within 48 hours of the giveaway ending to get your address and I will mail your planner to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I cannot wait for one of you to win this! I’m not exaggerating when I say this planner changed my life! I have become so much better in realizing what I am able to do and I have achieved so much just by making a plan for my goals and taking the steps needed to get there.

Sorry Not Sorry (or Another Abstract Monthly Challenge)

It’s only the second month of the year, but I’m already sensing a theme with my monthly challenges. And it’s a different turn with the challenges than I was expecting.

Last month, my challenge was to allow myself to be more selfish. It seemed like an odd challenge for me, but I tried to go into the idea with an open mind and see what happened. And I’m so glad that I did it because I realized that it was exactly what I needed to do. I was still friendly and helpful, but when there were circumstances that I could choose to do what I wanted or do something I didn’t because someone asked, I gave myself the freedom to pick what I wanted. Being selfish does have negative connotations, but to me this wasn’t about necessarily putting others last at all times. It was about letting myself be first from time to time when I knew deep down that it was the best choice for me.

There weren’t a ton of things that I was selfish about, but I did have some things where I debated putting someone else first over what I really felt was right. A good example was a date I had this past month. It was a perfectly fine date. He was nice, pretty cute, and we did have some things in common. But there was no chemistry there and I really felt like he wasn’t feeling a connection either. In the past, I would give him another chance and see if something could happen. And I even told a friend that was my plan. But he reminded me that if I didn’t feel anything I wasn’t obligated to see him again. I needed that reminder and I texted the date to tell him that while I had a nice time with him I didn’t feel the connection. And it felt like there was pressure taken off of me because I said what I wanted to. This guy might have wanted a second date, but why should I spend the time with someone I don’t care to see again? I have a feeling I’m going to keep working on this and finding when I can put myself first to make myself happier.

The idea of being selfish was a bit of an abstract one. There isn’t a great way to mark whether or not I was allowing myself to be selfish that day. When I had challenges like doing a lesson from an educational app or reading recovery books, I could easily say that I did it. I wasn’t selfish every day and that wasn’t the idea of the challenge. But the idea to remind myself that I had the option to do so was more of what I was tracking. I was surprised how much I liked having an abstract challenge. I usually love having ways to prove I accomplished something. But there was also a sense of freedom that a challenge didn’t require me to do it every day. So continuing on that theme, I came up with another abstract challenge for this month.

This month, I challenge myself to stop saying “I’m sorry” when I don’t need to. Women apologize all the time for things that don’t need to have an apology. If someone forgot to do something they told me they would do, I tend to apologize asking for it to be completed. That isn’t something I should feel sorry for. But I apologize because I feel bad that I am pestering them. I apologize for things that are other people’s fault. I apologize when maybe I should say “excuse me” instead because I am asking permission rather than apologizing after the fact.

This is a habit that I’ve been called out on in the past (mainly by male friends who don’t understand why I’m apologizing for something) and it’s been a tough habit to break. I don’t know when I started doing this all the time, but I know it’s been pretty much my entire adult life. It may be a self-esteem issue, I’m not sure. I do know that it does sometimes come out of embarrassment or wanting to not feel like I am bossy or demanding. But I also know that being bossy and demanding aren’t necessarily bad things. Sometimes those attitudes are needed and there isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t feel that way.

Just like my selfish challenge, I know that this one isn’t really just for this month. This is something that I want to work on for the long-term because I know I need to. But for this month at least, it will be a focus of mine and I’m going to work on how to fix this and be more aware of when it happens. And hopefully by the end of the month, I will at least have some answers about how to continue to work on this for the coming months.

First Monthly Challenge Of 2018 (or Time To Be A Bit Selfish)

With the new year I’ve also got a new Volt Planner! They did some minor redesign work on the planner and I love how it looks! It’s so clean with lots of room to write things and decorate. But the redesign didn’t change a lot of the important stuff like the monthly challenges. So since it’s the beginning of a month it’s time for a new monthly challenge!

First, a quick recap on December’s challenge. I set that challenge to be to work on my handwriting. And for the first half of the month, that went really well! I got some new nice pens to use and found lots of free printable handwriting guides to use. I think my handwriting did get a bit better and I learned some new style ideas with writing. But for the second half of the month, I just didn’t work on it. There wasn’t really a good reason, I just didn’t. But I still worked on making my handwriting nice when I was writing anything. So I still want to work on this and I know I will. But I don’t know if it will be something I work on every day.

For my first challenge of this year, I really wanted to think about something that connected to my goals for the year and word of the year. I kept coming back to an idea for a challenge but then rejected it because it didn’t seem right. I felt a bit embarrassed that it would be my challenge and wouldn’t want to share it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this should be my challenge. I shouldn’t be fearful about what others think and that’s kind of exactly what this month’s challenge is all about.

This month, my challenge is to allow myself to be a bit selfish.

I know this sounds a bit weird, but I’ll explain myself. This does not mean that I’m only going to think of myself. I’m still going to consider others and be selfless more often than not. But I’m not going to be scared to be selfish and do what I know is the best thing for me even if someone else thinks that something else is better for me.

A perfect example of this was this past weekend. My brother and sister-in-law were going to be in LA visiting friends and wanted to know if I wanted to meet them for lunch. I of course said yes and was very excited to see them. But the day I was supposed to meet them, I was dealing with horrible nausea and pain because of my hormones. This was the worst I had ever felt and none of the medications I have were taking the edge off. But I was thinking I should still go to lunch because I told them that I would and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat and I would probably be in a lot of pain, but somehow I was more worried about bailing on plans than my health.

But then I realized how crazy that sounded. My brother and sister-in-law would totally understand if I couldn’t see them. It would have been so much better for me to stay home and try to take care of myself than to push myself and maybe make things worse for me. It felt like a selfish choice because I was putting myself first, but I knew I needed to do it. And it was fine. I texted them to let them know what was happening, they totally understood, and we figured we’d see each other another time. It wasn’t a big deal at all and they weren’t mad or upset with me. It’s silly how worried I was about it when it was fine.

After that, I realized that allowing myself to be a bit selfish is exactly what I need to challenge myself to do. I am very much a people pleaser and sometimes I do that to the point that it makes me unhappy. I want to focus on my happiness and sometimes that does mean being a bit selfish. If someone invites me to a party and I really feel like staying home, then I should stay home instead of going to a party and being miserable. If I want to prioritize myself, then I shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

It seems so weird to make being selfish a challenge for the month, but at the same time it seems so perfect. There really isn’t a good way for me to judge if I’m successful in this challenge or not compared to some challenges in the past, but I think that I just want to give myself permission to be selfish and not feel bad about it. I know that if I’m selfish and feel bad that I can think about it and realize that most likely I’m not hurting anyone with my decision. And taking away that guilty feeling would be the biggest win in this challenge that I can think of.

Monthly Challenge Update Time (or One More For 2017)

It’s the start of a new month so that means it’s the end of one monthly challenge and the beginning of another. And this time, it’s the last monthly challenge of the year for me! But before I share that challenge, I’ll recap my November challenge.

I had the challenge to work on mindfulness again. It’s a challenge I’ve struggled with several times in the past, but I really want to keep on working on it. So I decided to work on taking notes on the books that I’ve been reading that are about mindfulness. I figured taking notes and having more action steps instead of just ideas would be helpful.

I did take notes on one book, but then when I started another book I found that there were printable things that I could download and use. That was very helpful! There are checklists and guidelines to use and I’ve started to work on them. I think that the more I work with them the better I’ll get at using those skills. And hopefully the better I get at those skills the more I will be working toward recovery.

I’m feeling really hopeful about this now and I think that this was the right way to look at working on mindfulness. I can’t guarantee that this will work this time as it’s been a struggle every other time. But I feel much better than I have in the past and I feel like there are ways that I can keep working on these skills beyond the month which is nice.

So for my last challenge of the year, I was thinking about something fun that I wanted to work on. There were a couple of ideas, but I ended up settling on one that I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. I’ve decided that I want to challenge myself to improve my handwriting.

I use my computer (or phone or tablet) a lot, but I do handwrite things from time to time. I handwrite thank you notes, birthday cards, and things in my Volt Planner. And my handwriting is pretty horrible. It’s always been bad. I blame being raised by a doctor and a nurse (so I have doctor handwriting). My writing wasn’t total chicken scratch, but it’s not that nice. So working on my handwriting ¬†would be a good challenge for me.

I’ve mixed the idea of working on my handwriting and learning some basic calligraphy skills. I’ve found some things about brush calligraphy which doesn’t require a calligraphy pen (which I’ve tried using before and never liked). And there are lots of free worksheets I’ve downloaded to start working on handwriting and calligraphy. I don’t know what the plan is as far as how much I want to do every day, but the goal is to do a little bit every day.

Even if I totally fail at calligraphy, I think working on handwriting and taking my time working on this will help make my normal handwriting nicer looking. I’ve always wanted to be someone who had pretty handwriting because it always seems like such a nice touch when I do send cards to people. And I would like it if I knew when I send cards that I don’t have to worry about people being able to read them.

This is a pretty good month to work on this skill because soon I’ll sending out holiday cards to my friends. I won’t have to do a ton of writing on them, but I do like to personalize them a bit and I want them to look as nice as possible. So hopefully by the time that I start working on them (which is going to be pretty soon) I’ll have some skills I can use to make them look better than it would have looked if I hadn’t worked on my handwriting.

This should be a fun monthly challenge to end the year on, but I’m already thinking about next year. I already ordered my planner for 2018 and I’ve been thinking about my big goals for the year and what challenges I want to take on. Hopefully I figure out some good ones and I can make next year’s challenges just as good or even better than this year’s!

Another Attempt At Mindfulness (or I Think I Need To Work On This Until I Figure It Out)

I’ve tried to work on mindfulness multiple times and it has never seemed to stick with me. But it keeps coming up in my life and I feel like that is a sign of something. So I’ve been inspired to try mindfulness again and the timing is perfect since it’s time for another monthly challenge! But first, time to recap last month’s challenge.

Last month, I challenged myself to work on doing daily speed cleaning. Ideally, I would spend 5-10 minutes a month focused on a small space in my house to clean and organize it. I wanted to do this because I had felt like my cleaning was getting overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start. So I wanted to take away the pressure from doing a big cleaning in my house because that seemed to be what was stopping me. I set an alarm to work on this each day and I tried my best to do what I could.

I wasn’t totally successful with this, but it went better than I thought it would. There were several days that I couldn’t do cleaning because either I was gone all day (like during the Convention) or I had no energy because I was sick. But when things like that weren’t stopping me, I really did accomplish a lot. And by telling myself I only had to do one small cleaning thing allowed me to just do it and not worry about not having time to finish it. There were some times that I did a really small cleaning job like using a new multi-hook hanger to put all my tank tops in one spot (it also saves room in my closet). And then there were other times where my small cleaning job ended up getting me motivated to do a bigger cleaning job. But it has gotten me into the habit of spending a bit of time every day working on this so that I don’t feel overwhelmed again.

Last month went well and I’m really hoping this month will too. Mindfulness has been a struggle for me each time I’ve tried to work on it. I’ve found little things that have worked, but they aren’t enough. I want to be more aware of so much in my life. This isn’t just a food thing because there are days where it seems like the entire day slipped away without me knowing what happened. I want to avoid days in a fog like that if possible.

The book that I’m reading as my 10 pages of a recovery based book right now is all about eating mindfully. I actually wish I had read this book when I first started trying to be more mindful because it’s pretty great. Each section has a lesson along with some action steps to take. And so many of these action steps are things that I haven’t done before or thought of doing before. I actually think I need to go back and start reading from the beginning to take notes on things because I haven’t been doing that. And that is part of my challenge for this month.

I want to go through the book again and other resources I can find and start finding action steps to take to work toward mindfulness. Maybe the reason why it has failed to stick with me before is because mindfulness is more of an idea and less of something I can do. If I had steps to take and work with, that would probably be better for me. I need something tangible or to check off on a list to work with and I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this before.

This month’s challenge won’t necessarily be about putting mindfulness into practice right away. I’ve tried that a bunch and it hasn’t worked. But instead, this challenge is going to be about researching action steps and ideas to put into use over time. I want to devote time every day to re-reading the book I’ve been reading as well as looking online or in other reference books to make a list that I can use moving forward. I want to make mindfulness work for me and it’s not something that I can just turn on right away. I need to work toward it and I have failed at doing that before. Because other challenges have come to me so easily, I assumed that this one would too. But I am learning and have realized what I hope will be the missing step to be able to implement this into my life in the long-term.

I know that this seems like a much more passive monthly challenge than others have been, but this is what I think I need to focus on this month. And there are only so many things I can add to my life with these monthly challenges, so having one that is more of a reflective thing is probably going to help me not get burned out on them. And I totally don’t want to experience burn out because I just got my 2018 Volt Planner so there will be another year of monthly challenges next year!

Another Monthly Challenge (or What To Do When You Are Crazy Busy)

The beginning of a new month is always exciting for me. But it’s been even more exciting since I started using my Volt Planner last year because it means it’s the beginning for a new monthly challenge! It can be a struggle sometimes to think of a new challenge each month, but once I pick one I really get into it. And knowing that I’ll be doing that again each month is something I look forward to.

Last month, my challenge was to tweet more. Specifically I wanted to tweet more about SAG-AFTRA and union related issues. My role as a SAG-AFTRA delegate is officially just as the convention (which is this week), but I don’t want the end of the convention to be the end of my involvement. And while being on social media isn’t the most active thing, I figure that every little bit helps. And I also got a lot out of doing this because every day I was reviewing tweets that might be ones I wanted to share. So I was learning more every time I reviewed them. I feel so much more educated about union issues (and not just actor union issues) than I ever have.

This month, I struggled a bit with picking something to set as my challenge but it wasn’t for the usual reason. I have a couple of things I want to do, but this month is going to be very crazy for me. I’ve got the SAG-AFTRA convention, lots of doctor appointments, work, podcast stuff, some projects I’m working on, and then trying to have a social life. I know that I will be a bit stressed and I didn’t want to pick something that might add more stress to my life. I’ve picked some challenges that have done that in the past, and it can work when the month isn’t going to be stressful. But I know October will be crazy. I’ve been telling people my life won’t be normal again until after the 16th because that’s when I seem to finally have free time in my calendar.

But there has been one thing that I’ve had on my monthly and weekly planning sheets in my planner that I don’t see to ever get around to. I really need to clean my desk and my closet. I probably need to work on my entire house, but I really see how packed my desk and closet are and I know I don’t need everything I have. I also keep bringing more things in without removing stuff so it gets more and more cluttered. But when I look at it it seems so overwhelming.

So I’ve set my monthly challenge for October to do speed cleaning/organizing every day. I have an alarm set and I want to do maybe 5-10 minutes every day. The idea is that I’d focus on one thing each day. For example, with my clothes I’d look at tops one day and dresses another. I don’t need to look at my closet as a whole since that has been what is looking like too much of a project. With my desk, I might break it down my the drawers or by category but I’m not sure yet. And there are so many other areas in my house that I could organize by breaking it down into chunks like this.

I had read “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” a while ago, and while I don’t agree with everything in the book there are some really good points. I only want to have things in my home that make me happy and bring me joy. My definition of those things are a bit different from what the book talks about, but the general idea is the same. There are things in my closet that I look at and get annoyed about because it doesn’t fit anymore (either too big or too small), it doesn’t fit right, or it just is something I never can figure out when I should wear it. I don’t need that taking up space in the tiny closet I have.

But besides decluttering, I just want to have a clean house that makes me happy. It’s never too dirty, but there are times that I have to spend a good amount of time cleaning every room before I have company over. I know that nobody cares if my house is a little messy, but I do. And if I worked on 5-10 minutes of cleaning a day (either by cleaning one room or doing one type of cleaning like vacuuming or dusting), it shouldn’t get too overwhelming before I have company over.

I know that even 5-10 minutes of cleaning might be a bit tough for me to do on the craziest days I have coming up this month, but that’s ok. I understand now that I don’t have to be perfect every single day but instead I want to get into the habit so that it becomes something I don’t even have to think about each day. It would be nice to know that I have a clean house pretty much all the time and not a semi-clean house most of the time and a super clean house occasionally.

Working On Priorities (or Adding And Taking Away)

Happy September! The beginning of a month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning to another. And this time, my monthly challenges are related to each other. When I started doing monthly challenges, they were such huge things. Now, I’m getting to where I’ve made a lot of major changes and now I’m focusing on the small things. Sometimes it’s tough for me to remember that small changes can matter as much as big ones, but I’m glad I’m able to focus on changing things in my life even when it’s on such a small scale.

My monthly challenge in August was to work on seeing what things I’m doing every day that isn’t making me happy anymore. This was a tough challenge to decide to do because I don’t like being a quitter and not doing something anymore makes me feel like I gave up on myself. But it was getting to a point in my life where I was looking at my daily reminders and it was stressing me out too much. And it’s not benefitting me if doing those things every day was causing me stress.

I tried to be as nonjudgmental as possible this past month to see what I wanted to keep and what I felt ok not doing anymore. And it came down to 3 things that I felt ok taking off my daily reminders. The first thing I got rid of was my daily reminder to weigh myself. I used to get some peace out of weighing myself every day and being able to track how fluctuations happen. But that stopped being a good thing after I stopped taking birth control pills. I now have weight fluctuations due to my hormones and I haven’t gotten my mind to catch up with that idea yet. And until that happens, I don’t want to feel guilty for not weighing myself every day. I do still weigh myself most days, but I don’t feel like I need a reminder to do it anymore.

The next one that I got rid of was a reminder to do yoga every day. I haven’t done this is a while and I had the reminder on my phone. It was making me feel bad that I didn’t do it because I know I should get back into it. But my schedule and life have been hectic lately and it comes down to not wanting to feel guilty about not doing it. So it is off my schedule now and maybe in the future I will put it back on. But I might change it to be from a daily reminder to something I remind myself to do a few times a week.

The last one I took off of my reminders it to be mindful before eating, specifically mindfulness before dinner. I have more recently added to take breathing breaks to my schedule. I put those on my reminders at the times that are usually the most difficult for me. Having those as a part of my daily reminders (and I do take those breathing breaks and they do tend to help) has made the mindfulness before dinner reminder not something as important to me.

While I spent this past month taking things off of my schedule, this month I’m focusing on adding something to my schedule. I’ve talked about wanting to be more active in SAGAFTRA several times in the past. And that’s what my challenge for September is going to be about. While I can’t control when meetings, mixers, or events happen; I can still stay active every day as a union member.

I thought about what ways I could be involved every day and there were a few ideas that came to me. But I want to start small while I figure out what the best option will be for me. So the idea that I came up with is sending out at least one tweet every day that is union related. That could be something like news, a victory the union has won, or something that is relevant for SAG-AFTRA members to know about. I have a feeling that most of the time I will be retweeting something I see, but that’s ok. The important thing is that I want to be putting out a positive message for SAG-AFTRA members (and all union members) every day.

I might use Hootsuite to schedule tweets to do this, but since things can change so quickly and the news cycle is not as long as it used to be I might just have to be more active on twitter in general to see what I want to share. This isn’t a bad thing for me since I have wanted to be more involved with twitter and not just be passive reading other people’s tweets. I want to be a good messenger and I think doing union related tweets daily will be a great way for me to do that.

My August Challenge (or Being Selfish To Be Happy)

Another month is here! I can’t believe July is over and it’s already my birthday month! And as always, a new month brings the recap of my last month’s challenge and announcing what my challenge will be this month.

Last month, I wanted to work on practicing more mindful breathing. More specifically, I set a reminder to work on breathing and staying calm at 2 of the times that I commonly feel like I want to binge eat. This was a challenge idea I got from therapy and I was curious to see how it would go for me. Doing things like this have been tough for me in the past because I get super focused and forget to do it. Or I get distracted by something else and forget. But having a reminder on my phone does help since I have to dismiss it to make it go away.

While I didn’t always do the 10 slow breaths that I planned on doing, this still was a successful challenge to me. If I was feeling like I wanted to binge, this alarm stopped me and made me think. It didn’t always stop it, but at least I was not in the trance that I’m used to being in when having an episode. I was more aware and even if I didn’t always make the right choice I knew it was my choice. Because this gave me so much more awareness, I will be doing this beyond just last month’s challenge. I think that the benefits will continue each month that I do it and it is a helpful thing for me to have.

But doing challenges beyond the month that they are for brings me to this month’s challenge. I really struggled to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve added so much to my days between my happiness checklist and all the monthly challenges that I’ve continued to do. I’ve continued almost all the monthly challenges beyond the month that I did them for and that’s a lot of stuff for me to remember to do.

So this month’s challenge isn’t necessarily something I will be doing every day but instead something that I want to have as a focus for the month in general. I want to focus on figuring out what makes me happy and what I want to continue to do. I have to do so much out of obligation or responsibility and I want to make sure all the stuff I add to my life are for fun and not because I feel like I have to because I’ve been doing that for a while.

On my happiness checklist, most things are things that I want to keep on there. They do make me happy and when I haven’t done something for a while I’m reminded to do so. But the ones I’m thinking about taking off are the ones that I do every day and I don’t have to focus on doing. This mainly is about reading and eating disorder recovery research every day. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t read at least a little bit. I read every single night before bed and I read a lot in my down time too. And I do recovery research every day because I read 10 pages of a recovery book every day. While these things make me happy, I think maybe I should add 2 other things to my list that I don’t do every day so I can challenge myself to keep focusing on my happiness.

And with my monthly challenges, most of the time I want to continue doing them when the month is over. But I’ve been noticing that some things are either stressing me out or I’m not doing them. I need to start removing those reminders from my phone so they don’t remind me that I’m not doing something. It can make me mad when I get a reminder to do something that I know I won’t do. But my idea of wanting to try to be perfect has prevented me from just deleting those reminders. I’m going to go through them this month and figure out what I want to keep, what I want to delete, and what I might want to add.

And when I’m figuring out what I want to edit and add, I have to work on being very honest with myself and not worrying about not being perfect or caring what other people think. That’s not easy for me, but that’s why this is a good challenge for me. It’s my birthday month and I want to make this an amazing month! And I think focusing on exactly what makes me happy is the perfect way to make the month the best it can be!

A New/Old Challenge (or Using An Idea From Therapy This Month)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another. Although technically my last monthly challenge is still going.

I set it to be my challenge last month to track all spending including cash. This is something that I’m doing for the 12 week journey for The Prosperous Heart. I had already started the tracking before the beginning of June, but I wanted to work really hard at it during the month. We are about halfway through the book’s plan so even though my monthly challenge has ended for it I’m still going to be tracking for another 6 weeks. It’s usually pretty easy for me to do my tracking since I do that for all credit card spending. But to remember to track cash was a bit tougher.

Most of the time with cash spending, I’m just keeping my receipts in my wallet and then writing them down later. But I’ve realized that I don’t always get receipts or I throw them out because of habit. I’ve been making a big effort to remember every time I get my wallet out to spend money. If I don’t get a receipt, I text what I spent to myself so I have it in my phone for when I get home to write it down. It took about a week to get used to it, but I’m now remembering to track everything including putting quarters in a meter or giving a friend money to pay for parking. I don’t know if I’ll keep up this cash tracking after I’m done with The Prosperous Heart, but it is good now for me to be hyperaware of all my spending.

When it came to my challenge for July, I was stumped for a while on what I wanted it to be. It’s not that I’m feeling unmotivated, it’s just that I don’t know what else I want to change in my life. The things I want to change are all big things and not right for a monthly challenge just yet. But as it seems each time, I got inspired just before the month started on what I wanted my challenge to be.

When I saw my therapist, a lot of what we discussed was me becoming even more mindful in life. I can be on autopilot at times and that is not a safe place for me to be. I need to stay aware and it’s not easy to remember that if I’m daydreaming or off thinking about something. I have that problem with a lot of things in my life, and what keeps me on track is to set alarms and reminders on my phone. I have so many reminders on my phone throughout the day that sometimes it’s laughable. But it really has helped me stay on track.

One of the ways my therapist has told me I can work on being more mindful is to work on my breathing. I was telling him that at times I can almost zone out while running and he said that it’s because of the rhythmic breathing. That’s the basis of meditation. So by working on more mindful breathing, I can get into that meditative state and hopefully be more mindful while doing it.

This challenge is very similar to the mindfulness one that I did last year. But it is good to repeat monthly challenges especially when I have new tools or ideas that can make that challenge better. I did pick up some ideas from my therapist that might work to make this mindfulness thing stick for me. I also have a new motivation because I have experienced this mindfulness/meditative state in other times in my day and just didn’t have the words to connect that that’s what I was doing. Now that I’m more aware of what it feels like when I get into that state, I think it will be easier to get into it when I try.

I’m doing a similar thing to my other challenges by setting a reminder for myself for this. This time, I picked a few times that I know can be tough for me and set a reminder to take a breathing break. My goal is to take that time and take about 10 rhythmic breaths to recenter myself and hopefully get myself more focused and aware of what I’m doing and what I want to do. I’m aware that this won’t stop me from binging, but that’s not the goal my therapist has for me. He wants me to be aware of when I am binging and accept that is what I am doing. If I’m going to do it, it has to be because I chose to do so and not that I’m unaware that I’m doing so.

I don’t know if this awareness will come within this month. It’s actually probably pretty unlikely that it will happen that quickly. But even if it makes some of my binges aware instead of feeling like I’m in a trance, I will consider that a huge step in the right direction for me. And I know that this challenge isn’t really just for this month. This challenge starts this month but it will likely be something that I will have to try to do for years if not the rest of my life. I want to work on mindfulness and I’ve tried to do it before, but this time feels different and I hope that the results are different too.

Another Monthly Challenge Down (or The Prosperous Heart)

A new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the start to a new one! I’ll admit that last month’s challenge was much more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I got through it.

I originally wanted to do the plank challenge to help connect myself to my body again. It’s been weird feeling so disconnected and I had high hopes that this would help bring things back to normal. And this challenge didn’t do that at all. Sometimes, it almost made things worse because I was comparing myself to how I could do planks 10 years ago and the lack of core strength that I have now.

But even with this challenge not doing that, I finally do feel more connected to my body again. It had nothing to do with the challenge, but through just getting back to life I feel more like me again. I think I needed this challenge to force me to work on connecting with my body again, it just wasn’t the thing that did it. But having something push me to work on it was good. I might try another one of the fitness challenges in the app, but I’m not as concerned about doing them as I was before. But I’m glad that I tried and that I made it through.

And for this month’s challenge, I’m actually going to do something that I started earlier this week. The membership of the Inside Acting Podcast has done some fun book club type things this year. At the beginning of the year we did the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’m glad that I did it with the support of the membership because I’ve never been able to complete the entire 12 week journey before on my own. I didn’t love the entire process, but I learned a lot and I’m seeing changes in my life because of it.

And this past Sunday, we started our next book within the podcast membership. This time, we are doing another book by Julia Cameron, “The Prosperous Heart”.

There are a lot of the same concepts in both books, including the Morning Pages. I didn’t enjoy the Morning Pages before and I’m not going to stress myself out doing them this time. But this book is much more focused on money and financial things.

I’ve been tracking my budget for a while now using YNAB. Using a budgeting app has been really great for me. Even though I’m still struggling a bit financially, I feel much more in control of things and understand how to pay down my credit card debt now without feeling overwhelmed.

Part of this book is to track every single expense you have. This will be pretty simple for me since I’m already doing it, but I’m going more detailed now and that’s what my monthly challenge will be. I’m not only going to track what I do bank transfers for or when I use my credit card. I’m going to track every single penny that is spent.

A lot of times, I’ll get cash at the beginning of the week and plan on using that for random things. But before I know it the cash is gone and I don’t know where I spent it. Or I don’t know where all the quarters I got for laundry went when it seems like I just went to the bank to get a roll. Some people don’t spend as much when they use cash, but for me using cash has become mindless since I don’t track it in YNAB. I need to stop this because I want to track my money better. And¬†using this as my monthly challenge is a great way for me to get into this habit.

More often than not, my monthly challenges become something I do all the time. So if I take this month to work on tracking my money better, I have a feeling that I will be able to continue to do this and hopefully it will only help me in my money management skills. I know that I’ve been doing a lot of great work with money, especially in the past year or so, but I need to do more and this might be the perfect thing for me to do.