The importance of good healthcare

On Tuesday, I found out that I need glasses. I’m farsighted with astigmatism, and since my left eye is much weaker than my right eye, there’s a significant amount of eye strain. My vision deteriorated to 20/30 and it was so subtle I didn’t notice. So I am getting glasses, and thanks to the generosity and love of my in-laws, I also get to have prescription sunglasses to drive.

On Thursday morning, I found out that I need to go back to the dentist to find out what’s going on with my jaw.

Then they administered the breathing test I’d requested…and I failed it. Even after an inhaler. The doctor told me I probably have reactive airway disease; the way he explained it, it sounds to me like asthma that’s specific to irritants alone. What he described sounded so familiar, like my entire life experience.

So I left the doctor’s office and went to find my husband, and I started crying because I realized that this could have been found years ago and I could have had a much more enjoyable and productive high school, college, and adulthood experience. But it wasn’t caught, quite possibly because life conspired against my parents’ ability to take us for regular checkups, and they didn’t realize there was a problem. And why would they have? It was so subtle, I never noticed.

But as I was sobbing in my husband’s arms, in the waiting area at his work, I realized:

I was crying, but I was also breathing.

I had never, in my life, been able to breathe well while in tears.


The next day, I was singing along with the radio in the car, and I realized:

Singing is not that effortful all of a sudden.

I’ve always thought singing was effortful, that’s just how it was….

And I was wrong.


So yesterday, and today, I’ve started the journey of learning how to breathe with an inhaler. This is especially challenging because the tiredness that’s a side effect of the inhaler when you first start it is making my eye strain much worse, so much so that I can’t safely drive long distances right now — and I work half an hour away. I also can’t focus on my work’s computer screen for long at all — TLC’s Library.Solution is a wonderful program, but their highly unfortunate color choice for the background of Cataloging makes it immensely difficult to look at when one’s eyes are tired.


Everyone I know is surprised by how energetic and happy I am. Some of them, especially my boss, aren’t quite sure what to do with me. And I’m not quite sure yet how this will settle out, except that I’ll have lots of energy and I’ll be much better able to cope with life.

I can’t wait to see what 27 holds.




Only recently have I fully realized and accepted something my mother could have told me when I was a baby: I am a morning person. At the age of seven, I used to get up earlier than anyone else and turn on the radio (large silver box, with many knobs) in order to listen to shows only my siblings likely remember now. Nowadays, I get up as soon as I wake up, even on weekends, so that I can enjoy that quiet, peaceful time like no other. The best mornings are ones where I don’t have to be anywhere until later; I can linger, luxuriate in the slowness.

Here’s how those mornings go:

  1. Wake up. I have an alarm set for 7am on weekends, but sometimes I turn it off, and sometimes I wake up before that. I try to get up early lately, because if my child wakes up at the same time as I do, she fills the apartment with singing and questions and a constant stream of chatter, and much as I adore her, that can be a bit difficult for me to deal with first thing…
  2. Make coffee in my Keurig, and head to my chair in the corner by the window. It’s my favorite place in the whole world…and also a bit of a cave, which I find quite interesting.
  3. Do my morning pages, as described in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. This is a recent addition, and it’s a ritual that’s proved quite helpful so far – I look forward to it. This takes about 30 minutes.
  4. Start drinking my coffee (usually after warming it up again…I’m terrible about that) and reading. The end table next to my chair is simply there to hold my books and my coffee. At any given time there are 4 to 6 books there, along with Bella Grace magazine, issues of Entertainment Weekly, and a couple of other books that I read more slowly. Oh, and my journal and my gratitude/happiness book. Right now Steve Jobs is the one I’m focusing on, and it’s quite fascinating.
  5. Get kiddo breakfast when she asks, maybe make more coffee, and keep reading. Maybe get on my phone and putter around a bit, or text a friend or two.
  6. Eventually, get up, do some useful things, decide to write a blog post about my mornings, and probably head back…

Nearly every morning, while sitting in my chair, I feel so much joy – for our little living room, for the view of rooftops and tree branches gilded by sun, for the perfect chair to curl up in, for the variety of coffee mugs, for my kiddo’s singing, for all the pieces that mean I am loved that come up as I write. Joy.

2016 priorities and goals

My priorities have stayed fairly constant over the years, I think, but in the past year or so articulating them and focusing on them has been particularly helpful. Here they are:

  1. Self-care. For me, this looks like spending time reading, journaling, and exercising. I’m no good to others when I’m in a bad place mentally, and these three things help me stay out of that bad place. Reading comes naturally to me (I read 106 books last year, which surprised me), but journaling requires more focus, and exercise is a habit I’m trying to create.
  2. Loved ones. I want to spend more quality time with my family, and see my closest friends regularly.
  3. Work. 

In an attempt to set myself up for success (I know, why would I do that, right?!), I’ve kept my goals specific and the list short.

  1. Run two 5Ks. This is partly to motivate myself to exercise, and partly because I ran one once before, felt accomplished for finishing (despite my terrible time, haha), and I’d like to do it again. I have picked out three possibilities, one in the spring and two in the winter.
  2. Do a weekend away with my husband. We’ve been married for six years and have never done this.
  3. Do four family adventures. It’s always wonderful when we go places as a family. I’d like to make that more structured and add some variety.
  4. Complete a reading challenge. Specifically, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge. The only book I haven’t yet picked out is one published in 2016…but since I am a librarian, I’m sure I’ll be able to find several candidates in the next couple of months without much effort!
  5. Pay off our consumer debt. This is a family goal. Monthly payments on our debt make it even more difficult for us to do without my husband’s income, and that has been postponing his plan to go back to college. Once those payments are gone, we should have enough wiggle room that he can drastically reduce his hours, at least. Happily, we will be almost halfway to this goal by the end of this month.


2015: a recap

Since it’s been over two years since I last posted, I figured it was about time to attempt resurrecting this blog. It’ll be taking a different form, rather less planner-centric and more about anything and everything.

Here’s what happened in my life in 2015…

  • Basically got promoted to a supervisory position, and several months later received a raise for it!
  • Took the lead on interviewing and hiring a new employee, whom I directly supervise.
  • Attended two professional conferences on my own, one out of state.
  • Coordinated a massive, challenging project at work, and watched as it was executed by the entire team so smoothly and much faster than I anticipated.
  • Ran my first 5k.
  • Drove both ways to a work meeting 30+ minutes away. Since I used to be terrified of driving on the highway, this is huge.
  • Started individual counseling.
  • Was diagnosed with a major depressive episode by my counselor.
  • Went to see a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication.
  • Started taking the medication and realized I’ve been living in a fog for most of my life.
  • Experienced a worsening of depression, went back to the psychiatrist, had my med dose changed, and started feeling better again.
  • Traveled to California for my grandfather’s memorial service, to Galveston for my best friend’s girls weekend, and to the Austin area twice and the Waco area once to spend time with my in-laws.
  • Celebrated our fifth anniversary and my husband’s 25th birthday.
  • Watched my preschooler get ever more articulate, opinionated, and individual.
  • Spent many, many wonderful hours with various close friends, at home, in their homes, going out places… I’m so thankful for my People.
  • Purchased a Halloween costume for the first time in my life, and wore it to a bar with friends!
  • Watched various family members perform in musicals at the local community theatre!
  • Prepared to watch my best friend get married!

It’s been an eventful year, to say the least, and a good one.

Using a personal Filofax for grad school and life

My last post on this blog was back in January! Yikes! Suffice it to say that my planning system changed several times, unnecessarily, and now I’m back in something that’s very functional and I plan to stick with it!

After some inquiry on Facebook, I’ve been prompted to finally do that Filofax for grad school post I’ve had in the back of my head for a while. Since this is purely about the function of my planner, I’m not including as many pictures as I might otherwise. Words work just as well.

I am now employed full time, as well as being a grad student and having a family. I need to write things down in order to keep track of things. So, my planner has to handle a lot! I use a personal sized Filofax, as it’s the perfect size to take with me everywhere and place in front of a laptop on a small coffee shop table. Also, one can hold it in one hand and write with the other, something I’ve found quite difficult with larger ring-bound planners. I use Franklin Covey page per day inserts. The fact that they stick out of the Filofax doesn’t bother me. Filofax notepaper and to-do sheets make up the rest of my pages, along with dividers. I happen to be using ones I made out of scrap paper I was given.

First, my sections: Notes, Projects, Actions, Learn, Info, and a blank tab. I am using a GTD type set-up.

Notes is where I write random bits of information before I decide what to do with them. It’s also where I write non-day-specific information which I only need temporarily. I keep extra notepaper and to-do sheets behind this divider as well.

Projects begins with two project lists. If I have any multi-step actions I need to do which are not related to school, they go on one of these lists. “Me” is for projects which I can do independently, while “Others” is for projects which involve others. Both of these lists are on Filofax to-do paper, but you could just as easily use plain lined paper. Per GTD, the projects list is actually a list of *outcomes*. For example, I have “arrange babysitters for chats” as a project, *not* “chat babysitters.” It took me a while to understand this. If the *outcome* is listed, I am prompted to think of the “next action” just by reading what I’ve got listed and thinking for 2 seconds. If I have something more generic, it doesn’t work. After the project lists are notes pages with any information or lists that go along with any of the projects. One project has its own page, while others share a page. At the end of this section is my Someday list, on notepaper. This entire section is only 6 sheets of paper.

Actions contains 8 sheets of to-do paper which make up seven categorized “next actions” lists. If something needs to be done, but doesn’t have a date attached to it, it goes on one of these lists. My categories are Home, Computer (2 sheets), Materials (e.g. if I want to journal something it goes on this list), Talk to Husband About, Agendas (for those I know), Contact (for businesses and such), and Errands. I also keep my Waiting For list on a post-it on the back side of the divider.

Learn is the big one, and here’s where the pictures come in! This is where all my grad school information is kept, including assignments.

First I have the major assignments listed chronologically.












Then my minor assignments, with due dates noted, in the order in which I find out about them.


Then my reading lists — one for computer and one for books.
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After that, I have a page with my class information and professor contact information for the current semester. This is followed by page(s) for each class, with assignment information and notes on how the class works.

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After that, I have the page I used to plan out which courses to take when. On the reverse side I have my degree plan, along with my GPA for the semesters I’ve completed. Then some pages with school-related notes. At the end of the section, I have cheat sheets for the citation methods I’ve had to use.


This section is 14 sheets.

My Info tab also contains 14 sheets at the moment. I have a list of current coupons/deals/gift cards, a to-buy list, gift ideas, a sheet with one car’s maintenance and events record on one side and the other car’s on the other, a sheet recording my daughter’s health info, our budget plan (we use a software called YNAB to keep track of spending and our budget in practice, but this is what I use when I budget every month to remind myself of our goals), a username/password list for some of our bill websites which I only use once a month, my goals, my health, and various other notes. Right now I have a sheet for “Filofax Wisdom” for example.

My blank tab currently has my list of books to check out from the library, categorized by fiction, non-fiction, Christian, and “action” (e.g. dieting books). I keep this in here because I work at a library!


Then comes my calendar. I use Franklin Covey page per day inserts, which come with monthly tabs. (I picked less full days so that I didn’t have to block things out — my days and months end up far fuller than this!)

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I do color code. Bright blue is for school assignments and notes, while red is used for deadlines (both for big school assignments and for important non-school-related things). Oriental blue is for work, green is for my husband’s schedule and family events, and purple is used for special events, travel, and birthdays. Black is the default and is used for everything else. 

The monthly calendar gets monthly notes, odd work hours, due dates, and special things (e.g. dinner with friends, concerts, birthdays). Anything else just goes on the dailies.

I use my daily pages in a specific way. Appointments go on the appointment schedule. The notes area is used for day-specific information (e.g. due dates, confirmation numbers, addresses) and occasionally for recording something that happened that day. I put day-specific to-dos (pay bills, do homework) starting at the top and going down. Once the day arrives, if I have things I’d *like* to do that day, I put those on the list starting at the bottom and going up. I don’t use the priority box. Instead, I start the first line of a to-do there, and the second line where the to-do is “supposed” to start. Throughout the day, I will have to refer to my action lists and my school lists to get things done. That’s how I make the page per day work. If I needed to have everything in front of me, I would use the 2 pages per day.

So, there’s my set-up. I hope it’s helpful for students trying to figure out what they need!

Insert choices

My original plan for 2013 was to use these Barnes and Noble inserts:


Then I received the Kate Spade inserts for 2013 along with the wine Holborn I purchased:


Now I’m not certain which one to use. Kate Spade has a monthly planner and gorgeous two-page pretty picture type things before the months. BN has monthly “events pages”. I also set up the BN with color coding, while the Kate Spade I kept black and white. At this point I’m leaning towards Kate Spade. What do you all think?

(This is assuming that a busy schedule doesn’t drive me back to my FC 2ppd or FF ppd of course.)

52 books in 52 weeks: 2012

Back in January, members of a forum I occasionally frequent began once again something called 52 Books in 52 Weeks. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you try to read a book per week for the entire year. I thought about posting about it at the time, but decided I’d better not – I didn’t want to post and then not do it.

Well, I did it (and then some). That’s one goal which WAS accomplished this year. It’s a small thing, and comparatively easy (I love to read!), but still. It’s an accomplishment.

Here are the 52 books, in order of completion. These were all finished in 2012, but not at a rate of one a week! Rather, I’d go weeks without finishing one and then finish four in a week, things like that. In reviewing this list, I’ve noticed that I read a fair amount of Christian non-fiction and teen fiction.

  1. The Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster
  2. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
  3. The Me I Want To Be, John Ortberg
  4. Reading The Bible Again For The First Time, Marcus J. Borg
  5. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  6. The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan
  7. The Bible Jesus Read, Philip Yancey
  8. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
  9. When She Woke, Hillary Jordan
  10. A Praying Life, Paul E. iller
  11. Thinking Straight In A Crooked World, Gary DeMar
  12. Lit! Tony Reinke
  13. The Believing Brain, Michael Shermer
  14. Time Of My Life, Allison Winn Scotch
  15. Misquoting Truth, Timothy Paul Jones
  16. The House At Riverton, Kate Morton
  17. In Our Control, Laura Eldridge
  18. One Day, David Nicholls
  19. Austenland, Shannon Hale
  20. If God Is Good, Randy Alcorn
  21. Matched, Allie Condie
  22. Crossed, Allie Condie
  23. Making It All Work, David Allen
  24. One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
  25. Love, Loneliness, Abuse, and Murder, Jim B. Pulley
  26. Spousonomics, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson
  27. Uninsured in America, Susan Starr Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle
  28. Radical, David Platt
  29. A Feast For Crows, George R. R. Martin
  30. Free For All, Don Borchert
  31. The Way In, Rita D. Jacobs
  32. The Reading Group, Elizabeth Noble
  33. Insurgent, Veronica Roth
  34. Not A Fan, Kyle Idleman
  35. Sink Reflections, Marla Cilley
  36. The Irresistable Revolution, Shane Claiborne
  37. The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren
  38. Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, Diane Moody
  39. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
  40. Gossip Girl, Cecily von Ziegesar
  41. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  42. Love Wins, Rob Bell
  43. The Pledge, Kimberly Derting
  44. Article 5, Kristen Simmons
  45. Birthmarked, Caragh M. O’Brien
  46. Erasing Hell, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
  47. The Selection, Kiera Cass
  48. Bloodhound, Tamora Pierce
  49. Mastiff, Tamora Pierce
  50. Prized, Caragh M. O’Brien
  51. Promised, Caragh M. O’Brien
  52. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans
  53. Reached, Allie Condie
  54. Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier
  55. Letters From A Skeptic, Dr. Gregory Boyd and Edward Boyd