That time I was on a podcast…

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of being interviewed for the Best of Both Worlds podcast. That episode came out today. To my great surprise and deepest pleasure, I discovered that I didn’t suck and actually sounded quite together! (The magic of editing helped greatly with that — I had a cough that day.) Laura is one of my favorite authors, and her cohost is one of my favorite bloggers, so it was amazing to actually speak to them on the podcast. I talk about what my days look like, we discuss maternity leave, balancing two working parents, and making different choices for different kids. If you listen, please let me know what you think! And if you are interested in the topic of working moms, I highly recommend the podcast.


Fridays off

Fridays off are for:
– getting up at the normal time and taking the kiddo to the bus stop
– coffee and breakfast and reading
– coffee reheated and budgeting
– having lunch with kiddo at school, during which time she introduced all her friends and was generally high energy and ate all her food much faster than she typically does… (hmmm)
– meeting my best friend for lunch at her work! and seeing one of my sisters there too (it’s a college)
– actually doing some cleaning!!!
– pest control visits

still to come: meeting my kiddo at the bus stop, possibly shopping with a friend, dinner, family time…but not staying up too late, because I have to work tomorrow.

This week…

at work: has been tough. It was filled with the type of work that takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, so I was worn out at the end of each day. Yesterday, my brain was flitting from thing to thing to thing and I just could not get it to stick to what it needed to. But it was Friday, and then it was over, and I’m breathing a giant sigh today.

at the Nest: The pattern of barely cleaning unfortunately continues, and while we have many boxes unpacked, there are several sitting here and there downstairs and upstairs. BUT! Today the rest of the books made it to the shelves! And I have designs on some things from Target that have not yet been purchased…heheheh.

(Oh yeah – we bought a house. Lots of photos over on Instagram…and later on, when everything’s really arranged, I’ll take my husband’s fancy camera and get some good pictures for a blog post.)

in books: Just finished The New New Journalism, a collection of interviews with authors of literary nonfiction, including Jon Krakauer and Eric Schlosser. Takeaways: 1) Truth is relative. 2) Writing is hard. 3) Reporting involves persuasion techniques.

Also reading:

  • The View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman
  • Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (apparently, the one that inspired the musical)
  • Rescuing Jesus, by Deborah Jian Lee (with our church)
  • Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner — it was recommended on the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I haven’t been reading much fiction of this type lately.

on the tv: not much…for the past month or two I’ve barely been watching anything, instead reading or puttering around on my phone (which usually means Instagram or reading blog posts or articles). But lately my husband and I have been watching Nurse Jackie together. We meant to watch The Big Short together last week but didn’t pan out, so moved it to tonight!

with the kiddo: visited a big antique store, “special drinks” at Starbucks – she always gets the strawberries and cream frappucino “with whipped cream!!” – and then the library, where she quickly picked out three books and a movie to check out, then spent almost an hour playing with blocks, or puzzles, or walking around taking photos of everything with my phone camera. I came over to check on her at one point, and she said “you can go back now” as soon as I walked up. She’s so confident, so completely herself, and it’s painfully beautiful to see because when did she get so big?! and there she is. She starts kindergarten in a month.

pondering: ways to make my mornings better, and how to get myself to start exercising regularly. I’ve been oversleeping nearly every morning for the past week or two, which means I have about 20 minutes to myself on mornings when I work. So I can choose either journaling/coffee/being still, or exercising. Clearly, the former has been winning hands down. But exercising is so important, so I need to figure that out.

enjoying: Starbucks’ vanilla sweet cream cold brew, the soothing color palette that greets me every time I walk into my bedroom, and watching my husband and kiddo play together.


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.
20130902-171224.jpg 20130902-171230.jpg

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.

20130902-171235.jpg 20130902-171240.jpg 20130902-171247.jpg

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!)

20130902-171319.jpg 20130902-171326.jpg


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!