I Love My New Planner!

I Love My New Planner, Debby Zigenis-Lowery's Literate LivesOne of the side benefits of becoming a teacher was developing the practice of using a plan book. I remember feeling like there were so many tasks, big and little to remember, that I had to write them down in order to be prepared for each day of teaching and learning.

A few years ago, feeling like I just wasn’t accomplishing anything on a daily basis, I remembered my lesson plan book and decided to use the same approach in my home life. I loved it! It worked! I’d record what needed to get done each day and check each item off as I did it. At the end of the day, I could see that I actually did get quite a bit done, even if it was two dozen tiny chores. I was hooked.

The Great Planner Hunt

Up until this year, I have always used a spiral bound planner. Each December I would look all over town for the perfect planner and agonize over how pretty or colorful it was or was not.

This year, tired of the last-minute search, I started looking in the fall. There were very limited numbers of spiral bound binders available, and none were very pretty. However, there were oodles of those removable/re-arangable-page-planners. They were colorful. They were pretty. But…they had flimsy laminated covers. I like the solid feel of a hardcover spiral planner.

So I looked and I looked and I looked. I could not find a planner I liked in a style I liked. Finally in December, I surrendered. I bought one of those new-fangled, laminated cover planners.

It was pretty, but I did not even look at it again until January.

Now, I love it.

It was originally an 18 month planner, starting in the summer of 2017. So, I was able to pull out the July – December pages and insert them, and their dividers, in the back of the planner as resources.

As a planner, this new planner is as fully functional as my old style planner.

But those re-arangeable bonus dividers and pages? I am in love.

My Bonus Sections

I have four sections in the back of my planner–Routines, Lists, Cooking, How-Tos. Using techniques picked up reading about bullet journaling (such as establishing a table of contents) here’s how I’ve filled my pages so far.

Routines

The routines section contains notes for how I want to set up my planner, a template for teaching days, a template for weekends, a template for vacation days and holidays, and a schedule for medications and supplements.

For example, on days I do not work, here is how I like to start out:

  • Read my daily section of the Bible
  • Pray
  • Read some of the Blogs I follow
  • Clean up the kitchen
  • Get dressed and put away clothes
  • Check my phone
  • Clear my email inbox

Lists

I like making lists. The act of doing so helps me to remember things that are important to me. I have lots of lists:

  • Favorite exercises and stretches
  • Things I want to make (both practical and crafts)
  • Things I want to learn (both just for fun or for personal/professional development)
  • Personal pleasures: things to do for fun and relaxation
  • Asthma home improvement to-do list
  • Ideas for Family dinners (my kids are grown and out on their own, and I want to come up with some fun ways for us to get together regularly)
  • Chore lists: including an order of rotation so that over time, everything routine gets covered.
  • Writing project lists and priorities
  • Blog ideas and to-do lists
  • Home improvement projects
  • Once-in-a-blue-moon chores
  • Projects, big or small, that once I do them, do not need to be repeated
  • What I am learning about managing my asthma

Cooking

  • Recipes my husband likes
  • Baking (snacks and desserts) my husband likes
  • Side dishes my husband likes
  • Mixes to make

I focus on my husband here because I already and always know what I like. When it’s my turn in the kitchen, I want to be as considerate of my husband as he is of me.

How Tos

  • How to embed a pin in a blog post
  • How to embed a Facebook post in a blog post

As I learn new things I expect this section to grow.

And More…

I have two more dividers left and multiple unused pages. The possibilities are open before me. I love it!

Your Turn

Do you use a planner or some other form of organizer? Use the comment space below to tell us about it. Let’s inspire and encourage each other!

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Play With Your Words Writing Prompt: Describe a Unicorn–There’s More Options Than You May Think

Play With Your Words Writing Prompt, literatelives.wordpress.com, http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2017/11/how-many-horns-does-a-unicorn-have.html

 

Writing to a prompt is a great way to exercise writing skills. Today’s prompt was inspired by a post I read recently on the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog, “How many horns does a unicorn have?”

 

Prompt

Go to: to http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2017/11/how-many-horns-does-a-unicorn-have.html.  Read the article and enjoy the illustrations from medieval manuscripts ranging from the 1500’s to the 1600’s.

I found this article delightful and was both surprised and inspired to discover so much variety in the “unicorn species.”

Prompt: Use the writing process to write a description of a unicorn. Use some of the surprising details from the article, dream up your own.

Pre-write

Brainstorm a list of characteristics for your unicorn–both in appearance and nature. Throw down anything you think of. The list doesn’t commit you to using any of them.

Write–Rough Draft

Describe your unicorn.

Revise/Edit

Look back at your description.

Do you use any words that are kind of bland? Substitute in more specific words.

Are there places where a comparison might enhance your reader’s understanding? Use metaphors or similes to create vivid word picture’s in your reader’s mind.

Ready to share? Not yet. Once you have finished revising, proofread your description. Do you use uppercase letters at the beginnings of sentences? Do you use end punctuation at the end? (I often skip these when I’m doing a rough draft because my mind is so focussed on creating.) How about your grammar and punctuation? Remember, writing conventions help to make your writing more easily understood and therefore you communication more effective.

Publish/Share

Share your description with your classmates, friends, or family. If they have also written a description, compliment them on the strengths of their writing. Encourage one another.

* Want to do this exercise with a pre-reader writer in order to improve their pre-literacy skills? Read the article to them and point out the pictures. Then ask them to imagine and describe their own unicorn. If you’d like, write their description down as they create it, then read it back aloud, pointing to each word as you pronounce it. This reinforced the one-to-one correspondence between the spoken word and words on the page.

Your Turn

Share your response in the comments box. If you share yours, I’ll share mine. Let’s encourage one another.

How to Nurture a Literate Lifestyle in a Crazy, Non-stop World

How to Nurture a Literate Lifestyle in a Crazy, Non-stop World: Debby Zigenis-Lowerys Literate LivesAs someone whose famous last words as a child were, “Just let me finish this chapter!” and who discovered at an early age that I think best with a pen in my hand, the crazy, joyous, busy holiday season, while wonderful, is also a severe challenge to my quiet spirit, and no more so than this year, when I came down with a cold the Monday before Thanksgiving and never quite got over it until nearly Christmas Eve.

Here are a number of literate practices that helped me to manage my stress and keep my eyes on the blessings and special joys of the season:

  • write emails, letters, and texts
  • make lists
  • doodle meaningful vocabulary
  • read blog posts
  • read seasonal books
  • engage in devotional/inspirational reading
  • collect quotes
  • braindrain to collect memories

Write Emails, Letters, and Texts

As with most families, the holiday season, like any other time of year, came with both its trials and joys. I relied on emails and letters to support an uncommunicative relative who was going through a difficult time.

Also, due to how hectic the days felt, if I needed to contact someone, I relied on emails and texting whenever possible, thus avoiding long drawn out phone conversations.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? Prioritize your time by using the most efficient means of contacting people, and save phone conversations for meaningful interactions.

Make Lists

When you work full-time, are a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, friend, blogger, and writer, you have a lot of relationships and responsibilities to juggle. This December, I did not rely on my memory. I made lists for what I wanted to accomplish each day, lists for baking plans for the season, multiple lists for the grands’ Christmas craft party, not to mention shopping and gift lists, and lists for our family’s Christmas Eve gathering. I was able to do, complete, and  provide everything that mattered most to me.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? When things matter to you and there’s a lot going on in your life, commit them to lists so they do not get forgotten, you can track your progress, and you will not be disappointed when you discover it’s too late to do that thing you were looking forward to.

Doodle Meaningful Vocabulary

I love Sybil Macbeth’s Praying in Color book and website. This year she posted an article on honoring Advent, the season before Christmas, by doodling an Advent themed word each day. She had a list of words I started with, then I brainstormed some more of my own. While I did not do this every day of Advent, I found when I did practice this, using a 3″x 5″ card, I experienced a sense of stillness, calm, and deep meaning in the present moment (which served as a great stress-buster as well).

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? When you are very, very busy and don’t have time to journal or write, choose a word, or brainstorm a list of words that make this time meaningful to you, then pick one to doodle for five or ten minutes. It’s very refreshing. (P.S. You don’t have to be an artist to do this. Note I used the word doodle. Anyone who can hold a writing utensil can doodle.)

Read Blog Posts

Often functioning in a state of overwhelm or exhaustion, I did not have the energy to sustain the attention necessary for my favorite form of reading, the novel. So, I read a lot of blog posts–much shorter, more easily digested–and thus kept my reading-loving brain satisfied.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? What types of short works do you like to read? Switch to “shorts” during challenging times–short stories, poetry, essays, magazines, blogs… There is much to be gleaned from short, tight writing that can be satisfying to the spirit.

Read Seasonal Books

I love to read Christmas novels and novellas in December. So when I had the leisure and energy, I indulged. The stories were lighter fare than my usual reading rotation, which helped with my lack of energy and time, and they helped remind me of what I love about the Holiday season.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? Read something seasonal, whether it’s a romance novella for February, a beach read for summer, or a cozy mystery for fall, to remind yourself to savor the season you are in.

Engage in Devotional/Inspirational Reading

For me, Christmas is meaningless without Christ. Fortunately, there is a whole Christian marketplace full of devotional books with short daily readings. I chose one and tried to read faithfully each day. (However, I did not beat myself up when I missed a day, rather I looked on that missed reading as a short bonus pleasure I could slip in on another day.)

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy inspirational reading. There are so many themed books of readings in the marketplace. Topics include: seasonal thoughts, collections excerpting a particular writer or group of writer’s work, themed collections of daily thoughts, and of course, publications from your own philosophical tradition. These kinds of readings can remind you of what you love, what you value, and what you want to focus your attention on.

Collect Quotes

I love words; I love quotes. A short quotation can be so meaningful, comforting, and inspiring. So, whenever I found a quote that “spoke” to me, I either cut and pasted it into an email to myself or jotted it down for my collection.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? When you hear or read something that makes you stop to think or appreciate, collect it. It doesn’t take long, but to your inner reader will find it most satisfying.

Use a Braindrain to Collect Memories

I keep a journal, but during times like this past holiday season, I do not have time to sit down and write in it in a leisurely manner. Christmas Eve, my husband and I had such a wonderful time with our kids and grands, and fell into bed exhausted, with a travel day planned the next morning to see my parents and brother. But I so wanted to remember all the highlights of our own Christmas party. So, that morning, while I drank my coffee, I did a braindrain of all the special memories. I didn’t worry about, spelling, grammar, or complete sentences. I didn’t worry about putting everything in the right order. I just jotted each delightful memory down so it could be savored latter. And I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

How can you apply this to any busy or stressful season? Sometimes our minds are so full and we long for time to just sit down, pen in hand, and reflect on it all, but there are no big enough chunks of time in which to do so. In such situations, a braindrain can be most satisfying.

Your Turn

Thanks to these strategies, I enjoyed a peaceful, meaningful, joyous holiday season.

How do you nurture your literate spirit when times get tough? Please use the comment box to share a strategy that you love or have found particularly effective. Thanks for you willingness to nurture our literate lives.

Happy New Year! Hopes and Dreams for Your Literate Lifestyle in 2018

Your Literate Lifestyle in 2018 literatelives.wordpress.comHappy new year! I hope your holiday season was peaceful, joyful, filled with abundant blessings.

And now it is a new year. I love the opportunity for a new start, so much so I think “new year” in both January and September. Having been a student, been the parent of students, and the teacher of students, September is just a very logical restart.

However, for me, January is a little more magical. It starts with clean new calendars and clean new plan books. And after the inevitable joyful excesses of the Christmas season, it feels like being washed by a raging current into a quiet side stream. Time for quiet. Time for reflection. Time for dreaming and goal setting. (I love the quiet of January after December!)

What hopes and dreams, plans and goals do you have for the new year? I have two I’ll share right now:

  1. to blog about how having a literate lifestyle keeps me sane during crazy-busy/sick seasons
  2. to add an additional day of content this year (coming late spring)

I pray this greeting finds you refreshed and dreaming.

Use the comments box below to share your hopes and dreams for your literate lifestyle in 2018. Let’s inspire each other!