My Mind is a Mess: Passion Planner Review

One night I was visiting my best friend Kate at her apartment and in between sips of wine and bites of cheese (or gulps and hunks) she turned my attention to her brand new Passion Planner. Wow, I thought, I need one of these.

My whole life I’ve wanted to design a planner that functions how my brain functions– which is million different things all happening at once. Passion Planner is almost perfect. (I still want to design the ultimate planner one day. It’s one of my super nerdy life goals.) My only challenge is that it’s broken down by time slots which is incredibly hard for me to stick too but otherwise, I love the layout.

I’ve been using my Compact version for about 4 weeks now. And each week I get better at utilizing it. I let it help me form my week instead of jamming my week into it. I’ve surrendered to the planner a little bit and it seems to be going well. I stole the below image direct from the Passion Planner website because it’s going to do a MUCH better job of explaining how it works:

PP Breakdown

And all of those things get incorporated into your weekly pages. I know what you’re thinking: HOW?! HOW DO THEY GET INCORPORATED? It seems like a lot. Here are some sample pages from mine. Note: I don’t color in for the time I spend at work. I probably should but it scares me to see how much time I actually spend there. Maybe this week I’ll give it a whirl.

Example Week
I’m trying to teach myself to color code so certain things jump out to me. Yellow is my “Personal Life” color… it makes me happy!
example week 2
This was taken on Sunday of this week. I still had more to fill in and you can see my notes page is pretty open. That changes pretty quick.

I’m sure some people are a little tidier with theirs but I do my best… I’m only human. I enjoy seeing everything that I have to do on one open page instead of having to flip around and see what my week looks like. It’s also nice that there are sections on top of each day that say “Today’s Focus”, I use this to keep the “OMG A NEW PROJECT” part of myself toned down.

One of my favorite features of the planner is all of the Goal Setting material in the front of it. Before you even get to any specific months or days, you are guided through a series of exercises to get some awesome goals lined up for the next 3 months, next year and rest of your life! It’s a great way to keep your goals and passions (hehe) up front while you are toiling away on other things.

As for a mistake I made with it, I wish I had ordered the 8 1/2 x 11 sized version. When I ordered, it seemed like a huge pain in the ass to lug around but now that I am using the smaller size, I realize that I could have used the extra space. Especially because I have goofy handwriting. I think next year I’ll try the larger version and see how that goes.

So far so good with this planner and I am a pretty scattered person. This keeps everything I am constantly thinking about in one place. I’m not the most focused, but this has been helping. I strongly suggest checking them out! And, oh yeah, if you can’t afford the bound version, Passion Planner has PDF versions of the planner pages that you can print out and use. Amazing!

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Welcome to the New Cheap Courage & Happy May Day

Today is May Day and this is the first official post of the NEW Cheap Courage.

Less than a year ago a dreamed up a new blog that I could use to help me face fears, take chances, and welcome you all to do the same. That mission still remains, but in a prettier package, a more rigorous posting schedule, and varied topics.

Even with the addition of pretty images and some “fun” stuff, I still promise to keep my honesty and messy bits. It’s important to me that we keep it real. Not everything is sprinkles on cupcakes or impeccably put together outfits or a 6-pack. Some things are tough, and ugly, and menacing. We’ll face them together. With our Cheap Courage. The kind you aren’t born with but the kind you create yourself.

So what’s new? DEDICATED SECTIONS. Click around the navigation up there and you’ll find sections dedicated to WRITING, LIVING, EATING, and MOVING. The 4 most important aspects of my life and 4 that I hope you’ll find inspiring. Some of the sections are looking a little barren right now, but trust me, by the end of this month you’ll have lots of clickable links, shareable photos, and fun shit to share with your friends. Fun shit is the best shit.

And before I go, I want to tell you about May Day. There’s a reason I picked it for my first post of this re-launch. It’s one of my favorite holidays. May Day is celebrated all over the world, but in the US it is a celebration of new beginnings, of Spring, of the NEW.

It was a favorite holiday of mine because when I was a little girl my mother would help me put together tiny baskets or cups (yes, DIXIE cups) of wildflowers for all of our neighbors. The tradition is to put baskets on neighbors doorsteps, ring the bell or knock on the door, and then runaway. I loved something so quaint and something SO Laura Ingalls Wilder, that I became quickly fond of it.

Here’s to May Day Baskets and new beginnings and new gifts. Because that is my intention. To give you all some new gifts to start off this new season in this new moment in my life.

When Trust Issues Are All Your Issues…

I finished my fourth week of Improv 101 last Friday. It gets better every time I go. The more I get to know my fellow classmates, the safer I feel to be myself, to take a couple risks, and to make a complete fool of myself. I have never generated so many scenes, so many jokes, and so many characters in a single sitting than I do at UCB. Every moment is an opportunity to try something new and to make lots of mistakes.

I am halfway in the process and can say that the most important thing I have learned is to trust my scene partner. When we go into it as a team and only want the best for the scene, our characters, and each other, the moments are gold. The moment we try to take control or draw attention to ourselves, is the moment the scene falls apart. Trusting them and listening to them has given me a world of opportunity.

I don’t warm up to people very fast. It takes me months to feel comfortable enough to let people in to see who I am. That sounds strange since I regularly post about my life on a blog, but the words are easier to find than the courage to be myself in the real world. In four weeks I’ve given a lot of myself to relative strangers and nothing horrible has happened. I never knew that trust could be built up so quickly, but it can when done in the right environment with the right spirit.

I’d like to take that spirit to other facets of my life. I understand that outside of our little Improv classroom is a world full of losers, nutcases, jerks, and bad people, but by hiding who I am most of the time, I’m missing out on all the great genuine people out there. I’m going to have to deal with the bad ones to find the good ones. It seems basic enough but, for someone closed off, it is a revelation.

Today I feel like widening my circle a little bit and trusting in some new partners in crime. No trust falls required. Promise.

When You Crash and then Burn Real Hard

I had a bit of a breakdown last week and by a “bit” I mean “total”. I almost thought I shouldn’t share that here, since I am all about motivation and aspiration, but having total breakdowns is part of the program. You don’t get anywhere by being stagnant and sometimes a good cry is all you need to snap yourself out of a slump.

We moved all the clocks forward last Sunday (ok, so Jeff and I moved the microwave clock on Tuesday) and that was all it took for me to realize I had been in a funk all winter. The weather was horrible and I’ve been a little stagnant in my writing. Remember that post where I said I had to give up on a piece? I didn’t, I drove it further into the ground. But I’ve really broken up with it this time and I’ve been focusing on a piece I actually enjoy writing.

I came to a place this past week that made me question every choice I’ve made up until this point. All of it. And it was really tough to face some of them. It was especially tough to face the fact that a lot of what I do doesn’t make me happy, it just fills my time. This isn’t the first time that I’ve done this to my precious minutes. I genuinely enjoy being busy. Being busy makes me feel productive and important but most of the time I am neither of those things and I really am just BUSY.

So right now. And I mean, RIGHT NOW. I am trying reassess what’s important to me and what makes me happy, not what I think is good for me or what I think I “should” be doing. It’s hard for me to put some things aside, especially because I have a million and one “good ideas” and “projects”, but by focusing on what makes me happy, I should in turn become happier.

Imagine that.

I had the greatest weekend. I spent time with Jeff and my dog. I worked out. I ate good food. I saw friends I haven’t seen in awhile. I had a business meeting. I studied French. I worked on some stuff and I even cleaned the apartment! I was actually more productive this weekend because I just did what I wanted to do and told myself it would be ok if I didn’t get to it all.

I am definitely not saying I’ve solved the problem. I am probably 1% of the way there but I am glad that I’ve snapped out of it realized that I got a little crazy there for a bit. My heart still gets heavy and I have to fight back the “I am not enough, I am not doing enough” mentality I often feel.

Tell me, do you feel this way? How do you fight it? Asking for a friend…

Challenge Accepted. Let’s read Ulysses…

Right before New Year’s Eve I did what I was supposed to do. I set a bunch of goals for the next year and then more immediate, mini-goals for the next few months, the next few weeks, etc. I did this. Came out with a pretty long list of projects and items regarding my writing and submissions and all that. I then decided that I would up the ante and challenge myself to read 50 books this year. Which is kind of a lot when you’re doing 100 other things but I did it to myself anyway.

Then, and this is where the story finally gets interesting, I wrote a blog post about challenging myself to read more and posted it for all my friends and fans and maybe a stalker or two to see. I figured, what’s a challenge if it isn’t public? And by doing that… I was given another challenge, that I accepted because I am an insane person, by my friend Peter. To actually read Ulysses this year. If you remember I mentioned having just ignored it on my bookshelf for most of college and for the past 4 years of adulthood in another loudmouth blog post I wrote. Don’t you forget anything Peter?!

As I said, Ulysses has been on my shelf for quite sometime. I don’t remember buying it, or stealing it, or borrowing it, or inheriting it. But I am pretty certain I bought it early on in college for one of two reasons. 1) I thought I was smart or 2) I wanted to look smart. Either way, I own it, and I’ve moved it into 3 different apartments and in and out of my dorm room for 3 years. That’s a lot of packing up, carrying, and opening of a pretty large piece of literature. I’ve hauled it around and have never even considered reading it. It’s kind of like when a random corner of your apartment is dusty as hell but you don’t notice until friends come over and point it out.

I had a friend point out my dusty Ulysses. The joy here is that he is joining me in this journey! He’ll probably finish before me, not just because he is intelligent and patient, but also because I’ve decided to turn this into a “thing.” I turn everything into a thing. The thing is this: I’m going to read it but I am going to forcefully take my time. I’ve only been reading bite-sized amounts (5-10 pages) a day and keeping a cute little journal where I write down lovely sentences, questions, and my honest feelings. I have already written “I don’t know what’s going on” three times and I am 45 pages in. The good news is that I am quick to figure it out and then write, “Ohhhh.”

I want this experience to mean something but I also want to try and understand this piece of lit to the best of my tiny brained abilities. So it’s a thing. This also allows me to keep reading other books and not slowing down on the 50 in 2015 thing I signed up for. Jesus, Amanda, stop.

That’s my news! And it wasn’t the about the blizzard so you can thank me. I’ve given you non-blizzard things to think about. Also! You’re welcome to join me on the journey. It’s going to be painful and take me about 6 months to do so I welcome any friends along. We can keep journals together and turn it into an even bigger “thing”.