My NaNoWriMo Plans – writing a novel in 30 days!

Today I want to share my NaNoWriMo plans. One of my major goals for 2017 is to write as much as I can. I wanted to complete my memoir about my 11 years in New Zealand, I wanted to start a blog and I want to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo – it’s a month long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during November. Spread across the 30 days it averages 1,667 words a day. It’s a big challenge and it’s designed to get you moving. Leave procrastination, self doubt and any crippling fears about your writing at the door and just get on with it.

NaNoWriMo Participant Badge

My first experience with NaNoWriMo was back in 2007

I was in my mid twenties and living in Palmerston North, New Zealand. I worked full time and was engaged. Amazingly I managed to write a 50,000 word romance novel set in New Zealand. I printed and bound my very rough draft and had great plans to edit it but it wasn’t to be. I still have it somewhere.

Even though I didn’t take that novel any further I still found it a very worthwhile experience. For starters I proved to myself that I could write that many words in a month. And I sat down at the computer each day to write. Even when I doubted the quality of my writing – I didn’t let it stop me – I kept going. I learnt that characters really can come alive as you write their story and they can lead you down a very different path. And I realised how much I loved having written. It felt good to be writing. I was so proud of myself when I did my final submission of words on 30th November 2007 and saw my Winner’s certificate!

NaNoWriMo 2007 Winner

A few weeks later we were setting off on a 5 week travelling adventure – I got busy with preparation for our trip and then with the trip itself and by the time we got home and over the jetlag and back into daily routine my novel lay forgotten.

I’ve made tentative NaNoWriMo plans to join in several times since that first experience and have even started a couple of times but 2007 is the only year I completed the challenge.

Why now?

NaNoWriMo is one of those things that I am confronted with each year…I wistfully remember that hard slog of getting those 50,000 words out with my rose tinted glasses…and I wonder if I should give it a go. The timing hasn’t always worked. Life has changed…I’ve gained a husband and a little boy and moved halfway back across the world since 2007.

But when sitting down to figure out what I wanted my goals to look like this year I came back to the NaNoWriMo idea. November was a long way off back then. I knew I wanted to work as hard as I could to develop my writing skills. It felt right to list it as a goal for later in the year.

How I’m Preparing

As October rolled around I logged into the NaNoWriMo site and updated by profile. I joined the local group on Facebook and hope to meet some fellow NaNos face to face by the end of November! I tuned in to a webcast by the NaNoWriMo official team. They talked through some exercises which really helped the ideas to start flowing.

I’ve given my story a fair bit of thought. I bought a whiteboard and post-its and created a list of things I know about my story and questions I had. I wouldn’t say I have a full synopsis but it’s a start!

Can I do it?

As the time has edged closer to the start of November I’ve started second guessing myself.

  • Will I have time?
  • Can I do it?
  • Can I fit it around everything else I have going on?
  • Is it fair to my family?
  • What about getting ready for Christmas?
  • How does it fit with my other goals?
  • Is my idea crap?
  • What if I write myself out and never want to write again?
  • What if I fail at NaNoWriMo when I’ve declared my intent on my blog?

I’ve managed to talk myself back around. So what if I fail? At least I will have tried! And if I declare my intent I am less likely to give up! I love some outer accountability (more on that coming up in November!).

So I’m here – poised with a half baked story idea and no idea where it’s going to lead me. One of the ways I Find the Good Everyday is to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone. Attempting to write a 50k novel in 30 days is a way I can do that while working on my goal of becoming a better writer.

I am hoping that on this 10th anniversary of my first NaNoWriMo effort and only completion that I will finally be able to win again!

Here’s to a novel filled November 2017!

If you are have NaNoWriMo plans this year or have attempted it in the past I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment or drop me a line!

Twenty lessons I learnt as a 35 year old

Twenty Lessons I Learnt as a 35 year oldLast week I shared my Achievements since turning 35. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved this last year. I’ve learnt a lot too and today I’d like to share twenty lessons I learnt as a 35 year old.

A while back I had an Astrology reading and was told that the Sun is in my 9th House which means I’m a lifelong learner. I’d agree with that – I often get an interest in something new and do as much as I can to learn all about it. And over the last few years I’ve been trying to learn more about myself and determine my meaning and purpose. That’s how this blog has come about.

Even if you don’t believe in Astrology or Tarot etc I think they can be great for connecting you to your intuition. If you read something that you can link back to your life and present situation I believe it means it’s something you need to be aware of. Finding out that I was born to be a Lifelong Learner made me recognise this within myself. And now I can embrace it and make the most of it!

So it makes sense that when I decided to think about my Achievements as a 35 year old that I also thought about the lessons I learnt as a 35 year old too.

Twenty lessons i learnt as a 35 year old

Pottery Lessons
Pottery Lessons
Creativity
  • Writing feels right to me. I feel like I’m meant to be doing it. And it excites me. So I shall be continuing on!
  • Writing helps me process things before I even realise that I’m dealing with them
  • I am a lifelong learner – I always want to be learning about something and I need to give myself plenty of opportunities to do so
  • Being a beginner is exciting and allows me to explore my creativity in a way that feels safe (e.g. pottery lessons)
  • Never underestimate simplicity….in patterns, shapes, words, images
Knowing Myself Better
  • I can self motivate myself to get stuff done when it’s important to me
  • Daring myself to do something scary is a good thing and something awesome usually comes from it
  • Doing something every day is so much easier than a few times a week
  • There are ways to get outer accountability without having to rope other people in (posting to Instagram, starting a blog etc)
  • Procrastination can be a sign my gut is trying to tell me something – I need to ask myself “why am I putting this off?”
Taking Care of Myself
  • Walking helps me make sense of my jumbled thoughts and is great for coming up with ideas
  • Taking time for self care and self nurturing activities makes me more productive in other areas of my life
  • I don’t always have to be going full-pelt to achieve my goals. It’s okay to sit with them for a while when I need a rest. And usually when I get back to it I am refreshed and better able to achieve them
  • I should never underestimate how good it feels to have practiced yoga
  • To ensure I take good care of myself I need to schedule in self care activities
Practical Learnings
  • How to use a potter’s wheel – I’m still very much a novice but have loved learning the basics
  • How to create a website using WordPress (with thanks to my Dad that helped a LOT!)
  • So many yoga poses and a lot more about breathing and the union aspect of yoga
  • How to make kick-ass Triple Chocolate Brownies (thanks to a fantastic kiwi recipe by Chelsea Winter)
  • More about the craft of writing through my work with my memoir and for this blog
I Learnt how to make Kick Ass Brownies
Kick Ass Brownies

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my twenty lessons I learnt as a 35 year old. What lessons have you learnt recently? Leave a comment or get in touch to let me know.

My Achievements Since Turning 35

My achievements since turning 35My birthday is coming up in a few days time (it’s the 22nd if you want to wish me a Happy Birthday!) and I want to take some time to reflect on my achievements since turning 35 years old.

I love a bit of past reflection and forward planning. Taking some time to think about how things turned out and what I’d do differently next time. I always enjoy doing this at the end of the calendar year and usually spend a lot of time reflecting, dreaming and planning. My birthday is a great time to kick this off and start thinking about it.

The first six months of 35

Last October I was still trying to find my groove after our return to the UK. We were still getting our house organised after our belongings arrived late August. My son was settling into the UK school system and my husband was getting the hang of his job in the UK. We tried to make the most of Autumn and being close to family and friends. And we got into the spirit of our son’s first Winter Christmas. It was a fun close out to 2016.

As the end of 2016 approached I did a lot of reflecting and planning. In January 2017 I kicked off my daily Yoga practice with Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Revolution. I also started working my way through The Artist’s Way one week at a time. These 2 things were massive game-changers for me in 2017. Along with my weight loss journey and writing my New Zealand story (a memoir) I was kept very busy indeed!

Setting Six Month Goals for the second half of the year

On Earth Day which fell on the 22nd April (exactly 6 months from my birthday) I had a good think about what I wanted to achieve before I turned 36. Six  months was a decent amount of time to make real progress with some of my goals. Plus I liked the idea of welcoming my next year on the planet with a celebration of what I’d achieved in 6 months!

Here’s a look at that list I wrote on 22nd April 2017 and the progress I’ve made:

Get my 3½, 4, 4½ and 5 stone awards with Slimming World

I’ve been a member of Slimming World since the end of August 2016 and am pleased to say that I’ve lost 4 stone, 3 pounds in that time. My weight loss slowed right down over Summer due to holidays, celebrations and lots of social occasions. I may not have got that 5 stone award but it will be mine this year!

Finish my NZ Story (memoir), edit it and submit at least 1 enquiry

For months my goal was to reach a 50,000 word count with my NZ story. I knew it may not be finished at that point but it was a really good start. I reached my 50k goal on the same day I created this blog (late September!) and I’ve been reading and editing since then. I’ve not made an official “enquiry” but I plan to reach out to a friend to see if she’d be willing to read an excerpt for me.

Yoga Everyday: get to 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275 days of yoga

My commitment to daily Yoga practice has been my biggest achievement this year. I’ve already written about how amazing the experience has been for me here.

Start prep and planning for NaNoWriMo in November

Not content with writing a memoir and starting a blog this year I thought I’d have a crack at a 50k novel as well! NaNoWriMo involves writing a 50k novel in the month of November. Yes I’m crazy! I’ve managed to complete this once before and will be sharing more about my love of NaNoWriMo soon. Prep and planning is underway for this year.

Continue with personal development and self love journey

It’s been a great year in terms of my personal development and self love. My biggest progress these last 6 months has been implementing some of the tools from The Artist’s Way such as artist’s dates and daily self nurturing activities. I’ve also carried on with Morning pages.

Have a family holiday overseas

This was such a lovely one to tick off the list! We spent a week in Mallorca at the end of August 2017 and had a relaxing and chilled out break as a family of three.

Celebrate my hubby’s birthday in June and my son’s birthday in August

This was always going to happen! We couldn’t not celebrate but I wanted to include it on the list as focus points during the 6 months. Both husband and son enjoyed their birthdays complete with celebratory dinners, gifts and homemade cakes/brownies!

Earn some money from writing

I haven’t managed to tick this one off but I feel like I’ve made big leaps and bounds as a writer this year. This blog, my memoir (NZ story) and plans for NaNoWriMo are all helping to develop my writing skills. This is now something I want to achieve over the next year.

Start a blog

Given that you’re reading this post I think it’s safe to say that I completed this task. I’m thoroughly enjoying blogging and sharing my words and thoughts here on Find the Good Everyday!

Looking Forward to 36

I’m happy with my achievements since turning 35. The rest of 2017 is set to be full of excitement and activity. I plan to show up – every day – trying my best as a Mum, Wife, Daughter, Friend and ME! My focus for the next few months is lots of writing and time with family celebrating the festive season.

I’m already excited to start dreaming and planning for 2018 and what I want to achieve. And I’ll be sharing more about how I set and achieve goals and how it helps me to Find the Good Everyday.

Next week I’ll be sharing What I’ve Learnt as a 35 Year Old.

Daily Self Nurturing Activities

Daily self nurturing activities are a significant way to care for yourself at the same time as helping you to Find the Good Everyday.

daily self nurturing activities thumbnail

I’ve read a lot about self care, self love and nurturing yourself the last few years. It’s becoming a fashionable topic. I think this is a good thing because we can all do with looking after ourselves better. One of my life goals in recent years has been to teach myself more about self care, self love and self nurture. Being able to commit to daily self nurturing activities has helped me keep focus on this goal and enables me to take better care of myself.

“perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely,
that when others see us
they know exactly how it should be done.”
― Rudy Francisco

How I determine my daily self nurturing activities

As part of my work on The Artist’s Way I completed a task that involved setting myself a self nurturing activity every day  and carrying it out. I enjoyed this task and found so much benefit from it that I’ve continued it all year.

Each month when I draw up the monthly pages in my Bullet Journal I include a double page spread to plan out and keep track of my Daily Self Nurturing Activities. Each activity has to be something I want to do and look forward to doing.

Some activities are repeated each week and I’m always on the lookout for new activities to add to my plan. I sit down each Sunday and plan an activity for each day of the upcoming week based on my schedule and what I have on.

Examples of my self nurturing activities

Regular items which feature are:

  • Having an early night
  • Having a lay-in
  • A bubble bath
  • A Face mask
  • A special/extra Yoga practice (e.g. an online retreat)
  • Lunch or coffee with a friend
  • A date with my husband
  • A date with my son
  • Watching a movie or programme that I really enjoy (not just mindless TV watching!)
  • Taking myself for a walk (especially at a park, along a river, in a natural-setting)
  • Trying something new
  • Journalling (if you’re looking for ideas and prompts for journalling -try my workbook – Find Your Happy)

Many of these things would happen anyway without becoming an item on my task list. But in setting the activity, anticipating it and recognising it as a decent way to take care of myself it becomes so much more than a bubble bath or an early night. It’s a nod to myself, it’s reminding myself that I am important and deserve to take good care of myself.

Some of the more one-off, individual activities that have popped up over the months on my activities lists have been:

  • Seeing The Killers live at Hyde Park
  • Going to see Wicked with my friends followed by dinner and drinks
  • Having a free massage (courtesy of SpaBreaks we11ness hour)
  • Going for afternoon tea
  • Going on holiday!
  • Getting an astrology reading

free massage

How I make it work for me

I’m not rigid with the tasks. Some days the task I set doesn’t work out for some reason or another. But I always make sure I do something else instead. I make a note of what I did do on my log.

Last month I added something else to my monthly plan/log. I made space to note my favourite self nurture activity that month, 3 that I’d be happy to repeat and 3 new ideas I have for next month.

september review of daily self nurturing activities

Some activities have become more regular in my life as a result of setting them as self nurturing tasks. Between these tasks and the weekly Artist’s Dates (another fantastic tool from The Artist’s Way) I’ve added some regular creative pursuits that I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve begun to take regular pottery classes (I love playing with clay!) and have even had a go with the potter’s wheel a few times!

Some days my self-nurture activity may be as simple as an early night or a 10 minute meditation and other days it will be something new and exciting and completely different. It’s one of the easiest ways I Find the Good Everyday.

Do you have any suggestions for daily self nurturing tasks? What would make it onto your list? Leave a comment or visit the contact page to let me know.

Find Your Happy for Self Care

I’ve created a workbook containing twenty-one journalling prompts to help you find more happiness in your everyday life. It’s a great tool for self care and self nurturing. You can dip in and out or work through it steadily. Each prompt takes 10 minutes or less so you can fit some self care into your day!

You can read more about it here. And buy your own copy here.

Find Your Happy Journalling Workbook

How I’m Building a Daily Yoga Practice

building a daily yoga practice

One way I’ve been trying to Find The Good Everyday in 2017 is by building a daily Yoga practice. What a difference this ritual has made to my wellbeing! All of my practices are at home and I mostly use videos that are freely available on YouTube.

My starting point

I’d done the odd yoga class in the past and I attended regular Pilates classes a couple of years ago. I had also dipped my toes into Yoga with Adriene’s youtube channel but hadn’t got into the habit of practicing yoga with any regularity.

For 2017 I set myself the goal of completing Adriene’s Yoga Revolution as it was shared throughout January.

To prepare myself, I:

  • got myself some outer accountability by declaring my intentions on Instagram
  • set myself the task of sharing a photo on Instagram each day to confirm I’d done the practice
  • set a daily reminder on my phone to DO the yoga!
  • created a checklist in my bullet journal to check off the days as I went.

A sense of achievement

Yoga Revolution was a success! When I got to Day 31 I was so incredibly proud of myself that I’d completed it. I totalled up the amount of time I spent practicing yoga in January…15 hours 22 minutes!

During those 31 days I begun to feel:

  • stronger,
  • fitter,
  • more relaxed,
  • at peace,
  • more flexible and
  • more aware within my own body.

All these benefits meant I wasn’t ready to give up anytime soon.

Namaste

Moving from the 31 day challenge to building a daily yoga practice

I kept going by choosing daily from the huge catalogue of videos available for free on You Tube. I kept the reminders in my calendar and a monthly log in my bullet journal so I knew what practices I had done and how long I was practicing each day. February and March passed by with yoga becoming a core part of my daily routine.

My newly developed routine was shaken up in April when we were away from home for over a week. Adriene also offers a paid subscription service. The subscription has an app allowing you to download practices to your phone to view at any time. With our trip approaching I made the call that it was worth investing in. I felt I had certainly got my money’s worth (before I’d paid anything!) from the access to free videos on YouTube. Plus the money paid is used to fund more free content which is available to everyone.

And I’ve just kept going from there. I mostly do the YouTube practices via our TV in the lounge. If we are away or I need to find a quieter space I play videos on my phone.

Allowing myself to pick practices based on my mood, schedule and energy levels has meant that I haven’t given up. I can always find a practice that suits me on any given day. To me, it still counts as practicing yoga even if it’s a 5 minute video or learning the corpse pose!

Keeping my interest levels up

yoga by candlelight

I found as the months went by that my daily average practice was decreasing. Often I would find myself leaving yoga until the end of the day when I’d pick a quick practice so I could take myself off to bed. I’ve done a few things to challenge this habit and ensure I am making the most of my Yoga practices:

  • In June I took part in an online week long retreat.

    For each day there were a couple of suggested practices, a journalling prompt and another activity such as a nature walk or meditation. This was fantastic for breaking me out of what had become my yoga comfort zone, trying some new practices and immersing myself in yoga!

  • Then in August I completed a week long Yoga Ritual series for paid members.

    This came with a calendar which offered a daily 15 minute yoga practice plus 5 minute meditation. Adriene suggested to start each day with a glass of water with lemon and go on a daily walk. There was also a daily prompt which you could journal or ponder about.

  • And in September I made the call to work through the 30 Days of Yoga challenge

    This has probably been the most challenging series I’ve done but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Having surpassed 275 days of yoga, I am now approaching 300! The ultimate goal is to close out 2017 with a 365 day streak.

Overcoming injuries and time restraints to get it done!

pyjama yoga

There have been days when it’s been really tough trying to get to the mat. I had tendonitis in my wrists a couple of times and chose to do hands free practices until I was recovered so I didn’t break my streak.

I’ve been poorly and done “Yoga for When You Are Sick” several times and there’s been a couple of days when I’ve found myself doing “Yoga for When You’re Angry” and “Yoga to Calm Your Nerves”. All great practices!

Some days have ended up with just a 5 minute practice from the “Quickies” series and other days I’ve done over an hour of yoga. It’s been a fantastic experience and the benefits I experienced after the first 31 days have increased with the more time I’ve spent on the mat. I’ve also found that, for me, it’s easier to commit to doing something DAILY rather than a few times a week.

 

I’d love to hear from you if you’re a fan of yoga or this post inspires you to try building a daily yoga practice. Namaste.

Morning Pages as a Self Care Tool

I’ve been using Morning Pages as a self care tool since October 2015. The idea of Morning Pages is suggested by Julia Cameron in her book/course “The Artist’s Way”. You can read more about my thoughts on the Artist’s Way and what I learnt from it here.

The idea of morning pages is to journal 3 pages of longhand stream of conscious writing each morning upon waking. Get the thoughts out before the brain even knows they are thoughts. This helps clear the mind to make way for creative ideas and self expression.

How I got started with Morning Pages

Front cover Morning PagesI heard about Morning Pages before I read The Artist’s Way. It was one of those ideas that kept presenting itself to me. The final push that I needed came in the form of an online retreat. Our teacher threw out the idea of Morning Pages and suggested that we adopt them to help get our thoughts and feelings out during the 4 week retreat.

Luckily, thanks to my stationery addiction, I had some unused notebooks looking all pretty and I decided to actually write in them…gasp! And now I love the fact that writing morning pages allows me to buy new notebooks!

So I started.  To begin with I had to set a daily reminder to do it. By the time I’d reached the end of the retreat Morning Pages had become a habit and my first notebook was nearly filled up with words! It’s now second nature and feels weird if I miss it for some reason. Each morning I wake, grab my notebook and pen and fill my pages.

What I write about

I started writing Morning Pages just as we were reaching the decision to leave New Zealand and return to the UK and wrote through:

  • the angst and the stress of reaching that decision and then putting the many hard yards in to get us to the other side of the world
  • telling our family members and friends that we were returning to the UK
  • as we learnt that our beloved dog, Rhett, had cancer and it was the worst kind
  • the grief of attempting to come to terms with that
  • all the organisation required for moving from one side of the world to another
  • spirituality, happiness, unhappiness, grief, love and especially about the mundane daily annoyances of life that can sometimes weigh me down

How I’ve used Morning Pages as a self care tool

Quote Morning PagesGetting it all down on those pages helped me process it all. Some things got repeated A LOT! Some things were written once and forgotten. Themes sprung up and stayed around for a while before being set aside when something else more pressing showed up.

And over time I realised how important these pages were to me. How they helped me Find the Good Everyday. I wrote through so many thoughts, feelings, random things in my head and I came out the other side with a clearer head, usually with a plan for the day and ready to get on with it.

I think Morning Pages were the therapy that got me through a pretty stressful time in my life. I’ve brought in other self nurturing tools since I started them but it started there. That retreat and the suggestion to start writing pages began a new time in my life where I put myself first. Each morning, before I did anything for anyone else, I wrote. I wanted to be a writer and I was doing that as my first action every day.

Inspiring Creativity and Ideas

Julia Cameron suggests that Morning Pages aren’t just for writers and that the writing you do is just a process to clear your mind and free up space for creative endeavours. She suggests that you don’t share the pages with anyone and you don’t read them (at least straight away) so that your inner editor doesn’t get upset and curb you from spilling your darkest secrets onto the page.

I don’t believe for a second that any of the writing in my Morning Pages is suitable for publication but I’ve had some brilliant ideas as a result of them. And when working on a writing project very close to my heart I have read them and referred to them. My Morning Pages are a capture of me, right at certain moments in my life that have been pivotal. It’s raw and messy and it takes me back to who I was right at that moment.

When I got The Artist’s Way and read the section about Morning Pages I realised that I had been doing something quite different from the suggestion. I’d been writing 3 x A5 pages daily. But Julia Cameron talks about 3 pages of letter sized paper (the equivalent in the UK is A4). She talked about 750 words being the magic number where your brain gets bored of writing mundaneness and starts coming out with cracking ideas. So I’ve upped my word count now. I aim to write 5 x A5 pages every day.

Fuelling my love of stationery

Morning Pages journalsI’ve got through 14 notebooks. They are all different sizes and they cost different amounts. My favourite notebooks at the moment are £1 ones from Poundworld. The paper quality is fantastic for the price. And who doesn’t love metallic chevrons!

Morning Pages have also encouraged me to become even more obsessed with pens! I’ve now got several fountain pens and my favourite for my daily writing is my Lamy Safari with pink or green ink.

Morning Pages have improved my life greatly and I’d recommend them if you haven’t given them a go. You can see more about what Julia Cameron has to say about morning pages here.

Do you use Morning Pages as a self care tool? I’d love to hear from you if you’re an avid fan of morning pages or just starting out. Leave a comment or contact me to get in touch.

More Journalling Ideas

If you’re looking for some prompts and ideas to develop your journalling practice have a look at Find Your Happy. It’s a journalling workbook with twenty one prompts designed to take 10 minutes or less. Each prompt will help you find more joy in your everyday. You can read about how it came together here. And buy a copy here.

Seasonal Activities and Adventures

Autumn Tree up close

A great way to Find the Good Everyday is to celebrate and develop traditions for each of the seasons. Each season has it’s good and bad and I love to make the most of each one with seasonal activities and adventures.

My son (who’s 7) and I like to come up with lists of activities we can do each season. Over the summer we created our “summer bucket list” with activities listed on shells which were put in the bucket as we completed them.

Making an Autumn Activities list

With Autumn upon us we’ve been busy coming up with ideas for fun and how we can keep track of what we are up to. As well as listing what we enjoy doing and events we have coming up I also did some internet searching for extra ideas (there are some great lists on Pinterest). I kept the list in my Bullet Journal as we thought of ideas and then we talked about how we could display it all.

Displaying our list

Tree and Leaves coloured in I found a tree and some leaf outlines via Google and printed them out in black and white. My son and I spent some time colouring them in – this was a great opportunity to use all the Autumn colour combinations we love.

Next I added each individual activity or event to a leaf. Then laminated the leaves and tree and cut them out. All the elements have been arranged on a large poster on our lounge door. We walk past it several times a day and it serves as a great reminder for what we want to do this Autumn and events we have coming up. It doubles up as an Autumn decoration as well.

I’ve kept some spare, blank leaves so we can add any additional activities as we think of or do them.

We will be busy working our way through these Autumnal Activities through to the end of November. We might not get to all of them but some can carry over for Winter activities too. As we complete each task it will move to the grass area under the tree and eventually our tree will be bare and Winter will arrive.

Complete Autumn Poster
It’s our Autumn “Activi-tree”!

Our list

Here’s the list of activities we’ve come up with…
1 Search for conkers
2 Drink hot chocolate
3 Pumpkin carving/decoration
4 Pumpkin ball (school event)
5 Make apple pie or crumble
6 Watch fireworks
7 Enjoy Halloween
8 Toast marshmallows (make s’mores)
9 Family walk in the woods
10 See Grandad
11 Visit Gran
12 Change the clocks (fall back)
13 Collect pinecones
14 Harvest Festival
15 Donate to a food bank
16 Splash in puddles (wearing wellies!)
17 Autumn Colours treasure hunt
18 Sparklers
19 Wear scarfs/hats and gloves
20 Try apple bobbing
21 Go to Birmingham
22 Celebrate my birthday!

How you can make it your own

This is a kid friendly activity but I’ve also seen great examples online for adults – especially within bullet journals and travellers notebook spreads. I especially loved an “Autumn Bingo” game I saw with a reward for completing the whole board.  You can display your Seasonal Activities and Adventures list somewhere you’ll see it everyday. Or keep it in a journal or a notebook or even as a list of tasks on your phone.

If I were making an Autumn list for just me I’d add things like: bubble baths, wearing boots, buying a new chunky knit and a star gazing date night. It’s really fun coming up with ways to honour the season and enjoy it.

 

Defining what you love about each season and making time to do seasonal activities is a great way to make the most of everyday. Do you have any seasonal traditions? Are you planning any special seasonal activities and adventures this Autumn? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly.

How The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron helps me Find the Good Everyday

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has woven its way into my day to day life and is helping me Find the Good Everyday.

What is The Artist’s Way?

Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

At the start of 2017 I worked my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a book written as a 12 week course to help you creatively.
The tagline on the book reads “a course in discovering and recovering your creative self”.

The book is aimed at artists of every genre. A lot of the tasks involve writing so it’s ideally placed for someone wanting to stretch their writing muscles. But the ideas and tasks are designed for anyone who wants to develop creatively.

I chose to use the book to help me develop as a writer. One of the main teachings of the book – Morning Pages – had been a daily habit for me for around 15 months before I read and worked my way through the rest of the book. My success with Morning Pages helped me decide to commit to working my way through the whole course/book.

How I completed the work

Starting early January and  finishing in April, I worked on the book over about 14 weeks. I completed all the tasks that were set each week. Some were fun, some easy and some challenging. Some held me back (hence why it took me longer than the 12 weeks) and I had to make myself sit down and work through them.

Before I started the book I scheduled time in my calendar every Monday for a couple of hours to start work on that week.

Artists Way Week 2 Checklist

Each week I would start off by reading the week’s chapter and create a checklist of actions in my notepad. The checklist of actions always started with “Read the chapter” so I had a nice, easy win early on! I’d detail on the checklist any exercises within the chapter and then add the tasks (by number and a brief title) from the end of the chapter. Once the chapter was read and checklist written I’d work my way through it all. Some weeks I flew through the activities. Other weeks I had to keep returning to them. For tasks where I was required to do a daily activity I’d set it as a calendar item or reminder on my phone to ensure I remembered.

What I learnt

I took some key learnings from the book and I think they will continue to serve me well over my lifetime. There are several things I now do regularly as a result of the book. These are:

I loved Cameron’s links between creativity and spirituality. There’s an essay called “Attention” that explains that sometimes it requires something bad to happen in order for us to be able to pay close attention to the world around us. This  really resonated with me.

Snippet from the Artists Way

Having read reviews of the book I think the spirituality link and all the references to God (Cameron defines this as Good Orderly Direction) put some people off. I went into it with an open mind and was glad I did. The essays made me stop and think many times. And there are some I’ve repeatedly read because they’ve struck a chord with me.

Where it’s led me

My idea for this blog came from my work with The Artist’s Way. A seed was planted when I was working my way through the tasks. At the time I wished several times that I was blogging so I could do a weekly review, discuss tasks and have a record of how I was feeling through the whole experience. But I decided at the time to keep my focus on the course rather than divide my attention.

I’ve also spent the last few months working on my memoir/life story about my time in New Zealand. I had started the project before The Artist’s Way and enjoyed returning to it and continuing once I’d completed the course. Many of the things I read in The Artist’s Way helped me to cultivate my story.

Quote from the Artists Way

Over the coming weeks I will share more about my biggest takeaways from The Artist’s Way.

Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? What did you think? Or are you keen to read it now? You can leave a comment below or contact me if you’d like to share your thoughts.

You can find out more about Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way here. 

How do I Find the Good Everyday?

Given the name of this blog I thought it would be a good idea for me to share the things I do to help me Find the Good Everyday.

At the beginning of 2017, as part of my annual goal setting and review of the previous year, I came up with a list of self-nurturing daily habits I wanted to adopt. Some of these things I was already doing but not as often as I’d like. Other items on the list were reminders of positive actions I could take daily to feel happier.

Below is the list I come up with. I’ve added some brief detail about each item and over the coming weeks I plan to share more details of some of these habits as individual posts.

Find the Good In...series

Self-nurturing daily habits to help me Find the Good Everyday

  • Start the day with Morning Pages

    Morning pages is a journalling technique suggested by Julia Cameron who wrote a book called The Artist’s Way.  She suggests that each morning, on waking, you journal 3 pages of stream of conscious writing.  You should do this before anything else – before your mind has too much time to wake up. The pages often end up being filled with whinging, what you need to get done that day and sometimes nonsense! What this does is clear all of the random muddle from your head first thing in the day and free up some space for creative thinking. I’ve been writing Morning Pages most days since October 2015. I am a convert and do not like missing a day.

  • Yoga &/or stretch every day

    I’m a fan of both yoga and pilates and have done each with various levels of consistency over the years. I have never regretted doing a yoga practice or a pilates workout but often the biggest battle was getting myself to the mat and ready to go. Rather than decree a set amount of exercise I should do each day I decided to be gentle with myself. I’m pleased to say that so far this year I have completed a yoga practice every day. Some days it’s 5 minutes and some days much longer. I feel much stronger and more flexible as a result of daily practice and it also helps to quieten my mind.

  • Drink 1.5-2 litres of water each day

    I’ve always been happy to drink water and it’s usually my first choice for drinking. And yet I wasn’t in the habit of consistently drinking enough. So this year I stepped it up, and with some help from a measured bottle I soon got in the regular habit of drinking enough each day.

  • Seek ways to live out my values and my core desired feelings and be DARING

    A couple of years ago I did some personal development work to define my personal values. It was time consuming and involved but it has helped steer my decisions and life choices ever since.  I learnt about Core Desired Feelings from an online retreat I took part in which led us through The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I added my Core Desired Feelings to my values to help me define how I wanted to feel and what I believed in. And as part of my annual goal setting I picked DARING as my word for the year. (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I LOVE to collect words!) This habit on my list reminds me to check in with all my “words” regularly.

  • Tell my boys I love them so

    I’m fairly certain I do quite well at this one without having the reminder on my habits list! But telling (and showing) my husband and son that I love them each and every day is an awesome thing to achieve each day and an important aspect of my relationships with them both.

  • Make lots of healthy choices and allow myself little treats

    Sometimes I think I’m an all-or-nothing person and other times I think moderation is key. I’m still not 100% certain which camp I fall into but the thought of giving up treats made me sad so this habit seemed the best option for me. And it’s working. I recommend it.

  • Practice self love and self care

    Self love and self care practice are what this whole list is about! I thought it was important to remember that focus and this is a great reminder to seek other ways to Find the Good Everyday as well as the ones I specifically listed.

  • Finish each day by documenting my gratitude

    This is a habit I’ve had and dropped several times over my adulthood when my routines have changed. And I always return to it. Sitting in bed each evening I write a brief list (usually 3 things) of the things I’ve been most grateful for that day. Some days are tougher than others to come up with a list but I always manage something!

    Conclusion

I may not always do everything on this list every day but over the course of this year I have developed them as regular habits.  I am already thinking ahead to see how I can update or amend this list next year for improvement.

I’m looking forward to exploring some of these habits more on the blog over the coming weeks and months.

Do you have any daily habits that help you Find the Good Everyday? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment or feel free to contact me directly.

Helping YOU to Find the Good Everyday

Freebie intro

When you sign up as an email subscriber you will receive a free How to Find the Good Everyday printable workbook. It contains tips and suggestions for building daily rituals and routines to nurture yourself to feel happier, healthier and in balance. There are sections to work through followed by a handy printable to complete and display as a reminder of your intentions.

You can sign up HERE to receive the workbook and read more about it HERE.

Welcome to Find the Good Everyday

Welcome to my blog. My name’s Katie and you can read a bit more about me here.

Find the Good Everyday is my personal blog where I will be sharing the ways I find the good things in everyday life to feel happy, healthy and in balance (yes I’m a Libra!).

I’ve been on a personal development journey the last few years. This has involved getting to know myself better and learning to nurture and nourish my mind, body and soul. I have introduced rituals and routines into my daily life to keep me focused on moving forward, learning and growing.  And I’ve read and worked through a lot of advice about self love, self care and nurturing yourself. I plan to share the things I’ve found that have helped me on this blog.

I hope you’ll stay awhile, have a look around and that you find some helpful information here. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or you can contact me here.