Morning Pages

MPsI could have sworn that I had spoken at length about my favourite help-mate when my head becomes overwhelmed with life, but on searching the blog I find that I have seemingly mentioned it only in passing comments.

Well today I plan to rectify that.

Every now and then life gets to having a bit too much going on in it for an INFJ like me.  I do a mental curling up in a ball while my mind rocks back and forwards hugging itself.  It seems part of my nature to overload myself in cycles and then retreat from pretty much everything.  When those big dips in the cycle come along I find myself turning to something I discovered well over ten years ago.

Morning Pages.

The idea is from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (or in Kindle form, if you prefer). I stumbled across this book by complete accident and I’m so very glad that I did.

The Morning Pages are one of the two basic tools in unsticking yourself creatively – or in my case removing the clutter from my mind to help me in my daily life.  It isn’t a journal as such, it’s stream of consciousness writing.  Ideally done first thing in the morning, your aim is to fill three pages by hand.  Yes, the old fashioned (or currently hip) way to do things.  Personally the morning isn’t really working for me at this point in my life, although I did this for a few years quite happily.  Those years were pre-children.  The same applies to doing it by hand.  I type much faster than I can write, and with so little time (relatively) to do this on any given day – I’ve taken to doing it digitally.

I’ve been maintaining a private blog online to do this in, but I have found that I am hit and miss with this; only using it when I REALLY need to get something off of my chest and out of my head – but not into someone else’s ears.  And after listening to the Happier podcast for a while now* I’ve decided to try and work with my own nature rather than fight it.  I’ve found a free (always a good start) online option to try out.  It’s called Morning Pages (unsurprisingly) and it has badges and points and 30 day challenges… all those funny little things that seem to add a dimension of fun and accountability.  It’s not all bells and whistles since that’s not what the MPs are all about.  They are about getting roughly three pages of writing out of you and on to the page.  You don’t need flash editing toolbars and widgets to do that.  I’ve only just started using it, and I’m going to do my best to head there every day for the next 30 days in order to get this back to being a proper, automated, habit.

As well as that, I’ve been toying with going through The Artist’s Way again to try and unstick myself from this round of over-commitment by getting some fun and creative things back in to my life.  That old saw – Balance – is my ultimate goal.  I’m a realist and know that balance is not a static thing but a shifting, juggling act of being tipped a little one way and then back another – think of a clown juggling *badly* at the circus… all that wobbling and stumbling about is just for the laughs, but it’s a pretty good analogy for real life I think.
I’m unsure if I will blog about it, should I go through the process, since that’s just adding another commitment which may fall over in short order.  If I do, you are welcome to join in and leave links to any of your own blog posts about working your way through the book.

As a random aside to finish today’s post, I’ve added a new category here at Oh Waily tonight – it’s Writing.  This doesn’t seem to be a big deal but it actually is.  Even though I have been writing this blog for over ten years now, I have never considered myself to be a writer.  I blog.  I put my thoughts down on the digital paper, but I’ve never used the term writer to describe any aspect of myself.  But clearly I am actually writing otherwise you and I are having a very strange interaction right now.  It’s only taken ten years but tonight I think it’s time to acknowledge that I am an actual writer.

Righto, on that bombshell… go read a bit more about the Morning Pages, or give it a try (in either long hand or digital) and then come back and tell me how you got on!

* and about to re-read The Happiness Project, newly read Happier at Home and Better than Before – all of which are waiting on my Kindle for me to get going.



To Journal or Not To Journal

That is the question.  For today.

First off, my apologies for going AWOL this past week and a bit.  We headed off on a road trip to see family on the Friday before last, and when the kids and I got home the following Monday I finally came down with the lurgy that had been threatening.  Solo parenting and nasty-lurgy time don’t tend to encourage the mental capacity to blog once a long day is done, hence my vanishing act.

Today I am back, and with a question…

Do you keep a journal?  If so, what kind?

A long time ago, when still working full time, I used a task list / appointment set up in a day-per-page diary.  It served me well at that time and I realised how much I had been missing that helpmate at the end of last year. So I thought I’d give an expensive, pretty, day planner a go as a method of planning and tracking, mimicking what I used to do.  Sadly it bit the dust about half-way through the year.
Unfortunately I knew I still needed something, as keeping on task has become harder and harder as the kids and I go about our daily lives.  Things get missed, turn up as a surprise last minute panic, or get put off indefinitely.  My head was about to explode with the lack of productivity (yes, I may be one of those people) and focus.

A while ago I stumbled across the Bullet Journal and was taken with the simplicity of the idea, but never went so far as to put it in to practice. At the point I first saw it, I hadn’t realised how much I missed the analog organisational tools and was still trialling a number of digital options.  Then it faded from memory until a couple of months ago.

It’s implementable in any spare notebook you currently have on hand.  Hurray for not needing mega-bucks planners!  Far more flexible and creative than a store-bought book (as flexi or creatie as you can be bothered to make it).  And best of all, I really think it’s going to be something I can stick with, most of the time.

There are a few groups online that you can connect to and get inspiration from – and by crikey it’s worth it for the beautiful and individual ways people use the basic ideas.
Over at G+ there’s the Bullet Journal community and at Facebook there’s the official page of the Bullet Journal creator.  Don’t forget to search Instagram for some wonderfully inspiring glimpses into other people’s journals, try this search to see what you think.

As I type this I’m in the process of preparing my journal for December and I’ve discovered that a bit of inspiration from other creative types is all I’ve needed to up my game from simple daily lists, scrawled in random pens, to actually taking some time and effort in laying out the month ahead.

I can see this happily marrying both sides of my brain… and hopefully aiding with a jump in focus, concentration and productivity.  Not to mention indulging my love of paper products and colourful pens.  I may have happened to mention that a good quality dot grid notebook would make a wonderful Christmas gift this year.  Fingers crossed that the powers that be were listening at the time I was speaking.

In the meantime, here’s some inspiration for you to check out.

~ Boho Berry
~ Passion Themed Life
~ Bulletjournaljoy


Follow me little internet, follow me

Following on from Timethief’s comment on my post yesterday about content theft, I duly re-opened my Firefox and installed Lightbeam.  In the time it took me to open my blog and sign in I had already amassed 14 third party sites.  Thankfully for WordPress I could identify all the sites as belonging to the various different plugins or companies clearly associated with what I do here at the blog.  Still, two pages and one site – 14 parties involved in me doing that!

I’m guessing that it is going to be a totally different experience when I go real-life browsing.  Larger numbers and less recognisable names will, no doubt, be the order of the day.  I’m trying to remember that this is the world wide web after all, and that some of the tracking is functionally based. (I hope!)

Okay, I’m taking a deep breath and going in.

Wow, WordPress, Facebook and Google+ came up with about 24 sites between them while I was browsing, but heck! Stuff has nearly 40 third party sites.  Now I wonder if all news related sites are the same?!

So, signing off from this short browsing experience has left me with visiting 6 actual sites and having 128 third party sites actually connect with me.  !!!!!!!
The next step is to find a source of news that isn’t quite as crazy about 3rd party sites as Stuff!

I’ll report back if and when I find something not quite so creeper-stalker-like.

Content theft

With my little Miss now producing her own online content over at YouTube, this post by Timethief was rather timely and gave me cause to reconsider my current usage levels at Facebook.

The post is called “Facebook, freebooting and content theft” and if you are a regular Facebook user, then I think it would be a good idea to read the article and watch the associated video.

Interestingly, when I decided to pare back my Facebook account after watching the video I noticed just how many people or pages I had ‘liked’ yet heard nothing from.  When I unfollowed two thirds of my list I started to see some of my original and more interesting connections.  It also showed me just how lopsided my feed had become under the curatorship of this company.

And now I will continue to work my way towards minimising my use of the platform.