The Importance of Creativity: Feed Your Soul

You might have noticed by now that I’m pretty passionate about creativity, both for adults and kids. Creativity forms a bedrock of my family’s entire educational philosophy and is a primary reason for us choosing home education. Not to mention my chosen career of Writer!

Enjoying creativity is one thing…

But why is creativity IMPORTANT?

Aside from the fairly obvious things about creative expression being a good way to unwind and de-stress, creative writing, in particular, has some pretty impressive benefits for both adults and children. I’m going to cover a handful of them for you today.

There is oodles of research on this out there. But if dry research papers are not your bag (they’re not mine either!) then here is a handy summary.

Aids Crucial Areas of Development For Children

Expressive writing, which includes poetry, journalling and writing stories, has been proven to improve problem-solving abilities and facilitate creative thinking in different situations. This kind of lateral thinking is incredibly valuable in both personal and professional spheres. Encouraging children to engage in expressive writing now will help prepare them for their future.

In the more immediate term, creative writing gives children the opportunity to express their feelings in a safe and constructive way. Learning to manage big emotions can be challenging for children, especially if they are sensitive, as mine are. Being able to sort through their feelings by writing them down in creative forms can help them to process what’s going on in their life and feel better able to cope.

Developing the skill to express themselves also builds self-confidence in children. With so many negative messages bombarding this generation from all of the information around them, a bit of confidence in their own abilities to communicate and be themselves will be invaluable.

Picasso famously said that all children are artists. But is it inevitable that they cease to be?

Children Are Naturally Creative

It seems obvious to someone like me. But I realise it may need saying anyway.

All children are naturally creative. Think back to your own childhood, or focus on the early years of your child’s life when their imagination ran wild and free. Sometimes it didn’t serve them so well, (monsters under the bed), but how about all that time playing out stories with their toys? They are capable of creating vast worlds and complex stories spontaneously with just a few simple cues.

Some people would argue that this creativity naturally declines as a part of growing up. I disagree. I think it is a trait that needs nurturing, absolutely, but in incidences when creativity does seem to abandon children it is not because this is the natural result of maturing. Rather it is the fault of a society and education system that not only devalues creativity but is fundamentally anathema to it.

If you haven’t already watched it, I highly recommend all parents, and anyone with an interest in education watch Sir Ken Robinson’s influential Ted Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity? This video has been viewed over 46.5 million times, all around the world, since it was published online over a decade ago.

Valuable for Mental Wellbeing In Adults

Expressive writing aids organisation and planning for people who engage in it. These are important skills for both children and adults. [1]

It probably comes as no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, but I wholeheartedly endorse this research! As someone who is somewhat keen on organisation and planning *innocent whistle* this little fact is music to my ears.

What’s more, writing poetry has been found to reduce anxiety. [2] Research from Oxford Brookes University has found that writing poems and haikus can relieve work related stress and also stimulate a better work-life balance.

Journaling or blogging can enhance mood and writing a weekly gratitude log has been found to enhance motivation and generate a more positive outlook. [3]

Writing about traumatic events has also been found to be beneficial to long-term healing. [4]

What About Getting a “Real” Job?

Well, creative writing helps with that too. One study found that engineers who were out of work found new jobs more quickly if they practised expressive writing than if they didn’t. [5]

Writing notes by hand has also been proven to improve the retention of new information, which may aid in all sorts of professional and educational endeavours. [6]

Sir Ken Robinson, creativity and education expert has wise words for us all.

It is also widely recognised now that creative thinking is one of the most valuable skills in the modern job market. The world’s problems need increasingly creative solutions and employers are valuing creativity when selecting candidates for interviews. [7]

We Ought To Be Valuing Creative Careers Anyway!

Not everyone can or wants to be an engineer, financial advisor, or doctor. Wouldn’t the world be a sad and empty place without writers, artists, musicians and dancers?

Why are we telling children not to pursue these careers?

It sort of made sense 40 years ago, when people were guaranteed a job if they went with the flow through the industrialised public education system. Well-meaning parents wanted their children to enjoy a secure future and so advised them against the perceived “high risk” arts career choices where “failure” was almost certain.

But when university graduates are no longer able to find work and the modern economy is becoming centred around self-employment and entrepreneurship, it makes far less sense to blindly funnel people towards academic subjects at the expense of those that stand a higher chance of being a) useful and b) fulfilling.

I absolutely love this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on Your Elusive Creative Genius. It’s definitely food for thought.

Find Your Passion

I write novels, I blog and keep a journal. I found my passion.

  • What is your passion?
  • What were you born to do?
  • Are you doing it?
  • What about your children?
  • Do they want to write and create?
  • How can you help them?

First of all, model what it looks like to follow your passion and express your creativity.

Then nurture theirs. Give them space to create without criticism. Give them access to learning opportunities that will enhance their creativity.

If you’re looking for a creative writing program for your child, then you could always check out my online course, Fun and Ink *shameless plug alert*. I help young people learn how to write fantastic stories that they feel proud to share with other people.

Whatever your child’s creative passion, you can help them to flourish.

What are your thoughts? Have you found creative or expressive writing to be beneficial in your own life? Do you have a child who loves telling stories? Let me know in the comments.

Creative Writing has enormous benefits to both children and adults.
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Sunshine Blogger Award!

I received a lovely little surprise recently. I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!
It’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It’s given to those who are creative, inspiring, and positive! I was nominated by Alyssa Alley at Bride2Bride.

 

Once nominated for this award the blogger is required to write a post in which they:

  1.  Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog;

  2.  Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them;

  3.  Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer;

  4.  Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post!

My Answers

Alyssa set the following questions, so here are my answers.

1. Why did you start your blog?

Great question! I started this blog, Spirited Mama after the Munchkin was born. It was a traumatic birth and I needed a place to talk about that. I also hoped that by sharing my experience I would be able to help other women avoid the sorts of experiences that I went through. It’s evolved a lot since then!

2. Did anyone help you when you first began blogging? If so, who?

I began blogging back in…. oh, about 2006, I think! I didn’t know anyone else who blogged and it was really just an online diary at first. I wasn’t in any way thinking about it as a way to make money.

I guess I really only started learning more about the craft and professionalism of blogging a few years ago. I learned from other bloggers, such as Suzie Speaks.

3. Tell us a bit about your family!

My parents run Washburn Books, a bookselling business and are really supportive and lovely. I have a big brother who lives in Australia with his wife. My hubby is a software engineer and we have two kids, the Munchkin and the Monkey (formerly “Bean”, but he’s a great, galumphing 5 year old now, so that hardly seems appropriate!) who are home educated and obsessed with Minecraft. We have two fur babies too, two cats, Misty & Jemima.

4. What would you do if you won a million dollars?

Well, that’s about £800,000, so it’s not such crazy money these days. So I wouldn’t do anything that extravagant! I’d want to buy a nice little house and a new car, take the family to Florida and put the rest away somewhere to earn a little interest.

5. Do you have any pets?

Yep, our fur babies, as mentioned above 🙂

6. If people could know one thing about you just by looking at you, what would it be and why?

Ooh tricky one… that I clearly love my chocolate! I’m carrying more than a little extra weight these days!

7. What do you like most about blogging?

I like connecting with other people. That’s ultimately why I do it. The blogging community is so warm and helpful and I love my readers to pieces too. I hope that I am serving them well with my posts.

8. What is one food that everyone loves but you hate?

Garlic? I’m really not a fan. The smell makes me queasy! But not many people seem to feel the way I do about it.

9. If you could only bring 3 things with you to a deserted island for the next year, what would they be and why?

My bullet journal, a pen, and my Kindle (with a magical, infinite battery!) I have to be able to read, or I’ll go crazy. Likewise my bujo, I need to be able to write and create.

10. What is your absolute favourite beauty product?

I’m not that into beauty products really, but I do love a nice spritz of perfume. Nothing fancy, my favourite fragrance right now is White Amber from Next.

11. What do you do to relax when you’re stressed out?

Read, or hand lettering. I almost always read before sleep as it helps me unwind and unplug from a tech-intensive day. I love to get my brush pens out and write out a beautiful quote if I’m feeling super stressed though. I also love mindful colouring. I’m actually giving away a stunning colouring book on my Facebook page right now! Shameless plug alert!

 

My Nominations

So now I get to spread the sunshine and nominate some other beautiful bloggers for this award. Here goes:

  1. Boho Berry
  2. Tiny Ray of Sunshine
  3. Disney Tourist Blog
  4. Diary of a First Child
  5. Attachment Mummy
  6. The Blossom Edit
  7. Suzie Speaks
  8. But I Smile Anyway…
  9. Art and Soul
  10. Journey to Ambeth
  11. Wendy Fairy Art

The Questions

So, the 11 questions for my nominees to answer are as follows…

  1. Where do you come from?
  2. What inspires you?
  3. What is your favourite book, and why?
  4. If you could travel to any one destination, where would it be?
  5. What is the one item you can’t stand to be without?
  6. Who are you closest to?
  7. Why do you blog today?
  8. What do you want to do with your life when you retire?
  9. If you could be 16 again, would you?!
  10. Do you do most of your internet browsing at home or on the go?
  11. What’s your morning routine like?

Thanks!

Thanks for reading. Thank you again to Alyssa for nominating me and for spreading the Sunshine. I hope you enjoyed reading and will go check out some of the other bloggers! When people support one another we all benefit 🙂

 

My Mid-Year Review

As we are now halfway through 2017 (erm… how did that happen?!), I thought it would be helpful to review my year so far and see what I’ve achieved and where I’m going for the second half of the year.

This happens to coincide with me moving into my new bullet journal so this post will cover that process, as well as a review of my goals. I’ve never done a mid-year review before, but it felt really productive and I think you could benefit from doing something similar too.

mid-year review, bujo, bullet journal, planning, goals

I began this process by looking back at the goals that I set for myself in January. It’s been a long time since I set New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I decided to set a series of goals for the year and come up with action steps to achieve them.

I broke them down into four categories: personal development, professional, home & family, and financial. In each category, I had 2-3 separate goals, such as increase fitness, publish next book, and de-clutter house. Having learned about the Getting Things Done (or GTD) system, I soon realised that having these big projects listed was of limited use. What I needed to do in order to achieve these goals, was to break each of them down into individual action steps.

Throughout the first half of the year, I have fallen in and out of my planning. Some months or weeks, I have incorporated these goals and action steps into my bullet journal spreads. But other times I’ve left them out. Take a guess when I managed to make progress on these goals…

In doing this review, I had to be honest with myself about what was and wasn’t working for me. I really set myself too many huge projects, so many of them have fallen by the wayside completely. Going forward, I know I need to limit myself to just one big project at a time, with other secondary projects that can be progressed alongside that. I wasn’t realistic about what I could take on in one year, even if my organisation had been absolutely spot on for the whole six months I would have been pushed to make good progress on more than a couple of these big projects.

There were two areas that I have made strides in, however, and I am super proud of that. I got my fourth book finished and published, resulting in my best day of sales to date. I’m now taking a little break from writing fiction to focus on this blog and my next big creative project. Right here is the other big area of progress! I wanted to redesign Spirited Mama, connect with other bloggers and grow my audience. All of this is happening.

The Big Questions

The next stage of the review was to complete a questionnaire that I picked up from Lisa Jacobs over at Marketing Creativity. Lisa created a list of 10 questions, which I adapted slightly, that cover successes and disappointments of the year so far, as well as changes for the remainder of the year.

The questions I asked myself:

  1. What feels good about the first half of the year?
  2. What areas of your life or business are feeling out of sync?
  3. What do you want the rest of the year to feel like? What would you like to see take shape?
  4. What will you need to do to make that visualisation come true?
  5. What would you like to stop doing? What’s eating up your time, making you feel bad, or not contributing to your best life in any way?
  6. What activities, products, actions, or ideas are working for you this year?
  7. What was your best creative business pay day?
  8. What actions bring subscribers, fans and followers?
  9. What isn’t working? What’s costing time and money for poor return?
  10. What do you want more of in the second half of 2017?
  11. How might you change your approach going forward?

These questions are obviously aimed primarily at people running a business, but the first five and last two can easily apply to anyone. Going through them has given me the chance to pause and reflect, examine what works and what doesn’t, and plan for the future. For instance, I know that I want to be more positive and productive, spend more time with my kids, and grow my income. What’s more, I know what tools to use and steps to take to achieve these goals.

In my bullet journal

As I am moving into my second bullet journal this month, I have been able to take on board what I have learned in doing this review, and implement changes in my bujo. I have loved bullet journaling. It’s no exaggeration to say that it has changed my life. I’m feeling so much more organised and inspired. The major advantage that bullet journaling has over standard planners is the ability to completely customise it. If you try something one week, or month, and it doesn’t work out, you can simply change it up with a new spread whenever you like.

My spreads have evolved since I started in January and I have a better idea of what works for me now. Setting up my new notebook with favourite collections that I wanted to copy over was really enjoyable and made me feel charged with purpose for the coming months.

The first page for the month that I set up was my active projects and goals spread. Knowing now that I need to be more focused and reflect on my goals more frequently, it seemed appropriate to not only have a spread for my annual goals, but one for each month as well.

bujo planning July goals spread

Next up is the traditional bujo monthly spread, more or less. Alongside it, I have included a spread that I used in June in my last notebook, an Income Log. I tried tracking my spending back in May, but I didn’t keep up with it and it actually kept me stuck in a negative mindset. I decided to log all money and value coming into my life instead. This can include things like being gifted a discount for something, or getting a freebie from a mailing list. Any time I receive something of value, I make a note of it. This helps me to feel positive about money and the abundance in my life.

Ryder Carroll traditional monthly layout, income log

I’ve been keeping a gratitude log for a few months now. Very simply, I note down one thing every day that I am grateful for. On bad days it might be something as basic as “my bed”, but since keeping this log, the bad days have grown fewer and more far between. Opposite this, I have a self care log. I used to do a monthly tracker with all the individual self-care acts I wanted to increase in my life listed separately. But I found this too overwhelming, trying to establish too many habits at once. Instead, much like the Gratitude Log, I just note one thing each day that I have done to take care of myself.

gratitude and self care log

going forward

So what are my goals for the remainder of 2017? My top priority is right here, giving you guys great content on a regular basis. Then there’s my creative writing course, Fun and Ink, which I am aiming to get launched this summer. Finally, my fitness needs a very real kick up the butt. I have action plans in place for each, and am raring to go!

So how about you? How has 2107 been going and where are you going next? I love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.

A Miracle Morning Hack for Busy Mums

Delving into the world of bullet journalling has led me into this whole world of productivity systems. It’s vast and can be overwhelming. Which shiny new thing do I try first? What will work for me? Are these gurus genuine or trying to make a quick buck?

I make no claim to know all of the answers. But I have found a hack that is working for this busy mama… so far.

miracle Morning Hack for Busy Mums

The Miracle Morning is a book by Hal Elrod, which, I must admit, I haven’t actually read (you should see my to-read list!). But I came across the concept during my many hours of watching bujo videos on YouTube!

The idea is that you get up early and do certain activities first thing, before anything else. Hal calls these the Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

Silence

Affirmations

Visualisation

Exercise

Reading

Scribe

You can interpret them in a variety of ways and do them in any order, take as much or as little time as you like. Find a way that works for you. For example, you might meditate for half an hour, do a half hour workout, read a blog post, write your shopping list, tell your reflection how awesome you are and imagine meeting all your goals that day.

Or you might spend 90 minutes in the gym before doing anything else and knock out the other tasks in five minutes.

It’s totally up to you. But the idea is to get all of these things done before most people are even out of bed, giving you a head start on the day and setting you up for a super productive one.

I am not a morning person. At all. I have always struggled to get up, no matter what time I go to bed. This was true before children and is even more so now. When I started on this productivity/intentional living adventure last autumn, getting up early was one piece of advice I automatically dismissed. Nope, not going to happen. It was Allie Casazza’s course that got me started on this journey and she says that waking early is the key to her intentional lifestyle. But, she also acknowledges that there are seasons for this. If you have a young child, for example, and are having to wake frequently at night, then this might not be the right time for you to start getting up at 5am. That’s not really true of me these days, but I do sometimes have trouble sleeping.

But when I came across the Miracle Morning, I felt this might be something worth changing my ways for.

bujo bullet journal Miracle Morning Hack

My spread in my Bullet Journal

This is still very much a work in progress and I totally hack this whole idea to suit my needs and my family at this point in our lives. I do not, as Allie Casazza recommends, rise before my children, so that I am waking up for my children, rather than waking up to their noise and demands. My kids are always up before 7am, often around 6. I need 8 hours sleep. In order to get up at 5, I would need to be asleep by 9pm. My kids don’t go to sleep until 8pm. I would need to be getting ready for bed right after they go to sleep! I would get literally no time alone with the husbeast, no time to chill out in front of the TV. So I know this routine wouldn’t work for me.

So I fudge it.

I quickly realised that the S.A.V.E.R.S. could be combined quite effectively. Yoga, for example, is both exercise and meditative (silence). I decided to embark on this 30 Day Yoga Challenge as part of my hacked Miracle Morning. It is never in silence, as not only do I have the video playing on my TV or iPad, but the kids are already up and making the noise that comes with that. But I make do. I shut the door, I tune them out as best I can and focus on my yoga session. The flows in this challenge are only 10-15 minutes, so it’s not too demanding of my time, and is a lovely way to start the day. It clears my head, which is the main purpose behind the first S.

Next, I head to the shower (most days I actually do a kettlebell workout after yoga, adding to my exercise, but this isn’t strictly part of my hack) and do my affirmations and visualisation while showering! I can’t hear the kids from the bathroom, so it’s me and the running water. Bliss. I have a list of affirmations and usually pick three or four to repeat a few times while shampooing my hair. Then I close my eyes and picture the things I want to get done that day, I imagine myself completing my tasks. I often picture a longer term goal being completed too, and crucially, the steps to get there.

Once I’m dressed, I read through a bit of my bullet journal, checking my schedule for the day and week, then write something in it. This might be another task that has occurred to me since planning the day out the previous evening, or logging my morning so far (I have various trackers in there, including my Miracle Morning).

And that’s it. That’s my hack. It takes just over half an hour!

It’s probably not what Hal Elrod had in mind, but it is my way of incorporating what I can of his system into my life with two young children who rise early!

Morning Pages notebookThis month, I decided I would start doing Morning Pages too, which also ticks the “Scribe” box. This is a truly beautiful idea and really, I think it’s a must for most people, especially parents and creative people. The idea is very simple, you write three pages, stream of consciousness style, before doing anything else after waking. Realistically, I go to the loo first haha! But then I get back into bed, get out my lovely journal – I have a separate notebook for this, but you could use your bullet journal – and write. Granted, it’s only day two of this for me, so it remains to be seen if I will keep it up. It does stretch out my Miracle Morning substantially, so it isn’t practical on days when we need to be out of the house in the morning, but on the days when we are in no rush, it’s a peaceful and therapeutic way to begin the day.

It’s a brain dump, a way to vent frustrations, note dreams, draw attention to the positives too. It’s a chance to get everything out of my head and onto the page. Unexpected things might crop up, tasks to do, project ideas, a conversation from the previous day that has been on my mind. Getting it all out clears way for all the day’s new input. I find it works really well in conjunction with Getting Things Done, by David Allen, another productivity system that I am implementing in my life. More on that in another post, I think 😉

I really love my Miracle Morning hack. Maybe one day I will be able to implement it all in full, taking my time, and actually getting the Silence in there too! But this is a step along the way. Feel free to implement this idea into your routine, or take it and turn it into something that works for you. My mantra ever since becoming a mother has been “do what works”. So far, that approach hasn’t let me down.

Do you incorporate anything from the Miracle Morning into your morning routine? Let me know in the comments if you have a hack of your own!

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Change Your Visual Diet & Learn To Love Your Body

This year I’m going to learn to love my body. These are my top tips for anyone else who wants to break the bad habit of negative self-talk and poor body image.

visual-diet

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing a 30 Days of Yoga challenge. This particular challenge is really great because each session is really short, just 10 to 15 minutes, so it’s super easy to fit into my busy day. I aim to do one session each morning as part of my hacked Miracle Morning (more on this in a later post!)

The first two weeks or so were so great. I had taken a long hiatus from really any kind of exercise, so this was a beautiful way to introduce some movement back into my day. I’ve always loved yoga and for some periods of my life I have taken regular classes and gotten into really strong and flexible shape through it. But I started to struggle with this challenge once the novelty wore off and I started getting into the habit-forming part of the challenge (2-3 weeks in). I’m still doing it daily and will see out the 30 days, because it’s important for me personally to finish what I start. But after that, I’m going to be finding a new virtual instructor.

My struggle with this challenge has nothing to do with the difficulty, although parts of it are very physically challenging, but hey, it IS a “challenge” after all, so there is no problem inherent with that. No, unfortunately the struggle I am having is with my size. I am now by far the biggest I have ever been. Luckily I’m still pretty flexible, but there are definitely some yoga poses that simply aren’t achievable for me because my belly, for example, gets in the way! Basically any twist where I need to cross my arm over my body and bring my elbow to meet the opposite knee. Not gonna happen.

yoga-frog

The instructor, while adorable, perky and encouraging, is pencil thin. I mean this in the nicest possible way and am in no way trying to body shame her AT ALL. We are all different and beautiful and that’s great, but I’m finding it really difficult to look at the screen and see a svelte instructor with a thigh gap the same size as one of her thighs. It’s totally MY issue, and nothing to do with her, really. It’s my body issue, my unhealthy mindset. I look up at the screen and get upset that my reflection looks nothing like the person I am aiming to copy.

Yesterday I did something new… after my yoga practice I collapsed on the floor, feeling defeated and negative about my size, on the brink of giving up, when I remembered something. At the start of this year I set myself some goals, not resolutions, goals, real and achievable with detailed action steps. One of those goals was “This is the year I learn to love my body”. I had started putting some of the action steps into practice, doing the yoga challenge itself was intended to be part of it. Having discovered that the challenge was hindering my development in that area, I looked at the other steps. The very first one hadn’t been touched yet: Change My Visual Diet.

Visual Diet

Visual diet is simply the images we consume in day to day life; in the media, on social media, in entertainment and so on. In modern, developed society, we are fed a visual diet heavy in the same kinds of bodies; slim, athletic, styled. When you flick through a clothing catalogue, what do you see? Do you see your body type represented? Even so-called “plus size” models are comparatively slim and tall. They still have flat tummies and smooth thighs, they’re just a couple of dress sizes bigger than mainstream fashion models.

I came across the idea of changing my visual diet about a year ago, when I saw this video of a Tedx Talk by burlesque performer, Lillian Bustle. It’s well worth a watch, but if you only have a few minutes, this one is also great (only if you don’t mind profanity!). Despite discovering the importance of visual diet, I didn’t do anything about it. I kept on consuming a diet of thinness. And I kept on hating my body because it didn’t measure up to what my brain kept being told: THIN IS NORMAL. FAT IS BAD AND UGLY.

So yesterday, when I recalled this action step, I did something about it. I immediately turned to YouTube and searched for “plus size yoga”. What I found was a real eye-opener. There are women my size rocking yoga! They are strong, supple and have great balance. They look like me, there is epic diversity out there!

I had stumbled upon this short video a while back, but had forgotten it and needed the reminder. Apologies, it is an ad, but my link goes to doyouyoga.com where there is an interview with the fantastic yogi in the video.

Anyway, I ended up sitting watching inspiring videos for ages and fed myself a healthy dose of alternative body types. I’m going to make sure I keep feeding myself a varied diet, because research has proven that the more you see a body type, the more likely you are to have a preference for it. If I want to learn to love my body, just as it is, then I can start with seeing more bodies like mine.

Now, as it happens, I do also want to lose some weight and that is high on my priority list right now, but I think it’s so important to love my body whatever size it is. My mental health is even more important than my physical health right now, so I’m tackling that too. The beautiful thing is, in learning to not only accept but love my body as it is, I should also see a side benefit of breaking some unhealthy habits that are causing me to gain weight; such as emotional eating. Research has also shown that the more shame and negativity a person feels around their weight, the harder it will be for them to lose weight. This is a big part of why fat-shaming is so wrong. Not only is it fundamentally unethical, it is totally counter productive. You can’t shame someone into changing their behaviour to tackle weight loss. Shaming them is one way to make sure they DON’T lose weight! Some fat-shaming is disguised as “concern”. I have seen comments on social media that seem well-intentioned, but are actually fat-shaming in disguise. The comments can come across as incredibly patronising and ignorant, even if the commenter genuinely does mean well.

One of the best ways to change your visual diet, is to check out #effyourbeautystandards on Instagram or Facebook. A hashtag created by model Tess Holliday intended to open up people’s minds to what “beauty” is and can be.

Change the Voices

I’m a huge fan of P!nk, crazy huge. I adore her. There are various lyrics from her songs that have inspired me over the years. On this subject, there is one that stands out:

Change the voices, in your head,

Make them like you instead

~ F***ing Perfect

For as long as I can remember, the voices in my head have been telling me things like “you’re so clumsy”, “you’re so stupid”, “you’re so fat and ugly”. It would so totally unacceptable for me to talk to another person like that. So why do I let myself talk to me that way?! It’s awful. I’ve been working on that for a while now. If I catch myself saying those things, I check myself and stop it. I say something affirming immediately. I do daily affirmations as part of my Miracle Morning too, often including something about my body, such as “My body is filled with energy”, or “I am beautiful”. I’m finding it incredibly powerful and my mindset is changing. It’s obviously a slow process to undo 30 years of negative self-talk, but I will crack it. I will make those bullying voices in my head go away for good.

Gratitude

One of my other daily actions is to practice gratitude. Every day I write down something I am grateful for in my bullet journal. I’m finding that focusing on things that are actually important stops me worrying about the more trivial things and things I simply can’t control. Also, accepting that no matter what I feel about my body right now, it IS amazing and something to be grateful for. Just pause for a moment to think about all of the functions that your body performs automatically; breathing, circulating blood, memory. Then add in the rather extraordinary feat of growing another human life! My body has done that twice! And nurtured said new lives once born, having breastfed both my children – the Bean only stopped nursing this month. All bodies are incredible and should be acknowledged as such. So today I am grateful for a body that is living and (more or less) healthy and functioning well.

love-yourself

So this is truly the start of a new journey for me; the destination: self-acceptance. I hope you find these tips helpful in your own journey. I love to hear from readers, so leave a comment below if you have any further suggestions on learning to love your body.

If you want to hear more from me, please do connect on social media.

@SMamaBlog on Twitter, & Facebook.

Bullet Journalling Can Seriously Level Up Your Life

Bullet journalling can streamline your life and help you live more intentionally.

This is my introductory post to the wonderful world of “bujo”, how I found it, how I’m implementing it and how it has improved my life in just a few weeks. I believe it can help you level up your life too!

This post includes some affiliate links. I may earn a small commission on purchases made through these links. I will always be honest about products I use and never recommend something I have not personally used.
Bujo Bullet Journal Title

I first encountered bullet journalling last year and my first impression was pretty much “Soooo pretty! What a lovely way to procrastinate!” I dismissed the idea, believing that it couldn’t possibly help me be more productive as it would suck my time too much.

Then last month I came back to the idea. I’m not sure what drew me back now, I don’t recall. I finally watched the Ryder Carroll video, then went on Pinterest and started searching functional spreads. Yes, many bujo enthusiasts certainly do make beautiful spreads, but that’s the extra sweet topping on the cake, it’s not the main point.

For those totally new to the concept, the bullet journal system was created by Ryder Carroll as a means of organising life in one central notebook. You number the pages and keep an index in the front so you can easily find the page you are looking for later. You create a future plan, which is several months or a year’s worth of important dates all on one spread. You can add to it throughout the year as new events appear on the horizon.

My Future Planner

Then you zoom in a bit with a monthly view. There are infinite ways to create this spread, but in the basic system, you list the days of the month on the left hand page and note here any key events or appointments. On the right hand page you keep a running list of tasks for the month. For my monthly spread, I like to have a traditional calendar view on the left, then the right page has my goals, tasks and trackers.

bujo-monthly-spread

Next you zoom in even further and keep a log of your tasks for each day. Once you complete a task, you turn the bullet point into a cross, or whatever set of symbols works for you. If you don’t complete the task that day, you either cross it off as no longer relevant, migrate it to the next day, or schedule it in your future planner for another date in the future. Every task must be dealt with in one way or another. When you migrate a task, you write it out again in the next day’s log. You keep doing so until it gets dealt with.

bujo-key

The system is so simple and easy to pick up, it can work for anyone. You make of it what you want. I quickly decided I needed a weekly spread, as well as the monthly and daily ones. This gives me an overview of my week ahead, because you only write out the dailies one day at a time, so that they take up as much space as needed, and I like to be able to see everything I have going on so I can plan accordingly. I track all the promotions I am signed up to for my books, home education groups and socials, work time, appointments, date night and so on.

You can add anything you like to your bujo, it’s a totally customisable planner and notebook. Fancy doodling? Doodle away. Want to track your weight loss? Go for it. I’m doing a few challenges and self-development programs, so I track those too.

There are some truly gorgeous examples of spreads out there on Pinterest and Instagram, so if you want further inspiration, don’t hesitate to have a look there. You’ll want to search for “bullet journal” or “bujo”. The best thing about getting into this has been joining an amazing, global community. There are so many bloggers and YouTubers doing this, not to mention the groups on social media! I’m going to pop a few recommended links at the bottom of this post for you guys to check out.

leuchtturm1917-staedtler-triplus-finelinersThe next best thing for me has been the ability to indulge my obsession with stationery! While you absolutely can bujo (totally made that a verb) with any old notebook and writing implement, there are some items that make this a truly enjoyable and creative experience. I use the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, favourite of a great many bullet journalists. I use the dotted version, as it makes drawing lines and tables really easy but is less obvious than the full grid version. They also do a lined one and it comes in loads of gorgeous colours.

I also absolutely love the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. They are dreamy to write with and come in sets of various quantities. The colours are really bright and don’t bleed through the pages. There is some ghosting, where you can see a little of what is written on the other side of the page, but once the second side is full you hardly notice.

I was half right when I dismissed bujo as a distraction. It does take a lot of my time now that I was previously spending doing other things. But you know what? It’s the procrastination that I’m sacrificing. I’m choosing pen and paper and my creativity, over sitting staring at Facebook or mindless TV, and I spend waaaaay less time faffing about on my phone. I am so much more productive, actually tackling my to-do lists, rather than ignoring the mental list doing circles inside my head. I feel so much more balanced and mentally well now that I have not only this amazing organisational tool, but also a creative outlet and warm community to be part of.

Here are a few more of my spreads. I hope this post inspires you to join the bullet journal community.

bujo-bucket-list

 

bujo-health-spread

 

bujo-miracle-morning

 

bujo-writing-tracker

My Writing Tracker – I track the number of words written and hours spent each week

Other blogs and Channels you MUST check out!

Boho Berry – BlogYouTube

Christina 77 Star – BlogYouTube

Tiny Ray of Sunshine – Blog

A Wild Rumpus – BlogYouTube

Sublime Reflection – Blog

That’s all for now, folks. Be sure to hit that “follow” button and connect with me on social media. Thanks for reading. If you want to recommend any other blogs or bujo resources for other readers, please leave a comment below.

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