Planning a Florida Vacation! – 8 Months To Go – Fit for Florida!

**I want to preface this post with my deepest sympathy for everyone affected by Hurricane Irma. The destruction is absolutely devastating. I can only imagine what it must be like to live through a storm like that. Please know that my thoughts are with the families of those affected.**

So, as some of you may know, my family is somewhat obsessed with going to Florida. We went when the Munchkin was a toddler and the Bean was a baby. We went again a few years later, and we are planning another trip next year!

I absolutely LOVE planning these holidays. I love the magic of Walt Disney World and the epic fun of Universal Orlando. I spend hours and hours in between vacations browsing Pinterest, reading Disney blogs, watching vlogs and everything. It brings me so much joy! But it is also extremely practical because this kind of vacation takes an enormous amount of planning and if it’s your first time, it can get overwhelming.

So, I decided to share the obsessive planning magic, and write a blog series to guide other families through this process, from start to finish, in real time.

 

Walt Disney World WDW planning a Florida vacation holiday

One year is really the ideal time-frame in which to plan a holiday of this magnitude, especially if you are travelling to Florida from outside the United States, like we are. About twelve months out from travelling is when many of the offers are announced and the most popular accommodation can book up this far in advance too.

It is possible to grab a late bargain, of course, and if this is how your family rolls, then that’s terrific, go for it! But this series probably won’t be for you. This is one for the planners, the organisers, the folks who want or need to get their travel plans firmed up well in advance.

You can catch up with this series here:

  1. 12 Months – Initial Planning
  2. 11 Months – Accommodation
  3. 10 Months – Dining Plan
  4. 9 Months – Saving Up & Booking Flights

8 Months To Go: FiT for Florida

A holiday at Walt Disney World and/or Universal is exhausting. I’m not going to sugar coat this. If you’ve never been before then you need to know. The first time we went I was nursing a 5-month-old baby, so I had to take frequent breaks in the shade to rehydrate myself and feed my little one. It was hard work but I was forced to take care of myself and not overdo it. It was actually a heap load more difficult the next time we went when our kids were 6 and 3 years old!

I didn’t have the “excuse” (it wasn’t, but you know what I mean) to sit down often anymore. I had two young kids with alternating bursts of energy and lethargy in the humidity. We were a large party with varied needs and it was tough to meet all of those.

The walking – oh! The walking! A day in a theme park of the scale we are talking about here involves walking for miles and miles. Are you ready for that? Are your kids prepared?!

What You Need To Consider

When it comes to being physically fit for a Florida vacation, it comes down to a few essentials:

  • The heat & humidity
  • The walking
  • Long days

Adults and kids alike will have varying degrees of ability to cope with the conditions of a Florida holiday. Hubby’s nephews, for instance, coped brilliantly with the long days and heat. I hardly heard a complaint from them and they were perfectly fine staying up late for the fireworks. My kids, on the other hand, were falling asleep at dinner on both previous trips and last time they both slept through different, very loud portions of Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (with ear defenders on, admittedly)!

So it comes down to your family and what your unique personalities and habits are like. Plan the holiday that is right for your needs.

Planning A Florida Vacation - Fit for Florida, getting fit for the heat and walking

The Heat & Humidity

It is hot. For those of us from the north of England, where 60% of our days are overcast and we rarely see temperatures over 25 degrees centigrade, going to a place with daily highs in excess of 30 degrees is a bit of a shock to the system!

In order to cope, you need to stay hydrated. A lot of us are kind of crap at drinking enough water. In order to rectify this flaw, I began tracking my fluid intake a while back, in my bullet journal, of course! One of my daily habits that I track is to drink 2litres of diluted squash. I have had a lot of trouble drinking water since I was a kid. I remember hating it by the time I was about 5 and for years I would instantly bring up any gulp of water that I tried to swallow. I could/would only drink soft drinks – squash, juice and fizzy pop.

I am determined to change that, but it takes time to re-wire the brain to accept something that it has rejected for 30 years! So I am slowly reducing the amount of cordial that I put into my One Green Bottle, gradually decreasing the concentration so that I can eventually get to only drinking water.

I’m doing pretty well! A few months ago it was almost impossible for my drink to be too strong, now I can’t stand it if it’s more than about 1 part squash to 8 parts water. I’m going to be drinking pure water by next May so that I can stay properly hydrated in Florida.

On previous trips, I have drunk a LOT of cola. The re-fillable mug they give you when you have the dining plan, or that you can buy if you don’t, makes it oh so easy to just keep chugging away on the fizzy drinks all day long. That’s not okay, folks! It won’t hydrate you properly and all that sugar can do terrible things to your body.

It’s also worth considering that the heavier you are, the harder it will be to cope with the humidity. All that extra body fat keeps you warm and you do not need to keep warm in Florida. You need to keep cool! All the water rides and shady outdoor spots in Walt Disney World will not mean a thing if you are so heavy you can’t walk a few yards without breaking into a sweat (this is me, BTW, and absolutely NO judgement directed at anyone reading, no matter what size you are).

Last trip, I found myself almost stumbling, zombie-like, from one air-conditioned building to another, barely able to breathe in the open air. To be fair, it was unseasonably hot for October, locals kept telling us so on all the bus rides around WDW. But it helps to be prepared for these sorts of conditions.

The Walking

Miles, seriously, every day. You will be walking a lot. Having a couple of pairs of great shoes will be essential. But better yet, be fit!

Do you regularly walk 3-5 miles per day? In the hot weather? If you do, then, great, you’re all set! But not all of us are so lucky. I drive almost everywhere and have lapsed into a very sedentary lifestyle. This is something I have tried to change in the past and always ended up reverting to old habits.

It’s hard, folks, I know it is. But with a holiday like this to motivate me, I know I can smash my fitness goals and make healthy choices for LIFE!

With only 8 months to go (just under at time of writing), I need to step things up a notch as I have yet to make much progress on this goal. I have an app on my phone that tracks my steps and my goal is to get my daily steps up to at least 10,000 on average.

Last week I rejoined the gym after about 2 years absence. Just telling myself to walk instead of taking the car wasn’t resulting in actual behaviour change. So it’s time to try something else.

I’m going to be doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) and lifting weights. The HIIT is the best kind of cardio training to increase heart health and build stamina. Weightlifting builds strength, which boosts the metabolism, which helps cope with heat too. I could write an essay on my exercise choices and why they are right for me, but you need to research this and decide what is right for you.

So, have a think about whether you need to increase your fitness to cope with all the walking you’ll be doing. Give yourself enough time to meet your goals too.

Long Days

A big part of why we are going for 3 weeks this time, instead of the more usual 2, is because none of us really manage well with really full, long days. If we’re going to really enjoy everything that this vacation has to offer, we want to be able to really take our time. It doesn’t suit us to hurtle from one ride to another with just the occasional break for food.

We want to enjoy the fireworks and other evening entertainment this time, instead of dozing through it. So we want to have leisurely afternoons at the hotel and head back out to the parks later. 3 weeks gives us more time to do this.

But the days will still be long. None of us is used to actively napping these days, so chances are we will be awake from early morning to midnight or beyond for many days of the holiday. Being fit and healthy will help with this too. The sleep we get will be deeper and more restful (being overweight can cause sleep apnea or snoring – which affects everyone in the room).

The Elephant in the Room

I have to mention this one, which is personal to me and won’t apply to everyone reading. I can’t look back at the photos from our previous trips that include me. I do not like seeing myself that big, and I’ve gotten much bigger since our last Florida vacation.

So my final Fit for Florida goal is to learn to love my body, whatever its size. I want to look back fondly and love the smile on my face in every picture. I don’t want to see a self-conscious, awkward me looking back at me from the photo album. Whether I achieve my physical goals or not (although I WILL), the one thing that absolutely has to change is how I feel about myself.

So I practice daily affirmations to send a little love to myself every day. I have phrases such as “I am beautiful – just as I am” and “I love and accept myself in every way”.

I’m also changing my visual diet. Evidence shows that the images we consume every day shape our feelings about bodies. People who frequently see very thin, unattainable body shapes, will only be attracted to those bodies and often feel negative towards their own body if it fails to measure up. Those who frequently view larger bodies are more likely to be attracted to larger bodies and feel better about their own size.

I’m never going to look like Kate Moss, nor would I wish to, my fitness goals don’t include fitting into a size zero. I want to be healthy, leaner than I am now, physically stronger, but most importantly, happy in my own skin (and fat and muscle).

In My Bullet Journal

Obviously, if you know me, you know I’m tracking all of this in my bujo. Never encountered that term before? Check out my introductory post here.

I have this spread near the start of my current journal to track my fitness goals for this vacation.

There are a couple of goals on this spread that I haven’t talked about in this post yet. Just to touch on them quickly:

Disney is really accessible. There are really no rides or attractions that are off limits due to a person’s size. Universal is a slightly different story. Wide hips can be problematic for some of the seats. So that top goal is about that. I don’t want to have to even worry unnecessarily about whether I will be too big to fit into a seat. It should just be a non-issue.

The other is that I have not always been great at avoiding foods that irritate my gut. I’ve gone through periods of avoiding dairy and gluten, but not stuck with it. I don’t really want our next big holiday marred by frequent dashes to the toilet because I ate something that bothered me! So I just want to increase my discipline there.

Planning a Florida Vacation - Fit for Florida in my bullet journal, bujo fitness inspiration

Having goals isn’t enough, you need action steps if you’re going to reach them, so these are listed here, along with mini-mouse goals at the bottom of the right-hand page ūüėČ

I check back in with this spread often, reminding myself of my “why”, my goals and action steps.

Having something positive to look at is inspiring and is helping me to get closer to achieving my goals.

So, let me know in the comments what your fitness goals are for your Florida vacation! Had you given this a lot of thought already? Or are you just realising that this might be a good idea?

Next month I’ll be back to cover how we go about choosing which attractions top our wish lists and I’ll give you a sneak peek at my Trello board for planning this vacation.

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Planning a Florida Vacation! – 9 Months To Go – Saving & Booking Flights!

So, as some of you may know, my family is somewhat obsessed with going to Florida. We went when the Munchkin was a toddler and the Bean was a baby. We went again a few years later, and we are planning another trip next year!

I absolutely LOVE planning these holidays. I love the magic of Walt Disney World and the epic fun of Universal Orlando. I spend hours and hours in between vacations browsing Pinterest, reading Disney blogs, watching vlogs and everything. It brings me so much joy! But it is also extremely practical because this kind of vacation takes an enormous amount of planning and if it’s your first time, it can get overwhelming.

So, I decided to share the obsessive planning magic, and write a blog series to guide other families through this process, from start to finish, in real time.

 

Walt Disney World WDW planning a Florida vacation holiday

One year is really the ideal time-frame in which to plan a holiday of this magnitude, especially if you are travelling to Florida from outside the United States, like we are. About twelve months out from travelling is when many of the offers are announced and the most popular accommodation can book up this far in advance too.

It is possible to grab a late bargain, of course, and if this is how your family rolls, then that’s terrific, go for it! But this series probably won’t be for you. This is one for the planners, the organisers, the folks who want or need to get their travel plans firmed up well in advance.

You can catch up with this series here:

  1. 12 Months – Initial Planning
  2. 11 Months – Accommodation
  3. 10 Months – Dining Plan

9 Months To Go: Saving & Booking Flights

So, you’ve booked your accommodation and it’s starting to feel a bit more real now. You’re actually going to Walt Disney World!

If you’re super sensible, then you didn’t even book until you had the total sum of your budget for the holiday in the bank. Or maybe you’re reading this well in advance of ever booking and are looking for saving tips to get you ready for booking. That’s fab. But if you’re anything like me, then you already booked and you’re realising now that you need to save thousands in time to pay for the damn holiday. Eek!

It’s okay, you’ve got this.

Your Budget

By this point you should be familiar with your budget; you know how much your entire vacation is going to cost. So now is the time to look at how much you have already paid up front for the deposit and how much you have already got saved up for the rest. The Worksheet that I shared back in the first post in this series will help you if you feel a bit lost here.

Your budget will be unique to you, so I don’t want to put figures into your head. Just remember to consider:

  • Accommodation
  • Flights/travel (inc to and from airports)
  • Travel expenses (food on the go, books or magazines for the journey etc)
  • Car hire
  • Parking
  • Food
  • Souvenirs
  • Park Tickets
  • Extra paid events e.g. shows like La Nouba (if you’re going to WDW this year, it finishes forever on 31st December 2017!) or seasonal parties like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
  • Laundry – some rooms and resorts have free laundry facilities, but you may need to budget for the machines and detergent

I’ve made a handy Florida Vacation Budgeting Worksheet¬†for you to help you figure all of this out.

Saving Up

If you don’t already have several grand in the bank set aside for this, then you’re going to need to figure out how much money you need to put aside each month in order to be able to cover everything.

Take the total cost and divide it by the number of weeks or months until you need the total (remember that your bill for the accommodation will be due a few weeks before you travel, but you won’t need souvenir money until you’re actually there). This gives you a saving schedule to follow. So for example, if you need ¬£5,000 and have 35 weeks to save up, you will need to put away ¬£143 per week.

You can flip this around and start with how much you can realistically put away each week or month. Say you can manage £400 per month and have 9 months, then you can save £3,600 in total.

Using My Bullet Journal

If you’ve been following my other blog posts, you will probably know by now how much of a fan I am of the bullet journal! My bujo is used for all aspects of planning in my life, and this vacation is no exception. I have a spread for tracking my savings, another my fitness goals and various pages dedicated to planning notes.

There are an infinite number of ways you could track your savings and there are fantastic ideas on Pinterest, so check there for inspiration.

This is my spread.

Bullet journal spread for tracking my savings for our Walt Disney World vacation

Booking Flights

Flights tend to start being available to book around 10 months ahead of travel, so it’s around now that you can organise this part of your travel plans.

Prior to this, it’s impossible to get an accurate quote for the cost of your flight. You can search flights with different dates to get a rough idea, but as flight prices vary so much by season and how far in advance you are booking them, this isn’t a reliable method. This is the most significant hitch when it comes to budgeting for your Florida holiday. As a general rule, when we are planning a year in advance, we estimate flights at ¬£500 per person. When it comes time to book flights, we try to find an airline offering flights for around this price.

While it is possible to get late deals on flights much closer to the time of travel, I don’t recommend relying on this in your budget. You might not be able to get flights for the right dates, and they might not be as cheap as you were hoping. It’s better to overestimate the cost and get a nice surprise saving, leaving you a little extra room in your budget for souvenirs or extras.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on booking flights? Or on budgeting for a big family vacation like this? I love to hear from readers, so drop a comment below.

I’ll be back next month with my top tips for getting Fit for Florida!

Budgeting and saving money for your Walt Disney World Florida vacation
Budgeting for your Florida vacation - printable PDF worksheet

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

 

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 ūüėČ

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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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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2017 So Far…

This is just a super quick post to update my fabulous readers! This year has been amazing so far and I wanted to let you know that although I haven’t posted much yet, there is soooo much coming!

2017-goals-and-planning

Bullet Journal

The big thing is that I started bullet journaling. There is going to be an epic post on this coming up very soon, so stay tuned (or hit the “follow” button!). If you don’t know what this is, very briefly, it is a planning system that turns a simple notebook into a diary, planner and journal. The key component is that you place an index at the front of the notebook, number your pages, and list everything you put in there in the index so you can find it again later. You keep to-do lists, plan for the future and track whatever you like in the book. I highly recommend you check out the Bullet Journal website and watch the intro video by Ryder Carroll, the guy who first created the concept. Then head to Pinterest and search for “bujo”….

So that’s been taking up a great deal of my attention for the last month.

Kids, Birthdays & Birth

I’ve been running creative writing workshops for local home educated kids, which I am LOVING so much and am figuring out ways to do more of that.

img_2841-2It’s been a very Minecraft-focused period for the Munchkin and the Bean, they are obsessed and learning so much. I am bowled over constantly by how creative they are becoming. The Bean also turned 5 a couple of weeks ago! How crazy is that?! Of course, he had to have a Minecraft cake, and I confirmed, yet again, that cake decorating does not come naturally to me!

I did a lot of reflecting on his birth around his birthday this year, it being the fifth anniversary of an event that completely changed my life in so many ways. You can check out my post about his incredible birth here, and the contract I used to get the lotus-caesarean here.

Coming up, I am going to be blogging about what’s going on in the midwifery world right now, with bizarre and potentially discriminatory action by the NMC.

Living Life On Purpose

A few weeks ago, I decided to set myself a couple of challenges. One is a 30 days of yoga challenge, which I am actually sticking to and loving! The other, is to stop yelling at my kids. I’m not the perfect unconditional/gentle parent, I admit that and when tensions run high, I resort to yelling. I became really aware of how frequently I raised my voice and have made a conscious effort to stop, cold turkey. No yelling at all. I have messed up twice. I’ll post a more detailed account of that, the reasons for it and how I’m handling it.

intentional

The first page of my bullet journal

My main focus for 2017 is to live more intentionally. I’m aiming¬†to be productive and present in the moment, not letting my time disappear with no real recollection of what I’ve been doing, which is all too easy to do as a busy mum at home with two crazy kids. The no yelling is part of that, as is the bullet journalling. But the most significant thing is the de-cluttering. I signed up to a course late last year and got all inspired. Hubby and I did a massive purge in December and took two carloads of stuff to a charity shop. But we have loads more to do, so I’ll be posting updates on that as we progress. There might even be “before” and “after” photos!

That’s all for now, folks.

TTFN