How Bullet Journaling is Offering a Lesson in Letting Go

It’s a new year which means that many of us have changed out our calendar or purchased a new planner to keep us organized.  And I am a big proponent of finding (& using) the organizing solution that really fits your personality, so I’m pretty sure there is no one-size-fits-all tool.  But, I also know there are alot of people out there fumbling with apps & planners & sticky notes & multiple calendars, feeling frustrated as they work to get a handle on their tasks, lists & dreams.  So, after getting a tutorial on the Bullet Journal, I thought it would be fun to share what I am learning about this tool & the process.

You see, I had resisted figuring out what Bullet Journaling really involved because I thought it might feed into my perfectionist tendencies… and because I already use Google calendar, a paper planner, a journal & a notebook.  I was pretty sure I didn’t need to introduce one more thing, but friends were raving about this method, so I sat in on the intro. to bullet journaling event offered at Content Bookstore last night. 

The talk was led by Cynthia Gilbertson, whose love of this tool and description of all of the great shifts that it has created in her life was so inspiring, that I found myself heading home with a new journal, a little pen-holding accessory, & some cute little tabs.

I let it all sink in overnight & then took the plunge today.  I pulled out some pens and started to fill in the blank journal.

I will admit that I ended up ripping out the very first entry that I made and then starting over, but I’m giving myself a pass on that one.  It’s not easy for a perfectionist to give up that desire to “do it right.”

What I am finding is that this process is actually very intentional, just as Cynthia said it would be.  And for me, it involves a ton of letting go– which is a recurring theme in my life.

Here are all the ways I was letting go as I started to fill in the first pages.

  • how messy or neat my handwriting is going to be 
  • that I’m not going to be able to erase!
  • that the themes of the pages need to go in order or be grouped together- they don’t!
  • that I might run out of space for notes on a topic if I start a new idea on the next page
  • that it has to be set up “right” from the very beginning
  • that I need to know all the tricks & gather fancy pens & stickers in order to start
  • that spending time on this is taking away time from something more critical
  • that someone else is using it more efficiently, more creatively, more intelligently than I am 

Cynthia said that there is a “right way” to Bullet Journal, but the right way is to make it work for YOU

That idea was just what I needed to hear as it fits one of my commitments to myself this year – Listening to what feels “right for me” and allowing it to find it’s way.

I have always been a journaler.  I love to write lists, collect quotes, jot down words of gratitude, and keep notes on lots of things, so it doesn’t feel like a big jump to try a Bullet Journal.  What I’m noticing though, is a little sense of freedom in having only one dedicated place to store all these writings & I’m pretty sure the process will have me considering how much I really need to collect. 

Intention & focus seem to be circling this new book.

Cynthia said that the process allows her to be more mindful & focused each day.  I can see how that can happen as you spend time creating your daily log & reflecting on the tasks that were completed and the ones that need to be migrated or reevaluated. 

I’m also feeling a sense of relief & excitement that the weight of my work bag could lighten up as I set aside some of my other journals & notebooks and allow the Bullet Journal to carry the load. 

I’m willing to see what happens.  Willing to watch this Bullet Journaling process unfold.  And I’m letting go of the need to make big any judgments until I have really had time to see how this tool enhances or complicates my life. 

More letting go… it seems the bullet journal is already doing it’s job.

Your Turn…

How do you stay productive & organized each day?  Do you reach for paper or are you a digital fan?  Are you ready to try something new?

No matter the tool you use, keep this thought by Greg Mckeown in mind, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”  Setting aside time to get clear on the tasks & events that line up with what is really important to you will allow your day to run with more ease & fulfillment.   I hope whatever tool you use, it offers you a chance to create that.

If you have never heard of Bullet Journaling, check out this quick video.  And I’d love to hear more about the system that works for you!  Submit a comment in the box below & I’ll get your message in my inbox.

Why Dreaming Isn’t a Solo Endeavor

The other day I was listening to a podcast when two inspiring women, Kristin Hanggi & Natalie Roy, shared this thought-

“It takes a village to raise a dream.”

I had to jot it down.  I had to dig into it further.  I had to share it with you. 

And I had to ask myself – why was I so struck by this idea? 

I’m pretty sure I already knew this to be true, but I think it must have come at a time when I needed a reminder that we don’t need to do it alone.  I needed to hear that our dreams are meant to be shared.

Stated.  Offered up.  Allowed to be seen & heard, so that they can be supported, nurtured & guided along their way.

But sharing a dream doesn’t always feel easy.

I understand that.  I’m an introvert.  Someone who isn’t afraid to do things independently.  My natural inclination is to spend a lot of time with my own thinking (overthinking, actually).  Learning, planning, mapping the course, setting goals & making lists.  Being “busy” on things that feel safe & comfortable.  Things that I can justify as making progress toward something.

So sharing my dreams with the world feels like a scary idea.  Letting people in on a dream means that I might have to let go of the reins a little – yikes!  I might not be able to follow a map.  

But what I am finding is that I can putter away on my own, busy in my little safety net for only so long.  My “busy” work becomes a holding pattern, UNTIL I get a little nudge of curiosity & longing from being around someone who sees things in another way.  Or when I notice someone who is doing something that I have always wanted to try & it sparks desire.  Or when someone makes a comment that causes a lightbulb to go off

That is when I feel the dream gathering power.  That is when a shift can occur & I begin to feel an opening for growth. 

hearing that it takes a village to raise a dream is a big reminder that to really move ahead, I have to open up my dream to the world.  And I can rely on others to support it’s progress. 

My role in all of this is to be willing to take one step at a time, as I listen & watch for the people along the path that have the next piece of wisdom to keep the journey unfolding toward the dream. 

Stating a dream aloud & allowing the path to unfold toward that dream can be scary for anyone who likes to do things independently or enjoys a plan, or anyone who has a big aversion to failure.  BUT, trusting that a village is just waiting to support the dream makes it easier to open up.  To trust & to allow the path to get a little twisty or brambling and yet to still keep dreaming.

I have been using this last month to stay open to the dream.  To look from a wide-angle lens at what I spend my time on and how those things relate to my dreams.  It has been an exercise in patience & acceptance.  It has brought up fears, as well as curiosity & courage.

And the idea of allowing a village to share the journey offers a new perspective on how much weight is resting on my shoulders to find the right directions & take all the right steps.  

Your Turn…

Inspiration, insight, and momentum are allowed to enter & move us along our journey when we look to others for new ideas, allow friends & colleagues to shoulder some of our fears, and allow curiosity into our life. 

Learning from someone else’s mistakes or successes, asking for support, accepting feedback or sharing your dream out loud with someone, are all ways that we can use the village.

In my work, I ask you to open your doors & share the dreams for your space.  The dream you have for your daily interactions with your stuff.  The dream about how you want to spend your time or relate to your children and your stuff.  And I am honored when I can be a small piece of the village that allows the dream to unfold a little easier. 

Thank you to the village that supports this blog & all the villagers that keep popping up on my journey (to find & state my dreams).

Do you have a dream waiting for some room to grow?

Are you getting worn out trying so hard to make it happen? 

What would it feel like to step back and look to the village for support?

Tell me about it.

The 6 Big Lessons I Learned from Moving

9 years ago we decided it was time to make a move.  We had a cute little old house in a quiet neighborhood, but we were ready for a change, so we started the process to put our house on the market

I think about that little house with the dormers often.  All the hard-work, sweat, paint & memories of our first home.  It was a great place to start our family.  A great beginning.  And the decision to move was a good one, but the steps that it took to get the house ready to sell almost made me change my mind & decide to stay put.

We had two kids under 5 and an old fixer-upper.  It was a recipe for lots of late night sessions with a paint brush & a radio, as well as the decision to rent a storage unit to contain all the extra clutter that we couldn’t deal with at the time. 

The funny thing is that once we had cleared the house of clutter & wrapped up the projects, I had fallen in love with the house all over again. 

Everything had a place & cleaning up was so much easier.  There was room to breath & space to relax.  We had just enough to keep everyone happy and had taken away the extras that had continued to get in our way. 

Moving had offered me a chance to feel what it would be like to live with less, and I liked it. 

We sold the house & eventually had to deal with all of the extra stuff that we had squirreled away in the storage unit.  It was the perfect opportunity to decide how we wanted to live in our next house.  Moving gave us fresh perspective on what we wanted to surround ourselves with & how we wanted our space to feel. 

Here are the lessons I learned from moving –

living without things for a while makes the decision to let go much easier 

All of that stuff that we had sent to the storage unit ended up being things we really didn’t miss & we were able to let go of much easier when we went to unload the unit.  In this case, time apart made the heart grow less fonder.  And the idea of bringing those “extras” to our new space made us cringe, so we knew it was ok to let them go.

You don’t have to take it all with you

As we prepped our house to be put on the market, we had a yard sale to offload some of the things that we knew wouldn’t be going on the moving truck.  Moving takes work, so I kept this sale simple by pricing categories of things, not individual items.  Getting rid of stuff before we packed saved time & energy all around.

It’s ok to need a little time with decisions

Moving involves lots of decisions, so I needed to give myself permission to have some items that I was “on the fence about.”  Those items needed their own box so they wouldn’t get unpacked with everything else. If I had to do it all over again, I would label that box with the DATE & some words like RETHINK THESE or ITEMS TO DECIDE ON.  If I was still “on the fence” when I unpacked, then they probably weren’t favorites & could be given away.

Be choosy as you unpack

Unpacking offered another chance to check if the items getting put away were going to be used, needed, or loved.  It offered another chance to pare down and start fresh in the new space.  It was a great opportunity to get clear about the things we enjoy spending time on & the items that help us do that.

Don’t hold on to things for “just in case”

Often “just in case” items are the ones that get forgotten in the back of the closet & only surface after years in hiding.  We found those items in our extra bedroom closet or stored up in the rafters of our garage.  I began to realize that setting aside space in the new house for items that we never used would limit space for the things that we really used, needed & wanted.  Moving offered a great chance to look at all that extra stuff with fresh eyes & get honest about the likelihood that those “just in case” items would be needed.   

Set up your house to work for you Now!

The biggest lesson from the whole experience was not to wait to find places for our things.  We remembered how good it felt when our old house was pared down & everything had a place that made sense, so we made it a priority to make this happen in our new home.  We thought about how we wanted each space to function & best serve our family before we added the stuff that would be used in those spaces.   We wanted to create a new home that felt good, functioned well, and was easy to tidy up.  It didn’t happen overnight, but we went into our new house with this goal in mind.  

Your Turn…

Are you contemplating a move but feel overwhelmed by the thought of it?

Moving is a big job!  It’s not something that most people can do on the spur of the moment.  It usually takes planning, clearing, lots of packing and loads of decisions.  So how can you face this job without the overwhelm crippling you in the process?  Decide to take it step-by-step.   One thing at a time.

To get the process rolling, sign up for my FREE Tip Sheet on the 5 Spaces to Declutter to Sell. 

To find out more about the services I offer to ease the overwhelm of the moving process click HERE & together we will get your new home ready to support this new chapter in your life!


Take a Break! It’s Important!

I’m all for productivity, efficiency and just plain getting things done, but we all need time to recharge, reboot… restore.  And that’s all there is to it. 

We need breaks. 

Breaks offer us time for clarity & creativity.  They help us put things in perspective. 

When I’m pushing and striving, it can feel like the things I am doing are too important to step away from.  But too much of that pushing can result in overwhelm, disconnection, or fatigue. 

If I can catch myself before I hit that point and take time to relax & let go of the “what ifs,” then I am better able to come back and work with greater focus.  My brain has had some time to recharge & reassess.

And August can be the perfect time to go a little slower before Fall arrives.  It’s a great month to step away for those few moments of rest, peace, or creativity that can reset your drive & determination before you turn the page on summer.

Your Turn…

Are you frustrated & spinning your wheels as you juggle all of your expectations? 

Are you at the point of exhaustion?  Your productivity & drive are probably going downhill as you work to keep pushing yourself to get things done.  It sounds like it’s time for a break.

Next Steps…

A break can be little or big.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Take a walk outdoors
  • Schedule a massage
  • Turn off your phone for an extended period
  • Read a book that is “just for fun”
  • Take the day off and do something that feels “out of the ordinary”
  • Watch a video or show that makes you laugh
  • Treat yourself to coffee at a place you don’t usually frequent
  • Listen to an inspiring podcast
  • Take yourself on a little trip & leave your computer/iPad at home
  • Sit by a campfire
  • Stare into space – let yourself really zone out
  • Take 5 deep breaths

This month it is my intention to find simple ways to disconnect from the to-do list & plug into wonder & curiosity.  And I can’t wait to return to my projects with a new energy & perspective. 

Tell me how you reset, recharge or reboot when you feel your productivity going downhill.  I’d love to hear about it.

A New Bedroom Brings this Teen a Chance to Live with Less.

Each stage of life brings with it opportunities for evaluating & determining what still works and what have we outgrown.  My daughter Lydia put herself through a huge experiment in letting go as she moved her bedroom to the lower level and had to downsize all of her things to fit in a 6.6 x 14′ space.

It has been a true experiment with living with less.  So after 4 months in her new space, I decided to sit down with my 13 year-old to ask her what the experience has been like.

K- What was the motivation for clearing out?

L- I was moving to a smaller room and I wanted it to work for me and I knew that what I had couldn’t physically fit in that room.  It would also be mentally tough for me to have clutter everywhere I looked.  It’s hard to have too many different things to attract your eye.  The things are distracting & I can’t focus on one thing at a time.

Even though my old room was a bigger space, there were a lot of random things in random places and stuff I didn’t need but just kept.

K- Did you use any criteria to sort the things you were keeping vs. the things you were donating or discarding?

L- When I was sorting the school projects or things that people had given as gifts (things I didn’t really love, but things I thought I needed to keep because someone had given it to me as a gift), I did a lot of thinking about when I get older.  What things will I want to show my kids or grandkids?  What things are going to represent an important experience in my memory?  Those are the things I wanted to keep compared to the things I might not remember or weren’t a big deal.

K- How did it feel to let go of so much stuff?

L- It felt like a lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders because I didn’t have to worry when people came over if they would judge me about what I had in my room or those things that I had always looked at everyday and meant to get rid of because I knew I wasn’t using them.  It felt great to have a time to look at everything & get it all out & then not have it on my mind anymore.

K- How does your space feel or function differently now?

L- Because I have a smaller space I thought I would be out of my room (spending time) in our other bigger spaces, but I find I use my room more.  And not just for reading.  I have the things that I need in the spots where I can get to them easily so I can feel creative and work on things and get inspired by the stuff that would have been cluttered up or not recognized in my old room.

K- Do you miss the things you let go of?

L- At first it was different not seeing what I usually see and not being around as much stuff.  But after a bit I just forgot about those things.  I have everything I need or want because the other things that seemed nice at the time, just ended up piling up.

K- Did anything surprise you along the way?

L- I was surprised how easy it was to get rid of things.  I expected that a lot of stuff would be sentimental and I would have too much stuff  so it would take a while, but once I decided to get started then I just got it done.  I guess I was surprised that it went that quick.

K- What advice do you have for others who want to make a change?

L- They should go for it!  Don’t put off getting clear because it will make you happy when all of your stuff is gone. 

Just begin with something small and once you start, the rest will come quick and easy!

*responses were edited by Lydia

Have a story of letting go that you’d like to share?  Tell us about it!