August 29, 2014

DIY Planner with Printables

Being a mom means you have a super busy life that you have to deal with after you lost about 30%* of your smarts after making, birthing, and beginning to raise a baby.  Being a mom who is also involved in lots of activities makes it even busier.  Being a mom who has a husband who is ALSO involved in lots of activities and/or a crazy schedule....well, you get it.

(*not an exact science)

For a while now, I've had real frustration with my iPhone calendar and my Gmail calendar (#firstworldproblem, I know, but seriously).  I'd be at the end of a meeting, putting in the next meeting's date and time RIGHT THEN, only to have it disappear only a few days later, for no apparent reason. 

ALSO, I was really growing tired of asking my husband over and over what his (varied, ever-changing) schedule was and what time he'd be done that day (he was getting pretty tired of it, too).  I honestly just couldn't remember from day to day.  So I started thinking about getting a planner.

The Erin Condren planners were the first ones I wanted to look at, but....L O L at spending $50 on that when there are other things to buy right now (and never enough money to spend it on).  Sure, I could have gotten a cheaper one (they're still like $15-20) at Target or Staples, but I wanted it to be pretty.

So, I like to have my cake and eat it, too.  Sue me.

Then Heather totally saved me by tweeting this link yesterday and using some printables there, along with some Pinterest and some creativity of my own, and VOILA! My very own DIY (pretty!) planner!

and it IS a crazy life...

At-a-glance calendar for the year

Full month calendar; different color/patterned washi tape to indicate my commitment/husband's commitment/Z's appointments

Weekly plan after each month (I can tear them out once I'm done, or keep them all!)

Menu planning/shopping list

Bought a post it/stick-on thingy to go in the back.  It folds into the planner when it's shut, and I can refill it with other post-its when I run out. 

I used the "Blog Planner" template to keep up with my social media postings for different organizations for which I manage pages. This is one area where it'd be nice to make it customizeable, but was free.

Task/to-do lists for the shows I'm directing. The washi tape came in handy again because, unfortunately, the guy at Office Max bound these pages upside-down. Grrrr.  

Who knows if this will actually help me out (I'm really great at starting planners...) but I'm excited about it!  And it was WAY cheaper to print all of this out on my own and then have it bound.

Cost Breakdown

Printing: Free (ink, of course)
Binding: about $5 at OfficeMax
Washi tape: $2 x 3 rolls = $6
Post-it thingy: ~$6

Total Cost: less than $20

Thank you HEATHER!  Here's to getting organized.

August 21, 2014

My Worst Critic

Today, inspired by Jon Acuff's post in which he did the same, I took a photograph of my worst critic.

I caught her in a moment. I snapped her photo so that I could see her at a vulnerable moment and remind her that she really holds no power and that she doesn't always tell the truth.

I took her picture so that I could look right at her and tell her that she's not always right when she tells me things including (but certainly not limited to):

  • You are not a nice person.
  • You don't deserve good things to happen to you.
  • Good things aren't happening to you, and it's because you aren't trying hard enough.
  • You're bitter because you think you aren't good enough, and you're not.
What a mean person this critic is! Nobody would want to hang out with a person like this, would they? And yet she was close enough for me to snap a photograph.

Are you ready to see her?

(I know you aren't surprised.  These types of posts are usually pretty predictable.)

I had this empty post field open already when I clicked on Jon's tweet that led me to his blog post, and it was incredibly well-timed.  I was literally preparing to write an honest-but-not-very-nice post about myself in which I shook my fists to the Heavens in frustration and anger and bitterness about the fact that I'm not where I want to be yet.

Worse and much scarier - that I don't know where I want to be yet.  At least not definitively.

I do know some honest facts, though (my critic just doesn't have a very nice, tactful or loving way of saying them):

  • I'm afraid. 
  • I'm anxious.
  • I'm having a hard time being happy for anyone right now when good things happen to them.  Not because I don't think they deserve them, but because I don't understand why they aren't happening for me. 
  • I'm unfulfilled, professionally.
Look, I know what I'm doing wrong (though, perhaps "wrong" is the critic's word and I should try to come up with another one).   I've read all the devotional emails and heard all the sermons that remind me that until I fill up my life with Christ and focus on His word, I will not feel truly fulfilled in other aspects of my life, either.

Even THIS WEEK, I read a devotional that should have made me feel better.  It spoke directly to what I've been feeling lately.  Here's an excerpt:

I know some of you are ready to give up and quit. Some mountain is standing between you and the dream you thought was sure to become a reality. You think God has lost track of where you are and what you are going through. He hasn’t. That is a lie from the pit and smells like smoke. Don’t buy it!
I know you don’t understand why a loving God would allow so much pain to saturate this broken world and perpetuate such loss and hurt. I don’t either. But God’s ways are so much higher than my ways, and His thoughts are for my eternal good – not my temporary comfort.
The world is broken and hearts (including mine) are so heavy right now.  I'm frustrated with the state of the world, both globally and in my own little bubble and that mean girl up there in the mirror is telling me that I shouldn't allow myself to feel my own little first-world problems when there are "much bigger, worse things happening everywhere else." To an extent, she is right...

But I do need to address her, head-on, and face the truths that I'm fighting against with every fiber of my being.

A lot of posts and articles have made the rounds lately, in the wake of the sudden and tragic death of Robin Williams about how depression and anxiety are liars. I've never wanted to admit that I may struggle with one or both of those things (not outside of the postpartum anxiety I had for several months after Z was born, anyway) because they aren't "as bad as some people really have it."  But that's another lie, because I don't have to quanitfy OR qualify my feelings against those of others.

If I'm laying in bed, letting that inner critic, that Mean Girl, tell me all of those items in that first bulleted list and believing them, then it's time to make a change.

There's no revelation or special ending paragraph to this post that details what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it. Because right now I'm still in the frustrated phase. I am reading devotional emails and cognitively knowing and understanding what the issue is and what I can and should be doing, but right now I'm stubbornly digging in my heels and folding my arms and just wanting to be mad. Openly inviting my worst critic into the conversation.

But maybe calling her out is the first step. She, led by the lies of the Enemy and the untruths and deception of anxiety, is not the boss of me. I won't let her win.

As I write this, I get tears in my eyes because I know that I do try every day to focus on love and positivity, but that sometimes that's just not enough.  But I'll get there.  My story isn't even close to over. Way, way, way down the path I can see where I want to be. I've just got to get over that mountain first.

August 11, 2014

On this blog, I write my last* confessions...

(*read: most recent)

I have a confession to make.  A couple, actually. 

Confession #1 -- About a week or so ago, I started asking myself a question that I was afraid to answer.  The question was, "Am I just unmoved by musical theatre anymore?" The question came as a result of having recently left several productions, from amateur to professional, just feeling...bereft of feeling or emotion.

As a matter of fact, I've been wondering of late if and where and how theatre even belongs in my life.  Becoming a mom to Z has definitely put my life into perspective, regarding how and where I spend my time and money, and sometimes I wonder if I even love it as much as I used to.  (See this post from Theatre Communications Group a while back -- it is a fairly accurate representation of the feelings I've had difficulty expressing in the past 13 months).

Then, this past Friday night, I attended Dallas Theater Center's widely-discussed (and quite polarizing) production of Les Misérables. With an open mind but a guarded heart for my all-time favorite musical, I craned my neck from the edge of my infamous chair at the Wyly Theatre, and spent three hours holding my breath and fighting back tears.

Which leads me to Confession #2 -- I will no longer call myself a "purist" when it comes to theatre.  At least, not in the sense of the word that has me digging in my heels and refusing to accept change or re-imagining of what we've, as a community, deemed "classic" works in the art form. 

Photo by Karen Almond, from DTC web site.
Before scoring my own set of tickets to a performance, I read almost every review of this production, and actively participated in discussions on Facebook theatre group forums (sometimes just to play Devil's Advocate and keep discussion going, but sometimes just to ask questions and be a part of the conversation -- and there was a lot of conversation about this production).  However, once I bought my tickets, I went off the Les Mis grid.  I wanted to spend the next 3.5 weeks in a bubble, and reset myself and my expectations for this production.

Photo by Karen Almond, from DTC web site.
This is not a review.  Others have done that already, and have done it better than I could.  I have thoughts - lots of them - about the direction and the staging and the performances...and also about the whole concept or idea of pushing our boundaries and taking the time to look at a story with fresh perspective.

I am no longer a purist -- but allow me to explain how I'm choosing to define "purist" in this genre. 

Do I believe that we need to consider the author/playwright/composer's intent?  Yes, absolutely.

Do I believe, though, that we cannot think outside the box without compromising the aforementioned intent and/or changing the story?  Not anymore. 

In my opinion, theatre is necessary and beautiful because it speaks to the human condition.  It's almost always about people, isn't it?  Or about how something affects a person or group of people?  I think so.  And we can only hope as artists that, when we make ourselves vulnerable and put our hearts and souls into the characters and breathe life into them on a stage, that we end up sharing something important and real with our audiences.

It's not just about the concept or the lighting or the production -- it's about the story.  It's about the human elements that guided the pen of the playwright/composer, that inspired the director/conductor and that are brought onto a stage by a dedicated, committed and passionate cast of actors.

That's why (and how) Les Mis works, even if you dress it up a bit differently. If anything, I'd say that this version, spearheaded by director Liesl Tommy, works even more so -- because you are unable to go into soft focus and watch this show as you've always seen it.  You perk up a bit in your seat, you tilt your head to the side a bit, and you snap to attention.  You hear lyrics as you've never heard or understood them before.  Themes smack you in the face with a little bit more force than the last reboot you saw come through on a tour.

Photo by Karen Almond, from DTC web site.

Again, I really do have so much more I could say about this production, but I fear I'd end up writing something long enough to rival Hugo's novel.  I do want to say just one more thing before I close with my final feelings:  I do not think that it takes the budget or space of Dallas Theater Center to create all of the same beauty and rawness and humanity that I experienced on Friday night.  It can happen (and is happening) anywhere artists are gathered with a passion and a goal to create art that inspires people.

I'll close with an email I sent to the director the morning after the show.  Perhaps I did tiptoe into "fangirl" territory, but I meant every word. I feel inspired and refreshed as an artist.  And grateful to have so many opportunities coming up to put that inspiration on its feet. 
Dear Ms. Tommy, 

Last night, my husband and I finally were able to score tickets to Les Miserables at Dallas Theater Center. We are semi-active members of the D/FW theater community and we love the musical and wanted to go and support some of our friends in the show. 

Thank you. 

Thank you for being brave with a classic production. Thank you for taking a risk and giving local audiences a chance to expand and open their minds to a fresh perspective on a beloved musical. 

Thank you for taking a concept and clearly weaving it through every single intricacy of a very intricate story. 

Thank you for showing us that, despite time or place of setting, humanity and the human connections we make are still relevant and that, in my opinion, they are why we do theater (or see theater, if our interests don't take us onstage) and why it's our DUTY to keep looking at these stories and songs. 

On a personal note...thank you and the cast for showing me that yes...I do need theater in my life, still. I had a baby a year ago, and since his birth and a very rough first experience back onstage a few months ago, I have been struggling with an artistic existential crisis. I've been asking myself, "Does theater -- specifically musical theater -- even have a place in my life anymore? Is this something that I still NEED?" Last night reminded me in my very bones that the answer is "YES." I was mentally and physically drained after last night's performance from sitting on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, and seeing and understanding new meanings in the story (I know it's cliche, but all of the parent/children moments resonated with me in a brand new way). I just wanted to rest my head in my arms on the balcony and weep. 

In my head, I've just been saying, "I want to email Liesl Tommy and say, simply, 'I got it. I understood it. Thank you.'" But the words kept coming. 

Thank you. And the cast. A million times.

August 2, 2014


This may come as a big surprise to you all, but...I'm kind of an emotional person.

I know.

But what can I say? I love traditions. I love meaningful things. I love "things" or mementos or treasures or articles of clothing that have a story tied to them. (Remember the Traveling Maternity Shirt?)

Enter Fiona.

"Who/what is Fiona?" you say?

Let me start at the beginning.

Back when I found out I was pregnant, I hesitantly joined The Bump, one of many choices for pregnancy websites.  I found my Birth Month message board (June 2013) and kind of held it at arms length for a while.  However, sharing a pregnancy with strangers who will delight in your ever-growing bump with you and get SUPER excited about milestones (V-day, etc.) when everyone in your life who isn't pregnant just kind of smiles and was nice to have that group.

Late in the pregnancy, a smaller group of us formed a Facebook group (I'd tell you our name, but then I'd have to kill you.  The first rule about the June 2013 Moms Group is that you don't talk about the June 2013 Moms Group) and quickly began to get close to each other.  We anxiously awaited each June baby (some decided to make early appearances!), and we were there for each other literally 24/7 (you'd probably not be surprised to hear that there were some middle-of-the-night WHY IS MY BABY STILL CRYING?! type posts) during those bleary-eyed newborn stages.  We celebrated each milestone and, just recently, we celebrated and cried nostalgic tears with each other as we cheered each baby's first birthday and each Mama's first Birth Day celebration.

These women are amazing.

Now, back to Fiona. 

As you may remember, I got pretty into babywearing, thanks in large part to these amazing women (I bought my first wrap from one of them, and have borrowed many more from others).

One of the traveling wraps was Fiona.  Fiona is a woven wrap made by Pavo Textiles, and it's a fuchsia Etini.  One of the June mamas sent Fiona traveling in order to break her in ("breaking in" means making the wrap softer and more easily wrapped with than it is brand new in the bag).  MANY June mamas were on the list to play with Fiona for a week.  I lucked out and got her just in time for Christmas:

I absolutely loved seeing Fiona's travels...knowing that this one wrap was carrying all of these babies. That women I had grown to love and trust were wrapping their cranky, sleepy, teething, clingy, lovey-dovey babies with the same wrap.

I mean seriously, though, isn't that kind of a beautiful thing??

Anyway, when Fiona returned home, she was offered for sale (with what we call "buyback dibs") by the owner.  We all knew we wanted to keep Fiona in the "family." LONG STORY SHORT (too late), the owner and I spoke and she offered to split the wrap with me, and have two ring slings made by a professional converter. half arrived today.

As soon as I put Z (cranky, clingy and feverish as he gets over an ear infection) in the sling, he rested his head on my chest and sighed.  I got huge tears in my eyes and was barely able to snap this picture before I got ugly-cry-face going.

It's not just that it's a wrap. A beautiful one, at that.  It's also that this wrap has carried many of the 2013 Junebugs. It's been lovingly re-folded and packed and shipped all over the U.S.

And...if I'm being's also that the owner was willing to do this for me on a payment schedule that works for us. I'm lucky to have one wrap at all, and it just isn't prudent for us to spend money on more when my beautiful Indio is so versatile for us.

...but she knew how much Fiona means to me. She knows I'm one of the sappiest people ever, and her generosity, patience and kindness make me get all teary all over again.

I don't have many and will probably never have a large wrap stash. But the ones I have are definitely perma-stash.  They will be in my home long after my baby (babies, possibly...some day) is past the wrapping years.  Because they mean a lot to me, and they carry stories as well as babies.

Welcome home, Fiona.  We'll do you proud.