Break Ups are Hard

I walked into the kitchen, in a daze. There you were staring at me from across the room. I went to speak, but no sound came out. There was no point saying it again. we had been going round in circles for days.

I’m sorry, I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t hurt. You don’t support me. When I need you, you just make everything harder. It Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 9.20.18 pmshouldn’t be like this, I shouldn’t have to fight you. You should be making things easier for me, but you’re just so much work. We could have done so much together…

Goodbye, Bullet Journal. 

A few weeks ago, I broke up with the Bullet Journal. It was a hard decision to make, I really needed the Bullet Journal, to work, but the extra work it created was so not worth it. It’s clucky, arduous and limiting. I need something that can work as fast as I do- handwriting out all the data I need for one simple task was just too much. The bullets don’t take you into the future the way you imagine they would, they hold you back, every time you rewrite a task, it makes you feel so unaccomplished. I haven’t had that feeling for a long time- I am not a fan…

Knowing that I need something more automated as a full-time productivity solution has brought me to investigating to-do list apps. This week I am trying out To-Do-ist to see if this can improve my productivity, which last week flew out the window. I do have to note that between the Bullet Journal and the to-do list, I went about a week without anything to rely on for organisation. Not having a fully functioning to do list made my life hell, I was floundering and it is easy to see where the headaches and migraines come from. I cannot handle chaos and disorganisation at work.

Moving into exploring productivity enhancements, I want to know, what works for you? What’s your favourite method for improving efficiency?

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Bullet Journals

Although I christened this year, the year of productivity- this turn around really started in October 2017. One afternoon when it was pouring down with rain, I was embarking on a YouTube marathon- clicking video after video in an effort to find a productivity solution that would help me achieve my goals and eventually I stumbled across a bullet journal. Instantly I was hooked.

The pages when hand-drawn looked incredibly gorgeous and for someone who is obsessed with calligraphy and the written word, I saw little passions sparking up which I had long forgotten. So the next morning I got up and went on a mission to find the perfect journal- no need to twist this stationary addicts arm. My to my partner’s dismay, I dragged him for a 1-hour session at Typo, even I have to acknowledge I cannot be left unattended in the store, or we will end up homeless.Image result for shut up and take my money Everything I had read up on, stated that I needed a book with grids (almost like graph paper) or plain drawing pages (like a display book)- the external covers where just not cutesy enough and did not have any puns- so I settled for a ring bound, lined booklet. I chose the ring binder booklet because I am the sticky note queen and I need enough room to stick bits and pieces into the booklet and still be able to close it comfortable. bullet hournalAlso when I draw I have a bad habit of folding my book in half so get a ring binder eliminated bending the spine of the book- which I hate doing.

I excitedly rushed home pulled my journal out at a blank desk, along with all the stationary I could find (desk was no longer blank, in fact, there was no room to write…). I then spent fifteen minutes clearing a space so I could actually write. HAHA! So I stared at the page waiting for inspiration on how to start the journal. I was waiting… and waiting…. still waiting. This inspiration was little hard to find and so far had eluded me. Back to the research, I went.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.15.39 amAll the avid Bullet Journals bloggers and guides that I came across warned, the best place to start was with an index or a key. In order to get the most out of the Bullet Journal you literally need to define your bullets and how you will manage the data, you’re putting down. The index not only defines the journal it also restricts it and makes a set of rules for your tasks to ensure you manage your time wisely and complete all the tasks you’re adding in-to the diary. So after learning how integral the key was, I began my journal by making one. After three failed attempts scraping all the designs I didn’t like and forcing my drawing muscles keywhich I had not used in a few years to work, I settled on this design. Even now I am still not sure if I like it, but it is functional and I cannot argue with that.

As the weeks went on I began to add more an more pages to the journal, the ones I kept, were my “good drafts”, there were many failed attempts which ended up in the can, on my journaling journey. I found that the ancillary pages were distracting- I don’t need the journal to track my weight, tell me what movies I have watched or what books I read. I needed the journal to track and manage my tasks – because my job is a constantly evolving beast of days that bleed into each other and many tasks which are half done and incomplete waiting for information, the journal was rapidly filling, but it just took up way to much time. I found myself rewriting the same information over and over as I moved tasks forward, to the point where I very nearly drove myself insane. As much as I loved the concept and boy oh boy I did. I had to let the Bullet Journal go, it didn’t work for me.

The Bullet Journal did teach me a few home truths that I had perhaps been ignoring;

  • My job is constantly evolving, and it is very hard to ever get to a point where every task is complete- whilst I might chip away at it, a little bit each day, it is hardly ever fully complete.
  • I do not drink enough water- that daily water chart flabbergasted me. I wasn’t drinking water at all- and was pretty much living just on caffeine. This was a slightly unanticipated discovery- it is funny the things we can ignore.
  • As much as I love calligraphy, I haven’t written things down in longhand since I left school ten years ago- I don’t have the patience to do it now. I have too much information to get on the page to be sitting down and writing it all in. I would never get any work done.
  • I failed last years New Years Resolution of read more books- I did not get through more than one whole book last year- although I started many.
  • I am the Jack of all Trades- I start many projects, I just don’t finish them.
  • I work way too much… and when I am done working for the day, I make a few extra jobs for myself, just in case. I need to STOP TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL, and just get on with it. Knowing that I needed this book as a productivity tool, made me realise that I was just wasting too much time trying to make it work. I have learned if something is the right fit, it shouldn’t feel hard or like a chore.

After three months, I had to let the Bullet Journal go, I had to say goodbye- as much as I enjoyed writing and stretching those muscles, I HATED this journal. I want the Bullet Journal to really make my job easier to be the beacon of organisation in the chaos of unfinished tasks and really, it became a hindrance- much like food and sex, sounds like a great idea in theory, but it is just so messy…

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The Year of Productivity

2018 – come at me!! This year I have hit the ground running, I am planning and on top of everything so far. I have my entire year mapped out in front of me and I want to make the most of each moment. I felt last year, that I spent a lot of time idol and unproductive, that is not what I want moving forward. I spent so much time overthinking, out of survival I had to shut my brain off and operate in this kind of numbed and shut off state. That is not me, I am capable of so much more, I was coping out, giving up…giving in to 2017. I don’t want to look back and feel like I wasted time. Looking back on last year I spent a lot of time whinging about how hard it was and I don’t feel like I accomplished enough. This year, I am turning all of that around.

When I say I have my year mapped out in front of me, I am being literal, in every sense of the word. This is a picture of my current kitchen wall- I wake up every morning to my first cup of tea and this is what I see…

The Year of Productivity
kitchen wall calendar

My theory this year is not to call it a resolution. Resolution seems to have this little unwritten curse, like a promise that we know we won’t keep. This year it’s a change, a habit that I am keeping. My plan is to keep you updated on the tips and tricks I use along the way to make life a little bit easier, in hopes that you can hit the ground running too.

What are your new year plans? or dare I say, resolutions? I’d love to hear what you have planned. What is your year all about?

 

 

“I lost him”

It was around 2:30pm when you called. I had just reheated my lunch. The phone rang and your smiling face popped up on my screen.

I answered straight away, excited to hear your voice we only talk once or twice a fortnight so it’s always special when you call- your like a little ray of sunshine, always so happy and bright. As I answered my heart dropped. Hearing the sobs and gulps for air through your tears I knew exactly what had happened. “I just wanted to let you know, I just lost my dad” you cried. I went completely silent. Stunned I didn’t know what to say. “Did you hear me Bella” you asked through tear eyes. I stuttered. “Yes, yes, sorry, I just didn’t know what to say”.

We talked for a while and immediately I found myself saying all the clichés that I hate. “Everything will be okay.” “He loves you very much.” “It’s great that you got to go see him and spend time with him.” “Of course, you will miss him.” “He his not alone, there are so many people waiting for him on the other side.”

The finally those words flew out my mouth, “He had been sick for a while, it’s okay, he is at peace now”… I hated myself for saying it, how the hell is that supposed to be any comfort?? It sounded so holo to me.

Despite the fact that you are thirty years my senior we had found common ground when our fathers fell ill at the same time. Those fortnightly chats carried us through, we lent on each other as we travelled through this turbulent time. Your being the bubbelly bright spark that you are, helped me more than you know. Now here you are, needing me to comfort you and all that is spewing out of my mouth are a bunch of words that seem little comfort to me.

Whilst I really don’t know what to say or do, I’m here and I will have a handbag full of chocolate when your ready.

You cooked dinner

You cooked dinner today, it was a small gesture, but at the end of a long week, it was something I really appreciated.

I came home from work with blinders on, after six days straight, (4 of them being 12 hour shifts) even though I only worked 5 hours today, I was kind of out of it. I walk through the house with my eyes half shut and stumbled to the bedroom. I sat down for about ten minutes and then remembered we had no food and we needed to do the big shop today, so you wouldn’t have been able to go to the supermarket on your own (as you can’t drive). I jumped up – the quicker we get this over with, the quicker I can get my fat pants on. (haha!)

We dawdled around the centre, we always do, we managed to do the big shop in under an hour – we actually made pretty good time. You put the groceries away when we got home and I walked towards the bedroom…

As I got closer to the bedroom I noticed, the floors had been vacuumed and mopped, there was a bunch of freshly washed linen on the bed (which meant you found the stash of dirty clothes I thrown under the table to sort out next week). The ironing was done and back in the closet. The shower had been scrubbed and the dishes were done. I may have gone to work today, but you stayed home and worked just as hard, so that when I finally did make it home I could just relax.

You got in the kitchen and cooked the best stir fry and it was even more delicious knowing all I had to do was wash the bowl, which you stole and did as well.

It may have been a small gesture, but giving me my weekend was wonderful – Thank you for making sure that tonight I get to sit down with a glass of wine, Green Wing and my knitting. You’re the best!

Maybe I will finally read the search…

I had just bought a Mac and picked it up a few days before, took it my mums house and we were sitting around the table looking at the screen. Mum opened up safari, she wanted to check “how fast google was”, I mean it must be different on a Mac to her iPad right? She started to type “Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia” and bookmarked the google search to my favourites bar, she turned the screen back to me and said “that’s what dad has.” Gently she said the words, but they still hit me like a steam train right in the gut – within seconds I had lost that gooey “I just bought something new” glow and came crashing back to that sticky old mucky feeling of “F**k, what hell do we do now”.

Dad had been unwell for a little while and at first we didn’t know. It started off kind of endearing, he would forget little things here and there. Start a sentence and never finish it. Put the kettle on and flick the lid up (cause my sister hated the whistle it made) and then completely forget he had put it on at all, until one of us found the kettle with the water almost completely gone still on the stove. We had only really begun to take notice of this when dad was probably three years into his decline, see early on it kind of seems normal – it creeps in slowly like a trickle, you sort of don’t notice it. But three years down the track…. things were getting worse and we were really starting to see the strain on dad. My mother, my sister and I, had many thoughts on what a possible diagnosis could be, which we all tried to explore, over and over we began to search, we couldn’t understand it. Retrospectively, we all came to the conclusion around the same time, in fact I think my mum sort of got there first, but I think we could all see the writing on the wall. Within months, it was confirmed by dad’s Neurologist.

Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia is a variant of Alzheimer’s disease- at least that’s what the first result on mum’s google search had told me. Mum had saved the search so that I could go back in my own time and start to learn a little bit more about it… it has been 18 months since she saved that search and I still have not gone and read any more about this diagnosis that is slowly stealing my father from me. I don’t want to know what is going to happen in six months time, I’m trying hard to focus in the moment, each and everyone I can steal before he goes.

What makes dad’s diagnosis so hard, is that he has Early on-setas well. Dad was only 57 when he was first diagnosed and at the age of 59 now, only a few months away from 60, I can honestly say, when he thought about retirement, this was never what he pictured. Our family feels so young, I feel so young, at 26 it is strange to think about making decisions which are going to impact the rest of someone’s life.

I listen to my friends and people my age, talk about their weekends and how they have had a fight with their parents because they didn’t get to wear what they wanted when they left the house, or they came home to late, or they fought about where your life is going, or what I am going to do next, or how should I go back to university and finish off the course I have been deferring for two years…. etc…. it all seems so futile… and here I am… lost… wondering if when I go over to mum and dads for a cup of coffee, will dad remember my name? Will he recongise me? Will he be able to get up and walk today?

Almost every day, I turn my Mac on and I open Safari and those words stare at me, “Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia”, maybe tomorrow I will finally read the articles that come up on the screen. Maybe, I will start with just one.

 

Like Cheese down a Chalkboard

I work long days – often 8 – 12 hours shifts, six days a week. I don’t often get down time, and honestly I don’t really feel I need it altogether that much. I enjoy being busy. However, sometimes working long hours does catch up with me, especially on a Friday. I come home from a long day at work, and you are always so good to me.

The moccasins are by the front door, kettle is on for a fresh pot of tea and you are just about to run me a bubblebath. Before heading into the bathroom to unwind from the day, I collapse on the bed. I am spent.

You come in to chat to me and we are having a discussion about something, god only knows what, I really can’t remember- we somehow got on the topic of something that really annoyed me and I turned to you and said “like cheese down a chalkboard”. I was so brain dead, I managed to mash up two sayings, “like chalk and cheese” and “like nails down a chalkboard”.

I didn’t hear it and you started laughing, I watched the joy, play and dance across your face – you laugh, a loud, jolly, belly laugh and it made me happy. When you finally gained enough air back in your body to tell me what you were laughing at – me, at my expense. I pouted and said “I was so smart all day”, and you smile and said “Yes baby, you were – which is why it’s so cute when you muddle up your words”.

I breath a sigh of relief, somehow, knowing that at the end of a long week, when I am totally spent, I am still able to make you smile, gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Watching all the happy emotions dance across your face makes me content because at last I am home, it is the weekend and we are together. Even if we are smudging “cheese down chalkboards” in my mind and even if I am muddling up all the words, it doesn’t matter, as long as I can see you smile.