Using Planners and Journals to Make Fall/Autumn Most Enjoyable

Autumn treeNow that we are into a new season, it is a good time to reflect on your regular routine and what you anticipate in the coming few months. Even if you have not used a daily planner before, now is a great time to start creation a fall journal and planner routine.

Fall truly is the season of comfort and change. The weather gets cooler, and you want to get warmer and cozier in your daily life. The kids are back in school, with all their homework, activities and projects. You have things you want to accomplish before the end of the year. This is also the time of year when people like to meet up with family and friends, read and write more, practice gratitude, and spend more time relaxing.

There is so much going on! Using a fall journal and planner routine can make it all much more manageable so that you can do what’s important to you and your family and enjoy it more.

Journaling in the Fall

If you are new to journaling, you might not be aware of how beneficial this simple practice can be. Or maybe you are just not sure what types of things to journal. Here are some ideas, specifically for this season of the year.

  • Use Fall Journaling Prompts – Prompts are suggested topics or questions that give you ideas of what to write about. To download a list of 25 fall-inspired prompts, go here: http://carolbrusegar.com/falljournalingprompts
  • Write What You are Thankful for – You can also journal about what you are thankful for each day during the fall season, which is wonderful for creating a positive mindset.
  • Write About Your Year So Far – Look back to the beginning of the year and note what you have accomplished so far this year, and what you want to finish or get done by the end of the year.

Using a Daily Planner in the Fall

In addition to journaling, use a planner every day during your new daily routine. Break down your larger projects or goals into weekly and daily tasks. Schedule events and activities that you and your family want to do – visits to pick apples in an apple orchard, participating in some Thanksgiving activity that benefits others, road trip to see the changing leaves, etc. Use a Fall Bucket List to brainstorm and select ideas to pursue and schedule. Read more about this here: http://carolbrusegar.com/autumn-pleasures-and-treasures/make-a-fall-bucket-list/ You can download a sample Fall Bucket List form there.

Setting Up Your Holiday Plans

Use your planner and journal to prepare for the holidays of the fall through the end of the year. Here are some topics to consider:

  • Halloween party plans or costumes
  • Activities to do with your kids during the fall
  • Menu options for Thanksgiving and other holiday plans
  • Deciding on activities during Thanksgiving break
  • December priorities leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holidays you celebrate
  • Plans for those holidays

End-of-Year Goals
Start it simple by adding in some end-of-year goals, then a schedule of when you would like to achieve these goals. Make a list of tasks to be completed, being as specific as you can so you stay on track.

I hope you will try this and will find value as we move into a very busy time of year.

How About Bucket Lists for Summer?

Summer Bucket List
It’s summer!  Despite the view as we enter June that we have a long summer laying out before us, full of potential, we all know how quickly summer passes.  Before we realize it, it will time for school to resume and the regular schedule of activities with organizations in which we participate to be back in full swing. Don’t let the summer get away from you! I encourage you to consider create one or more Bucket Lists in your household that include things you really want to have done by the end of summer. You can have individual family members write lists and create a family list as well. These are the basis of making plans that will make this a great summer full of meaningful memories for all.

Although Bucket Lists are generally seen as a way to keep track of things we would like to do before the end of our lives and hopefully to move us toward actually doing them, they can be used for shorter time frames to help you prioritize what’s most important and make plans. Here’s a particular kind of Bucket List that I recommend: A 3-Part Bucket List.

A 3-part Bucket List includes:  1) “Things I Want to Learn About” 2) “Things I Want to Learn to Do” 3) “Things I Want to Do.” You may find some overlap between them; that’s okay.

The “learn about” list will probably have things about which you’ve been curious: the history of your town or neighborhood, your ancestors and family history, the newest knowledge about outer space, etc.

The “learn to do” list might include things like excel at new swimming strokes, type at a rate of at least 40 words per minute, write short stories, expand art techniques, play an instrument, take better photos, etc.

The “do” list can include simple things like “read one book per week”, “have a home vegetable garden”, explore at least one new area of town each month, etc.

Taking Next Steps

Of course, once all the lists are written – even if it’s only two – it is time to compare notes and discuss what is reasonable to accomplish in the limited weeks of the season. Perhaps that will mean each person prioritizing their own list and making plans to make sure at least those top items can happen.

Some items can likely be put on a list for another season, or even next summer. It can be a fine balance between desires and reasonable expectations, particularly as the number of people involved increases.

Make it your goal to end your list preparation, discussion and planning process with each person (as well as the whole group) having things to look forward to and confidence that they will happen.

Here’s a free 3-Part Bucket List for you to download, print and adapt for summer and get started. Happy Summer!!!

http://carolbrusegar.com/3-PartBucketList

 

Planning Your Valentines Day if You Are Not Part of a Couple

hearts

The cards and gifts have been in stores since right after Christmas and advertising is hitting the airwaves. The pressure is building for those in relationships to make Valentines Day a meaningful expression of how much you care for your significant other. Some look forward to this as a highlight of the year; others know it’s important for at least one of the couple and go along.

But what about the rest of us? The ones who are not in an intimate relationship? We can ignore it as much as we can. Or we can let it make us regret our singleness and go into a funk.

Or we can decide now to spend that day in a way that affirms us and others. What could that look like? I was fortunate a few years back to experience one such alternative. A friend invited 5 single women who didn’t know each other well to her home for dinner. We had great food and wine and shared our stories. It was a lovely, affirming evening.

Interestingly, when I googled “ what to do on Valentines Day if you’re single”, there are 40,200,000 results. Clearly there are a lot of people with ideas. A few are rather negative (like an anti-Valentine party), but most are interesting ideas. Here are a few of my favorites, in the categories of things to do by yourself and things to do with others:

SOLITARY ACTIVITIES

A self-care/spa night, including a bubble bath with candles and candy
Make yourself a fancy meal of foods you really love
Do something you’ve been putting off: something that will give you a sense of accomplishment when it’s done
Treat yourself to a bouquet of your favorite flowers
Buy yourself something you really want
Update your bucket list and get excited about your future plans

THINGS TO DO WITH OTHERS:

 Have a group spa night – facials, manicures, pedicures, massages
 Go to a movie with friends – anything but a romantic theme
 Have a potluck dinner with friends
 Host a sleepover/slumber party with silly movies and lots of junk food
 Brighten other people’s day by showing them you care – your parents, siblings, cousins, etc.
 Host a dance party with friends who love to let loose, dance and sing
 Have a Golden Girls–style gathering around the kitchen table with a few friends – ice cream and/or cheesecake and lots of conversation – serious, silly, whatever happens
 Have a game night – board games + whatever makes you and your friends laugh
 Have a Secret Valentine exchange (a variation of Secret Santa) with other single friends, including parameters on cost, etc.

A simple reminder – stay off social media if seeing the posts of couples having fun bums you.

And there’s always the alternative of simply ignoring the whole thing. It’s a weeknight; do what you usually do if possible. If not, stay home and read or watch television. No biggy.

The Best Gift?

Best GiftDuring this part of the year, regardless of what holiday(s) you are celebrating, the chances are good that you will be gathering with people in some context. Perhaps it is with family, friends, or even work colleagues in a different context than normal. You may be traveling and meeting people in airplanes, trains or buses and conversations begin.

Some of us dread or look forward to the conclusion of such encounters – at least with some of the people with whom we will be gathering.

How many times have you been bored with the level of conversation – kids, ailments, complaints, weather – those mundane topics? What did you do? Shrink into a corner with one person with whom you could discuss at least one interesting topic? Volunteer to help in the kitchen or run to get a missing item from the store? Simply walk around, nodding and engaging in very brief exchanges and moving on?

Or perhaps discussions begin where there are wide differences of opinion, judgements, and it’s quite clear the conflict is going to escalate. I discovered this intriguing approach that might give us a way to prevent or diffuse some of these situations.

Kathryn P. Haydon encourages us to facilitate connection with others and poses this question: “What if the best gift we can give is to ask more meaningful questions?”

Kathryn encourages us to start by getting into a curiosity mindset and “think about what ideas, patterns, or topics spark your curiosity and try to connect these to the people you are going to see.” Ask a question about something you know about that person, and then follow-up questions that will deepen the conversation. Her favorite follow-up questions begin with “What might be all the…..”

This kind of conversation helps you connect with individuals and makes them feel that you value and understand them. It can also divert away from the controversial topics.  Isn’t that what we all want? Hopefully, people will ask you questions in return and before you know it, you are really enjoying the gathering you were not so excited about. In addition, there will be more to look forward to the next time you see these people. It’s a win-win.