It’s Nothing Personal…

You know how, if you’re chatting with your friends and someone comments about having…oh, I don’t know…Red Velvet cake or something, and then you can’t get Red Velvet cake out of your head until you break down and have some yourself?

As I had mentioned, a particular blog post about a particular planner got into my head in much the same way after I read it.  The result?

I’m back in my Pocket Malden.

Don’t get me wrong, after doing a certain amount of damage myself blathering about my Franklin Covey inserts, it was not an easy decision to give them up and go back to the Pocket size. Why, oh why, doesn’t someone somewhere make a decent diary insert (with tabbed months pretty please) for Filofax’s Pocket size?!

DayTimer’s Jotter sized inserts will fit in a Filofax Pocket. The holes line up perfectly, however the pages are 2.75″x5″, while Filofax Pocket pages are 3.25″ x 4.75″. I know it doesn’t SEEM that much smaller, for some reason in practical reality, that measly half-inch makes a world of difference. So does the line spacing.  I simply cannot write that small.

Okay, I can write that small…trouble is, I can’t read my own tiny writing after the fact.

Trust me, I tried. I copied one month onto the Jotter pages and when I went back to objectively review my work, it looked like a small bird had trodden through some ink and meandered about the page.

So it seemed standard Filofax refills were the only viable way to go.

I  had success with the Day per Page inserts for my appointments and daily To Do items and a separate section for Month on 2 Pages inserts for an overview the last time I moved into a Pocket binder, but as I have constantly bitched about, seemingly forever now, I despise how they print their pages back to back on all their dairies so that it is virtually impossible to do a tab hack.

As I knew would be the case, about a week after shifting back into the Pocket size, I began to miss all the features of Personal size.

Which, by the way, I kept up on…duplicating entries and still using the right page of the FC 2 Page per Day inserts in the Personal Malden as my gratitude/positivity list.  It just stays at home now, entirely defeating the purpose of integrating the gratitude list into my planner in the first place.

Sigh.

As with most things in life, I can make a case for both of these planners:

The Personal obviously has more writing room, fits my beloved Franklin Covey TABBED monthly & daily pages and allows me to add to my gratitude list throughout my day.

BUT…I can only fit half a year of my chosen inserts, which is less than optimal.

The Pocket is eminently portable, can double as a wallet, fits an entire year of Filofax 1 Page per Day inserts and has that square/fat aesthetic I like.

BUT…provides a clunky interface, requiring me to flip to a separate section for a monthly overview, AND has no room for my gratitude list on each day’s page.

I have messed around with some ideas to attempt to duplicate the FC system I so love in my Personal Malden using Filofax pages in Pocket size.

First I took the Month on 2 Pages insert pack down to my local copy shop and photocopied each month so the pages would lay correctly in my binder and be blank on the back (in other words, they would no longer be printed back to back & therefore be un-tabable), so that I could incorporate them into each month.

Then I took two packs of Filofax 1-6 Numbered Index Tabs, created monthly labels with my label-maker to cover the numbers and attempted to use them, along with the photocopied Monthlies, to tab & delineate each month, just like my FC inserts are in Personal size.

Verdict? Ugly.

Even with what I thought was a nice grade of paper for my photocopies, they were simply not as crisp as the original sheets.  Also, the blocks appeared even smaller…though I am relatively sure that was an optical illusion, as I did not shrink the copy ratio.

The tabs were ugly too.  The whole thing just looked…WRONG to me. Or perhaps to my OCD.  Either way, it was a massive fail.

In hindsight, I wish I had photographed my result to share, but as it is I was so disgusted that I wasted both time & money in this attempt that I tossed everything in the bin before it occurred to me to take photos.

Undaunted, my next idea is to download the Filofax Print to File software and try my hand at…drumroll please…creating my own inserts.

I theorize that, using the PTF software, I should be able to print my Google calendar properly so that it may be tabbed & used as a monthly view, as well as design a day on 2 pages layout that will accommodate my needs, all on Filofax Pocket sized paper, which handily I already have.

I mean…right?!

As for the tabs, I have no idea. I may just have to procure some card stock and make them myself.  All of which will be quite a bit of work no doubt.

Or, I could just shut up and go back to using my Personal Malden.

Thoughts?

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the Tao of Filofax

I am a perfectionist. Always have been, always will be.

The odd thing, however, is that rather than attempting to meet some unreachable, unknowable, cosmic form of perfection…which may or may not even be possible…I strive to reach the pinnacle of what I personally find ideal.

I could give a hoot about being what society considers perfect; I merely desire to be the perfect Me…and that includes following the path I decide to set out upon, and embracing the imperfections that make me who I am.

In other words, to the question of ‘Who am I?’, the answer is ‘Me’.

Did I lose you?

Okay, try this…one of my favorite quotes (and there are many) is from “The Tao of Pooh”:

“While Eeyore frets …
and Piglet hesitates,
and Rabbit calculates,
and Owl pontificates
…Pooh just is.”

Tao is, in layman’s terms, a way, path, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order of things.

Pooh, a bear with a very little brain, didn’t tie himself up in knots trying to figure out the world around him. He just sort of did his Pooh thing and everything worked out the way it was supposed to.

Turns out just being you, doing your thing and being true to yourself isn’t as easy as Pooh makes it sound.

Which is probably why, for us humans of very complex brain,  it is a journey that takes a lifetime to complete.

No, this is not a post about philosophy or spirituality, and if you are wondering when I will get to the Filofax part…it’s right now.

Along the way on my own, personal trek to Myself, since the mid to late ’80’s I have used a good, old-fashioned, analog, paper planner as a tool; a compass if you will, to keep me on my path.   In it I track, record, journal about, prioritize and plan pretty much all of the important aspects of my life & myself.

In discovering a community so ripe with wonderful, amazing people who also appreciate things such as the scent of a fine leather binder, are finicky about the grade of paper they use, and thrill at the scratch of a fine writing instrument upon it, I have come to see that there are more to these planners than meets the eye.

More, in fact, than I ever imagined.

True, we all seem to be rather obsessed taken with one particular brand, (which I actually can find no concrete, logical reason for now that you mention it) but that aside, I think our drive to incorporate a planner into our lives comes from a similar place within us all.

Recently, MIT published a study showing that meditation actually changes the brain. After a mere 8 weeks of meditation, the hippocampus, an area of the brain  associated with memory, sense of self, learning and empathy grew. The region connected to anxiety and stress, called the amygdala, shrunk.

Meditation – which is simply focusing one’s attention, whether it be a focus on sensations of breathing, or emotions or thoughts, or observing any type of body sensations – is all about bringing the mind back to the here and now. When we do this our brains emit alpha waves, and it is this “alpha state” that affects the sympathetic nervous system in a positive way.

It sounds more complicated than it is…when a child is laying on the floor, happily coloring away in her coloring book, her brain is in alpha. There. Simple.

I have a theory. I believe that, for people like us, dubbing around with our planners…which we all seem to do rather endlessly…is our own unique form of meditation.

Perhaps we think of this practice harshly. As something we waste time with, obsess over. Perhaps we feel it is akin to a dog that chases its tail – a pointless act that never seems to reaches a suitable ending.

But what if what we dub Planner Nirvana isn’t the point at all?

What if the point is to sharpen our focus? Unify our busy, wandering minds? Bring us a feeling of empowerment over a chaotic world? Keep us rooted in the here and now?

I have come to believe it is our adult version of sprawling on the floor, humming away, losing ourselves in the simple, meditative joy of coloring.

So, when you get planner envy (which as a matter of fact happened to me this very day when I saw how freaking awesome Stirwise’s Pocket Malden is), or develop some strange desire to completely re-jigger your system, or feel compelled to create a new use altogether for a planner that has been sitting unused on your shelf (or a new one you see that you just MUST have but as yet have no purpose for)…perhaps this is your body telling you it needs some alpha time.

Give some thought to that the next time you prepare to sit down and re-copy the first half of the year onto a new diary page format.

Don’t throw up your hands and decide you are impossible to please.  Don’t think you’re a nut.  In fact, don’t protest it at all….

Go with it. Enjoy it. Maybe  it’s something that is good for us.

Maybe it is just our Tao.

Ooh Baby, Baby…

There is an ad on TV right now for McDonald’s where a young, attractive, thin couple are eating items from the Dollar Menu – why they insist on using young, thin, healthy looking people in an advertisement for clearly fattening, unhealthy food is a rant for another day – but anyway,  the girl has a bunch of humiliating pet names for the guy.

Have you seen it, “Chipmunk”?

Today I was in line at the DMV and I heard a woman refer to her husband as “Baby”.

As in, “Hey Baby, can I have the lighter for a sec?” after which she took said lighter and went outside for a smoke.

Apparently 15 minutes in a line was too much for her to bear without sucking on a cancer stick.

Again…a rant for another day.

I wanted to ask the guy, in her absence of course, how he felt about being referred to as Baby, but I try not to make a habit of chatting up strange men, lest my journalistic curiosity be misconstrued.

That and I’m pretty sure I knew the answer.  What guy would like it? How un-masculine is it to be called Baby?!

As a woman, even I hate being referred to as Baby, Babe or the like.  A baby is “an extremely young child; infant, or one who is infantile in behavior” according to Webster’s.

“Don’t be such a baby” is not a complimentary thing to hear no matter one’s gender, am I right?

I know what you’re going to say…a baby is also something one nurtures or takes special interest in, e.g. “This architectural project is my baby”.

The construction worker who cat calls at a woman passing by  and addresses her as Baby may very well be expressing his wish that he was “her daddy”….but not in a nurturing, or attentive way if you catch my drift.

This is the part where you call me nit-picky, or over sensitive, or a bitch.

Whatever…sticks and stones.

No, I don’t go feminist Nazi when I am called Baby – I don’t even say a word – but I do dislike it and consider it more of a statement on how that person views me than I consider it endearment. Thankfully nobody calls me that these days.

I think what people call you, when they aren’t using your given name, can be very telling.

Let’s look at some generic pet names for women frequently used in my region of the US  & let’s examine their meanings:

1. Honey (Honey-bun, Honey-bunny, Hun,  etc) = sweet

2. Angel (Angel-face, Angel-eyes, etc) = heavenly, beautiful, kind

3. Dumpling = how can this mean anything other than fat & doughy??

4. Cutie (Cutie pie, Cutiekins, Cutie-patootie, etc) = pretty, dainty, charming

5. Boo = I confess I don’t get this one, even a little…

6. Pookie = Garfield’s teddy bear. If your man calls you this without any prompting from you, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but he’s gay

7. Princess = noble, ladylike, held in high esteem. Can also hint that he’s got you on a pedestal, which is never a good thing

8. Puddin’ = probably sweet, but somehow smacks of chubby to me…

9. Pussy Cat (or Kitten) = a sex object, (or it may mean you’re dating Tom Jones, but it probably just means your boyfriend is all about your vag)

10. Mama = don’t even get me started. This term should only be used in reference to one’s mother, NOT someone a man has sex with

11. Snuggle Bunny = yes I have heard a man call a woman that in public, but I’m pretty sure his testicles had long since been removed

12. Sugar (Sugar-pie-honey-bunch)= again with the sweet reference

13. Tootsie (Toots) = I’m not sure…resembles Dustin Hoffman in drag maybe? Just kidding…for some reason it means a young woman. If a man over 40 calls you this, fret not

14. Baby (Babe, Babes, Baby-cakes) = I think we’ve beaten that horse sufficiently

15. Doll (Dolly, Dollface, Babydoll) = pretty, attractive, petite. The dark side is that it could also swing towards a toy or object but again, if he’s over 40 he’s just being retro & he likes you

16. Buttercup = why do you build me up…just kidding. Pretty, dainty, but it also happens to be a poisonous flower. Just sayin’

17. Dear (my Dear, Dearie, Dearest) =greatly valued, cherished

18. Sunshine = bright, warm, cheerful

19. Pumpkin (Pun’kin) =I don’t get how this one can be a term of affection either, since pumpkins are ROUND and used on a scary holiday…

20. Sweetie = alright…they’re sweet…we get it

21. Love ( Lover, Lovey-dovey, Lovee) = self-explanatory. Or you remind him of Mrs. Howell

22. Pooh = hopefully a reference to a ‘very special bear’ and not to, like, excrement or anything

23. Girlie = thank you Captain Obvious

24. Darling (Darlin’) = beloved, favorite, similar to Dear

25. Pet = this one means your boyfriend is so lame he can’t even come up with a pet name for you, so he just shortens “pet name” to one word and goes with that.  Run my friend.  Run fast, run far.

Of course, buzz-kill that I am, being called any or all of the above can simply mean this:

“girl whose name I can’t remember”

Sadly, the one that gets used the most around here is Baby.

I get it…I really do. They mean it as something endearing regardless of the fact that it implies you are infantile and poop your pants.  It is yet another symptom of the fact that people don’t think about what they say.

Or why, for that matter.

My special someone, Henry, calls me “Gorilla My Dreams”. Because I have inordinately hairy arms for a woman.  Over the years, this has been shortened to “Magilla“. Because, at the end of the day, there is no denying I am indeed a ‘trouble-prone ape’.

What pet names do you and your significant use?

Apples and Oranges

This title is going to apply to two topics:

1. A quick comparison between eReading on a Kindle 3 and an iPad 2, and

2. My first impressions of Weight Watchers

Kindle 2 vs. iPad 2 as eReaders –

I love to read. I love books, I love the feel and smell of paper books, I collect certain authors in hard cover, and no matter how awesome you make an eReader I am always going to have paper books. Period.

However, there are undeniably times when having books in electronic form comes in very handy…thus my interest in eReaders.

I had a second generation Kindle and liked it well enough, but didn’t really care for the navigation and the white color of the device was sort of distracting to the page. So when I found myself not really using it that often (and actually preferring to purchase the trashy summer novel in paperback rather than electronic form) I knew it was time to sell it.

Enter Kindle 3. Grey device, more intuitively laid out navigation…sold! I bought one for myself and never looked back. Somehow much more desirable size to carry around (even though it isn’t really that much smaller than its predecessor) and with the price point, there was no need to resist.

Now that I have my birthday iPad however, I find the Kindle once again falling into disuse. There are a million and one reasons why, as a dedicated eReader, Kindle beats the ever-living snot out of an iPad (the weight of the thing being the first to come to mind) but the fact of the matter is this: the iPad does oh-so-much-more than allow me to eRead. So that is the gadget I cart around with me now, rather than the Kindle.

As much of a uber geek as I am, no way I’m lugging around both, know what I’m saying?

Happily, there is always a market for a pristine, latest generation Kindle, so I easily sold mine for full retail to an office-mate.

But back to my practical comparison…

Truly they are Apples & Oranges. You can’t really “compare” them per se, as each excels at different things, but nor is this a full-fledged review of either, so we’ll just go with comparison for now because I’m lazy.

The Kindle 3 is a MUCH smaller, lighter device than an iPad. Holding it in your hand to read is effortless, while the iPad gets heavy after a while unless you rest it on something. This really isn’t an issue for me, as I tend to read seated most of the time and can rest it on my meaty thigh.

The iPad screen isn’t worth a damn outside in the sunlight. I plan to investigate an anti-glare screen protector this weekend and will let you know if that makes any discernible difference. I have one on my iPhone and it works spectacularly, however I don’t do any long-term reading on my iPhone either.

The other side of that coin, of course, is that I can read without having a light on because the screen is back-lit. This is handy for reading in bed or other times you’re in a poorly lit environment.

The Kindle’s eInk technology is really unbeatable if you are going to read outside, say at the beach. Again, not an issue for me since I would personally bring neither device to the beach for fear of sand infiltration and/or thievery. I prefer to either swim, walk, forage for shells, people watch or sleep at the beach, so I seldom read and if I do it is generally a magazine (behind which I hide and pretend to read so that I can perform the aforementioned people watching surreptitiously).

I took the iPad out onto my deck over the weekend to read The Daily (more about that later in the section where I totally gush about how phantasmagorical the iPad is) and struggled to read in the bright sunlight, even under my patio umbrella.

Happily, being more than an eReader, I turned off the screen, cranked up some tunes and chilled with my iced tea undaunted.

It’s been said a zillion times, but now I can tell you from experience – if you want strictly an eReader, go for the Kindle hands down. But if reading electronic documents is only one of the bangs you want for your buck, hold out for an iPad.

Now to the part where I rave about the iPad.

The thing is so incredible…it really is. For media consumption in general, you can’t go wrong. Yes, I have eBooks (or should I say, iBooks) but I also have my magazine subscriptions IN COLOR. Currently just Vanity Fair and Allure but still…no more piles of magazines I don’t know what to do with after I’ve read them. Even the ads are interactive and (dare I say it) fun.

The Daily, a news app specifically designed for the iPad is insanely cool. Yes, you have to pay to subscribe to it ($0.99 per week…yes that’s right, I said per WEEK) but it has new content – you guessed it, daily – and is akin to, but better than, a USA Today type newspaper.  I love it.  Well worth a buck a week in my opinion. It even has a daily crossword & Sudoku. And there are no strings, so if you get bored with it, you simply don’t renew for the following week.

I have games (don’t even get me started on Angry Birds or you will die of old age as I go on and on and on about that particular addiction), I have an app that lets me access and watch whatever cable TV channels I pay for at home. From anywhere with WiFi. Which means I can catch up on Nurse Jackie in Panera as I nosh on my overpriced, foofy lunch.

I can Tweet, update and moderate this very blog, read up on all my favorite blogs by you guys, check in on Facebook (ok not Facebook…”Friendly” which is the App Store’s version of Facebook for iPad, but you get the idea), email, read work documents (which lets face it, I don’t…but I could if I wanted to), listen to music, watch a full length feature movie, show off a slide show of Sophie or do my banking. I’m sure there are things I’ve left out, because it is pretty overwhelming to think about all the possibilities for this device, but pretty much whatever you can imagine doing, there is indeed an app for it.

So yeah, I’m not that annoyed that reading on it outside in the sunlight sucks.

Oh, another thing I can do on my iPad (this is going to be a segue, so hold on tight) is calculate WW Points or add stuff to my WW Points Tracker for the day.

My First Impressions of Weight Watchers –

See, I told you it was a segue.

I have now been on Weight Watchers (WW for short) for 4 days. Today being day #4.  I must say it sucks a whole lot less than I thought it would.

Since you eat your own food I didn’t have to change my grocery shopping habits (just what I bought) and dare I say it has saved me money already.

Saturday night I went out with my girlfriends and had one glass of wine (4 points) and seltzer with lime (0 points) for the rest of the night…and had as much fun as I always have, but without the day-after headache.  Sunday I skipped my usual movie night with pizza (which I generally put down all by myself, thank you very much) and had air popped popcorn instead (a measly 2 points for an entire bag).

This morning I got up a bit early, went to the grocery store, bought my work food for the entire week and brought it in with me. Again, saving myself not only precious Points, but also even more precious dollars.

I know it is impossible, but even after a mere four days I feel as though I am losing. My pants feel looser. I have WAY more energy throughout the day and much to everyone’s glee (and frankly amazement), I am in a far, far better mood.

I can’t quantify that “feels like I’m losing” comment, as I am holding to the instruction to only weigh yourself once per week, consistently at the same day/time of day, and that ain’t happening until Friday…but I will certainly let you know what it shows then.

Turns out, this isn’t torture at all.  Huh.

And the part I really dreaded, the tracking of everything I put in my mouth, isn’t that bad either. It took an initial time investment to enter what I generally eat (or, what I will be eating going forward) into the favorite food database on Friday night, but that was actually pretty interesting and I did it on my laptop while watching television, so I can’t complain.

This is typically a task I would obsess psychotically too much over, but since there is an iPhone app (sadly not an iPad specific app yet, though you can use the iPhone app on it…it just appears smaller and more pixellated on the large screen) I don’t need to.

The app has a handy Points calculator for seeing what stuff will “cost you” in your daily Points allotment if you choose to eat it, as well as the Points Tracker, which will tell you what you have left for the rest of the day once you do consume something. There is a huge database of restaurant food and brand names, so this part of the process really can’t be an excuse for failure.

Sneakily, they have made fruits and veggies zero Points. My co-worker said this was not the case formerly. So if you’ve used your Points budget for whatever meal you’re on, and you are still hungry but don’t want to blow the rest of your day, you are trained to reach for a piece of fruit (or, as I type this, raw carrot sticks…zero points…HOLLA!!!!) as opposed to that bag of chips.

If I get distracted and power through my bag of carrot sticks the worst that will happen to me is I will end up with very keen eyesight. Not so if I get distracted and blast through an entire bag of chips.

For this half of the post Apples & Oranges is about healthy snacking.

See what I did there?

Also underhandedly, physical activity gains you points. Granted not many, but my morning half-hour jaunt with Sophie gets me 2 Points. Now, were I to go over my daily food Points allotment, I could use those 2 exercise Points to break even. Or, I can bank them for the week and, since Sophie & I walk ever day, I could save them up and have 10 Points worth of wine on the weekend.

Wait until I get back to my strength training three times a week…that’ll help my wine allowance fo shizzle.

So while you’re not paying attention, you are figuring out how to work exercise into your day so that you can drink wine, and relying on fruits and veggies as snacks.

Bastards!

In all seriousness though, it really isn’t a bad program to be on. In fact, you could argue that it is better to be mindful of what we fuel our bodies with just anyway.

I, for one, have certainly not been fueling it very well lately and weight aside, if I can get back into healthy habits, have more energy and FEEL BETTER well then, this will have been well worth the effort.

Maybe by this time next year there will be a Weight Watcher’s ad featuring an awkward blonde girl holding a Filofax, surrounded by dogs with their heads cocked in agony (because she can’t sing to save her own life) in place of Jennifer Hudson!

But if I were you, I wouldn’t hold your breath ; )