A Week in my planner: Vertical Categories & Weekly Headlines

A Week in my planner: Vertical Categories & Weekly Headlines

Memory keeping and journaling is one way I spend my time off screen during the week. I find it soothing to exercise my brain in a creative way that is functional and expressive. Here are some things I tried in my planner and journal this week.

Memory Keeping & Journaling

Currently Pinning & Other Inspiration

I was very inspired this week! I did a lot of browsing on the train and wanted to log the details. These might come in handy when I need ideas to blog about.

Keeping Up With Current Events

I saw a bullet journal instagram a while back where they wrote down the biggest headlines of the week. I thought it was a great idea… especially with all the breaking news we’ve had!

Functional Planning

Vertical Categories

This week in my planner, I tried breaking down each section in the new mini layout by three categories: personal, wedding, and blog. It wasn’t very effective for me, so next week I am going to use a different vertical breakdown: morning, afternoon, and evening; this will include work and personal plans.

The Hourly Layout

In my work planner, which is a separate section in the same planner, I tried to use the grid layout as an hourly, but didn’t find it very effective since the space was too small. This week I decided to keep it as simple as possible and use the top section for meetings, and leave the bottom grid for note taking and general list making.

Other ways to use a vertical layout:

  • Social media channels
  • Meal planning: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Events, to do, and daily highlights
  • Your plans, your partner’s plans, and other family members
  • Work, chores, fitness plans and tracking
  • High, medium, and low priority

How are you using your planner for 2019?

Happy planning!

A Logo for Academic Resilience Academy

A Logo for Academic Resilience Academy

This post is long overdue. I finished this back in October, right when the holiday craze in my world started to pick up, so I didn’t have a chance to reflect back on this process until now.

The Backstory

This project was sort of a wake up call for me as an amateur artist, realizing that I really have no idea what I am doing. I had to use so many work arounds to get the image in my head onto digital paper. In addition to my technical challenges of not knowing how to use Adobe Illustrator, or any type of illustrator software, there was the fact that this logo project wasn’t as clear cut as my last project. What I mean by that is that the name of the business didn’t have any obvious “drawable” words in the title, or mission.

Designing the Logo

Academic Resilience Academy is a one-on-one tutoring service in the Napa Valley area with a mission to transform student’s feelings about academics from anxiety and stress to curiosity and resilience. I asked the founder to give me a list of words that came to his mind when he thought of ACADEMIC RESILIENCE ACADEMY and this is the list I used to generate doodle inspiration:

  • Resilience
  • Challenge
  • Triumph
  • Growth mindset
  • Struggle is learning
  • Positive
  • Encouraging
  • Playful

The Draw-spirations

I was aiming for a chalkboard look; the airplane symbolized upward movement, optimism, and the light bulb symbolized that ah-ha! moment one gets while learning. But I was so discouraged by the way these turned out, it didn’t look anything like I had planned out in my head.

Then I discovered the instant alpha tool on my MacBook Pro photo editor. This changed up the whole game! Now, I was able to use my own hand on paper and transfer my actual drawings onto my Tayasui Sketches Pro to add color, then transferred that drawing onto Canva to give it the final text and shape touches.

The Final Logo

The final logo has a lightbulb with budding leaves, symbolizing growth and that ah-ha! moment that I associated with learning. I was very pleased that I was able to turn in something that actually looked like a logo. The first two drafts had me worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Photo Source: https://twitter.com/A_Resilience_A

After turning in this project, I started to think that maybe this was the wrong direction, an over ambitious one at that, but then the owner posted this picture of my logo on business swag, and seeing my illustration on the real deal made me feel very excited and ready to take on a few more challenges.

Moral of the story: just keep drawing.

6 Quotes on Forgiveness, an Annual Review.

6 Quotes on Forgiveness, an Annual Review.

This year I have learned a lot about love. Since moving in with my partner, we have faced many ups and downs in our 500 square foot (studio) apartment. There have been rough days, but getting through those road bumps makes our relationship stronger. When people reflect on their life and love on social media, it’s always highlighting the best parts. But what I have learned is that love is the strongest when you’re in your weakest moments. It’s OK to talk about bad moments in life, I think we all need to know that sadness, conflict, and discomfort are normal junctions in any relationship; and so I wanted to embrace the downs of this past year, because it has been these moments that have made me a better person.

To wrap up the year and brainstorm on my new year resolutions, I decided to collect some quotes on what seemed to be the biggest lesson — I’ve learned that forgiveness is hard when anger sits in your throat and hurt pierces your heart. Big or small, learning how to forgive and ask for forgiveness has been my biggest, and ongoing feat.

Here are 6 quotes that inspired me:

  1. Forgiveness simply means loving someone enough to pursue healing instead of punishment when they have wronged you.
  2. Forgiveness is not a feeling: it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy. Not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love.
  3. Communicate, even when it is uncomfortable or uneasy. One of the best ways to heal is simply getting everything out…
  4. We all make mistakes, don’t let that be the reason you give up on somebody.
  5. When someone does something wrong, don’t forget about all the things they did right.
  6. A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and promises to never give up on each other.

Giving and receiving forgiveness is powerful. I realize that reflecting on uncomfortable moments is important if I want to grow. I have always found that journaling has been the best way for me to express myself and understand my emotions.

Writing quotes into my planner is a new practice I experimented with this month and it’s something I want to continue in the new year. It brings clarity to my life when I can see the quotes on a daily basis, and I prefer to refresh them every week or two by choosing a different theme. Try it out!

What are your biggest lessons this year? How will you reflect and remind yourself of that growth?

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Book Review: Lucky Boy

Book Review: Lucky Boy

Author: Shanthi Sekaran

Pages: 473

Published: 2016

image source

I have been reading San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book – an initiative to get the community to read the same book at the same time and then discuss in book groups. The main mission – “by building bridges between communities and generations through the reading and most importantly the discussion of – one book, the hope is to make reading a lifelong pursuit and to build a more literate society.”

What makes these books interesting is that they are all novels that take place in the bay area, so these are stories with backdrops I have personal connections to.

Back Cover Summary

In this astonishing novel, Shanthi Sekaran gives voice to the devotion of motherhood through two women bound together by their love for one boy. Soli, a young undocumented Mexican woman in Berkeley, California, finds that motherhood offers her an identity in a world where she’s otherwise invisible. When she is placed in immigrant detention, her son comes under the care of Kavya, an Indian-American wife overwhelmed by her own impossible desire to have a child. As Soli fights for her son, Kavya builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else’s child. Exploring the ways in which dreams and determination can reshape a family, Sekaran illuminates issues of class, ambition, parenthood, and immigration.

From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon Valley, Lucky Boy offers a moving and revelatory look at the evolving landscape of the American dream and the ever-changing borders of love.

Where I read it

I read this book on the train mostly. I have a 45 minute commute from the city down to the peninsula and back.

How long did it take to read?

A little over a month.

I have a very busy schedule and I was only reading it on the train in 20 – 40 minute increments. There would be a few days here and there where I wouldn’t pick it up, but when I did pick it up, it was definitely a page turner from beginning to end.

Stand out quote(s):

“Don’t be afraid of failing, Rishi-bhai,” Sen said, reading his thoughts. “I led four different companies to the brink of destruction before they hired me at Weebies. Did you know that? It’s not in my company bio. But it’s why they hired me. Failure is knowledge. Nothing more. A little bad luck, some stupid decisions. Nothing more.”


“You don’t believe me.”

Rishi shrugged.

“You’ve been to India? Sen asked. “So you’ve seen those buses, right? The buses with the men hanging off the sides?”


“They hang off like this, no? Three, four, five of them across? And you wonder how the bloody hell they manage to not fall? What are they hanging on to? Who knows? But they hang on. Instead of saying Too full, I’ll get the next bus, they run for their lives and jump onto these overcrowded things. And every time they do it, someone catches them, holds on to them, and they hold on too, until they get to where they need to go. No?”

“Yeah,” Rishi said. “You’re right. They do.”

“Imagine if they didn’t take the chance? If they played the cool guy and stayed on the ground?”

“Yeah. I think I see.”

“What would happen then?”

“They’d never get anywhere,” Rishi answered. “They’d be stuck.”

Sen raised one triumphant finger.

Feeling inexplicably uplifted, Rishi hopped to his feet and walked out.

“Run for the bus, Rishi-Bhai!” Sen called.

My Thoughts

Sekaran did an amazing job of capturing the thoughts and emotions of the two women going through unfathomable experiences. Many times I had to close the book and just sit with the emotions rising up in my heart and throat.

The light she shines on various relevant topics such as immigration, immigration hierarchy, motherhood, and grit, made this book valuable in addition to being a gripping story.

Although the themes are mostly heavy and the experiences the women go through made me want to cry from time to time, Sekaran is funny! Many times I found myself laughing out loud as she writes about Kavya’s indian mother, Berkeley’s hipster atmosphere, Soli’s innocence in America, and the triumphs and struggles of being in a marriage.

Shanthi Sekaran writes beautifully, and I could read this all over again.

Final Verdict

A must read.

A Week in my Planner: Brain Dump Lists & Work Reflections

A Week in my Planner: Brain Dump Lists & Work Reflections

This week I wanted to try a few new things with my planner to help with my work and creative productivity. I use the Happy Planner which is a disc bound planner allowing you to move or add sections to personalize it to your needs. In the planner world (yes, there totally is one) this is called “frankenplanning” when you take multiple planners to create one; the term coined from Frankenstein’s story where his mad scientist took multiple parts to create his perfect beast.  

Not a Happy Planner? Please do read on, these are things you can try in any journal or planner system. 

Brain Dump – Idea List

The Happy Planner Monthly Extension Pack
Other Ideas for this layout: Social Media Calendar, Food Journal List, To-Do per day

I work in front of two computer screens, so the distraction of the internet is one of my daily battles when it comes to productivity. I focused this week on writing down every random thought, idea, inspiration, personal to do item that came to my mind vs. letting the monkey brain take over. 

It took quite a few days to get in the groove of this. For example, one thing I started to think about while working on a financial report was, “hmmm, I wonder if I could outsource someone to turn my drawings into stickers…” and just as I was about to pop open a new tab and “just look real quick” I wrote it down as something to research on the train or at home. These little thoughts and interruptions add up during the day, and writing them down allows me to relish in that little moment of inspiration, without going down the rabbit hole. 

Journaling to Tame the Anxiety

This journal entry happened earlier this month when I was feeling behind, in my personal and work life. I wrote many versions of this that day, and just knew I had to get all the thoughts out of my brain onto paper.

Here are the questions I asked myself to help tame my anxiety:

  1. What are two things that are causing me to feel anxiety?
    • I wasn’t focused at work, I was getting sick, I felt out of control, and I knew it was because somethings was missing. After some reflection, I immediately recognized the two cornerstones of what would make a successful week: my fitness routine and having more time for my hobbies. If I can’t accomplish either one of these two, then I can’t focus at work. My life feels unbalanced. 
  2. What are some things that make me feel productive and successful? 
    • Having healthy snacks available in my bag or at work.
    • Having a clean apartment/ clean laundry to start off the week.
    • Time to journal and think about my weekly goals. 
  3. What causes me to have a bad week?  Or what makes me feel overwhelemed? 
    • Having Sunday booked. Not having a day off on the weekend to just relax and gather my thoughts. 
    • A messy sink. When the kitchen is a mess, I can’t make my morning smoothies. Then I am hungry at work and then I buy a chocolate croissant. 
    • Waking up tired.
    • No exercise. 

This helped me quantify the causes of my anxiety to come up with concrete solutions. As you can see in my reflections below, I was able to take the things that make me feel productive and apply it moving forward. 

Work Weekly Reflection

  1. What are some easy, mindles tasks I can do at home to help me get ahead at work? 
    • Organize my desktop, and spend 10- 20 minutes each night merging duplicate records in our database system at work, which is a pretty mindless task. 
  2. What are some positive things I did this week?
    • Worked out
    • Focused on just “jumping in” with tasks 
    • I completed personal to do’s which made me feel more balanced, like I controlled my time, instead of my commute and work controlling me.

The first question came from a week’s worth or asking myself the same question over and over again – what is causing me to feel overwhelmed at work? I realized that it was the small things that I kept putting off such as properly storing files into the correct shared folders, and slowly chipping away at mindless data tasks that kept growing on the back burner list. These small tasks I realized could be done while watching TV at home. Coming up with this action plan, of spending at least 10 minutes a day, made me feel more in control of the chaos at work. 

This second question was the result of identifying what made a successful week and what made a stressful week? Since I was able to identify them a week prior to this one, I was able to reflect and congratulate myself on the changes I made in my lifestyle that helped improve my workflow.

Wellness Weekly Reflection

In my wellness weekly reflection I asked two similar questions: 

  1. What did I accomplish? 
    • Made it to the gym 3x this week! 
    • Had a better clarity and focus at work and with hobbies.
    • Completed personal tasks and creative projects. 
  2. What could I improve? 
    • Go to bed earlier. 
    • Get back to making morning smoothies. 
    • Eat better meals, I didn’t eat enough vegetables this week. 
    • Take my vitamins 
    • Get back to my daily 10 pushups! 

Closing out my week felt great after getting all my thoughts out on paper. Even when I don’t think I have anything to say, just prompting myself with one simple question opens up so much clarity. Try it out, ask these questions of yourself every day and see what happens! Every day is a new day and even though these questions may be repetitive, the answer is always different. 

Next Week’s Layout 

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3 Weeks Without Instagram, 5 Positive Changes.

3 Weeks Without Instagram, 5 Positive Changes.

I quit my Instagram(s) three weeks ago and already I have been feeling the lights turn on in certain departments of my brain that have long been idle, and unoccupied. Here are five things I’ve noticed of myself in the past three weeks:

  1. I’ve been able to accomplish more personal/creative tasks. 
  2. I’ve been writing creatively more often. Pen to paper, and it feels so good. 
  3. I’ve been reading more blogs which has been inspiring and informative. 
  4. I’ve had a clearer focus and drive for doing the things I want to do. Instead of thinking I will get to it eventually, or making up excuses that I’m just not ready, I’ve been more proactive with my small windows of time. Instead of finding myself down a scrolling rabbit hole, I’ve been able to put that brain space towards honing in on some creative discipline. 
  5. I’ve been writing out and reviewing my goals, asking myself what I have accomplished?; what was stopping me from doing x,y,z?; and what I can do better? 

My favorite quote this week:

The grass is greener where you water it, not on the other side.