Clarity in Creative Planning

Last year my mother gave me a Happy Planner for Christmas. When I first saw it, I thought to myself “Self, that organizer is too creative for you.” It had these large, blank boxes (three per day) and a single week took up two full pages. Down one side is an area for notes, but it mostly just looked like a giant way for me to not know what to do that was interesting enough.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was no longer as creative as I once was. I don’t paint anymore, I don’t draw. My linocut materials have been gathering dust. I no longer scour datasets for fascinating patterns. Even my knitting/sewing/fiberworks had fallen by the wayside. I took a Sketchnotes class in the fall of 2015 and couldn’t bring myself to litter my notebooks with my now terrible drawings.

And so it was that, armed with stickers and encouraging words, I set out to use this creative planning method.

My first few weeks months were fairly uninspired. I wasn’t sure how to use so much space. I felt like I had forgotten how colors work at all. For some reason, I got incredibly caught up in the concept of foreground and how to make that work with an organizational method.

Organization foregrounds. Great.

It wasn’t until the end of April (that’s four months, my friends) that I finally got my mind around the whole thing. I learned how to make my weeks function as a unit. I discovered that if I put in my standing items at the beginning of the week, I could add as I go. Importantly, I realized that everything can get better (or re-learned) with some practice. You get things wrong when you start something new. That can be discouraging (or embarrassing, or frustrating, or horrifying), but it’s not insurmountable.

I now use this awesome planner for remembering what has gone by as much as I use it to remember what’s coming up. The sidebar tends to hold a small note-to-self from the week; sometimes a thing to focus on as I go and sometimes a lesson I learned while I was in it. The habit of physically writing down what I want to do, what I actually did, and what to focus my mind on is satisfyingly grounding.

It’s equal parts catharsis and clarity. Who wouldn’t want that?

The Three Most Difficult Words

According to Denise Lance, “I need help” are the most difficult words for people to say. In her poignant TEDxKC talk, she explores the inherent issue with placing such a premium on the concept of independence.

For people who work with me often, they will know that I am very quick to ask what help others need. I’m much less quick to ask for that help in return. I’ve never thought of it as a fear of looking weak or incapable, but there has to be something to that. This talk caused me to wonder if, by refusing to admit we ever need help, we end up protecting ourselves from the judgements of others but ultimately from a deeper connection with people who aren’t like us. In the end, isn’t everything that we use as a shield just that? A shield?

Shields down, my friends. Time to make a connection.

Painting Plants


In the “you had one job” column, I submit to you this poorly painted white line. This was almost entirely painted onto the grass which… I guess is okay, because the road is not well-traveled. Unless you’re that grass. If you’re that grass, then you’re suffocating.

The Pepper Release


WordPress 4.6 has been released and its name is “Pepper”. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out you can pop by to download a fresh copy or update directly from your dashboard. There are a lot of nice updates to it including a streamlined plugin and theme update process.

Get to updating, but remember to backup first.


It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always love fireworks. This display is glorious and I wondered, for the first time ever, where fireworks designers/technicians practice this stuff for timing without people seeing it? Do they just have the science and math so well in hand that they can just plan and play without rehearsal?

Canine Infirmary

This poor dog has a growth on her ear that so far is a mystery to the vet. This week will be a long journey of gross ear maintenance leading up to, hopefully, good news.

But between now and then, she doesn’t seem to mind all the extra attention.

Peace on Earth

When I’m not making the world a better place, one technology event at a time, I’m often found singing with this charming and passionate group. Our spring season held some wonderful and complex music and this piece was my favorite. Friede auf Erden, op. 13 by Arnold Schönberg is a work whose difficulty is essentially fabled. It’s hard to comprehend and hard to sing, but to say it’s worth more than a single listen is a complete understatement.

The first listen can really be surprising and, if I’m honest, somewhat grating. When I first sang it, I didn’t enjoy it. But as you hear it a second time the harmonies seem to settle in your ears. On the third listen, you realize that the bass sound is wonderfully smooth and their line comfortingly steadfast in its way. A fourth listen you realize that this is an expression of struggle bookended by hope and peace on either side.

My time with this group is a privilege and a joy. I hope they have me back for many seasons to come. And I hope you continue to listen to us as we go. 🙂