Monday, March 09, 2015

Starting my 3rd year of digital Project Life & keeping it simple

The very first digital Project Life 2-page weekly recap I ever made was in the first week of January 2013. That year I made 52 spreads. Then again in 2014 I made spreads for every week of the entire year. 2015 is another year and I can't stop now! I'm on a crazy good roll with keeping up with this project. I haven't felt like sharing individual page spreads lately, but here's an update at a glance (the last couple weeks of 2014 up to week 9 of this year):


The main reason I've been able to keep up with making these digital scrapbook pages every week is that I've simplified my process down to the bare minimum and I keep my layout template the same. I know some people like digital scrapbooking because it's fun to use lots of different digital papers, embellishments, and elements, but that type of scrapbooking inherently takes more time to finish. My weekly Project Life spreads aren't about experimenting with fun patterned paper and interesting layouts; it's about documenting my life and activities in a simple photo-based way.

My layouts are always the same, although I do make little tweaks when I feel like it.
Here's how I'm formatting every page spread:


I keep the headers the same so that when I'm flipping back through dozens of pages, I can tell at a glance what week it is. I keep one big spot for journaling to encourage myself to write at least something.

In 2015, I've been trying to include a weekly Currently card. I printed out a stack of cards and I keep them in my desk drawer. I set a recurring event on my calendar to pop up a reminder every Wednesday at 10am - write a Currently card! When the reminder goes off, I pull out a card and try to fill it out immediately, aiming for getting it done quickly and not thinking too much about it. Then I snap a quick picture of the card on something I'm working on (like a drawing) or next to something that describes my week (like on top of my keyboard). This completes the perfect trifecta for my header: calendar with week number, headline and journaling, and a Currently card photo.


You can get Currently cards in both paper or digital from rukristin.

The simple 3x4 calendar cards I made myself and are available for free digital download here.

Here's to another great year of memory making and memory keeping!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Get EXCITED Fridays : videos, dolls, and thumbs

It's been awhile since I've done a nice Get Excited link round-up. It's time for a little more energy around here!

  • I made this video! You probably didn't know that I really like editing video. I'm not claiming to be any good at it, but I enjoy it nonetheless. During Soul Flower's trip to Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, I shot video clips with my iPhone and edited it together. And I made the song in GarageBand! Pros right now are shaking their heads at my n00bness, but whatevs. I enjoyed it. 
  • Two thumbs up for this Vegan Guide that addresses FAQs about a vegan diet. Whatever questions (or excuses) you have about veganism, get some answers and info in this guide. Good stuff. Also, Vegan Sidekick shares awesome anti-sugar-coated comics about veganism. I wish everybody could see his stuff!
  • Tree Change Dolls! This lady buys old dolls (think: Bratz) and gives them earthy, natural makeovers. So good.
  • The Local Branch. I met these two at the POOL Tradeshow in Las Vegas in February, and they were super down-to-earth. Their story is remarkable: they have a line of clothing and accessories that they produce in their trailer while traveling around the US. They totally make me want to pack up my life and roam the countryside, exploring places and making stuff. Jelly.
  • I'm becoming a big fan of marketing/hustle genius Gary Vaynerchuk. Watch his videos for a motivational kick.
  • Lately I've been consuming all of what Sean McCabe has been putting out there: podcast, videos, blog posts... this guy is prolific and on-point.
  • A couple weeks ago I learned the official name for what I always thought were my fucked-up thumbs: Brachydactyly type D (aka Clubbed Thumb). And there's an entire photo album! This might seem weird to you guys, but please know that I've had thumbs like these my entire life and people always commented about how "weird" they are. So I thought I was just weird. But it's a thing! This is perspective-changing!

That's all for today. Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Advice To My Younger Self

This hashtag, #DearMe, asks the question What advice would you give to your younger self? Here's some of what I would say (although I could probably go on and on)

Dear Leiah,
You are a lot cooler than you probably think you are. I know sometimes you don’t fit in or you feel like kind of an outcast or you feel like your friends are fake or you don’t really have very many good friends. Just don’t forget about yourself, you can be your own friend and you should be. Work on cultivating your relationship with yourself; learn to love yourself. Find things that you like to do and do them, even if they seem nerdy or not cool. Spend time on things that you like to do, and spend time on getting better at the things you like and are passionate about. You like drawing, art, and crafts, you like the computer: spend time on that and totally nerd out on it! Find other people who like to do it and have them as friends.


You’re probably worried about not measuring up to some of the girls in your class or even some of your friends, but keep in mind that this is just a phase. Things that seem like a really big deal right now, in the grand scheme of things are not a big deal. I know you have a friend who seems like everyone likes her and she’s really pretty, and you probably think she’s a lot prettier than you, that she has a better body, that she has better hair and skin, that she’s tanner than you, she’s taller than you. She might be these things right now, but she won’t be that way forever. Remind yourself that her looks are not necessarily the ideal. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Accept everyone’s bodies and everyone’s looks for the way they are. Seriously judge them only by their personality and what type of person they are.


I encourage you to keep being a weirdo, keep finding and hanging out with people who get you and who think that you’re funny. If you find somebody who you like hanging out with, you think they’re a good person, they laugh at your jokes, they think that you’re creative, and they’re willing to support you - hang on to those people. Anybody who doesn’t get you, who doesn’t seem like they’re on your team, then just move on and forget them.


Don’t overlook important things in life, things that other adults can agree are important. Things like learning. Just grab the reigns on your own learning and learn what interests you and learn it as hard as you can. School is something that probably seems like a waste of time, but it is something you have to go through, so if you’re having a hard time or you think you need help, if you don’t get a subject, then you need to take the initiative to find help for yourself. Nobody else is going to do that for you. It’s not anybody’s fault; it’s not your fault, it’s not your teacher’s fault. It’s just that your learning style is different from maybe the other people in your class, and that’s totally OK. Anybody who is a good teacher will help you, even if that means staying after school or coming in for some private sessions or something. Just don’t forget that that resource is there, and take advantage of it while you can. They’re there to help you and they want you to succeed.


Remember that adults can be a really good resource for you and they can answer a lot of questions that you have, because they’ve been through it. But you need to remember that adults don’t know everything, even if they act like they do, even if they say that they do, they don’t know everything and they don’t always know what they’re talking about. So ask questions, always ask questions, ask more questions. Be curious, be skeptical of what they tell you. Try to get more than one opinion and ask different people for their advice on things.


So don’t forget about the important things in life like learning. Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Health and wellness really are important. I know you hear that all the time, you hear all this talk about eating healthy and exercising. Well, you hear that from a lot of people and from a lot of different sources, so you can trust that it’s true. And I’ll tell you that it’s true. Watching what you eat, trying to eat healthy, learning about healthy foods, learning about eating right… The time you spend on that will only be good for you. Trying to learn and be better is always something you should strive for.


Don’t forget to be kind. Don’t forget to be kind. Always be kinder than necessary. Don’t lose your compassion. You know how to talk to people and how to talk to people so that they listen. You’re compassionate, you’re a good friend. You make people feel better about themselves and you help them, and that’s something that’s so important. You might think it just comes naturally and it’s not a thing, but it’s a really special gift that not everyone has. So don’t get jaded. Don’t let anybody convince you that being kind (while also standing up for yourself, of course) is always worth it.


That’s what I would tell you, younger Leiah. Be yourself, be a weirdo, take care of yourself and be your own best friend. You’re the only one you can rely on.

gifs were created here

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Chain of X's Workout Technique

Don't break the chain!

Printing out a workout calendar and crossing off the days with big fat X's is literally the only thing that motivates me to exercise on a regular basis.

This productivity concept isn't new. Apparently it's Jerry Seinfeld's Productivity Secret and artist Crystal Moody uses this technique to create something every day of the year. Neither of these sources directly influenced my use of the "chain" but it's uplifting to know that it works for others, too, even across disciplines!


The first time I created my own workout calendar, it was for The Color Run. My family were flying out to visit us in DC and my mom and sister were going to run with us in the 5k (3.1 miles) Color Run. I was NOT in shape, and I knew I had to stick to my training schedule if I ever wanted to be able to finish the race and not let down my family. Here's the calendar I made and stuck to:
Since then, I've created a few more workout calendars. Sometimes they've been to reach a goal, and other times they're just to keep me working out every day and sticking to that daily schedule. I like to do my workouts at home, and I'm a big fan of cardio and yoga videos.

Part of what I enjoy about using a workout calendar like this is that I get to plan all my workouts in advance. Sometimes I'll take inspiration from a pre-made calendar (like for the Turbo Fire program), but mostly I just make up my own depending on what my goals are. I create these in Adobe InDesign, and I use little gray circles and text to plop down my workouts. Then I can move them around, and it's all very visual. For February/March, I kept my workouts somewhat vague (cardio and squats instead of TurboJam video #12). I like the flexibility of being able to choose my exact workout every day. I can choose something a little harder or a little easier depending on how I'm feeling that day, instead of being locked in to one specific video.


The reason these calendars work so well for me is the chain of X's. Each day when I complete that day's activity, I get to cross off the square with a marker. (I keep my calendar on my fridge and the marker on the top of the fridge.) At first it doesn't look like much, but after a week or so the chain is getting long! And I don't want to break it!


Missing a day isn't the end of the world, but my goal is always to have so many X's that from a distance it looks like every day. That means NO GAPS. If I miss a day, whatever, just get back to it right away. Then that gap won't look so big from a distance. If I do part of my workout for the day, or something different than I planned, I'll either write a small X in the corner (partial) or re-write what I actually did. I've also swapped days before. I always include a REST day during the week (just a blank slot), and I get to X those out, too. Even that is motivating :)


If you think creating your own workout calendar and crossing off the day with big colorful X's is something that would work for you, then I encourage you to try it! Here's a 6-week calendar template you can print out. You'll have to fill out the days of the week and the day numbers yourself (depending on the month). I also removed the spots that I usually have on there for inspiration pics*. If you want some workout inspiration pics, you'll have to paste those on separately.
click to download a larger size

*I pulled my fitspiration photos from my two Pinterest boards: Strong & Sculpted and Move. I picked whatever was extra-super-inspiring me at the moment!

Side note: One of my favorite workout resources lately is the FitnessBlender channel on YouTube. Their videos are simple, requiring minimal equipment, and they're meant to be blended up - mix&match to create your own unique workout, so it's something new every day.

Do what you need to do to stay active over the long term!
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