Here are some fun self-care recipes for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is here and that probably means one of two things. Either you are excited for a fun romantic date out with your loved one or you’re preparing for Galentine’s. (My “Galentine’s” will be co-leading a book discussion on Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.) Did you read my newsletter this month? Well, I talked a lot about self-care, so another thing you can do for Valentine’s is to simply love yourself. When I get home from the book discussion, after I put the kiddo in bed, after I get ready for tomorrow, I fully plan on turning on a favorite show and a favorite diffuser blend while I pamper myself. This is one of my favorite things to do. Here are more ways for you to explore “Pamper Days”:

  1. Epsom Salt Bath: This will help detox and destress you from your everyday life plus it will help soothe your muscles. I gave my feet an Epsom salt bath last week after the kiddo’s birthday party.
  2. Sugar Lip Scrub: Growing up, I had the most terrible chapped lips that were always peeling so this is something I like to do on a routine basis to help my lips stay smooth and soft.
  3. Clay Facial Mask:  This is made with Bentonite clay which has a ton of nourishing properties for your skin to get you back to glowing.
  4. Strawberry-Lime Sugar Scrub: This is one that will make your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom.  It also helps your skin feel bright and fresh.
  5. Bergamot Foot Mask: Feet should not be out of mind just because they might be out of sight. Don’t forget to show them a little love too.
  6. Use one or more of these diffuser blends!

What are some of your favorite self-care recipes?

The Oily Research I Use

Here’s a snapshot of most of my books I use for essential oil research.

A Little Background

Let’s talk about research for a hot minute. It took me 12 years to get my bachelor’s degree. I ended my time, transferred to Portland State University, submerged in 400 level courses where we looked at primary sources for – well – everything. Something in my view changed, and I cared less about secondary sources, and now, whenever I read something, I’m scrounging for their primary sources where they formulated their opinions.

This thinking, now ingrained in my soul, was shaken to its core while helping my fifth grader with his homework the other week. He was working on a research project. (The fifth grade got a sink or swim project in research, you know, thrown in the deep end, then given a life raft.) We worked on this over a course of several weeks, doing research first, then weeks later putting it together in his presentation. My darling fifth grader, when I probed him for his sources, said, “I don’t know, I guess I just knew it. I don’t know how it got in my head.”

It’s moments like these that test my patience and help me grow as a person. I’m sure my deep sigh, intake of breath, is an alert that momma is not pleased. I tried so hard to say in the nicest way possible that he got the information from somewhere, though I am sure irritation and a little disgust eked through. He is surviving, and I think it’s okay to show our distasteful emotions so children know adults have them too. Showing these emotions also alerts both of us a boundary has been breached! After we worked through it, he remembered all the sources, and we were able to properly document his project.

That said, if you’re following me on Facebook, you may be wondering – where the heck is your sourcing Michelle? You say all these things, what did you just miraculously materialize the info? Short answer – no. Yet, I don’t make space to source my posts within the posts. So, I’m going to give you my annotated bibliography here.

The Sources I Use

I have curated this collection of sources for the last three to four years. Some of these are secondary, yet still useful. I am always on the hunt for primary sources to better describe how the chemistry works with our human bodies. Here is my list of current essential oil education research.

Emotions & Essential Oils: a Reference Guide for Emotional Healing, 6th Edition (Enlighten Healing, LLC, 2017)

Though I got into the oils because of how they can positively support my health, I turn to the emotional aspect even more. This concise book works through all the single oils and blends I use describing their emotional aspects with a short story, a summary of positive and negative effects, and handy tables and indexes to guide my research.

Essentials of the Earth, 7th Edition (EoEBooks, 2017)

This small, spiral bound book works like an encyclopedia of oils and issues. Everything is in alphabetical order, it’s concise, and gives a range of oils to use for any issue. This also has a corresponding app for your phone.

Fritz, Stephanie, Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies, 2nd Edition (Gently Born Productions, 2015)

In my oil community, this gem is the go-to resource for anything pregnancy related. Stephanie goes through the oils, how they can support all phases of pregnancy and postpartum. If you know someone expecting, definitely check out this book.

Gillerman, Hope, Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty (HarperCollins, 2016)

Essential Oils Every Day is new to me, acquired from my local bookstore (Powell’s). I am enjoying learning through this very different resource than I have previously acquired. She goes through different oils offering various blends and use ideas with some wisdom along the way on how to generally use essential oils.

Lawless, Julie, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism (Element Books, 1995)

I purchased this book at my local bookstore (Powell’s) while acquiring a few others. I chose to get this older version, Julia had a newer version, because I wanted to show that the way we talk about essential oils has a few decades of history under its belt. This book, this encyclopedia has beautiful drawings and images of the oils and their respective plants. She offers good summaries of a variety of oils and interesting ways to use them.

Mangandog, Desiree, LAc, MSTOM, I Am Fabulous: Blends for Emotional Well-Being (Bear Nature, LLC / DNA Essentials Inc., 2017)

Are you stuck? Feeling down? Hoping to get more magic in your life? Desiree, a student of Chinese medicine for over 13 years, has compiled this book of blends to address a myriad of emotions we experience daily. Check out her protocols and blends. For more information, see all her offerings at

Modern Essentials: a Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 7th Edition (AromaTools, 2015)

This was my first essential oil book purchase. I was drawn to its amazing summary of oil history, how they are produced and tested, and its beautiful index of issues, wonderfully cross-referenced. In between, the publishers go through all the oils I use starting with singles and then blends. This is by far my favorite book as an all-in-one reference for the oils I use daily, some background on their chemical makeup, and some amazing insights on how the oils can support my physical and emotional health.

Schnaubelt, Kurt, PhD, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press, 2011)

This was my first purchase outside my oil community. This book does a great job of explaining why I’m okay with using oils internally, topically (and neat sometimes), and aromatically. Dr. Schnaubelt breaks up his book in sections where he discusses understanding the language of plants, exploring authentic essential oils, and healing with essential oils. The latter portion is great if you’re looking for general protocols and guidance.

The Essential Life: A Simple Guide to Living the Wellness Lifestyle, 2nd Edition (Total Wellness Publishing, 2015)

Total Wellness Publishing launched their first edition in 2014 or early 2015. I gave that copy away! This is an amazing compliment to the Modern Essentials book and offers more for those more motivated by beautiful pictures. This book breaks down oil use by body system and offers a lot of uses for around the house. It is an amazing resource and one of my go-tos as I conduct this “a year of oils” campaign.

Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition (New World Library, 2016)

I picked up this resource to engage more third-party ideas of how to use oils. I wanted another voice to explain different ways of diluting, different use, and get a sense of oils not in my collection. I have not been disappointed. Valerie does an incredible comprehensive job of detailing all the many ways we can use essential oils and offering many blends and protocols for anything you could think of.


Desiree Mangandog: A Review

Monday night initiated the 2018 Empowered Life series. This event, unlike the others, was a paid event. We were blessed to hear the insights and knowledge of Desiree Mangandog. This was the first time I saw her live, though I finally acquired her book during the 2017 Convention.

Desiree has quite the loving, inspired reputation among my essential oil community. She is known to assess the energy of a room, immediately. As such, I loved how she started this “Healers Workshop” with diving right into our auric field.

Desiree walked us through various ways to shore up our boundaries, in a healthful, managed way, while being open to creating our own loving tribe just for us. All the while sprinkling in her wisdom gleaned from years of study.

She walked us through managing our auric field to learning about the energy hooks we receive and leave on those we encounter. We did a beautiful exercise of removing those energy hooks, repairing the cracks, and reinforcing our boundaries. We left with a three-week protocol to establish our boundary so we can share our gifts and love with the world. I applied this blend of petitgrain and melaleuca multiple times Tuesday.

In teaching us how to clear things – she went through the thinking that we need to 1) clear out the bad, 2) be open to the good, and 3) harmonize. The last piece, she repeated, often, was essential to support good rhythmic flow.

Desiree walked us through how the ego affects us. I loved that we spent a little bit of time here discussing symptoms to look for when the ego is bruised, such as: worrying about our bodies, time, or what’s going on around us (environment). She encouraged us to be mission-centered, believing in and staying connected with the divine (infinite love, wisdom, gifts). Previously when she presented here, she stopped addressing source as God because she sensed the attendees weren’t open to it. Monday, she simply said, “I don’t work that way, and I don’t understand that thinking.” I was endeared how she called the elephant out with her beliefs and how they might conflict with those in the room.

We also spent time removing limitations, though she cautioned we may have a tough time on Tuesday. I did do this protocol during the event, so was sure to apply helichrysum multiple times to offset any challenges. While discussing limitations, she brought up a common oil use of wild orange. We oilers often cling to its emotional properties, the oil of abundance. She cautioned us though – if we are submerged in limitations when we use wild orange, we may be inviting an abundance of limitations. So, clear your limitations first, then use your wild orange for abundance.

So many blends, and so many protocols for getting in touch with the divine, clearing residual energies, listening to our hearts, and more. This workshop was well worth the $30 (ish) price tag. (The event time/location is usually free). We walked away with so much information. After I finish checking over this post, I’ll be making my own labels to get my stash of rollers ready for when I need them.

To learn more about Desiree, visit her at

2018 Empowered Life Series

In anything, especially network marketing, when you are a part of a thing, you are often a part of a larger thing. The larger essential oil community I belong to hosts monthly events in downtown Portland. On the third Monday of the month, we have free education to help us all learn more about essential oils. The 2018 topics and dates are set, and I am so excited. These events get better and better every year! Let’s live this empowered life, together!

Date Topic
Jan 15 I Am Empowered: A Healer’s Workshop
Desiree Manandog, MS
Feb 19 Natural Solutions for Empowered, Healthy Living
Aisha Harley & Josie Schmidt, ND
Mar 19 Taming the Tiger: The Trinity of Frankincense, Copaiba, Siberian Fir
Josie Schmidt, ND; Will Wan, MSOM, LAc; Micaela Coria-Carew, ND, LAc
Apr 16 Home Detox: Simple, Healthy Home & Personal Care Solutions
Jeffrey Tufenkian
May 21 Essential Fitness
Stephanie king, BS, Exercise Science, Personal Trainer
Jun 18 Microbiome & Gut Health
Rachel Hess, LMT, ND
Jul 16 Cancer: Integrative Care for the Body, Mind & Soul
Kelly Keigwin
Aug 20 Raidiant Skincare
JoDee M Anderson, MD, MEd; Elizabeth McElligott, ND
Sep 11 Addiction & Recovery
Arianna Harley
Oct 15 Oils for Healing Trauma: From Stress to PTSD
Louise Rose, ND
Nov 5 Unlocking the Mighty Mitochondria: Enhancing Brain Health & Function
Jennifer Tufenkian, ND
Dec 3 Essential Wellness Holiday Bazaar

Be sure to get these dates on your calendar. RSVP at or And, let me know if you’ll be coming! We can swap notes and ideas.

Computers – A Gripe and an Offering

I hardly ever talk about computers here. What? Crazy, right? If you know me, I’m your go-to tech gal. So, why am I not talking about computer stuff here? That, I am aiming to change this year. The focus will be oils, connecting women, and technology.

Why the heck would I even do technology? Well, back to point one – which is, if you know me, I’m your go-to tech gal. Point two, it’s needed. Do you know what I did at the time of this writing? I spent 90 minutes with a fairly tech savvy gal helping her navigate an operating system and its ‘compatible’ notebook software. WEIRDNESS! NINETY MINUTES! It was time well spent. I do not bemoan the time. I simply want to acknowledge that it’s unnecessary. We should be smarter than this. We know, collectively, how to do so many clever things with computers. We advertise synchronicity, and then we don’t back it up. This is nonsense!

So, I talk and coach about computers. I prefer to talk to women as a woman. Why? Because it too is so needed. I’m sure you’ve read many articles about man-splaining or the challenges of women talking to men when vulnerability comes up. I take all that away. I’m not going to explain your problems away. I will validate you. I will coach you. I will show you that 1) you are not crazy, 2) you can figure this out, and 3) I will be there guiding you every step of the way.

We are in a strange technological space right now. We can do all the things, and sometimes it works really well. And sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, that’s where I come in. I will help you figure it out.

How does this fit with my connecting women, oils, or balance, or any of the other things I do? I am naturally gifted at understanding how software works. I am not afraid to press buttons, and I explain things in a way most people can understand. I am your liaison between engineer talk and every day talk.

We rely on computers and phones for nearly every facet of life. We communicate to our relatives. We share our photos, our lives. We share our stories. And, we don’t want someone telling us we are stupid while we’re trying to figure it out. I’ve met so many people who have had amazing careers – teachers, executives, business owners – very clever people who figure all sorts of stuff out, very smartly, in the day to day. What I have found is that all the technology presented to us is too confusing – even for these very clever people, so I help you navigate that. I make it simple, so you can understand.

When I started using technology for work, the year was 1998. Windows ’98 had just come out, with the invention of the right click. I boasted about 7 software programs and 3 operating systems on my resume. Today? I have well over 30 software programs and about 5 or 6 operating systems – depending on how you want to count phones, laptops, and more. I am tech savvy. I am ahead of the curve when it comes to interest in learning new technologies. I am not the masses. Technology, it appears, is built for people like me more ahead of me (you know, the people who always get the latest greatest when it comes out), not for the masses. Because technology moves so fast, appealing to such a small group of people, there are people left behind. And, I am here to serve those people, primarily women. I am here to help you navigate the confusing map of technology and make sense of it, so you can do your day to day with ease.

When I set out to write this, I was going to detail the problems we witnessed in that 90 minute phone conversation. My intuition had other plans. Book your 30 minute consultation today – and I will show you how I can help you navigate your technology.

Start with Women

Packed train from the 2017 Women’s March

Go green. Sustainability. Stable state system. Equitable. Environmentally friendly. So many buzz words, what does it all mean? It means our world is aching, we have sores all over the place, and we are crying for healing. I believe for that healing to work, we must start with women.


First, why do we care? Why do we care about “going green” and sustainability and all of this? I care because I care about being a good steward. As a mother, I wouldn’t leave my house littered with broken glass, toxic smelling things, and donuts all over the house. If I did this, my family would have cut feet, be unable to breathe, and die of heart related diseases. I wouldn’t be responsible for my son or be healthfully supporting my husband. And, I certainly wouldn’t be helping myself.

I define sustainability around the “triple bottom line”. That is, we balance three things in equilibrium. We balance people, planet, and profits. Another way to word this is economy (profits), environment (planet or place), and equity (people) are balanced together. They are all a part of a three-legged stool, and if one leg is shorter than another, the whole thing falls over. If one of these factors is out of balance, our balance sheet doesn’t balance.

I’ve written about this before. And, I will write about this again. Until we have achieved sustainability in a majority of countries, we will still need to hear this message.

Every time I write about sustainability, I peel back more layers. When my aunt gave me the book 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet I was introduced to the environmental layer of measuring the health of our world. When carbon offsets were introduced, it was a market based approach to merge both the environmental and economic layers of sustainability for business. This allowed companies to take another stab at showing up as responsible to our world. And, when we mention things like equal pay we are introducing the layer of equity, or people, in one attempt to balance the people portion of the balance sheet.

Women are the Canary

I will argue that we need to look at women as the canary in the coal mine. This should be our current litmus test on whether or not we are on the road to sustainability. And, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to be on the road to sustainability.

It’s 2018, and though the wage gap is closing (by how much depends on the resource you use), in many cases, the gap is still about 20%. That is, women still make about 80% of what men make, and yes, in the same industry. So, women are not equal when it comes to monetary possessions, or economy.

So, with less money, women age, and then outlive their partners. With less money, they are more at risk to be in poverty. Aging, is already rife with challenges. Add the burden of fewer resources, and I have to question, are we setting women up for success as they age? We can and should do better as a wealthy society, ensuring those who have “paid” into systems are taken care of regardless if they outlive partners.

When we are connected, when our social capital is high, we have less disease, less depression, and longer lives. Robert Putnam, in his 1995 (reprint 2000) book Bowling Alone described our decline in social capital, in detail. And he noted how it’s related to many of our noted ills in society. A follow-up book, Better Together, breaks down how we are better together. While all relationships and social networks can benefit from higher social capital, I believe women being more connected have a cornerstone importance to change our society to a more sustainable world.

Connect Women First

We need to connect women first. Reconnect women to each other, and then I believe we will have a ripple effect of connectedness across gender, age, and social class.

Relearn Basics

To start this, we need to reconnect with the basics. We need to relearn how to truly listen. We need to get back in touch with that which brings us joy. And, we need to lead with love.


Steven Covey said that people often listen with the intent to respond. That is, in conversation, we aren’t truly listening. We aren’t practicing empathy – truly joining someone in their emotional journey, the kind of support we really need. We might be sympathetic, noting their emotion, but then we follow it up with advice. Brené Brown talks about this is a short empathy video, where she reminds us that sympathy usually starts with “at least…”

Truly listening means sitting with someone withholding judgement, truly trying to hear their story, to understand, and join them on their emotional journey.

Live in Joy

Another key point I believe women need to focus on is living in intention, and specifically in joy. I will speak from a women approaching 40, 10+ years a mother, and 10+ years a wife. This is my lens.

It was so easy to get into the role of get up, make the bed, get the food, clean the things, and do it all over again once my son was born. Caring for an infant, and then a toddler, and then a school aged child, routines became set. That routine lead itself to forgetting, where self-forgetting became easy. Forgetting my self-care for others’ care became easy. There was (is) always something else to do. Then, one day, in a mini-retreat, I made a joy list. I compared that joy list to the things I was doing every day. The two were wildly different. I made the commitment to myself to live more in intentions that brought me joy. Doing so, I was more easily able to show up with joy for myself, and then for those I care for. Namely, my husband, and my son.

Live in Love

Now that we are living in joy and truly know how to listen, our next ask is to show up with love. We are listening to our sisters, we understand their stories better, and now we can show up with deeper empathy and compassion to truly walk with them in their path. All these steps will build our social capital. Build our connections to each other. Bring us closer together.

Share with others

By bringing us closer together, sharing this vision with others, because we want to. I do believe we need to, but let’s do this because we want to. When we come together from a place of healing, we will create a stronger fabric of social capital among each other. When we have that strong fabric, knit together, we will better be able to solve the problems the world has thrown at us.

Call to Action

I am calling for a rise of the feminine. Let us come together, do this together. Be together. Truly, we are better together, and together we can do so much.


Better Together, by Robert D. Putnam & Lewis M. Feldstein, 2003

Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, 2000

Empathy Animation, voice by Brené Brown, 2013,

Gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy no longer closing, data suggests, Sep 27, 2017,

Gender Disparities in Health and Mortality, 2007,

Gender wage gap just shrank for the first time in a decade, the, Sep 15, 2017,

In which countries do women outlive men by more than a decade?, May 20, 2016,

Life Expectancy at Birth (in years), by Gender, 2009,,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay, the, April 3, 2017,

Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, the, 2016,

Social Security for Widowed Spouses in Retirement,

Why is life expectancy longer for women than it is for men?,

Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage, Jan 19, 2010,



Tips on Being Green: Start with Waste Reduction

We need new system design.

Sustainability has been important to me as long as I can remember. I started the journey when I was young, with a book my Aunt sent my family: 50 Ways You Can Save the Planet. Until then, I had no idea the planet needed saving. Since, I’ve paired down that focusing on educating people about the environment is one of the reasons I’m here, on this planet.


Why do we need to educate ourselves on the environment? Because in our hurried society, we are so busy taking care of basic needs that we either forgot, we’re not taught, or a combination, of all the things that we need. The rampant fires, the rising waters, the continued pollution are all reasons why we need more environmental education.

Handily, a friend, in the food buying club world, asked for recent resources on how to do green. Thinking about this, I realized that I don’t turn to too many outside sources anymore.

While it’s good to stay up to date on recent bloggers, I have found that following a few basic principles are more key to living a green life.

And, funny enough, I got on this topic with my husband the other day. Husband never really understood why I preach a green, organic life. In a fit, I expressed, exasperatedly, it comes down to keeping our basic life resources clean so that our kids and their kids can drink from the tap without fear of contamination. So our kids and their kids can walk outside without a gas mask because the air is so polluted. So our kids and their kids can use the earth without fear it’s so contaminated with pollutants they cannot grow healthy food.

Whole Life

The bottom line it’s about a whole life thinking. Thinking in terms of what we need every day and shaping our health around that.

Systems Thinking

It is a simple systems concept, from start to finish. If we reduce the amount of things we take in, we will reduce our output.

Reduce Input

So, what does that mean in the day-to-day? Let’s take a look at the kitchen. In the kitchen we prepare food, we cook food, we consume food, we clean containers that helped with the whole thing, and we store all the unfinished bits. When we reduce our input, we are using reusable containers, for one. When we wash our dishes, we are using chemical-free agents to do our cleaning, so we reduce our input of more chemicals in the ground and through the water filtration process. When we reduce our input into systems, we are reducing our waste. So, we are recycling and composting as much as we can, based on where we live.

Reduce output

A natural consequence of reducing our input will be reducing our output. When we use durable plates and silverware, we simply don’t have to throw away as much. When we use reusable containers for our food waste, we aren’t throwing away plastic bags that held a sandwich. When we buy in bulk, we also have less packaging to throw away or recycle. Coming from this aspect, once you start picking away, one at a time, places where you used to throw something away and you’ve replaced it with a durable good, you’ve already started reducing your waste footprint on the world, and you’ve started being more sustainable.

Whole Foods

A huge place this waste is found is in food. Have you noticed how much packaging it takes to get our food? I’ve seen Kiwis in plastic clam shell containers, not to mention everything on the inside aisles of a grocery store.

An easy way to reduce the amount of output you have is to eat whole foods. Buy apples instead of applesauce. Buy fresh corn instead of canned. Buy heads of lettuce instead of lettuce in tubs. Learn to make your own food with whole ingredients instead of buying cans of soup, sauce, and everything in between. Even if you just pick one thing, you will have begun the waste reduction towards a more sustainable world.

I’m not typically a fan of fad diets, but we have found where they have shifted us into better health after letting go of foods that aggravate sensitivities. A few years ago, we began eating in the “Whole 30” way. Basically, we eat a chunk of meat surrounded by vegetables. Whole 30 advocates argue that the added chemicals to our food is making us sick, so eliminate those, and you’ll feel better. Whether you’re eating paleo, keto, or a vegetarian diet – generally speaking, you’ll be eating more whole foods. Whole fruits, whole vegetables, not preprocessed in some plant. The more you get into these diets, you may find yourself making your own broth, roasting whole chickens, and tending after your own hens to get your own eggs out of your own backyard. All of these steps will simply reduce waste in your home. The bonus being, you’ll eat better too!

New System Design

Another important aspect to sustainability is design. Running on carbon stealing, over built, waste inducing design will not solve our world’s problems.

You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

~ Buckminster Fuller

We need a new way of thinking about things. Paying attention to new technologies (new ways of designing buildings), participating in politics to update codes (seriously, why is greywater illegal?), and buying the new technologies as you can afford it (can’t wait to get my Tesla!). All these things will help move us towards a greener world.

What Will You Do?

So, the next question is – what will you do? First, assess where you are.

My favorite assessment is “My Footprint”. It’s gotten a facelift since the last time I took it, and it’s still quite informative. Full disclosure – here’s the link to my results: On my family’s lifestyle, it would take 3.08 earths to sustain us. While this is much lower than the country’s average, seriously 3.08 earths? I only know of one we can access, today.

Try both of these quizzes. My Footprint is great for adults and covers a range of systems that keep us going (, and this Scholastic quiz (for kids) breaks down kid-friendly ways to reduce your impact (

Now that you’ve assessed how green you are, what is an easy first step you can take? Where will you reduce your impact? What change do you want to see? Please share your quiz results in the comments below!

One Year Bullet Journaling, a Reflection

Here’s an example of typical planning: bullet journal, essential oils, computer.

One year and 12 days ago, I decided to drop my current planning, return my not-yet received Moleskine annual planner, and dive into the Bullet Journaling system. And, now I won’t look back. The Bullet Journal system is the most inclusive, most flexible, most straightforward way of organizing my life that I have ever used. And, it’s just an idea of how to organize in lists. Thank you Ryder Carroll.

From left: an Escher inspired planner, We’Moon 2005, We’Moon 2006, and for 2006-2007 a $3 academic planner. The latter got me through my wedding and pregnancy!

I have planned things in planners since high school, my first planners being At-a-Glance day planners from the local grocery store, knock offs of Franklin Covey’s system. I later used prettier things with thicker pages, or things that integrated art and moon signs. Eventually, I just dropped into Franklin Covey’s entire system. I used that system for almost ten years, spending around $100 every year updating calendar pages, purchasing new covers (the clearance synthetics I purchased never last longer than a year), rulers, plastic carrying cases, and more. And, then, life shifted.

The largest collection of Franklin Covey planners and various binders used through the years.
Franklin Covey, 2012-2016

I was fired because I questioned my boss on her choices, regularly. And, my wavering self-confidence faltered even more. Every time I looked at the Franklin Covey planners, it reminded me of plans I didn’t have, work I didn’t have, confidence I didn’t have. So, I needed to make a change.

First, I used the Passion Planner. And, then, after six months, I abandoned it. There were many things I liked about the system (size, story, goal focus), but I didn’t stick with it. I had heard good things about Moleskine, so rashly, I purchased their annual diary for $24 and had it shipped to my door. My husband’s review regularity piqued at the back of my mind, so I did a quick search: compare Moleskine’s Calendar to Passion Planner.

What I got was Kara Benz’s review of the Leuchtturm dot grid journal compared to the Moleskine. Immediately, I was struck by her efficient review that hit all the things important to me: how does the paper feel, how does it open up, what’s included in the packaging, and (most importantly) how does the pen react to the paper. She described ghosting, not bleeding, she explained, briefly, her favorite pens used. And, she gave a nod to the bullet journal system. “The bullet what?” I thought. And, I was off on a Google search web that I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.

Ryder’s video didn’t quite cut it for me, but Buzz Feed peeled back more layers, and I was sold.

From left: former sketchbook, current sketchbook, sketchbook journals, and then bullet journals, ending with “regular” journals on the right.

Before I tried to find this Leuchtturm journal, I decided to use what I have. I had some inexpensive sketch journals, purchased several years before, that were blank and awaiting their next use. I finished one journal in two days, and started fresh. This 8.5×5.5 sized journal only lasted two months. This wasn’t going to do, perusing the newly opened art store in my neighborhood, I was shocked to find the Leuchtturm journals, on display, in the front window! I didn’t have to wait for shipping! The beautiful dot grid system, the slight organization (index and page numbers), and the free-flowing pages awaiting whatever I wanted to put on them… I was sold, again. That journal only lasted three months. How could I use a 249 page journal in three months? The next one lasted almost five months, but I didn’t keep up with it like I desired during our summer vacation. And, at that point, I knew I was tired of transferring collections. Luckily, Queen Bee Creations had just created a Traveler’s Notebook that fit my Leuchtturm, and my system is now complete. For the time being.

This is how I Bullet Journal:

  • Monthly Log – gridded that separates into important notes, all day events, morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Weekly Log – I need a week at a glance to see how the pieces fit together.
  • Daily Logs – repeating and/or amending what was written on the weekly log. This piece is perhaps the most important to me. I do not write ahead very far because I have phone calls, classes, and meetings in which I take notes. And, I can take a lot of notes. One weekend seminar can yield 40 pages written in notes, with barely a thought.
  • Monthly Trackers – monthly goal setting, planning for events, and other general notes.

In a separate journal, I am holding my collections, I was quickly tired of rewriting them, these in depth things that needed to be added to, not rewritten. Some collections I have include:

  • Top 10 oil uses
  • Garden planning
  • NaNoWriMo tracking – from daily word counts to character sheets

I expect my “collection” journal to last a year or more, and in between I will use between 3-5 journals for daily planning.

What is your favorite way to manage your day?