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Getting Ready for The Best Week
Planners, pens, painting; good things running wild; and links!
I’m getting a head start on my favorite time of year, the week between Christmas and New Years when we wrap up the old and prepare for the new. I’m always forgetful at the end of a year and that makes me hopeful for the one to come—the world could change for good; we could treat each other better; the price of groceries and housing, as well as the state of our public discourse, could be more reasonable. In that Best Week, when the world feels more holy and hopeful, I gather up all I can of the goodness of the past year and try to carry it forward to the next.
What worked? What definitely did not? Where did I grow? What old things can be removed and what new things, added?
In 2024, for the first time ever in my life, I will be using the same planner I used the previous year. I am always chasing shiny and new promises, drawn away mid-year by better, prettier, more effective systems, but I am so happy with the planner I’ve been using this year—from the feel of the paper and the way it handles ink, to the layout of the weeks and months (and for 2024 they’ve added even more daily pages). It’s everything I need, and making it work again, resisting the urge for new, feels like growth to me.
I have kept planners and schedules for different reasons over the years, but at the core of all the keeping is the concern that my life will never accommodate all the good things I want to do, alongside all the things I have to do. I am always hoping to “make room for good things to run wild”, as Chesterton said in reference to the rules and order of Christianity, but too often life just runs wild all over my plans and I end up defeated by the unexpected.
I want to learn to oil paint. I want to art journal as a way to process and record. I want to curate a lovely and peaceful home, to cultivate a beautiful and easy yard and garden. I want to write. I want to host simple, beautiful dinners and have wonderful, meaningful conversations with people. I want to grow my business skills (which are sorely lacking) in a thoughtful and grace-filled way, and continue to make the deli a Third Place1 for our community. And I want to take long walks alone, everyday.
That’s a lot of wants, I know, and there are a lot of other things I have to do (bills, paperwork, shopping, tax prep, phone calls, money management, decisions galore) and some unfruitful things I choose to do (scrolling Instagram reels from people I don’t know; eating too much sugar and too many empty carbs and feeling too much yucky; not exercising).
My lists are long and I can’t master everything.
The planner I’m using has sections for quarterly notes and goals. I am learning to view the year in quarters and plan ahead for busier seasons, without being discouraged by them. I need the visual reminder that seasons will change.
It also has daily habit tracking that I’m going to utilize more in 2024, and having a mix of quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily reviews will hopefully make my lists more attainable. Or more reasonable. And I wholly believe in flexing and changing plans as needed2.
ROOM FOR GOOD THINGS
November has brought a big shift in my schedule and opened up hours of time for me, with the end of volleyball season and with the most stellar crew working at the deli. I’m still catching up on all that has been neglected, but I’m working on a daily and weekly schedule for the rest of the year that leaves room for good things, hoping to enter the new year in a good groove.
In the past two weeks I’ve
completed my first ever oil paintings, using a tutorial and supplies I’ve had saved for almost a year.
written words I love, other words you will never see, and several pages of handwritten words in a brainstorm of epically encouraging proportions.
loaded up some books I have been saving to sell, putting them into boxes for Goodwill, instead. I dropped them off with the happy freedom of someone who knows her limits.
I’m heading into The Best Week ready, with room and a list of good things to get to. But also tax prep, getting all our accounts up to date, stowing away the years’ receipts, and hunting down dust bunnies. It’s a balance, right?
In my dream world, I spend my days in stationary stores, bookstores, and cozy coffee shops. I could geek out on stationary stuff and art supplies for days, and so I present you with these goodies:
The planner I’m using is from Wonderland 222. It has the Tomoe River paper I love and gridded pages, and for 2024 they’ve added a daily page for every day of the year. I don’t always need a full page for every day, but I plan to use the extra space for art journaling—I love a notebook stuffed full with collage and mixed media elements. Bonus: They are made and shipped from Washington, so I get my orders quickly.
I also use their monthly index tabs.
For scheduling daily and monthly things, I use these erasable pens, because plans change. They are amazing, but I have to be careful not to grab one for writing a check or signing documents ; )
The free oil painting tutorials I’m working through are here. I love everything Marian does.
Jeanne Oliver is another favorite art resource, with lots of free classes available. She’s a genius and I love her style.
Another book I’m starting over: The Way is Made by Walking by Arthur Paul Boers. I started it earlier in the year but got distracted, and I think the time is right, now.
ala the erasable pen!