My Bullet Journal Update

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Last month I posted an introduction to Bullet Journal HERE. Today I’m sharing my update on how this system has been working for me now that I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks. In a nutshell it is GREAT! What I love most about it is only having one notebook for everything. Currently I’m using it for calendar, monthly and daily tasks, food diary, gratitude journal, spiritual journal and Bible study, assorted notes, storing of receipts, financial journal – pretty much anything and everything.

I just used a cheap recycled paper notebook that I bought from Big W for $4. As you can see being a fairly cheap notebook it hasn’t worn all that well even at only a few weeks into using it. I would suggest getting something with a hard cover for durability.

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I pretty much followed the set-up in Bullet Journal creator Ryder Carroll’s introduction video starting with a KEY of symbols and signifiers used in the journal and then with leaving a few spreads for an INDEX:

 

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As you fill up the notebook you just refer back to the index and add headings and page locations as applicable. As mine is a fairly small notebook I found that even though I kept the index I rarely referred back to it but rather just flicked through the notebook to find what I wanted as I got familiar quite quickly with where things were. This leads me to another suggestion: choose a notebook of a reasonable size so you can fit more than one or two months in it but that is portable enough size wise to be able to carry it with you at most if not all times.

 

Next I stuck in a small envelope (that I bought as a pack of 10 from Big W for about $3) in which to keep all my receipts for the month. This works well for me however it does become full quickly and can make it awkward to write in the journal at times because of the bulkiness. I’ve adjusted this a little by keeping receipts elsewhere during the month, sorting them out and just keeping what’s necessary placing them in this envelope at the end of the month.

photo 2-3(1)_resizedSomething I picked up as a tweak from another blogger (sorry I’ve forgotten which blog) was using a tracker. I thought I would trial this and I liked it okay although I found I would forget to fill it out sometimes for days and then feel as if I had to catch it up.

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Some other spreads from my Bullet Journal: a wishlist, some notes I took about journaling and types of journals, a spread from my gratitude journaling and an inspirational scripture. You can record anything in your Bullet Journal simply by opening the next available spread. Pages do not have to be sequential so there is no need for “sections” as you simply record each page number in the index under the relevant heading. Eg: Food Diary – 3,4, 17,18, 35 -38

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By far the most pages / spreads in my Bullet Journal were for daily tasks – here you can see an example: each task simply has a check-box next to it, events have a circle and notes have a dot (refer to Key). Use your symbols and signifiers to indicate the status / priority of each task.  If you wish you can personalise these in any way that works for you simply listing your preferred symbols / signifiers in your Key for easy reference.

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Well that is pretty much my Bullet Journal to date. I am totally in love with how its working for me and hope that it might be something that could work for you too. Why not give it a try!

The Leader Who Had No Title – Robin Sharma

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Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

Recently I discovered Leadership expert Robin Sharma on YouTube.  Having been impacted by his unique leadership  message I quickly purchased his international bestseller The Leader Who Had No Title. I took one night to read this book and am about to start re-reading it.

Sharma’s message is couched in a modern fable which is easy to read with a little stretch of the imagination here and there. The fable is not the strength of the book but merely the medium by which Sharma delivers his potentially transformative principles and strategies for excelling in business and the business of life.

I feel that part of the power of the books message is that it is concise and refreshingly simple in a “why havent I thought of that?”  kind of way. Throughout the book I felt that this outlook and the strategies were such that I was optimistic that I could implement them in my own life with an achievable level of effort and persistence. The positive potential of this approach is equally applicable to personal / home life and to business /work life.

One of the attractive things about this approach for me personally was that it fits acceptably with my life framework – being scriptural wisdom and principles  – although the book and approach in itself is in no way religious. Principles such as working in a focused way, keeping positive associations, valuing effective and up-building communication are in alignment with scriptural principles such as working whole-souled as to God, bad associations spoil useful habits and a word at the right time for it being equated with apples of gold in silver carvings. It is therefore absolutely something I can personally relate to and that in itself is powerful.

If you are looking to read something inspirational and along the self development lines or wanting to be more effective/ find more meaning  in your personal  or work life then I suggest you read this book.

 

What I’m Reading

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For the past few months I haven’t been reading a lot. I needed the break and now I am starting to enjoy my reading again. I had let it become more like an unpaid  job to read for the sake of reviewing  rather than being something I love to do and that is not what I want the focus to be. So I took a break from reading and blogging and decided that when I felt like it I would pick them up again. So here I am and this is what I am currently reading:

Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes was sent to me by the publisher (unsolicited) and I was excited to receive it as I’ve read and loved some of Ms Moyes previous books namely: The Girl You Left Behind, Me Before You and The Ship of Brides. I would say on that basis that she has recently been one  of my favourite authors. I have  also read The Last Letter from Your Lover which I found to be okay and attempted another, Sheltering Rain, which was a DNF unfortunately due to the boredom factor. Alas The One Plus One is a disappointment for me and at around halfway in I doubt that I will be inclined to finish it. Again it is simply due to boredom. The story is quite frankly (at least so far) extremely BORING. I wanted to LOVE this book and it pains me to put it aside and not to be able to give it a glowing review. I’m finding Ms Moyes writing to be  either hot or cold and not much in between.

 

Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

 

Recently I’ve found myself wanting to read more about inspiring people and so a few days ago I picked up an Oprah biography that I’d had sitting on my shelves for about a year. Its by Kitty Kelley and so far it is interesting. One of the thoughts that struck me while reading it is I think its a shame that we seem to expect high achievers, be it politicians or celebs etc, to be perfect and we condemn them for any blemished past. Or at least they feel vulnerable to their past and either deny, avoid it or try and hush it up. Surely it is better to have someone with life experiences that is okay with saying “Hey yeah I did do that and I’ve grown and changed and learnt from it and THAT is what I bring to the table, to you – experience and wisdom – as a result of my not so perfect past.” Just a thought. What do you think?

 

 

Getting Organised

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One of the things I always struggle with is being organised. Each year I seem to buy another diary, a planner or start an organising binder. Some of these like my household organisation binder have been a success but most either go by the wayside very quickly or I become dissatisfied with them and find myself buying a new one and trying to start again. All in all my many attempts have been big fails!

Another thing I find is that I need a multitude of journals: one for my homeschool  recording, my spiritual journal,  a gratitude journal and food journal. In addition to these things I need to keep notes, goals, meal planning, as well as monthly/weekly and daily tasks and appointments and just other miscellaneous scribbles. This means I have a number of notebooks or diaries on the go at once. Its cumbersome to say the least.

Recently I stumbled across the Bullet Journal method and immediately felt that it was something that could work for me to streamline everything into one journal. Here is the introduction video by its creator Ryder Carroll:

If you Google Bullet Journal you will find many tips and tweaks as other bloggers share their experiences with this journalling method. I am loving it and I hope to share my bullet journal with you shortly. If you are looking to be more organised and to no longer forget appointments or procrastinate on getting tasks done this may well be the system for you. As I said I AM LOVING IT – particularly the flexibility. Check it out!

Guest Review: Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

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After a big break from blogging I am delighted today to welcome guest reviewer Alison Gibbs to the blog. Alison recently read and I believe ultimately enjoyed Wolf Hall by English author Hilary Mantel. Today Alison shares her experience of and thoughts about this book with us.

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Alison Gibbs has been writing professionally for over 15 years, producing copy for the not-for-profit sector. Her short fiction has been published and broadcast in Australia and Great Britain and shortlisted for several national and international prizes. She is currently undertaking her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Alison’s Review

IN THE LONG HAUL, WOLF HALL IS A RICH AND REWARDING READ

And so I reach the end of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall – perhaps one of the longest halls I’ve ever walked! I must begin by admitting that I made two concerted attempts to get into this book, a fact I found really confounding. This Man Booker-winning novel (and its sequel) have not only been well received by the literary elite but have enjoyed enormous popular success. I’ve sat in packed auditoriums at writers’ festivals to see Mantel interviewed and questioned by crowds of adoring fans. And here was I, an avid and reasonably competent reader, struggling with it.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and hope that my reflections here might help others break through the barriers I encountered and enjoy Wolf Hall as much as I eventually did. Ultimately it is a triumph of the imagination – a rich and wonderful read.

Mantel’s decision to flesh out and champion the much maligned Thomas Cromwell at the expense of the romanticised figures of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Moore was not only brave but inspired. Cromwell is an interesting character in the Reformation saga – a man of exceptional intellect and political instincts operating in an environment where the wrong move or allegiance could cost you your head.

The fact that little is known about him gave Mantel broad licence. As she explains in a fabulous interview at the end of the book, she used the very sketchy historical record to imbue her Cromwell with an acerbic wit and humanism radical for his time. We see him as the hard and shadowy political fixer and bully, but also as a fiercely loyal and loving family man who has managed to rise above a humble and brutal childhood. We are privy to the sympathy and respect he feels for the discarded Queen Katherine and his anguish at the executions of various intellectuals charged with heresy. Even while he’s going about doing the King’s dirty work, smoothing the way for the royal divorce and Britain’s split from the Roman Catholic Church, characters like Queen Kathryn, her daughter Mary Tudor, Chapuys the French Ambassador and, at turns, Thomas More, are not immune to his charm.

“I shall be sorry if I don’t see you again,” Katherine tells him at one point, following her ejection from the court. “You are so much quicker in conversation than the dukes.” He has travelled to see her at her new estate to inform her of the terms of her divorce. This is one of many lively and wonderfully realised dialogues in the novel that give dimension and complexity to historical figures like Kathryn of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.
So what did I initially find so difficult and distancing about this book?

Firstly, it was the exceptionally intimate point of view. Intimate third person narration is nothing new for readers of contemporary fiction. However Mantel takes this concept to a new level. We so totally inhabit the character of Thomas Cromwell that she often feels it unnecessary to name him or even acknowledge his presence in the room. After reading entire pages of dialogue between King Henry and some other character, you suddenly come upon a paragraph told from the point of view of ‘he’. Which leads me to:

Wolf Hall – Reading Tip 1: the ‘he’ in this instance is always Thomas Cromwell.
Realise this from the outset and you’ll save yourself a lot of flustered re-reading. I did a straw poll among my friends and found an interesting dichotomy. Men didn’t seem so bothered by this nameless ‘he’ pronoun thing – some didn’t even notice it – while the women almost unanimously said it drove them nuts. About 200 pages in, it no longer bothered me. But do be aware of it and don’t let it get you down.

Wolf Hall – Reading Tip 2: Brush up on your Tudor history.
Mantel does assume an amount of historical knowledge, particularly the role of figures like Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cranmer, various Dukes etc. While most of us are familiar with what she describes in interviews as Britain’s favourite soap opera – The Six Wives of Henry VIII – a quick visit to Wikipedia helped me come to grips with the political events and characters portrayed in Wolf Hall. It provides a useful framework and adds to the dramatic tension to know the eventual fate of the characters as they appear, or the role they will eventually play in Cromwell’s own downfall. I would also suggest making good use of the list of characters and households at the front of the book. History is unforgiving when it comes to Christian names – there are eleven Thomases in Wolf Hall, seven Johns and a fair scattering of Henrys, Richards and Annes.

Neither does Mantel go out of her way to make things easier for you. Towards the end of the novel we are told that ‘Hans came to lunch’. A warm conversation ensues between Thomas and his guest but it was only when I checked the list of characters at the front that I realised we were lunching with Hans Holbein, the famous Tudor portraitist. Sigh – back I go to re-read the start of the chapter. It is probably consistent with Mantel’s strict adherence to the Cromwell point of view that she didn’t see fit to throw in a surname upfront but it’s a good example of how frustrating this novel can be.

Ultimately, however, I found Wolf Hall an extremely satisfying read. Mantel chooses to focus on a fascinating few years of history and breathes life into events and characters that have become diminished by their endless portrayal in film, documentary and lurid television drama. It was hard work at times but here I am, at the other end, looking forward to reading the sequel Bring up the Bodies.

Thank you so much Alison for sharing your review with us today. I look forward to the opportunity of sharing more of Alison’s reviews in the future.

The Watchman by Matt Langford

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Click on image to read synopsis on Goodreads

Book Title: The Watchman
Author: Matt Langford
Source: Courtesy of the Author

4 / 5 stars

The really interesting thing about this book was the narration being by Adam a teenager with a severe learning difficulty. From this perspective the reader is introduced into Adams reality and we come to know both Adam and his family intimately. It is an interesting look at the dynamics of a family with a child with an intellectual disability.

I found that Matt Langford wrote in such a way that effectively bought the reader into close proximity with the family and each members reactions and strategies for dealing with the impact of Adams condition. Joss and Jake, Adam’s siblings, each struggle in their own way as they systematically leave home and we also get to see how Adam tries to make sense of these changes. By the end of the book I felt a real closeness to the family and I was actually a little sad to be finishing my journey with them.

As the main character Adam was severely language challenged, yet as narrator he was quite language capable. However it comes off in the book and I didn’t find this contradiction an impediment to the story at all.

As a mother I particularly felt endeared to Adams Mum. I admired her patience and gentleness with Adam and could empathise with her struggle in deciding whether or not to place Adam into care and in coping with, in effect, everyone leaving home in one way or another.

Although I have read stories about characters with disabilities I have never read anything like The Watchman where the reader is in fact experiencing the entire novel from within the characters condition. This really adds a depth to the story which at times I found heart wrenching, such as experiencing Adams physical acting out of his frustration over changes within the family.

Overall I think Matt has effectively written a very touching and immersive story that draws the reader into to really caring about the characters as we would close friends. I happily recommend this book to you.

About the Author

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Since deciding some years ago that writing would be a fruitless, difficult career path, and that I should really devote my time to something more sensible (say, accountancy or nursing), I have written several books and dozens of short stories and essentially given myself over to the typewriter at the expense of my hair, my looks and my physique..

Demotivation seems to be key here.

The problem seems to be, however, that once I write a book a magic unicorn named Bob comes along to edit, rewrite and tidy up my work. Bob has been largely absent. With this in mind I have spent the last year editing, tidying and rewriting a dozen of my shorts and a couple of my novels.

They are now ready for publication. Share and enjoy…
The nursing, by the way, is going brilliantly. My young children and my wife are extrememly grateful.

Connect wit Matt
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Buy The Watchman
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Amazon (US)
Amazon (UK)

December TBR

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Howdy All :-)

So what are you planning to read over probably the busiest month of the year? I’m devoting this month to review reading – namely the eARCs I’ve received through NetGalley. So my goal is to read and review 5 books this month:

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Pawn by Aimée Carter

Shame and the Captives by Tom Keneally

The Asylum by John Harwood

Sunset Ridge by Nicole Alexander

All the reviews I wrote last month will also be posted over the next few weeks so be sure to stop by and check them out!

Other books I’m hoping to finish off this month are Anna Karenina with 140 pages to go, and Ready Player One. The Georgette Heyer volume is still my progressive read.

I hope you all have a fabulous reading month :-)

The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

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Book Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: Katherine Scholes
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via The Reading Room

3.5 / 5 stars

My Thoughts

The Perfect Wife gets off to a slow start – really slow – in fact 36 pages for the protagonist Kitty to travel to her new home in Africa and unpack her suitcase. This did not make me hopeful for the rest of the book.

However the story starts to pick up, although it maintains a steady pace throughout save two startling events in Africa and a hint of a scandal back home in England. It was this hint of scandal that kept me wanting to read on and discover what had happened. The unfolding of the scandal finally gives the reader the much needed backdrop to Kitty’s new life in Africa and her determination to be a perfect wife, adding substance to the story.

While I found the groundnut scheme interesting in that I’d never heard of it before and I quite enjoyed Kitty’s involvement at the Catholic Mission, my favourite part of the book was actually Kitty’s recollection of her relationship with her artistic mentor, Yuri.

I didn’t enjoy Kitty’s relationship with her husband and I felt it was not really written in a way to garner the readers sympathy for Theo although there were circumstances presented that were I’m sure designed to account for her husbands behaviour.

The second half of the book is much more interesting reading than the rather sedate beginning and I loved the ending although to be honest it was quite predictable.

The Perfect Wife is a steady, ultimately satisfying read and at times the descriptive prose is quite lovely. I’d suggest its worth persevering past the slow start and taking a chance on this book.

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Musing Mondays

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This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This week I’m musing about what I’m currently reading:

Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

Since hearing about this one on Booktube I have been super excited for it and so when it arrived the other day I couldn’t help myself from starting it straight away. I’m about halfway in and liking it so far.I thought it was cool that there was an Easter Egg hidden inside the text of the book which is in keeping with the main premise of the story. Even though the contest is over it would have been cool to find the egg. I would really like to re-read this book taking the time to seek out all the 80′s references(and there are tons of them). Even though I was only in my twenties during the 80′s and there are some references I am familiar with, many I am not. Really I think to do that would give the experience of the book a lot more depth. This is a book I can see having a cult following if it doesn’t already.

 What are you reading today?