Insomnia Chronicles

I suffer from insomnia. It’s not as bad as some people have it, but bad enough to be more than just annoying. Sometimes, I sleep for an hour or two and wake up and can’t go back to sleep, or sometimes I can’t sleep for hours and hours and fall asleep at 7.30 am and sleep for an hour or two. And sometimes I don’t sleep at all.

Last year, I started journaling when I couldn’t sleep, and in May I started calling these entries my Insomnia Chronicles. I would just write and write and write about everything that was on my mind. Did it help? Sure. Did it make it easier to then fall asleep? Um.. yeah, no, not really…

A few months later, I mentioned to Tye that I might as well start filming these Insomnia Chronicles and he said, why not, but it wasn’t until I did my Every Day In May 2015 that I actually filmed my first early morning after having no or very little sleep.

This morning, I filmed a ‘proper’ Insomnia Chronicles. Let’s just hope there’s not going to be many more….

Art before breakfast by Danny Gregory – Review

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I have to be honest, I was putting off writing this review because… well.. I’m a bit disappointed by this book. I will tell you why later on, but first let me tell you why this is a great book.

Danny Gregory is a well-known name when it comes to art journaling, or keeping a sketchbook diary, or however you’d like to call this drawing and writing combination. He has a very populair website and blog, published a a few books from which a 7000+ member Facebook group sprouted, all of which are a huge inspiration for people who want to draw and keep some kind of record of their lives.

Art before breakfast, Danny’s latest book, focusses on finding the time to do just that. If you get up a few minutes early and draw your breakfast, that’s a drawing a day. In this book, he suggests ways to finding (or rather, making) time to make art. And he shows you how to do it, too.

The books starts you off with a week’s worth of drawing lessons, and then you’re off! It has a chapter on art materials, and how you can switch them up and get different effects, how a page full of ‘bad’ drawings still look cool and that there’s always something to draw, because you are always there to draw from. Toes and hands and selfportraits will keep you busy for a while.

So yes, it’s a great book with lots of inspiration and creative ideas to try out. So why the disappointment?

I fist came across Danny’s blog and books some time in 2011, in august I ordered his book Everyday matters, a memoir and for Christmas that year I received Creative License: giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are. I love those books, read them cover to cover more than once and am rather familiar with Danny’s style of drawing, and writing. And that’s where it goes wrong with this new books.

I understand that Danny Gregory wrote this book and provided all the art work for it, and so it will have that familiar feel to it, but honestly, this book feels like a re-write of The Creative License.
The drawing lessons of drawing negative space first, he’s done that before. I know what’s in his bathroom cabinet because it’s in the other books, the bagel in The Creative License is a piece of toast in this one…
Keys, copying children’s art, pets, salt and pepper shakers, I know Danny likes to focus on the ordinary, the everyday, but it all seems a bit repetititve.

It’s probably just me, and I should look beyond the artwork and instead concentrate on the message this book is sending: draw more! You’ve got time, there’s stuff to draw right in front of you. Just do it, you’ll feel better for it.

So yes, if you are looking for inspiration and motivation, this is a great book. I do recommend it.
If you already own Danny Gregory books, maybe not so much. Or, if you’re a ‘collect them all’ kind of fan of his work, it’s another good one.

(And now I’m going to press ‘Publish’ and try and avoid the knot in my stomach as I don’t like being negative about someone’s work when they have inspired me so much over the years….)

Insight timer meditation app – review

Those who follow me on Twitter will have noticed that I have taken up meditation, by using the app by Insight Timer.

I did have experience with visualisation in a therapy setting in my 20’s (and I suppose listening to a fairytale radio show aired on Sunday mornings when I was little – the reader would tell you to ‘close your eyes to see what’s happening’) but meditation was new to me.

I had heard of benefits of meditation, including improving sleep (muchMUCH needed), reducing anxiety (check), lowering blood pressure (yes, please) and getting your brain to stop chattering (OMG yes!), but it wasn’t until the lovely iHanna posted a message on Twitter saying she had just done a mediation with Insight Timer that I looked into it and tried it out. That was 30 days ago.

Insight Timer is an app that has a free and a paid (under £2) version. As I went straight to the paid one I don’t know exactly what you get on the free option, but I love the paid one.

First off there’s the timer, where you can set bells to start, end and chime during your meditation. They sounds very real, especially when you’re listening to them through headphones. You can set just how long you want to meditate, as I’m a beginner I’ve a few differnt ‘pre-sets’ set at 5, 10 and 15 minutes, looking to expand as I get more practise.

Then there are guided meditations to listen to and follow, currently there are 82 on the site by different meditation teachers, varying in length from 1 minute to just over 30 minutes, and in style from body scans to mediation focussing on breath to guided visualisations.

All mediations (and guided meditations if you set it up that way) are counted, and for ever 10 consecutive days or 50 days with a session, you’ll get a star. The stats also tell you just how much time you’ve spent meditating so far. I’ve just reached 30 days and did 8 hrs and 25 min. of meditation using the bell configuration as well as the guided meditation. Yay me, I’ve now got 3 gold stars. 😉

There is also a Community button. You can see how many people are currently meditation all over the world, and you can join the many groups. I joined the UK&I Open Meditation group, Nederland Mediteert (because it is nice to ask questions in your own language) and Beginner’s Mind and in all groups people have been nothing but lovely and kind and open to answering all silly questions a beginner like me might have, like, if it’s true that your brain changes as you meditate, will you be able to feel it?
You can add friends, and send them little messages like ‘Thank you for meditating with me’. I think that’s lovely. (If any of you get this app, feel free to add me – Eveline from Harlow, England).

You can log and journal your sessions (and yes, they export to Evernote), set a daily reminder, rate the guided meditations and put them in your favourites so you can find them again, and they also have a Facebook page where they post inspirational quotes and updates on the site or app, and a Twitter account. You can set your account so it posts about your meditation automatically. It’s what I’ve set mine up to do every day for this last month, but I will change it to now only post when I reach another milestone in my stats.

As I’m sure you can tell, I really love this app. It’s easy to use, makes you feel that eventhough you sit there on your own you’re part of a larger community of people, and really, does what it says on the tin. You can’t ask for more, really.

I started off with just guided meditations as it was closest to what I had done before, but I am now enjoying my silent meditations too. While I haven’t seen any of the benefits just yet (and I wasn’t expecting to, it will take a lot longer than just 30 days), I am enjoying the experience.

If after all this you’ve like to see a demo of the app, please go here, and for the app itself, please visit Insighttimer.com.

If you do get the app, please let me know how you get on!

My first month with Evernote

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For a while now, I had been hearing about Evernote, which Wikipedia calls ‘a suite of software and services, designed for notetaking and archiving’.
Carie Harling mentions it a lot in her planner videos, I’ve heard Rhomany say she ‘puts something in Evernote to read later’. I wanted to learn more about it, so I signed up for a free account, giving me 60mb a month to play with, but as I set up the phone app I got a message from O2 that I could try it a Premium account for a year for free! Thank you O2! Now I’ve got 4gb a month!

But what would I use it for? I don’t have a large family, I don’t run my own business, I don’t have a million meetings a week to keep track of. Watching Youtube videos at first made it more confusing, but I dived straight in and set up a few ‘notebooks’ to try it out.

The Notebooks I use the most:
Medical: I have a thyroid condition and suffer from high bloodpressure, so take medication and go and see my doctor quite a bit. I keep a running note on all doctor’s visits (which doctor I saw, what the appointment was about, any advice or change in medication etc. etc.) what medication I’m on and when I’ve ordered more, bloodchecks I’ve had. I also set reminders for any new appointments I need to make.

Timeline: Things I like to keep track of or remember goes in here. When I last cleaned out the tumble dryer (and set a reminder for next month), household items that broke or needed replacing (like the laptop screen… oops…)or the day our water was chalky and undrinkable. The number of notebooks in this stack will more than likely grow as I use it, and will become more useful as I add more information.

References: Anything I think I’ll need again. In this stack of Notebooks I’ve got one for Evernote, where I keep links to blogs and Youtube videos explaining how to do certain things I haven’t tried yet or ideas for using Evernote, one for planning and productivity, which has things like the Christmas lists for the last two years and my braindump trigger list, and a general reference notebook where for now I keep the information for my future inlaws’ online shopping because that’s been a pain the last couple of times they’ve used it…

Evernote has got a lot of cool functions, but in this month, I’ve only used a few.

Sending emails to Evernote: Your Evernote account comes with an emailaddress, which means you can forward emails to your account and file emails to whichever Notebook they need to go in. You could also sign up for newsletters by using this emailadress. The emails will go into your Inbox notebook, and from there can either be deleted or moved to where you’d like them.

Sending pictures from your phone: Any pictures you take can be send to Evernote, with a description if you want to. It will go to your Inbox notebook or directly into the notebook of your chosing.

Evernote webclipper: an extra app that you can set up for your desktop version of Evernote, which acts like a bookmarker. You can clip URLs, whole pages or part of a page and add it to a notebook. Great for recipes and other references.

Right now, on the last day of my first month of using Evernote, I’ve only used 35MB out of the 4GB of storage space I have for this month. That’s just over half of what a free user gets, and it’s a LOT, at least it is for me. I doubt I’ll ever fill up 4GB worth or notes in one month, but you never know…

I’ll do another update in a few months, to see if and how I’m using Evernote then.

New Year’s resolutions

So we’re almost a week into the new year. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Personally, I haven’t even started, because those first two weeks I use to prepare and get ready.

First off, what are your resolutions? Breaking a habit like smoking or biting your nails? Writing more? Drawing every single day from now on? Exercise and diet until you get to that weight that you’ve got in your head?

Here are my tips to actually succeed this time round:

Define your goals

What does ‘write more’ mean? Is that a number of words a day, or a few times a week? Do emails count? Start excerise sounds great, but what will you be doing, and how often a week? The more loosely defined your goals, the easier it is to go down the slippery slope of not reaching them.

Make sure they’re realistic goals

If you’ve never exercised in your life, doing 3 or 4 full work-outs a week might be difficult to keep up. If you’ve never drawn as much as a stick figure, drawing every single day for the rest of your life from now on might not be as easy as it sounds.

Be realistic about your start-off point and how much time you are willing to set aside.

Find people who are doing the same thing

Join group classes, or even Facebook groups for like-minded people.

There’s <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/groups/edmatters/”&gt; Everyday matters </a> which is all about drawing the everyday things around you, preferably every day.

There’s <a href=”http://www.myfitnesspal.com/”&gt; My Fitness Pal </a>, where you can both keep a food and exercise journal as well as get in touch with others doing the same.

There’s <a href=”http://750words.com/”>  750 words </a> for those who want to start writing more frequently, you can keep track of your own progress as well as what others are doing.

Reward yourself

There’s nothing wrong with a gold star for great work. In fact, I ‘reward’ myself for every work out done by adding a dot sticker to my calender, a heart one for a new personal record. It’s nice to see the streak, which in turn is a great motivator to keep going.

If you are quitting smoking and save a bit of money, set some aside to treat yourself for every week or month or however long you’ve gone without. Little treats here and there are a lovely way to tell yourself you’re doing really well.

Don’t beat yourself up

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon, or if you skip a day or two of whatever it is you’re doing. It’s OK. You can start again tomorrow. Forming new habits take a long time, at least a month and sometimes longer. Skipping one day does not mean you haven’t done all those days that came before that. It doesn’t ruin anything or erase your efforts.

Look at where and why it went ‘wrong’ and see if there’s anything you need to change in order to prevent that from happening again.

Best of luck in all you’re trying to do this year. I hope 2015 brings you everything you hope  for.

A new blog…

After almost 12 years of using Blogger, I decided, due to ongoing technical problems, that I needed to move on. Both Twitter and Facebook -friends suggested WordPress, so here I am.

So sit back and relax as I’m trying to sort out my new online home.. (and keep your fingers crossed as I haven’t got a clue how to use this site yet…)Image