Losing My (Fake) Identity

From about 2002 to 2012, I was immersed in the book blogging world. It started with a Yahoo! group I’d joined, called “Book-a-Week”. Its participants aimed to read 52 books per year (a “book-a-week”). One of the Book-a-Week group’s rules was that you had to keep a record of the books you’d read. So, I’d started keeping a book journal then, but only a paper version. In 2005, I decided to start keeping an online –blog– version, as well.

Losing My (Fake) Identity | Life, Unleashed

For the majority of my book blogging years, I was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). As such, I had plenty of time to read and blogging became my place to connect with other adults.

As for the book-a-week goal, I managed to hit it almost every year. And then I started to exceed it. I talked books, read books, researched books, collected books. My collection grew from approximately 300 books to over 1400 books!

Because I’d started several book memes that my readers came, weekly, to play along in (on my blog), I was becoming known in the book blogosphere. I’d taken on the alias of “Mizbooks”, which my readers shortened to “MizB” — something I was fine with. Friends and family even came to know me as “Mizbooks”, and called me “the crazy book lately”.

And so, that’s who I was — who I became. My identity was caught up in my love of books and reading.

Then came the 5 years of being back out in the working world. When I landed a busy, full-time job, my time (and mental capacity) for reading greatly diminished. All-of-a-sudden, I found myself in a sort of identity crisis. If I couldn’t read, then who was I? I’d been the “avid reader”, “MizB”, for so long… now I felt lost.

And I felt ashamed …like I was betraying my blog readers by no longer being this woman who read 80 books per year.

Fast-forward five more years. My reading has dwindled to about 12-15 books read per year. My book blog is barely hanging on, with just two memes left, and about 1/3 of the readership.

I no longer feel as bad for my lack of reading time; but I do still wish I could (would?) read more. Really, it’s now more an issue of time-management and priorities.

The book blog… well, I’d been questioning that aspect, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to keep going with it after the new year (2017). I plan to either hand my two memes over to other bloggers or just let them go, entirely. Part of me doesn’t want to do either, as they feel like my “babies”. But another part of me knows it will be a relief to let them go.

Regardless, this whole “crisis” has taught me something. And that’s that we shouldn’t place our identity in what we do, or in the roles we play. Our truest identity (if we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior) is as daughters (and sons) of the King of Kings, and all that that entails. It’s the only thing that will not change. We’ve been adopted into God’s family, so we’re now set apart and He calls us His own.

I’m still learning to accept myself as who God says I am. But already, it has been both peace-giving and empowering.

So, who do you say that you are? Do you know yourself as a child of God? What do you need in order to make that mental shift?

 

Bullet Journaling: Why I Chose This Method

Have you heard of the Bullet Journal system? It’s a method for planning that was developed by Ryder Carroll, and I have come to really enjoy it!

Bullet Journaling: Why I Chose This Method | Life, Unleashed

I have always loved the idea of being organized and using a day planner. I’ve previously written posts about using the popular planners, and also about DIY planners. Suffice it to say, I’ve tried many times — and many planners — to be someone who keeps track of their days in some sort of written fashion. But I hadn’t yet found the “right” planner — or system — for me.

…Until now.

Last year, I discovered Bullet Journaling via Pinterest. Basically, you use a notebook or journal (the preference seems to be for either Moleskine or Leuchtturm 1917 journals), and you create your own planner layouts, etc.

For someone like me, who is constantly changing things up ((grins)), the flexibility of this system cannot be praised enough!

With my first attempt, in 2015, I bought a Moleskine (squared) journal from Amazon, and set it up like I’d seen others do via Pinterest. However, after a while, I found myself using the book as a “brain dump/ideas” notebook, more so than a “planner”. That, and I’d fallen behind on indexing everything, which is a key part of this system.

I’d really thought that this method was going to be “it” for me, but this “mess” that my journal had become left me discouraged. And so, I set it aside for a time. Meanwhile, I kept saving pins about bullet journaling on Pinterest — I guess the hope hadn’t completely died.

A short while ago, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy started using the Bullet Journal system. And, since she’s a blogger who I find to be extremely similar to me, both in personality profile (INFP) and interests (books, psychology, faith), I was super interested in hearing her take on things!

After Anne posted her 3-month update of using her Bullet Journal, I was inspired enough to try again. So, I ordered a Leuchtturm 1917 journal (dotted, this time) from Amazon, and avidly searched Pinterest for ideas while I waited for my new book to arrive. By the time it got here, I was armed and ready with a solid plan.

Part of where I went “wrong” with my first attempt was that I didn’t section anything out; I just tried to go page-by-page. As I said, though, this left everything too scattered for me, and because I’d fallen behind in indexing, it really made my book more time-consuming, rather than time-saving.

So, this time, I chose to create different sections for the various parts and layouts. This was partly thanks to Anne’s update of how she usesher journal, but also partly based on my own idea, given what didn’t work for me the first time around.

I should mention that the first thing I did, before I even got this new journal, was think about what I needed this system (and book) to do for me. Honestly, I don’t think anyone who tries the Bullet Journaling method should skip this step — it’s really key. After all, they say that “if you don’t know your destination, you’ll never reach it”, right? Same thing applies here. You need to start with WHY you’re using a Bullet Journal — what do you need to track? (credit for this goes to Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine for her post, “The 8 Stages of the Bullet Journal Addiction).

My own needs (at least, right now) were to track my business & blog-related activities, as well as my healthy-living pursuits. There are other things, too, of course, but those are my two BIGGEST reasons for wanting a place to keep track and plan.

With that said, I chose to set up my Bullet Journal with the following sections, and in this order:

  • 12 pages for the Monthly spreads
  • 52 x 2-page spreads for Weekly
  • a “Lists” section
  • a “Brain Dump & Ideas” section

Here are some pictures of my Bullet Journal, so far:

cover    index  weekly view

weekly view  monthly view  lists view

lists / books  tabs  braindump

(click any of the images to see them larger)

 

The nice thing about the Leuchtturm 1917 (as opposed to the Moleskine) is that its pages come pre-numbered, and they also give you three (3) pages already prepped for your Index, which is super-handy! I also like the two ribbon markers, and the pocket in the back (similar to the Moleskine).

So far (a few weeks into using this new method), I’m loving it. This time I have a “plan” for my planner, and it’s making things so much more enjoyable.

And again, I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have such flexibility! I only set up one week’s spread at a time, thereby allowing me to change things up as I go along, should the need (or desire) arise. And, of course, it already did! LOL. The first week, I found the “to-do” section too small for everything I wanted to note, and the other space too empty. So, for week 2, I added a second column for ToDo’s (one for personal, and one for business), and it’s worked out a lot better. But again, I can still change it up (later), if I need to.

Lastly, the addition of the “brain dump/ideas” section in the back of the book was kind of genius (thanks, Anne!). It allows me to jot down any random thoughts or doodles, without worrying that I’ll “mess up” my weekly spreads, or the order of things, as I’ve set them up.

So, there you have it. I think I’ve finally stumbled upon something that works for me!

HAVE YOU USED THE BULLET JOURNALING SYSTEM? If so, what do you like or dislike about it? Share in the comments!

Essentialism: A Review & Thoughts

I finished reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown*, a bit ago (thanks to seeing that one of my favorite bloggers had it on her shelf), and I’m soooo glad I checked it out! It was exactly what I needed to read.

Essentialism: A Review | Life, Unleashed

However, the book has also sent me into a bit of a questioning place, as well — which, I suppose, is the point.

The basic premise of the book is “Less, But Better“.

Essentialism is not a finite action or a single decision to live with less. Becoming an Essentialist means embracing a lifestyle to always seek out what truly matters and let go of everything else. {source}

There are a ton of great quotes and ideas throughout the book. What it comes down to, though, is what the quote says (above) — asking yourself what TRULY matters in your life, and then choosing to make trade-offs (a whole chapter of the book is dedicated to the idea of trade-offs, and it really struck a chord with me).

I’ve been researching Minimalism for a while now. In June 2015, I basically “Kon-Mari’d“ my bedroom, and it felt amazing to have done so! But, the idea of going completely “minimalist” didn’t sit right with me. I need color and variety in my life, and from the pictures I was seeing on Pinterest, I wasn’t ready to become a true (or “extreme”) Minimalist. Capsule wardrobes are not my idea of a good thing, let’s just put it that way.  But, to each her own.

Yet, when I read “Essentialism“, I realized that minimalist living isn’t so much about getting rid of things, as it is about learning to make intentional choices about what truly matters… for you, and for the lifestyle you want to live.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown | A review (adailyrhythm.com)

I also found Jennifer’s blog, “Simply & Fiercely” through Pinterest, as she has a series about how she’s become a Minimalist. And, her posts made more sense out of the whole idea for me. They reminded me that — as with anything in life — you should take the basic concept, and then modify it so that it works for your own style.

So, when I took all of this information and started to apply it to my work (my blog, basically), it actually helped clarify for me what I hadn’t been able to figure out for the past 3 years … which is what my main “niche” is supposed to be. As a multipassionate individual, I don’t like to box myself in too tightly, and so the idea of picking “just one thing” was torture for me! Recently, I’d chosen to identify myself as more of a “lifestyle blogger” — wherein, all I meant by that was that I had multiple topics I would be writing about — and this helped. But it still wasn’t quite the right fit. The categories I’d chosen didn’t seem to be “right”, just yet… some of them, yes; but not all.

One of the questions the “Essentialism” book says you should ask yourself is, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources, right now?” And, when I thought about what is that “most important thing” for me, right now (for my business, anyway), it was to be creating content. So, I started making a list of things I wanted to write about and offer… but they all seemed so scattered (I love a lot of things, after all! See, again, my “multipassionate” nature!) So I asked myself (for probably the millionth time), “What ties all of these things together?” And, I wrote down “whole life”… and then — AHA! — “Authentic Living“. And, all-of-a-sudden, I felt I had figured it out… this, intuitively, felt completely right. After all, “authenticity” is my #2 personal core value! So, it makes sense.

Thinking about my past 3 years in business (for myself / being self-employed), I realized that I keep coming back to these two concepts:

  • Being free to do what you love (and, freedom is my #1 personal core value)
  • Discovering who you truly are, & using that to build your ideal life

I love to teach, and I love personal development. As you may know, I’m a big-time nonfiction junkie. I actually prefer reading nonfiction over fiction, truthfully. I soak up knowledge like a sponge (which is just part of the “Input” part of my personality, and maybe a bit of the “Intellection” side, too — both of which I learned from reading Tom Rath’s book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0“.) I long to teach others what I’ve learned through both my reading, and through my life experiences (and also, to teach what God has taught me, too!).

So, that brings me to what I do here at Life, Unleashed … and why I blog about being who you were created, uniquely, to be. It’s so important to be who you are, even (maybe, especially) in business. Don’t ever hide your true self! There are people out there who need to see the real YOU.

Definitely check this book out for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!

BOOK REVIEW: “The Renaissance Soul” by Margaret Lobenstine

This was a re-read for me, but it’s one of my favorite books. And, since I was in a slump — and, since this book was calling to me, loudly, from my bookshelf — I had to give it another go. And, sure enough, it did the trick.

I first read this book back in late 2010, and it really got me excited. I shared it with my sister, and she, too, got really excited about the book — after purchasing a copy and reading it.

Renaissance Soul Review Margaret writes about people who fit the following profile:

  • prefer variety over repetition
  • illogical and seemingly chaotic
  • don’t like to stick to schedules & to-do lists
  • impulsive
  • flexible
  • prefer many options, rather than one clear choice (hate having to choose just one)
  • easily bored after having mastered something
  • most alive and engaged when learning something new
  • unpredictable
  • respond eagerly to new possibilities
  • constantly chasing new hobbies and interests
  • naturally curious
  • thrives on wearing many ‘hats’
  • enjoys learning new languages & exploring new cultures
  • at peak performance, can be very detail-oriented & focused
  • creative
  • somewhat indulgent
  • passionate and inspired
  • chafe at limits
  • need constant new motivation
  • opt for change over continuation in the face of success
  • don’t like rigid long-term goals, or action plans
  • love to learn
  • interact and evolve with their surroundings

This is very much me. I have always thought I just lacked the perseverance to stick with things, or that I was lazy, or that I was too fickle. Family constantly tell me that I shouldn’t be so “picky”. But, apparently, this is all just a part of my nature! Not to be lazy, fickle, or lack perseverance — but to want to move on as soon as I’ve mastered something, or as soon as my interests change.

This also explains why I frequently change the layout and theme of my blog. 😉

And, I realized that it also explains my crazy desire to pack up and move house every 5 years or so! LOL. Mind you, we’ve been at this house for 10 years now, because we haven’t been able to afford to move. But, I’ve been itching to go for about 5 years now.

For a great review that gives a bit more detail about this book, click {here} to visit The Clear Minded Creative’s blog.

Also, find out if you, too, are a Renaissance Soul, by taking the quiz at the author’s blog!