Erin Condren: A Game Changer!

Do you ever feel completely disorganized?
That no matter how hard you try to plan ahead to keep up with your busy day-to-day life,  something always seems to be forgotten or missed? And how every new year, you go out and buy a new planner with the hopes that this year will be better because you have a different planner this time?
Yet, you find yourself not using it because it just doesn’t have everything you need it to have after all?
 And flipping through mundane black and white pages just bores you to tears, which makes you less inclined to keep it updated?
A little confession…….that was me. I NEVER used to be this neat and organized. My life was a disorganized mess!
Until the day I discovered a planner that would literally change my life from chaotic disorder to complete organization!
The little miracle that saved me from my stressful and disorganized life and transformed me into a more peaceful and completely organized “life planning” guru is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.
I didn’t think it was possible that one little planner could shift my cluttered, disarrayed life into an orderly, systematic and organized one. I didn’t believe it…because I had tried so many times before to no avail.
This is not your average planner.  Sure, it has a calendar like every other planner, but it’s so much more than that.
I actually look forward to using my planner and I can tell you that has never happened before.
Being organized for the first time in my life has created a calm I never knew existed because I don’t stress anymore about missing or forgetting anything.
The EC LifePlanner layout has everything I need to plan accordingly, but beyond that, it’s also visually pleasing and actually brings a smile to my face when I use it.
Who knew that scheduling, planning and coordinating daily life could actually be fun?
Not me!
Have you ever found something that made you so happy that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Well, my friends, it may seem small to some of you, but I can find a little ray of sunshine every day in my Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Yes.

A planner.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

Maybe…to some…

I believe we should cherish the little things in life. And my Erin Condren LifePlanner may seem like a “little thing” to some, but to me it is so much more!

When I sent an email to the Erin Condren social media squad, I never thought I’d hear back. I sent it with the hope that they would read my blog and hear my story. That that story might pique their interest and I’d be able to use it to help another person dealing with some of the same things I am.  Or maybe it could simply help introduce someone not familiar with Erin Condren to a new and innovative planner that they could use in their everyday lives.

So, I reached out. I sent the email, and lo and behold, I got a response from a woman named Samantha!!

Holy Hades!

I couldn’t wrap my brains around the fact that my little blog could catch the attention of someone at such a large company.

But, it did.

“Samantha”  told me to make my choices for a new planner and she would send me a “Happy Package” full of EC goodies.

Rose Gold and MidCentury circles and Vertical vs. Horizontal, Oh My!

I was giddy with excitement and this is what I was talking about before. This planner can bring such a smile to my face!

So, I waited.

And I waited.

Just two days felt like an eternity, but it showed up and that orange box made me Squeee!!

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I called Doodle One in and we went to “Unboxing” this new found glory in a perfectly packaged box.

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There was a note.

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They always include little freebies on the top of their packages, but this was personal. A handwritten note. It was from Sam. We were on nickname terms and I laughed out loud at the concept.

So, I opened it and she had sent two boxes of their amazing colored pencils for my kids.

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What?

Yes, y’all. She sent two boxes of the most perfectly designed colored pencils for my Doodle’s!

Plus, some stickers!

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I was, again, just in awe of her ability to touch my heart.

Sam sent me what they call the “Wellness Package”.

It included their AMAZING wet erase markers (I had no idea there was even such a thing, but they write like a dream and only wipe off easily with a wet paper towel)

A “Wellness Journal” to keep up with general body wellness. It’s not just specified to weight loss. It chronicles hydration and an overall body conscious way of living.

Their “Designer Sticker Book” that is so pretty I don’t think I can even use the stickers! They are gold, platinum and rose gold foiled with such perfection that they look like works of art.

A set of their “Do It All Dots” that go in your planner to stylize even the most mundane of daily duties.

Two, Count Um, TWO dashboards!

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One that you can use weekly to organize meal planning to make that task a breeze and one that included the cutest sticky notes you can imagine. All highlighted with their signature water color background. They are so useful, I’ll probably run out and have to buy my own. (Which I’ll do in a heartbeat!!)

And finally, a cover to use until  the personalized one that I picked out could be made. Because the platinum foiling process takes so long to prepare, Sam just couldn’t wait to send it to me!!

And y’all, this cover was beautiful. Perfectly foiled and laminated in a very sturdy, yet still visually pleasing format.

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Then it happened.

I came to the bottom of my package and angels sung and birds chirped and whales gave a mating call…

My Planner.

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I felt like holding it up like Simba and singing “The Circle of Liiiffee”…

From cover to cover I stared. My daughter thinking I was crazy the whole time.

I couldn’t open it up.

I wanted to savor the moment and smell the fresh paper smell and feel the infinite possibilities that perfect planning can do to your life.

But, I finally did.

The front cover has a whiteboard that works with any dry erase markers or the phenomenal wet erase markers.

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The first page is vellum. I didn’t know what vellum was, but now I know I want it in my life. It is gorgeous. Marked with a colorful pattern of their “MidCentury Circles”.

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And then I dove in. Head first with eyes wide open. It has a two-page layout of 2016 and 2017 and then it has a two-page layout of boxes, color coordinated for each month. I think I’m going to use this as a “Goals” page to set monthly goals for myself.

Then the planner itself starts and the watercolor theme immediately stands out. It is strong, yet feminine. A perfect choice for a new style.

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The months are still color coded this year, but with an elegant watercolors. Less polka dots and boxes. She truly captured the essence of every different personality. For, with the soft colors, one could add pizzazz with stickers or just let the simple beauty of the planner speak for itself. I, myself, am a little in the middle. I love stickers, but I am understated in my design choices. But, EC knew that and designed her LifePlanner for each personality accordingly.

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The months are followed by note pages: Lined, Graph and Blank. Again, with the customizing, EC. Oh, how you know thee!!

Then follows the folder pocket that serves the purpose of just that. A two-sided folder to be a catch all for all of your receipts, bills and so forth. It’s sturdy, yet not industrialized looking.

And yay! A zippered pouch at the end that you can move to wherever you’d like in your planner. Filled with goodies like the coil clip to snap it into place, a sticker book sample and compliment cards that I’ve already used for Chris’ sweet nurse that helped us so wonderfully.

So, do you want one?

I bet you do and I have a code to help you get $10 off.

So, take the plunge.

The design is always top notch and the personal touches they add just add a little something that can’t be explained.

This year is the year that I caught the planning bug. I got caught off guard. I joined a community of planners that is both exclusive and all inclusive. All members are full of love and compassion.

We all know that we are all fighting our own battles. But, we rally and hold hands and just love one another in a way that feels so fulfilling.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. From kids to homeschool to a husband fighting cancer. This planner gives me the light I need to get me through my most gloomy of days. I can pace the halls of the darkest hospitals and my light won’t be extinguished.

Yes, a planner can do that. Yes, a planner does that.

And that planner is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Get your own personal ray of sunshine.

Allow yourself to be enlightened and changed for the better.

See how something that some may call a “little thing” can make such an enormous and positive impact on your life.

With Love,

Al

P.S Here’s your $10 off code!!

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/allisonpadgett0625

P.P.S Take a look around and find what tickles your fancy!!

http://www.erincondren.com

XOXO…

**Some editing and some writing credit goes to Suzanne B. Horton who makes my sun shine and my moon glow**

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Embrace the NOISE…

Snoring.

Slurping.

Humming.

Drumming.

Mumbling.

Repeated questions.

Footsteps up and down the hall.

Over and over.

Constantly.

Screams and cackling.

Dogs barking.

Cats meowing.

Loud music.

The TV volume at exponential levels during SportsCenter.

Doors slamming.

The refrigerator opening and closing a thousand times.

Cabinet doors unhinged.

Toilet seats dropped.

We all have a list of these things. These things that bother us. These things that get under our skin. These things that drive us to yell and holler and act crazy because that’s what we feel like we are.

Crazy.

Driven to that point by the constant noise.

The constant noise of life.

Of a family.

I have asked myself this week a very profound question and it’s taken me a while to actually answer it.

What would I do if the noise stopped?

What would I do if quiet fell over my home?

I laughed at first and thought, “Oh, how I’d love to have a quiet house! With no fighting or slamming doors or running up and down that long ass hallway! Bring on the quiet and bring it on NOW!”

Then, reality hit me smack dab in the face and I realized something that I should’ve known all along.

I love the noise.

I love the sound of little feet running up and down my hall. I love the sound of the raucous play and laughter that it brings.

And I love the sound of his snoring.

Without it, there’s no him. There’s only me.

Alone.

Quiet.

Please, understand that I’d like to not miss 15 minutes out of every hour of sleep, but this comes with a price. A price I’m willing to pay.

You see, I don’t know how long I’ll get to hear the sweet sounds of those snores. It could be a year. It could be ten years.

We all know that our children will grow up and the pitter patter of little feet will go away. The slamming front door will stop and the fridge will stay shut.

These are things that we, as parents, know will happen.

It doesn’t make it any less hard, but it happens at a slow pace and is something we can prepare for.

We all know we’ll have that treasured “Empty Nest”.

See? There’s even a name for it.

But there’s no name for “Empty Bed” syndrome, unless I just coined it.

We don’t talk about how wonderful it will be to spread out and hog all the covers.

We don’t talk about it because no one wants it.

I might for a night or two.

Even a week. But somewhere deep in my soul, I need to hear the snoring. I need to huff and puff over the stolen covers.

I need this to breathe.

Because I know what it means when the snoring stops.

It means that half of my soul has been taken and all that is left is silence.

So, for now, I’ll embrace the noise.

I will live for the guttural sounds of sleep.

I will live for those feet dancing down the hallway and his yelling for them to stop.

I will live.

At least for as long as he does.

She is beautiful

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She is the envy of many a woman.

She is, to most, perfect.

She is the responsible, put together and dependable one.

She never forgets a birthday or anniversary.

She is, by all accounts, just what every woman dreams to be.

She is beyond beautiful. Her light blueish green eyes sparkle when she laughs and her smile is infectious. Her hair shines in the sun and even in a “mom bun” looks amazing.

She remembers others children as she walks through the dollar aisle at Target and picks up the perfect item “just because”.

She buys Christmas presents in June because they will be just what someone wants and tucks them away for that special moment.

She is smart. Smart like most people want to be. That odd combination of street smarts and book smarts that makes her know how to change a tire and also know who fought in the war of 1812.

She’s comforting. An oasis in a life of chaos that can be called upon at any minute. She always knows what to say. She can make you feel like a million bucks with just a corny joke and the sound of her laughter.

She is the carpool mom that knows all of the other mom’s names and chats with them without effort.

She is the classroom volunteer mom that knows every kids name and develops a way to reach every single one in just an afternoon.

She’s the lunch duty mom that cleans up after your child without a second thought.

She’s the Cub Scout mom who checks homework so diligently during the meeting that others think she homeschools.

She’s the baseball mom that cuts up all the oranges and serves the flavored water and never forgets if that one kid has an allergy.

She’s the MOM.

She’s the mom that reads to her kids every single night. Building their love of literature and enriching their minds.

She’s the mom that plays, acts, sings, dances and generally acts like a silly woman just to see the smile on her kids faces.

She’s the mom that still checks on her kids during the night and sheds a tear just watching them slumber.

She is also the mom that thinks she doesn’t do enough.

That her best is never good enough.

That she should go harder and faster and longer.

Her self concept isn’t what we see from the outside.

She is lost in self doubt.

She is lost.

This is when we step in, Mama’s!

We all know this mom.

We all envy this mom.

We may, in fact, be this mom.

It’s not a competition.

All of our kids are perfect and we are all beautiful.

It’s time we tell each other that.

Tell another woman on the street that you like her shoes. Tell her that her dress is just gorgeous.

You know why?

Because she might have had the worst morning and one comment can make her day.

She’ll believe you, but inevitably, wouldn’t dare believe herself.

The mirror lies to us, Mama’s.

We are all of these things.

Tell another mom she’s appreciated today because, guess what?

It might be the first time she’s heard it in a while and you just might change her view of herself.

You are gorgeous.

You are special.

You are irreplaceable.

You are doing the best you can.

And, honey, that is and always will be, more than enough.

When your Mother in Law becomes your friend

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Can you have a real relationship with the mother of your husband?

Won’t she always see him as her baby and you as the evil person that took him away?

I never thought I’d be able to answer that first question with a resounding YES!! I never thought I would’ve developed the type of relationship that I have with my mother in law.

Her name is Lisa.

Her titles are Mom, “Happy”(her grandmother name), mother in law, daughter, sister and friend.

She will always be Chris’ mom. She will always be the grandmother of my children, but I never thought I’d get the chance to call her my friend.

It has been a long 13 years. Chris and I’s relationship has had many up’s and down’s. MANY up’s and down’s. We’ve loved and hated each other so many times that I, myself, actually have lost count of the times that we’ve been “broken up”. I’m sure many of our friends did, too. I’m also sure that that’s why, in the course of our 13 years, that we’ve lost so many.

Who wants to be a part of constant calamity?

No one.

It has taken many different things to get Chris and I to where we are today. Be it time or just plain maturation. We did it. And we did it together.

Throughout these up’s and down’s there’s always been someone there. Someone who had to endure the drama. Someone who couldn’t leave.

That person is his Mom.

His mom and I have hated each other and loved each other just about the same amount of times that Chris and I have. And she should’ve hated me. I agree with her. I didn’t treat him the way he should’ve been treated. (He didn’t treat me the way I deserved either and my parents felt the same, but that’s another post)

I remember one meeting with Lisa and her anger was so apparent, she actually seemed evil. Her eyes were dark and her soul was full of a sense of hate so deep that I’m not sure it could be explained. She seethed anger.

And she had a right to that anger.

I wasn’t scared of her. Don’t get me wrong. I was trying to explain myself and nothing, and I mean nothing, would’ve gotten through that protective barrier you call a mother’s love. The meeting was futile. My efforts at explanation fell on deaf ears and at the time I thought that I could break down the barrier, but in the end, nothing really can ever break that barrier, can it?

It’s taken years, actual years, for us to gain each others trust. It wasn’t just her that didn’t trust me. I knew in a second she could stop being my friend and turn into my mortal enemy. I knew she could do it in a heartbeat and not blink a perfectly lined eye.

About 5 years ago things changed. She and I were both changing and I’m not really sure the other knew it. I was embracing my mental illness and doing something about it. She was going through a divorce. Both situations, although very different, were turning points in our lives. Our lives individually and our lives together. We both had a storm to pass through and now we were going to go through them together.

My mental illness is something that I’ve written about before, so I won’t get into the ends and outs of it, but I will say this simple statement. Better living through chemistry. It’s my truth and I own it.

But Lisa was going through something that I didn’t understand. She wanted a divorce? From a man she’d been with for 30 years? How could that be?

It turns out that we were searching for the same thing at the same time.

She simply wanted to be happy.

She found her happy and I found my truth and then we found each other.

We have changed. The girl that fell in love with her son is now a woman married to the man of my dreams. The woman that I met is now a butterfly that owns her life and is no longer the caterpillar stuck in the beautiful chrysalis. We are both free to be our true selves.

 I’ve always admired her. I’ve always been a tad bit jealous of this woman that could make a perfect dip, sip a glass of wine, write a thank you note and rock a baby all at the same time. She seemed like Superwoman to me.

And she still is.

She’s just a different kind of Superwoman.

It takes a special person to be a mother. It takes a special person to be a friend. Lisa manages to do both with ease. She always has time for you. She always has a laugh for you and she’d give you the shirt off her own back if you could fit in it!

Through all the pain that I’ve put Lisa through, she still loves me and I’m grateful. She still holds my hand when I cry about Chris and most of the time, cries with me. The light in her eye and the spring in her step is infectious.

I’m lucky to have a mother in law. I’m lucky to have a “Happy” for my babies.

I’m lucky to have a friend.

The Diagnosis: Oligodendroglioma Grade III

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Have you ever found a stray animal and not wanted to name it because you couldn’t keep it and naming it would make it yours? It would make you own it?

Well, it has a name.

Oligodendroglioma-Grade III

We own it.

 The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center

What a lovely place. What a big place. What a very easy to get lost and walk five miles in, place. I wondered as we rushed in, who is Preston Robert Tisch? He was clearly someone special. Clearly someone who made an impact with his life. I thought Mr. Tisch probably had no idea the impact that just his name would mean to so many people for years to come. And then I thought that Mr. Tisch probably would never know. Mr. Preston Robert Tisch is most likely dead. Forever associated with the very thing that took his life, but forever associated with the ray of hope that thousands of people seek out during the scariest, most uncertain time in their lives. The time when they hear the words, “You have a brain tumor.”

Dare we think positive? Dare we think the word benign? Dare we doubt the best neurosurgeon in the world’s preliminary diagnosis? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a tiny, itty bitty part of me still believed in a miracle at this time. Naivete! But, nonetheless, a woman, in love with her husband, who wanted an answer that I knew wasn’t going to come.

Oncologists are like robots. They have to be, I guess. They can’t care too much about each and every patient they encounter because the nature of their very discipline has a high mortality rate. They try things on patients that work and then they try things on patients that inevitably shorten their lives. It’s all the nature of the beast. The beast called cancer.

Chris’ doctor is matter of fact, but with the information she had to relay, matter of fact was welcomed.

Brain tumors are measured in Grades, not Stages.

Chris has Grade III Oligodendroglioma.

There are only four Grades.

His cell proliferation index shows a high level of tumor recurrence.

He will be monitored with an MRI every two months for the next year.

At any point, during that year, the tumor recurs, repeat crainiotomy, chemotherapy and radiation will be discussed.

The chance that it will regrow or reappear is high, as some of it still lies in wait, deep within his brain.

Some people live for 15 years with a tumor of this magnitude.

Some people last only a year or two.

Genetic markers in Chris’ tumor suggest he lies somewhere in the middle of the life expectancy range.

He will continue on an anti-seizure medication to stop the “episodes” he was having, were they to somehow come back.

Chris agreed to participate in a clinical trial for a new medication that’s being developed.

He donated his tumor and doctors will use it to see if the drug will kill the cancer cells and at what rate. 

All in all, a close eye is what they want to keep on him and MRI’s will be very important in the next few months.

Any proliferation of cells by the first MRI in two months is something that could potentially kill him in less than a year.

Non-growth shows the potential for many more years of a happy life.

Only 34% of patients with malignant brain tumors live past FIVE years.

And that’s it. I have feelings about this list, but as of now the thoughts in my head are so loud that not a single, solitary emotion can be heard.

One Week Later: A day in the life of a CANCER patient

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A day in the life of a cancer patient is just like the day of any person really. All except for that one thought in the back of their mind. “Is today the day that I become the past?”

We all do it. We wake up. Go about our days and never once think about the day that someone will refer to you in the past tense. “So and so WAS so nice. So and so WAS a good friend.” It never occurs to us to think that way. We haven’t been told that something foreign is invading our bodies or our brains. We go on about our day and are blissfully unaware of our own mortality.

Why do we do this? Because it’s easier. Because no one wants to talk about the end. Hell, we barely want to talk about the future. Much less, the end.

But to a cancer patient, the future is the end and now is all you have.

6:00 AM

Wake up. I hurt. I hurt bad. “What hurts?” Everything.

6:15 AM

So many pills. Do I need this many pills? “Yes, honey. Just take them two at a time”

6:45 AM

I’m starting to feel less pain. Is that right or am I still in a fog from sleep?

7:00 Am

OK. Pain is controlled. Not gone. Controlled.

7:30 AM

More pills? “Yes, honey. They are your steroids, remember?”

8:00 AM

I’ll drink this coffee and think about what to do with all of the junk under the carport “Honey, time for your medicine.”

8:45 AM

Should I blow off the driveway? I should blow off the driveway.

9:00 AM

I’m going to blow off the driveway

9:30 AM

Blow off the driveway

10:00 Am

Driveway looks great! “Honey, time for your medicine.”

10:30 AM

I’m going to get this junk out from under this carport!

11:00 AM

Damn, my carport looks nice!

11:30 Am

Come look at the work I’ve done! “Honey, you’ve done too much, again and it’s time for your medicine.”

12:00 PM

“Medicine, love!”

1:00 PM

What a nice conversation I just had on the phone! My speech is getting a little better…at least I think that it is?

2:00 PM

“Do you need medicine right now, love? One or two? Whichever you need.”

2:30 PM

 “I wish you’d take a nap!” I wish she’d just leave me alone. I’ll sleep when I damn well snnoorreeeeeeee……….

3:30 PM

“Here comes the steroid train! Choo Choo!” Oh my God she’s a dork, but you gotta love her.

4:30 PM

“You need to eat something.” I’m not hungry.

5:15 PM

I’m so hungry. What’s for dinner?!

6:00 PM

“It’s pain medicine time, love. Do you need any?” Just one this time. Just one.

7:00 PM

“Time to clean your staples. They look so good!!” How can staples look good?

7:30 PM

“Time for my muscle man to take his steroids!!” Wow. The woman will do anything to try and make me laugh.

8:00 PM

I think I’ll watch TV

8:30 PM

There’s nothing on TV

9:00 PM

Yes! Harry Potter on ABC Family! Score!

10:00 PM

“Anti seizure medicine and pain meds if you need them” Just Anti seizure for now, thank you

10:00 PM

Sleepy Time

12:00 AM

whisper “honey, it’s time for your medicine. here’s your water. i love you.” Ok, ugh.

2:00 AM

whisper “honey, it’s time for your medicine. here’s your water. i love you.” Ok, ugh.

3:30 AM

whisper “honey, it’s time for your medicine. here’s your water. i love you.” Ok, ugh.

6:00 AM

Wake up. I hurt. “Where do you hurt, love?” Every damn where.

What will you do today? What will your choices be? Will you choose to stay complacent or will you look outside yourself and reach? Reach for that one thing that’s been in the back of your mind for years? Step outside your comfort zone and break the mold? I think you should. I know you should.

Because one day, all of our names will be used in the past tense.

She wakes…

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She wakes up everyday loathing the sun and wishing death upon the birds. How dare they be so happy and delighted to embrace the day? Don’t they feel like their tiny lives are insignificant, too? Don’t they feel like the sun burns their soul and causes the hollowness to reverberate an energy of hate?

She hates birds. They are everything she isn’t. Happy and content in their lives. They fly without abandon to wherever they want to go, at whatever time they want to go there and are only worried about how many worms they might find that day.

She is envious. She then gets mad at herself for being envious. Isn’t that a sin? Isn’t it also stupid to be jealous of a bird? A bird with hardly a brain and a lifespan of a month or so. Ah, that’s the ultimate reason, she thinks. The reason to hate them with all that she has and is. They live such a short period of time that they don’t have time for the what if’s and can’ts of life. They live such a short period of time that they don’t have time to build relationships with others that will inevitably hurt them. They will never know the pain of rejection, defeat or will they ever know the fear of someone or anyone not liking, or even worse, liking them.

She laughs. A defeated laugh of pure submission. Must she start the day? Yes. Must she place her feet on the floor and move through a day she can only hope will bring her more pleasure than pain? Yes. Then she laughs again. Right? What’s pleasure?

So goes her day. She smiles through the pain of a clinched chest and tight lungs. She laughs at other’s jokes that her conscious knows are funny, but her subconscious feels she has no right to laugh at. Laughter means happiness and happiness she doesn’t deserve.

Someone sees her glance down at the floor for second. Only a brief second where her heart is open and the pain slips out, but this time someone sees it. She says she’s tired. Makes the excuse that she didn’t sleep last night. Hell, she blames it on those damn birds! Anything to stop the questions. Anything to stop someone caring. Anything to alienate herself to the point of oblivion. Push them away, she thinks. They won’t understand. They will laugh at her and then they will leave her. They will leave her and hurt her and make her feel even more worthless than she already knows she is. So, she lies. Again.

Lying only makes her day worse. She constantly questions herself. Do they know? Will they hate me more than they already do? Is judgement just a word away?

Time to go home.

To her bed, she thinks. To her happy place. The place where she is simply a being. A being without a light. No light to turn out. No light for anyone to see. Goodnight, world. How she wishes this was the last time she’d ever have to say that…

Written with love for those who struggle. Written to help you know that you aren’t alone. There is always someone who understands and because we understand, we always care.