This piece is part I of a short series.


A peek back at 2017


Last year I blogged about my New Years Planfest over at littleredtarot. Even as I was gung-ho, I knew a shift was coming. I had so much to say about planning that I promised to write about it on my blog. I drafted a piece, it was pretty detailed, and I never posted it. It should have been an indication of inner conflict. But of course, it wasn’t. I’d be another two months before I’d realize something was really off and my perspective would shift substantially concerning time management. Here’s how I planned and what I learned in 2017.


I had a channeled word


Well maybe not. I looked through my notes and barely recognized my word for 2017, “exceptional vessel.” It was probably a continuation of the year before “adulting hard.” I still wanted to adult hardcore, but I learned in 2016 that adulting is a lot of stuff and for me a lot of NEW things. It wasn’t just that I wanted to do all-the-things. I wanted to be mindful of my emotions as I did them. Hence the vessel concept. I guess it comes as no surprise that I’d pick a tarot related term to express myself: vessel – emotions – cups.


Leonie Dawson’s Shining Life workbook has a section, I’ll say more about my using this below, to brainstorm how to embody this word. I forgot all about doing this until looking it up for this post. I did this exercise for 2017, but that’s not where I get this practice from. I get it from working with a spiritual teacher, Heatherash Amara. And while I don’t recall structure or fanfare around it we often channeled a word to embody or capture a shamanic intention or experience.
I had no idea people picked words for their year until I used Leonie’s system. When I channeled words, they stayed for life, certainly for years and they became a part of my spiritual toolbag. I never forgot them. Especially since usually at first, I don’t understand them. I don’t pick a channeled word, it’s channeled. I don’t always immediately understand what comes through. Sometimes it’s two years before a word/phrase makes sense, but they do eventually. And when they do, it’s often so valuable to my personal experience it’s impossible to even simply articulate.


This year I’m skipping the word brainstorm. A word will come, or I’ll work with the ones I already have. More adulting maybe?



I tracked astrology

I wrote the significant planetary motion, retrogrades, etc., on a big wall calendar by hand. I started to anyway. I never finished my main wall calendar, so this meant pulling up 3-5 different websites every now and then to find this information and copying it into my planner and then again for each month (when I remembered).
It was a lot of writing. Not as much as in 2016 because that year I wrote it ALL down everywhere. Then, it was fun and exciting. According to what I’ve learned since I might have had help from Mars. Some of the motivation was my Mandala reading, which would eventually grow into my Ultimate Scopes, where I offered personal tarotscopes for clients for the year.
I won’t be doing tracking astrological events by hand again.

I kept a budget


I learned about spending fasts from Cait Flanders’ blog and was so impressed by her writing that I grabbed an old E-course of hers. The course got me into the habit of writing down every single purchase. Now, I already tracked all my purchases digitally. Doing so by hand wasn’t for the sake of knowing the information but noticing. Even if this practice had the potential to be daunting, it was pretty straight-forward.


I’d already been thinking about decreasing spending, so I was confident about trying a spending fast. You can see in the picture below that as the year went on, I realized there were more categories that I was willing not to spend on than I thought possible at first. Once I realized, I crossed those off too.
You can see from the red marks in the photo above where I spent in my “no” categories. As the year went on this happened less and less.



I saved 8,000.
Or 4,000.


I don’t even know. It’s hard to tell because 2017 was also the year that I quit my day job. I didn’t have nearly as much money as I used to so it may have helped my spending fast. If had still been earning, I would have savings. But my business was very slow last year. I didn’t spend, but I didn’t earn much either.


That said, I’ve spent thousands during years that I didn’t make much money using credit. I’m still paying it off in fact. *coughs in the direction of this MacBook Pro* In 2017 I accrued no new revolving unsecured debt. Something I’m not sure I’ve been able to do since I was 19 years old. (That was a while ago.) I also cut my old debt down by a third. Not too shabby. I’m keeping this practice.



At first, I used Leonie’s workbook and planner


That means that I filled out two large workbooks and kept up a planner. The Business Workbook was invaluable. Enough to even repeat the process if only by answering the questions again every once in a while. It walks you through writing a simplified business plan. It doesn’t say it does, but it does. I once geeked business plans before even dreaming I’d start one. I don’t mean I took an online course from someone about blogging or anything like that.


I mean that I went to the library and got a whole bunch of books about writing business plans and took notes and printed pages out seeing if I could articulate a plan that might motivate an investor. It went pretty poorly and took forever and I never really felt like I was done, but when I saw this workbook, I recognized many of the components.


The Personal Workbook was less useful for me. Both workbooks are filled with questions that get you thinking about possibilities. Personal work is different than business. I’ve done A LOT of it already. This workbook didn’t have the depth that I crave for personal work. For people that are new to working on themselves, dreaming, or planning it’d great.


I completed all of the biz workbook, some of the personal but then only lasted two months with the planner. I had a bit of a meltdown. I talk about this some at this year’s Planfest piece over at littleredtarot. This was my second year with this system.


The gist of it was, I didn’t have time to write everything as I had done in 2016. I was copying tasks from my Google calendar into my planner because life was happening too fast for the planner. And when I DID write it was a whole bunch of things I never ended up doing. Dead to-do lists. Is that a thing? It should be. (A thing I want nothing to do with.)


I thought something was wrong with how I used the planner, or me, or life, right up until the creator wrote a blog post about being overwhelmed. At that point, I finally considered that the system may somehow be flawed or just not for me. I started to look for another.


“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

—Bruce Lee


If Bruce Lee had a planning system would you use it? Rather than go on some kind of rant about him I’ll just say, I sure would. I bet he wouldn’t have one though. He’d be too busy being formless and everything.



Mind Like Water: A mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.
—David Allen


Getting Things Done by David Allen


David Allen’s system is what would happen if  Bruce Lee had created a world-class time management system. This is the whole thing in a nutshell (It is both easier and harder than it looks. At the same time. Like water. I dunno. BUT IT’S SO WORTH IT.):




I read, well listened, to Getting Thing Done last March (right after the break down). In it, Allen talks about reaching a state of consciousness that is completely present. He also says to throw out your to-do list. Who, on some level, doesn’t want to do that?
The first time through the book, I was skeptical. The second time through, I threw out my to-do lists. I also threw out everything in my house without a current purpose and organized the rest. Before this book, I would have called this impossible. But because the book is driven by a desire to make space for mindfulness, it addressed the important matter of not what or if to do something but how to do it so that it doesn’t take us away from life or make our heads explode.
Before this book, I was managing my time according to what seemed to work for everybody else, just cuz I thought that’s what you were supposed to do with planners – fill them in forever, no matter what. When Leonie shared her experience with overwhelm, I got a wake-up call. Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean it makes any kind of sense (for me).
You can find GTD at the library. I’m done spending money on planners that ask me to do and want moremoremore. I’m done spending money on folks and services that don’t share my values.


Rather than rant about how this book changed my life, here’s a list of the beliefs I had as a result of using this system:
  • I can stop doing this task because I trust myself to do it later
    (If you don’t know how epic this is, consider yourself LUCKY!)
  • I can finish this humongous project without worry because I have a system that shows me how
  • I don’t have to remember anything ever.
  • I know exactly when is a good time to do that kind of task
  • I know approximately how long this is going to take
  • There is nothing on my schedule that isn’t going to happen
  • Even though I have no idea how to do this I know exactly how to start figuring out how
  • Because I know the difference between a project, a task, and something I’m not going to do, I can always be moving forward.


 It’s quite a list isn’t It?


what next

Last year I read Cait Flanders’ piece on Slow Mornings right around when I wrote the 2017 Planfest piece for littleredtarot. I had intended to check back in on Cait’s year of slow. Everything about it sounded like where I wanted to go next, pairing down the unnecessary, prioritizing values, encouraging healing.

I took a look at her blog recently and was pleasantly surprised to see that she stuck with her slow year. She built on her theme of slow month to month for each of the months. This is what I expect a word for the year to be like, a voyage, an inward journey, an experiment.

I aspire to that level of continuity of persistence and yes – slowness.

Would you like to see how I’m planing this year?

Subscribe to the blog or meet me in my newsletter for an update when Part II of this piece posts.

What did you learn last year?