Journaling

Organizing . . . with a Bullet

Ever since my college days, I have kept myself organized with a day planner/calendar/to-do list/note-taking system . . . of one sort -- or another.

Really, it's the only way I've kept myself on top of things -- and sane.

At first (back in college and pre-computer, for example), analog systems were the ONLY way to keep life in order.  I developed a system for myself . . . color coding, stickers, post-it note lists.  It worked for me.

Over the years, I tried various systems, always looking for the one that would suit all my needs.  Perfectly.

DayTimer

DayRunner

Franklin

Planner Pad

I tried them all.  Ultimately, I settled on the Planner Pad -- and I used it for a decade or more -- with a couple of breaks to try online systems -- Palm Pilot, Outlook (back when I worked in an office), Google Calendar, and the iPhone/iMac Apple calendar system. 

Turns out, I just prefer analog systems.  I like keeping my calendar in pencil.  I like writing lists -- and crossing things off.  I like being able save lists and reminders and notes in an actual calendar -- with an actual paper clip.  I like post-it notes.  I like highlighting.  I like being able to jot things down on the fly.

The biggest problem?  Finding an analog planner system that could work for me right out of the box!  (Because, really.  It didn't exist.)

I had my preferred calendar system, sure.  But it was a bastardized mess of paper-clipped sub-calendars for meal planning, project planning, blog posting, habit-tracking, lists of books-to-read/movies-to-watch/orders-I'd-placed, holiday plans, billable hours, travel plans, garden journal, goals and intentions.  Interesting, sure.  But not completely functional.

A couple of years ago, I heard about the Bullet Journal system -- and I knew right away it was for me.  You start with a blank notebook -- and make up your own system.  Completely flexible.  Never boxed in by a pre-existing calendar or format.  Plenty of room for notes and multiple lists and don't-forget-this-or-that.

I was sold!

I tried it last year.

I couldn't make it work.  

Turns out, I was trying too hard to make it "look nice." (Because there are blogs and Pinterest boards and Facebook groups and #hastags with these incredible, artful bullet journals out there.)  I gave up -- and returned to my bastardized Planner Pad system.

This year, though, I decided to give the Bullet Journal a try once again.  (Because, really.  Perfect for me!)

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I got a plain, old Moleskine notebook, some monthly sticker tabs, and . . . just started with January.

I gave up on trying to make it artful. (I have art journals for that.)

I gave up on trying to make it perfect. (I can change things on the fly if it doesn't quite work.)

I gave up on trying to make it color-coordinated.  (And I bought some Wite-Out.)

And, y'know?  It's working for me!

I developed a monthly calendar that looks like no monthly calendar I've ever seen!

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I came up with a daily/weekly "spread" that allows me to plan each day just the way I need to work.

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I've developed a montly habit-tracker that works perfectly for me.

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I can track my billable hours and my volunteer hours . . . in the same space I plan my blog posts and menu plans.  I can create lists -- or paste in post-it notes -- or tape in lists I cut out.

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I track what's happening in my garden with simple, old-school monthly calendars taped right in to the pages.

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It's ugly.

But amazing.

And it works!

If you've been thinking of giving the Bullet Journal system a try -- I'm here to encourage you.  (Because it really is pretty cool.)  If you want to make it "perfect" -- you'll be able to find plenty of resources to help you do that.  But I'm here to encourage you to . . . just let it fly!  

Now that I'm in Month 4 of my Bullet Journal experience . . . I can tell you it's the best organizing system I've ever tried!

(And, pretty much, I've tried them all!)


Right Now - January 2016

January.  
Of all the months, I think you are my least favorite.  
Dark.  Cold.  Bleak.  
And really, really long.

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The daylight is getting longer, though.  I'm even starting to notice.

Here's what's happening for me. . . Right Now:

Watching - My Oscar-nominated-movie-watching binge is nearly complete.  Bridge of Spies will be available on DVD next week.  (We missed that one when it was in the theaters last fall.)  That leaves me with Mad Max: Fury Road.  Tom has already seen it, so I'll be watching by myself.  (Keith received this movie as a Christmas gift, and everyone -- except me -- watched it during the holidays.  If I had known it was an Oscar-contender, I would've suffered through it then.  As it is . . . well, I need to watch now.)  For the record, my favorite this year is Spotlight, followed by The Big Short.

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Reading - I'm sort of at a reading low-point right now.  I'm reading H is for Hawk . . . and really not liking it very much.  (Very disjointed and kind of whiney . . . and as much as I like birds of prey, I'm not so sure how I feel about falconry.)  Also reading Last Friends, the final novel in the Old Filth trilogy.  (Unfortunately, it's the weakest of the three.)  I'm also avoiding reading my book group selection for the month, as it doesn't appeal to me in any way.  (Maybe I'll just show up and drink the wine this month.)  (It happens.)  On the upside . . . I read The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra.  Wow.  This was the best book I've read in a very long time, and - even though it's only January - might end up as the best of the year for me.

Knitting - I am still c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g along on my Henley with a Twist sweater.  (I only have the front to complete, and I've got a good start.)  (So slow, though.  Tiny yarn.  Small needles.  And bitsy cables -- every 8th row.)    I did knit two pair of Trip Mitts (one for me; one for my niece).  Such a perfect palate-cleanser.  And I am ready to Bang Out a Sweater next week (ha!) in the Mason Dixon Knitting Stopover KAL.  (Don't hold your breath.)  (But I really need a WIN here.)

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Listening to - Guided meditations.  While some are just too corny for words not to my taste, others are perfect and really add to my daily meditation practice.

Dreading - This happens every year at this time.  My yoga instructor goes to Mexico for the month of February.  (And this year, she actually added the last week in January.)  I hate this.  Because I am not so fond of the sub.

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Drinking - Peppermint tea.  Every afternoon.

Planning - My Month-of-Letters strategy.  (Remember, if you'd like to receive a letter from me in February, please see the sidebar to email me your address.)

Humming - (I blame Carole.)  (Said with much love.)

 

Itching to - Bang Out a Sweater!  (Because lemming.) 

Organizing - Myself . . . using a Bullet Journal.  I've been intrigued by this way of journaling/calendar-ing for years -- and decided to try it (in earnest) this year.  So far, so good.  (Maybe I'll blog about it soon.)

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Delighted by - My grocery store amaryllis.  This is my second set of blooms.  (Not bad for $10.)

Needing to - Get a load of stuff to Goodwill.  I'm Very Good at sorting and deciding; not so good about getting it in my car to drop it off.

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Enjoying - My watercolor class.  But oh.my.god.  So hard!  I need so much practice.  I waste so much watercolor paper.  (Fun.  But very humbling.)

Looking Forward To - My sister and I just booked our next trip!  This summer:  Scotland and Ireland.  It's a long way off -- but so cheering to think about.

Celebrating - The end of January.  So long.  So dark.  And even though February is much the same, it is short.  And has chocolate in the middle.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

 


Intentions

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.
                                                     
  --- Alfred Lord Tennyson

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I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take some time at the end of each year to kind of . . . take stock . . . and think about the year to come.  I usually set some goals for myself (which are not really the same thing as resolutions at all), and I always come up with a list of two-word intentions for the new year.

Here's my list for 2016:

Dive in.

Look again.

Be present.

Onward, upward.

Bold strokes.

Cultivate courage.

Nourish friendship.

Stitch together.

Keep swimming.

Live in color.

Here's to 2016!  I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting year.


Right Now - April 2015

April . . .  always a mixed bag.  You just never know what April will bring.  Crazy weather, for sure.  But the beginnings of True Spring . . . with added sunlight and generally warming temperatures.  By the end, April kind of looks like this . . . and I'm thrilled.

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Here's what's happening for me . . . RIGHT NOW!

WATCHING . . .  PBS.  Wolf Hall - loved the book; love the series, and Call the Midwife - still charming, although getting a tad routine.  (Where is Chummy???? Did I miss something???  Is she coming back?  Sort of like Sister Mary Cynthia?)  (Just found this. . . she'll be back.)

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KNITTING . . . Plugging away on Romi's Mystery Shawl.  (That's it, up there.  I'm sorry if you didn't want to see a spoiler.  But I blurred it, so it's still kind of . . . mysterious.  Besides, there's only one more clue and then it'll be out there anyway.)  I'm not really sold on that middle stripe thing yet.  At all.  But will have to wait to see how it looks blocked and finished.  When I'm not (constantly) knitting on that (to keep up with the clues), I've cast on for this sweater.  So far, so good.  (But I haven't gotten very far at all.)

LISTENING . . . Kinda been in a John Mayer mood lately . . . 

 

DRINKING . . . More water!  I'm trying to stay a bit more hydrated.

DREADING . . . An upcoming committee commitment that is just . . . well.  Kind of lame.  

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REGRETTING . . . Too much too soon, apparently.  A bit of three-steps-forward-one-step-back, so . . . a return to the ice bag.

PLANNING . . . I am planning my "attack" on the last - and hardest - of my Kon-Mari purge zones: my knitting/sewing room, my boxes of "memorabilia," and photographs.  I think a re-read of certain sections of my Kon-Mari "bible" are in order, but I'm nearly ready to DIG IN!

HUMMING . . . A catchy little Weezer tune.

 

ITCHING TO . . . Sit out on the patio every evening, under my bistro lights, with a glass of wine and something to read.

ORGANIZING . . . All the garden things!

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DELIGHTED BY . . . My drawing class.  Why a drawing class?  Because I really want to take a printmaking class.  And maybe a watercolor class.  And "Drawing I" is a prerequisite. So . . . here I am, dusting off the cobwebs (because the last time I took a drawing class was back in college) and - surprise - having a great time!

NEEDING TO . . . Clear off the kitchen island for Tom's return.  (I tend to set out my "projects" on the island when he's away, but never when he's at home.)

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ENJOYING . . .  A new morning routine that includes meditation, yoga, and regular journaling.  Sure, I have to get out of bed a bit earlier, but totally worth it!

CELEBRATING . . . An end to physical therapy.  Tom's return this weekend.  My dad's birthday.  And Spring!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . RIGHT NOW?

 


Always With Me

As I explained last week, I'm letting my "inner artist" come to the surface this year as I explore my creative self with Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple's online Spark class.  So far, I've had a lot of fun trying some new things . . . and letting myself go WAY out of my usual "box."

But it has been a little more challenging than I thought.  And not because of the art-making.

Right off the bat, I encountered inner resistance.

You can't draw.
These people are REAL artists.
Who do you think you are?
Put.The.Pencil.Down.

I like to think of myself as a fairly confident woman.  I pretty much do what I want, say what I think, and step boldly.  I don't like to think of myself as . . . someone who can't.  

When that Inner Critic whispers in my ear, it makes me feel like . . . Junior High.

So I decided to . . . go there . . . into the belly-of-the-beast.  I decided to explore this Inner Critic of mine and see just what all the fuss is about.

First, I decided to just draw it.

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Turns out . . .

It's a She.
And she looks like a cardboard cut-out.

Next, I used words to describe her.

"My Inner Critic . . . is blonde and has blue eyes.  She looks perfect.  But she is Not Nice.  (She judges.)"

"She might look pretty, but it's only on the outside.  (Inside, she's rotten.)"

"Her hands are behind her back.  (So she can cross her fingers while she lies to your face.)"

"You might think she's your friend, but then, when you've made yourself vulnerable, she'll laugh behind your back and make you feel stupid for every trying.  Or trusting."

"So then, you start to doubt yourself.  And maybe . . . you even leave yourself and become cardboard.  (Just like her.)"

Aha!

Turns out I know just who my Inner Critic IS . . . and she goes right back to Junior High.

Discovering where this particular voice comes from helps me move forward.  

(In this case, drawing without judging myself so harshly.)

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This simple exercise has been quite cathartic for me, actually.  My Inner Critic will probably always live there, deep in my soul.  But I can deliver some counter punches of my own now!

And that feels really good.

 

 

 


Random Stuff on a Friday

My blog posts this week have been rather . . . meager.  (It's a busy time of year, and I'm pretty much winging it in every corner of my life at the moment, truth be told.)  I've collected a whole-lotta-random this week, though, so I thought I'd share it all with you today.

Here goes some RANDOM on a Friday:

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Tom was visiting Mumbai last week.  When he's there, he always has a driver to get him where he needs to be (and if you've ever seen traffic move in Mumbai, you'd totally understand why a driver is a necessity).  This time, Tom took a photo for me -- of this sign in his car:

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(Right.  Doesn't everyone need a . . . hammer. . . in their car????) (Such luxury!)

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I got a little going-away gift from the folks in my office today.  It looks like some sort of . . . handbag.  Or maybe a piccolo case.  Round.  Hard-sided.  LOTS more sparkly than the photo shows.

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Any guesses????

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Yep.  It's a wine-bottle-purse!  It holds one bottle of wine AND a corkscrew.  Perfectly.

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Earlier this fall, I ordered my sister and I a special Venice advent calendar.

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It's been great fun to open the various windows -- because it's a perfect reminder of our trip last September.  It's so cool to open a window . . . 

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and say, "HEY! I saw that!!!"

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It's time to sign up for One Little Word 2015 . . .

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If you've been thinking about joining the One Little Word adventure, I just want to let you know that sign-ups are open for 2015.  Just click here to learn more about the year-long project -- and take advantage of a temporary class fee discount.  

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And that's a wrap. . .

Happy Friday!

 

 


My Own Spin

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The One Little Word prompt in May . . . is the type of prompt that makes me freak out a bit . . . and then shut myself out of the project for a while.

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Yes.  The "messy art project" prompts are really just not my thing.  Too prescriptive -- but with a veneer of "creativity."  I always think it strange to combine a creative-you-can-do-anything message with a 40-minute video showing how to be-this-particular-kind-of-creative.  (Maybe that's just me, though!)*

For me, I find the painting-layering-stenciling-stamping-sticker thing to be somewhat interesting, but far too tedious for my liking.  (Clearly, I am not an "art journal" kind of person.  And I'm okay with that.)

In past years, I've left this kind of prompt alone.

This year, I decided to put my own spin on it.

I got out some tags and my stamps (I like stamps because you can make plain paper look "fancy" with little to no effort!), and in 20 minutes I did my own kind of Creative Thing.

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Even though my own process was very much abbreviated and involved far fewer art materials and a whole lot less mess (as compared to the monthly video prompt), I found that the creative process was . . .

fun

freeing

and a bit inspirational

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I am . . . finding that putting my own spin on things . . . makes One Little Word less intimidating and far more meaningful!  (And I'm pretty sure that's the whole point.)

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To be fair, Ali Edwards, the intrepid One Little Word leader, makes it clear at every step of the OLW process that it is BEST for participants to do their own thing.  She encourages individuality and doing what's meaningful to YOU.  She has a lot of "followers," though, who want to do exactly what she does . . . so she puts together videos and materials lists so people can do just that.  It's a flexible project, though.  Completely flexible.  And I'm finally letting myself GO MY OWN WAY.


Right Now . . . May 2014

May . . . 

The weather here at the end of May has been glorious!  Warm, sunny . . . summer is coming!

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What's happening in my world . . . RIGHT NOW?

Watching . . . My hops grow.  (And grow.  And grow.)  I recently caught up on Call the Midwife (such a charming show), too.  But I find very little time (or patience) for television, generally, and sometimes don't watch anything for weeks at a time.  (This is why I can't remember . . . how work controls???)

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Reading . . . Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie by day; Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin by night (this one is a re-read of what I remember as a great book . . . that I last read in 1983!).  And . . . I haven't give up on Bach: Music in Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner, but it's on the back burner for now.

Knitting . . . I'm slogging away on another folded poncho!  This one for summer, in Hempathy.  It's a good project to have around, because it takes no brain power at all -- and that's Just the Ticket some days.  I'm also READY for the start of Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Shawl!  Yarn wound; needles found.

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Listening to . . . Amos Lee.

 

Dreading . . . Dealing with this.  Yeah.  (Be sure to check the integrity of the pockets in new running clothes.  Just sayin.)

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Planning . . . A long weekend trip in August . . . a visit from Erin in June . . . how to maximize my vacation time. . .

Humming . . . A certain Coldplay song that my spinning instructor really likes.  I'll not share it here, because I'm trying to get rid of that particular earworm.  I'll share this Coldplay song instead.  Because great video.

 

Wondering . . . Why my usually-quiet neighbors let their now-teenage daughter scream and shriek in the pool . . . like . . . All.The.Time.

Drinking . . . Iced tea!

Itching to . . . Get Up North to our cottage.  (Tom has been up many times already.  Me and the dogs?  Not yet!  But soon.)

Needing to . . . Plant.  Weed.  Mulch.  Repeat.

Organizing . . .  It is the "quiet season" (relatively speaking) at work right now.  I am trying to organize All The Work Things.

Delighted by . . . I have a new car* . . . and I am absolutely delighted by it in every way!  The leather seats.  The satellite radio.  The bluetooth.  But.  I am most delighted by this (and, if you are in my family, you know this is an extravagance I've been waiting for for about 20 years) . . .

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Inspired by . . . A little drawing journal I picked up last week.  Doodling With Purpose!

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Celebrating . . . Summer!  Glorious Summer!

Pleased with . . . My new dogwood is blooming!

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How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?

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* Subaru Outback.


Picturing . . . POSSIBILITY

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
                                                                                            ------  Marcel Proust

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Last month, the One Little Word project had us turning to images . . . to "picture" our word.  So.  What does POSSIBILITY look like?

For me . . . POSSIBILITY looks like this:

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You can't really set out to take a picture of POSSIBILITY. . . but you can find pictures of POSSIBILITY all around you!  Plants growing where they ought not.  Reminders to explore, to wander.  Visible evidence of an emptying out, of making room for something new and different.  Trying new things.  Learning new things.

There are visual reminders of POSSIBILITY all around.  We just need to have . . . new eyes!

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As a side note, I usually struggle with the "creating-a-scrapbook" portion of the OLW project.  This year, I'm finding it quite liberating to just do my own thing instead . . . and incorporate the prompts into my journal.  It still looks a lot like "scrapbooking" I suppose, but it's not a prescribed format.  It's MY format.  And, apparently, that makes All the Difference for me.

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Off the Grid

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One of the things I really like about the One Little Word project is the way it combines multiple "channels" to explore your chosen word each year.  Journaling.  Photography.  Art projects.  Thinking.  Doing.  All rolled into . . . One Little Word.

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Each month, there is a "prompt" -- setting up ways to think about your word for the month.  There is usually a journaling exercise and typically some sort of creative project to go along with it.  If you follow all the prompts, and do all the projects (which are provided in a very step-by-step process, making them do-able for anyone), you end up with a lovely scrapbook at the end of the year.

This is my fourth year to do One Little Word.  In each of the previous three years, I faithfully began the projects, determined to end up with the lovely scrapbook at the the end of the year.

But, at some point along the way - usually about 3 or 4 months in, I always abandon the projects!  I DO the prompts -- I usually journal the heck out of the prompts! -- but I stop when I get to the step-by-step projects.  

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This year, I decided I'd just START the One Little World year . . . off the grid.  I didn't even pretend to want to make the lovely scrapbook.  I just decided to use my existing journal, and let my own creative spirit carry me.  (Which is totally encouraged by the Ali Edwards, the One Little Word creator.)

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So this year, in the midst of my ongoing journal, I have random One Little Word pages sprinkled about.*

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So far, this is working for me!  (I always do kind of like making my own way best.)

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* The pages, above, represent my own version of the February prompt -- about setting actions related to your word.