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  • Writer's picturePatti Callahan Henry

Day Eight: Alone Together Author Marybeth Mayhew Whalen—Week of Author Expertise in Trying Times

Updated: May 24, 2022

Day Eight    

Featured Author Guest—Marybeth Mayhew Whalen 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Virtual Book Tour Series  Newsletter March 29, 2020—Day Eight #AloneTogether 

Dear Reader,

It is pub week for the EXPANDED edition of BECOMING MRS LEWIS and instead of being with you out there in the world, I am here with you in the world.  We will celebrate this week in very different ways.  You can go here to see the other Virtual Book Tour “events’ this week.

Upcoming: Tuesday, March 31st March Virtual Book Tour  7:30 pm Eastern Time US and Canada                        Host:  Katie McCormick  @JustOneMoreChapterPodcast “How do we live our lives at home that we once lived out in the world?”

Today is DAY EIGHT of our author experts. I have gathered a cadre of author pals who are also experts in other fields.  I want to introduce you to a dear friend and Southern Author Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. She will be providing us with some helpful tips for staying organized in the chaos.   I will let her take it from here (see below). 

How To Plan Your Life… When Everything Is Cancelled

It’s an extrovert’s worst nightmare: all activities are canceled and we’ve all been relegated to our homes. Our only interaction is with our family members. Even neighbors are banned. We can wave and chat from six feet away but that’s hardly something to put on the calendar. Gone are the date nights, the concerts, the doctor’s appointments, and meetings. In their place, for now, is an endless stream of days within the walls of our homes. There’s nothing to plan for anymore.  Or is there? If you’ve kept a paper planner or bullet journal, there might be the urge to just toss it aside. What do we need that for now? But we might need it more than we think.

Annie Dillard wrote,“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.”  And, while we might not like how our days look right now, they are, for better or worse, making up our“one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver).

So. How can we use our planners to make this time richer, better, and more memorable? I thought I’d share some ways I’ve been using my planner these past couple of weeks, in case it will inspire some of you to not give up on keeping a planner or bullet journal, even if it seems that you have nothing to plan anymore. 

1.  Create an “ideal routine. In a perfect world, what would your best day look like? How would the morning look? How would the evening? What elements do you most need to incorporate to feel like it was a good day? What do you want to accomplish? Draft that out in your planner, keep it somewhere you can reference it often so that, if you get off track, you can get back on. You can also sketch out your ideal week. 2.  Consider blocking your time. While you might not have a commute anymore, or a meeting to be present at, or a time clock to punch, you can start blocking out chunks of time to be used in certain ways: During these hours I do XYZ, during these hours I do ABC. This isn’t a stringent schedule, because that can feel constrictive. Instead, it’s a way to establish a rhythm to your day, a flow you can go with if you will.  3.    Create a way to track the habits you want to keep doing, or start. I think we’re all doing a bit of “I’m going to use this time wisely” kind of thinking. So having a way to hold yourself accountable that you’re actually doing the things you want to do is good to have in place. Ideas are: getting in a daily walk, doing yoga, taking supplements, keeping up with a beauty regime, reading aloud to kids, keeping up with work tasks, checking on loved ones with a phone call, etc.  4.    Make a place for gratitude. We might not feel very grateful right now. We might actually be pretty grumpy about the state of things. Which means practicing gratitude is more important than ever. Find a place in your planner to write down 5 or 3 or 1 thing you’re grateful for every day. The more you do this, the more your brain will start noticing the things you can list. You can also make a “small wins” list, noting the things that no one else but you might think is worth marking. But if it matters to you, it should be in there to look back on. 

5.  Along those lines, consider documenting this pivotal time within your planners or bullet journals.

Make short lists daily or weekly of things that happened—new developments that affect you or your area, milestones and moments as a family, note times your anxiety is high, or you felt at peace, write down quotes or verses that have brought you peace or made you smile. If you don’t have the emotional wherewithal to write in a more formal type journal, these little bullet point notations will someday be a poignant record of this unprecedented time in history. 

6.    Keep lists: Maybe you—like me—have been thinking about putting this “extra time” we’ve all got on our hands into learning something new.

Maybe you’ve always wondered what the big deal about essential oils is, or how to build your own website, or how to create the perfect charcuterie board, or how to write a novel. Create a list of those things you’d like to learn, then set about researching them. You can even keep notes about what you’re learning right there in your planner or journal. Other lists you might want to make are books you’d like to read, podcasts, movies, or shows you’d like to binge, and family things you could do. Maybe you’d like to start a list of small businesses or restaurants you want to support by buying online or purchasing a gift card to help them out. Maybe it would help you to write down all the house projects you’d like to get done while you’re stuck inside said house. 

No matter what, the point is not to miss this time.

Let’s not brush past it just because it’s not what we would have planned. Instead, we can use our planners or bullet journals as motivation and inspiration to improve our lives and preserve what’s happening. —Because even cooped up in our houses, there is still so much living to do.

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