6.21.2018

Boost your Blog // Apps I use to Run my Blog

I've been blogging for over 10 years now and the landscape of blogging has changed so much since I first started.  I've also become more streamlined in my own blogging - only doing what I feel is worth my time, using the camera that I have, and working from my phone a lot of the time.  If it isn't simple for me to do...then I don't do it!
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I'm not the type of blogger who likes to follow the rules.  I find the 'proper way to blog' to be overwhelming & time wasting for me.  Examples - I don't have a self hosted blog, I use my iPhone to take photos, I never research keywords for post titles, I'm bad at newsletters, and the list goes on.  However, I still consider myself a successful blogger.  Part of this is because I'm authentic.  Another part is that I share relevant info.  And the final part is that I use apps & tools to streamline my process.

As someone who works a lot from my phone, you'll find apps & programs that have both a desktop and a mobile version.  This is the number one reason why I'm considering getting my next iPhone in the Plus model for the bigger screen!  Anyway, here are the apps & tools I use to run my blog:

A Color Story

This is literally the best mobile photo editing app, ever.  I have a full blog post on this app here and will constantly recommend it to anyone editing photos on their phone.  What I love about this app is that the FREE pack included in the download is all you really need to create bright, crisp photos perfect for Instagram, Facebook, and your blog.

Not only can you edit photos but you can also edit short videos.  So if you want your Instagram stories or videos to fit your pages aesthetic you totally can!  The controls are just the same whether your' editing a photo or video so it's super easy.  Plus you can save a series of edits to use on other photos later to get that consistent feel.

Finally, you can plan your Instagram grid using this app!  This is a feature I've recently started using for both my Connected Chakras feed & the Feel the Inhale essential oil feed.  If you're wanting to create a cohesive grid with a certain theme, you can preview how your images will look next to each other.  I use this to see how my images will look next to each other & to plan which images I'll use each week.  Unfortunately there's no auto post option - you'll still have to manually import your photos to Instagram but you can at least plan the aesthetic and the caption.

Phonto

This is the app I use to create any blog image with text over them. Like the image at the top of this post, Phonto is the way I create my pinnable blog images.  I love this app because I can import my own branded fonts right into the app and use them.  The app does come with a TON of fonts already but it is great to be able to use your own fonts!  I love that I can save preset text - like my blog URL or a text watermark for Instagram - to add to each new photo.

A companion app that I've just recently found myself using is Vont.  Designed by the same creators as Phonto, this app allows you to put text over video.  You can even import your own branded fonts as well!

You can read another full blog post on Phonto here.

Mailchimp

I suck at sending emails but I love the automated system offered by Mailchimp.  If you've ever signed up for an email opt in - like the Tarot eBook or the Blogging eBook - then Mailchimp has automated the sending for me.

This is the main thing I use Mailchimp for.  The automation takes the pressure off of creating unique emails every week for my email list.  I automate sending new blog posts to subscribers as well.  So it appears like I'm actively doing a newsletter....but I'm totally not!  I plan on doing a post on how to use the automation feature of Mailchimp soon!

Canva

Like the graphic in this post, I use Canva for my other design needs.  I love that the templates are easy to use and that my brand colors & fonts are easily stored.  When I need to change the size of a graphic I can also auto resize it super simply!

Canva allows me to create ebooks, infographics, and other digital downloads to make my blog look amazing.  I also use this to create my Instagram stories highlights and other templates I share over there.  The template options in both the desktop version and the app are amazing!  While you can use your branded text on the desktop site the app doesn't allow you too.  Which is why I choose Phonto for mobile.

Canva also allows you to create templates to sell or share with others which is a cool way to monetize your content!

Google Drive

This is my choice for a cloud storage service.  While you get 15GB free with your gmail account, I pay for 100GB of storage.  This makes it easy to transfer files between my phone & my computer.  Since I take and edit my photos on my phone I need a convenient way to transfer the files to my computer so I can compose the blog post.  On my computer I have a Google Drive back up so I can choose anything that's been uploaded as if it were on a drive on my computer.  It makes the whole process super streamlined.

I also use Google Drive to host any freebies that I share on the blog.  Because I need a way to get the freebies to you I need a hosting service.  Google Drive allows me to share specific files and set specific permissions for each file.


PicFrame

This is an app I've been using for a thousand years it feels like.  This is your basic photo collage app and I love it because it is simple.  Change the size, add photos, save.  Easy. Peasy.  Recently this app add the ability to save templates to use later.  I find this helpful when I want to make a collage or create a nice graphic for my Instagram stories.  You can change the ration to 9:16 so that your creation fits perfectly.

I just found out recently that you can add video into the collage!  What I usually do is add one video to the collage then save it so that there's white space around the video to add text.  Then I'll use Vont to add the branded text I like!  Read a full review of the app here.

All of these apps make blogging super easy for me.  I don't have to stress about my content or my design because I've got these tools right at my finger tips.  If blogging isn't something I can easily do, I don't want to do it.  Since I've started to take my blog a little bit more seriously I've been trying to find ways to create a space that is successful but still fun for me!



I'm constantly on the look out for new and fun apps to add to my arsenal.  If you've like to read more about the apps I love & use check out all the App Reviews right here on the blog.  And if you've got an app suggestion you'd love for me to review, shoot me an email here.


6.19.2018

My Top 10 Natural & Non Toxic Cleaning Supplies

This year when deciding to go cruelty free I had to take a good hard look at what that exactly meant.  My first intention was to just go cruelty free with my make up collection...it would be easy and it would be a good thing.  But like a lot of different things in life, this decision turned into something deeper.  This cruelty free journey pushed me to re-examine a lot of things in my life and my cleaning routine was one of these areas.
In my search to be authentic this year, I came to realize that there were a lot of things in my cleaning routine that were unhealthy (products, cleaners, etc) and not cruelty free.  A big realization for me was that just because it's not make up doesn't mean it's cruelty free.  Arm & Hammer, for example, tests on animals.  So if I'm making safe, home cleaners to use...shouldn't that align more wholly with my values?  Using a non-cruelty free brand of baking soda doesn't align with my goals.

So, I decided to make more conscious choices - less waste, cruelty free where I could, and more mindfulness in my cleaning routine.  Here are my top 10 favorite natural & non-toxic cleaning supplies.

Microfiber Towels

One of the first, biggest choices I made was to reduce my paper towel and disinfectant wipe reliance.  (That was a big sentence right there!)  I purchased these microfiber towels on Amazon after a recommendation from A Beautiful Mess.  While we still buy paper towels, I've consciously made a decision not to go for these guys first.  When I wash my hands I reach for the dish towels.  When I clean the counters, the mirrors, the toilets, etc I reach for the spray cleaner and the microfiber towels.  My dependence on single use wipes is dwindling!  I've realized there't not much more a paper towel can offer me than a microfiber towel can.  Since this pack comes with different colors I've assigned a certain color to a certain room - kitchen is yellow, upstairs bathroom/laundry room is green, downstairs is blue, downstairs bathroom is orange.  That way it's easier to know which cloth goes where and I'm never short!

DoTERRA Laundry Detergent

I like this for multiple reasons - it's not made from petrochemicals, the overall scent isn't overpowering, and when I forget the laundry in the washer it doesn't get stinky.  Ever since discovering essential oils, I've been on a battle with fragrance.  This laundry detergent, while scented in the bottle doesn't lay too much scent onto the clothes.  While I'm fine with this, Zach really isn't.  If it's not scented, it's not clean I guess!  That's why I picked up the dryer balls (mentioned below in this list).  I have noticed that with Zach's work clothes, stink can linger a bit so I am on the hunt for a stronger, natural detergent to supplement.
The detergent is ultra concentrated and it can go up to 64 washes.  It also works great in high efficiency washers.  With a wholesale membership this bottle will make each load about .43 cents.

Wool Dryer Balls

I never used dryer sheets prior to getting my dryer balls so I didn't have much to change except remember to throw something in the dryer.  My big goal here was two fold - enhance the scent of the laundry when it comes out of the dryer and reduce static.  I have been lazy on the dryer sheets since forever because I don't think that they are necessary and I'd rather not spend the money on them.  Laundry detergent did just fine with the scent and I don't care about the static.  But, Zach doesn't like that his laundry smells like....... nothing. So I want to make it smell fresher when it comes out of the dryer. 

DoTERA Cleaner Concentrate

This is another doterra product that packs a punch.  I use this to clean nearly every surface.  You only need a few tablespoons in a spray bottle and you have an all purpose cleaner for every room in your house.  You can even use this to mop with this solution or do dishes with the cleaner.  I don't buy any spray cleaners any more, this covers everything.  I use it in every room of the house!  You may remember this post about creating a cleaning caddy for various rooms in my house .... I've replaced those harsh cleaners with a spray bottle of this concentrate and microfiber cloths!

Vinegar + Water (and Lemon Essential Oil)

The absolute best window & mirror cleaner is vinegar and water.  A lot of these recipes will tell you to use distilled water but I find plain old tap water works fine and we have hard, well water.  If you add in a bit of lemon essential oil - a de-greaser - it works great to cut any residue on the surface of the glass.  I have a spray bottle of this in each of my cleaning kits as well.  I can't tell you how impressed I was the first time used this concoction...I never thought of going back.  


Castile Soap

This is going to replace any and all soapy stuff I need in my house.  For cleaning I have in a scrub brush in my shower to clean the shower and I've got it on my sink for dishes.  We're still using up some regular dish soap and I think it's going to take some convincing for Zach to realize that the soap in the hand soap thing is also the soap to use to wash the dishes.  

I plan to use castile soap for body wash & my shampoo in the coming months.  I just need to discover something for conditioner.  But seriously if you need soapy lather this stuff is the bomb!

Baking Soda + Citric Acid

So baking soda makes a great scrubbing agent (so does salt!) and when you add citric acid to it and throw it in some water you get a great fizz.  I'm not sure if there is science behind the fizz actually lifting anything but I totally think it does.  I use baking soda & citric acid in my toilet cleaner so I think the citric acid actually does something!
Here's where I want to share another idea - just because you're making it yourself, doesn't mean it's cruelty free.  I've been using other brands of baking soda in previous DIY's but cruelty free is something I'm attempting to think about in many areas of my life including my cleaning supplies.  With that being said, Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda is the baking soda that I've found to be cruelty free.  I haven't come up on much research or information about citric acid brands, however.  But when I know better I will do better.

Essential Oils

I have a whole cleaning video on my YouTube channel as well as another post with the top essential oils for cleaningThese guys are versatile because I use them in my glass cleaner, in my laundry, as a fabric refresher, and to plain ol' diffuse.  These guys are just the greatest for a lot of things around the home.

Pure Haven Dish Washer Detergent

My cousin is a Pure Haven rep and when I can't find something from doTERRA that I love I generally go over to Pure Haven to purchase.  Of the DIY dishwasher tab recipes I've found, none of them have really worked.  Since I'm not in the habit of reinventing the wheel I went with something I know will work.  I've repurchased this once already and plan to continue to do so.

Glass Spray Bottles

In my Cleaning with Essential Oils video I mention that you can use either PET plastic or dark amber/blue glass bottles to store your DIY cleaning supplies.  I love using these amber bottles from Amazon to store all my cleaning solutions.  The mist can be fine - for like cleaning glass - or more targeted for cleaning your counters or other surfaces.  They feel well made and the weight of the glass bottle isn't too heaving.  The sprayer doesn't seem to clog as long as you close it after your done with it.
Transitioning into a non-toxic, more green cleaning routine doesn't have to be intimidatingIn this post I shared tips about transitioning to cruelty free and you can use the same guidelines when making over your cleaning routine.  It is all a learning process.....I'm still figuring things out as I go.

But the biggest thing is to partner with someone & with a company that you know, love, and trust.  For me DoTERRA and my own Wellness Advocate helped me learn a lot of stuff about natural, non-toxic, and green cleaning...and that is what I'd love to do for you.  I want to be your personal Wellness Advocate.

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If you're looking to get started using essential oils everyday in your own home, there is a perfect starter kit available for you.  When you purchase a starter kit & become a wholesale member you'll have access to me + a whole community dedicated education!  Shoot me an email if you're ready to learn more, or click here to browse the kit options!  Once you've chosen a kit, add it to your cart and proceed to check out.  Click the Become a Wholesale Member in the upper right to join me on your essential oil journey!

How have you made over your cleaning routine?  What supplies do you recommend?

xoxo, Moe

6.13.2018

How to Combine Tarot, Oracle, and Affirmation Cards in a Reading

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite tarot and oracle card decks.  My collection has significantly grown over the last year or so but my purchasing of decks as slowed in the recent months.  I credit this to getting to know the decks I have.  Now, I'm not going to discourage you from buying all the decks (because it can be fun to collect and learn from different decks) but I want you to connect with the decks you have and find where new decks can fit into your journey.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.
I use tarot, oracle, and affirmation cards for personal growth and development.  My persona belief is that these cards don't tell me the future.  These cards reveal to me things I may not consciously know or things that I know...but have chosen to ignore.  Those that are able to use the cards to tell the future have a gift I do not and the cards are mere tools for their gift.  But this belief in revealing subtleties is why I think everyone and anyone can benefit from using tarot & oracle cards.

It can be difficult to figure out how to use these decks just by themselves let alone pair these decks together.  Here are the three ways I suggest to start using multiple decks and card styles into one reading:

Pair Cards in the Same Position

When you're doing a certain spread, use two cards one position to get a more expanded yet direct message.  I find this most successful when I designate one of the pairs as the first or main card in that position.  For me this main card is often a tarot card.  So during the reading, I'll place down the tarot cards first in the spaces I've designated as for tarot cards.  Then I'll choose my oracle deck, shuffle, and place the oracle cards on to the tarot cards in the positions I've chosen to be expanded.  

Getting to know the decks you're using can help in this, too.  Pairing an oracle card with a tarot card on the same space can often explain or build on the message of the first card so when you know the energy of different decks you'll get the most from this pairing.  Often I'll use multiple decks (3 at max) because I know what each will give me in a reading especially when I'm putting them in a specific space.  


Create Specific Spreads 

When you know you're cards & your decks you can begin to work with them in a way that really works with you.  We form a certain relationship with our cards and I truly feel the universe will deliver what you need, in the way you need, if you just ask!  So, work with your cards.  If you know certain cards work great to form mantras, use those cards in a spread or specific position that deals with mantras.  In the weekly spread I usually do, I choose a card from the Sprit de la Lune deck as well as a card from the Sacred Soul Searching deck and a tarot card for the position of weekly theme.  I sort of created this spread around using those three cards because I find the most complete message comes from pairing these cards together.

When I do the Midweek Mantra spreads on the Connected Chakras Instagram, I also intentionally created a pairing between the Connected Chakras deck and the Pagan Cats Tarot.  I find that this mini tarot deck is very playful due to the cat imagery but offers a good compliment to the Chakras deck.  When you intentionally and repeatedly assign certain spreads as designated for affirmation cards or oracle cards, you'll find a better connection to your messages. 

Choose a Significator

This is one thing that really like to do when I'm attempting to work with a certain energy.  Choose a tarot, oracle, or affirmation card as the main theme of your reading.  For example - the Strength card.  So then you can pull and pair cards on how to embody the strength card.  

Perhaps you can ask "What mantra will help me embody the energy of this card?"  Then pull a card or cards that you know usually create wonderful mantras for you.  For me, I may choose to pull a card from the Connected Chakras deck & the Soul Searching Deck.  These always pair well for me. Again, knowing your cards and the messages they give can help you out here.

After working with my favorite decks and really connecting to them, I know which cards deliver the best messages when paired.  You'll find these great pairings by repeatedly using your cards.  Some decks may offer great messages on their own, some decks pair well because of their imagery, some decks might work well because they are both action oriented...the possibilities are endless.  You can also get to know your decks through a Get to Know Your Deck spread and keep note of what that deck will most likely tell you.

If you're looking for an easy way to learn the 78 tarot card meanings, I have a free tarot guide available for download!  You'll get a little ebook style download + a printable booklet to store in your tarot journal.  Sign up for the newsletter below to grab your free copy.
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Tarot is a great self reflective tool that can help hone your own intuition and help to develop a healthy relationship with yourself.  It is a key part of my self care routine, my goal setting strategy, and developing my self confidence.

If you'd like to read more about Tarot on the blog, click here.  You can also get weekly Tarot advice over on the Connected Chakras instagram.  If you're looking for another affirmation deck to add to your collection, check out my self published deck Connected Chakras or print your own here.

How do you use the tarot in your life?  How does it speak to you?

xoxo, Moe

6.11.2018

How to Use the Moon Phases for Self Development

You may have been seeing a lot around right now about witchy & woo woo women setting intentions & goals with the lunar cycles.  This has become a really popular topic right now, I feel like, in a lot of circles.  I'm not as consistent with this practice as I used to be but I still think it is important to focus on especially when it comes to self development.

At the beginning of this year I asked the question 'what does my be self look like?'  We can't come to be our best selves unless we understand our best selves.  And there are a bunch of different layers that come into play here.  If you're not into woo woo stuff, then this may not be your cup of tea...but hey, it might just be a fun way to get to know yourself.  
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First off I think it is important to know two things about ourselves to set these intentions: we need to know our sun, moon, & rising signs and we need to have our basic natal chart.  If you're not sure what these are and you'd like to learn more about your natal chart, I have a complete newbies guide to reading a natal chart right here.  There is even a free download to fill in your chart to use later in this post so be sure head over & sign up for the newsletter.

If you know you're sun, moon, & rising signs, you'll know some core things about yourself.  Your sun sign represents how you see yourself, your moon sign represents your passions & your emotional state, and your rising sign represents how the world sees you.  Once you have your natal chart done, you'll begin to see which signs you have in which houses.  These houses correspond to different aspects of your life - the first house is self, the fourth house is home, the seventh house is relationships, and so on.

Once you have these figured out (again, see this post) you can begin to set intentions with the moon cycles. 

Moon Phases

If you peruse pinterest & woo woo blogs long enough you'll find that there are two takes on the lunar phases - one says the new moon is great for manifesting while the other says the full moon is the energy you should use to manifest.  I subscribe to the following belief - as the moon grows, so too should our work on our goals.  So I don't think that on the new moon we should set our intentions...I think on the new moon we should start to set our intentions.  We're working with the growth of the moon.  So between the new moon and the waxing crescent we should focus our energy on what we'd like to manifest.  The moon is starting to grow, and thus the energy for manifesting is beginning to grow.  I focus my energy on the time between phases, if that makes sense.  The growing energy between the phases is where the manifesting power lies.

So, between the New Moon and the Waxing Crescent we are setting intentions.  We're holding our new moon rituals and focusing our energy on our intentions.  Between the Waxing Crescent and the First Quarter we're planning & outlining the action we're going to take.  We can do some journaling & some brainstorming on what routine we'll develop, etc.

Then, between the First Quarter and the Waxing Gibbous we'll start to take action.  We'll begin to implement the plan daily, sticking with the plan if it's working and even if it isn't working.  Then between the Waxing Gibbous and the Full Moon we'll refine and edit our actions.  What can we add that will better serve us?  What can we eliminate?  Where do we need to change?

Between the Full Moon & the Waning Gibbous we should be at our realization.  We'll do our full moon rituals, begin our gratitude, and celebrate what we've realized between the New Moon and now.  Now we move on to the waning phase where the energy is dissipating and we're moving more into reflection.  Between the Waning Gibbous and the Last Quarter we need to get devoted.  Keep up those actions & that routine through this time to cement in these beliefs we've realized.  Between the Last Quarter & the Waning Crescent we should release.  Get rid of anything that isn't serving you & continue the steps of gratitude.

Finally, between the Waning Crescent and the next New Moon we should be focusing on self care.  We did a lot of development so it is time to focus back on us, take care of ourselves, and work with what we've learned.  Then the cycle starts again.

You can see that I'm working with the spaces between phases rather than the actual phase itself....I hope that makes a little sense.  I like doing this because as the energy rises so too should our actions towards manifesting our intentions and as the energy wanes we should slow down and reflect to prepare for the next wave.  It's a lot to go through in a month!  But it is worth it.

New Moon - set intention
Waxing Crescent - plan & outline
First Quarter - take action
Waxing Gibbous - refine & edit
Full Moon - realization
Waning Gibbous - devotion
Last Quarter - release
Waning Crescent - self care


Astrological Signs in the Houses


Once you've done your natal chart you should see that there are certain signs assigned to each house.  Everyone, for the most part, will have different signs in different houses. The Wheel of houses in your birth chart is based on the earths rotation on it's axis in a 24 hour period. Your personal Wheel of Houses is determined by your birth time and location. It is a map of the sky at the time and area of your birth and the energies of these signs can play a roll in your relationship with the themes of each of these houses.  In the natal chart post I have a very broad list of the houses.  It is this list we are going to use to set our intentions.  

For example, Aquarius is in my Fifth House of Creativity.  So when the new moon rises in Aquarius I should use Aquarius energy to focus on that house.  Aquarius energy is innovative and community driven, philanthropic and imaginative.  Aquarius energy isn't limited to the conventional, it is objective & innovative.  So during the new moon in this sign I should focus on using my creativity for something greater than myself.  Creativity can be relative - maybe it is an actual, physical thing you make or maybe it is simply creative problem solving.  All of these intentions are going to be specific & personal.  Here's a breakdown of the energies of each sign:
Aries - The starter.  This energy helps us begin, pushes us into our own power, and helps us fiercely put ourselves out there.

Taurus - Persistent, secure, stable. Taurus energy is supportive & organized, it helps us to develop, to sit, and to grow.

Gemini - Open, talkative, vibrant.  Gemini energy is outgoing, adventurous, and unique.  It helps us to realize our uniqueness, to communicate, and to express ourselves authentically.

Cancer - The nurturer.  Cancer energy allows us to get in touch with our feelings, helps us identify our core desires, and is compassionate.  Cancer energy can romanticize situations and become nostalgic, seeking security & comfort from family and home.

Leo - Pride. Leo energy helps us express ourselves openly.  It is protective and prideful.  This energy can help boost our confidence and often will allow us to seek leadership.

Virgo - Helpful & dedicated.  Virgo energy is a nurturer, soft, resourceful, and serving.  This energy helps us to take a step back, focus on ourselves & loved ones, and remember efficiency in our actions.

Libra - Seeker of balance & harmony.  Libra energy is harmonizing, thoughtful, and organized.  This airy energy helps us to prioritize.

Scorpio - Focused & driven.  The intense energy of Scorpio inspires us to hunker down & get straight with our deep emotions, with complex situations, and to reinvent ourselves.  This energy asks us if we're really in alignment with who we think we are.  We dive deep inside with Scorpio energy.

Sagittarius - The adventurer.  Sagittarius energy is creative, exploratory, and optimistic.  This energy is encouraging & enthusiastic.  It asks us to push our boundaries and see just what happens if we move just a little bit farther.

Capricorn - The disciplinarian.  Capricorn energy asks us to get right & get structured, to incorporate discipline and to get rid of the rest.  The honest teacher of Capricorn asks us to be persistent, dedicated, and resilient.

Aquarius - The innovative humanitarian.  Literally the water bearer, Aquarius energy focuses on the collective and our place in it.  This energy is creative and philanthropic.  This sign rules groups and teams making collaboration an important part of this energy.

Pisces - The Dreamer.  Pisces energy is dreamy, flowy, emotional.  It can help us work through hidden emotions, explore compassion, and dive deep into our inner waters.

How to set intetions

After all of this info, we're going to pair the two subjects above - the moon phases + the signs in our houses - to create our intentions for the lunar cycle.

Firstly, determine what sign the next new moon will rise in.  For this you can use an app (there are a ton out there) or a planner/datebook that has the signs listed.  The Witches Datebook is a good resource for this.  Once you determine the sign the new moon will be in, cross this info with where that specific sign is in your chart.  

So if the next new moon is in Cancer and Cancer falls in your tenth house of Career then it is time to focus on your feelings and desires when it comes to your career.  How can you align your core desired feelings with your career?
At the New Moon start to think of an action, routine, or step you'd like to take in this direction.  Then begin to outline & plan what you'll do as we move from the Waxing Crescent to the First Quarter.  At the First Quarter, start to implement this plan.  As we move from the Waxing Gibbous to the Full Moon, start to refine the actions.  At the Full Moon celebrate what you've come to realize, then as the energy wanes begin to reflect.  Once you've completed the cycle, it is time to start again.

Your intention can be as simple as incorporating a certain thought or mantra into your life or implementing a new routine in your day.  Once you have that outlined, follow the phases of the moon and the actions associated with each phase.  You can journal about your experiences if you'd like but mainly just make the conscious effort & take note of how you're growing over the cycle.  At the end of the cycle you should find that you've improved & grown - even if you've learned that something doesn't really serve you!

Living by the moon and setting goals/intentions in this manner is a way to live more intuitively.  Becoming more mindful of nature & mother earth.  You don't necessarily have to assign any spiritual significance to this - it can just be a fun thing for personal development!  Isn't it always fun to try something new?
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I use the moon as a guide to align my personal development goals as often as I can.  Because life can often get in the way I'm a fan of incorporating things you find important to you any way that you can.  Sometimes it can be a simple minute to acknowledge a certain mantra each day or change something small in your life.  When we make these small changes a whole new world can open up to us!

If you want to keep up with the lunar cycles join the Five Sixteenths | Live Creative group on Facebook.  We talk about productivity, creative planning, and intuitive goal setting over there so I'd love to have you join!

Have you used the moon for your personal growth?

xoxo, Moe

6.07.2018

Three Ways to use Pocket Pages in your Planner

As a creative person, adding visual elements to my planner is super important to me.  I need the inspiration that creative planning offers to me.  Not only is the act of planning a creative outlet for me, the habit of looking at my planner keeps me inspired!  One of my favorite ways to get creative in my planner is with the page protectors.  Tons of planner companies make these page protectors or pocket pages for various planners (check this post here) but right now we'll be getting creative using the Happy Planner line of page protectors
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As you know, the Mini Happy Planner is 100% my go to planner for everything.  I've got one functional planner and one memory planner...both are from the Happy Planner line.  You may be thinking we'll be getting creative in my memory planner today but you're wrong! We're gonna make some amazing pocket page projects perfect for your functional planner which in my case is the Mini Happy Planner!  But of course you can translate these into any planner system you use.

Photo Dashboard with Sticky Notes

When you open you're planner, it is best to feel inspired!  Adding some photos of your family or other images that inspire you will make you super happy each time you open your planner.  To make this guy functional add in your favorite sticky notes.
I love that there are 2x2 squares in the page protectors because they fit the sticky notes perfectly.  Trim your photos down and then alternate with some patterned journal cards to create a functional dashboard.  Plus, this guy will be back and front - double the sticky note storage!

Mini Vision Board

In my current planner I have a mini vision board right in the front.  This helps me to keep on track with my goals during the year.  You can use this to create a fitness vision board, a vision board for your next vacation, or a vision board for a new home project.   
I created this vision board at the beginning of the year to go along with my vision planner.  I like keeping this smaller guy with me so that I see it everyday since my vision planner is much bigger.  You can check out some vision board tips in this post.

Visual Project Planning

This sort of goes with the vision board option above, but when you pair these page protectors with the project planning filler paper you can create a whole visually inspiring project section.  I'm using the pocket pages to store an overview of the aesthetic I'm going for with the wedding so that when I'm planning any part of the wedding I can make sure the whole visual comes together.
This can be great for blog planning or branding too in your social media planner.  You can make sure your whole brand comes together with the same aesthetic!  I shared these project pages in this post about the best productive add ons for the Happy Planner.



I just love all the creative ways we can use our planners right now.  It is so inspiring!  And the fact that the page protectors aren't just for one size of the Happy Planner is great.  These guys aren't just limited to memory planning...they are a very helpful visual tool.

If your'e looking for some more creative planning, productivity tips, & personal growth check out the Five Sixteenths | Live Creative group on Facebook.  And check out the YouTube channel for more planner awesomeness!  OH and if you want to save moolah on Happy Planner stuff, check out Blitsy to save some serious cash.

How do you use pocket pages in your planner?

xoxo, Moe

6.05.2018

A Beginners Guide to a Stress Free Morning

I've been posting a lot lately about the power of routines and how they help to alleviate stress & prepare us for the day.  Both morning and evening routines are important to building a balanced life, but today I want to share with you more about a morning routine.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.
Often times, we find posts on routines and think 'that is easier said than done!' and today I'm here to provide you 3 easy ways to make sure you're morning is stress free.  In this post I share a little bit about the importance of routine.  Part of the success of a morning routine involves creating a space where you feel calm, creative, and supported.  This doesn't have to be a dedicated room, in fact is should be all about your whole house inviting you to feel comfortable.  Here are the three pieces to creating a receptive environment for you to blossom.

Sight

When we wake up in the morning the first thing our eyes see is our room, right?  Make sure you're sleeping in a space you love.  Make the bed & sleep on bedding you find warm, comfortable, and relaxing.  Tidy your room, tidy the shelves, tidy the floor the night before so that when you wake up you aren't greeted with clutter.

The same applies to every other room in the house.  Here is where your night time routine can affect your morning routine.  Empty the sink of dishes, make sure the house is tidy, & take care of your AM pet peeves the night before so that when you wake up you're pumped for the day and not worried about unfinished tasks.

You can also lay out your clothes, work or school bag, & lunch so that you're visually prepped in the morning for they tasks in the day ahead.

Smell

We all love the scent of that first cup of coffee in the morning.  Is the scent better than that first sip? I think that may be up for debateGreet the morning by diffusing a scent that inspires you to get up and go. DoTERRA's Motivate is a great morning diffuser blend because it's got a little bit of citrus & a little bit of peppermint.

If you're getting ready to meditate in the morning, perhaps diffusing something a little more grounding like doTERRA's Balance will help to root you in and focus your intentions.  Sandalwood, Vetiver, and Lavender are also great oils to mellow you out and relieve stress.

We can use essential oils to tap into different mindsets through the day - peppermint can pep you up and get you going, Balance can ground you and keep you even tempered, Lemon can give a fresh zing to your morning with it's citrus scent.

My favorite resource for using essential oils to align my emotions is this Emotions & Essential Oils book.  There's an index to help identify the best oils plus an overview of each single oil & blend from doTERRA.

Sound

Now that it is warmer out (but not too hot) opening the windows and letting the fresh sounds of nature into your home can be a great way to relieve stress in the morning.  Throw open the windows, let in the light, and revel in the sounds of nature!

If that's not quite your thing, honor yourself by finding sounds that pumps you up.  Put on your favorite playlist, listen to an inspiring podcast, or pop on some calming meditation music.  Sound is a great way to connect in with the emotions we'd like to feel as well.

YouTube is a great resource for guided meditations or even energizing inspiration.  And you're not limited to just these traditional things.  Most mornings I watch planner videos because I like the creative inspiration!

Building a morning routine involves honoring ourselves, so you're morning routine is going to look much different than mine.  The important thing to remember is that you're creating a routine for self care.  If you're sick of rushing around and you're sick of falling apart, a morning (and evening) routine is probably going to help you out!

Don't get caught up in how insta-worthy your morning routine is either.  Do what works for you.  Do what makes you feel the most whole.  I used to want to journal in the morning....but couldn't write anything, then I'd stress that I'm wasting the 20 minutes I'd set aside for journaling, then that would make me stress about not doing what I should be doing.  Once I gave up forcing myself to do what I thought I should be doing and focusing on what really fills my cup, I was able to enjoy my mornings better and I felt more successful during the day!

If you'd like some more creative living inspiration, join the awesome Facebook group where we talk productivity, planning, personal development, and intuitive goal setting!

What makes your morning routine successful?

xoxo, Moe

5.31.2018

5 Happy Planner Extras for Productivity

I've been knocking things off my to do lists left and right recently and I think its because I've been using my planner to the best of my ability!  This has to do with a a couple of things, I think - one of which being all of the productivity extras from the Happy Planner to make the whole thing work for you.  As you know, I use the Mini Happy Planner exclusively and I am so happy that there are a ton of extras for this size!
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.

Three Parts to Productive Planning

When it comes to the actual doing of the stuff there are a few important points that need to fall into place in order to mark these things off of our to do list.  It isn't just enough to make the list, we've got to organize, prioritize, and make plan to execute.

Organization - organizing your tasks, due dates, and appointments means you'll know exactly where each item lies so that you can find it quickly & easily when needed.

Prioritization - prioritizing you tasks and events means that what needs to get done first, happens first.  Then you can push other things to the back burner or reevaluate when something else might need to be done.

Project Planning - this sort of has to do with execution.  If you outline what needs to be done, you'll be able to execute things in a timely manner rather than stumble over tasks.

The Happy Planner line has quite a few things to help us get through all three of these to make sure we're reaching our goals!


Planner Extras for Productivity

My Mini Happy Planner is a conglomeration of quite a few add-ons & extension packs, which is great because the whole system is disc bound!  I can add and remove pages as needed to create a functional system that works in my best interest.  Not to mention there are a ton of functional sticker packs out there that make organization, prioritization, and execution colorful as well.

These are new to my arsenal and I haven't quite mastered them yet as I prefer the project stickers found in some of the sticker books.  However, these guys can be great for long term or multi-step projects that need a little bit more attention.  By creating an actionable time line, you'll be better able to execute tasks to complete your project or reach your goal.
These inserts feature a colorful page with sections for sketching & brainstorming, planning action steps, and assigning due dates.  Since these guys are the same design back & front, I like to add in another page of graph paper for extra notes.  I wish the back was dot or grid paper!  That would make my day!

The Mini Monthly Extension pack I use for social media planning mimics the style of the limited edition Trend Setter planner.  This 6 month extension has an undated monthly view, a sort of monthly tasks view, daily to do pages, then two blank lined pages at the back.  
I've customized the task view with some letter stickers from the Happy Planner sticker books and other alphas.  This helps me break down all the checklists in to specific areas organizing my content into groups.  This insert also lets me prioritize a top three for the month so I'm on track!

Personally I haven't found a use for the daily to do pages as they don't seem to fit in with how I use my planner.  But I am thinking about using them to plan my Instagram posts.  The blank lined pages at the back I am thinking about pairing with the project pages!

These guys are great to break down your busy daily schedule but they can also be used as an extra dashboard if needed.  Featuring an hour by hour breakdown starting at 6am, you'll be able to organize your day efficiently.  
Areas for prioritization include a daily focus & two checklist sections.  One of the checklists says Do This Later which can help to get tasks out of your brain but not necessarily scheduled right away.  The back of these inserts features a brain dump section that is great for notes during the day or outlining bigger tasks.

Productivity Stickerbooks

Currently there are two productivity stickerbooks from the Happy Planner and I love both of them!  The original sticker book features project planning & goal setting stickers allowing you to outline projects & priorities.  The second sticker book focuses more on habits, time management, and organization.

Both work well in the mini or classic size planner and are perfect to add to the graph filler paper to create your own inserts.  The original Productivity book does come in a mini size, though I find those to be a little too wide and not as aesthetically pleasing as the stickers designed for the classic planner.
This is something brand new to my Mini Happy Planner and its not even designed for it!  These Focus Half sheets are designed to fit the Classic Size planner but a little trim keeps all the important bits and it fits right in the mini.  The front page is great for a targeted goal list for the week, outlining the top five must do tasks.
The best part about these is that the back is graph paper - perfect for all my notes.  It can also be used as an extra project planning section or to outline the steps of future tasks.  I was  using this as a wellness tracker/insert but that didn't seem to work out too great for me. I'm thinking of making it a brain dump sheet to put all that tasks that float through my brain but that don't need action just yet.

Housing everything all in one place is made so much easier by these different add ons, extension packs, and the disc bound system of the Happy Planner line. Some of the extras I mentioned can be found in a cool little bundle here on Amazon (yay for Prime shippng!) but you can save the most when you shop Happy Planner stuff over on Blitsy.

The only way to use a planner is to find a system that helps you rather than hinders you.  I like to write a lot out - I am a multi step person - so having specific areas that can help me organize, plan, and execute means that I'm working on my goals successfully!

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If you'd like to read more about productivity, check out these posts on the blog.  You can also join the Five Sixteenths | Live Creative Facebook group where we talk about creative planning, inspired productivity, personal development and intuitive goal setting!  Click here to join!

What are your favorite planner extras for productivity?  How do you use your planner effectively?

xoxo, Moe

5.25.2018

Why You Need a Morning & Evening Routine

Do you feel boxed in and limited when it comes to setting a routine?  Do you feel like a child again being told what to do when you're a responsible adult whose been paying her own bills and running her own life and hasn't fallen off a cliff yet?  Do you think you don't need a morning or evening routine?

Yeah I didn't either.  But I've got more questions for you -

Are you thinking about your goals more than you are acting on them?  Are you feeling stressed at work or after work or on the weekends knowing that there are looming deadlines but you're too tired to act on them?  Are you hitting the snooze multiple times?  Have you given up on doing somethings that you used to love because either you don't have the time or you wish you could but you just don't want to? 

You may need a routine, honey.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.

Now I'm not in the routine of calling people honey but I am here to tell you that you 100% need to set up some sort of morning & evening routine to make sure you're not answering yes to all of those questions in that third paragraph.  Morning and evening routines have changed my life - I feel less stressed, I feel more on top of things, I have a little bit more discipline.....over all I don't feel like a stressed out couch potato coasting through life on lunch time naps navigating laundry mountains & piles of dishes.  The things I want done are getting done and the things that can take a back burner are there, no longer stressing me out.

At the beginning of this year, I shared this post asking the question What does your best self look like?  My best self has showed up for me as long as I've showed up for her.  Creating a morning & evening routine help me to be my best self because it gives me discipline, makes me prepared for the day, and over all reduces the load I'm carrying daily.  

Reasons you need routine in your day:

Set Yourself Up For Success

If you create a routine that fits your life - I'm not here to tell you what to do, I'm just here to help - you'll find you don't have to make unnecessary decisions through the day.  In the morning, the first thing I see as I take Sweetie out to go potty is the kitchen sink.  If it is full of dirty dishes I immediately think 'dang I should put those guys in the dishwasher'.  So now I'm thinking about a chore I need to do and I've shifted my focus from the current day to what I should have done last night.  Then I'll have to make the decision as to whether I'll put the dishes in the dishwasher.  If I had set myself up for success the night before.....I wouldn't be at this crossroads!  We all have something like that which annoys us yet we don't really want to do in that moment and this distracts us from what we need to get done now.  

Part of setting yourself up for success means knowing yourself.  You know your annoyances - like dirty dishes in the sink in the morning - better than anyone so getting those out of the way will keep you on track for your goals.  By setting a specific time to do annoying tasks that we know need to get done lowers procrastination, lowers stress, and prepares us for the day or night ahead.  If you're extremely unmotivated (ahem, me) read this post on three things to do to kick your butt into gear.  Number one though - if it takes two dang minutes to complete....do it now.

Routine Leaves Room for Mindfulness

So we've given up unnecessary decisions and are now doing things with intention & discipline.  This leaves room for us to be mindful.  We're no longer worrying about what to do next because we've set up a routine, we know when the next task will happen, so now it is time to honor ourselves by being present during the tasks. 

First lets talk about mindfulness vs mindlessness.  If you've ever accidentally poured orange juice into your cereal instead of milk or put a box of crackers in the fridge instead of the cabinet, those are examples of mindlessness.  We aren't focusing completely on the task at hand.  Our minds are wandering or counting off the number of tasks we have to do that day.  Instead of being fully present we're hanging out on the edge of what is next - completing each task only to get to the next one, the next one, and so on.

Mindfulness leaves room for meditation, for honoring ourselves, for delineating what is a priority.  When we're fully present in the moment we can realize when something is no longer serving us in our routine.  Perhaps you're not finding joy in the time you've designated to drink your coffee and read.  What might serve you better?  Routine leaves space for mindfulness and mindfulness leaves space for creativity.  Maybe you need to switch up what you're reading or where you're reading.  Maybe you want to move your meditation from sitting on a pillow to sitting on your front porch.  Mindfulness can help us enjoy tasks rather than feel annoying obligation.

A Sense of Security & Preparedness

Because we've reduced stress and are now working towards the things we want to get done in a day, routine can give us the sense of security and preparedness that can rid us of those butterflies we often feel during the day.  If I'm up at the time I need to be up then I can get everything I find important done then I'm already in a 'get going' mindset and I'm more prepared for the actions I need to take at work.  Routine gives us discipline.

I used to think it was the yoga or the meditation that helped me feel more in control at work.  It wasn't just that - it was the mindfulness, the preparedness, the security I felt aligning myself with my goals for the day.  In the evening, my 30 minute clean, dinner making, and hour of blog work means I have delineated time and have a clearer mind when I settle in for family time and then sleep.  I'm not worried, I feel secure, and I feel prepared.  

Room for Self Care

Routines should be personal - we all have different goals, so waking up and immediately exercising may not fit your goal or lifestyle.  I'm not here to tell you what you should do morning and night, I'm just here to tell you that you should figure something out.  We all live different lives with different goals.  Different things serve each of us differently.  By creating a personalized routine, you're honoring yourself and leaving room for you own self care.

I will say maybe you need to make Wednesday nights candle-lit-glass-of-wine-diffuse-all-the-lavender bath nights or Saturday mornings walk-in-the-neighborhood-alone-with-my-coffee-and-leggings mornings because once you have a routine you'll find space for your favorite things.  You'll find the space, the time, and the need to take care of yourself - even if it is just a reward for putting those dishes away.  Through personalization you can find what makes you feel better, feel productive, feel aligned when done morning or night or weekly.

How to Set Up Your Routine

The app I use to manage my day is called Our Home.  This app is really designed for families to assign chores to family members and then each member can amass points towards a reward - but I just like it because it sends me push notifications.  I don't want an alarm I have to turn off I want a simple notification so I know 'hey it's time to make dinner'.  This app keeps me on track - since I'm horrible with habit trackers.  

To get started, I outlined what I thought my perfect day would look like down to the minute:

Morning
5:00 am - wake up, yoga clothes,
5:05 am - wash face/brush teeth
5:10 am - empty dishwasher/load dishwasher if needed
5:20 am - dog out
5:30 am - yoga, meditate, journal
5:50 am - make coffee, grab lunch stuff
6:00 am - quick blog/social media work or make up
6:20 am - get dressed
6:27 am - leave for work

Evening
5:00 pm - 30 minute clean
5:30 pm - make dinner
5:45 pm - throw in a load of laundry/fold if I can
6:00 pm - eat dinner
7:00 pm - work/family time
8:00 pm - dinner clean up
8:30 pm - shower/skincare/night time self care
9:00 pm - in bed (my mom said 9 pm was a good bed time and I've been following that ever since!)

Then I entered the routine in the app telling it to send a notification to me when that task needed to be done.  When I realized I could fit something else in or I needed to do one thing before another thing, I adjusted the routine.  When something stopped serving me, I adjusted the routine.  I don't stick to it all the time but it gives me a sense of security & preparedness and 100% reduced the stress load I carried.
You can try using hourly planner inserts (or like these in the shop) or creating your own customized dashboard like I did to remind me daily.  These physical reminders can also keep us inspired - we're gonna see them everyday so that then we can live them.  We keep a lot in our brains so it is great to have both a physical and digital reminder of the path we're looking to keep.


The bottom line is that they allow us to get more done in our day.  I would even say an evening routine is where you should start your focus so that you set your self up for success in the morning.  If you plan your evening, get everything done and on track for good sleep and for a prepared morning.....then your morning routine will go off with out a hitch!

Want more routine & productivity inspiration?  Join the Five Sixteenths | Live Creatively Facebook group here & check out more productivity posts on the blog here.

What does your routine look like?  How have you set yourself up for success?

xoxo, Moe