Catching Thoughts: A place for notebooks, notebooks for places

My name is Kim…and I am a stationery junkie.

I have always been obsessed with pens, notebooks, and basically stationery of any and all kinds. The drawers in my roll top desk are filled with notebooks, beautiful paper and all kinds of writing and sketching tools. I am also an avid journaler and always on the lookout for a beautiful new journal to add to my collection. Over the last few months though I have stumbled down a whole new twisty rabbit hole: Traveler’s Notebooks.

Traveler’s Notebooks are a binder system that holds together multiple notebooks. The original brand of Traveler’s Notebooks are the Japanese brand of Midori. These are leather covers with an ingenious elasticated string system that holds together multiple notebooks.  

courtesy of Midori

The genius concept of the Traveler’s Notebooks are that they are rugged, minimalist, fully customisable – as to how you use them and they are the perfect travelling/desk/handbag/rucksack accessory. With a Traveler’s Notebook I can have multiple notebooks kept together in a hardy and durable cover. I always like to have a notebook or three handy at all times, because thoughts and ideas flutter in and out usually during the most mundane moments in life. With a TN I can catch those thoughts before they fly past into the Neverland of forgotten memories. There is also something to be said for the tangible beauty of a leather Traveler’s Notebook. 

 The Midori-style notebook has become so popular that it has inspired many other suppliers and artisans to create their own versions inspired by these Traveler’s Notebooks. Traditionally the Traveler’s notebooks are notebook covers that are made from supple leather and come in a cheque-book-wallet size *Regular/Standard Size* and a Passport size.

These other Traveler’s notebooks, made by independent artisans, come in a smorgasbord of materials from leather to material to paper. They also come in a variety of sizes from small pocket sizes to large art journal sizes. There is the perfect notebook for everyone’s needs. 

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” ~ Jack London

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” ~ Jack London

I stumbled down this rabbit hole a few months ago and am still to come up for air. At first I wanted to get myself the traditional Midori Traveler’s notebooks (TN) but the Midori TN I wanted was temporarily out of stock.

So I then I started looking at the various alternate Traveler’s notebooks made and I was wowed. After stalking quite a few Instagram hashtags and YouTube videos, I settled on Chic Sparrow. Then it was a case of narrowing my focus down to which size I wanted and which leather/colour/texture I wanted. Although a lot of people use their TNs for planning/scheduling, I knew I wanted to use mine for journaling and for note-taking, perhaps even sketching. I also knew I preferred a leather that was thicker, firm but still supple and flexible and a leather that was rich in texture. I also wanted a TN that was personalised to me. 

I ended up stalking the Chic Sparrow website daily for a few weeks. Chic Sparrow is so popular that they often sell out within a few hours each day. Eventually the leather I wanted in the size I wanted was finally available. *I got a Narrow size with overhang – the actual cover is slightly wider than the inserted notebooks/inserts.* I ended up choosing the Distressed CremeBrûlée Deluxe* (*Deluxe is a TN that comes with stitched in pockets/pen loop and is finished off externally with a beautiful stitching border.)   I chose my personalisations and hit order. Then I waited. Nine days later my Chic Sparrow package arrived…

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I was thrilled to see/feel the variations/texture in this gorgeous distressed leather. There is something very special to me about a distressed leather. One of my favourite parts of my TN is the deep natural “imperfectly perfect” scar on the back secretarial pocket. It shows a life well lived by this cow. It also reminds me that the page can always safely store both my scars and my joys. Catching my daily thoughts in this beautiful Traveler’s Notebook fills me with joy and fresh inspiration.

Again…this is keeping me true to my new mantra: Yo no Bi ~ Beauty through Use…Use through Beauty.

My next Traveller’s Notebook is going to be a limited edition Original Midori. I have waited to get the traditional Midori Traveler’s Notebook in a limited Blue leather edition: this one will capture my actual travels, adventures and road trips. But more on this blue-beauty when it arrives…

Tell me, how do you catch all your thoughts/ideas?
 Are you a note-taker?

Traveler’s Notebooks Links

Yo No Bi – Finally Finding Zen in My Almost-Every-Day #Hobonichi

*Fair Warning: this is a long post. So get comfortable… 🙂 Feel free to skip to the end to read my personal thoughts. Please feel free to let me know – in the comments – how you “plan your day” if you do and what your favourite planner/planning system is. Thank you for reading.*

This year I have been focused on productivity and productivity habits/methods/systems/tools. One of the reasons I have been so focused on productivity is because I have been fighting a personal battle of being well enough to be productive. I have also had to learn to be kinder to myself. I am my own worst critic at the best of times but in the times when my own body is the enemy to my productivity, I am usually even worse at criticising myself. 

As I have shared on here, a few months ago, I am a Migraineur and I live with Chronic Migraine on a daily basis. The last year has been particular difficult and trying as my Chronic Migraines went from bad to severe, from 10 a month to about 20 – 25 a month now. I have had to accept that on the bad days I can’t get writing done and beating myself up mentally about this does not get me anywhere and just ends up creating more stress for me. And one thing Chronic Migraine does not like is Stress. But I am determined that this Migraine will not steal more of my life and creativity than it already does. So I have been researching and trialling many different productivity methods/tools in order to turn my chaotic into calm.

The concept of “Yo no Bi” (Japanese)
~ transl. Beauty Through Use ~

  

I recently shared a post about returning to the world of planning Filofax-style in my new Kikki K. I also shared the fantastic Day Designer undated template I found for planning out my day. But after a few months of using this system, I was feeling underwhelmed and under-motivated. (*I meant to use “under-motivated specifically instead of unmotivated. The motivation was there but the system underwhelmed me.*) 

There was nothing glaringly wrong with the system but I knew something was missing. There was too much “plan” and not enough “usability”. I ended up feeling more frustrated and restricted than calmer and more organised. My planner system was simply not the right plan for me personally.

As much as I love my digital tools, I knew that ultimately I love unplugging and using paper and pen. For the last year I have also been getting back into the world of fountain pens and beautiful paper. (A whole other rabbit hole to fall down into.) I made a pros and cons list about what I wanted vs what I needed in the “perfect planner”.  This was my list:

My “Perfect Planner” Wish List

  • Must be pen and paper.
  • Preferably fountain pen friendly.
  • Minimum A5 in size and fairly portable.
  • Enough sections to be able to fit in everything from deadline dates, a chronodex, appointments, tasks to do and a “clean and simple” space for writing – working through story ideas, character development, and a brain dump.
  • A system with enough structure to make my perfectionist-me happy and enough adaptability to make my creative-me happy.
  • A system contained within itself, something that can be taken with me on the go and be usable anywhere and everywhere whether at my desk, at a cafe, on a plane/bus/train or while travelling.
  • Simplicity not complication.
  • Beautiful function. Functional beauty.
  • Something both aesetically beautiful in design but fully functional and practical in usability.

Once I knew what I truly wanted and needed, I knew what to go looking for. As a stationery addict I could spend a lot of money on many products that would match all my needs and wants. But the key to me in this instance is that I don’t need more stationery for the sake of feeding my love for stationery. I needed a productivity system that would allow me to feel more organised. 

  

I have finally found the system that works for me. I have finally found the Zen in my “Almost-Every-Day”…
find out more…

#Droptask : How I Get Things Done: Fav Digital Tools #GTD #Productivity

How do you “Get Things Done”?

I am allergic to lists but love organisation. I am one of those people who cannot write if my desk or surroundings are cluttered.

For the longest time I have been looking for a project planner that has nothing to do with lists. This month I finally found it: 

 Productivity Tool #1.

Droptask 
 
What is it?
Droptask is the visual project/task manager for the person who is allergic to list-making. I am a very visual person. I have always written down notes in a mind-map as opposed to paragraphs of text. I like shapes and colours.
Droptask fulfills all of these wants for me.

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Above is a trilogy of screenshots about my current WIP.
Droptask comes as a basic free app or the advanced pro option. Although the free option is perfectly suited to project management, I have opted for the pro option for its advanced features.

The best two features about the pro option is the ability to create unlimited sub tasks and task dependencies. For me a project, in this case a manuscript, is not just one whole concept but a whole sum of smaller parts. This is where the ability to have unlimited subtasks and task dependencies comes in.

Droptask broken down

Main project: The Tattooist

Group: Complete Rewrite

Tasks: 95k Rewrite*
Tasks: Broken down in 5k increments (5k – 95k)**

Task Dependencies: 10k needs to be completed before 15k can be done, 15k needs to be completed before 20k can be done.

Subtasks:
*95k Run through final edit
Submit
**2.5k per day
Print
Backup

Other groups related to same project:
@Home / @Office / @Computer / @Errands / @WaitingFor / @Email / @Calls / @Submissions
Research / Fact-Check / Editing

Droptasks

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Status

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Urgency

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Effort

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Deadline 

 When you date a task, Droptask emails you the current deadline (today) + the next deadline (tomorrow) plus the final deadline date. A great little prompt every morning to get me focused on what needs to be done.

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Tag

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Attachments (Picture/Audio/Video)

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Extra added bonus

Team Collaboration 

You can have more than one person working on a project.
Droptask (basic subscription): You can have one extra person per project (limit of 5 projects).
Droptask (pro option) you can have unlimited extra people per unlimited projects.

So in this way I have one screen for everything related to my current WIP. 

Droptask is THE project manager for the person who hates lists but loves getting things done. 

What is your favourite task manager?
How do you tick off tasks? Pen and paper? Lists? Apps?

#storycraft Get Things Done (Sun 6pmUSEST) #amwriting #amediting #writersroad #productivity #twitterchat

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#storycraft on Twitter
Join your hosts: @AuthorKimKoning (myself) and @DarcyConroy for the 1st 2015 #storycraft chat.

Where: Twitter
Hashtag: #storycraft
When: Sunday 1st Feb (US/UK)
Monday 2nd Feb (NZ/AUS)

Time:
12pm NZ (Monday)
10am AUS (Monday)
6pm USEST (Sunday)
3pm PST (Sunday)
11pm UK (Sunday)

#storycraft: The twitter conversation for writers about the craft of STORY.
1st Sunday Every Month (6pm USEST/3pm PST)

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Get(ting) Shit Done #GTD #Productivity

“Life is busy. Time doesn’t stop. Distractions abound. We all have the same 24 hours in a day that never seem enough. Catching up is today’s middle name.”

Sound familiar?

Well all of these are relatable to me or rather were relatable to me. But this year I have decided that I need to “get my shit together” and “get shit done” by organising myself with a time-management system that works for me.

Years ago, in the late 90s and early 2000s, I swore by my Filofax. I carried this little magical folder around with me for both work and pleasure. This was in the time before smart phones, tablets and light laptops and Facebook. This little leather hold-all (file of facts stuff to do/keep/remember/store) was the perfect organiser for me.

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Filofax Image courtesy of A Bowl Full Of Lemons

If I needed to remember something I would write it down in here. If I needed to update a friend’s new contact details and store their birthday date, I would write it down in here. If I needed to keep an appointment schedule, I would write it down in here. If I needed to manage a deadline on a specific project/task, I would write it down in here. If I needed to write notes down, I would write them down in here.

But then the digital world bloomed and suddenly I had access to first software then apps on everything from smartphones to tablets to transfer my Filofax into. Eventually I stopped keeping a physical Filofax, I stopped keeping an address/birthdays book and I moved everything online. But now with the plethora of digital task management, schedule management and time planning tools available I got stuck with too many tools and not one compact system.

Last year I tried to go back to my Filofax days but found that the standard Filofax method just would not do it for me anymore.

I realised that it wasn’t the tools – digital or Filofax – that was the problem but that my system of organisation had failed me.

Then at the end of last year I stumbled across a productivity website on GTD: Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Now don’t get me wrong I can spend hours trialling the perfect productivity app, searching for productivity hacks and collecting beautiful paper notebooks. But GTD is not about what tools you use, whether you’re modern-digital or old-school-paper but rather it is simply a very simple, achievable, measurable system to Get Things Done and out of the way before Getting The Next Things Done.

Mind like Water

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend. – Bruce Lee

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In karate, there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.
The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. It’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed. But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.
Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your email, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children, or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.” – David Allen
Excerpted via Getting Things Done (The Book)

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. That’s why David Allen created Getting Things Done®. GTD is the work-life management system that has helped countless individuals and organizations bring order to chaos with stress-free productivity.”
Excerpted via David Allen’s Getting Things Done website.

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Something zinged in me and I knew I had found my perfect productivity hack. Best of all it works.

GTD : From Chaos to Zen
GTD is about breaking up your day/project/schedule into tasks vs next tasks, actionable tasks vs someday tasks. It is about realising your brain works better at focusing once it is decluttered. Instead of cluttering up your brain with times, deadlines, things still to be done, I need to do a brain-dump. I need to write down all the to-dos and notes and tasks then break them down into simple daily tasks. Instead of trying to do everything and being left finishing nothing, GTD helps you focus on the most urgent tasks in small, bite-size chunks.

GTD works for anything whether it be household chores / work / event-planning / project/task management / meeting time-sensitive deadlines. It works with the most basic task to the most complicated project.

So now that I have told you about my HOW “Get Shit Things Done” system, I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing the WHAT tools I use to Get Shit Things Done.

So stay tuned…

Productivity Posts Coming up:
Digital vs Paper vs Hybrid Organisation
My Top 3 Digital Productivity Tools (Series)
My Ultimate Favourite Productivity Tool
My favourite tools to track my Writing Progress

How do you get things done?
Do you have an organisation system or do you just wing it?
Are you a digital or paper or hybrid (digital and paper) organiser?

Related Posts Elsewhere

Zen Habits: Everything GTD

PUSH: Getting Things Done in 2015 #ROW80

This year is all about Getting Things Done.
I have my focus word to drive me forward: PUSH
I have a writing plan set into motion for 2015.

So, of course, the next step was an accountability plan. It is one thing having plans and talking about them at the beginning of a year. But it becomes an “expectation” when you’re made accountable. I am lucky enough to have an incredible Story Sister in my friend Darcy Conroy. Every writer needs another writer that they can turn to. You could call it a critique partner, a writing partner, a colleague but most importantly for me we all need support and Darcy is this support person for me.

But sometimes you need further accountability and then something like ROW80 happens.
ROW80 = Round Of Words in 80 days

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What is RoW80?
The writing challenge that knows you have a life.

Perfect for rewrites/writing/editing

I signed up for the last round, there are 4 rounds per year, last year but life interruptus happened and I was not able to get everything done I wanted to for ROW80.

So I have signed up again for the first round this year. I have a writing plan and focus that is very specific this year. But there is something about Writing Down an action plan in S.M.A.R.T. bite size chunks that makes your plan doable.

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2015 ROW80 Rnd #1 Resolutions Intentions

1. Be kinder to myself

This year I am going to be kinder to myself both personally and professionally. As a perfectionist and a daughter of a German mother, most times I do not need any other critics because I am my own worst critic. I am “never good enough” and things I do are “never perfect enough”.
I am shaking off the old German professor on the side of my shoulder and I am going to go easier on myself.
I am not going to use the words: _____…not good enough / ____…not perfect.

I am also going to stop beating myself up about work not done on days when the migraine monster comes calling. Instead I am going to work through the good days and on the bad days I am going to be kinder to myself.

2. Listen to my body, nurture my body

I have a tendency to push past pain until I create more pain. It is one of the reasons I have never needed a personal trainer to push me to train. Rather I need someone there to help me put the brakes on.

Last year I ignored my body’s messages for far too long and put my physical health at risk which impacted on my writing life.

This year I am making a firm decision to intentionally listen to my body and to intentionally nurture my body.

3. Unplug, destress, relax…more

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At the end of last year I took a wonderful week off…a week off from the internet, the constant information overload, the television and got back to nature. I realised 1 week per year of this unplugging needs to be more.

So this year I am taking every Sunday/Monday back.
Every Sunday: Complete unplug. No internet. No writing. No television.
Every Monday: Unplugged (except for the first Monday/month when I co-host #Storycraft on twitter). No writing.

Intention #2015 – I want to take a whole week off (Sunday – Sunday) once every 3 months and unplug completely.

To PUSH forward I need to allow myself rest days where I stand still in order to energise myself for the next week.

4. Make more time to read

Last year I did not read as much as I wanted to. Mostly because I was battling sapping energy/concentration levels. This year I want to read more for pleasure. As a writer, I do read a lot but this year I want to read every day.
I’ll also be reviewing more books. I have baulked for a while about reviewing books but realised that before I am a writer, I am and have always been a voracious reader. So I am going to set an intention to have a Kaffeeklatsch, where I discuss my current reads along with what coffee I am drinking, at least once a month, aiming for two per month on Wednesdays.

5. Getting words done in S.M.A.R.T bite-size chunks

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I have been looking for a productivity tool for a while now.
The thing is: I love being organised but I hate lists. But this week I found an app that just Zings for me.

It is called droptask.

It is the Visual task organiser/project planner/team collaboration tool that is built for some like me. It is visual, colourful and there is no list in sight. Instead of telling you I am going to show you what it does.

Along with Tappsana/Asana, Droptask and my incredible Lifetopix organiser – Aside: watch for a “Favourite Productivity Tools and “How I use them” post next week Thursday – I am completing small daily bite-size goals of words done/edited/rewritten instead of just focusing on a large, looming volcano of a deadline.

6. Accept “Good Enough” and Move Forward

Words are never “done” for me. I can edit until the proverbial cows come home and leave again. But…this year I am going to STOP at “good enough”. At the end of the day I need to accept what I have done and the next day “turn the page” and move towards the next goal-post.

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So I have come up with a plan for myself. Every day I am going to print off the page/s I have completed and file them. That means I am not allowed to go back over those pages on the screen once I have printed them. I am also filing them away digitally in my Dropbox as an added backup.

7. Finish and Submit

I have the intentional goal of finally finishing my Rewrite on Tattooist and submitting it to publishers. I am itching to get this rewrite done and dusted and off my computer screen onto a potential publisher/editor’s screen so that I can move on to something new and shiny. I already have a loose plot for book #2 in The Blood & Ink series and even have a working title. So the sooner I finish the rewrite on The Tattooist (Book #1) the sooner I can get going on book 2.

The long-year goal for this year is to find a publishing home for Tattooist (Book #1) and secure a publishing home for “The Blood & Ink” series.

8. PUSH forward

PUSH : My intention and focus for 2015. PUSH forward with each new day’s task. Focus on the small goals in order to Push forward to the large goals. Push past procrastination and perfectionism and get to Progress and Achievement.

PUSH = Persist Until Something Happens

Check in with what the other writers are doing for #RoW80.

Tell me: What are your intentions for 2015?

(P)ersist (U)ntil (S)omething (H)appens #OneWord365 2015

2014 has ended…It was the year of hard lessons for me.

Every year I pick a word for the year. My personal life word this year is: metanoia.

But my working writing word for the year is: PUSH

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push
pʊʃ/
verb
verb: push; 3rd person present: pushes; past tense: pushed; past participle: pushed; gerund or present participle: pushing

Origin

Middle English (as a verb):
from Old French pousser,
from Latin pulsare ‘to push, beat, pulse’ (see pulse1).
The early sense was ‘exert force on’, giving rise later to ‘make a strenuous effort, endeavour’.

1.
exert force on (someone or something) in order to move them away from oneself.
“she pushed her glass towards him”
synonyms: shove, thrust, propel, impel; More
antonyms: pull
hold and exert force on (something) so as to cause it to move in front of one.
“a woman was pushing a pram”
move one’s body or a part of it into a specified position with effort.
“she pushed her hands into her pockets”
press (a part of a machine or other device).
“the lift boy pushed the button for the twentieth floor”
synonyms: press (down), push down, depress, exert pressure on, bear down on, hold down, squeeze; More
cause to reach a particular level or state.
“competition in the retail sector will push down prices”
2.
move forward by using force to pass people or cause them to move aside.
“she pushed her way through the crowded streets”
synonyms: force (one’s way), shove, thrust, squeeze, jostle, elbow, shoulder; More
(of an army) advance over territory.
“the guerrillas have pushed south to within 100 miles of the capital”
exert oneself to attain something or surpass others.
“I was pushing hard until about 10 laps from the finish”
informal
be nearly (a particular age or amount).
“she must be pushing forty, but she’s still a good looker”
3.
compel or urge (someone) to do something, especially to work hard.
“she believed he was pushing their daughter too hard”
synonyms: urge, press, pressure, put pressure on, pressurize, force, drive, impel, coerce, nag; More
demand persistently.
“the council continued to push for the better management of water resources”
synonyms: demand, insist on, clamour for, ask/call for, request, press for, campaign for, work for, lobby for, speak for, drum up support for, sponsor, urge, promote, advocate, recommend, champion, espouse
“the trade unions will be likely to push for wage increases”
informal
have very little of something, especially time.
“I’m a bit pushed for time at the moment”
informal
find it difficult to achieve something.
“he will be pushed to retain the title as his form this season has been below par”

Last year was a year that upended my efforts and really put a giant PAUSE sign in my way. From about midway thorough the year I was struggling in an unbeatable fight with sapping energy levels, lack of concentration, and chronic, mind-sapping insomnia. Initially I put this down to my migraines which had also ratcheted up to unacceptable levels. But eventually something told me this was something more than just effect of my migraines.
I felt burnt out and almost extinguished. I thought maybe I needed a holiday. I had not had a holiday for 3 years. It pushed me to take a 5 day writing retreat, at a secluded little beach cottage, for a week in November with one of my close writing friends.

Lesson #1 Don’t feel guilty about taking a break, having a time-out. Go away somewhere if you can. De-stress, actively relax and unplug.

I still felt listless when I got back from my retreat. But wait, there’s more