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I'm a writer, a freelancer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, a journaling junkie, an introvert, a chronic-pain-sufferer, an idealist, a geek, a TV-lover. Welcome to my corner of the web!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Life Handbooks are the best thing ever, you guys

I'm sick again. Ever since the hurricane came through, I've had a horrible sinus thing going on, and healing from it is slow and queasy and involves a lot of me complaining that lights are too bright and noises are too loud, and trying to sleep and not being able to because my whole face feels like it's being punched in slow motion. Like, a punch that won't stop punching.

Frankly, it makes me want to give up on everything, it makes keeping to a schedule really hard, and it means that this post is probably the last constructive thing I do today, because the meds are already wearing off again and I'm going to go back to sleep.

But it also means that I'm getting that side-effect I always get when things go south: my brain is cranking out all the stuff I want out of life and I'm adding a whole lot of new pages to my Life Handbook.

What's a Life Handbook, you say? Only the most awesome thing ever. It's the literal handbook on how to live our own ideal lives that we all should have been born clutching in our brand new hands and weren't! Like everything else in life, you gotta do it yourself.

I first read THIS POST maybe a year ago (I think I found it on Pinterest? maybe?) and I knew immediately that it was something I needed in my life. It's all the things I love mashed up into one very useful thing:

  • All the better-life stuff that goes into a bullet journal, but takes longer-term attention than a week or a month
  • All the goal-planning and goal-tracking and goal check-in stuff from the workbooks I love
  • Obsessively collecting snippets of truth, quotes, and how-tos
The page linked above defines it as:
A life handbook is your guidebook to live your best life, consisting of everything from your life purpose, to life adages, to long-term goals, to short-term goals, to action plans to realize said goals. Just like the Bible reflects the doctrine and creed of Christianity, your life handbook reflects the essence of what it means to be you and what it takes to live your best life. Think of it as your GPS for life
They've got a list of starter stuff to go into the official idea of what an LH is, but I don't really like the idea of treating my life like a business, so I've expanded past that.

In actual practice, it's super personal and sort of like old-school Commonplacing mixed with journaling, workbooking, and building your own version of, like, one of those guides to doctrine we used to have in school when I went to a religious school a million years ago. But with no more religion than I want, and a lot more practicality and idealism. It's literally only what I personally need to remind me of the world I want to live in, the person I want to be, and the life I want to lead.

Here's how I do it:

I have the covers of a composition book that I hole-punched and re-bound with the biggest binder rings I could find, so that I can add to the book whenever I want and it can be fat and useful like three times more than a comp book on it's own can be. 

When I have something I need to define, I cut down a page to fit into it, and I fill it out, then clip it in--usually just in front of whatever else is already there, since organization is not one of my strong suits when it comes to things that are not jobs or books, and growing this book organically is something that matters to me. I have dividers, but I've changed what they mean a few times; currently, they're something like: Remember This, Good Life, Books, Finances, Guidance, Stuff.

Whenever I find something I think I need to know, live by, or remember, I add it to the book. Sometimes handwritten on an assortment of different kinds of paper. Sometimes printed off the computer. Sometimes torn out of magazines. Sometimes messy and sometimes neat and pretty. Some of the stuff in there right now:
  • The Modern Mrs Darcy printable of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge (which I can't find the link for, but her blog as a whole is here)
  • Mark Twain's and Benjamin Franklin's advice for a good life 
  • Standard journaling questions I can ask myself at any time
  • Information on stuff I always forget and frequently need to look up: addresses, the kind of ink the printer uses, what size shoes various people wear, which flavors of which brands are my favs, which of the MCU movies I own and which I don't, swatches of all my washi tape and nail polish so I don't duplicate-buy, stuff like that
  • Several lists of suggestions for living a better life from various Zen and Lifehacking and etc sites
  • Goals copied out of my Desire Map and Shining Biz and Life workbooks
  • The little Best Things This Month pages that I keep on the wall next to my calendar for every month that's passed already
  • Lessons learned
  • Literally dozens of quotes. Quotes everywhere.
  • Guided meditations and yoga flows to do, and exercises I feel like my busted-up body can handle
  • The lists of dates I need to remember this year, including weird holidays, TV and movie premier dates, and when books I want to read come out
  • Notes on future projects I haven't started yet
  • Random printed up spirituality articles
  • My Core Desired Feelings (more than once, actually)
  • The Global Goals
And lately, since I've been struggling, I've been figuring out exactly how I want things to be and how I can get myself there, so I've added a bunch of random new pages:
  • My Fall wishlist
  • The Care and Tending of a Sami
  • Plans for how to write a short story a week, and how to improve my art one week at a time
  • When I Get My Own Place (mostly a list of biz things I don't have space or resources to do here)
  • A checklist for dating
  • Some new quotes pages 
  • Interpersonal Values and Ideals, listed
  • Goals for my Blog, my Shop, my Promo, my Writing, and my Finances
  • A debt-pay-down tracker
  • A weightloss tracker
  • A list of other lists I need to make but don't have the brain for this week
I love it.

It's so nice knowing precisely what I'm aiming for while still having the ability to just take out a page and change it or replace it if my goals change or my life does. It's nice being able to collect up wisdom and practical advice from everywhere and put it all in one book. It's nice having this nice fat thing that I made for myself that gives me the guidance that I don't get from anywhere else--and collects the guidance I do get into one location. 

I have a folder on my computer of other stuff that needs printing and hole-punching. I read through my blog subscriptions looking for things I can boil down to one page to help me get to where I want to be in life. 

It's made everything an opportunity for wisdom and self-reflection.

What would you put in your life handbook to make it all yours? How would you build it? Share in the comments!


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