Caretakers? or Blight?

I am still doing my daily bible reading. Today, my reading was Psalm 47. This is a wonderful psalm of praising God and encouraging us to praise God by clapping our hands and shouting joyful praise. For some reason this psalm took me back to Genesis, probably because of its reminder that God is ruler over all the earth and that we are his creation along with the earth and this universe.

When I think of what is written in Genesis Chapter 1 v27-28 “27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.'” (NLT) my thoughts turn towards the responsibility that God gave us.

God gave us dominion over the earth and all his creations on it. He gave us the care and responsibility of this earth. In our selfishness, we have abused the earth and the power God gave to us. We have taken and taken and taken from this earth while not giving anything back. We do not tend to the fields, the forests or sea to ensure they continue to thrive, are healthy and sustain the creatures who live there. Instead, we have torn down and contaminated what God has given into our trust. It breaks my heart. If it breaks my heart what must God feel? I think he feels betrayed.

We are witnessing the decline of our earth, our responsibility. There are more than 7 billion humans on this earth. As one of those 7 billion, I look around me and think it is hopeless, that there isn’t anything I can do that would bring change to this magnificent creation God has given us. And yet, every day, I choose to try. What kind of amazing changes could happen if every person chooses to do one thing every day, whether it is to pick up a piece of trash that is on the ground that everyone walks by without seeing because it is so common place it has just become a part of our environment, or whether it is to walk instead of drive to the corner store, or choose to eliminate as much plastic usage in their life as they can or any other number of small things each person can do. Choose not to buy that product that is all wrapped in plastic, and buy the one next to it that either has no wrapping or the wrapping is completely recyclable. There are a number of things we can do that if everyone does one thing every day, change will start to occur.

We HAVE to start thinking of our responsibilities which God gave us. He entrusted us with his creation.

Maybe one of my strongest abilities is to be able to view a situation from another person’s perspective or imagine what it might be like if I was to do something which I have seen others do. When I do this I am usually able to answer such questions as: “How would I feel if ….someone took something I gave into their responsibility to care for and let it through abuse or neglect deteriorate and become almost unusable?” If someone gave me the responsibility as caretaker of their home and land while they were gone on a trip, entrusting me with its care, how would I feel as the owner of that home if I came back to find out the roof was leaking, the plants were dying, the gardens could no longer produce food to eat? As the owner, I would feel betrayed, hurt and I would grieve over the destruction of what had once been a healthy and thriving piece of land and solid piece of structure meant to protect my family.

This is how I imagine God must feel about how we have abused the responsibility he gave us as caretakers of his creation. It breaks my heart.

Some of this is bubbling up because of witnessing a group of teenagers blatantly being destructive of property they do not own. About 3 times in as many weeks, the fence to our townhouse complex has been broken. They find it hilarious to run and jump at the fence to cause the panels to break, creating a gap in the fence. The cost to repair is about $500 for each panel broken. The families who live here earn barely enough to afford the mortgage, and general living cost and to keep our strata funds sufficient for repairs. The last event was witnessed by a passerby who almost ran over the kids that were running away after they did the damage because these kids hightailed it away from the scene crossing a busy street in front of cars and trucks. The passerby had to slam on his breaks to keep from hitting them. The police were called and came to investigate.

I discovered the next day was a Pro-D day from school. One other incident happened on a Friday night. There seems to be a trend of kids being left to do as they please on nights when there are no school the next day.

We don’t just have the responsibility of this earth, we have the responsibility of raising our children to understand responsibility and consequences of their actions. Throughout the Old Testament are stories of the children of Israel being taught their responsibilities by God. He chose to take on the role of their father. Just as he has accepted the responsibility of disciplining his children, teaching them right from wrong, so should we as parents accept that same role for our children. However, as long as we neglect the responsibilities given to us, so our children will also learn to neglect the responsibilities given to them. Most children learn by example, so as long as we neglect our caretaker responsibilities don’t expect our children to care one bit for the property of others.

My daughter is so grateful she no longer attends the school these kids attend because she knows she would not be able to stand by and not defend herself, her property and her friends from these destructive kids. As a parent, I’m glad she is out of range of their influence but sorry they apparently do not have the role models they need to be responsible and God fearing people. I pray for their souls, that God will help them find a better path than the one they are on now. I pray this not only for the teenagers but for all those in need of his guidance upon this earth so that we might find our way back to being responsible for the duty as caretaker which he gave to us.

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Spirit led….

I love being led by God. Being so takes me to some unexpected places. Learning to let go and just be led by God was not easy. I had to go through some growing pains. Pain is never easy. Most times I find myself rebelling against anything which causes me pain. Pain whether physical or emotional is pain. It is real. Both are equally difficult to deal with and accept in my life. But both are necessary. Both reveal an area which needs healing. Letting go and letting myself be led by God was painful. I have no doubt I am not done learning and healing this aspect of my life. I am only just now realizing that if my life is easy, without obstacles, without difficulties, then I’m stagnant and not learning, not growing, and not being led by God.

However, there is another side of this. If I am feeling resistance then I have closed myself off to what God wants for me. Being God led, doesn’t mean life will be easier, but it does mean God will give me whatever I need in my life. However, this does mean if I trust God will give me what I need, then life is easier though it might be difficult. I am slowly being taught this by God. I have seen indications of this lately even though it has been going on for some time.

My first real, “Ah Ha!” moment that God was teaching me is from 10February2019, Sunday sermon I watched online. This sermon was about living a Christian life of condemnation versus living a Spirit filled Christian life. What an eye opening sermon! It revealed to me how I have been living a Christian life of condemnation and thus living a miserable life. This is not what God meant for me to have. In just the few days since this sermon and choosing to live a Spirit filled life, things are changing. My perspective of my own life is changing. I knew living a Spirit filled life meant I would be led by the Spirit but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My next real “Ah Ha!” moment came this morning only about an hour or so ago when I came across this post and was led to listen. This post was from an unexpected source Cinnamon and Sparkles on WordPress. Two things intrigued me enough to want to listen. The first, was the source and the second was the location of the pastor. I used to live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I’m always fascinated when I learn new things about the place and find myself drawn back there for whatever reason. I seem to have a permanent link to this town or state.

The link, in the post, is part 1 of a sermon on relationship goals. This was another reason why I was drawn to listen to it. I have never had what I would consider a successful relationship. I am drawn towards trying to understand why that would be. I generally associate the difficulties I’ve had with my childhood and what it trained me to do and how difficult it is to break this training. In some cases I have basically given up because doing it alone seems to be impossible. This sermon was another eye opening experience.

Even if my experience over the past few days had just been these two sermons, I would still believe I am being Spirit led. But every day I am being shown something. Sometimes these things seem quite small and insignificant. One step at a time, I am being taught by the Spirit that he is listening and answering my prayers. He is doing so not in any way I expected but in the way I need the most. He knows where I need healing and like a precise, well experienced surgeon, He is targeting exactly the areas where I need healing and understanding first. I am beginning to understand without taking these steps first, it would most likely be impossible for me to fulfill my God designed purpose.

It would be difficult to explain what I have learned and how my life is changing without someone first listening to the sermons, so I invite you to listen to them before reading further.

Without giving a detailed history of my life, it might be difficult for someone to understand but I’ll try. I was either pre-teen or just turned a teenager when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. I attended church and took part in the teen classes and activities. I enjoyed it all but in the background was my family life who also attended church but was not the healthiest family life. Shortly after, my parents divorced and my relationship with a boy from church fell apart. It is obvious to me now what was going on but not to this teen who was emotionally confused her whole life. The teen leaders instead of sitting down with me and trying to help me (they knew what was happening with my parents because my parents sought church counseling, I learned many years later), put me in a room with my boyfriend and told us to talk to each other. I was unable to talk and so that is how my whole life progressed. Churches failed me in trying to help me understand and my Christian life became a life of condemnation. Never feeling good enough and never feeling part of a Christian family. For years I went back and forth between attending church and creating my own spiritual life without church. I always believed in God but never felt good enough for Him or for any church to want me or accept me. Consequently, I also condemned myself at every turn and made excuses for every sin.

My life was a roller coaster ride. From high joys to low depression. The joy usually came when I was in a relationship with a man and plummeted when I realized that relationship was over. I ended the majority of them and blamed myself. I looked for reasons and found them. I tried to conquer them and deceived myself into believing I had. This was mostly romantic relationships but I lied to myself that it didn’t bleed over into my family, friends and even business relationships. As I grew older I became more and more lost and I isolated myself more and more.

When I developed breast cancer and had a bad reaction that could have led to my death, I was devastated but not enough to turn back to God. A year later, when I was laid off of my job, I found that was even more devastating than almost losing my life. It took an emotional breakdown and two years of not being able to get a job for me to finally turn back to God. He had become my only hope.

I made a commitment to try and learn about God by reading the bible from cover to cover. I wanted to learn about Him from the Word of God and not from a preacher. My earlier years taught me that I needed to find a different way to learn so I went to the source, the Bible. Since starting to read the Bible, things have been happening. I pray and sometimes I feel my prayers are answered and then later things happen to make me see they weren’t answered in the way I thought they were. I would apply for a job I thought for sure I was being shown was the job for me, have an interview and hear nothing. I would see something online which I was sure was a message to me as an answer to a prayer and then it would all fall apart. Things would happen and then the thing that looked so promising would then crumble into pieces and disintegrate. Over and over again this would happen. Each time this happened I looked at myself to blame. I blamed myself for sabotaging it all. I would believe I wasn’t good enough. I believed all this was happening because I deserved to be punished. I was living a life of condemnation. I saw no end to it and started giving up hope.

There was one prayer I pray quite often that never changes. “God help me to become the person you want me to become.” What I didn’t see until 10February, was that God was indeed helping me to become the person he has always meant for me to be. To be the person he created me to be. On 10 February, when I learned the difference between living a life of condemnation and living a Spirit filled life, I saw for the first time what God was trying to teach me. I vowed that day and prayed that day to live a Spirit filled life and put aside condemnation.

Without a doubt in the week following, I lived cautiously. I waited for the old thought patterns to reassert themselves. I waited for overwhelming depression, and anxiety to come rolling back into my life. So far that has not happened. Instead, every day I’m shown something new. When I reveal something about myself one night, the next day I’m shown how I can overcome it or how healing can begin and I was led to the second sermon about relationships. In part one, I learned how trying to fill myself by other’s expectations is not what God wants for me. I knew that, even when I was a teen and left home and tried to live my life according to my own expectations. But, what I didn’t realize was my expectations were built off of society’s expectations and not upon the person God made me to be. As long as I continue to try and be the person built off of society’s expectations I will never feel I am good enough. WHAT AN EYE OPENING MESSAGE!

This is why I had to write this post today. What I think about my job, what I think about my relationships, friendships, family and so forth have all been built off of societal expectations.

If you find yourself with feelings of not being good enough, of not having a successful relationship, of hating your job and so forth, listen to Part 1 of “Before the Person: Relationship Goals” and see if it has a message for you. I know it did for me.

I am not going to stop there. I am going to listen to the rest of the series. I will do so when I’m led to do so by the Spirit.

Bless you and if you feel moved to leave a comment please do so.

 

Digital Journal + Bible Study

As I work more and more in my digital journal, the question arises, “How can I utilize this in my daily Bible studies?” For the past couple of months, I have been doing some research. This means I’m learning quite a bit and I thought I would share it here.

I remember hearing somewhere (I don’t remember where), that Bibles have a copyright, which means they cannot be copied, or distributed without permission from the copyright owner. I discovered in my research that each translation has its own copyright. All translations are not under the same copyright so it takes a bit of research to discover who owns the copyright for a certain translation. This was a surprise because I have seen scriptures quoted all the time without any reference to translation or copyright source. There is some leeway for quoting the Bible without express permission from the copyright owners, if you are interested there is some information and guidelines here. It is not all-inclusive so a lot of research is required if you plan to quote the Bible on a regular basis or more than a few verses. Some sources say less than 500 verses but don’t quote me on that and don’t take my word for it. DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE and research it.

One of the reasons I started researching copyright was because of coming across a couple free PDF formatted files of a couple different translations of the Bible. One source claimed the PDF they were distributing was copyright free without mentioning the source of the copyright or that they were given written permission to distribute. Discovery of the PDF file made it easy to insert the scripture I was studying into my digital journal I am using for my Bible study each morning.  Using a digital journal makes it easy to locate my notes and what scripture it is associated with. Much easier than trying to search through my Bible for any handwritten notes I have made. I still use my journaling Bible for notes and artwork but now I don’t have to rely on it or deal with the frustration of trying to find a particular topic when I can’t remember what Book, chapter and verse.

This is where digital journaling/planners have now stepped up to the plate, so to speak. For my own personal use, I can copy scripture and put it into my digital journal and write my thoughts to my heart’s content but I can’t distribute any of what I have done for others to use if it contains scripture. That is the sad part of my tale today. But the good part of the tale is it doesn’t stop individuals from including scripture in their own journals during their bible studies. It just can’t be distributed or used publicly. The digital planners (in PDF format) can then be searched to find any reference to a topic or word or name, etc. to quickly locate what was written or what is in scripture. Now, I just need to find a study method that works best for me.

During my research concerning bible study methods, I was introduced to Ann Graham Lotz. She is the daughter of Billy Graham. He is the only Evangelist which did not lose credit with me over the years. Discovering his daughter and her ministry was like hearing the hallelujah chorus go off in my head. Learning she was just diagnosed with a rather invasive breast cancer was disturbing, especially in light of my own personal experience with breast cancer.

Ann has a website supporting her ministry. On that website she provides information (both written and video) on the Bible study method she refers to as the 3-Question Bible Study Method. I haven’t incorporated it into my studies yet. I held off because in her videos she speaks of taking each verse and breaking it down with this method. My focus right now isn’t to study each verse but to focus on each book at the chapter level since I wanted to read completely through the Bible first before narrowing my focus to individual verses. Then it dawned on me I could use this method at the chapter level instead, so I started working on a page layout for the study method to use in my digital journal. I came up with two layouts:

The first layout provides an area to write the scripture being studied. This would be great for when I get down to studying at the verse level. Since I’m at the chapter level, I decided to use the second layout. You will notice there is an additional question at the bottom of the second layout.

I may alter the first one or create a third, so it includes this last question, as well, since it is included in the printable blank worksheet provided on Ann’s Ministry website. I’m just not sure if I have enough room, since I haven’t technically used either of these layouts yet. I am notorious for wanting to journal all my thoughts (A LOT) so it might be that the last question ends up on my journaling page which I will no doubt have on the opposite page from the layout when I’m studying at the verse level. I probably could have inserted a copy of the blank worksheet provided from AnGel Ministries’ website (Ann Graham Lotz’s ministry) but I wasn’t fond of the layout.

You might be wondering, “what about the scripture” on the 2nd layout but since I’ll be basing it on the whole chapter, I’ll be inserting a copy of the chapter on the opposite page where I can annotate/highlight the scripture if I so desire.

This is what my journal spread will look like before I insert the scripture on the left side of the spread:journaling bible 3-question bible study method 2 page

There is another Bible study method, called SOAP. I haven’t tried it yet even though I have seen many using it. I’m pulled more towards the 3-Question method than I am the SOAP method so I haven’t done any layouts for the SOAP method. I have seen layouts on Pinterest for the SOAP method so if you are interested in it there are layouts to be found online. You can learn about the SOAP method here.

I have no affiliation with any of the websites mentioned here. They are sites I came across in my research and bookmarked for further reference.

In case you were wondering where I am in my reading through the Bible, I started reading Psalms this morning. Job was a very interesting book to read and study. It brought up many mixed emotions for me.  I don’t compare myself to Job at all but since I have been going through a very difficult period in my life these past three years I can relate to many of the feelings expressed in Job. Where Job had friends who didn’t believe him. I have a rather short list of friends who do not live close by and do not have the means to help in my situation. My faith is the only thing sustaining me and in that I can relate rather well to Job.

 

Tangle Patterns and Affinity Designer

Last night I stayed up way too late playing around with Affinity Designer. I wondered how easy Affinity Designer could be used to create tangle patterns. I had to give it a try.

It took a bit to get the size I wanted, but that was just because I wasn’t thinking logically. When creating tangles by hand, the idea is to not use any rulers and do it all freehand. For mindful drawing purposes or for the “zen” experience I agree and also disagree. I LOVE using rulers to get my lines straight when I’m feeling the need to do so. I also LOVE ending up with wonky lines for that imperfect feel to a drawing, so it really depends upon my frame of mind at the time.

The same can be said for working in Affinity Designer. I could do it all freehand in designer to create my patterns but that wasn’t my frame of mind last night. I wanted straight lines and perfect circles, so I used the tools in Affinity Designer to accomplish it. I turned on grid lines, enabled snapping, and used the transform tool to make my circles perfectly round.

The first tangle I attacked was 2-N-5 by CZT Anita Roby-Lavery. I got all the patterns in this post from tanglepatterns.com. I realized after a few attempts when I was trying to create more than one iteration of the tangle, that I didn’t need to. All I needed to do was create the single pattern that can be repeated. To make a repeating pattern all I had to do was copy and paste it and move it to where I wanted it. Below is the single pattern and then the repeating pattern I created with 2-N-5.

2-N-5

The next pattern I chose was a bit more complicated. I chose 2A by CZT Mina Hsiao. I used the grid to ensure my lines ran as parallel as possible. Holding the shift key down when drawing the line ensures a straight line, except when it is on the diagonal. The grid helped tremendously with keeping the lines equal distance apart. Below is the single pattern and then the multiple pattern created using the single pattern. Because I created all the tangle patterns with transparent backgrounds, I quickly discovered another interesting effect. When I move the image to the position I want it to be in, I can see the pattern below it and the interesting alternative patterns one can get when they overlap, which would be impossible (or nearly impossible) to create when drawing by hand. In this case, I let the images overlap slightly which created an interesting pattern where they overlap.

2A

Next, I tackled 2V by CZT Ginny Lu. This was another step up in complication. The curved dark intersections was a challenge at first. I found I could draw a straight line, then use the node tool to add a node which then enabled me to curve the line slightly. I could then copy and paste the line and turn it in the direction I needed for other areas and alter it’s length to fit. Any white space I filled using the pixel persona’s paint brush tool to fill it in with black. As you can see I didn’t fill them all in. Leaving the center of the single image not filled in creates an interesting effect when creating the multiple patterns seen below. Again, I tried out some ways to overlap the images to create alternative patterns.

2V

The next pattern I chose was 3D-Room by CZT Mei Hua Teng. It was getting late and I didn’t want to stop but I knew I needed to get some sleep. This one was the simplest to create and the resulting overlapping pattern was just as much of a surprise and delight as the more complicated patterns above.3D Room

I can imagine endless possibilities for how I can use these patterns. As I learn more and more of what can be accomplished in Affinity Designer, those possibilities will expand further. I can say, there were moments I entered a zen type state as I created these digitally. I could feel my brain synapses firing in excitement when my eyes suddenly discovered how dragging an image over another image created endless patterns I could pursue. This isn’t limited to using one pattern. I can use any pattern I’ve created and see what it looks like when I overlap it with another pattern.

When overlapping images or combining them into a repeating pattern, I can cause either a bold line where they join or have the joined area be seamless.

I can’t wait to try out patterns with curved lines. This might turn out to be a bigger challenge but one I’m excited about trying.

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That…Life during the holidays and of course digital planners

Happy Holidays! Working in retail at this time of year is exhausting. My last two days off in a row were on the 11th and 12th of December and my next two days off are on the 28th and 29th of December. I have worked six 8 hour shifts within that period. Those who have never worked in retail, may not understand how exhausting it can be but for someone who came from a sedentary job and is just shy of 60 years old, let me tell you, it IS VERY exhausting. I don’t just stand for my whole shift whether it is 4 hours, 5 hours or 8 hours, I also move massive amounts of product through the till, sometimes lifting as much as 50 lbs and serving hundreds of customers a day. I don’t just deal with the physical product but also respond to the customer’s mental state and questions. It isn’t just exhausting physically, it is exhausting mentally.

Consequently, my one day off on Christmas day was spent in pain and recuperation. Customers periodically ask me if I have any plans for Christmas and I usually give them a vague reply of something like, “no, it is just me and my daughter”. I don’t explain to them that in this job of retail, where I stand on my feet my WHOLE shift, scanning item after item, after item, causes my body to seize up once I have a chance to sit down to rest, or lie down to sleep. When I finally decide to get up again, I have to do so slowly because of the stiffness and pain.

It takes one whole day to recover from working a 20 to 24 hour week, and during the holidays I worked 29 and 33 hour weeks with my days off scattered where I only had 1 day off at a time. When I have two days off in a row, the first day is a day of recovery and the second day is a day of getting things done that I need to get done. This means for the past couple of weeks the things I need to get done had to be spread out on the days I didn’t work an 8 hour shift or on my single days off cutting my recovery time short.

I need to add, I do this on minimum wage income. This job does NOT pay enough for a single person to live off of, let alone a single parent with no other income, even at full time hours. Keep this in mind the next time you are in a store and looking at the person who is helping you or serving you.

Today, I am back to work, yes on Boxing Day, working another 8 hour shift. Thankfully, after tomorrow, I will finally have two days off in a row. I’m hoping for some downtime of one whole day to just rest. I am hoping 2019 will be a better year.

Regardless of whether it is holiday season or just normal everyday existence, I have to consciously work in my creative time. Lately, all my creative time has been spent digitally from my desktop computer, mostly because just pulling out a few supplies feels too exhausting. I almost didn’t get my daughter’s presents wrapped because just thinking about doing it took too much energy.

I kind of miss working with real paper and various art supplies so I’m hoping to do something physically creative on my two days off, but it might end up with me just pulling out some knitting I haven’t touched in a while.

If you have been reading my posts, you will know my focus has been on digital planners/journals. I have become somewhat obsessed with them. I never imagined I would love working in them as much as I do. But because I do, I also want to share it with others. The problem with writing a blog about what I’m creating, especially in regards to these journals is that sometimes what I want to share is very, very personal. Which is what I want to do today.

I’m so happy with my digital planner spread from Christmas Day. When I look at it, I feel compelled to share it and write about it. I may have been in pain all day, on Christmas, but my creative spirit was alive and wanted some color. This is my spread. Forgive the blurring, it isn’t your eyes. I did this on purpose to preserve my privacy, so I could share what I love about this spread.

2108 Journal V3 25December4blurred

This whole page was done in Affinity Designer (AD). The background was painted with AD’s paint brushes. The background isn’t blurred, only the text and personal pictures are blurred. I used some different brushes to create a blending effect. The mandala came from the coloring app on my phone called “Happy Color”. I used AD to crop them to fit the area of placement. The other graphic of the elves and gifts is from the same app. I like adding some of the ones I color each day. I color them during my breaks at work and in the evenings at home.

Lately, I have been creating my journal/planner pages completely in AD. I export them as a PDF file and use Xodo to combine the pages into one PDF file. Later I will add links so the PDF file will be easy to navigate.

I do it this way because Xodo (desktop version) doesn’t work in layers. Working in an application that supports layers gives me more control over what I can do in my journal/planner. Xodo also doesn’t have the ability to make images transparent. These are two things I like having available to me when I work on my pages. I do have the option of making the images transparent in AD first and then using Xodo to add them to the page.

I’m still trying to decide on the overall process for how I like to work in my digital planner/journal. In order to help me decide, I have been testing various options between Xodo and Affinity Designer. I’m working on gathering all the information I have and I plan on writing a post listing the pros and cons. To help me gather the information I need, I began creating my own journal/planner from scratch. The only thing that is NOT my own, in the image below, is the wood grain background which is free for personal use from https://texturex.com/.

Bright Planner cover

The above image is the front cover of my journal/planner. I used AD to create it. I could have done some in Xodo but AD has a lot more options to get a 3D effect.

The next two images are the blank and dot grid pages I have created, again in AD.

Bright Planner blank spreadBright Planner dot spread

I created the dot grid in AD. It is a transparent image, so it can be layered over other pages.

I also created two calendar styles, as transparent images, to use in my journal:

I created them with six rows because of how some of the months end up with 5 weekends. I’ll probably make another set with just 5 rows. I don’t like putting the last day or two of the month at the top of the calendar which is why I wanted 6 rows.  A good example of a month that does this is the month of December 2018.  If, I use AD to place them on the page, I could remove any of the rows or boxes not needed for the month but if it is a transparent image  then the rows and boxes cannot be removed.

What I like about AD, is I can build and contain the various calendar styles in one file. Using the layers, I can group those that go together and hide or show the style(s) by selecting or deselecting the group. This reduces the amount of files I have.

I can do the same thing with the items I previously created, a couple transparent graphics for creating lists:

I learned I can use a spreadsheet to help create trackers which I need in a grid format. A small version can be seen in the image of my 25 December journal spread above where I am tracking my reading of the book of Job. Another tracker I created is for my journey with reading the bible from front to back. I put this tracker at the beginning of my bible study notebook/journal.Journal V3 bible reading tracker

This tracker is really a copy from a spreadsheet I created. I imported it into AD on a transparent background and exported it as a transparent PNG file. The titles I added after I placed the image over my pages. As I progress in my reading I highlight the chapter I completed reading. Once I complete each book in the bible, I then highlight the name of the book.

Journal V3 bible reading tracker highlighted

I further track my reading by adding into my monthly calendar what book and chapter I read each day. Eventually, links will be added to the calendar so it will take me to the notes from that day’s reading. That day’s reading also includes a copy of the scripture from a PDF version of the bible. This means ALL of my personal journaling, bible notes, and scripture will be searchable through a PDF viewer. This is an important feature of a digital planner/journal. This is probably the MAIN reason I have decided to go digital with my journaling. If I had been doing this for everything, including all my studies, school or otherwise, I would have a huge personal historical and informational database I could reference. Not to mention, all the things I don’t remember about my past would be accessible not just to me but my daughter if she ever wanted to take a look at what I was doing on a particular date and time, or what I had learned about a particular subject.

Being able to access and quickly find something within my notes became even more important to me when my daily reading turned into studying. Since I became so disillusioned with the churches I attended many years ago, I felt if I picked up my bible to read that I should do so with the intent of learning what the bible had to teach me, instead of what others wanted me to learn from their interpretation of the bible. Finding a way which will make my studies more effective and efficient brings joy which I had not expected. Instead of trudging my way through handwritten notes and fumbling my way through the bible trying to find some particular reference, scripture or note I wrote, I’ll be able to open my document and enter search criteria to find what I’m looking for.  I’m building a searchable database I’ll be able to use and my daughter can also use.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of exactly how I want to create this living document which I can add to for the rest of my life and my daughter and her children after her if they so choose. I can either build the basic structure in AD and then add my notes, graphics, pictures, etc. and annotations in Xodo, or I can build it ALL in AD with my notes, graphics and pictures which can then be annotated in Xodo or any other application which will allow annotation in a PDF document. These are just things I need to iron out. If I choose to build the basic structure then that structure could be used by others for their own journals/planners. Which is what many are doing today and sharing online.

Many of the graphics created could also be printed out and used in a physical planner/journal. In fact, that is how my bible reading tracker originally started. But, since I started playing around with the digital journal I haven’t felt any desire to return to the physical journal. In fact, I haven’t touched it since I started working in my digital journal. The rest of the pages in my physical journal will most likely be used for sketching or possibly a sort of collection of physical things I want to keep, like the lovely sentiments my daughter wrote to me on the gifts she gave me for Christmas.

If anyone is interested in the trackers or graphics I have created, just use my contact page to send me a personal message.

Slowly but surely….

I am adding some unexpected interest to my digital planner.

I’ll state this up front, the actual digital planner was not created by me. This planner was offered in the Friday Freebies on Boho Berry’s Digital Planners Facebook group. I have only made slight alterations to the planner so it will work for my personal use.

It first started when I decided to add a tracker for my bible reading. Then I thought I would try adding the daily weather. Things progressed from there.

2018Dec20&21 journal

These are my pages for yesterday and today, without my journaling. I inevitably fill up the white space with journaling about my day and my thoughts. I should tell you now, the artwork is NOT mine.

The graphics for the weather came from a Friday Freebie on, you guessed it (if you read my previous posts) Boho Berry’s Digital Planner Facebook group.

I did create the box with the list in it and the trackers at the bottom. Thanks to someone in the same group sharing how they could easily create trackers in a spreadsheet, copy them and paste them into their digital planner.

The flower on the list and the background fox image came from a coloring app I use on my phone, called Happy Color. After I completed coloring in the graphic, there is an option to share it so, I sent it to my computer and pasted it into my digital planner.

I really loved how the flower looked in my planner yesterday so today I decided to see how the images work in the background. It worked AMAZINGLY!! So now, I can capture some details about my day without having to say anything, by choosing one of the pictures I color that day and placing it into my planner.

None of this is difficult to do. Some of it requires using a couple different applications. I had a few obstacles to overcome, like acquiring Affinity Designer. If push came to shove, I could have done most everything in my older version of Adobe Photoshop Elements but the process takes far longer and is much more complicated. I discovered Affinity has all its products on sale so I jumped on it and gave it to myself (a few days early) for a Christmas present.

I did have one issue in trying to figure out how to make the background of the images transparent in Affinity Designer but a quick google search took me to the Forums on Affinity where someone had already asked the question and received an answer. Again, it is a very simple process. It was just a matter of finding where in Designer it could be done. This wasn’t one that would have been intuitively obvious. I might never have found it if I hadn’t searched online for the answer. Once learned though, it is quick and simple and I don’t have to use a magic tool to click in all the small areas where I want the background transparent.

There is at least one huge difference between Adobe Photoshop Elements (I have version 10), and Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer will import a PDF file and build layers. If I open a PDF file in Affinity Designer it shows a dialogue box where you can import ALL pages or select a page to import. I usually select one page. Designer builds layers for each element in the page. How quickly Affinity Designer does this is amazing.

My version of Adobe Photoshop Elements does NOT build layers. It opens a single page onto one layer which means there are NO elements which can be altered.

The layers Affinity Designer creates are great because each element is given a layer. I can then select an element and alter it if I want to change part of it. For instance, in the digital planner, if I want to change the text on a tab, all I have to do is select the text and change it. Same with the tab, if I want to change the color, I can do that as well. I can alter the shape of the tabs or any part of the page.

In Adobe Photoshop Elements, I’m either stuck with the shape and design or find a way to put a layer over it to cover it with what I want. Adobe Photoshop Elements is also VERY slow in rasterizing the PDF file.

I know this functionality of creating a layers from a PDF file so all the elements can be altered can create an ethical dilemma for designers. When I first came across digital planners, I wanted to know how they worked. Knowing how they work, also helps me to know what software was needed to make them work. I needed to know this because I was wanting to use them on my Windows desktop, not an Android table or an iPad. Watching some of Boho Berry’s videos gave me enough information to find some software to play with but it took a lot of searching to find the RIGHT software for the job I wanted them to do.

The other thing watching her videos did was help me to understand the planners are built by using layers upon layers to achieve the effect. I wasn’t sure how deeply this went until I discovered Affinity Designer. Breaking a single page down into ALL of its layers gave me the information I needed.

These planners take a lot of work to build. What Kara and others have built took a lot of time. Seeing all the layers in Affinity Designer for just one page makes me appreciate all the HARD work the creator of the planner did to develop it.

Affinity Designer enables me to alter an existing PDF to make it the way I want it. But it also opens up a possible ethical situation if someone should use it to take someone else’s design and change a portion of it and then call it their own. As an artist, I would never do that. It bothers me immensely when I hear of other “artists” taking someone’s work and either not crediting the original artist and letting people assume they own it or altering it slightly and then claiming it as theirs. They are not artists in my opinion.

I may one day attempt to create my own digital planner. If I did, I would create it from scratch. But right now I’m just happy to be able to use a planner someone else built for my own personal use so I can determine whether this is a daily practice I will continue with or if it will peter out like it did when I tried creating my own bullet journal. Working with a bullet journal lasted maybe six months before it became old.

I had, also developed an issue with my wrist due to all the handwriting I was doing. Switching to using the computer to type out my journal digitally has allowed my wrist to heal. I,also, learned the benefit of being able to keep up with my thoughts through typing. Many of my thoughts wouldn’t end up on paper because I couldn’t write fast enough.

I am an interesting balance of analytical/logical and creative/abstract. This becomes apparent when I consider what I’m drawn towards. I love math, especially algebra and geometric shapes. I think things through logically. I’m always wanting to create things with my hands. I knit and crochet, draw, paint, write stories and poetry along with my journaling. Once I learn how to do something I then find ways to tweak it, especially in my handmade items, like knitting. Computers have enabled me to combine both worlds which is why I think digital planners/journals will be my forever “go to” for expressing myself.

If an app is ever created which will allow a user to work completely within one app with their digital planner, I can see using these digital planners by everyone from church leaders/pastors to, business leaders, government aides and even children with their school work. I have been able to incorporate pages into my planner from a Bible in PDF format, have a blank page opposite where I write my notes, highlight the bible text, circle, underline and add supporting pictures and whatever else someone does to make it stand out. AND… it is all searchable in the PDF document once it is saved, including any annotations and notes. This can’t be done in hand written notes or hard copy books. I can add links to the PDF document as well so a reference can be found easily. In essence, these planners are becoming archival information of people lives and the knowledge they gather for themselves.

WE ARE CREATING OUR OWN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS.

For someone who didn’t excel in history class, I find this fascinating.

 

 

Trying something out…

The below picture is a screen shot of Xodo on my desktop. This wasn’t exactly an intuitive program to learn. I had to search several times to find where things could be done, like merging PDF’s and deleting pages. Sometimes I had to do a google search to get some tips or explanation on how to do something because Xodo’s site doesn’t have much “help” detail for the desktop application. I was finally able to figure out a lot of what it can do. I haven’t tried everything and probably won’t since I don’t plan on sharing my files with others.

I was quickly coming up to the end of my trial period with Affinity so I decided to try something I have never done before, either in a bullet journal or in graphic software. I was watching Boho Berry’s video series “One Month in my Digital Planner”, I think it was day 4 when she worked on her mood mandala and started actually drawing the mandala. If you have read very many of my posts here you will know I LOVE hand drawing mandalas and that they are my “go to” when I feel stressed or need to ground myself. Watching her made me wonder how easy it would be to create a mandala in Affinity Designer or if it would be very difficult.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. Having never done a mood mandala, playing with it would do two things.

  1. it would help me know if I would want to include a mood mandala in my journal each month
  2. it would help me learn how to make shapes in Affinity Designer

I was surprised how easy it was. There of course was a slight learning curve on how to make the various shapes. It definitely helped to have watched a couple videos on YouTube by East Coast Charm for her “Affinity Designer for Beginner” series. Her videos helped me see how easily shapes can be created and manipulated.

Here is the page I added to my December journal with the mood mandala I worked on so far.

mood mandala

Since today is my last day of the free trial with Affinity Designer, I probably won’t do any more on this until I can purchase the program which probably won’t happen until January.

That might be in question since I broke a tooth the other day and now need to get a crown on it. This is going to seriously eat into my budget since the job I have now has very minimal dental coverage and my daughter isn’t covered at all. She also needs to have a tooth worked on and I won’t know the impact financially until her appointment in early January when the dentist will evaluate what needs to be done.

Times like this (and this is minor, but still.. it ) make me realize how much I did not appreciate what I had before being laid off. The impact of that lay off reaches far into the future, possibly even impacting my daughter’s future since I no longer have the income to send her to college. I mention this because I can’t stress the importance enough to people I know and those who read my posts, that no matter how good your present situation is, PLEASE, don’t take it for GRANTED. No one ever knows what the next day will bring and if you can be like a squirrel and hoard away what you might need for winter, maybe things would be different for you. The stress I’m under would be far different if I had done things a bit differently and done more with what I had. Okay, off my soapbox….

Affinity Designer is a program which excites my inner artist and designer. What I have discovered in its ability is most likely just the tip of the iceberg. I have used Xara in the past and loved it too which is another fairly inexpensive product but there were limitations with it which I so far have not found in Affinity Designer. I haven’t explored it’s brush options yet which I’m looking forward to exploring once I purchase the product. With just the few things I’ve done so far on it, I think it is well worth the money. Hopefully, in January, I’ll be able to explore more and try making more elaborate mandalas.