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.

 

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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.

 

I’m making progress and learning something new every day…

Every day, I’m learning something new on this journey with my digital planner. I find new and exciting ways to work with it. There are a number of things I’m finding out, like certain applications can make the PDF file cumbersome. I worried about someone being able to alter or delete what I had written since my writing was mostly done as annotations. This is basically a journey about discovering the limitations of certain applications and the never ending abilities of another application.

For instance, some limitations I ran across:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version), allows for annotations but doesn’t allow for entering text upon the page.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements, allows for importing text from a single page of a PDF but is very difficult in designing graphic elements I want to add.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (free version) and Adobe Photoshop Elements doesn’t allow for adding links, internal or external.
  • Adding text in Xodo to a PDF is purely annotation, which means the text is editable in PDF viewers that support annotation.

I needed the following:

  • my writing/journaling to become permanent within the PDF document, so it can’t be altered later in PDF viewers
  • Elements and graphics need to be permanent within the PDF document especially when in viewers
  • Be able to annotate/highlight/strike-through, etc to my writing/journaling and imported text from other sources and have it recorded/searchable in the PDF document

This still takes 3 applications but the way it is done is now completely altered and will make my final journal/planner more functional and permanent as an archival artifact.

I was up late last night playing around with this change in my process and this morning I successfully used it for my morning Bible study. By the way, it was one of Boho Berry’s digital journal videos which gave me the idea for the change in my process. Here is my page from my Bible reading this morning, using the free planner mentioned in my previous post:

2018Dec12 Bible journal

The bible text comes from a free downloadable NLT bible in PDF format. The planner is one of the free digital planners I’m using. If you bother to take the time to read my notes and reflections forgive me for the personal content. I am a bit nervous in sharing it since it is so personal but I wanted to show how versatile a digital planner can be (without blurring stuff out) for so many things.

I wanted to have the chapter in the bible next to my notes and reflections. With the change in my process I am now able to highlight not JUST the scripture but I can also highlight my notes and color code them to match so I can easily find the verse which supports the notes I made. This is very much like what I’m doing in my journaling bible by hand but now it is all digital, AND in a PDF document which can be searched so I can find any references I might be looking for. I can read it in a PDF viewer, like any PDF document and search ALL content.

Below is a couple pages from another free digital planner I will be using in 2019. I found this planner “Sirena” through the Friday Freebies in Boho Berry Digital Planners Facebook group and is by Chanel Fana. The original page looks like this:2019 week layout

I altered it to look like this:

Sirena - 2019 weekly layout

I learned I don’t like To Do lists when I started working with a bullet journal. Whether I did them daily, weekly or monthly, they were too repetitive and made me feel like I was a failure because I didn’t complete everything on my list and often pushed things out several weeks or even months. Therefore, I changed my list to “What I Did Today” which makes me feel a whole lot more accomplished and productive.

In order to track the things that are time sensitive, I will most likely create a page with those time sensitive items listed so I don’t forget something important that needs done. I’m good at keeping these things in my head but occasionally I need reminders.

The year at a glance original page looks like this:

2019 year at a glance

I altered it to look like this:

Sirena - 2019 YearAtaGlance

One of the reasons I altered it was because I didn’t have the fonts used by the creator so when I imported the PDF into my application, the font defaulted to the Arial font which also altered the way the dates lined up and appeared. The other reason I altered it was because the weeks in this planner started on Monday and my week starts on Sunday. This planner also has monthly calendars I will also need to change and I’ll probably adjust the daily pages as well just because my dailies are really just journaling about my day.

It might be obvious to some but not all, why I am not just creating my own planner or using the planner as it is. When I started, all I wanted to know was whether it was worth my while to use one but I needed it to function for my needs. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t like it and wouldn’t stick with it, so finding one already created was a simple way to find out without having to go through creating all the graphics needed to make it LOOK and FUNCTION like a digital planner, especially since I’m working from a desktop computer and not from a tablet or iPad. iPad seems to have an abundant of choices to use for digital planners, while the desktop (Windows) is fairly sparse, unless you want to spend a crap load of money. I had to find out how feasible it was.

Finding the free digital planners was a God send. In the first day or two I was able to play with them in their original format just to see if they were functional on my system with apps I had or could afford.  Since it was functional, the rest was about whether I could alter it for my needs. There will never be a planner exactly the way I want it to be, digital or paper, so altering it is a necessity.

Since I’m not selling the planner and only altering it for my personal use and the planner is free, I felt I could share one or two pages here so you could get an idea of what I’m writing about. If you are interested in this planner or the other one above, I recommend joining Boho Berry Digital Planners group. You can find them in the resources provided in the Friday Freebies.

I am SO VERY GRATEFUL for the digital planners which people have created and share freely. Doing so enabled me to explore digital planners without spending any money since I wasn’t sure if this would be something I would stick with. I also wasn’t sure if I could find software within my price range which would allow me to do the alterations I needed for my purposes. The digital planners I have come across are reasonably priced so I might find myself buying one at some point in the future, if I don’t want to create my own. Even so, I would still have to alter a purchased digital planner for my personal needs.

As it turns out, I only need to purchase one application and it is a one-time fee under CA$70, unlike many applications today which are cloud based and now require monthly/yearly subscription fees. For someone on a restricted budget, I am so thankful I can still find applications I can download and use on my computer. I totally get the need for cloud based applications but I feel these companies are doing a disservice to those who don’t need it or are restricted financially. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox. lol

You might be wondering how much time this takes compared to a handwritten journal/planner or just using MS Word like I was using. There is, of course, a learning curve which means it will take some time initially to learn how to work with the digital planners and which software/apps you prefer to use. The time it takes to learn depends upon your current skill level with the computer/tablet/iPad you are using and how comfortable you are with working with and altering graphics.

I do recommend trying several different applications (you can usually download free trial versions) if they are within your budget. I have some older software programs to experiment with which I purchased when I had the money. These programs are now cloud based so I don’t have the more updated software. They were enough to use for comparison with other programs so I could determine which programs worked best and whether I wanted to spend the money to upgrade any of them or buy a different one. Discovering a far less expensive program was another God send (it was mentioned in the Facebook group by someone). This program is much easier to use than the more expensive ones which means it greatly reduces the time to learn it. It also means once I’ve learned it, the time to create my pages from beginning to end is fairly equal to if not better than making them by hand. I was only using the bare nuts and bolts of MS Word so it was no where near as pretty. Any increased time in my planner to create beauty makes my artist’s brain sing with joy.

I was able to do my morning bible study in the same amount of time I was doing it before when writing my reflections in MS Word and adding my notes in my journaling bible. This can easily replace that process without increasing my time with that task.

My daily journaling may take more or less time depending on how creative I get. Even if it takes a bit more time, it will be worth it because of the added benefits I get with having it all in a searchable PDF format. I can’t stress this enough. Granted MS Word is searchable but I had some in MS Word and some in handwritten form. I went to MS Word originally so I could ease the strain on my wrist when I was doing my morning pages. Then I realized I could search it when I wanted to refer back to past entries. But my bible studies and my calendar which has my appointments, work schedule and bible reading noted in it, was handwritten. These were not searchable which made it really difficult to find anything I need to go back and reference. I tried indexing but that didn’t help. Plus, I can have all my journals in one place.

What can I say, I’m a digital girl at heart, and it turns out I was wrong. Digital planners/journals ARE for me, they satisfy my artist, writer and analytical minds.

Well, here is a bit of an update. I discovered if I save my PDF in Xodo as a flattened file then all my entries I made in Xodo are made permanent and can then be selected to be highlighted, underlined or other things. It also reduced the size of the file significantly. The good thing is I can still open the PDF up in my graphic designer program with all its layers in tact.

Okay…. so….. I’m learning more than one thing in a day…..

In case you are wondering, the graphic designer program I found is called Affinity Designer. Every time I work with it, I’m amazed with its functionality.

The three programs I’m using on my Windows 10 computer for working with my digital planner are:

  1. Xodo
  2. Affinity Designer
  3. Foxit Phantom PDF

I tried a few others but these gave me the functionality I desired and are within my budget.

 

 

I’m going digital, more than ever…

My life took an interesting turn. An unexpected turn. Have you ever just come across something which catches your attention and you think, “Oh, that’s interesting, I’ll take a quick look”, even though you have no plans to use it or do whatever it is that caught your attention and suddenly find yourself sucked into a deep rabbit hole like in Alice in Wonderland?

Well…. that was me this past week or so, and I think I’m still there. 🤪

So here is what happened.

I was quietly and systematically working on cataloguing many of the resources I have available to me and often loose track of, so I started listing them in a spreadsheet. I am subscribed to numerous YouTubers for various reasons, so I added a spreadsheet to list them and their area of expertise so I could easily find some videos on particular topics I want to review or learn. In the process of cataloguing them, I would scan their list of videos so I could appropriately categorize them. Well, of course, inevitably, I found myself staring at a video which set off all sorts of bells and whistles in my head.

I can’t really say I haven’t been at least partially digital because I do most of my journal writing digitally. Manually writing can cause a flareup in my wrist which can become very painful. I have been using MS Word for my journal and though I can do a lot in it, I often find myself feeling like there has to be a better way. I tried OneNote and Evernote but didn’t like them. I like MS Word because I can search easily to find something I wrote about and wanted to go back to. Besides running into a repeated issue which bugs me, I also know eventually Microsoft products will go out the door on my system because they are no longer in my budget. Things like this is always working in the background of my thoughts usually waiting for something to trigger a new idea. This is what happened when I saw the title of the video, “Creating a Digital Journal with Boho Berry Freebies”.

The video is only 10:23 minutes long, but it is chock full of helpful information. I don’t have an iPad. I do have an iPhone but I wouldn’t do something like this on my phone. I would probably go blind trying to see what I wanted to do because of the tiny screen. This video did one thing. It sparked the neurons of my tiny brain and sent me down a path of trying to find out if anything like what Kara showed in the video could be done on a Windows desktop computer.

And BAMB! down the deep dark rabbit hole I plunged.

First, I joined Boho Berry’s Facebook group “Boho Berry Digital Planners” so I would have access to other people who do digital planners and see if anyone is using them from a Windows platform. Let me tell you, there are, but not very many and it seems they had just as many questions as I did. I started to discover working from a desktop may not be as user friendly as it is working from an iPad, at least for digital planners. Also, it looked like, I would have to be willing to spend some money for some of the apps mentioned by others, which right now I’m not. My funds are limited so I wanted to see what I could do under these limited conditions.

Since November 28th when I ran across Boho Berry’s video, I have had moments of great frustration, and moments of “Ah.. Ha”s and moments of “by gosh, I think I got it!”. To only run this repeatedly over the following days until I arrived at my destination today.

First, I need to say that I’m doing two types of journaling. The first is a very minimal bullet journal, where I have a month calendar, a daily “What I did today” and then anything I want to write about my day. The second is my bible journal where I make notes about my daily bible reading and my thoughts regarding what I read and how it applies to me. I needed a solution for both of these.

You might wonder why I would move away from actual paper journals and notebooks, especially with my love of creating journals. I started originally writing in physical journals and I always had the same issue: FINDING SOMETHING I WROTE AND WANTED TO REFER BACK TO. Even if I did indexing which I tried to do when I first started to bullet journal, my indexes wouldn’t be intuitive enough to help me find what I one day wanted to search for. This is why MS Word became my “goto” for journaling. Since using MS Word, I have been able to successfully find every entry I wanted to refer back to for whatever reason by using the search option.

Here is what I felt I needed in a digital journal:

  • all content had to be searchable
  • it had to be easy to add text to
  • text had to be easily formatted
  • had to be able to add calendars
  • calendars had to be editable
  • graphics had to be easily added
  • had to be able to add and edit internal and external hyperlinks
  • it had to be appealing to look at
  • PDF format, this has become a universal format which can be read from most applications and various platforms, the format has to be viewable years down the road

What I discovered is not one single product could do ALL of these things. Even Kara (Boho Berry) has to use two or more apps to accomplish what she wants to do in her digital journal.

At first, I didn’t think I would ever switch to a digital planner like the one shown in Boho Berry’s video. But I investigated anyway. The main reason I was investigating was to find out if something similar would work for what I needed.  I looked at the planners Kara has but didn’t want to pay for one without knowing if I could use them on my desktop computer.

I searched for free digital planners. There are a few out there and I found one I decided to test with. This one I found through the Friday Freebies in the Boho Berry Facebook group. I knew working with a free digital planner would require more work than one I would pay for but I also knew I would learn a lot more by altering things myself than buying one with all the bells and whistles.

My biggest obstacle was finding programs to do what so many videos show you can do using an iPad. I will tell you this was the most frustrating part of my research. Especially, since I didn’t want to fork over any money or a lot of money. Adobe could certainly do the job but so many big software companies have switched to cloud based applications with monthly or yearly subscription fees. Fees I can’t afford. I’m still old school. I want to buy a software program that costs me a one-time fee and have done with it and run it on my computer, not on a cloud where my data resides on someone else’s hardware.

It took some work but I was finally able to determine there is a way using my Windows desktop computer to create, maintain, update and enhance digital planners in a PDF format. What is even better, I can do so inexpensively. Once I figured out the process, it is also easy to do, though like Kara,  I have to switch between two or three applications to make it all possible. Here is what I can do:

  • create a digital journal from scratch
  • alter an existing digital journal (PDF format) or use it as it is
  • copy/add/delete/insert pages, either from existing pages in a journal, blank or newly created from scratch
  • add graphics
  • add/delete/edit hyperlinks (internal locations and external locations)
  • create my own layouts, or add layouts others have created
  • add/format/delete/highlight/underline/etc. text
  • use various fonts already available from my computer
  • search ALL text, including any annotations I made or text pre-existing in the PDF document
  • view digital planner from PDF viewers including Adobe Reader (also searches text and annotations)
  • insert calendars and add text and images to the calendar
  • create lists like ToDo list

I am sure I haven’t touched on everything that can be done. The hardest part was finding a program that would provide the ability to add hyperlinks. Here are three of my spreads I have created. I have blurred out some of my journaling for personal reasons:

This first image is my daily journal, as I stated, I blurred out my writing for personal reasons. The “What I Did Today” is an image I add to the page and then fill in with text as I do things during the day and I use the marker tool to color the box green to show it is completed. The rest is all free formed text I write throughout my day.

journaling

This next image is my December calendar. The calendar came in the free digital planner without dates, no text or images (just the lines creating the boxes). All the images I added are images (free for personal use, there are too many to quote sources, they can easily be found searching Christmas images on google) I found on the web. As the month progresses I add hyperlinks to the date so I can quickly go to my daily journal page. For instance, for December 5th, I can click on the 5 in the calendar and I’ll be switched to the page displayed above in the graphic for my 5 December daily. I enter what chapter of the bible I studied that day and insert a link to go to the journal page for my bible study (my bible study journal and daily planner are in the same file together. If I click on Job 9 & 10 for 6December, I’ll be taken to the next image below.

calendar

All graphics were found online and were labeled as free for personal use.

For my bible study, I found an NLT Bible online in a PDF format that was free for personal use.  I only discovered today, I could separate out the chapter I study and insert it into my digital journal so on one page I have the scripture I’m reading and the opposite page is blank where I can add my notes and thoughts for that day’s reading.

bible journaling

Discovering I could insert bible pages into my journal for my bible study was the “cat’s meow” so to speak. It is the frosting on the cake, as it were. I haven’t done it here yet but I can also highlight or underline the scripture text, and I can also add arrows or pointers from my notes to the scripture. The highlights and arrows can be created in different colors, so if you like to color code your bible notes, it can be done here as well.

Dare I say, I am IN LOVE with digital journals! The calendar gives you an idea of how creative someone can get in the journal. I could add my own artwork (digital or scanned copies) or search online for art to make my planner as beautiful as I want it.

Other than one program, all the editing done to create these pages was done via free software. I am still deciding whether to purchase the one that is not free. Even so, it is under $70 and a one-time purchase (not a subscription).

It didn’t take long to switch to this digital journal format. I had planned on starting the new year by trying out the digital journal but the bug had embedded itself deep. On 2 December I decided to just start trying it out for the month of December to see if I even liked it. From that moment on, I didn’t go back to MS Word, except to refer to what I had already written there.

The last day in my MS Word journal where I did any journaling was 1 December at 12:45am (so technically 2 December). What had finally inspired me to not wait was a bug I have run across in MS Word which bugs me and it happened two times in two days. The first time it happened I ran the repair option and it fixed the issue. The next day when it happened again, I tried the repair option and it didn’t fix it. The issue I’m mentioning is where the cursor doesn’t reflect on the screen the movement associated with the space key or the enter key. If I press the space key, the cursor doesn’t move. If I press the enter key, the cursor moves about two spaces to the right, not to the next line. When I start typing the cursor will jump to the location it is supposed to be in and the letters appear where they should go. This is frustrating because I rely visually on the cursor to be where it is supposed to be, if it doesn’t move as in the space key being pressed, then I’m pressing it a second or third time and end up with too many spaces in my sentence, or too many lines between paragraphs if it is the enter key. This is frustrating when someone is trying to enter data quickly which I do when I’m journaling.

I have read possible fixes to the issue which requires copying the data into a new document but my journal in MS Word for 2018 is 540 pages as of 1 December, so yeah, not doing it. With the digital journal, I will watch for any issues with the file getting large and possibly split it into quarterly or half year journals.

So yeah, now I’m digital. My calendar and bible study notes were all in paper journals, now they will be digital journals. I’ll still have real journals but they will be art journals. This takes the pressure off of me to have journals for writing. Now they can all be used with various mediums to create art in ALL the physical journals I have.

The great thing about digital journaling is once I have a planner I don’t really have to purchase another one. Keep the original file untouched. Use it as a template, then create whatever you want out of it. I won’t have to buy paper anymore to write on. My need to be creative on paper will be satisfied by my art journaling. My daughter will have a digital record of my life that she can literally put in her pocket. My need to be creative both digitally and physically is met.

The only thing I feel is missing in the digital journal is the appearance of turning the page. The software I use doesn’t do that. It also doesn’t swipe because I’m not using a touchscreen like the iPad has. The image may look like a book but it doesn’t mimic page turning. Maybe one day it will.

If you are interested in learning more about how I created my journal and pages, leave a comment below.