Happy Planner: Conference Style

Happy Planner: Conference Style

by Molly Jo Realy @RealMojo68

Nippers, NOLA, and a Happy Planner

Nippers, NOLA, and a Happy Planner

Hey y’all! Remember when I fell in love with my Happy Planner? And the Meal Planner pages to track the holiday foods and monthly meatloaf recipes?

Of course, I also bought my Planner to help with the social media, writing, and editing projects.

Happy Planner Page: Social Media MoJo

Happy Planner Page: Social Media MoJo

In less than three months, I’ll be at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Immersed for five days with fellow writers, agents, publishers, teachers . . . friends. It’s pretty much my equivalent to a big family reunion.

One of the most important accessories a person can have at any conference is a notebook and calendar. There will be classes to take, people to meet. Projects to share and shop out. It’s important to be able to track all this information. And for me, it’s also important to have a creative outlet for journaling.

So I took a few extra pieces and designed my own Happy Planner. Of course, my main writing focus is NOLA, so I made sure to add those little touches as much as possible.

Grab a glass of tea, sit back, and let me tell you all about it.

Happy Planner: Conference Dashboard

Happy Planner: Conference Dashboard

The dashboard is a tabbed, plastic divider. Think of it like a large bookmark. Some people use it to hold their sticky pads for writing notes. I also use mine as a motivator. Each day, several times a day, I’ll be reminded to be productive and, as Dwayne Pride of NCIS: New Orleans says, “Learn Things.” All this one needs is a honkin’ big coffee cup sticker.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - supplies

Happy Planner: Conference Style – supplies

The beauty of the Happy Planner is even if you pick up a calendared version, you can purchase inserts and accessories. I knew when I first bought my Planner, as the months passed, I’d take them out and put them into another Planner, like a memory book. Since the extra covers come three sets in a pack, I had two left over to choose from. I picked the stripes/dotted combo because the dots remind me of ~ wait for it ~ Tiffany Blue. Like y’all didn’t see that one coming, right?

The Planner inserts are designed to easily slip onto the discs, so whether you have five or fifty pages, they lay flat and secure.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - I Heart Discs

Happy Planner: Conference Style – I Heart Discs

The six-month calendar extension pack is so my friend. Since the tabs are undated, instead of using them as monthly inserts, I use stickers to identify each day I’ll be on my trip, including travel time.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Day Tabs

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Day Tabs

Each month-at-a-glance layout will be used for that day’s highlights, while several week-at-a-glance layouts have been converted:

  • “What They Said . . . ” will be a collection of quotes to inspire and motivate
  • “Growth Spurts” track those “Aha!” moments

This leaves two week-at-a-glance layouts to be used however the day requires. Perhaps autographs from fellow conferees? Notes to and from God? They can be anything.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Week-at-a-Glance Pages

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Week-at-a-Glance Pages

I picked up photo pocket inserts and a fuse tool, so I can make photo/glitter/memorabilia pages (as inspired by Me & My BIG Ideas blog post “Valentine’s Shaker Pocket“). Oh, and twelve small containers of glitter. Hey, they were on sale, okay? And who doesn’t love a good shake of glitter now and then?

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Photo Pages and Fuse Tool

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Photo Pages and Fuse Tool

Of course, no Planner is complete without a Bucket List, yes? I queried my friends for suggestions, and as you can see, This Girl is going to be pretty busy.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Blue Ridge Bucket List

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Blue Ridge Bucket List

Finally, an ample supply of lined and graph pages. Because you never know . . . I may feel like writing something.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Writing Pages

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Writing Pages

A few stickers, some washi tape, and my Happy Planner is almost ready. Of course, I’ll post photos as more pages are ready, but I’m pleased as punch with the initial layout.

Happy Planner: Conference Style - MoJo Front Cover

Happy Planner: Conference Style – MoJo Front Cover

Am I missing anything? Let’s plan on Blue Ridge, y’all!

Happy Planner: Conference Style - Countdown Sheet

Happy Planner: Conference Style – Countdown Sheet

CLICK TO TWEET: Happy Planner: Conference Style

With a big gulp of sweet tea and lots of Happy Planning,
~Molly Jo

And Franky, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!

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Unpacking Blue Ridge

Confession time: I haven’t known how to say everything I need to say. Pretty soon I’ll be rebranding the blog with a stronger focus on social media, writing, and editing. But now and then, I’ll still have some emo to share.

Like this post . . .

Y’all remember the suitcase I picked up a few months ago? [Read: “Oh, The Place You’ll Go!”]

First it took me to Seattle. [Read: FIVE THINGS FRIDAY: Seattle.]

And starting two weeks ago it kept me company at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Luggage ready for BRMCWC

Blue Ridge Ready

Since returning, my peeps have been asking me to share stories with them. What was it like? Who did I meet with? Did I pick up new clients? What are my favorite memories? How hard was it to come home this year?

First, let me say this, as I’m sure most, if not all, at Blue Ridge would agree:

It was life changing.

As for the rest of it . . . It’s taken me a week to remember. To be able to talk about it. To share it authentically, and even then I’ve yet to do a complete job.

Because this year at Blue Ridge was a hard one for me. This year, God grabbed me at the beginning and said, “This is where the healing starts.”

When Healing Hurts

When Healing Hurts

Last year, Blue Ridge was new and inviting and full of connections and adventure. This year, some of my peeps couldn’t make it. This year I had the room to myself, and at the end of the busy days, I went into solitude.

From the first night away, I had bouts of anxiety. And I missed the FurFamily. Every few hours I was certain I just needed to pack it up and head home early. But who wants to admit that, at what amounts to a family reunion? These things are supposed to be fun, carefree. Not, “I need a hand to hold just so I know I have someone holding my hand” kind of moments. Right?

And the conference, well, it’s for writers, not whiners. So I sucked it up. Or so I thought. The thing is with me, and if you’ve hung around my blog for any length of time, you already know this: I’m a bit of a crier.

So there I am. At Blue Ridge and I’m overwhelmed with the responsibility to prove that I’m worth the collective efforts it took to get me there. And I want to make the most of it. And I’m afraid of letting people down. And I’m afraid of not gleaning every ounce I’m supposed to. And I’m missing my best friend who I met there last year.

And the hurts and struggles and trials of the last few years that have nothing to do with Blue Ridge or writing, they rise like cackles on the back of my neck. They surface, they grab for my attentions. They fight their way into every waking thought. They don’t even belong at Blue Ridge! But they don’t care. Stupid emotions!

And I feel misunderstood. Forgotten. Put down. Cast aside.

Worthless.

I. Am. A. Fraud.

Cloud of Negativity

Cloud of Negativity

Which is exactly what the enemy wants us to think, especially at a place like Blue Ridge, right? We’re not supposed to learn how to write for God, how to bring His message into the world, or think we’re worth the effort.

Right?

Wrong.

As difficult as it is, I celebrate the hard emotions. Sure, they were a distraction. A huge distraction. And when I say huge, well . . . Let me take you to Wednesday morning Group Meeting. Filled with people I know and love, but very few I felt connected to. So in a room of over 400 people, as I sat in the very back row between two of the ones I trust the most, the music starts. The worship music. The open-your-heart-to-God-and-let-it-go music. The it’s-too-painful-to-listen-to music. And for an hour, I cried. I just cried. Through the music, the announcements, the keynote speaker. I couldn’t stop biting my lip as the tears raced. I’m not exaggerating.

It was excruciating. And yet, now . . . I can see beauty coming from it.

I began to glimpse the bigger picture.

Blue Ridge isn’t just about learning to be a better writer. Of course it is that, but not just that. It’s also connections. Not just professional, either.

Me with the Ketchup Man - James L. Rubart

Me with the Ketchup Man – James L. Rubart

I was lucky enough to meet this guy, James L. Rubart. We’re going to be great friends, and he’s even forgiven me for saying he uses too much ketchup.

Aaron, Alycia and I are now known as “The Sibs”. We’re the siblings who weren’t born to the same family, but Blue Ridge brings us together every year.

The Sibs at Blue Ridge: Molly Jo Realy, Aaron Gansky, Alycia Morales

The Sibs at Blue Ridge: Molly Jo Realy, Aaron Gansky, Alycia Morales

Blue Ridge is where I was able to meet face to face with some of our loyal Firsts in Fiction podcast viewers. Like Bruce, who took it upon himself to Big Brother me and grab me for prayer whenever we passed in the halls. And get this – one of the last minute conferees came all the way from Australia because he heard about it on the podcast. How’s that for connections?

When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to be all things to all people all the time (I know. You’d think I’d learned that one by now. But hey. Work in progress, here, okay?), when I gave myself permission to fail, it was like giving myself permission to grow. I opted instead to do what I could for myself, not the world at large. Because being better to and for myself is better for the world at large. Yes?

Removing the parameters of perfection opened me. It was okay to tell others “I’m not okay right now.” It was okay to miss a few minutes of class and grab coffee with the Seesta. It was okay to sit in a corner, or in the front row. It was okay to say, “No,” or “Not now,” or just “Catch me later.”

And being not okay made the other things okay. I’d been fighting myself all week, and not paying attention to what was happening. And what was happening was confirmation.

Confirmation that I’m supposed to be there. That what I’m doing for my writing, editing, social media and marketing are spot on. That I’m getting better at what I do. That people believe in me and want to help me on this path. That I have friends-turned-family looking out for me. That I have something to offer.

I took new classes with favorite faculty, made the one-on-one appointments, prayed, connected, ate, hugged, laughed, shared . . . Everything I thought was missing, was actually happening.

The lie was that it was a lie.

Are you tracking with me here? Everything I thought I wanted to happen but felt wasn’t happening, because I was wrapped up in my tears and loneliness and anxiety . . . It was still happening. I just wasn’t experiencing it.

Until Wednesday morning. Naw, I’m not saying it all worked out that quickly. But I am saying on Wednesday morning I found myself surrounded by my peeps. Who kept surrounding me. And in retrospect, they had from the beginning. I just hadn’t noticed.

So here it is, a week later and I’m home. And it’s taken me this week of remembering and processing to realize, I still have so much to unpack.

Was it overwhelming? Yes. Would I do it again? As soon as yesterday. I know I’m not the only one who left the mountaintop and fell into the valley. We’re all gonna help each other back up.

“Next year, at Blue Ridge . . .” (Thank you, Lori.)

This is the song that did me in, Wednesday morning. God uses everything for His good.
“Blessings” by Laura Story. [How cool is her last name?!]

And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote.