Growing… Day by Day!

Hi Friends!

Things are growing and changing here slowly… day by day.

My Midwest perennial and herb gardens are definitely growing and changing, but that’s not the only place I’m noticing new growth. It’s happening within me, as well!

Inspired by all of the changes in my garden over the past two years, and the lessons learned and documented in my Garden Joys bullet journal, I knew that I wanted to create a very special, very personal Self Care bullet journal for 2018.

The new year offered a blank slate filled with endless possibilities and opportunities to grow day by day. So, I chose a beautiful,  Rhodia dot grid journal for this time of new growth. The luscious, ivory, brushed vellum paper, made in France by Clairefontaine, called to both my hand and heart. These creamy, blank pages must be filled with ink, color, and most importantly… with intention!

In late December, I anticipated that something very important was just about to begin. My blank journal would need a dedicated place for writing and reflecting upon all that I would learn. So, I chose a simple, pine, IKEA desk and my sweet husband spent hours assembling it, with so much love and care.  Now every day of the year begins and ends with those luscious pages and a few simple art supplies. The time I spend with my Self Care journal always feels like a special gift ~ to me, from me!

My Self Care bullet journal is the perfect place to set new healthy goals and quietly document my daily progress. Each morning, I track my hours of restful sleep and also those restless hours filled with worry. It’s interesting to see my sleep patterns throughout the month. I have grown very mindful of going to bed on time because I know that I will have to graph it in my journal in ink.  (*wink*) 

It’s truly heartwarming to fill my Gratitude page with the small blessings that add joy to each day.  I find myself looking for moments of gratitude all day long. By the end of each month, this page is overflowing with blessings and I always wish I had more space to write. I think my Gratitude page is actually the most important page for Self Care each month!

I have also been tracking all of my ‘workouts’ throughout each month. Whenever I workout, I document how many minutes I spend: shoveling snow, practicing Yoga, doing  a Zumba workout, walking, mowing the lawn, or gardening. My activities change throughout the seasons. It’s so wonderful to be more active outside now that Springtime has finally arrived here!

I’m keeping track of how much water I drink each day in my “Hydrate Your Soul” tracker. I have grown more mindful of refilling my water bottle multiple times each day while attempting to reach my daily goal!

My Fitbit counts my steps and I graph them daily. Just knowing that I must record my step count in ink helps me to think about moving more throughout each day. Bundling up for Winter walks felt energizing because I had to walk quickly! We have been ‘Walkin’ on Sunshine’ lately during our evening walks together.  Sunny morning walks in the park always lift my spirits. The easiest walks of all are long, chatty walks with friends. The miles fly by as we catch up on one another’s lives! I’m just delighted that nice walking weather is finally here!

It has been very interesting to document how I spend my days! By the end of the month, I can actually see how much time I have spent in my little Paper Garden studio, writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, writing letters, and blogging. It is creative time that truly nourishes my heart and soul. So, when I notice that one of my important activities is not a part of my days, I strive to make a change. This has been such a gift for my creative spirit!

From the beginning, I made a conscious decision not to include the minutiae of daily tasks in my Self Care journal. During my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for Retirement),  I truly relish the freedom of my days. So, I use a beautiful Lang Engagement Planner for the events and tasks that must be done each day. I either ‘X’ each task as ‘completed’ or migrate it to another day.   I’ve always enjoyed being ‘busy.’ However, now I can feel the difference between just being busy and being productive. What a great feeling!

Perhaps it’s our wild Springtime weather, but it’s so hard to believe that May is almost here!  I’ve been peeking into the birdhouses in our garden waiting for robins or wrens to move in. So, it was such fun to create new spreads with birdhouse doodles in my Self Care journal. I just love adding inspirational quotes on every page!

It will be interesting to watch my healthy habits continue to grow, step by step, throughout May.

This month, I added a new chart to help me stay mindful of my most important healthy goals. Looking down the column each day will remind me of my intentions to do those things that make me both healthy and happy!

Have you noticed that I never include any eating habits in my journal? I feel extremely content using the Weight Watchers app to track all of my meals. It’s a very user-friendly, effective tool to help me maintain my healthy weight. I still count Smart Points every single day and attend my Weight Watchers meeting every week. Staying at my healthy weight for the past six months has been such an important part of my Self Care!

If you are interested, plenty of wonderful inspiration for bullet journaling can be found on You Tube. Kara Benz @ Boho Berry motivated me to give bullet journaling a try. Kara just created a beautiful digital planner (available on May 1st) for those who might prefer a more portable way to bullet journal. (Very interesting, but I think I will always prefer luscious paper and ink!) I also find great bullet journaling inspiration from Amanda Rach Lee.  Helen Colebrook creates lovely journals, too.

I’m so curious…

Do you keep a journal of any kind?

How do you bring Self Care into each day?

Hope you will share with us!


Thanks so much for visiting today!


Sending warm, sunny hugs!

♡ Dawn




30 thoughts on “Growing… Day by Day!

  1. I love your self care bullet journal Dawn. I think it must have been you who I first heard talk of bullet journals a few months ago, and recommend Kara too. I started my own bullet journal in February and I love it. In my daily tracker I track morning pages, hydration, supplements, no sugar, no gluten, movement, artist dates, and I’ve just added in oil pulling which I’ve just restarted. These are the things for me that need tracking and reminding myself of. Makes it really easy to see if things are getting out of balance.

    I love seeing pictures of your bullet journal – so inspiring. I love that we have these tools to help us be more intentional and put our focus on that which we choose to grow. I too use a Rhodia dot grid journal. I think it’s even the same colour as yours – I love it. I’m practicing my calligraphy so it will look even more beautiful. I love that we can customise our journals so they work for each of us. xox

    • Kindred spirits, Vicky! Your bullet journal sounds absolutely perfect. It would be so lovely to share our journals in person over cups of tea one day! How fun to know that we are both making time to nurture ourselves using the very same Rhodia journals. Creating motivating trackers from simple, blank pages is so powerful. Being accountable to ourselves is a true gift of self kindness each day! I love that we are both striving to use The Artist’s Way tools again this year and growing, step by step. There is so much to be grateful for today… and I will be sure to include you on my Gratitude page, Vicky! Sending warm hugs to New Zealand, my friend! 💗

  2. You and your artfilled journals have inspired me, Dawn. I write more of a day-by-day activities journal. I am endeavoring to make it more beautiful.

    I purchased a journal similar to yours that I use to record my correspondence. That way I can check to see if I truly wrote that note, sent that birthday or thank you card or if I just mentally wrote it!

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring journals!


    “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” Psalm 18:30

    I love the old English (as well as the comforting truth) used in this verse. It would be beautiful written in your amazing calligraphy!

    • Heartfelt thanks for your very kind words, Paula! Your correspondence journal sounds so lovely and helpful! I also keep a journal for all of the handmade cards that I send to family and friends. Although I use a beautiful journal, it’s not fancy at all. I just make note of the date, recipient, occasion, and the stamps and supplies that I used to create the card. Although my cards are one-of-a-kind, I try to make sure that loved ones receive a wide variety of cards. At times, certain people receive a card each week. It’s such a helpful journal for me. You have inspired me to call it my Correspondence journal from now on, Paula! In my Self Care journal, there is a special page to note each time I write a long, old-fashioned letter. That page in my journal is called “Letters Mingle Souls.” 💕

      It’s so wonderful to connect with others who love pens, inks, paper, blank books, and journaling. Thank you for sharing the beautiful verse, Paula. I enjoy adding special words to a Quotations journal. I’ve been collecting quotations for many years. I’ve never stopped to think about ALL of the journals that I use! Bullet journaling was a natural fit for this lifelong lover of words! Thanks for being here, Paula, and for helping me make these important connections!💗

    • Many thanks! I’d love to see more of your journals, too! What a great name you use! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today. 💗

    • Now that I’ve shared a few pages from my bullet journals, they really are *ours.* 😊 Wishing you a wonderful new month of journaling!💗

  3. Dawn, I really admire your dedication to journaling. I would love to just sit and go through your journals page by page. Maybe after my renaissance, I will at least attempt to keep a gardening journal. It could never be the works of art that yours are but I will certainly give it a try. It is all about time and I am so looking forward to being the master of my own time; time for yoga, time for walks with Molly, my Golden, time to sit on the porch with Jim and not feel guilty that there are things I must get done. Being present! The closer my retirement gets the harder it is to go to work. At least today I can go to work and cross off another month on our big wall calendar. It gives me a little gleeful joy to make that big X!
    My son is still complaining of cold weather, while our spring is almost over. We have had some really warm days and winds that just won’t lie down. All of that coupled with no rain. Mom and I have gone into conservation mode. Our rain barrels are empty, and we are now saving dish water to water landscape plants. Our trusty water well of 25 years has never let us down, but you don’t know where the bottom is so we don’t waste any of it!💧
    I am going to investigate the links you gave to bullet journaling. Maybe, just maybe…..I will find the time. I just need the nudge!

    • It must be the ‘season’ in my life for journaling, Chris! I can’t tell you how many beautiful journals that I have begun (but never finished) over the years. It feels different this time though. Both of my bullet journals have become valuable tools for self-discovery and growing! So I really want to devote time to them. It feels like a special ‘gift’ to myself! I’m very certain that the chance to use a few art supplies has kept me motivated as well.

      Chris, your Renaissance will be filled with so many surprises and new discoveries! I’m so excited for you, my friend! So, I’ll be counting the days with you! You can work through the hot, dry Texas summer, and then play when the weather cools off a bit.

      Spring is definitely tiptoeing in slowly in the Midwest this year. Peeking back in my Garden Joys journal, it seems that we are about three weeks behind last year’s bloom times. Nighttime temperatures over the weekend dipped below freezing again. So this is definitely a year to be mindful of our May 15th Spring planting day. (It always feels like a special holiday to me!) Your dry time seems early this year. You and your mom are so wise to begin conserving water early on. Wishing for gentle rains to fall upon your garden in the coming weeks.

      Sending warm hugs, dear Chris! Your thought about sitting together and reading every page in our journals ~ we could really make that happen one day in the future! It’s just one more delightful thing about our Renaissance season of life! 💗

    • I feel the very same, Anne! Your beautiful cards and letters brighten my day and touch my heart. Thanks for always being here, dear friend! Sending sunny hugs! 💗

  4. Dawn, your artistry is amazing. What treasures you’ve created with the stroke of a pen…or two. I used to keep journals religiously, but have fallen out of the habit. I love that you’re tracking such practical things like water intake and sleep, and that you make each page so luscious. Who wouldn’t want to journal if they had your books to look forward to every day. As always, I’m incredibly inspired. These are a joy to behold.

    • Oh, thank you, Alys! I’m really enjoying my Self Care journal and I can truly feel the benefits! I love the accountability of my healthy habit trackers. My daily time bar tracker is a great way to document how I choose to spend each day. When I noticed that I hadn’t spent enough time in my little Paper Garden studio in March, I made creative time much more of a priority in April. So, I’m finding a better balance between several things that make me healthy and happy! Alys, you are so organized by nature, I’ll bet you are naturally better at finding a balance than me. It’s funny how such a simple, fun tool can make such a difference! I’m excited to begin tracking for May tomorrow. The year is really flying by! Wishing you a delightful new month, dear Alys!💗

  5. I admire your artistic ability and your dedication because it sounds like you have hit several of your personal goals. I do not journal. As I write that, I wonder why. I think it is because I’m on the computer during the day. That’s not an excuse, just the reality of my life I guess. I do my blog as well as a MG blog, and it seems like I’m writing or commenting all the time. The one journal I have thought about is a gardening one, but there again I do not have any artistic abilities to add pictures to my comments. I think I’ll have to be in awe of your skills and stick to my keyboard. 🙂

    • Rabbit! Rabbit! Happy May, Judy! It’s always my favorite month as a gardener. I think your blogs are both wonderful digital journals! One year, I tried using a calendar to document things happening in my garden but there was never enough room to write everything.

      Judy, do you ever draw garden maps to keep track of what you plant in each bed? Over the past two years as I ‘right-sized’ my perennial beds, I was so grateful to have the maps in the early Spring! I’m so excited for another year of gardening ‘together,’ Judy! I always learn so much from your blogs!
      Sending sunshine! 💗

  6. Dawn, you are such an inspiring friend. Your bullet journals along with my daughter’s inspired me to use that method as well with my gardening journals. It’s so easy and lovely to refer back to what happened when and where in the garden. My gardening journal is not as lovely as your’s, but so helpful to me. I love your quotes and artwork you incorporate.
    I really need to resume writing in my gratitude journal. I’m afraid when Spring comes I turn into the mad gardener—working tirelessly doing what I love. Thank you for reminding me that gratitude is most important! I so admire your continued success toward healthy goals. Wishing you happy days, dear one! ♥

    • Heartfelt thanks, dear Martha Ellen! I knew that I would enjoy peeking into my Garden Joys journal during the Winter months, but I also found my journal so helpful as my garden s-l-o-w-l-y awakened this Spring. It’s so interesting to know what was blooming one year ago this week. Everything seems to be blooming about three weeks later this year. Just today, our Magnolia tree bloomed! Severe storms with large hail and high winds are expected tonight. So, we’re concerned… and hoping to weather the storm safely. Today the first hungry groundhog made an appearance in the garden. He’s huge and will have a taste for tender blossoms. I will have lots to add to my journal!

      Do try to count your blessings out loud in your Gratitude journal whenever possible. Our busiest days are often when expressing gratitude helps us the most! I truly believe that it’s the most important page in my Self Care journal. It has been so nice to reread all of my gratitude notes from each day of this year. Nourishing my creative heart and soul remains a priority and my Self Care journal has truly played a key role in maintaining my healthy goals! So grateful for our beautiful friendship, Martha Ellen! Sending sunny hugs!💗

  7. Dawn, you wrote,
    “…each time I write a long, old-fashioned letter. That page in my journal is called “Letters Mingle Souls.” 💕

    It’s so wonderful to connect with others who love pens, inks, paper, blank books, and journaling.”

    I agree. It is wonderful to connect with others who derive delight in pens, inks, paper, blank books (and I will add blank stationery and note cards :), and journaling. I think we both also love to make seemingly mundane things more special: light a candle, use our pretty cups and dishes, draw a quick flower on an envelope, etc. Life is so much more beautiful that way.

    I like the page title “Letters Mingle Souls” for your pages recording long letters you have written. I just wrote a four page letter to one of my many grandsons (this one is 15 years old). He had written me a letter in January and one in February. Letters truly do mingle souls.

    I admire folks who take the time to share on their blogs. And I am thankful I “stumbled” upon yours, Dawn.

    Many blessings,

    • Kindred spirits, Paula! I love that you are inspiring your grandsons to write letters. They will always remember how you shared this special connection with them.

      Paula, do you write a blog? If you don’t already follow, I think you would really love her blog, too! Although I’m not sure how you found my blog, I’m just delighted that you are here and joining in the conversation! Sending sunshine!💗

  8. This post was such a joy to read, Dawn, and to look at! Your words and your illustrations are inspiring. I used to journal, with ink, on a daily basis. My only restriction was not to whine. While it wasn’t a gardening journal, it was a record of my garden, the weather, visitors and visiting, meals, world events. When we moved here, the routine of journalling slipped away. I think my blog, especially when I did a post every day, replaced it, which isn’t a bad thing, just different. Well, you have inspired me to hopefully return to a pen-to-paper journal. Thank you.

    The earth seemed to loosen up and flowers have popped up everywhere, Dawn. It seems we are getting April and May all at the same time. 🙂

    • Oh, thank you, Penny! Taking the time to create a journal of any kind feels like a special gift to oneself. I love all the ways you documented your daily life in a journal. Our blogs are such a wonderful form of journaling and sharing, too! When things settle down a bit, you might really enjoy the peaceful reflection a journal offers. Wouldn’t it be fun to introduce Kezzie to the wonderful world of journaling? She’s at the perfect age and I think she would love it… just like her grandma!
      Heartfelt thanks for the garden update, my friend. 💗

    • Oh, thank you, Lynn! I truly hope you will enjoy journaling as much as I do. It always feels like a special gift to myself and is so worth the time investment! Sending hugs!💗

  9. Dawn, I I am slow in responding to your question about Susan Branch. I am quite sure that is how I came upon your blog~by clicking on your name on one of the comments on her blog. It is nice to meet you, girlfriend!

    • Paula, we are blessed that so many of Susan’s Girlfriends also gather here. We are eagerly awaiting the chance to read Susan’s hand lettered, watercolored travel journal from her current adventures in England, Ireland, and Wales! What a delight that will be! Thank you for being here, Paula. Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!💗

  10. Hi Dawn,
    I do journal and have for years. I record
    Things like temps, snow, rain, my weight , stock
    Market, plus a short report on my day. I wish I had your gift of drawing…I would love to be able to have that in my journal!! You are so gifted in so many ways!!


    • What treasures your journals must be, Gert! My mom has also been journaling for many years. Although I have begun several journals over the years, my newest journals, with short, bullet-style entries, have me so enthused! I am learning so much from my Garden Joys journal and my Self Care journal. Making the time to reflect and write each evening is such a nice way to end each day. Each page feels like a special gift of the heart! Heartfelt thanks, Gert, for your very kind words. Sending many blessings across the miles this Memorial Day weekend! Warmest hugs!💗

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