Erin Condren Planner and my office space

(I love looking at pictures of where authors work, so I included one of my space below! If you are a writer/artist, put your pics in comments, I’d love to see where you create!)

I’m so excited that my Erin Condren planner arrived this week.

Picture of Erin Condren Planner

This is the new Erin Condren Planner.

I’ve been watching Youtube videos and Pinterest boards and coveting them so much, but put off getting one because:

  • I hardly ever leave the house. Last year, I traveled a lot. This year, I have very few plans. I work from home. I started cutting my own hair this summer (thanks Youtube!) I only go to the doctor when forced (and I’m doing great now, you guys.) My husband is the house manager, so he does the shopping, meal planning, etc. My kids live on campus and keep track of their own schedules now. I really have no pressing need to keep track of the days the way some do. (It would have come in super handy when I had two kids in sports and extracurricular activities though.)
  • I am a little intimidated by glorious Washi and sticker creations all over the net.
  • Did I mention I am always home?

    picture of shelf in Gwen Hayes office with Erin Condren planner

    The shelf where Erin Condren Planner lives

But I purchased one for my daughter, who loved hers, and posted an affiliate link on the blog for my readers (all seven of you) so someone else could get the $10 off coupon. And when they did–Erin Condren sent ME a $10 off coupon. (Affiliate link still works–you click on it and sign up for the Erin Condren site newsletter and they email you a coupon. And if you buy something, they email me a coupon. And THEN, you get a link you can share with others.)

So I bit the bullet and figured out a way to use it as a journal instead of a planner.

So instead of using the Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Meal boxes for time, I’m going with:

picture of decorated Erin Condren planner

Rough draft of Erin Condren Planner

My Day: Instead of planning ahead for doctor and hair appointments, I’ll journal a little bit about what I did that day. It’s a small box, so no pressure. I’m thinking stuff like “Met wordcount goal” and “Went out to lunch today: wore pants!”

Spirit: Everyday my life is awesome, so this box is for me to remember that. Gratitude journal some days. Bragging box on others–like this week, a book I edited, The Deal by Elle Kennedy, hit #65 on the USA Today Bestseller list. How amazing is that? Somedays, I might put in a quote that resonated. No rules.

Mind: Writers need to fill the well. This is where I’ll keep track of music that resonated( 1989 by Taylor Swift if you are interested), what we watched at night (Season Six of Friends currently, books I read for pleasure or self-improvement (17th re-read of Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie). Maybe a new word I learned that day. Again, no rules. I think it will be fun to look back on.

Body: Fitbit steps, water check-off, Fruit and veggies. Probably not my weight. Because that is no fun and this journal is about nurturing myself not pushing.

I also ordered some cute weather stickers so I can track the sunshine and see if weather makes a difference in my mood. 🙂

picture of Gwen Hayes' Workspace

Gwen Hayes’ Workspace

And here is my office and workspace. I had a couple weeks without clients, so I spent some much needed time making it prettified. Now I have no excuses.

Note the treadmill to the left. Because what have I told you about sitting for too long?

Bulletproof coffee? With butter? Seriously?

Picture of bulletproof coffee

Do you take your coffee with butter?

Filed under: Things I thought I’d never say

I have been drinking my coffee with butter the last two days. I’m not 100% sold that it tastes better than coffee with a really good creamer, but according to the Bulletproof® Exec the butter and the MCT oil are good for brain fog. And weight loss, if you can imagine. But I am more concerned about the mental clarity.Go to the Bulletproof Coffee page here for more information.

So, after two days, I actually did feel more alert. But I also felt a little bit like when you eat too much fried food.  I might lessen the butter tomorrow.

So I’m wondering how many of you have tried it? What do you think? Any tips?

Dangers of a sedentary lifestyle



Lots of things have been going on lately in my life. Good things and bad things. And the worst thing is probably the best thing.


There has likely been some confusion swirling around about my career. I had a medical scare. I’ve been on the fence with how much to share, but my goal here is to encourage people to take better care of themselves, so I’m going to offer my story up. I want to say up front it was a medical scare that turned out okay. I was in a high risk category but I don’t think I am now (I see the doc again tomorrow.) The lifestyle changes I am making are to prevent being scared again–but I feel great right now. So–people stop worrying.

Three weeks ago, I developed a blood clot in what, luckily, turned out to be a superficial vain. It still hurt really bad. And the length of the vein damage (groin to calf) bumped me in a higher risk category for the kind of clot that has much worse complications. I was given a few choices for how negate this happening, and being a granola kind of girl, I chose the one with the least amount of chemical medications and invasiveness (also I’m totes not into getting a shot EVERY DAY.) The doctor told me when I was sitting I had to elevate my leg above my heart and put hot compresses on it. And I wasn’t allowed to sit much. And the rest of the time, I had to be walking and moving.

Not wanting to have him change my prognosis at the next appointment (because shot EVERY DAY) I set about to do this moving that he spoke of.

Which is really hard to do when your work keeps you sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day every day. I had to figure out how to live offline. Not easy for this girl. I had to squeeze work into 20-30 minute sprints with my legs on a yoga ball and my laptop on my chest. Again, not easy. And, after doing some research, I realized that I have probably been killing myself by sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day.

 Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, versus those who sit for fewer than three hours.” 

Sedentary women have more than double the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, a.k.a. a blood clot in the lungs. “Prolonged sitting makes your blood flow sluggish and more likely to form clots, which can become lodged in your lungs,” explains Christopher Kabrhel, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.”

So, I had to make some choices about adding balance to my life. We’re saving for a treadmill desk for long-term and I need to take a pause and make getting healthy my full-time job for the short-term. ETA: neighbor had a free treadmill for me and husband fashioned a desk from plywood and magic. I use it for about an hour every day.

Which means I have to step away from management at Entangled Publishing. A job that I love, adore, and worked so hard build. But I can’t do it justice right now.

So, long story short. This message is to encourage you to move. Right now, I work in 30 minute sprints and move for 30 minutes. When I get the clean bill of health, I’ll need to do 45/15 for the rest of forever. I bought a Fitbit–which I encourage everyone to do. I am spending more time with my husband, with my dogs, with the outdoors. I’m losing physical weight. And I’m weighing all my choices to make sure I am eating, sleeping, loving, and working in a way that my health (of my mind, body, and soul) is my focus. And my work is definitely a part of that because I love what I do. I just need to remember it’s part of the pie chart, not the whole pie.

So, if you hear rumors. I wasn’t fired (still at Entangled, just stepped down from management), I’m not dying (scary and expensive wake up call), and I’m still freelancing. ETA: I left Entangled about a month later. What I’m not doing is sitting at a desk from 6 a.m to 8 p.m or later. I removed myself from almost all loops and subscriptions (I’ll miss you Publisher’s Marketplace). I play Words with Friends once a day with my first cup of coffee and then don’t get on Facebook again until next morning. I check into Twitter several times a day, but don’t leave it open. I’m looking in to ways to listen to manuscripts (the text-to-speech is still weird to me, but I’m trying to acclimate myself.) I’m drinking lots of water. I cut back on meat–once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day. I go for short walks, I go for long walks, I go up and down my basement stairs ten times a day on purpose. I am reading for personal enrichment. I am going to bed earlier. I’m going to street fairs and festivals instead of holing up in my house and staying away from people. I wrote this blog post in two different sessions. 🙂 I edit for half an hour and then think about it while I walk. I started writing again. Because all of these things together make me a better, happier person. (Don’t try to make me drink my coffee without my full fat cream though.)

Most of my friends are editors and writers and agents and we are all sitting too much. Please, for me, make it a priority to move. Circulate your blood. Get fresh air. It doesn’t matter if you exercise once a day at the gym and are in great shape, if your job is sitting, you need to break it up with movement.  In a week, you will be rewarded. More clarity. More energy. More better stuff. I promise.

And I’m still taking submissions!

ETA: This is the Fitbit I have.

Daily Question with Gwen Hayes

A new feature on the site is going to be our (yours and mine) Community Journal using a The Daily Question. A question of the day to spark your inspiration.

Keeping a journal is hard work, am I right? But a little introspection in important, especially in our current world of social media telling us how everyone else, thinks, feels, and looks. Which, I think, is also important. But sometimes it’s a good idea to gaze at your own navel for a minute or two. So what if we combine the two into our own little online diary?

Every day, I’ll post a question of the day. Take a minute to answer it. Honesty is appreciated, but this isn’t a private space, so keep that in mind when posting your reply.  This isn’t meant to be hard work or homework or anything. You can post your answer and leave if you like, treating it like a journal entry. Or you can hang around and discuss the topic with others as they answer. There isn’t a right or wrong way.

Cherry Cake Daily Question Nummy

The Daily Question with Gwen Hayes

Today’s Daily Question: What is your current jam for the way you feel about life right now? If you were being filmed in a movie as you drove down the coast, what song from the soundtrack would be playing?


If you’re thinking you’d rather write it down, feel free to use the Daily Question in your own journal or planner in addition to or instead of posting your answer here. No worries! I’m going to put mine in my Bullet Journal, too. I’m currently using the Arc Binder system and a gazillion gel pens for mine. Though I am coveting some washi tape.

Go ask my Starbucks lovers

Misheard Taylor Swift lyrics*Looks around my pretty new site*

Pretty cool, eh?

The title of this post really has nothing to do with anything other than I can’t stop listening to “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift and no matter how many times I listen, I still mishear that line.

I wanted to start fresh this year. Letting go of some things to make room for new. I’m working on career goals, and business plans, and rejuvenating my writing to work with my improved awareness of how horribly I took care of myself last year. So, a website felt like a tangible way to show a new me.

Some things I do differently now:

“Work” an hour most days on the treadmill desk. I’ve been able to edit and surf the internet pretty well, but writing continues to be a challenge. Which brings me to the next–I’m training a Dragon. Dragon Naturally Speaking software to be clear. I’ve named my dragon Moira and we still haven’t written more than 168 words together, but ultimately, my goal is to dictate to a recorder and transcribe using the software so that I can move around while writing a book.

Really, you’d think it would be easier than it is, I mean, all I have to do is repeat all the voices in my head, right? But no–as soon as I turn on the mic, I freeze up. I hope you guys are up for 300 pages of “um” because that’s where we are right now.  I was pretty impressed when I forgot to tell her to go to sleep today when I answered the phone–and she started a game of Solitaire while I was pacing and talking on the phone. My next post might be about “My Toaster is a Cylon,” but for right now, the future is fun!

I’ve started Bullet Journaling. That’s kind of hit or miss, but I’m getting better. I’ve got my 5 x 5 daily plan going (bonus points for Whedonites):

  • 5 glasses of water
  • 5000 Fitbit steps
  • 5 fruits and veggies
  • 500 words written
  • 5 blessings written in journal

Do I hit them every day? No. But I aim for them. And, yes, I know they aren’t very lofty. I know I’m supposed to drink more water and get more steps and 500 words is almost silly BUT when I aimed for 8 glasses and 10000 steps and 2000 words I beat myself up. This way, I am concentrating on life balance. Which I was horrible about last year. And it took health issues and quitting a job I really loved to get back on track.

(Maybe I should move my post from my old blog about a sedentary lifestyle to this blog too?)

Things I’m giving up to make room for better things:

My motto in 2015 is:  Not my Circus, not my monkeys. Which pretty much means I have fewer effs to give this year for just about everything that isn’t really mine. It’s quite freeing. I recommend it. I’m also continuing to purge my house and streamline life into a sweet, sweet minimalist package.

So now I need to get back to work. I’m currently fabricating a contemporary small town on the Strait of Juan de Fuca called Silver Pines. I need to add a Navy SEAL, someone needs to get amnesia, we’ll need a best friend’s older brother in there, a fake engagement, a secret baby…my work never ends people.