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I find foreign money so beautiful and fascinating. I collect it when I travel abroad. But when I hold it in my hands, it’s more art and artifact to me than currency, because where I live, it has no monetary value.

Any time we travel to a new country, we have to Exchange the money we typically use for the local currency. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere; we wouldn’t be able to buy what we need and want. But it’s essential to recognize that this is a trade. In other words, we have to give what we have in order to get what we need. There’s a beautiful life lesson there.

As we travel through life, we accrue and spend our own personal currency. Usually this currency takes the form of time, focus, energy, and yes, even actual money. How and where we spend our personal currency can fluctuate throughout our lives, and often it feels automatic or even mindless. We react to what’s being expected and asked of us. But this month I’d like us to pause and be more mindful about where all that personal currency is actually going.

  • • Are we spending too much time on things that don’t align with what we truly value?
  • • Are we putting the right kind of energy into our closest relationships—giving our people what they are truly asking for and needing? (In other words, are we honoring their “love languages”?)
  • • Are we being intentional about where our personal and physical resources are being spent?
  • • Are we allowing ourselves periods of rest and recovery to replenish our own personal currency?

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then it’s time for a currency Exchange.

My intention this month is to Exchange the habits, attitudes, beliefs, and activities that aren’t working for me—right here in the present moment, right here in my “new normal.” These things used to work for me, just like my Thai Baht currency worked when I was in Thailand. But when I stepped foot back on American soil, those banknotes lost all value. Similar changes can occur in our lives that make our old personal currency nothing but “art and artifact”—pretty to look at, but not very useful.

This month, I’m going to pay attention and look for opportunities to make mindful trades—to give something up so I can gain something in return.

I’m going to:
Give up late-night creating in exchange for early-morning yoga
Avoid the fast-food drive-thru in exchange for healthy homemade meals
Skip social-media scrolling in exchange for face time with my family and friends
Trade roaming around Target in exchange for biking around my neighborhood

Remember that every minute we have to spend on this earth is a gift. If you’re given a gift of clothing that doesn’t fit you, are you obligated to keep it? No. In most cases, you can Exchange it for something that does fit. Look at your personal currency (time, focus, energy, and other resources) in the same way. Exchange every little gift you’ve been granted for something that
does work for you, right now.


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Here’s how I plan to apply my Exchange intention to the four pillars of memory keeping for 2018ex:

Experiences— Our personal habits and choices create our life experiences. As I Exchange habits that aren’t serving me for habits that I believe will serve me, I look forward to having some new and different Experiences. And of course, I’ll capture them
all in my Fresh Start planning pages.

Exceptional moments— If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that the most exceptional moments in life are often disguised as the most ordinary. I’m going to find as many wasted or mindless minutes as I can and Exchange them for more time: walking my dog, sleeping in on weekends, creating and playing in my studio, beautifying my yard, cleaning my kitchen and my car. (I feel so much more energized when I’m in an organized and tidy space.)

Expressions I’m going to Exchange some of the products I’ve been using over and over in my daily planning for something new, fresh, and exciting. I’m not going to commit to anything just yet. I want to see what catches my eye, but I have a feeling there will be mini photo stickers involved.

Expectations I’m not putting any pressure on myself to make a certain number of Exchanges, or to achieve a specific outcome. My only Expectation is to keep an open mind and heart as I look for opportunities to make tiny little trades that will align my personal currency to my deepest values.

What’s on your Exchange list this month?


Here are five photos to take to decorate your planner or calendar this month.

1.  Take a photo of the foreign money you’ve collected over the years. Paste a small picture in your planner or on your calendar as a reminder of this month’s theme.

2.  If you have old or outdated photo apps that you rarely use, Exchange them for something new, fresh, and fun. (If you’ve never used INSERT FAVE APP HERE, I recommend giving it a try!)

3.  Exchange the camera on your phone for your “fancy camera” for at least one day. Play with settings to capture a few more artful shots of your everyday life.

4.  Take before-and-after photos of one of your personal currency Exchanges, and use them to tell the story of your experience in your planner or in a Storybook set.

5.  Exchange your typical photography angles for a new perspective. Get in close and capture details. Zoom out far and capture a full landscape.


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“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange it.”
—Henry David Thoreau “All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.”

—Plato “Love is a gift; friendship is an exchange.”
—Wilma Askinas “Art is always an energy exchange.”
—Erica Jong
“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.”
—H. L. Hunt

Note: Look for pretty versions of these quotes on my Instagram feed (@heidiswapp) throughout the month!


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Check back at the beginning of May to see my finished projects and planner pages for May.