mindfulness

Confronting Mid-Life and Embracing Wonder

This post is dedicated to Ruby Lake.

It’s no secret that I’ve been turned inward for many months now, as I touched on in my last, brief post.  Yet it was only very recently, after my last post, that I was able to finally name what was going on, and it was a shocking revelation:  Mid-life Crisis.

I had been reflecting on what I’ve come to think of as my Bonfire Energy, sometimes what I’ve thought of as Spastic Energy too.  That energy is the energy that comes in fits and starts, that prompts a thousand new ideas I have to do all at once; that causes me to over commit myself and ultimately, to crash and burn.  It’s what my dearest friend once described, many years ago, as a bright and incandescent bonfire.

There was a time, even up to about 5 years ago, when I could keep up with myself.  It wasn’t manic energy or frantic energy perse – I’ve never been hyperactive – but it was constant.  Heck, it was the energy behind the name of this page!

I still can’t tell you what, exactly, happened that caused me to curl into myself – or even exactly when – but I can tell you that I was finding it harder and harder to keep up.  I was over committing myself, trying to maintain a non-existent work-life balance, and more frequently than not, failing.  Projects went unfinished.  Tasks got migrated in a never-ending cycle in my Bullet Journal.  Stepping back and taking breaks became more frequent…

The bonfire was no longer roaring.  The fuel that caused it to burn so white hot and big for so long had been consumed.  I was no longer living off of adrenaline and stress, but I hadn’t even realised that’s what I’d been doing for so many years so I was still trying desperately to find that rather toxic energy to burn.

I finally admitted to myself that the fire is still very much burning, but it’s a tamer fire now – one you could toast marshmallows on perhaps, rather than one you stand several feet back from and hope there’s enough stone around it so the woods behind you don’t end up ablaze.

Then, my daughter texted me a picture.  It was her hand, and a dragonfly was resting on it.  She said, “I made a new fren.”  The dragonfly sat on her hand for the better part of an hour, fanning it’s wings occasionally, and she sat with it, not moving much.  Just being present with a dragonfly fren.

I called her the Dragonfly Whisperer and privately marveled at her way of attracting unexpected animals into her sphere of being, then remembered being a child and marveling at dragonflies, butterflies, fireflies, seashells, and all of the little things that make children’s eyes grow wide with wonder whilst the adults glance over and say, “Oh. Yeah. That’s a dragonfly.”

I also thought of her patience, just sitting and being…of the patience I once had, far before the bonfire roared, to just sit watching ants or caterpillars, trickling streams – and the wonder that each of those activities evoked in that child’s mind.

So it was that I came to realise that it’s time to begin again.  I’ve always believed that it’s never too late to start something new, and the time to do so is the time you realise it should be done (not tomorrow or next week or at the new year), so as I leave the Bonfire Years behind and enter the Campfire Years to come, I’ve started to let go of a lot and open my eyes, and mind, to what’s there before me.

That means stepping back and tamping down the spastic energy that still tries to rear it’s head.  For instance, when I set up July in my Bullet Journal, I decided that, with the exception of work (because those deadlines are imposed by a higher authority than my own), I would look at three things.  The first two were fairly straightforward:  What is truly important to me and my well being; and what is realistic based on the commitments I already have this month.

The third and final thing was to review the plans I’ve made for other endeavours and ask myself if I’m truly prepared to embark on them.  Do I know enough?  Have I practised enough to make launching something new a good use of my time, energy, and money?  Part of having Bonfire Energy has always been diving in with a sink or swim mentality which doesn’t leave room for a thorough or thoughtful review before turning the exam paper in – either you nail it, or you don’t.  While I’ve done well in my life using that approach (I’ve been very fortunate and I know it), Camp Fire Energy requires a more studied look.  Too little fuel and the fire burns to embers and goes out.  Too much, and your marshmallows, as well as the stick you’re toasting them with, not to mention your eyebrows, are up in flames.

So it is that, with child-like eyes, I will sit down and learn.  As I learned to form my letters, to read, and to write when I was in grade school, so shall I learn again.

Before I end this, I want to assure you that this is not some Eat, Pray, Love rubbish.  I am not embarking on a zen journey to appropriate the teachings of another culture and bring them back with me as some great or ancient  teachings, the likes of which can only be found at the top of a remote mountaintop scaled several times each day by Meaning of Life Seekers from the comfortable suburbs of any city of your choice.

What it is, is this:  It’s the result of years of incorporating a daily mindfulness practise into my life, and of privately wondering when I’d ever see something truly tangible.  It’s the result of being brutally honest with myself as I sit with my feelings and ask myself the hard questions – then answer them openly.  It is an acknowledgement of where I’ve been and who I was, and how that person has affected who I am, and who I will be.  It’s the banking of a fire, bringing it under control, and deciding that it’s time to actually use the light – not as a flare to the heavens, but as a light to read and learn by.

I think that I can happily say that those years of mindfulness practise have yielded a significant reward, and the journey is only just beginning.

Disconnecting, setting priorities

A Long Time Coming

It’s been, well, a really long time since I last posted here. It wasn’t that I didn’t have things to say, or ideas to share, or products to tell you about. Rather, it’s life. From a life-altering event in our home last year to all of the reality-shaping events that have brought us, the collective us, to where we are today, I haven’t been able to really feel into the reasons that I began this endeavour nearly 3 years ago.

This isn’t, however, good-bye. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that I’ve been silent and that I’m still holding space for this – and for you. I also want to make space for a new adventure as I’m growing my spiritual practise, so to those of you who may be interested in ocean spirituality, I would say, stay tuned. I’m still working through a lot right now, but I’m slowly but surely finding my way back to the light.

Finally, I posted this to the Renaissance Magpie Facebook page, but I want to leave it here to ensure that there are no questions about where Renaissance Magpie stands: Black Lives Matter. For too long, the BlPOC community in the US and abroad has suffered at the hands of systemic and overt racism, and we are all responsible for enabling this. Whether it’s through our silence, our inaction, our voting history, the words we use when we speak to anyone, or the words we use with ourselves, non-POC/BlPOC must do better. We must acknowledge our role in this lifelong trauma we’ve inflicted upon the BlPOC and POC we live and work and exist with – and do better. Support BlPOC owned businesses. Donate to bail funds, the NAACP, the BLM movement/chapters. And for the love of everything you hold near and dear, understand your privilege. Understand that you may have grown up dirt poor, abused, and at the bottom of the barrel compared to white peers, but you still grew up never having to worry about being targeted by the police, by your neighbours, by strangers, by passersby, for your skin colour.

This statement, dear readers, is inarguable and to diminish it is, itself, an act of racism. On this matter, I will not waiver. I would lose readership than have any single BlPOC or POC visitor to this site, my Twitter, Facebook, or IG wonder, for even a moment, where I stand.

To the BlPOC and POC communities, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my own complicity in my inaction and lack of understanding, truly, what was happening. I’m sorry and I won’t remain silent anymore. Sorry doesn’t begin to make amends, but right now, this is what I can offer you. I have already put my money where my mouth is and donated. I’ve been calling out racism even when I know it’s going to cost me relationships. I am striving to learn more and I hope that everyone reading this does this same.

pens and markers, product review

Let’s Talk About Pens, Baby!

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Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over, but it is…and as the summer draws closed, I’m returning to my sense of connectedness, both online and via snail mail.  This topic came to mind when I was thinking about my Bullet Journaling 101 post where I addressed some of the most frequently asked questions and statements made with respect to this journey.  One of the questions discussed was on pens, specifically finding a pen that doesn’t bleed or ghost.  Well, the answer was (and still is!) that it’s not the pen, it’s the paper you’re writing on…but there is a sort of sister question that goes along with this, and it’s one I didn’t address.  That is:  What’s your go to pen?  And boy wow, have I gone through some pens lately!  So, with that in mind I decided to share some of my go-to pens, past and present, and answer a few more pen FAQs along the way.

When you’re deciding what pen to use you do need to keep your paper quality in mind if ghosting or bleeding is going to bother you.  Personally, I don’t mind minimal ghosting, but when it overpowers the dot grid on the back of the page, it’s too much for me.  The other thing to think about, and for some reason this is rarely talked about, is longevity.  Ink does eventually break down, fade, and become unreadable over time.  Things like exposure to the elements or light will definitely hasten that process, but if you’re like me, you want to make a lasting impression.  That is one of the reasons I use archival ink pens for the meat of my bullet journals – and by meat, I mean the entries themselves, not so much the frills. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Pens, Baby!”

Disconnecting, Mental Health, mental well being

The Power of Disconnecting

Offline wooden sign with a beach on backgroundTwo weeks ago, my S/O and I packed our bags, my daughter, and his grandson, and headed out for the airport to embark on a much needed vacation across the country.  We landed in Phoenix and drove about an hour away to his parents’ house, situated in a town in the Sonoran Desert.  We spent a day there, and then everyone loaded up vehicles and his parents’ boat, and drove north to the White Mountain Apache Reservation, destination, Hawley Lake.

The drive was nothing short of breathtaking.  Although I’ve spent quite a great deal of time in the southwestern US, I’d never been so far as were going, and the landscape, as we drove north, became bigger than life.  I couldn’t help but think that it’s vistas like these that helped inspire pre-Christian man in their own spiritual beliefs.  It was impossible to not see where the gods and myths came from.

As we headed up, the elevation growing higher, my phone’s battery began to swell, and at about 8,000 feet (2,438 metres), the back of my phone popped off completely.  Besides the obvious confusion and concern this inspired in both myself and S, I took it as a sign.  We knew that service would be all but non-existent once we arrived at Hawley Lake, our final destination, and we knew that there was no Wi-Fi or television either.  But apparently, my phone decided to go on strike well before that and so I was the first to become disconnected.

I was worried about the kids too.  They both had games loaded to their Nintendo Switch (each has their own), and S brought his laptop and some DVDs, but both kids are, like most kids, really attached to their gaming consoles.  How would they react to not having YouTube or being expected to play outside or socialise with family?

As it turned out, I need not have worried.  My own daughter discovered a love of fishing and willingly spent the days doing so, either in the boat or at the shore, from breakfast to lunch, and then again until sunset.  She also spent time with her newfound family playing card games and camp games, and when she wasn’t doing any of that, she was drawing at the picnic table on the cabin porch.  S’s grandson did spend more time swapping out game cards and watching movies on the laptop, but he spent a good deal of time playing outside as well.

As for me, my only regret in not having any connection to the outside world was that I was unable to take pictures and capture some of the more engaging moments and scenery.  Even then, I was reminded of the idea that we have become a society so consumed with capturing the moment in the most Instagrammable way, that we’ve stopped being fully present in those moments we try to capture, and our memories aren’t forming as well around them anymore.  I spent most of my time memorizing the landscape around me, breathing in the cold mountain air, and doing my best to be right there, right then.

The effect was energizing and palpable.  Neither myself nor my daughter wanted to leave the lakeside cabin, but the day came where that’s exactly what we had to do.  When we returned to the desert, my battery deflated and my phone was usable once again…but I had no interest in it.  Things had happened in the rest of the world while I was gone, and I didn’t know about them.  I felt wonderful in my willful ignorance.  After all, I could have logged in to Facebook or Twitter or even IG and read the news, but I wanted to hold on to that sense of being whole, complete, and happy a little longer.

It took over a week after getting home before I uploaded the trip pictures I managed to get, or were sent to me by those whose phones were working, to Facebook.  It took 9 days before I finally took a tentative scroll through my newsfeeds as well…and I was struck almost immediately at how grateful I was to have been forced into that willing exile from social media.  So, I did the most rational thing I could do.  I put the phone down and let it be.  I think it’s going to remain there for the foreseeable future.  I have no desire or inclination to inflict anxiety or anger on myself, especially after realising just how grateful, and how much happier I’ve been without it.

How about you?  Do you take breaks regularly from social media?  How do you disconnect and how do you feel after?  Let us know in the comments!

Bullet Journalling, Healthy Habits, Mental Health, self-care, setting priorities

The Benefits of Unplanning

tempclosespirmaintNo, Renaissance Magpie isn’t closing, temporarily or otherwise, but I felt that this image spoke directly to what I did last week for myself.  It dawned on me that those of us preaching the good word of the Bullet Journal, productivity, mindfulness, and the benefits of forming and maintaining healthy habits never address the one true downside that all of this living better brings:  Spiritual Burnout.

Most of us have full and busy lives.  We blog, we write, we create, we work, we parent, and we try to build our own personal lives and realise our dreams.  We preach, we sell, we tell, we share…and inevitably, we crash and burn ourselves.

As I’d written in my previous post, the spring months have not been all that kind to me in terms of mental well-being.  I’ve had to take some serious steps back and re-assess my methods of communication and the energy I was allowing in, as well as sending out into the world.  I’d been scattered, moody, argumentative, and generally down.  Although I was coming around and out of that place by the end of May, I found that my bullet journal, and my daily routine, had become a chore.  A drudgery.  It was not (sorry, Marie Kondo!) sparking joy.  So, on Memorial Day weekend here in the US, I made a conscientious choice.  I put it all down.  I took my Fitbit off.  I set aside my bullet journal for the rest of May and instead, I set up for June in my new Citrus Bindery journal (another topic for another post that I can’t wait to share with you!).  I didn’t do dailies.  I didn’t track anything.  And most importantly, I didn’t beat myself up if I didn’t adhere to my morning or nightly routines.

In fact, the only thing I kept was my morning stretching followed by my morning meditation because those two “habits” really did bring me joy.

I set a “re-opening” date of 1 June and here’s how I feel:  Amazing.  Taking the time off from my own, self-imposed obligations, was like a mini-vacation without the stress of packing or travel.  I didn’t worry about anything and when I returned to my desk this past Saturday to begin anew, I felt completely refreshed and excited to get back into my routine.

I referred to this period as my “Un-planning Week”, but it occurred to me that this is a topic we see a lot of, especially in bullet journaling communities.  Posts from people who managed to skip a whole month, or who put their journals down one day and now don’t know how or where to begin again, even though they want to.

It’s like this:  Turn the page.  If you really feel that your routine isn’t cutting it, isn’t bringing you happiness, isn’t helping you be a better or more productive person, take that spiritual time out.  Close down for a week or a month or more if you need to.  But if you’re serious about picking up again (and I hope you are!), set a date to re-open. 

One thing I will caution against – if you’re working on forming habits and you’re still in the early stages where you really, really need to track them or you just won’t do them, it might not be the best idea to take a time out.  I still track some habits that are pretty well ingrained, but I knew that because they were pretty well ingrained, missing a few days or a week wasn’t going to set me back to square one – and it didn’t.  I track them because I know myself.  It’s OK for me to take a few days off here or there, but if I don’t keep myself accountable, well, no one else will.  If I was trying to form (or break) a new (or old, bad) habit, I likely wouldn’t have felt as good about taking this spiritual time out last week.  So do consider that when you’re assessing your state of spiritual or mental/emotional readiness or burn-out!

Most importantly though, be good to yourself.  When self-imposed tasks and obligations become a chore, it’s time to un-plan.  Set it down, walk away, take a deep breath, and re-center.  I guarantee that you’ll come back healthier, happier, and more determined to succeed than ever before!

Have you experienced this spiritual burn-out?  What did you do to get back on track?  We’d love to hear your words of wisdom, so feel free to comment below!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
Mental Health, mental well being, self-care

Life in the Raw

Blog QuoteI have to admit, for the last few weeks (OK, maybe a bit longer), I’ve been struggling.  I’ve been struggling with writer’s block.  I’ve been struggling with artist’s block.  I’ve been struggling with bullet journaling block, letter writing block…I’ve just…been struggling.  I finally had to admit that I seem to be showing signs of depression.  Usually, my depressed states are obvious to me, and I know what I need to do in order to get out of them.  That’s not to say it’s easy to take that first step, but when I can see what’s going on early, it’s easier than those rare times when I slowly sink and don’t recognize what’s happened until I’m well on my way to the bottom.

At first, I told myself that this lingering melancholy was surely due to the weather.  New England has been doing its level best to live up to Old England’s reputation this spring.  We’ve had 1 or 2 days of spring weather, but 21 days and counting of rain and cold.  Even as I write this, my space heater is running at full temperature and I’m bundled up in fleece leggings, a hoody, and a fleece lined jacket.  This is not normal mid-May attire, even here, I assure you.

While it’s true that seasonal abnormalities affect me in pretty recognizable ways, it took some serious soul searching, some tears, and some days and nights of inconsolable numbness before I sat down with my journal and wrote the words I’d been hiding from, acknowledging that this appeared to be a prolonged, depressed state.

I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with depression per se, although it’s an expected symptom of Fibromyalgia, as well as part and parcel of other mental health diagnoses I’ve had.  Having been raised by a generation that viewed poor mental health as a personal failing rather than an actual measure of illness, I do struggle with acknowledging what’s in front of me sometimes.  While I would never dream of telling anyone else to “walk it off” when discussing depression or anxiety, I don’t always give myself that same kindness.

So I’m here today, not to offer you products, reviews, or advice, but to honour my own vision when I created Renaissance Magpie.  A big part of that vision was that I would not be an IG influencer or a peppy, perky “Life Coach”, but that I would be someone who lays bare the realities of being a writer, an artist, a girlfriend, a mother, a friend, a daughter, an activist, and a patient.  Life is full of moments that make even the most instagrammable photos seem dull and unprofessional.  It’s also full of moments that no filter, no number of fame and followers, and no amount of Photoshop can make pretty.  The more we hide those moments from public view and focus only on #thebestlife or being #blessed, the more it seems we isolate ourselves.

There’s been plenty of research done lately on how detrimental to our mental well-being social media really is, as well as how trends like prank or unboxing videos end up making us feel more isolated, sad, and even worthless, wanting for things we can’t afford but also, don’t really need.  It all boils down to comparison.  I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating:  Comparison is the thief of joy.

It’s a mantra that I nearly forgot.  As I was assessing what was happening to me, I was forced to admit that I overwhelmed myself with a sense of “no can do” worthlessness.  The more art tutorials I watched, the more I perused pages and pages of art journal posts, of spiritual posts, of beautifully written blogs, and the more I submitted my own writing and was rejected, the worse I was feeling.  The less inspired I was feeling.  The more I was quietly questioning myself and my pursuits, the less I was doing of the things that made me happy.  Mindfulness practices began to slip away too, and those are things that don’t just make me happy, but are integral to my spiritual and mental balance.  I was looking at other people’s work and wishing I could do that.  I was seeing other people’s spaces and wishing that I had them.  I was learning about other people’s spiritual journeys and wondering if I’d ever reach that point.

I can’t say to you that this epiphany suddenly made the sun shine through the clouds, or was accompanied by a chorus of angels, unicorns farting rainbows, or a rain of fluffy puppies.  What I did sense was a slight lifting of my mind and mood, and a tentative exhale.  Anyone who suffers from any form of depression or anxiety may be able to relate to that feeling.  It’s a baby step, but it comes with its own sense of relief that things may finally be turning around.  When I had that moment of clarity, I knew that I was succumbing to the very things I took such great pains to avoid, and also to counsel against.  I was comparing myself, my art, my writing, my life.  I found it lacking, but when I looked at it objectively, as an outsider might, I could see how full it truly is.  At that moment, I resolved to put one foot in front of the other once more, and return to that which makes me whole, no matter how much of an uphill climb it might have seemed.

Each day since, I’ve been a bit better.  I’ve been doing the things I need to do, and carving small bits of time for those things I want to do as well.  I know what I have to do.  I’ve had the tools all along, and I’ve shared some of them with you here before.  Nevertheless, I am fallible, flawed, and human like everyone else.  I want all of you who read this to know that, and if you struggle with depression or other mental health issues, you’re never alone, you’re not broken, and you’re not weak.  You’re simply ill, and it can be treated.

It is my greatest hope for each of you that you have the tools *you* need to see you through to the other side and happier days – and if you need reminding, or if you need help, that you can always contact me and I can help put you in touch with resources in your area.  After all, I am not a doctor, and my tools may not work for you.

On that note, I’d love to know what tools you use to stay balanced and well.  Please leave your own pearls of wisdom in the comments!

Bullet Journalling, setting priorities, time management

Prioritizing You.

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In my last post, I answered what I considered to be the Top 10 myths and questions regarding bullet journaling, as evidenced by the numerous posts on the topics across various social media groups.  I did, however, leave out what is perhaps the biggest statement that we see several times a day, and that is:  I want to start bullet journaling but I don’t have the time.  On a similar note, it’s not uncommon to see someone post something like, I just don’t have the time to keep up with my bullet journaling!

Invariably, this all comes down to how we prioritize our time and what we expect from a bullet journal.  So let’s begin with our expectations of a bullet journal.  In it’s purest form, Ryder Carroll developed the system to be a time *saver*.  Rapid logging and migration was never meant to take hours.  Rather, it was meant to be exactly as it’s name implies:  Rapid.  Of course, as we all know, that system gained traction and speed and grew into something Ryder certainly never expected, which is a nearly cult-like movement in journaling.  With it’s growth came change, and the system quickly evolved into artistic and instagrammable planning loosely based on rapid logging.

It seems, however, that this evolution is creating more stress for many, stress which the system was designed to alleviate.  So when you find yourself overwhelmed and out of time for your bullet journal, try asking yourself why you’re really using it.  Are you using it to be part of that movement?  As an art journal?  As social media fodder to promote your pages? Or are you using it as it was intended – to help you better manage and organize your time?

From my personal perspective, it *can* be time consuming.  The longer I use this system, Continue reading “Prioritizing You.”

Bullet Journal 101, Bullet Journal FAQs, Bullet Journalling

Bullet Journaling 101: Top 10 Myths and Frequently Asked Questions

20190330_1455367782802058092238632.jpgBack in 2017, I talked here about why bullet journal “hacks” weren’t really a thing, but I’m a member of a few different bullet journaling and planner groups on social media, and as with any large group, each day it seems that new members ask questions that have been answered time and again, I thought I’d flesh out that concept a little more for you today.  I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions and Stated Myths About Bullet Journaling for this week’s post.  So let’s get right to it, shall we?

1.  I really want to start bullet journaling, but I’m not artistic at all so I’ll just enjoy everyone else’s posts. – MYTH! Nowhere in the concept of bullet journaling does it state that this must be an artistic endeavour.  We couldn’t possibly pinpoint when bullet journaling turned from Ryder Carroll’s concept being introduced to the super artistic spreads appearing on Pinterest or Instagram, but the truth is that you don’t need to be an artist to bullet journal.  The system is about optimizing productivity, not creating art.  With that said, if you really want to add artistic flair to your layouts, try using stamps and stencils rather than free-drawing or doodling.  These can lend that creative look you want without you getting frustrated over your inability to draw or paint.  Remember, there is no “wrong” way to bullet journal except for the way that doesn’t work for you.

2.  So, I got a bunch of washi tape and stickers, but I don’t know how to use them. Any ideas?  Washi and stickers can be as creative or functional as you want them to be.  Some people edge their journal pages with washi which helps them better find months or important spreads without flipping pages.  Others use washi and stickers as space fillers or decorative accents on pages.  Washi especially really is versatile and there are thousands of posts, pins, and images out there that show you the best or most creative ways to use it in your journal, on stationery, and around your home!  Do a little research and I know you’ll find the inspiration you need.

3.  I’m really poor/broke and can’t afford to bullet journal, even though I really want to. – MYTH! Now granted, I’m not going to say that anyone who is poor can afford a single item beyond the absolute necessities.  I never want to assume privilege that way.  BUT, if you can afford two dollars, you can head to the dollar store to buy a notebook and a pen and begin your own bullet journaling journey!  The idea that only those who afford expensive notebooks, pens, and markers are “real” bullet journallers whilst the rest are left out is absolute rubbish and should end here and now.

4.  My handwriting sucks, so I can’t bullet journal. – MYTH! I have friends who give doctors a run for their money when it comes to illegible handwriting.  I have friends who have legible, but not beautiful handwriting.  Even my own writing isn’t all that great, and I can’t do brush lettering to save my life.  But these things haven’t stopped any of us from adopting the system and making it our own!  If you can read your own writing, you can bullet journal, period, full-stop.

5.  I keep seeing everyone talking about GSM and I don’t know what that means! GSM stands for Grams Per Square Meter, and it refers to paper weight and quality.  The higher the GSM, the heavier the paper.

6.  Can you recommend a pen that doesn’t bleed/ghost so much? Ah, well, the thing is, it’s usually not the pen but the paper that is the real culprit here, which brings us back to the previous question about GSM.  The heavier the paper, the less likely it is that your pen will bleed or ghost.  Unfortunately, a higher GSM usually translates to a higher cost journal.  In the case of stationery and journals, you really do get what you pay for in this case.  Well, 99.99% of the time.  If you’re using a cheaper journal or notebook, your best bet is probably going to be to use a common ball point pen.  Most artist pens such as Faber Castell PITT or Pigma Micron use archival ink and, as with most felt nibbed pens in general, will bleed right through thinner papers.

7.  I want to use watercolour in my journal, but whenever I do, it soaks right through or the page crumples. What can I do to prevent this?  Once again, it’s all about the GSM and paper quality.  Scribbles That Matter recently changed their paper to cater to those who wanted to use watercolour or other water based artistic mediums in their journals.  Unfortunately, this has not translated well for many users, as the coating on the paper is waxy and causes ink smears fairly consistently.  But!  It definitely takes watercolours quite well.  The bottom line is this:  the thinner the paper, the lower the GSM, the more likely it is that your journal pages will not hold up well to watercolours or water based mediums.  If you’re really set on using them without buying a more expensive journal, you can try to glue two pages together to create a thicker base, or use gesso to stiffen the page and prevent bleed through.

8.  Why do you use habit trackers? What should I track?  This one’s easy as we’ve covered that specific topic here before!  Rather than delving into it again, I recommend you click the link and read the post.

9.  I’ve made a mistake on my page and I just want to throw the whole journal away and start over again. What should I do?  Turn. The. Page. And. Start. Again.  Well, there are loads of other options.  You could tear the page out but…that seems almost as excessive as tossing a whole book over a mistake.  You could put a sticker or paste an image that has meaning to you over the mistake or whole page, and start fresh on the next one.  Or, you could simply turn the page.  I get the urge to chuck the whole thing and start fresh.  Really, I do.  I’m a perfectionist at heart, but one of the things bullet journaling has taught me is to let go of the little mistakes, sigh, and turn the page on the bigger ones.  Mistakes are part of life and none of us are perfect.  I think one of the reasons that imperfections or mistakes bother us so much is that, deep down, those are the things that remind us of our own flaws.  Embrace them.  Learn from them.  But don’t bin 20+ dollars worth of journal over a one page mistake!

10.  You guys! I just saw [insert brand/journal of choice here] and I really want to get this but I’m only halfway through my current BuJo.  What should I do?  Similarly, there is also, You guys!  I was just gifted my dream journal but I’m only halfway [or less] through my current one.  What should I do?  Everyone may have different thoughts on this one, and I have to admit that there was a time when I’d just toss whole journals because I’d neglected them for too long or found a better, shinier one.  Granted, these weren’t bullet journals but regular, diary type journals.  Nevertheless, the concept was pretty much the same.

When I started bullet journaling, I ordered the wrong journal!  It was a grid, not dot grid, LT 1917.  I hated the grid, but couldn’t afford a replacement for it for a little while, so I made myself start with what I had.  I did order the correct journals less than halfway through my first, and I wanted desperately to just chuck the graph grid notebook and start again, but I realised that this was a pattern of mine and one I didn’t want to continue.  So my answer is, finish what you’ve started.  Exercise restraint, and the reward is all the sweeter when you finally get there.  Not only is this less wasteful, it teaches us to rein in our impulsivity and instant gratification needs – lessons that we could all use, especially on this day and age of instant gratification and bouncing like squirrels on drugs from one shiny to the next.

So there you have it.  The top most frequently asked questions and stated myths answered and debunked.  I’ll open up the comments section to more Q&A if you’re so inclined.  Feel free to ask away, or let us know if I missed something!  And if you’re really new to bullet journaling, I recommend you do a search for “Bullet Journal 101” on YouTube (click the link to bring you to a list of BuJo 101 videos on YouTube!).  There are loads of great tutorials out there just waiting to help you enter the world of bullet journaling!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
Snail Mail

The Art of Letter Writing

Letter Writing PostWhen I was a child and really, through to my teenage years (late teenage years if I’m to be honest), letter writing was well and truly A Thing, and boy did I write.  My mailbox was always a happy place.  Bright envelopes filled with long letters from friends from all over the world well outweighed the bills and junk mail of the day.  But then, the internet happened.

Given that most of us were still in our late teens or early 20’s at best, we saw the dawn of the internet age in the early 1990’s as an amazing thing!  It allowed us to talk to one another in real-time without racking up outrageous, long-distance phone bills (ask your parents, 2000s kids – calling outside of your area code was like accidentally hitting the internet browser button on your first cell phone) via AIM or ICQ chats and chatrooms.  It allowed us to write to one another via e-mail without spending money on postage, or having to delay gratification and wait for the mail.  It allowed us to connect via Friendster, then MySpace, and eventually, Facebook.  In short, it was amazing.  We could send pictures, send “letters”, and send instant love.  We could follow one another’s attempts at early HTML and CSS coding, investigate one another’s personal websites, and later, follow each other’s blogs.

Yet…as the internet evolved, our interactions became less personal.  Texting replaced chats and became a little bit of a chore, not to mention nigh impossible with overseas friends (at least until apps like Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp came along).  E-mail became burdensome – especially as more and more work places adopted it and the last thing anyone wanted to do when they got home was check more e-mail.  Social media interaction rose, but became less personal – a quick like, maybe a comment (or a poke back in the early days of Facebook when that was still acceptable).  And through it all, checking our post boxes each day held no joy – only bills and circulars.

Then, through Live Journal (remember that?), I learned that people did still write letters and exchange happy mail.  I missed letter writing so much that I would sometimes have dreams of having a post box full of lovingly decorated envelopes, thick with long, handwritten letters inside, so discovering this was rather like finding out that unicorns really did exist after all! Continue reading “The Art of Letter Writing”

Healthy Habits, self-care

Re-Defining Self-Care

1_H_prn8o7u-qSMDWP5yeiRwWow, has it been a while.  Unfortunately, that is one of my biggest character flaws.  I tend to go in fits and starts which is, not to put too fine a point on it, a piss poor way to build a brand, a following, or a business.  But while I’ve been absent, I’ve been working hard at re-defining and learning what self-care really is and until recently, I was unable to put it to words.  In the end, I never did put it to words either.  Instead, the quote that struck me to the core, that I’ve shared here with you here, and that so perfectly, succinctly defines what I’ve been working on, is from author and journalist, Brianna Wiest.  When I saw this whilst mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, it woke me up and put to words exactly what I’ve been doing for the first quarter of 2019.

Most of us, when asked to define self-care or describe what we do when we think of self-care, will absolutely answer, “baths,” “me time,” and other things we most commonly believe are taking care of ourselves.  And sure, to a degree, having a long, hot bath, or getting our hair and nails done are indeed little forms of self-care.  We’re taking a time out, time to care for ourselves in ways that make us happy.  At least, happy in the moment.  But that happiness is usually fleeting and when the bath has drained or we’ve left the salon, we’re right back in the thick of that which we were trying so hard to escape for a while. Continue reading “Re-Defining Self-Care”