“I am mine before I am anyone else’s”

I’ve been using my bullet journal consistently since I started it on August 8th, and it’s been incredibly helpful. I feel so much more organized, which gives me some sense of control even though things have been really chaotic. (I swear there’s something in the food or water or air or something making everyone act irrationally.)

I like having a structure yet room to play: there’s the future log, monthly calendar, weekly spread, and each day is laid out the same way … but in the middle I can do random artwork or take notes on a topic of interest or whatever else meets my fancy. Per Wakana’s advice, I now have a whole spread dedicated to making my cluttered apartment into a home, right in the middle of this week’s dailies. I can find it easily, though, because I wrote it down with its page numbers in the index.

I’ve also taken a page out of Boho Berry‘s book (pun intended) and started doing a simple daily planner at the top of each day. It’s 2 lines, the AM hours written above the PM hours, with color-coded shading to represent when I’ll sleep, attend meetings/appointments/events, spend time with loved ones, work on tasks, etc. It’s pretty and easy to process and just gives me a calm sense of knowing what to expect on a given day. It also helps me develop and maintain a realistic perspective of how much I’ll be able to do, so I don’t overbook or overwork myself. And if what I end up doing on a given day is completely different from what I’d planned, I can just jot down some notes about it or draw or whatever. No pressure, it’s my bullet journal.

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Bullet Journal Day

I got to spend an awesome weekend with Banji – reconnecting, playing duets, enjoying wonderful food and excellent company, the works. I’d been missing my friends from college and earlier; this was just what I needed to feel whole again.

It seems whenever I hang out with Banji I end up learning about a new arts-related thing they’re doing; this time it was bullet journaling. It’s basically creating a customized planner using a notebook, pen, and ruler; you can add colors, drawings, quotes, anything really. People use bullet journals to keep track of appointments and tasks, make note of things they’re grateful for, track habits they want to develop (e.g. exercising regularly), brainstorm, any number of things. A whole community has emerged around it with people sharing their ideas, layouts, artwork, etc.

Video: How to Bullet Journal

Video: Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Journaling

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with life, and I liked what I saw in various videos, so I decided to give it a try. I ordered a journal with dotted pages; it was supposed to arrive tomorrow, but instead it arrived today!!! So I decided to start setting it up with components I’d learned about from various videos (an index, symbol key, “future log” – kind of like a year at a glance, August calendar, list of appointments & goals for August, and my very first daily to-do list!).

I also did a kind of custom thing: I dumped all the to-dos that have been stressing me out on one side of a spread and got so stressed I felt the need to write “Fuck it all!” at the bottom. But then I re-organized (re-listed) everything into four categories: Personal, Green Party, Academic, and House. Each category has its own color. Separating everything just made me feel so much better; now it makes sense in a way it couldn’t before with everything jumbled together. It inspired me to draw a butterfly – something I definitely hadn’t planned, but I loved getting to draw and color with some awesome colored pencils.

Video: A Dude’s Bullet Journal Walkthrough

I sent Banji a picture of the spread; they told me that it’s Bullet Journal Day – the anniversary of when this officially became A Thing and the website BulletJournal.com went live. How amazingly cool is it that I get to start bullet journaling on the anniversary of its launch – particularly because the primary item I needed to make it happen arrived early?!

I think my favorite part of my journal so far is my August monthly spread. The left page has a typical calendar with appointments filled in, and a note about this past weekend being awesome. The right page is separated into four sections: Personal, Academic, Green Party, and House. Each section has a list of the tasks I want to complete by the end of the month: my goals for the month, you could say. I feel so much more focused now, having it organized like that. I was feeling stressed out about the House category so I added a quote by Agatha Christie: “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” My hope is that will help me re-imagine chores not as a monumental life-stealing task but as smaller opportunities to invite creativity. … Whatever the actual result, I have the name Agatha Christie in my journal now and that makes me happy.

My next favorite part is today’s daily. I blatantly stole the layout from Boho Berry (video), including the adorable little weather indicator in the upper right corner. I added a quote: “You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens” ~ Mandy Hale. It might seem a bit ironic to include a quote like that in a tool for planning, but one of the things I love about bullet journaling is that the journal itself isn’t (or at least doesn’t have to be) planned in advance. It’s a continuous creative work-in-progress – kinda like life.

But my favorite part of today’s daily is that I only listed the specific tasks I intend to complete today. One of the items will “migrate” to tomorrow, but the point is that today I only have to focus on today, and I actually can accomplish the (other) tasks I set for myself today. No worrying about tomorrow. No feeling guilty about the stuff I’ve been procrastinating forever, no being distracted by the things I “should” be doing everyday (those will go in a tracker on a different page, if I decide to do that. Maybe starting next month? That’s the beauty of this system, I can do things differently each day/week/month/etc. as I figure out what works best for me!)

It’s so empowering! I only have a handful of things to focus on today. They’re totally doable. It feels really awesome to check them off; little things I can celebrate. Even the color coding and the little cloud in the corner make me happy.

So, I guess we’ll see how this goes …

Do you bullet journal? What are your thoughts on it? Do you have any tips, designs you want to share, etc? Please share in comments! ❤

Well fuck. I’ve been fucking around for too long and now the requirements for my graduate program have changed.

My understanding had been that I needed a thesis and an internship, and I could theoretically complete them in any order. The thesis could be informed by the internship, or completely separate. I’d started working on a thesis about a topic that’s very personal – perhaps overly so – but something I need to work through; everyone I’ve told has said it’s a great topic, relevant to the field, important for students and professionals alike to be aware of. I haven’t actually worked on it in ages – got hung up by the lit review, so never even finished writing the proposal – but I was just about to renew my focus on it when I found this out. I’d re-imagined it to be even more introspective, arts-based … almost kinda sacred. I was planning to run the new idea by my advisor sometime soon.

I guess it’s better I learned of the change when I did, than if I’d gotten any farther in the process. Now instead of writing a thesis, I need to complete a “culminating project” that has very specific requirements. I have to complete my internship first, then do 50 additional hours of supervised field work, and the project has to be directly related to whatever work I’m doing. I don’t even feel ready to apply for internships yet; I may not be able to get – much less complete – one within the next year. So it’s more time, more money, more work to get this fucking degree – that I’m not even sure I want to use anymore, I just want to fucking complete it so I can have something to show for my soul-crushing student debt. Add the fact that all the field work leading up to and including internship are required to be unpaid … if I have to do 50 additional hours of unpaid work to get my degree … what the fuck!?

I’m a bit of an emotional wreck.

My inner Vulcan is trying to convince me this could be a positive development. It provides additional motivation to apply for internships in a timely manner. It requires a professional rather than purely academic focus, which will better prepare me for a career – which is the whole point of majoring in this field, particularly at the graduate level.

I still have the option of completing a thesis, it’s just not required and it would be in addition to the “culminating project.” Ergo I can choose to resume the thesis work I had been doing, or I can continue ignoring it without any academic penalty. I can take the entire work in a completely different direction of my choosing, free from academic restraints. I may write a book or release an album or do something with video or all of the above or something I’m not thinking of right now. It can become an ongoing process, not something I need to complete within a year or two. And I don’t have to pay for graduate credits to do it.

Regarding the “culminating project” … I don’t know, I need to talk to my advisor to learn if the requirements for practicing music therapy in my state have changed (and more information about the “course” itself) but there are possibilities with it, too. I have some ideas about how to reconcile this career with the activism I’ve been engaged in, which I’ve heard is a current trend within the field. My “culminating project” could tie in directly with the kind of work I most want to do – even better than the thesis! And 50 hours isn’t really much if it’s stretched over a semester or two … I could probably do it in addition to my paying job. The “course instructor” will be my supervisor, so I may be able to work at a site as the only music therapist … if that’s the case, oh wow!

I have an idea forming – I’m not sure how to put it into words yet and there are some things I’ll need to talk to my significant others about regarding community hubs we’d love to create. But if we can make actual progress pursuing those dreams and the important factors fall into place … far from pulling me in disparate directions, it could bring everything together so beautifully …

And we’ll probably need at least a year or two to get our community hubs to the point where they could support something like this so … AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

I’ve been feeling kinda guilty since I posted Still Wounded. I feel like it’s not fair to Fox or Ron. They’re both wonderful people whom I love and who love me, who contribute to my happiness and well-being in beautiful and unique ways. I’m blessed to have both of them, and Banji, and my other family and friends in my life. (Yes, including Fox’s sister. We had a great time being roommates!)

I was struggling with Ron because ze doesn’t want to tell the other person ze’s in love with about the full nature of our relationship, and ze doesn’t think we can continue if/when this person decides she’s ready to have a romantic relationship with zir. (Right now they both consider themselves to be “friends” because they’re not physically/sexually romantic, but … it’s complicated.) I’m not happy with this situation and most folks I talk to agree that Ron should be honest with the other person. But when I confronted zir, ze made a fairly compelling argument for why complete honesty in this case, at this time, might do more harm than good.

I’ve come to realize that 1) I can’t control Ron, so whatever happens in zir other (“platonic”) relationship is on zir, and 2) if I base my happiness on what I want our relationship to develop into, I will be miserable.

So it’s been a bit painful, and it isn’t easy, but I’m refocusing myself. Ron’s interactions with me show that ze loves me and I can trust zir. I choose to focus on and cherish what we have NOW, which is fun and emotionally satisfying and mutually beneficial. We’re able to support and comfort each other and express ourselves with each other so beautifully. I know I’m growing as a result of this experience, and I think (hope) ze is, too. I can’t / don’t deny what I would like for the future (and ze’s said ze wants, too, but doesn’t see how it can be possible), and I know trying to stifle the sadness that comes up when I think of it isn’t healthy. But I remind myself to do kind of what they teach in mindfulness meditation: if you have a thought, observe it and let it go. I acknowledge and sometimes even entertain this dream, but I let it go.

I choose to focus on the here and NOW because, in reality, that’s all we have. I’ve lost too many loves to pretend otherwise. So whether a relationship has the potential to last a year or a lifetime, I’m going to savor, cherish, work with, and live in what we have now.

That includes my relationship with myself.