Listening to your “self”

I often write “Notes to Self” down in my planner/journal instead of Tasks, or To Do’s, or Intentions. There’s something about the phrase that resonates with me. Notes. To. Self.

I’ve often started a bit of brainstorming, or mind spilling, or morning pages. with the thought of future me looking back and either wondering how brilliant and productive I was, or how silly and unproductive I was. But those things aren’t necessarily bad things, or good things, they just are. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea, but that doesn’t mean I’m productive. And sometimes I am silly and quite productive. When I listen to my inner voice, my “self,” or as some people like to say, the “higher self,” or your intuition, I find that I can be brilliant, productive, and silly. I can play and have fun, be creative, and quite productive, which is brilliant if you ask me.

I’ve been researching ways that I can use my ADHD to my advantage, as well as ways I can bring more clarity, mindfulness, focus, and productivity into my creative practice. The days of procrastinating, or avoiding–the whole flight or freeze dilemma when it comes to ADHD, stress, and anxiety is one that I know all too well.

On Monday, we lost power for four or five, maybe even six hours. I was in the middle of saving a coffee chat video for Patreon in iMovie when the power went out. The next morning when I rebooted my iMac it was acting wonky. iMovie did not work and kept giving me errors. The little bouncing colorful ball was going crazy, so I clicked “restart,” thinking maybe… to no avail, that did not work, it just made things worse as there was an update waiting for my beautiful link to the creative content and creative world–my iMac. It froze while updating. I researched the issue and found that there are times when updates take HOURS, so I managed to film a short video Tuesday evening with my iPad Air, a one take wonder, and posted it to let my Patrons know what was going on. It brought me back to my start on YouTube when I had no idea of what editing a video was much less how to do it. Note to self: find videos on Skillshare or YouTube and learn how to use iMovie on the iPad. Of all the things that could wrong during this Mercury Retrograde, and all the planets aligning in Aquarius (7 planets I think), my iMac losing its shit was not what I expected.

By Wednesday Morning, after I’d done all the things I could do, within reason, to help “unfreeze” my iMac, which I call Apple, like that star named her child, (and my Windows computer is named Windy), I found myself researching local computer repair shops. I looked at reviews, called my husband (Mr. Rockstar), to find out which one he recommended. I called. Took it in. And now I’ve found out that Apple needs a new hard drive. And by the way, the battery light in Mr. Rockstar’s car keeps coming on and going off.. yes, there’s corrosion on a post, which he needs to clean and we’re hoping that fixes it, but if not then we’ll be buying yet another vehicle battery. We just got one for my car last month, and then turned around and bought ourselves a new to us 4Runner. In our defense, my car is 21 years old and a convertible, she’s glorious but needs a bit of work. So it’s been one thing after another, after another…

And yet, as I sit here typing this post on Windy, who needs some maintenance and an upgrade himself, I am thankful that I have the ole’ boy, he’s like a Timex. But that’s not what this post is about…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep Windy once I moved my creative studio out of the house and into the barn studio. The tower is huge, it’s one of those gaming one’s with the fancy blue lights and the fans, and stuff. It’s slow as molasses now, it wasn’t in its hayday, but now–well, let’s just say my thought was that I’d get it worked on and upgraded tax time, and it would be the computer I use for writing, as well as Mr. Rockstar’s. He’s not on the computer much. He has a smart phone and a tablet, all Samsung products, but he’d have it for when he needed it. Note to self: Make sure to get Windy to the shop when you get the iMac fixed.

When you have ADHD, it’s recommended that when you’re using your planner, which is highly recommended, to write down you main focus areas/priorities–the areas you need to focus on first, instead of a “to do” list. And it is also suggested that you keep a “parking lot” list. A parking lot is a “productivity technique for effectively dealing with distracting but important non-agenda items that arise during the course of your day/week/month/quarter. Those non-agenda items always seem to find their way into the brain, so it’s important to honor and recognize their existence, but without interrupting the focus and goals.. The “parking lot” involves recording these incidental issues down on paper, that way you will remember them and can address them later on–this way they don’t interrupt the flow of your focus.

A Parking Lot list, is a different way of having a Notes to Self list. I like Notes to Self better, but that’s just me. One of the things I’ve found, as an avid stationery enthusiast, I often need a notebook to jot down those Notes to Self–the “non-agenda items are in my brain one minute and out the next, if I don’t write them down. And then later on, sometimes after I’ve forgotten what I thought was an incidental thing, it turns out it was actually an important thing, but I forgot to write it down, and that’s why it was in that loop, playing over and over in my brain, and I kept ignoring it, for fear of interrupting my flow, or someone’s conversation. Now, I write that shit down.

Many of us keep journals, use planners, in a variety of ways. Some of us use multiple journals, and planners. Some of us have a bit of a hybrid system. Some use one notebook (to rule them all) where they journal, create, plan. Other’s use one planner and one journal. I’ve been letting my selection of planners and journals grow organically this year, especially after the year we had in 2020. This year hasn’t been much different so far, lots of chaos, uncertainty, and confusion, intermingled with once in a lifetime astrological stuff going on (Jupiter and Saturn, etc). My word of the year for this year is “Cultivate,” and this month I’ve been cultivating some kind of routine, which was working well enough, on and off, but has been shot to hell the past few days. I’ve also been trying to cultivate a better than decent practice of Self-Care. As I’ve been working on cultivating a creative practice that works for me, finding a routine that works for me, one that includes self-care, I’ve found that some of what I’ve been using has been working, and some of the things have not been working. So I’m taking the time to reflect on the what’s and why’s, not just my what or my why, but overall.

So I’m changing a few things up. What? Again? Yes! It’s my prerogative, to do what I wanna do… (okay, how many of you hear Bobby Brown singing in your head now? Sorry, not sorry.) It really is my prerogative to do what I need to do to make things work for me, or to enjoy doing what I’m doing. Part of all of the journaling and planning is for creativity, part is for organization, part is a stress and anxiety reducer, and part is just because it’s enjoyable, so if it’s not enjoyable, not working, and it’s stressing me out–I’m not going to keep doing it. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what trends are out there. What this group is using, or this person is using, or how aesthetically pleasing it might be, if it doesn’t work for me it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t bring me joy then I’m not going to stick with it. Note to Self: Get rid of the socks with holes in the toes, they’re annoying. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss those bras that the wire is coming out of, those are annoying as hell.

I’ve been keeping a journal of some kind since I was about seven years old, that’s about forty-six years. I’ve journaled and planned in composition notebooks, agendas, binders, spiral bound notebooks, fancy leather bound notebooks and planners… and for me, it’s all about 1. the paper and 2. the size. Sometimes, when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed I use the smaller sized notebooks/planners, other times when I’m feeling really creative and have a lot I want to do I use something like an A5. And sometimes it’s something in between, like a B6, but my overall way of journaling and planning, at least the core system, is pretty much the same. I change things, improve things, let go of what isn’t working, but what I’ve found is that if the journal or planner doesn’t make me feel at home in the pages, I will not stick with it. So I’m off to work on my sketchbook. I have a few things I’d like to experiment with for some doodles I’m creating for my Patrons, and for my new YouTube Membership launch for March 1st. Lots of good stuff happening, and since Apple will be back the end of next week all new and improved, I want to be ready for all the stuff I’ve got going on.

Hope you have a great one! And remember… Do your own thing. “To thine own self be true.”

Creative Flow, Self Care, and Listening to my Inner Creative Voice

You ever feel like your creativity has gone on strike? I have. For a while things were a mess. My creativity was coming in waves, and some times I was peaking, and other times I was crashing. Speaking of crashing, after burning the candle at both ends, for way too long, especially last year, I finally took some time for me, for self care, and had a bit of a stay-cation, and then a bit of a vacation. I needed it.

The stay-cation and vacation were in January. Now it’s February, the month of love. For me, February is also the month of Self-Love/Self-Care. Since last year, which was the year from hell for many of us, I’ve been slowly but surely finding my creative flow. It has been a lot of trial and error, but I’ve tried to keep an open mind and let things grow organically, while at the same time trying to manage my creative life (the work parts). It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m getting there. And here’s how that process has been unfolding…

Towards the end of last year, my mom and son finally decided to move in with us. To make a long story short, my mom’s house is falling apart, literally. It had become dangerous for her to live there. Once they moved in, we became overrun with their boxes, crates, bags. We have a small house. It’s around 1100sqft, which meant we had to move things from the guest room, I had to get my studio packed up–but where to put it. We decided to convert a barn shed into a barn studio. (Videos are here.) We then became inundated with tools, barn supplies, and barn and house DIY projects. The barn studio and house weren’t the only things were/are working on, but they were top priorities. The barn studio was such a big project, and a creative one, it took up a tremendous amount of my headspace, and creativity and energy, but it helped me get back some of my creative flow. (I’ll do a post on the barn studio soon.) It also has taken a lot longer than anticipated.

Once I was officially in the barn study, I started trying to cultivate a routine. It was hard. I was burning the candle at both ends trying to unpack, organize, and setup things in the barn studio, as well as create videos, while at the same time moving my stuff out of the closet in the guest bedroom into our master bedroom’s closet, which happens to be half the size of the other two bedroom closets (David and I are sharing said small closet.) It was rough for all of us for a while, but we got through it. We’re still working on both the barn studio and the house, but we’ve come a long way.

Cultivating my creative practice really has been a great deal of trial and error. Lots of happy little accidents that really helped me practice mindfulness and positivity, not to mention it really improved my DIY skills. Between my creative projects, like the barn studio conversion, and my planning system, and journaling, I have learned a lot about how my creativity ebbs and flows, as well as what inspires me. Really inspires me. Pinterest and YouTube were huge helps for the barn conversion.

I’ve also learned what has and hasn’t worked for me. Self-doubt, fear, comparison, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) have been triggers that have influenced me in negative ways, and yet I learned so very much from going through those things that I feel grateful. And it’s not like I’ve exorcised them, I still go through bouts of self-doubt at times, still hear that little nagging negative voice of comparison, still feel FOMO here and there–but I’ve learned to write those things down in my journal so I can figure out the root cause. Sometimes I’m able to turn the negative self talk into a positive.

After I’ve written down the negative speak or the self-doubts, like “this spread is horrible,” or “this video makes no sense,” or “what are you even doing on YouTube, much less Patreon?,” or the “oh, but if I had that Folio, or that notebook, or that fountain pen, or that palette…I bet my journal pages would be prettier, or my video would be better, or my art would be….” No! I take the time to journal about my feelings and thoughts on whatever it is that’s got me in the trenches, whether it’s self-doubt, comparison, or FOMO or whatever else. Half the time, whatever it is that I see that I think I might want because someone else is using it, it’s more about how they’re using it that I am attracted to, not the item itself. Other times, it’s the item itself and then I look around my stash to see if I already have something similar. And half the time I’m in a bit of imposter syndrome, or the negative self talk it’s really more of a case of anxiety, overwhelm, or just plain ole’ self doubt rearing its ugly head.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret trying some things, some of the things work, and those things that didn’t work–I learned more about what doesn’t work, as well as what does work, and why it works for me. However, the more I’ve let things grow organically, especially with my journaling and planning, the more I find myself feeling creative, inspired, free–and the more my creative flow actually flows. That has to do with being flexible. The more flexible I am, the more I leave the door open to creativity, the more things flow authentically. The more my planning system works for me. The more my journal pages flow.

Part of my self-care is making art. Creating art, in some way, is a tool that helps me destress. It lessens my anxiety. Helps me think, heal, grieve, and listen to my inner voice. There’s something really soothing about getting into the zone when I’m creating art, whether it’s watercoloring, drawing, or doodling. Taking time to create art, or to just doodle, is important. It’s also a safe place. There’s no judgment. It’s like tending a garden. Some days I need to spend more time on the planning, other days I need to spend more time on the art, and other days I need to just relax and enjoy the sunshine. I’ve learned to listen to my inner creative voice, the voice that says, “you really need to slow down, maybe take an hour and read or doodle.” Sometimes when the inner creative voice is telling me I need to slow down, be mindful, even when the creativity feels a little off, I’ll take a walk or read, and I feel refreshed, and then the ideas flow again, the creativity flows again, and I run with it.

I started the Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention, by Julia Cameron the author of The Artist’s Way, on February 1st. It’s a 6 week self guided program. So far it’s been great. Here is the introduction video I did about it. I’ve decided to do videos and posts about it. I just started, it’s only day 8, the first week was the intro, which was last week, so my next post will be all about it, but I thought y’all might be interested. I would love to post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I think I’ll make Saturday’s the updates on the Listening Path. However, the Intro and Week 1 will be this week during the week, since I’m a little behind on here.

Today’s Daily Soul Vitamin, from the book The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, is “Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.” ~Alice Walker

Have a great day!

Burgess

Creative Journaling

As a Content Creator I need to create, almost everyday, something that will inspire others. And if I’m not creating something, then I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, or that I didn’t accomplish anything important. Creative is at it’s core problem solving, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. We’re creative all the time, we just don’t often realize we’re being creative. But being a “Creative” usually means that we’re intentionally creative. We take things a step further.

Most of the people I know are creative, and many of them would tell you that creativity takes practice, and patience. However, practicing creativity can be difficult. Sometimes, we’re expected to be creative and yet we are given very little time to actually practice. This is where having a journal just for creativity comes in especially handy. Since I’ve been keeping a record of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, especially in regard to my creativity, I have found that I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks, I’m also more creative in general, and I am able to take notice of patterns in regards to my creativity–I tend to be more creative in the evenings or at night, for example. And I’ve also found that the more I interact with my creativity in my journal the more motivated I am to be creative.

Journaling

Journals are a great place to write down, work through, and expand upon your ideas and questions. I write ideas for videos, projects, books, and household DIY projects, as well as things I might want to try, things I need to practice, products I want to try out, classes I want to take, books I want to read, and anything else that comes to mind–like how to re-organize my craft and art supplies. One of the best reasons I’ve found for using a creative journal is that it helps me to hone, develop and refine not only my art and writing skills, but my critical and creative thinking skills as well. I’m much more organized, focused, and productive now because of journaling.

However, creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, especially some days, it takes a lot of practice to maintain my creative momentum. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, an artist, a crafter, a scrapbooker, planner, or any other kind of creative, there is always a new technique to learn and or a skill to practice. Writing your ideas down (a brain dump or a mind spill), mind-mapping your thoughts, and/or practicing your drawing techniques all help you continue to develop essential skills (and believe me, I need all the help I can get). Skills like refining ideas, organizing and/or expressing your thoughts, which have been part of my goals lately, and much more.

Creative Journal

If you’re anything like me, and you tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity, especially since much of my creativity is on some form or other of social media, then perfectionism could be holding you back. When you tend to focus on the result, rather than the process that inner critic we often call self doubt, kills creativity. A creative journal can help you silence your self-doubt. In my Creative Journal I try to make sure that the feeling have is that I’m drawing or writing for myself, even though I might be using my ideas and doodles for my work, but I’m less likely to be caught up in the perfectionism if I keep the feeling of this is just for myself. If I can focus on the process when I’m working in my creative journal instead of the result then I’m much more creative and the perfectionism and self-doubt don’t bother me (as much).

Since there aren’t any rules when it comes to journaling, especially creative journaling, there’s no wrong way to journal, so whatever you write, or draw, or plan, or create in your journal is “all good.” It’s a safe space where your creativity can progress without having to worry about your work being judged or ridiculed. If you haven’t picked up a journal and been a bit creative today, then now is the time to do it. In the next post we’ll talk about supplies… what kind of journals are out there, pens, etc… but for now all you really need to be creative in your journal is a journal and a pen or pencil. Have fun creating.

Rediscovering my love for Planning

For the longest time the only things I used for planning were: a letter or legal sized notepad, a monthly pocket calendar (the one you pick up from Dollar Tree or your local drug store for about $1, though I do remember the kids from the elementary school selling some every year), and a monthly wall calendar. That’s it. I kept up with my To Do’s on the pad of paper–I would date it at the top and then list my to-do’s, starting with the biggest priority things. I would put a check mark by it when I started it and then make the check mark and X when I was finished with it. I wrote all my bills, appointments, events, birthday’s, etc on both calendars. The wall calendar was so that I didn’t have to go digging through my purse to find my pocket calendar to know when certain bills were due, or when I needed to send out a birthday card, etc. This was before cell phones, Facebook, and app’s like Google Calendar. My system worked for decades.

Then when I was in my mid to late twenties (so 1990’s) I saw a coworker using this leather binder that she said was called a Franklin Covey. She said I could get something similar at Office Depot or Staples if I wanted to try it. So I did, but the rings… I am not, and never have been, fond of ring bound, spiral bound… but I tried it. After about a month I went back to my legal pad and pocket calendar. I’d kept the wall calendar because each month I got to laugh at a new Garfield or Snoopy or Ziggy cartoon, and all my children’t school stuff like holidays and teacher workdays, along with Doctor appointments, and our household bills were listed on that calendar–it was how I kept up with everything, and the to-do list was how I managed to remember what I’d done and completed versus what I’d started but hadn’t finished…

Fast forward a couple of decades and once again I was tempted by a ring bound planner, only this one was called a Filofax. Somewhere on my Youtube Channel there is a video about that Filofax… Needless to say, I still was not a fan of rings or spiral bound, but I did give it a good try. I also tried the Fauxbonichi, then the Hobonichi, the Bullet Journal, the Omni Journal, as well as a few other things like the Master Planner, Wordsmith Planner, the 90x Goal Planner, and the Creative Minds Journal…just to name a few. Recently, I’ve been using the Creative Minds Journal as a sidekick to my Bullet Journal, and the Hobonichi as my Personal Planner. I think I might have found my grove.

I just sent out my Newsletter for April, and I have to say that what I’ve recently been doing is really working well for me. The Bullet Journal is and isn’t a planner. It’s technically a Journal in which you can do all kinds of things in, from planning to sketching to journaling to taking notes, etc. After reading Ryder Carroll’s book about the Bullet Journal, I realized that I was focusing too much on things other people were doing in their bullet journals instead of what I really needed in mine. And that’s the great thing about the Bullet Journal System–you can make it your own. I did a blog post about the system here.

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

I’ve realized learned a great deal since that blog post:

  1. I don’t have to have a habit tracker unless I actually need one. There are other ways to track habits. Some habits do not need to be tracked. If a habit tracker works for you, great. But if it doesn’t, then it is okay not to include a habit tracker.
  2. I love art and adding touches of art to the pages of my bullet journal brings me joy. Some days though, I just don’t have the time and I need more function, less pretty, and that’s okay. And some days the function is really messy… and that’s okay too!
  3. I mess up and have to fix mistakes. Correction tape, white Posca Markers, and white Signo Uni-ball pens are my best friends.
  4. I do NOT like cream paper. I prefer white paper, and so far for journals that don’t have Tomoe River paper my preference is the Archer & Olive notebooks, or the Scribbles that Matter notebooks. But my next Bullet Journal will be either a Taroko Design Breeze or a half year Stalogy notebook. I love those notebooks–not only is the paper white or nearly white, but it holds up to almost everything you put on the pages–from watercolor to fountain pens. Yes, you do have to let the ink dry, and yes the watercolor does wrinkle the paper slightly, but I like the crinkle the paper makes… it’s a lovely sound when you’re turning the pages.
  5. Though I have seen many people using their Hobonichi’s to Bullet Journal, no matter how hard I’ve tried it just doesn’t really work for me. The Hobonichi is set up perfectly as a planner, plus there is more than adequate room on the daily pages to do a bit of planning and a bit of journaling, though if your handwriting is larger like mine, the grid is a bit small. And if you write a lot like I do, then that one page per day might not be enough for your journaling, documenting your day, art, etc. This is where the Bullet Journal comes in, at least for me, which is why I use them in conjunction with each other. That might be too much for some, not enough for others, but it works well for me. (And using the Creative Minds Journal, even though the pages are cream, for my “content creation plannng/projects” is working well enough, but I don’t think I’ll buy another of the journals… I’ll just use my bullet journal once I’ve either grown tired of the cream paper or fill the journal. And I’ll have an extra watercolor palette for my grandson Viktor to use.)

Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work isn’t always easy, but some of the best advice I’ve heard in regard to planning is this: if your system works then it doesn’t matter what planner you use. I’ve been honing my system. In a way, I’m now using a much fancier version of the system I used many, many moons ago when I was writing my to-do’s down on a pad of paper, and using a pocket calendar as my “everyday carry,” and my wall calendar in my kitchen as my planning hub. As we close up April over this next week, I’ve already found a weekly layout for my Bullet Journal, thanks to Eclectic Scribbles, and I’ve finally found my way through using my Hobonichi and my Bullet Journal system together, which I talked about in one of my videos in the Newsletter I just sent out.

Not my image: found in Pinterest!

On a side note, when I first started figuring out what I was going to do for May, I asked my Patrons what theme they’d like to see… I offered a few suggestions, most of which I’d already done before, but I wanted something different. And one of them said I could do a Garden theme… and the more I thought about it the more I realized that would be perfect. Do my own thing with the Garden theme, of course, but I could have fun with it. I love drawing and watercoloring so the idea of drawing garden tools, veggies, herbs, fruit… a garden gnome or three… definitely appealed to me. Thus, May’s spread in both my Bullet Journal and Hobonichi have a garden theme. If you’d like to see May’s spread now sign up for my Patreon page. Or you can wait for Friday when I’ll have the shorter, more time-lapsed version up on my Youtube Channel.

Hope you have a great week!

Thanks,

Burgess

My Creative Journey

It was a dark and stormy time…

Mr. Rockstar (David) was driving “over the road,” and I had to have surgery (a hysterectomy), which meant I was bed ridden for a bit. While bed ridden I really got into my “fauxbonichi.” It wasn’t just the journaling, it was creating the pages–combining art and words, documenting my life on the pages of my journal. I hadn’t created art in almost three decades, but I was having fun and being creative so I was happy. I wanted to get better. I wanted to find my groove again (I loved to draw and paint all throughout elementary, middle, and high school). So I worked on prompts, watched videos (a whole lot of journal with me videos, mostly Hobonichi and Fauxbonichi videos back then).

The more I worked on my pages, trying different things the more joy I felt. The less anxious I felt. After getting over my initial fear of “what if I don’t do it right?” or “what if it’s awful?” or “what if I suck at this?” and then there was fear of the blank page–what do I put on the page? But after more and more journaling, practicing my artistic skills and techniques I got over the bulk of those fears. I found adding art to my journal pages to be fun, relaxing, and interesting. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot.

Though it is fun, and I absolutely love documenting my life with art and words, I’m still a bit overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of different means and mediums, and the ways that people use them. There people who simply use pen and ink, some add watercolor to their pen and ink, while others use watercolor and gouache, along with colored pencils, and there are those who use acrylics. Not to mention other things you can use on your pages like ephemera, pictures, collage, colored pencils, markers, crayons, stamps, and/or stains. I’ve tried a few different mediums, but I always find myself primarily using pen, ink, watercolor, pictures, everyday ephemera, colored pencils, and/or markers.

I’ve also tried various styles, from more realistic to more illustrated, a bit of a comic or clipart style, to a combination of styles. I love to just sketch things, but I’d say my favorite is when I can capture the essence of what I’m sketching no matter which style I use. I realize that my journal pages and sketchbook pages are not masterpieces, they are not likely to ever be displayed in a gallery, but they’re mine. Not only did I put a bit of love into the pages but I also had fun and was able to capture a bit of my life onto each page.

I’ve learned so much on this journey of combining art and words to my journal pages, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. In the beginning I compared my pages to the pages of others–big mistake, but once I started looking at how far I’d come with my own technique it made me realize it’s really more about the moment. Some days my pages are so good they make me take a second look at them to make sure they’re my own. Other days I feel like I’m having a bit of a Mercury Retrograde with my art. On those days I can’t seem to draw a straight line, much less illustrate my day. So those are days I make it more fun and childlike, more whimsical. Other days I simply splash on some watercolor and add ephemera, pictures, and journaling and call it a day.

One of my favorite things about a blank page in a journal or sketchbook is that there are all these possibilities. You never know what kind of page you’ll find in my journals or sketchbooks. Some days I document the book I’m currently reading, other days a bit of a self portrait and a quote. What I create on my pages really depends on my mood, the events of the day, and what materials (like photos or ephemera) I have on hand.

Whenever I do something creative I feel like 1. I’ve accomplished something even if the outcome isn’t brilliant, 2. I’ve had fun, even if the outcome isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and 3. just doing it, just being creative brings me joy and relieves my anxiety, stress, and helps me reign in my focus (always a good thing when you have anxiety, depression, and ADHD).

I try really hard not to criticize my work, or anyone else’s. Some days our work might look like a flour sifter, other days it might look more like a cup of hot cocoa–but beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder so either way–flour sifter or cup of cocoa I’m happy. How about you?

Decluttering my Brain with my Bullet Journal and the Bullet Journal Method

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The Bullet Journal Method Book by Ryder Carroll, has changed how I look at not only my planning method, which is what I thought a bullet journal was–but nope, it’s a journal, but it has also changed how I look at my journaling. It feels more like a hybrid between a journal, common place journal, and an agenda, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, I want to concentrate on how much it’s actually helped me declutter my life, including my planning, and journals. 

I’ve been practicing a form of bullet journaling on and off for a couple of years now. It has been an important tool for organization and productivity for me, as well as an outlet for a busy mind, but until I read Carroll’s book I was more busy than productive, overwhelmed, and no matter what I tried things just didn’t work–I would be productive for a bit, less overwhelmed and stressed out, but before long I’d end up frustrated because the bullet journal system didn’t seem to work as well for me as it did for so many others. Then I started reading the book The Bullet Journal Method.

If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal here’s a quote from the book written by the founder of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll:

Whether you’re an experienced Bullet Journalist or a newcomer, The Bullet Journal Method is for anyone struggling to find their place in a digital age. It will help you get organized by providing simple tools and techniques that can inject clarity, direction, and focus into your days. (p. 11)

And if you’re still not sure, check out his website and video here.


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

First, let me just say I’m a creative person at heart. I am a content creator: I create videos on Youtube and on Patreon; I am a writer, an artist, a DIYer, but I’ve always thought of myself as a journaler, not a planner. I plan to make my life easier, to help me get and stay organized and productive, so when the bullet journal seemed to be more about pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers, and/or a hell of a lot of work to keep it neat and organized (for some, not all) I all but gave up. I tried going back to the system again and again, in various ways… and then I had this big A-HA moment when reading the book.

The start of today’s page…

Bullet Journaling is so much more than just pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers. It takes mindfulness, adds a plan, and takes mindfulness and a strategy to maximize your time, energy, and potential, and can help you cut out the extra and allows you to focus on the important tasks, the steps to complete projects, and reach your goals.

The Bullet Journal consists of 5 parts: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. The Index assists you in locating things in your notebook–like a map. The Future Log is a brief glance at the coming months and things that you need to keep note of in the future. The Monthly Log is a timeline of the month and a list of tasks, and is the “bird’s eye view” of things. The Daily Log is the workhorse of the system–it is “designed to capture your daily tasks, events, and/or notes. Collections are considered to be the building blocks that allow you to dig deeper into things, whether it is a specific project, planning a trip, or even researching a topic of interest.

The day to day activities and events are chronicled with a simple bullet point or other key symbols that help keep things simple, and helps remove distractions and allows you to focus on the things that are most relevant. You can keep your pages as simple and minimal as your want, or decorate and be as creative as you want. The bullet journal method is simple and flexible, and he recommends using the simple backbone of the method for about 3 months before modifying it–however, if you look up “bullet journal” in Google, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube… you’ll find pages that are really simple in design to pages that are extremely creative and artistic. Don’t be scared… There are hacks a plenty if you’d like to add art without actually drawing, and great resources if you’d rather keep your pages simple and minimalistic.

I’m going to be upfront… I’m not great at some of the aspects of the system. Like rapid logging. I’m learning it, and I’m getting better at it, but I’m a wordy, rambly, chatty person (unless I’m in a crowd) so rapid logging is not second nature to me because for it to really work efficiently you need to break things down to the bare necessities (did anyone hear the Jungle Book song, the one from the Disney movie for kids, in their head just then? well, I did).  So I’m working on the “bare necessities” and what that means to me. And that’s the whole thing with any kind of journal or planner system… that you work things out for yourself–what works for you. …”I mean the bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife… mother nature’s recipes that bring the bare necessities of life…where ever I wonder or where ever I roam…the bare necessities of life will come to you…” 

Okay, okay…enough with the bare necessities, but since I’ve been made to “rest and get well” lately because of the sinus infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia that I had to get at the same time… I have been able to rest at ease lately because…well, I’ve had to because I’m sick, and my husband has put his Taurus foot down and won’t budge about how much I can do… but it’s actually given me some real time for reflection. And that reflection time has come in handy. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, or I should say re-reading various sections of the book so I can get better at things like rapid logging.

I feel like I’m almost on Pause, but that’s not been a bad thing, at least not recently because having slowed down has actually made me re-think my priorities, how I do things, the time I waste, how I could really work smarter not harder, but it’s more than that… If the majority of my journaling, planning, art, etc is more about what I’m doing as a content creator  then I’m missing out… I’ve taken more time the past few months to do things in my journal, planner, etc for myself, without filming… and it’s helped, but I realized while on this “Pause” that part of the issue for me isn’t about that at all, it’s actually the opposite now… I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, but not enough me or time to do them all. I definitely don’t have enough time to do them, film doing them, edit said videos, write random blog posts (hoping that I can get back into the habit of writing a post or two a week at least), and still live a life outside of content creation.

So I slowed my over active brain down by doing a brain spill. I spilled all those thoughts, ideas, questions, doubts, and a-ha moments I’ve been having lately… Then I started dividing them up into categories: Priority: yes or no. Can do: yes or no. Will actually do: yes or no. Requires buying things: Yes or no. And then I broke what was left down into sub-categories like How long will it take? A week? Month? Quarter? Year? And that left me with what things are actually important to me, the priority things; what things I will do but also can be done; and how long a project might take. Immediately after putting pen to paper and spilling all those words onto the page I felt better.

The next thing I realized is that no matter how well Ryder Carroll has explained the Bullet Journal System and how it can be individualized,  there are people like me who are creative and need or want to be a bit creative with it, thus the pretty, fancy bullet journals. I’ve simplified mine… to little bits of art here and there, but it’s much more functional now. And I’ve been modifying how I do things in my Hobonichi, the journal/planner that is Grand Central Station…I have stopped limiting myself. Stopped thinking in terms of “I should do this here…and this there…” I’ve decided to truly follow my intuition and that means sticking with my creative journey, which encompasses art, journals, writing, and the bullet journal system.

So here’s what I’ve taken away from the Bullet Journal Method in a nut shell. 
Ryder calls it a  “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system” and that is definitely what it feels like now that I understand the system more. It feels a bit like having an extra part in my brain to help me deal with my life, and all that my life entails–including the creative bits. And I can include as much or as little creative bits as I want to. Eventually, I am going to merge the creative journal and the bullet journal together. I can feel it coming. But for now I’m going to stick to being a bit creative here and there in my bullet journal. Work in it this way for the next 3 months like he suggests.
The whole Rapid logging thing is really about capturing key words, abbreviating…short hand really. When I think of rapid logging I think of “short hand.” Old school I know but that’s what I think of. So rapid logging is really highlighting the important bits… or capturing the important bits with key words and short hand like abbreviations, symbols, underlining, bold, etc… 

And if you really think about what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you still need to do (what you’ve migrated and why you’ve migrated it)… is it important? Vital? Necessary? Why does it matter? And as you “check in” or reflect on things, the mental inventory, that’s when it clicks… instead of working on auto pilot I’m actually being intentional and mindful of how I use my time and energy, of what is and isn’t working, what I’m doing… Ryder Carroll designed the Bullet Journal to “House whatever your thoughts look like,” which included his notes, schedule, sketches, etc… and to be FLEXIBLE. As I delve more and more into the bullet journal, or the “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system, ” I find myself understanding much more about the how’s, why’s, what’s, and when’s of my own system and what works for me. 

If you’d like to find out more about my journey with the bullet journal check out my video on Youtube:

Art is for Anyone | Art is for All

In Thomas Merton’s book “No Man is an Island,” he said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” That quote is one that really resonates with me–art is a form of mediation, therapy, creativity, and fun for me. It’s a time to relax. To let go. To create. To play. And I do often find myself in the “zone.” That zone where you’re present in the moment and you are so focused on the “creating” or the “doing,” that you pay little attention, if any at all, to anything else. 


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

Not the noise that was in your head before you started… that voice of “I can’t draw…paint…I’m not any good at this…” or the noise of cars passing by outside or the children next door in their yard yelling at each other (mostly it’s the oldest boy yelling at his younger siblings, mostly his younger sister–par for the course with siblings sometimes). Or the people across the street revving the engine on the vehicle they’re fixing or the planes from the Air Force Base.  Sometimes I listen to a podcast, a book on Audible, or a YT video while I create, other times I just listen to instrumental music and/or RainyMoods, though lately I haven’t needed to listen to RainyMood because it’s been raining here on and off for weeks. 

Yet there have been times when I have not been successful at shutting out that naysayer voice. The voice that wants to whisper in my ear that I have no idea of what I’m doing, that I am not any good, that I’m not an ARTIST and I shouldn’t be doing any of this–I’m a fake, a lousy piece of shit fake and I need to just stop and get real with myself. It hasn’t happened in a long while but it used to happen a lot. Especially in the beginning. 

 

Back in November or December of 2014 I fell down the rabbit hole of what some call Hobonichi or Fauxbonichi style journaling, or what others just call documenting your life in a journal. I fell in love with it. I was hooked. But I didn’t have much in the way of supplies. My wonderful daughter, who is an artist, gave me some supplies, like Prismacolor pencils and Prismacolor watercolor pencils and it wasn’t long before I was adding little drawings that I’d color in or watercolor (learning how to use the watercolor pencils was trial and error) on my journal pages. In February of 2015, I had surgery (a hysterectomy) and was bed/couch bound at first, which meant cradling the laptop in my lap to write was uncomfortable, but putting the journal on a pillow in my lap was not–and I delved into journal and art prompts, along with documenting my day in my journal. 

I wanted to make my journals more than just personal reflections of my thoughts and feelings, vent sessions, or bit of notes, ideas… I wanted some of my journals to be keepsakes.  I kept at it. With help from fellow #fauxbonichi journalers I learned how to incorporate art, pictures, words, quotes, prompts…onto my journal pages. I didn’t want to stop there though so I started looking around social media for other ways to document your life in your journals. I learned about an Omni Journal from Rhomany of Rhomany’s Realm, and MissVickyB. I learned about world of Hobonichi’s, as well as Sketch Journals or Artist’s Journals or “Real Life Journals” from artists like
Gwen Diehn, Cathy Johnson, Danny Gregory , Liz Steele, and Gina Rossi Armfield. But it didn’t stop with books or sketchbooks. I found my way down the rabbit hole of paper…

Paper like Tomoe River paper, Mixed Media paper, watercolor paper… I fell in love with the Standard and then the Crossfield by Nanami Paper (it was part of their SevenSeas line), and then I found Taroko Design Shop on Etsy and fell in LOVE with the Enigma, which has notebooks with 68gsm artist Tomoe River paper. Then I found Brie from Documented Journey and she started creating B6 sized notebooks for sale in her Etsy shop with either mixed media paper, Tomoe River paper, or a mixture of the two. And I fell in love. 

But up until this past year, what never really fell in love with was my own art. Sure there were times when I thought I’d done well. When I actually liked something I’d done. When I felt like I deserved a pat on the back. But I wasn’t consistently producing work that I felt that way about. When things really started to change for me was when I finally finished a journal from start to finish (it had been after a bit of rut because my dad had been diagnosed with cancer (stage 4) and my husband was diagnosed with Crohns Disease (July 2017). My dad died on the fifth of October 2017, just a few months after the final diagnosis, my mom was admitted to ICU the very same day… needless to say I was all over the place (between healing and grieving my dad’s death, trying to make sure my mom didn’t also die from Sepsis (she’s better now), and taking care of things, trying to be a rock and a shoulder…well, let’s just say that after all of that I did not remotely feel creative). 

But when you’re a content creator you have to create. And the thing is– I love creating. I love Art. Words. Journaling. I love being creative–but I did not feel remotely like creating. I knew I had to do something, so I reached out to Brie and asked her to make me a customized notebook. That notebook and one she sent me as a prototype with Tomoe River paper in it saved my creativity–saved me in a way. Creativity is how I release stress, it’s how I reduce my anxiety, how I help keep depression at bay (in a way… there is not cure for it, but it does help me tremendously). I needed to be creative for myself, not just because I was a content creator. I still need to be creative for myself, not just for content. 

The thing about being creative is that whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at it, there are going to be times when you get in a rut. If you can get back to what people often call the beginner mindset, the “let’s have fun and play” attitude the blank page doesn’t look so daunting. What you’re creating isn’t about what anyone else thinks, it’s about how you felt when you were creating. It’s about the process not the result. When I stopped thinking about the result and started concentrating on the process. When I started enjoying the journey I was on creatively and stopped thinking about my ultimate destination… I unlocked something inside of myself and I started seeing not only my journals differently, art differently, but the world differently. 

Now, I’m not a professional. Nor do I consider myself to be an Artist, but I am an artist. I am a creative person. I Create, therefore I AM…In a way that’s very true, except I’d have to say it’s more the other way around… I AM, therefore I CREATE.  

Art is for anyone… it might not be for everyone, just as music or crocheting or writing or any other creative pursuit isn’t for everyone, but anyone can create art. It doesn’t matter whether you haven’t drawn anything but a few squiggles since elementary school, you can draw if you want to… the only way to get better at something is to practice. Below is the video that actually accompanies this long post… In the video I talk more about how Art is for Anyone or #artisforall. I think I’m going to start a new series on YT and call it Art if for All #artisforall. I’ve been thinking about posting those videos on Friday, which is supposed to be my Fun Day, or FRIYAY videos. 😀 The videos will be somehow related to how art is for anyone… from beginner art supplies, to my favorite art supplies, to how to stay creative, to how I create pages, sketches, what I am learning, have learned or want to learn… my goals in regard to my art, journals… 

Accompanying Video about Art is for All

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so very much. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about #artisforall.

A Heartfelt Thank you to my Patrons on Patreon, as well as Kateri Ewing for her “Art is for Everyone” series on YT, and for all who have inspired me, helped keep me sane when my creativity was waxing and waning this past year, and for you… all of you! 

Listening to your Inner Compass

Snapshot 1 (9-4-2017 6-34 PM)

I woke up the other morning with every intention of filming a plan with me video for Youtube. I made my coffee. Set everything up. My checklist of things to do before I filmed was done, but it felt like I was missing something. I went over my list and everything looked in order. However, I still felt like something was missing. So I thought maybe I’d film a journal with me instead. Nope. Still felt like something was missing only this time I got the sneaky suspicion that what was missing had nothing to do with my list, but was in fact an internal issue. (This has been going on, on and off, for the past few months.)

Your inner knowing is your only true compass. ~Joy Page

I took a mental inventory of what I needed to do and everything was in order with my “to-do” list. I then proceeded to do a bit of journaling, a brain dump so I could clear my mind. About halfway into clearing my mind via pen to paper I realized: 1. I was tired of the same old same old plan with me’s. 2. I didn’t want to do a plan with me to just do one. 3. Nor did I want to do a journal with me–I was behind with my journal pages in my “art” journal and it felt like the blank pages were mocking me. And, 4. I felt stuck in a rut with the type of videos I was doing–perhaps it’s because deep down inside I knew that I didn’t want to do a plan with me or a journal with me because of said rut.

I opened the fountain pen, I think I was using one of my TWSBI Eco’s, and put pen to paper again, this time to figure out why I was in a rut–what the rut was really about. Two pages into journaling about why I wasn’t journaling (sounds like a real conundrum doesn’t it, lol), or planning, and why I didn’t want to film a plan with me or a journal with me these sentences I’d just wrote stood out:

I feel like a hypocrite–this isn’t working. My planning system isn’t helping me get organized, and if I can’t get organized how am I supposed to stay organized? If I’m only planning so that I can create the video then it’s fake. If it’s fake then I’m not being authentic. If I’m not being authentic then I’m a hypocrite. And if I haven’t been documenting my day for the past few days then creating pages simply to film a video doesn’t feel like “documenting my life,” it feels like…well, it feels like I’m a big fake. 

I stopped filming the plan with me’s for Youtube, and instead filmed some of the attempts to find my method of planning. I shared some of those on Patreon, where I felt like I could freely share that I was having some issues. However, I didn’t outright say, “Hey y’all, I feel like a big fake, a hypocrite.” But I did talk about some of my issues. I talked, and talked about them–probably to the point that I was just going in circles, but that’s how I felt and it felt like sharing about the rut I was in, the struggle I was having with my planning, especially, was cathartic. I’m sure my Patrons were really tired of hearing about it, but they have no idea of how much that helped me figure things out. 😀 I truly have a wonderful tribe of Patrons, YT subs, friends and followers.

“Something deep in the human soul awakens as things fall apart. Something in the soul knows that everything in this world can become lost. And something in the soul knows how to survive periods of devastation, disorientation and loss. Descent and falling is the way of the soul from its beginning. We each fell from the womb of life when the waters of the inner sea broke and it came time for us to breathe on our own.”
― Michael Meade, Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal in Times of Loss

After quite a few “brain dumps,” I started creating pages in my “art” journal again. Documenting my day once again felt natural. I mixed things up. Flip flopped back and forth between journals, between illustrating my day, and documenting my day using ephemera, pictures, and a bit of art here and there. After a lot of flip flopping back and forth between the Hobonichi and my DIY hybrid Bullet Journal/Omni Journal, I started doing things differently–finding my own way. And that’s when things started to fall into place.

The more I followed my inner compass, my conscience and/or intuition, the more excited I was, the happier I was, and the more creative I felt. Did it all come together overnight? No. I have had to work at it. I’ve had to figure things out as I go. It’s trial and error. But over the past few years, but especially this past year, I’ve delved into my “Why’s,” as well as my “Why Not’s.” The more I know about my own self, the better I take care of myself, the happier I am, the more creative I am.

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. ~James Dean