Bullet Journal

I mentioned yesterday that I started a bullet journal and I thought I’d share some of it today since I actually followed through and used it. What’s a Bullet Journal? The short answer, without popping out to http://bulletjournal.com/ is that it’s a handwritten planner system that you can use in any notebook. Most people use small(ish) notebooks that they can carry with them, but I have a thing for Clairefontaine french-ruled paper and used the last of a 5 pack of cloth-bound 96 page A4 notebooks for my bullet journal. (I used the others for journals & to track workouts.)

There are 3 (or 4) views of time in a bullet journal: annual and beyond in the Future Log, monthly in the month spread, (optional) weekly spread, and daily pages. The idea is that you record everything for future months in the future log, which is organized by month. Then at the end of each month, you create a new month spread, organized by date and day, and record everything from the future log for the following month. Every morning, you’re supposed to check the month log for activities and goals/tasks for that day and record them in the daily pages entry along with anything that wasn’t done (but was on the list for) the day before. I also used daily pages to record other accomplishments of note.

MonthLog
July month log, Jeffrey paws and toe beans.

I had other spreads for tracking things, like a daily habit tracker (basically an adult sticker chart) to keep me accountable for things like drinking enough water, exercise, reading books, etc. I also created an elaborate system for tracking household chores and cleaning that quickly fell by the wayside (along with the actual cleaning).

Also, there’s a whole symbol system for listing items in the journal no matter what the time view/spread is: an open square for tasks, an open triangle for appointments, and a few others that I haven’t been using. When I finish something, I color in the square or triangle. When I partially finish something, I color in half. When I blow something off, I cross it out in one day and write it again in the next day’s entry.

DailyLog
Daily log in my bullet journal and some Jeffrey toe beans.

The problem is that I started to write the same things over and over and instead of this motivating me to stop procrastinating, I just made myself feel worse for not doing the things. By mid-May I’d stopped using even the daily pages. Keeping up with the journal became too overwhelming; I was putting too much pressure on myself to get a large number of things done each day and beating myself up for procrastinating. I’m an overachiever with some things – all in or all out, go big or go home – and am working on being more steady with my efforts.

So in that vein, getting the bullet journal to work for me in a positive way again, I’m trying weekly spreads instead of daily pages. I like being able to look at a whole week all at once and that’s the time frame that I like to look at for setting and accomplishing goals – daily is too often and monthly is a little too broad.

WeekLog
Weekly spread for this week and more Jeffrey paws.

Do you use an analog planner/planning system or a really kick-ass app or online system? I have friends who use the Passion Planner, and others who use Trello for personal/household planning.

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So Many Choices

I’ve been busy with my oldest’s high school graduation and his new student orientation at

GraduateBrandon and Me
Obligatory Graduation Photo

West Virginia University, which is about 3 hours away from where we live. I’m so excited about WVU now part of me wishes I was the one going off to school. I think it’s a great fit for my son, who’s going in undecided – they’ve got a lot of programs that help students figure out what they want to do/what they love and could do for the rest of their life. I do keep reminding him that he’ll probably have more than one career, so he won’t feel so much pressure to choose the one, right thing that he’ll do forever. I’m certainly not doing what I first majored in (Creative Writing) or what I have my BA in (Rhetoric and French). I remember feeling overwhelmed instead of freed by the number of choices I had in my late teens and early twenties and I hope to help him avoid that.

Anyway. On to knitting choices …

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Hourglass Cowl, soon to be Hourglass Scarf

I finished the Hourglass Cowl that I’m designing and working on. Having the pattern all squished up into a cowl doesn’t do it any favors, though – it might as well be in 1×1 ribbing. I spread part of it out flat on my mannequin, but the reality of an actual moving breathing person wearing it means it won’t likely sit that way for long on a human. So I don’t think it wants to be a cowl; it wants to be a scarf. At least as a scarf it has a fighting chance for part of it to lay flat and show off the wavy ribbing. I picked apart the 3 needle bind off I did to add some pattern repeats to the scarf (49″ isn’t really long enough  IMO) and am contemplating the options for finishing the ends. Fringe? Some well-placed tassels? Maybe some artful decreases & partial bind-off to highlight the stitch pattern?

I’ve been working bit by bit on my Old Town cardigan – it’s my portable project because I don’t need to follow a chart as I do for the Hourglass project. I brought it with me to graduation, since we arrived almost 2 hours before the ceremony because of parking & traffic. I also brought it with me to WVU orientation Friday, but only pulled it out in the last session of the afternoon when I was desperate for something to help me stay engaged with the speakers. I should have gotten it out in the hour-long session before lunch; I’d forgotten how much listening to a boring speaker takes out of me. It’s probably a good thing I’m not the one going to college in August. 🙂

OldTown
Old Town Cardigan, Starting the Bodice Section

Birthday

Today’s my birthday – yay! I get to eat as much cake as I can! And also reflect on what’s happened in a year …

I’m in such a different place  mentally; last year I was still recovering from something that happened in January and still struggling with drinking. I took my last drink in July, so I know I was craving it badly on my birthday – how else was I supposed to celebrate than to let loose? I’m happy to say I don’t feel that way this year. I can let loose any time, I just need to give myself permission to do so. I don’t need alcohol to relax, I can do that on my own in a number of ways, including fiber art stuff (knitting, spinning, even my nemesis, crochet).

I was also still playing roller derby. I was on two travel teams and the captain on one. The pressure I put on myself to be a good captain was really bringing me down last year. I had a hard time focusing and being happy about the things I was doing well and only focused on the things I was doing badly, and that applies to my derby skills as well. I think I hit my peak skill level at the end of 2014 and 2015 was a slow descent into still okay but not as physically strong as I was in November & December of 2014. I stopped getting MVP Jammer awards (I have 9 or 10 from my 4 year derby career) and also stopped playing in as many jams, partly because my endurance was down after January and partly because my anxiety was shooting through the roof. I decided to quit the team I wasn’t captaining in May and take a step back after the season was over in June. What I didn’t realize is that I’d be done (for a while or for good, I haven’t decided yet).

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All 100 of my 100 Day Project pictures

Last year I was also in the middle of my 100 day project. I designed and released two new patterns: Feathermoss and The Double Rainbow Scarf. I finished two hats, a sweater, two scarfs, three shawls, and did a lot of spinning. Luckily the project overlapped a bit with Tour de Fleece, so I got two birds with one stone. I also made felt and dyed it with false indigo; it’s the bright green felt I beaded & embroidered as the Moss Garden and this shmancy upcycled Sucrets box. And I felted one of my husband’s store bought wool sweaters (it no longer fit him) and embroidered on that with handspun naturally dyed singles (also what I used in the Moss Garden & the box).

This year, I was on the lookout for the start of another 100 day challenge but it seems that there are a number of them; I might as well start a new one on my own any time. Rather than being so formal about it, I’ve just been trying to do something every day either with knitting, reviving my etsy shop, writing this blog, or keeping up with social media. I feel really good about reviving the etsy shop even though I haven’t had any recent sales. I’m positive I’ve paid etsy more than I’ve made off the shop, but my traffic and favorites are up thanks to working on my SEO so I still have some hope.

I also feel good about designing – I will eventually move away from cowls to something else – and I’m looking into ways to expand my reach and become a little more professional about it. I found another designer group on Ravelry, one that actually has calls for submission. I’m working up the courage to respond to one of these and see where I can take this design thing.

My family is doing well; my oldest will be graduating from high school in June and has decided where he’s going to college next year. My middle son has his learner’s permit & is doing really well with driving. He’s also running track this spring and breaking his previous PRs. And he thinks he just aced the AP Psychology exam. My youngest son has adjusted really well to middle school and I’ve been squeezing in all the hugs and kisses on the cheek that I can before it gets too weird/embarrassing for him. My husband is stressed in his job and travels every week and I wish he had time to look for a new one that’s local, but overall I suppose he’s doing okay – our marriage is more solid than it’s ever been.

Lastly, pet-wise things are a lot different than they were last year. We had to euthanize our smallest dog, a toy fox terrier mix, last June. She badly ruptured a few disks in her back, lost control of her hind legs, and was in a lot of pain. Poor chick – she was a good dog, much more like a cat than our other two dogs. In November I started talking up cats to my husband (and myself – I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another pet) and in December we found the perfect cat for us thanks to some friends who foster cats for a rescue organization. Jeffrey Lebowski (aka The Dude) was just under a year old, is very calm/chilled out, and has fit in with our family so well – I post a lot of pictures of him to Instagram.

All in all, I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing! If you made it this far into my post, congratulations – I’d share my birthday cake with you if you were here, but you’re not, so go find some cake and have a happy Tuesday!

The Blahs

Today is a blah kind of day. I woke up before my alarm but then after the kids left for school, I climbed back in bed and fell sort of asleep for an hour – a bad habit I started this winter on days when I just couldn’t face the day. I’ve had major depression at various points in my life, but last year was diagnosed with bipolar II, which looking back on everything, fits me better than major depression. But until last month I was in denial, thinking/hoping the doctors had gotten it wrong, not wanting to be bipolar anything because of the stigma around bipolar I, which is so much different from II. One of my best friends in high school had a really rough time when her mother tried to kill herself (again) – she was finally diagnosed with manic depression/bipolar I. And the things I do are a lot less extreme than similar things she had done, but still similar. I just didn’t want to be that. Accepting the diagnosis has helped me recognize the patterns of my moods and handle them better – it’s been easier for me to deal with depression and hypomania (which I definitely cycled into this spring) when you recognize the symptoms and can batten down the hatches. I also know to carefully evaluate my thoughts to see whether or not what my inner voice is saying is true; in depression, I think I’m a terrible worthless person undeserving of anything. And in hypomania, I start projects I’m not capable of finishing or get really irritated with everyone and everything for no discernible reason.

AdyashantiQuote

I usually have a knitting project going so I’ve got a creative outlet & something tangible to work on other than my domestic engineering/housework/stay-at-home-Mom duties. Starting this blog and breathing life back into The Yarn Office were are also supposed to be projects that give me a creative outlet, accomplishing something, and moving forward. My therapist would say that I’m not giving myself credit for my accomplishments and that I need to remember that I’m raising/have raised 3 really good boys, keeping them fed & the house clean, and that my marriage is good, et cetera. I’m working on changing that mindset that I fall into when things aren’t going as well as I want them too.

Today I’m in between projects and although I treated myself to Barbara G. Walker’s first 3 treasuries of knitting patterns, I’ve been more likely to check Facebook, blog stats, etsy shop stats, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and cycle through them just in case I missed something. I need to come up with a new project though – my knitting group meets tomorrow. Maybe design an ouroboros scarf? Ravelry only has one in crochet. That’s what I’ve come up with so far in rifling through my Pinterest boards. Or I may just continue my search for a better WP theme and (maybe) pay the $ so I can customize one. Or maybe I’ll get lost in tumblr.

Blah. Time for more chai.

Taking Stock

What follows isn’t entirely proofed. If I wait to proof & edit it, it’s going to be 2012 and I’ll be writing about a hangover, which will be much worse than this, I think.

Last January when I started this blog, I was fighting through another bout with depression. I honestly don’t know that I’ve beaten it. I have good days (like today, where I have a plan & a purpose that I believe in) and bad days (when I get up but end up going back to bed or when I get up & stay up & can’t sleep the following night so that one day includes two sunrises & sunsets) and in between days (of course). Everyone has their ups & downs – I know that – I just don’t want my downs to affect my daily life, such as it is, quite so much.

Really, more than anything, I’ve been looking for a way forward, wondering what I’m going to be when I grow up, and looking for a way to be proud of my past & myself without having to agonize over things all the time. It’s helped to blog, email, and talk about it; I’m really thankful for everyone who’s reached out to me. I’m particularly amazed at how many people have told me their own story and how much talking about it can help us both.

The confrontation in November really threw me off balance. I’m still trying not to feel guilty about how strong my reaction was. I could have been more graceful about it, I wish I had slept on a few posts before making them public, and I sometimes wish I had confronted him with a warning of public exposure instead of just putting it all out there). But what’s done is done and I finally feel a taste of redemption, a way to be good again. (Khaled Hosseini pulled me into The Kite Runner with that idea and I haven’t stopped thinking about things in those terms since reading that first, very short chapter.)

I did a lot of new things in 2011. I’ll be 40 in 2012 and am trying to be nonchalant about it while hurrying to get myself to where I wanted to be in my 30s.

Aside from the blog, I went out of my usual comfort zone and took a class in the spring over 3 weekends at the Art League of Alexandria with Steph & Alana. I drove on the beltway and didn’t die. I met new people and, while I probably made a complete fool out of myself, people liked me, I had fun, I learned a lot, and I strengthened friendships with two strong, funny, intelligent women. I also discovered that beer is quite good if you know what to look for (hops=blech and Guiness is a good go-to in my case).

I started playing roller derby thanks to Misty/electricsoup/Loudoun Dirty. I’d never even considered derby and started mainly because I loved skating in elementary school and wanted to start again. Skating is even more fun when you skate in a circle, work as part of a team, and get to hit people who’re expecting/prepared to be hit. I haven’t felt this good physically for a long time. I’ve also met a lot of people, made new friends, found new heroes. I also learned, again, that not everyone is going to like me and that I’m not going to like everyone – that I don’t have to like everyone and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with me or the other person and it also doesn’t mean that we are arch enemies, although sometimes I think maybe I should have those too (yup, still working that one through).

I briefly had a real job and was a real adult, until I realized that after 7 years of setting my own schedule, a 9-5 job in a windowless office is more than I can handle. After quitting, I vowed that this time, I would start something on my own, something that might eventually make money, not just involve me being parked at a keyboard, and that would allow me to see outside (not that I’m claustrophobic, the windowless office was more demoralizing & dehumanizing). So I started The Yarn Office, which has been hanging over me like a chore instead of my future – I need to put more time & thought into it and really get it going in 2012.

I also volunteered to be the webmistress/admin for NOVA Roller Derby and took it from a cookie-cutter site to more customized HTML (Dreamweaver) to slightly-customized-yet-cookie-cutter WordPress. I took entirely too long to figure out WordPress (& the template files) and was reassured when I finally understood at least the basics. I finally grokked more of PhotoShop & Illustrator this year too and installed OpenOffice on my MacBook so I can stop complaining about how much MS Word sucks.

Then there’s my gig as mother & mate to that guy on the other side of the bed. I could blab endlessly about marriage, motherhood, and the boys, but I don’t want to join the legions of mommy-bloggers. My kids are happy, doing well in school, laugh often, help each other, and are good, responsible people.

While Mr. Q and I have our ups and downs, we’re doing just fine and I don’t feel the need to write about it or get/give advice here,  though he is still exploring permanent employment while consulting: anyone looking for a hard working, highly intelligent, pretty technical VP, look no further.

So 2012: bring it. Whether I’m ready or not, things keep happening to me and I keep waking up every day, breathing and all that – I might as well live, really live, procrastinate and dwell less, laugh and sweat and jump for joy more. And take more pictures! And throw more balls for the dogs! And kiss the boys while they still let me, even if it’s just on the cheek these days! And eat more Smarties because I can never have enough Smarties.