My 2017 Bullet Journal

2:35 PM

Everyone and their brother knows that I love my Bullet Journal. It's my creative outlet, my planner, and my security blanket. Since I started working with my Bullet Journal, I've had people bash it, adapt it, and try to read it (stop snatching my BuJo!). With my second Moleskine notebook almost full I thought I would go back and review what worked this past year, and what didn't. 

If you would rather see me set up my Bullet Journal, check out my Plan With Me videos on my YT Channel, and be on the lookout for my NEW BUJO set up! 

I started using the system because I needed a space to hold E V E R Y T H I N G. 

I haven't looked back since. If you aren't familiar with the BuJo system, I'd suggest getting some background first

What worked:

  • future log: I found this future log somewhere on Pinterest (check out my Organization + Planning board here) and fell in love with the simplicity. I like that it incorporates the original vertical layout of a month, and allows me to write a lot down. I'll definitely be sticking with this in my next Bullet Journal. I prefer this over the traditional future log because Ryder's version doesn't allow me to quickly see the date that corresponds with the event. I know a lot of people use a Calendex, which is awesome, but it never worked for me. That's the beauty of the BuJo - you find what works for you.
  • password log: This has been my saving grace. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten passwords and usernames, only to have to reset them over and over again. I know writing them down can be risky (what if someone steals my BuJo?!)(lets be real....no one's getting close enough to it to steal it) so I would recommend some kind of coding system if you're someone who is in a situation where people see your Bullet Journal. For me, just writing them all down works like a charm for my forgetful ass mind.

  • birthdays: Found this one somewhere on Pinterest too! The birthday wheel was one of the funnest spreads to make. Even though we have so many ways to track birthdays, I like having them written down. I refer back to this spread when I'm setting up a new month and add the names to my month at a glance. Living across the country means I can't schedule a lot of in-person birthday celebrations, but this allows me to reach out to the person directly and not forget the date.
  • monthly pages: In the past (almost) year of Bullet Journaling, I have perfected my monthly spreads. They're like my "homepage" for the month, and the spread that I constantly go back to. I always start out with my month at a glance. I've alternated between the traditional vertical layout, and a more "planner" like style of boxes. Right now I'm on a boxes kick. I color code my events on here (more on that later), and to the right I have my habit + self care trackers. If you're using Ryder's style of Bullet Journaling, you probably have your task list to the right of your month at a glance. For me, I put this on the next page, and separate my tasks into "work" and "home" columns.

  • tracking self care: Guess what guys...I have a huge issue with mental health. I say that because I'm not ashamed of it, and I think we should all be doing our part to break the stigma. I'm planning on doing a blog post dedicated to using your Bullet Journal for self care, but here's one of my favorite parts: my self care tracker. I added this into my monthly tracker page in March and April. It gives me a monthly view of my mood, sleep, activity, and anxiety. I rate all of these on a scale of 1-10 and am able to see how all of these work together each day. When I first started Bullet Journaling (in June 2016) I tracked my anxiety levels in a weekly spread. I liked this, but I wanted to see a bigger picture, and create something that connects different aspects of my life.

  • resolution check in: This is a relatively new spread for me, but was sparked by a thought I had going into March. So many of us create New Year's Resolutions, but abandon them or forget about them after February. I wanted to check in with myself and see how my resolutions were going. This page helped me map out my next action steps & got me motivated to keep working on my goals.


  • editorial cal: For us Social Media/Blogging girls, an editorial calendar helps our businesses and brands run smoothly. I use mine religiously for my own social media, as well as all of my clients. I've created one that you can get for free if you sign up here. I'll usually print this out myself (to avoid the daunting work of drawing straight lines) and tape it into my journal. This is a lifesaver for me, because I need a visual of what's going on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook group, Facebook page, and what is being uploaded onto my YouTube & both of my blogs. 

What doesn't work: 
  • meal planning master list + monthly meal plan pages: This was 100% a dud for me. I started out creating a page for weekly meal panning, and used the page next to it for a master shopping list. In theory, this is great for someone who is meal planning regularly. Unfortunately, I never used the meal prep page, and rarely visited the shopping list page. In an attempt to eat healthier/save money/make my future wife happy, we tried meal planning again in April. I created a page for me to write down the meals we would eat each day. As you can see, I've abandoned the idea. The only meal prep type thing that worked were my meal trackers in my weekly spreads.

  • appointment log: I created this spread in December after moving for the 3rd time in 2016. The goal was to keep track of appointments once my insurance kicked in. Not only have I not visited a doctor since I moved, but I haven't added anything to this page. Whoops. Maybe next time.
  • highlights page: I see so many talented people creating memories or highlights pages in their BuJo, so in December I tried to create a cute highlights page for each day of the month. If I had stuck with this, I think this spread would have looked amazing! After about the first week, I forgot about it. For my new Bullet Journal, I'm going to try a new memory keeping page that I found through one of the Boho Berry Tribe members.

  • Monthly reviews: I'm not sure why but I always think these are a good idea and then I abandon them halfway through writing them. Couldn't tell you why.. 
Tools I love:
  • Teresa Collins B Journal: I'll be honest, I haven't actually used this yet. Allie got it for me earlier this week and I am itching with anticipation to get started with it. So many people use the Leuchtturm 1917 or a Moleskine notebook, and after going through 2 extra large Moleskine's I was so happy when Allie brought this home.
  • Global Arts Materials Pencil Case: Another gift from my overly-supportive girlfriend! I have so many frekain pens and before this, I was constantly losing them. I've filled this up with almost 50 pens and it still zips and fits in my purse. I take it everywhere with me.
  • Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens: A staple in my planning routine. I have one set of colored ones, and about 4 black ones. I'll be upfront, they definitely can bleed and smear, but I enjoy them too much to switch.


  • Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen: I bought this a few weeks ago and now understand why everyone RAVES about them. I bought the black 199 version and really like to use it for my weekly and daily pages. I find that it doesn't smear as much as my black inkjoys, and dries quicker. I consider this my fancy pen and only use it when making Bullet Journal spreads.

  • Crayola Super Tip Markers: I bought the 50 pack of these and love them. I have expensive brush pens, but I feel these work just as good. I absolutely love the range of colors, and haven't touched my fancier brush pens since. 

Methods I use:

  • RYCL in the back of my journal: I'm a pretty busy woman. I'm working on writing two books, have a full time job, run a side business, and am working on creating online courses. I've got so much to plan and write down that it started to feel cluttered and overwhelming when I used my first Bullet Journal for both work and personal things. That being said, I did not want to have two different notebooks - so I started doing all of my personal planning in the front of my Bullet Journal, and all of my business related planning beginning on the back page. Eventually they'll meet in the middle. This is perfect for me because I can easily reference both without having to switch notebooks, but I also don't feel that my work is getting lost in my personal spreads. Is anyone else doing this?



  • Color coding my monthly: I mentioned this a bit earlier, but I color code my month at a glance. One, I enjoy the creativity of it. Second, I'm such a visual person, so I'm able to quickly identify what type of event is happening each day. I know a lot of people who color code their entire journal, and that's just too much for me. I like the flexibility of changing colors each month, and the leniency to only do it on one spread if I want too. 

Inspiration:

  • In 2016 I created a free course for people who are just getting started with Bullet Journaling. You can find it here, and signing up means you'll get to experience all the updates I add to it!
  • BuJo website: the holy grail for the system. This is where all credit is due, and where it all began. If you want to see the original Bullet Journal concept, go here.
  • Boho Berry: My favorite source for inspiration. I am a part of her Bullet Journal Facebook Group (want to join? check out her website) & watch most of her YouTube videos.
  • YouTube Channels: Here are a few of my favorites -
    Bujo Boosted - if there are any MEN reading this, check him out.
    Alexandra Plans - I find her voice calming as hell, and her layouts are too die for
    AmandaRachLee - a great channel if you don't want too many voiceovers
    Studyign - a great channel for high school or college students


Learning

Challenging Myself To Love Harder

5:34 PM

With permission from my girlfriend, I want to open up about some problems that I have with relationships.


Let me rephrase - I want to open up about the obstacles that I create in our relationship. 

I will be the first to admit that I am probably one of the hardest people to have a functioning relationship with. I have tried many times to have a successful & fulfilling relationship, only to have failed because of my own doings. It is a cycle that I see myself repeating, and a cycle that really needs to be broken. 

I'll start with the root of myself: My personality. 

If I had to describe myself in 3 less than appealing words, I would choose stubborn, angry, and self indulgent (if you end up joining me on this challenge, also choose 3 words that are positive - mine are ambitious, strong, and dedicated). I have spent my life firmly believing that you should always put yourself (your needs, your wants. etc) before others, but sometimes I take that a bit too far. I am set in my ways, my thoughts, and if anyone tries to deter me from my path, I get angry. I have a huge issue with not being able to handle that anger, and more often than not, I take things out on the people who love me most. 

I grew up seeing this type of behavior happen around me (or a variation of it) and I believe that my environment fueled my personality development. 

But, that gives me hope, because that means my environment can change who I am for the better. 

I'll give you a scenario of what isn't working in our relationship because of my negative qualities:

Allison is working late because she is getting her doctorate in Psychology. I am selfish, and feel that she needs to be giving me attention every night, but because she has to work, I am angry. This anger makes me paranoid and irritated about everything else, so I snap and make her life a little bit harder (when in reality, I am not mad at her, I am irritated because I am not the center of attention). Eventually, I have pushed to the point where she is upset, and voicing it. I take offense to this, and decide that instead of facing the fact that I am being irrational and selfish, I run from the relationship, and have hurt the person I care about. 

I tell you this painfully blunt scenario because I think it's important to show that relationships aren't perfect, people aren't perfect, and we should be working out our flaws and kinks, no matter the magnitude. 

// Maybe you aren't irrationally flying off the handle like me. Maybe you're a bit of a control freak who snaps at her partner because they haven't vacuumed the house for you and folded the towels correctly. 

// Maybe you have trust issues, so you get angry at your partner if they want to increase their freedom. 

Whatever the case may be, take a good look at what you are bringing into a relationship (or a friendship, or a relationship with a family member) and decide what you can do better.

When I was journaling at the end of February, I realized that a huge set back for the month was my anger and my relationship. With that realization, I decided to make March my month of showing love.

I should point out that this action doesn't come naturally to me.
I'm not bubbly and sweet and sensitive. I don't think about cute and quirky ways to make my partner smile.
But, I wanted that to change that this month.

I call this a challenge because it is something that takes daily effort. Not because I don't love my partner, or the people around me, but because if I don't actively focus on helping others, I'll revert back to only helping myself.

This month, I'm challenging myself to preform an act of selfless love for my partner every single day. 

I actually started this on February 27th. I was planning out my week in my Bullet Journal, and added a heart on my task list. That heart was a key for an act of love. I added it to my to do list so I could keep myself accountable, and even after the first 3 days, I can already feel the habit sticking.

// One day, I decided to make her coffee before she woke up, and write her a little note to take to work with her.

// Another day, I picked up a bookbag she had been talking about - it was an early birthday present.

// Another day, I simply sent her a cute text while I was at work, and cooked her dinner when I got home.

I think a huge misconception about acts of love is they have to be huge and romantic.
We're so set on flowers and fairy tales that we forget how simple showing love can be.

Showing love can be as simple as asking a person "Did you eat today? Can I make you something?"

Spreading selfless love hasn't become a habit for me yet, but the goal here is to develop the habit over a month, and let it spill into my other relationships and friendships.

I feel excited to do nice and thoughtful things for Allison, and to my surprise, I don't expect anything in return. I just like seeing her smile.

Want to do this challenge yourself? Think of ten things you can do for your partner that will make them happier. Figure out what they enjoy, what they'll appreciate, and what they need. Make an effort to change the less that appealing qualities about yourself that might put stress on your relationship.

Here are a few ideas: 

1// Write them a note
2// Surprise them with dinner 
3// Send flowers
4// Listen to them, and ask questions
5// Ask how they are feeling
6// Remind them of how beautiful they are
7// Listen to their wants and needs - then try to fill one 
8// Play with there hair 
9// Offer to drive to dinner
10// Get them their favorite snack 
11// Send them an encouraging text after a bad day at work 
12// Finish a chore for them
13// Randomly hold their hand 


How did the month go for me? 
I originally planned on publishing this at the beginning of March, only to have it sit in my drafts until today. Reading back over it, I wanted to reflect on the month and let you know honestly how this went for us.

At the beginning of the month, I was making an effort to show more love to Allison. But, I was still getting angry. I was still flying off the handle. Something wasn't clicking. This was frustrating to me, because I thought I was changing a behavior.

I quickly realized that getting someone coffee doesn't mean shit if I'm getting irrationally angry 2 hours later. I still didn't have a handle on my anger, which was the root of the problem.

While I was still working on showing love to my partner, I realized pretty quickly that I needed to work on communication as well. I needed to slow down and take time to identify what emotion I was feeling, and why I was responding with anger.

If you think about it - anger is not a normal emotion. It's an emotional response to something else.

For example, if I felt hurt or sad, I would show that by being angry. That's not right.

I've always been open on this blog, because I believe that the things I encounter allow me to give advice to others. Overall, I don't think this month went well for us until the very end - when I decided to get help with my anger, instead of just tolerating that it was a part of me.

This month has taught me a few things: 

1// Ask for help. You never have to be alone. 

2// It's important to communicate when there's an emotion or a problem. That doesn't mean scream. That means talk, listen, and respond. 

3// Relationships take serious effort if you want to make them work. 

4// Showing love goes far beyond material objects or acts of service. The best way I can show Allison I love her is to be present in our relationship, and ensure her that I am in this. 


What are you struggling with in your relationship? What steps can you take to change things or make things better? What are some qualities about yourself that need a little extra work? 

Introducing My Sister To Denver

2:23 PM

 Living in Denver is one of the coolest experiences, and last week I was able to show my little sister around the place I call home. She is 18 and about to attend The University of North Carolina Greensboro, so I wanted her to come out here before she went off to college.

I visited Colorado for the first time when I was a Junior in college. It was the summer before my senior year, and I was itching for adventure. I hadn't seen my cousins in 5+ years, and had never visited the Western United States before. I came out for a week and immediately fell in love.

Holly arrived Tuesday morning on a pretty bumpy flight. The Denver International Airport is always a bitch to fly into because of the crazy turbulence created by the mountains. The first time I flew here I got altitude sickness as soon as I landed, and had intense anxiety because of the winds.

Thankfully, Holly is a bit more tolerant than I am, so she survived without any tears (I think).


I was working from home that day, so we decided to go to a Korean Barbecue place for lunch. Both of us had never tried this, so it was a fun new experience. We decided to sit at one of the tables that held a grill where we could cook the meat as we wanted it - which I had never seen before. This was Holly's idea, and it gave me a chance to show her a bit of Englewood before having to go back to work. 

The time change here is only two hours, but you'd be amazed at what it can do to a persons body. Holly slept while I finished up my work day, then we got ready to head downtown. The weather was nice, so we parked on 17th street and headed over to the Denver Pavilions for dinner and shopping. I had been to the 16th street mall before, and Union Station, but didn't realize we had the Pavilions in that area. It was kind of cliche' but we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Not really "Denver" specific, but it was the only place without a horrendous wait. 


The next day Holly went to work with me. Fortunately, I have a job that doesn't mind when you bring in family members, or furry friends. Actually, they kind of encourage the furry friend part. I work with a Digital Media Team at The Daily Camera office, and I really enjoyed being able to show Holly what I do everyday. 

I got to show her how I manage all of my social media clients, and she got to meet my awesome coworkers. Around lunchtime I took her to see my Uncle in Boulder - who she hadn't seen in probably 8 or 9 years. We chatted for a bit, planned a get together for Friday, and had lunch at my favorite sandwich place, Snarfs, down the street from my office. 


Thursday night Holly, Allie and I went to one of my favorite clubs. Since she's (finally) 18, she could get in on Thursday's. I had never really "gone out" with my sister before, so it was fun to do something a little more grown up with her. We were all pretty tired though, so we mainly sat on the couches and people watched while I drank Bud Light.


 Friday I took the day off and we ate lunch at Jelly - a cute breakfast place by Denver University, and took some much needed naps before our family reunion in Broomfield. My Aunts, Uncles, and cousins all got together to see Holly Friday night and it was a blast. My entire family is Italian, so we had pizza, porchetta, and lots and lots of beer.

Unfortunately my uncle had a terrible case of kidney stones so an ER trip was made during the party. After eating one chip. I hope I never have to endure them.

We brought our bathing suits and climbed into the hot tub for a bit before heading back to Denver for the night. Holly decided to stay in Broomfield that night with the cousins while Allie and I headed back to our house for the night to make sure our fur baby was alright.


Saturday the three of us visited The Denver Aquarium after having lunch downtown. I was really happy that Allison and Holly got to meet, and talk, because I wanted Allison to shed some light on her career since Holly is interested in the same field. My sister is a huge badass and will be graduating high school with an associates degree at 18 years old (FIST PUMP!), so technically she would only need to attend University for 2 years before getting a Bachelor's. The downside of this - she has to make major choices pretty quickly. Most of us were blessed with a year of cushion and liberal arts classes before we had to embark on our chosen paths. My sister is feeling the pressure.

My advice: Don't stress. You can change your course anytime you want. Nothing is permanent. You don't have to know right now.

Take it from an ex-teacher turned social media guru who has moved 3 times in the last year. 



Overall, I had a blast showing Holly around Denver, and I loved having her here with me. It's crazy to think that she is headed to college in a few short months, and is on the cusp of adulthood. Which means that I'm getting older.....and should be a fully functioning adult.....



Which I am not BYE!

Learning

How To Beat Writers Block + The 1st Chapter of My Novel

7:49 PM

In June 2016 I announced that I was going to write a novel in 30 days - my own little National Novel Writing Month. As the month came to a close I clocked in at around 26,000 words. Which, to be honest, isn't terrible. I was proud of my work and felt creativity flowing through my VEINS *fist in air*!



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But then I moved to Pennsylvania, got two jobs, had to readjust my life, was trying to maintain new friendships + a relationship, and hand-wash dishes (because apparently my father doesn't believe in using his dishwasher?!). 

So my novel went on the back burner, and eventually is collected dust in my Google Drive. 

Cue the gasps. 

Periodically I've tried working on my novel, only to feel uninspired and frustrated with my story and characters. With another set of changes in my life in November, I've only pushed it further back into oblivion. 

Until last week when Allison and I were at Target on a Sunday. 

We were picking up groceries and other things for the house, when I decided to stroll through the book isle. I found my favorite section (YA Fiction + Target Book Club Picks) and started flipping through them. I decided on Children Of Eden by Joey Graceffa, checked out, and took it home with me. 

I breezed through the book in a few days - the standard for me when I find a book that I enjoy, and was immediately compelled to write. 

But when I pulled up my novel, I was overwhelmed with options. I needed to edit the first seven chapters, develop my characters further, outline my plot, choose the climax, and build a fully functioning world. 

Sometimes writers block is just the state of being so overwhelmed that you don't know where to begin. Here are a few things I did to re-inspire myself & start writing again:

1// I used my Bullet Journal: You guys already know I'm a huge advocate for this. I use my BuJo for everything under the sun. In this instance I created a word count tracker, and a little booklet for planning the rest of my novel. I laid out my characters on one page, build a plot chart on another, am keeping track of my edits, and writing down the conflict that happens for all of my characters. Get creative with spreads and let your ideas for writing flow. 

2// I read. I already talked about this, but I think it's the main reason I started writing again. Reading another persons story just made me excited to keep working on my own. I didn't want to leave my characters frozen in time anymore. 

3// I asked for feedback: Once I was finished with Chapter one revisions, I let a friend read it to see how they felt about it. It helped me know what needed to change from an outside perspective, and showed me what people really enjoyed about my work. 

4// I gave myself mini tasks: Right now, I'm working on the first round of editing on chapters 1-7. I wanted to start here so I could have a solid foundation for the following chapters. I also update my plot chart every time I finish an edit, so I have an accurate outline of where the story is headed. 

5// I chose my climax: I decided on the exact moment that the story hits it's highest point, and am building around from there. 

6// I listened to music: Am I the only one who plays out scenes that will probably never happen while they're listening to music? I decided to revisit some of my favorite songs from the early 2000's and see where my imagination took me. Turns out, some of those imaginary scenes work great in my novel.

7// I put pressure on myself: I reached out to people on Facebook asking who would be interested in reading my work - and the response was great! It made me feel like what I am working on is important and interesting and something people want to read.

If you're interested in reading the first chapter of my novel, click [right here]! 

The biggest advice I can give you is to not beat yourself up about feeling stuck when you're writing. Sometime's we can write 10,000 words in one weekend, and sometime's we take a 3 month hiatus. Work at your own pace, and do whatever you can to stay inspired. 

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