My 2018 bullet journal.

As I mentioned at the end of last year, I have been dwelling on the idea of bullet journaling for a while now, but the fear of imperfection has always held me back. However, it’s 2018 now, so being afraid of not being perfect, which is impossible to reach regardless, is no longer allowed to rule my life! At least, that’s what I’m working on anyway.

I procrastinated starting bullet journaling, even once I had decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and do it! It took me hours to write in it, but now I feel able to more freely continue it. The pressure to not “ruin” the entire journal with one mistake is immense, however it is lessening over time.

I’m never going to be completely happy with how neat, or not neat it is, or how my writing looks. When I first made a mistake in it, I didn’t touch it for two days. Therefore, looking forward, this bullet journal is one of progress and growth. It’s purpose is not to demonstrate how neatly I can write, or how perfectly I can try and control my life. Instead, I’m aiming for it to be a journal of joy. Of documenting and organising my life as I change as a person. I’m trying to be okay with the mistakes I have made, and will continue to make in it. It’s a solid gesture of turning my back against perfectionism, and of celebrating creativity, and just simply letting this be, instead.

When looking at inspiration for bullet journaling, it’s so easy to get caught up in how perfect everybody else’s bullet journals appear to be, and thus infer how together they have their lives. I love looking at what others do with their bullet journals, but as with everything else, comparison is the theif of joy. Celebrate what others can do, alongside finding joy in what you can do too.

The aesthetic side of bullet journaling is huge. Beautiful spreads, fonts, headers and illustrations are everywhere online. I admire the art and creativity that goes into them greatly. However, I have to keep reminding myself that I am aiming for purpose and function in my bullet journal, more so than how it looks. I am aiming for my bullet journal to help with my mental health, through organisation and documenting, rather than harming my mental health. This is why I’m just letting it be. It’s messy, it’s real, and here it is!

I chose yellow for the bullet journal because it’s my all time favourite colour. The pages are pink with gridded dots, which does take some getting used to!

There isn’t too much to show, as it’s only the beginning of Janary, and I also left out the pages that contained personal information, which funnily enough is the majority in a journal.

There’s an index, a future log, monthly spreads and daily spreads. There are also lists of books I have read so far this year, and those I would like to read too. I’m hoping to continue my therapy skills and goal pages as the year continues.

Overall, I’m really enjoying the process of bullet journalling! I love crossing off tasks, which helps to stop me avoiding all the little things which build up over the week. It’s not perfect, but I’m trying to be okay with that, as it is just a journal after all! So far it’s been fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses over time.


The universe, changes, & 2018.

So much is changing for us in 2018. It’s scary and exciting, and really scary again, all at once. Next year is looming; ready and full. Moving across the country, building a house, graduation, and new jobs are all on the horizon. Well, it’s all in our plans anyway. But things don’t always go directly to plan, do they? Regardless, whatever happens, it will be new and different, as current ways are coming to the end of their season.

All of these proposed changes ignite my anxiety, small flames littering my brain, burning up hope and excitement. Drops of dread form in their place, robbing me of the ability to see these changes as good; as flowing towards a new season of life. I’m anxious about finding a job within my field, moving away from my family and friends, and graduating from university. I don’t feel ready to be doing all these things. Although it is important that I remember that they aren’t happening just yet, and that I still have plenty of time to work on what will help me cope with these changes.

abstract, art, blur

Working on building a positive self-esteem, and raising my confidence, seem like the right steps to take in preparation. Also, continuing to practice mindfulness and to work on my recovery will help immensely. This year, in the short amount of time I have been going to therapy, I have come up in leaps and bounds. I don’t feel like a shell anymore. I have hope that I am not the mental illnesses; that I have my own voice now. If my recovery has come so far, just this year, then this makes me excited for how hard I can work on it next year too. There is so much more becoming to do.

In one year, it’s likely that I will be sitting, hopefully still typing away in this little corner of the internet, but in a different house. That house will be almost 700 km away. I hope to be more content, more resilient, and more loving. I hope to be more appreciative and more confident. I hope to be achieving my mental health goals (more on those soon).

However, some things will stay the same. And they will become the warm arms of home, and of safety. My beautiful husband will still be by my side. Our dog, Ruby, will be nestled by our feet. Our family will still be our family, and our friends will still be our friends. These things aren’t going anywhere. Home is where the heart is, after all.

For now, I’m trusting in the universe. Back when I was religious, I would have prayed. But I do not have a space for religion anymore. Everything I love, and trust, is within the universe, and it’s spectacular nature. People, the trees, rivers, mountains, moments and animals. I believe in these because they give me hope. They are not perfect and nor am I. But through every change, they have been by my side, and brought light into the darkness countless times.

Universe, thank-you for 2017. I trust in you, and the changes that will arise as life ebbs and flows, in 2018.

Planning for a healthy 2018.

Ever since my therapist explained the importance of planning my days to help care for my mental health, it’s like a lightbulb switched on in my head. And it’s still shining bright!

For someone like me, who has had a longtime foe called anxiety, simple, everyday tasks can easily become overwhelming. They can feel as though they are all stampeding towards me, and by that stage, my brain utterly convinced that I can’t handle any of them. This contributes to the frequency and intensity of the panic attacks I experience. It goes without saying that generally, the more collected, confident and organised I feel, the less anxiety reigns it’s ugly head and spews out panic attacks. Sorry for the ugly image there. But as anyone who has even merely heard of a panic attack knows – there really isn’t a pretty way to describe them.

A few months ago, my therapist began to help me plan my days for several reasons. The first, as explained above, is that it aids in stabilising my mental health. The second, is that on days that seem impossible to live through, even if I can accomplish the smallest, easiest task on my list, this lessens the feelings of hopelessness, and turns them more into a sort of hope. The third is that I thrive on productivity and routine, and being busy helps to keep anxiety at bay. It also helps my confidence and self-esteem. Last but not least, something I am working on through recovery is creating balance and engaging in self-care, so planning helps me to schedule it all in.

As 2018 is rapidly approaching, my little organised and perfectionist self is getting so excited about a brand new year. New classes will start, I get to take brand new notes (!!!), and I am also hoping to take up the opportunity to start planning my days in a new way.

At the moment, I have a standard planner, where I chuck in everything from my shifts at work, to class times, to assignments, to therapy times, to family and friend things, to birthdays, to random notes. It’s all a big, messy jumble, which is quite an eyesore. I feel as though if I curated it all in a different way, things would seem less overwhelming. It would also enable me to have clearer intentions for each day, and to work my goals into my plans to make them achievable.

White Paper With Note

So, please enter, (about three years too late, I know), the bullet journal. Or something of the sorts anyway.

One of my goals for before January 1st 2018 is to have organised out my planning for the year. I’m hoping to create healthy daily morning and night routines, which includes things that I am learning impact my mental health in a positive way. Things like taking my medication, reading, going outside, exercising, mindfulness time and communicating. I am also hoping to write down my toolbox of strategies, such as mindfulness skills, and DBT techniques, so that I have a physical list in front of me when I need it.

Also, I’m not going to lie, but I do get all wide-eyed in wonder looking at all the pretty colours and the aesthetics of bullet journals. That is definitely part of the pull towards it all.

Something that does put me off bullet journaling a little bit, is how perfect they always look online. I know logically that this isn’t real life, and that these books are not perfect. However, I’m afraid of getting so wrapped up in it looking perfect, and never being able to make it that way, that it will all just crumble around me. Therefore, this is something I have to remember throughout the process, and to just let myself simply be. Hopefully along the way of creating the journal, I will learn give more energy to being creative rather than being perfect. Creativity and growth beats perfection any day.

Some ideas of what I am hoping to include in my bullet journal are goals, well more aims, for my mental health and mindfulness, alongside goals for university, work, writing, and life after graduation, such as jobs and house savings.

2018 – you scare me, you make me excited, and you fill me with hope.

Choosing your path. Or walking around.

As the end of high school approached, it was drilled into each of us that we must have a plan. We were given pages upon pages of post-school propaganda, detailing everything from entering the armed forces, to university, to joining the sisterhood. There were countless career fairs and talks by people “from the industry”, which were always those who had a very victorious job. The sort of job that is clean cut, and that you will stay in for life.

Not having a set career for post-school life wasn’t merely frowned upon; it was unheard of. By the time we walked out the gates for the last time in our final year, we had to have chosen our path, our ingrained footsteps towards a pleasant future. When I completed school, similar to my peers, we had each decided what we wanted to do with ourselves amongst simmering pressure. Pressure to decide, at 17 and 18, what we would be doing to pay the bills for the rest of our lives. University was heavily pushed, far more so than trades or heading straight into work, with the unspoken message of university being a better and more respected option than the rest.

fashion, footwear, grass

For some reason I still don’t quite understand, I decided to study psychology at the university all my friends were going to. I don’t really know why, but I was interested in the mental health field. From the attitude of the school I went to, the ambitions of clinical psychology and even more so psychiatry, were hailed as the sole, successful paths in this field. And so I began university with already failing mental health, and proceeded to drop out 18 months later at rock bottom.

At this stage, I was completely and utterly lost. This was partially due to the illnesses I was experiencing, but also because without university and my set career path ahead of me, it was easy to start to question who you are without it all. And I didn’t like what I found.

It was terrifying at first, not complying with what I had been taught my whole life. Not consistently making progress towards that set career we decided upon while we were still children. I felt as though I had failed myself, my education, my family and my school. Within our plans in our final year, there was no room for mistakes. You pick something that is deemed “good enough”, like medicine or law, and then you head out and do it. Massive shifts in mindset and personal circumstances changing weren’t part of the ideal equation.

adventure, backpack, beach

As time went on, I slowly began to recover, and I was left with exactly what I had been taught to fear. Not being in the prestigious and ambitious game. Not complying with the decisions I had made while still in school. At the time, I was working full time in a job that I didn’t exactly hate, but it was boring, and wasn’t what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

At this point, I was living exactly what school had taught me was wrong. Not excelling. Not being perfect. Not following the “good” path or the “right” path. I was 20, and this is when I learnt that not following the path that is set ahead for you is okay.

The break from constantly striving for success in something I wasn’t even sure I liked, gifted me the time and energy for other realms of life. I was healing from years of mental illnesses, I was working on my relationship with my now husband, I was rekindling the fire and reigniting long hidden passion for life itself. These endeavors are not what we were taught you should be doing after you leave school. However, I discovered that they were far more important and meaningful than where I should have been instead.

adult, agriculture, alone

With time to think and breathe beyond the suffocating pressure, I came across something that truly intrigued me. It was a geospatial science course at a local university, an institute that is viewed as less prestigious, and thus not as good, as the one I had previously attended. I began, and I have never looked back. And things have worked out better than I ever could have envisioned in my final year of school.

I am now 22, and am two thirds of my way through my bachelor’s degree, studying what I wasn’t meant to study, and having made more mistakes than I can ever count. And guess what? I am so happy. I truly enjoy my field, and I am thankful for the experiences that made me deviate from where I was “supposed” to be.

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe it is good that school tries to prepare students for the world beyond. However, acknowledging that it is okay not to know, and that it is okay to change, is also necessary. I am also a strong advocate for taking time to experience life outside of school, before committing to a particular course or field of work. Work in a boring job for a while. See where your mind wanders, feel what pulls you in. Find out who you actually are without the overwhelming pressure to decide exactly who you are at 18.

autumn leaves, canine, cocker spaniel

Not one of my friends that I left school with have stuck exactly with what they initially decided upon leaving. Many have changed majors, some have changed universities, and others have changed careers. And it’s brilliant. We are creating who we are. We are not static creatures.

Go out and be changing, be dynamic, and don’t be afraid of how you will grow in the process. Most of us don’t know what we are doingAnd that, that is truly okay.