Raise your hand if you know what a riptide is! You may know it as a rip current (the official term) or an undertow, but we called them riptides when I was young. These are strong, sneaky currents that pull people away from the shore. If you try to swim against it, no matter how strong a swimmer you may be, it will tire you out and you will drown. Kids who grow up in beach towns, like I did, are taught that you don’t struggle; you just let the rip tide carry you along as you float or tread water. Ultimately, it will release you and you can swim back to shore (or, often, walk out; riptides usually circle back to shallow water) and make the long hike back down the beach to your towel and your friends.
Anyway, the moral of the story is this: I have spent much of the last few months caught in the riptide of life. To conserve energy, I have either been floating or treading water most of the time, but as August draws to a close, I’m starting to feel the old riptide loosening its grip on me. I need to be careful about how I get back into the swing of things, since my two speeds seem to be “off” and “reckless endangerment,” but hopefully you will start to hear a bit more from me in the coming weeks!
I have no idea how I stumbled onto the concept of the bullet journal. Something, somewhere, caught my eye. (If it was you, I am forever grateful.) I Googled it. I watched Ryder Carroll’s video. I was fascinated. I, the girl who can never seem to use any planning system consistently – even one of my own design – began to see the possibilities.
A bullet journal is simply a notebook that is used as an all-in-one planning system. You use it as both your calendar and your to-do list, but you also use it to keep track of every little thing you might have jotted on post-it notes, scratch paper or napkins in the past. The beauty of the system? Its complete flexibility.
Tired of the layout? Change it tomorrow or next week or next month. Skip a day or two or twelve? Just continue on – no wasted pages! Wish you had a [insert awesome planner/tracker feature here]? Simply add one in. A bullet journal can be as simple or as fancy as you want, because YOU are the one designing it.
I raced out in the 100-degree heat of Palm Desert to track down a notebook. I found a gorgeous soft-covered Moleskine in “Underwater Blue” with dot-grid pages and a set of pigma colored pens, and I was good to go. But first, I set one guideline for myself: “No rules, no ruler.” I am as perfectionistic as they come, and I knew that if I started to get hung up on straight lines, I’d be in big trouble.
Of course, by the third page, I needed another guideline: “Embrace imperfection.” Mistakes are a guarantee in life, especially when you combine permanent ink with a bound notebook. I’m just acknowledging them, tweaking if I can, and moving on.
This sounds a lot easier than it is in practice. The lack of straight lines does bug me, but I’m powering through. If I decide I want a graph-paper ruled one next time, I’ll get one, but this one is it for now. When you make a mistake that takes up two full pages (by designing an index you don’t like, for example), it’s hard to swallow, but – again – I can change it next time.
If you decide to start a bullet journal of your own, I must give one bit of advice: beware of Pinterest (or even Google images)! There are some incredible ideas out there, some gorgeous layouts, some seriously talented artists — and all this beautiful input can lead you into danger. You’ll either a) start feeling totally discouraged by the talent you see, or b) you’ll become enthralled by it, and spend all the time you should be using your own bullet journal to drool over other people’s. I did both, and it really slowed me down. I’m still navigating the fine line between working on my bullet journal and working from my bullet journal. I want to enjoy it, I want it to be beautiful, I want it to be a creative outlet, but – most of all – I want it to be a tool to help me have an enjoyable, beautiful, creative life.
From now on, you will hear me referring to Quinland with masculine pronouns: he, him, and his.
We’ve been using them since September, when Q let us know that he identified as male, but here on the blog, I was dancing around the subject by using no pronouns for Quinland at all. (Did you even notice?) Not because I am ashamed of my child or who he is – anyone would be proud to have such a happy, funny, kind, creative, talented, smart, enthusiastic kid – but because a blog is a public space and, frankly, I just didn’t want to get into it with any random haters.
But, phew! I realized I’ve been avoiding posting anything new to the blog because I felt like I wasn’t being honest or authentic, so it’s a relief to set the record straight. (It will also be a relief to no longer have to reword my sentences for pronoun ambiguity.)
I will almost certainly make mistakes in my writing and drop a “she” here and there, so bear with me as I continue to re-program 17.5 years of linguistic pathways in my brain, and feel free to bring it to my attention so I can correct myself.
(Please note: Q and I have discussed my bringing this up on the blog, and he is comfortable with me sharing my own perspective on this transition, but not his. That makes sense to me; it is his story to tell if and when he sees fit to get his own blog.)