why you broke up with your bullet journal {and shouldn't have}

I've been seeing a trend in blog posts and vlogs telling stories of bujo break-ups — people talking about their attempt to create a bullet journal and failure to find it helpful. I've also recognized a trend in why they are failing, and it isn't the bujo's fault!

In my years of using the bullet journal method to organize my life, I've seen a whole online community form around this highly-customizable planner system. I've also seen people try to join this community and quickly pull out. The reason? Overwhelm.

The irony is that overwhelm should be the last thing a bujo newbie feels.

The bujo community online is doing newbies a disservice by focusing on customizations and decorations. Of course a newbie would face overwhelm looking at this page full of color-coding, hand-written headers, and complicated layouts! I'm overwhelmed by it! But here's the thing: all of these overwhelming things are add ons and aren't technically a part of the bullet journal method at all!

The bullet journal method is highly customizable, so for people who want to add color and complication, it's the perfect "blank page" to do so. I've done a bit of that myself. But ultimately, the method itself is much simpler.

How to have a good relationship with your bullet journal:

1. Forget everything you've seen on Instagram and Pinterest and watch this video created by Ryder Carroll.

You can also find it on the bullet journal homepage. As shown in the video, there are three main pillars of this method, and if you remember nothing else, remember these:

  • If you can rapid log, you can bullet journal.
  • Collections help rapid logs from getting out of hand.
  • Any notebook will do.

That's it.

2. When you do want to add customization, add a little at a time.

The beauty of the bullet journal is its flexibiity. If you like to color-code or doodle, the bullet journal provides a great canvas. This is where the bujo community that has sprung up on Instagram and Pinterest comes in. It provides a wealth of inspiration that can be quite useful, when taken in small doses, so my advice is this: only add up to three customization or changes at any one time. If the change is a big one — say a weekly layout or a new tracker — focus on that one change. If they are small, like making your headers pretty or working on your handwriting, up to three are managable.

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If you scroll through my Instagram feed you will see how I've made my bullet journal my own. I didn't do any of it all at once, though. I've been using the bujo method for years now, and have tried all kinds of layouts, collections, trackers, etc... Looking through my current bullet journal would probably overwhelm a newbie, but that's because I've spent years experimenting to create a custom system that works well for me. Which brings me to my final bit of advice.

3. Do what works for you.

Experiment. Play. Try new things. But only keep what makes your life better.

I started out using a pocket-sized notebook that I already had, then I experimented with different sizes, ruled or gridded with lines or dots, and ultimately decided that Baron Fig's Charcoal Confidant is the perfect notebook for me. But that was only after I'd determined what things were important to me in a bullet journal — and I did that through the process of using the basic method day after day, month after month.

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The bullet journal method may not be for everyone, but far too many people don't give it a fair chance. I'd love to see more people fall in love with their bujo. If your relationship with your bullet journal is struggling, message me on Instagram! I'd be happy to help rekindle the fire that got you interested in the first place.

let me hold you longer

“We have this perception that life is long, but it’s not true. It’s a perception. Life is short and it moves fast.” ~ Paul Aspen

Dear Little One,

These days I often feel on the verge
of an eternity
called motherhood,
about to be overwhelmed
by a new identity
consuming me.

{photo by Jordan Aspen}

{photo by Jordan Aspen}

The path seems long and arduous,
but in reality
life is short and it moves fast.

I don’t want to miss yours.

This new identity of motherhood
will not negate the other facets
of who I am.

I am a wife,
a writer and a poet,
an entrepreneur...

And I am a mother — your mother.

{photo by Mojca Žove (Mars)}

I’ve known you since the moment your life began.
You are a part of mine and I love it.
You come with me everywhere, on all my adventures.

Your kicks make me smile as I type
and seeing evidence of your growth brings smiles
to so many faces of friends, family, and colleagues.

I don’t want that to change after you’re born.

{photo by Nicholas Doyle}

{photo by Nicholas Doyle}

I welcome you into my life —
your presence in my body now
as you grow strong enough to survive the outside world
and your presence against my body soon
as you grow confident to explore the outside world.
Because I know that one day my wish will be,
“Let me hold you longer.”

{photo by Jordan Aspen}

{photo by Jordan Aspen}

Inspired by Sakura Bloom's Sling Diary prompt: perception.

I'm not going to lie

I wanted to write something beautiful and a bit philosophical today. Trouble is, I'm exhausted.

Some people say writing a book is like having a baby. I have all kinds of thoughts and opinions on that, but I'll leave them for another day. For now it's taking all my energy to do both. It turns out that publishing a book while pregnant isn't easy.

It's rewarding, though. And worth it — both the publishing and the pregnancy.

So please forgive my few words. I must attend to all of the preorder customers who have done so much these past couple of weeks to encourage me.

That is, if I don't fall asleep first.

why read this book?

"sometimes the emotions are too much
the words spilling onto the page
may only be understood
by the heart that bled them out"

...at least, that's what I thought
before I shared those words.

The book my heart poured out is full of poems that I wrote for myself. I had no any idea that others would benefit from reading them until I published them on a blog and began to hear from readers. They told me that my poems broaden their perspective and make them reconsider the way they see things. Reading my words even inspired them to write their own; if my poems were making a difference, theirs could too.

This book is about connection — real, deep connection. The kind that comes unexpectedly over a simple cup of tea, when one person says something that makes the other realize “I’m not alone.”

I hope this book brings that same sort of feeling to you.

the reason I wrote this book

The words of the poems in the book my heart poured out were a lifeline to me, lifting me up into beauty and light when I felt like I was drowning in the dark ugliness of this world.

I was working for a non-profit at the time, talking with young people about the painful circumstances surrounding abortion. I heard story after story of the traumatic events leading to unplanned pregnancies, the heart-wrenching choices surrounding the fate of those pregnancies (whether terminated or not), and the throbbing pain that continues long after those choices were made. I came home and cried. Then I turned to pen or keyboard and wrote.

The poems I wrote aren’t about abortion. Only a few flowed directly from any particular story I heard. No, these poems were simply how I kept myself from thinking that this abortion-centric world that my work steeped me in was the only world there was. They reminded me that there is beauty that transcends pain.

I'm sharing them now in the hope that they will do the same for you. Pain screams and demands attention, but there is always a quiet beauty somewhere behind it. Always, even when it’s almost impossible to see. Maybe some of the words that helped me to see it will help you to see it too.