Suffering in Silence

I learned early on that tears and tantrums are bad behavior. Showing these emotions causes displeasure and annoyance in those around us. Our first subconscious lesson to swallow those big emotions and keep them inside, those first seeds of unworthiness, are planted when we are very young. A lesson that others don’t have time for us, are not interested in our distress. Some of my most painful and poignant memories from childhood emphasize this lesson.

Looking backward in my memory I see a tiny child retreat to her bedroom when the world becomes too much. Perhaps an easily disregarded issue to the adults around, but a great source of pain to one so new and small. I see her shut herself away the first few times with a confidence that her mother will come to her, show compassion and concern for her suffering. It seems like hours as the child waits in the darkness for someone, anyone to show her that they care, that her presence is missed. Fits of crying come and go, some intentionally exaggerated to ensure they are heard. Still no one comes.

No one ever came. Many occasions like this ended in crying myself to sleep, feeling utterly alone and unloved. Even though I now understand this was so as not to encourage this behavior (i.e. crying and sulking in order to get attention) it doesn’t make the internalization of the initial message any less harmful. Nor has it helped to have this message reaffirmed throughout life.

I had bouts of extreme sadness in my high school years. I’ll never forget the week my first serious boyfriend broke up with me. I fell silent, kept my head down, hidden in my arms as I fought back tears for days on end. I wasn’t looking for attention. I wanted to disappear. But the realization that this would be so easy, that I would be utterly ignored was a sobering one. I quickly learned the meaning of the term “fair weather friend” and that most friends fit this definition. My best friend at the time did not try at all to console me or hold space for my sadness. She did not even seem to look in my direction that week. It felt as though I could drop off the face of the earth and no one would notice or mind my absence. Understandably this response served to compound my sadness ever further.

It’s not as though no one has ever extended a hand to me in my darkest hours. The best friend I have now is always there for me, through laughter as well as tears. I’ll never forget the day one childhood friend of mine made her boyfriend drive over to get me as I sat on the sidewalk in abject despair. She took me with them to Denny’s and did all that she could to make sure I was okay. These instances have pierced my soul in the most beautiful way. I’m so grateful for them even now.

Intellectually I understand that being present for another person’s suffering is hard. It’s not always that those around me don’t care, but they don’t know what to do. They are just trying to avoid their discomfort. They may even feel guilty and ashamed deep down. That being said, it doesn’t change the way it feels, especially when I am already so low.

As an adult, I really struggle with expressing myself due, in large part, to these experiences. When I’m struggling, I usually suppress the urge to reach out to anyone. I shrink away from the whole world. I choose to suffer in silence and put on a mask for everyone. It’s simply too painful to feel people pulling away from me when I need them most. It’s easier to pretend I don’t need them. My inner voice whispers, “No one cares what you’re going through. Don’t burden people with your problems. You’re only worth anything when you can make other people smile and laugh. If you show them how you really feel, they’ll all abandon you. Just keep it to yourself. Stay quiet.”

Not only does this perception greatly increase my pain and sense of isolation, it also pushes the people that do care away from me. I’m always in a weird spot when a negative event occurs in my life. I usually can’t muster the courage to tell anyone unless I absolutely have to or they directly ask me. I’m so afraid of their reaction, I’m so ashamed of making myself the focus of the conversation, that I just pretend everything is normal. But then when/if people discover what’s happened and realize that I didn’t share it with them, it makes them feel like I don’t consider them a friend. Which is understandable. I like to be kept up to date on the important events in my friends’ lives too. It does feel like a slight when they don’t confide in me.

I never want anyone else to experience the loneliness and pain I have gone through. I never want anyone to feel like no one cares for them when they are suffering. That is what I must believe all of these moments have been teaching me. I’m definitely someone that has the tendency to panic and avoid people that are crying or going through a tough time. I don’t know what to say or do. I feel awkward and uncomfortable. But this feeling I know so well, let it be my inspiration, my motivation to push through that fear and be there for others in their time of need. It doesn’t matter what I say or do. Just being there is the greatest comfort, just acknowledging that pain, sharing it, holding space, that is one of the few gifts I can offer. Let my own suffering give me the courage to do so.

Unknowable Energy & Raising Your Vibration

Have you ever encountered someone who you immediately felt at ease with? Someone who, without word or gesture, signals something within you that evokes a sense of safety and unspoken understanding? Every week when I do my grocery shopping after work, my eyes hopefully scan the self checkout for my favorite cashier. I’ve only “met” this person a handful of times. I don’t even know his name. But there is a palpable connection between us that I can’t help but imagine he feels just as clearly as I do. There is a certain magnetic quality or gravity in the air between us. Often it’s hard for me to get a read of people or what they’re thinking/feeling, but other times, I feel completely confident that they like me and enjoy my presence as much as I enjoy theirs, however inconsequential it may be.

What exactly is this indefinable quality I pick up in certain people, and how exactly am I sensing it, by what means, when on the surface, everything is so mundane and commonplace? Do other people feel this strange, instant connection? Are they drawn to the same people that I am? Is it something inherent in these particular people that sets others at ease and draws people in? Or do we all have our own brand of energy that captures the attention of specific, compatible people?

I’ve recently heard someone complain about the idea of such “energies.” They rightly proclaim that energy is a measurable quality that can be quantified. Still what would you have me call these more ethereal sensations? I agree they aren’t necessarily “energy” but then what are they? I’ve got to call them something. My education in psychology would lead me to believe that this is just an expression of unconscious biases that have formed from past experiences. Perhaps someone with a similar facial structure or tone of voice was once important to me. Maybe they remind me of my mother. Maybe I get “bad vibes” from someone who resembles in some slight way a school yard bully. This explanation does not satisfy the reciprocity of this experience though. Why should the other person feel similarly toward me? Perhaps I also subconsciously respond to them in a more agreeable, charismatic manner because they have set me at ease, but I genuinely don’t believe myself to behave very differently. After all, how differently could one respond within the span of a few pleasantries at a grocery store checkout?

In the same vain I can’t help but believe in the idea of “vibrations,” particularly “raising your vibration.” Even though I can’t explain it, I’ve felt it. I’ve felt the way that in certain states of mind, spiritual practices, an almost divine sense of awareness, moving realizations and impressions come easily to me. Yet the very same thoughts in a less positive state of mind seem ridiculous and leave a bitter taste in my mouth. This drastic shift can even occur within the span of a day, even a few hours! Physically though, what has changed? The only answer that somewhat satisfies this question in my mind is that I am in either a higher or lower energetic state. The words themselves may amount to utter nonsense, but nevertheless, the experience remains. I can see the effects of these different states in my self-talk, in my entire body.

All of these questions remain frustratingly unanswerable as far as I can tell. They are hard enough to verbalize, let alone understand empirically. New, more pressing questions naturally arise from them. How can I utilize this strange shapeless coexisting reality of vibrations and energies to my benefit? Are these energies destined to only be felt, never directed or created? There are many sources online that claim to offer advice for “raising your vibration” but despite my best efforts, they never seem to result in the desired change in me. One obstacle is the practical impossibility of performing some of the vibration raising activities when I find myself in that lower energetic level. I guess it could be said that it just takes persistent practice. After all, I seem completely capable and well versed in lowering my vibration. One thought or critical word is all it takes to destroy my good mood and positive mindset.

My impression at the moment is that these abstract, slippery sensations are not to be understood intellectually. The manipulation of such things (if even possible) is not a skill that can be taught to us. We must each learn to notice, accept, and respond to these inner mysteries in our own unique ways. While this is far from a satisfying answer, it’s all I’ve got for now.

Artwork | Alex Grey

The Comfort of Not Knowing

If you saw my post yesterday, you already know that I have little to no expectations for the future. I am just trying my best to be grateful for the amount of life I have been given and not worry about the years of growing old that may be lost to me. I’ve always had a hard time imagining myself being old anyway. The thought is pretty unsettling actually. However, obviously I don’t know everything.

I am simply making an educated guess based on all of the information I have available to me. I recognize that there are still things in this existence that I don’t know about or understand. Laugh if you like, but taking LSD has humbled me. It showed me that even when you think you are seeing everything, there are always new perspectives and new discoveries to be made. There is still so much about this life that we do not understand, and most likely never will.

For someone will such a dark outlook on the world and the future, this is a great comfort. Not knowing is something to be grateful for. There are few things more beautiful and enlivening than being surprised. No matter how much you learn or know, this life is always full of surprises. Amongst the monotonous daily drudgery, lurk the most unlikely things.

If I’ve learned anything, the farther in the future something is, the less accurate any predictions you make will be. It’s almost like the butterfly effect played out before our eyes. Small, seemingly insignificant details can snowball into relevant factors for the future in unpredictable ways. Now perhaps this is just a depressed mind grasping for some shred of hope, but even though I’ve lost any expectation that humanity can or will rise to the occasion, I have opened my mind to other (albeit somewhat ridiculous) possibilities.

This strange comfort of “not knowing” struck me one day as I was watching alien conspiracy theories. *Pause for laughter* Yes, I realize how silly that may sound. But hear me out. From a purely mathematical and probability perspective, aliens exist somewhere out there in the vastness of space. This I’ve accepted with not much interest. It doesn’t mean they have or will ever make any kind of contact with us. However, there are a lot of unexplained wonders that exist across the world that some people suspect have alien origins.

Obviously just because something can’t be explained, doesn’t mean we can assign any fanciful explanation we want. But the fact remains, there are quite a lot of things in this world that for the time being we are completely at a loss to explain. Whether that means there are aliens or ghosts or whatever is irrelevant. It simply means we don’t know everything.

Sometimes I like to amuse myself by coming up with outlandish ideas of how the world may not end. Maybe aliens arrive and save us and the planet, maybe something like this pandemic takes out the majority of the population before we have the chance to put the final nail in our environmental coffin, maybe the world governments have some kind of contingency plan that will save us at the last moment, maybe an amazing technology is being invented as we speak that will change everything. It could also very well be something I am entirely unable to imagine. I’ve also learned from taking acid that even our imagination doesn’t define the limits of what is possible.

It seems like most of the population has been continuing on with a foolish sense of assurance due to a vague idea of these ace in the hole possibilities. I’m not among those that always think everything will work out for the best somehow. I don’t believe there is a god up there that has a plan for all of us. I don’t believe humans are some type of miracle of creation or evolution. The universe couldn’t care less whether we exist or not. Despite all of that though, I do accept I don’t know everything. And I am interested to see what surprises are still waiting for me.

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

The Value of Virtual Yoga

If you’ve ever done a yoga video on YouTube then you probably know about Yoga with Adriene. She is one of the most famous yoga YouTubers with over 9 million subscribers! I have been doing yoga with this amazing woman since the very beginning of my yoga journey. Even though we have never met or even spoken to one another, I genuinely feel as though she is my guru, my teacher, my yoga guide. It is a strange and beautiful, one-sided bond.

After my class today, another teacher at my studio asked me who my primary teacher was since I don’t live close enough to regularly take classes where I teach. I hesitated, embarrassed, because I don’t ever attend classes in person. I offered Adriene’s name with a nervous laugh. This obviously didn’t really count in the eyes of the person who was asking. None of the other teachers at my studio think very highly of online yoga classes.

I can understand their hesitancy to embrace the idea. They are yogi’s that are much older than myself. Not only that but free YouTube yoga could potentially wipe out the yoga industry all together. Why pay for a class when you can do one for free from the comfort of your own home? So I get their insistence that you are missing out by not attending class in person. There are certainly benefits that you get from a studio that you can’t get at home. At a yoga studio you get to be part of a community. You can speak with your teacher one on one and receive real-time feedback on your practice. Not to mention, you don’t get all those wonderful adjustments from a virtual teacher! There is also a delicious energy that is created in a room full of yogis practicing together that is impossible to experience with a home practice.

So I certainly would still encourage people to join a studio and find a local yoga community. However, I personally prefer my at home practice. I it just a better fit for me and probably a lot of other people around the world as well. Today I wanted to take the time to explain why that is.

Benefits of Yoga Online:

Affordability:

Even though I, myself, am a yoga teacher, to be honest, I don’t think yoga classes are worth what they typically cost. I’ve only paid for a few classes in my entire life, most of them special donation based outdoor ones at that. I deeply respect my fellow teachers and value what they do. However, in my opinion, yoga should never be about money. I never expected to make money from becoming a yoga teacher. I just wanted to deepen my practice and be able to share yoga with others. With YouTubers like Adriene, you don’t have to pay a dime. Yoga studios are great if you can afford it, but online classes allow daily yoga to be accessible to everyone.

Privacy:

When I began my yoga journey, I was even more socially anxious than I am today. The only reason I was even brave enough to take a yoga class in college was because I had to take some time of PE credit to graduate, plus I had a scholarship so it was free. There are many people that may never be brave enough to walk into a yoga studio. It can be very daunting for even an extroverted person to be a beginner surrounded by people with experience. Online classes allow you to experiment with yoga from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Not only is it less intimidating, but it allows you to focus on what really matters. Often in classes with other people I find myself comparing and competing. I feel envious of other people as they easily go into asanas that I struggle with. I push my body farther than I would when no one is watching. An at-home yoga practice eliminates all of that. When I’m at home it is much easier to focus on my breath and on how the pose feels rather than what it looks like. I am able to really let go, let my guard down, and be silly.

Time:

Things are just easier when you don’t have to worry about time. With yoga videos you never have to worry about fitting a 90 minute class into your schedule. You don’t even have to put clothes on! You can do yoga in bed if you want to. This removes yet another obstacle that could potentially keep someone from yoga. A coworker asked my the other day, “Do you have to do yoga for an hour every time to receive the benefits?” I had to restrain myself from bursting out into laughter. “Hell no!” I told her. I hardly ever do a full hour unless I’m teaching. Doing 5 minutes of yoga is always better than not doing any. There are yoga videos on YouTube that are 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, any length of time you want. You can find flows to do while you are in bed, driving in your car, or sitting in your office at work. With the internet, there is always time for yoga.

These are just a few of the many reasons that Adriene’s channel means so much to me. She has brought yoga into countless homes and lives that might have never experienced it otherwise. I am so grateful that she and other YouTubers continue to make yoga affordable, accessible, and convenient for everyone. Even if you are a teacher yourself, please still consider recommending online yoga as a supplement to in-person classes. Even if you attend a studio, it is always important to have a personal, at-home practice as well. Besides, yoga is a gift and gifts shouldn’t have to cost you anything.

Hyggekrog

I made a post on here a while ago about hygge, the danish aesthetic of coziness and comfort. Ever since reading about hygge, I’ve been obsessed. For the last month and a half I have been meticulously cleaning and reorganizing every square inch of my house. I’m actually surprised how quickly I was able to get everything accomplished. All of a sudden I found myself with nothing left to clean. At first I was saddened by this, but then I remembered: hygge. It was finally time! Time to transform my home into a cozy little true expression of my inner self. And I knew exactly where I wanted to start, making myself a hyggekrog.

A hyggekrog, from my understanding, is basically a little corner or small space somewhere in your home that is extra inviting and cozy. Perhaps a window seat full of pillows and soft colors where you like to read a good book in the evenings. Hyggekrogs remind me of being a kid again, making a blanket fort, or a little temporary space just for you. Except now, this is my house and it doesn’t have to be temporary!

For the last few days, I have been buying up lots of nice rugs, pillows, blankets, and fairy lights. There is a room in my house downstairs that is massive, but I never really use it for anything. For the few years I’ve lived here I’ve spend 98% of my time upstairs. Now that I’ve finally decorated it to my liking though, this downstairs living room is my new favorite place.

I laid down a white faux fur rug, propped up tons of giant neutral toned pillows, piled up some super soft, white blankets, and hung fairy lights everywhere. It is the most magical little nook, my hyggekrog. I love it so much. It is so interesting the way the atmospheres around us can have an effect on our inner wellbeing. It is a fun and easy way to quickly get yourself into a more positive headspace. When I sit in my new hyggekrog, I feel like a carefree kid again. Nothing can touch me there. I am so warm and safe and happy. I am so excited to have someone to share it with one day.

Self-talk

This morning when I began to feel anxious like I always do, I became aware of the things I say to myself as this is happening. Usually I try to talk myself down. I’ll repeat to myself that I am okay, that everything is okay, that I don’t have to feel anxious right now. Sometimes I’ll try to reason with my anxiety, going over in my head all the reasons that I should be happy or why there is no cause for distress. As you might imagine if you’ve read some of my other posts on here, this rarely helps.

However, today for some reason, I thought of a different way I might go about talking to myself when this happens. I recalled hearing about the different ways different people prefer to be comforted when they go to someone else for support. Some people do like to be reasoned with. It is reassuring to be given some answers, options, or direction from someone outside the situation. Some people prefer to be cheered up. Others just want to be heard and acknowledged. I would most likely group myself with the latter.

Oftentimes I will even get frustrated or angry when someone tries to cheer me up or tell me how to solve my problems. It sounds silly, but when someone tries to give me solutions I feel insulted. Do they think I wasn’t smart enough to think of that myself? The problem isn’t that I haven’t figured out what to do, rather simply that nothing works. I know the other person is just trying to help, to somehow fix things. I, myself, am usually one to try to offer advice when someone comes to me for comfort, even though I don’t like that response when I am the one upset.

Today when I was feeling extremely stressed, I stopped my usual habit of telling myself I’m okay, and asked myself: how would I want a loved one to speak to me right now? I certainly wouldn’t feel much better if all they said was that I was fine, everything was fine, and I had no reason to be anxious. I know all of that already. Yet it doesn’t change the fact that I am anxious. Rather than try to convince me I’m okay, or give me advice on how I could lessen my anxiety by practicing breathing exercises, for example, I would just want them to be there for me.

So that is exactly what I did. I was there for myself. My inner voice shifted. It stopped repeating the mantra: You are okay. You are okay. Instead it said: I know that you are feeling anxious right now. It’s alright to feel anxious. I still love you. I am here for you. You are still worthy. You are still loved. Always. I wrapped my arms around myself in a self-hug, as I sometimes do. Cooing to myself softly, swaying gently in my own arms. In the past I’ve also found it helpful to hold my own hand, giving it a squeeze of reassurance. Even just imagining some form of physical comfort is beneficial.

It actually made me feel a lot better. I think it is because it’s harder to negate a feeling (going from anxious to not anxious) than it is to shift your focus, to replace that feeling with a different feeling (focusing on feeling anxious, to focusing on feeling love.) Trying to stop being anxious is like trying not to think about a zebra. Now it’s all you can do.

From now on I am going to try to remember today’s little lesson. Don’t try to reason with your anxiety. Just be there for yourself. Just remind yourself that you are loved. You are enough. You aren’t alone. You will always, always have yourself. And that is an incredible, beautiful, comforting thing.

Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

You Are Not Your Thoughts

Since I was in high school or maybe even younger, I developed a somewhat strange way of thinking that was comforting. A duality seemed to exist in me at will, and I would imagine my physical body as a cute helpless animal that my mind had to care for. It allowed me to feel compassion for myself. I had the tendency to be quite critical and cruel to myself, but thinking in this way helped me to be kinder and more loving when I was feeling devastated or overwhelmed.

More recently, however, a third part of me has begun to emerge in this strange mental play as well. The seed of this idea was planted by something I read once. I have no idea where, but I’m certain I did not come up with it. As you may have already guessed by the title of this post, the idea was you are not your thoughts. Even while we are thinking, there is somehow also a separate awareness of those thoughts. We aren’t those thoughts, we are the observers of our thoughts. I like to image this is what in yoga is often referred to as the higher self.

This realization has completely transformed the way I see myself. I see my consciousness as something almost apart from and deeper than both my mind and body. This view gives me space from my experiences. It’s as if my consciousness exists outside of my physical body. This physical body also affects the way my conscious is able to manifest mentally. The chemicals that control the way my brain is able to function are affected by so many different factors from my genetics to the things I do and experience each day. But I am not my anxiety. I am not my anger or my doubt or my shame. I am able to observe my body and mind’s experience of these things now from a distance with curiosity and compassion. This space keeps me from getting caught in a torrent of negative thoughts and overwhelming emotions. I just observe in stillness and let it settle. And it will always settle if you don’t keep stirring it up.

Maybe this idea is new to some of you. If so, I hope that you play with it in your own lives. I am still learning to utilize this mindfulness every day, but it has helped me more than I could have imagined. My wish is that by sharing what I’ve learned in a new way, it may also help others.

Observe in stillness. 

 

Bullet Journal Spread: December

I have definitely lost a bit of motivation regarding my bujo this month since it’s about to be a brand new year. I am more eager to begin my bujo for 2018 and make the first pen marks in my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. This is the brand I most often seen being used for bullet journaling. They are a bit pricey so I wanted to make sure I was going to follow through with the habit before investing my money in a fancy journal. After a very productive year of journaling (in a notebook that was not necessarily sturdy enough to handle it), I am confident it is worth the money.

Even though it’s basically half-way through the month already, I wanted to go ahead and show you guys my bujo spread for December. I hope you like it!

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The photos in the last week of my November spread do not belong to me. I found them on Tumblr as I often do to jazz up a weekly spread if I’m feeling anxious rather than excited about coming up with something to doodle.

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I particularly like how my goals and tracker page turned out this month. Sadly I have yet to fill anything in because I wanted to get a photo first in the natural light, forgetting that when I get home from work it is always pitch black now. Oh, the delightful fun of the winter months. I can’t wait for the sun to return to me.

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I tried to make the theme cozy winter bunnies, but all the red ended up giving this first weekly spread a more Valentine’s Day vibe. (Oops!)

This month I experimented with adding a positive affirmation to each week’s spread so I could practice replacing the negative thoughts I have throughout the day with something more loving. Whenever I catch myself in a loop of toxic thinking, I try to change this automatic dialogue into a more beneficial one. Repeating uplifting mantras in moments of stress and self-doubt really does do a lot to alter your mental state and view of the situation.

I hope that you are all having a splendid December so far! Also, to any of you that may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder like I am, don’t be too hard on yourself. It can seem hopeless when, after making steady progress, you find yourself sliding backwards into bad habits. Just know that you are doing your best, and progress is always sprinkled with periods of plateaus and slight regressions. Just keep moving forward, and I promise that your energy, your creativity, and your enthusiasm will return with the warm air, green scenery, and sunshine. Hang in there a bit longer and don’t forget to acknowledge yourself for still trying when things get hard. ♥

Self-Care Week

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I’m not sure why, but I have been feeling more anxiety than usual lately. It could be the deadlines that come along with the holidays or just the lack of sunlight that always seems to make me feel blue. Whatever the cause, it has inspired me to declare this last week of November self-care week. I mean ,why wait around for Christmas when you can create your own festivities?

I plan to make this week all about soothing myself and letting myself recuperate from all the stressors in my life. I plan to practice positive and gentle self-talk this week. (Even though I’m posting this a day late and slept through all of my alarms this morning). I’m going to be extra kind to myself, because I deserve to be treated kindly. Sometimes this can be hard to remember, especially when you are suffering from anxiety and depression. It is important to slow down from time to time and just focus on your own mental, physical, and emotional health.

In order to do this I am going to give myself only the best this week. I am going to eat extra healthy. I’ve planned lots of meals of my favorite fresh veggies, fruits, and other whole foods. I’ve bought myself some special new teas to try. I will definitely be finding comfort in one of my favorites as well, which is vanilla chai tea made with a blend of water and cashew almond milk. This warm, delicious chai latte has all the pleasure of a fancy drink without the guilt of drinking your calories for the day. (Almond Breeze Cashew Milk has only 25 calories per cup!)

In addition to this I’m going to make sure I get plenty of sleep and spend the evenings relaxing with some of my favorite video games: Harvest Moon: Animal Parade and the new Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. (Surprise, surprise. The vegan loves games that involve primarily animals.) I also plan to listen to soothing ambient music, light incense, and snuggle with my sweet fur children. I’m going to make myself yummy peanut butter oats with cinnamon and do yin yoga to stretch and soothe my tired muscles and mind.

I hope that you will all join me in this wonderful journey of replenishment. Set aside some time for yourself this week to experience the love you usually reserve for someone special, because there is no one more special than you! Please let me know in the comments if you decide to come along with me on this week-long self-love extravaganza and what kinds of things you are going to do to treat yourself.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Enjoy. ♥

 

Bullet Journaling: October

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I am happy to say that 2017 has been a very productive and transformative year for me. I finally feel like I am steering my life towards the things I’ve always wanted. I attribute this change in character and consistency to a new phenomenon I stumbled upon called bullet journaling.

This is a type of journaling that allows you to have freedom of form, flexibility, and creativity while still maintaining a semblance of structure. Bullet journals (bujos) most importantly allow you to keep a sense of cohesion in your life. No more rewriting the same goals and ideas over and over again intermittently in different notebooks only to close the cover and blindly step back into the same routines that have been failing you thus far.

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I began my bujo last April, and at this point, I can honestly say that I plan to keep it up for as long as I am able. Keeping a journal in this form has allowed me to keep track of and keep up with my long-term goals. As I mentioned, I used to write down the same few abstract goals dozens of times only to come back to them months later not knowing if I had made any progress at all or even what that progress would look like. It has been incredibly fulfilling and self-affirming for me to be able to quantify my small successes each day. If you suffer from low self-esteem like I do, a bujo can definitely help you notice how much you actually are accomplishing. This, in turn, can give you the confidence to break out of a cycle of self-doubt and achieve more of your goals.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably already fretting about the possibility that you may see that you are not making progress on a particular goal and how that will affect your frame of mind. However, I have found that even in this instance a bujo can be helpful. Instead of seeing this lack of progression as a failure, it can stimulate you to make some changes. Is this goal really important to you? Should you drop this goal in order to focus more energy on more meaningful projects? And if this goal really is something you want to work towards, can you break it into smaller, more easily attainable goals? Don’t let this type of realization discourage you. Let it inspire you to try something new.

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In addition to tracking goals, bujos can include a myriad of other aspects such as: scheduling, habit tracking, studying, grocery lists, doodling, and anything else you want to keep track of all in one convenient location. As you can see from the photos I took of my October spread, I generally use mine to track daily habits and mood, set monthly goals, record my finances, plan my weekly meals, and record what I eat and do each day. But one of the best parts about bullet journaling is that you can change the layout and setup any time you want. Each weekly spread can look different depending on how busy you are or how your feeling that week. After evaluating how your spread worked for one month you can easily revamp it to better suit your needs for the next.

Bullet journaling can also have the added bonus of allowing you to begin to notice patterns in your moods and behaviors. If you see that you were feeling particularly down a few days or one particular week in the month you can look at what else was happening and be better prepared in the future to avoid situations or habits that produce negative emotions. You may, however, start to notice yourself becoming more happier in general. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, planning and making goals for the future actually increases feelings of happiness and contributes to a positive sense of well-being.

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There are endless amounts of videos online demonstrating how to set up your very own bujo along with inspiration and ideas to add your own special flare that keeps you coming back each day. I hope that this format of journaling benefits your life as much as it has benefited mine.

Happy Journaling ♥