Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Odder, The Ender

I ended 2016 well and began 2017 better. My days were structured enough for work and loose enough for being present and available for my family. Quickly, though, I lost control of my days. That’s what happens when the school year, work, and volunteer obligations hit, as well as various minor childhood illnesses. It’s hard to wrangle words into meaning while sitting next to a child with a bad cold who just wants to watch tinkly kiddie shows and put her feet on your lap. For two days. After neither of you have slept.

Priorities, though.

I’m tiptoeing back to my schedule, as the work and volunteer pressures abate for a few days.

I’ve already been published once this year, and am about to submit two more pieces by the end of the week. I have four more already out and I’m waiting to hear responses. I am motivated and disciplined. Good combination.

So, as January is often a time I try new things that don’t involve breaking a sweat or eating things that taste like kale, look like kale, or are kale, I am giving bullet journaling a go.

I’m not a doodler, and I don’t consider myself much of a visual learner. Perhaps due to innate perfectionism, art classes intimidated me. I couldn’t, from an early age, get the crayon or pencil to form the images in my head. I didn’t know how to see. Family and teachers used to gently tease me about my handwriting (which is still pretty awful) and it stuck. I never was one to make the posters for projects or events. I don’t create that way. I create in music and words and yarn sometimes, and even then I still struggle to get the piece to be what it is in my head.

I was intimidated by art classes even as I grew into a bold (obnoxious?) college student. As an undergraduate, I had to take an art class. I enrolled in an “introductory” art history course, surrounded by people who had obviously already been introduced to all things Art-Capital-A. “Pointillism” came up in the first class; I had never even heard the word and I felt so dumb, so much a rube. The professor assumed that all the nodding heads meant everyone in the room understood not only the term but the finer points (forgive the pun) of the style.

There was a basic drawing class at the same time, so I switched. That class terrified me, too. Especially the week of nude sketching, which is another story for another time. But I passed. Sort of. I don’t think the instructor was looking for too much out of me other than my showing up and being able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of negative space.

So imagine my surprise when I decided January was going to be a trial period for bullet journaling for my writing and performance. I use a Franklin-Covey system for the rest of my life, which has been my go-to for over a decade now. It works for me, but was not working for my writing.

I stumbled upon the idea for a bullet journal on Pinterest (of course) while perusing at cool fonts and handwriting. I have a few (dozen) extra notebooks lying around, so I pulled one out and started. Being me, of course, I first researching how to use them and tentatively began copying some people’s styles and writing and bullets and banners.

Quickly, I fell in love. Hard. I’ve always tried to honor my art, but this journal puts it into physical form. The intention, the goal – those become art as well.

By now, I’m already figuring out what I need and what I don’t. Also, my moleskin notebook bleeds through, which is irritating as heck because I want pristine pages each time I turn, and that means I cannot use my good markers. Small problems easily solved. I have to wait, though because I am not wasting a notebook.


I check this journal/planner more than any system I’ve tried since embracing the writing life. I can see how people can lose a lot of time making it look pretty. I’ve already broken out the correction tape, so I want to make sure it doesn’t suck me into a perfectionism vortex.

I’ll see if it works for me or if I end up working for my bullet journal. Updates to come.

Something Completely Different:

I doubt I will look back at this time in our cultural history and dub it “The Good Old Days.” I’m sure I will speak of activism and struggle and learning, of intersectionality and a divided country. Of change unsettling in ways I’ve not before experienced. But dotting those big bold markers in my life are small wonders and joys.

Making this week special:

  • My daughter’s return to health after weeks of coughing and a few days of fever.
  • Slowing down and paying attention.
  • My kids’ enthusiasm over a chess match they participated in.
  • My twins still hug me and know when it’s most needed.
  • Reading aloud Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the second time with the kids just because revisiting a favorite book is a gift.
  • My husband grilling burgers (or anything).
  • My daughter’s curls (always).
  • Writing.
  • Decluttering.
  • Knitting.
  • My friend, K., who steadies me when I tip and who topples me when I’m too upright.
  • Hamilton.
  • The Sun Magazine: some of the best non-fiction, short fiction, and reporting I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
  • The Bobs. I’m heartsick that they are embarking on a farewell tour, but will move mountains to see them.
  • Austin Kleon has unbuckled my approach to work and his newsletter is one of the few I will open immediately upon its arrival in my inbox.
  • The 48-piece Ferrero Rocher box my brilliant husband got me for the holidays. I’m honestly surprised they’ve lasted this long. I’m also surprised I still fit into my pants.

Sometimes you find the art in the negative space.


Back on Mamalode Today — It’s All in the Belly

I’m back up on Mamalode today with a piece that seems to resonate differently with different people. Definitely a challenging piece to write, even more so to submit. But I’ve been asking myself, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” And then doing it. Within reason.

Heads up, I wrote it in second-person. That’s not everyone’s cuppa.

Please check it out: It’s All in the Belly

Resolutions 2017

• Be punctual with holiday-related blog posts. I have already started to draft my post “Nine Arbor Day Crafts & Recipes You Can Say You’re Doing While You’re Really Just Hiding From Your Family to Get Some Peace and Quiet”

• As consistency is key, continue with 2-part exercise program that I have followed for a several years decade:

Part 1: Watch 70s and 80s workout videos while eating gelato, which is healthier than ice cream because it’s a foreign word.

Part 2: While standing in front of fridge, closets, doors, drawers, shelves, or people while trying to remember why I’m there – do squats

• Find lotion that works for zits and wrinkles. Alternatively, hide husband’s glasses.

• Open windows before going to any room by myself so when I yell at the kids to leave me alone, my neighbors will hear me and applaud my boundary setting. Do same pre-coffee.

• Listen to Hamilton more often. There is no accompanying joke, I just love this music and this show and everyone involved in this show ever.

• Since “I thought the sweeping cinematography in the opening scene ” only works once, stay awake for movies we watch at home long enough to fake a conversation.

• Speak faster so that I can get more information out before inevitably being interrupted by one of my children needing a juice box, snack, hug, argument referee, Band-Aid, bicycle tire inflation, or to relay every Minecraft fact.

• Accept that I look the same no matter which mascara I wear, except for the one that smudges. Stop purchasing the one that smudges


• I have to leave the house to be an activist so:

  1. Leave the House.
  2. Be an Activist.

• Stop Random Capitalization as though you are writing the next Winnie the Pooh novel or other Good thing.

• Accept my Bill Murray ambivalence.

• Know that no one else will be ok with my Bill Murray ambivalence.

• Understand people will expend a lot of energy and gesticulate a lot and possibly spit a little in an effort to change my mind about Bill Murray

• Eat the chocolates.

• Use all the cookbooks in my office rather than rotate the same four meals and just call them different foreign names. Alternatively, learn to say “Leftovers” in more languages.

• Husband and children are just going to use the voice search on the remote control as a source of entertainment. Since searching for “Monkey Pants” will always be funny to them, move on with my life.

• Play ukulele when I have the time, be that at the pickup line or before and after parent-teacher conferences.

• KidzBop is a compromise.

• Maybe don’t compromise so much.

• Stop wearing the maternity underwear already.

• Only say “That’s ok” when “that” is actually “ok.”