This is the end.


I have been here for over seven years. I love this space and it has helped me grow. But I didn’t write here for two months and I want to be intentional with my writing. I want to learn my niche. In the spirit of moving forward and growing, I will be leaving this blog.

All content will remain up and available to read, but I won’t be posting here anymore.

This was a hard decision for me, but I think it’s the right one and that the time I’ll free up (what little there is) will be used for better writing.

Farewell, dear readers. I’ll miss you.

My Life with My Bullet Journal


I started bullet journaling in June. In the middle of June, which was a big deal for me. I have a “I have to start at the beginning” mindset and my bullet journal has helped me with that. I posted about my start about a week in. After almost six months, I have a good grasp of what is helpful to me and what is superfluous and I wanted to share it with you. Here we go.

Monthly Pages

I have tried many different monthly layouts and this month I reverted back to the original because, surprisingly enough, it works best for me.

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This was the simple layout. I have a modified version of this for November. I thought that I needed to look at a calendar version, but I was wrong.

I loved the look of this one, but I stopped using it, because it wasn’t practical for me. Too many details to add, instead of just being able to jot stuff down.

August and September’s were the same, but I hated it. I wanted it to change, but I just stuck with it. In October, I kept the rapid log, but chucked the giant calendar. I also added tasks and goals to do. However, it continued to not work for me.

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And this is how I ended. This, the simple layout. I colored my weekends and have a small calendar on the opposite page. I think it just needed to be made beautiful and themed. (November is a Nano theme…)

Weekly Pages

I started these at the end of June and ended up using weeklies instead of dailies for months. This continues to work for me, so it’s what I’ve stuck with, but the layout changes nearly month-by-month. I like trying out different things and Pinterest is a constant inspiration to me.

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This was my first weekly page. I actually liked it a lot, but I needed more space and I ended up putting some of this into my habits tracker.

 

I really like September’s with the task, thoughts, and quote section. August was without an inspirational. In October, the entire opposite page was a quote, so that was fun. I’m really enjoying November’s layout, but I have to change the days of the week side, because there’s not enough space for me to write.

Daily Pages

Okay, so I used these in the beginning, discovered they didn’t work, scrapped them, and now I’m back. These are good for days that I need planned down to the moment. The past few days have been such. I am working on my grad school app, but unless I have every moment accounted for, I have a tendency to procrastinate.

I really liked designing these, but it was hard to keep up. So I streamlined into a weekly layout.

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So, this is what I’ve been doing the past couple days, to organize my time a little more. I might do this just for days when I need to get stuff done; I might end up doing this every day (doubtful, as it’s a lot of work). 

Habits Tracker

I love this. I do so many things now because of this. I make my bed. I clean. I do laundry. I read the Bible. I journal. All to color in little squares on my habits tracker. It’s wonderful.

I hated what I did with June, I couldn’t wait for July to come. As you can see, I wasn’t all that great at tracking. Honestly, it comes with practice. It’s a discipline to sit down each day and look at what you did.

I didn’t track anything in August, but in September I decided to track EVERYTHING including my moods. I continued the trend in October and found what was important and what wasn’t.

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This month, I needed to keep it on one page. Two pages was overwhelming. So I only track what I viewed as important. As you can see, I’m killing it with the writing (rolls eyes heavenward, and prays for discipline to develop overnight). Also, the exercise game. Sigh. Every day is a new one.

Collections

I’ve tried a variety of collections, but none of them really stick. I am just not the sort to go back and fill out a page that I’ve passed after about a week.

Here are two failed ideas. I can’t keep a gratitude log. I tried. And I can’t have a quotes page. That being said, I do have quite a few quotes in my bullet journal, I just dress them up and allow them to inspire me that way. Or I write them on the days I find them. I can keep them all in one place.

Aren’t they pretty?

I tried different menu planning options. I actually love the right one. I would do that every week if I had the time and patience. But I don’t. The one on the left was supposed to be a reusable one, but I never used it.

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This is what I do now. I know all the recipes for these and if I need ingredients I make a list on a sticky note.

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I make lists like these ALL OF THE TIME. This took a lot of time and forethought; it took me about a month and a half to write.

Here are some more. I’m ashamed of that moon, but it is what it is.

Ultimately, I’ve found that it does help my productivity. I have to keep it pretty though. I don’t like to do it if the pages are ugly. I have torn out maybe a fifth of the pages of this journal because I didn’t like my design. I finally got my hands on some Staedtler pens, but I gotta say, Frixion pens are THE BOMB. Because they are erasable. Like a pencil. There’s actually a whole line; they have highlighters and markers too. That erase. I fully intend on buying ALL the Frixion things. They are good for writing and designing (not so good for coloring in though…note that).

Do you bullet journal? What works for you?

Texture


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

Texture is what makes or breaks food for many. I know several people who don’t mind the taste of fish, but the texture is unbearable to them. What makes it so vital to our palates? I don’t know, but it’s a fascination that food isn’t all about flavor. It’s about color and texture and tactile elements as well.

As I cook, I’m learning that a lot of times texture is what matters to me in a dish. For example, I don’t particularly care for Chinese food. After living in China for over a year, I have discovered that it’s too oily for my taste and that Shanghainese food particularly is too sweet. Beyond that, I dislike the texture of most Chinese food, as a lot of it is boiled and fried. My texture preferences are more on the side of crisp and fresh. I like the crunch of raw veggies over the softness of cooked ones every day of the week. If you give me a head of broccoli, I will chop it up and eat it raw before I cook it (unless I’m blanching, because then I retain a lot of the crispness and color and I always drown it in lemon). Here in China, they don’t really do that. They cook EVERYTHING. And that’s not what I like.

There are a whole slew of words out there to describe food texture that we don’t tap into because it isn’t something we think about often. “Crispy”, “crunchy”, “soft”, and even “gooey” are often used. If you watch the Food Network often you might have a wider vocabulary and say things like “chalky”, “grainy”, or “rubbery”. But how often do you hear people use words like “clidgy” or “lardaceous”? It saddens my heart to know that there is a plethora of food related vocabulary that is systemically ignored by the English-speaking population.

The point is that texture is often just as important as flavor and we need to remember that and use proper vocabulary to describe what we’re tasting.

Articles I read about texture and why it matters:

Ritual


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

Rituals are so important to my life right now. Everyone knows the importance of having a morning routine. It helps start your day off right and sets the tone for your day. It also ensures that important things get done. Like putting on deodorant. That is SO important.

My morning routine goes like this:

  • Wake up and hit snooze.
  • Hit snooze again.
  • Okay fine, I’ll get up.
  • Go to the restroom and since I’m there, I guess I’ll wash my face and brush my teeth. And moisturize. Since it’s all there on the counter, waiting for me. Might as well floss.
  • Go back to my room and drink half a liter of water.
  • Put on clothes.
  • Put on deodorant.
  • Spray myself with Georgia Peach Tea stuff from Bath and Body Works and accessorize.
  • Maybe put on makeup. If I’m feeling it.

Lately I’ve been enjoying my natural face without any makeup. So that hasn’t been part of my mornings. It seems simple. I don’t journal (I’ll do that when I get to work). I don’t exercise (because I’m lazy and that would require to me wake up even earlier). I do have sacred space mornings where I get up WAY early and spend time with Jesus with a cuppa tea. But for the most part, this is my morning. If I forget one thing, like setting the deodorant on my vanity the night before, I might not remember to put it on in the morning. I’ve experienced this a few times (which led me to leaving extra good smelling stuff at my desk at work) and it’s no fun. That means that your evening routine is equally as important.

Self-care (taking care of my body and soul) has become a super important part of my routine since living in China. It’s my time to nurture and relax in a world that still seems so foreign to me. And that’s what I do at night.

My evening routine:

  • Shower time!
  • Brush my teeth.
  • Moisture mask on my face (I might do a Korean face mask prior to moisturizing).
  • Lotion time!
  • Hair time. That is, putting product in my hair and braiding it before bed.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Read for a bit.
  • Sleep!!!

As I go through and do certain things I get ready for the next morning.

These rituals are a part of my life. They make sure that I have productive days. And my bullet journal is a part of that ritual too. I love it so much. Seriously, I wouldn’t function properly without it.

What do you do?

Languid


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

Etymology is a fascination of mine. How did we get the words we have now? How did British English and American English become so different? These are the questions I mull over when I’m feeling whimsical. I read some of the lay books on it, but I haven’t studied too much into it.

The etymology of “languid” goes back to the Latin, languidus. We, as the English people, stole it from the French, languide, in the 1500s. I love how English is the bandit of languages. We get a melding of the best (and sometimes worst) words.

What I want to know is where this word came from. Who was the first person to say it? How did they decide what it meant? Why did it develop from being something that wasn’t bad but wasn’t good to being synonymous to “relaxed”. If you feel languid today, you feel relaxed and a little lazy. How did we get there?

Language is a beautiful thing and it should always be so mysterious.

Hunter’s Moon


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

The hunter’s moon is the full moon in October signaling the beginning of the hunting season. Often we see it as red or orange and it can be super creepy. The naming of the moons and different seasons dates back to Native American tribes and how they would mark the passing of time.

Yes, this one is short but I couldn’t find the information I wanted and I have to go to sleep. Sorry.

Anticipation


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.} [Side note: Sorry I missed a couple of days. I stopped being a human and turned into a potato, so I couldn’t. My apologies.]

Anticipation and anxiety are so close. They walk hand in hand sometimes. You’re excited for something to happen and it quickly turns into anxiety the longer you wait. For example, you interview for a job. You’re excited about the results. You think you did well. But then, you start remembering all the little things you did wrong. And after 24 hours you are in a fit and obsessing over the spinach you had stuck in your teeth and how that ruined your chances for that dream job (which, face it, wasn’t all that great anyway).

“Be anxious for nothing…”

I’ve been suffering from anxiety lately. I’m applying to grad school and with that comes absolute terror and a deadline. I haven’t had to write under such pressure in four years. God help me. Every time I stare at the screen I flip out and end up watching Korean/Taiwanese dramas (which then obliterate my soul). Escapism is my deadliest frenemy.

“…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known before God.”

I know I should. I should pray. Let it go. Be Elsa. But it’s hard to give up control when you (I) are convinced you (I) have to try harder. Do better. Be better. Here’s the secret: I HAVE NO CONTROL. In this case, control is an illusion. I’m in the Matrix, baby. And that’s actually okay.

“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’m waiting on that peace. I keep praying. Giving it up. It’s an hourly thing. Every day. Every time I remember that I procrastinated or worked on something else. Sometimes it’s moment by moment of praying for peace. I hope I can make it through this. I want anxiety to transform into anticipation. Wind back the clock. PleasedearGodI’mbeggingyou.

 

Exhale


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

The deep breath before the plunge. Sometimes you’re holding your breath forever. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

What’s the plan? What will you do next? Where will you go? That’s not practical. Why this?

And still you’re holding your breath.

Am I sure this is right? What if it’s not? How will I go on if I fail?

“Rest. It’s okay. Do your best, but remember you’re not in control.”

And exhale.

Cyclical


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

I don’t think I’ve lived anywhere as transitory as Shanghai. Living on military bases was always a challenge because people were coming and going, but family was constant. My dad used to say “Your sister is your best friend” which wasn’t always true, but my sisters were always there. My parents were always there. And my grandmothers visited at least once a year. I saw the same people throughout various seasons.

In this place, nothing is constant. There is a constant cycle of people coming and going. People who have been here for 6 years are leaving. A couple of people are cycling in and out for a couple months at a time. College students come and go. At work, at community group, at my apartment. There is no stillness, no support, no core people that are just there. Everyone leaves.

It’s not bad. It’s normal. Cycles are a part of life, expected even. Seasons cycle, changing the environment, the mood, the clothes we wear. People enter new cycles, new relationships, new stages of life. Weddings, marriages, babies, growth, death. It’s all turning, all moving. But here, in Shanghai, it seems to happen at warp speed.

One second you have the perfect family away from family. The next everyone’s leaving. Soon, I think I will too. I’m ready for whatever’s next and to jump out of this hamster wheel into one that moves a little slower. Onward and upward!

Flicker


autumn-moments{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

I am not getting this out before midnight. My apologies. I’m also kind of at a loss of what to write. I’m trying to stick to non-fiction because that’s what I struggle with, but my prompt is “flicker.”

So prepare to learn about the Northern Flicker (aka, yellowhammer, the state bird of Alabama, clape, gaffer woodpecker, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, wake-up, walk-up, wick-up, yarrup, and gawker bird), a woodpecker that can be found primarily in North America, Central America, Cuba, as well as the Cayman Islands.

I have to say, it’s a beauty of a bird. These birds look like the life of the party with a black mark on their breasts that looks like a black pendant (they prefer dressing up, I presume) and black spots all over their bodies (rocking the leopard print). There are two types of Northern Flickers, yellow-shafted and red-shafted (these refer to the colors in the shafts of the feathers). The yellow-shafted males have gray heads and rock a black mustache, perhaps indicative of their evil side. They can also have a red crescent on the nape of their neck. Their red-shafted brethren also sports a mustache, but a red one. I have a feeling these ones have more fun and a bawdy laugh or two. This bird actually does laugh; it makes a ki ki ki ki sound. They also have gorgeous red tails.

The females of both the red and yellow-shafts prefer to leave their jewelry at home, but like the red at the nape of their necks. These ladies are seen on the ground more often than any other species of woodpecker because ants are the Norther Flicker’s primary source of food. So they don’t peck wood as much as some other woodpeckers.

The oldest Northern Flicker lived to be a little more than nine, which is pretty long for a bird. Another cool thing is that they fence for prospective mates by waving their beaks around.

While Northern birds migrate, often ones that live in the South stay year-round.

This was fun to research and I’m kind of excited to see one of these gorgeous birds when I return home. If you live in the States, keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Flicker!

 

Nostalgia


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{Octoberfest is my blog event in which I attempt to write every day during the month of October as a pre-cursor to Nanowrimo in November. Welcome to the insanity.}

Whenever I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman I am instantly transported to a car. The white Chrysler van with the single sliding door, the other two mini vans my family owned, the eggplant (ugly) truck that my dad traded his mid-life crisis car for, the various Hondas we’ve had. They all blasted his music at sometime or another.

Every time we moved as a family we played “The Great Adventure”. We played it loud and screeched the lyrics until we were hoarse, getting the lyrics wrong as often as we got them right. It was always the start of our next great adventure. I’m not sure when it became tradition, actually. I just know it happened.

“Signs of Life” was the song that was playing the first time we, as a family unit, saw my oldest sister a little toasted after drinking one too many strawberry daiquiris during a memorable Fourth of July. With four of us squeezed into the back of the truck, going to watch the fireworks from the mountains of Colorado, she burst into tears. “This is such a sad song!” We all paused before laughter bubbled up.

“What Now” was my song in high school, when that was my catch phrase. It was also the song that got me through the long, lonely nights of my freshman year during the fights with my flatmate. “Speechless” was another that helped me through that dark time. I would play them as I drove alone in my little red Dodge Neon (the little engine that couldn’t) and sing with tears in my eyes.

My mom and I went to a SCC concert shortly after “All Things New” came out and saw him perform so many of my favorite childhood songs. It was a pretty great night. We sang songs the whole way home.

My favorite song is probably “Dive” though. We came up with motions one day in that ugly truck with my dad. He’s so serious a lot of the time, I cling to the memories when he was just silly with us. “The river’s deep, the river’s wide, the river’s water is alive” was belted as we gestured wildly, startling the drivers on either side of us.

Now, in China, I don’t have a car. I just close my eyes and imagine that I’m back in those protected spaces. It’s the perfect bit of nostalgia in my day.