With This, I Might Just Change the World

Photo by @esteejanssens

Expect big things from me in 2023 you guys, I just bought … a bullet journal.

I’m not sure how I landed on bullet journaling as the Solution to All Things including my current writing slump and the pandemic pounds I’ve gained. Were I to give up social media, I might find the time to address these issues, but if not for TikTok, how would I have discovered the inherent whimsy of hand lettered and color-coded to-do lists?

I was made for bullet journaling, folks. I am a pro at to-do list-making, and I taught myself calligraphy in the 9th grade–a skill used frequently in my high-school pep rally poster-making days that has been dying to be called upon ever since.

First things first: supplies. I once had a metric ton of markers and stickers and stamps I collected during The Year of Scrapbooking–circa 2005 or sometime–and somewhere there’s a cookie tin with colored pencils and funky shaped scissors, and another Rubbermaid bin with left over school supplies the kids brought home each spring.

I don’t normally throw that stuff away (I don’t normally throw anything away. More on that later), but we’ve downsized recently–casting off everything we could and moving from a 3,000 square foot home with 4 bathrooms to a 1,500 square foot home with 2 bathrooms (a more reasonable number of bathrooms IMO). I was so proud of us, but we still have enough stuff for an entire house, a full garage, a shed, and a storage unit which costs a stupid amount of money every month.

And when I say “we downsized” I mean Mike downsized and I tried not to interfere. Mike is the purger in this relationship. I am the person most likely to have an emotional attachment to almost everything I touch. With plenty of positive affirmation and a couple days to prepare I can force myself to make hard decisions about material possessions. Last year I reduced our Christmas décor from twelve bins to six. It was an out-of-body experience and has taken me a year to recover. This year, Mike would like me to further reduce our Christmas cache from six bins to three.

I may need to be medicated for that.

This dislike for throwing things away is especially problematic considering my dislike for clutter. I use stacking as a coping mechanism, helping me reduce clutter and procrastinate important tasks, like going to the bank, or spending a gift card I got for my birthday.

My stacking and procrastination habits pair especially well with my spotty memory, which means I lose things regularly. I credit Mike for keeping us all alive and housed and able to function as adults most of the time.

Stacking presents challenges where gravity is concerned, and when living with larger people who dislike having to thread their way through and around my precarious pillars without knocking them over. Dogs are bad for stacks, especially when gravity is present, which is most of the time.

If we could live on Mars which has something like a third of Earth’s gravity, my stacks could be three times as high, I think, before succumbing to dogs or big people. Or, not three times, precisely, but two-point-something times as high. I would do the math except that I likely won’t be moving to Mars, so it doesn’t matter. I mean, dogs in low gravity could be especially fun, but a royal pain in the ass when they keep wanting to go in and out, in and out. You ever try to fit a space suit on a dog? I imagine it’s a pain. And I would miss Mike, who shames me into sorting my stacks on occasion, which makes the whole Mars thing a moot point.

What I’m saying is, if it weren’t for other people, gravity, and difficulties with dog space suits, I feel like my life would be significantly less complicated. Or more so. I can’t decide.

What were we talking about?

That’s right: bullet journals.

So, while we’ve downsized, an act which may or may not have included casting off all of our art supplies (unless I’ve stacked them somewhere and can’t remember), shopping for art supplies happens to be our love language, which this last Sunday presented an opportunity for bonding and also the only reason I would ever set foot in a Walmart since both Michael’s and Fred Meyer had an underwhelming collection of bullet journal supplies, and also because we boycotted Hobby Lobby a while ago, even if it wasn’t already closed on Sunday.

Now I have a bullet journal, a set of new markers, a compass and straight edge. After gaining inspiration from a couple of TikToks, I set to work.

midlifesentence | bullet journal

I immediately forgot to jot down my goals for the year up front. Right after that I messed up the cover page for January. This was especially disappointing since I had employed all my calligraphy skill and copious whimsey. But ink bled through onto the next page in the process. I double-stick taped pages together for better absorbability, but that gave my journal an immediate well-used and kind of sloppy look. An inauspicious start to my year.

But it’s an aesthetic I kind of like: a jumble of pages, each warped in its own way, dog-eared and lovable in imperfection, ready to be thumbed through frequently for inspiration, or to find something like a lost gift card or a receipt.

Kind of like a … a stack or something.

All of which is to say 2023 might be the year I get more organized and accomplish great things. It could also be the year in which I find myself entrenched in old habits.

Either way, there will be more markers and whimsey involved.

Happy New Year!

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