bullet journal

Bullet Journal Beginner’s Guide

I started my first bullet journal on January 1, 2017. Well, to be honest, I sort of started a few months before that. I heard about it and googled it and planned to start doing it for a few months. I told my BFF about it so she’d start it with me, and shopped for supplies. Basically, I did a lot of “bullet journaling” before ever actually doing any. Now that I’m in year two, I recommend skipping that part and just diving in. In this post, I’ll include all the basics to get you started plus some tips I’ve picked up along the way. Then, it’s up to you to start and figure out what works best for your journaling style!

A bullet journal is made up of a few main areas and is a combination of note-taking space, tracker, and journal. The recommended areas to include are:

  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Log
  • Weekly/Daily Entries
  • Collections

The Index in a Bullet Journal

Create an index on the first few pages of your journal. (Some journals may have a dedicated space there for this, or you can simply make your own.) This space is for tracking where everything is, since it’s easy to lose track of things once you’ve got several months worth of content in your journal. In your index, add page numbers and short descriptions of what’s on each page.

A Future Log for your Bullet Journal

The Future Log is a broad look at your year and it’s especially great for tracking things months in advance (before you’ve made any pages for the month where the item belongs). I tend to track big picture things here, like work trips and vacations (which are often planned several months in advance), holidays, and any other little notes I want to remember but don’t have a place for yet.

Your Bullet Journal’s Monthly Spreads

The Monthly Log helps organize your months. It most often includes a calendar and task list. The calendar gives you an overview of your month, while the task list is a great place to list out things you want to accomplish for the month before you’re able to assign them to a more specific timeframe, like a specific day. Many people reserve two pages, called a spread, for this. I change mine up each month, but often end up with the dates listed on the left page and some form of a task list and inspiration or focus for the month on the right page.

Including Weekly/Daily Spreads in your BuJo

Your weekly and daily pages can be as simple or complicated as you like. Some people simply write the date, then fill up however many lines they need for that day, then the following day they skip one line and start again. I like to dress mine up a little bit more (but not much) so I tend to draw out one week at a time divided between two pages.

This is also a good time to establish a key if you’ll use any sort of signifiers. I use a square for to do list items I want to check off, and a circle for events or appointments. I also use a simple bullet point or a little heart to add additional notes (often just things I want to remember, but don’t need checking off). Like every other part of the bullet journal, this key can be as complicated or simple as you want. If you search “bullet journal key” on Pinterest, you’ll see lots of examples to inspire you, including color coded options, which seem like they’d be great if you need to divide up your tasks and plans further, like between things specific to work or school.

Bullet Journal Collections

This is where you add any other bits of info you want in your bullet journal. These pages are great for tracking things, making lists, and otherwise organizing your life outside of the calendar pages. Here are some collection page ideas to get you started thinking about what you might like to include in your journal: a list of books read or tv shows to watch, a habit tracker, an exercise log, meal planning or a food log, a spending or savings log, and your current wishlist.

A few of my favorite collections pages to create:

  • Travel Details: I like to create a new page for every trip I go on. I add the details as I get them, including the flight details, hotel, restaurant ideas, and activities I want to do. After the trip, I update the page with a short description of how it went.
  • Home Projects: Last year, I acted as the contractor for my kitchen renovation. Over the course of the project I use several pages in my bullet journal to track the progress. I made the initial to do list, mapped out the budget, and added notes about the progress (and my excitement) as it came together.
  • Blogging and Podcasting: I create pages for my blog and podcast projects. It’s nice to have a spot to jot down ideas and make plans for personal projects that feel good to keep up with but generally won’t automatically get the same attention as your work.

Start Your Bullet Journal Now

That’s it! Grab a blank notebook, your favorite pen, and get started.

If you get into bullet journaling, I’d love to see yours! Join me over on Instagram where I share bits of my journal and send me a note so I can check yours BuJo out too!

books, reading

Five Top Tips for Reading More Books

sb-five_top_tips_for_reading_more_books-pinterest

I’m a big reader. I got off track logging my books as I read them in Goodreads this year to prove I met my goal of over 100, but I’m confident I did. No doubt about it, even without the proof, I know I’m well over it. So if you’ve been wishing you’d find a way to read more books, I’ve got the tips for you! (And no, I’m not going to tell you to stop watching television. I love TV too.)

Last year I shared ideas for How to Read More Books in 2016, and I’m back today with five more top tips to help you along the way. I recommend reading the first post for the entry-level ideas to get started, and adding in these next five to level-up your reading habits.

  1. Give yourself a book budget. I don’t mean this as a way to decrease your book spending, but to increase it guilt-free. If you’ve set aside X dollars for books per month, it’s perfectly fine to spend the entire amount on books. It’s not meant for anything else. Buy books and stack them up to tempt you. Or fill out your ebook collection, so you’ll always find one that you’re in the mood to read anytime you browse your virtual bookshelves.
  2. Go to bed early, but don’t actually go to sleep. I go to bed at a laughably early hour very often because I settle in, get cozy, and read fiction. I often read tweets by people making jokes about going to bed early while I’m already in bed, to be honest. Sometimes I’m there so early, I get a few hours of reading in. (My problem is usually making myself stop to actually go to sleep at some point.)
  3. Always keep a book with you. Like Rory Gilmore, a book should be your constant companion. Luckily you don’t have to weigh your bag down like her if you don’t want to. Your phone is a perfectly fine place to store a current read to dive into on-the-go. Choose an app (Kindle, iBooks, etc.) and get a collection of ebooks going there. I like to tweet #bookdeals I find if you’re looking for a new one.
  4. Read non-fiction on your lunch break. I’m not very good at reading non-fiction in bed, so I save it for my daytime reading, which often ends up being my lunch break. I really like to take the time to reset myself for a productive afternoon by stepping away from my computer, so my lunch breaks are often used for exercising or reading (or both at the same time — hey, audiobooks!).
  5. Track, write, share, and take notes! Sure, reading is great on its own, but if you make the whole process a bit more interactive and form habits around it, you’re more likely to do it more often. Keep a list of the books you’ve read this year in your bullet journal or track them on Goodreads. Take notes as you read, or jot down your thoughts when you finish a book. Live tweet your thoughts about a book while reading it, or whip up a cute graphic with a quote from your current read for your Instagram (or #bookstagram, if you will).

No excuses. Start reading.

I’m up for chatting about your recent read anytime. 😉

feminism & equality, pop culture, television

Veronica Mars: Iconic Feminist Show and Teen Girl Detective

Veronica Mars: Iconic Feminist Show and Teen Girl Detective

Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows, and the title character is a fantastic depiction of a smart, vulnerable, brave, fallible young woman. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend setting aside some time and watching the entire series. (If you’ve got Amazon Prime, it’s available for free there right now or it’s less than $20 per season.)

Below I analyze a few episodes from the first season of Veronica Mars, in relation to feminist theory (and just because I love it).

About the show

In Veronica Mars, the main character, Veronica, attends school while moonlighting as a private investigator. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to come back later, unless you’re one of those people who love spoilers.) Set in a fictional, affluent town called Neptune, California, Veronica Mars frequently covers issues of race and class division, and feminism is addressed through the struggles and triumphs of Veronica and her friends.

Veronica is a cute, blonde, white girl from California who viewers may assume is more surfer girl or spoiled brat at first, rather than the snarky, tough, girl-detective she actually is. Season one starts after Veronica has experienced a major upheaval: the murder of her best friend and subsequent firing and loss of status of her Sheriff father. It also depicts her rape after being drugged and her attempt to discover what happened to her and who’s to blame. Through flashbacks we see how she transforms from the sweet, naïve girl she once was, to the street-wise, sleuth we meet at the start of the show.

“Pilot” – episode one

In the first episode (“Pilot”), Neptune High’s teenaged motorcycle gang is bullying Wallace, a new student. When Veronica tells the leader, Weevil, to leave Wallace alone, Weevil replies, “Sister, the only time I care what a woman has to say is when she’s riding my big ol’ hog and even then it’s not so much words as just a bunch of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ you know?” Instead of responding to Veronica’s request or ignoring her to continue picking on the new guy, his instant reaction is to belittle her as a woman, although it has nothing to do with the ongoing conflict. Weevil’s instantaneous, reflex-like response points to a lack of understanding (or care?) as to why such a comment is not okay.

Veronica Mars Pilot, Wallace Snitch Flag Pole

Gender is tied to certain cultural beliefs and representations and these establish how relations between women and men are occur and are understood.1 Weevil’s immediate disrespect and gendered attack on Veronica expresses his belief, whether intentional or not, that men can and should hold power over women. The idea (and real force) of men having power over women exists throughout society, and here Weevil has clearly internalized the idea that power is based on gender, which tainted his interaction with Veronica as well. 2 (Don’t worry. He learns.)

“Meet John Smith” – episode three

In “Meet John Smith,” Justin, a fellow student at Neptune High, approaches Veronica with a made up case as a guise to spend time with her. He asks her to locate his father, who he believes to have died a decade before. Veronica finds him, to Justin’s surprise, and when Justin’s mother hears about it, she acknowledges that his father is actually alive but tells Justin to forget him.

In spite of his mother’s warnings, Veronica takes Justin to meet his father and they find out he is now a transwoman. When Justin was five-years-old, his mom learned of his dad’s wish to transition, and not only divorced him, but also told their son he was dead, rather than allowing father and son to continue their relationship. When Justin sees his father again for the first time in ten years, he recognizes her (his father) as the woman he frequently assists at the video rental store where he works, although it’s over an hour drive from her house.3

It’s no secret that heteronormativity and gender binarism,4 including the belief that people fall into two distinct and complementary genders with natural roles in life, exists throughout our patriarchal society. And due to their overall position of power over women, men have long used their power to control women’s lives, including through threats of separating them from their children.5 Here Justin’s mom used her power over Justin’s father to deny him access to his child when he expressed his true identity as a woman. Did giving up his manhood mean he, later she, became secondary in rank to Justin’s mother, a person recognized as a woman at birth? Would a court system have treated each of them equally and fairly, as two women and biological parents, regardless of their individual gender identities throughout each of their lives?

As often as we hear of LGBTQ equality in the news, until recently it had been quite rare to hear the ‘T’ within that group addressed specifically and purposefully in relation to acceptance and ensuring equal rights, so it’s not hard to imagine that a court system would favor Justin’s mother (the “real” woman) in a custody battle even now. In fact, there’s no need to imagine it. Google “transgender parent custody battle” and you’ll see pages of stories about trans parents losing their children simply for being trans. Not abuse or neglect. Just gender identity. Veronica Mars acknowledges this sad fact.

“Like a Virgin” – episode eight

The patriarchy influences what women wear, the food we eat, and how we care for our bodies. The woman of the nineteenth century was idealized for delicacy, agreeability, and sexual passivity, and the rules that instructed women’s daily lives were specifically addressed and put into words. These days the so-called rules are often less direct and are more likely to be conveyed through images throughout society that instruct us on acceptable body shape, facial expressions, beauty standards, and behaviors.6

Veronica Mars Purity Test Locker gifIn episode eight (“Like a Virgin”), an online Purity Test containing detailed questions about sexual experience makes the rounds at Neptune High. As one girl explains, “Anything under sixty is really slutty.” A boy sitting nearby replies, “Unless you’re a guy.” The lower a person scores below 100 on the test, the less pure they are. When Cole admits to having scored a 91, a friend cracks a joke that Snow White, a Disney princess, got a lower score. Right away it’s clear that the acceptable scores for boys and girls are different. (Veronica, a frequent target, got a fictitious 14.)

When the Purity Test website starts allowing people to buy the results of others to see their scores, numbers are painted on corresponding lockers and accusations fly. Cole’s girlfriend, Meg, gets a 43 painted on her locker, although she says she never took the test and has always claimed to be a virgin (an impossible feat if that score is true). To save face, Cole7 later tells their friends that Meg is “good at everything she does, and she does do everything.” Meg continues to protest the score, but no one listens to her (except our favorite girl-detective, Veronica) because Cole has managed to hit certain societal cues, such as all boys and men being highly sexually active and “good girls” trying to cover up their secret, slutty ways.

“M.A.D.” – episode twenty

Similarly, in a later episode (“M.A.D.”), a girl named Carmen tries to breakup with her longtime boyfriend, but he blackmails her instead. He forces her to continue dating him, including the continuation of the physical aspects of their relationship, by showing her that he has a video of her simulating a sex act on a popsicle while in a hot tub. She has no memory of the night it was filmed and had no idea anything was ever recorded until he uses it against her. His threat to post the video online and email it to her parents and classmates works because he’s reinforcing the idea that girls must behave a certain way or face the consequences when they don’t (even if, like Carmen, it’s due to being drugged and secretly filmed).

The modern day requirements of what it means to be a “lady” were not being met by Carmen in the hot tub and rather than knowing he shouldn’t have filmed her or threatened her with humiliation, he uses his power over her and her shame in being “unladylike” to get his way.

Veronica Mars with camera season 1

The trend continues…

In later seasons of the show, Veronica Mars continues to address serious issues head-on. The show’s real power comes in through Veronica, dedicated righter of wrongs, who takes on each of these issues, digs until she finds the truth, and saves the day. While it’s full of tough situations for Veronica, her continued perseverance and determination sees her through. The show allows her to confront issue after issue and provides an outcome in which the cute, teenage girl gets to come out on top.

Although many of the lessons are often at the expense of Veronica and other girls on the show, the reaction to them is what makes Veronica Mars particularly adept at dealing with them. (Plus she teaches her fair share of lessons through the cases she solves too.) Veronica and others may be victimized at times, but she never lets herself or anyone else be tossed aside as a nameless, faceless, powerless victim.8

Footnotes:
1: Joan Scott, “Deconstructing Equality-versus-Difference”
2: Charlotte Bunch, “Not by Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education”
3: Aww. She drives so far every week just to see her son!
4: Definition of gender binary
5: Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”
6: Susan Bordo, “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity”
7: Ugh. Cole is such a weak, loser-dude. Own your score, bro!
8: Because she’s awesome.