Bullet Journaling and Habitica

habitica
My avatar in its Halloween costume and my spooky fox pet

Last year I discovered the Bullet Journal system through Kara at Boho Berry. It changed my perspective about so many things for the better and did wonders for my productivity, but two months ago I abandoned the system. I’d just moved into a Leuchtturm (the holy grail of Bujo notebooks) and promptly panicked. It was so beautiful! So pure! How could I mar it with my bad handwriting and mistakes? In my mind, there was no way mine could ever look as good as I wanted. I stopped bullet journaling completely. My Leuchtturm was shoved to the back of my bookshelf and I felt a twinge of guilt every time it caught my eye.

This was a mistake, but I’m very glad I made it because it gave me new appreciation and perspective. Mistakes don’t mean as much as they used to. I also switched to a minimalist format much like Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine does. I feel much more comfortable in this style – there’s so much less pressure (even if I’m imagining the pressure on myself). And there’s a new addition to my planning family: Habitica.

In short, Habitica is an online task management system. It turns your To Dos into an RPG game: getting things done help you defeat bosses, level up, and win awesome treasures. It is the only task list app that I’ve been able to stick with because of how beautiful and interactive it is. I also integrate the GTD method of productivity and use Habitica to record every individual actionable step of the projects I’m working on.

The reason why I duel-wield these systems is because it allows me to be effective without being overwhelmed. If I present myself with an enormous, unorganized list of things I need to do, I’m much more likely to pick at the easiest few things rather than my priorities. Habitica lets me keep a running brain dump, track habits I want to create, and things I have to do daily. Every day I review my Habitica tasks and pick out the top 3-6 tasks that fit into my priority projects. These tasks are written into my bullet journal. In essence, it forces me to review every single day. I know that might not appeal to everyone, but I benefit enormously from it. It’s the perfect way to combine productivity and positivity.

I’d highly recommend this combo to anyone who struggles with motivation or who is overwhelmed by multiple projects. Do you have a combination of systems that works for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks again for straying to my corner of the internet 🙂

Rant Re: Why I Left My Corporate Job

Sexual harassment is an ugly beast

I’d been extremely fortunate that in my whole life before this job, I had never been sexually harassed. I genuinely have no idea how I managed to get lucky, but I’m never the female guys single out to whistle at or make passes at. That changed when I was working my corporate internship.

Because of job turnover, there came a point where there were only two people in my department – me and a new manager. This man was in his fourties, I’m guessing, and made my life a living hell. While I was ill (I’d just been in the hospital a few months before and was still recovering), he maxed out the hours I could work and pushed all the work on me. It didn’t take long to realize that he had no interest in doing the actual gruntwork of the job – he only wanted to look important and talk to important people.

He would boast to me constantly about how he was ‘playing the game’, working his way to the top. He’d gloat about his plans and how brilliantly he’d orchestrated meetings. When I didn’t constantly compliment, he would goad me into giving him some. Those who know me will not be surprised that I got pissed, fast. I was running an entire department by myself. Just to make it clear: right before I left, he still didn’t understand what the five tenants of our department were. The first few months when we worked together, he refused to answer any of my emails and later would only give me one word responses on the rare occasion he did respond.

And then he started touching me.

He would get really close to me and place a hand on my arm to emphasize points. He’d grab my arm. He’d insist that I get closer to him every. single. time we talked. I’d get in before most people in the office in the morning and he’d come in hours later into my office listing off things I needed to do (all of which I had already done). After a little over a month of this, he touched my arm again in a meeting and I pushed him away. I told him to never, ever do that again – after which he made fun of me, constantly. He’d pretend I was in a ‘hula hoop’ and that he couldn’t come in it. Whenever he saw me, he’d make the hula hoop shape and laugh at me for being uncomfortable with him. He’d tell me personal details of other females he worked with that had the same ‘hula hoop’. Standing up for myself didn’t work.

During this time, we were working on an enormous project (I was working). It was all to be presented at this meeting where every new hire in our department (there were about 5) and a few others would be attending. I’d already prepped for the meeting six months before, but the new manager made me revise the presentation every single day. This I was okay with; I figured he’d be nervous in such a big meeting and wanted to make it perfect. Then the day of the meeting came and during the most critical part, he started saying that nothing on the slide made sense, that he had no clue where this data came from, and that he wasn’t sure why I made the slide this way. He singled me out specifically. I stood up and stopped him. I said that I’d had this presentation done six months in advance. That we’d revised it every single day. That we had countless conversations about the specific way we presented the data. That just the day before we dry ran the presentation and he was perfectly fine with it so why didn’t he tell me to change it before the presentation and how unprofessional it was that he single me out.

And that didn’t work.

I was sick. I was exhausted from full time school and work (which was an hour drive away). But I stuck it out. I wanted to stand up and, more importantly, I wanted to win. I wanted to outlast and outperform him. One of my coworkers realized what was going on and stood up for me. She went to HR. She helped me go through an entire investigation against him, which took a whole month to complete. And at the end? He wasn’t fired. He was transferred to another department, but not immediately. Every day I came into work after that he’d stand outside my cube specifically, lingering in places he thought I’d be. He’d never done this behavior before.

This man, who had harassed me and four other female interns before me, was not fired from a company who made a big show of taking harassment seriously and protecting its female employees. I’d been hell-bent on winning against him. I was certain that if I worked hard, justice would be on my side. It wasn’t. I left my job because I was crushed that my work counted for nothing in my imagined fight.

I made this post because I wish that I could go back to me then and tell her that justice doesn’t always work the way we want to. I thought that by leaving I’d be weak. I wish I could tell me that there’s nothing weak in leaving a situation that makes every one of your illnesses worse. Sometimes there are assholes and you can’t do anything about them. And that’s okay. Don’t kill yourself for a fight that’s not worth it.

I Ask Myself Questions (and answer them, mostly)

  • What happened to bullet journaling?
    • When I first started this blog, or even the concept of KineticRadio, it was because I wanted to make a bullet journal blog much like Boho Berry or Tiny Ray of Sunshine. The bujo system helped me sort through many of the projects I had both unfinished and in my head and helped me cope through a tough school year. My hope was to extend my experiences to others in the same way. But something didn’t quite jive. After school I got sick and have pretty much stayed that way on and off. I gave up bullet journaling when I was sick the first time and felt so guilty for it. It was making me feel worse though, all the pressure to make a new page every day, the fact that I didn’t know when to stop writing down tasks, my guilt over not finishing every little thing. I pretty much abandoned the whole concept. Now I’m slowly making my way back into planning. I’ve got a tiny Korean planner that’s adorable and already marked out. I use it in tandem with Habitica, the best website ever for getting things done. Habitica is where I brain dumb, my planner is where I pick the three most important things to do that day and write them down. It keeps me from doing too much and exhausting myself. I don’t know if I’ll be bullet journaling in the forseeable future, even though I still highly recommend it. That’s just why I haven’t blogged about it lately.
  • What am I doing right now?
    • Lots of small things to prepare for bigger things. Making art so I get better at it and can maybe even sell it. Learning Japanese so I can speak some when I go, hopefully in a few years (oh, and saving up for that trip). Finishing projects so moving won’t be such a hassle since I’m so, so bad at leaving projects everywhere. But honestly, most of it is just trying to be okay. Learning how to go through everyday life enjoying it as best I can while also doing things to survive (like paying rent). It’s embarrassing sometimes how not good I am at coping for long periods of time, especially during spring and summer when my depression and anxiety are at their worst. Medicine has helped, Charlie has helped, but it still takes enormous effort. This is a lot of babble to say that I am doing my best to learn how to live and live well without making myself ill. Also, it’s late and I’m exhausted from Pokemon Go.
  • Why is my cat so cute?
    • We do not question it. We are merely graced.

Money, Minimum Wage, & Minimalism

It’s 11 and I’m normally asleep by now because I’m a grandma who wakes up at 7 am on my own. I just wanted to rant a little to talk about plans/what’s on my plate.

I used to work a really nice corporate job that paid shockingly well. It was my first job. I was tossed around a lot as an intern which wasn’t bad (I learned loads), but a lot of other bad stuff happened and I left my job to start working a much slower, nonpaying job at a local publishing company. It’s wonderful because everyone is so kind and there’s tons of creative freedom, but when you go from a steady survivable income to nothing, that hits pretty damn hard.

Now I work as a waitress making min wage on erratic hours, as a cook for one of my friends, as a designer, and a freelance artist on the side. And it has definitely, definitely humbled me. I used to be able to save lots of money and still have enough to buy a book, if I wanted, go out to eat with friends. (I saved a damn lot of money but I had enough left over to be okay) Looking back, it’s amazing that I could have enough financial freedom to pretty much make any roughly sixty dollar or under purchase without a big struggle. You know, it’s incredible the things we’ll buy when we have a little extra cash. (“This Funko is so cute! It’s only eight dollars!”)

The philosophy of minimalism is very attractive to me as someone who loves moving and traveling. One of my favorite things to do (this is so weird) is to pack my bag to go on a road trip. It gives me such satisfaction to pick the smallest, most important amount of things I can bring with me. I don’t think you can fail at being a minimalist, but I think when I had my previous job I didn’t have the best view of money as related to objects. A Funko of Cthulu is great, it truly is. It’s an inspiring addition to my workspace. But now I see an eight dollar Funko as an entire hour of work for something that, while lovely, I’ll eventually have to pack, whereas I could save those ten dollars and use them to buy a memorable sandwich in a corner cafe in Scotland. And even still I know that juggling three jobs plus freelancing isn’t half as hard as the work some people do to survive. I’m lucky that I’m still in university on scholarship. I don’t mean to say here that Funkos or objects in general are bad – I just think our attitude towards them are. Mindless consumption, you know? Especially for me, I used to relate buying myself something as a reward to feel better which is very, very dangerous when you have depression.

Making over minimum wage is wonderful and a dream for many people. But I’m glad that I’m in this tough spot now. Otherwise I wouldn’t have started this blog, my youtube channel, my art. It’s made me work harder and smarter. It’s given me a greater appreciation for… everything. This is a good lesson to learn, especially at a moment where I still have a safety net of a scholarship.

Now I’m going to take a bath

And pet my cat

And go to sleep

And tomorrow I’m going to work some more.

-Vero

Blogblog 1: Life Update

I found a bit of piece eating some sausage and rice (bf’s special recipe) out of my cat bowl (note: not my cat’s bowl. My bowl that has cats on it). It’s noon and the blinds are closed because the sun makes the AC work too hard (it’s that hot and bright), so time’s been flowing weird today. I listened to a bunch of podcasts and cleaned, even though cleaning always seems to make my room messier until the final phase. Charlie has knocked several things off my desk in pure amusement.

New thing: my art got to a point where I bought an Intuos (for blessedly cheap) and I’ve started digital art. Clip Studio/Manga Studio is the absolute bombdiggity, even if I’m not quite there yet and the Intuos is stellar, especially for the price. You’ve got lots of room and flexibility and plenty of programmable buttons (at least for a newbie like me). It also comes in blue.

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First piece – Large doodle

Succo

Second piece – much better and cute plants too

I’m realizing now that I should watermark/sign my pieces, but these two aren’t good enough to merit it yet? File that under worry about later.

Other New Thing: I’m starting a youtube channel. That’s it: no plans yet, nothing other than my tiny self logo done. I’ll fill you guys in when I’ve uploaded stuff.

Other Other New Thing: I’m almost finished making my first quilt! It is very imperfect but also very pretty and I’m proud of it. Post on that to come once it’s finished.

Time to go Be Productive

-Vero

Art and Other Things Like That

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I had a lot of plans over the summer, including that ten day retreat I was talking about last post.

Then stuff happened like me getting a cat, and me getting a job, and me accidentally realizing that I want to get better at art. Whoops.

I found out that it’s really, really soothing to watch artists on YouTube do art. So naturally I started bingewatching Audra Auclair (whose art style is the frickin bomb) and I’m not sure if the passion was already in me or if her passion oozed out of the screen and into me, but I started the MayWeDrawDaily challenge and surprise – I actually did it every day. And continued to do it. June is almost over now and there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t practiced. It’s unusual for me to stick to one project since my attention flickers a lot, but this stuck so I’m going with it.

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This is my favorite so far

Oh, and here’s a link to my Pinterest with the tutorials I’m learning from.

I started digital art, which is rough since I only have an ancient hand-me-down Wacom Graphire and GIMP (God help me) but I figure I have to get all the bad drawings out first before the good ones start happening. It’s just so exciting, being good at art and digital art opens up whole new avenues of creativity. Instead of just putting books together I can design an entire book layout AND put it together. I can do interior art too. One day I will emerge from my creative cocoon, a fully fledged and complete Maker machine. And hopefully it will make Christmas easier, since my tradition of knitting things takes up a lot of time.

Book Reviews: I will be getting back to those. I got off track. I might start doing reviews of random things. Art supplies. Water quality. The weather.

Bullet Journaling: I’m in the middle of lots of experiments in how I plan. Things are especially crazy since I’m about to move/starting jobs/new cat.

-Vero

 

 

Birthday Shenanigans

Last week was my birthday, and shoutout to my friends for making it the best birthday ever. There was a dog. There was Overwatch (which I accidentally fell in love with and is my first foray into FPS MMO. whoops). There was a geek pub we went to where I drank alcoholic butterbeer and consumed obscene amounts of delicious stew while playing Mario Party.

The two puppers I hung out with ❤

I follow Yoga-Girl on Instagram and recently she went on a ten day retreat into silence, alone, to reflect. She said it gave her time to dig deeper. Ten days seems like such a long time to be away from the world. But what’s ten days out of a year? Taking ten days to think, meditate, and understand yourself better seems like too little time, in the scheme of things. I’m considering doing that soon, but maybe on a shorter time frame since I’m still in classes and I can’t just vanish.

The chaos of last term left me longing for simpler things. Rain, walks, warm colors, knits. But I had so many projects that I’d abandoned or forgotten (one of my biggest faults is having way too many things to do and then dropping them all). I promised myself that I could only take a break once I’d finished these projects.

Which is a bad idea guys. Never forbid yourself from taking a break .

Even though it was really rough, it ended up being a great few weeks of productivity. I finished a commission and an enormous blanket project. I solved all sorts of questions I had about my own brand, my art, where I was going.

I compiled all of my crafts into a portfolio! I’ll be posting more about the process of crafts soon. Now I only have about 3-ish projects leftover from last year. I can’t even begin to say how much better this makes me feel. The process to getting better is so long (and involves way too many setbacks and doctors appointments), but its worth it. I’m in a better place than I was before.

It’s May and I’m Reeling

Hello everyone!

I’ve been gone for almost a month now. The school term ended and immediately I launched myself into an unforgiving schedule of commissions which was, as you’ve probably guessed, a really bad idea. On the bright side, I finished a complicated commission and a huge present for someone that’s taken me about six months to complete, and I made a portfolio of my artwork (which I’m still updating) and a load of other stuff too. So my body broke itself down as a final ‘hey you please stop for one damn second’.

I feel a little better now, so we should be back on track for regularly scheduled stuffs.

It was very upsetting when I had to close my shop because of my job. I had to give up art because I was too busy sitting in a cube. Now (luckily? Unluckily?) I’m in between jobs so it’s my sworn goal to revamp the shop and actually make a semi living out of it.

The commission I worked on was this replica of an Umbra Rider Mount from DOTA 2, made entirely out of felt, polyfil, and a little paint. If you’ve seen the mount, you know the mane has this silvery-multicolored gradient to it which is impossible to get in a felt. I ended up using acrylic paint on the mane pieces. A friend suggested spray paint next time for a better gradient effect and I might do a test piece soon for that. This guys legs are movable and he can stand up on his own!

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I also fell in love with Audra Auclair’s art and started doing her #maywedrawdaily challenge. In a surprising turn of events I’ve actually drawn every single day, and in something like 20 days I’ve seen a vast improvement. She inspired me to start watercoloring, which is immensely frustrating but really enjoyable all at once. I accidentally drew a small cat in an astronaut helmet and now I think I’ve started a comic about a cat in space.

It’s a really crazy summer.

More to come soon.

-Vero

Natural History of Dragons Review

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Let’s take a moment to appreciate just how gorgeous the cover is. I’ve been eyeing this one for a long time and when the library finally got the copy in I snatched it up.

(Just as a side note, lots of these pictures in the future are gonna be library books. I don’t have the money right now to buy lots of new books.)

This book’s concept is incredibly clever: a Victorian-esque memoir of Lady Trent, a fictional naturalist whose lifelong fascination with dragons is the focus of the book. The story covers her early life and her venture into Vystrana to study dragons.

I’d highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned read that will pull them into Victorian times. Lots of steampunk books try to do this but overreach with lots of gadgetry and language that goes over the top. Even though the entire book was written in a formal, older voice, I never felt like it was stuffy or contrived. And even though the book is called ‘A Natural History of Dragons’, it’s much more a book about Lady Trent’s life and how she overcomes her personal barriers to pursue her true love of dragons.

I will admit that the story did go slowly at first, since it followed chronologically from her youth to the Vystrana voyage. The main conflict all occurs once her team goes to Vystrana and so the first few chapters of the book are solely backstory and exposition. I normally hate this in books, but I forgave it because Brennan writes Lady Trent’s voice so convincingly. This is the kind of book I would read in the fall, sipping rum, while in front of the fireplace in my library with a dog at my feet.

I’m really excited to read the next book in this series. I’ll keep you posted when I do 🙂

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

I Don't Know What I'm Doing

This week I fully internalized that it’s April. The year is almost halfway over and I barely noticed at all (why does this happen every year?). When I did my Miracle Morning a few days ago, I looked at the goals I set in January and my monthly goals and I realized a lot of things that I’ll share here so, hopefully, I can help someone else who might be in the same place.

1) In the conventional sense, I failed
In my system, I have 2016 goals for the year overall. Each month, my monthly goals are small steps to accomplish those big year goals. But once I hit mid-February, I just… stopped. Everything was so overwhelming with work, school, the projects I was doing. The BuJo system was definitely helping, but it can only do so much. You can write down an endless amount of tasks, but if you don’t have the strength to get them done, the planner can’t help you. It’s a tool. Once we hit March, I went down from 15 monthly goals to just 5, only one of which I managed to cross off.

2) Failure is incredibly good
I spectacularly failed. I didn’t fill out my habit tracker, I wasn’t using my BuJo. I wasn’t doing anything because I was too sick to handle things (I’ll talk more about this in another post). But if I hadn’t failed so spectacularly, I might not have realized my mistakes.
Because having 15 goals in a month is just unreasonable. I was asking too much of myself when I was in a bad place; I was setting myself up for failure. My priority, above everything written prettily in my notebook, was to take care of myself.
And to be honest, I was kind of hoping to fail. The BuJo is full of beautiful, artistic journals and it’s really easy to get caught up in wanting to ‘achieve’ that perfection. Because dear God, some people make their dailies look museum quality. In failing, I proved to myself that it’s impossible to be perfect. I faced the fear of ‘failing’ at BuJo-ing, and I faced the fact that the BuJo is a tool and nothing more.
I also ‘failed’ at minimalism. (I’m going to stop using quote marks now because you get the point.) I bought a lot of crap when I was sad, because giving myself presents made me feel better. And, in my defense, a lot of it was very useful things I’d been planning on buying anyway. Just not all at once. And I still use it now, and I’m grateful for those things. But at the time I thought that buying anything was bad. It was an unhealthy mindset, and extreme that I shouldn’t have gone to but went to anyway.

I’m in a better place now and I’ve had a chance to take a few breathers to truly assess what’s going on. This midyear slump has been good to me, as awful as it was to experience, and I feel a little better going into summer. I don’t know what I’m doing, but no one does really so it’s all okay.

Let me know if you’ve experienced this too, and how you plan to/did come back from it!