Happy Friday. I hope you’ve enjoyed a good week. We are coming out of our nth blizzard here in the Midwest. Just 10 days ago, some of the sights in our neck of the woods included…
frosty rooftops and cars buried in snow
… and an icy new look for our local park’s field house.
This week, in contrast, has seen us enter into a slow thaw. The thaw has its own qualities which I’ve been trying to observe. It’s a transitional time of drippy icicles (caution above!), slick sidewalks, muddied snow, and sock-soaking pavement pools of dark grey meltwater — a time both quiet and swishy, full of subtle movement. The windows come open to let in new light and new air, and in the mornings, prattles of birds (yes, inventing my own plural noun) commingle with the sound of shovel-scrapes. A few afternoons ago, that fearsome three story ice column came crashing down (we heard and felt it from a distance away). The sky is softening and blue-ening (verb?) again. Out of the ice comes a brightness.
Funnily, I think that the bullet journal spread that I drew a few weeks ago for thisweek captures the feeling above — not the usual confetti-throw of florals that I’ve enjoyed drawing all winter, but a slow bloom out of the greys and ice. I hope that you, too, are enjoying a bloom, in whatever form yours is taking.
And while we’re on this theme: As I’ve noted in the Saturday 27th slot above, we’re expecting a Full Moon tomorrow. It’s the first full moon of the lunar calendar — February’s Snow Moon (aptly named) or, in Chinese, the “Budding Moon.” It signals that a new cycle of inception and renewal is quietly brewing, and is on its way. I hope you can catch a glimpse of it! 🌕
After the blink of January, February is upon us. Chicago received its second blizzard in a single week, and we are now under even bigger snow drifts and slushy puddles. Remember the 6 foot snowperson from the previous post? Well, an even bigger sibling has presented itself in the very same park. This one stands a little over 7 feet tall and is staying fashionable in a green scarf. At that height, this must have been a group effort.
We are also in the thick of a February deep freeze, starting today. Today the low is -14C, and the weekend will see us at a low of -19C at some point with the temps sticking around all of next week, if the forecast is correct. Well. Let’s see how our daily conditioning stroll goes. It is the period for soups, space heaters, wool, and chai. When I get alarmed at cold weather, I remind myself that, growing up in Canada, these temperatures were normal! I was a kid whose commute to high school took over an hour, with a lot of waiting in bus stops and open-air train stations in -15C weather… Here in Chicago, some train stations and bus stops are equipped with overhead heat lamps. Heat lamps. Torontonians knew no such luxury).
On the art front, I have been keeping busy, and bullet journaling my way through the week, finding myself strangely productive. I owe this, in part, to the start of February — new energies abound and the Lunar New Year is approaching. I also like to think that the colours in this week’s theme helped things along a bit. For this first week of February, I went with something festive and ferny-flowery (again).
Against the strong inclination to hibernate, the colours are keeping me awake and focused. 🙂
I hope you are staying safe, well, and warm. Giant Snowman and Snow Flamingo send their greetings. Until next time. 🦩⛄
The 9 months of 2020 spent under varying degrees of lockdown, here in our state (and still ongoing) went by both too quickly and too slowly. Time passed in both a blur and in slow motion. Speaking with a friend last week, we talked about how to reframe the stresses of lockdown as signs (however small) of our relative safety. In his 60s, he told me that the repetition of daily tasks, as monotonous as they can feel, can be taken as a sign that we’re safe, at home, have resources, and are at least some degree of physically well.Reflecting on my own days, I resolved to be a bit more mindful in my daily life, moving forward — to cultivate more awareness and gratitude for the good things.
Enter bullet journaling. I’m quite late to the BUJO party, but am slowly discovering the joy and practical benefits of it during this time. As a beginner, I haven’t yet invented any complex or detailed notation systems. For now, I’m exploring it as a creative space, and a tool where I can track certain things (like mood, books to read/recommended to me, albums to listen to, blog post ideas, painting ideas, and the like). Using the journal in this way for the first 2 weeks of January has been helping me find a space of calm and agency in the midst of…things (so many things in this collective moment we’re in). Specifically, journaling is helping me to:
become more aware of where my time goes and provide a record of what I did
discover patterns in mood, focus, and energy so that I can work in ways that (as much as possible) align with my capacity
set small, concrete goals
recognize and acknowledge the things done (I don’t do that enough)
keep track of exercise + regulate sleep, and
create a space where new ideas and drawings can roam free (and inspire future projects)
By the end of the year, I hope to have a record that I can look back on. Time need not feel lost.
As a beginner, my building block is the week. The week has become the semi-colon in my punctuation of time. It’s not the end of the sentence, not the full stop (would that be the month, the year?). But it’s a breath. It affords pause, review, and reflection. My conversations with friends have revealed that one of the great challenges of staying and/or working from home (an affordance we are lucky for) is differentiating time. It’s hard moving into a state of focused work when ‘work’ used to be a place to go, not just a thing to do. The bullet journal is helping me to break up the feeling of all that time into parts — and in ways that don’t feel coldly managerial, but creative. Visually, I’ve started to give each week and its days a theme — something small to enjoy. For this week’s theme, I drew flowers and mushrooms with a Venus-Fly-Trap-inspired palette (which I love, and which will definitely be used for a later project). It felt like doodling in my trusty sketchbook, but with a practical end product. 🙂 I hope they make you smile.
As for the full page, I’m discovering that I like logging things in long ‘column’ form. I use a dotted notebook which allows for the design of different boxes and grids. The vertical columns allow me enough space to, say, make a simple To Do list at the top, then schedule chunks of time for specific items below. I also leave a space below or beside the days of the week to remind myself of other general things to remember — a quote, a deadline coming up, a birthday. I pair this weekly calendar + tracking with a general wall calendar for the big things (such as the wonderful printable 2021 Beastie calendar!) and am organizationally set. 🙂
Well, that is my first foray into the BuJo world. Bullet journaling is very much my response to having lived most of my recent years in unstructured time, and wanting to find a new way to plan and be intentional! I’ll plan to share some of my favourite journal pages in upcoming posts, and hope that I can stick with this practice throughout 2021. Feel free to share your own organization practices in the comments. I’d love to hear them!