I started bullet journaling two years ago. I think I stumbled upon the art & form of prioritization a few months into the new year, but I started anyway. I was more interested in the doodling that the functional organization of the practice, but felt drawn to the popular merging of the two.
In March 2017, as I was laid up in bed recovering from my fracture, I came across hand lettering and calligraphy. I was captivated by the colors, art and expression. Thanks to Amazon, over the next few days, I had my craft box by my bedside, complete with calligraphy marker pens, sketch pads, crayola markers, water colors, paint brushes… the works!
For the first few days, I would pore over instructional videos and web pages and my journals were filled with colorful practice sheets, words, quotes, patterns and doodles – moving gradually from a beginner’s hand to a more practiced touch.
As I drew, put out words, colors, doodles that sometimes felt good and other times resonated with thoughts that were significant, I realised that the art was therapeutic. It was healing. I was healing.
And so it turned out that beyond the healing, practice was gradually taking me on that path to perfection.
That word in itself would give me a sense of ideal finality – a reason to chip away at the stone till the best possible sculpture is produced – one that needs no more chipping. In my world, that would mean working at things till I had nothing left to fix.
And there in lay the challenge!
Challenges are another ‘thing’ with me. As a reader, those Goodreads reading challenges really get me hooked every single year! In 2016 & 2017, I set out a goal of 50 books. In 2016, I read 55 books and in 2017, 51. In 2018, I was slowly becoming aware that the number was driving me and I wasn’t really enjoying all the books I wanted to read.
The pressure to comply and meet my self-set target. No one was forcing me. It was all me. I was setting myself up for the stress of it!
This year, although I initially wanted to steer clear from the challenge, I gave in but very consciously chose to set the number at only 10 books. I aimed for quality over quantity. I aimed for the joy and pleasure of reading, learning and exploring new ideas and worlds of thought versus a finish line that pushed me to ‘read by‘ a due date or break down trying.
I chose to enjoy the journey.
So coming back to my bullet journal…. somewhere along the way, there was a sense of urgency to get it done – the initial purpose of getting lost in the task of childlike joy was missing. Yesterday I sat myself down with fresh page thinking about a theme for July. I couldn’t think of anything new. I was tired – mentally exhausted, physically drained… I couldn’t bring myself to create anything new.
Wait for it…
Yes…. I recognized the pattern – the one where I challenged myself constantly to innovate, do things myself and then perfect it… the exhaustion would probably be worth it. Or would it?!
Did I really need to do everything the hard way? Did I really have to constantly look for ways in which I would have to create solutions for every single thing? Did I have to come up with a theme for my July bullet journal spread?
You better believe me when I say, the answers to these questions did come from Google! I turned to the search engine to find ideas that would inspire…. and I did! Of course, the image looked pretty complicated and I wasn’t sure I was ready to paint flowers…. but I did!
I went a step ahead… and kept all my scales and compasses aside. This one was not going to be angled to perfection! I kept the borders freehand, I colored outside the lines, I highlighted the odd parts, I let the markers move where my hand felt like moving, I kept my calendar boxes floating (idea from the Amanda Lee’s expert tips), I learnt from her drawings and created after the basics… I recreated from Amanda’s suggestions… I ended up creating of my own.
I let go of the challenge to comply and allowed myself to remember the joy of being with the support of others who have been there before me. I let go, a little bit, and reminded myself that sometimes it’s easier & healthier to do things the easier way. Still authentic, still genuine… less stressed… more joyous… more me.
How do you feel about challenges in life? How do you work around them? I’d love to know… Do share in the comments…