My First Bullet Journal + I’m Baaaaack!

It appears that moving and starting a new job were just too much for me to keep up with my lovely little blog as well. It has been over 5 months (!!) since my last post and so many things have happened since then. I’m going to just jump right back into my life and try and catch up on the past 5 months along the way.

Someone recently introduced me to the Bullet Journal (often times shortened to BuJo) by sharing Cerries Mooney’s blog post on Bullet Journaling with me. Bullet Journaling in it’s simplest and most basic form is a great way to keep lists and notes about your year, months and day. Generally, the shorter the note the better.

This is something I’ve always done–buy a note book and fill it with random thoughts, ideas, dreams, lists, et cetera. The Bullet Journal is just an adapted, more organized way of doing all the things I’ve already done. The beautiful thing about using a physical book, is that literally all you need is the journal and a pen and you can do it.

Since it’s already almost March, I decided to go with whatever notebook I could find. Super basic. This old, soft-cover Moleskine has been languishing in the bottom of some moving boxes. It has the first section of pages ripped out (you can see the evidence of that in the photo below), but still has 80 useable pages.

The Moleskine’s are lined which–based on my research–is not ideal for Bullet Journaling. Dotted or grid tend to work better and have a bit more flexibility. However, I’m hoping two of these partially used notebooks will make it through December and I can start a whole new BuJo in 2017.

(Yes, I’m already planning for 2017.)

Bullet Journal realization 1: My handwriting is atrocious.

I started my first page with an index. Get it out there and track all the beautiful things I’m putting into this book.

I am a huge calendar nerd so my first “page” is a whole year at a glance. I screwed up on the partitioning of the lines and only left room for 8 months, so the “Year at a Glance” actually starts in May. Useful for far in the future things, not useful for the next two months.

There are several goals and collections I’ve piled at the front of my list. This spread here is for items that I’ve ordered and am waiting on to receive (then I can check it off once I did receive it!) and the second page is to maintain my wish list. Generally my wishlist is kept in several different digital and handwritten places, so this will be a good opportunity to reevaluate the things I think I want and keep one cohesive list.

The every important Books to Read list. I have far too many books on my bookshelves and in my Nook to keep them all straight, so this is intended to help me keep straight the books I am interested in reading in the nearish future. On the opposite page, the ideas are for all the bright ideas I get (generally related to craft projects) and collect them in one place. When it comes time to actually implement the craft, I plan to start a whole new page.

My future log! This is a three month spread to keep track of future events and things that need to happen. As in, April 15 is Tax Deadline! You’ll notice this is the first bit of color in the journal… that’s because I completely spaced as I was writing in the months and wrote Jan/Feb/Mar. Whoops! Luckily I have some beautiful blue sticky notes that were able to cover up my mistake!

The opposite page is the running to do list. In past records I call it my master To Do and just add onto it whenever I think of something that needs to be done… eventually. This running list will cover the next 4 months and when I move on to Jul/Aug/Sep I’ll create a clean list to update.

This page is for planning my next vacation in ICELAND! Although my husband and I have most of the trip planned out, I thought the spread would be perfect for a packing list, writing down important numbers, reservation information, et cetera.

Finally made it onto the month specific. I skipped over the “Monthly Spread” that is supposed to give you a month overview (we’ll see if I like this or not) and went straight into the Daily Trackers. These help me keep track of the daily things I want to do, such as meditate, drink enough water, workout, take my vitamins, and so on. If you can read the tiny writing, you’ll see that one of my little items is “Cheat Day.” Definitely NOT a daily item but something important to keep track of nonetheless!

Lastly, I am sharing my weekly layout. I LOVE weekly overviews to see what all I have going on and what I need to do. I have each page broken into 3 days (with Saturday and Sunday being combined). The left hand side of the page is for appointments, notes on the day, important reminders, et cetera, while the right hand side of the page is for tasks I need to get done that day. This is a little bit different from the basic Bullet Journal daily lists, but I think it will really work for me. And if it doesn’t, I can change it next week!

So there is a peek into my first Bullet Journal. What do you think? Do you Bullet Journal or does it sound like something you would be interested in?

*All my layouts were inspired by the following blogs: Cerries Mooney / Tiny Ray of Sunshine / Boho Berry / Passion Themed Life

2015: The Year Ahead

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.

– Anne of Green Gables

I love the New Year. It’s a perfect chance to reflect on the past and create a fresh future. 2014 is a wrap and 2015 is spread wide open with infinite possibilities.

Two of my favorite resources for reviewing and planning are Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review and Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead. Last month I also took Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word mini-course since I had a lot of trouble coming up with a word!

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to reflect on my chosen word and how I’ll bring that into the new year and all the changes this year will bring, but I did manage to decide on one.

My word for 2015 is Nourish.

What’s your word?


This past weekend, I made my last rent payment. I’m exactly month out from leaving Bahir Dar and then Ethiopia. For good. Things are winding down here and this is my penultimate Peace Corps update post.

Future of this Blog

I’ve had my blog for three and a half years now, long before it was ever a “Peace Corps” blog, and I intend to keep it. It may transform into a travel blog for awhile but it’s still my blog and I intend to continue using it. So follow along if you wish… I’ll still be here.

COS Trip

This past month, this trip got very real. We bought plane tickets out of Ethiopia. We booked hotels in India. We got Indian visas. This big trip is so close.

We arrive in India before dawn on Christmas Eve . It will be my third Christmas away, but my first with my fiance! Then after three weeks in India and two weeks in Thailand before Myanmar, we’ll continue our travels according to the plan we decided on months ago. I’ll be landing back in the States in less than 5 months, which is 30 months after leaving in September 2012. It’s weird to think about it like that!

Favorite Blog Posts

Some of my favorite blog posts over my 2 years (in reverse chronological order):

More Thoughts from Ethiopia

When I joined the Peace Corps, I knew it would be hard. Really hard. I knew I would not change the world. Some days I hate this place and can’t wait to be anywhere else. Other days are better. I know that someday I will appreciate it, embrace it and maybe even love it.

But in the meantime, I think about how this experience, these past two years in a developing country, has made me a better person. It certainly has made me a better American. I think America is the most magical place in the world and have never been more proud to call it my home. It has also made me see the flaws we, as Americans, have. It has made me realize what a privilege it is to grow up a white, American native English-speaker. It made me realize the freedoms we have that so many Americans take for granted: the privilege of an education, of healthcare, of safety. The freedom of holding an American passport.

This experience has also made me a feminist. It has made me grateful for the hundreds of years of women before me, especially my mother and her mother, who believed the world could and would be a better place for their daughters. I believe that women should be educated and that educating women creates a better world for all involved. I believe that woman have the right to choose who they marry. I believe that woman should be allowed input on family planning. I believe that women are not stupid or helpless and we should stop telling them that.

It has made me political. It has shown me how amazing the political freedom we have in America really is, despite all the flaws. It has made me realize how insignificant an individual is and how I really respect those who care about those who cannot care for themselves. I respect those who believe the poor have potential and can rise above it. It has given me respect for those who believe in humanity over money, in humanity over political alliance and in humanity even if it can’t give anything in return.

It has made me give a crap about the world outside my own circle of influence. It made me realize that there is a greater world beyond how many friends “like” your Facebook posts and how many retweets you get on Twitter. That there is so much more to worry about than the fact a Starbucks coffee went up a whole thirty cents. Especially when that Starbucks coffee is the daily wage of a highly paid office worker in Ethiopia. It has made me realize how small and insignificant my life was when there is a whole world

I’ve noticed I talk a lot about myself and what this experience has done for me, but I think that’s important for anyone considering joining the Peace Corps. Peace Corps is not just a job in a foreign land. It’s a job that puts you right into the heart of poverty, in distressed nations where things are different from life back home. It puts you into situations that will break your heart and radically shift your perspective on the world. The Peace Corps experience will change those who choose to accept it.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ― Leo Tolstoy

I hope I always remember how I felt now, living in the midst of it. I hope that pay raises and comfortable living never turn me back into the person I was, comfortable in my apathy. I hope I never forget what Ethiopia has taught me–both good and bad–when I am far beyond it looking back.


give freely love openly practice gratitude
“What’s that? A proverb?” my habesha friend asked last week, after spotting the above phrase on my wall when he stopped by to translate something for me.

I laughed. “Something like that.”

Give freely, love openly, practice gratitude.

I wrote these words about five months ago in an unfinished post, a post that had some of the most raw and open words I’ve ever written. After rediscovering them last week, I realized that these are the words that describe how I want to live the next year of my life.

These words hang on my wall, right next to my bedroom door. The intention is sprinkled throughout my 2013 planning—my goals, my hopes, my dreams and my fears. My career and location are exactly where I need to be right now, but my soul still yearns to grow.

“Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau