Learn About Starting a Side Hustle on Skillshare

Learn About Starting a Side Hustle on Skillshare
Skillshare Mini-Reviews Featured Image

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, I’m sure you already know that I’m really interested in starting my own business. I’ve had my eyes open for ideas all year, specifically related to my new bullet journalling passion. I’ve always loved to design and create, and the dream would be able to make money from selling useful resources that help my fellow bloggers, students, and miscellaneous creatives.

The classes in today’s post cover topics related to side hustles. What is a side hustle? Well, it’s a way to make money on the side to supplement your main source of income (e.g. a full-time job). I’ve been struggling to find a full-time job, so I’ve become a lot more passionate about pursuing side hustles that make sense for me and my various interests.

I can see myself following the advice of all of the brilliant ladies behind the courses I review below. My trouble right now is just picking a lane. In March I plan to begin sharing my journey through these creative ideas. For a sneak peak of what I’m hoping to achieve, keep reading!

“How to Publish Low and No Content Books like Journals, Sketchbooks and Workbooks” by Ronnie Walter | 68 minutes

This course was a really simple introduction to the kinds of digital products you can easily produce and publish on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly known as CreateSpace). If you are a somewhat artistic person who wants to start making passive income, this might be something you want to consider.

After you’ve done all the work of designing your product (e.g. lined notebook, coloring book, workbook, planner), you can publish it and start to make money from it online. Amazon will handle distribution. All you have to do is market it (admittedly, not simple in itself unless you already have an audience).

Before I watched this class, I was already thinking of ways to produce and distribute journal bits and bobs, since I’ve gotten more seriously into bullet journalling. I found this class really helpful in opening my eyes to other possibilities. It also demystified the process of self-publishing with Amazon.

In addition to sharing the publishing process and product ideas, Walter goes through the pros and cons of self-publishing and reasons why creating a digital product might be something you want to do, beyond simple artistic ambition. She also shares how pricing works and how much you can expect to receive given your selection.

After taking this course, I was inspired to:

  • Brainstorm some specific low/no content products I uniquely capable of creating
  • Create a timeline of product releases (to direct my focus)
  • Start thinking about design themes I wanted to create and tools I could use to bring them to life

“Etsy Side Hustle: How to Make Money with Etsy Without “Making” Anything!” by Jules Tillman | 23 minutes

Holy-effing-moly. This course blew my mind. I’ve always wondered how people made money with Pinterest, and this course kind of explains it. For a 23-minute video, there is a lot of information packed in to show how you can make money by promoting Etsy products on your blog via Pinterest. (I had to repeat sections to make sure I processed what I was watching!)

I didn’t enter this course knowing what it would be about. I thought it would be along the lines of the course I previously discussed, making a digital product and then sitting back to let people purchase it. This course is similar in that it would ultimately result in passive income, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some on-going work involved to get there.

She attaches a PDF with all the information in the course and the order in which she recommends to get signed up for the programs that provide your customized links that will help you start earning money. She emphasizes that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, it will take some time and upfront costs to get going after free trials are over, but over time (if you’re willing to put in the work and work smart) you can begin to make a modest income from this side hustle.

I’ve already begun the motions of putting Tillman’s advice into action. I’m currently waiting to get approved for two affiliate programs. I don’t have the biggest blog audience yet, but I am actively working towards improving my engagement and following at the moment.

“Freelancing for Creatives: From First Leap to Finances” by Margot Harrington | 58 minutes

I found this course when I was looking into more of the classes I had saved at the beginning of starting my free-trial of Skillshare. I figured after the thoughts swirling around in my head, this class might help me leap into projects knowing what to expect.

Harrington gives a lot of solid, no-nonsense business advice about how to manage your money best for long-term stability.

She also shares her tips on managing clients. She discusses what people are the best clients and red flags to consider when considering potential clients. I would’ve never known to think about the types of clients who would be unpleasant or untrustworthy, so I really appreciated this section of the course. I feel like I would enter projects with more clarity and confidence now.

After taking this course, I was inspired to:

  • Make a business plan outlining my goals and steps to launch
  • Look into starting a new business account for my freelance income

My free trial of Skillshare is about to end, so this may be my last post reviewing courses that I’ve found useful. Assuming I have enough time, my next Skillshare mini-reviews will likely cover courses related to specific topics on blogging, like setting up a newsletter, using Pinterest to promote blog posts, and building a significant blog following.

Previous Skillshare Posts

Learn About Starting a Business on Skillshare

Thank you for reading!
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Top Five Tuesday: Hogwarts House Reads!

Normally if I wanted to do a bookish meme on Tuesday, I would do Top Ten Tuesday. But I wasn’t feeling the theme for this or last week, so I did some looking and discovered a nice alternative: Top Five Tuesday. This month Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm decided February’s theme for Top Five Tuesday would be Harry Potter Houses!

This week’s specific house is Slytherin, but I missed the past weeks and wanted to combine them all into one post. The way it works is that you can pick five books a person from that house would enjoy OR books with characters that fit the traits of that house. I decided to (primarily) do the latter.

I hope you enjoy this blog post! It’s a little on the long-side but that’s hardly new, isn’t it? Chime in on your picks for each house in the comments down below. I’d love to read some contrary opinions on my selections as well ^_^

❝ They are experience-oriented, honest, practical, blunt, passionate, playful, funny, trusting, idealistic, stubborn and procrastinators. They live in the moment, don’t take themselves seriously, are wary of manipulators and liars, have a strong moral centre, and are unafraid to seize opportunities and make changes. ❞

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | I think Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin are all little Gryffindors-in-training. While they all have their problems with themselves and their lives, they recognize trouble when they see it and work past their fear to save the world.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee | I’m not so sure about her brother or father, but I think Scout is definitely a Gryffindor. She has all the braveness and conviction of right and wrong that comes with being a child. She is not easily convinced to back-down, even if it means she will get into trouble.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld | Deryn joins the air force in this YA fantasy series by dressing up as a boy because girls are not allowed to enlist. I think she’s also a little too young. She finds herself wrapped up in a major adventure filled with danger and international intrigue, and she does it with relish. She’s a Gryffindor if I’ve ever seen one.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Wade is very much a brave protagonist who is unafraid to seize opportunities and do what is right. He has plenty of opportunities to go to the dark side, but he is loyal to his cause and the ones he loves.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo |Princess Diana is such a refreshing character in that she is so unwaveringly good. Her actions are led by her strong morals, even when it means breaking the rules. She is not afraid to take action if she knows it’s right.

❝ They are analytical, intelligent, logical yet impractical, curious, inquisitive, creative, witty, wise, interested in understanding things, cynics, fond of  intellectual discussion, introspective, independent, wordy, and self-entertaining. They observe rather than participate, are fond of learning for the sake of learning, and good at school (or really anything that they have an interest in!)❞

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin | A.J. Fikry is a bookstore owner who is more content to live in his books than experience the world and all it has to offer, despite his difficulty in keeping his business afloat. Luckily in this book life brings people into his life that give him and the stories more meaning.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Lettie and the Hempstock women seem to know a lot about the universe and its mysteries. Through the foggy memories of a young boy, we get a glimpse of their knowledge and power.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | I think that Elizabeth Bennet, and probably Jane Austen (based on the movie Becoming Jane (2007)), are both Ravenclaws. They are both highly analytical of their society and intelligent, well read women who are more than capable of being independent.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok | I feel like half the book is about the two young protagonists studying Jewish scripture and law. They are obviously both extremely intelligent, motivated not only by their fathers but internally on a quest for truth and meaning. Danny is so competent as his Jewish studies that he adds additional subjects to open up his understanding of the human mind.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor | I actually don’t remember a lot about Sunny’s character, but do recall that magic-doers in this universe (leopards) value knowledge for the sake of knowledge above all else. You progress by learning new skills and by gaining wisdom. See my review of Akata Witch if you are interested in checking out this underrated YA fantasy series.

❝ They are hard-working, determined, tenacious, loyal, honest, genuine, well-rounded, fair and just, open-minded, giving, good-hearted, accepting, compassionate, practical, patient, unemotional, and dependable. Their loyalty is not given – it’s earned.❞

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | I think Howl is for the most part surrounded by Hufflepuffs. Sophie and Markle are definitely Hufflepuffs. They are loyal to him, hard-working, patient, and practical. I could even see how Howl might be a Hufflepuff, if you can see past the whole emotionally stunted man-child thing.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson | Stevie is a Hufflepuff. She reminds me a little of Tonks, with her interest in criminal justice. She’s hard-working, tenacious, determined in what she does. She’s also a compassionate and loyal friend.

How I Resist edited by Maureen Johnson | I selected this anthology because the pieces selected by Johnson all embody Hufflepuff traits in their appeals to compassion, open-mindedness, determination, tenacity in today’s youth.

The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle | The protagonist Adam is a scientist who learns that his work does not exist in a bubble and can have real-world consequences. He has a good-heart, but he struggles with who to trust and to whom to give his loyalty in this book. By the end of the novel, I think he discovers who deserves his trust.

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman | Malcolm is Hufflepuff through and through. He’s just such a genuinely good-natured little boy who follows his gut and is loyal to what he considers just causes. He becomes loyal to little Lyra when she is a just a baby when he learns there are people after her.

❝ They are ambitious, driven, goal-focused, determined, prepared, perfectionists, adaptable, realistic, self-reliant, charming, assertive, and ruthless. They are highly selective with their loyalty, love positive attention and thrive on praise, care about the impression they give, demand respect, and can be disloyal. ❞

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas | Celaena kind of a Mary Sue of a Slytherin if there ever was one. Charming, assertive, ruthless, check, check, check.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Once again, these characters are less bad and more ambiguous on the Slytherin spectrum. Without spoiling anything, I will say these childhood friends are loyal to each other and raised to be Slytherins, which is to say proud of their family, wealth, and privilege. But they are conniving and ruthless in how they decide to dole out punishment. And they suffer for it.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green | April May is a character I really didn’t know how to feel about as I read AART. I don’t think she’s evil or bad. Her heart is definitely in the right place for much of this book. But she’s definitely single-minded in accomplishing her goals, which leads to her stepping over the people who matter most as she continues to receive praise and admiration from countless strangers via the internet.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski | It’s been a while since I read these books! Kestrel, in my opinion, is definitely on the more good-hearted side of the Slytherin spectrum. She’s extremely intelligent and capable of manipulating others for her own ends, but I wouldn’t say she’s ambitious or driven by ego.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | Kaz…hell, most of the people in the gang are probably a Slytherin, but Kaz takes the Slytherin cake. Only a Slytherin could have pulled off such a dangerous, high-stakes heist.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I stumbled across these prompts last weekend when looking for something for last Tuesday and decided it would be a fun challenge to think about. I think it’s a great way to introduce people to new books, because some people might want recommendations based on how the characters are and not just want happens in the book.

It was a little harder than I thought it would be to pick books for certain houses! I learned a little about myself what kinds of books I lean towards through this little challenge, funnily enough. I’ve been sorted into Slytherin twice by the Pottermore quiz, so it shouldn’t be that surprising that I enjoy trouble-makers, but I do want to read more books helmed by Gryffindor and Hufflepuff characters in the future!

Thank you for reading!
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Featured Image Credit: Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash.

26 Goals

I didn’t expect to take a week off of blogging. In fact, I had planned to celebrate my blog upgrade with a full week of blog posts! But you all know me; I like to work on a bunch of different things at time. So I ended last Sunday with a bunch of half-finished posts. Then the week started and I had little time for blog productivity.

I had an interview this week for a new part-time job that would pay a lot better. I finally filed my tax return so I could receive my tax refund, and I definitely need it this year. I also began my Red Cross volunteer application! I have a phone interview this coming Monday for a communications position in my region. It would be the dream experience, and I’m so nervous that I’ll be rejected.

Also it was my birthday on Thursday, which inspired this post. I had planned to share 26 goals I wanted to accomplish while I’m 26 last weekend, as a way to focus myself for my “new year.” I had the list written out in advance, but I wanted to add some commentary before I sent it out into the world. I feel like this post is a legal contract; I’m taking it very seriously!

  1. Get a full-time job. Ideally this would’ve happen last year. It needs to happen ASAP to be honest.
  2. Run a 5k. I came close to running one last November, but then I had my nasal surgery and it just wasn’t a good idea anymore.
  3. Avoid future back injury. I am now officially prone to back injury, but I truly believe it is 100% preventable. I am better a-tuned to the warning signs and know what to do in order to stop it, so I want to prioritize my body’s self-care while I’m 26. Losing weight, exercising regularly, taking hot baths, all these things can help me prevent another back strain.
  4. Visit my writing buddy Sara. We made this a joint new year’s resolution! We haven’t seen each other in person since 2015. We’ll probably try to find something practical as well as fun to do to meet.
  5. Attend a conference or convention of some sort. This item goes with the one above. Ideally, Sara and I would go to some kind of useful writing conference.
  6. Start a small business. This has been an idea of mine for the past year or so, especially as I began to realize how dissatisfied I am with the current job market. I don’t feel like I’m the most obvious person to start their own business, but that is something that actually inspires me!
  7. Upgrade my blog. I actually took the plunge here a few days before my birthday, but I would say that this goal is not entirely complete. There are more things that fall under my idea of a “blog upgrade,” including building a blog identity (logo, imagery) and maybe even a newsletter for those who follow my blog by email as it is.
  8. Build an online community. I feel like I have a handful of bloggers who I semi-regularly interact with but I want to do more to make my blog a place where it feels like a community of peers. I feel like I, and a few others, are on the outskirts of the YA book blog community. I want to do more to help others my age who love writing and books to feel seen and be inspired.
  9. Collaborate with others online. I feel like blogging would be so much more fun if I was less of an island on my little blog and branched out/invited others into my corner for collaborative activities. I’d like to have guest bloggers write specific blog posts on here.
  10. Meet online friends in person. I know a lot of the bloggers I’m closest with live in far off lands I would love to visit. Australia, East Asia, the American East Coast. I think it would great fun to meet-up with others and feel the comfort of knowing people who already live where I want to travel regardless!
  11. Write a novel. Bleh, no comment.
  12. Start a YouTube channel. I’ve dabbled in vlogging a few times in the past, but never for long. With the expanse of new vlog content, I’m feeling really inspired and like I can figure out a way to vlog that works for me. Since my old channel is associated with my job-search and real name, I’ll be starting again from scratch, probably sometime soon, to talk whatever is on my mind.
  13. Move out on my own. I feel like this goal might happen sooner than I would’ve thought. It doesn’t need to happen so soon, but I feel like it’s something I really want and need.
  14. Use my passport. I got it last year and I want to use it! Even if it’s just countries bordering my own for a quick day-trip. Ideally I’d go overseas, but I need a really good reason to go since I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.
  15. Learn to make a good quiche. This one is kind of silly, but I just made a quiche that was go terrible. I love a good quiche. If I go out to eat breakfast somewhere that has quiche, I’ll almost certainly order it. I want to be able to make dough from scratch.
  16. Start saving for retirement/investing. I feel like I don’t have the money to start setting aside right now, but the bigger problem has been that I’ve never worked somewhere that offers the option of a 401k, whatever the hell that is. I feel like I’m just going to have to take the initiative on my own and start my own official savings, especially if the whole small business thing takes off.
  17. Get good with money. I think this one speaks for itself, but the main thing I want is to stop being so careless with expenses. I want to be more mindful about where I put my money and keep better track of where it goes. I want to start budgeting monthly expenses.
  18. Volunteer. I already have the ball rolling here with reaching out to the Red Cross this week. Not only would be it be great experience that I need, I think it will be good for the soul. In many ways I feel like an incredibly selfish person, but I love feeling like I’m contributing to a worth-while cause.
  19. Become fluent in German. I feel like this is another silly one, but I feel like it’d be good for the mind. I miss school, and learning German has helped give my student-oriented brain something to focus on. I continue to go weeks without studying, so hopefully this goal will help push me to be more consistent.
  20. Start an entirely new hobby. It’s time to learn something new, something that has nothing to do with my current life goals or interests. I feel like most of my hobbies that always fallen into the realm of usefulness. I want to start a hobby that is completely useless.
  21. Establish a makeup routine. I used to hate the idea of needing to wear makeup, but I feel like it’s never been more fun to use your face as a canvas. Plus, I need it to protect my skin from the sun and cover my natural redness. I now watch as many beauty channels as other kinds of channels on YouTube, and I feel like I’m at an age where I really should know what I’m doing and have a few really good go-to products.
  22. Create a capsule wardrobe. I’ve long hated how many clothes I have, especially since I only wear a few. The unfortunate truth is that I have multiple closets in one. I’d say all the clothes I own encapsulate different visions of myself: present, past, and future. For years, I’ve shopped for all these visions without quite realizing it, for by telling myself it’s too good a bargain to pass up, that my future self would thank me. I really want to stop doing this and only have clothes that I can wear at the present and feel confident.
  23. Get a tattoo. I was never someone who wanted to get a tattoo, but I feel like there’s a lot of different options for all kinds of people and that it might be a fun experience to share with someone. I think it would also help me figure out what matters to me and who I am. I feel like part of the reason I’ve always been so disinterested is because of the permanency. I think getting a tattoo would force me to really think about myself.
  24. Read 10 classics. I feel like there are a lot of classics I have at my fingertips and that I really ought to start reading some of them. I feel like it would be good inspiration for the writer in me.
  25. Go to a party. I have been invited to parties in the past and been very quick to say no. I’m cautious about hanging out with people from work that I don’t know very well, because I’m a square and maybe a little bit of a snob. I worry about people getting to know the real me! But I figure I need to get better at socializing and casual parties with people I don’t care about very much might be good low-risk practice.
  26. Get a new pet. We lost Apollo this month, and while I don’t believe in replacing pets, for I know first-hand that every dog different in temperament and personality. We still have little Ty-Ty, but he’s my parents’ dog. I want a dog I can call my own. That would be the benefit of having my own place. If I live on my own, I can adopt my companion. I’m not sure my first solo pet should be a dog. A cat might be a better choice…I’m not the biggest cat person, but I have enjoyed kittens in the past. Maybe I’ll just become a foster until my life is more stable.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Let me know what goals most resonate with you. I’m not sure how I’ll track my progress on these goals. Maybe I’ll do a corresponding blog post before my 27th birthday and share everything that changed in my life while I was 26.

I’m not going to be miserable if I don’t get to everything on this list. My goal is simply to live more fully. I want to stop feeling like my life hasn’t truly started yet because x, y, and z haven’t happened yet. I want to be more pro-active. I’m coming to the realization that things are not just going to fall into my lap. I have to make things happen myself.

Thank you for reading!
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Waiting | Week in Review

The second week of February was far better than the first but no less busy. The first week without Apollo was definitely sad, but life has definitely become a lot simpler. Our little dog has definitely been spoiled this week. Apollo was the reason Ty has missed out on a lot over the years, because we couldn’t walk Ty or take him for a car ride without Apollo’s knowledge. We think he’s still a little confused about where his big brother is, but Ty’s always seemed to be a much more independent dog.

On the personal front, I was busy in between my regular work hours. It was the last week of our parade preparations, so we were trying to meet almost every day for an hour at 11:30 a.m. Truthfully, it was the worst possible time, smack dab in the middle of the day between my regular work hours. I kind of stopped showing up because it was too much to handle with other stuff going on in my life this week, namely the dental appointments.

I feel like this week can be defined through the word “waiting.” I’m waiting all the time for phone calls, to receive email feedback, for weeks to end, for work shifts to be over. It’s kind of scary that I’m wishing so much time away. It reminds me of the movie Click (2006) where Adam Sandler’s character loses big chunks of time because he wants to skip all the toiling for his job, but he doesn’t realize he’s missing out on all the special small moments in between that make life meaningful.

I do feel like there’s a lot I want to do that I can get started on right now. I feel like this year so far has been me preparing to do more, and a lot of that journey is being documented on this blog. So I’m thankful for this small space where I can talk about what I love, document my creative journey, and feel cheered on by all you lovely readers. Truly.

  • Job Applications. Monday I applied for six jobs. Two were local city positions (Part-Time Records Clerk & Visitors Services Manager) and four (Recreation Aide, Head Camp Counselor, Community Relations Specialist, Help Desk Supervisor) were the next city over. I don’t think many were full-time jobs. They just definitely would pay more than I currently get paid now. I’ve already been rejected for the two local positions, which really made me want to quit my current job this week because my immediate supervisor said the higher ups do not like to have current employees jumping to new departments, so basically I have no chances to even interview while I work this job that people without college degrees can do. If only I didn’t need the money…I may put in my two weeks’ notice soon, just because I think my chances will be get better for local jobs and I may get something better soon if I just keep applying.
  • Dental Appointments. This month I get kicked off my parents’ health insurance and my mom asked me if I wanted to visit the dentist for one more cleaning. I went Wednesday, and it was already annoying because I had to fill out paperwork for the company that bought the dentist office where we’ve been going for the last 10 years. Then I found out I had four cavities. They’re all in the early stages, so I just needed to get fillings. I always thoughts flossing was just to prevent gingivitis, but all my cavities are where the teeth touch in the back of my mouth, so flossing would have prevented them. Floss, kids!
  • Red Cross Volunteering. Wednesday night we had our monthly staff meeting at work. Our guest speakers were from the Red Cross and they talked about all the volunteer opportunities they offer. The main woman who spoke talked about being fresh out of college and not being able to find work immediately, and I just felt like she was talking directly to me! One of my goals for this weekend is to apply to volunteer and see what I can do.
  • Valentine’s Day. Honestly, I didn’t remember how much candy I used to get for Valentine’s Day at school. How schools can celebrate and promote Valentine’s Day but not Halloween is crazy. I got so much candy this day. Right after finding out I had cavities. Oh, the irony. One of my co-workers surprised us with goodie bags and then the kids added to our supply as they sorted through their loot during snack time. It was so unexpected, I wish I had gotten something for the kids and my co-workers too! I just didn’t think it would be a big deal at all.

I am so happy with my blog content this week. If there’s one regret, it’s that I didn’t finish up my review of The Vanishing Stair, which I read two weeks ago now. But the reason for that is I’m not sure how I want to review it. Sequels are hard to do! There are more questions about what to talk about and part of that I think can be answered by figuring out who is the audience. I’ve not figured that out yet!

But I still managed to publish three posts that I really liked. None of them were really planned ahead of time, which is why I think I’m so happy with them to be honest. I liked that I had time to work on them during the week and then publish them immediately in some cases. I liked that spontaneity! And I liked that I was happy with the end result.

I don’t like to publish posts that I’m unhappy with, which is why this week’s TTT was actually from a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t happy with it then, but after sitting on it for a little bit, I was able to redraft it this week and not let all the work that went into it at the beginning of the month (compiling images and book summaries) to go to waste. I feel like the theme is an important one, for me especially as I don’t use Goodreads anymore and will need to find a way to track the books on my TBR now.

B L O G  P O S T S

Once again, I didn’t do any reading this week, but I am ready to start King of Scars! I’ve decided I would first read Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2), because a) I want to refresh myself on the world and characters, and b) I only read that book once. I think it will also be good to read this weekend because I don’t want to neglect all my other responsibilities in order to read (as I did when reading The Vanishing Stair), so I’ll make it something to look forward to in between getting chores done, doing job applications, and writing/blogging.

Then next weekend I’ll be ready to read King of Scars!

Next week is my birthday, so it will likely be a week of deep introspection. I want to reflect on my past year, think about what I want to do different, and probably make a list of things I want to do while I’m 26. I don’t want to wait around any longer. There’s a lot that is out of my control, but that doesn’t mean I should just sit around and do nothing. I want to meet new people, have new experiences, and do new things. For one of the first times in my life, I’m approaching my birthday with excitement.

Thank you for reading!
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My Good Reading Habits | Blog Tag

On Monday I was tagged by Siobhan @ Novelties to share my good reading habits in the My Good Reading Habits Tag. Since it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog tag and these posts can be a fun way for new blog followers to get to know me, I decided to do it!

From the outset, I wasn’t sure if I had many good reading habits. I’m not a very consistent reader or blogger, so I worried what kinds of things I could list. But then I realized that there are reasons for why I am the reader that I am, and I’m very happy with how reading fits into my life these days.

Rules

I prioritize reading books that I’ve owned for a long time. 

There’s nothing worse than owning a collection of books you never end up reading. I understand the appeal of surrounding yourself with books upon books, but I think seeing books sit neglected on your bookshelves never to be read is sad. It’s also sad to think about what I could’ve done with that money at this time instead!

I support second-hand bookstores and libraries.

It can be appealing to purchase books brand new, but I find that I can often find books I want in perfectly good condition at second-hand bookstores. It benefits small businesses and can still benefit authors by showing that there is an interest in their work.

This avenue is also great for if you want to protest a problematic author or publisher by putting your money in other people’s pockets.

When I review books, I’m fair to the author and readers who can appreciate the books even when I don’t.

While I love to read negative book reviews (which I don’t particularly find a crime), I can never bring myself to write them personally. I don’t take particular joy in shaming people who put time and effort into their books. In college I learned not to speculate about what goes into a work when I’m analyzing it, so I always assume there’s been some degree of love and/or pride.

I strongly believe books can hold different meaning for different people. I know that who I am as a reader has changed throughout my life. So when I read a book and then critique it, I try to share where I’m coming from so that people who read my reviews can decide for themselves if they might like a book or not.

I DNF books that I don’t like.

It can be painful, especially if it’s a book I purchased with my own money. But if I’m not liking a book, I will put it down. It’s not the easiest decision all the time, as I do try to see the positives to finishing books even if they aren’t doing anything for me personally. But I’m past that mad rush to devour any book in my sight just to add another tally to my Read in [Insert Year Here] list.

I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone but myself. And my reading enjoyment has improved.

Tag Time

Actually, it’s confession time. I’ve not been very good at keeping up with all the lovely blogs I follow lately. There’s a hand few of people who comment on almost every blog post I publish and make me feel so loved, even though I’m so inconsistent. I feel like I’m always tagging them when I do a tag!

So today (well, Tuesday) I decided to look through the blogs I’ve most recently followed to randomly select some bloggers I don’t interact with much at all yet. Yay for new friends!

Nicole & Isis | Anthony | Czai | Carolina | Krista & Dawlyn | Zuki | Dani

(If you are tagged and have no interest in this tag, no pressure!)

endnote

I really enjoyed thinking about how I read and what habits might qualify as “good,” so thanks again to Siobhan for tagging me and Ally for creating this tag! I feel like doing more discussion-based blog posts soon, and I got kernels of ideas from doing this post.

If you decide to do this tag, please do link back to this post so I get a ping and can go read yours. Alternatively, let me know in the comments what habits we share ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List | Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday (TTT)! It’s a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but now run by the terrific Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week Jana provides the bookish theme and book bloggers share their top ten picks.

This week’s theme is Favorite Couples in Books, but I’m really bummed that I never posted my entry in The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List from a couple of weeks ago! I figured there is no reason I shouldn’t share it, even if it’s on the wrong week. But first, a little context.

I’m not really keeping up to date with new releases or highly promoted books in the YA blogosphere at the moment. Neither am I using Goodreads anymore, so a really cool post to find a few weeks ago was 20(ish) Books For Readers Who are 20(ish) // A List of NA Books Written in the YA Style by Kat @ Novels and Waffles.

I’m definitely well within the New Adult genre demographic and would like to read more about protagonists closer to my age engaging in plots that closer mirror the coming-of-age issues that 20-somethings face. I recognized a good few of the books on the list and have even read a couple (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Fangirl)!

So from Kat’s list comes my own, a list whittled down from hers to encapsulate the latest books on my TBR. Some of them are not too new to my TBR, but considering that I don’t regularly add books to my TBR anymore, they still work!

  1. Smothered by Autumn Chiklis | Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?
  2. Bucket List to Love by C.P. Santi | Aya Contreras is thrilled to be studying in the land of sakura and sushi. Tokyo is a fascinating city to live in—vending machines, cosplayers, karaoke boxes, and bright, colorful conbinis on every corner. And the architectural design program she’s in is everything she dreamed it to be. The only problem? Her tutor doesn’t seem to like her. Well, she doesn’t like him very much either. Sure, Ryohei Mori is talented, and there’s no denying he’s hot. But he’s also a surly, bossy know-it-all who eats too many cookies. Another annoying thing about him is he’s nosy. And when he stumbles upon the crazy bucket list Aya’s sisters forced on her, he teases her mercilessly about it. But when their professor pairs them up for a design competition, things get . . . interesting. Fueled by beer and a whole lot of cookies, can Aya and Ryo cross out some items on her bucket list without killing each other? Or will they realize there’s much more to each other than they’d originally thought?
  3. We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen |Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school, and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard. Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas, and the pressure of figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: Change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share unbreakable bonds with the friends who help us navigate it.
  4. Again, But Better by Christina Riccio | Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.
  5. Three Mages and A Margarita by Annette Marie | Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig. It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right? I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job? It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here. So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.

  1. The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton | The Blackburn women are cursed. Ever since the extraordinary witch Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island centuries ago and was shunned by the eight “original” settlers, Blackburn witches have been doomed to carry out a brief whirlwind affair with a descendant of the Original Eight. The vengeful curse, however, had unintended side effects: it diluted the Blackburns’ supernatural powers. That’s perfectly all right with seventeen-year-old Nor Blackburn. All she wants is a quiet, unremarkable life—her powers are blissfully unexceptional, her love life pretty much nonexistent. Nor hopes the curse has played itself out through enough generations that she’ll finally be spared the drama. But when a mysterious book comes out promising to cast any spell for the right price, Nor senses a dark storm headed straight for Anathema—and straight for her.
  2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi | Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.
  3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, ranging from Jodie Foster to George W. Bush. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more supernatural than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
  4. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan | A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war. In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.
  5. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak | The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance. At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle. The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

I don’t know when I’ll next have any money for a book buying spree, but I do hope to find some of these or request them at my local library soon. I would like to make it my mission to seek out and promote more books that fall under the New Adult label. I’m a bit fatigued with the current slate of YA fantasy, so I’m much more interested in contemporaries and mysteries as a whole right now.

Are any of these books are your TBR?

Thank you for reading!
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March BuJo Theme Ideas

As soon as I started my February bullet journal spread, I was already thinking about next month’s spread. While I knew I was looking for a very simple theme for February, it was inevitable that I would come across more complex and exciting themes than I was currently ready to try out. After discovering so many new bujo artists and more styles of layout than I knew could exist, I starting making a note of my favorites.

Rather than keep my folder to myself, I decided to start sharing what I’ve discovered and learned from primarily Instagram on my blog!

So today I’m sharing the themes I’m contemplating for the month of March, just to get a head start in planning. I started a little late in February and regret not planning ahead for the month so that I could have more flexibility and fun with the layout.

March Theme Ideas

When I think of March, I think of spring time. I think of rain, flowers in bloom, babies bunnies and chicks, Easter, pastel colors. Yuck. Spring is my least favorite time of year. I like rain, but I already did a cloud theme for my January spread.

So it has been a little bit of challenge to think of how to become excited for March. After scrolling through loads of bujo content on Instagram, I found a few themes that I thought would work. I also had some ideas organically based on my life and interests at the moment. I made a theme cloud.

Feathers | I like the idea of feathers because it fits into the spring theme when I think of newborn chicks. I could see myself taking it in a few different directions. I could go the peacock route and really have fun with the feather design and color. I would also go with a more Native American-inspired aesthetic, with dream catchers and other accessories.

Mushrooms / Woodlands | When I think of rain that generally comes with spring showers, I also think of mushrooms. I live in a wooded area that is prone to mushroom sprouts, so that could be a central feature to my March theme that I would enjoy creating. My dad taught me how to draw mushrooms when I was little, so there’s a sentimental aspect to the mushroom design as well. To round it out so I’m not just drawing mushrooms, I figured I could expand it to a woodland theme as well, with grass, wildflowers, and animals if I’m feeling ambitious.

City Hall | I actually had this idea on my own! I drive through city hall every day on my way to work and have appreciated how well kept it is. It was decorated during the holidays, but also looks really nice without lights and decor. I could see myself having fun doing street lamps, benches, industrial flower pots, street signs, and old-fashioned store fronts. It would be an ambitious task because I would have to do a lot of the spread layout design on my own. This theme gives me some Wes Anderson vibes.

Weird Magic | Somewhat associated with my ideas for the feather and mushroom themes is this idea of incorporating weird magic of crystals, moons, black cats, crows, etc. There’s an artist on Instagram (Celine @ enemesis_4) whose work has been some of my favorite in terms of her use of color and illustrations.

Murder Mystery | This is another theme I thought of as I just finished reading The Vanishing Stair, and feel like I have generally always read Agatha Christie on rainy spring days. It would be a really fun challenge to design my own murder mystery spread, but it may be a bit ambitious to complete in just one month. Maybe I’ll save this idea for May…

The theme I will select for March will really depend on how much time I feel I will have to prepare for it and what materials I have at my disposal, because some of my more ambitious ideas would be sad to complete without the requisite color. I think if I feel like going for something more simple, I will just end up doing the feathers or mushroom theme.

Let me know which of these themes are your favorite and if you are a bullet journalist what your theme ideas for March are!

Thank you for reading!
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Base Image of Featured Image: Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Goodbye, Apollo | Week in Review

This past week was incredibly exhausting. My parents have been consulting realtors so we had to do a deep-clean of the house on Monday. The kids at work have seemed more challenging than normal this week. Then my Pixel 2 smartphone decided to quit on me Wednesday afternoon. Because my phone wasn’t due an upgrade until December, I needed purchase a new one without the option of financing it (which means stretching the payments out interest-free).

Luckily I could afford it and not entirely break the bank, but it has affected my economic freedom to a certain degree. I likely won’t be picking up fast food anymore or buying any new clothes/books soon. Also I likely won’t be upgrading my blog, as I had originally been planning this month. At least not for a little while.

Rounding out the week, I had to say goodbye to Apollo, my 12-year-old German Shepherd, who was a very big part of our family. I’m very glad I started and wrote most of this post yesterday before I learned this morning would be his last. It’s been rough. My eyes have been red and puffy all day. Generally I like to put a positive spin on weeks that are challenging, but right now I just want to linger in my despair for a little bit.

  • The Assassination of Giani Versace. Instead of reading, I’ve been watching the second season of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story anthology series this week. It’s been one I’ve eagerly anticipated after discovering Cody Fern last fall, where he played Michael Langdon on AHS: Apocalypse. I also remember that this season had been critically acclaimed, so I was excited. I totally understand where the hype came from; Darren Criss was so good in this role as a psychopathic serial killer. But it was also a little underwhelming. Nothing surprised me story-wise after a certain point, so I felt like I was on a steadily rising rollercoaster to nothing.
  • The new (to me) iPhone 8. I touched on this above, but I didn’t really talk about how annoying this entire situation was. This smartphone is a major downgrade from the Pixel 2. The camera can’t compare. It also feels clunkier, less user-friendly, and slower than the Pixel 2. The only positive is that I was able to sync back up with my last iPhone 6, so I now have easy access to my old photos from 2+ years ago. I also think the sound might be slightly better…
  • My six-month evaluation. I’ve never had a job for longer than six months, so this was my first employee evaluation. I wasn’t aware it was coming up, and I’m glad I wasn’t so I wouldn’t be anxious leading up to it. It went fine; I received no bad marks. My main disappointment is I don’t get a raise until after my NEXT evaluation, which is unlikely to happen because I don’t see myself being here for another six months.
  • Job interview. On Friday I had a job interview with my local school district for a clerical assistant position. It was less than 20 minutes long and I feel like I answered all the questions fairly well. However, I’ve left other interviews feeling way more optimistic than I did this one and not gotten the job. So I have no idea how to feel about it. It’s out of my hands.
  • Apollo (2007–2019). My family got Apollo in May 2007 when I was just about to finish up 8th grade. He was my younger brother’s dog. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with our German Shepherd. I love dogs, but Apollo has always been so difficult. We weren’t allowed to treat him like we did our little dogs. He was very strong, so we had to be careful with him. He was always so serious and a nervous wreck. But he definitely grew on me in his later years and I grew to appreciate him so much. Anyway, his breed is prone to hip dysplasia and Apollo’s been suffering for more than a couple of years with it. It doesn’t help that he broke one of his front legs a few years ago (somehow unbeknownst to us). Friday morning, after a week of him having restless nights, my mom decided it was time we let him go. We always knew we wanted him to be able to walk out of our house for the last time with dignity.

I’m still a little bit in shock that I saw him for the last time this morning. In spite of everything, he was such a happy guy. I honestly thought we might have him at least a month or two more. I may do another post about him, just because there is so much I could say. He’s our last childhood dog. His death marks an end of an era. This house is never going to be the same again without him. In many ways, things will be a lot easier, but there’s going to reminders of his absence at every corner that we pass where he is not blocking our way.

On my monthly log section of my bullet journal, I was able to look at the month and think about the blog content I hoped to produce this month. A part of me wishes I could create an ambitious blog schedule and stick to it each week, but it’s not realistic for me. I can’t promise to read a book each week just so I have a review to share. I can’t promise to do enough Skillshare courses each week to warrant a blog post on them every Tuesday.

I like having the opportunity to be flexible with what I post, but I do want to become more consistent. So my plan going forward will be to spread my blog posts out a little more evenly so that too many days do not go by without a post.

B L O G  P O S T S

Last weekend I finished my reread Truly Devious and started The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, which came out on January 22, 2019. It was one of those rare moments in time that I absolutely cherish, when I have set aside time to read a book I’ve been anticipating, a book that doesn’t disappoint and, when finished, leaves me sad that it’s over but happy that it happened.

If you haven’t read these books yet, what exactly are you waiting for?!

My next read is likely to be King of Scars, but I’m still in appreciate mode for The Vanishing Stair, so I’m not in a hurry to jump into a new book. I may actually read some non-fiction first…

Next week might prove a little busy. There are two parades this month back-to-back. The first was more casual and happened this weekend. The second is more important because it is a judged competition. If our float places highly, our community center benefits with a monetary donation. So next week we will likely meet a lot outside of our regularly work hours. For me, that means clocking in and out at work THREE times. It’s all been a bit much to be completely honest.

I can’t wait for spring break. Although, that might be busy too…

Thank you for reading!
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Thoughts on The Man in the High Castle

I finished The Man in the High Castle in January. I discovered the show in November or December of 2017 and binged the first two seasons over the course of a single weekend, if I remember correctly. The show was just so beautiful, with the scenery of the reimagined U.S. under Japanese and German control. I loved the fashion. It was all just so beautiful, even while the world created depicted what would have been the world could have been like if ruled by fascism.

There is not a whole lot to spoil in the book. This is the kind of book that left me with more questions than answers, so I didn’t see any point to omitting anything. If you have been keeping up with the show, there is not anything I discuss that would spoil anything in the show.

I actually hoped I would find a hint of how the show would end by reading this book, but I was sorely mistaken. The show takes and adapts a lot from this book, but it is not a beat-for-beat adaptation. It’s actually a really wonderful adaptation that, I think, would be a really satisfying companion to the book for old fans. It takes philosophical ideas from the book further and develops a more compelling storyline.

• ⟡ • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick  • ⟡ •

I was left a little disappointed by the book overall, but that is mainly because the main draws of the show, in my opinion, are absent from the book.

Julianna Crane, the star of the show, is a mere shadow of herself in the book. The mystery that drives the show, the mystery of the films and where they come from are not in the book at all! There is no growing resistance in the book for which we can root, as there is in the show. Instead of a twisting plot, the book is heavy in philosophical quandaries and big ideas.

Instead of the films, the emergence of a banned book threatens the Nazi powers that be. We see from the perspectives of several different characters how this book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, has affected the status quo. What has made this book so controversial? Well, it describes an alternative history in which the Allies and not the Axis powers won WWII. It shows what the world could be like, which would be a preferable reality to Americans and others under Nazi dominion.

The book goes into much greater detail than the show about what happened in other parts of the world, like South America and Africa. It also goes into greater detail of the warring Nazi factions. Cut out of the show was the space colonization project of the Nazi, which is slightly comical. It’s one of the many details that reminds you that this book was written before the first human walked on the moon in 1969.

What stuck out most to me is that the alternative history presented in the fictional book was not ours, but one in which the U.S. and Great Britain become the major world powers.

The alternatives presented in this book, one by the controversial book and one by the extremely unpleasant Joe Cinnadella, made me wonder which the author Philip K. Dick might have actually have been predicting would be the way our world could actually end up. While the U.S. did become a major world power post-WWII, the relative peace and freedom which Americans enjoy today was not a reality in the 1950s or 60s. It took a lot of work to get where we are today, and there’s still a lot to be done.

Did Dick think the U.S. was heading towards its own demise when he wrote the book? I ask this question because I also wonder in what ways the U.S. might still be hurdling towards this destruction today. We have a lot of social safe-guards at the moment, protecting our most vulnerable people and keeping us all safe as result. But the Republican party at large seems intent on taking these things away. Are we becoming a plutocracy? Will that mean the end of our world as we know it?

…Even if all life on our planet is destroyed, there must be other life somewhere which we know nothing of. It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive…

I think this idea of alternative universes must have been on many people’s minds during the Cold War, not least because I’ve encountered children’s literature that ponders the same the questions. I’m not really sure what to make of it, as I didn’t have time to look into it. If I had to guess, I assume it has something to do with the fear in the back of many people’s minds that the world could end at any moment. Maybe thinking that there were other worlds out there provided some peace of mind?

We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.

I actually finished this book as the third season of The Good Place was wrapping up, so it was oddly gratifying to see the familiar theme emerge that highlights how difficult it is to tell right from wrong in modern society. The choices you make and the kind of life you choose to live all depend on where you live, the power and economic structures in place, and the laws of the land. It is easy to look at different people and cultures and say that they have it all wrong. But it’s important to remember how many constraints we all live under.

He told us about our own world, she thought as she unlocked the door to her motel room. This, what’s around us now. In the room, she again switched on the radio. He wants us to see it for what it is. And I do, and more so each moment.

I am sure many things went over my head in this book. I admit I am not sure I was able to follow Julianna’s logic when it came to understanding why Abendsen wrote the book or what its purpose was. I’m not sure if I was supposed to or really needed to. The book was successful for me in that it was thought-provoking. It’s one I could see myself reading periodically throughout my life and picking up new meaning each time.

☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

If you’re wondering if this is a worth-while read, I recommend picking it up if you are intrigued by any of the thoughts I shared above. It’s the kind of book you want to read and have a conversation about, so a book club or group reading might be the best situations in which to experience this book and its ideas.

It took me a little while to finish this post, so I have since read The Vanishing Stair, the sequel to one of my favorite reads last year, Truly Devious! You can expect a review of that one very soon.

Thank you for reading!
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Lessons Learned in January + February BuJo Spread

Hello, everyone! I meant for this post to come out last week, but, in truth, I didn’t start my February bullet journal until last weekend. So I’m a little late, but that’s fine. I’m a prime example of the fact that you do not have to skip a month just because you start late!

Before I get into everything, I do want to admit that I abandoned my January bujo at some point halfway through. January felt like the longest month ever, and I came to dread the need to sketch out and use the weekly spreads. Additionally, I realized that some elements of the traditional bujo spread just weren’t working for me. January was a real learning experience and I went into February’s spread with some adjustments in mind.

Keep reading for the lessons I learned as well as a glimpse of my February spread!

❝ Keep it simple

I really want to keep a bullet journal year round, and the only way I figured I would be able to do that is to keep things simple. I realized that the design I chose for January, while beautiful, was a bit too much to keep up with when it came to the weekly spreads. I should’ve just dropped the design and kept kept up with the journalling, but I wanted the entire month to be cohesive visually.

So for February, I chose a much simpler theme and design that didn’t require so much time, that way I can focus on what really matters: the content.

❝ Sketch out the weekly spreads in advance ❞

My least favorite aspect of the bujo has always been the weekly spread. I’ve seen many different versions of it that I just do not find personally fitting for what I need. I hate seeing empty space on the page, and some days I just don’t find that I’ve done much at all. Plus, I don’t want to keep too much personal info in my bullet journal, so using it partially as a diary to fill it up is not really an option for me.

What I do need in my bujo is space to keep my daily to-do lists, so I decided to figure out this month how to make the weekly spreads work for me. I decided to sketch them out at the beginning of the month, instead of on the weekends, so that they are ready to go on weeks that I didn’t have the time or will work on them the weekend before.

As I did this, I also realized that I could actually utilize extra space for notes that will help remind me about the day in addition to the to-do lists and keep weekly habit trackers for the main activities I’m prioritizing that week. I decided to start keeping notes of the German vocabulary I am working on that week.

At this point, I actually only have two weeks planned out, so I will still need to figure out the last two weeks of February. I plan to go even more simplistic, using a more minimalist approach inspired by Instagram bullet journalist @journal.it. Below are some ideas I have in mind.

❝ If you aren’t using a spread, don’t continue to include it ❞

As much as I love the idea of mood trackers and individual habit trackers, I don’t actually find them all that practical or useful. My habit trackers specifically began to give me a little bit of anxiety because there were few days I could do everything I listed. I felt like a failure, even though I was doing a lot in reality.

So I don’t have a month-long habit tracker element in my February spread. But as I mentioned above, I did start naturally including trackers for things I wanted to keep track of during the week, specifically exercise. Ideally I would exercise everyday, but some days I need a break to accommodate other things on my agenda or to make sure I have some time for fun. My realistic (but still ambitious) goal is five days a week. The tracker reminds me if I’ve fallen behind.

 ⟡  February BuJo Spread  ⟡ 

For February, I decided to go with a lightbulb theme that I saw on Instagram last month designed by the bullet journalist @bulletwithe. I thought her style was really cute and whimsical. It is also fairly simplistic and one I felt I could easily duplicate and make my own.

This month I decided to start my monthly spread on the left side of my open journal so that I could see my monthly log beside it. Another difference from last month is how I put the day and date in the middle of my monthly log page instead on the far left. I think it was a simple way to make the page more interesting, although I could still see myself moving it around in the future.

Before my weekly spreads start, I only have two pages for monthly notes, which consists of space for brain dump (random ideas/notes I have during the month), my monthly goals, my blog growth tracker for WordPress and YouTube (if I do indeed start it up again), books I read, and a writing graph!

I will not show my weekly spread today in this post, because I have already begun filling it in for this week and would rather do a proper flip-through at the end of the month. If you like what you see so far and want to know what direction I took for the weekly spreads, I highly recommend checking out @bulletwithe‘s Instagram page for how she decided to do them. My first week is her Week 3 and my second one (currently still a work in progress) is a variation on her Week 4 I think (she didn’t label it).

I have some ideas for future bujo-related blog posts that I’m hoping to start working on this weekend. I’ve really falling down the Instagram bujo community rabbit hole, so I feel like I have discovered a lot more possibilities and things I would like to try. I’ve also already begun brainstorming themes for March so that I can hit the ground running next month and hopefully make it easier for any of you who might be interested in joining me!

Tomorrow I will finally be sharing my thoughts on The Man in the High Castle! I finished writing it on Monday and just need to give it a final polish before I send it out into the universe.

Thank you for reading!
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