Wednesday, December 27, 2017

So you're interested in bullet journalling...

From my 2017 BuJo
I've mentioned bullet journalling on my blog before, but never really went in-depth into what I do, so I'm taking the time to talk about it now, since I've seen some of my friends express interest :) 2018 is rapidly approaching, and the new year is always a good time to refocus and get organized again.

Bullet journalling (or BuJoing for short) is basically an organizational system. It is highly customizable, and you can tweak it to suit your own needs, but the very core of it is the use of bulleted lists to plan and log your life.

Bullet journalling mainly consists of two parts (that can be separate, or totally meshed together): the calendar/planner part, and the "collections" part. The planner part is pretty self-explanatory--this is where you write down your appointments and To Do lists--but collections, if you're not sure what they are, are really just lists of anything you want to keep lists of. People will keep lists of books they want to read, books they HAVE read, meal planning lists, bucket lists, gratitude lists, shopping lists, etc... Your bullet journal essentially becomes part planner, part journal, depending on how you want to use it.

Usually when people ask me about bullet journalling, I like to first point them to Ryder Carroll's video. (Ryder Carroll is basically the creator of bullet journalling, but I mean, I'm sure people have been using bulleted lists forever and ever.)

Bullet journalling is awesome because, again, it's highly customizable, and you can do it in anything--you can shell out for a $20 Leuchtturm or Moleskine, or you can use a composition notebook from the dollar store. You can even use a premade planner (if you're less interested in customizing the spreads), and you can decorate it as much or as little as you want.

But of course, if you're brand new to bullet journalling, it probably doesn't help much to just tell you, "Hey, it can be whatever you want it to be!" You probably want some ideas, right? So here's a glimpse into what I do.

I should note that I am highly fickle and easily distracted by pretty things, so I've switched back and forth a LOT between a Leuchtturm dot grid notebook and a Happy Planner, depending on my mood. The advantages of using an actual notebook are that you can customize it however you want to and you can change your format whenever you feel like it, while the advantages of using a pre-made planner are that you don't have to spend time drawing layouts (because they're already printed for you), and if you're not so good at artsy stuff like I am, you can usually find ones that are already pretty and cute (like Happy Planners or Erin Condren planners).

Nonetheless, regardless of what I'm using, this is my basic bullet system:

This is a horizontal-format Happy Planner
- Triangles for events/appointments (basically, anything with a time attached to it)
- Squares for tasks that can be done at any point during the day
- Dots for notes
- I color in the triangles/squares when the item is completed
- I cross out the item if it is cancelled/no longer needed
- I put a > sign if I'm procrastinating postponing the item until another time.

That's all. Three signifiers to remember, and easy to remember. I used to color-code my items, but it started to be a bit too much to carry so many pens around all the time, and I missed just being able to use color however I wanted to (artistically), so now I just reach for whatever pen is handy and I just use that. Sometimes (as you can see above) I separate out my timely items from my non-timely items, or sometimes I will separate out work items from personal items, but I always use these bullets.

Also worth noting: I like to write out my plans day-by-day. I have a Future Log (where I write down all my upcoming stuff), but other than that, I like to sit down at the end of every day to write out my plans for tomorrow, and I try not to go beyond a couple days ahead. I find it soothing and creative, and it's a good way to check in with my calendar to see what I've got going on.

So, for 2018, I do in fact have a bullet journal set up (as well as a Happy Planner that will stay on my desk... I'm incorrigible), so here is a glimpse at some of the other things I have set up in my Leuchtturm:

I decided that having a Future Log AND a Monthly Spread was redundant (for me), so I set up a two-page spread for every month of 2018 at the very beginning of my notebook. Obviously, if I use up this entire notebook before the end of the year, I will have some re-copying to do, but at least this way, I can see my entire year, in case I need to make grand plans :)

(Narrator: She did NOT need to make grand plans.)

I also have a smattering of collections: monthly bills/expenses, meal lists, a spice rack inventory (because I often forget to check my spice cabinet before I go grocery shopping), etc. This page is my "What books are coming out this year, and did I preorder them yet, and in what format?" spread. When I get closer to the fall, I usually make spreads for planning out holiday dinners, Christmas knitting, etc. When I'm traveling, I have a page dedicated to my packing list. Stuff like that.

And I really like having a tracker set up for the month, even if I'm terrible at sticking with it. I really want to keep trying to build good habits, and filling out my tracker at the end of each day gives me a chance to reflect, and it also shows me in a very obvious and easily-readable way when I'm not sticking to my goals.

In addition to all of the above, I like using my pages for random notes, quotes I like, lettering practice, journalling, etc.

So, if you're a beginning bullet journaller, I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you out a little? Here is some advice, from me to you, if you're just starting out (or thinking about it):

  • Make a list of what you actually need/want in your BuJo. That Instagrammer may have a really cool spread that tracks the daily weather, but if you really don't care about tracking the daily weather, then why do it, no matter how cool it looks? 
  • That said, other BuJoers are doing really cool things, and it's great to get ideas by checking out other people's posts. My favorites are Boho Berry (IG/Youtube/blog) and Minimalist Bujo
  • Only shell out for supplies if you want to. You don't NEED to. It is suuuuuper easy to find yourself suddenly drowning in pens, stickers, and washi tape, and it's very fun to decorate your BuJo, but just know that you don't HAVE to, and try not to feel pressured to.
  • Come up with your own bullet system, one that is easy to remember and that actually makes sense to you so you don't have to refer to a key every time you write stuff down.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to just cross things out or even start over on a new page if you DO make mistakes. I have so many notebooks where I haven't written a damn thing in them because I'm too afraid of being not-perfect (oh, the possibilities of a blank page!) but in my bullet journal, it just is what it is. Especially since I'm not trying to be an Instagrammer.
Above all, do what works for you. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. 

I hope this helps! However you decide to get organized for the new year, good luck to you, and I hope you accomplish all your goals in 2018 :)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"The plan is to fan this SPARK into a FLAME": Deadlifts for Doernbecher recap, health scares, and looking ahead

photo by my brother, Khoa
IG @ngophotobiz
Hire him, he's cool. And he's my brother.
Now that I am done with catching up on grading and winter break has officially begun, I can now take some time to reflect on recent events! (Literally... I just finished my grading about half an hour ago and walked around the house, arms up "Rocky" style in triumph, before sitting back down at my computer to start this entry.)

This weekend was QUITE A TRIP.

Saturday was Deadlifts for Doernbecher. This was my second time competing in D4D, and I have to say, this year was so, so, so much bigger than last year. Which is not to say that it was small last year, but this year D4D was held at Ancestry Brewing and featured pro lifters (men and women) coming in from all over the country. Standing in the warm-up area in the back, I was shaking in my Chucks just being around them and watching them get ready.

Because I'm not going to lie, I kinda want to BE one of them someday. I know I have forever and a ways to go, but if I think about all the sports I've ever done, powerlifting is probably the only sport I have even a remote chance of being good at. (It was definitely never going to be swimming, running, or roller derby. Is napping a sport? I'm probably not even good at that.)

So, IT WAS GREAT. Despite my nerves, despite my doubts, I hit all three of my attempts: 405, a nervous 455 that didn't feel great, and a triumphant 470 which is essentially a match to my previous PR from March 2016:

I was happy enough to even celebrate on the platform a little. :) Because you know what? I wasn't sure it was going to happen. Even though I've hit that number before, the fact that I haven't gotten remotely close to that in the almost-two years since definitely has had me wondering if it was a fluke. Maybe I got lucky that day. Or maybe I just didn't have it in me anymore. I don't know. My brain is SO not nice to me. I am constantly plagued with impostor syndrome in nearly all aspects of my life, so I've spent all this time wondering if maybe I've "lost" it or if I never really "had" it to begin with.

Thus, it was extremely gratifying to know that yes, I still have it in me, and that actually, I might have more. The 500lb pull that I started wishing for so long ago, that I had started to give up on mentally, suddenly returns into my line of vision, and now that I am BACK to being so close to it, I want it.

First place in my category <3
I left that day with a plaque, which is AWESOME, but even more importantly, I walked away with a rekindled belief in myself. I left with faith in my abilities and my strength again. I left with a strong sense of "Yes, I can do this!" and "I'm not a phony!" and "I still have more to give to this sport!" And those things are not easily won, for me.


And then on Sunday, eating a celebratory hamburger and fries for lunch, I had a severe allergic reaction that landed me in the ER.

It's a meal I've had before. I mean, I haven't eaten at Red Robin in months, but I have eaten there before. I have eaten this exact Black and Blue Burger and Sweet Potato Fries before. But never have they caused my throat to tighten severely, or for my lips to itch and get bumpy, or for my tongue to swell up in my mouth, or develop hives all over my body.

To be clear: I don't blame Red Robin or anything. I had zero idea that that would happen, because I've never had that reaction to anything before. Was it even the food? I don't know, but it was likely the culprit, because it started as I was eating.

The ER nurse told me that it's possible to develop allergies even in adulthood which makes me feel... not so great. Because now I have some potentially life-threatening allergy and I have no idea what it is, and now I get to experience the fun of trying to avoid it without actually knowing what it is. (Yes, I'll be contacting an allergist soon. Let's just say I won't be going back to RR for... ever.) I also now have to carry an Epi Pen in my purse at all times (JUST LETTING Y'ALL KNOW), and we have one in our house too. Just so I don't... you know... die.

So in the course of 24 hours, I went from feeling ultra powerful and strong to being totally felled by sweet potato fries :/

Yeah, IDK either gurl
I've been on a course of antihistamines and Prednisone all week. I'm tired because of last weekend,  and I'm tired because it's the last week of classes before Winter Break, and I'm tired because I have a TON of Christmas gift stuff to do, BUT... I was not too tired to sign myself up for my next competition.

I decided that I needed to ride this wave of motivation and empowerment and to set my sights on my next goal while I'm still feeling good about myself. I know it's not going to be easy, and it's going to require a lot of work and commitment, but after all this time, I am really feeling ready to make this happen. I WANT my name on an official USPA result sheet. Whatever numbers I end up putting up, whether they're good or bad or whatever, it's about time that I just COMMIT, because it's a step in a direction, rather than standing still, which I feel like I've been mostly doing. (And it's nobody's fault but mine--I've had a lot of changes happening in my life this year, and I just haven't been able to be consistent.)

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my goals are, but yeah, my immediate goal is to show up. Record a squat. Record a bench. Record a deadlift. Have officially-recorded lifts at a sanctioned meet.

My next goal (not chronologically, but in terms of priority) is to go for that 500 pull. That's not to say that squat and bench aren't important to me, but you KNOW I've always been about the deadlift. I don't have a great bench, and I'm trying to rebuild confidence in my squat because of my bum knee, but deadlifting is my THING, and I want to hit that number. And I'm being told by people who know better than me that it's within my reach, so I should listen to those people and actually go for it. :)

And then tertiary to that is to go for a competitive total. An ELITE total.

Above my desk, where I'm literally sitting right now, I have this inspiration board--a real-life "Pinterest," if you will--that mainly just has pretty pictures of makeup postcards, since I keep my laptop at my makeup table. It's my vision board. But today I added this sheet that I made two years ago. (I mean, I printed it out today, but I've had it saved on my computer for two years.)

It's the USPA's spreadsheet of standards/classifications for women, and I have it narrowed down to RAW 198 and 198+ (because I don't know as of yet which weight class I'll end up in), with the standards for Elite, Master, and Class I highlighted, and my now-two-year-old PRs written in. (Well, now I can definitely say my deadlift number still stands.)

Even if I never beat my dismal bench, even if I only ever match my squat and deadlift PRs, I would at least record an elite total. And that's something. I would love to record that number officially (though, of course, I would love to BEAT that number officially). Maybe even break some records.

How's that for a vision board?

So yeah, I've got my work cut out for me, but I AM EXCITED. I HAVE PLANS. And I have a slew of people cheering me on and ready to help me go for it. So tired as I am, I am feeling STOKED, and I feel like I CAN DO THIS. I just need to find the strength within myself to stick with training so that I can make this happen. DON'T LET ME BAIL. I'm saying that to everyone right now. DON'T LET ME BAIL.

Also... don't let me go to Red Robin anymore either, please.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why even try?

This weekend is Deadlifts for Doernbecher, the annual deadlift competition that my gym hosts (here's my post from last year), and as can be expected, I'm excited about it but I'm also a little nervous because I have high hopes for my numbers this year.

This year, there will be a bunch of elite guest lifters attending as well, which adds to the pressure. I am eager to impress, and would love to someday be considered one of them. (I know I have a long way to go.) There are women a good 40 pounds lighter than me who can pull a good 40+ pounds heavier than I can, so knowing they'll be there is definitely a heaping of humble pie, if you know what I mean.

It's funny--no matter how well I do at any given training session, I follow so many stellar lifters on social media that I never feel like I'm good enough or strong enough. Which in turn sounds ridiculous, because... good enough for what? Strong enough for what? For myself? For people who know me? I'm pretty sure NO ONE I know is going to laugh at me for having pathetic numbers. (Well, possibly for my bench.) And yet, here I am, pushing for the approval of... I don't even know. Being surrounded by such excellence really places my own accomplishments in rather harsh perspective. Why should I be proud of myself for this lift when all these people can totally do better? Why even try?

It's not a healthy worldview, to only want to do something if I can be the best at it, and I don't actually live my life like that, but I can't say that I don't have my moments where I'm like, "What is even the point of all this?" The truth is, I didn't start doing this to be The Best (whatever that means), and if I want to not make myself miserable, that should never be my driving reason for doing anything. Because all that really guarantees you is misery. (Unless you're, like, Serena Williams. In which case, being The Best is just a fact of life =P)

So here I am, a few days out from my next competition, trying to talk myself out of feeling intimidated and comparing myself to other people who (honestly!) have trained much harder and longer than I have. In truth, I took two or three weeks off during training for D4D because I was sick, and I still was able to do this for my last heavy workout last week, so I should stop beating myself up so much about not being an ELITE LIFTER, and just enjoy what I'm doing while I am still able to do it. Just like how, right now, I can't run at even my slowest speed from when I used to run marathons, someday, I will not be able to lift this heavy anymore, and I'm going to wish I had taken the time to pat myself on the back and be proud of what I have accomplished already, instead of constantly looking ahead to the next PR.

(Though yes, I am going to still hope for a PR.)

Wish me luck. (And moreover, tell me to stop freaking out because I'll be fine.)