awareness.

I used to think that none of it mattered. That life would start in college, or once I got my first job, or when I got married or had kids. But I know many of you would say, “no, it starts now.” And it does.

I’ve come to the stark realization that I, no matter how invincible I might feel, will not be a seventeen-year-old girl forever. And seventeen years? How many of those years have I actually spent living, not just being alive? Because there IS a difference.

Every last one of these little things could be my last at any moment… and I don’t mean to be pessimistic here. I’m saying there’s a lot we’re ignoring, a lot we’re talking for granted. I won’t be a teenager for as long as I think, and soon I’ll be sitting in a suburban household wondering how I got there.

I want to remember how. I want to remember the steps I took.

Hey, I guess I’d like to create a few things while I’m here on earth. What does it mean to take your roots out and plant yourself somewhere else in some other grass? Don’t you know that there’s a lot more going on?

Doesn’t matter if the grass is greener on the other side. The “other side” is the side you’re on, so don’t stay there long. No need to pick any flowers; no need to do anything but fertilize the soil where you stand.

You see, the goal isn’t to assimilate or reorder. The goal is to expand, to evolve, to express, to explore. The four E’s, if you will. Hey, I guess I’d like to create a few things.

I’d like to meet a few new people who have new outtakes and outlooks on the current issues that maybe don’t make the front page. Of tabloids. Of big-time New York Times.

Show me what color your soul is, er, soil, and tell me it’s red like Oklahoma. Red like politicians crossin a red line, like read about all over, what’s black and white and re(a)d all over?

It’s all over? No, this is just the beginning. I’m only the beginning. I’m only seventeen and this is not the beginning… only a continuous story of many beginnings in the pockets of millennials or millions of stuck-on-things types of people. Continuously. Could be risky.

It did, it started a long time ago.

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reflection of self . . . and its ripples.

Make this assumption:

We see ourselves in many ways, but the method by which we see ourselves is that of a pool of water. Nothing else: it’s a pool of clear, pristine, pure water.

In purity:

On a perfect day, how does the pool appear? On a hypothetically perfect afternoon, the pool appears undisturbed. It is peaceful, and not even the tiniest wind shifts its liquid. This is the ultimate utopia in regards to the reflection of self.

In distress:

How does the pool appear when distressed? There are creatures there, wandering and playing rowdily. An ill-willed ivy or bacterium may find itself creeping into the waters. Gusts from all sides bluster against the surface, causing waves to jump around. This is the definition of our often unclear state or the unbalanced reflection of self.

Difference:

What is different between a pool and a human being? One would say many things, but the main importance here is that a pool can do nothing for itself. A human being has the power to affect physical change. You and I can move or not move, think or not think, smile or not smile. We have energy. And we decide how we use it or not use it.

What can be done:

How does one achieve a perfectly smooth reflection? Let us examine the disturbances I described earlier.

  • Creatures are comparable to people or activities in our lives. They take our time and use our precious energy. Well, imagine that instead of a pool, you are a garden. Some creatures are helpful: they fertilize your soil, eat the weeds around you, and simply enjoy your oxygen. Those are the people and activities that should stay. Some creatures, however, are unhelpful: they eat your new buds, tear up the fencing, and eat the fruit of your labors. Those are the people and activities that should be sent away.
  • Ivy or bacteria are considered the thoughts which we feed ourselves. They could be positive or negative, but the thoughts we carry are the kind of energy  we use on a daily basis. The energy that feeds or weeds the gardens we grow within ourselves. And that energy is passed on into the creatures around us. The creatures drink from the water at our pools. You see: it is all a cycle. We are the water, the ivy grows in us, and the creatures drink us up because we are infused with nutrients. Whether this helps us to grow or not is up to us. Whether the water is healthy or not is up to us.
  • The wind or waves are what I like to call the outside forces. These are things we cannot control. We cannot control how it affects the water, the creatures, the ivy, the bacteria of our minds. We cannot control the way it sends our surfaces rippling outward. This is what rocks us; this is what changes us permanently. Wind blows things away, brings things in, and alters the feel of things.

What to do:

Build your ivy and plants within yourself by allowing the right creatures to fertilize your garden. Choose to grow and hold only plants that are peacemakers, lovers, and protectors. Choose to invite only creatures who will not disturb those growing things, but rather, help them flourish. Be sure those living things are in harmony in your personal pool. Feed yourself positive thoughts and welcome positive people so that when the winds come in, you are properly equipped to handle the rippling effects. Let your thoughts be firmly rooted; let your company be supportive.

Create within yourself a nurturing, loving ecosystem.

books.

Ever read a book so magical you can’t put a finger on it? You feel like the story is so beautiful that you could somehow mess it up? It makes you see a few more shining, bright things in the world. It makes you let go of just a little more pain–a little more sadness and darkness–to appreciate something more… palatable. Something that flows, maybe better than things usually do. Here’s my list of books like that.

  1. The Butterfly Clues–Kate Ellison
  2. Famous Last Words–Katie Alender
  3. Looking for Alaska–John Green
  4. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  5. Let it Snow with John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
  6. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

And these are just a few, of course. But in all these books… there is a piece of each character that stays with you. You learn from fiction if you pick the right book. You learn to love with more magic, to trust with more bravery, and sometimes, you even pick up new phrases such as, “if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.” (Thanks, J. G.)

Use the books. Absorb the magic. Make friends in alternate universes.

getting more out of bullet journaling.

Suppose you identify as a bullet journalist. If you don’t, try this resource to understand better, then continue reading. But let’s just say you do. Like me, you probably admire the bullet journal (or BuJo) system because of its expeditious and analog features. The BuJo denotes versatility, simplicity, speed, reliability and… creativity? Record scratch. Some BuJo-ers don’t recognize the last bit.

On the web, one can find any number of articles: how to repair a sink, when the next Spider-Man movie comes out, or even the moon’s phase on January 26th in 2040. However, the most invaluable resource I have found on the internet remains an impeccable community of imaginative planners, just like me (and maybe you).

Outside of the year-and-a-half I’ve spent bullet journaling, six months of it passed in solitude. The only person I knew who followed the planning method (apart from Ryder Carroll, who created the BuJo)? Myself. The possibility of a population of others with similar ideas existing never occurred to me… until I stumbled upon it one day.

My social media accounts amassed negative messages of toxic, hyper-materialism before discovering the genuine magic of the bullet journal community. Now as I scroll through my feed, my mind eases. I smile because of pretty planner spreads among political gobbledygook, selfies, and memes.* I save useful ideas with screenshots or the save tool on Instagram. Additionally, I have a playlist on Youtube related to journaling which I can quickly reference if needed.

By scrolling through Instagram feeds and watching Youtube planning videos, I discovered this community, which began contributing to viewable examples long before I even started using a notebook. Sharing personal ideas (on Youtube or Instagram) provides positive, valuable new skills to partakers. At least, it helped me learn a few pointers.

I discovered, primarily, that anyone from any background at any age from ANY country can give to the community. Also, the aesthetics don’t matter; skill levels certainly do not discount you as an artist or planner. The BuJo community, in general, presents itself as a group of vibrantly creative individuals who seek a practical approach to organizing such artsy energy we all carry with fervor.

Then vs. Now

Above, my very first weekly spread compared to a more recent spread. Notice the change in color, the different bullet system, and the little quote I added after gaining inspiration from others.

Now after describing the community, you might want to know, “How does this apply to me?” Often, people lose their excitement about BuJo because it gets boring; they don’t think the format works for them (even though you can make it whatever you want), or they “don’t have enough time” to make aesthetically pleasing spreads.

Seeing other’s posts online shows BuJo users that 1. Anyone can do it and 2. Its customizability goes beyond simple functionality. For this reason, I encourage anyone and everyone to share their creations online. Including anyone reading this who just discovered the flexible planning system five minutes ago when they opened up this article. Yes, you, my friend.

Perhaps you stumbled here and you have no idea what on earth this thing is and you’re starting from square one. Good news! You’re in the right place. I’m going to walk you through exactly what a bullet journal is, where it came from, and what it can do for you.”

-Shelby from littlecoffeefox.com

Reading something like the above quote can comfort many new BuJo users. People like Shelby, who created Little Coffee Fox, inhabit in every part of the internet, and their brand thrives on the need for creative inspiration. If you want the kind of audience who constantly seeks out unique innovations, I highly recommend applying yourself to this community.

Prefer Instagram? Using the stories feature helps add little blips of information, polls, or even mini showcases of your work. Adding photos to your feed (particularly if said photos relate to planning or art) not only looks neat but helps and inspires others. People viewing your work and enjoying it might encourage you to post more for the mollification of your audience. In turn, you can continue growing your talents, of course making some online friends along the way.

Should you gravitate toward Youtube, recording explanatory videos can benefit new bullet-journalists who have a desire to learn. Showing viewers your ideas will help with planner’s block.** Videos such as plan-with-mes, flip-throughs, or topic-specific spread ideas (such as spreads for students or a holiday prep collection) help me the most.***

The above video helpfully answers questions new bullet-journalists might have… a quick tool you can keep in your pocket for later reference or find online easily. The creator, who speaks in the video, provides his personal insight to viewers curious about the BuJo method. We can take his ideas, utilize them, and discard what doesn’t serve us.

Both of these platforms, regardless of personal preference, benefit artists/planners in a multitude of ways, but they can also build your personal audience. Furthermore, if you aspire to have a group of followers who enjoy the same activities you do, social media gives you a place to shine. Of course, more platforms exist than just Instagram and Youtube; I just happen to use these sites. Feel free to explore this community anywhere, either online or in person.

Not quite sold? Planting our own inventive works out there can challenge us, a step of intrepidity many people fear. When you achieve that, when you put out your ideas and art, you automatically show you have more certainty regarding your output than previous occasions. Creativity has the power to make others braver, but you must initiate it yourself. I wish you luck.

*A spread means a page set-up in your bullet journal! An umbrella term that wears many hats.

**Planner’s block: that moment when you don’t know how you want to set up your next day, week, month or year. Or when you just get bored with how your bullet journal looks.

***A collection means a sort of module you can use in your bullet journal to house multiple pages of related ideas. Thus, a holiday prep collection could house a shopping list, recipes, decoration designs, a wintry playlist, or a budget tracker.

moment of silence.

Five seconds. That’s all they get, five seconds.

Five seconds to remember the good times, and the bad.

Five seconds to think of all that mattered to them.

Five seconds, tick tick tick tick tick on the clock.

Then it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming, with chemistry tests and baseball practice and history essays.

Why don’t we hold a vigil? Is it too hard to take a day off from the typicalities? It’s normal to move on, yes. But it’s not normal to pretend as if no one has died.

D. I. E. D. Two people are gone. Like it or not, we must embrace that two members of our student family are missing from us. So is it right that we simply go back to studying and taking classes and doing homework?

For god’s sake, who can do homework when your friends are dead? 

But then again, what would they want from us? What if they want us to keep going, in their honor?

Maybe it’s okay. Maybe we should go back to the day-to-day. Maybe everything will be alright if we just keep moving. Keep going.

Just, while you continue to move, don’t forget to remember. Remember how funny Eric and Nathan were, how kind they could be, how good they were. Good kids who, unconnectedly, both lost their lives too young. Far too young.

As you go along, into your days and weeks and months and even years, keep remembering the good; don’t let it put a damper on your step for too long, though it’s perfectly okay to be sad. Be the remembrance that they deserve. Let yourself smile like they smile, laugh like they laughed, live like they lived; with good hearts and strength.

Love on a friend today. Love on anyone and everyone today. Say a prayer with a friend of a different faith, write letters with a possible enemy, make a pact to always reach out for help with someone you used to be friends with but don’t know so well now.

This is no time to fall apart, Titans. This is a time for strength in the Titan family. Strength around your own family, strength within yourself and your friends and faculty.

Be strong. Love loudly. Be proud of the ones we must remember. And keep going, for them.

the ultimate girlboss playlist.

I’ve made a lot of playlists in the past years since spotify blessed my life, so I thought I should share one with you all. It’s the first day of September, so why don’t we start this month off with a girlboss playlist?

  • Dawn-filous, ROBB
  • Stars and Moons-Dizzy
  • Audio-Sia, Diplo, Labrinth, LSD
  • Weathered-Jack Garratt
  • Way Down We Go-Kaleo
  • Problems-Petit Biscuit, Lido
  • Solo-Oh Wonder
  • First-Cold War Kids
  • Perfect Places-Lorde
  • Castle-Halsey
  • Homemade Dynamite-also Lorde
  • Girl (feat. Claire)-Brennan Henderson, Clairo
  • Aqua Blue Honda-TYLERxCORDY
  • Feel Good Inc-Gorillaz
  • Cruel World-Active Child
  • Blood // Water-grandson (MY FAVORITE SONG RIGHT NOW)
  • River-Bishop Briggs
  • No Good-Kaleo, Vinyl on HBO
  • Grave Digger-Matt Maeson
  • Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene-Hozier
  • Jungle-X Ambassadors, Jamie N Commons
  • Do I Wanna Know?-Arctic Monkeys
  • Chelsea Dagger-The Fratellis
  • Can’t Stop-Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Howlin for You-The Black Keys
  • Numb-Linkin Park
  • Yellow Flicker Beat-(can you tell I like Lorde)
  • I Wanna Get Better-Bleachers
  • Trouble-Cage the Elephant
  • Dark Eyes-Danielle Parente
  • Higher-The Score
  • Collider-X Ambassadors, Tom Morello
  • Hell or Highwater-Addie Hamilton
  • Wild Horses-Bishop Briggs
  • Thought Contagion-Muse
  • Sucker for Pain-Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Logic, & Ty Dolla $ign

enjoy the bops.

-rachel

giving yourself a fresh start.

I’ve noticed recently that there are signs around me. Signs that tell me to restart, renew, refresh. This might be a sudden urge to decorate my room differently (i. e. Shifting furniture, making a vision board, changing the lighting) or a theme I repetitively see in the media (such as meditation). I think that we as people, in a great big world with lots of messages from everywhere at once, need to become excellent at deciphering which ideas are hodgepodge and which are really destined for us.

So, if you feel that the universe is calling you to change things up, I have a couple decent ways to do that. That’s right, it’s Sunday, and we’re getting into the juicy stuff.

Changing your space.

You might feel cramped, cluttered, uninspired, or just downright depressed about your space right now. Or perhaps you haven’t associated any of those feelings with a certain issue, but you’ve just been noticing them. Take a moment to think about if this is your issue. Is your space too dark? Is it dirty or messy? Does it have a certain smell, a certain feel that you don’t particularly like? Or is it uncomfortable? Maybe it’s not your whole living space, but just a part of it, such as the office. Is the desk by a window, and if not, could that change? If any of these questions strike you, your stress might be coming from a place in your home. My space is most definitely the way I get my energy. I have a couple ways you can fix this.

  • Play with lighting. A new lamp, moving, the main furniture to a window, softening the lights (string lights or salt lamps), or brightening the lights (new ceiling bulbs perhaps?) can all change your environment. I put a disco ball in my bedroom and I’ve never looked back.
  • Aromatherapy. Scent can spark a lot of energy in the human body. Today there are hundreds of ways to scent your space, including candles, incense, diffusers (oil or reed), mists, wax warmers… Pick one or more that you like and use it when you need a pick-me-up! *side note, if you have pets, always check that the things you are using are suitable for them! essential oils and incense especially.
  • Hygge. This is seriously an umbrella term, but it’s sweeping the nation! It’s the Danish word for that feeling of cozy and comfortable. Hanging out by the fire with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and a book on Christmas Eve. On a hot day, chilling in a hammock with a cold drink under the shade. Laughing with friends and family on a road trip, getting fresh flowers from the city… You get it. Find ways to import this into your daily life. Have fresh foods and plants in your apartment, keep the windows open, have friends over more often, dim the lights a bit, play jazz music while you soak in a bath… Aaahhhhh.

Trying something new.

Really! Our souls are just dying to explore and learn. I don’t care what your age is. There must be something you haven’t done. Even if it’s not your idea of fun. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe finding out the answer to that question will be fun! Get some real good adventure in your life.

  • Move your body. Anything from cross fit and surfing to low-impact stuff like Pilates (check Blogilates) and yoga.
  • Study a new topic. Always wanted to know about minimalism? Do your research. Really interested in environmental science? Hit up a library. Want to explore some religions around the world? You know what to do.
  • Eat a new meal. Some people go head-first into a new eating habit, while others prefer to try a new food (maybe a simple vegetable or spice) with the already-familiar. I’d suggest that to start slow, you should try a new meal every three days. Rotate the time of day you try one. Your taste buds would like change too.

Go back to the basics.

After a hard few weeks, what better way to cheer up and get inspired than revisiting an old, timeless thing? It’s homey, it has good memories… Priceless.

  • Mom’s (or other guardian’s) cooking. When I think comfort, I think of those super amazingly fluffy dumplings my mom makes in her soup. What do you think of? If you can’t have the comfort of a relative’s cooking, try to recreate the classic the best way you know how. Grilled cheese that’s not quite how aunt Suzie used to make it is still grilled cheese, right?
  • A movie you loved. Disney princesses are still awesome, you still know all the words, you still love the heroes. Enough said.
  • The place you always used to go. This could be anywhere. Maybe it’s as grand as a family road trip every year to a specific spot, or it could be as small as a weekly date with your older sister to that diner. Did you always order the same thing? For me, I loved playing in this creek in our backyard, and a specific corner of the library always felt like home. Books and nature. Go there, you guys. Even if just to remember.

If you’re still feeling unmotivated or uninspired, I totally get it. And it sucks! But I hope a new breath of fresh air gets inside your creative lungs soon. Good luck.

-rachel ‹3