My bullet journal is an imperfect mess. I love it anyway

You know, I’ve seen a few articles and blog posts about perfectly laid out bullet journals with beautiful calligraphy and artistically done pages. You know the ones. These articles make it seem like you have to do it perfectly to even have one, but in my opinion that misses the point of a bullet journal completely. The journal is supposed to be yours, not a competition on who writes and draws the prettiest. It’s also meant to be useful. It’s a practical tool for every day use. I use mine to keep track pretty much everything – meaning my earlier loose notes “systems” are gone forever, and I have everything I need in one portable place.

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Yes, that is Smaug

You might ask why a chronically ill housebound person needs a bullet journal in the first place. Well – I have memory problems and I use mine to make notes of what I’ve done or seen or read. I have lists of questions to ask my doctors. I write down what prescriptions I need refilling. I write down important phone conversations. I have a summary page for each month that I write down things that happened in the world, and to me personally.

And as everyone else I have administrative stuff to get through – I have to change my phone company, call insurance, write someone a birthday card. I have medical appointments, someone is visiting me, there are builders coming and the heating company is turning of all the hot water for a day to fix something gone wrong.

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My monthly layout

I have a habit tracker to see patterns so I can simplify my life better. I track the weather and have a box each day to track medical symptoms and pain. That part is a bit complicated at the moment, I’m trying to see if I can find triggers for certain things that keeps happening. I’ll simplify it again when I figure it out.

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Very tidy day layout

I use an unlined moleskine journal for now, but next time I’m getting a dot matrix one to make some things easier to do (like write straight) and my lines a little less wobbly. In the moleskine journals the pens I like to use also seem to bleed through the paper a bit too easily so any recommendations for better journals would be great.

 

I colour and doodle on my pages. Other people do not. Some journals, like the basic starter journal on bulletjournal.com does not but it makes me happy to add colour. YMMV. I’m not the best artist but the doodles that take me a couple of minutes makes my journal colourful and fun to me. I use “ruined” pages for notes and make them useful anyway. I write down shopping lists and ideas on half used pages.

doodlesaIt took a few months to find the best layout for my day to day pages, and now I really like them. At the end of the year I’ll have a physical reminder of what happened, and with my memory problems that makes a big difference. I can go back and check when something happened, what was agreed to in a phone conversation and when I sent in some paperwork to whoever.

I make a doodle page for each month. I’m not brilliant at drawing stuff, I have to look at what other people do and copy them. I use a pencil and trace with a pen after, and still some things turns out pretty bad. I dont mind at all, I just put some colour on it and have a laugh. I also make doodles on the day pages. Maybe I saw a cat through the window, or read about ants.

doodlesMost importantly, this is a system that works for me precisely because it’s so adaptable. It might not work for you at all, or it might need a completely different layout than mine to be functional. You might need a full page for a day if you have lots of stuff to do, you might need less. Before I tried the system for myself I figured it was overhyped but as it turned out it was exactly what I needed.

Sorry about the pictures by the way. I’m not much of an photographer either as it turns out.

 

Getting a wheelchair I think

I’ve talked to my mom about getting a wheelchair again. She has seemed very reluctant to admit I need one, but it turned out it was a bit more complicated than that. She was kind of excited to get me a lightweight manual chair that we can use to go shopping or museums and stuff. So am I to be honest. Lasting more than ten minutes in a shopping centre and not crashing after would be great.

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Probably not me?

Thing is, she didn’t want me to have a big outdoor electric chair. I don’t particularly want a big chair, but living in Norway we have winters and a smaller electric chair might not work very well on snow. Apparently she’s afraid I’ll get into an accident. To be fair they are fast and my reaction time is not brilliant any more. I refuse to drive a car these days, I’m terrified I’ll hit someone or something.

I’ll talk to my doctor next visit and start the process. I might get an evaluation team to come asses what I need the most. I think a lightweight collapsable chair is what I need, and I’ve seen some with helper motors on their wheels which might be good for me.

 

Reading books again

I just started the new Chuck Wendig novel Invasive, and boy do I want to rush ahead and read it all tonight. I’ve skipped a bit in my reading list because the premise is so intriguing to me. It reminds me a little bit of Frank Schätzings The Swarm which is a favourite from a few years back.

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Reading can be difficult for me, I really have to pace myself. I used to read a lot and read really fast. It’s been years since I’ve read much at all but looking at long term disability I have to find ways to entertain myself. Before I got sick I could finish a book like Invasive in a few hours tops, and then I’d read another book just to finish off the day so pacing my reading is just annoying as hell. But if I don’t, I end up three chapters in with no idea what’s going on. I also have problems reading physical books. I read on my iPad or online via the kindle app. It’s something about the screen being back-lit that makes it easier for me to see the words.

I’m reading SHRILL by Lindy West as well right now. The book is a collection of essays so reading a chapter at the time is great. I love Lindy West. The awful thing is that I became aware of her going through one of the occasional bouts of harassment someone as visibly feminist as her do. I wish I had found her anyway if you know what I mean. She is really funny, and has things to say about acceptance and positivity about the body you have, not the one you are supposed to want. This rings very true with me. I have never managed to look the way I’m “supposed” to no matter how much I’ve dieted or exercised. I wish lifting heavy stuff was more accepted when I was younger, I was hella strong before illness took it and could have done really well with that I think.

When I’m done with these two I have a little list of authors I want to check out this autumn. I follow Pat Rothfuss and John Scalzi on twitter cause they are fun, but I have never read their books so that is changing soon. N.K. Jemesin just won a Hugo, and I’ve only heard great things about her books so she is on the list. I bought Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay and I’m starting that as soon as I finish Shrill. I also have a book about the Black Death that I’m gonna ease my way into (I like the plague. I’ve accepted that I’m a bit weird.). Feel free to make suggestions of what I can read next. Just remember that I confuse easily.

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Finally getting what I’m owed!

I’m finally through the worst of the red tape! I just got home from meeting my disability case worker and now I’m getting the money they owe me! After six months without. There is a lot of emotions bubbling, and I’m fucking exhausted but I won!

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Things that make my life a little easier

Over the last year and a half I’ve had to adapt to a whole new way of living. A lot of it is spent resting and even though my couch is great, my bed is better. I’ve found a few things that make being in bed a lot a little better.

  1. Hotel pillows:  Giant soft pillows that makes sitting up and lying down in bed comfortable. I have two of them stacked up under my normal pillow and they make things much easier.
  2. A tray for coffee cups, water glasses, phones and whatnot. I have several, but the plastic trays from IKEA functions beautifully. Get one with a bit of edge in case of spilling things.
  3. A bed table/laptop table. I use mine all the time, but I’ll probably get a new one that I can tilt up for even more comfort.
  4. Mason jar drinking glass with lid. I have spilled a lot of water on myself while in bed. The drinking glasses with a lid is brilliant. They are a bit heavy, but being glass they keep me water cool much longer than a plastic glass would. It’s also easier to drink enough when drinking from a straw for some reason.

Other things that keeps my life a little better:

  • My Sodastream machine. It’s sometimes difficult to drink enough. Carbonated water is easier to swallow for some reason. I also gave my mom one a few years ago for Christmas, and it still functions beautifully even though that was the cheapest version.
  • Cleaning as I go. My kitchen is spotless. Always. I keep it that way because I’ve discovered that it takes a lot less time and effort to clean as I go than say once a day. I probably use about a minute every time I’m in there to make sure everything is in order. I have a small kitchen and it is just me here so this might not be something everyone can do.
  • Getting groceries delivered. This is a new discovery, but it’s so great. I think I can manage to get deliveries about once a month if I plan it well enough.
  • Soft clothes.

Food and chronic illness

When you have a chronic illness like mine food is something that can become incredibly difficult to navigate. I have picked up several allergies and intolerance’s to different types of food, and after doing an elimination diet a few years ago I managed to get the worst of the IBS symptoms under a semblance of control. I’m on a lose interpretation of the fodmap diet. And lately I have reintroduced some of the stuff I reacted to before that seems to work OK now. As long as I avoid wheat starch I can have gluten free bread for instance but only certain kinds. Sandwiches certainly makes things easier day to day, but I also have to bake my own bread.

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My energy levels dictate how much cooking I manage to do. Generally things have to be relatively quick and easy to cook. One pot cooking is something i recommend for everyone. Just chuck a load of vegetables in a Pyrex and put whatever meat or fish you like on top  and you’ll have a decent dinner in half an hour or so (remember some spices, herbs and a bit of oil and or lemon/lime and you are golden). I know I’m lucky that I have skills other people don’t have, I was a chef for a while and cooking is something I understand. But it’s also true that the worse I feel the worse my diet gets. It is practically impossible to have high standards when everything is difficult. So living on breakfast cereal, sandwiches, fruit and whatever I manage to scrape together for dinner becomes norm.

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Bit of an update

I’ve just come home from a meeting with NAV (the Norwegian benefits/social services/work benefits agency) and things are finally looking up. I wrote about it in this post: Trying to get back in to things. I just got a verbal approval in my complaints process, so I’ll have the benefits I’m entitled to soon. It’s such a relief, I had to get emergency social funds to manage last month and that just felt so amazingly wrong event though it’s what they are there for.

Now on to battle with the insurance company on my temporary disability insurance…

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