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Bullet Journaling

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


When my daughter was born I began keeping a family journal that was about our everyday life. Art, or pieces of art were glued in. Short stories of our days were recorded. As soon as Madeline could hold a pen or crayon she contributed in her own way. I never had any expectations of what we did, but the journals were always out and available with a mug of colourful crayons, some scissors and a glue stick.

There were no rules or expectations. We took journals on every vacation or adventure we went on, and her friends and people she met contributed as well. I never expected Madeline to write anything, except on two occasions.  One was when my mother, Madeline and I went to Vancouver to visit my sister when Madeline was in Grade 2. I asked her to write, in a special journal for that trip, thinking that someday it would be fun to look back on the trip. And she does that now. We laugh our heads off when she pulls out the journal and we look at the pictures she drew and the stories she told. Her grandmother, aunt and cousin wrote in it as well and that makes it an extra special keepsake.  The second time was when she and I went to Europe with Julie Barban and a group of girls from Heritage Ballet. Madeline kept a “diary” and collected postcards and ticket stubs. It is great to look back on that diary and remind her of all the great dance and exploring adventures we had.

But like all things, eventually Madeline and I stopped keeping the family journals and we moved onto other creative projects. We both kept being creative, and writing but in our own private ways. I love those family journals and will always treasure them and will always enjoy pulling them out and looking back at all of adventures.  I think there is something very powerful about writing and drawing every day and especially using your hands. It is relaxing and calming. It was a wonderful and easy way to connect with my daughter for many years.

A few weeks ago Madeline introduced me to “Bullet Journals.” She purchased one for herself and one for me. Like many things these days, someone has taken an old or used idea and organized it and presented in a way that is fresh, appealing and easy to use. On their website the creator says “meet the analog method for the digital age that will help you track the past, order the present, and design your future.” The Bullet Journal (and there is a book to coach you through how to use it if you want that) is a book that doesn’t have lines. It has faint dots on each page making it easy to make lists and organize details, but also to be creative. The journals we used for all of our years had blank pages. There are obviously many kinds of journals!

On YouTube there are multiple videos of young people who are sharing how they use the Bullet Journal to organize themselves in a creative way. My daughter is heading off to university and so she has been spending time organizing herself and setting up a creative outlet for herself when she moves away from home. I am thinking it will be her way of recording her new life that she will be embarking on.    I’m using the journal to organize and reflect on what I want to do with my time and work and life as my daughter moves out and my life with Jim evolves into something new. It is a great way to move through transitions. Whatever kind of book you use, journaling is a great tool.

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Created by Madeline Hopkins