Beginning the Bullet Journal

And so it begins!

These are the prettiest pages that I have made so far, and they make me so entirely happy. I do believe that building up this kind of aesthetic is going to help me keep up the momentum of regularly planning. I’m also loving how hands-on the process of creating my own journal is. It’s more time consuming than I thought it was going to be, but it’s so worth it.

For how excited I was about the idea of starting my journal, I was also feeling pretty intimidated. I explored Pinterest to get ideas for making the prettiest and most useful journal for myself, but the site also overwhelmed me with so many different template ideas, and kinds of things to track on a monthly/weekly basis. It took a bit of time for me to pick and choose what I wanted, and where I was going to put it. The thing I keep reminding myself is that if I don’t like the way that I’ve set things up this time, I can simply change it next week/month.

And just when I finally got done setting up my bullet journal, my YouTube watch later playlist jumped to this video from Giovanna Fletcher about her obsession with to-do lists. Amazing timing, YouTube! I had saved this video a while ago, and if I had watched it at the time when I saved it, I don’t think that I would have shared that excitement with her, but now I have come to see the beauty of the to-do list thanks to bullet journaling.

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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Misc., Personal Reflections



Bullet Journaling

Several months ago, a YouTube who I follow, Dodie Clark, posted a video about bullet journaling. She didn’t really say too much about it because she had only just started herself at the time, but what she did show of her journal really intrigued me. I liked the idea, but immediately brushed it off as something that I would ever do, because “I don’t use planners.” Well, I had tried to use an agenda several times in the past, but wasn’t able to continue them. I never gave much thought to the aesthetic of my agendas, and usually just used whatever was most readily available and cheapest. In elementary school, we were given and made to use agendas, and in high school we were able to purchase agendas from the school office. I never had any emotional attachment to these books, because I made no choice in buying specifically them, and didn’t care when I forgot about them in the bottom of my locker. During the summer, I worked at a print shop where I was hired for the “agenda team”, a.k.a., I was part of a group of high school and university students who made agendas for elementary and high schools (including my high school). When I was in university and felt the urge to try organizing with an agenda again, I just made myself an agenda at work. Once again, the agenda was left forgotten at the bottom of my backpack.

After Dodie’s video, I started seeing mentions of bullet journals popping up everywhere. One day I decided to do some more research on bullet journaling, and just fell very much in love with the idea. Two of the things that really attracted me to this style of planning was how flexible it was, and how pretty it could be. Still though, I felt that I wouldn’t actually start one myself. I’ve had so many abandoned projects over the years that I have become very hesitant when thinking about starting something new because I don’t want to have another abandoned or failed project added to that list.

I’ve been trying to leave the idea alone, but no matter how I try, I keep on drifting back to looking at bullet journaling ideas and examples. I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something, and maybe I should take heed and listen.

So now I’ve done it. I have ordered myself a dotted Moleskin journal off of Amazon, and am preparing a list of all the things that I want to include in my journal. I’m feeling pretty much as excited about beginning this as I am about my new creative writing blog.

Can the Fed-Ex guy just show up already?




Posted by on September 24, 2016 in New Experiences, Personal Reflections


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Feeling Reorganized

Creating a new blog for exclusively my creative writing blog has been the best idea. I am so totally in love with my new blog, especially now that I’ve figured out what I want it to look like, and feel like. At first I thought that it would simply be the place where I post any new work, but then I decided to use it as an online portfolio of my work, which means that it’ll be a collection of all of my (good) work since I began writing.  It’s been quite the process looking through all of my old poetry and stories and deciding what I want to share, but I think I’ve figured that out now. Right now I’m in the middle of uploading everything to the blog in order of when I wrote it all, and then once that’s done I’ll be able to just post whatever is new as I write it. Changing my mind about the content on the blog has made the placement of my first couple posts a little bit interesting, since they are much more recent work and *should* be at the top once I finish this process, but, oh well. I’m not going to delete them at this point. Another thought I’ve had in the middle of uploading everything is that I should perhaps be putting up my poetry and short stories together in the order that I wrote them… So far I’ve just been putting up poetry… Meh, it’s all going up within a week ideally, so it doesn’t really make a difference in the long run. What matters to me is that everything is in order in the category pages (except for the first couple posts, but I’m going going to delete those posts). So far I’ve been posting my poems about five or six at a time, just so that I don’t completely spam my followers with my work.

I’ve also cleaned up this blog a little bit, removing the “categories” from the sidebar since they don’t really apply to what I want this blog to be anymore. Removing that widget made me feel a whole lot better about moving into the future with this blog, because I can hide its messy past from plain sight.

I’m feeling really excited for my blogging future, much more than I’ve ever felt in the past. I feel like I finally have the clarity and purpose that I’ve been searching for the entire time that I’ve been blogging on this blog, and it feels sooo good.

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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in Misc.


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My New Blog

If any of you lovely followers want to continue to see my creative writing, this is the new blog where I’m going to posting all of my work: 

Pop over and give me a subscription if you like.

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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Creative Writing, Misc.


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Rambles and Writings

So I opened up WordPress after what has apparently been nine months. They’ve changed some of the formatting on the site. I don’t know if these changes are recent or not, I’ve been gone that long.

So, in my last post I said that I’d be writing updates about my writing each month. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Haha. Oops. Well, about my writing: I’ve worked on one specific novel a bunch, wrote several poems, and… that’s been it. I still have yet to make my miraculous turnaround into writing lots regularly. I begin to wonder if that’s even a realistic expectation for me, considering how long I’ve wanted to bump up my writing quantity.

So, I’ve been feeling really conflicted lately. I’ve been thinking about beginning a brand new blog and abandoning this one. I feel like I always drop this blog for so long because I’ve done it so many times in the past. It just feels so… messy. But then I worry that the new blog I start will become abandoned the same way. Also, I have an emotional connection to this blog. Its messiness is personal to me, and I love it for what it is: a record of the past me.

Actually, I have an idea. I’ll keep this blog and start a new one. My new blog will be dedicated to my writing only. I’ll only post stories, poems, or experimental fragments of stories on that blog, and everything else that I want to write about can go on this blog. Updates about how well writing’s been going, thoughts about education, and other random rambles will go on this blog.

This blog started as a one sided rambly conversation with the internet, and then I started posting writing on it, and that was the beginning of me feeling confused about what this blog should be. I began to want it to be a place for my writing, but then all of my old random posts felt so out of place, and I felt the need to categorize everything. Now, I’m returning to it simply being a rambly conversation spoken out into the unknown, and I shall ignore categorizing it into little boxes. I shall not worry about posting regularly, just when I feel like it. Since this is a personal blog for just me once again, I feel like I’m allowed to do that. I don’t care how many followers I have anymore, because this is just me talking to myself publicly. Listen in if you wish, and enjoy my thoughts as they come tumbling out.

Whew, I feel much better now, having decided that. And actually, I’ve gotten super excited about this blog again. I used to feel limited with what I *should* be posting on here, because I wanted it to feel a certain way. But no more! I shall write about anything, maybe even everything! Let the randomness ensue!

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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Misc., Personal Reflections


Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2016!

It is the time of year when most people become reflective, look back on the past, and look ahead to the future, and I am no different.

This past year has been a pretty good year. I graduated from one program and began another one, moving ahead with my life and fulfilling a long term goal, which felt great. I have many great moments with friends and family that I will enjoy looking back at for years to come. It perhaps wasn’t the most glamourous year, but it was one of my years, which is enough to make it special to me. I have very few regrets looking back on the year. It’s one that I wouldn’t mind reliving.

Writing wise, I wish I could have accomplished more in the past year. One of my goals for this year was to have the rough draft of my novel finished, and I had hoped to have gotten into the habit of writing every day. I didn’t accomplish either of those things, but I don’t think that I had really expected that I would when I wrote them down as goals. They were more things that I hoped would happen. At the same time, I can’t say that I did horribly this year either. I did get a significant ways forward on my novel, mostly thanks to NaNoWriMo, and the friend I showed my story to who pushed me to continue writing it so that she could read more of it. When I think about how much progress I’ve made with my writing, I need to keep in mind that I have a fairly busy life that keeps me from having the time to write, and that leaves me feeling tired even when I do have some time.

Moving forward, I’m going to make myself some goals, which will hopefully be achievable.

  1. Have, or be very close to, completing the rough draft of my novel. I think that this should be achievable, if I put my mind to it. If I am aware of moments when I do have time to write, and actually use that time wisely instead of wasting it on the internet, and I should be able to finish the rough draft.
  2. Do some narrative writing outside of my novel. This could be some other projects such as other novels, a novella, a short story, or even some snippets of writing that just are, even if they don’t get finished. I just need to do some free writing where I can be creative, and just practice getting words down on the page. I can turn to this kind of writing when I’m feeling stuck with my novel.
  3. Do at least one session of narrative writing a week. I’d love to make this a daily goal, but realistically, I wouldn’t be able to stick to it, even if I wanted to. Even once a week would be an improvement from my current patterns of doing nothing for a long period, writing madly for a while, then fizzling out to writing nothing for another long period. I want to build up some consistency in my writing patterns, so that hopefully I find it easier to get the words out on paper.
  4. Write at least one poem per week. I feel as though I have really been neglecting the poet in me, and I’m not happy about that. My poems don’t have to be long or great, just enough to help get my creativity flowing so that I find myself naturally grabbing my notebook to write down something new. I also want to get into slam poetry, so I want to write and perform on video maybe one slam poem a month? I’ll have to see how the slam poetry goes to see if that’s a realistic goal or not.
  5. Post a writing update to this blog at least once per month. I’m thinking about making an update at the turn of the month, since that should be a time that I should be able to remember.
  6. Post a book review at least once per month. I also really need to get back into the swing of reading, and not procrastinating when I have time to spend on it. Not only do I want to read, but I want to make use of the analytical skills I gained from my English BA, and think about the books that I’m reading at a bit of a deeper level.

I want 2016 to be the year where I finally push myself to what I know that I am capable of. I want to end the year with things that I can show others, to be able to do more than say that I’m writing, but to actually be able to show that I’m a writer. This will be the year I finally stop… er, let’s be realistic… greatly decrease my procrastination.

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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Writing Progress


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Nerves and Insomnia

[I had saved this post as a draft, and forgot to post it, which is why it’s two and a half weeks late]


This week I began to teach in front of my class, stepping up into more responsibility than just walking around the classroom and supporting students. I felt totally ready to do this Monday night morning. My lessons were planned, my associate teacher had looked them over and advised the small tweaks that would make the lessons flow better and help the students better, and all of my materials for the lesson were ready to go. I was well prepared, and I didn’t feel any nervousness about doing the lesson when I left the school Friday afternoon.
I tried to remind myself of how prepared I was at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday night when I was experiencing insomnia. I was so confused that night as I lay there in the darkness, my thoughts continually circling the lessons I would be teaching. I was prepared. I wasn’t nervous! So why couldn’t I sleep?
Monday morning I told my associate teacher about my insomnia, and he asked me if I was feeling nervous. Automatically, and truthfully, I replied that I wasn’t. I told him about how I had actually fallen asleep with no problem earlier that night, but had been woken by two animals fighting outside, right under my window. It was after this that I had been unable to fall asleep.
Later that day, after I had taught the first of my two lessons, my associate teacher and I were discussing what I had done well and what I should change for next time. During this conversation, he mentioned that it was totally normal for student teachers to be nervous their first times in front of a classroom. “Whether or not you want to admit it, I’m sure that was why you had insomnia last night,” he told me.
When I reflected on this conversation, I thought about nervousness. I think that there is conscious nervousness, which I didn’t have, but there is also unconscious nervousness, which I must admit I must have had. I guess we’re so used to feeling nervous often enough, that most of us learn to tuck this nervousness away without realising it or confronting it.


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Teaching Kids to Blog

My associate teacher introduced our students to blogging today. He had set up a classroom account on beforehand, then had the students create accounts within his classroom today, and told them to blog about any topic that they wanted to. There was such a range of topics in what the students chose to write about. A fair number of the students wrote about sports, some wrote about what they liked (or didn’t like) about school, one wrote about her experience of being a triplet, one wrote about the fact that she is fructose intolerant, one wrote about the fact that the school’s wifi keeps cutting out, one wrote about her teak won do lessons, and a couple wrote about their classmates.

What really struck me about the lesson was how enthusiastically the students took to blogging. They loved the fact that they could write about anything, and that they could do so in conversational language. They were encouraged to share their opinion about something, validating their personal interests, and they loved it. Never before have I heard these students sound so disappointed when they were told to stop writing, and they even asked if they could write some more blog posts at home just because they wanted to. One of the girls called me over at the end of class to look at her blog post. “Miss Horlings, I’ve got 350 words,” she said, clearly surprised herself by how much she had written.

I feel like we really made a difference this afternoon. The majority of these kids had never even heard of the term “blogging” before today, and now they are clamouring for more. I suspect that several of our students will create their own personal blogs outside of the classroom. We’ve made them aware that they are writers in a way that they had never realized before. This makes me so incredibly happy.

As I walked around, watched my students work and helped them brainstorm ideas for their blogs, I thought about this blog. When I created this blog, I had no clue what I was going to do with it. I considered myself a creative writer, and assuming that blogging was a different type of writing, wasn’t sure that I was even going to enjoy blogging. I knew that it would be a good idea to try my hand at a differently style of writing to bolster my creative writing, and so created this blog for that purpose, not for the purpose of blogging itself. Throughout the years, I struggled with knowing what to write about, and at one point made a plan to write about the same things that other creative writers wrote about on their blogs, just because it would be content. I soon realized that I didn’t have a real interest in those topics, and not having the time or energy to write something that I didn’t care about, those topics never actually made it into this blog. I had huge breaks between posts, and several times almost completely forgot that this blog existed (just look at how many posts I have that say “hello” in the title, signalling another restart to blogging – there’s way too many). Oh how different things are now. I have finally truly discovered the joy of blogging, and I find myself overflowing with ideas that get themselves published. I want to blog now for the blog posts themselves, not because of how they will theoretically help improve my overall ability to write, and therefore creatively write.

The real trick to blogging is finding something you are passionate about. Without the right intrinsic motivation, you’re going to give up, like I basically did several times. That’s why I’m so excited about our students. They’re getting started on the right footing, unlike me, and I feel that they are going to go far. Hey, if I could figure it out eventually with my skewed motivations, these kids are going to be quite alright.



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Constantly Changing

I have changed a lot since I was younger. I’ve realized this for a while, but as I’ve been doing so much more personal reflection as part of my teacher training, I’ve been realizing just how much I’ve changed. Obviously I had physically grown, and I had acquired more knowledge, but I always thought that I wasn’t all that different. I focused on things that had remained the same, like my love of stories, particularly fantasy stories, my appreciation of beautiful things, my love for chocolate, my desire to learn how to play guitar, and my ambition to become a published author one day. My general outlook on life hadn’t changed that much. I was very much the same person. I hadn’t undergone any drastic changes. Or so I thought.

When I used the term “drastic changes” as a kid, I used it to describe things that I could physically see. The girl with blonde hair who dyed it black. The person who suddenly started hanging out with different people. The person who suddenly wore a different style of clothing. As a kid, I only noticed changes when they were sudden, and I focused on the external. I never seemed to consider internal thoughts or attitudes.

To be honest, when I say that I thought a certain way as a kid, I really mean that I think I thought that way as a kid. I’m not that kid anymore, and those memories are so old, and were so mundane at the time, that I really can’t be sure that what I think I recall is entirely accurate. Regardless of the specific memories, I know my past ways of thinking well enough to know that there has been a huge shift.

Take the list of things that have remained the same.  Sure, I still passionately love fantasy, but when I was a kid, fantasy was the only genre I wanted to read, and now I am open to reading a far wider range of genres. This changed when I entered university, and I was not only exposed to other genres, but I was expected to take part in discussions about the stories. Through these discussions where I heard other people’s opinions, and the details in the text that they pointed out, I began to appreciate these other genres. While I had once only considered the end product of the novel itself, I began to understand the importance of the process that authors used to get there, and notice how intelligently they made connections, integrated themes, made an argument, or raised awareness of certain issues. I have recently purposefully bought books that I never thought I would even be remotely interested when I was younger. This marks a significant difference between the old me and the new me. Even take something as simple as my love of chocolate. At one point I did not like dark chocolate, and now I eat dark chocolate so regularly that milk chocolate now tastes weird to me when I have it. There’s a difference between the old me and the new me.

Not only have I added in new appreciations in for books of multiple genres other than fantasy and dark chocolate, making me more than I was before, but my ways of thinking have also changed, making me a different person than I used to be. I  disagree with things now that I used to think were fine, and I refrain from actions that I used to have no problem with. Of course, at the time, I never realized how problematic these things were. I genuinely believed that I was doing nothing wrong, making the current me shrink in embarrassment and shame. One of the examples that I’m least proud of is my attitude towards one of my classmates. I clearly did not like this person, and felt totally justified in feeling this way. Looking back now, I see no justification for my attitude, and can only question how on earth I thought that my attitude was okay. My bad attitude manifested itself in me avoiding having any interaction with this person, verbally complaining when my teacher assigned me to sit beside him, and participating in conversations with classmates where we discussed how annoyed this person made us feel. When I discovered that this person was in my group for our Grade 8 Ottawa trip, my friends in the same group joked that we should duct tape him to a tree so that he wouldn’t ruin our trip. When I agreed with them, I was only half joking. Later, when I was in high school, I remember proudly thinking that I had never bullied anyone. Today, I sigh deeply and admit that yes, I actually had acted as a bully, and I cringe at the thought that I had actually considered duct taping someone to a tree. Perhaps it wasn’t physical bullying (it wasn’t like I had even considered duct taping that annoying person to a tree for more than two minutes, and we certainly hadn’t formulated any sort of plan to actually bring duct tape) and it wasn’t purposefully said to his face, but I was participating in nasty, negative conversations that were not appropriate in any way. Current me has a hard time comprehending the things that younger me did, and how I saw nothing wrong with them at the time. I am not the same person as that younger me.

I have always believed that I am a caring individual. I think this about myself now, although more cautiously. All of this reflection about the past, and seeing who I used to be, has forced me to consider what being “caring” actually means. Unlike younger me, I actively think about my actions, and reflect on ways that I can improve. Complacency is no longer good enough for me. I’m aware now that I’ll continue to change, and that one day I’ll look back critically on who I currently am.


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I don’t hate math anymore

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have made no secret of the fact that I’m not a math person. I have said many, many times that I don’t like math, that I’m not good at it, and that it the single one subject that I don’t want to teach.

For teacher’s college, since I’m in the junior/intermediate program, I’ve been forced to take math. It’s a required course, and there’s nothing that I could do about it, except take the course, grin and bear it. I was dreading the course, assuming that it would be a repeat of the math classes I was forced to take in high school.

It wasn’t, though. It was a teacher’s college course, and one that was directed at teaching elementary school math too yet. I didn’t begin hating math until I reached high school. In elementary school, I got good marks in math, and understood where it could be used. In high school, I stopped seeing the relevance of any of the lessons. In fact, I barely remember the overall subjects that I was taught in high school because they were that far distanced from my own life.

I remember being in grade 10, and learning about parabolas, and wondering where I was ever going to find that information useful. I was not alone in this feeling, and our entire class had a long conversation with our teacher where we continued to ask her where we would use parabolas, and she continued to read word problems out of our textbook, as if we hadn’t already considered looking at them for an answer. I don’t know about any of my classmates, but I have personally never needed to know how high a ball would bounce if I dropped it off of the top of a building, just like I predicted in high school.

My elementary school math has been useful to me, although I never realized just how much I’d been using it before I took this course. Looking through our textbook, and realizing things that children don’t know that I’ve taken for granted for years, has given me a different perspective on math. I now appreciate the role of elementary level math teachers. I also soon realized that this course wasn’t meant to teach me math, but to teach me how to teach math. My professor introduced the course by reminding us of our own experiences with math in school, and gave us a chance to express our old frustrations. She pointed out that we all had something in common: we all were taught math is ways that weren’t interesting or relevant to us. Throughout our course, she continued to remind us that we had to make our lessons engaging and relevant. We were given an assignment where we had to make a work problem out of math that we used in our daily lives.

Today, my professor approached me during our break in the middle of class. “Nicole,” she said to me, “I remember you saying at the beginning of the year that you didn’t see yourself as being good at math, but actually you are good at it. Your activities are excellent. Do you see this in yourself?” Truthfully, I do see a change in myself. I’ve been noticing math around me a lot more often, and realizing just where I use it in my daily life. I thought that being an English major, my skills would not apply to math at all, but I’ve been noticing how I have been using them to communicate effectively when preparing lessons and explaining concepts. I can also use my skills in the future to conceptualize the concepts in a real life scenario to make the lesson relevant to my students.

Math isn’t so horrible. What’s horrible is if you have a teacher who doesn’t put in the effort to make it relevant or interesting.


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