Baron Samedi

I think this is a work in progress, because it probably needs some added linework in ink, but I’m too cowardly to go ahead and do it! At least now I’ve documented how it looked before I ruined it, haha!

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While I was drawing it, so many thoughts went through my head. It began as a doodle to plan a photo I’m taking tomorrow for Halloween (so this is a teaser). Then I really got into it and started feeling like the picture meant something. The weariness of the girl seems like a representation of my hypothyroidism, and the way she leans in for support from the skeleton seems fitting, like the “sleep of death” so longed for by Hamlet.

But then I also felt like the drawing represented trying to connect with dead loved ones – which is fitting for All Hallow’s Eve. Remembering and honouring the dead, lighting candles on their graves… it’s a kind of connection, isn’t it? Dipping a hand into the warm nothingness where they once were.

Spot the mistake!

I’m trying to move into proper bujo photograpy, and today was sunny so I thought I’d give it a shot. Problem is, it was too sunny. But even if that meant looong shadows where I didn’t want them, it also meant lace opportunities. 🙂

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That’s not the mistake, though. I’ve been pimping the cover of my bullet journal today, and I added some decorations which will certainly come off in my bag, but I just couldn’t stop myself.

Still, that’s not the mistake I’m talking about either. So can you spot it? It’s tiny, and in a way it makes sense in my case. Maybe it’s a metaphor for how I live and make my choices compared to the norm… 🙂

Some miserable photos of a lovely spread

I really should start taking proper pictures of my bullet journal spreads with good lighting, instead of snapping a shaky, dark photo at night and then trying to make it look slightly less depressing in the editing software. But sadly I’m not there yet. Anyway, maybe a year from now it’ll be fun to look back at how dismal my bujo posts were this autumn, and I can feel smug about how pretty my photos have become by then!

Anyway. I tried a new thingy this week: the dutch door. I won’t waste time explaining something that others have explained/shown better here and here. Instead I’ll just tentatively say that I’m loving it!

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I’m using the top strip for a weekly overview with anything that needs to be done at a certain time, like meetings and such. On the row below it, I put dinners, music I’ve listened to, and any movie or TV show we watch.

On the bottom left I have my work related tasks, divided by context (read, Uni, computer), and to the right I have things to do at home plus a square I meant to track my moods in but I lost the motivation so I’m saving it for something else – a better idea, hopefully!

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As you can see below, I’ve put the names of the weekdays on my dutch door pages plus four symbols that stand for “pain in the ass”, “something I learned”, “well done” and “today’s bonus”, because these are things I always want to write down.

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And these pages are my favourite, because one thing I really enjoy with my bullet journal is the diary part of it. I tend to use it both for remembering fun things that happened, funny quotes, lightbulb moments, etc, but also for pictures. When a day is done and the page doesn’t have to look structured anymore because I don’t need to be able to quickly check my tasks, I like to wind down and reward myself/debrief by drawing or painting something, like I’ve done below.

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And so a grey, depressing day with no sun becomes something beautiful because charcoal is beautiful! That’s one point of art, isn’t it? To make the drudgery beautiful?

 

What a difference half a day makes

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Normally when I travel to work instead of working from home, I’m away for a total of twelve and a half hours. And normally I try to actually work all that time on the bus and the train, so as not to waste it. Needless to say, I’m exhausted when I come home, and there’s nothing of the day left. All I have time and energy for is dinner, an episode of a TV series, and bed.

Today, inspired by the new insights my bullet journal is giving me, I decided to change it up. I mean, is it worth it to run myself into the ground just to be able to shave off a few hours on Friday? No. So today I worked an ordinary eight hour day instead, and the results were amazing.

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I had so much time! I could photograph, and edit, and write, and all sorts of creative stuff that really is my lifeblood. And as if to cheer me on, the sun came out the moment I came home, and it stayed out while I strayed through the woods and snapped my photos. It felt like I was out there for an eternity, and yet only two and a half hours have passed!

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No matter how tired I am, the forest always manages to rejuvenate me.

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I can never get enough of these seeds!

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I’ll be honest: once I got home again and started loading all my photos into the computer, I did feel a teensy bit tired again. I mean, I did wake up at 4.30 this morning. It’s just that I forget about being tired while I’m out there in the forest, crouching in the moss to capture those backlit leaves.

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But being tired is fine, because you know what? Tomorrow I’m changing it up again and taking the 8.40 bus instead of the 5.35 one and staying later at work.

Variatio delectat!

No tasks done, no pretty planner!

DSC_0190_01.JPGSo I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately (grief, cloudy weather, incessant car problems, broken mobile, thyroid issues, and back pain can do that to a girl), and I almost felt like my post the other day was a total lie. It sounds like the bullet journal means I’ve got everything figured out. I don’t, but it does help. I think that without it, I would have been completely under the weather, but with it, I’ve managed to take one step at a time and accomplished a few things.

Like today! Today I had a brightish idea. I’ve been devouring images of other people’s pretty mood trackers, and their creative ways of ticking off each day prompted me to try something new with my “task boxes”.

To begin with, they looked like this:

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Simple and plain. Tick each box as I do the task. But it wasn’t very motivating, just demoralizing when I didn’t fill them in and the row of empty boxes stared at me accusingly at the end of the day.

Enter prettiness!

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Today I didn’t allow myself to really decorate my daily spread until I’d done my tasks. I decided that one task (student assignments I had to grade) would be a purple garland – purple is my colour code for the course in question, and the garland felt like a nice addition to the “g” in the Swedish word for Wednesday in my planner. And the brightish idea I mentioned above was that I couldn’t add my garland until I graded the assignments!

To begin with, I drew each leaf as I opened a new student document and then filled it in once I’d posted my feedback. I could have drawn them all first and then filled them in as I went, but seeing all my unfinished tasks felt too stressful, so I concentrated on one at a time. Towards the end, when I realized I would have the energy to complete them all, I drew the final five leaves in one sitting.

So the natural response to something like this is “Good god, girl! This way everything you do takes five times as long to complete. How does that help your productivity?”

And the answer is, well, the alternative is I don’t do it at all but sit in a corner and whimper, okay? 😀 Some things in life you have to do even though you hate them, and one of those things for me is to tell others how to write correct references according to the APA system. I hate writing references myself, and I hate telling others what to do, so when you combine these two… you get the picture. So really, having a system like this where I get a silly little reward for each time I point out that someone missed a comma here or should have italicized that, it really helps!

Oh, and I also completely drowned my October cover spread in Too Much Stuff, so it went from this

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to this!

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Ace of Cups

Joy!

Overflowing, directionless, almost numbing in its intensity. It came from nowhere and now it’s bubbling up inside you, unstoppable. It courses through you, out of you, into you. It splashes on everything, and it shines with a light that seems impossible.

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What are you going to do with it? Can you use these feelings for anything – share them, verbalise them, paint them? You have been given a gift that you can keep or pay forward – but even if you just bask in this flow of inexplicable happiness, the people who see you shine will reflect your light: owning it is the same as giving it away. The more you pour into that cup, the more there is to pour.

Enjoy it!

Fourteen years and counting

This post and some of the links in it contain advertisements for my books.

The fourth of July means a lot to some people, and I’m one of them. Because July 4, 2003 was when I met my nemesis – no, sorry, love of my life!

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Now I’m a complete romantic fool. Maybe that’s why I write romance books. But my idea of romance isn’t always that… uh, romantic.

You see, I’m an INTP, which is a personality type according to the Myers-Briggs typology system (if you’re unfamiliar with the MBTI, this is an awesome site for information on it). Anyway, INTPs tend to be unsentimental about things, or at least that’s the stereotype. Think Sheldon in Big Bang Theory (or so I’m told, I don’t watch it). INTPs love ideas and finding out how things work and logic and systems. Flowers and champagne? Not so much.

Yet here we are.

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Chin-chin!

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So what gives? How can this purple prose Angst Queen who photographs backlit flowers profess to be an INTP? Well, because the stereotype is a, how shall I put it? Stereotype. Yes, INTPs love systems and ideas, but that doesn’t mean they’re all mathematical geniuses. Ask my primary school teacher what my math book looked like. We had a meeting about it.

Because this particular INTP (pictured above with romantic interest, flowers, and champagne) is interested in human systems. Language. Psychology. Sociology. Physiology. The hard sciences are meh, but anything that helps me figure out what the hell makes people tick? Count me in.

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(Last Communion)

You can see this again and again – in a romantic context – in my books. In All You Can Eat, I explore not only the psychology behind eating disorders, but also the way we sometimes try to scare off people before we let them in: the old princess-guarded-by-a-dragon-of-her-own-making mechanism.

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In Not Safe For Work, the hurdle to overcome is other people’s expectations and not being allowed to make your own decisions because the script has already been written by other people. A mindfuck I really enjoyed torturing my poor boys with – especially because of the added breathless stress of having that script spreading like wildfire across social media!

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In Rival Poet, I go full INTP and have my protagonists find each other through their writing. Sometimes you can hardly separate their creative collaboration from their lovemaking – because that’s what makes it romantic from my point of view: working towards a common goal, admiring and enjoying each other’s talent and intelligence.

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The same goes for the Pax series, where play-writing is replaced with musicianship. During the long and arduous periods where Jamie and Michael are unable to talk to each other about their feelings, their music talks for them.

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So I guess this all sums up my view of romance. I’m a sucker for one-to-one-ness, for the concept of soulmates and the one person who understands and appreciates you. But I don’t have my characters yell “I love you, honey” at every possible moment, and I don’t think any of them has bought the other flowers or chocolate. The closest I ever get to a Hollywood moment is this type of confession from Rival Poet:

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

When Kit spoke, his voice was the mere wisp of a sound. “You’re going to hate this,” he prefaced. “Or laugh at me. But…” He stopped to breathe, to gather his courage. “I’m in love with you, Will.”

Will froze. Stared into those hypnotising eyes, that unique golden colour. In love? His whole upbringing rebelled against the words. They didn’t make sense. Loving someone was one thing, but being in love… that was just possible when one of the two was a woman.

Only… when Kit said it, it did make sense. In the secrecy of this room, in the greyness of predawn, with just the two of them present to hear it, it made perfect sense.

Will breathed in. “If it’s something you can be,” he replied slowly, “Then… I am too.”

Well. I guess that is kind of mushy. But if you’re not allowed to be mushy about the kiss at the end of the rainbow, then what other opportunities are there really?

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