my starter bullet journal

I added my blog to Bloglovin’ a couple of months ago, making a monumental effort to overcome my distaste for that name. They really couldn’t have come up with something that didn’t make me think of raw biscuit dough? I got my blog update from them this morning & it said I am -1 subscriber for the week. Thanks, Bloglovin’. Not information I required. I just like to imagine that whoever unsubscribed was like, “Ugh, I came here for sewing posts! Not all this depressing cancer stuff!”

I’m going to risk losing a few more subscribers by boring you with my bullet journal. I am pretty stoked about it! Let’s go to the photo montage:


Resolutions! Note that there is nothing on there about losing weight. One bummer thing about having fallen down the bullet journal rabbit hole just in time for the new year is that so many people are sharing their “weight loss trackers” & weight loss goals. I was a Radical Cheerleader in the early aughts & we had a cheer that went:

You’re not my ideal/Your hips don’t set the score
‘Cause sticks & bones ain’t what I’m striving for
Flipping through “Vogue”/What a bore
Ladies, please ladies, let’s eat more!
I got booty in the back & a lot up front
My secret is: I eat lunch!
Now I’m in control & ready to riot
Against your demands that I need to diet
I will take up space & love my size
‘Cause fat & fabulous is on the rise
Oh yeah! Fat & fabulous is on my thighs!

(Anyone who is tempted to say anything about “skinny people are oppressed too” has come to the wrong blog. Sorry ’bout’cha.)

I cross stitched that 2017 thing & affixed it into the journal using spray adhesive. Turns out I am getting a lot faster at cross stitch. This design was the first cross stitch I ever tackled & it took me like five days. This time it only took a few hours.


Index & key. I have a Facebook friend who is a really talented artist & she clued me in to blending colors & shading starting with the lightest colors & working out to the darkest, so I tried it on my key. Probably nothing to write home about, but a major game changer for me!


Future log. Helpful for remembering birthdays, preschool volunteer days, & various doctor’s appointments that scheduled months into the future.


This is where I will keep a list of books I read & sewing projects I complete. So yeah. Right now, it looks thrilling.


January at a glance. Things that are actually scheduled are on the left, & various goals & priorities are on the right.


Dailies & habit tracker. I have tiny handwriting, so I knew it wasn’t crucial to have an entire page for each day, but I also wanted more space that weekly layouts offer. So I made a Dutch door so the habit tracker is always visible when I’m on the daily pages. I only included habits that I really need to be reminded to do, so it’s really helpful that they are always there. I’m also using cute little weather stamps to track the weather, inspired by Jared. He is a historian who specializes in floods. He uses a lot of journals & logs as primary sources & he likes it when they note the weather because it’s useful for his flood research. Not that I think anyone will be writing a dissertation on my journals in 200 years, but you never know.


Jared & i don’t have a joint back account, so I’ll be using the mini page with piggy bank to track money we owe each other. The facing page is for addresses so we can send out cards, gifts, etc.


Ramona-themed gratitude journal. I’ve been keeping some version of this since the day Ramona was born. Some days are easier than others. Right now I am waiting out an insane tantrum Ramona has been having for the last 45 minutes over the fact that all of her blue pants are in the wash. Apparently no other pants are permitted to touch her body. The mere suggestion that she maybe try some gray pants, or some blue overalls, is met with the kind of shrieking you’d expect to find the eighth circle of hell.


Pretty self-explanatory. I’m keeping this separate from my actual completed project log because I generally have a lot more ideas than I have time to execute. Plus it was another opportunity to try some color blending with that spool of thread.


Also self-explanatory. I closed out 2016 about 25 yards up, which isn’t great. I’d really like to keep the stash closer to net zero.


I don’t know how the hell it happened, but I am so behind on reading. Books, magazines, blogs…so this is where I’m going to write everything down & try to catch up. Or at least stay on top of the new stuff.


Mood tracker. I snaked this idea from the internet rabbit hole. I got about halfway through drawing out the grid & it occurred to me that this book is likely to be filled before the year is over. Not sure what to do about that, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Yeah, I know there are all kinds of colors & stamps & stuff in here. I like that kind of thing. Within reason. I admit that I don’t really understand people who set aside multiple hours a week to make YouTube videos about their weekly planning & sticker hauls & all that stuff, but…to each their own, I guess? I suppose there are people who don’t understand why I would bother to sew all my own clothes, or cross stitch portraits of my daughter instead of just buying prints from Shutterfly or whatever.

Off I go to try to convince Ramona to have some quiet time. She has finally been persuaded to wear gray pants, in case you are following along at home.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

19 thoughts on “my starter bullet journal

  1. I came here for the sewing after enjoying your GOMI posts. Not going anywhere! The bullet journal stuff is interesting as well as far as I’m concerned. Share away!
    And I’m really pleased for you with not needing chemo/radio. Thanks for updating on how things are going with your cancer treatment.
    Always remember, your blog, post what you like!

    1. God, I haven’t looked at GOMI in like a month. I’ve been too sick to sew (not counting cross stitch, which I can do in bed), so it was too depressing to read about sewing while I couldn’t do it. I am really hoping to get back into the swing of it soon.

      There’s a small chance that they will find more cancer when they do the hysterectomy, in which case chemo &/or radiation would be back on the table. But hopefully that won’t happen! My oncologist doesn’t think it will, but she did mention the possibility so I would be armed with all the facts. That’s why I’m having her do the surgery instead of going to regular gynecologist. On the off-chance that I end up requiring more treatment, I’ll still be under her care & won’t have to go through the referral process again. What little I’ve read about hysterectomies so far has been, um…very intimidating. Sounds like the recovery process is tough. But I’m ready to get on with it.

    1. The final tantrum lasted a little more than an hour. I thought maybe she was just really tired, but she’s playing in her room now so I guess not.

      If you’ve ever seen “Wet Hot American Summer,” her tantrums remind me of Paul Rudd’s reaction when Janeane Garfalo asks him to pick up his tray in the cafeteria. I asked her to look through her pants drawer herself to choose something to wear, since she didn’t believe me that there were no blue pants in there, & she threw herself down on the ground literally an inch & a half from the drawer, shrieking, “I caaaaaan’t! It’s too far away!” She would get up & “crawl” toward the drawer & then collapse again, sobbing & renting what few garments she was wearing. To be honest, I had to laugh. I probably did the exact same thing at her age (& up until age 24 or so).

  2. I love that cheer! It’s pretty depressing to feel stuck in a room (virtual or no) full of women talking about how fat and disgusting they are, and exactly how they are going to starve themselves thin. Someone I went to school with has become an Instagram celebrity with her weight loss account about her “journey” from “obesity to health.” It just so happens her gross obese weight is exactly my current weight, and her “healthy” is a dangerously underweight BMI. Sigh.

    Glad to see your journal progress, and I hope little projects like this + cross stitching are keeping you sufficiently distracted from other things.

    1. Even if people aren’t using hatefully negative self-talk in discussing weight loss, it still bums me out that millions of women every year make a goal to be smaller & take up less space in the world. & that we are all just supposed to smile & give them three cheers for “health”. I actually lost a fair amount of weight this fall…because I have cancer! A pair of jeans that had been so tight I actually popped the button off (!!!) were suddenly baggy. I lost almost twenty pounds in a single week. Trust me: not a good thing, not a healthy thing.

      Here’s a relevant link I liked:

      Is the Instagram celebrity that Simone person? I see links to her stuff everywhere. It made me feel very weird & sad that not only did her “journey” involve losing like half her body weight, but also crafting herself into a stereotypical feminine ideal as far as everything else (hair, make-up, personal style, etc) goes.

      1. No, not Simone – she isn’t a major celebrity, but 11k followers is a lot to me!

        I’ve lost a lot of weight due to health issues in the past, to the point where I was basically dying. I was so desperate to gain weight, sometimes I want to shake women who are deliberately starving themselves and say, “don’t you know how lucky you’ve got it?!” It’s horrible that behaviour that is extremely damaging to our bodies is normalised, and I especially feel for those with an eating disorder who live in a world which encourages their mental illness behaviours. Reading Clem Ford’s “Fight Like a Girl” this year was a revelation to me, especially the point that diets/weight loss culture are just a tool to encourage women to diminish themselves, and to preoccupy themselves with weight loss so much that they have no time to participate in society.

        1. Yeah, 11K followers is a lot to me too! Even 1K is pretty eye-popping, let’s be real.

          I have been on both sides of the spectrum (kind of) in my life, weight-wise. Until I was about 22, I was one of those naturally skinny people that was always accused of having an eating disorder. Then my metabolism changed & I started gaining weight…about 90 pounds altogether. Obviously there are people that are bigger, & I’m not sure I feel like I’m in a position to be some kind of fat acceptance warrior because I am just kind of plus-ish. Roxane Gay gave a great interview on “This American Life” about not having time for people who are “Lane Bryant fat”. It should really be required listening for anyone who cares about this stuff even a little.

          I have thought for years that all the body obsessions that are foisted on women (weight, make-up, shaving, etc etc) are a way to cut into the time we have to really fuck shit up. That’s probably the main reason I don’t shave or wear make-up. I’d just rather save my time & money for other things.

  3. I love reading anything you write, to be honest! I am on bloglovin’, too, but since my blog doesn’t have much traffic I don’t get a lot of news. (where’s your link?)

    Regarding the weight loss goals – I totally get it and happy that there are (were?) radical cheerleaders. That cheer is great! For me, I really needed to lose weight because I was physically being affected by it in a really bad way. After three years of actively trying to change my eating and exercise habits, I still have issues with food BUT I am in a much better place with myself and my body, focusing more on what it can do and how amazing it is rather than how much I hate my big belly or whatever. I’m really working on that.

    Blogging about it helps me get through it and sort my (often conflicting) feelings. I do have weight loss goals, but they are now for way different reasons than they used to be. Better ones, I think.

    1. Yeah, I have been following your fitness/weight loss journey on FB. I mean, as much as you’ve been posting about it on there.

      People can do what they want or need to do. This is just a rough time of year, when it seems like fully 97% of women resolve to lose weight. I don’t want to sit here & say, “Well, if you’re above a certain weight, it’s okay to try to lose some. If you’re below a certain weight, it’s not,” because that is just gross on a lot of levels. It’s not my place to legislate for one thing, & it also suggests that there’s some cut-off weight that actually IS “bad”/unhealthy/whatever.

      I also think there is a difference between losing weight to achieve some arbitrary goal weight versus pursuing a certain fitness level so your body can do things you want it to do. Seems like most people are more focused on the number. Which is especially weird to me because don’t people’s weights fluctuate a lot just day to day? I’ve been going to the doctor so much lately that I am really getting a snapshot of how unreliable that number is. My weight will change as much as ten pounds in literally a single day, so it makes no sense to me that someone is like, “I need to lose ten pounds.” I don’t know, maybe my body is weird. We all know it’s not 100% healthy, being all cancer-y & everything. Maybe the weight fluctuations are part of that & other people stay more stable from day to day.

      I do not know where my Bloglovin’ link is. I think it posted it in a post a while ago but never added it to my widgets or whatever they’re called. Maybe I need to make a new year’s resolution to actually learn how to use the various features of this blog that I have had for literally almost a decade.

  4. Yeah, I’m still here too, I really appreciate your health update, you were in my thoughts as I had an appointment on the same day as you were getting your results. It’s encouraging news.

    And. You started me on a quest, I’d never heard of BJ but I was intrigued and investigated. It might just be the thing to keep track of Things I Need to Remember which must be good as I can’t remember diddly squat.

    Ramona’s outburst sounds really funny. Kids can be so dramatic and literal. My niece was dressing her daughter and asked her asked her if she wanted to wear her plain knickers but was puzzled by her reaction when she handed them over, she was looking for the plane.

    1. Oh, that “plane knickers” story is adorable. Kids are so funny. Ramona is getting really into hyperbole right now (she miiiiiight get that from me just a little bit). I’ll be like, “Can you zip up your backpack, please?” & she’ll be like, “I caaaaaaaan’t! It’ll take forEVER.” My favorite thing she says is, “I can’t. That’s a GROWN-UP job, not a RAMON-UP job.” I mean, it’s super-annoying. She really needs to learn to do things for herself, pick up after herself, not just throw things on the floor when she decides she’s done with them, etc. But the way she phrases things is so funny.

      Yeah, check out the bullet journal thing! Obviously a lot of what you will see online is unnecessary fanciness from people who have more time & money than actual life responsibilities, but it really is an effective system for keeping track of things & getting stuff done.

  5. Grey pants?!? You *monster*!!! :p

    I used to have a lot of very unhealthy thoughts and feels about my weight. I still do, TBH. But, I resolved when my daughter was born that I wasn’t going to engage in any sort of negative self-talk in front of her. And I’m in front of her a lot. Forcing myself to choose my words wisely has made a real difference in my own self-esteem. Funny that, right?

    I don’t let anyone else talk about that kind of shit in front of her, either. I feel like the whole entire world is going to push negative BS on her about her body. The least I can do is keep it away from her when I’m around. I try to compliment her for being strong and smart and not for being pretty or cute.

    I track everything online, and I don’t like to have extra things to carry in my bag. But your journal is pretty badass. 🙂

    1. Really, just changing up your self-talk is a huge step in the right direction.

      Ramona is really into talking about the future & all the things she is going to do or be or whatever in the future. The other day she said she hoped her belly was as big as mine in the future. I kind of loved that.

      I am just the opposite as far as tracking preferences. I feel like I barely know how to use the internet & am way more into having things written down on paper. I almost always had a pen & a notebook with me anyway, & could only be counted on to have my phone maybe 50% of the time. It would actually be charged even less frequently. Now the notebook is just more purposeful.

  6. Ciara,
    I’m so glad you got a bit of positive news. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way.
    I love all of your writing but, I am a complete internet dork. Subscribing is beyond my limited and unorganized webness. Maybe this year…… ha ha!
    Nothing is harder to not laugh at than a kid being more dramatic than Theda Bara. And you get a gold star for doing the highly recommended but oh so difficult ignore the tantrum. I’m sure you already thought about if she might be “missing mommy who has been sick” and wanting extra attention. Not that kids her age need an excuse. 🙂
    Thanks for the smile and keep on being just the way you are!
    All the best, Merry

    1. Oh, I don’t care if people subscribe or not. I just didn’t really need Bloglovin’ to inform me that someone had unsubscribed, haha.

      If you really want to know what was behind her tantrum (my partner called it a “pantrum,” because it was about pants, which made me laugh way too hard)…it was because she had to poop. She’s been late on the potty training (not surprising, she’s done all gross motor stuff on the late side; she didn’t learn to walk until she was almost 18 months old, & yes, her pediatrician is aware & we did Early Intervention stuff with her for a couple of years–the consensus is just that she’s kind of slow on the draw with that kind of thing) & we’re still not all the way there on the poop. She’s finally not waiting for an opportune moment to be alone & poop her pants, so yay for that. Unfortunately, she will now just hold it. For days. It gets to the point that she’s miserable & has a tummy ache. We can always tell because her behavior starts to be really challenging. Hitting, screaming, tantrums about pants. & then she finally poops & she goes back to her sweet, sunshine-y self.

      She is going to be so glad I wrote about this on the internet in ten years, haha.

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