Month In Review: April 2018

April felt incredibly long, but not sluggish like March. I think I experienced all four seasons’ worth of weather—winter, fall, summer, and spring. But mostly winter. I had lots of small projects to work on, so I was fairly busy, but thankfully not overwhelmed. I can’t reveal everything I did this month, but much of it relates back to my artistic creating!

A celebration: I managed to get over the hardest parts of my revision of The Pilgrimage! Chapters 5 to 9 needed to be completely rewritten from nothing, and I finished them!

A change: The status of my employment changed! This is a good change.

A conflict: It still felt like winter all month long. It snowed for a week straight at one point and I was so done with it. I love winter so much, but when I lasts from November to the end of April? Half a year of winter? No fucking thank you.

A relief: I spent a week out of town and it ended up feeling like a mini-vacation. I traveled 2 hours away from my hometown and where I stayed was filled with grass, sunshine, and the beginning of spring!

A regret: The Pilgrimage didn’t get finished this month. I’ve been trying to finish it for a year now. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, but I’m eager to finish so I can start Avatar Five, another fantasy novel-length project.

A random memory: I went to a dog park with my pal and his family dog (Alaskan Malamute, I love her), and we got a little lost on the way home. We were walking in a path and I almost stepped on a gartner snake. They’re relatively harmless to humans, so I paused and gave it some distance. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a snake in the wild, but I recognised it as the same kind that used to hang around my old house. (My friend is scared of snakes and went ahead with the pupper.)

Overall, April was a full month. I came home to warmer weather, made a pact to get back into jogging now that I can, and I’m feeling optimistic about May.

April Bullet Journal Spreads

April Bullet Journal Spreads Weekly Monthly BuJo

In an attempt to bring spring into my life, I went hardcore with my April monthly bullet journal doodles. I haven’t gotten this artistic and drawn this much in my bullet journal before. The pops of colour in the flowers really brightened up my month for my spreads. The snow hasn’t completely melted where I live. I’m pretty desperate for florals and greenery!

Monthly bullet journal spreads

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Month Monthly Layout 01 Filled

As is my style, I have my bubble layout tracker, which I didn’t feel like photographing for this month. If you’ve seen any of my other posts with monthly bullet journal spreads, you’ve seen my tracker layout. It changes ever so slightly from month-to-month, but between my March monthly bullet journal spreads and April, they were basically identical.

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Month Monthly Layout 02 Fitness Calendar Tracker

I really wanted to focus on the flower drawings. Bullet journal doodles are outside of my normal journalling, after all. For some of the flowers, I used Planning Mindfully’s flower drawing tutorial to get started. I also used references from image searches and from a drawing book I own. Also against my normal journalling, I used pencil crayons (“colored pencils” to Americans, I think?) to colour the doodles. I typically use markers for my monthly bullet journal designs, trackers, and calendars. The pencil crayons made the monthly layout a bit softer, since I could blend colours more easily.

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Month Monthly Layout 03 Calendar Agenda

Overall, I’m very, very happy with these monthly bullet journal spreads.

Weekly bullet journal spreads

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 01 Filled

The weekly layouts for April are a bit similar to March, but because I had more small projects to work on this month, I adapted slightly. The daily modules for April are a tiny bit larger than they were in March—a very good thing. After I filled up most of the days, I barely had room to decorate.

I used the same layout each week this month, and prettied them up afterward with washi tape. I don’t like decking out my bullet journal spreads with designs before I fill them in. It’s impossible for me to know which days will be busier and fill the module.

Here are some before, during, and after shots of my weekly layouts!

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 02 Midweek

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 03 Filled

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 04 Filled Closeup

My bare-bones layout for weekly spreads is incredibly bland. My last week in April started off with pops of washi tape only because I messed up with marker in an area and wanted to cover it up!

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 05 Empty

April Bullet Journal BuJo Spread Week Weekly Layout 06 Midweek

Since I’ve gotten into the habit of doing my monthly bullet journal spreads and weekly layouts at the start of the month, I use my journal more consistently. It takes some time to get set up before I can use it (about 4 hours total, actually—more if I’m experimenting). But then I don’t have to set aside time each week to draw a layout. It’s much easier to commit to a weekly layout and use the same design for the month.

I’m excited to start designing and planning for May’s monthly bullet journal spreads!

Writing Transformation From Lit Mags

Improve Wring Craft From Lit Mags

During my reading slump at the start of this year, I picked up periodicals again. I had burned myself out of genre fiction and YA fiction. I craved a way for me to improve writing craft. So I turned to my stack of literary magazines and picked Room Magazine to marathon. They release publications four times a year and publish writing exclusively from people who are not cisgender men.

The volumes include poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, interviews, and essays. The bulk of the content is poetry and short fiction. Eight issues of this magazine is two years’ worth of material, and each volume consists of around 90 pages of content.

I read them in the span of a few weeks. I’m a slow reader, so reading that quantity in that time frame is unheard of for me.

I read nearly 800 pages of literary fiction. I love poetry and short stories, and even though there were pieces I didn’t like in some of the volumes, I still read them. There must have been over 100 pieces total—100 complete written pieces. Imagine reading 100 books, or 100 essays, condensed down into a few pages. That many self-contained stories is magical; inspiring; awesome.

Diverse content

I can’t stress enough the importance of reading diversely—and not just sociological “diverse.” You need to read writing from disabled, queer, black, and/or indigenous people, and/o people of colour. Remember they write more than books! Read their poems and short stories and more. Read different forms—poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays—and different genres in fiction. Even if you write in one genre or form, read widely and away from the style and tropes you normally write.

I’m also a poet and short story writer, so I went into the literary magazine reading with the aims of improving my poems and short stories.

Improve writing craft

Writers learn from reading. And I learned a lot, even if I wasn’t consciously studying, analysing, or evaluating. These pieces were vastly different from the writing I was producing. My main project this year has been my older YA high fantasy novel.

The writing I put into my fantasy novel surged in quality. My words became confident. I sat down to my writing sessions and produced deliberate work. Since I write my novels by scene, I had less difficulty creating self-contained segments of conflict. I could more easily visualise and plan out a condensed piece of my story.

And I won’t get into specifics of how my style of writing changed. But poetry is like a salve on trope-laden, saturated genres like fantasy. I attribute much of my good and great writing to the fact that I started out my writing journey with poetry. If I hadn’t learned poems, I wouldn’t be as good of a writer.

Refreshed palette

In my post about how I beat a reading slump, I outlined three ways I refresh my palette and taste for reading. Literary magazines fall into new genres and other storytelling media. So not only has my wring transformed, but my reading habits have improved and rejuvenated from the change.


If you’d like to subscribe to Room Magazine, I highly encourage you to visit their website and do so. Whether it’s this magazine or another journal, adding a literary magazine to your reading regime will benefit you. And of course all the writers your subscription supports!

The best way for a writer to improve writing craft is to read. Read as much, as varied, and as often as you can. There are so many stories beyond the bestseller and new release shelves in corporate stores. With the Internet at your fingertips, seek out something different to read—and watch yourself change.

5 Ways to Practice Nonsexual Consent

How To Practice Nonsexual Consent In All Relationships

At its core, consent is asking for permission knowing full well that the recipient is not obligated to fulfill your wishes. Consent is a hot topic for sex, and for good reason. Sex is multiple people engaging in activities that rely on bodily autonomy and personal space. Nonsexual consent is just as important as sexual consent. After all, consent doesn’t begin with sexual activities and physical intimacy.

Consent begins when parents tell their toddler to hug a relative. It begins when children are told to hold hands with their classmates in school. It begins before puberty. Consent exists outside of sex. It exists for non-sexual, asexual, and celibate people.

Here are 5 ways that you can practice show consideration for your peers, family, friends, and strangers with nonsexual consent.

Nonsexual consent is when you ask for permission when you want to…
Hug, shake hands with, or high five someone of any age

You should get consent before touching someone. Hugging, shaking hands, and high fiving are mostly touching hands. But it’s still important to respect someone’s boundaries. This includes with children! Children have bodily autonomy as well. They should never be forced to hug or high five if they don’t want to.

Cook or provide food for someone

Offering a meal to someone can be a nice gesture. However, there is also a lot of risk when eating food you haven’t prepared. Asking to cook or buy a meal for someone respects their dietary needs, such as allergies, intolerances, preferences, and eating disorders. Even hunger should be respected. Don’t make someone eat if they don’t want to!

Receive emotional labour from someone

If you’re unsure what “emotional labour” means, then here’s a quick read on it! This one is especially important in the social media world. Users can post their opinions and thoughts, and read strangers’ comments and opinions in return. But if someone needs to invest their time, energy, and emotions into a conversation, respect them and gain consent.

Consider it when you…

  • Want to rant or vent to a friend.
  • Discuss personal problems for advice or help with someone.
  • Ask for educational explanations.
Privately message or friend request someone on a social network

Digital boundaries are still boundaries. Imagine entering someone’s private messages as the same as knocking on their digital door. Nobody is obligated to reply to you or connect with you on social media. If you want to engage with them, ask first.

Talk about personal, serious, or heavy topics

This nonsexual consent piggybacks off of the emotional labour one. There are topics that are meant for smalltalk, like the weather and how someone’s weekend was. And then there are topics that can get heated or emotionally heavy. These topics include religion, politics, mental health, trauma, and other private or personal details.


You don’t need to have an eloquent, highly formal method of asking someone to do any of these things. “Can I ______?” is an easy format. In spoken English, we can portray a question through vocal inflection at the end of a word or statement–when I hug my friends, I outstretch my arms and say “Hug?” (or raise my eyebrows), and this is still consent.

Over time, you build your consensual relationship and interactions with people. As you get to know someone and their boundaries, or as your relationship grows and boundaries change, you increase your awareness of what they consent to.

Here’s a real life example.

I love to hug people. It’s an intimate action that, for me, shows that I care. I also love to make friends, and I’m very upfront about when I want to have a friendship with a new person. So when I meet someone new, I tell them I’m interested in being friends with them. I also ask, “Are you a hugger? Can we hug?”

The majority of the time, this is met with an enthusiastic, “Yeah, sure!” and we hug. But there are instances where they say, “Oh, I’m sorry, no.” My reaction? “That’s okay! I totally understand.”

When you practice consent outside of sexual activities, you deepen your respect for people’s bodily autonomy. You also learn that consent is nuanced and part of daily life! There’s nothing complicated about consent unless communication is complicated.

Consent means respecting boundaries. Those boundaries are not always physical or bodily, too. Respect people’s time, privacy, and autonomy.

3 Ways My BuJo Improves My Mental Health

3 Ways To Use A Bullet Journal For Mental Health and Improve Mental Illness

Bullet journals are half planner and half journal (at least the way I treat them). When I started using my bullet journal in 2016, I tracked my university assignments, events, and exams. I also used it to stay on top of bills for the house I moved into. It gradually transformed to include details about my therapy and mental health treatment when I started therapy. Now, I love using my bullet journal for mental health! I still use it as a planner, too.

I’ve written a post already about mental health tracking, as well as a post that discusses using a bullet journal for mental health and chronic illnesses.

In this post, I explain 3 ways that my bullet journal helps with my mental health, illness, and wellbeing. Keeping track helps me so much!

Trackers let me see patterns in my mental health symptoms

Tracking symptoms of my mental health and my daily life means I have a record that I can compare long-term. For instance, my bullet journal was instrumental in showing me patterns in my symptoms that were associated/correlated with my menstrual cycle. A mood tracker lets me see how my emotions fluctuate over time. I track side effects for medication. I keep a record of my symptoms. When I visit my doctor for check-ups, I have a solid reference with my bullet journal.

The bullet journal provides written accountability for my to do lists, self-care, and responsibilities

If I don’t write something down, it doesn’t exist to me. I don’t have a good memory. Writing out notes, lists, and plans is the best way for me to remember them. Self-care and other aspects of my life, such as hygiene and chores, are greatly affected by my mental illness. So having them written down? I’m more likely to take care of myself. A list that includes “take a shower” means I’m aware of my self-care. My monthly tracker includes a space for me to note my medication so I remain consistent with my treatment.

I have a type of diary and scrapbooking to maintain perspective on the good and bad times

There are numerous benefits to keeping a journal. But it’s not always feasible if you don’t have the energy to keep up with it. I’ve tried to journal daily or weekly in that “write out your feelings” and diary format. I always lose interest and stop using it! I use the bullet journal for multiple parts of my life. It’s a natural record of what I’ve been up to over the months and years.


When I use and keep up with my bullet journal for mental health, I feel so much better! It’s one of the tools I use in treating my mental illness and maintaining my wellbeing. It’s great for planning! But it’s slowly transformed into a vital aspect of my daily life outside of planning, too.

Why I Don’t Write In Public

I’ve never been able to write my stories or poems in cafes, libraries, restaurants, or any form of public transit. There are three reasons for this.

Reason 1: I seek inspiration everywhere.

Reason 2: I can’t focus with so much going on around me.

Reason 3: I don’t want to.

I seek inspiration everywhere

There have been train rides spanning hours in length (from an hour and a half to five…) where I could have gotten some serious writing done. I would bring my laptop or a notebook and prepare to weave the words.

But I didn’t write anything, and I’ve stopped trying to when I find myself using public transit, waiting in a restaurant, or sitting in a park.

When I’m out and about in public, whether walking along a trail or in a busy place with lots of people, those are times I’m gathering inspiration for writing.

There’s something magical about letting myself connect with the world outside of me. Living a homebound life (working from home perk, I guess?) means that my time spent in public is limited. Even when I was a university student and out and about every day, I still kept my writing time to my computers and notebooks at home.

I can’t focus with so much going on around me

I have trouble focusing on tasks when my environment is either too bland or too busy. The level of background noise is something I always consider for various tasks.

When I blog, make art, work on freelance edits and design, and keep up with my household, I listen to music, TV shows, and Let’s Plays. But writing? Writing is one of those pieces of work that needs minimal or very specific background noise. Public spaces are places I don’t have control over, and that’s okay! But that means I’m gambling every time I try to focus on a project in a public space.

I don’t want to.

There’s nothing I can say to back up or validate this reason. It’s a simple one. I really don’t like writing with other people around me, so I don’t do it.


Do you write in public spaces or restaurants?

My Spectrum Identity Struggles

This post is going to get very personal and very much about me, so if you don’t connect with it, that’s okay. Welcome to a diary-esque post!

I am on two spectrums: romantic attraction and gender identity.

In the last year, I’ve discovered that I fall in the aromantic spectrum. I am gray-romantic and in the aromantic spectrum (aro-spec) because my romantic feelings are on par with platonic feelings. There is no such thing as “just friends” when it comes to how I feel about my friends or the non-family people who I love. I love them the same way that I’ve loved people I’ve dated. I wrote a blog post exploring my experience with this: Questioning Part 2.

My identity as gender non-conforming means exactly that: I don’t conform to a gender. I’m not non-binary, I’m not cisgender, and I’m not genderfluid or genderqueer. My gender fluctuates, but not fluidly–it’s really all over the place. I’ll feel like I’m a binary gender as either a boy or a girl, or I’m agender, or I’m bigender as both a boy and girl in varying degrees of boyishness and girlishness. (The fact that I ascribe to a binary means I don’t feel comfortable being called non-binary.) I’m transgender by virtue of the fact that I don’t agree with the gender I was assigned at birth all the time.

So those are brief summaries of my experience on the spectrums of gender and romanticism.

But being in the spectrum, where there is loads of variation, is a bit of a strain on me. I don’t “fit” anywhere nicely. I don’t feel fluid. Fluids can fit into bounds of some kind. Water fills cups, etc.

Spectrum is a little harder. I feel like a rainbow–the whole rainbow, not just a few colours, and not just the ones that are visible to human eye. A rainbow can’t fit into a cup, y’know?

One issue I have being gray-romantic/aro-spec is people mistake it for asexuality very often. And one thing with gender non-conformity is that people will label it as non-binary. People misunderstand and lump together a lot of identities because they “seem similar enough” (see also: bi and pan). And that’s one of my biggest problems of being on a spectrum: it’s devalued compared to “picking a side” but it’s not as wiggly and “free” as being fluid.

I like being able to say “It depends,” because I have the freedom to choose from all the different options that make me comfortable. It’s not the same as being unsure or saying “I don’t know”–I do know, but, as I said, it depends.

It’s hard to find a community, too. That’s the biggest problem I’m having. I’m sometimes agender, or bigender, or boy, or girl; I’m transgender, but not transitioning; my romantic feelings are present, so I’m not aromantic, but they aren’t the same as romantic people.

I want to be a cookie in a cookie cut plate of cookies, y’know? I want to be with other aro cookies and bigender cookies, but we’re not from the same batch of cookie dough. I’m a tasty snack on my own, but one cookie isn’t always enough and it’s lonely to be a unique cookie.

2nd Quarter Goals for 2018

I love working on goals by quarter. I already do month-by-month goals, but having ones that I can work on over a longer span of time is great for me. I still have flexibility, since the goals could be accomplished in 3 weeks, but also have more time to invest on my goals.

Over the next 13 weeks, I have a number of goals that I want to work on and achieve by the summer!

Writing Goals
  • Edit The Pilgrimage
  • Query The Pilgrimage
  • Submit to a literary magazine each month
Creative Goals
Personal Goals
  • Read 1 book every week
  • Do #CorylMornings as often as possible
  • Blog twice a week
  • Launch another super secret project
Freelance Goals

I’m keeping my month-by-month goals private and in my bullet journal for the time being, especially because my goals can fluctuate over time.

Two of my projects are secret ones, but they will be revealed over the next few weeks and months! I want to do a lot of creating as we go into spring and summer. Art, design, and writing are my top priorities.

March Bullet Journal Spreads

March in my bullet journal looked like most of my months. I had fun with an illustrative splash page with some hanging plants! I drew out all of my weekly layouts in advance, and then customised them with washi tape and colours when I got to those weeks.

I’m still obsessed with my bubbles for tracking! Maybe it’s because I grew up having to take so many Scantron tests… Or maybe it still reminds me of equipping Materia like in Final Fantasy 7.

My monthly calendars got a little more artsy than they normally do. I didn’t end up looking at them pages as much as I thought I would, including doing the exercise I thought I would, but that’s okay. For April, I’ll be changing up how I do these spreads!

For my weekly spreads, I start off very blank and add in the washi and other decor once I’m about halfway through the week. Some days have longer to do lists than others, and I can’t really guess which days those are for where I can add a strip of tape.

I’ve enjoyed these layouts for my week view, but I’m changing them for April since my needs have changed.

April looks beautiful, by the way. If you want a sneak peek, there’s a post on my Instagram!

Month In Review: March 2018

Another month, another month in review. March felt like it crawled by. Sticky. Something long and arduous about it. Maybe it was the weather, constantly shifting from below freezing to warm breezes? It’s almost surreal that now it’s April.

A celebration: Spring is around the corner! Soon, I’ll have sweater weather, sunshine, flowers, and the joy of not having allergies!

A change: My younger brother finally brought home two cats named Pepper and Orangie.

A conflict: I’ve been applying for jobs, with no success.

A relief: I no longer have to pay for prescription medication (if the medication is covered by the new drug plan).

A regret: Once again, my novel’s edits went to the backburner. I’ve completed 5 chapters, so that’s something, but I wanted to have the novel done before March even started.

A random memory: I went to the grocery store one night to buy milk and bananas. I paid in exact change and didn’t use a bag, so I left the store carrying a bag of milk (#Canada) and holding a bunch of bananas. I felt powerful.

I don’t have any major plans for April aside from finishing my novel, preparing to launch (but not yet launching) a big creative thing (!!!), and getting back into exercising regularly. All I can say is I’m happy that spring is coming around. This winter felt very long and unpredictable.