C25K Journey, Part 2

Another check-in for my #CorylC25K activity! This will be a short one. Why?

I’ve only done two more runs since I posted part 1 of my C25K journey.

Week 2

3 sessions of 31 minutes each, consisting of:

  • 5-minute warm up
  • Six 90-second runs
  • Six 120-second walks
  • 5-minute cool down
May 25: Week 2 Day 2/Run 5

This was a great run! I was pumped up and excited to go, and was pleasantly surprised with myself that I did the whole thing (since the run before it was shortened due to my sinus infection). This is also when I started doing dynamic stretches to loosen up my hips, legs, and back before doing the 5-minute walking warmup.

Runtime: 9 minutes

June 1: Week 2 Day 3/Run 6

This was the best run I’ve had so far. I didn’t need to pump myself up for the jogging segments and wasn’t double checking my phone to see how much time was left until I could walk again. If all my runs were like this, I’d become a runner.

Runtime: 9 minutes

Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t made it very good for me to go running at all since then. First, there were lots of rainshowers, and since I run on trails near a creek, it would’ve been dangerous for me to go running in the wet. The erosion in the trail is pretty bad during and after rain. Second, the heat waves started coming in! I’m already heat sensitive, so when it gets hot, I avoid outdoors like crazy—but we also had a few heat warnings from Environment Canada.

And then I got sick again.

June 14th would’ve been a good day for a run if I weren’t sick again. I think I have a bout of the flu and I’m coughing up gunk. The day before, I was feverish and slept a lot, so when I woke up early today and feeling great, I thought I could go for a run. Then I took a deep breath and hacked up phlegm.

I wish I could keep at it more, but when cardio exercise is a risk for my health, doing it isn’t worth the effort.

I’m not sure if I’ll even be able to continue once I’m breathing normally again. I may be able to if I manage to wake up early in the morning before the sun burns everything (including me), even though I need a lot of time after waking to get my body ready to even walk around, let alone jog and hit the trails.

But we’ll see! I keep thinking about that great last run and how I want to aim for that again. On my next run, I’m definitely going to repeat a run from Week 2, since I didn’t fully complete one of them and I’ll have taken a long break.

My Bullet Journal Index

In my first bullet journal, I set it up with the standard “index” that’s part of the Ryder Carroll system. I hated it.

First, it’s not an index. It’s a table of contents. Second, I used my bullet journal chronologically and didn’t have much need to flip around in the book—especially when my usage of “collections” fell to the wayside. And thirdly, it was an extra step that I didn’t feel the need to use, especially when I could find pages easily through muscle memory and spatial cues.

But now?

I started using a new brand of notebook—the Luddite Every Day Carry line, which I reviewed when I first got it in September, and then a few months later when I had finished it. There are four pages in the front for the index (*cough* table of contents) and tags. I started using it for colour swatching my pens and markers. I’ve also started including information about different types of spreads.

This is more of a “tags” and “keywords” type index to me, than a table of contents. Colour-coding really helped me visually set apart all the different information. If I want to know where the March habit tracker is, I look for the March colour in the “Habits” section!

Small calendars for the months of January to June, with colours in the headings of the months.

I use my bullet journal more and more to track my moods and health, and I thought it would be important to have those more quickly accessible to me. I have some health concerns right now, so the history I’ve been tracking since January will be vital when I see my doctor to discuss my symptoms and treatment. My mental health is something else I track, too, that gets included indirectly when I look back at habits, where I fell out of using the journal, and notes I leave when I’ve had a bad day.

A colour coded index for various pages in a bullet journal, such as monthly spreads and collections.

I think this also gives me a little more sense of freedom. I can insert a page without really messing up anything. When I first started bullet journalling, I didn’t do it for record-keeping or archiving my life. I did it so I could get my shit together on one day or through one week, and not fall behind with school.

However, since I finished classes in December, the purpose of my bullet journal has changed.

The index isn’t going to be something I use heavily or even reference all the time. But I figured it was worthwhile to show another change in my planning system, since I have never used the index, or tags, or a table of contents.

Personally, I’d rather have it at the back, like every other index, since a table of contents deals with headers and chapters and sections. An index deals with tags and finding small information. But I digress—I know words are malleable, but for goodness’ sake, can we still try and use words that mean what they refer to?

Do you use an index in your bullet journal? How do you feel about it?

Literary Tips: Narrator

Regardless of the tense and perspective you use in your story, you will have someone narrating. A story can’t be told if someone isn’t telling it. The person (or being, or source, or entity, etc.) telling the story is the narrator.

In first-person perspective, the narrator is a character in the story using “I” pronouns to tell the story through their eyes. This narrator can be someone in the story, most likely the protagonist, but can also be an narrator who exists outside of the story.

When we move into third-person perspective, of varying distances, the narrator can become a little ambiguous. To really understand narrator and the narrator’s role in the story, we have to remember that the narrator exists regardless of whether or not they’re a character taking part in the story’s plot. You need to consider how close they are with the story and plot.

The narrator in third-person perspective will either be a character in the story, through third-person limited perspective; or it will be a narrator watching the story, as in third-person omniscient perspective. Multiple points of view are possible when you use third-person perspective.

But you must always remember that a narrator exists in every single perspective. In third-person, they may distant or intimate; personal or objective; involved or uninvolved. The narrator still exists.

I find it helpful to imagine the narrator as a character outside the story. They have a certain voice—that storytelling voice that you, the writer, use when you describe scenery in broad strokes that a character wouldn’t particularly or intimately know—and tone to them. There are words that “fit” with the story, and other bits of vocabulary won’t. That’s part of your narrator’s voice. You don’t have to create a character profile for them, of course, but separating them a little more from the characters in the story might help you decide what the narrator knows, shows, and tells.

Another way to imagine your narrator more concretely: imagine yourself telling the story. I don’t mean create a self-insert character via a narrator; but when you write your poem, short story, book (anything, really!), you are the one narrating it. Becoming self-aware of your role as storyteller can be helpful in deciding what to reveal through a narrator vs. a character.

Here are some questions to ask about your narrator (when your narrator is not the protagonist):

Is my narrator invested in the story?

A character like Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events is both a narrator and a character. Snicket is invested in the story, but has no part in the plot. s such, he has biases and can comment on the story through his own lens of personality, experience, and personal investment in the Baudelaires’ story.

Does my narrator affect the plot?

A narrator like Death in The Book Thief is one of those narrators that I personally marvel at. Death affects the plot because that’s what death does–the protagonist’s sibling dying is the most obvious example of Death affecting the plot. But that’s about as far as Death can reach into the plot of The Book Thief. There are different degrees of influence that a narrator can have on the plot, so consider what your narrator can, cannot, does, and does not do.

How personal or objective is my narrator?

With this question, I mean what kinds of stakes and feeling does the narrator have for the protagonist. Do they care at all? Are they merely commenting on events? The less personal your narrator is, the less likely they’ll feel as if they’re a character in the story. If you have a very objective narrator, you may not even consider your narrator to be a character at all. The narrator may just be you, telling the story, and you occasionally hone in on character’s experiences and points of view.

How distanced or intimate is my narrator?

Similar to the above question, consider the distance and intimacy that your narrator has with the plot and characters. In first-person perspective, you are in a more intimate space with the “I” narrator: the story directly involves the character. Swinging toward third-person perspective can create more distance, depending on how you use it. A third-person omniscient perspective has the most distance from the plot. They are an all-seeing storyteller, relaying a story about other people. When your narrator is part of the story in some way, there will be levels of intimacy and distance from the events happening in the plot, since they are involved.

Does my narrator step back when my characters tell the story?

This question is specifically directed at anyone writing a third-person limited story, or a story with multiple points of view. Your characters narrate if they say what they observe, show their thoughts, and experience what comes to their senses of sight, smell, sound, etc. Your narrator might not show up until you pull back from your characters to give a sweeping view of the landscape or explain some worldbuilding.

In The Pilgrimage, I use third-person limited perspective. The story is told through my characters’ eyes—the protagonist, his sister, the two companions they meet, and the antagonist. It seems like a lot of characters already… but I also have a narrator. When I wrote the story, and while I edit it now, I remember that I am the narrator when one of my characters isn’t. I could imagine my narrator as another character outside the story, but because I have an intimate perspective through five characters (*internally screaming*), adding another theoretical character will be too much. So I just remind myself that I’m also involved. I am telling the story when my characters aren’t telling me about their experiences.

A follow-up to this topic is a quick focus on a focalising character! They’re similar to narrators, but not the same thing. When you write in multiple points of view, or have a narrator like Nick in The Great Gatsby, you will also run into a focaliser in the story. My novel uses focaliser characters, but this is content for another post!

June 2017 Monthly Bullet Journal Spreads

Unlike April and May, my June layouts are full-force spreads that I’ve created! I’m only a few days into using them, but I’ve been enjoying them so far.

I also thought I’d include what my desk looks like when I’m brainstorming/pre-planning a monthly layout.

A desk with a mess of notebooks, pens, markers, sticky notes, and sketchbooks.

The monthly layouts always take a lot of energy out of me. I’ve spent hours figuring out how I want my spreads to look. There’s so much more that goes into them than just using the same ones as the previous month. Sometimes, I can’t do that—like April, when I moved and needed to focus my priorities on other things—and other times, it doesn’t fit what I want to achieve.

My monthly layouts set the tone for how I want to approach the next four or five weeks. I think, “Where do I want to focus my time? My energy? What commitments have I made? Where are my deadlines? How will my goals and projects be affected by my activities this month?” and so on, and so forth.

I’m also always trying new things. My bullet journal is a place for me to play. Every spread is a puzzle that I have to make and then solve, looking for the problems and answers mostly within myself (and the confines of my dot grid space, of course).

I’ve tried calendar layouts like this before, and have found I either neglect them, or I overuse them and get frustrated when my plans don’t line up nicely.

A notebook page in landscape orientation showing a 30-day box calendar for June, with a small table on the left side to input work, goals, and rewards. A quote in the top corner reads, "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance."

I’m being more lax this month with habit tracking. I’m not sure why, but it felt right, you know? There’s a lot of flux in my environment right now—both my living situation and my family are undergoing positive changes—and I wanted to “go with the flow” more this month, compared to May’s focus on spontaneity. Going with the flow just comes off a bit more mindful, y’know?

A notebook in landscape orientation showing a small calendar, divided into sections on each day on half the page, with a list of goals and associated to-do lists on the other half.

I’m very happy with my mood tracker for this month. I went all Pride 2017 with it, evoking the rainbow. I’ve also changed up how I track my moods: instead of picking a mood for the entire day, I have 3 spaces for each day: morning, afternoon, and evening. That way, I can see how I progress through the day, rather than try to remember a feeling for the entire day. We change so much on micro and macro levels, throughout the day and from day-to-day. This month of tracking my moods through the day will be helpful when I see my doctor at some point over the summer to check my blood sugar levels, too.

I’d post my weekly spreads right now, but they’re still very simple to-do lists! I’m enjoying them and I make them as I go along through the days. They’ve got the time codex bar like I was using in September; very simple and not colour-coded.

If you wanna see more of my bullet journal posts, I’m probably going to get back to posting them on my Instagram. Sharing photos there is much faster than blogging about them, after all! (Also lots of food pictures and the occasionally selfie spam, of course.)

Questioning, Part 2

An earlier post of mine mentioned that I was in that questioning phase again. I’m still there, and it hasn’t been very fun.

What I’m questioning in my identity is something that would affect my relationships with everyone. Not just my intimate partnership right now, but also my friendships. It would also change the way I see relationships in cultural norms and current society.

The gist of it? I literally don’t know what romantic love feels like. All of the examples of romantic love that I see have definitions that hinge on monogamy.

Soul mate. Partner. Life partner. Who you want to spend your life with. The one. Other half.

This type of love is seen as different to other types of love. It’s been very hard for me to find resources to help me question this part of my sexuality, because romance is always, always presented hand-in-hand with either sexual relationships or asexuality—and I’m not asexual.

I’ve felt incredibly outcast, because I don’t fit in with society’s expectations of relationships; and I don’t fit into the asexual community.

In seeing my friends grow up, go through relationships, get married, discuss their future hopes and dreams… I feel like an outlier. Marriage? A spouse? A family? I frown at the idea of having them for myself. I don’t want those things in any large capacity. Maybe one day, but right now—and how it’s predominantly been since I hit puberty over a decade ago—I don’t want a spouse and a child, a shared master bedroom and ensuite, a joint bank account, half a mattress.

That’s the social norms that I don’t feel connected to. This nuclear family ideal that starts with a locked pair of molecules. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I don’t know why.

There’s also this thing called the split attraction model that separates attraction into “romantic” and “sexual”—that’s why you can have labels like “homoromantic demisexual”—and I really struggle with it. I feel like I don’t fit into it, because who I have sexual attraction to isn’t dependent on their gender (hence the “pansexual” label I use and am very comfortable with!) and my romantic attraction isn’t based on gender at all.

My romantic attraction is just… I guess it’s all platonic? But it isn’t all platonic, because my love for some people is shown in different actions that aren’t strictly platonic. My love for my boyfriend, for instance, gets sexual. But I haven’t reserved sexual love for certain relationships (this is me trying to say that I’m fine with casual sex, ok, let’s just put that out there). Hand holding, hugging, kisses, mouth kisses—the more I question myself, the more I question the split attraction model.

Just, what is romance? What is it?

I don’t know. It’s confusing. Hence the “questioning” thing.

I feel like an outcast because I don’t relate to so many people when it comes to intimate relationships. We can all agree on what “intimate” is—it’s varying degrees of close interactions with people. Handshaking, high fiving, hugging, hand holding, kissing (which also has more variations based on where on the body those kisses go), cuddling, fondling, caressing, making out—getting more intensely sexual.

And all of that is stuff that I don’t feel the need to reserve for one person or one type of relationship. Those interactions depend on the person I’d theoretically be doing it with. I’d kiss a pal without wanting to date them. Heck, I’ve had sex with people I had no intention of getting any emotional connection with, and that was fine by me (that casual sex thing, okay? chill). The limitations of what intimate interactions I do with people are set by the relationships I have—both with the person, and with other people. My current relationship requires boundaries in my behaviour, as well as exclusivity.

But I have friends I won’t hug, because I know they don’t like it. I have friends I only hug. I have friends who hug me and pick me up when they do it (and vice versa). I have friends I’d kiss on the cheek or the top of the head or the forehead. I have friends who will put their head on my shoulder. I have friends who would put their head in my lap so I can play with their hair. I have friends I’ve done sexual things with, and we’re only friends. They’re all my friends. They’re all platonic, in that sense. But we’ve done romantic, intimate, and/or sexual things.

Where does “platonic” come up? I don’t understand how it fits into “attraction” when it’s really just… the nature of a relationship.

I don’t know. I’m confused. I’m questioning still. And my worldviews are shattering because of it, and I’m fucking terrified of the implications of this. I want to cry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if people will get hurt. I don’t know if I’ll come out of this unscathed or without guilt.