A million and one things rushing through my mind, I found myself unable to enjoy my honeymoon. This is what brought me to bullet journaling. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything I needed to do and all the tasks I put on hold to frolic under the Sicilian sun. I’ve always been a planner and one to write things down. Growing up I was in honors classes and in most clubs and sport teams. Being busy was my default and you can almost guarantee that in the beginning of the semester or year I always had my planner with me.
Eventually towards mid semester I got tired of making lists of things I needed to do. The Bullet Journaling method provided me the flexibility and accountability I needed. So, while on vacation I took out my journal and just wrote down a list of things I needed to get done and put the journal away. Immediately I was able to relax for the rest of the trip. Since then I was sold on Bullet Journaling.
Once I found out about Bullet Journaling, I started taking Skillshare classes, looking at YouTube videos and Instagram pictures. I became obsessed with this method and inspired by all of the amazing art that people were creating. I found aesthetic Bullet Journaling, the concept of combining art to the collections, to be therapeutic. Every month I found excitement in picking a different theme and just exploring.
At the beginning of 2020 like everyone else, I was excited for the new decade and decided that it was going to be my year. I was going to focus on self-improvement and tackle everything that I had set aside last year when I focused on wedding planning. When the New York stay-at home order was placed I optimistically decided to use my commute time to take a couple of workshops. I took the Content Planner Workshop by Kat Gaskin and learned many things but most importantly the importance of being intentional with your online presence.
Then June 2020 came, and the world was on fire. Everyone was talking about the racism that BIPOC people face on the daily. Many influencers put that little black box on their Instagram feed and that was as far as their allyship went. Others followed Black influencers but never engaged with their content. Then there were the influencers who “walked the talk”. Elizabeth Turnball from Plant Based Bride shared Black Bujo artists on her YouTube page. Amanda Rach Lee showcased Black artists and held fundraisers. I was in awe to see my favorite influencers sharing their platforms to give Black artists a voice. As a Black woman I navigate the world dealing with the various microaggressions and never realized the importance of the various forms of allyship.
While all of this was happening, I started to think about who is telling “my/our” story. I became reminded that it is more important to let the “silent” speak instead of speaking for them. I rather share “my” story than have someone share it for me. Then I started thinking “while I am being uplifted who can I bring up with me?” The answer was simple: everyone! Together with Temi Danso from Temi Danso Art we created Black in Bujo, an Instagram community featuring Black Bullet Journal artists.
My Bullet Journal is an extension of myself and I love to learn and share facts. So I began using my Bullet Journal themes to highlight artists that inspired me. In July, I featured Black artist Bee Harris. I chose Bee Harris because I love the vibrancy and colors in her artwork. When looking at the women in her prints I feel as if it's a painting of one of my friends. The ladies exude a confidence that I hope to have one day. My first official fancy Bullet Journal was a Bee Harris design that was a collaboration between Harris and Archer and Olive journal company.
In September, I featured the Quai Branly Museum (a museum in Paris, France that focuses on non-European art). Paris holds a special place in my heart because it was my first European adventure during my childhood. It was the first overseas trip my boyfriend (now husband) and I took. It’s also where he surprised me during a solo trip and proposed to me. We also started our honeymoon in Paris! While everyone loves the Eiffel Tower I enjoy showing my husband and others the hidden gems that Paris has to offer.
In October I featured Colombian painter, Pedro Ruiz in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. My mother-in-law is from Colombia. While doing research about Colombian painters she was surprised that I knew about Pedro Ruiz (she’s seen his art but didn’t know his name). We bonded over his paintings and me bragging about a Colombian fact she didn’t know about.
November is Native American Heritage month, so I decided to dedicate my spread as a way to honor and celebrate Native American and Indigenous peoples. With each monthly theme I take time to research facts about the theme and share my findings with family and friends. I proudly show my drawings even if I get teased about my figures are disproportionate. I use my journal every day, so each theme constantly takes me back to a memory tied to the theme.
I’ve always held Native Americans and Indigenous people with such reverence. I am forever grateful for being on their land. I’m also aware of how closely our histories are tied to each other. While working on my November spreads I had hesitation because I didn’t really know much about Indigenous cultures and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone. Then remembered, “whose story is being told and who is telling the story?” I decided to let Indigenous people tell their own story and the best way is through art. Instead of just putting down native quotes and symbols I looked for Indigenous stories through photography, writing, music, and art and decided to share. I created the Indigenous accounts to follow spread to help diversify my feed, to learn more, and to encourage people to do the same.
My hope with the spread is to inspire activism and allyship so that Black and Brown boxes aren’t necessary on influencers’ feeds. I’m hoping to inspire allyship before it becomes a trend. I find that people fight more passionately for things that affect them. You can’t be angered or offended by issues that you don’t know exist. Issues become more real when you know someone who is affected by it, even if it’s a virtual friend! When you broaden your horizons, it helps you become more empathetic to people and causes you might have never encountered.
While working on the spread here are some of my favorite indigenous creators/accounts. I found beautiful stickers by Kianna Mist from Loon Song Traditions and used them to decorate my spread (money talks). Books are a great way to enter a new world. I can’t wait to dive into the book Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. As a Registered Dietitian I can not stress the importance of food and culture for shared experiences and that is why I like following the Native Food Alliance. The Indigenous Peoples Movement keeps me up to date with issues that’s going on with Indigenous communities from North & South America, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. James Jones from the @NotoriousCree shares amazing information about his culture through dance and his traditional clothing. Tia Wood from @tiamiscihk shares her culture through her amazing voice, clothing and makeup. Her mom even makes appearances on her page! Through these accounts I’ve learned so much about Indigenous culture. Your Bullet Journal can be a great tool to keep track of the new influencers, businesses, books, stores, and media that you encounter.
My annual theme for my Bullet Journal is travel. I plan on revisiting the places I’ve traveled to in the past. I’m going to continue this spread idea and learn more about the cultures of the places I’ve traveled to and explore issues affecting the people as well. If you are looking to get more out of your Bullet Journal and use it to better your community here are some tips.
Tips for Using Your Bullet Journal to Serve Communities
Spread the Wealth
Plain and simple money talks. One of the best ways to help or serve BIPOC or LGBTQ+ communities is to spend money purchasing their products. If you are into aesthetic bullet journaling, consider investing in stationary from owners in these communities.
Diversify your feed
The second most important thing I think you can do is diversify your feed. If all the accounts you follow look like you or if all the movies and books you read are character’s completely like you, it's time to branch out. Remember in this instance ignorance isn’t bliss. We can’t fight issues that we don’t know exist and just because we don’t know about certain issues doesn't mean it doesn’t exist. Broaden your horizons!
Spread the Knowledge
Use your Bullet Journal to write down things you’ve learned from diversifying your feed. If you are creating themed spreads don’t forget to throw in a fact about that theme. For example, if your theme is roses, perhaps buy roses from a local florist to support a small business. A lot of florists have struggled during the pandemic due to a lot of weddings being canceled. Did you know that although the Netherlands is the number one exporter of roses, businesses in countries like Ecuador and Colombia have been blooming? Sharing facts like this can be a great way to use your Bullet Journal to serve your community.
You can use your Bullet Journal to keep track of organizations that are working in issues that are important to you. At times the world and its problems can get overwhelming. I find myself thinking, “where do I start; global warming, gender politics, living wages, etc?” Writing down the issues that are near and dear to you in your Bullet Journal can help reduce the anxiety. You can choose one or two issues to focus on each month or quarter, making the world a better place little by little.
There are times where more than donating and sharing information is needed. Sometimes organizations need volunteers. Right now, physically volunteering might be a challenge due to health safety but there might be ways to volunteer virtually. You can also brainstorm in your journal ways you can actively help the cause that is near to you while practicing the health safety guidelines.
Hope you are feeling inspired to take your Bullet Journal to the next level to help better your community and the world. Remember that bullet journaling is meant to better your life so take it one day at a time!
About the Author
Marsha is a NYC based Registered Dietitian, blogger, and co-founder of Black in Bujo. She’s also a travel and food blogger who loves tea and media. She’s currently studying to be a yoga teacher. As a newbie artist she loves showing off her latest creations even if it doesn’t turn out the way she expected it to.