The Downside of Being Offline: Using a Bullet Journal

I had a scare today; I thought I had lost my bullet journal, which is my personal organizer. I used it during a school meeting last night, but had no recollection of tossing it into my backpack. Thankfully, it had made its way home. I found it accidentally tucked under a vintage copy of A Clockwork Orange, which I had rescued from a pile of discarded books.

Since September, I’ve been using a #bujo planner*. I mainly use it to keep track of personal goals – weekly, monthly and annual. It’s become popular, partly because it’s therapeutic to doodle and draw, but also because it’s nice to just be offline. Yes, I still use my paid Toodledo account as digital notepad when I don’t have a pen, but pretty much everything** is in my bullet journal.

While I’ve used a variety of tools, including apps like Coach.me (formally Lift.do), to track my habits, I just felt that I needed a change when it came to writing monthly goals. I’d found that I would start fudging and editing the goals I had initially written down and delete ones I’d ignored, just to make myself feel better. It’s been working well so far and I can say that my bullet journal isn’t just a fad I’m picking up; it’s likely a tool I will be using for at least a couple of years. I enjoy drawing and laying out my new “weeklies” while listening to podcasting.

Some things will always remain online though, including net worth tracking via NetWorthIQ and fitness tracking on CodyApp.

Yet the ultimate issue with the bullet planner is that I have no back-up system. To be clear, I don’t intend logging everything on Toodledo so that I can check it off later. In my panicked state earlier this morning, I did consider how much I would be losing if I really could not find my planner.

My life wouldn’t be over. I’d likely be able to rewrite 50-70% of the active task lists that I had going on. Once monthly goals are complete, I published them on my blog. As for weekly habits, I really couldn’t care less.

And is there anything that would be so important that I’d actually forget entirely I’d have to do it?

Likely not.

So even as I did hug my planner with a sigh of relief when I uncovered it, I realized that I still don’t intend on backing it up. And that’s okay. It’d be like a piece of lost art. I would have enjoyed all the time that I’d put up with it, but I’d be willing to let it go.

*If you’re unfamiliar with bullet journals, check out this article from the Toronto Star, Bullet Journaling Will Get You Organized.

**For work, I keep a separate teacher’s lesson planner which I’d purchased (and expensed to the school board) from Staples. Keeping my work and personal life separate definitely gave me less stress; I found that I could appropriately put my energy to focus on work when I need to and have some space from it when I just want to enjoy my down time.

Monthly Goals – November

Health and Fitness

  • Work on Pilates (3/5): I have never really done Pilates before, and wanted to try it out to get a better sense of my bandhas for yoga and handstanding. Didn’t get as far as I had liked. Only managed to do 7 of the Pilates classes on Cody; there was a week where I was out of town supervising the Grade 11s on their trip and just had NO TIME to myself.
  • Commute to work walking (0.5/5): What a big fat fail. This happened maybe two times …

Finance

Teaching

  • Start #edtech AQ (3/5): Argh, D2L doesn’t work at school! I was also away on the Orientation Trip with the Grade 11s for a week, but did submit all my assignments for the first deadline, after a 2-day extension was approved. Will need to put in more efficient work next month.
  • Revisit growth mindset with students (0/5): Too many interruptions. This just didn’t happen.
  • Get reference letters (1/5): Unfortunately, I have to chase the vice-principal, who recently transferred to another community. He took my copies and didn’t sign them, even though I hassled him a couple of times. GRRRRR
  • Update my CV with professional development (0/5): A hosted a webinar through OAME and ran an elementary workshop this month at school. I haven’t done this yet. Bad me.
  • Submit application to speak at OAME conference (5/5): I was surprised that this only took 10 minutes. The form was quite short.

Other

  • Use more Twitter (4/5): Twitter isn’t my favourite tech tool. I’ve hated it for a long time and only in the past year have slowly been warming up to it. I want to use it more than I use more for professional development, but sort of just became obsessed with politics during the American election. It was a bit depressing, I must say, but it’s also allowed me to have some interesting interactions.* Also, I just want to spend more time reading news and productive ideas on Twitter and am trying to spend less time on Facebook.
  • Finish and finalize travel plans (5/5): Thank goodness this is more or less settled. Now I can start looking at restaurants and places to eat!

*I told Gail Vaz-Oxlade I’d like to meet her at the annual math conference next year and she said sure!

Travel Planning: Jordan and Israel

It’s been months in the making.

What started off as a daydream to see more the Middle East, seeded by the fact that B. and I visited Turkey ever so briefly just a few years ago, is now finally coming together. Originally, only the two of us were traveling together; now, it will be a 10-day trip to Israel and Jordan with my sister, my cousin and my best friend!

Our flights to Tel Aviv were booked a few months ago, but we’d been taking our sweet time in planning. With December looming near, we spent the month of November researching, booking and finalizing, occasionally conferencing on the phone to pin down our needs and wants were. This weekend, a lot of our hotels and ground tours were finalized; I’m happy to say that this brings a great sense of relief. Now I can do the “real” planning and start looking for yummy vegan* restaurants!

Earlier this week, I finally started pinning down sites on Google My Maps. This is a great tool to have on your mobile device, even if you travel around with a data plan. I’ve had My Maps work successfully off triangulation while in India and Turkey.

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One of my goals in December will be revisiting my Lonely Planet. It had been collecting dust on the shelf as I had foolishly bought more books – how I managed to get two Caitlin Moran books in November and not finish either of them is symptomatic of the book-hoarding problem I have – and it’s time to dig into it. For a long time, I was extremely ignorant of the history and culture and politics of Israel** and Jordan, so I really need to brush up on my politics!

*Apparently, Israel is going through a huge transformation towards veganism.

**Strangely, Toronto has an extremely large Jewish population. However, they are clustered in extremely tight-knit communities, and many people growing up in Toronto do not know Jewish people until much later in their lives. I didn’t know any Jews until I went to university . At the moment, I cannot recall if I know any Jordanians.

How One Podcast Causes Me To Lose Sleep (In a Good Way)

Tonight, I was relaxing with a glass of Cavespring 2014 Riesling in the bathtub. I was listening to an episode of the Mo’ Money podcast, whom my lovely childhood friend, Sarah Li Cain of High Fiving Dollars recently recommended to me. I really loved the  interview that Jessica Moorhouse had done with Gail Vaz-Oxlade, so I downloaded another episode of Mo’ Money with Bruce Sellery.

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If you live in Ontario, you may have seen Bruce Sellery on CityTV, or perhaps his articles in MoneySense magazine. After seeing that his book was highly recommended in MoneySense, I purchased and read his book in April, and decided that I need to reassess my RSPs using Sellery’s tips.

While listening to the podcast tonight, I realized that, since purchasing a 2-year GIC, I hadn’t done much more. I’m not sure whether the wine assertive, but I went to the Wealthsimple website, since Jessica Moorhouse said that using her link would get you an extra $50.

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But before I threw any funds in, I also wanted to see what the company was about, so I watched this great Lunch and Learn with CEO Michael Katchen, when he spoke at the MaRs Centre in Toronto back in 2015.

Yeah, it’s 30 minutes long:

Mmmmm, okay. He’s a pretty smart guy and he knows what he’s talking about. This seems like a good company and I’ve seen their ads floating around for a couple of years now. His vision is to give a simple, straightforward investment vehicle that all Canadians can get into without paying ridiculous fees*. Even though I just brought back my Questrade account from the dead, I need all the help I can get, sooooo … eeeh, might as well. I opened an account and threw down $2500 into an RSP account, while trying to figure out if I’ve already maxed my TSFAs for 2016. It won’t be processed until a couple of days from now, so at this point I stopped and wondered how tired I was.

And yes, now I’m blogging, my boyfriend is grumbling that it’s past my 10 pm bedtime. I check the clock and it’s 11:47 pm.

It’s not a Wiki-hole, but it’s kinda like one. At least I’m coming out financially better from this. I will tackle this further another day!

*It’s not a secret that Canadians pay some of the highest investing fees, including MERs.

New Questrade Account: Portfolio IQ

Two years ago, I started a self-directed Questrade account to buy stocks, on the recommendation of a friend, B.*. I bought a few property and resources stocks, but then locked myself out of my account when I entered my password incorrectly. Since April 2015, I haven’t touched my account at all and have been getting dinged $25/quarter. That means means I’ve lost $150 over just from letting my money sit there. I’d also incurred additional losses from not managing my stocks.

It’s not my proudest moment, yet all of us have something we put off, ignore or procrastinate on. Sharing my confession on my blog means that I hope others won’t make the same mistake!

This morning, 18 months later, I finally called in and reset my password. I’d considered closing the account altogether, since I am still extremely uncomfortable trading on my own. Yes, I’ve had a handful of female friends tell me it’s easy to learn and do, blah blah blabbity blah, but what I really need is someone to sit with me if I am going to go through it at all. It’s a huge weakness of mine, something of which I’ve been aware of for the last 8 years, but I still haven’t figured out how to get over it yet. Just because my late father worked in finance doesn’t mean I have any skill in it as his daughter!**

To my surprise, the Questrade clerk on the phone suggested that I could get my investments managed instead – unaware this service even existed – through Questrade Portolio IQ. The minimum to start is $2000 and of course, you have to pay management fees. I decided to throw down $2000 from my TSFAs, because fuck it, I need all the help I can get. If it means paying 0.007%, $14 is nothing.

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As you put in an application in, you go through a series of questions in a survey that helps determine how much risk you’d like to take. It also asks you how knowledgable you are in trading. I decided to be honest:

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Anyway, that is all that’s happened for now. I’m still waiting for the application to go through and to see what portfolio they’ll suggest to me after having stated that I’m interested medium-high risk investments.

I may start going through a Udemy course I’ve got on reading pricing charts, because I really do need to get back into the swing of (managing my financial) things.

*I also got a $25 bonus for using her sharing code.

**Although in many ways, we are quite similar. I suspect that he may also have been an INTJ or a similar MBTi Personality.

Saturday Date Night: Falafels and A New Board Game

Yeahhhh, I’ve spent too much money in the past few months – I can’t help but think of the two new winter tires from last week – and my net worth chart shows it. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff that I haven’t gotten around to doing yet, but will be perfect once the snowy, cold winter blows in.

Since arriving back in Waskaganish last night from the Grade 11 Orientation Trip*, I decided that I wouldn’t spend any more money this weekend.**

So as a Saturday date night for J. and I, I made a Middle Eastern platter. There were no pitas on hand, but I cut up some Romaine lettuce and threw on tomatoes, grilled zucchinis, red onions, (canned) beets and olives. I then garnished it with some tahini, sesame seeds, sesame oil and pomegranate seeds.

Too bad I didn’t have any garlic sauce or cilantro on hand!

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Afterward, we broke out Trains: Rising Sun. It’s a board game that J. picked up for me back in September, but sat unopened in the cupboard. The first version was released in 2012, but I had only played it for the first time this summer with my friends M. and C. in Albany, New York. It was a good balance between Catan and Dominion, so I felt like J. would enjoy this, since I hate Catan and he hates Dominion!

We had a great time tonight. There may have been some rum and cokes involved, as well as some shouting. Can’t wait to try this again.

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*The Orientation Trip is an annual trip where we bring Grade 11 students to see college campuses around Ontario and Quebec. The trip typically lasts 5-6 days.

**Other than groceries.

New Credit Card from Tangerine

Back in October, J. and I finally set up a joint account Tangerine. The purpose of this is to make our shared expenses more fair, rather than arbitrarily taking turns to pay for things.

Therefore, I now have two separate chequing / debit accounts within Tangerine. On the website, you can label one account as ‘chequing’ and one as ‘saving’; when you pay at the machine at the check-out, you simply select the account that you pay with. This makes it unnecessary to have two separate debit cards.

Also, I had applied for the cash-back Mastercard credit card on Tangerine. It finally arrived in the mail last week. Now I have 3 credit cards (this has never happened before in my life). Normally, you can 2% cash-back in two selected areas (i.e. groceries, gas, travel, etc.) and 1% in. As a bonus for the first 4 months, your two money-back areas go from 2% to 4% cash back!

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Today, I tested it out at the Northern Supermarket. We made a $34 purchase, which means that we would get $0.68 cash back.

Ehhhhhh, not a huge lot in the long run, I realize. Guess it’s more of a convenience as J. and I would eventually like to start budgeting our groceries and track how much we spend. Future goals!

The Comfort of Having Few Choices

Last Friday was a local holiday; James Bay Day is a Cree holiday to commemorate the signing of the James Bay Agreement in 1975. 

Since we got a long weekend, we took the day to make a 11-hour down to North Bay for a vet visit. In the process, we also busted a winter tire from a rogue rock, spent 2 hours at the Honda service centre and finally got the airbag replaced*. Two new rear winter tires cost $400.

Needless to say, it costs a lot to go on the road for the weekend. The gas, the time, hotels and unexpected expenses that pop up. Traveling with animals is also stressful for us, as well as them (although brown bunny had a fabulous time running around the carpet all night).

Yet, getting the chance to leave the village, to wander a new city, do some shopping, chat with people and eat food we didn’t make ourselves is wonderful. And really, it is priceless. 
The idea of being on the native rez sounds like torture to most, but it has given me a perspective most city folk will never have. The most mundane actions have more value than if I had never moved north. 

For example, I made it a point to take J. to the Lebanese restaurant for lunch, rather than the food court at the mall. I was immediately reminded of how delicious the veggie shwarma was and J. fell head over heels for the chicken shwarma. We joked that we’d go back for dinner.

Funny enough, five hours later, we ended up doing so! Given the choices of Japanese teppanyaki, Thai pad see ew, Indian Dahl mahkni, we still went back for the shwarma**. The owner was so flattered that we came back on the same day he gave us a free plate of baklava!

And we were more satisfied with our decision than anything else that could happened.
It might seem silly. It might not even make sense to the average person. You might even think I miss out on new experiences from doing so. But we are often deluded to think that having more choices will make us happier. 

And yet, oddly enough, I have never felt happier ordering off a menu as a vegetarian. In my late 20s and early 30s, I now go to my favourite restaurants in Toronto, Barrie or Montreal and I simply order the same things each time. My favorite dishes never fail to disappoint me. They are consistently delicious and satisfying. I always get what I want. 

If I deviate, I often leave disappointed. That’s not to say I never try anything new – having traveled to Turkey, Hawai’i, India and Florida in the past 4 years, I laugh at such a suggestion – but in the south, amongst family and friends, I generally don’t. Life is just easier when you know where the good stuff is.

*Last year, a recall was made for Honda airbags. The issue was that a deflated airbag would also eject shrapnel into the driver’s face. Oh, how very reassuring I waited 10 months for the replacement.

**J. subsequently ordered another two more to eat on the road for the drive back north.