You Just Do You

The short version of events is that I freaked out and took down my blog for about a week.

The longer version is slightly more complicated and it goes a little something like this: someone who I genuinely admire and whose opinion I greatly respect found out that I had a blog. Ok, maybe I accidentally let it slip. One thing lead to another which lead to a misunderstanding that made me think he was mocking my work, which really bummed me out. It made me doubt myself and the reasons I was writing in the first place. What was the point exactly? Who was I writing this blog for? If I felt reluctant to share it with people in real life, did that mean that somewhere deep inside I felt that it was worthless? Was I only invested for nostalgia’s sake?

So I took it down. I felt confused and lost. I told no one and nursed all of my secret little hurts inside of me. That is, until some people started to notice my blog was gone.

A lot of people voiced their dismay, but one friend was really honest. After listening to my reasoning she told me, “I get it, but that was kind of a dramatic thing to do.”

Defensive, I asked her why she cared anyway. She didn’t even read my blog. (To be fair, they aren’t really her thing.)

“I don’t read it all the time,” she admitted. “But it’s who you are. It’s so you. I see you all over it- your hard work. Your love. Who cares if I don’t read it? Why is that a reason not to follow your passion?”

I didn’t really have an answer to that and I still don’t. The best answer I could come up with was that there was no good reason. Are you going to stop eating sushi because someone else thinks raw fish is gross? Why give up something you love based on other people’s opinions? What bearing do they have on your life?

Eventually the misunderstanding was cleared up but I still felt conflicted about what to do. Was it a waste of my time? Should I try and improve the things the make me less proud of my work?

Then I remembered something a writer once told me about making the decision to write a book, despite having no formal training or connections in the publishing industry. I asked him how he ended up doing it. He shrugged and grinned. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just did it.”

And then I remembered why I blog- because I just do. Because I love to write. Because it’s a form of release. I write because I have to, because it’s a part of me, and not having that in my life was like losing the thread that wove all of the parts of myself into the fabric that makes up my being. Why would I let someone take that away from? Why would I take that away from myself?

So here I am to tell you that no one is allowed to criticize the things you love or make up the real you. Your passion will not always be the path to success but it will always be the path back to yourself. Do the things that bring you catharsis, that bring you joy. Do the things that allow you to express the real you. Let it out. Be free. Be weird. Dare.

My blog is not everyone’s cup of tea but it doesn’t matter; if you the love the things I love, maybe you’ll like it. Or maybe you won’t. I hope that you do but in the end there’s nothing that I could really change or do differently. This is who I am, not perfect, but the best version of my myself I can possibly be. I’m just doing me.

And you just do you.

How to Create the Inspiration Binder of Your Dreams

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The ball-room at IKEA was for amateurs. Or at least, that’s what my sister and I always used to think. The real thrill of accompanying our parents to the flat-packed, furniture store lay in exploring the faux living spaces that were set up throughout the store. Playing in all of those little apartments and lofts fostered a love of home decor in us at an early age. The smaller and more efficient the space was, the more interesting it became. For me, these spaces represented freedom and independence and I longed to have one of my own. (My parents sometimes joke about how I was ready to leave the nest even before I had reached high school.)

Fast forward years and years later, through dorm rooms and crumbling student housing shared with too many roommates, to a few years ago when I was ready to take the plunge and get my own big-girl apartment. (Which was like, the only thing I had been waiting for my whole life.) Being the organized person I am, however, I needed a place to keep track of all of my projects so I created my very own inspiration binder for the project.

If you’ve never made an inspiration binder, I suggest you take a look at your calendar, make yourself a date, grab yourself a binder, and start planning. It’s never too early to start. I created one of my dream apartment, but you can make one for your dream cottage, your dream vacation, your dream wardrobe- your dream whatever. My personal organizing system relies on a series of binders, but you can use whatever works best for you- whether it be a notebook, a scrapbook, a folder or a duo-tang. Anything goes as long as it can hold all of the information that you need.

However, if you decide to follow my lead and use a binder, I highly recommend making the best of the format and getting creative- use dividers, sticky tabs and folders to organize to track information and keep it separate; and use sticky notes, highlighters and colored pens to highlight important information. I use page protectors to house important documents and flimsy materials like paint chips and magazine tears. Depending on the size of your binder and how organized you are, you may want to invest in binder supplies such as three-hole punches, pencil cases with grommets, and specialized sleeves to house additional material you may to keep close by.

Once the binder itself is assembled, gather all of the necessary materials you might need to include to work on your project. (Click here for more info on how I organize projects.) This list may include things like magazine tears, paint chips, sketches, budgets, spreadsheets, checklists, mind maps, correspondence or legal documents. Similar to the command central binder, your inspiration binder should be a one-stop shop for all of the required resources to make your dream project a reality.

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I found assembling an inspiration binder for my dream apartment an incredibly valuable process in organizing the massive project that was moving into my own place, but your inspiration binder definitely doesn’t have to be as technical as mine. In fact, it doesn’t have to be technical at all. Over the years, I’ve had inspiration binders devoted to recipes I wanted to try, gardens I admired, and organized spaces I wanted to emulate. Yes, their practical uses were limited but the enjoyment they provided me was endless and still remains to this day one of my favorite ways that I’ve organized my clippings and tear sheets. It was literally like having my own magazine.

Needless to say, my parents weren’t too surprised when I showed them my inspiration binder, nor were they shocked when I borrowed and subsequently returned their respective copies of the IKEA catalogue with pages missing. I think they knew exactly where those clippings had ended up.

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What have you been dreaming lately? Comment below or let’s keep it between us when you write me at keepingbusywithb@gmail.com.

If you liked this article and want to learn more about organizing projects and binders, I highly recommend taking a look at how to assemble your own Command Central binder here, and the best way to define your projects here. For more ideas on getting organized and keeping busy, click here.