Keep Forging Ahead in 2022

Hello, 2022. It is another day, another year, and another planner. Yes, this is your yearly tradition of starting the new year with a DIY planner post.

But before I welcome the new year, I want to look back at my 2021 and do a little reflection on how I DIY’d myself out of my comfort zones.

“Sometimes the world seems stuck in place, even if you’re ready to go. Sometimes it feels like you’ve lost your way.”

When 2021 started, I was ready to go. I made a significant change in my life by quitting my long-time job in the middle of the pandemic. It was a giant leap of faith because I left without a fallback, and without a concrete plan. For someone with a personality who makes Plans from A-Z, I was surely out of my mind to make this decision. That was my first step. A wild step, but a step nonetheless.

It felt like death, like a wilted flower falling off the stem. I had “bloom” as my theme for 2021 and I felt like I failed the theme that I had set for myself.

I kept searching. For every day that I woke up still breathing, it was my sign that I should continue the search, even if the motivation was gone. Until one day in May, my step forward appeared. A new project gave me an opportunity to bloom. All I needed was to wait for the wilted flower to sprout a new leaf as it lay dying on the ground.

The new project had a funny coincidence which I claimed as a sign that was meant for me. The project required the use of a book creation program called Bloom. How eerily specific.

“Yes, these kids are trying to learn new things, and trying to figure new things out, they don’t look lost, they look like they are finding new courage and taking on new challenges.”

The rest of the year wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Starting a new job meant learning, relearning, and unlearning a lot of skills. Every day was a struggle. There were good days and horrible days. Despite the feelings of uncertainty and doubt of being a newbie in the workplace (which I haven’t been in more than a decade), I am still thankful for the people that I worked with. They challenged me a lot, but they also trusted me to bloom on my own. I was lost 90% of the time, but I welcomed the change if it meant taking a step forward in improving my life.

Listing my daily to-do’s on the planner and a separate work notebook helped me manage my anxiety and stress levels. It’s nice to plan ahead, but also so much better not to try all the things in one go. There are things meant to be done today, and things that can be put off for another day.

So for 2022, we’re keeping the planner tradition because it keeps me sane. Making the planner is also very therapeutic and calming because I can just shut my brain off and let the hands take over.

Ok, it’s time to DIY a planner!

This year’s best online purchase goes to the paper cutter. In the past years, I just folded the paper lengthwise or crosswise. But for this year, I was following a specific measurement that required cutting lots of sheets of paper.

I took inspiration from Crazy Laura on Pinterest for the days of the week. Each spread was one week and I drew boxes for each of the days. Then I used a white gel pen (all hail Dong A) and a black marker for the days and the dates.

The notebook that I was using for work notes had postcards that you can tear out. The postcards featured paintings that won competitions in the past. I cut them to make it look like the paintings are framed. I can pretend to visit an art gallery when leafing through the planner (also known as Namjooning).

I cut up pieces of paper and stamped on the months for the monthly covers.

On the back flap of the monthly cover, I drew flowers on watercolor shapes and added a monthly calendar. I found some math paper in my paper stash which saved me a lot of time to line a blank sheet of paper.

For the notebook cover, I can finally say that I have used up the illustration board that I have been keeping for years. Because of the decluttering that I did a few years back, I was able to dig up all the hoarded cardboard that I can recycle for the planner. I have used up all my stock and it’s probably time to hoard again. lol

I cut up the illustration board and covered the back cover with recycled brown paper from a paper bag. I wanted to do a flap design for the cover with a quote. So I covered the other illustration board with a patterned sheet of paper and stamped on a quote in the middle. Then, I took a thinner piece of cardboard, covered it with recycled brown paper, and cut a hole in the middle to show the quote.

After completing all the parts, it was time to bind. I’ve gotten the hang of doing Coptic binding the past planners that I wanted to dry a different style. I saw a tutorial from Sea Lemon on Youtube which combined the Coptic Stitch and the French Link. When completed, there’s a crisscross pattern on the middle of the bind and I wanted to try that.

I only had two colors of yarn at home that is good for binding — white and black. They didn’t go well with the color scheme of the planner and I didn’t want to buy a new roll. I have this red twine in my string box that was meant for gift wrapping, so I decided to use it even if I knew it would be the worst idea for book binding.

It was the biggest regret of this project but I still pushed through with it. The twine didn’t have an even thickness so there were times that I had to pull the twine through the hole with force. It also frayed multiple times and also caused lots of knots. I was already halfway through and my pride (LMAO) didn’t want to give up.

Because the twine was thick and the monthly covers were also made from cardboard, the spine turned out to be really bulky. I will keep my pride (LMAO pt 2) and deal with the thick spine for the rest of the year. It was nice in theory, but the expectations were not met. Besides, I really wanted the red twine to represent the red string bracelet (if you know, you know).

I forged ahead, despite the regrets and the struggles. I’m never using that string again for binding (LMAO). I’ll just find other uses for it in other DIY projects. But I still like how it turned out, especially with the French Link. Maybe I’ll try that again next year with better binding yarn.

2022 Planner Reveal

I promise to use this Tiny Tan pen on the planner. It was given to me as a gift by one of the new friends that I have met in 2021. Meeting a new circle of friends from a new fandom was one of the great blessings that I received last year.

“I think that’s why instead of the “Lost Generation”, a more appropriate name would be “The Welcome Generation”, because instead of fearing change, this generation says welcome and keeps forging ahead.”

BTS, 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly

The quoted lines are from the speech that BTS gave at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly late last year. I wanted to paste the whole speech because everything they said gave validation to how we felt and how we’re trying to cope as a generation. Things may be looking grim still, but there are small glimpses of hope and choices that we can make to forge ahead. (Watch the full speech here and read the transcript here.)

Their speech also gave inspiration to my theme for 2022, which I also put on the cover of the planner. The full bloom that I was hoping for in 2021 didn’t happen. I’m still figuring things out and am still encountering lots of bumps in the road. But I will forge ahead and continue working on it in 2022.

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