My Notebook System

I've always loved notebooks. When you crack open a new notebook, it feels like so many possibilities, like a fresh start. In recent years (or maybe I'm just late to the party), notebook-love has reached an all-time high, with DIY planners, bullet journals, traveler notebooks, and journaling of all kinds really taking off.

Today, I want to share with you the way that I am setup with all my notebooks, for the simple reason that I always enjoy these kinds of posts & being able to get a peek into how other people organize themselves. I hope you do, too!

#1: Everyday Notebook

SOURCE: Studio Calico, soft cover, 10x18 cm, blank

USE: I carry this with me wherever I go to take notes on things like writing inspiration, situations to discuss with my therapist, ideas for blog posts/art journal layouts, etc.

#2: Bullet Journal

SOURCE: Moleskine, soft cover, pocket size, dotted

USE: The most recent addition to my collection is my first-ever bullet journal. So far, I use it for all the lists that were flying around on my cellphone/laptop/random post-its before, like for example potential Christmas gifts, doctor's checkups for 2017, places I want to travel, etc. It's also home to my habit tracker, which was inspired by @craftyenginerd on Instagram.

#3: Writing Notebook

SOURCE: Leuchtturm1917, hard cover, A5, blank

USE: Both for documenting writing workshops and seminars (like Hannah Brencher Sheats' "Writing Intensive" which I did last year, or Laura Jane Williams' "Don't Be Writer, Be A Storyteller" seminar that I just completed - both highly recommended!), and for my own writing ideas, outlines, etc.

#4: Art Journal

SOURCELeuchtturm1917, hard cover, A5, blank

USE: To document my year in a combination of journaling and scrapbooking. I am always very overwhelmed when I see incredibly talented people like @jamie_makes or @emma_kw3 just effortlessly layer together all these little details to create stunning spreads, but I have learned not to let it discourage me. I'm still finding my own style, but I really enjoy sitting down and making these pages, which feels very therapeutic in and of itself.

#5: Everyday Planner

SOURCE: Passion Planner, soft cover, compact size, pages pre-filled 

USE: This is where I keep track of all my appointments, to-do's, and deadlines. I've already pre-ordered the new eco-friendly version for next year (there is currently a kickstarter campaign for the 2018 version here), as this is one of the best planners I've ever had. I love being able to see my week & month at a glance, it allows me to break everything up into its designated time slot, and the space for reflection is always a nice way to finish the month.

#6: Travel Journal

SOURCE: Leuchtturm1917, soft cover, B5, blank

USE: To document my travels, obviously ;). This is also a relatively new edition for this year, as I found the A5 sized pages were just too constricting for the way I like to do my travel spreads. This bigger size allows me to get everything I want on the page, and I really love having a seperate notebook to gather all my travel adventures.

Do you use notebooks? What's your setup? And who are your favorite Instagramers to follow in this area? I'm always searching for inspiration!

PS: I am not affiliated with any of these companies, nor are these affiliate links. Just wanted you to be able to find the products easily should you want to.

Sleep Revolution

When I was a baby, whenever my parents had people over, they would ask "Are you sure that she's alright?" - apparently, a baby that sleeps whenever and wherever is a rarity. But it's true: I slept through the night very early, and as soon as you put me down, I passed out.

At around age 8, I started having my first nightmares (that I can remember). A closet that took up the entire wall in our bedroom threw a weird shadow on the opposite wall so that I was convinced it was a bad man crouching down, waiting for me to fall asleep so he could grab me and steal me away. This meant I had trouble falling asleep, and then whenever I woke up in the middle of the night, I was really scared. 

As a teenager, I developed some of the bad sleeping habits I have now (staying up later than necessary, having cell phone and laptop in bed, drinking alcohol & snacking late in the evening), and its also the first time my anxiety reared its head.

Strangely, things normalized again at university; while I did my share of partying, I was opposed to all-night cram sessions, rather going to bed and then getting up a little bit earlier, always convinced this was more effective. Whenever I was depressed or feeling lonely, I instinctively did the right thing and curled up in bed.

For the last few years, however, my sleep pattern has been all over the place. I have become an early riser, never being able to sleep in longer than 8 AM. I still have those bad sleeping habits, and on top of that, my anxiety is a lot worse than it was a few years ago. Most nights, I am awake at least an hour before I finally have my brain calmed down enough to fall asleep. I am restless, waking up a few times per night and then tossing and turning, trying to go back to sleep; all of that combined adds up to around 4-5 hours of sleep per night, which is simply not enough.

This year, I have the goal of reading 17 books - we're already 6 months in, and I've finally managed to read my third! After Hannah Brencher's "If you find this Letter" and Lily Collins' "Unfiltered", I finally got around to Arianna Huffington's "The Sleep Revolution".

For a non-fiction book, this one was a real page turner for me. Insightful, full of personal anecdotes, and very well researched, "The Sleep Revolution" clearly shows just how much not sleeping enough can impact our health, and gives great tools for making sleep more of a priority in our lives. Did you know, for example, that just a few nights of less than 8 hours of sleep have the same effect on your body as if you were constantly drunk?

If you've ever had trouble with sleep, or getting to sleep, I can really recommend this book. In fact, after you read it, I encourage you to come back here and join me in making your own sleep resolutions! Maybe if we all decide that sleep is just as important as all our other goals for the year, we can finally all get enough of it.

My Sleep Resolutions

  • stop feeling bad/old for going to bed early - if you get up early, you should go to bed early!
  • turn off devices 30 minutes before sleeping, even if it means not finishing the episode
  • create a bedtime routine (incl. skin care, outfit planning, maybe journaling)
  • change sheets more often, because there's nothing better than fresh, crisp sheets
  • have seperate sleep & chill-out clothes to signal to the body that it's now time for bed
  • continue to work on healthy snacking & be more firm with not drinking during the week
  • try meditation | tea | reading | yoga before bed to relax
  • work out twice a week
  • be patient with myself as I implement these changes

Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash


"Out of all the interns and trainees I've ever had, you are truly something special."

Two hours later, these words are still bouncing around in my mind. It was a lunch between colleagues, but also a lunch between a young woman and someone who is a little further along in life, both professionally and personally.

She told me that I am a specific type of woman, that this might make it a little bit harder to find a man who is attracted to that sort of thing, that I should be more confident. I accepted all her kind words with a wry smile, ducking my head sheepishly and turning a little red; if I'd had a skirt hem, you best believe I would have been fiddling with it.

Accepting compliments is hard for me, but hearing the words "you're special" is the hardest. They conjure up a passage from my favorite musical, A Chorus Line:

"Different is nice but it sure isn't pretty; pretty is what it's about. 
I never met anyone who was different who couldn't figure that out."

Different, special... it's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, everything I hope to be: unique, interesting, not like the rest. My own person, with that extra spark, that je-ne-sais-quoi, that intrigue. On the other hand, everything I fear I am: weird, un-relateable, not like the rest. An outsider, who is hard to understand, hard to accept, hard to love.

Compliments epitomize the struggle between my rational mind, and that little voice in my head. The one knows that the person across from me is saying these things because they believe them: they see something they like in me, something positive, and they want to let me know. The other is insistent that the person across from me is lying: they are making fun of me, or maybe just being nice, but they definitely don't mean what they say. How could they?

Somewhere along the way, special lost its positive meaning. I used to love being told by a teacher that I was special - I enjoyed the attention, holding my head a little higher, my back a little straighter. After all, don't we all want to be that One in a Million, if not for ourselves, then for someone else? "He makes me feel special", we say. "I'm going to wear something special tonight". "I'm saving this for a special occasion." All of these things are filled with excitement, with anticipation for something grand and unforgettable. So how can this word be associated with something so negative in my mind?

Let's reclaim special. While we're at it, let's reclaim different, too. And unique, and interesting, and geeky and empathetic and introverted, and of course, bossy. All these words which have picked up a double-meaning along the way, a whiff of negativity - I want them back.

You are allowed to acknowledge good things about yourself. You are allowed to feel proud of yourself. You are allowed to care about what people whom you admire and whose opinion you value think about you. You are special.

When someone says something wonderful about you, savor that moment of beaming pride, instead of shrugging it off with a sheepish grin. Stop and really acknowledge that moment in which, simply by saying something nice, another person has brightened your day. Try to give that moment to others.

And for the love of Captain America, when someone gives you a compliment, muster your most genuine, heartfelt smile, and simply say "thank you".

Stock Photo via Gratisography

Thoughts on Defining your Style

Ever since I was little, I have had a very distinct sense of style, and a great love of fashion. Sometimes, people would ask my mother why in the world she let me wear some of the very wild outfits that I ran around in, and she would simply shrug and tell people that I was insistent when it came to choosing my own clothes. As long as I was dressed appropriately for the weather conditions, who cares, right?

Whether it was the Pippi Langstrumpf-inspired clash of colorful prints when I was younger, the orange-pink-red-combo phase of middle school, the baggy trousers and neon blue eyeshadow of my teens, or the emo phase I went through toward the end of high school: I was always sure of what I wanted to wear.

Lately, however, I find myself struggling with personal style. The trend of the "capsule wardrobe" and "minimal closet" all look inspiring when you see them beautifully photographed and enthusiastically described, but when I think about applying them to my own life, it seems unrealistic and not all that desirable. I've been following Franziska from Franish for ages, and inspired by her started keeping a tab on what I buy each month and counting the items in my closet each year. But while those two things are very practical (and at times eye-opening), they didn't really help when I sat down to define what my style is.

Adina over at Blue Collar Red Lipstick  has also dedicated a number of grest posts on this topic (here and here), as has probably every other fashion blogger & magazine. After collecting all those bits and pieces of information, this is what I started with:

Not-My-Style List

What are things that I don't like wearing or feel uncomfortable in? Or maybe just don't enjoy from an aesthetic standpoint? In click-bait speak,  these are the things I wouldn't be caught dead in: 
  • Heels
  • White (tops & bottoms) or black (tops)
  • Anything shorter than tshirt sleeves
  • Harem/cropped/low-sitting/baggy/bell bottom trousers
  • Hoop earrings
  • Things that aren’t meant to be see-through but are
  • Satin/pleather/silk
  • Hot pants
  • Deep v-necks, back cutouts where you can't wear a bra, busy necklines
  • Mini skirts
  • Bow embellishments
  • Weirdly over- or under-sized parts (sleeves, belts, purses, hats, etc.)
  • Neon
  • Pointy shoes

Color Palette

For me, this is by far the easiest part - I have a color palette from the style consultation I received as an 18th birthday present. I'm a fall, and in the "classic" color theory here in Europe,  there is no warm, soft, whatever variation; you're simply one of the four seasons. I have added in navy, a blue-tinged gray, and maroon because I find they work well with all my actual colors, and it's nice to have a more muted background to let the other colors shine.

basics: navy, cobalt, khaki, cream | neutrals: gray, dark brown, camel | accents: turquoise, olive, mustard, maroon

Core Silhouettes

Disclaimer: you're going to feel very silly when you do this. Because sitting down and thinking about what you normally throw together on any given day and then trying to break that down into formulas is weird. But! Once you do, it is a very helpful tool to have on hand, especially when you're a) needing to get dressed in a hurry,  or b) out shopping trying to decide if something will work in your wardrobe. But please know, this is not an exact science (or really any type of science): just go with what you generally wear together. No one will know if you add a random cardigan or statement necklace to the mix on any given day, I promise.

  • cardigan + t-shirt + skinny trousers + birkenstock flats
  • midi dress + loafers
  • longsleeve tee + midi skirt + converse
  • blazer + blouse + skinny trousers + loafers
  • leather jacket + printed t-shirt + skinny trousers + biker boots
  • long coat + longblouse + distressed jeans + biker boots

Pretty good so far, right? For everyday-getting-dressed and buying items that will work well with my existing pieces, this is a great place to start.

However, style has always felt like it was so much more than "just getting dressed"; your look is the first impression people have of you, and for that reason it is this BIGIMPORTANTTHING in my head. For the last few years,  it's been a little bit of a struggle to remove that "need" to make a statement and try to bring back the "it looks good because I like it" mentality when it comes to getting dressed. To change the equation from me = my look to (me)+(my clothes)=a look, which is just a nerdy (and probably mathematically incorrect) way of saying that it is hard for me to accept that someone may not like my clothes but that does not mean they don't like me.

A question that I asked myself in an endeavor to become more relaxed and less anxious about personal style is how do I feel in the outfits I enjoy wearing the most? And how do I want to feel in the clothes that I wear?

The answer to the first question is pretty easy: in the outfits which I most enjoy wearing, I feel like myself. Whether that self is a preppy college student, a grunge-inspired streetwear lover, a slinky, velvety aristocrat, or a polished professional: my favorite clothes make me feel like I am showing the world a true, honest part of who I am, with the added bonus that there are almost as many fashion styles as there are facets to me.

To identify the way I want to feel in what I'm wearing,  I took to Pinterest (and my friend Nina's gorgeous blog You Rock My Life) to find my style icons. What do I admire about their looks? How can I apply that to my life? What feelings does their style evoke that I would like to capture in my own?

Emma Watson 

Jessica Alba

Nina from You Rock My Life 

Jessica Biel

Rosier Huntington-Whiteley

The words that describe all these ladies: clean-cut, interesting, sophisticated, effortless. That's what I really want my style to reflect, which is oftentimes a struggle to merge with my ever-present need to be comfortable. But now that I have a clear idea in my head of what I want to feel like, combined with the more practical tools above, I think I'm on a good path to finally find MY style. I'll be sure to keep you posted :)

Who is your style icon? How do you define your style?