It is Saturday morning, the weekend before The Nouveau Classical Project’s Lucky 7 Benefit Gala, our biggest and best one yet. I was thinking about how much more sane and calm I feel this year, relatively speaking, compared to previous years. It could be because it is our third gala as opposed to the first and we have more hands on deck this year. However, as I mentioned, this gala is going to be significantly larger in scale, so the production process has been equally intense, and managing a team, while a blessing, is a whole new job in and of itself. I think that I have become better at dealing stress partly because I have become increasingly aware of how important it is to not let stress eat me up alive.
This epiphany came to me in the midst of gala madness...the part that involves going back to Paper Source multiple times in one week.
I had been in the market for a planner since my current one at the time did not have enough space for the entire year (what were these people thinking?) and it was one of those blank ones where you had to fill in the date yourself, which is why I was unaware of this ridiculous design flaw. So I started browsing planners and I saw this flowery one by ban.do. I started flipping through it and I loved how organized and functional it was on the inside, with monthly and weekly pages and tabs for each month, and the way it was bound like a book. Naturally, my self-conscious side took over and I thought, no. I wouldn’t dress this way and this does not reflect who I am: strong, tough, and diligent. This looks like it was designed for ladies who lunch. Women who get mani-pedis every weekend.* NOT ME.
But I couldn’t put the thing down. It was just so much fun to look through (every week had a surprise fun task on the bottom such as “Blow a giant bubble!” or “Karaoke”), but it was also extremely functional. I really wanted it! I justified my desire by reverting to hipster logic: the design is so ridiculous and not me that I have to get it. SO IRONIC! As I approached the cash wrap I also asked the saleswoman for her opinion, and she said, “I actually love that planner!” Validation from another woman helped.
As soon as I had a moment to sit down, I started writing in the planner. I also wanted to check out the other products ban.do offered and then immediately regretted my purchase because I saw this:
I thought, “This is the planner I need to be seen carrying around! This reflects ME! I AM very busy!” It was already too late to return the one I had just purchased…plus I actually liked the cover design, even though I didn’t want to initially admit it. After a few moments I asked myself, “Do I really need a reminder about how busy I am?” The answer is no. What I really need is to calm the f*** down and maybe stop being so cynical.
An aside: personally speaking, I feel vulnerable whenever I represent myself in a way that is feminine, hence the decline of dresses and skirts in my closet over the past ten years. But every now and then one creeps in, because you can’t deny great design or feeling amazing after seeing how a well-tailored dress looks on you in a mirror, despite your reservations. Pants and masculine notebooks have almost become an armor and shield for me to convey that I am serious as opposed to an airhead. It’s been a little limiting to express myself creatively through fashion with these constraints, and I have recently felt a strong desire to resurrect some semblance of the quirkier, fearless style I had when I was younger and living in the East Village. My ban.do planner is a first step.
Back to that: leafing through the book, writing plans, placing stickers on pages (did I mention it came with stickers?), along with the bright colors, really help me relax. I’ve now decided that the feeling of “happy” is a determining factor when choosing what to place in my home office since I will likely be looking at it almost all the time. I don’t need a reminder of how much I have going on; I’m constantly reminded, if not nagged. What I need is to be mindful of my mental well-being. As an artist still at the beginning of my career, life often feels as if its full of nonstop anxiety, or just nonstop in general. Being extremely self-driven is central to staying on this path, but sometimes you just need to stop and smell the paper neon roses.
*Who am I kidding. I would if I could. Lunch and mani-pedis, yes please!
P.S. I prefer using paper planners more than digital ones because I love paper (not to mention “that new paper smell”), tactile sensation of writing, and seeing all my plans for the week and month spread out in front of me. Do you prefer paper or digital? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!