New obsession: Artsy bullet journalling

Obsessed with Artsy Bullet Journalling


When I was doing the photography for this post, Piers walked over and had a look. He said, “You’re so geeky!” Not unkindly. He already knows I’m a huge geek and often encourages (enables) it.

But I was surprised. Here, I thought I was making art and not geeking out. Art is not geeky. Is it? Maybe it is, in some contexts. I don’t know anymore; life is getting way too complicated. You can decide for me.

For some time now, I have been keeping my life organised by using six different mobile apps plus a few paper notebooks plus one productivity journal. (That is probably what’s geeky.) These numbers go up and down depending on my moods and obsessions. For example, when I’m being depressed, I use zero of them.

Then, one day, as I was adding yet another app to my arsenal and it was getting ridiculous, I thought to myself, “This is getting ridiculous.”

I needed a better way! Especially since apps are getting expensive with monthly subscription fees. And so a new obsession happened. It’s called bullet journalling and it was going to allow me to organise my entire life using just ONE NOTEBOOK:


Sc:ribbles That Matter Pro Pink


Bullet journals have been around for a while but here’s a quick explanation for people who need more information:

  • A bullet journal is an efficient and customisable method of organising and planning your life in a blank notebook using a system of bullet points.
  • It evolved over the years. People started being creative and adding all kinds of artistic elements, as well as recording all sorts of data about their lives in not necessarily efficient ways.
  • Many bullet journals now don’t look like the original bullet journal anymore, but evolution is a hallmark of life. I like to call the latest variety artsy bullet journal just to differentiate it from the original, which some people now call minimalist bullet journal.


I used to bullet journal five years ago (the non artsy kind). It was just bullets and text, and it got tedious and boring. I quit two years later and turned to apps. Now, I’ve had enough of apps for many reasons and am going back to old-fashioned journalling.

(Although, to be honest, I still have to keep a couple of apps around because some things are better digital, such as searchable databases and auto calculations.)

Artsy bullet journalling is perfect for combining organisation and fun, and here is how I’m starting!


First, my August cover page:

August cover page


This is a completely superfluous page for a planner, but many people have it and I love it because it looks nice and acts as a divider for all the different months.

Most artsy bujo-ers do monthly themes based around the seasons, or a significant holiday, or things they love (like a movie franchise, or cartoon, etc).

My theme this month is “let’s do it as simplistic as possible and get it off the ground before I get bored”!


Next, I have my August overview page. It says “Scratch Pad” in case my writing is so bad you can’t read it:

August scratch pad


This is where I write to-dos and appointments and reminders and any notes for the month.


Now come the trackers, which are the main reason I needed to undigitise because I need them customised to my needs and easily accessible multiple times a day. Apps are annoying for this because of loading times plus it’s harder to peek at neighbouring pages:

Daily habits and lifestyle tracker


Daily habits are actions I aspire to do every single day, so the aim is to fill the whole page and get a full streak. (If I succeed, Piers will reward me with, say a new iPad? Right?)

My lifestyle tracker includes things that I want to do on a daily basis. But I don’t have time to do everything, so this tracks how often I manage to do each activity. It also serves as a daily reminder for me to do the thing; otherwise I get distracted and forget!


Next tracker, sleep:

Sleep tracker


This allows me to record three things:

  1. How many hours I managed to sleep.
  2. How I feel after the sleep, using a scoring system.
  3. Notes to explain my sleep score.


I suffer greatly from insomnia and restless sleep, so this will help me notice patterns.


Last tracker, wellness:

Energy, mood and health tracker


I made this to analyse my depression. I rate my energy, mood and health three times a day (morning, afternoon and night) so that I can notice patterns, how each affects the other, and how my sleep patterns also affect these states.

I also keep track of the supplements I’m taking daily to improve my energy, mood, health and sleep. I have a tendency to forget whether I’ve taken a particular supplement, or forget completely, so this helps.


For rating my wellness, I devised these scores:

Energy, mood and health metres


10 is a perfect score, and 1 is cataclysmic.

I don’t like to do elaborate drawings (which is why I only do stick figures when I draw my comics) but I was forced to draw this picture because there was a huge blank space to fill in. It was a bit tedious but I enjoyed colouring it in, so that’s a plus.


Next up: Dinner menu:

August dinner menu


I have been planning my meals in Apple Notes to help me with grocery shopping and also to remind me what I’m supposed to cook every day. I like this way so much better.

But I’m quite disappointed with the look of this spread. I was going to keep my August pages to a three-colour pastel theme, but the cartoon burger and fries begged to be coloured in bright colours so, in a moment of insanity, I caved. Now this page doesn’t sit well with the rest of my August pages and it annoys me! It also really bugs me that the cartoons are a bit ugly.

Still, I tell myself that this is just the beginning and I have a lot of room for improvement and it will get better and better, yada. (The lies people tell themselves.)


That’s all the monthly spreads done. After month comes week and day:

August week one and day one


My weekly pages are basically weekly planners, for to-dos, appointments and reminders for the week. This week only has five days because I like starting at the first of the month.

Between each weekly page will be seven daily pages. (That’s the grand plan, anyway.) These daily pages will include tasks and appointments and a record of all the things I ate that day (to tie in with wellness tracking). Whatever space I have left after that, I will record memories, thoughts and gratitudes.

Ideally, I want to keep journalling this way for a long time, filling notebook after notebook, collecting stacks and stacks of pretty and memorable keepsakes for the future. In reality, who knows. I might get bored of the whole thing before the month is over.


Now, because this is a bullet journal, we need a bullet code, which, I hope, is self-explanatory:

Bullet journal key


Then, there are two more pages which are actually in the front of the journal, but I’m showing them last because I don’t like the look of them. Also, I made some mistakes and had to use brown sticker labels to cover them up, which completely spoiled the look I was going for:

2018 future dates and future pursuits


(I need more lies to console myself here.)

Future dates is to schedule things in advance and future pursuits are things I want to do but have no time to, at present. May never have time to, but one can dream.

These pages have a different look to my August pages because I’m doing different monthly “themes”. I think. I’m kind of making it all up as I go along.


And, finally, two bonus pages that weren’t meant to exist:

Covering mistakes in bullet journal with card stock


I was drawing my August cover page and made a mistake, so I pasted card stock over it. Then I tried to draw it on the next page and made a mistake again! So, more card stock!

Now I have two strange pages that don’t go with the rest of my journal and I still haven’t decided what to do with them.

I’m not bothering at the moment, though. I have more important things to worry about!


And that is all. Thank you for taking the tour of my new artsy bullet journal!

I will be sharing my daily pages in my Facebook page (not my personal profile) and my Instagram, so follow either or both if you’d like to see them. Ideally, you want to follow both because that will help inflate my ego.


Follow my Facebook page

Follow my Instagram Facebook Page


Well, now, my Samsung washing machine is playing its “I finished washing your clothes, you slacker” tune, so I need to go see to it. You go do your job (following my social media) while I go do mine.

Then come back and tell me whether you think all this is geeky or not!



May I entice you



So, you know your best friend is bonkers when, one day, you innocently send them a Telegram and this conversation happens.



Like, I can’t even. What kind of friend starts a durian business just, like, out of the blue. KNOWING that their best friend is dying in the UK without access to durians, especially during a particularly great season when durians are amazing and cheap and everyone on Facebook is letting you know it, with their durian statuses every single day?

Honestly. People in Singapore, you shuddup about durians now or… or… face my wrath! Eh? I shall… scold you! Hey? How would you like that? Face my scoldage if you do not cease and desist the durian posts immediately!

*Angry Face*

Alright, now that you have all been properly scolded, I shall be a good friend and talk about Wen’s durians for a bit. (Still angry!)


One day, like, so recently, Wen and her equally bonkers husband looked at each other and went, “Hey, let’s sell durians!” “Okay!”

Just like that. As if being two-month-newly-weds weren’t enough excitement.

So they woke up the next day and started a durian delivery business called Durian Fever. Without telling me.

Wen says her durians are damn good. Yeah, rub it in. They only deal in the Mao Shan Wang variety, which is the best, in my opinion. I do trust her taste because she and I are really fussy about durians and we always went out of our way and paid top dollar for the best.




So far, I hear that business is doing well. One day, a government agency randomly rang up to order tons of vacuum packed durians for a foreign army to take back home. What?

I am all kinds of jealous, stuck in the UK where the only durians you can get are probably dodgy frozen ones that cost a bomb and taste like whatever durian-hating Westerners say durians taste like after being fed lousy cheap ones.


Vacuum packed durians


Oh, yeah, incidentally, today is my birthday. I wish I were in Singapore because I really want durians! But I haven’t celebrated my birthday in Singapore since 2010. I haven’t had a birthday cake in eight years. (I’m fussy about cakes, too.)

That’s okay, and there’s no need to wish me a happy birthday. Just go order some delicious durians from Naughty Wen. You can get a friend discount if you quote “Sheylara”. I’ll be very jealous but never mind, I’ll live.


An artistically placed durian


Okay, I need to go have some fun now to take my mind off certain things!

And, here, I dug up an old photo of me and Wen for old times’ sake. This was taken in Genting Highlands nine years ago! We were so young and carefree, lol. (And I could have all the cake and durian I wanted.)


Old photo of Sheylara and Nanny Wen


Click here to order durians and get a $5 discount by quoting “Sheylara”.

Then, don’t tell me about it!!


For the memories


Exciting times! I have decided to stop being depressed.

But I was being flippant. I don’t decide depression; it decides me. Recently, after months and months of hounding me, it decided to take a break. One day, depression just up and scarpered off on a holiday or something, I don’t know. I hope it gets lost, or kidnapped, or dies of old age, or something, and never comes back.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, which is not new. I’ve been thinking too much since I was old enough to, and it’s not a good thing because I can’t ever decide on anything when I can make equally convincing arguments for all sides. This explains why I’ve had so many failed restarts in blogging in the last few years — I keep changing my mind. Also explains why I’m thirty-two kinds of strange.

But never mind all that. What’s significant is that the latest think dictated I must blog again because I’m losing memories. The last few years of my life amount to a series of blank pages because I’d failed to document all the highlights, like I’d done between 2003 and 2013-ish. As a matter of fact, my life before blogging is a lot of blank pages, as well.

That makes me sad. I need to save more memories. We all do!

So, I am now determined to start documenting again, pretending my life is really cool and everything, in millennial fashion, when, in reality, all I do is stay home and obsess over my sad obsessions. But 100-year-old me won’t remember that when I look back on my blogs with nostalgic fondness. All I’ll see and remember is that I was pretty cool. And that’s pretty cool.

In other news, I have a new obsession. It’s desk-bound and rather time-consuming so, I actually don’t know I will have any time left to get up to cool stuff, much less blog about them. But I can blog about my obsession, can’t I? Ooh. Aren’t you so very excited to read all about it?

She said self-deprecatingly.

Can Yanny vs. Laurel explain why autistic people freak out

I think I just discovered my autistic superpower…

I can hear both Yanny and Laurel AT THE SAME TIME without even trying.


If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read about the Yanny vs. Laurel debate here. (I won’t judge you for living under a rock because, if I had a choice, I would live under one myself.)

Or, if you can’t be bothered to read, watch this short video:



Also, if you don’t already know, I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome five years ago, which means I’m autistic and therefore not trying to be rude to autistic people.

I felt moved to write this post because, as I was freaking out trying to find articles explaining why I can hear both words at the same time, and not having any luck — most articles just talk about some people being able to selectively hear one or the other but there’s no mention of both at once — I realised that this phenomenon could explain/illustrate the sensory overload that autistic people experience.

I mean, growing up over the decades not knowing I was autistic and not knowing that sensory overload was even a thing, I put up with it as calmly as I could because I saw that people didn’t generally freak out in public, which meant they were coping, so why can’t I? So I coped by writing emo poems about our strange world that is too bright and too loud (and too smelly). I lived my life trying very hard to fit in because it was the only thing I knew to do.


Jigsaw piece trying to fit into the puzzle


But now I know that this stress that lives in me almost 24/7 isn’t typical. Every autistic person experiences things differently, or has the same experiences with varying degrees of intensity, so don’t think we’re all the same, but I’ll attempt to explain sensory overload.

When I’m in a group situation (party or meeting, for example) and many people are talking at once, it’s difficult for me to concentrate on one voice and tune out the rest. I hear everything. But because all the voices overlay, plus there might be music, it’s all a noisy garbled mess and I find it difficult to follow any one conversation. Trying to isolate a conversation or a specific action to focus on tires me out very quickly. I’m often completely drained and useless when I get home from an outing.

I’m extra sensitive to light and sound and smell and can feel everything at once, the same way I can hear Yanny and Laurel at the same time. So, in particularly vibrant scenarios (people, traffic, light, noise, pollution), all the sensory elements rush into me like a herd of panicked elephants stampeding through a field, tearing up all the wild vegetation. Sometimes it gives me vertigo. Sometimes I have a meltdown. Mostly, I’m just stressed and anxious inside, trying to keep it together.

This means I’m not great at social events. If I have to go anywhere, I fare better in quieter places. And, the few people, the better. Alcohol helps me dull the senses and then things get a bit more manageable but I don’t generally enjoy the taste of alcohol so it’s not a big help.


Dizzy alcohol bottles


I was joking when I talked about having a superpower. I mean, heightened senses could be seen as a kind of superpower, like in Daredevil, and I relate to his need to sleep in a coffin of water, but my “ability” is not that advanced so what I have is more a hindrance than anything else. Besides, I can’t do fancy martial arts, which I totally regret.

But the point I want to make is, if you read all the scientific explanations in the Yanny vs. Laurel debate, you’ll learn that most people automatically tune out whatever they don’t need to see or hear or feel. Their brains filter out all the noise, presenting them with only what they need to experience.

Also, there are people who have smaller hearing capacities so they literally can’t hear some frequencies so, by default, the world is already a quieter and calmer place for them.

I don’t know if all autistic people have the same frequency hearing as I do but I know that for most of us, if not all, our brains either don’t have sensory filters, or our filters function at varying low capacities, so we end up experiencing sensory overload.

I’d be interested to find out if anyone else who has autism can also hear Yanny and Laurel at the same time. And, take note, I’m not saying that you’re autistic if you can; you’ll need to fulfil a lot more criteria to receive an autism diagnosis.

I’m just saying that this Yanny vs Laurel debate is a great way to raise awareness for one of the invisible struggles that people with autism face. In fact, we have many invisible struggles which make us appear weird without a visible explanations, but I’ll stop here for now.

So, which camp are you in? Yanny? Laurel? Alternating both? Or Encompassing both?


Yanny vs. Laurel


The eulogy I couldn’t give

This is the post I’ve been wanting to write but also never wanted to write.

I suppose it’s fitting that I should be typing this on my shiny new rose gold MacBook, the last gift from my father.

Some months ago, as he lay in hospital in unending pain, waiting for meaningless days to pass, waiting for the cancer to go away, I sat by him, sometimes in helpless silence, other times with useless chatter.

That day, I told him I was thinking of buying a new MacBook because I thought it would be nice to sit in my new garden to write when I eventually got back to the business of writing.

This was in September 2017 and Piers and I had just moved to the countryside in England, into a pretty English cottage with a pretty garden. Or, more accurately, Piers had moved to the countryside in England all by himself because I was at the time in Singapore to be with my dad.

“Let me buy you the MacBook,” dad said.

“Oh, no, don’t worry about it,” I said, “I haven’t even decided.”

“I want to buy you one,” he said.

Then he made me promise I would go home that night and use his credit card to buy it.

Six weeks after that, he left us.


I was never able to completely appreciate the grief that one goes through after the loss of a loved one, even though my mum had passed away when I was 11. Then, I just felt a little lost and a bit mad, but I got over it pretty quickly.

Now, I know.

My dad’s passing has been a completely different monster. Trauma has weaved its tendrils all over me and sunk its hooks right into my soul. The pain flares up during the most innocent moments. I would be doing something inconsequential, like maybe drinking a glass of water, and I’d suddenly remember that I would never see my dad again. Never hear him laugh, never listen to his passionate discourses on the finer points of political propaganda, never taste another meal he has cooked with love.

It is frightful.

Saying goodbye is frightful.

The biggest fear in my life had always been to lose my dad because he became my everything when I lost my mum as a child. I suppose in compensation he tried to give me and my brother everything he had and everything we wanted. He was the kind of father who would give the best parts of a chicken to his children and eat the parts nobody else wanted. He was miserly to himself but overly generous with us. He would not spend a single cent more than he needed to on himself so that he had more to give us.

I carry a lifelong scar of guilt over being frivolous with money at my dad’s expense.

Financials aside, he was also my fount of wisdom and safe haven. He could answer every question, solve every problem and cure every ill, from my perspective. He was my Google and Wikipedia before Google and Wikipedia existed. Every time something broke in the house, I just had to holler for him and it would be magically fixed before you knew it. When I got lost driving (this was in the days before GPS or sat nav), it didn’t matter where I was, I only had to call him and he would immediately know how to direct me home.

Once, I got his Mercedes scratched really badly and thought the world had surely ended, but he didn’t scream at me or ground me for two years. Instead, he bought me my own car. When I got my own car scratched really badly, he just sighed quietly and got it fixed.

He spoilt me beyond rotten, but I think I still turned out to be a good person (albeit quite helpless at times) because he never stopped lecturing us on the values he deemed important: Honesty, punctuality, gratitude, kindness, education, reliability, hard work and perseverance. He slipped these lessons into our lives every opportunity he had without being naggy. In fact, he never once nagged. He just trusted us to always do the right thing.

Even when we didn’t always make the right choices, he was always supportive. For example, he would give me lectures but he never stopped me from pursuing what to some may be considered frivolous pursuits: acting, modelling, blogging. He revelled in my triumphs and soothed my failures (often with more lectures in the art of perseverance).

The knowledge that he is gone forever is horrifying beyond words.

But what haunts me the worst is the knowledge that he really wanted to live. For two years, he fought multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, never once giving up, even when the pain was unending and unbearable, largely due to his refusal to take his pain meds for fear of damaging his kidneys.

My dad loved life and fought very hard to keep it, so it’s all the more heartbreaking that, in the end, after enduring all that suffering, he still lost the one thing he really wanted: To live a long life all the better to enjoy the family that he’d worked so hard all his life to provide for.

He was looking so much forward to coming to England for a long holiday because he loved gardens and gardening and was so thrilled when Piers and I bought our new home. I would have liked to have written this in the garden like I’d talked to him about, but it’s the middle of winter and rainy all the time. Everything is grey and drab outside, which I guess is fitting for the mood.

My dad reluctantly succumbed to cancer on 3rd November 2017. I was given the opportunity to speak at his funeral but I didn’t take it because speeches are not my thing. In an alternate world where I am not the scaredy cat that I am here, I would have done it.

In this world, though, I’m a writer, so all I have is a written eulogy.

Goodbye, dad. If I could be half as brilliant as you, half as successful as you, and half as selfless as you, I would want for nothing more, except to have you be around again. I wish you didn’t have to go so soon, I really do. Thank you for everything and I’m sorry.