Jumping down the rabbit hole of Bullet Journaling and applying it to recovery an Essay


I knew it would come to this at some point, that I would write this essay on Bullet Journals, and recovery.  I just didn’t expect it to be tonight that I did the leap. So, here we go.

So much of recovery revolves around homework, planning, meetings, lots of step work, lists and the like. We are trying to turn our lives around from focusing on the booze and the drugs, and instead focusing on being a productive member of society.

Part of the problem I ran into early on in recovery is that there just was not a good way of keeping track of what I was doing in both my sobriety and in my day to day life. Most planners I found were next to worthless for the dual purpose I needed. I also needed to track my medical problems and give accurate reports on everything to my Doctor.

How the heck does one do it all?

Well, after just keeping lots of notebooks for years, trying to snarl my way through on both a laptop and or handheld devices, I was about to pull my hair out. I found, well stumbled into bullet journaling. I also found travelers notebooks at the same time.

Bullet journaling is as simple, or as complicated as you want to make it to be. You can go all out, and spend hundreds of dollars on pens, journals, washi tape, and thousands of hours on Amazon and in groups online trying to make it “purdy” or colorful. 

However, what I needed was a simple system to track the following:

  1. Schedule, including meetings and phone lists. I track my own appointments, Dad’s appointments, and my Spouse’s appointments. I also keep track of Sponsee’s sobriety dates, Sponsor call times, and family events.
  2. I needed a simple system to track my meals, blood sugars, insulin injections, medications and other symptoms for my physician.
  3. I needed a place to keep track of todo lists, “tada lists””” (things I did that I can be proud of), projects, work, grocery lists, sizes of family members, vehicle maintenance records, and the like.
  4. I needed a place for my daily homework, my journaling, and my step work. I also needed a place to track my meeting notes, my step studies, and homework assignments I give my sponsees.

I have many more things I track, but you get the idea.

A bullet journal solved that problem for me, and made my life much easier. 

Above is a sample sheet from my bullet journal. It was from much earlier in the year, when the daily high was only 32* F or 0* C out. I know also that it was from a Tuesday, simply because if I was going to the Library that day, and an 8PM meeting, Tuesday is the only day that that works out for me.

The arrows on the list are things I migrated forward from the day or even week before. I can guarantee you that on that day, I didn’t get all of that work done, but I did get quite a bit of it accomplished.

Now, for the recovery part. I use a traveler’s notebook now, and I have separate inserts for my daily homework, my study work, and step work. There is an insert for meeting notes alone. It’s all up to you what you want to do with your homework, your journal, and your life. This is just a system that works for this alcoholic.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at justanotheralcoholic@yahoo.com

I will revisit this topic and post more photos of my current journaling system at a later date.

Plan Plans, but don’t plan results, an essay


Sitting here at the computer screen, I was wondering what to write. Then the words from one of those sick drunks came to me, as I thought about my day.

My original plan for the day was to wake up at around 8, wake up my Dad, and we drive into town. Dad would go to church, and I would go to my favorite AA meeting, which starts in about 6 minutes. 

Dad and I are not in town, and I am not about to drive 20 miles with a migraine. Instead of plan “A”, I am going with plan “E”. Wait a minute! What happened to plans B, C, and D?

Plan B was, we rush to get ready, and head in anyway. I am dizzy and Dad does not feel safe driving. 

Plan C was, I go back to sleep, and Dad takes a nap. (This was my preferred plan.)

Plan D was, I search the internet for a later Mass and later AA meeting, preferably in town. No Mass and meetings coincided neatly enough to make it the most comfortable for Dad. Also, Dad does not speak Spanish well. 

So, plan E. I’m sitting and working on an essay, while Dad gets dressed. This gives him free access to the bathroom, and I have time to think a bit as well as take my medication before I get my day started.

What is the method here? 

Years ago, when I moved from an apartment into a house, my Sponsor and I discussed my options. Plan A became the preferred plan, B secondary etc… I think at that point I ended up on plan Q. My Sponsor then said if I get to Z, and that doesn’t work, to go back and use A1, B1 and through the alphabet again.

What does this have to do with sobriety?

I am referring to the Big Book again. On page 86, the line starts with “On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking…” 

When God is directing my thinking, I realize that many of my ideas have been wrong. I have to come up with something else entirely. The book continues, “In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take.” 

This is where I realize that my plans are way out of line for my current circumstances, I stop and ask for direction. 

Later in the book, there is something that adds to this idea. On page 420, the book adds, “Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations.”  The higher I set my expectations on ‘Plan A’, the lower my serenity when ‘Plan A’ goes balls up, and nothing good can result.

I am reminded of the actor outlined in step 3 as well. I too, really want to run the show, however, I realize that often, I just muck it up.

I have to remind myself often, “God is my Employer” and that I do not always know what is best. Sometimes, Plan “E” or even “Q22” is just as good as “Plan A”. I do not run the show, and I am just another alcoholic, trying to get through God’s day the best I can.

That’s all I have on this for now, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at justanotheralcoholic@yahoo.com