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Hello, 2019!

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While I prefer a more social New Year’s Eve (I know – it feels just as weird to type it as it does to read it, but it’s one of the days of the year I like having plans), this was a pretty good fallback option.

Today has been both relaxed and productive. I did laundry, reorganized my dresser drawers, and broke open my shiny new planner (YAY!). I usually do two posts for goals at the beginning of the year to help sharpen my focus. Today’s post is a tangible to-do list for goals that I track throughout the year (well, except for one of them which is a one-and-done thing. And yes, there are actual charts). Tomorrow, I’ll talk about my word for the year. It’s a doozy.

  1. Read 100 books. I think I’m going to start posting my TBR list at the first of each month and then look back over it at the end of the month to see how close I actually stuck to it. This year, I’m revisiting some favorite authors (expect some Douglas Coupland, Haruki Murakami, Isabel Allende, etc.), brushing up on some classics, and keeping up with my three book clubs. The January TBR list:
    * The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    * Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
    * Sphinx by Anne Garreta
    * Many Subtle Channels by Daniel Levin Becker
    * A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (Epiphany isn’t until Sunday – I have five days!)
    * Becoming by Michelle Obama
    * The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
    * Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    * You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
    * Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende
    * Role Models by John Waters
    This may seem like a lot, but some of them are super short, and I have a 24in48 weekend coming up at the end of January!
  2. Renew my passport. I don’t necessarily have plans to travel outside the country this year, but I am adopting a you-never-know attitude about it, so I’d like to be prepared, just in case.
  3. Develop a daily creativity practice. My creativity veers in a lot of different directions, so this doesn’t have to look the same every day. It could be playing piano, dancing, writing poetry, building something, knitting, decorating or rearranging a space, or trying (or, let’s be real – tweaking) new recipes. But I know I get bored and restless if I’m not flexing those creative muscles, so I want to be more intentional about it.
  4. Continue building physically nourishing habits. By the end of the year, I want to be exercising four times a week, drinking an adequate amount of water daily, and feeding myself well. I have specific mini-goals to build up to it so that I won’t find myself looking back on this post in November and thinking, “Hmm…guess I better eat a carrot.”
  5. Get rid of something(s) in my overtaxed schedule in order to carve out time to do the writing I actually like to do (i.e., fiction, poetry, essays, blogging) on a regular basis.

Do you have resolutions for the upcoming year? What are they?

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Some of my favorite photos of 2018

This year has been…challenging. It hasn’t been terrible, but it also hasn’t been great. Even in not-so-great times, though, I can still learn and move forward. Here are five things I learned this year.

  1. So much of my 2018 has felt like busy work. We talked a lot about strengths at work, and my word of the year was “core.” One of the effects of examining my strengths and core values is that I realized how much what I do doesn’t match them. I didn’t write as many posts about core values (I think I finished two – hope and story) as I planned because I’m disappointed in how little time I make for the things I love the most. Expect more of these posts in the new year as I continue to unravel them.
  2. Setting high goals is good for me whether I reach them or not. I didn’t reach my goal of reading 100 books this year, but in shooting for it, I read 14 more than I did in 2017. I streamlined my budget and thus was able to purchase a keyboard and pay for the entire trip to the writers’ retreat at God’s Whisper Farm without putting it on a credit card. I got out more and saw more of Denton than I had the previous year.
  3. I am more disciplined than I thought I was. My planner looks like it was run over by a truck. Like I said, the year has been busy. Yet when I set a short-term goal with a deadline, I met it. I finished my first draft of Fishbowl (and have since dismantled it and now I need to write more to fill it out, but it’s going to be so much better). I made enough money with my freelance gig in my spare time in August (a month not historically known for an abundance of spare time in my world) to pay my rent (proving that I could probably make a living just doing freelance work if I wanted to).
  4. If I’m going to stick to an exercise plan, I have to risk something. I don’t tend to stick to a running schedule unless I am breaking in new, expensive shoes, because I feel like I have to justify the investment. I had no problem exercising in college because I was taking dance and PE classes (PSA: do not take modern, tap, and swim conditioning in the same semester. You will be so tired.), so both my pocketbook and my GPA were on the line. One of my resolutions was to either use my gym membership or cancel it. But it’s only $10 a month, so if I go even twice, my brain registers that minimal effort as getting my money’s worth. I recently started going to Club Pilates, and it’s considerably more than $10 a month. I have no problem making it there two or three times a week. Part of that is that I love Pilates (and I especially love it on the machines), but the main reason is that I am sacrificing other things to be able to afford it, so I’m going to get every session I pay for.
  5. Reading in Spanish is harder than I thought it would be, but I’m learning so much faster by doing so. It’s going to take me a while to get through this book, but I think I’ve found my favorite way to learn a language.

 

So that’s 2018. I’m looking forward to the new year and what it will bring.

Friday Five 4

We have a half day at work today, so as of noon, I begin my 1.5-week holiday break! Before I go, though, I want to leave you with five things I loved this week.

  1. I love a well-curated book list. I’m pretty sure these books will make me want to visit/move to Hawaii.
  2. I love this story! Yes, let’s all be superheroes.
  3. I am thinking of taking up cross-stitch again (because my house doesn’t already look enough like Grandma’s). These patterns would be a great place to start.
  4. I feel this post HARD. The advice portion was so freeing that I bought her book.
  5. I told my friend Jessica that I have discovered what I want to be when I grow up – baby big cat swim coach.

Hope your weekend is great!

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“I think that there are as many minds as there are heads and as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” – from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

I’m currently reading two (two…five…whatever) books right now. I still haven’t finished the one for book club earlier this month, but I like it, so I’m working my way through. I am also working through Anna Karenina. I really had hoped I would love it. I have 300 more pages. Tolstoy can still turn it around. I believe in him. I am liking it more than I did when I started, so I guess that’s something.

The book I’m reading for Advent – Those Who Wait by Tanya Marlow – has me pondering love and the odd ways it shows up (or fails to do so…lots of thoughts and feelings about that). So, of course, quotes about love are standing out to me.

From Alice Hoffman’s Faithful – 

“Love is a mystery. It’s like an alien abduction. You think you’re on earth, and there you are among the stars.”

Once during my mastermind writer’s group, we had a conversation about our past romantic entanglements. I told the story about a close friend that I met my freshman year of college who started dating one of my other friends. When they started going out, others started treating me like I had been wronged and offering to listen “if I needed to talk.” Apparently, they were under the impression that my close friend and I had been dating and the other friend stole him away. So, laughing, I told him what they said, and he got very awkward, replying, “Um. Yeah. Weren’t we?”

Were we? Huh. NEWS TO ME. After listening to this and a few other stories several of us told, one of my friends said, “Hearing you talk about your past relationships is like hearing about alien abductions.”

He’s not wrong. I have learned that people thought our relationship status was different than I believed it to be several times. As the common denominator in these scenarios, I suppose I should take some of the blame. But also – how hard is it to have a conversation where we actually say out loud who we are to each other? I admit I’m not great at picking up on verbal hints. Physical cues? I’m pretty good at that. But if it’s just verbal, I’m going to need something more along the lines of “I like you and want to be exclusive. Check yes or no,” than just vague comments about my general delightfulness. Because frankly, I get that from people who definitely just want to be friends, so if you want more, you need to be clearer.

Even when there’s rampant miscommunication and misunderstanding, though, to be loved (or even liked a whole lot) is pretty dreamy.

 

 

I wrote and shared this a few years ago. I’m reading through Tanya Marlow’s beautiful Those Who Wait for Advent this year and thus dealing with some things I had buried. Maybe you are, too, this season.

“I will make you a great nation.  Sarah will bear you a son!”

The Visitor always did like to make an entrance.

None of the standards –

No, “How have you been?”

Or, “Friend, that was a long journey!”

Only a big announcement would do.

She heard while she was minding the supper dishes.

And Sarah laughed.

The Visitor was perplexed.

“Why is Sarah laughing? What – does she think I can’t?!”

Abraham, sweet man, tried

To act like it was nothing

To deflect the sound coming from the other room

“Probably just thinking about something funny that happened today.”

She stood in the kitchen, listening to men make plans,

And Sarah laughed.

Wouldn’t this have made more sense, Sarah wondered,

To have told me this Himself?

Abraham’s a good husband,

But there’s only so much even a good husband can do to bring a child.

I guess I should be flattered, she thought.

They’re throwing me a surprise party.

In my womb.

And Sarah laughed.

She remembered elusive promises and hopes stirred.

How long had the story been told?

Around tables and fires, shrouded in wonder and awe.

Descendants outnumbering the sand.

It need only start with one.

But the one was nowhere to be found.

She had been told of His perfect timing,

So Sarah laughed.

She remembered elusive sleep and garments rent.

How many tears had she shed?

Surrounded by a sea of children, but always on the other side of the door.

Skinned knee unbandaged, wedding unattended, grandchildren unheld.

Age showing her what it was capable of

As the bleeding stopped, and the book closed.

She had already cried,

So Sarah laughed.

Is this how promises are fulfilled?

To wait until all hope, desire, and ability are gone?

To finally bring her what she always wanted

But only after it was too late for her to enjoy it fully?

Just to make Himself look more special than everyone already knew He was.

Maybe what she wanted to do was punch Him

But she couldn’t

So Sarah laughed.

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The Advent/Christmas tree is up. It has pockets.

Advent started yesterday, and as is my (recent…within the last few years) custom, I put my Christmas tree up on the evening of the first day. All those little knitted pockets are pieces of a deconstructed Advent calendar, and each will hold a small task for each day (which I will distribute among them tonight). I love the practice of daily calendar, whether the surprise inside is a memory, a quote, a fun task, or a chocolate.

But there are other things I’m skipping this year.

I seem to get worked up over how busy this season is. I’m worried that I won’t have enough time to do the things I want to do (i.e., drive around and see Christmas lights, go to parties, etc.) and also still do the things I need to do (i.e., jobs, shower, etc.). My calendar is overloaded from the excess. I can’t look at it too long (which is sad, because you know how much I love my planner), or I get anxious.

None of that this year. I’m skipping the worry. Yesterday, our pastor preached a sermon on the foreboding apocalyptic text for the first Sunday of Advent, and the point he made was that this is a season not of either/or but both/and. The world is awful and everything is bleak and ending and there is joy and love and hope and peace. I love that. I’m embracing that this month, and that leave no room for worry. I’m going to do what I must and what I want, and at the end of the month, chances are good that I’ll still be standing despite (or possibly even because) all of it.

The trick is this: I’m also skipping anything that doesn’t fall into those two categories. If I neither need nor want to do something, I’m not gonna. I’m skipping obligation. I know – the holidays are a dangerous season for that. But yesterday, I also skipped our congregational meeting. I didn’t mean to. I meant to go – set my alarm and everything. But when I woke up, I was so hungry. I knew there would be donuts at the church, but donuts are only nourishing for the soul, not the body. I knew if I didn’t eat real food, it would affect the rest of the day. So I stayed home a little longer and did just that. Nothing bad happened, and I got to start the day right.

More of that this season, please. The expected busyness with a few cracks where the light can get in.

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This month went by super fast! There was one tree at the beginning of the month in the lot where I park at work that had shed all its leaves (as if to say, “Come on, you guys – it’s time! Don’t be late!” I feel like that tree understands me.), but now they’re all turning/shedding. And I love it.

November has been busy, but happy busy. I had a minor writing delay when my laptop crashed, but my sister and brother-in-law gave me one of theirs, so I’m back on a roll, and just in time for the holidays! Here’s how the month went.

What I’m into reading or listening to:

  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is a gem of a book. I love the perspective and the sweet friendship he forges when he goes to see his family.
  • I’m getting through Anna Karenina. I recognize that I’m in no position to critique a translation from Russian, as I do not know a lick of Russian, but I’m going to critique it anyway. I’m liking the story line and character development, but I frequently run across a passage where I think, “I bet that was beautiful in Russian. Too bad this phrasing is awkward and awful.” I may check a copy out of the library and see if that goes better.
  • I attending the UNT Jazz Singers’ fall concert/CD release party and picked up their new collection called A Thousand Nights. Highly recommend.

a thousand nights

What I’m into doing:

  • A Club Pilates location opened in Denton, and I am obsessed. I love Pilates on the reformer machines! If you’re in or near Denton, and you’re curious, you can take a free, 30-minute intro session.
  • Our Housing holiday party was fantastic. It was beautiful, the food was awesome, and they gifted everyone with a free ham or turkey. As you can see in the picture at the top, I couldn’t decide what to drink. So many choices. I made them all.
  • I enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family. We only made four kinds of candy this year (one didn’t make it into buckets because it was only a small batch). I only suffered a minor burn, which is better than I usually do. I think my family actually enjoys the chocolate-covered salted peanut or pecan clusters I make to use up the excess chocolate more than they like the actual candy.
  • Speaking of chocolates, I refreshed our fair trade stash at church and put out a table with samples of chocolate, coffee, and tea. Hopefully the information I collected there can help guide our purchases better so that the products get bought before they go stale.

What I’m looking forward to:

  • There is a coffee crawl scheduled next weekend, and I’m very excited about it. It’s a fundraiser for the Explorium (a children’s museum in Denton), and I am happy to drink coffee to support them.
  • I’m also very excited about Christmas break. I am looking forward to having that time off.

What are you into these days?

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