goals

Kindness Always (February 2019)

I started off 2019 doing something a little different with playful + peaceful. I chose a theme to focus on in January. This was a very loose theme – I didn’t feel tied to it, but I did try to think of a few posts that related to this theme, and it helped me to brainstorm and to focus my writing all month long.

The theme for January was rhythm and routine. Even though I’m not quite done with all of my rhythm and routine posts, I’ve decided to announce my theme for February: kindness. 

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I thought of this during December 2018. I kept seeing Advent kindness calendars on Facebook, with a kind action for every day of December leading up to Christmas. I love this idea, and I think I’m going to try it out next year. I especially love the idea of involving Edgar and J.J. in this Kindness Advent as they get older.

I chose kindness for February because I like to think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday all about expressing love for the world around you. (I’m not so into it as a romantic holiday; I’ll eat the chocolates if Tamara gets me some, but they’re not required or missed if they don’t show up.)

Lately, it almost feels like life is too full and to busy to even think about all the things I want to do! My life is work, child care, and sleep. It’s hard enough having the energy to be patient and kind with the three humans I live with; do I have the ability, the time, to do kind things for acquaintances, for strangers?

Of course I do.  Even if I can’t get it done, I’m at least going to give it a try. I think that sometimes just TRYING to be kind makes the world a little bit better.

I’m not sticking with any one kindness calendar; I’ve reviewed a few different ones, so that I’ll have lots of ideas to choose from.

Happy Heart Day; be kind.

Image result for action for happiness kindness calendar

goals · writing

February 2019: Monthly Writing Goals

Of all the intentions I set for 2019, the one that has served me best so far is my monthly writing goals.

I decided that I needed something extra to keep me on track with my writing. Last summer, I wrote a lot and I had big plans for my writing routine as the school year began, and then – BAM! A beautiful baby boy – my too-cute-to-describe J.J. – came home to our family. My writing routine came second to the bliss and stress of babyhood, and I have no regrets about that.

But as the beginning of 2019 approached, I had an idea – I would write a blog post every month and I would set some writing goals for myself to accomplish over the course of the month. This ritual would be a way to check in with myself. I’d keep my writing goals at the forefront, because I’d be reminded of them every time I did any work on the blog. Additionally, having a few clear goals makes it easier to recognize when you’re not achieving your writing goals at all.

I really got to see how this ritual was helping me during the last week of January. I was looking ahead to see what blog posts were scheduled to be published, and I saw a draft of this post. I reviewed my goals from last month and realized immediately that one of them – reading through the two novels I’ve drafted – was not done yet. There were only a few days left in the month, so I abandoned the book I was reading (The Patron Saint Of Liars by Ann Patchett) and spent every spare minute reading through the novel drafts.

This was such a great example for me of why we set goals. If we never set clear and specific goals for ourselves, then we don’t recognize when we’re not spending the time we need to achieve those goals. I was super proud of being able to accomplish my January goals. Yes, I had to adjust them partway through the month – you can read about that here – but I feel like I accomplished way more than I would have if I hadn’t put those goals down on paper the way I did.

These are my goals for February 2019:

  1. Maintain my blogging, posting every Tuesday and Saturday.
  2. Finish reading Story Genius.
  3. Open up the document for the novel you’ve decided to write at least three times, and write a few words.

The third goal isn’t very ambitious, but I struggled to decide what steps I should take next with the novel. I’ve really been enjoying reading Story Genius, and I have a feeling that the more I read, the more mini writing tasks I’ll complete. Maybe, after I’ve read more of the book, I’ll do another round of Let’s Reevaluate – we’ll see!

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balance · goals

All The Things (January 2019)

This month has been a blur. I’ve been exhausted, foggy-eyed, and short on time and energy. Life hasn’t has that much variety – it’s been predominantly work, child care, and sheep. But – there have been some things.

Things I’m Reading: I finished Louise Penny’s latest (Kingdom Of The Blind) early this month. It was good, and I always love an Inspector Gamache story.

I started a new John Boyne book, Crippen, but then took a break one snowy day to read From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a children’s book my sister loves and I’d never read before.

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I’ve been working my way through Story Genius by Lisa Cron, which is FANTASTIC and going to be a read-while-you-write slow burn kinda read.

I am currently taking a break from Crippen to read Ann Patchett’s The Patron Saint Of Liars. I discovered a copy in the Little Free Library at Oregon Ridge, and since it’s been on my TBR list forever, it seemed like an omen.

Things I’m Watching: I’ve had Amazon Prime forever, but I only recently discovered that I can watch movies and T.V. shows via the Amazon Prime app. It’s been great timing, since I often watch TV on my phone during J.J.’s night feedings. I started the month re-watching all six seasons of Sex and the City (major nostalgia for my college years) and now have been working my way through re-watching The Newsroom.

Things I’m Getting Better At: I’m trying to transition to using photos I take on the blog instead of photos I find online. I’ve done pretty well this month! Trying my best to snap photos throughout the day. It really takes effort, especially when my days are as plain-and-simple as they are lately.

Monthly Writing Goals: How Are Things?: My biggest writing accomplishment this month has been my blog posts. I have FINALLY gotten back to posting two posts a week, every Tuesday and Saturday, and I even had a few bonus posts, adding up to 10 posts total for the month.  WOO HOO! I was also proud of myself for re-evaluating my goals halfway through the month, checking in with myself and realizing that some goals were too far out of my reach and needed to be adjusted.

Happy January!  Well into Quarter 1, and I’m feeling okay. I’m tired and sluggish, but I’m moving forward. Keep it coming, 2019!

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goals · writing

Let’s Reevaluate, Shall We?

Despite the long wakeful nights and the overall feelings of tired and overwhelmed, I’m feeling pretty good about the start of 2019. I’m excited to keep going with my monthly writing goals, in particular. (See here to check out my January writing goals!)

Now, I feel good about how much I’ve been thinking about my writing, and I feel proud that I have actually been posting on the blog twice a week since the year started.  (WOO HOO!)

Once I reached mid-January, however, I decided that it was time to reevaluate my goals. I realized that things were moving more slowly than I’d like, and I would rather edit my goals than abandon them completely.

These were my original January 2019 writing goals:

  1. Write every day. Average 7,000 words per week. Spend at least 4 of the 7 writing sessions working on the novel.
  2. Get back on track with blogging weekly or biweekly. (My realistic goal is every Tuesday; my ambitious goal is every Tuesday and Saturday.)
  3. Decide which novel you want to focus on by the end of the month.

The aspect of my writing practice that has been neglected most is the fiction writing. I haven’t opened any of my novel documents in 2019; the only step I took was printing three different documents so I could read over a hard copy of each project. And with my current work/sleep/child care schedule, I think I need to set a more achievable goal in this area.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Continue reading Story Genius by Lisa Cron. (A birthday gift that is proving tremendously helpful in guiding my writing process!) Hoping to finish the book by the end of February!
  2. Get back on track with blogging weekly or biweekly.
  3. Read through your three novel drafts by the end of the month.

I think these goals are more realistic, given my current availability and resources. I’m excited to get to work and happy to be honest with myself about what I can do.

goals

Weekly Planning Date

One of my big goals for this year is to start having weekly dates with my planner. I want to take a little time every Sunday to sit down and think about the week ahead.

This seems like such a simple thing. But I am not the best at it. I’m not great at planning in general, and I often will forego something like this because I’m tired or not in the mood.

This is what I’d like to do during my weekly planner dates:

1. Look at the week ahead. Examine any plans and talk with Tamara about anything that needs to be arranged. If there’s a task that needs to be completed this week, schedule a time to do it.

2. Check the long-term things to do list on my phone. (This is something new I’m trying! Every single thing on my to-do list is in an app on my phone.) See if anything needs to be scheduled for this week or the near future.

3. Figure out when you can write, exercise, and meditate this week.

4. Check your calendar. Any birthday cards need to be sent? Any gifts that need to be bought?

This weekly date with my planner is a ritual I’d like to start and maintain in 2019. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few months, and haven’t. So I’ve spent some time contemplating what’s gotten in the way in the past, and considering any little tricks I can use to help overcome the barriers.

The main trick I’m going to try is doing this weekly planning date in the morning instead of on Sunday evenings. I’ve always been a morning person, so doing this in the morning will play to my strengths.

LET’S DO THIS.

 

 

balance · goals · parenting

Tired + Tired

It’s mid-January, and I have never failed at my new year’s resolutions so quickly before.

However, this time – TOTALLY not my fault. It’s not about procrastination or laziness or motivation, not at all!  It’s all about my kids.

Baby J.J. isn’t sleeping through the night yet. He’s 4 months old and it’s to be expected. BUT NOW. My Edgar – my two-year-old precious A plus amazing sleeper – has started having sleep struggles.

WTF.

That means Tamara and I just shifted from getting a solid 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night, while the other dealt with Baby J.J. – to now NO ONE IN THE HOUSE GETTING ANY SLEEP EVER.

I am still so so happy and grateful for my little family. The big picture is beautiful and blessed.

The little picture, though? The little picture is a tiny thumbnail photo of a family of four, totally exhausted and cranky and struggling. (With the exception of Baby J.J., who is developmentally appropriately able to function on his consistent diet of 2.5 hour naps throughout the day.)

Prior to the new year, I decided that I couldn’t wait until J.J. was sleeping through the night to start maintaining my focus on exercise, meditation, recovery, and writing. I recommitted to prioritizing my self-care and my goals despite my current life circumstances.

And yes – this still needs to be true. If my word of the year is NOW, then I have to do this stuff NOW and not later.

When I get overwhelmed, I think about this: If I can write now, I can write anytime. When I think about my goals for the year, my writing is one of my main priorities. And, while things could definitely get harder, I am pretty tired and have limited time – so really, if I can blog regularly and get some fiction writing done right now, even if it’s the bare minimum, then just imagine what I can get done when I start to actually have time and energy!  For me, the most important thing right now is ROUTINE – rhythm and routine. If I can get some kind of routine happening now, with two kids under three, a full-time job, and no sleep – well, it’d be a miracle. The kind of miracle you get when you work your butt off.  

goals

Word Of The Year

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I spent a lot of time writing about thoughts, intentions, and goals for 2019. There’s a post with my birthday thoughts (including resolutions about TV time and writing), a post with my list of intentions for the year, and a post with my January writing goals, which is a new ritual I am hoping to maintain this year.

This is typical for me, to make a bunch of different goals in different places. I’m an all-over-the-place kind of person, even when it comes to making resolutions about meditation and being present. And on New Year’s Day, I thought of a way that I could tie all of my resolutions together so that they were easier to remember and achieve: choosing a Word of the Year.

When you choose a Word of the Year, you pick a word that represents your focus for the year. The word can connect all the different resolutions you’re making for yourself, or it can be more abstract. I’ve heard people choose a lot of different words: Health. Story. Present. Family. Love. Serenity.

I’ve chosen a Word of the Year in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever maintained my focus on that word throughout an entire year. And I don’t know if I will this year, either! But one of my hopes for 2019 is that I’ll be able to use playful + peaceful as a place where I can check in on my progress toward various goals, and I figure that may work for my Word of the Year focus as well.

My word of the year for 2019 is NOW. For me, this word will help me to focus in on what my priorities are without having to check my list of intentions three times a day. Each of the goals and resolutions I’ve written about for 2019 can be represented by NOW in a specific way.

  1. Be here NOW. Live in the now – don’t get caught up in the past or the future. Slow down, and be present and mindful. This also ties into two of my more practical goals: decreasing TV time and docking my phone while I’m at home with my family.
  2. Embrace the NOW. I want to express gratitude for everything that’s happening in my life at this moment. I don’t want to wait for a new house, a new job, or a new baby to come along so that I can be happy. I want to look around and realize that I’m happy right NOW. On a related note – I also want to regulate my social media diet. And social media is the mortal enemy of the present moment, always urging us to compare and contrast and feel left out or less than.
  3. Do it NOW. You cannot wait any longer to write your novel, or to exercise, or to make meditation a priority. The time is now. Related: don’t procrastinate the things on your to-do list. GET THEM DONE.

I love this word; I’m excited about the possibilities, about how the word can grow and change and evolve as the year progresses.