goals

New Year, Old Kerriann

It’s 2019, and this is the season when all of us are evaluating the last year of our lives and thinking about making resolutions for the new year.

This year, I’ve written a list of intentions for myself, but it’s nothing new – everything on the list is an intention that I have set previously.

Thinking about the year ahead, I realized that I’m not really resolving to do anything new. I have goals for the year, and I have new habits I want to implement, including checking on my writing progress monthly, taking photos to use on the blog, and (maybe? someday? finally?) using my phone less.

But really? Life is good, and I’ve been feeling more like myself than I have in years.

I think when we’re setting intentions for a new year, we’re not usually trying to be different. We’re resolving to be more like our truest and best selves. We are making a commitment to start the year off fresh, being the best possible version of ourselves that we can be.

This year, I want to eat healthy, spend less, and write more. I want to do more of the things that make me Kerriann and less of the things that distract me from being myself and living life the way I’d like to live it.

It might all be semantics – resolutions, goals, habits, intentions. They’re all in the same family – changes we want to make to maximize our happiness or our productivity.

But for me, this year, I mostly feel like I want to stop getting in my own way; I want to allow myself to be the person I am in my very best and most present moments.

Cheers, 2019. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

goals · writing

January 2019: Monthly Writing Goals

I’m going to try something new this year.

I am going to get really specific about my goals for my writing.

My hope is that using SMART goals will help me to make more progress and/or to take notice when I am not making progress so that I can regroup.

Here are my goals for January 2019:

  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.

Here are my big goals for 2019:

  1. Finish a draft of a novel by the end of June.
  2. Finish a GOOD draft of a novel by the end of December.
  3. Maintain weekly or biweekly blogging.

I am planning to use my “All The Things” posts on the last day of the month to keep track of how I’m doing with regard to my monthly goals.

Fingers crossed – hoping that this will help me to make some real progress!

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goals

My Birthday Thoughts

It’s my birthday!

Every year on my birthday, Tamara and I go to a coffee shop for some conversation, writing, and reading over coffee.

This coffee date has changed greatly since Edgar was born in 2016, and this year was even trickier with two little ones to chase around. Yet the tradition stands.

During my birthday coffee date, I like to reflect, and I like to write.  A birthday is a great day to think about where things are at in my life and where I’d like things to be. I find that on my birthday, I can usually maintain a really healthy and optimistic perspective; I don’t beat myself up for my shortcomings, and I don’t cry over regrets. I just think, and hope, and make plans for the future.

These days, things in my life are pretty great – adorable kids, wonderful wife, good job – and the things that aren’t great (lack of sleep, no time to write) are temporary.

These are my birthday thoughts about my current state of affairs:

1. I can’t wait for Baby J.J. to start sleeping through the night to get back into my writing routine. We’re nowhere close to that happening, and if writing is my priority, then it needs to happen now. Same for meditation, exercise, and overall self-care.

2. Lately, I spend a lot of time zoning out on Netflix. I do it while I’m feeding Jonas, or when I’m wiped out at the end of the day, or I’ll have it in the background while I do dishes or fold laundry. This has to stop. I’d much rather use this time for writing. I may not be able to sit down and do any deep work, but I can jot down a blog post or reread a draft. Or I can just daydream about a novel or a story. I don’t have much time for writing or thinking; I want to make the most of the time I have.

3. I need to get specific about my goals for writing. My specific goal for 2019 is to finish a good draft of a novel. One of my big plans for 2019 is to start setting monthly writing goals so that I can keep myself on track.

This week has been really magical. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been feeling inspired and the creative energy has been flowing. I have so many ideas, for everything from blog posts to children’s books to novels. AND I have so many ideas for ways to make everyday life smoother and more efficient. I feel incredibly grateful for this creative flow – it’s not something that switches on and off automatically so I appreciate the flow when it comes.

Thanks to Tamara, Edgar, J.J., and my extended family, today has been a wonderful day. I’m grateful for family, love, and the creative flow. Here’s hoping I can stay in this flow as the new year approaches!

goals · self-care

Set An Intention For Your Day

I am a person who is constantly making resolutions. I am a person who is often found looking for books in the Self-Improvement/Personal Growth sections of either the library or my local bookstore. I am a person who sets many intentions about ways to be a better/best version of myself.

This can be overwhelming.

On New Year’s Day 2018, I set several intentions: I wanted to meditate; to write more; to practice self-care rather than angsting; and to be intentional with my actions, my words, my choices.

These are all in line with the person I want to be, but they’re pretty broad. What do I focus on, from day to day? Do I read about mindfulness? Do I meditate? Do I write? Do I try to make really intentional choices about how I spend my time, either on my own or with my family?

The answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE. And this is where I get overwhelmed. Because how do I focus on everything that’s important to me, all at once?

I can’t. And that’s what got me started thinking about setting an intention for my day.

I like the idea of choosing a word or a resolution and focusing on it for a set period of time.  In the past, I’ve done this via a happiness project. (See more info on Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and check out her monthly resolutions chart here!) I find it helpful to focus on one thing at a time, especially when life is hectic. And life is definitely hectic lately!

Right at this moment, when I think about setting an intention for my day tomorrow, the one that’s drifting to the forefront is this: Be well. 

I feel a little unwell these past few days. My exercise routine has been abandoned (oh, newborn life), and that always throws me off. I don’t have a novel on my nightstand; that feels weird, too. Most importantly, my diet has been all out of whack this week.

When things get busy, I have a hard time remembering to take care of myself. Even the basics, like showering and drinking water, are neglected.  I think that’s why the idea of wellness appeals to me at the moment. I want to slow down and consider my choices; I want to think about what choice would help me feel the most whole and healthy and well.  

I don’t know if I’ll stick with this intention setting. It’s a tough time to commit to a new habit, especially when I’m not even maintaining the regular habits! We’ll see. For now – my intention is to focus on wellness all day tomorrow. Wish me luck!

balance · goals

The Best Laid Plans

This summer, I enjoyed a blissful six weeks of time away from professional work. I mommied – I wrote – I took care of my body and my mind. I started my new job on August 22nd feeling healthy and refreshed.

And then, on September 4th, we got a call from the adoption agency. Two days later, we were camped out at an Air BNB in Alexandria, Virginia, with our new baby boy.

It’s all been a whirlwind since then, and it makes me laugh to think about the plans I made over the summer. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to spend my work days and my overall weeks. I used my time off and the opportunity for a fresh start to evaluate how I spend my time and to make plans for how I could utilize my time and energy better.

And now, my life looks completely different. And those plans have to change.

However, I don’t at all regret the time I spent planning over the summer. It was valuable leg work that will help me now, as I contemplate returning to work after my adoption leave and evaluate what I want my days and my weeks to look like now that life is a little more complicated. (And a lot, lot cuter!) I didn’t get everything on my to-do list accomplished over the summer, but I did cross a lot of tasks off and I formed good habits that I’m hoping to maintain as our family adjusts to this new phase of life.

Looking ahead to my work days, I’m hoping to get up every day at (eek!) 4:30 a.m. so that I can have time to write, do yoga, and prepare for the day before the munchkins are awake. One of the small but meaningful changes I want to make in my routine is having a few moments for a daily prayer and inventory at the beginning and the end of the day. I think this is really important for my 12-step recovery, and it’s a practice that I want to prioritize.

I’ll wake Edgar at 5:55, and he’ll use the potty, get dressed, and put on his socks and shoes before coming downstairs for breakfast. My goal is that we will leave for Edgar’s school by 6:40 so that I can then arrive at work by 7:15. I don’t even know if that’s the time I need to arrive! I only worked for one school day before my adoption leave started, so this is all going to be a work in progress. If I have to be at school earlier, everything will have to shift a little earlier. TBD.

Meanwhile, J.J. is on a pretty good schedule at the moment, eating just about every three hours. I am hoping to get him on a regular schedule of starting his day with his first feeding at 7 a.m. That way, he’ll be snoozing and content while Tamara, Edgar, and I are busily preparing for the day ahead.

My work day ends at around 2:30 p.m., at which point I’ll leave, trying my best not to sprint out the door, and I’ll be able to pick Edgar up by around 3 p.m. Then we can have family play time, outdoors whenever possible, until dinner time. Jonas will eat during that time, at around 4 p.m., so I’m hoping he’ll be flexible about snuggling with me outside in an Adirondack chair so that Edgar can run and play while he eats!

Tamara and I had a mini family meeting and decided to try to eat dinner every night at around 5:30 p.m. We eat dinner all together every evening, and my hope is that eating at 5:30 will give Edgar time for a bath, the potty, brushing teeth, and maybe a few minutes of reading and free play time after dinner.

Edgar will go up for bed at around 6:30 p.m.; we’re going to be pushing his bedtime a little earlier (he usually goes down at 7 p.m.) because he’s going to need to be up and out so early, and he hasn’t been napping for as long as he used to when he was younger. That will be an adjustment for me, since I like to have lots of Edgar time after work; I’m hoping that getting out of work so early in the afternoon will offset it so I feel like Edgar and I get enough quality play time.

After Edgar goes to bed, I want to use the (very short) evening time to tidy up, read or write, do my check-in and inventory (a la recovery), and plan for the day ahead. (Outfits for me and Edgar, lunch for me, etc.)  J.J. eats at 7 p.m. – and then every three hours through the night.  Which is ROUGH! But we’re hoping he’ll drop one of those feedings sometime very soon.

There’s so much more to consider looking at the week as a whole, but this post is getting a little rambly so I’m going into list mode:

-I want to run on the weekends.

-I want to eat really healthy, especially during the week days. (I have a tendency to cram unhealthy snacks into my body during busy days at work!)

-I want to attend at LEAST two recovery meetings weekly.

-I want to use my Sunday evenings to have a weekly date with my planner.  That way, I can keep my to-do list on track, and be intentional about how I am spending my time.

-I also want to touch base with Tamara on Sunday evenings after the boys are in bed for a family meeting to talk about tasks, fun plans, all the things you need to talk about to be a smoothly-running family operation.

-I want to make sure we have quality time with friends and family regularly.

-I want to make sure we have (age-appropriate) family adventures regularly. (We won’t do family rock climbing for a while, but we can do a 30-minute hike someplace beautiful, for sure.) This is something we slack on when things get busy, so I want to make sure it’s a priority to explore our environment and our city as  family.

-I want to WRITE. My writing has taken a hard hit these past few weeks – this past Tuesday was the first time I missed a regularly-scheduled blog post since March. I know it will be okay – but I am going to be reminding myself, over and over again, that writing is a top priority.  Family, service, and writing – the big three.

Well, this blog post evolved into more of a thinking-out-loud Kerriann journal entry than a coherent message about planning and life. But it was really helpful for me. And tomorrow is my first day back at work.

Let’s do this.

goals · writing

No Matter What

Never, not once in my entire life, have I been described as neat.

When I’m writing, I try to be aware of using words like always and never. Extreme words like that are rarely true. But the above statement is: I have never in my life been described as neat. My messiness is pervasive; it is associated with every aspect of my life.  My car is messy – my office is messy – my house is messy.

Now, as an adult, I feel more motivated to keep my spaces tidy than I did as a child. But being more motivated does not change my messiness; I’m still messy. I’m just more inclined to tidy up after the mess has been made, because I do find that (a la Gretchen Rubin) outer order promotes inner calm. In other words, I feel better – more creative, more productive, more mindful – when my space is orderly and pleasantly arranged.

That is not the case in my house right now. We are happily adjusting to life as a family of four, and that means there’s less time for dishes and sweeping and following my toddler around cleaning up toys as he does his absolute favorite thing with every container of toys. (“Dump!”) However, I’m not writing this post right now because I’m trying to develop strategies for keeping the house more neat.

I’m writing this post because I’m trying to focus on my writing even when my house is a disaster.  

For me, an easy way to procrastinate is to do something productive that is NOT THE THING I AM SUPPOSED TO BE DOING. Maybe I’m supposed to be paying bills, but I decide to do dishes instead. Maybe I’m supposed to be doing the laundry, but I decide to clean up Edgar’s toys (with his toddler version of help) first. It’s not that what I’m doing is bad – it’s just not what I intended to do with my time, and one of my life goals is to be more intentional with how I live my life and how I spend my time.

The goal is to write – because it’s the thing in my life that I most want to cultivate, other than being a parent, a wife, and an all-around good human being in the world. I don’t have any goals about getting better at doing the dishes or tidying. My personal and professional goals are about writing – doing it more, and getting better at it, even when the house is a disaster.

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goals · writing

Finished

One of my Summer Sabbatical goals was to finish the freelance writing course I was taking with Chaunie Brusie, and I did!

The course was great. Unfortunately, I realized that the kind of writing I want to do isn’t the same as the freelance writing Brusie does, so some of the lessons weren’t as relevant as I’d hoped – but I learned a lot, and I found resources I can tap into throughout my writing life.

It’s gotten me thinking about other ways I can educate myself about the writing world, and about the craft of fiction writing. I wrote a post on the #AmWriting podcast’s Facebook group asking for recommendations for online fiction writing courses, and I got several suggestions. (That group is AWESOME; if you’re a writer, you should get in there!  So supportive and knowledgeable.)

Life’s been a little crazy for the past week or so, and my fiction writing has taken a backseat to journalling and blogging. That’s okay; my writing life is seasonal, and this is a season that is slower, less fruitful. But – I’m still here, showing up to my computer, typing as much as I can as often as I can.

And – I finished my course!  Goal ACCOMPLISHED.

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