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.

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books For Two-Year-Olds)

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting on the couch, and Edgar will pick up a book and bring it over to me. “Read,” he’ll say.

So I open the book and wait for him to climb on the couch to snuggle beside me. But then, he walks back over to his bookshelf, and he selects another book. Then he sits down, opens that book, and begins to look through it.  Because the first book he brought me – that was for ME to read.

Does he want me to practice reading Go Dog Go so my articulation improves?  Does he want me to work on my animal sounds for Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? I have no idea. I like to think that Edgar has internalized a family trait: In our family, our books are comforts, coping strategies, stress relievers, and pure joy providers.

Here are some of the books that have been giving two-year-old Edgar comfort and joy

Recommended reading from two-year-old Edgar:

Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead. Just a sweet and silky book about a little girl traveling to visit her great-aunt Josephine to bring her an elephant.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood. This book has a repetitive text that builds as the story progresses. It’s one of the first longer stories Edgar liked.

All Eyes On The Pond by Michael J. Rosen. Love this book. Each page focuses on a different creature in the pond, showing the world from their viewpoint and then zooming out to see the big picture. Very sweet and nature-y.

Trucks Go by Steve Light. I mean – basically a bunch of drawings of trucks with awesome sound effects. Amazing.

Sheep In A Shop by Nancy Shaw. We’re still loving Nancy Shaw’s sheep series! This one Edgar loves mostly because there’s a train in the shop. And then the sheep get all goofy, and the caboose falls over. It’s pretty awesome if you’re a two-year-old.

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. This book is so stinking cute. A mom putting her child to bed, and the kid asking lots of “what if” questions – like, what if I were a one-eyed monster, would you still love me then? (Spoiler alert – she will. Mom always will.)

 

 

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.

balance

A Good Weekend

It’s Saturday morning, and my goal is pretty simple: a good weekend.

A therapeutic, restorative, pleasant, calm, connected, and fun-filled weekend.

I’ve been stressed lately – tired from night feedings, adjusting to the new job – and so my weekends have been all about crashing and burning and barely putting myself back together by 4 a.m. on Monday morning.

I’ve been trying my best to take care of myself during the week so that my weekends can be more fun-filled. And so now, it’s Saturday morning, and I am pumped to have a weekend that feels more like an adventure and less like a two day recovery period from a bout of the flu.

A good weekend will look really different for different people. After some contemplation, here’s what I’ve come up with – my ingredients for a good weekend:

Time with my family. Preferably some of this time would be just hanging out together at home, and some of it would be going out for an adventure together. (And our kids are under 2, so an adventure can be as simple as a 45-minute visit to a holiday train garden!)

Time with friends or extended family. Just one event per weekend is usually enough for me! Coordinating plans with others can be challenging; sometimes, time with a friend also means a shorter nap time or a later bedtime, and those are things we pay for in Toddler Land. But I find that having just one opportunity to meet up with friends or extended family really adds to the value of my weekend.

Time to exercise. This is especially important at this moment of my life, when there is little to no time to exercise during the week. On weekend days, I like to go running during Edgar’s nap time, and I get really disappointed when I can’t squeeze in at least two runs per weekend.

A little Kerriann time. My ME time often includes writing or reading, but it’s different for every individual, of course. It’s hard to imagine a solidly awesome weekend that doesn’t involve some ME time.

Adventure! This doesn’t have to be anything wild or crazy. But it’s nice when the weekend includes at least one opportunity to do something new, different, or special. This can often be folded into one of the other ingredients, like family time or friend time. I find that the weekend feels longer and more memorable when there is something out of the ordinary on the agenda.

Lots and lots of good sleep. As much as possible!