March 2017 Goals

I did my February round-up yesterday, which means it’s time to post a whole new set of goals for the coming month! Without further ado, here are my  March 2017 Goals:

  1. Keep up with 3 soda days/week. Try to cut back to just 3 sodas/week.
  2. Seriously start exercising twice a week. Either walk (at the mall or the park) or do the recumbent bike.
  3. Eat better. More fresh food, fewer microwave options.
  4. Bullet journal: keep up with it all month. Keep up with the handwriting practice. Do #RockYourHandwriting every day.
  5. Writing: write 1k. Finish those flash fics. Prep for Camp NaNo.
  6. Reading: finish a damn book.
  7. Movies: watch 10 movies, 5 of them new to me.
  8. Television: keep up with Steven Universe. Seriously catch up on Doctor Who. Everything else is a bonus.
  9. Baking: bake macarons, that’s all I ask of you.
  10. Video games: new games this month. Play them. Figure out the whole LP thing.
  11. Knitting: finish the blanket; work on the scarf.
  12. Practice ukulele twice a week or more.
  13. Keep up with one blog post/week. Two if possible.
  14. Figure out student loans and what’s going on with them.
  15. Save $400 if still employed. $200 if not.
  16. Visit brother and SIL. Figure out if we’re doing Night Vale again.

I’ve once again tried to sort of lower my standards, so I actually have a chance at achieving some of these goals. For example, I’ve learned that I never know what’s going to catch my fancy with video games, but that I’m drawn to the newness of some games to me. So the goal there is to play the new games I’m getting, since they’ll probably capture my attention better. I’m hoping that shooting a bit lower will improve my success rate this month.

What are you planning to get done this month?

February: Goals Round-up

Another month has gone by, which means it’s time to go over my monthly goals and see where I measured up. While I didn’t do spectacularly this month, I still got some stuff done. Let’s get started, shall we?

  • Stick to 3 sodas/week. Try to limit caffeine as well.
  • Exercise 2 times/week. Either walk at the mall or half an hour on the recumbent bike.
  • Eat less junk food, and more fruit and veggies.

I did about half of these. I did a good job with soda, and I exercised a little, and I’ve started drinking fruit smoothies. On the other hand, I had more microwave and non-Subway fast food that I care to count, and I really fell off the wagon (again) with exercise. I’ve set basically the same goals for March in this arena, so let’s hope that I improve.

  • Write 1000 words on whatever. Probably The Oupost.
  • Try the flash fiction course again.

I wrote about 1700 words this month, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. All these words were on my flash fiction stories, mostly from writing and rewriting the beginnings. I need to pick up work again on these stories, before I lose my enthusiasm and have to start over again.

  • Read at least two books, one of them new.
  • Watch 10 movies. Make time for movies in the morning.
  • Knitting: seriously finish up the blanket. Start working on the lace scarf again.
  • Baking: make macarons again, really really. Maybe bake Dad a coconut cake for his birthday.

First half of the hobby goals here. I once again failed to finish any books this month, which I believe is as much a time management problem as anything else. Even when I picked an old favorite as an “easy” read, I still didn’t quite get around to finishing it. I did, however, start making time for movies. I watched nine different films this month, ten if you count seeing La La Land again. I have high hopes of meeting and perhaps exceeding my movie goal next month. Knitting did not happen, not even a little. I avoided making macarons again, but I did bake that coconut cake for my dad’s birthday. All in all, it’s about halfsies with these goals.

  • Work on the Disney puzzle. Put down at least 100 pieces.
  • Video games: Get back into Pokemon Sun and maybe Story of Seasons. Work on Calliope and Illien, my Animal Crossing towns. Post on my AC blog some more.
  • Catch up on Doctor Who. Start catching up on Agents of SHIELD. Finish up with Sherlock. Keep up with Steven Universe.
  • Update blog once a week, but twice a week if I can manage. Life updates, DW reviews, movie reviews. Whatever stuff. Tweet 10 times (instagram crossposting does not count).
  • Practice ukulele for actual this time, twice a week. Learn 5 chords. Learn two nursery songs.

I did not put down 100 pieces on the Disney puzzle. More like 15. Maybe. Video games were, as I described in an earlier post, kind of taken over by Terraria. I haven’t even managed to stay totally caught up on Steven Universe, to say nothing of all those others. Ukulele happened a little bit, but then tapered off into nothing. In fact, the only thing out of this little grouping that I did manage to do was update my blog semi-regularly, and even that was a near thing.

  • Visit brother and SIL again, either with my parents or without.
  • Make first student loan payment if my consolidation application goes through.
  • Save $400 if still employed. $50 if not.

I did visit my brother and SIL (and their adorable new puppy!) with my parents a couple of weekends ago. Yay for that. My consolidation application on my student loans just went through yesterday, so I did not make that first payment, but at least that’s due to circumstances beyond my control. And even though a debit card snafu made gradual saving impossible, I still put away $400 this month, because I thankfully still have a job.

I won’t say I did spectacularly this month, but I didn’t do too bad, either. I got some things done, even in piecemeal ways, and I celebrate that.

What did you get done (or not get done) this past month?

Bullet Journal Beginnings

This past weekend I bought, as I am wont to do, a notebook. The notebook turned out to be unlined, dashing my hopes of making it a gaming diary. And then I had a thought, and that thought was, “Why don’t I try my hand at a bullet journal?”

This is not the place to come if you want an explanation of what a bullet journal is, and how to make one. For that I recommend bulletjournal.com and maybe also this Buzzfeed article, and Boho Berry’s Bullet Journal 101 series. I think I’ve got a handle on what it is and what I can do with it, but only just. It’s basically a journal-slash-planner thing. You create yearly, monthly, and even weekly overviews, which you use fill in with tasks and events and appointments. Then you keep a daily log, which you use bullets of different styles to fill in so you know what you’re looking at with a glance. The daily log can be a to-do list, but it’s also where you can record notes and thoughts and quotes and basically anything you can think of. I’ve fiddled with the format for a few days and I’m really enjoying it.

What I’m really drawn to is the customizability of the bullet journal. It doesn’t have to be a straight planner/journal. You can use it to track all kinds of things. In my soon to be personal bujo (the popular abbreviation for it), I’m planning pages to track my daily habits, my spending, and even a little self-esteem log suggested by my therapist. I’m excited to get started on my bullet journal journey, even if I don’t half know what I’m doing.

I will own I’m also attracted to the pretty touches people add to their journals, which you can see if you take a traipse through the #bulletjournal tag on Instagram. I like the colored pens and markers, and the washi tape and fancy lettering. (I’ve even started doing some handwriting drills to make my lettering neater.) I’m not a very artistic person, but I’ve been told I have a decent design sense, so that’s something, isn’t it? At least I think it is. I’m willing to try anything out, and if I make a mistake, oh well. It happens.

All that said, what I’m really hoping to get out of the bullet journal system is consistency. I used to write journal entries every day. I did it for about seven years straight, almost never missing, and then my depression got the better of me and I stopped. I’ve tried to get back into it, but never been able to. The bullet journal seems to me a way to journal without worrying too much about time commitments; it only takes about ten minutes to fill out bullets of what I did today, and what I plan to do tomorrow, plus any notes along the way. More than anything, I hope my bullet journal journey gets me back in the habit of recording my days, so I don’t lose the memories of the fun stuff that happened.

Do you journal at all? Have you tried bullet journaling, or wanted to? Let me know in the comments below.

(Note: I start my proper bullet journal this coming Monday; I’ll be sure to share pictures after I’ve made it through my first week!)

February: Mid-Month Progress Report

So it’s (well) past mid-month, which means we’re due for an update on how those monthly goals are coming along. Last month, as I’ve discussed before, was something of a misfire. I got some things done, but not all of them. This month thankfully seems to be going better, though there have been some falters here and there.

In the Healthy Living category, things are going fairly well. Well, decently well. I’ve actually managed to keep up with my soda goal! I’ve stopped making excuses to buy a Coke at work, and that’s helped enormously. I’m kind of cheating by having soda “days” rather than a set number, but I haven’t had more than two in a day since the month started. I decided to throw the caffeine limit out the window. On a “bad” day, I probably don’t consume more than 100mg, which is well below the daily recommended limit. I’m fine with that. Exercise and junk food eating have not been such a success, but I hold out hope that I will one day get my crap together.

Writing-wise, I’ve been working, as I said in my last entry, on Holly Lisle’s flash fiction course. At the moment I’m redrafting my story beginnings, but I think if I total all that up I’ll hit 1000 words  with ease. And maybe work on finishing my stories as well.

Reading and all the other stuff: well, I think I’m going to finish one book this month, at least, but it’s probably not going to be The Name of the Wind. (It will be Beauty, by Robin McKinley.) NotW has been progressing slowly ever since Kvothe, our hero, basically discovered girls (well, one girl) and his obsession with her is more than a little grating. Luckily, the plot seems to be thickening, so maybe I’ll get through it after all. I haven’t watched as many movies as I would like, but I have a three-day weekend this weekend, so maybe I’ll tear myself away from Terraria long enough to watch a few.

Speaking of Terraria… last month, it was Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and this month it’s this. I bought Terraria for the 3DS on a whim last Saturday. It is now Thursday as I draft this, and I am both frustrated and hopelessly addicted.  Frustrated because I can’t seem to make much progress in the 3DS version, and addicted because I went and bought the PC version as well, and I’m having too much fun to stop. Terraria is a sandbox game in the same vein as Minecraft, but with a much bigger vision. There dozens of monsters and tons more crafting options, and that’s just the start. It’s a lot of fun and despite  my mediocre progress, I’m really enjoying it.

In other news: I baked the cake for my father’s birthday, though it didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped. Here’s a picture of it, with my not-so-flattering commentary. I haven’t been saving money thus far because I had a little fraud incident with my bank account and couldn’t access my funds online, but I plan to save the whole $400 in one go after I get paid this week. I practiced ukulele the first couple weeks, but last week was a bust. I haven’t been knitting at all, much to my chagrin. Other stuff’s been going on, but I think I’ll cover all that in another post.

I can’t think of anything else that really warrants updating on. Despite my fits and starts this month, I’m actually quite proud of my progress. It’s nice to see that I can do things if I put my mind to it, even if those things include playing too many hours of a video game.

How’s your month been going?

General Life Update No. 1

So what have I been up to since posting my February goals? I know you’re all dying to know. On impulse I want to say “a whole lot of nothing,” but that’s 1. being too hard on myself; and 2. not true.

I have been working towards the completion of my goals, for a start. I’ve been practicing ukulele. I’m working on the Disney puzzle. I’m still reading The Name of the Wind and I started rereading Robin McKinley’s Beauty so I can actually finish some books this month. I’ve even managed to watch a couple of movies, and I’m planning on seeing another this weekend.

Perhaps the biggest thing going on in my life right now is my retry of Holly Lisle’s flash fiction course. When I tried the course back in December, I was taking it week by week. I quit sometime in the middle, when I lost faith that my ideas were any good, and also in my ability to find my way to endings I couldn’t yet predict. (I had just joined Holly’s site, so the lessons were only available at one per week.)

Now that I’ve started over, I’ve got access to everything, and I’ve gone over all three lessons before starting. I’ve reused some of my ideas from the first go round, and I’m trying not to let myself fall into the trap of not believing in myself. I have beginnings written for all five fics, and while they need work, they’re decent starts. Some of them need tightening up to bring down the word count (I’ve only got 500 words total to work with), and others need a little more detail added to establish things. Nevertheless, it’s a start. And it’s more than I had when I started, which was nothing.

I have also been playing video games, though not necessarily the ones I listed in my goals. I’m doing dailies in Animal Crossing, at least in one of my towns, anyway. I also started playing the copy of Ocarina of Time 3D I bought a couplefew weeks ago. I haven’t even entered the first dungeon yet, so I don’t know how it’s going to go. I have internet guides to help me, at least.

I can’t think of much else to update you on, so I’ll leave things off here. What have you been up to lately? Feel free to share in the comments!

February 2017 Goals

It’s a new month, which means a new set of goals to shoot for. I’ve aimed a little higher in some areas and lower in others, but I think my goals for this month are achievable. Hopefully.

  1. Stick to 3 sodas/week. Try to limit caffeine as well.
  2. Exercise 2 times/week. Either walk at the mall or half an hour on the recumbent bike.
  3. Eat less junk food, and more fruit and veggies.
  4. Write 1000 words on whatever. Probably The Oupost.
  5. Try the flash fiction course again.
  6. Read at least two books, one of them new.
  7. Watch 10 movies. Make time for movies in the morning.
  8. Knitting: seriously finish up the blanket. Start working on the lace scarf again.
  9. Baking: make macarons again, really really. Maybe bake Dad a coconut cake for his birthday.
  10. Work on the Disney puzzle. Put down at least 100 pieces.
  11. Video games: Get back into Pokemon Sun and maybe Story of Seasons. Work on Calliope and Illien, my Animal Crossing towns. Post on my AC blog some more.
  12. Catch up on Doctor Who. Start catching up on Agents of SHIELD. Finish up with Sherlock. Keep up with Steven Universe.
  13. Update blog once a week, but twice a week if I can manage. Life updates, DW reviews, movie reviews. Whatever stuff. Tweet 10 times (instagram crossposting does not count).
  14. Practice ukulele for actual this time, twice a week. Learn 5 chords. Learn two nursery songs.
  15. Visit brother and SIL again, either with my parents or without.
  16. Make first student loan payment if my consolidation application goes through.
  17. Save $400 if still employed. $50 if not.

It’s quite a lot of stuff, to be honest. But I’m determined to make at least some of it happen, so I’ll keep you posted on what I get done and what I don’t.

What are some things you want to get done this month?

January: Goals Round-up

It’s the end of the month (you may have noticed). I thought I would do a round-up of my goals for the month and just talk my way through what I accomplished and what I didn’t. Let’s take it point by point:

  • Cut back to three sodas per week.
  • Walk four laps at the mall twice per week. Even with work.
  • Stop buying microwave lunches. Get Subway instead, but no chips or drink.

These three were my “healthy living” goals for the month. I can’t say that I did great on them, the soda in particular being difficult for me, but I did improve in small ways. I am trying to cut back on my soda consumption and I did a fair-ish job at it this month. Going to California halfway through the month put a little kink in that plan, but I think I managed to get back on track after we returned home. Exercise was another sore point. I only managed to hit my goal activity level last week, unfortunately, but hopefully that’s a signal of things improving more as we move into February. As for eating less microwave food, I did a fair job, I think, only buying those types of lunches four or five times for the whole month.

  • Write 1k for the month. Possibly on The Outpost.
  • Finish flash fics if they’re not already done.

Writing progress: I wrote 1200 words for the month, all of it on The Outpost, my TRON fanfic. I did not work on the flash fics even a little bit. My enthusiasm for that little project kind of waned when I hit a roadblock on it back in December. I’m going to attempt the course again next month, so we’ll see what happens with that.

  • Read two books, at least one of them new.
  • Watch eight movies, at least two of them new.
  • Write one movie review for the blog.

I didn’t even get through one book, but in fairness, the book in question is Pat Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, which is 700ish pages long. I’m hoping to finish it early next month and move on to some easier to get through books. (That’s not a knock against NotW, btw. I think it’s brilliant. It’s just… very long.) I also failed spectacularly at reaching my movie goal, except for the part where I did see two new movies– Hidden Figures and La La Land. Now if only I had written a review of one of them for the blog… though I suppose my five-review round-up early this month counts as a movie review.

  • Try to visit my brother and SIL once.
  • Baking: bake macarons again, this time a flavor from the Hermé book. Bake cookies.
  • Practice ukulele twice a week. Learn two nursery songs.
  • Work on the Disney puzzle.
  • Start the new blog (Scribe the Sky). Post at least once a week.
  • Watch four episodes of every show I’m behind on. Keep up with others.
  • Beat Pokémon Sun. Play more Story of Seasons.
  • Clean and dust room. Decorate like you’ve been meaning to forever.

Okay, a lot to cover here, except not because I didn’t do more than half of it. I visited my brother and sister-in-law this past weekend, check. I didn’t accomplish any baking this month, but in fairness, I have been working six days a week, and things like macarons take some planning and forethought. That I don’t have time for.

Ukulele practice just did not happen. Neither did working on the puzzle. New blog? Happened! I even posted once a week! Go me! I unfortunately did not start catching up on the shows I was behind on, and I barely kept up with the ones I wasn’t behind on. Whoops. Also whoops: instead of playing Pokémon or Story of Seasons, I bought a new copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and started a new town. Go me?

I kind of cleaned my room, which is to say I cleared away boxes and stuff, but didn’t really deep cleanse. I also started decorating my walls, after living here for only three years. [showing here]

  • Figure out payments for student loans.
  • Save $400 if still employed. $50 if not.

I have not really done the first. I looked at it today and I think I need grown-up help. I also kind of did the second? I saved $300, but did not save that last hundred because I had a short paycheck the last week of the month, thanks to going to California and then getting spectacularly sick.

All in all, I had a fairly productive month, I think. No, I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but I’m learning to be Okay with that. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. I still got some things done, and that’s better than nothing.

Today’s Monster: Perfectionism

I read something somewhere (probably on Tumblr) about perfectionism, or maybe impostor syndrome. It said that perfectionism came about when you told kids that their talents were innate rather than because of their hard work. This makes them believe that everything (or certain things, or whatever) should come easily to them, and if it didn’t, that meant there was something wrong with them personally. Failure was a fatal flaw, not just a result of not working hard enough. …And come to think of it, this is probably more about impostor syndrome than perfectionism. Damn.

Still, the point stands that perfectionists often tie their self-worth to their successes and failures. I’m a perfectionist  myself, I should know. I don’t remember if I was often told how smart I was when I was young, but I remember always wanting things just so. Usually arts and crafts type stuff, but it didn’t take much to extend that to academic performance as well. I was a straight-A student all the way from elementary to high school, and I was always devastated when I didn’t understand something right away, or when I didn’t poorly on a test or a paper. If I couldn’t do well in school, what good was I?

In college I learned not to put quite so much stock in my grades (and yet still graduated summa cum laude?), but now that I’m out in the world I have another perfectionism bugbear: productivity. Especially before I got a job, I tended to measure each day by how much work I got done, whether it was writing or reading or some other arbitrary activity. Even now that I’m working for pay, I still think the success/fail of a day is measured by what I did with my free time. It’s like I’m not allowed to relax or have fun anymore, and as a result I’m as stressed out as I’ve ever been.

I have a multitude of other problems on top of this. I’m a pessimist with (occasional) double depression. I have anxiety that often keeps me from trying things outside my comfort zone. I don’t believe in myself, or have any hopes about my future that I haven’t already dismissed as far-fetched (see the pessimist thing above). I don’t know what to do with my life, because I feel like I’ve already messed it up beyond repair.

This is perhaps information best shared with my therapist. But what is the internet for if not oversharing? (And hey, if this makes one person feel less alone, maybe it’ll be worth it?)

The fact of the matter is, I don’t know how to fix myself. (See again therapist, need to talk to.) I don’t know how to be okay with myself, and okay with how little or how much I accomplish. I really don’t know how to be okay with failure, because that has always been The End for me as far as a lot of things are concerned. I need to be able to work through things in therapy. Maybe I need a mantra or something.

It’s Okay to not do All the Things.
It’s Okay to fail.
Failing does not make you The Worst.

It’s Okay.
It’s Okay.
It’s Okay.

On the Road

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to go to California this past weekend for a funeral. Since I live in Kentucky, this involved a very long ride in a car with my family. (We might have flown, but alas, unlike some people, we are not made of enough money to buy plane tickets for four adults and two children at what is relatively the last minute.) My dad makes the drive in pretty good time – about 48 hours when one includes a stop for one night – but it is in many respects interminable and a little boring.

These are the kinds of road trips I’ve been on. I haven’t really been on that idealized, spur-of-the-moment cross-country trek with college friends. (I didn’t have many college friends, for a start.) My cross-country trips have only been with family, and these days we don’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing on the way there or back again, though sometimes we fit in a stop at a national park or two. A couple years back we stopped at the Grand Canyon, and this summer past we hit up Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

I should make clear that these trips have a singular destination – Los Angeles, California. Most of my extended family lives out there, in particular my elderly grandfather. The trips are mostly to see him,  but we fit in other fun stuff as well, like trips to Disneyland. When I was younger and my parents had more vacation time (or rather, the ability to take consecutive weeks of vacation), we went to other places, like Yellowstone National Park and Boston and Niagara Falls. But I’m okay with only going to L.A., because at least then I get to see my family, whom I don’t see often at all.  (Also Disneyland. I love Disneyland.)

But enough about destinations; this is about the journey. Sitting in a car is not the most exciting way to spend most of two days, but that’s how we do it. The latter half of the trip out is usually the most interesting, because the landscapes become breathtaking in New Mexico and Arizona. The first half… not so much. It’s mostly forests, farmland, and prarie, which is nothing to really write home about. Still, sometimes the sky gets big and beautiful, and I enjoy looking at it al the same.

I mentioned how boring sitting in a car can be. I manage to keep myself entertained, usually with books or else writing and video games. I’ve only recently acquired a tablet with which to watch movies, but I’m sure that’ll become a staple of my travel time soon enough. This most recent trip, though, I’ve found I’ve been sleeping a lot, which I don’t know whether to be happy or miffed about. I’m miffed because I could have been using that sleeping time to write or read or even, yes, watch movies. I’m happy, though, because I more usually have enormous trouble sleeping on these trips, so any shut-eye is fine with me.

All in all, I enjoy our yearly trips out to California. As boring as it is to be on the road for two days, there are perks. I get to see beautiful parts of these United States, parts I would probably never venture out to on my own. I spend some time mostly unplugged, able to do “offline” things I don’t always manage in my day-to-day life. It’s not a “traditional” road trip by any means, but it’s still a road trip to me.

January: Mid-Month Progress Report

It’s just about halfway through the month, so I thought I would do a quick progress post for my January goals. I’m not gonna say I’ve made great progress, but some things have been happening, which is better than nothing at all.

My healthy living goals have kind of been happening. I’ve cut back on soda like I wanted, and I haven’t been eating out as often. The exercise… has not been as much of a thing. I counted some extra walking and standing at work the first week, but my second week has been rather lacking. It hasn’t helped that this weekend is being taken up by a trip to California for a relative’s funeral. Can’t exactly do a lot of exercise when you’re crammed in a car for 48 straight hours. I’m hoping to improve when we get back, though.

Writing wise, I’m doing okay. I’ve been working piecemeal on The Outpost while at work, which is better than absolutely no writing at all. I haven’t touched my flash fiction stories since early December. To be frank, I don’t really feel inspired by my ideas anymore. I may start the course over, or at least try to finish the ideas that I do like. For now, I’m content to keep working on The Outpost, and glean my progress to 1000 words from there.

As for all the other stuff… I wonder sometimes if I’m too ambitious when I set goals like these. I want to do too much, then get overwhelmed and end up doing none of it. I haven’t practiced ukulele at all, or worked on that puzzle. While I’m in the middle of one book, and I’ve seen one movie, I’m not sure I’ll be able to meet my goals this month. You’d think I’d be proud of the progress I have made, and would have confidence because of it, but all I seem to get out of it is more stress. Stress that I’m not doing well enough, that I’m a failure if I don’t do everything I said I’d do. But the only one judging me is me. I highly doubt any of you lovely people are going to think I’m The Worst if I don’t meet some goals.

And this turned into a discussion of the philosophy of goal setting rather than a discussion of progress. Whoops. I haven’t been catching up on my shows, but I have been keeping up with the new episodes of Sherlock. Rather than play games I already have, I went and bought a new copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and have been entertaining myself with that. My room remains unclean and undecorated. I’m saving money, at least, but I still need to sort out of my imminent student loan payments. I haven’t done any baking or visiting. I still feel like I’m trying to get by with my work schedule and life schedule, and now all this stuff is on top of it.

So this progress update is mostly just to say that I haven’t made much progress. And if I add “yet” to the end of that sentence, I might just be able to believe I can get it all done.