Tag Archives: resolutions

2016 Resolutions

You wouldn’t believe how long ago I started this post. What’s that thing they say, about starting things right away when they hit you instead of setting start dates in the near future? Yeah, well, I just knew I wouldn’t have time for some of these things, but I didn’t want to forget the desire either. And I figured if I wrote it down six months ago and it still felt like something I wanted to work toward by the New Year, it was meant to be on the list.

 

What am I hoping to achieve this year? More than last year, I’ll start with that. While I know 2015 wasn’t a total wash (I mean I did get married after all) productivity didn’t seem to be my strong suit last year. There were some legit reasons for that in 2015; death in the family, wedding planning, and an unexpected burst in the photography business, but I think another problem might be the looseness of the goals I set last year. I tend to do best with structure and detail and so by casually saying, “Oh, I’d like to write. Doesn’t matter how much,” I really just set myself up for failure because “writing” can mean a lot of things and while I did “write” things, like plenty more blogs than usual, none of them were the type of writing I really wanted to be doing, which was the storytelling kind. So, here are some specific things I’d like to achieve in 2016…

 
Study for and take CST1 & CST2 tests. In losing my old boss at the end of 2014 and gaining a new one ¼ of the way into 2015, I hit my 10 anniversary of working for the surveying world and finally found the strength to make sure my value (or lack thereof) was noted by the owners. While it saddened me to discover they were oblivious to all the hard work I’d been doing all this time, it made me realize I need to demand their acknowledgement more often if I ever expect to climb a latter of success and income in this business. Being a female surveyor in a world full of men is already against me, but apparently there are ways to make my intelligence and experience known other than by just performance and dedication alone in hopes that someone’s paying attention. My new boss (who’s not so new anymore) said there are several certifications he feels confident I would pass with ease because he sees the level of skill in me and knows that having those certifications only makes me a bigger asset to the company and my future in this field. I don’t think I could take them all in one year, especially since they cost $200 each, but I could probably manage the first two and I really want to make it happen. Not just for the job security it will help me have, or the bargaining tool I’ll have when it’s raise time again, but also just for the pride in an actual organization acknowledging what I already know about myself and my ability to survey.

 

(CST1 & 2=Certified Survey Technician, Level 1 and 2)

 
Read ½ a book a week. Maybe that sounds like a weird goal, but in years past I always said, read X amount of books and that’s become increasingly harder to achieve. And it doesn’t feel good. ½ a book a week should be doable. I should be able to find pockets of time throughout a week to squeeze in at least a half a book. And if I read more than that, great, but I need that half at least. I think part of the reason I struggled to write this year was because my creative well was bone dry. You need to read to write and I just didn’t read enough this year. If I only read ½ a book a week, my overall count of books read still won’t be that great at the end of the year, but the consistency of reading every week should help keep my creative well wet all year long.

 

Write 500 words a week. I missing writing like you can’t imagine. It’s been so long since new words poured from my fingers that I’m not even sure I remember how to write. There were a few moments last year when I felt compelled to write, inspired by music or books I did have time for, but for the most part my creative brain has been a desolate place, completely abandoned by all of my characters. I want to encourage them to come back, to be so loud I can’t possibly ignore them anymore. I want to still believe being a published author one day is an attainable dream I should still be having. 500 words a week sounds like so little. Heck, there used to be a time when I could put out a few thousand in a day. But it’s a starting place to get myself back into the habit of writing and it’s a small enough number that I should be able to find at least a handful of minutes a week to make it happen. Maybe I could try to get back into writing short stories first and then dive back into my novels. I don’t know, I just know I need to make it a priority again, even when photography threatens to steal all my free time.

 

StickerTracker

 

Learn Photoshop & Other Photography Related Goals. That sounds laughable, right? Even photoshop pros are always learning something new, considering the massive capabilities of Photoshop. What I mean is, learn to use it enough to ditch PaintshopPro and do at least the editing techniques I know how to do there in Photoshop instead. PaintshopPro has been good to me, it really is a decent program for the price, but as my photography wings continue to spread, I know that the edits I could make in Photoshop will be far superior to PaintshopPro and more in line with the level of quality in the pictures I’m already producing. It’s time to make the shift. To help me, I got a giant bible of a book on using Photoshop for photography and even though its size is intimidating, I’m hopeful it will guide me in the right direction so I’m not wasting too much time trying to figure out how to do relatively simple edits while I make the switch in programs.

 

In addition to learning Photoshop, I want to do a few other things this year where photography is concerned. For instance, take advantage of a magazine subscription for Popular Photography I’ve been getting for a year now, but have never read. There might not be actual education in them all the time, but it would serve me well to read about how other photographers do what they do, just so I’m exposed to other techniques I might not have discovered on my own. So, as a goal, I’d like to actually read this magazine every month.

 

I’d also like to test out other lenses and apparently you can rent them from places online to do just that. Last year I took a chance on a portrait lens for 100 bucks and I swear, it changed the way I shot and to this day is probably the best 100 bucks I’ve put into my business. It is easily my go-to lens now, but I know there must be others out there that will wow me; they’re just all too expensive to take the same chance on. I’m glad there’s an option like renting them for this reason and maybe by the end of the year I’ll have discovered a new “go-to” lens that is actually worth a real investment.

 

And lastly, I want to actually make this business more official, with standard rates and logo watermarking. Last year I was often under paid for the effort because I was too afraid to ask for what the work is actually worth and/or people were very quick to take advantage of my unprofessional or amateur outlook on the whole thing, like if I just call this a hobby, then why should they have to pay me for something I enjoy doing? Well, because it meant basically working 2 full time jobs for me and that can break a person. If I’m going to be exhausting every minute of my free time for this, it should at least pay the bills. And while I don’t really want to watermark my pictures, I think it’s a must after I found a few of my photos being used online without any link back or credit to the photographer. Perhaps people would stop looking at them as just pictures and more for the art they are if they’re stamped professionally. Plus, hello easy advertising. I’m still hesitant to do all of this because I’m not sure I can handle a workload much bigger than the one I had last year, but I do think it’s time I take this a little more seriously if I want to keep taking on the work.

 

Master T25 & Other Health Related Matters. To date, there are 3 series of T25 workouts: Alpha, Beta, and Omega, each of which lasts for 5 weeks. I currently have the first two in my possession and while I think it will take at least 2-5 week rounds of each to actually “nail it” I want to get through those first two series and have to buy the third one because my body will be demanding a new challenge by then. I’ve already said how empowering T25 was for me the first time I gave it a shot and I’m positive that will remain true with the other series as they’re designed to be increasingly more challenging and overcoming them will feel like such a huge success. I’m excited to see what kind of weight and inches I can keep losing with this regimen and how it impacts my sleep schedule and overall mental stability. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’ve successfully made it through all 3 series, but I hope by then to be in such a conditioned state that working out is just a part of my every day routine. Now that I’m married, and we’re hoping to be buying a house, making babies is something I have to get real serious about ASAP (since my age will start mattering whether or not having a baby is even possible soon). I want to be one of those women that already works out enough to keep working out throughout the pregnancy. Being older makes everything harder, especially losing weight. I don’t want to work so hard to get to a happy place only to put it all back on with a baby and then struggle to lose it again. If I just stay fit and active, the repercussions of being pregnant shouldn’t be as bad.

 

I also want to focus extra hard on my diet this year, for bigger reasons than just losing weight. About 6 months ago I started to make the transition to a gluten free lifestyle after coming to the realization that gluten had an obvious connection to my IBS and other gastrointestinal issues. During this transition I’ve noticed a huge improvement and comfort level with my stomach problems and just as a whole for my body too. But in cutting it out of my diet so much, it literally feels like I’m under attack if/when I ever give gluten a shot again, say in the form of bread and pasta. My stomach will literally swell to a pregnant looking state and the hours of discomfort that follow are not worth the taste of those once go-to foods. While GF foods are becoming more readily available, they’re not all suitable replacements for things I used to love and some of those things I love just don’t exist at all in the GF world. Those will be the hardest parts of completely cutting gluten out of my diet, but I want to work toward it. The more I read about gluten and our bodies, the more I know it’s just not for me. Outside of it being such a problem for my stomach, it also has a huge impact on people with thyroid conditions, which I also have. I hope by the end of 2016 I’ve successfully made the switch and I’m no longer missing the food of my old life, when I was slowly torturing my body without even realizing it.

 

Go Out & Live Life. I took some pretty significant hiatus’s from the internet this year, some by choice and others because of lack of time, but I learned something in those “vacations” from the internet and it’s that I miss out on a lot of life by devoting so much time to the internet. I spend more time admiring the way other people live their lives than I do living my own and there’s something very wrong with that. In 2015 Heath and I starting bowling once a month, which forced us out of the house and ended with eating out and toy hunting in the wild after. We actually went on vacation with my family to the beach for the first time, despite being offered the trip several times in the past decade. We finally took a bus trip to New York for the day, which is something I’ve wanted to do at Christmastime for as long as I can remember. And the best trip of the whole year was going to Disney World for our honeymoon (which I hope to finally write about soon). As someone who hasn’t traveled much simply because they were afraid to fly, I sure am happy I got over myself finally because traveling anywhere I want seems like a real possibility now. And in doing all these things, in getting out and living life, Heath and I seem closer now than we did even the year before, despite having been together for 11 years now. Clearly date night is an actual beneficial thing and I want to practice it more in 2016. I don’t know that we’ll have the kind of money to take vacations on the scale of Disney again anytime soon, what with trying to buy a house and all, but I want to make it a habit to get out at least once a month to do something with each other outside of our office. And I want to get away on occasion, even if it’s just over a long weekend, so we can escape the pull those computers in our office have on us. I encourage you all to do the same. :)

 
I feel like I’m forgetting a resolution, but this thing is super long as it is and working on these 6 specific things should keep me plenty busy this year so I should probably wrap this up. What are you hoping to achieve in 2016?

 

 

2015 In Review: Everything Else

 

Last year I had just five resolutions; that should have been doable, right? Not so, apparently, but let’s start with the ones I did achieve.

 

Get closer to God. I don’t know if it’s really right to say I nailed this one because I think this is something you should always be working on, but I definitely did work on it all year like I’d wanted to so I say it’s a win. I read my devotional everyday and even flagged the days that spoke the loudest to me to refer to later. I volunteered for the Sharing Table and enjoyed it immensely, so much so that it’s something I will always do when it’s my churches turn now. I was able to put some of my creative skills to work at my church during Vacation Bible School and hope to do that again this year as well. But even with doing all those things I set out to do, I missed a lot of church this year, for either being sick or bad weather or just because I was too tired/busy. I wish that part wasn’t true because it’s so much easier to drift from God without that weekly sermon to keep you grounded. I need to work on that for sure in 2016. I also didn’t write in my prayer journal nearly as much as I might have thought I would. In fact, praying as a whole is something that slips my mind all to often these days. I get it in my mind to, but instead of doing it right then and there, I collect my prayers and then forget to do anything with them. I really want to work on that in 2016 as well. Still, as a whole, I feel like my faith is definitely stronger this year than it was last year and even though I’ve got so much more room to grow, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction in my walk with Christ.

 

Get Healthy. This is another one of those resolutions that is always on my list and will probably stay on my list forever, but I definitely feel like I can call this one a success this year too, maybe even more so than years past. As I mentioned in my “Stuff I Loved” post, I got really into fitness in 2015. I had already been practicing the whole “clean eating” lifestyle from the year before, so that part wasn’t hard. In fact, once I started pushing my body past the limit, eating right seemed to get even easier – like my body was only craving the nutrients that would allow it to keep enduring all those grueling workouts. T25 is an amazing workout regimen and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. In that first week, I keep starting an overly dramatic blog post about how I was basically committing suicide, but I’m glad I never finished it because I swear once I got past that first week my perspective changed 100%. Being the busy person that I am, it’s almost too easy to say I just don’t have time to workout, but I swear that somehow squeezing that 25 minute workout in everyday made me capable of fitting even more into my everyday schedule. I guess it just makes you more aware of your use of time? Something like that. I’m still disappointed I had to quit when I got pneumonia and that I haven’t been able to re-start it again because of my limited space/Christmas decorations, but I’m really pumped about killing it in 2016. And I’m really proud of/happy with the changes in my body so far as a result of the 7 weeks I already completed. By my wedding I’d lost 3-4” everywhere, dropped down 2 bra sizes and 1 size in clothing, and lost 15 lbs. total. Thankfully, despite my increased cookie/sugar consumption through the holidays, I’ve managed to keep it all off, too! I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m truly at a healthy place, but I feel like 2016 is definitely going to be the biggest year of success in this resolution.

 

Pay down debt. I don’t think I was able to pay off nearly as much toward my debt as I did last year, partly because I didn’t have the same amount of overtime and also because I got married/went on a honeymoon. But I did still put a significant dent in my credit with the help of another successful year of the Savings Challenge and in shifting my cards around to 0% interest rates so the money I was putting toward them was being used more effectively. I’m definitely not in the clear yet (or even close to be honest), but I do think I’m closer to being able to buy a house and am still hopeful that 2016 is the year for that. After we do our taxes and meet with the bank, we’ll have a better idea of what’s possible or not, but I’m still hoping for the best and I’m glad I’ve gotten in this saving/paying habit over the past few years because I’m confident I’ll be able to keep it up whether we can buy a house this year or not!

 

*Bonus: Get a Tattoo!* This was technically 2014’s resolution and I hadn’t achieved it by the end of 2014, but in reviewing those resolutions I felt confident that the day was right around the corner and I’d been right. I got not just one, but three new tattoos in 2015 (over 4 separate sessions) and gosh if it doesn’t make me want ALL the tattoos now. Seriously, it’s not even painful at this point and that’s when you know you’re in dangerous territory – lol. Thankfully the cost will keep my tattoo collecting in control, because boy is it expensive! Still, I’ve got a small savings started already for the next one and I can’t wait for more ink!

 

Tattoos2015

 

So for the things I didn’t succeed at….

 

Time Management. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to master this, not unless something major comes along to force me into it. Even then, though, I’m not sure. I really need to learn how to say no. Outside of all the creative pursuits I have on my own, I’m constantly saying yes to doing things for other people and thinking I can fit them all in my schedule together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want and need to do. Once again, this year I found myself sick with pneumonia for the first time in my life, as a result of trying to do way too much. People even tried to tell me to slow down, but I didn’t listen. It didn’t help that I had a wedding to plan, prepare, and participate in during the height of my busy season. That’s all I should have been focusing on, but instead I was doing so much more. If I could go back and do it differently, I would, but since I can’t I really just need to learn from it. I hope that I won’t find myself making those same mistakes this year, but I also know how foolish I can be. :/

 

Try to get Published. What a laughable joke. And not the funny kind either, no it’s the sad, pitiful kind. The most I achieved this year in the way of writing was reading through and redlining my manuscript. Not the one that’s complete either, not the one I wanted to shop around. No, just a regular old work-in-progress. And then I set it aside and literally did not write even one single new word in 2015. Failure doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings over this. I miss writing. I hate that my other creative pursuits eat up all the time I’d usually have for writing. I hate that I don’t know how to balance the two and be successful in them both. I miss my characters; they’re almost never even around anymore. I feel so out of touch with writing at this point that I feel almost foolish for thinking it’s still a possible dream to have. Am I even a writer anymore?

 

 

Internet Hiatus

At the end of May I found myself needing a break from this place. Sometimes it’s just too much, you know? Plus, I’d been obsessive over it, spending all my free time on social media instead of doing productive things that actually leave me feeling happy with myself.

 

I told myself I’d just get away from it for June and spend some time reading, which is something I’ve failed at majorly this year. And maybe be able to finally write something after giving myself a much needed dip in the creative well. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reading all that much, or writing a single word for that matter, and as you can see by the date of this post, it’s August and I’m just now returning. Sort of. But my time away wasn’t a waste. In fact, I was super busy. And not just busy doing things that are or feel like work, though there was some of that too.

 

So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see….

 

I did read a little, but more comics than books. That’s basically been the story of this year. I don’t know what’s gotten me so much more into comics this year than previous years (probably, it’s partly Heather’s fault. 😉 ) but my comic reads and purchases are leading by a landslide. A few of the more notable reads during the hiatus include: Jem & the Hologram Comics, Morning Glories Graphic Novels, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Novel.

 

Photography’s been keeping me the busiest outside of my day job, between actual photoshoots and hours of editing. I shot a wedding, a superhero birthday party, a pregnant lady, and a little diva! It’s both weird and awesome how much paid work I’ve gotten photography wise, considering how little I broadcast the business. God’s been good to me this way. As I look toward fall, which is notoriously my “busy” season when it comes to pictures, I’m a little nervous about how I’ll juggle it all alongside wedding prep, but I think I might be able to make it happen with designated weekends for taking ALL the pictures. Sort of like Fall Minis or whatever that trend is… I’ll have more on that later if anyone’s interested.

 

VBS CollageI had two opportunities to work on one of my resolutions during the hiatus. First, I shot most of Vacation Bible School at my church. Not only was it fun capturing all the kids being kids, it was awesome to see how excited they got about Jesus. And just how many of them showed up night after night. My small church saw a record breaking number of 106 attendees! That doesn’t even include all the adults who worked or attended the adult class either. At the end of the week there was a slideshow presented with a bunch of my pictures mixed in. My cheeks were sore from all the smiling I did watching the recap of a great week. I hope I get to do even more next year.

 

 

 

Sharing Table CollageI also finally got to volunteer for the Sharing Tables (aka Soup Kitchen) during the hiatus too. I didn’t take my big camera to capture that, just a few camera phone shots, but it is definitely something I want to commit to every time my church participates. We served the 70-some people that showed up lunch and dessert and then, thanks to the goodness of local grocery stores and everyday people donating their goods, every person gets to leave with a bag of food and necessities to get them through the week. These Sharing Tables are open to them every Saturday and while it was really sad to see how many people have to rely on this to eat and live in general, I am so glad such a thing exists for them. It’s disheartening to see just how many people right around me go without; the veterans, the disabled, families with an abundance of children. Their struggle tugged at my heart in a serious way and I left there feeling both humbled and blessed and really happy I got to serve God this way.

 

My toy collection grew somewhat substantially during the hiatus, but that’s probably no surprise. I was extra excited about all the toys I got in June & July though because for the most part I’d pre-ordered them all months ago and even though they weren’t necessarily slated to release all at the same time, they basically did, leaving me with what seemed like days and days’ worth of toy hauls. Toys received include: Inside Out Funko Pops!, Mystery Minis, and Disney Tsum Tsums, Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsums, The Breakfast Club Funko Pops!, a full case of Garbage Pail Kids Funko Really Big Mystery Minis, Funko 10” GPK Adam Bomb Vinyl Figure, the 17” Monster High Freak Du Chic doll Gooliope Jellington, and Tokidoki’s Unicorno Series 4! You can see pictures of all them HERE!

 

Some random things I did during the hiatus that are worth noting include: Starting two new subscriptions services in addition to my Loot Crate. One was Nerd Block’s latest venture, Comic Block. I’m still not entirely sure how much I’ll love this in the long term, but I think I’ll probably keep it around until I switch back to Horror Block for Halloween. And I also subscribed to a treat service called Universal Yum, which sends you snacks and treats from different places around the world every month. So far I’ve gotten goodies from Mexico & Japan. It’s been really fun tasting places I’ll probably never get to travel to.

 

My tattoos have changed since the last time I was online. I’ve had two sessions to add color behind the leaves and snowflakes and they finally feel complete! I’m hoping to squeeze one more tattoo in before the wedding, so long as schedules and funds work in my favor. If not, I suppose I’ll have to be patient till next year.

 

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Heath and I went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. I’ve always wanted to see a Cirque Du Soleil show, but I guess I was ignorant to the fact that they’re entirely in French. Despite having taken 4 years of honor French in high school, I had no freaking idea what was going on. But it sure was pretty and they’re some crazy talented performers. I think before I make too much of a confused judgment on Cirque Du Soleil as a whole, I should probably see another show first and see if I can follow that story a little better.

 

I actually went to the movies. Twice! As someone who loves film as much as I do, you think I’d go more often, but I just can’t justify the cost and am strangely patient in most cases when it comes to waiting for movies to come out on DVD (probably because it happens so fast these days). That being said, I miss the theater. I used to go A LOT and even though it’s crazy how much it costs nowadays, there’s something about seeing it on that big screen that you start to miss. So, Groupon had a deal and Heath and I just picked whatever looked the funniest, which happened to be Amy Schumer’s TRAINWRECK (and it was perfectly hilarious, btw) and we found ourselves at the movies randomly one day after work. I think it’d been a year since I’d been to the movies so it was odd that I’d find myself there again, for a second time, in the same week. But that following weekend my sister called and said, “We asked Gideon who he wanted to go see Minions (his first theater movie) with, Mommy or Daddy? And he said, “Aunt Sarah,” so I don’t know if you wanted to take him or not, but…” And of course my heart was melting and I was all, “I’ll be right there!” God, I love that kid. He was scared initially, of the bigness of the theater, of the darkness (he’s scared of everything new these days, it’s a phase), but once that screen lit up he was so captivated he forgot all about those fears, he even forgot he had an ice cream sandwich in his hand (and no one ever forgets about ice cream). When it was over he was so excited to see it again on that “Big TV.” And I’m excited about the idea of getting to see kids movies in the theater now, because Aunt Sarah will always be willing to take him. 😉

 

I’ve finally started to panic about the wedding and the lack of planning I’ve done for it thus far. It’s 3 months away now and I’ve only just now locked down a photographer and sort of locked down a caterer, but haven’t decided on a menu yet. There’s still so much to do that even thinking about making a to-do list for it all overwhelms me. I’m sorely regretting not taking this more seriously earlier on in the year. It’s still just going to be a laid back, sort of non-traditional wedding (I keep referring to it as a glorified cookout, but it’s definitely more than that), but that still requires serious effort considering I’m making so much of the decorations and whatnot by myself. I’ve really got to get busy.

 

Ocean City CollageThe most exciting thing I did during the hiatus was taking a real vacation for the first time in ages, to the beach for the first time in over a decade. It was only a 3 day getaway, but it was much needed and oh so fulfilling. My parents had rented a giant beach house and my sister’s family and neighbors came down too. Being at the beach again with my entire family had me nostalgic for my youth and all the vacations we took there when I was a kid. Heck, just being on the boardwalk after so long away from it had all the feels buzzing happily inside me. We did all the necessary, OceanCity things; Candy Kitchen’s Fudge, Fisher’s Popcorn, Thrasher’s Fries, Skee-Ball, and Old Time Black & White Photo booth pictures. We walked a ton and ate a really good seafood restaurant called Hooked, and even got to take home some really pretty blown glass ornaments from the Christmas Village my parents have always gotten their own ornaments from. The waves kicked my butt and Heath and I were both so sunburnt we looked like lobsters, but it was incredibly fun and relaxing. Just the long overdue escape from life we needed. I hope my parents get that place again next year. My camera performed like a champ while we were there, and if you’re interested in seeing pictures from the trip, click HERE!

 

This hiatus was good for me, mentally and physically, and while I did miss the internet a little (Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I mostly only missed Twitter – lol.), I think I need to practice staying away from it a little more often. It’s a bad habit I don’t want to let takeover me again. Because even if I didn’t get all the things I thought I would do done in my absence, I still did a heck of a lot more than I would have had I still been wasting all my free time with it. Stuff that was way more fulfilling than the internet’s ever made me feel. Everyone should take a break from time-to-time. It’s good for you to actually live life, you know? Not just watch how other people are living theirs. 😉

 

What have you been up to while I was gone?

 

 

 

 

2015 Resolutions

At the start of every new year, I find myself wondering how the heck a year has already passed by me again. I swear it gets faster every year. Somewhere, Father Time is laughing at me.

 

As with every new year, I find it therapeutic to review my previous years goals and set some new ones. It keeps me on the right track all year, gives me some sort of purpose throughout the year so that I don’t reach the end of it and feel useless. So what do I hope to achieve in 2015? Let’s see…

 

Get closer to God. 2014 brought a lot of brokenness to me, brokenness that wasn’t even my own. My heart was heavy for too many of my loved ones, for too much of the year, and the only way I found myself able to deal with it was through prayer. I had bought a new notebook this year from Not of This World, with the intention of filling it with new words toward a novel, but what it ended up becoming was a prayer journal. Something I could review to make sure I’d included everyone in my prayers and also reflect on when I was feeling extra broken and find comfort in updating the list with answered prayer requests. I absolutely intend on keeping up this prayer journal this year. I also want to get back into devotionals daily. Back in the day, I used to get a lot out of reading a devotional on a daily basis. It’s a good way for me to stay dedicated to spending time with God daily and just good for my soul. I got a new Joyce Meyer one for Christmas and if it’s anything like the last one I read, I’m sure it will be beneficial in my walk with God. I also plan to commit to specific church duties this year, namely running the soup kitchen quarterly with my grandmother. I think there’s something really rewarding about giving to people in need and it’s even more so when it’s done in God’s name.

 

Time Management. This is really something I always feel like I’m trying to do and failing at. In 2013, I vowed to do all the things and it kicked my butt. In 2014, I vowed to not kill myself like the year before and somehow I managed kill myself even more instead. I’m not suggesting I need a lazier life, but I do need one that allows for small breaks on a consistent basis. I can’t go another 6 month stint of overtime at my day job and side job without ever stopping to relax. I got sick 3 times in just the last 2.5 months and I never get sick, but I’m positive it’s my body’s way of telling me to slow down. The problem is, I live a busy life. That will probably never change. And I’m okay with that, but I hope to spread out the busy a little better this year. To say no when I’m feeling overwhelmed and keep a better schedule so I’m not constantly pulled in all directions.

 

Get healthy. I know this goal pops up on my resolution every year, but I’ve yet to really get to the healthy level I’m actually satisfied with. Maybe I never will be, maybe it’s always a work-in-progress, but I like setting this resolution to really keep me focused on it. It takes a lot of effort to be healthy in this world, because it’s far easier to just not care, but as I age, I’m finding myself regretting that “easy” life and wishing I’d built a better foundation for success earlier on in life. I don’t want to believe it’s too late. I really want to have before and after photos to be proud of one day, evidence that will never let me slide back into the unhealthy category again.

 

Try to get Published. I say try because I can’t just decide I’ll be published. I’m not going the self-pub route and so really my future lies in someone else’s hands where publication is concerned. But I need to make the effort. I need to give my MS a final polish, I need to find the right agents to send it to, I need to stay on top of shopping it around whether I receive rejections or not. I can’t just wish for publication and cross my fingers. There’s a lot to be done to make this dream a reality and I need to get busy.

 

Pay down debt. I know this was technically sort of on last years resolution list, too, but if I end up not having a long period of overtime this year, putting money aside for the debt pay down will be harder. I don’t want to give up, though. If I could put a similar amount towards my debt this year as last, I could potentially being buying a house by 2016. That would be amazing and I want to give it my all to make it happen.

 

So just five resolutions this year… seems totally doable, right? 😉 What do you hope to achieve in 2015?

 

 

2014 In Review: Everything Else

Last year, I made myself six resolutions. Relatively easy ones, really, and for the most part I achieved all except one. Let’s review them with a little more depth…

 

1. Have more Moxie: I think this is the one I’m most proud of because I made such an effort that things that used to terrify me, now seem so easy it’s weird imagining myself ever afraid of them before. This year I met my favorite author twice (the second time without an ounce of fear), chopped off the long hair I’ve been hiding behind for 10 years, went to a day long writing conference with a bunch of strangers, took on strangers as clients without making my sister tag along with me to the photoshoots, etc… Sure there was probably a lot of other ways I could have shown moxie, but I’m glad I made this resolution because all year when I was faced with something that would normally scare me, I felt compelled to prove the fear wrong.

 

2. Get another Tattoo: This is really the only resolution I failed at and it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough moxie, it was mostly because I didn’t have enough time. I have four tattoos planned now, all of which I can’t wait to have, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have some sort of new ink any day now. 😉

 

3. Write: SEE – 2014 In Review: Writing

 

4. Live a Healthy Life: Well, I did and I didn’t. I’m still overweight and out of shape, maybe even more so than last year because all that overtime at work bit into my workout time. And I still haven’t taken myself to the eye doctor, despite my quickly declining sight. But I did get myself on a better sleep schedule and my skin has never been healthier thanks to a daily H2O+ skin cleaning regimen. I also went to the dentist twice and they couldn’t even yell at me for not going in so long because they said I take extremely good care of my teeth. I’ve definitely still got some things to work on next year and I plan to, but I don’t call this one a total failure.

 

5. Give More: This one is also a yes and a no. Sadly, my biggest contribution last year, Sevenly, ended up being my smallest contribution this year. They’ve stopped carrying cuts suitable for a girl my size/shape and so I didn’t buy nearly as many cause shirts as I might have liked to this year. But I did give in other ways like: cookies to all delivery type people (mail and food) during the Cookie-Thon. That was one of the most rewarding acts of giving, seeing their unexpected appreciation and entire demeanor change over such a small gesture. I helped out at church for the big events – Valentines Day, Easter, etc…, I donated some books to the library. But I think the thing I did most was giving of myself this year. To anyone that needed me. Sometimes that meant missing out on my own life and sometimes other people’s burdens were super hard to carry, but I feel like being there for them was necessary and I’d gladly carry the burden any day.

 

6. Save More: SEE – 2014 Savings Challenge

 

I know some people aren’t fans of resolutions and I can see how they’re not for everyone, but as a list maker who is too busy for her own good, making a list of things I’d like to work toward really keeps me guided in the right direction. They’re like little reminders all year long to keep me on track and I’m happy for it.

 

So, what’s on my to-do list for 2015? Just wait and see! 😉

 

2014 Resolutions

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Let the list begin!

 

Have more Moxie. I let fear dictate far too much of my life; fear of the unknown, fear of change. Fear-fear-fear. I’ve really got to get over this already. I’m 31 for goodness sake, it’s embarrassing. This year, I hope to step outside of my comfort zone and be a little braver.

 

Get another Tattoo. This might seem like a silly resolution because people get tattoos all the time – who cares, right? Well, I do, because I’ve been carrying a gift card for a new tattoo around in my purse since my birthday and have yet to do anything with it. And it’s not that I’m at a loss for what I want – in fact I have three tattoos I’m positive I want already on deck. But all of them are in areas that would show almost all of the time and the one I currently have is so hidden even I forget I have it sometimes. So here’s that fear I mentioned above keeping me from doing something I really want to do. This year, I’ve got to make it happen.

 

Write. Ideally, I’d love to get in the habit of writing every day, but I know this is unrealistic as some days there really isn’t a moment to do it. So, if I could get in the habit of writing at least 4 of the 7 days a week I’d be pretty happy with that, even if I only write 100 words on those days. Other writing goals include writing two short stories this year and completing Dreamsters. Mostly, though, I just want to write. More words than last year.

 

Live a Healthy Life. I already partially achieved this goal last year and plan to keep it in place this year with eating clean and exercising, but this year I’d like to add a few “healthy” habits like visiting the dentist more than once a year (especially since I already pay for it anyway), taking better care of my skin and hair, and getting the right amount of sleep. These are all things I’m growing more appreciation for as I age and it’s time to take action.

 

Give More. I’ve always “given” when I could – a donation here or there to whatever cause my friends and co-workers were currently supporting for a function they were participating in, but I’ve never really actively pursued a cause on my own. Last year, though, I became obsessed with Sevenly and all that they stand for and want to live a more Sevenly-like life. I want to give in not just monetary ways, but maybe volunteer for the sharing table through church, too. Point is, I want to get involved in helping others in whatever way necessary. I want to give of myself where I can, however I can.

 

Save More. You already know now that my efforts to do the Savings Challenge last year were mostly a success. With doing it backwards this year, I hope I’m reporting an even more successful total next year. But it goes a little further, too. I hope to tighten up my frivolous spending even more than I have in the past year. For the most part, I was really good at only buying books I pre-ordered last year, but this year I’m going to be even stricter. I want to meet 2014 feeling good about the way I budgeted my life and not guilty about all the things I bought and didn’t really need or deserve.

 

So, six things. Seems doable, right? What kind of goals to you have for the year to come?

2013 In Review: Everything Else

At the start of 2013, I made this list of resolutions. Eight things I wanted to accomplish this year. And so let’s check them off….

 

1/2. See – 2013 In Review: Writing

 

3. See – 2013 In Review: Books

 

4. Photography – I’ve touched lightly on this already with that post about the Christmas Card Shoots I did this year, but I can expand on it by saying, I did in fact become more comfortable behind the camera in 2013. I still don’t have the confidence I should necessarily, or all the skills I could have where editing photos is concerned, but I have gotten braver and I have tried harder this year than I ever have before. In 2013 I did eleven scheduled photoshoots – shoots in which I got paid, even though I didn’t ask (and tried to refuse) compensation for. I also shot birthday parties and family gatherings and anytime someone asked me to capture a family moment. I shot a lot food, too (ha!). In 2014, I’d like to continue on this path of learning and finding the courage to continue to step outside of my comfort zone and spread my wings as a photographer.

 

5. Music – I didn’t go to even one concert this year and I regret it immensely. Some of my favorite bands came through Baltimore this year, prime opportunities for me to see them live, and I was too afraid to attend a show alone. I’ve really got to work on this because I can’t be afraid of going places alone forever. I can’t sacrifice something I love so dearly just because I’m afraid of enjoying it alone. I definitely need to work on this harder in 2014. (Also see – 2013 In Review: Music)

 

6. Weight Loss – Surprise, surprise, I didn’t lose 60+ lbs. in 2103. I think total I only lost 20 and who knows if that number still stands after consuming nothing but sugar since Christmas. But, I did generally stick to the “clean eating” lifestyle I set out to. And I did work out with more dedication than I ever have before, 4-5 times a week. I even participated in a 5K this year, the first of many more I hope. After working so hard for a few months and making no progress, I sought out medical advice and found that my thyroid was significantly underactive and have since tried a series of medications to get that where it should be (it’s finally in a good place) and that I was severely deficient in vitamin D (I’m working on getting that where it should be now). Both of these things could and did play a factor in my weight loss efforts and almost immediately after changing up the medication routine, I started to finally see results. I’m hoping that having this sorted out and keeping up with the lifestyle changes I made in 2013, I’ll finally have more success where my weight loss goals are concerned in 2014.

 

7. Baking – Boy did I ever! No, seriously, one month I tracked just how much “creating” in the kitchen I did and in the end it was a whole 7 days worth. That doesn’t sound like a lot in comparison to a 30 day month, but when you think I lost an entire week to just baking – that many hours spent solely in the kitchen – it actually is quite significant. I baked pies and cookies galore, with a few other interesting desserts on the side. I even tried my hand at a few dinners, which is completely out of my realm since I’m not much of a cook, but found myself successful with those dishes as well. Overall, I think I nailed this. My cookies this year were a HUGE hit and my pies were so loved by others that someone actually paid me to make them pies for their holiday celebration. It blew my mind.

 

8. Productivity – I’d say that I definitely made better use of my time in 2013, but it came at a cost, for sure. While I was able to squeeze in a workout regimen with my work schedule (a work schedule that involved more overtime than I’ve ever worked before) and be a writer, reader, baker, photographer, and you know, still spend time with the people I love, IT. WAS. HARD. Not just hard mentally, but physically. I feel like I was more tired this year than ever before (and partly that could have been the medical issues weighing me down, too). I found myself really regretting using the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” because what good was I to anyone and myself if I felt dead already anyway? None at all. So while I definitely did make the best of my time, I think this year I’ve gotta find a better balance of that use of time and remember that it’s perfectly okay (and necessary) to take a day off for nothing sometimes. I saw Sevenly post the quote, “If you’re too busy to smile, you’re too busy” at the peak of my busiest moments and it hit me hard. I was miserable because I had too much going on, like ready to break down and cry. I don’t want to reach that place again in 2014.

 

I’d say as far as resolutions go, I’m pretty pleased with my achievements in 2013. Sure, they could have been better, but they were already worlds better than anything I achieved in 2012 and I’m proud of myself for mostly sticking to my goals. I know resolutions aren’t for everyone, but they are a good way to guide me and so I’m sticking with them!

 

Now… what exactly do I hope to accomplish in 2014? 😉

 

 

2013 Resolutions

Last year I didn’t bother making a resolutions list because I’d failed pretty bad at achieving anything I’d set out to the year before, but I think it was a poor decision on my part because I am a list-maker by nature. Even the smallest tasks get written down day-to-day on a post-it and there is this great satisfaction for me when I get to scratch it off once it’s complete. I’m also someone who is pretty critical of myself and the expectations I set for myself, but last year I set none. Basically 2012 was a free-for-all in my head which isn’t wise for a planner like me. I love to live by a schedule. I’m not good at winging it. And so, this year I’ve decided to get back on the resolution train in hopes that this time next year I’m a lot more okay with where I am in my life than I was this year.

So, here’s a list of things I’d like to do this year.

  1. Finish one of my novels. Even if it’s the roughest draft ever, I need a completed manuscript in my hands. I’m just not sure I can keep letting myself believe I can actually be a successful writer one day if I have yet to produce a finished product. So far all I’m good at is having great ideas, great beginnings, but without endings that makes me pretty useless. It’s really time to prove to myself that I can do this.
  1. Write more in general. I suppose this is similar to above, but I mean in different ways. I have short stories I could write, I have other novels that haven’t really budged in a while. I want to improve on that too. I want to really absorb the writer’s life and it seems to me that none of them are ever just working on one thing.
  1. Read 60 books. I don’t know why, but 60 was the number I was really shooting for this year and I came close. There were a few months were I only read one book or none at all. As long as I don’t let that happen again this year, I should be able to achieve this. But just reading 60 books isn’t the only part of this resolution, I want some of those books to be classics, I don’t read nearly enough, and I’d like to sneak in a re-read or two as well. For years now I’ve been wanting to re-read my favorite book (ACHERON, a Dark-Hunter novel), but because of it’s enormous size and the time it would take to read it I always tell myself I need to read something else first. I think it’s about time I get rid of that thought. It’s my favorite book; I should be allowed to re-read it whenever I want.
  1. Learn how to use my camera better, to take better pictures, and to become better acquainted with editing software. I’ve bought a few books that I hope to not only read this year, but actually apply to my effort. I’d like to have a really awesome In Review at the end of 2013 that explores my growth as a photographer.
  1. Go to at least 1 concert. I miss out on shows so much because I have no one to attend them with. It’s a sad sort of thing to love music as much as I do and have no one to enjoy it with. But I’m really regretting all of the shows I’ve missed and I think maybe I just need to get over my fear of going alone and just do it. I know it won’t be the same to go alone, but I won’t be missing it altogether either.
  1. Lose 60lbs. (+/-) This will require a clean eating lifestyle and a deeper devotion to exercise, but I’m really ready for it.
  1. Create more in the kitchen. I’ve really gotten into baking this year, more than ever before. Not only is it therapeutic in some sort of way, it’s rewarding sharing my treats with people. I got a lot of new “tools” for Christmas to improve my skills and I hope to put them to good use this year, creating my own recipes and adding healthy twists to tasty treats.
  1. Make better use of my free time. I want to be as productive as I can whenever I’m not working or sleeping. I don’t want to look back and regret lazy days. I can rest when I’m dead.

What do all of you hope to achieve in 2013?

We Need a Resolution

With the first of the New Year finally here, it’s time to re-evaluate the year behind us and decide what can be done in the year to come to improve our lives. We should always be working on ways to improve ourselves on a day to day basis, but it seems wise to decide on the long term goals at the start of a New Year. While I was fairly pleased with the things I accomplished in 2010, I know there are several things I can work on to make 2011 even better.

In 2011, I hope to achieve the following things:

Writing:

– Complete my current WIP by June and by complete I mean ready to shop around with. I’m not that far away from its completion (maybe 40,000 words?) and if I devote myself to it more than I did in 2010 there is no reason this shouldn’t be possible.

– In order to continue to improve my writing ability I plan to use the Webster’s Vocabulary Builder that I got for Christmas regularly. There are 25 units in the book, which divided across the year would mean I need to do at least 2 units a month. Within each unit there are 6 quizzes. If I study the book 3 times a week (doing 3 quizzes) I feel confident that I will greatly increase my use of new words while writing this year.

– Write more short stories. Being a part of an actual critique group now has drastically changed my self esteem when it comes to writing and sharing short stories. I hope that as a group we will set out to write several short stories throughout the year to share with each other as well as online.

– Begin my next WIP. What that will be, I’m not entirely sure. There are several stories that scream for my attention, but I refuse to entertain them until it’s actually time for fear that they’ll interrupt the current WIP. When the time comes, I’m sure one of them will be loud enough to let me know they’re next.

Weight:

For a very long time I’ve been struggling with my weight and in the last year in particular it has basically spiraled out of control. As a result I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m okay with this. Getting my weight under control and being healthier overall needs to happen now, while I’m still fairly young and capable to doing this. I don’t want to wait a couple more years to take it seriously and then be in such a bad place it feels impossible. I also don’t want to look back and regret not changing when I wanted to just because I was too lazy. This is the year I will “get my sexy back” (not that I was ever sexy, but you get the point).

My plan is to lose 60 lbs. by September (because that is when my sister’s wedding is) and this amount is completely reasonable in this time frame. That would average about 6 1/5 lbs. a month which shouldn’t be too hard if I actually stick to a stricter diet (which means a heck of a lot less fast food and carbohydrates) and daily exercise (with cool things like my new body ball).

To make sure I see this goal through I intend on taking a picture of myself at the start of every month as well as logging my measurements and weight along with the picture. At the end of 2011 I hope to be able to do an “In Review” post that features my weight loss and share that progress in the form of pictures with you all. Hopefully the change will be drastically different from start to finish.

Reading:

For the most part I was able to read about 4 books a month last year. Sure there were some months where there were less and others where there were more, but overall I averaged about 4 books a month. I feel this is a reasonable amount of books to read and still be able to do all of the other things I need to work on so I will shoot for a similar reading goal this year.

Since I already have enough new books in my possession to achieve this goal my plan of attack for that To-Be-Read pile is to blow through the thinner, standalone novels first (while I work on finishing my own book), and then jumping into the series that I know once I begin I won’t be able to put down until the series completion. My main concern when it comes to reading is finding a healthier balance between reading and writing and I hope that my “plan” will help create one.

Also reading related I hope to return to reading my Bible more regularly. I always seem to forget about the comfort it brings me until I’m so distraught that I’m reaching for it out of desperation. I’d rather keep up with it on a regular basis and maybe by doing so I won’t find myself in such a low place as often.

Those are my 3 main goals for 2011. I’m sure there will be smaller less important ones along the way, but before any of those are attended to these 3 must be met. I refuse to face failure when it comes to these things and I truly hope this time next year I can gloat about my success. Wish me luck!

LJ friends, care to share what kind of resolutions you’ve made for 2011?

Peace – Sarah

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