This year has been one of intention for me. For the first time in my life I am almost constantly conscious of my actions and what I am doing to make myself a more well-rounded and purposeful person. Selfish? I like to think not. Instead, I believe that it's about making me a better version of myself for the people around me. 'Cause if mama ain't happy...
Anywho, this process has involved me undertaking plenty of new rituals — some fun, some torturous and some just plain woo-woo. Some will stick around and some, I'm sure, will not, but 2017 (so far!) has been a fun process of figuring out what really works for me. I'm done passively living my life.
Yoga's not the woo-woo one, so don't get bent out of sorts. I've taken yoga before, but not for a few years. What I've found is that I love yoga in a class setting; yoga by Youtube is absolute torture. I literally started attending classes again at the turn of the new year, and I happened to stumble into a class that I love with a great instructor, so I will be fitting this class into my schedule as much as I possibly can.
Before the new year, I got sucked into some kind of blog post about planners and became convinced of my need for one of these beautiful books. I ended up buying a $50 notebook called "The Happiness Planner" and while it is exceptionally cute and Instagram-able, I found that it just doesn't work for me. Instead, I bought a Moleskin notebook for $15 and a set of Staedtler marker pens and jumped on the bullet journal bandwagon. The bullet journal provides a lot more freedom for me to be creative, keep track of my habits, plan my meals and jot down my ideas all in one place.
Financial freedom is one of my ongoing goals (my dream is to retire yesterday), so I took a page from some financial advice column I was reading (I frequent Grow by Acorns and also get the Money email from PureWow), and decided to make February a spending-free month. I eliminated all non-essential spending for 28 days and, actually, found it wasn't that difficult. I didn't eat out, didn't buy anything I didn't need and put what I saved toward my debt. I ended up paying off one of my credit cards (with help from my tax refund) and socking more money away in savings. Now, all that hard work was recently undone by my car's need for replacement brakes, but if I hadn't done that work in February, I wouldn't have had the credit available to take care of it.
Kyle bought me a ukelele for Christmas, which I asked for. It's a beautiful instrument, what he got me, and I have every intention of learning to play it.
I admit here, though, that I haven't picked it up in a month. I'm trying to learn it myself, and I it's very possible I lack the discipline to do something like learn a new instrument at 28 without the help of an instructor. It probably also doesn't help that the first song I picked to learn was "Blackbird" by the Beatles, which, it turns out, is a horrifyingly difficult song.
Read 50 Books
This is something I have so far had no problem with. I set a goal to read 50 books this year, which averages to about a book a week or four-plus books a month. I have a two-page spread in my bullet journal with a list of 70-plus books I want to read, and I've made it through 13 so far this year (some of which actually didn't make the original list, but I saw somewhere or thought of). The one problem I've been running into with this is the library. I borrow my books from the library on the Kindle app for my iPad, but who knew they put a limit on how many people could read a digital book at one time? I have three books on hold right now, but then when they become available, I'm not ready to read them. It's just annoying.
I keep an Evernote project to keep track of the books I've read with just the cover and the title. I plan to put together some kind of collage at the end of the year to put them all together. Here is what I've read so far:
- The Fiery Cross, Diana Galbadon (the fourth Outlander book. I've gotten away from these because they are ridiculously long and will likely mess up my goal of 50, shame).
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
- Swing Time, Zadie Smith
- Heartburn, Nora Ephron
- Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J. Ryan Stradal
- Beloved, Toni Morrison
- Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Jenny Han
- The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
- Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon
- Be That Girl, Alexis Jones
It makes me happy looking at that least and seeing that 10 of those 13 books were written by women.
I am trying and, I suspect, failing at becoming a morning person. My ultimate goal is to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and get after it, whether that's running or working on my writing or doing anything productive. I've been inching closer to 6 a.m., and have even hit it a couple of times, but I fear I'm just not the kind of person who can be productive before 9 o'clock. Lately what I have been doing when I wake up early is to put on water for tea and sink onto the couch and read. Sometimes I'll take a nap. Now, reading is not unproductive (though the nap might be). But my visions for my morning are a little more hands-on, but I can just never seem to find the energy when the time comes. It's something I am going to continue to work toward, but I'm not sure if it's ever going to have the desired result.
This one's the woo-woo one, by the way.
I have become a podcast queen lately. I even have a line for podcasts on my daily habit tracker in my bullet journal to fill in if I've listened to a podcast that day. My current favorite is Being Boss by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson. It's a podcast for creative entrepreneurs and they talk a lot about side hustling, freelancing, being your own boss, running your own business and just kicking ass. It's very aspirational for me.
We've talked about this. I've made it through five days. It's really not that hard. I've got to a baseball game on Monday. Talk to me then.
Starting This Blog
I want to write more, so I gave myself a place to write more.
So, in sum, it's been a pretty eye-opening year (three months), and I'm excited to see what the rest of it brings. Whatever changes are going to come are coming slowly, but I do feel I'm moving in the right direction, even if I never wake up at 6 a.m.