New Year’s Resolutions: Quarterly Report

Reflecting on the year so far.. har har!

Since we just passed the 1/4 year mark (April 1st), I decided to do a quick roundup of my New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s how it looks for me:

Post on my blog at least twice a week. This means 52 x 2 = 104 posts this year. At minimum.

  • 101 days = 14 weeks. 14 x 2 = 28 posts. Actual total: 22 posts.
  • Behind by 6. I’m not too worried about this one though, because in the summer I usually increase my posting schedule up to 3-4 times a week!

Read 100 books. Not counting anything required for school!

  • Current total: 13 books.
  • Behind by 14 books, according to GoodReads.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge
Effieboo has read 13 books toward a goal of 100 books.
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  • Again, I think I can make this up easily during the summer. I fell off the wagon a bit during midterms (which dragged on, and on, and on) but I finally have one on the go again!

Get a massage.

  • Maybe I’ll treat myself to one when I’m in Cancun at the end of the month! Reward for finishing exams?

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New Years Resolutions 2011

This post was updated January 1st, 2012!

Happy 2011!! Are you as excited as me about this brand new start, clean slate, chance for reflection and growth? Here’s how excited I am: me and one of my biffles, Isabelle, rang in the new year with champagne, a bonfire and stinky cheeses before reading ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go‘ and brainstorming ideas and resolutions for 2011. We got out pens and paper and wrote down all the things we’d like to be better at, & all the things we’d like to accomplish before this time next year. No dream was too big, and there was absolutely no ‘reality’ check/negativity/cynicism, since dreams need encouragement in order to be achieved! We got all giddy and excited about the possibilities that the future holds, and now I am more jazzed up than ever! Bring it on 2011. :)

Looking back to my 2010 resolutions, I can see that I made a mistake. I was fairly vague in some of my resolutions: “take more chances” and “update my blog more” are not, in my opinion, very clear or easy to achieve. There’s no way of knowing if you’ve really succeeded! So even though I think I accomplished about 7/10 of my last year’s resolutions, it’s not concrete enough for me. I’d prefer goals that I can easily check off: done. That’s why this year, I’m only putting on specific, clear goals. Even though this type of resolutions are a bit scarier to put into words than the vague kind (ex. “be a better friend”), I think they’ll ultimately be more effective for me. They’ll kick my butt into high gear! So without further ado, my resolutions for 2011:

Personal Goals

By personal goals, I mean concrete, specific achievements I’d like to accomplish by 2012.

  • Post on my blog at least twice a week. Actual total: 78.
  • Read 100 books. Actual total: 50. 
  • Get a massage. Blissful, in Cancun!
  • Spend 1 month eating vegan. Not quite a month. About 2 weeks. 
  • Attend TEDxMcGill. Check!
  • Complete some kind of physical challenge. Did not accomplish this one.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo. Check!
  • Watch the Top 250 movies on IMDB. Not even close. But this goal taught me something important: I’m not that crazy about watching movies!
  • Do one cultural activity per month
  • Save $1000.00 for travelling.
  • Get into the honours psychology program at my school. I applied, but didn’t make it.
  • Get a pet of some kind. Didn’t do this one! 
  • Host a dinner party.
  • Do some sort of detox.
  • Go on a retreat. I wish I had gotten my act together on this one, but I didn’t make the time. 
  • Attend a conference on something I find fascinating. Does TED count?!
  • Have photos and writing published.
  • Find my dream apartment. Maybe not my dream apartment forever, but definitely for now!

Focuses

By focuses, I mean non-specific, vague ways that I’d like to improve.

  • Bring joy to others
  • Live in the moment
  • Say yes, be open to new experiences
  • Health & nutrition
  • Unconventional moneymaking
  • Be calmer & more zen
  • Travel
  • Make a difference
  • Practice my French
  • Practice my photography
  • Be a better friend
  • Eat consciously
  • Cut down on Facebook and television

What are your goals and focuses for the coming year?

xoxo,

Thinking Out Loud

I feel like lately my creativity has been taking a nosedive. I’ve felt rushed and tired, felt like there wasn’t enough time in the day, felt frantic and all-over-the-place. (Anyone else out there saying “Preach, girl!”??)

A lot of these feelings have to do with the fact that I am, all of a sudden, a whole lot busier than I have been in the last few years. I’m taking a full courseload, working part-time, and am the food editor at this magazine. I also try to have a social life, sometimes. All of this added together equals out to one hectic Stephanie. I have to-do lists coming out my ears (in fact I have a book of them), and I am still striving to find a balance in my routine.

I also have a lot on my mind, in a way I haven’t in previous years. This stuff isn’t as urgent, or even all that stressful, but it’s always there, always milling about in my brain. It’s the questions about my future! I’m graduating this Spring, and there are a lot of questions that need answering between now and then. What will I do with all my stuff? Am I going to move? Where will I work? What about grad school? Where will I travel? What can I afford? What will I do? For now, I know that next year is going to be a year of working at a “casual” job (probably continue to waitress) and traveling and spending time with people that I love as much as possible. How I will accomplish all that is another question entirely. So between making lists, and brainstorming, and researching graduate programs, and looking up apartments – it’s safe to say my cognitive load has increased in recent months.

Please know, however, that this is not me feeling sorry for myself. Not at all! I am very happy to be juggling all the things I am, and when I think of the future (although it sometimes scares me to no end), it’s very exciting to see all the possibilities ahead. None of the things on my mind are negative, they just take up a lot of space and time.

But if there’s one thing I know about creativity, it’s that it needs to be prioritized. It’s so easy to decide to “not have time” for fun, creative things. And if there’s another thing I know about creativity, it’s that when I don’t use mine, I feel flat, and dull, and even more tired. I woke up this morning and had that feeling I get when I get excited about a new project, but then realized that I actually didn’t have a new project at all. But that giddy, excited, write-things-down, make-fun-lists, get-to-work feeling resonated, and made me realize how much I’m craving a project or creative focus.

I’d really like to make that project a quilt (!!), but a little taken aback about how much the tools will cost (not to mention the fabric, of course). I’m still dutifully taking my photo every day, but enjoying it less now that I’m spending more time indoors. Next year I probably won’t be doing Project 365, instead trying to take as many photos as possible whenever I’m inspired. And I haven’t tried anything very fancy in the kitchen lately. Or scrapbooked! Or made a DIY project!

I think I know what I need to do to shake this ennui. Get my thinking cap on, and do something creative. Maybe I should carve a pumpkin? Or decorate my apartment for fall, I think I have a Jack-o-lantern garland kicking around somewhere. Or maybe I should make some fancy cookies, and give them away. Or perhaps try my hand at baking my own energy bars. Or getting back into this blog the way I should. And of course, NaNoWriMo is coming up!! Lots of opportunities for me to stretch my creative muscle.

How are you doing? How is your back-to-school going? Are you feeling stressed, too?

2012 Goal Progress

Don’t ask me why I feel compelled to do a round-up of my 2012 goals in mid-May. It’s not quite halfway through the year, nor is this a quarterly report, I just feel like it’s the right time for me to assess my progress and get motivated for the next half-ish of the year. Ready? Okay!

In general, I have been so happy about these goals. I love that they’re tangible, I love that they’re check-off-able, and I love that they give me a bit of a direction in how I live my life. They help me focus on what I think is important, and that winds up shaping my everyday life in positive ways. That being said, I’ve made a lot of progress on some of my goals, and next to no progress on others. I’ve already scrapped one, and another is starting to seem like it doesn’t jibe with who I am or what I want anymore – funny how quickly things can change, right!? Anyhow, let’s go into a bit more detail.

Personal

  • Read 75 books this year/ I’ve read 14 so far
  • Take 5 trips/ I haven’t taken a single trip, unless you count going home for reading break and my birthday. I’ll hopefully be taking a couple in the summer, but 5 seems a little far off at the moment.
  • Bake & decorate 5 cakes [12]/ I’m hoping to make a few more – not quite so elaborate as the first two! Maybe something light and fun for summer birthdays.
  • Bake 4 “breads” from scratch [12]/ I have my eyes on PW’s X Bread, for one.

Creative

  • Write 100 blog posts (2 a week!)/ I’m currently at 54 posts, counting this one, which means I am well on-track for this goal! And it’s probably my favourite goal of all of them.
  • NaNoWriMo 2012/ Luckily, don’t have to worry about this one until November. But I am still totally motivated to write my 2nd novel!
  • Submit writing to 3 different newspapers or magazines/ This I have made no headway on. In fact, in all the hullabaloo of the past few months I completely forgot I’d even made this a goal. I’ll be getting on it ASAP!
  • Project 365 (see the photos on Flickr)/ I love this goal and I’ve been dutifully doing it every day. Haven’t missed a photo yet, knock on wood!
  • Complete 10 DIY projects (check them out here)/ I’m at 7/10 (haven’t posted the latest on the blog yet) and I hope to end up doing more than 10. This is my other favourite 2012 goal, it has been so much fun.
  • Write an ebook/ Nope. But I’ve started working on a cookbook, and I have thoughts milling about in my brain, so we’ll see if this will happen!

Physical

  • Take a photo of everything I eat / This was a nice thought, but it’s just not going to happen! I was in a very different headspace at the beginning of this year, and I no longer feel the need to obsess over food, count calories, or strictly monitor anything. I feel a lot more balanced, which is why I have no qualms about striking this goal from the list.
  • Lose 20 pounds/ I have similar feelings about this goal – I have not weighed myself since January (I don’t have a scale), and even though I lost probably about 10 pounds that month on the slow-carb diet, I no longer care. Yes, I’m still working at getting healthier, but no, I don’t really care about the weight itself. So this one too is getting struck from the list!
  • Be able to run 10K/ This goal, on the other hand, is still a happy and positive one for me. It’s a great milestone to aim for, and I have been slowly improving my running ability and distance over the last couple months. My last run, I ended up going 4.68km at a nice easy gait, and enjoyed it. Meaning I’m almost halfway there! Yay. 

Overall, mixed results. Some of my goals have gotten more attention than others (blogging, DIY), but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that it’s been wintery and more conducive to indoor pursuits. Hopefully more trips, running, and reading can take place this summer. I’m so excited for what’s to come.

Thanks for reading! How are your New Year’s Resolutions or 2012 goals going?

Be Who You Are, Not Who You Wish You Were

Photo thanks to WeHeartIt

First off: a caveat. I don’t mean to suggest that there’s something wrong with having aspirations for yourself. Dreams, hopes, future plans, blueprints of your mansion in the Canary Islands – whatever. It’s a beautiful thing to be inspired by life, to be looking forward to things, to wish something for yourself that you don’t currently possess.

There’s also nothing wrong with adjusting your current behaviours in the hopes of becoming a better you, to say no to activities you might enjoy but know are unproductive (like countless hours of watching TV, for example!) or make yourself do the hard work that will get you where you need to be.

The real problem arises wherever we attempt to mold ourselves into somebody else.  When our plans for ourselves don’t match up with our true values, personalities or skills. When we’re operating under a script for our “ideal” self that just doesn’t jibe with who we really are or what truly makes us happy.

Where we get these useless scripts differs from person to person: perhaps they’re sourced from our perceived (or real) parental expectations, our jealousy of a friend, our information from the media of what constitutes beauty or achievement, or our lack of self-reflection. It’s useful to try and isolate the sources of your ineffective scripts, confront them, and keep them in mind as you move through your life. 

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Battling Writer’s Block

I spend a lot of time moaning and complaining about how I just can’t think of anything to write about. When I relaunched my website last March, I made a vow to get serious about my content: to be more helpful & insightful.  This was a double edged sword of a proposition: first of all, it’s less fun and a great deal harder to write something important than it is to make a fun list or post pictures. Which means I ended up posting less, and agonizing over my writing. The flip side is that my content became a good deal more useful and hence rewarding for me to write. While I’ve since come to realize that my blog is a space for both types of posts – the easy & the helpful – it’s still hard to write.

And this doesn’t just apply to my blog. I’ve been trying to gear myself up for NaNoWriMo for years now! And yet every time the 1st comes around I just don’t..write. I just put it off. I make a barrier in my mind, with a sign which reads: “I can’t think of anything to write about” and then that’s that.

The thing is, I feel so good when I write. When I finally sit down and say to myself: “write a blog post..now!” and the words start to come, it feels great. I love the feeling. When I publish something, I get giddy. I’ve had blogs since middle school and written short stories since I was very small, but I’ve never made any effort to consciously improve my writing or my writing habits. I’ve never taken a creative writing course, or any type of writing course besides high school English. Yet writing is becoming increasingly more important to me. Which is why I think it’s time to start battling my writer’s block and taking the process of writing more seriously!

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