Goals // Week 43

Prepare for National Blog Posting Month. I wasn’t sure NaBloPoMo was still a thing until I saw this post from Ra Avis inviting bloggers to join her team of “Cheer Peppers“. I signed up and fully intend to complete the challenge but I need a plan of action or I’ll never make it. This week I want to settle on a theme and fill in an editorial calendar with post titles. Next week I’ll start the drafts.

Update: I now have a beautiful Google sheet filled in with 30 topics and almost all of them have corresponding drafts set up in WordPress.

Make a couple of cut up and black out collages and poems. I’ve mentioned it before but creating these simple and shareable pieces feels akin to meditation—it’s calming, grounding, centering, it brings me into the present and allows me to let go of my emotions for a time. This is the only activity I do where it feels more about the process than the product and while I think they are dumb things to make I feel like they are more important than anything I create in any other realm of my life.

Update: This week was exhausting, and the weekend was filled up with social events, cooking, and house projects. There was simply nothing left for creativity.

Finish reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. I have just over 100 pages left to go if I read just 20-30 pages a day I can finally move on to something a little more mindless and fun. This book is amazing but I’m desperate for something that is stimulates my emotions and not just my mind, you know?

Update: Normally I spend my lunches at work reading but this week I, quite strangely, felt up to socializing instead. I should have picked a day or two to seclude myself but I was easily distracted.

Finish week 4 of International Women’s Health and Human Rights and week 8 of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry. This one might be hard. I’ve had trouble concentrating on the reading (reading from a screen makes my comprehension levels plummet) and following the videos is exhausting (I’m too easily distracted), with such limited time and willpower I have doubts about my ability to finish either.

Update: Plain and simple, I needed a break. These courses have grown tedious for me and while I know that once I’m done I’ll feel better, and while I also know the only way to get done is to do the work, I couldn’t make myself do even a little bit.

Take care of myself. I had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago and even though I’m about 99% over it (and the resulting ear infection) some symptoms continue to linger. I have to remember that for someone with a chronic illness a simple cold can be very difficult to recover from. I have to drink lots of water, take all of my medication. go to bed on time, and relax as much as I can.

Update: I did okay but I have not been keeping on time of my diet changes or my medication schedule. Sometimes I get angry about all the work I have to put into myself and sometimes I just give up…

This week I’m keeping my expectations low. If I can’t get through all of my goals, that’s ok. The reality is I have a packed schedule at work and social events to prepare for over the weekend that will severely limit the time I have for myself and the things I love. The point is just to try, to be happy, and to appreciate any effort.


Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

Goals // Week 40

Read 100 pages of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. I had been shooting for 200 a week but with my busy work schedule and the courses I’m taking I have to manage my expectations. 100 pages a week is less than 15 pages a day, totally doable!

Work on that little writing idea sitting in my drafts folder. It’s small enough that I can probably finish it in my spare time but big enough that I will feel accomplished and encouraged by it. It’s a good first step toward…taking another step. Just what I need.

Clean off my desk and create a reading space in the “creativity room”. I’ve had trouble starting on my art projects because the space I have for making things doesn’t feel conducive to making things. It’s cluttered, disorganized, and cramped. I have to get it straightened up if I want to stop avoiding it in favor of the livingroom. The reading space is just a bonus.

Regardless of comfort spend 20 minutes in there every night, and an hour in the early mornings on both Saturday and Sunday. The goal is to keep the expectations low, to just use what I have, to have fun, and keep all screens well out of reach.

Finish week seven of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and week two and three of International Women’s Health and Human Rights. I’m already halfway through week seven of ModPo and all the readings and videos are done through week 4 for IWHHR. I just have to respond to the damn thought questions.

Jog for 20 minutes every other afternoon and in between do a simple 20 minute bodyweight workout. The mornings have gotten too cold and getting out of bed is harder than it was just a month ago. Physical activity will have to take place in the afternoons after work and before dinner. Keep hitting your step goals

Get out of the house this weekend. Lately I’ve been coming home Friday night, jumping into pajamas, and not going outside again until I’m on my way back to work Monday morning. It sounds nice but this can’t be good for my mental health.

This week I will continue to be mindful of the ways I spend my time, and, more importantly, the way I use my phone. I will not feel guilty about saying no. I won’t feel bad about making time for me, for doing the things I enjoy, or for enjoying things that other people don’t. I’m the one who has to face my failures at the end of the week.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 39.

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

Goals // Week 39

Work on one thing outside of my journal. Last week I failed miserably at this but I’m trying again and this time I’m making it even smaller. I don’t even have to finish a thing, just work on it.

Update: It wasn’t so much from lack of time or trying, it’s just that I spent too much time on my other goals. My energy and focus were limited and inspiration eluded me. Will try again next week.

Make something with my hands. I came across an interesting Instagram video from Matthias Brown showing some cool cut-and-paste techniques. Collage has always intrigued me and it’s time I get out my old X-Acto knives again.

Update: So, my “creativity room” is a damn mess and before I can make any art, I have to clear a space, remove all electronic distraction, and put my tools and materials within reach. My goal for next week is to clean up.

Read 200 pages. I still think this is doable but I have to not only make time for reading before bed but I also need to read on the weekends. I have to get up earlier and quit opening that damn Facebook app.

Update: I think I did this one. I honestly didn’t keep very good track but I read a lot every day and in my mind it’s a win.

Meal prep both overnight oats and breakfast egg and sausage bowls. The goal isn’t so much about making them, that’s easy, but to actually eat them and not get tired or let my body pull me along on cravings for donuts or worse.

Update: I’m actually really enjoying this one. So much so that I don’t think I will include it in my weekly goals going forward. I may have to find some other breakfast ideas though in case we start getting tired of breakfast bowls and oatmeal.

Finish week six of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and week two of International Women’s Health and Human Rights. Both should be simple and easy to complete, just set aside one hour or so, maybe two, this week to get it done.

Update: I finished the week nearly halfway through week seven of ModPo but I didn’t realize that since I reset my deadlines for IWHHR I couldn’t actually complete the assignments until the 30th. I did do all of the reading, watched all of the videos, and took what quizzes I could through week 3 though.

Jog every other morning and in between, in the evenings, do a simple bodyweight workout. I don’t want to push myself too hard. Last week I ended up with some soreness and had to rest for days before I could get back to it. Just move your body more than you normally would and more than most people do.

Update: My biggest failure of the week. I didn’t work out once! It was from lack of sleep and from a poor mood also caused by the lack of sleep. I’m doing everything I can to fix it and I hope to be back up and moving as soon as possible.

Take advantage of all the hours I’m are being offered at work. Make the overtime worth it. This one isn’t exactly a choice, but a state of mind. It’s going to be a tough week, I know this, try to look at the bright side and remember to be grateful I have work at all.

Update: Yes, I worked my ass off last week though I’m not sure I’m happy about it. There were so many more interesting and fulfilling things I wanted to do with my time. Capitalism sucks!

This week is all about building on last week but just a little. It’s about keeping my stress levels low, no matter what, practicing self-care, and keeping my sense of purpose and perspective.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated goals for Week 38.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Goals // Week 38

 Write one new thing outside of my journal. I don’t have to post it this week, but I do have to write something, anything. I have a schedule and I have to stick to it. That means no social media, no “research”, no work duties and no minor chores. Just keep it simple. Write it, even if it’s bad, even if you don’t even know what it is, just write it.

Update: Yeah, no, I didn’t get this one done. I was just too distracted. I was too full of energy and longed too much to be outside and moving.

 Read 200 pages of anything. I have 3 books going right now and I have made very little progress on any of the three. I think it would be best if I narrowed the options to two—one physical book and one to read from my phone. Progress will feel more substantial and fewer choices make it easier to decide when and what to read.

Update: I’m not sure how many pages I read but I’m guessing off the top of my head around 100. It’s better than nothing at all but I had hoped for better. Once again, it was an issue of focus, not time.Update:

 Finish week five of MODPO. It’s been months since I’ve done a lesson and all I have to do is watch the videos. It’s hard because I have to devote my full attention to the lesson but it’ll be good practice as I move away from multi-tasking anyway.

Update: This I completed and made quite a lot of progress toward finishing week 6 too. I could have gotten that done too, but I picked up where I’d left off on International Women’s Health and Human Rights too.

Wake up early to go for a run three mornings this week and choose three other evenings to do a simple body weight work out instead. On Sunday go for hiking and a do a simple yoga routine. The goal is not to push myself but just to start. Any activity at all will be better than what I have been doing.

Update: I did the running but was too busy and too tired in the evening for the bodyweight routine. On Sunday I was nursing a sore knee and decided it was best to stay in.

Go to bed on time. I haven’t been sleeping well, and it’s starting to affect my mood and my motivation. I want to get back to getting ready for bed 30 minutes beforehand and if I get done early, reading a physical book until I feel drowsy.

Update: I sort of did this. I wasn’t always on time but I wasn’t late either so I’ll call it a win. Where I failed was, I didn’t read before bed and so by the time I had torn myself from my phone screen I wasn’t in the right headspace to rest. I’ve reset the “head to bed” alarm on my phone and with the cooler evening on the way a hot cup of Sleepytime tea will be further incentive.

Breakfast for the week is overnight oats. It’s cheaper than buying instant oats and probably healthier too but I have to remember to make them, every night! While I’m choosing the healthier option I should also refrain from buying snacks or dipping into the candy bowls at work. I never feel good after indulging.

Update: I did really well making the oats every night and doing so has saved me so much time in the mornings that there’s no way that I can go back to making breakfast in the morning again.

Catch up on the work thing I’ve been avoiding for the last few weeks now. I’m just feeling insecure but the truth is I am doing a good job and even if I do end up making a mistake or messing it up entirely, no one will be mad and I’ll learn and do better going forward.

Update: This is my biggest failure of the week. My excuse is the lack of hours but the reality is I’m still just overthinking it.

I know the list is long but if I stay positive and focused; I know I can do it. There are enough hours in the day, and on the days that there aren’t, I’ll choose just one thing to accomplish and rest assured that it is enough.


Photo by Rémi Jacquaint on Unsplash

Shifts // June 2019

1. Write about what you love as much as what you hate. Write about the good things you have as much as your pain. Your perspective is the way you habitually see the world. It is adjustable with practice and perseverance. Practice gratitude more often because balance is how you get closer to the reality of things. It helps to take stock of what is good and to remember that things are never as bad as they seem right now.

2. Start cooking at home again. It isn’t easy, I know. Working long hours and fighting back the exhaustion and the disappointment of another bad day make it hard to even want to cook. It’s easier to “pick up something”. It’s easier to snack or rely on foods from the freezer to the microwave, but it’s awful for you both physically and emotionally. Instead, change the way you think about cooking. Make it your “me time” or your “us time”. Open a bottle of wine, play some music, talk to one another and then share your delicious and good for you creation with each other.

3. Leave your shelter more often. Anxiety and chronic fatigue make it hard but getting out into the world really is the best thing for you. Stop wallowing. No more weekends spent entirely indoors. Get out of bed, fix yourself up, and go meet the sun. Go where the people are, where nature is. Find places where you can be a part of the world and where your problems look a lot smaller from.

4. It’s okay not to know. There is always something that everyone of us does not know and so much of that unknown is found not in lofty and elite places but all around us in the everyday and ordinary. Not knowing is not just human, normal, and understandable, it is also admirable. Not knowing is part of the work, the journey and the joy. Share what you don’t know as much as what you do. It’s infinitely more relatable.

5. Return to your bliss station. You cannot create from the couch, while you watch this movie, or this show, or even the news. Stop lying to yourself. You do not even enjoy trying to write or read or learn that way and you always regret the decision. You know where you would work best, away from the what distracts you, what exhausts you, what stunts your creativity and ability to think. Go there, work there, make it a place where happiness, inspiration, and your spark can be found time and time again.

6. What you want is not always the path to what you need. Humans notoriously want what is bad for them and we justify it by calling it what we need. We start from the wrong end trying to get the wrong things but when we take the time to dig beneath those excuses, those rationalizations, and those lies we find the core of need. Start there instead and work your way back out to a better, healthier, more efficient and effective solution.  

7. Learn to love all the seasons. Try to love all the ways they change you and make you feel too. Spring isn’t the only season of growth and summer isn’t the only season in which we can find joy. There are versions of you and ways of living that can only be accessed in the winter in fall and the days and seasons we’ve yet to name that exist in a space between. Give all these seasons attention and cultivate a habit of studying all the ways you exist in them.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Lenart Lipovšek on Unsplash

Shifts for May 2019

1. Appreciate the work your heart does for you. It isn’t broken, or weak, or a burden. It has loved you from the start and it works just as it should, every day. It loves because love is what you need and sometimes the hurt just means it’s doing its best. Don’t smother it, harden it, or wish it away. Give it space to do its job and take care of it in return.

2. Get some distance from yourself. It’s important not to make yourself the center of the universe, for good or bad. You are not the most anything or the worst anything either. Your perspective, feelings, and priorities are not the only ones and they are not the sole right ones. Nothing revolves or relies solely on you either, and this is a good thing.

3. Take notice of who you become when you are around other people, certain people, and no people at all. At first, you may feel ashamed watching yourself act in such degrading and humiliating ways as you imitate and perform to please but do not be overcome. Learn from that weaker version of yourself and build a stronger sense of self and character.

4. Having mixed feelings about the people you love is okay. From parents to friends to role models everyone we love makes mistakes, lets us down, and sometimes they even hurt us, a lot. The internet would have you believe boundaries are simple and that only the people who meet our expectations and needs perfectly should be allowed in our lives, but life and love are messy and there is never one simple way to react or proceed. We can feel many often opposing emotions at once and people who make mistakes can still make us happy.

5. Make promises to yourself and commit to not breaking them. When we put the needs of others (and our need to please) before our personal passions, goals, and needs we are the ones who suffer. The commitments you have to yourself and your one and only future are important, the most important and must be treated as sacred. A promise will keep your priorities in focus and the covenant will keep you accountable.

6. Stop apologizing so much. Stop explaining yourself all the time. Stop giving away your self-worth to everyone you meet for every trivial transgression. Your boundaries are valid. Your mistakes are human and normal. You don’t owe anyone everything all the time. Learn to discern when you are truly in the wrong and when your explanation and excuses are unwanted and unwarranted.

7. Remember to “thank those who make your day easier”. Too often we view others such as service industry workers, our coworkers, and even our friends, family, and spouses as people who “owe us” their time, attention, care, and assistance. As a result, when they cannot, or will not, deliver we lash out. Remember that no one owes you anything, and the people who give you their time, attention, care, and assistance deserve a sincere display of your gratitude and patience at the very least.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

Shifts for April

1. Focus on the reality of the process and not the end result in your dreams. Too often we circumvent discomfort, doubt, and fear by playing perfect scenarios over and over in our minds. We enjoy a sense of accomplishment without having to do the dirty work. Dream, and then put the dream away leaving nothing but space for the real work.

2. It is true that you should not waste time reading books you don’t like, but before you give up, you should consider first whether what you are reading is simply challenging. Reading, like anything, shouldn’t just be about what is easy. Sometimes what you don’t like is that it’s hard and sometimes you will find that greater joy can be found by sticking with what challenges you rather than giving up because it’s “not for you”.

3. Begin before you are ready. The truth is the first attempt will be bad, no matter whether you start now or a year from now. No matter how much you plan or research. No matter how you rework or rewrite. No matter what classes you take or how many “how-to” articles you read. The first attempt will suck because no one is ready the first time. Better to fail now than later.

4. Don’t be afraid to write about it more than once. Write about the same thing every single day if you want. Study it from all angles. Practice it until it’s right. Put it in a new order, a new light, a new place, context, and time. Write it for me, for her, for you, for people living a long way ahead, and write it again for people long gone. Write it as a poem, an essay, a letter, a story. Write is as a truth, then write it as a lie. Write it to death.

5. Don’t give a second of your time to feeling guilty for giving up what other people want for you. Your aspirations may only be comprehendible to you but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, worthy, or possible. People can be pushy in their bid to control the direction of your life but don’t feel bad for giving up the opportunities and advice they offer if they do not lead to the life you want for you.

6. Know when to rest. It’s good to have so much expectation of yourself and to work so hard building so many good and admirable habits, but not everything can be done every day and it better to fall a little behind and rest, that to fall far behind when you finally collapse.

7. Move your body. Sweat. Get up from your desk and exhaust yourself. Cultivating the mind and living in virtual and abstract spaces is not the only way to improve the self. There is much to be learned in nature too and the mind appreciates physical exertion as much the body. Balance the mental and the physical, both are part of you and both need the other.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

Seven Shifts for March

1. It’s all about discipline, for everyone. Sure you have had your setbacks, you have your shortcomings and your challenges, but when you assume that everything is easier for everyone else across the board you commit a cruelty against yourself. You can do things, you just have to make the necessary modifications and persist through pain and disappointment until the new habit is established.

2. Do better for you. Do better not because you want to be liked, not because the people you love deserve better, but because you deserve better. Love yourself better. Spend more time with yourself. Do the things you love more. Encourage yourself. Go the extra mile and show yourself a grand gesture. Get help, get well, imagine new possibilities and chase impossible dreams, for you.

3. Take what is sucking you in and delete it. If it’s wasting your time, if it’s keeping you from doing the important work, if you regret it at the end of the day, get rid of it! Life is too short for you to waste your time racking up advertising dollars for websites and apps you aren’t getting anything substantial from. Delete it and replace it with something that makes you feel good.

4. Carbs are not the enemy and healthy eating is not so simple. What works in the short-term is not always good or sustainable for the long-term and diets are never one size fits all. Start simply with more fresh ingredients, more fruits, and vegetables. Move more and dedicate real-time to pushing your body and getting your heart rate up. It’s that easy and that hard.

5. If you can’t say something nice, at least don’t say something mean. Your honest take isn’t always what people want and not every criticism of you, your work, and your likes need to be defended against. Save your breath and move on.

6. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the fact is you may be a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe, or a transphobe, or a xenophobe, and more and worse and in any combination thereof. It’s nothing to get offended over. You weren’t born this way and you aren’t even necessarily a bad person because of it. You’re just part of an oppressive system that groomed you to think the way you do. It’s nothing to get defensive about. It’s common, normal, and perfectly changeable.

7. Doing better starts with allowing yourself to feel, acknowledge, and accept that you are utterly incompetent. You lack the knowledge and the skill to do something, many things in fact, and that is okay because, from incompetence, there is nowhere to go but up. From ineptitude comes capability and the unskilled have all the chance to become experts, but first, you have to know what you don’t know and begin from there.


Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Monday Motivation + Goals // Deep Work

My biggest goal this week is to start practicing the art of “deep work“. I learned about the concept through an old Ezra Klein podcast interview with Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes about the toll technology takes on our ability to be productive.

According to Newport deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. Half of it is secluding yourself for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks to work on a project, and the other half is using the chunks of downtime you have throughout the day to brainstorm and problem-solve your project rather than checking social media or catching up on the news.

The first part isn’t as easy as it sounds. It means no social media, no scrolling, no novelty or dopamine hits at all. It may mean no internet access at all! I would like to start with just 1 to 2 hours during the work week and 6 hours over the weekend devoted to writing. For now, I will just be focusing on blog posts but after a few weeks, I will switch to writing for a major project I have been planning. I want to practice focusing for a while and fail a few times before I direct my attention to things I’m much more terrified of.

To be clear, writing blog posts doesn’t mean searching for featured images, quotes, or editing. It means writing and only writing using what notes and ideas I already have. It means keeping my ass in the chair and the cursor moving no matter how frustrated or bored I get.

The second part is also two parts. I need to stop getting sucked into twitter threads or Facebook video holes. If I have a free minute that allows me to use my brain for writing rather than work I have to use it to take notes or research with intention. Just like when I was learning to meditate I have to be mindful of where my attention is being paid and do the work to redirect myself with kindness. To help me avoid this distraction, I’ll schedule my social media time—because I can’t just quit cold turkey—and keeping my phone anywhere but within arm’s reach.

During these “deep work” blocks of time, I will simply work my way down my editorial calendar putting together my notes and writing post after post after post. I’ll spend the last 15 minutes or so of each session writing a short journal type post for this space summarising how I feel and how the day is going.

I will also schedule what Newport calls “shallow work”. Checking my email, working on my editorial calendar, posting to Tumblr, answering comments, tweaking my blog themes, looking up “calls for submission”, reading other blogs, etc.. These tasks are surely important, but they are easy so I often do these things rather than to doing the actual writing. I feel busy, but at the end of the week, I have little to show for all the effort. I’d like this week to be the first in a long time I feel like I have made significant progress.

In addition, I have quite a few other items that have been lingering on my to-do list:

  • Set up an appointment to tour one potential wedding venue.
  • Create one newspaper blackout poem and a collage poem for Instagram.
  • Draft next Friday’s newsletter for Zen and Pi
  • Read every day for 40 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes before bed.
  • Finish my Christmas shopping!
  • Get an oil change and new tires.
  • Develop/choose a bodyweight fitness routine

I plan to write these “motivation and goals” posts every Monday with information and links to what is inspiring me to work harder and smarter and a few specific things I’m working to accomplish. Then at the end of the week (perhaps during my Weekend Coffee Share posts) I’ll check in and let you know how I fared with each new productivity and writing tactic and my ever-overwhelming to-do list.

I’m starting slow, but I’m definitely starting, and I hope that being accountable here and sharing what I’ve learned about what works might help you too.

So how about you? What goals do you have for the week? And what is your plan to achieve them? Have you heard of or tried the “deep work” method? If so, what did you think? How did it fit into your lifestyle?

Let me know in the comments, or write your own goals post and link back if that’s easier.

Thanks for reading and good luck!


Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash