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2018 Word: Strength

Choosing a word for the year worked out so well for 2017 that I am doing it again for 2018. Thank you again, Carma, for the idea! I stumbled a lot in 2017, and made a lot of mistakes, but I sure as hell had a lot of change, and I’m ready to aim in a better, healthier direction.

My word for 2018 is “strength.”

I want to become physically stronger by improving my health and eating better.

Mostly, I want to grow stronger emotionally and mentally. I need to be more assertive, to take an active role in achieving my dreams, rather than reacting to my circumstances and sitting passively, wishing and hoping and giving up.

I’m just so tired of settling. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t deserve happiness, that I don’t deserve love, or kindness, or comfort. I’m tired of getting in my own way, of the self-sabotage, of punishing myself over and over and over again. I’m tired of hiding, and letting fear guide my choices. I’m tired of feeling invisible, and over-looked, and forgotten about. I’m tired of creating barriers for myself in the name of familiarity and safety. I’m tired of feeling like I have nothing, like the things I can offer are things other people can already provide so much better than I can. I’m tired of feeling like a person who is just there.

I need to speak my truths, and stand up for myself. I need to be present, and create my own reality, and shape my own destiny. I need to be active, to find my momentum, to stop giving away my power. I need to seek opportunities and seize them, and stop fearing the possibility of success. I need to conquer my demons, and empower myself to achieve, to create, to build, to accomplish. Rather than being a stubborn bull who refuses to budge, I need to be a charging one.

So, 2018, I welcome you with wide open arms, and look forward to all the beautiful things you have in store for me; more art, more love, more adventure, more power.

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Trying to go back to school

Today I applied to school. Now it is just a matter of waiting to hear back on my acceptance.

Originally I planned to start taking classes during the summer. It would be nice to turn some of those 16 or 18 credit hour semesters into 12 hour semesters, if possible.

Making this happen at all — going back to school– will be a challenge. I have some realistic doubts and concerns about the likelihood of this happening. Time and money were the reason I dropped the program a few weeks into it the last time I tried to go back to school. Distance was a factor then, too, which is not an obstacle I have this time around, at least. When I went back to college before, I worked full-time during the day and took night classes part-time. It was not a great arrangement for me. I want to take classes during the day this time,  but I will still need an income for monthly bills. That won’t just fall from the sky because I want to go back to school full-time.

There is the option to go for a certificate only. This would cut down the number of classes required, which means less time to divide between class and work. I would not have to take non-essentials (like English Composition, or Intro to Psych, for example). It would cut my course-load in half, and I could always go back and take some of the other classes I was interested in that aren’t part of the certification requirement. The problem is, I don’t know if I would be eligible for financial aid if I go that route.

I am getting ahead of myself, I suppose. I still have to hear back to know whether or not I am even accepted, and if I am, I plan on discussing all these options and concerns with an adviser. I am not the first thirty year old woman who has gone back to school. Those of you who have or are going through this, or know someone who has, please share any and all tips.

(Unrelated, but please don’t mind the clashing colors. I’m playing with a color theme so things don’t match right now.)

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Hello, 2017. Let’s make some changes.

Hello, 2017. I am glad to put 2016 behind me. A lot happened, but I also did not hit many of my goals. Hardly any, in fact. It was generally a draining, tiring year, but I look forward to making progress this year.

A friend, Carma (whose work you should check out if you read romance), asked me if I had picked out a word for this year. Believe it or not, I had never done that in all my thirty years. I gave it some thought, and came up with a few; “risk” and “chance” were among them, but did not quite capture what I wanted. Admittedly, I don’t take many risks and play it safe. I thought “chance” might be it, to take some chances, but that was too similar to “risk” and still does not encompass everything I hope and want for this year.

Then I realized I was off by one letter. “Change” is my word for this year. Playing it safe all the time has kept my life stagnant. I turned thirty in 2016, and the milestone has made me even more introspective. My life is not where teenage-me expected it to be. There are a lot of life experiences I still have not, well, experienced, and I still don’t live in a big city. I still do not have a career I love; I have a job, which pays my necessary bills.

On the other hand, there were good things that happened last year. I formed closer bonds with friends, and made new ones. I went to my writing group’s retreat, and came up with more story ideas.

And so, here is my belated list of goals for this year.

  • School? I entertain the idea more and more about signing up for classes and going back to school. I did try going back once, in 2008, but the money just wasn’t there to afford my commute, and I paid out of pocket for the cost of classes. I live closer to campus this year, and my job is just minutes away. If I apply sooner I may qualify for some financial aid, too. I liked the program and have thought about trying again several times since then. The past few weeks the idea keeps poking me, so I want to give it more thought and planning.
  • Finish a damn story. No, finish at least two damn stories. Go big or go home, right?
  • Put more into savings. Spend less on junk.
  • Also put more toward paying off student loans, ugh.
  • Spend more time on spiritual things. I do not talk much about my spiritual views, but also do not hide the fact that I think of myself as a novice witch. I don’t know if I consider myself pagan or not, but I want to develop myself more in this area.
  • Travel more. A few friends have talked about going out of state, and I want to make that happen.

Now to stop making excuses for myself and make my changes happen.

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Hello. It’s me.

I was wondering if after all these months I should post an update.

The last time I checked in was… an embarrassingly long time ago. Since then, I have moved around different departments at work, fallen head-over-heels into a new fandom, started learning the basics of D&D, played and completed new video games, and finished my re-read of the Harry Potter books from beginning to end. In March, C. Bryan Brown held a get-together for local writers and authors to meet and pick each other’s brains, and I went to MARCon at the beginning of May.

Between all of that is the writing. Oh, the writing, how I love you and also want to throttle you.

There is also this… thing. I have had this very ominous feeling the last few days like something is going to change. I feel like it may be a good change, but I honestly have no reason to think that. I have not knowingly reached out for this. Does that make sense? I keep getting these waves of anxiousness and apprehension waiting for whatever it is to happen. For all I know, I could be wrong, but I have this gut feeling that I should expect something.

The Ominous Feeling is inspiring me, at least. Maybe in the end that is what it is meant to do; kick me in the ass to be productive. Yesterday I decided to open one of the novels I am working on, then started a whole new file and cranked out 1,655 words for the new opening scene.

I’ve been struggling lately and doing a lot of internal arguing with myself. I do this thing where I look at all the ideas I have for stories, and then evaluate my actual skill, and I wonder if maybe I’m only good at coming up with ideas, but not talented or skilled enough to execute them. Maybe I’m also better at evaluating stories than I am writing them. Maybe it’s just because this year was a milestone birthday year, so I’m looking at my life and wondering why I’m not where I want to be. Because let’s be realistic; it’s one thing to have a goal and a dream and to work for those things. Sometimes those dreams aren’t meant for us, and it’s okay to change them.

I plan on riding this wave of hopeful productivity until I either crash land, or find myself jumping for joy whenever this Ominious Feeling sorts itself out. At least I know that I need a change of some kind, and soon.

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Creating and self doubt

It’s been a struggle the last several days to think positively about my writing goals. Yes, we are only eighteen days into 2016. I expect my blog will have lots of highs and lows expressed here.

Today at work we did an exercise where you share your goals and whatnot with your coworkers, and one question was “What’s holding you back?” or something along those lines. Well, really, it’s me. I’m holding myself back, and simultaneously motivating myself and tearing myself down is exhausting.

Part of this is because I’ve actually talked to people about writing. This is wonderful! This is great! I’m trying to tell my introversion to chill out and share my passions with people I work with, and friends and acquaintances online. Co-workers have asked to read the project I’m currently focused on, and others have offered to look at parts of it for me. They ask how my writing is going, and if I’ve written, what I’ve written. I’m incredibly touched by this, but also scared, because the things we create can feel so private and personal, and once you share something it’s out there forever, even if you only share with one person. It’s not just yours anymore. It is uplifting and intimidating that people are interested in what I’m doing.

This is where the second part of my struggle comes in, because I start being mean to myself. “You’ll never be as good as all your favorite authors, so why are you even trying? Why are you still putting words together when they’ll all a pile of crap? You suck at description, and your pacing is terrible, so you might as well give up. You are never going to be as good as any other writer you know, so just stop and save yourself the time and frustration.”

It is a horrible mindset, and one I find myself in frequently. When I get like this, I remind myself that stories happen in stages. My current pass through it will not be the final one. I can go back and work more on the description and fill it in after I’ve made a more structured first draft. I know that I will go through the revision process a few more times, and that my first attempt is not supposed to create a flawless, beautiful shining product. I know this, and yet I expect this of myself, because I want to tell stories and move people the way I’ve been moved by my favorite stories.

I need to take my own advice and stop comparing myself to others.

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My 2016 Goals

We are a few days into 2016. Hello and welcome to the new year! I know that there is no reason to wait to make goals for the new year to come around, that I can decide to make changes any time I want, but I still like to set at least a few goals when the new year starts.

Health:

  • Eating better in general. I already started working on this the last quarter of 2015 and want to maintain this and keep doing better.
  • Exercise more, too. You know, typical New Year’s Resolution things.

Home:

  • DECLUTTER. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo in 2015 and this approach to cleaning and decluttering is simple yet amazing. I’m so tired of looking around my bedroom and seeing a mess, and I feel like every time I clean it just gets messed up again, so I’m excited to start implementing this method to my space, especially since this seems like it is easy to maintain, too.
  • Setting aside more money to save up for moving to the city. Ever since I was young (around 12 to 13 years old, I’d say) I dreamed of living in a big city. Back then it was New York. I’m almost 30 now, and still haven’t actually been to New York, but I do love Columbus, and I’ve wanted to make the move for years.
  • It would be great to either be on the way to lining up a job down there, or a living situation, and ideally have both set up by the end of the year!

Finances:

  • Paying off student loans. Forever and ever.

Writing:

  • Finish my first run of edits through my current project by the end of June.
  • Write my short story contribution for our local writing group’s anthology project.
  • Research more for my post-apocalyptic romcom. It’s a thing. It’s a steaming pile of poo right now, but it’s a thing that exists.
  • Query agents? Determined by the success of the edits of my rough draft, oh god.

Internal:

  • I’m relatively private about where I am in my spiritual path, and that is due in large part because I haven’t quite figured that out for myself, but I’ve mentioned casually that I am studying divination, and I’m starting to feel more like the term “kitchen witch” may fit me better than anything else. I don’t necessarily think that I follow a deity or deities, but I do believe in energy. I’ve had success with my pendulum, and would like to devote more time to my tarot cards.
  • Letting go of fear and letting it control my decisions, especially fears of my past. While nothing shady lurks back there, it does have a lot of guilt, and I have to trust myself to be strong enough to deal with that now if I want to be successful in other aspects of my life.
  • Do better at keeping in touch with loved-ones. This ties to my previous bullet point; I have this terrible habit of being incredibly mean to myself and semi-regularly there is a part of me that says “No one wants you around, and they would be better off without you in their lives” and on occasion I believe it, and tell myself that if I’m wanted, they’ll reach out first. Rationally, I know this is not the case and that all relationships work both ways. I need to stop sucking at letting the people I care about know that they are important to me.

This is a rather intimidating list, but also looks doable. I desperately want it to be doable. 2016, here I come.

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The year of big, fun, scary things

It’s nearing the end of December, and with that comes thoughts about the next year. New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. I get a little nostalgic, and hopeful that the next year will be better. I’m determined to make 2016 the year that I truly go after my dreams.

I keep saying “I want _” and then make meager attempts at going for those goals and dreams, but the more honest I am with myself, the more I admit that I’m afraid of going after the things I want. I want to publish my writing, and I want to move to the big city, but I’m also sort of afraid. I don’t want to be afraid of things anymore.

National Novel Writing Month has a challenge that they call “The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together.” I am going to make steps toward my dreams. I made a few in 2015, but I have a long way to go.

To encourage myself, I’m setting up my blog and website to hold myself accountable, and to keep track of the progress that I make.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride.