What I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

I recently discovered that instead of writing straightforward lists of resolutions and goals for the year, some people chose to write out what they’re looking forward to in the new year instead. It’s still a way to get your greatest hopes and dreams for yourself out in the universe, but you’re writing them as something to look forward to instead of something you have to do to make your life better. I loved this idea and became a lot more excited thinking about 2019 in these terms. I still fully plan on giving myself smaller accomplishable goals at the beginning of every month to truly focus my time and energy, but for the year as a whole I’m really liking this format instead!

In 2019, I am looking forward to…

1 – Becoming a healthier and more energetic human being.

I’m going to use what I’ve learned in the last two months and continue to take better care of myself. I’m going to go back to only eating the foods that I know will make me feel good and avoiding things like fast food which I know will make me feel bloated and gross the rest of the day. I’ll walk Annie as often as I can and find exercise videos to do in the house when I’m too freaked out to risk slipping on ice if I go outside. I’m going to continue to take my internal health into consideration with many of my choices because that’s what has a greater influence on my motivation than the number on the scale or the way my clothes fit.

2 – Having a better work-life balance.

I think a lot of my work frustration in the last few years is that I expected to be able to just jump into making this a full time job now that my kids are in school all day. I need to – and I WILL – accept that I only have a part time job slot in my life right now. And THAT’S OKAY. The internal war has been waging for years on what I should be giving the most of my time to and no matter what option I choose, it feels like the wrong one. This year I am going to give myself grace and remember that sewing dolls is not the most important thing in my life. People matter more. Life happens. I still want work to be part of my life – but only PART. I’d like to strive for only working 20-30 hours a week with as few nights and weekends as possible. I’d like to prioritize my family and friends if I’m in a busy season where that truly matters more. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it or start worrying what other people think of me. I believe I can have the best of both worlds and this is the year I’m going to figure out how to do it.

3 – Going on vacations!

I’m excited about going on some fun and much needed vacations this year. Greg and I have a one night getaway scheduled in a few weeks to celebrate 19 years of being together. In early February we’re going to Nebraska to see Guster play with the Omaha Symphony. We may or may not bring the boys, but either way we’ll be staying with my brother and spending some time with Hudson too (as long as the weather holds out!). In the middle of February we’re all going Florida to see Universal and Harry Potter World with Greg’s parents, which should be an awesome family vacation. In August I have tickets to Book Bonanza, which will bring me to Texas for the first time. I’m hoping we can take an actual three or more night vacation somewhere new and special for our 13 year marriage anniversary in May or June. Greg has been talking about wanting to take one or both boys to San Francisco, so if that happens I’ll either do something special with the remaining kid or have one heck of a staycation by myself! We’re hopefully going to have a really full year of getting away and making some amazing memories.

4 – Reading all the books and tracking them closely.

Reading is and forever will be a huge part of my life. But it still deserves a big spot on what I’m looking forward to in the new year! I’m hoping that maybe audiobooks will eventually win me over and might start replacing some of my tv time. I think I could be much more productive sewing that way since I don’t need to constantly be looking at a screen! But I also have to get better at paying attention with my ears. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading MANY of the physical books I have on my shelves. I’ve re-fallen in love with physical books and may have gone a bit crazy buying them in the last six or so months. Now I need to read them! I’m also looking forward to tracking them much more closely on the Book Riot tracking spreadsheet, as well as continuing to track on my own spreadsheet and Goodreads and writing about them every month.

5 – Really just tracking all the things!

I’ve used a bullet journal for most of the past year and it’s been an awesome way to keep track of my daily to do lists, meal plans, work hours, gratitude lists, etc. This year I’m planning to take things a step further and track things like how much money we save, how much weight I lose, the dates we’ve been on, the books I’ve read from my shelves, as well as all my usual stuff – tv, podcasts, movies, happiness levels, etc. I want my bullet journal to basically be the one thing I can’t go a single day without sitting down in front of and writing in. Not because I have to, but because I love it so much.

6 – Writing more and reformatting my website so it’s more accessible.

I really do love to write! This year I’ve found the most joy in writing recaps and intentions and lists of things I’ve consumed each month, with books being my favorite. I feel like most of the stuff I write about is really personal and is probably much more interesting to me than anyone who happens to read it. And I’ve been okay with that. But I would like to try just a tiny bit harder at growing my readership. I will be more active on instagram to promote my posts, plus just more about my everyday life. And I’ll figure out how in the world to reformat my website so posts of similar content can be grouped together and easier to find. I have no clue how to go about doing that, but I will learn!

7 – Reenergizing my relationships.

Mostly with Greg. But also with friends. And maybe with Greg AS my friend and not just my parenting partner, which is sometimes what it feels like. I want to make monthly OUT OF THE HOUSE date nights a real and exciting thing that I cherish and look forward to more than anything else in the month. I want to kiss more and laugh more and find things to do together that we both enjoy besides just watching tv every night. I love watching tv together, but I think we need something more. I also look forward to spending more time with my friends and maybe making some new friends! This last year has been so weird with me being locked away in the house for so many months and everyone just being “too busy.” Well, guess what? If it’s important, we will make time. And I’ll start taking the initiative again to make sure those things happen.

8 – Using my cookbooks and making actual meal plans on a weekly basis.

I adore cookbooks. I have a ton of them. But when it comes to making my meals I always just look to pinterest because it’s fast and easy and convenient. But my cookbooks are overflowing with amazing inspiration and new ideas and foods that will bring us all joy and excitement. I plan to start with just picking one cookbook at a time and finding 2-3 meals I want to make from it in the next week or two. Nothing crazy or elaborate or stressful. Just take the five minutes it requires to open a book and find something fresh to make. It will be so worth it.

9 – Having one massive, mega, crazy garage sale and then donating whatever is left.

Our garage is overflowing with items that didn’t sell at our last garage sale, two years ago. I fully planned on having one last summer, but then didn’t feel up to it with my lack of walking abilities. This summer, hopefully right in early June, it will happen! And when it’s over I’m not going to save everything for some future sale. This is it. I want it all gone. It’s going to feel AMAZING to get rid of all those boxes of things we no longer need. It’d be great to make a little money in the process, but really – I just want it all gone.

10 – Learn how to be good at hand lettering. 

I usually have some hobbies at the back of my mind that I never seem to get to. This year the only thing I can think of are these two new hand lettering books and brush markers I got for Christmas. I would like to go through each of those books carefully, practice, and become pretty awesome at writing things out fancy and cool. I have no real purpose for this other than my bullet journal and my own enjoyment, but it’ll be worth it!

I think it’s safe to say that 10 is enough! I truly think that 2019 is going to be an amazing year. Happy new year, everyone!

Thoughts on My First Creative Writing Workshop

Well, I did it! I pushed my anxiety aside and promptly walked myself over to the library annex last night to attend my first creative writing workshop.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. There were nine people, including the instructor and the library employee that didn’t consider herself a writer, but was sitting in. You didn’t need to be a writer to be there, you just needed to want to write, love to write, appreciate the written word. I think that was the best part – spending two and a half hours in a small circle of like-minded people who enjoy writing as much as me. Sometimes I feel so incredibly isolated in all of my passionate endeavors. I know they obviously must be out there, but it’s pretty rare for me to interact with anyone else in my real outside of the internet life that enjoy writing, reading, sewing. So it felt like quite the treat to meet a group of people that could come together simply for the love of writing.

The author who created the workshop writes YA and middle grade fiction. It was interesting that within the group there were two aspiring novelists, a legacy writer, a children’s book writer, two poets, a man who has never written anything but was curious about it, and me – who specified my writing as “nonfiction.” Which was apparently interpreted as wanting to write how to manuals? When I later clarified I was interested more in the personal essay type style, I received a lot of understanding grunts. I’m not even sure if that’s the correct classification of the type of writing I enjoy doing. All I know is that I don’t write fiction. And I’m not entirely sure I’d ever want to. But in order to stretch my creative writing muscles, perhaps it’s something I will soon try.

Over the course of the evening, we went through a packet of papers that was clearly geared toward writing a fictional novel. It felt incredibly overwhelming to me. Hence my aversion to writing fiction, as much as I LOVE reading it. It was things I heard before in high school and my college English Writing major courses. But it’s not something I’ve given thought to in the last fifteen years. I liked learning more about book structure and themes and dialogue. But it was also making me feel a bit panicked about how hard writing a novel must surely be. I keep hearing the advice that if you want to be a writer, JUST START WRITING. This workshop made me feel like I’d need to do a massive amount of research and planning before I could even sit down at the computer. And the pressure to word everything so perfectly is overwhelming!

We participated in three creative writing exercises while we were there. In the first, we were given a random photograph and were supposed to tell a story about it. This reminded me of an exercise we occasionally did in high school orchestra – the conductor would play a long piece of classical music and we had to write an accompanying story about it as quickly as possible. I LOVED when we did those exercises. This photograph prompt felt more challenging because I’m not used to making up stories on the fly like that. It might be something I’ll try again this month in my daily writing exercises!

The second exercise was to create a unique dialog between two characters from a list of ten starting statements. I chose, “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again!” I chose it because that line is said almost daily in our house when interacting with a very angry child. I didn’t need to make anything up for this one, I just wrote a version of arguments we have with him almost every single night.

The third exercise was supposed to be told through a one of the senses other than sight. I chose to describe a first kiss. Which may or may not have been factual. 🙂

One of the things I was most worried about when going to this class was being forced to share writing when I wasn’t prepared to. Fortunately, we were all given the option to share our responses to these prompts and there was no pressure to share if you were uncomfortable. About half the people shared for each exercise. I did not volunteer. But I was surprised to find that I kind of wanted to. I kept extremely quiet during the entire evening, only spoken when asked a direct question. But part of me really did want to jump into some of the discussion, which I’m taking as a sign that I was meant to be there.

My takeaway from the evening was that writing is awesome and it’s something I want to pursue with greater time and intention than I have in the last few years. I would love to write a book, someday, but also think that maybe it’s not really in the cards for me. I like to write for the sake of writing. I like to talk about my life. I like to set goals and evaluate how well I did on them. I like to journal about every tiny moment of interest that happens to me in a day. But to find a central theme and write an entire book about it still feels way too daunting. I did find out from a few people in the workshop that UW Madison offers a bunch of continuing education writing classes. I just looked up them up and they’re not very expensive, so I think that’s something I might look into in the coming months. Probably not this month – I have enough going on with all this weight loss drama. And next month is busy with Christmas. But maybe in January?!

Overall, it was an inspirational night that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope there will be another one offered soon!