Update On: A New Way of Keeping Tabs, Reader Edition

Can you believe it’s nearly the end of September already? My August dragged its feet, but right now it feels like I blinked and the solstice has hurried itself closer. Sunday night I submitted my final exam for my current course, so right now I am exhilarating in the warm swell of post-exam lassitude. I’m also fighting a bug; I apologize for any apparent lack of coherency today.

Since we’re three-fourths-and-a-bit of the way through the year, I thought it was about time I wrote an update on my previous post, A New Way of Keeping Tabs: Things in My Face, Reader Edition. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure my wall tracker is helping me accomplish my reading goal.

When it comes to writing, my tracker is more about helping me stay on top of my volume goal. When I use it—by which I mean when I don’t fall behind with the actual tracking—I never miss a week of getting my words in. I’m not finding a similar sense of accomplishment carrying over to my reading.

For instance, I just finished my 27th book of the year. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a decent amount read. In my little world, that’s pathetic. The main issue keeping me from getting more read completed is my lack of making it a priority. I don’t make time to read, plain and simple. I squeeze it in when I can, which isn’t enough. The exact same issue is tied to my writing; however, because I have deadlines, I get more writing done.

Yes, I’m terribly hard on myself. And I have a lot on my plate right now. But I have so many unread books—all of which are sitting directly behind me, accusingly—and I want to read all of them because they’re going to be amazing. I’m annoyed with myself because I can’t seem to make reading important. I live to read, so what is my problem?

I don’t have an answer, but I do know beating myself up about it is probably not going to help in the long run. Still. The numbers sitting on my tracker disappoint me; perhaps I need to channel that disappointment into action instead of letting it get me down. I have three and half-ish months to catch up. Let’s see if I can do it.

Have you challenged yourself to read more this year? How are you doing?

The 5 Year Plan

I’m taking up a random topic today: The 5 Year Plan. Have you ever made one? I haven’t, which is odd because I’m very goal oriented. That said, I’m good at setting goals and making pretty lists and trackers—and then getting exactly nowhere.

I don’t intend to end up nowhere. I merely have a tendency to think that setting the goals and scratching them off the list when I get to them will somehow magically translate to progress. Well, more progress than it realistically does.

Back to the 5 Year Plan. I turned to Uncle Google because while I can extrapolate what a 5 Year Plan entails, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to put it all together. I ended up on Wiki How since the site provided the kind of detail I needed. I then moulded their 15 steps into phrasing and a format I prefer. I did all that on Friday, and my insane weekend has kept me from doing more than printing off my document.

Despite not moving forward with it yet, I want to share the parts that jumped out at me while I was throwing my document together:

  • The variety of goals,
  • The hierarchy of organizing your goals into most important to less important,
  • The step by step breakdown of goals so each part is attainable and leads somewhere,
  • The formatting freedom,
  • The flexibility.

I might be counting my eggs a little early but I am really excited to make my plan! I am hoping it will help me attain all of my writing goals that much quicker—because my current pace is a snails crawl. A better personal and professional situation would also be awesome attainments.

I’ll ask again: Have you ever created a 5 Year Plan? Did it work for you? Do you have any suggestions?

 

*Featured image sourced here.

Taking on a Genre I Never Thought I Would

May has been a trying month for me, for multiple reasons. The week of May 22nd to 26th was especially hard with multiple deadlines that I hit only at the last minute, a too-full social calendar, a bad week of sleep, and the tail end of an illness. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed, I decided I wanted to try my hand at creative nonfiction.

I love the work of Roxanne Gay, and Bad Feminists is one of my favourite books. I’ve always thought memoir would be an interesting genre to write since I do immensely enjoy the occasional memoirs I read. I need to read more memoirs, for the record. In any case, when I think of writing one, these issues come to mind: I’m too young to write a memoir and I do not lead an interesting existence. I really don’t.

However, my mental health issues have reared their heads mightily this year. Just over a month ago I realized I was in a tailspin. Thankfully, I’m on the upswing, but I know I’m still at the delicate stage and I need to be really cognisant of my emotional state and how I’m processing.

For the sake of catharsis and trying to figure out the roots of my bigger issues, I thought writing a collection of personal essays wouldn’t be a bad idea. I started the project…and it’s going to be a much more difficult endeavor than I ever imagined. I joke to friends and colleagues that compared to people who share a lot, I’m not merely a closed book, I’m glued shut. Unsticking myself is excruciating.

Sharing any aspects of myself is difficult for me. I do not like attention on myself. I do not like being opened to scrutiny. I do not like feeling like I am being judged. All of this stems my anxiety. And the best way I know how to deal with those issues is to face them head on.

Another part of the problem is that as a writer I do not know a great deal about writing creative non-fiction. I know enough that a lot of fiction writing elements crossover, but I also know every genre has its own nuances.

I don’t have enough on my plate right now, so I’m starting a massive undertaking. But I’m also excited to learn something new and share what I learn here.

A Year of Reading Women

I want to start my post today by apologizing for missing the first Tuesday of this month and not writing until now. The shift from April to May caught me a bit off guard and I did not manage my time well. Life got a little bit hectic and I couldn’t seem to get it done.

As I type, I realize we’re already in the 20th week of 2017. Is there a better time to initiate a reading challenge? Probably, but I’m doing it anyway! I would love for people to join me, yet I also want to see if I can personally do it. From my title, you have likely figured out that I want to read books written exclusively by female authors this year.

Honestly, barring book club picks by other members and assigned reading for my courses, I don’t think this will be a difficult challenge. I read stories written mostly by women anyway; looking at my bookshelves it’s an easy 3:1 ratio. However, with recent events around the world concerning women and those who identify as female, I want to make a point of it.

And I won’t be reading just fiction because obviously women write much more than that. I’ll be adding poetry, drama, essays, memoirs, and all the other good stuff out there. Too readily, certain governments and individuals with power are trying to silence the women who don’t agree with them. I might not be anyone important, but this shall be one of my means of resistance.

I was reluctant for all of a minute to take up this challenge. The only reason: one of my favourite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay, will be a guest of honour at When Words Collide this year and I had wanted to read all of his books I currently own. At this point, all I can do is shrug –they’ve sat there for years and a few more months won’t hurt them, or me.

So, as I look above my laptop screen at my calendar called “Women Reading,” I shall admire the artwork then shove my nose in a few more books. I hope you join me!

Learning from Meditation: The Power of Not Doing

Last week I posted my first goals check-in on Anxiety Ink. While I was writing my update I was happily surprised by how positive my first quarter turned out. I tackled the new goals well and finally paid attention to ones I’d neglected for a long time. One of those neglected goals was to learn how to meditate. For years I’ve heard about the positive health benefits of mindfulness. Even in my yoga classes, which I started in January, the meditation portion is one of my favourite parts.

Despite all the great information at my fingertips, I never took that step to learn how. Mid-March I was playing around on Pinterest and was led to a blog where the author mentioned a meditation app, Calm. I figured that was the easiest way to try it out because my phone is always on and it’s always near me.

I took their 7 day meditation challenge and I’m hooked. I want to try out a few more apps before I commit to this one –there are only a few meditations to sample without paying– but I love the concept of a meditation app. It’s just too convenient.

The biggest lesson I have taken away from my foray into meditation is the power of not doing. I know that goes against everything we learn as productive members of society, but it’s true. Our minds and bodies are not designed to be occupied 24/7. Doing so, regardless of your natural energy level, leads to burnout.

I’ve suffered burnout, and it’s awful. And I am very close on the heels on of my second bout, which is likely what spurred me to get my butt on the meditation train.

The ten minutes I take a each day to sit at my desk and simply be are the best, most refreshing moments of my day. Hands down.

If you’re like me, an anxious, overachieving, type A perfectionist, you likely suffer from some kind of guilt if you’re not doing something. There’s always something that needs to be done, and sitting on one’s butt doing nothing isn’t getting it done. But that’s the thing, no matter what you do, there will always be another thing that needs to be done. It never ends. So why not take those moments of peace for yourself?

I leave the house and go to work five days a week. Depending on the day, I have household or pet chores to tackle when I get home, a workout to accomplish, blogging that needs to be handled, and now coursework on top of all of my regular stuff. Not to mention the people who need my attention in my life.

When I step back and take in all of the things I do in a single month, from the big items to the minutiae, it’s a wonder I haven’t snapped. We live in a society that believes if we’re not stressed and doing a hundred things at once we’re not working hard enough. That’s crap. All of us deserve to take a moment and recharge every day.

For me, those ten minutes of not doing have helped with my sleep, helped me cope with my anxiety, they helped me bounce back 90% faster from an extremely emotional day, and they have helped me focus better on tasks.

I’m taking my 10 minutes and I’m not feeling guilty about them.