“You Are Here” ~ 2018 in Review


January 1. This day is so reflective. So pensive. It’s a day when people tend to look back at the year before and think of the things they wish they could do differently, and make a bunch of pledges to themselves to really affect that change in their lives.

I’ve seen a bunch of posts circulating Facebook lately where people who normally go to the gym are preparing themselves for a busy month, where those who start running or going to the gym will show up for the first month and then never be seen again. I used to be that person.

I used to do something called Power Sheets. For the past two years, during my Christmas break and the month of December leading up to New Year’s, I’d sit down and do some intentional goal setting, decide on who I wanted to be by the time I was closing up the coming year, and what I needed to do to get there. I picked one word to define my upcoming year, picked some Bible verses to go alongside it, updated my vision board in my kitchen, and wrote down all my rationales for all my goals. I laboured over them in a very real way.

I tracked alongside those goals all through 2017, into 2018, and then quit in March. The process almost felt ingrained by that point and I felt like I was in a head space where I could keep track of my own goals without having to tick off boxes to prove it to myself.

I decided that this year will continue along the “I don’t need a book to help me set my goals” theme, but as 2018 was coming to a close I did decide there were a few things I’d like to work on. The one word thing always feels kind of cheesy to me, but it really allows you to narrow your focus down into one broad stroke where other goals can naturally thrive, rather than become overwhelming and too much.

One of the biggest things I learned in my year and a bit of intentional life planning was that there’s nothing magic about any given date. There’s nothing that says January 1st has to be the day you start making changes. If you’ve stumbled upon this post in June, on a rainy day on the 17th (for example), then let June 17th be the day you think about where you’d like to be when 2019 wraps up. One concept that really stuck with me through all of that was the idea that if I have an idea of what I’d like to have accomplished by the time I’m 80, I can’t get there if I don’t make smaller goals and work away at them. I did an about-face with the way I’d been eating and treating my body on July 3rd of 2018. If I had waited until January 1st to set some “New Year, New Me” goals, I wouldn’t be down 65 pounds and considering investing in hiking shoes because it turns out I like hiking….. if there are waterfalls at the end of the hike…..

So….. I guess I’m still goal setting in a way, even though too much of it feels oppressive, but I don’t want to be left in the same place I was coming into 2019 when I get to the end of it, so it’s good to set a FEW goals.

I have picked one word for 2019. I was torn. I waffled back and forth for a bit between “Present” and “Listen”. But I think that Present encompasses what Listen tries to communicate, but goes a layer deeper, which is what you’re going for when you’re only picking one word.

As an Enneagram 7, I find that my tendency is to lean into the future so hard, usually in anticipation of what’s to come (but sometimes to escape what’s right in front of me), that I miss the moments I’m in. I can get so caught up in what I’m looking forward to, what’s coming, what’s ahead… that I miss what I already have. It can make it hard to enjoy what comes, because the pattern doesn’t stop just because what’s in front of me is phenomenal. There’s still a “well what comes next?” feeling that persists. It’s what prompts me to plan vacations before the one I’m on is even finished. It’s likely what prompted me as a kid to run countdowns of days between where I was on the calendar and something I thought was going to be really awesome. (lol. as a kid. I still do this. who am I kidding?)

So, to sum up, 2018 has been a pretty great year. My word for 2018 was Strength. I definitely think I’ve gotten stronger this year. Physically, emotionally, spiritually — I think all around I’ve taken steps in the right direction. Ten years ago, if you’d told me this is where I’d be though, I think I’d have been disappointed. If at 24 you’d have shown me the life I was going to have, I would have looked ahead to it with dread rather than with glee and excitement. I certainly haven’t accomplished all the things I thought I would. But I’ve accomplished some things miles beyond what I ever thought I was capable of doing, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not ended up here.

So, as I wander into 2019, I plan to be Present. I plan to be grateful, and to appreciate the little things that are right in front of me. That probably means fewer countdowns and less screen time. It probably means saying no more often and setting healthier boundaries — both on myself and on others. It surely needs to mean letting go of some of the anxiety I hold onto because I want to control things. And it definitely means that when I feel a nudge that I’m pretty sure is Holy Spirit trying to convince me to do something, I should listen… But all of those things feed into the goal of being Present. So in 2019, wherever I am, that’s where you’ll find me. I promise it’s less nomadic than that makes it sound.

What’s your word for 2019? Do you set goals? Do you make resolutions? Do you stick to them…..

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Power Sheets — and how I’m using them


Dear friends,

I’ve missed posting as of late, but I haven’t been able to find the words I’ve wanted to use to do it.  I didn’t even do the customary “these are my New Year’s Resolutions/New-Year-New-Me/Life Goals” post at the beginning of January, because this year is supposed to be different.

2017 is supposed to be a year for Focus.  Or, at least, that’s the “one word” I chose to represent my pending 2017 over the end of Christmas Break in December 2016.

I embarked on this journey with a couple of dear friends of mine with an Intentional Life Goal planner called Power Sheets.  Created and published by a rocking lady named Lara Casey over at Cultivate What Matters, I scooped up a one-year Power Sheets planner, and a Write The Word journal.

The whole idea behind this is not to pick specific “resolutions” — I mean, they’ve all fallen to the wayside by this point at the end of February anyway, haven’t they?  The whole idea is to really do some soul searching (there’s prep work at the beginning of the planner to help you narrow down the areas of your life you feel need pruning, tending, weeding, etc — if life were a metaphorical garden, I suppose) and come up with 10(ish) goals that you really want to work through between January and December.

What I love about the whole philosophy that Lara Casey has laid out is the stress on Progress, not Perfection.  Little by little progress.  Which is good, cuz let me tell you, there’s been an utter lack of perfection on my part when it’s come to how January and February have gone — I like that I can look at where I’ve made some progress — any progress — and rejoice in that rather than dwell on the areas I haven’t met my own standards.

Each month there’s a tending list — an area where you can really specifically narrow in on your goals and set monthly, weekly, and daily tasks or goals/ideas that you want to achieve.  For example, in my weekly goals, I listed meal planning.  I’d really like to get better at this.  I haven’t gotten any better at it at all, as I sit here writing this to you on my lunch, eating unsweetened apple sauce straight up out of the jar because I had pretty much nothing else appealing to stash in my lunch bag……. oatmeal, applesauce, and two clementines.  I eat like a four year old.  BUT the constant reminder when I check on my tending list to check other things off that I AM accomplishing (like I’ve seen a dramatic uptick in my prayer habits, even if I haven’t seen it in journalling/devos yet) reminds me that “oh yeah!  You wanted to meal plan!”  So I sat down this morning and I wrote out a meal plan and a grocery list, and I will stop on my way home and pick up ONLY the groceries I need, and be ready for the week.

The other thing I’m loving is the sense of community that it’s creating.  I have two friends locally that are into this, and we’re helping to check in with one another, and see how things are going.  There are also a couple of Facebook groups that I’ve joined since late December which have really impacted how I view this goal-setting endeavour.  Modern Planner is another such site of great tips and helpful ideas that I’ve started following, and I’ve connected with Kathryn’s (the creator’s) Facebook page as well.

Another feature of the planner that I adore is the reflection piece at the end of each month.  Granted, so far I’ve only reflected on January, but I was really encouraged by the ability to look back over my January goals and use how I felt about whether or not I accomplished what I’d wanted to accomplish daily, weekly, and monthly to influence what I chose to prioritize as my new habits and goals in February.  For example, I’d intended to write a Power Sheets blog in January……… I did not.  But I knew at the end of January that for as much as I love writing, and for as little time as it would take me to knock this off, there was no reason I couldn’t accomplish this in February, so I put it back in.  Now, I’ll be able to check it off of my monthly goals and celebrate its completion next week when I reflect back on the month of February.

One last feature that I adore is the space to write encouraging words, whether from myself or from someone else, in and around my goals — making sure I know I’m not doing this in my own strength and that there are people around me who are rooting for me, and who want my success just as much as I want my own.  It’s really encouraging me to be more mindful of the words I choose to use to describe my goals as well.  Setting goals like losing weight has always seemed really daunting to me, mostly because I like eating candy and baked goods more than I like the idea of being thin.  But when I can shift the focus of that goal to being more about being healthy, living a longer life, and accomplishing other things I’d love to be able to (like maybe taking some surfing lessons while I’m out West this summer — though I’m not on track for that at all lol), it seems to be easier to wrap my head around.  And it doesn’t carry the weight of disappointment that not losing a specific amount of weight does.

Anyway, I’m curious — have you used Power Sheets?  Do you use something else to help organize your life and your goals and plans?  What do you do?

 

The dreaded 2014 budget.


It’s that time of year again.  Even if you’re like me and decided not to make ‘New Years’ Resolutions’ per se, and you’ve only chosen one word, the beginning of the year is still valuable for some things.

Budgeting, alas, is one of them.  I have a tendency to start out strong, and make these beautiful budgets up and determine how many thousands of dollars I’m going to save or put extra onto my debts.  I do it every January.  I calculate, number-crunch… what have you.

And by February, I’m wondering why I don’t know where my money went again.

I’d like to say that I want this year to be different.  It’s my hope that by sharing my intentions (and some of the resources I found today) on here, that people who love me and read this (*cough* my parents *cough* wink wink nudge nudge) will keep me accountable to this goal.  I like the idea of seeing where my money goes.  Knowing where every cent has been spent or used (either well or poorly) makes me happy on the inside…… but this hasn’t always been true.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up A LOT this year.  Maybe it’s because I have a plan in mind for all those extra cents (I am redecorating in March, plus I really want a new violin), or maybe it’s even because I am working on getting myself ready to someday be married, and managing my own finances is a huge step toward being able to help manage a family’s finances.  Whatever the reason, I want to be a good steward of what I’ve been given.  It’s all part of valuing myself (see my One Word post), knowing that the time I spend working for all that money is worth something, and there’s an end product that doesn’t need to be squandered at fast-food joints and clothing stores.  That’s right — squandered.

Anyway, I thought I’d show you some of the nifty resources I found while I was perusing the internet (with a purpose!) today.

I made a budget binder.  In it, you’ll find the following things.

First of all, a financial checklist for all the bills.  I find I have a terrible time remembering whether or not I’ve actually paid a bill.  I set reminders on my iCal and on my phone, but sometimes those arrive at inopportune times, and I think it’ll be very helpful to be able to look at this on Saturdays (my proposed budget review day), and go “yup, I’ve paid all those that were due.  Excellent.”

e0def-financialchecklist

Secondly, a printable budget sheet that is broken down into every category imaginable.  I didn’t have to use them all, but it’s fantastic.  And if I need them in the future, they are there!  I printed 12 of these, and they are all labeled with the correct month.  This one doesn’t have an image, it just goes right to downloading the PDF, so check the link out here.

Thirdly, an expense tracking sheet so that I know precisely how money was spent and where, especially in the areas that weren’t budgeted… like my copious trips to Subway and Wendy’s.

found at http://couponsnob.net/2011/12/25/free-printable-expense-tracker-and-instruction-sheet/

Fourthly, a monthly calendar template, which I also printed 12 of, so that I can write down when each bill is due and put a check mark in it when it’s paid.  I’ve also highlighted the bills that DO NOT come out of my account automatically, because I believe there are only 3 or 4 left in my life that aren’t automatic withdrawal.  It may surprise you, but these tend to be the ones I forget to pay 😉

found at http://eprintcalendar.com/monthly-calendar-template-pdf/

Lastly, and this is not budget related, I printed a weekly meal planner.  Well, I guess it’s sort of money related… because I suspect it will save me money at the grocery store, knowing exactly what I need to buy for the week instead of just guessing.  I have a terrible habit of over-buying and then I can’t eat everything I bought before it all goes bad, and I have to throw stuff out.  It disgusts me.  I’d like to stop doing that.  Never mind my hard-earned money, it’s just such a disastrous habit, and the money I save in not doing it could be funneled into a charity that takes care of those who lack enough food to eat on a week-to-week basis… and isn’t that a bigger issue than just “I bought too many baby carrots?”  My meals are planned for this coming week, and I’m going grocery shopping after church tomorrow, buying ONLY what is on that list.

found at http://domestic8d.blogspot.ca/p/printables.html

In completely unrelated news… in an effort to value my health, my life, and the piles of money I spent previously on clothes that used to fit me and now truly don’t, I am dropping refined carbs and sugars like they’re hot …. and I’m dropping them cold turkey.  I can’t see any other way to do it.  I know they’re my stumbling block to weight loss.  Bread, pasta, candy, and chocolate always have been.  I know I need to lose weight — not to ‘look better,’ but because I refuse to buy new clothes again when I can just eat better, and because I know I felt better thinner.  I don’t have a goal weight in mind, I just want to feel better physically.  Sadly, I know the only real and effective way for me to do this healthily is to eliminate the foods that cause me to keep weight on.  Everyone’s bodies are different.  Mine likes to hold on to simple carbs like there’s no tomorrow, and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try to wean myself off slowly, I also crave them intensely.  It’s not just a sugar problem, though.  I wrote a post a year ago today after I finished reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made To Crave, about how I use food in a way that it shouldn’t be used… and I’ve slipped back into bad habits.  I need to give up these things, and go to God with my cravings when they show up — not the cupboard.  That being said, if we have to cross paths in the next little while, I’m sorry…. because the sugar withdrawal is hard to go through for the first few days.  I’ll do my best to stay pleasant and not take it out on innocent bystanders….  but it must be done.  Pray for me, friends?

One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉