back in time

I really don’t know where the month of August went. It seems crazy to me that it’s September already, and even more crazy that I didn’t add anything to my book the entire month. (OK, so maybe 1,000 words total, but that doesn’t seem to be too much compared to where I was during the month of July.)

It’s definitely obvious to me that I have been experiencing writer’s block in addition to battling the everyday chaos that comes with all of the hats I wear. (Note: for some reason the “wearing hats” expression really makes me giggle. I have no idea why. I just really like it.) So my main goal for this month is to work past that.

I’m doing that a few different ways. The first is to do some research on a topic that is the main focus of the second part of my story. I think that part of my difficulties in writing lie in that I wasn’t alive during the time period I’m writing in, and so I need to try and get myself into that world so I can better get in my writing mindset. I literally requested 10 books to start my research, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of crazy to think how long it’s been since I’ve done actual research from books with handwritten notes, but I think I will enjoy it. At the very least, I hope it will give me the context I need to keep writing.

I also painted my office and cleaned off my desk. I hope that having a dedicated space away from distractions will help me focus better at home and get some words down. I also hope to include a day a week at the very least that I use to just focus on my writing while Broderick is in daycare. Hopefully planning ahead and breaking that time out will help with that.

Part of my make it work goal would also be to get in a routine to allow for that, so that I am not feeling constantly behind with so many other things that need to get done. Instead, I want to make writing a priority.

Hopefully by putting some of these plans in place I’ll be able to get back into the habits I set back in July. I know it’s a process, but I think it’s a priority for me to get back to my writing routine.

meal planning and healthy eating

One of the biggest goals I’ve had through this year was using meal planning as a way to be more budget conscience while also eating healthy foods. I’ll admit, this can be a big struggle. For one, I like going out to eat. For another, I can get lazy when it comes to my food, because it seems like a lot of work for one person. Still, for the past five weeks I have done a fairly good job or sticking to my meal plan by adding a few regular recipes and meals to my plan.

Here’s a look at some of the go-to foods I’ve been turning to in the interest of being fiscally responsible, time efficient, and healthy. (I do shake things up occasionally, but these are regularly on the schedule.)

Breakfast

  • Green smoothie (I follow this plan)
  • Mug eggs (I use a simplified version of this recipe from The Chic Site) with a berry and Greek yogurt parfait
  • Flax seed waffles or vegetarian omelette (on the weekends)

Lunch

  • Light Cesar salad mix with tuna and hard-boiled egg and an apple or carrots as a side
  • Quinoa enchilada bake (this is heaven)
  • Mason Jar salad (which I’ve blogged about before)

Dinner

  • Spaghetti squash (microwaved then served with a marinara sauce or faux burger/sausage–I plan to try a pad thai soon)
  • Tofu and veggie stir fry (my favorite subs quinoa for rice with a lime and garlic based sauce)

I’m also paying attention to what I eat at restaurants. I have tried and true (and healthy and economical) favorites at the restaurants I frequent, and I make sure to get my fiber and protein in for the day.

I’m also working on spreading my eating out throughout the day. My new favorite snack is sliced peppers with a 100-calorie portion of guacamole. It’s so delicious.

Most importantly, I’m starting to see results: in how I feel, in my bank account, and on the scale. What more can you ask for?

figuring it out

Back in January when we set up our blog, things were slightly chaotic for me. I had just moved, changed jobs slightly and was really just trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life. I had some part-part-part-time work in marketing, which I was really excited about, and was then left to decide whether I wanted to change career paths, work more hours, work full-time, and how to balance taking care of Broderick on top of all of that.

The first part of the year got kind of crazy. I kept Broderick in daycare as I decided so we would have options depending on what happened. He got sick–a lot. A bazillion and a half ear infections and very little sleep later, we got tubes put in his ears and it’s been much better. Back in April, I decided that this goal was done for the time being.

Of course, life had other plans and now, at the end of August, I’m back to my old job that I loved but with fewer hours and a little more flexibility and Broderick is in daycare three full days. He’s sick this week, so it’s been nice to be home with him (though not nice that he’s sick, obviously).

What I’ve learned from all of this is that there’s really no way to “figure it out.” There’s been jobs I’ve seen come up that I would really love to do but I also recognize that there will always be jobs and there won’t always be time with baby Broderick. What we have right now is working for us, and if it doesn’t or changes for whatever reason, we’ll find another way to make it work. I need to stop trying to figure everything out and just let things work out.

So, with that, I will be changing my goal of figuring it out to making it work–putting things in place to help our household run more smoothly and do more things with Broderick and my professional life so that things can evolve as necessary. It’s time to let go of the control-freak aspect of my personality and go with the flow and let it be. (This goal could also be called get your…stuff…together but make it work sounds so much nicer. Plus I can picture Tim Gunn in my head every time I say it.)

progress at last!

And we’re back after a week-long hiatus. (Sometimes what’s going on in real life is more important than documenting it, you know?) But since I last shared an update two weeks ago, a couple of exciting things have happened in regards to my Defining 30 quest, but the biggest one is:

I finished writing my second holiday novella!

I didn’t just finish writing it, but I’ve sent the story to my publisher, and we’re in the waiting game to see what happens next with it. This feels extra exciting, because after mulling over the idea for about seven months, I finally sat down and created character sketches and an outline during my staycation. Then I spent the next two weeks writing the 25,000 words.

I made some adjustments as I went–eliminating a couple of scenes that weren’t so necessary–but I basically stuck to the script I created.

This story actually takes place from two first-person points of view, which was kind of a fun challenge for me as a writer. I wanted to make sure each person’s voice sounded true to who they are, while also fitting into my voice as a writer. This is something I’ve been more aware of in the past couple of years–how every word your character says has to sound like something he or she would say. They can’t all speak and think exactly the same or they aren’t unique. Maybe that’s an obvious thing to most writers, but for me, it’s something I’ve been working on developing more as I develop new characters and stories.

But back to the POVs. Writing in Scrivener made this process easy to do and track (I wanted to make sure each person had the same or similar amount of screen time). I used the color-coding system, and it not only kept me organized, but looked kind of pretty.

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So now I get to go to our official list page and check one item off and add it to the done-zo list. That’s super exciting.

I mentioned that there were other exciting developments in my quest for 30th birthday perfection, so I’ll just list them and develop the answers more thoroughly in future posts.

  1. I have officially stuck to my healthy eating plan for more than a month as of yesterday. After trying lots of things to jump-start a reasonable weight-loss program during the first few months of the year, it feels good to stick to the plan, which in term means…
  2. I’m being more active, which also means…
  3. I’m starting to see results in the mirror and on the scale.
  4. My latest statements from the credit union (car loan) and loan agency (student loan) show that I really might be able to do the whole “get out of debt” thing.

These are all good things, and I hope to have lots more to share on this front soon. Good stuff.

one step at a time

When I look at our list of goals, some of them seem huge and overwhelming. Like writing a book (which is probably the biggest goal I have), working on our house (so many projects to do), and even writing a note once a month (which I am failing massively at by the way). But shockingly (or maybe not if you know me well), the goal I am having a really hard time with lately is unplugging.

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and online TV while I’ve been working on projects and such, and there’s a commercial that keeps playing that talks about missing moments now to check other moments, and something about that really resonated with me. I know that I have an addiction to my phone, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email, etc., which is why I made the goal in the first place.

So my real focus for now is to figure out how to break those bad habits, and I’m going to start with not having my phone so accessible at all times. I think I am going to stop bringing my phone out of my room when I’m home with Broderick, so I’m not tempted to check it instead of spending time with him. It’s not missing those moments by checking others.

staying connected

Lately I’ve been sharing a lot of posts about how I’m not quite living up to my expectations as far as setting my goals. While I seem to have hit a turning point with several of those issues lately (in the right direction) rather than talk about something half-complete or barely begun, today I want to talk about something I have been doing a good job of this year.

My personal goal of having coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend once a week has been one that I have managed to uphold. Throughout the past several months, I’ve reconnected with friends I’ve missed. I’ve strengthened other friendships I value. And I’ve been able to visit some regular haunts and try new restaurants.

One of my favorite instances of this has been meeting for dinner about once every four to six weeks with a few of my former co-workers. We’ve all moved on in different directions with our lives both personally and professionally since we shared office space, but that friendship is still there. Each time we’ve gone out, we’ve tried a new restaurant. Not only do we get to catch up the latest trials and joys in each of our lives, but we’re sampling some of our town’s best new restaurants. I always leave these meetings feeling rejuvenated and excited and proud to know that three women I enjoy so much are going on to make their marks in the world in different ways. It’s empowering, inspiring, and just thrilling.

I also continue to meet my sister and Whitney regularly for meals. As a single woman who lives alone, for me these breakfasts, lunches, and dinners feel like my chance to have a family dinner. I can say anything and be myself with both of these women, and they are some of my biggest supporters. It’s just family time, and it means the world to me.

I’m feeling a little scattered today articulating my thoughts, because I’m almost ready to type “the end” on my second holiday novella (which means I’ll be adding that to the done-zo category this week). AND I also am announcing the release and revealing the cover of my third novel, which will be out this fall. You can check it out on Goodreads and add it to your “to-read” list.

away we went

This past weekend, Nathan and I took a quick trip to Missouri for a dear friend’s wedding while Broderick had some time with Grandma. It was my first night (and then night and night) away from him but I think we both had a really good time. He got extra time with Grandma, and Nathan and I got to spend some time away with friends.

We left on Thursday afternoon and drove to Kansas City. We stayed downtown and had an amazing dinner and drinks at the hotel. It was gorgeous–I kind of wish my whole house looked like the hotel.

After sleeping in, we went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in KC, which I had not been to. What was amazing and awesome about this is that they had one of Monet’s water lily paintings, which I have always wanted to see. It was amazing.

monet

We drove down to Springfield that afternoon, where we started our super-fun weekend with our friends.

The next day I got to go see “Inside Out,” which I had wanted to see for a long time and it was really good. Not the best movie to see when away from Broderick for the first time, but that’s OK, I liked it anyway!

We had the wedding that night and it was really fun to stay out late and hang out with people we don’t always get to see too often.

We came back on Sunday, and were definitely glad to be home. It was nice to be away and spend some time together and with our friends, but we definitely missed B. He missed us, too, and by us, I mean Nathan. 🙂 I also meant to write and work on some of my other goals while we were gone, but really just appreciated the time to relax.