looking back, looking ahead

Well, it’s been a while. That’s what a 10-day trip to India and Thanksgiving will do to you.

That today is December 2nd doesn’t make sense in my brain. It doesn’t seem possible. Yet, it’s true. December is here bringing with it holidays,  (hopefully) cooler weather, and the most appropriate time of year to watch Elf every day.

Last month, I shared my goals in an effort to hold myself more accountable for the things I say I care about. And well, there were some things I accomplished, and some I didn’t. After looking at the list, I noticed that most of the things I didn’t accomplish have to do with writing, and with taking the time to set up systems to be successful in that area. It was interesting to see that one of the things that’s most important to me is also the thing that is hardest for me to actually sit down and work on. Call it learning how to set helpful goals, call it insecurity and fear. Call it interesting and growing.

As I’ve mentioned, this month held a huge trip to India for me (which I’ll be sharing more about soon!), and I think I overestimated myself and what my energy level would be during and after that trip. After spending 10 days with people going non-stop, this introvert needed about a week to recover. So, here’s to allowing myself more time and space to process the larger things in life.

Here’s an overview of how each goal went down:

Goals for November: 

– Plan an editorial calendar for this blog- take initiative in writing, instead of it only being a reactionary tool. This just didn’t happen. I didn’t make time for it at the beginning of the month, and then I was off to India and now it’s December. One note about this goal (and the one below), is that they’re both geared toward setting up systems for me to operate within. One thing I did learn from looking back at this list, is that the most important things need long-term solutions if they’re going to be sustainable. Writing is something I would hope to continue for a long time, so any goals I have concerning writing from here on out will be focused on creating better systems for myself. 

– Schedule out one time slot in my week that is dedicated to writing. See notes above. 

– Find a great scented candle.  Done! Found a great fresh scent that I love from Meyers. 

– Surprise Taylor for his birthday. Done! Surprised Taylor with breakfast the morning of his birthday. Was fun to spend a slow morning together before I headed to work. 

– Read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises. I’m still working on this one. About 2/3 of the way through A Moveable Feast. Another example of overestimating my energy level before, during and after big events. 

– Paint once. Didn’t get to this one. Painting is one of those things that I’ll get a craving to do every so often. If I don’t jump on it right away, it will fade for a while. It’s not something that takes precedent, so when life happens it tends to take a back seat. 

– Bake my grandmother’s pumpkin chocolate chip bread. It. Was. Delicious. 

Looking forward, here are my goals for December: 

– Create a system for writing that is a) realistic and b) life-giving and not obligatory.

– Finish reading A Moveable Feast. Begin reading The Sun Also Rises. 

– Not wait until the week before Christmas to buy gifts- don’t give in to the stress that our culture often associates with the holidays.

– Exercise at least 2 times a week.

– Cut out social media on the weekends- be present with the life happening around me.

– Carry on my family tradition of making sand tarts.

Do you set goals? What are your goals for this month? 

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the first of the month

The realization that today is November 1st brought me refreshment this morning. It could be because a huge storm this past week finally blew all the humidity out of Austin. Or it could be because I live in Texas, and November is when it actually starts feeling more like fall and I don’t feel guilty for wearing boots. Or it could be that the first of the month brings a newness, an excitement, an expectation for what this month holds.

For us, this month holds several birthdays, a friend’s wedding, a big trip and the start of the holidays. It also holds our everyday lives- our work, our community, dinners at home, reading before we go to sleep and watching old episodes of The Office. 

In the midst of it all- the routine things and the special occasion things- I find myself expectant and hopeful for this next season. More than ever, I am learning to see myself as an artist, bearing the image of the divine Creator and viewing my life as art. I’m becoming more conscious of the daily tasks I perform and learning to value and respect them as sacred parts of this life that I’m living. 

Every person’s life is sacred. Every person was created by God to dwell in his land and do good. Every area of our lives deserves this kind of respect, from our most important relationships, to our most menial tasks. No part of our life is too small, too insignificant to give as an offering back to the Giver of all good things.  I’m learning this, slowly. I’m learning to see the tiny details of my life, the parts that no one else sees, as gifts. Gifts given to me for a purpose. And that purpose is to give them back. To empty myself. 

In an effort to lean in to this lesson- to lean in to the truth that all parts of my life are meaningful, purposeful and valued- I’m going to begin sharing monthly goals here. I was inspired by The Tiny Twig’s post this morning, and thought today was as good as any day to start. 

Goal-setting is not necessarily a new thing for me. I operate well when I give myself goals. I work well off of to-do lists, and feel a certain sense of accomplishment when everything is crossed off. However, I am definitely learning my capacity. I have a tendency to set goals too high for the time period, to overestimate what I can get done in a day, yet underestimate what I can get done in a month or a year. I set myself up for failure in both regards- expecting too much of myself in a short period, and shortchanging myself in the long run. 

I’m learning the balance between working hard and giving myself grace. I’m learning not to beat myself up or get frustrated when I get less done than I wanted to- my identity is not defined by my productivity. Yet, I’m also learning how to motivate myself and not allow fear to get in the way of me taking real steps toward maximizing the gifts I’ve been given. 

So, this is part of that. Below are my goals for November. They touch different parts of my life, but they are all things that have been on my mind lately. Things I want to do that are important to me. I’ll check back in at the end of the month and let you know how it goes. 

Goals for November: 

– Plan an editorial calendar for this blog- take initiative in writing, instead of it only being a reactionary tool. 

– Schedule out one time slot in my week that is dedicated to writing. 

– Find a great scented candle. 

– Surprise Taylor for his birthday. 

– Read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises

– Paint once. 

– Bake my grandmother’s pumpkin chocolate chip bread. 

If you feel inspired to share your goals, The Tiny Twig is hosting a link up this month. Head over to her blog today for more details. 

Happy November and Happy Weekend!