Why I’m Ditching New Year’s Resolutions

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Image courtesy six8seven5.com

I know, I know…”Not another resolutions post!” That’s what you’re probably thinking. I’m hoping this one has more of a twist, though, because (spoiler alert!), I’m ditching resolutions in 2016. More on that in a bit.

First a wrap up of 2015:

1. Cook a healthy meal once a week: Didn’t do too great here. 2015 was the year of takeout for the hubs and I. I think it had to do with busy schedules, but really, that’s just an excuse. Hopefully this year’s schedules won’t fill up as fast (i.e., I’ll say “no” more often), and I’ll stay more on top of having healthier food options in the house.

2. Meditate once per day: I got SUPER lax with this because I started counting super short prayers as fitting the bill. Really, they don’t. I needed to be more intentional. Something to keep in mind for this year.

3. Work on art once per week: This one I actually did! I tried a bunch of different techniques and tools, particularly digital methods. I’m really happy with my art progress and want to continue this year.

4. Read 60 books: 48. Not quite, but so close!

5. Keep a steady writing practice: Nope. This one just didn’t happen. Visual art really took over, which isn’t a bad thing. This is just one example of how my priorities changed during the year.

So, that last note (“priorities change”) is exactly why I’m ditching New Year’s resolutions in favor of something else: a yearly word.

Resolutions are fine, and if they work for you, that’s fantastic! They just don’t work for me. Over the years, I’ve found myself working toward goals that start out really important and then fall by the wayside because after a few months, circumstances change and I just don’t have the energy to focus on goals that I don’t want to prioritize.

And then there’s the issue of guilt. I used to think, “Well, I set this priority for myself and I should see it through, right?” Usually, I’d say yes, but it’s so hard to predict what will happen in a year, (or even the next couple of months!). I didn’t want to be beholden to goals that would just weigh me down when I could actually make progress on things that mattered to me.

So how does a yearly word come in? The thing about single words or phrases is that they are versatile. They can be interpreted in many ways and take different shapes. Yearly words can grow with you.

Take my 2015 word for example: gather. This can be a verb or a noun. There can be a gathering of people. Or you can gather resources. It was such a nourishing word for me. I certainly gathered a lot in 2015! I gathered art techniques, I got together with friends and family often—and these are just a sampling of the ways I acted on my word!

I was so reluctant to let “gather” go in the new year, but I think my new word will be just as awesome. “What is it?” you ask. DELIGHT!

In 2016, I want to focus on delights, or people and moments that make me smile. I want to fill others with delight through my art. I’m sure come the end of the year, I will have tons of other ways I’ll interpret this word.

But do you see what I mean? Words are so versatile. At least to me, they aren’t weighty and clunky. I’m so excited to dive into delight this year!

If you’d like to hear a bit more about why I’m ditching resolutions (and ideas for how you can choose your own word!), check out my podcast’s (Roaring Out—yep, same as the blog) episode 11.

How about you? Do you stick with resolutions, do you choose a yearly word, or do you have a different yearly ritual?

Better Late Than Never: 2015 Resolutions Update

I intended to have two updates posted by now, but the best laid plans and all that jazz…

OK, so let’s get this part started. In previous resolutions posts, I noticed that I tended to be down on myself when I didn’t do well on a goal (which was often!). So now, I’m taking a cue from Sunflower Paperie and posting both my successes and areas of improvement.

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1. Cook a healthy meal once per week

Successes: Shoprite from Home has helped tremendously in this area! Each week (or nearly), I sit down with the hubs, and we decide what we need for the coming days. We still buy cookies and such, but we buy a bunch more fruit and healthy snacks since we don’t have to putz around the produce aisle anymore. This has also helped us save money in the long run since we have a fairly steady supply of good food options, so we don’t eat out as often. One of my favorite meals we’ve made this year is roasted pork loin with roasted red potatoes. YUM!

 Areas of improvement: I need to plan meals better. While my snack options have improved, meals have not overall. I was using a meal planner at the beginning of the year. I think it’s time to bust it out again!
Not as healthy, but totally yummy!

Not as healthy, but totally yummy!

 

2. Meditate once per day

Successes: This has taken different shapes throughout the past eight months. I downloaded the Headspace app, which helped a lot. I also got a devotional that I like and have been (fairly) consistent with reading it. I’ve also noticed that I meditate better at night. I’m trying to meditate first thing in the morning, but perhaps my rhythm is better later in the day.

Areas of improvement: I fell out of rhythm with the app and am trying to get back on track. I need to make it a priority. Overall, this is probably the habit I need to make a priority the most. My iPhone tends to get in the way. Perhaps instead of opening up Twitter first thing in the AM, I should open up Headspace. If only there was an app for that….

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3. Work on art once per week

Successes: I have tried more types of art so far this year than any other in recent memory, so that’s a huge win! I’ve taken part in a few art challenges and have gotten to know quite a few great people through Instagram and Twitter. Given that my word for the year is “gather,” this area has been a big success in that I’ve “gathered” a lot of practical art tips, art friends, and prompts.
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Areas of improvement: I tend to work in bursts. I’m super prolific for a few days, but then I may not create anything for a few weeks. In the long run, this may just be how I work, but I do want to create the habit of a steady creative practice.

4. Read 60 books

Successes: I’m a little over halfway on my goal! So far, I’ve read 33 books and am 55% done with my goal. I’m pretty happy with where I am. I’ve read fairly broadly. Some titles that stick out to me include The Night Circus, The Fire Next Time, and Raising My Rainbow.

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

Areas of improvement: Goodreads says I’m three books behind, so I suppose I should catch up. I also haven’t read any books I own nor have I finished any ARCS I’ve received. I think I’ll make more of an effort to read at least one book in each of the aforementioned categories in the next 4.5 months.

5. Keep a steady writing practice

Successes: One of the bullet points I listed in this area was to celebrate the publication of my chapbook, which I did to the fullest! I did a bunch of readings all over New Jersey from April through June. The crowds were fabulous, and I saw so many familiar faces. I loved talking about my process and sharing my work with others. I also recently signed up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts, which arrive every day to my inbox. They’ve provided great inspiration, and I wrote a poem with one of the prompts that I’m pretty sure is a keeper!

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Areas of improvement: Other than celebrating my chapbook, I haven’t done much writing (other than that keeper poem). I have tons of ideas, but I’m not making time to write them down. Much like the meditation habit, I need to be more conscious of making my writing (and art) practice a regular habit. I’m just not quite sure how to do that, but I’ll brainstorm some strategies 🙂

How about you? What is one goal you are working on this year/month/week? What have been your successes and areas of improvement?

The Resolution Game: 2015 Edition

Image courtesy of becuo.com

Image courtesy of becuo.com

We’re almost two weeks into the new year. I figured it was time to not only wrap up my previous year’s resolutions but to also share my goals for 2015.

2014:
I’ll admit it: I didn’t do as well with these goals as I had hoped. It may have been due to the fact that I had so many goals. It may have just been apathy. It may have been because I planned a wedding in 2014. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I finished what I did, and I’m looking ahead…right after this recap.

1. Read 5 classic books
I read The Hobbit. The problem I found with this goal is that I read one or two more classic books in 2014 but couldn’t count them because they weren’t on my list. The particular list I made was pretty limiting, unfortunately.

2. Read 5 books I already own
Yeah, didn’t do to hot on this one either. There must be a phenomenon among readers where we need to have the shiniest books, but once we own them, they get lost in the shuffle and we go on to shinier books.

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list
OK, I rocked this one and finished out the year having read 20! Really proud of this.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Aaaand right back into resolutions I didn’t do well with. I’m almost done with one ARC, but didn’t quite finish in time for the new year. I’m hoping to keep my Netgalley review average to about 70-80 percent this year. (It’s currently hovering around 1 percent. Dismal, I know.)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

5. Read the four Gospels
I started this one. I got up to chapter 11 in Matthew, chapter 9 in Luke and John, and didn’t start Mark. This is getting depressing….

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
Yay, a pick-me-up resolution! Not only did I submit to more than five contests, my chapbook, Field Guide to Fire, was picked up for publication by Finishing Line Press. Booyah!

You can pre-order your copy here.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
This didn’t happen. I kept meaning to and wanted to send out to one or two November contests. I forgot how much time putting together a full-length manuscript takes.

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
No dice, unfortunately, though I did apply to a few positions. Also, this is largely out of my control because I can only apply, not hire myself (though that would be awesome if I could!).

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
This one went fairly well. I broadened my idea of what “art” is and took off the pressure of having to work on a piece I wanted to sell. I let myself play and got some fun doodles in the process.

10. Blog at least twice a week
*Sigh* This did not happen either…at least not consistently. Many life events derailed me. BUT I made a shiny editorial spreadsheet at the end of 2014. Hopefully it will guide me to a more consistent blogging schedule in 2015.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
Ending on a high note, woot! This one’s done and done.

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2015:
Mmmmkay, I want to keep this year simple. As I worked through last year’s resolutions, many people made the good-natured comment, “I get overwhelmed just looking at your list!” I realized I did too, but tried to plow through anyway. The result was much frustration and a lack of focus.

With that in mind, I picked a word for 2015 (“gather), and I’m focusing more on creating habits in areas that are super important to me. Here is my (more manageable) list of resolutions:

1. Cook a healthy meal once a week
Toward the end of 2014, I got super sick. During that time, my husband and I ate a lot of

Picture courtesy of sexyeatz.com

Picture courtesy of sexyeatz.com

takeout food. I don’t feel great about that decision, though I realize there were circumstances in the way of cooking healthy meals. I want to be more conscious of what I consume in 2015.

I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself because I still love chocolate. I want this to be fun. The goal isn’t to lose weight; it’s to take care of my body. I plan on being around for a while! Plus, I love cooking and want to indulge in this practice more.

If you have any recipes you’d like to pass along, feel free to e-mail them to me at michelle.e.greco [at] gmail [dot] com.

2. Meditate once per day
Taking care of one’s spirit is just as important as taking care of one’s body, in my opinion (or IMHO, as the kids are saying these days). My goal here is to be mindful of God each day, whether it be through prayer, yoga, reading the Bible, talking a hike, doodling, etc. I’m of the opinion that you don’t have to sit in silence to be close to God. Sometimes I like to sit still, but sometimes I’m too antsy for that. Keeping the way I meditate open will, I think, help me with succeeding with this goal.

3. Work on art once per week
I’m upping the ante a bit here. I want to work on art once per week, which hopefully won’t be too hard since I’m OK doodling once per week all year.

However, I’d love to work up to arting three times per week and focusing more on selling my art. My vision goes something like this:
Start out: Once per week (work on doodles and sketchbook ideas, visit craft fairs to get ideas, and make artist contacts)
Continue to: Twice per week (work on both sketchbook ideas and starting art I’m willing to display to build body of work)
End the year at: Three times per week (sketchbook ideas, have several finished art pieces in whatever medium or in a theme, begin forming a plan to sell more art seriously/exhibit more of my work)

Photo courtesy of clipartpanda.com

Photo courtesy of clipartpanda.com

I’ve also given myself a hashtag: #arteveryweek2015. If you want to join in with making art every week, tag your work on Instagram!

The goal with the hashtag (and this goal in general) is to have fun and, hopefully, build a bit of a web presence. I just want people to talk to me about art. I’m not fishing for compliments; I’m just looking for an online community.


4. Read 60 books
 I would love for this number to be broken down as such:
20 books on my “To Be Read” list on Goodreads
20 books I already own
20 ARCs I’ve received

Ideal? Yes. Realistic? I’m not sure. I’m going to shoot for it, but as long as I have read at least 60 books in 2015, I’ll count it as a win.

5. Keep a steady writing practice
This one has steps too. Sort of. There are many things I would like to do this year as far as writing. Here are a few items I’ll keep in mind when I think of this resolution:

  • Celebrate my chapbook!
  • Revamp my full-length collection and send it to two fall contests
  • Aim to have one new draft of a poem to read at each reading I go to (which may translate to writing a new draft per month
  • Work on a piece of fiction or nonfiction (gotta spread the wings a bit sometimes)

Your turn to share: What are your goals for the new year?

Inked: Checking Off a Bucket List Goal

For the past month, I’ve been caught up with the wedding and living that I didn’t realize I crossed off another item from my bucket list (well, three, but more on that in the parenthetical aside at the end of this post).

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time is get tattooed. A very generous friend of mine paid for my first tattoo as a wedding present.

The day of, I was super nervous, but everything went so well. The artist, Donny Manco, was fantastic! We kicked around two ideas and settled on the one I’ve had in my head for the longest amount of time—a dove leaving a trail of fire.

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Ink!

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The artist at work, making a stencil

The tattoo hurt way less than anticipated…except for the last half hour or so. The result was so worth it!

The finished product!

The finished product!

After healing and on my wedding day

After healing and on my wedding day

I’m so happy with my tattoo and am looking forward to many more!

(Incidentally, during the process of the wedding and my honeymoon, I checked off two more bucket list goals—getting married and seeing a Broadway play.)

New Year’s Resolutions 2014 – An Update

These make my life, and keeping resolutions, so much easier.

These make my life, and keeping resolutions, so much easier. Image courtesy of: mannahealthgroup.com

Welp, now that we are just under three months away from the new year, I figured it was time for an update on my resolutions (I resolved to give updates every quarter….that didn’t work out). But, I am happy that I’ve made quite a bit of progress on a bunch of my resolutions:

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve read one! I read The Hobbit via audiobook (my new obsession). Pride and Prejudice is next on the list, methinks.

2. Read 5 books I already own
Ugh, I hate that I haven’t even started this yet. Nearly every day, I stare at the books I already own (many of which are on a shelf right next to my bed) and think, “I should read one. Maybe poetry. That won’t take long!” And then I go into the living room and pick up one of the newer books I have rented from the library.

Any suggestions on how to break my apparent lack of motivation to read books I own?

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list
This one’s done as of September! I’m really happy about this. I’m actually on to the twelfth book on my “To Read” list. Sure, this list has grown by over 100 books this year, but I’m going to savor this small victory 🙂

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Much like my resolution to read books I own, I haven’t finished books that I’ve received as ARCs. I’ve started one and am really into it. I just need to pick it back up…

5. Read the four Gospels
This one is started. I’m five chapters into Matthew, Luke, and John. Just have to keep chugging!

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
This one is done! I finished in May. I believe the number of contests I’ve submitted to is up to ten or more at this point. They’ve all been rejections thus far, but I’m not giving up. I even revamped my chapbook this year, so hopefully that will help.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
This is in the works. I want to submit to a full-length prize that has a deadline of November 1. Going to submit something to that contest come hell or high water!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
This is out of my control. From now on, I won’t make resolutions similar to these. All I can do is control how much I apply. I have certainly applied for several positions, but no dice. Again, not giving up!

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
This has actually gone fairly well! I’ve tried daily painting, drawing, doodling, and collage challenges. All of these have taught me that I don’t do well with daily challenges. I’m learning to work a bit more with my natural flow of creativity, which comes in spurts. While it doesn’t come every day, inspiration definitely comes at least every other week—usually more so! I’ve been trying to document my creativity on Flickr by taking pictures of when I do something creative. I’m behind on posting pics for the summer, but what I have so far can be found in this online album.

10. Blog at least twice a week
Welp, clearly this hasn’t gone well. I’m re-evaluating what I want to do with my blog. I want to keep it. I always have ideas that I’m excited to share, but I don’t make it a priority to sit down and write. Perhaps I should make a pledge to post once a week or twice every other week. I really don’t want to, but I’m not sure how else to stick with a posting schedule.

Bloggers, any ideas on how to stick to a semi-regular posting schedule?

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
This is also in the works. As I mentioned in my previous resolution post, I took out a low-interest loan and am slowly but surely paying it back. I think I’m going to count this as a win, even if I did “cheat” a bit on the paying off part.

If you have made some resolutions, how are they going?

If you’d like to keep up with my goal progress apart from my quarterly blog updates, check this page out. I update it when I’m making progress with my goals (particularly the reading ones).

2014 Resolutions Update

Now that we’re a little more than a quarter of the way through the year, I figured it was time for an update on my 2014 resolutions. I’m kicking butt in some areas and lagging in others, but I suppose that’s to be expected. I’m not being as hard on myself as I was last year, which certainly helps. I mean, I’ve got a year…it’s natural for my focus on certain things to ebb and flow.

Anyhoo, here’s the update:

1. Read 5 classic books
Have not started this one yet. I have read Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” this year, but I didn’t put it on my classic book list. Le sigh…

2. Read 5 books I already own
Haven’t started this one either….

3. Read 10 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list
140213_001…because I’m focusing on my Goodreads list! Two down, eight more to go! (In case you are curious, my Goodreads book reading goal this year is 50 books total. As of the time of this post, I’m eight behind but am determined to catch up!)

  1. Damn You, Autocorrect! – Jillian Madison (January 2014)
  2. Cinder – Marissa Meyer (January 2014)

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years
Haven’t started on this one either (wow, I’m really not doing to well with my reading goals. Now I know what to focus on in the next three months).

5. Read the four Gospels
Is it awful I forgot I made this resolution? (Sorry, God!). Once again, another resolution to really focus on in the next few months.

6. Send chapbook out to at least five different contests
I’ve actually been pretty good with this one. I’ve sent my chapbook out to two contests so far. Last weekend, I went to a chapbook workshop to get feedback on my book from professionals. They gave me some really good advice. My hope is to tweak my chapbook in the next week or two and send it to a few more contests. I’ve got a list of about five or six more to send to, so that’s my creative project for the rest of the month.

7. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests
Even when I wrote this one down, I knew I wouldn’t get to it until the summer. By the time of my next update (late June/early July), I’m hoping to have at least started the sprucing up process.

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig
I think this one is turning into the “publish a chapbook” goal from least year. By this I mean that I can’t possibly control whether I get a full-time teaching position or not. I can only apply and interview. I’m OK with this. I have been doing my part. I’ve applied to a few positions and have had one interview so far. I count that as a win.

My attempt at sketching a mug. I'm hoping to sketch a little bit every day.

My attempt at sketching a mug. I’m hoping to sketch a little bit every day for the rest of the year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week
I’m also happy to say that I’ve been doing really well with this one also. Last year, I felt like I had to paint something on canvas, but I’ve broadened my idea of what “a piece of art” is. I’ve worked on videos, sketches, and poetry as well (I’ve even done some MS Paint drawing). I think broadening my definition of art has really helped me be consistent with this goal because I’m not limited to using one medium.

10. Blog at least twice a week
I’ve tried, I really have. Lately it’s been tough for me to post something that isn’t part of a series on my blog. The semester is almost at an end, so I’m going to try to get better with writing posts that are not parts of a series as well as scheduling posts. (I’m a little ahead of the game on this one. As of the time of this post, I’ve got three posts scheduled. Woot woot!)

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards
I’ve technically accomplished this. By technically, I mean I took out a low-interest personal loan to pay off my two major credit cards. So, both of my accounts say nothing is owed, but I still owe the money. So…partial win? On the upside, I won’t owe nearly as much interest on the loan, so baying back this debt will be much easier and faster (hopefully!).

If you’d like to keep up with my goal progress apart from my quarterly blog updates, check this page out. I update it when I’m making progress with my goals (particularly the reading ones).

What resolutions are you working on? Which ones are you doing great with and which need a little more attention?

Looking Ahead: My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Fireworks

‘Tis a new year, hence new goals.  As mentioned in my 2013 resolutions wrap-up post, last year’s goals, more than anything, served to show me what is really important in my life. As a result, I’ve tweaked the focus of my resolutions and broke them up into two categories: Reading Goals and Creative/Lifestyle Goals. Here’s hoping this new format keeps me focused this year.

Reading Goals

1. Read 5 classic books
I’ve recently realized that there are a lot of “classic” books that I was never assigned in high school or college. I’d like to catch up on reading I feel I’ve missed out on.

The cover of the first edition of Adventures o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term “classic” can mean many things, and there are tons of classic book lists out there (seriously, just google it). I’ve come up with my own list to pick from, which is sort of an amalgamation of those I found online:

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
Dracula – Bram Stoker
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
My Antonia – Willa Cather
Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Two Towers – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Return of the King – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
The Trial – Franz Kafka
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Tubman
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

2. Read 5 books I already own

I totally failed at this very achievable goal last year. As an attempt at redemption, I’m giving it another go this year.  I posted all the books for this goal last year, so instead of posting them again, here’s a list of some books I added to my shelves in 2013:

Cover of "The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry S...

Cover of The Endarkenment (Pitt Poetry Series)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Endarkenment – Jeffrey McDaniel
We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

3. Read 10 books on my “To Read” list on Goodreads

This particular list has grown quite a bit in the last year. I have 450 books on my Goodreads “To Read” list. I came so close to finishing this goal last year so, much like the previous goal, I want to try it again.

4. Read and review the ARCs (both digital and hard copy) that I’ve received in the past two years

I keep requesting ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of books, and publishing houses continue to graciously give me free copies. And I have yet to crack one open and review it. I’m actually pretty ashamed of this fact, so I want to play catch up by reading and reviewing all of the ARCs I’ve received since I first began requesting them two years ago.

Eve and Adam – Michael Grand and Katherine Applegate
Zealot – Reza Aslan
Trying to Be Cool – Leo Braudy
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Back to Christmas – Dennis Canfield
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro – Joao Cerqueira
Dukkha, the Suffering: An Eye for an Eye – Loren Christensen
Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Matters Familiar – E. G. Frabricant
Love & Math – Edward Frenkel
After Visiting Friends – Michael Hainey
Hunted – Elizabeth Heiter
The Psychology of Twilight – (Eds.) E. David Klonsky, Alexis Black, and Leah Wilson
The Devil You Know – K. H. Koehler
Defy – Sara B. Larson
I Love My Slow Cooker – Beverly leBlanc
Sugar Hill: Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem – Terry Baker Mulligan
Doing Harm – Kelly Parsons
Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey – (Ed.) Lori Perkins
The Last Stratiote – LeAnn Neal Reilly
Lost at Sea – Jon Ronson
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
The Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
A Conspiracy of Alchemists – Liesel Schwarz
Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli
Son of a Gun – Justin St. Germain
Growing in Wisdom and Love: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation – Susan Stabile
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne M. Valente
You Got to be Kidding! – Joe Wenke

5. Read the four Gospels

I’m really bad at reading the Bible. This goal is my attempt to bring spirituality into my resolutions by incorporating something I already love to do: read. I think the Gospels are a good place to start since they are a manageable amount of content to cover in one year. Plus, I think the research nerd in me will love diving into lexicons and concordances in conjunction with the readings.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

Line art representation of a Quill

Line art representation of a Quill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Spruce up my full-length poetry manuscript to send out to at least two fall book contests

The two years of my MFA led up to this manuscript, and I think it’s time I dusted it off and took it for a spin. I haven’t sent out my full-length collection since 2011 because I didn’t think it was ready. If I don’t work on it, the book never will be.

My writing has changed quite a bit since I graduated three years ago, and I’d like my collection to reflect that. I’m not looking for my book to be earth-shattering or print ready. I just want it to be a collection of poems I’m proud to put out into the world. I’m giving myself until the fall to send it out because that means I’ll have the summer to work on it. This time frame also gives me enough time to save up submission fee money.

Lastly, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with contest entries, so I gave myself the very low-key goal of submitting to two fall book-length manuscript contests. The more concrete and realistic the goal, the more likely I am not to be overwhelmed.

7. Send my chapbook out to at least five contests

This is a tweaked goal from last year. I wanted to publish a chapbook last year, but then realized there’s no way I can predict that. I can make publishing a chapbook a goal for years and never cross it off because I can’t control whether my book gets picked up or not. However, I can control how much I submit the chapbook. As a result, I’m going to give myself a number and stick to it.  This number, much like the previous goal, is very low-key and manageable. And, hey, if my chapbook gets picked up this year, even better!

8. Acquire a full-time teaching gig

This goal is a more “grownup,” practical one. I’d like a full-time job that allows me to be creative and have free time. Teaching is great for that. Last year, I sent out quite a few teaching applications. I hope to reap the fruits of these efforts this year.

9. Work on a piece of art every other week

 

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel

English: Paint brushes Deutsch: Pinsel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This goal is another tweaked repeat of last year. I tried to work on art each week, which proved to be a bit too hard. Art is still very important to me, and I want to make time for it, so I’m setting a more realistic goal for myself. Hopefully, the amount of time I dedicate to art will increase as the year progresses and I learn to manage my time better.

Note: “Piece of art” here is defined in very broad terms. I’d like to work on a project related to the arts (poetry, painting, mixed media, jewelry, sewing, video, etc.) once a week.

10. Blog at least twice a week

I’ll do it this year, I really will!  I know I may fall off the wagon a few times, but I hope to post twice a week more often than not.

11. Pay off one of my two major credit cards

Here’s another “grownup” goal.  Being in less debt will make me happy, so I’m setting a goal for it, even though it isn’t as exciting as getting my hands dirty with paint or ink.

 

One thing I know I will constantly be reminding myself of in 2014 is that while goals are nice, the journey is just as important. I also tend to be super hard on myself sometimes. So, as I mentioned in my teaching post, I’ll also be practicing being kind to myself. Be kind to yourself too in 2014.

What’s one resolution you’re making in 2014?

2013: The Year in Review

It’s the end of the first 2014 day, so I’d like to recap my 2013 goals:

1. Work out at least once a week
Mission accomplished! I wasn’t doing so hot with this one earlier in the year, but since August, I’ve been consistently kickboxing each week.  I hope to keep this up in the new year.

Book collection

Book collection (Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

2. Read 20 books I own that I have not read yet
This one wasn’t as successful. I only read one book in this category (Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey – Crystal Bacon), but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

3. Read 10 of the books on my Goodreads list.
I was so close to reaching this goal.  I read 8 books (list below), and I’m hoping to get in a full 10 this year.

  1. Bake Sale – Sara Varon (January 2013)
  2. The Medusa Plot – Gordon Korman (January 2013)
  3. A King’s Ransom – Jude Watson (January 2013)
  4. The Dead of Night – Peter Lerangis (January 2013)
  5. This is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz (February 2013)
  6. Slapboxing with Jesus – Victor LaValle (July 2013)
  7. Drown – Junot Diaz (May 2013)
  8. Matched – Ally Condie (July 2013)

4. Publish a poetry chapbook with a press
This one, I now realize, may have been a misguided since I can’t control whether or not my chapbook gets picked up.  I can really only submit and hope, but I’m glad I at least tried.

5. Create more art (which is to say, work on a piece at least once a week)
This one had the opposite progression of my first goal: I started out really good, and then the art productivity steadily dropped. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked on a piece of art in months, but I do hope to change that as I have a couple of weeks off before the start of the semester.

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

6. Practice guitar at least once every other week
I don’t think I touched a guitar this year, which saddens me. However, this result did show me that while I like guitar, it’s not a priority in my life right now. I’d rather focus on activities that really excite me. Once time for those things is carved out, perhaps I can branch out into guitar.

7. Watch every Jason Statham movie
This is another mission accomplished! I finished back in September, and it was a great feeling. This was definitely a fun, quirky resolution, and perhaps I’ll pick another actor’s movies to watch in the future.

8. Try to post something brand new on Etsy at least once a month
This goal, like my guitar resolution, showed me what is important—right now, Etsy is not. Honestly, I grew weary of working on a piece of art and wondering if it would sell.  I want to get back to working on art because I love it, because it’s therapeutic, because it helps me relax. For the time being, I’ve closed my Etsy shops.  I’m not sure if they’ll make a reappearance. I’d like to hope they will, but time will tell.

9. Post on this blog twice a week
The progress with this goal was sort of a wave curve. I started off great, then dropped off, then got back on track, then dropped off again. It was definitely progress, but I don’t know that I’d count it as a solid win.  

Money cash

Money cash (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

10. Pay off one of my two credit cards
Another not-quite-win here. I paid down one of them, but it hasn’t been paid off yet. Meeting financial goals is hard, but, like most goals on this list, I’d rather try than make no progress at all.

I definitely didn’t keep as many resolutions as I thought I would, which left me disappointed. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this list helped me to establish what is important to me and what can fall by the wayside. This new knowledge has helped shape my 2014 resolutions, and I’m hoping that I’m able to stick with them a bit better than last year’s goals. Then again, it’s not always the items ticked off the list, but the journey, that counts.

In the Spotlight: Checking Off a Bucket List Goal

When I write a goal down, I have a vision for how I’d like it to look. Because of this, I didn’t realize I had accomplished one of my bucket list items earlier this year. I’ve always wanted to take part in a performance in New York City, and this summer, I did.

I am a teaching artist with an organization called Arts! by the People.  I’ve taught creative writing workshops with them as well as helped with jewelry, craft, and playwrighting workshops.  The experience over the past few years has been wonderful, so when I was offered the opportunity to take part in a multimedia performance with fellow teaching artists in January, I jumped at the chance.

In 2012, Arts! by the People put on a performance called “Across the Platform.” I was moved by the originality and message of the piece (which, to me, was that you need to be yourself and not conform to what others want you to be, particularly in the 9-5 job world).

This year’s performance was called “Tipping the Playpen,” and our main theme was “cerebral clutter.” As artists, everyone involved wanted to represent the creative process journey they’ve experienced. We wanted to represent the craziness of the beginning stage, the lovely moment when an idea comes together, and end with the fact that creativity is an ongoing cycle; a “finished” product does not necessarily equal a neat resolution.

The cast of "Tipping the Playpen" taking a bow

The cast of “Tipping the Playpen” taking a bow

Our performance incorporated dance, fine art, video, cello music, and, my specialty, poetry.  The process of putting this performance together took about six months. We debuted our finished work on June 9th at Dixon Place Theatre in New York City. (To see a highlight reel of the performance, click here).

One aspect of the piece that everyone was excited about was the built-in audience participation. For the first 15 minutes of our hour-long piece, the audience was going to be out of their seats and part of the performance through participating in dance, art, and poetry recitation, as well as through watching a video while standing up.

Our piece was very well received, thankfully.  I had a few friends attend, and they all said it was definitely different than anything they had previously experienced. Participating in this performance was different for me as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

To see the video we showed the audience as well as pictures of the performance, click here.

Progress Report on My 2013 Goals

So I’ve been meaning to write an update on my goals for a while now, and seeing as we’re a month and change out from the new year, I figured I should post my progress:

1. Work out at least once a week
This first goal is going really well. I was totally failing for the first half of the year, but since July, I’ve been kickboxing once a week.  Here’s hoping I can finish the year out strong!

2. Read 20 books I own that I have not read yet
This goal hasn’t gone quite as well. I’ve read a total of one book from this list: “Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey” by Crystal Bacon.  I’ve gotten distracted with other books I don’t own, which is always the case.  Hmm, looks like I have quite a bit of reading ahead of me in the coming month and a half…

3. Read 10 of the books on my Goodreads list.
I’ve read 8 out of my goal of 10 books so far.  I’ve started two others from this list, so I’m hoping to get this goal finished up shortly.

4. Publish a poetry chapbook with a press
I finished putting together my chapbook in February. I have since sent it out to four contests, all of which said no.  I’m looking for more chapbook contests with deadlines before the end of the year, but so far, this hasn’t been a fruitful search. I may have to wait until next year.

5. Create more art (which is to say, work on a piece at least once a week)
I started the year off strong with this one (and even joined a Facebook group dedicated to posting a new piece of art each week), but have since fallen off the wagon. I am going to try to revive this for the remainder of the year, even if it’s working on a piece every other week.

6. Practice guitar at least once every other week
One thing I’ve noticed is that as the year progresses, what is really important becomes abundantly clear. I absolutely love the guitar, but I like writing and creating art more right now. I would rather have those practices take precedence at the moment, so I have tabled this goal for now. Perhaps next year I’ll pick up the strings again.

7. Watch every Jason Statham movie
This one’s done!  I watched all 20 movies I had yet to experience…and wow, Jason Statham has made a lot of generic action movies. But he’s made some keepers too. I really dug “The Italian Job,” (really well done, good plot, and great cast) “Death Race,” (for its sheer over-the-top ridiculousness) and “Gnomeo and Juliet” (surprisingly adorable and admirable…mostly because Jason Statham’s gnome races lawn mowers). There were some odd ones, like “Revolver” and “Turn It Up,” but I enjoyed this venture into all of “Handsome Rob’s” movies.

8. Try to post something brand new on Etsy at least once a month
As with the guitar goal, I realize that sometimes the pace we set out for ourselves just won’t work out. After some deliberation, I put my two Etsy shops on vacation. I realized I stopped creating for fun and started thinking about the “marketability” of my art. I didn’t like this road, so I want to take some time off from my shops and create freely for a while.

9. Post on this blog twice a week
Welp, that hasn’t gone as expected. But as with the creating more art goal, I’m hoping to revive this and finish the year strong.

10. Pay off one of my two credit cards
Umm, let’s not talk about this one. Ok, it’s not that bad, but this goal more than likely will not happen until next year. But at least the end is in sight!

I shall post my final progress at the end of December. In the meantime: If you’d like to keep up with how I’m doing for the next month or so, check out my “Goal” 2013 Resolutions” page periodically, as I’ll update it as I read/accomplish things.

Rearview Mirror: A Look at Bucket List Items I’ve Accomplished

Road

Road (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

In yesterday’s post, I focused on my bucket list.  A few days before that, I posted an article about my goals for the new year.  Now I’d like to focus on things I’ve already done.

Ambition is great, but sometimes you’ve got to focus on how far you’ve already come, the road you’ve left behind. Here are some of the highlights from my 26 years (in no particular order):

  • Done a photoshoot with a band

    Yup, I took this :)  The band's name is JPT (short for Just Passing Thru)

    Yup, I took this 🙂 The band’s name is JPT (short for Just Passing Thru)

  • Met two of my fav bands – Coheed & Cambria and RED
    Me and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria

    Me and Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria

    Me and the guys of RED

    Me and the guys of RED

     

  • Learned to shoot a gun
  • Mastered the xbox 360 controllers (There was a lot of time spent either looking at the ceiling or my character’s butt, but I eventually got the hang of it)
  • Became the first person in my family to get a Master’s degree
  • Participated in a dildo relay race (Rocky Horror Picture Show. ‘Nuff said.)
  • Moved out on my own
  • Had my first poem published
  • Survived high school
  • Found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with (He’ll deny it, but he’s the absolute bestest 🙂 )
  • Visited 10 states
  • Led poetry workshops and talks at two high schools and a senior citizen center
  • Made my own pasta from scratch
  • Dressed up for a convention (several times!)

    Me as Rocker Nana from the anime, Nana.  This costume was made mostly by a friend of mine and she kindly let me wear it.

    Me as Rocker Nana from the anime, Nana. This costume was made mostly by a friend of mine and she kindly let me wear it.

  • Me as Trinity saying "Dodge This" to one of my friends.

    Me as Trinity saying “Dodge This” to one of my friends.

  • Made a costume that I’m proud of, most of which I made by myself

    Me as Patti from the anime, Souleater.  I made the hat, tie, and shirt.

    Me as Patti from the anime, Souleater. I made the hat, tie, and shirt.

  • The actual Patti

    The actual Patti

  • Pumped my own gas
  • Read my work at several open mic nights
  • Taught at the college level
  • Started a freelance way of life

I’m pretty excited about that last one.  This year should prove interesting since I’m going to be freelancing full time.  It’ll definitely be a ride!  But that’s what life is about, right?

What are some things you’ve accomplished that you are proud of?

Kicking the Bucket: Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is the second article on the theme of bucket lists.  I  found my list a little overwhelming, so I broke it up into age categories to make it a little more manageable (at least in my mind!).  Here are a list of things I would love to do before I hit certain ages.
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon (Photo credit: Eric Lim Photography)

Before 30
  • Act in an off-Broadway play
  • Build my own study/studio (I love books and art and wide open spaces.  For more of an idea of what I mean, check out the Pinterest photo album I’ve dedicated to this dream.)
  • Get my first tattoo
  • Get my motorcycle license
  • Get tattooed with my mom (We’ve had a sort of pact that we’d both get tattooed on her 50th birthday, which is fast approaching.  I guess I should think up a design…)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go skinny dipping
  • Have a picnic in Central park (basket, wine, the works!)
  • Have coffee (or hot chocolate) with Don Miller (I know the saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.”  I’m willing to take the hit on this one.)
  • Learn to play guitar proficiently (I define this as being able to read the music and pick up the tune easily.  I’ve started taking guitar classes, so I’m on my way!)
  • Learn to use a sewing machine
  • Make Cheetara costume (as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I’ve dressed up for conventions a few times.  I want to go with a few people to a convention as the Thundercats at some point.)
  • Ride a zip line
  • Run a successful Etsy shop (I define this as 5 or more sales per month in both Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor)
  • See a Broadway musical (My mom took me to one when I was a baby, so that doesn’t really count)
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Take a road trip where the only parameter is to get back home before I run out of money
  • Take part in a writing residency
  • Try frisbee golf
  • Visit Portland, Oregon
  • Visit Spain
  • Write a fan letter to Jason Statham and see if he responds
flamer

flamer (Photo credit: olaerik)

Before 35

  • Adopt a chimp
  • Fly an airplane
  • Get married
  • Go on a missions trip
  • Gut a fish
  • Have my photography published in a magazine or book
  • Have one or two kids
  • Have publication credits from at least 10 different lit mags
  • Make my own beer
  • Publish my first book
  • Raise $5,000 to drill a well with LiquidWater.com
  • Swing from a chandelier
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Travel to Israel
  • Try blowing glass or working with hot glass
  • Visit Montreal
  • Visit the Globe Theatre in London
  • Walk away from an explosion in slow motion (like the movies!  or Gangnam style)
Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia.

Flamenco culture is native to Andalusia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 40

  • Be in a band
  • Be in at least one episode of a favorite TV show of mine (preferably Dr Who, but I’d be cool with Supernatural, too)
  • Flamenco dance in Spain
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine (not necessarily go to the gym, but maybe still spar and such)
  • Make my own wine in Napa Valley
  • Read a book a week and write a review for each (I finished a 25 @ 25 photo challenge earlier in the year.  Perhaps I can do a 40 @ 40 book review challenge…)
  • Read at a Poetry reading where I am the headliner
  • Ride a gondola in Italy
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit all 50 states (alternately, have sex in all 50 states. A friend of mine mentioned that she had done this and it sounded like a fun, unique challenge 😉 )
Laurel wreath

Laurel wreath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before 50
  • Become Poet Laureate of the state I’m currently living in
  • Make a habit of traveling abroad each year

I must give credit where credit is due.  I would not have written out a bucket list were it not for the blogs of these two lovely ladies: Lesley Carter and Julie

Check out their blogs.  They do some pretty incredible stuff 🙂

What is one item on your bucket list?

Books and Art and Confetti, Oh My!: My 10 New Year’s Resolutions

Confetti, Times Square

Confetti, Times Square (Photo credit: StuartMoreton)

I recently read this article about New Years Resolutions by Don Miller.  It gives some concrete reasons as to why some resolutions don’t seem to work out for those that set them.

Two reasons that stuck with me were 1. the resolutions weren’t meaningful and 2. no plan was made to go along with the resolutions.  It got me thinking about how these two specific reasons are exactly why some of my resolutions for 2012 failed.  I simply didn’t want the results badly enough or other goals not on my “official list of resolutions” were more immediate and promising.  One, honestly, I just plain forgot about.

To avoid resolution failure in 2013, I have made a list of 10 resolutions (or goals, as I like to look at them) that are important to me and that have a solid plan for achievement behind them.

1. Work out at least once a week
This is a failed 2012 goal of mine.  In 2011, I really got into kickboxing.  I stuck with it all year.  Around December 2011, I began to show up to class less and less.  I’d really like to get back into the swing of exercising because I always felt great afterwards (there are few things as refreshing as a post-workout shower).  Also, I miss being able to punch things and not getting in trouble for it 😉

I know “more exercise” is a pretty common resolution for most people, but health is pretty important to me.  During my last check-up this summer, my doctor said I was very healthy and all of my blood work was great.  I’d like to do my part to keep it that way.  Exercising regularly is a habit I want to get into now so that as I age and perfect health may not come as easily, I know I’m doing everything I can to stay in shape.

Books - bookcase top shelf

Books – bookcase top shelf (Photo credit: ~ Phil Moore)

2. Read 20 books I own that I have not read yet
I, like many other literatis, buy books quicker than I can read them.  I have bunches of books on my shelves that I have not read or never finished.  This is typically a source of much frustration since, oddly enough, what keeps me from reading this particular set of books is other books.  This goal is an attempt to help myself focus on the books I already have.

I was going to make the resolution to make my way through all of them, and then I realized that would be crazy.  I like a challenge, but there are times I know I’d just be setting myself up for defeat.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s my list of unread or partially read books (and I have a strong feeling I’m missing a bunch that are hidden in my room under well-placed piles of paper, clothes, and craft supplies):

Ordinary Genius – Kim Addonizio
Eve and Adam – Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant
Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey – Crystal Bacon
Notarikon – Bowman
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers – Shane Claiborne
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Boundaries – Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Vacations on the Black Star Line – Michael Cirelli
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Blinking with Fists – Billy Corgan
Jesus Freaks, Volumes 1 and 2 – DC Talk
Great American Poets: Emily Dickinson – Emily Dickinson
50 American Plays – Matthew and Michael Dickman
Fire to Fire – Mark Doty
Alabanza – Martin Espada
Harlot – Jill Alexander Essbaum
Necropolis – Jill Alexander Essbaum
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Eye of the Fish – Luis Francia
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
New World – Suzanne Gardinier
me and Nina – Monica Hand
Selected Short Stories – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hip Logic – Terrance Hayes
Teaching Poetry Writing – Tom Hunley
Absence is Such a Transparent House – Aby Kaupang
Still to Mow – Maxine Kumin
Breaking the Alabaster Jar – Li-Young Lee
Passwords Primeval – Tony Leuzzi
Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy – C. S. Lewis
That Hideous Strength – C. S. Lewis
Poet in New York – Federico Garcia Lorca
A Gentle Thunder – Max Lucado
New and Selected Poems – Thomas Lux
Gloryland – Anne Marie Macari
Ivory Cradle – Anne Marie Macari
Times Alone – Antonio Machado
Wild Domestic – Tamara Madison
What Learning Leaves – Taylor Mali
What Teachers Make – Taylor Mali
Song of Thieves – Shara McCallum
Panic – Laura McCullough
Pink Elephant – Rachel McKibbons
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
Searching for God Knows What – Donald Miller
The Tiny One – Eliza Minot
Western Practice – Stephen Motika
The Essential Neruda – Pablo Neruda
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair – Pablo Neruda
Lucky Fish – Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Evidence – Mary Oliver
Pier – Janine Oshiro
Dancing at the Devil’s Party – Alicia Ostriker
Volcano Sequence – Alicia Ostriker
Convergences – Octavio Paz
Sudden Dog – Matthew Pennock
Boy – Patrick Phillips
100 Poems by 100 Poets – Harold Pinter
Ariel – Sylvia Plath
The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers – Bhanu Kapil Rider
Capirotada – Alberto Rios
Open Secret – Rumi
With or Without You – Domenica Ruta
Shadow Society – Marie Rutkoski
Barter – Ira Sadoff
Grazing – Ira Sadoff
Year of the Black Rainbow – Claudio Sanchez
Striking Surface – Jason Schneiderman
Hurdy Gurdy – Tim Seibles
Measure for Measure – William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Passion and Pride: Poets in Support of Equality – Bruce Spang
How Good is Good Enough? – Andy Stanley
American Sonnets – Gerald Stern
Early Collected Poems – Gerald Stern
Save the Last Dance – Gerald Stern
Stealing History – Gerald Stern
Dracula – Bram Stoker
View with a Grain of Sand – Wislawa Szymborska
Phantom Limb – Brian Turner
The Girl Who Feel Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There – Catherynne Valente
Door in the Mountain – Jean Valentine
The Water Books – Judith Vollmer
17 Love Poems with No Despair – B. J. Ward
Gospel Night – Michael Waters
This Sharpening – Ellen Doré Watson
Triangle – Katharine Weber
Tortured for Christ – Richard Wurmbrand

3. Read 10 of the books on my Goodreads list.
This is an extension of goal 2.  There are books I already own, and then there are books I would like to get a hold of.  Right now, I have 352 “To Read” books.  10 is barely a dent, but it’s 10 more than I would read if I didn’t make this goal.

4. Publish a poetry chapbook with a press
Last year, one of my goals was to have between 3-5 poetry submissions out at any given time.  I’ve been pretty steady with that submission number, so now I want to up the ante.  My manuscript has not been picked up, which is not surprising as I’ve only been sending it out for about a year.  But, I’d like to tinker with it before sending it out again.

In the meantime, I’d like to market around a chapbook, which is, essentially, a shorter manuscript.  Poetry chapbooks are typically in the ballpark of 18-25 pages.  This, I think (and hope!), will be much easier to put together.  Also, if I publish a chapbook, I may get more press and a better chance of publishing a full poetry manuscript. Yay, professional and creative ambition!

PASTEL

PASTEL (Photo credit: hichako)

5. Create more art (which is to say, work on a piece at least once a week)


This is one of my looser goals.  Since I work in so many different mediums, I want to give myself some wiggle room.  My main three art forms are poetry, photography, and mixed media art.  I’d absolutely love to finish a piece each week, but I’d need way more hours in the day for that.  Instead, I’m being a bit easier on myself and starting with simply working on a project in at least one medium each week.

This goal has a three-fold reason behind it.  When I create art, I feel free.  I love making something from nothing and letting the piece become a force of its own, gently letting me know which direction to go in.  This part has to do with making time to do something I love.  The second reason has to do with the fact that I have two Etsy shops: Roaring Out and Lady Velociraptor.  I sell mixed media art and fine art photo prints in the second shop and would like to increase the number of my wares.  Lastly, while I have been good with submitting poetry (see goal 4), I have not been good with publicizing my art for display in galleries and magazines.  In order to do this, I feel like I need a bigger portfolio.  This will be the year I create that portfolio to (hopefully) give me enough umph to walk into galleries and say, “Hey, I have art and you have wall space.  How convenient!” (except, you know, more professional-like).

6. Practice guitar at least once every other week
Like goal 4, this is another resolution that is branching off of one for 2012.  The 2012 goal was “learn guitar.”  Very vague, I know.  But, I did sign up for a guitar class in the fall and stuck with it.  Because of that class, I have enough material to practice with on my own (though I do plan to continue with the classes in the new year).  I say practice every other week because I already have a couple of things to do each week, like teach and create art and exercise and, you know, sleep.  So, again, I’m going a little easier on myself here.  If guitar goes well this year, I may up the ante in 2014 with practicing every week or every few days.

7. Watch every Jason Statham movie
So, I have a celebrity crush on Jason Statham (there’s explosions and fire and fight scenes when he’s on screen *swoon*).  This resolution is more for fun than improving personally or professionally.  Everyone needs some silliness thrown in 🙂

The movies I have left to watch are:

Jason-Statham

Jason-Statham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Turn It Up
Ghosts of Mars
Mean Machine
The Transporter
Transporter 2
Transporter 3
The Italian Job
Collateral
Cellular
Chaos
London
Revolver
Crank
The Bank Job
Death Race
13
Gnomeo and Juliet (I almost excluded this movie, but he’s the voice of Tybalt. I have to see this!)
Safe
Parker (coming out in 2013, as are, like, 27 other movies with Jason Statham.  I’ll get to those as they come out.  Geez, this Brit is prolific).

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

8. Try to post something brand new on Etsy at least once a month
As I mentioned in goal 5, I have two Etsy shops.  Last year, I made a resolution to post something on Etsy once a month.  The problem is that I counted renewing a listing for an already existing item as a “post.”  That just wasn’t meaningful enough for me because it was too easy.  So, I’m raising the bar.  I want to post a brand new item in at least one of my shops for each month.  I was tempted to say that I needed to post a brand new item in each shop every month, but I’ll start small for now.  If anything, it means 12 new items by year’s end.

9. Post on this blog twice a week
Much like the previous goal, this one’s 2012 incarnation was too easy.  The goal was to post once a week.  But I was already doing Poetry Monday once a week, so there was no challenge to do anything differently.  Now that I’m recording Poetry Mondays every other week, there’s a bit more for me to keep up with, especially since I’ll need two original posts on Poetry Monday’s off weeks.  Hmm, maybe I should start a Folk Music Friday….

10. Pay off one of my two credit cards
I figured I’d round out my resolutions list with a practical financial goal.  Not much to say here except I hope that by this time next year, I’ll have one less bill to pay 😉

Some final thoughts on an already long post:
1. I once heard someone say that people should strive for progress not perfection.  That’s something I’m going to keep in mind this coming year, and I encourage you to do the same.

Even if I only attend exercise classes regularly for one month and read 4 books from my lists, I’m not going to beat myself up over it because, hey, that’s more than I would have done had I not made these goals.  I can adjust resolutions this time next year if need be.  At the age of 26, I’ve realized that what makes a more interesting story is the journey rather than the destination. But crossing a big goal off the list is fun too 🙂

2. In the fall, I took an e-course called “Creative Courage,” which is organized by Stephanie Levy. In this course (which I highly recommend if you are a creative lady), participants were encouraged to make a list of 5-10 fun things we would like to do before the year is out.  This was an exercise in encouraging us to intentionally make time for activities we enjoy.  I made a list of 8 things and accomplished 6. I think what really helped me focus on these “mini goals” was the fact that I made an actual list and posted it in my room where I’d see it every day.  This constant reminder was so helpful and encouraging.  So, that’s what I’m going to do with this list, too.  I’m going to be staring at these same 10 goals all year and my hope is that I’ll get to cross them all off.

I’m sure I’ll be posting updates on these goals, which will help me with resolution 7 😉

What are your resolutions for the new year?