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).

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.

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?