The Halfway Point

It’s blazing hot in Chicago right now, a world away from the polar vortex of last January. Every remaining weekend of this summer is already packed to the gills with plans; it’s utter mayhem. I love summer and wringing every last sun-soaked second of fun out of these three months, but this is also why I relish the cozy calm of winter and its time of forced hibernation.

Now that we’re at the halfway point of 2019, I thought it would be a good time to check back in on my goals for the year, in part to keep myself on track as well as make tweaks to stuff that isn’t really working for me.

  • Decrease my carbon footprint. This one is always going to be a work in progress. Besides being a lot more conscious of how much plastic we use, Kurt and I have also agreed to eat less red meat. I’ll never go full-on vegetarian (I’ve done it before and my body just overall feels better when I’m eating animal proteins) but I’m aiming to cut back by a lot, and replacing with poultry and sustainable types of fish. (Soapbox sidenote: this planet’s only hope of avoiding what’s getting closer and closer to an irreversible worst case scenario has to be major changes on a global level, so stay loud and be an educated voter, y’all.)
  • Keep up with healthy eating, yoga, and cardio exercise. This is another one that’s all about balance, and also giving myself a break when needed. I try to cram leafy greens and colorful veggies into my daily diet as much as possible, but also, my love of donuts is infinite and profound. Exercising 4-5 times a week is the right amount to keep me sane, so that is going well. I’d like to incorporate more yoga into my home workout when I can’t get to the studio, so HMU with your fave apps.
  • Be more mindful of my budget. Somehow, this is going well?! I’ve been making larger payments on my remaining debt (Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be theater majors), paying off credit card balances right away, and saving toward my pop pilgrimage fund. My hermit-like tendencies and Kurt’s preference to cook at home come in real handy with this one.
  • Organize my house and my digital life. Have you ever looked at how much it costs to replace couch cushions that have gotten all dog-and-catted up? It is WILD. But I am finally(!!) trying to finish decorating our house. I’ve also gotten into houseplants. My digital photos are still a mess and I keep meaning to finally finish assembling our wedding album, considering we just celebrated our 5-year anniversary. The to-do list is frankly overwhelming, but one thing at a time. It feels good to make at least some small progress.
  • Keep writing. Every week: Submit, Pitch, or Apply. I am most excited and proud of this one.  I realized quickly that my weekly submission/pitching goal forces me to write constantly. And the wider net you cast, the better chances you have. In 6 months of consistent pitching and submitting, I’ve had more success with getting my work accepted and published (and even getting paid for it!) than I had in the previous two years combined. I’m aiming to have sent out 52 total submissions/pitches by the end of this year (I gave up on residencies because I am already taking too much time off work), and I’m currently at 28, so I’m right on track. If I can share any encouragement with y’all, it’s keep up whatever you are doing, and do a lot of it. I love and support your creative vision!
  • Keep traveling whenever and wherever I can. This one, I live for. I will squeeze every last drop out of my PTO. Destinations don’t have to be far; I spent last weekend on the lake in Indiana and had a blast. I also decided to add onto this, to go someplace new in my hometown of Chicago at least once a month. I am a homebody and a creature of habit, so I really need to take better advantage of what my beautiful bonkers alligator-infested city has to offer. Last night, I went to a full moon celebration on the lakefront and watched fire dancers perform under the night sky, and it was definitely better than my couch.

For the rest of tonight, I’m gonna sit and relax in our sunporch, read a book, and listen to the summer cicadas.

 

2018 Wrap-up and 2019 Goals

Aww, look at wide-eyed innocent me back at the beginning of 2018. So full of hopes and dreams! This year was bonkers but I feel good about what I accomplished.

  • While I didn’t knock any major writing projects out of the park, I did some work that I’m proud of, had a small piece published, and committed to practicing the craft of writing fiction, which has always overwhelmed me in its difficulty.
  • Also, I took care of myself! I practiced yoga regularly, once for 27 out of 30 straight-ish days, and kept up with cardio. I ate spinach and kale by the fistful in mason jar salads and green smoothies more often than going out to buy lunch. I got enough sleep and drank enough water and meditated.
  • I consumed a lot of art. I read 38 books, and out of those, 76% were written by women, 36% by people of color, and 13% by LGBTQ writers. (I also rewatched a ton of Marvel and Star Wars movies, because I’m also all for comfort found in pop culture.)
  • And I traveled! Boy, did I travel: mechanical bull riding and Magic Mike in Las Vegas, karaoke and hangover brunches in New Orleans, castles and craft beers in Denmark, pastries and parks in Sweden, conferences and interactive theater in New York City, writing and drinking in Wisconsin, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking on the Chain O’ Lakes, camping through a snowstorm in Upper Peninsula Michigan, sleeping in a van listening to coyotes in Manistee National Forest. What a full year, and as someone who could barely afford the time and expense of leaving the Midwest for much of my earlier adulthood, this life feels like such an enormous gift.

So I didn’t write 6 hours a week, or master a handstand, or completely kick sugar.  I had some crappy setbacks  and work struggles and stressful months along with the amazing months, but of course that’s life, and it’s not what I choose to dwell on. I want to carry good vibes only into 2019.

Here’s my 2019 goals:

  • Become more conscious of my carbon footprint. Cut back on my use of plastics. Recycle, but reuse even more. Be less wasteful and more mindful.
  • Keep up with healthy eating, and continue to cut back on sugar and processed foods. Learn how to use the damn instant pot. Meal prep.
  • Keep practicing yoga and doing cardio. All movement is good, whether it be dancing to karaoke or walking across a new city. Every day is Leg Day.
  • Keep writing. I have two ideas for longer projects; pick one and commit to working towards a full draft. Blog and write about travel and pop culture opinions. Put the damn thoughts on the damn page.
  • Keep traveling whenever and wherever I can. Keep jumping in as many Midwestern lakes and rivers as possible.
  • Be more mindful of my budget. Sit down with Kurt and look at our current and future financial goals together. Reading Nomadland this year really opened my eyes in terms of thinking about our eventual retirement, and though I do the “right” things (have a 401k, pay off credit cards), I still (STILL!!) have a student loan to pay off, and a tendency to run off and make a tattoo appointment the second I have some extra cash on hand.
  • Organize my house and my digital life. Let’s not talk about the current state of my digital photo hoard.
  • Every week: Submit, Pitch, or Apply. Whether it be finding a home for a piece or trying to get into my first writing residency, it’s only going to happen if I keep putting myself out there.

Happy New Year, y’all! ❤

Hey, 2018, Hey

2017, amirite?? Yes, the events of the world made me cry and have massive anxiety, but there was also a feeling of collective resilience that began to build slowly over twelve tumultuous months. Looking at brand spanking new 2018 laying before us, I feel pretty good. Maybe this is just me choosing to take an optimistic viewpoint, but I’m feeling rullll hopeful.  Like, Princess-Leia-at-the-end-of-Rogue-One Level of Hope. On this first day of a new year, we are all Mariah Carey, ready to put last year’s stumbles behind us and start anew, triumphant, and bedazzled. Plus, the Year of the Dog starts in a month and dogs always make everything better.

This year, I’ll be thinking a lot of a line from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”

My resolutions for 2018:

  • Continue building on what I started/accomplished in 2017. Yoga and meditation became a part of my regular routine, and have had a big impact on me. I aim to increase my yoga practice and meditate as close to daily as possible.
  • Last year, I made a goal of carving out 3 hours/week for writing. On average, I usually hit this goal and then some, so I’m aiming for 6 hours/week, hopefully falling somewhere closer to the higher end between 3-6 on a regular basis. As with last year, I will be kind to myself when Life takes over and letting myself have little vacations when needed.
  • Keep improving my nutrition habits, starting with a sugary treats cleanse in January. At this point in my life, I know how much better I feel when I’m eating well and getting lots of fresh veggies and healthy protein in my diet. Make the time to grocery shop and meal prep so I don’t have to fall back on fast, processed food in a pinch.
  • Consume art. Read whenever I can. Watch films thoughtfully without looking at my phone. Support artists. Create.
  • Continue to travel as much as I can. Swim in as many lakes as possible. Watch the sun rise. Watch it set. Immerse myself in nature whenever possible.

Happy New Year! ❤

 

Hello 2017

Oh 2016, you started with taking David Bowie and ended with us all feeling second-hand embarrassment for Mariah Carey. You ran our emotions through a meat grinder (I started reading The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher today and couldn’t get through the first 2 pages without tearing up). You gave us a sentient Cheeto who live-tweets every one of his temper tantrums and made him our President-elect. Looking ahead to this fresh new year, I may be crazy but I’m hopeful. Maybe it’s because 2017 still has that new car smell, or maybe it’s because I love making New Year resolutions as an opportunity to set goals that I’m excited about. I was successful in all of my 2016 resolutions except for one (to start a Twitter parody account, but that was a silly one anyways and I became too busy handling social media for Drinkers with Writing Problems). I also managed to hit a big goal that I hadn’t spelled out for myself, which was to pay off my credit card debt by the end of the year.

My resolutions for 2017:

  • do a sugar detox for the month of January. Diabetes runs rampant in my family and I have a weakness for pastries, chocolate, and ice cream. I’m taking a month off to break the habit and make better decisions about what I eat.
  • carve out at least 3 hours a week for writing. Don’t beat myself up when Life takes over, but don’t make easy excuses for myself either. I want to finish the first draft of the new novel I’m currently working on before next New Year’s Eve.
  • return to yoga and start a mindful meditation practice.
  • start putting more money into savings, which should be easier now that I paid off my credit cards.
  • seize opportunities at work to expand my role and branch out into new responsibilities.

It goes without saying that in 2017, I will appreciate all of the many things in my life that I’m super grateful for: my incredible family and friends, the many adventures I share with my husband and best friend, my home, my health, and every morning I get to wake up and seize another day.

 

 

The Year So Far

In my previous post, I shared my New Year’s resolutions for 2016. Items 1-3 on my list are all underway and progress is moving along nicely.

I’ve gotten past the point of coffee tasting like burnt garbage and even kinda crave it in the mornings. It feeds into my love of a good morning routine. Also, I have so many favorite mugs which I love to put to good use. This bullet point can be marked off as a success.

The sonicare toothbrush makes my teeth feel shiny and clean. I got past the rookie mistakes of 1). accidentally gagging myself, or 2). removing the brush from my mouth while still it was still on, causing a flurry of toothpaste to hit the bathroom mirror like slush flying from a semi on the interstate. I can safely chalk this item off the list.

My hip hop dance classes are super fun. I’ve also been trying to regularly attend Cheerobix, a dance fitness class (with pom poms!). Both are good workouts, and I leave class feeling invigorated and happy. I’ve always loved dancing though I never formally trained besides a handful of ballet lessons in early grade school. I’m not especially talented at it; I’ve been told I dance like a white sorority girl, and I am Asian. But I don’t care as long as I’m enjoying myself. My love of dancing began during my childhood of watching old MGM musicals with my mom and sisters. I was probably the only 5th grader in my class who’d seen every edition of That’s Entertainment. Today, I get excited for new Step Up movies. I once found out that my co-worker was dating a ballerina and it took all of my strength to refrain from bombarding her with questions at the office holiday party and tell her how many times I’ve watched Center Stage.

I’m so glad that my 2016 so far is filled with choreography. I may never become a professional ballerina, but I’m pretty sure I can hold my own in a drunk dance-off.