Blogger Recognition Award

I received a sweet and heartwarming nomination from the lovely, inspiring and talented AZ Pascoe, whose post is filled with some really fantastic advice that I recommend you check out. This award is really neat and I really like how it is different from the tell-us-about-yourself type of awards (that I’m also addicted to and love, don’t get me wrong). But I found this to be refreshing and really fun, so let’s hop right to it.

The award rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other victims bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

The Story:

I can’t even tell you how long ago I started this blog. I think it is around the four or five year range, in July…ish. Though I really should only count two or three years, because that’s what I started actually blogging more than once every six months. Quite disappointingly, I can’t even tell you why. I have no memories of what inspired me to start a blog. I do know what it’s become, though: a limitless journal that anyone can access. My outlet. Nothing is forbidden, here. Writing is obviously my main content. But sometimes, I just need to vent about my (non-existent) love life. Or I need to rant about why it sucks to have a period. Or write a review over a videogame I really loved. Or use this as a letter to say things I want to say to someone but don’t know how to confront them in person.  I write it to process, rant or rave, but I share it in hopes to connect, inspire or challenge. Though I have no recollection of why this blog began, I have a very clear idea of why it still exists and how it is definitely going to continue existing in the future.

The Advice:

If you’re a new blogger, first off, I want a link to your blog. I want to follow it. I want to help encourage you to keep posting. Hit me up in the comments below.

Now, if you’re a new blogger and are looking for advice on how to run a blog, how to obtain a readership, how to write awesome posts or how to write on a consistent basis, well…you may want to read the responses from the victims I tag below. I bet they are better equipped. Because for me, personally? I wing it and I stay selfish.

So I guess that is my first piece of advice: stay selfish. Write the blog that you want to have. If it is themed and really easy to find a target audience, awesome. If it is completely random and makes no sense half the time like mine, Weird Humans Unite (we meet on Tuesdays in the break room at 5)! Either way, keep writing. But keep writing what you want to write. There is no better way to stay true to yourself and be completely and authentically you than in your own blog. So write what you want. Post as often as you want. Be as serious or silly or sappy as you want. Don’t get bogged down by the number of likes, follows or comments. Don’t get discouraged if the world doesn’t respond the way you hoped–and definitely don’t change in order to increase statistics. Stay selfish.

Other piece of advice I’d give new bloggers? Take the time. Another vague phrase to throw out at you, but it’s flexible that way; it has a lot of meanings. Take the time to dedicate to your blog, but more than that, take the time to interact with the blogs and bloggers you enjoy. I’m not saying you need to create a rigid routine you must follow and feel like the worse human to ever exist on the planet if you stumble and miss a post (I’d actually recommend against that destructive approach). Or that you have to write three paragraph responses on every post you stumble upon and enjoy by someone you follow. But take the time to create the blog you want. Take the time to write the posts you want. Take the time to find other bloggers to encourage and inspire you; to cheer and support. Take the time to comment. Take the time to read another draft before hitting “publish” (cue embarrassing moment when you find a typo in this post). Take the time to do research. Take the time to add pictures or drawings or art. Take the time to spice things up. Take the time to do it right, whatever right looks like to you.

Bonus confession: I’m sure you could research the “hows” of blogging, but honestly? Like so many things, there is no “right” way to do things. Trust your gut. You’ll figure it out.

The Victims: 

I have a nice net of bloggers who I adore and really have to thank for being the cause of sticking with this blog so long (as I am still guilty from being too excited/concerned about statistics from time to time). And the amount of tags I’ve put them all through is a bit daunting. So, my victims this time are a group of new bloggers (or blogs that got revamped) who I’ve recently (re)discovered (which doesn’t mean their blog is new, just newish to me) and hope to get to know better as we continue our journeys and record them like the fantastic, 21st century archivists that we are (using our blogs, in case you didn’t catch that and suddenly became confused). Also, I didn’t reach the 15 requested for the award, but I got halfway there, so that’s gotta count for something, right? Check ’em out and give them a follow, yeah?

  1. Snartasticaly Yours, Liz
  2. Jo Writes Fantasy
  3. Morgan S. Hazelwood
  4. Melissa Caruso
  5. In Principio Erat Verbum
  6. Light A Fire Instead
  7. Gloria Chao
  8. Monachopsis

Thanks for reading, not only this post, but this entire blog in general. It really does mean the world.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Six

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Friends!

I can’t believe I’m already six weeks into this quest. In some ways, it feels like I started just yesterday and in many others, that this has been going on forever. Though progress is slow, I think I’m finally started to figure out a groove. And I’m really excited to continue embracing that groove and getting shit done.

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Complete a full week of fitness program.
    • Status: Partial! I didn’t follow the fitness program, but I did work out twice (and incorporated the program a little bit into that workout) and ran three miles outside, which was pretty major.
  • This Week’s Goal: Run outside twice and go to the gym twice.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write four times. Outline novel. Read beta feedback and make editing game plan for Artemis’s story.
    • Status: Nada. Writing has definitely been the hardest thing to fit into this crazy schedule that I have. Which I hate, because writing is the most important thing to me. I also think that I’m trying to incorporate too many writing goals into one week, especially with my time crunch. And my weekends have been swamped, which is when I want to get the most done. So let’s take it back a bit and figure out how I can fit writing in and how much before tackling multiple things at once.
  • This Week’s Goal: Read beta feedback and make editing game plan for Artemis. Edit short story.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.
    • StatusPractically a success. I FINISHED LOCKE LAMORA. I didn’t write the review, but that’s happening after I finished this post, which is why it is practically a success. And such a bloody good book, to boot.
  • This Week’s Goal: Read every other day, at least.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Write once on each blog.
    • Status: Success! I did manage to write a post for each blog this week and I didn’t even realize I completed this goal. *fistpump*
  • This Week’s Goal: Catch up reading on blogs.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Find a budgeting/financial app that is useful.
    • Status: NadaI didn’t even try this. So reattempt this week!!
  • This Week’s Goal: Find a budgeting/financial app that is useful.

*continues chugging forward, even if the pace is slow and the victories small (hint: they still count)*

Cheers!


A Guiding Focus

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed my resolutions post and then the subsequent update posts I publish every Sunday. I feared that this repetition and constant harping over my personal goals would become boring or annoying to my readers (and there’s still plenty of time for that to be the case), but I’ve actually been really surprised by the amount of responses I’ve gotten in regards to these posts. Overwhelmingly, the response has been coming from a place of concern.

You’re doing too much. Try not to burnout. Cut back. Take care of yourself. 

I admit, those concerns are not unfounded. I have a lot I want to accomplish. I’m really involved in many different jobs, hobbies and interests. I have a hard time saying no, which makes those commitments increase even further. Of course, I always combat such concerns with gratitude while also brushing them off, telling people I know my limits and what I can handle. And there is truth to that. I have always been super involved (perhaps even over-involved) and I function best juggling half a dozen things at once while multitasking, with giant To-Do lists in tow.

Yet, at the same time, with so many different people expressing concern, it forced me to take a step back and ask if I truly am attempting to do too much. That resulted in reflection that didn’t really provide any more answers than it did headaches while repeating pros, cons and questions in circles.

I have five main goals I’m focusing on: blogging, fitness, financial, reading and writing. All of these aspects are very important in my life. All of them are areas I would really like to improve upon and grow within. So when people suggest cutting something out, my immediate instinct is to combat them. I don’t want to give up any of these things, especially because they are all aspects of my life that I want to be important aspects of my life for a long time. I never want to give up writing. I don’t want to reach a goal weight and then suddenly never run a mile again. The unique thing about all of these focuses and the goals surrounding them this year is that, while there is an ultimate goal I want to achieve within each, none of them have a deadline. None of them are meant to. Instead, they are lifestyle changes.

So giving them up isn’t an option. Yet constantly failing to meet my goals on top of balancing everything else in life is also not exactly ideal. Nor is sacrificing self-care. The only thing I have been able to come up with is re-envisioning how I see my goals in relation to balance and focus.

Let’s see if I can make this make sense.

Last week, I didn’t meet most of my goals, but I did meet my fitness goal of working out four times a week. And though I wasn’t shy about admitting what I didn’t do last week, to me, I felt totally accomplished. I felt like it was such a successful week, even though I only wrote once, hardly read any, completely fell off of the blogging bandwagon and am still financially incompetent. And it was that sense of accomplishment despite being surrounding by shortcomings that made me realize a potentially healthier approach to having so many goals I want to work on at once without being forced to give any of those goals up, all while avoiding burnout and giving up entirely.

I’ll always want to work on the five areas aforementioned. They’re lifestyle changes, as I said. Yet I do agree with my sweet friends and readers that trying to meet every goal that I set every single week is a bit overwhelming and is easily a recipe for burnout and giving up entirely due to always falling short.

So, I’ve come up with a plan.

I’m still going to write a goal post every Sunday. I’m still going to write out goals for each category. But instead of being stressed out and overwhelmed that I’m not accomplishing everything that I want to every single day, I’m going to try and focus on a different aspect each week. Last week, I obviously focused on fitness. And through that focus, I was able to achieve it. This week, I can already tell (based on the 200 pages I’ve read in the past two days and the less than 100 pages I have left) that reading is certainly what I’m focusing on, without “deciding” to focus on either category either week. So it’s not going to be a thing where I’m like, “This week, I’m going to focus on X.” Instead, it’s going to be organic, just like these past two weeks have been. Life is unpredictable. So are emotions. And though I love a rigid routine, in order to stay sane, I need some flexibility. I need permission to fail, just as I need a guiding focus on where I want to be.

So not a lot is changing as far as you can tell, dear readers. It’s mostly all what is going on inside my head and how I approach things mentally. Yes, this less-strict approach towards achieving my goals might make reaching each ultimate goal a bit slower or more difficult. But that’s okay, because what matters is that I reach those goals. A week, a month, a year, ten years from now. And, even more importantly, that I enjoy the journey along the way, instead of feeling like I’m in a permanent state of being a chicken with her head cut off, running around a massive To-Do list that never ends and just laughs at me as I stumble each week. I’m not sure if this change in mindset will work, but I’m certainly game to try. Thank you all for your support, your advice, your honest reactions and for your encouragement. You are the absolute best. ❤

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Five

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For this post, I’m not going to dive too much into the ramblings and musings I have surrounding my successes and near (or complete) misses. I’m actually going to write another post about it later this week, as I’ve gotten a lot of feedback throughout this journey and would like to not overload this post talking about both that and my goals. So stay tuned, friends! But for those who are following regularly, the answer to last’s week question is this: everything is important, but not always equally (it’s going to have to be a give and take thing each week).

I’ll elaborate on what that actually translates to in my next post.

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Four days in a row. Plus, try out new fitness regime that my gracious, lovely and BAMF friend created for me to help me achieve my fitness goals.
    • Status: SUCCESS. I went to the gym three times and then, because the weather was so nice, ran outside during my fourth day (and reached 3 miles!!). I did also try out my friend’s regime she created for me during the first half of the week, but failed to try out the second half since I ran outside instead of going to the gym. But I’m still counting this as a win.
  • This Week’s Goal: Complete a full week of fitness program.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write four times. Outline novel. Draft short story.
    • Status: Making progress. I did write once and had a really productive session. Didn’t online the novel, but did get a draft of my short story written and I don’t hate it–though it did end up darker than it was meant to. Going to the gym was definitely my focus last week. This week, I may try to switch that importance to writing.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write four times. Outline novel. Read beta feedback and make editing game plan for Artemis’s story.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.
    • StatusCloser! I did read a solid chunk, but I still have roughly 200 pages left. But I have a feeling I’ll get back into the reading groove this week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Reattempt blogging schedule.
    • Status: Negative. This has definitely taken a backseat amongst all of the goals and I’m okay with that, for now. I’m slowly moving towards posting more consistently. We’ll get there! That being said, I’m taking a step backwards and trying to not post three times a week on each blog, like my ultimate goal. I think baby-stepping and celebrating that slow climb is necessary and a step I skipped starting out.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write once on each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Try out budgeting app.
    • StatusSuccessI did try out on app, but wasn’t a big fan of how it was set up. I haven’t researched any new ones, so that’ll be the goal for this week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Find a budgeting/financial app that is useful.

Definitely some forward progress this wee and though I still have a ways to go, I am quite content with the progress being made. Onward to Week Six!

Cheers!


Interweaving Narratives

Two Fridays ago, I posted my second story on our Muses blog. I…was actually really proud of it. The first story, I was excited how it turned out, but the entire day before I posted it, I was so nervous. I kept telling myself how shit it was, how no one was going to like it and I would be letting my fellow Muses down by writing something so unreadable. Yet with this story–with The Beginning to the End of the World–I was counting down the days to post it. I was so excited to share this story with the world, because I just had so much fun writing it and I was so proud to write something, once again, completely out of my normal realm.

Yet it didn’t start out that way.

When February’s prompt was first introduced, I was really excited about it. I loved all the possibilities and there was so much promise. I was eager to start writing the story and see what ways I could challenge myself. I knew off the bat that I didn’t want to write a contemporary setting, but something fantastic.

Yet I didn’t get much farther than that.

Days passed and I had adopted a new mantra, a new roadblock that was stopping everything else from moving forward. It haunted me while I slept, when I was showering, at the gym, during meals. Over and over, I would whisper and repeat my conundrum, sometimes dripping with frustration, other times, choked out as a begging plea.

Why can’t we dig here?

I had a setting. I knew my protagonist was male and snarky as hell, with questionable morals and teeter-tottering levels of sympathy and hatred from the readers (or, at least, that was the goal). I heard him, one night, while showering. So clearly in my head, he told me about the Inn he caused to burn down and the bastard he had begotten, yet wanted no association with. Later, I even woke up in the middle of the night, desperately snatched my notebook out of my bag and wrote out the first paragraph in the dark, my protagonist spoke so distinctly to me. Yet I could never shake the main issue. I could never answer my question.

Why can’t we dig here? 

A week and a half before my story was due to be posted, I made an impromptu visit home to pick up a few things. My Mom was working late and my brother was at a basketball game, so my Dad was the only one home. We don’t get a lot of 1-on-1 time and I had surprised him, so he wasn’t expecting it. We made some leftovers for dinner, went downstairs and turned on some Family Feud while we discussed college basketball and the weather. I’m still not sure how, but somehow, I weaved my struggle surrounding my short story into the conversation and explained everything to him.

And, without a moment’s hesitation, he looked at me and said, “You know what would be really cool?” before proceeding to speak for the next five minutes about hidden trees of opposing wills and the accidental uncovering of the Tree of Darkness, setting off the quest to find the Tree of Light. As he kept talking, it was like my protagonist was alerting every possible siren inside my head, shouting, “That is why we can’t dig here!”

I went home and wrote the entire story the next day.

I’m sure I could wrap up this blog post now and it would feel properly closed; a struggling writer finds inspiration by bouncing ideas off another soul and, by doing so, writes a story she actually loves and makes her deadline. Sounds like a complete arc to me.

Except this is so much more than that.

I’m very lucky to have a great relationship with both my parents; with my entire family, actually. My Dad is one of my greatest role models and utmost inspirations. Yet we haven’t always been the closest. Nothing to do with bad blood or anything of that sort–far from it. It’s just I tend to talk with my Mom more than my Dad when I visit home. In the past month, however, my Dad and I have been hanging out and talking more and more. And after he gave me the missing link to my story, I surprised him and mailed him a copy of it, after it was edited. Due to his non-existent online presence, he doesn’t read any of my blogs or see any of my work; not because he isn’t interested, he simply doesn’t have access to it. A few days later, he texted me and told me that he’d read my story and he thought it was awesome; really enjoyed the ending and the only drawback was that he couldn’t help reading it in my voice–which, if you read the story, you’ll know that my narrator’s tone is definitely not akin to mine. He then proceeded to let his entire crew read it, who also messaged me throughout the next week with fantastic feedback and support.

And we haven’t even reached the end of this arc, yet.

This past weekend, I went home to watch hoops with Dad. On our way to the grocery store to pick up some dinner, without prompting, he turned to me and asked, “So what’s this month’s prompt? Need help coming up with an idea?”

I’ve always believed in the power of words, in the awesome power that writing has. Yet to experience it firsthand…especially from my work, in such a personal way? Sometimes, I forget how real life narratives can be affected by the stories we write, read and tell. And in this case, where my writing became a springboard to help strengthen my Dad and I’s relationship?

Talk about fantastic.

Cheers


Quest for Happiness: One Month Down

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Friends, it’s time to get serious.

The first week that I began pursuing goals I really wanted to accomplish, I did really, really well. Since then, my success has fallen on a downward slope. Don’t get me wrong: there has been some partial successes some weeks and definitely some forward momentum, but flipping the same coin, there has been plenty that I haven’t accomplished and plenty that I haven’t done that I wanted to; that I should’ve done.

Of course, life will always find ways to get in the way. I refuse to regret taking a mental health day, sleeping in and beating Technomancer on the PS4 while eating a pizza instead of sticking with the rigid structure of the routine. I won’t feel bad about socializing a bit more these past few weeks and falling behind as a reason. I can’t control that the only time I have to write blog posts are when I have down time at work and the entirety of last week, there was no downtime to be had. I refuse to beat myself up for life getting in the way and causing some detours in my quest towards happiness.

Yet I also need to get a bit more serious.

Though I’m aware of these goals in the back of my mind, quite often, I find myself not even attempting them. Writing an outline, for example. I’ve had that on my To-Do list for the past two weeks, yet haven’t even attempted it once. Or balancing my checkbook. Or sneaking in five minutes to read instead of messing around on my phone. Reaching the third week in a row–and rounding out the first month having three out of the four weeks with more near successes (if that) than successes–where I haven’t come close to accomplishing all of my short-term goals, it snapped my eyes open and made me ask:

How bad do you want this?

Do you want a body that you’re proud of? Do you want to look in the mirror and smile instead of frown? Do you want to write one more book than you did last year? Do you want to query by August? Do you want to read more books and be happier because you’re reading consistently again? Do you want to increase your blogging output and perhaps even your readership? Do you want to manage your money more wisely and be more aware of what you spend, how you spend it and what creating a budget is like?

Of course, the answer, to all of those questions, is yes. But the answer to the first question; how badly do I actually want all of those things?

That answer will be revealed in next week’s post.

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Four days in a row.
    • Status: Close! Made it three days and tried out a new machine that made my legs feel like spaghetti noodles.
  • This Week’s Goal: Four days in a row. Plus, try out new fitness regime that my gracious, lovely and BAMF friend created for me to help me achieve my fitness goals.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write four times. Outline novel.
    • Status: Negative. Definitely choose naps and video games over writing last week. And the constant itch I’ve felt since I last wrote reflects that.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write four times. Outline novel. Draft short story.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.
    • StatusNegative. Remember those naps I took and the video game I beat? Yeah, they cut into writing time, too. And after I went to the library and got a beautiful book haul, including the sequel to this fantastic read, I need to crank out this ending so I can keep on keeping on.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging schedule.
    • Status: Negative. I didn’t post anything on the blogs this past week. Definitely gotta amp up my game on that one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Reattempt blogging schedule.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Actually.balance.checkbook.
    • StatusNegative. Checkbooks are, apparently, made to remain unbalanced. My friend suggested I try out a budgeting/money tracking app, instead. I downloaded one called Wally and though I haven’t messed with it too much, yet, at least attempting to use it should be more promising than the risk of going a month without balancing my checkbook.
  • This Week’s Goal: Try out budgeting app.

Cheers!


Quest For Happiness: Week Three

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Week Three could probably be nicknamed “Week Redo” based on how little I actually stayed on track during Week Two–life tends to have the habit of surprising you and getting in the way. Cool thing is, there is no rule that says if you fall off the track, that you can’t pick up right where you left off and continue making forward momentum. So this week’s goals are a little repetitive to last week, but hey, whatever you gotta do to make progress, yes?

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Four days in a row.
    • Status: Negative. I actually took a step backwards and only went to the gym twice. Still trying to build this habit and will focus on going to the gym consistently before I move on and look at other aspects of getting fitter.
  • This Week’s Goal: Four days in a row!

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write four times. Outline novel.
    • Status: Partial Success! I only wrote once, but it was a really solid writing session. Still haven’t written any outlines yet, but figured out what has been baring me from writing said outlines, so hopefully that will be easier in the upcoming week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write four times. Outline novel.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora.
    • StatusNegative. Though I cranked out another hundred pages, with life intervening and a ridiculously busy weekend, I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to; will probably be reading for a solid chunk tonight in order to make up for some lost time (plus, the plot just thickened to the “oh, shit” stage and I’m eager to find out what happens next).
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora and write review.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Write three blogs posts for each blog.
    • Status: Partial Success! I did manage to write and post three posts for this blog, but since I didn’t finish reading a book last week, no review was posted on the book review blog, so I was short one post of the goal. But, I did find two different memes–Waiting on Wednesday and Friday Firsts–to help spice up the content on Erlebnisse, so I’m glad to be putting more regular content into that one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging schedule.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Actually balance checkbook. Talk to manager at second job about keeping consistent hours.
    • StatusNegative. I dunno what’s so hard about keeping your checkbook balanced, but apparently, I struggle. So here’s to attempt three. Also haven’t talk to my boss yet, so that needs to happen tomorrow.
  • This Week’s Goal: Actually.balance.checkbook.

So a little bit more on the “negative” side this week. But still not a wasted week. I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and made a new friend, I socialized and I lost a little sleep along the way–none of which are related to any of these goals but all of which are still important to growing as a person, regardless. And these goals aren’t going anywhere, so for week three, time to re-energize, refocus and see what I can accomplish.

Cheers.