Friday, June 29, 2012

Time for another Goal Review

As I mentioned the last time, I'm going to do a check-up of my goals and see how I'm faring. So.... these are my goals. Comments are in red. Comments from the previous Goal Review in black.

I want to finish Doorways before 30 June. 
Not likely, since I have to depend on Crit Partners for edits. I'm approximately halfway now. 
Definitely not happening. I'm about 2/3 of the way through, but that last third won't happen in a day. I have since moved my deadline to 31 August. 

I will query Doorways on 1 July.

Can't decide if this will happen. 
Won't happen until Doorways has been beta read. And I'm still waiting for my CPs to finish with it. 

I want to finish the WiP2 rewrite by 30 September. 
Will start in July. 

Honestly I've only been thinking of it in the quickest of ways. Still, I really want to finish this rewrite, which means that I have to start in the near future. 

I want to finish the Don't Look Back draft by 31 December. 

Not sure when I will start this, but no later than October. 
This hasn't changed.

I want to finish at least one draft of the musical libretto by 31 December.

Working on this every week, but since I had no idea of the work involved, I think this one won't make it. 
This has fallen by the wayside as well, because both me and my co-writer have been very busy since the last time I did the review. 

I might want to look at Guardian again. 
If I have time, I will. 

Still depending on whether I have time, but might not happen because I have two new WiPs in the pipeline. Not ideal, but the muse wants what the muse wants. 

I want to read more (crit partners' manuscripts don't count).

I'm trying to read at least one book a week. But I am definitely reading more.
Admittedly, I've been struggling with this since I started working full time. When I'm not working, I'm editing, writing, drawing, writing, blogging.... basically almost everything except reading. 

I want to read Shakespeare, Austen and Martin. 
So far, I've read two Jane Austen books. Still gathering courage for the rest of them.

Jane Austen books finished so far in this year: Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Sense & Sensibility (yesterday). Taking a break now because she takes too much concentration. I think it's time for me to hunt down and buy my first Game of Thrones book. Or maybe I'll wait until I have my kindle. 

Auditions, auditions, auditions. 

One audition so far. 
Was invited to another one, but none of the characters spoke to me. I'm not taking on practices if I'm not even really interested in the character I'm playing. 
I want to master at least intermediate cooking.

Let me put it this way... I'll be able to feed myself on more than bread or takeaways.
I'll definitely feed myself, although I mainly take care of breakfast, now. 

I want to spend more time designing.
Haven't even looked at my designs yet. Feeling terrible about it, but I just need to finish Doorways first.
Still the same, but I have been drawing again, which is a good start. 

I want to brush up on my French and Mandarin (at least one of the two) and take another language. 

Lacking time and money. I'll look at this again in the second half of the year. 
Not lacking the money, but time is even more scarce than before. 

I want to take classes in a musical instrument. Either piano or guitar. 

Went to my first guitar lesson last week. 
Still doing guitar, but full time work is making it difficult for me to find practice time. 

I also want to get out more next year. Cabin fever never did suit me. 
Still working on this, but I think I am getting better at getting out of the house. 

Definitely getting out more, but not as much as I'd like to. Maybe I should take my next edits with me to a restaurant or something... 

Since I achieved four goals in 2011, I want to achieve six in 2012. 
Looks like I'm on course for six. But I definitely want to try for more.
Yikes. Looks like I'll only get five done now. Still, that's better than last year. 

Have you reviewed your goals recently? How are you faring? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just a quick update

Today I thought I'd give you a quick update on my progress in taking charge of my life.

I'm mostly sticking to my scheduling and things are getting done. And the best part is that feeling good about this is making me even more efficient.

I'm not writing regularly at the moment because I don't seem to have anything major to write while I'm finishing the edits to Doorways. But I'm using the time I would have allotted for that to refill my creative reserves by reading and drawing.

I'm practicing guitar. I'm even exercising regularly again, which is making me feel really good. So good that I decided to tackle my weight again. So once my mother is back from the Netherlands, we're starting on the gym's suggested eating plan. It's not going to melt the fat off like some other diets do, but it's designed to keep the weight off without sentencing me to a lifetime of dieting.

And unlike certain diets that I'd followed, this one is designed to make it possible for me to continue exercising.

I'm pretty excited about that. Then I'm also planning to draw some more tonight. It will definitely be my most complex drawing to date, with lots of textures and shades, so I'll see how that turns out.

Hopefully, if I can squeeze in a bit of time, I'll do some reading as well. It's about time that I finished Sense and Sensibility.

That's me for today. What's going on in your life?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Now is your time to ask.

I was going to write about my impending trip to Europe, but now it's not all that impending any more.

So... now I'm sort of at a loss as to write about today. I considered showing you some of the charcoal drawings I've done, but I still want to try do at least one more before making a post of it.

But what I will do is this. If you ask me any questions, I will answer in the comments AND give a more detailed answers in blog posts over the next few weeks?


Shoot with the questions. Can't wait. :-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

How not to freak out when scheduling

I have to admit, when I look at how much I have to get done in a day, it takes a lot of effort for me not to freak out.

I do fun things like color coding it and interspersing fun activities throughout the day, but many colors might not be a good thing when they mean that there are only an hour and a half's worth of white spaces.

Still, I decided to look at my schedule as a prison, I see it as a sort of guide. A reminder of everything I want done. If I'm tired or whatever, about 80% of those colors can go. Often times I double (or triple) book my time slots so that I can do all of them at the same time or pick one if I need to.

As long as I make the time I need for the things I need to do.

It really makes a big difference to think about my schedule like that. Instead of just becoming another source of stress, my way of looking at my schedule turns it into a useful tool.

And I'm seeing the results. Ever since I've visually represented what I need to do in my day, I've gotten more done.

Do you schedule out your day?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking charge of my health

In the process of taking charge of my life, I decided to get more serious about my health again. Since dieting doesn't ever work for me in more than the absolute short term, I decided to go the other route. 

I joined the gym. When this blog goes live, I'll be busy pumping weights and getting fit. 

And boy do I need it. Since I stopped dancing, I never do anything that involves physical activity. So those pounds have been heaping on. And to be honest I'm tired of it. 

So yeah, I'm actually really excited to start. I've been threatening and threatening to join since January but just kept procrastinating. 

No more. 

I am so ready to be trim and fit. 

AND! Because I'm starting in the winter, I'll have a much more gorgeous body by the summer. 

But I also have other reasons to get fit. It's a great way to de-stress and since I'm still working to control it, exercise will be exactly what I need. 

I also will be going to Europe a lot from now on, so I'll need to have more stamina. 

Yeah... so I'll let you all know how it's going. 

Anyone else started to exercise recently? How's it going? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Change of Pace

As I mentioned last week, I went to visit my father this weekend. It did turn out to give me a change of pace that I needed.

I also drew again for the first time in months. It was little more than a sketch of a sketch by Renoir, but it was fun. So much fun, in fact, that I came home and went into an art store. Sooooo... now I have charcoal, paper, canvas, oil paints, a sketch pad and a huge itch to draw or paint something. And draw I will.

AND I am going to get my activities sorted out. If I keep complaining that nothing fits in, and that prevents me from doing things, it only means that I will get less done.


I am going to fit everything in somehow. I'm pretty sure it will only take a bit more thought and some commitment. I'd taken a long period of rest. It's time that I got back in the saddle.

Will let you know how everything fits in.

What did you do over the weekend?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's a work in progress

As I mentioned on Monday, I'm working to control the effects on stress on my life, but I will admit that it's not easy.

In my line of work, some days feel like a long parade of bad/negative/toxic people. Today is one of those. In fact, it even started earlier than usual, so I didn't even get my usual early morning peace.

Soo... yeah... I'm embarrassed to admit that I went back to my old ways of thinking and reacting. And you know what? Two days worth of work took about three hours to be unraveled.

I think negative behaviors breed like bacteria once you give them ideal circumstances. And negative thinking and reacting badly pretty much creates that wet, sheltered environment that those bad habits need.

Five hours into my day, I was completely freaking out. I wanted to cut and run. Anything but face another five minutes in that situation.

Afterwards, I realized that it wasn't that bad. It's just that if I let my negative thoughts and actions grow, they choke me. When that happens, I don't have the necessary perspective that I need in order to stay in charge of my life. Anything feels like too much effort and nothing feels worth it. Not even the things that I know are very important to me.

So as I write this, I'm thinking positive things. After I post this, I'm going to take some time to just be quiet and breathe. This weekend I'm going to be away from the office to see my dad for the first time in nearly two years. I'm hoping that (in addition to the joy of seeing him again) the change of pace (no work) and scenery (other side of the country) will give me enough peace to make my positive outlook more of a habit.

Step by step, I will beat my self-damaging way of thinking.

Anyone else decide to try the two things I suggested yesterday? How's it working for you?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Two easy changes that help you deal with stress

So... as I mentioned last week, I had blood tests done a week ago to see what the heck was draining me so much.

I did a blood sugar test, a hormone test and a blood level test.... and.... I got put back on my hormone medication that I'd stopped about a year ago.

But here's the kicker. The hormones that are out of whack have nothing to do with energy levels. Which basically means that this severe exhaustion that I've been suffering from for most of last week was in my mind.

If I think about this, it makes sense. The work I'm doing goes from no stress to pressure-cooker pressure in five minutes and back again. The people are demanding. The amounts of money involved is HUGE. And the product can rot in transit. No one in the industry respects the concept of office hours or even lunch time. So on bad days, the pressure starts at 7 a.m. and doesn't let up until I sleep.

Last week was the first calm one after a full week of pressure and I think what I suffered from wasn't exhaustion. It was lethargy. I was tired of doing thing non-stop. So my subconscious made up my mind for me and told my body I wouldn't do anything.

Amazingly, when I dragged myself to church last night, we had a wonderful guest speaker, Peter van Jaarsveld who's a world authority on emotional intelligence and stress management. Basically he discussed things that made intuitive sense to me.

But because I never realized the importance of these things, I never paid a lot of attention to putting them into practice.

Things like positive thoughts. Or breathing deeply and thinking happy thoughts.

I used to think that it's just something people used to say, but when he had us practicing in church, it really made a big difference.

So I decided to put what I learnt into practice this week and see how it goes, since it pretty much involves taking charge of my stress and through that, my life.


First portion of dealing with my stress is to release positive hormones that come from positive thoughts. I do that by picking 10 positive statements in my life. They don't have to be true right now. All I have to do is mean what I say.

My ten statements are:

1) I am a great person.
2) I am in control of how I think and what I say.
3) I am in control of my life and can achieve anything I set out to do.
4) I will look after my physical, emotional and spiritual health.
5) I am talented.
6) I am going to lose the weight I've been trying to shake.
7) I am going to publish my books.
8) I am going to perform and sing.
9) I am happy.
10) I have a great sense of humor.

Now I have to read them to myself every day.

The second portion is breathing. Yep. I'm going to take seven one-minute sessions to just focus on being calm and happy. Three steps to this one:

1) Sit still (and straight) and just focus on your heart to calm your mind.
2) Breathe deeply with your diaphragm. Six counts to inhale. Two counts to hold. Six counts to exhale.
3) After a few of these breaths, think of something that happened in the past week that made you happy, every time that you exhale.

Easy right? The best thing for me is that there's a sound scientific reasoning (and research) behind these two solutions to stress. Just not going into it right not because Dr. van Jaarsveld took most of two hours to explain it all.

Now I just want to see how well it works. Are you going to join me? What are your ten positive statements?


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My First Book: About the silence...

My First Book: About the silence...: Hi all, just want to let you know that I'm still alive. Just very very exhausted. So much so that I went to the doctor yesterday to do some ...