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Quest for Happiness: Reflections

Hello there, lovelies.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to write on this blog and let me tell you, I’ve actually really missed it. But, I’m sure you can understand the craziness of the holidays. I’ve been really lucky to have a wonderful family to spend it with, plus a lot of friends and an amazing boyfriend to pull me away from the virtual world and have me living in the actual one (not to mention a surprise trip to Disney World, which I’ll write a post about here soon).
But, I return to the blog to write the first post in a two part duo.
About resolutions.
(C’mon, friends, cut me some slack. You knew this was coming.)
If you follow this blog, you’d know that I actually posted every Sunday, tracking my resolutions and the goals I made to follow them, in a series of posts titled “The Quest for Happiness.” I’ve always been a pretty happy person, but I knew, if I focused working towards the goals I wanted to achieve, in the areas of my life most important to me, I was bound to stumble across happiness, if not create it myself.
These were the long term goals I quested after:
Fitness: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
Writing: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
Reading: Read 60 books.
Relaxation: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
Blogging: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
Financial: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
Here’s how I think I did.
cowboy bebop smiling GIF
Fitness: I think this was the biggest goal I achieved in 2017. I technically started it in 2016, in November, so I’m just a little over a year in to changing my lifestyle in order to be healthier and more physically fit.
Though it didn’t start off that way.
Last November, I was ghosted by a guy I’d gone on a few dates with on my birthday and I was both pissed and sad about it. So I started running, as a way to get my emotions out. I found I enjoyed running and the way it helped not only manage my emotions, but how, by continuing to run week after week, I started seeing subtle results, noticing progress; things like shaving off a 10 seconds of my mile time or running half a mile more. So, I wanted to keep going.
Then, I was lucky to apply for and get into a program through my job called Naturally Slim. It taught me how to eat better, without sacrificing the foods I love or becoming a strict calorie counter–both aspects which made dieting an inevitable failure for me, every time I tried it. It took a while for the principles of the program to stick and I still mess up following them, at times, but they are solid foundations I know I can implement–and I enjoy doing so.
A year and two months later, I’m 30 pounds lighter, hitting the 170 lb mark. That’s less than what I weighed in high school and only ten pounds short of my original 40 pound weight loss goal. I’m drinking a lot more water, my body is a lot stronger and I can run, at max, four miles without stopping (though I usually average 2.5).
This is the most awe-inspiring accomplishment, to me. This is a goal I’ve had since middle school, when I was what, 15? 10 years later and I’m finally taking my health into my own hands. I’m shaping the body that I want, creating my own confidence, relearning what it’s like to look at my reflection and like what I see.
I’m nowhere near done yet.
Writing: This was my biggest struggle and will probably be my biggest focus next year, because I hate how much I struggled with this.
Between getting ghosted on and the results of the election, depressed is one way to say how I started 2017 emotionally. 2016 was my best year to date, writing wise–four finished novels (though technically three, as I had already started one), so I wanted to continue that momentum. It wasn’t like I’d run out of ideas and I’d proven to myself I could write every day and stick to a routine. So, originally, I created this long-term goal for 2107: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.Image result for cowboy bebop gif
Yet depression rears an ugly head.
And it’s a bitch to creativity and confidence.
I started a new novel that I was really excited about, but got 60 pages in before I restarted it, not liking where the novel was heading. I got 50 pages in before I shelved it for a later time. I’d sent out two of the novels for beta feedback. One I got back and then did minor edits, before sending it out again. The other was so bad that it shouldn’t have been sent to other eyes in the first place. So I thought, hey, I could start that one over and see how that goes. So I made a bunch of outlines and got the vision I wanted. And I was really excited.
But then got 50 pages in and gave up, tabling another novel.
Got feedback once again on Artemis. Edited it again, feeling invigorated and excited. Planned out, roughly, the other four books in the series. Ended the year on a high note, which was really exciting, considering how shit I felt the rest of the year, trying and failing to write the books I wanted to; how I changed my original goal, after knowing I couldn’t meet it, and then failed to meet the editing goal I made for myself, too.
Yet it was an important experience, I think. I learned what it was like to struggle as a writer and I know that struggle isn’t going to just disappear. It’s something I have to learn to recognize; learn to differentiate between the struggles I need to push and work through and the times when I need to take a break. It also, in a roundabout way, reaffirmed my desire to be a writer. Because not writing much throughout the entire year? Yeah, that really sucked.
And I don’t want 2018 to be a repeat of that.
Reading: Definitely didn’t read as much as I wanted to or in the way that I wanted to. I’d read in large spurts–hours at a time–and then not read at all for weeks. Which sucked, because reading is one of the major ways that I de-stress–not to mention I have so many good book series I want to read and never enough time to read them. But, the books that I did read, I really enjoyed. And I kept up with writing reviews, as well, as quirky as they are. So it’s a start.
Relaxation: This was a goal I added in halfway through the year, thanks to the advice of a friend. Everyone said I had a lot of goals on my plate–maybe too many–but I couldn’t see myself not working towards any of these things. They are all too important to me. But one friend mentioned that maybe I should also track how often I’m doing something fun or taking time for me, making that a priority as well.Image result for cowboy bebop gif
It was a weird thing to track, because sometimes, I wasn’t sure what to say, or how to write it. But it was also fun to track, because it helped me remember that, even during the weeks where I didn’t have anything specific planned to help me relax or enjoy, like date night or a DnD campaign, there were a lot of little things spread throughout every week, too: like reading outside when the weather was nice or grinding on the latest video game I loved. And those are important to recognize and embrace, too.
Blogging: I think I killed this goal, particularly with this blog. I definitely increased my posting output and I love that. I tried posting on a schedule (posting X type of content on Tuesdays and Y type of content on Fridays, for example), but found that didn’t always work the best for me, so I had to be a bit more flexible. Instead, it became trying to post twice a week on this blog, not counting my Sunday Resolutions posts. It also entailed learning to forgive myself on the weeks when I didn’t have time or didn’t have the ideas to write twice a week.
I will say that I didn’t post nearly as much as I wanted to on Erlebnisse, my book review blog, which is tied into not reading as much. Hard to write book reviews if you’re not reading books. So I think next year, tied into my focus with reading more often, I’ll try to write more reviews, as well. And, because I believe I learned this skill so well, I don’t think I’m going to be tracking blogging, like I did this year–but more on that in the post two.
Financial: This was both a win and a struggle. Looking at my goal, I actually did really well. Downloading Mint and creating budgets on there really helped me manage my money with a lot more awareness. It blows my mind how I used to not even check my bank account for months, back in high school. I can’t imagine not checking my account weekly, now. Also, having all of my bills managed online is super helpful, through my bank. I feel like I have a lot of control, which is awesome. I started a retirement account, which I stressed about and am proud I got done. And I do have a savings account–which was started to fund London and has since been drained to the minimum balance required, so my main goal next year is to replenish it and fix my budgets so I’m not living so stressed out, financially, and I learn to live based off of my actual income, not my desired income.
Related image
Oof, that turned out to be a really, really long ramble. But 2017 was a really eventful and challenging year for me, but personally and professionally. Considering it was the first year I made resolutions and stuck with them, I think an extra long post is forgivable, if not necessary.
Stay tuned to part two of this post, which contents I’m sure you can guess. 🙂
Cheers.

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Uncategorized

Quest for Happiness: Week Forty

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Look up some different strengthening stretches. Keep up routine.
    • Status: Success! I ran four times and walked once, so that was awesome. Also managed to find some different stretches I might start incorporating.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep it up.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish outline, figure out some details and read another section in Color Psychology.
    • Status: Success! I’m really excited about the progress being made and I think…I might it might be time to start writing again.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Color Psychology. Write chapter one.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish the second book in the Gentlemen’s Bastard series and write review.
    • Status: SUCCESS. I’ve been getting back into the reading groove, friends, and my my, what a freakin’ ending that was.
  • This Week’s Goal: Continue reading KotW. 

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Find a reason to smile every single day.
    • Status: Success. The smiles and laughter outweighed the tears last week, which, in my book, is always a win.
  • This Week’s Goal: Enjoy the hell out of hanging out with friends this weekend. Plus, GEOSTORM.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal:  Post twice on each blog.
    • Status: Success!
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging routine.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Need to look into the bank account again, especially after a weekend of some really fun adventures that I certainly enjoyed, but wasn’t expecting to take out of my wallet.
    • Status: Success. Not doing as badly as I thought. But with the holidays coming up (not to mention a sleeve I wanted to get colored in), I really want to be on top of my money so I can actually get people awesome stuff for Christmas.
  • This Week’s Goal: Stay frugal.

A pretty solid week, friends. A pretty solid week. Time to continue the grind, keep being productive, continue being happy and continue finding ways to challenge myself and grow.
Cheers.

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Random Musings

More than a Feeling

♫ …when I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling), I begin dreaming (more than a feeling)… ♫

Okay, so this post isn’t actually about the Boston song. But it was meant to make you start singing the Boston song; maybe even get it stuck inside your head, who knows. If it did neither of these things (or worse, you don’t even know what song I am talking about), you really need to sort out your priorities (Harry Potter reference, FTW), jump on over to the niffy YouTube and give that old tune a listen. Seriously.

No, this blog post is a personal one (though, lets be real, most of mine are) about the new lifestyle that I have tried to adopt, in order to conquer an old demon of mine that has refused to disappear since I was in middle school. For those of you who read my blog often (I can never thank you enough), you have prolly gathered that I’ve had self-esteem issues. For those of you who don’t, now you know. I hate mirrors with a passion and I usually don’t take photographs with my friends or family because I hate the way I look in them. I have ever since I mistakenly thought that someone refused to date me because of my curves and “not good enough” status, back in high school (oh, the fools we are in our youth). And I carried that “not good enough” mentality in every aspect of my life, and it has stuck since then.

This January, I was very terribly determined to change that. I wanted to become more active and work out more, so that I could change this body that I have learned to loathe so much into a body that I can love and appreciate and be proud of, through my own hard work and dedication to myself. It’s now March and I have never lasted this long in a workout grind before.

And I have no plans of stopping.

Of course, I’ve had my days where I missed working out, got too busy or skipped a day because I didn’t feel like it; had the days where I half-assed the workout just to say I did it or the days where I was dreading doing it the entire time. But I’ve also had those days where my shirt is soaked in sweat, I worked out and worked hard and felt amazing afterwards. And it is those days that remind me that this change in my lifestyle is so worth it.

And through this whole process, I have felt my body changing. And while no one has said anything about noticing any changes, besides a few family members, I am not bothered by that at all. Because for the first time, I am actually doing this for ME. I am doing it to finally feel proud and comfortable in my own skin; to love the body that I have and love the process of making it better and just generally living a healthier lifestyle. And I am blown away with how little I have actually thought negatively about my body in the past three months. Yeah, there are still areas I want to improve in and there is still a long way for me to go before I reach my goal, but the fact that I can feel the difference in myself means so much more than what I could have imagined possible.

This was proven true to me when I weighed-in and did measurements at a health clinic today. I am checking up on those numbers every four weeks, to see how they have altered and what progress I am making by the numbers. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually lose any weight, but even gained a pound. And considering that I am definitely not happy about my weight and this has been the theme my entire life, I usually get really, really down about it. And today, I did feel a schmidge of disappointment in myself that, numerically, the results were nil. But I didn’t let myself get depressed about it. It actually showed me how important what you put into your body, food and liquids wise, truly is. And no amount of working out is going to change you if you continue to feed yourself poorly. So now I know what I need to work on: stay steady on the path of being active, always trying to push myself harder while also watching what I put into my body — never eating less, but always eating better. Through persistence and will-power, this goal of mine will be reached. It may be a week from now (okay not really, but it sounds more poetic this way) or two years from now (there’s the more realistic choice), but it WILL be reached. And that’s more than just a feeling — it’s a choice. 

So don’t give up on your goals. Stick with in and stay strong. Do what makes you happy and don’t change yourself because society tells you you should, because that’s a load of bullshit. You be the person that you are, the person that you want to be, the person you know, deep down, that you are. Me? I want to be fit and healthy and happy. And I am well on my way to getting there. And that is so sick.

Cheers,

Nicole

(PS: And while I didn’t lose any weight, I have lost inches on all the measurements I took, including hips, stomach, thighs, calves and arms. *fist pump into the air*)