Posted on

When Goals Get Good: 2016 in Review Part Quatre

cropped-dscf0270.jpg
The 200+ stairs I walked up (and down) at the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

My goals for 2016 were outrageous. I wanted to do some huge things this year. You would think with the challenges of the second part of this year I would have failed miserably at achieving anything. However, because God knows best, some of my greatest fails opened the doors to make the achievement of many of these goals possible and probable. I didn’t achieve them all, but I knew I wouldn’t going into it. They were BIG goals. But what I was able to achieve? Amazing!

So, what did I say I was going to do this year? How did I do?

DSCF0295

  1. Seek God. The overall goal this year is to seek God with my whole heart. The ways in which I plan to do this are to study the bible more, pray more, and integrate other spiritual disciplines into my life. To this end, I will study the bible each day, pray each day, and meditate each day. I want to attend Sunday school and bible study each week and fast at least once this year. Performance: Modest. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped to, but I did study the bible, pray and meditate on the word more this year than in times past. I made it to Sunday school more consistently, but *late boots* and still not as often as I should have. I made most bible studies, even going to other congregations when out and about. I did not fast intentionally this year (although I did go whole days where I forgot to eat. I know, that doesn’t count. Sigh).
  2. Seek to make God known. The goal of the books that I write and things that I sell is to promote the cause of Christ. It’s hard for me to market or get my work in front of other women, but I want to reach more women and get them excited about being serious about God in whatever season they are in. I will speak at least three (3) times in 2016. I will sell 500 copies of my new book, The Season for Getting Serious. I will sell another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Performance: I did FAR better than I ever would have thought on this goal. I did speak three times: I spoke on Single, Spiritual and Satisfied and on Writing a Book at our ladies day in July and I spoke on Writing & Publishing at a workshop day as part of my dad’s conference in October. I got VERY close to selling another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Ladies are still buying this book over two years after publishing it! I still get Facebook posts, comments, and messages as well as emails and people stopping me at different events telling me how Altered before the Altar has changed their perspective and improved their relationship with God. To God be the glory! I absolutely haven’t sold 500 copies of Season. I didn’t publish it until month 7 of this year. In five months, I’ve sold close to sixty copies, and momentum is gaining. I’m expecting this number to grow as more women read and recommend this one.
  3. Seek to Serve Others. I want to get back into serving others well.  I will: participate in the benevolence Ministry at least three (3) times this year, go door knocking at least once (1x) this year, and complete at least two (2) Passion Projects. Performance: Listen. When I looked at this, I got sad because I didn’t think I’d done any of this. But then I remembered: I did go door knocking–I went to spread the word about our gospel meeting. I did complete two passion projects–I helped plan this year’s ladies day, and I hosted a young adult fellowship at my house. I did not go out with the benevolence ministry this year, though. Something to work on next year, Lord willing.
  4. Seek to Soar. I will get a publishing contract for my inspirational fiction. I will get a contract for my third Christian Living/Non-fiction book. I will turn The Season for Getting Serious into a site that encourages women to get serious about pursuing a Christ centered life no matter what season of life they are in. Performance: FAIL. Epic fail. All around, knock down drag out fail. I didn’t submit any fiction this year. None. I didn’t write a book proposal. I neglected this blog SO HARD. But did I fail in my goal to seek to soar? No way! I traveled on my own. I wrote amazing journals. I attended amazing events. I showcased talents other than writing. I’ve worked on three projects which will change lives (hopefully in 2017 and beyond). I soared, y’all. Not in the way I thought I would, but I did it. I soared.

823

Want to know something truly amazing? The unintentional goals I met this year. I wrote a list in 2015 based off an exercise in Lara Casey’s Make It Happen of things I was afraid of and why I was afraid of them. I said I was afraid of teaching, writing another book, making a decision about my relationship, moving, pursuing my passion full-time, and speaking for various reasons. This year, I taught, wrote another book, made a decision about my relationship, pursued my passion full-time, and spoke! The very things I was afraid to do, God allowed me to do them, and do them well. I love God’s timing. I love how He works to rid me of a spirit of fear. Some of my fears were for nothing and things turned out way better than I expected; other times, the thing I was afraid would happen happened. Either way, I’m still here and all the better for it. God is good all the time, y’all. Goals get good when God gets glory.

Did you achieve your goals in 2016? Why or Why not? How will the outcome of your 2016 goals affect your goal setting process for 2017?

Posted on

Starting Out the Way I Plan to Go…

A quick post today. I’m sharing my January goals. These aren’t deep or meaningful. The point is to get started. I’m diving into the muck and the mess and getting started. So here are my life goals for this month:

  • Change my clothes when I come home from work each evening. It’s a mental thing that helps me switch gears.
  • Cook more at home. It will save money, it’s healthier, and cooking is stress relief and a chance to decompress from my day.
  • Exercise 2x a week. This has been a major fail this week, but I’m hoping to get better.
  • Set a bedtime. I always wake up at the same time, but I don’t have a regular bedtime. I want to change this for a more consistent sleep pattern and hopefully more energy throughout the day.
  • Pay all bills on time this month. No more late fees!
  • Start keeping a journal again.

More entrepreneurial goals:

  • Set up Square site to sell books.
  • Email three people about speaking
  • Email three people about sponsorship/advertising
  • Buy Adobe
  • Create book cover/marketing materials
  • Pay for 1 vendor opportunity
  • Finish The Season for Getting Serious? More on this question mark in a future post.

Personal spiritual goals:

  • Encourage friend who is struggling spiritually. (I have a specific person in mind)
  • Spend time talking to two older members of my congregation.
  • Read bible daily.
  • Pray daily.
  • Study and pray about seeking.

This seems like a lot, and a lot of these things are to occur daily, but I think this is a list that will help me jump start a year in which I grow closer to Christ and look more like Him.

Posted on

Wind Up Wednesday: Bringing Books Back

Note: I missed yesterday. It was my intention to have a post every day this week, at least, to kick start my blogging. Let’s all just move on to a fun post, shall we?

As an avid reader and writer, I always have a ton of books I want to read. My TBR pile is ridiculous. I love reading all the books my writer friends are putting out into the world (I’m reading one, Interrupted Lullaby by Dana R. Lynn, one of my critique buddies!) that I can’t put down (though I’ve read it at different stages two or three times). I’m so proud of all my romance, women’s fiction, inspirational fiction and self-help writing friends. But this year I want to dive deep into some books that focus more on developing myself as a Christian and a writer. I know I’ll get to all the fiction my friends put out, but I want to make sure I read at least 12 books that I hope will revolutionize or completely change an area of my life.

Here’s what’s on my list to read so far, in no particular order:

  1. Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. Simply TuesdayI’ve heard wonderful things about this book, and have heard a couple interviews with Emily P. Freeman that have piqued my interest. I caught this book on sale yesterday and move it from books I want to buy to bought. Yay!
  2. A Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. Celebration of DisciplieI’ve read this book and loved it, but it’s been years (other than a few peeks back in for my submission goal in 2013 and that palms up/ palms down meditation from Monday’s post). Not only do I want to read it again, I want to give a copy to a friend and read it with her to encourage her in the Lord. It’s be our Girl Talk thing. So excited for this!
  3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Big MagicI bought a copy as soon as it came out. I was a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s style in Eat Pray Love, but the podcast for Big Magic, Magic Lessons, sold me on this book. It’s a book about tapping into your creativity and how we are all creators. Can’t wait to let my imagination out.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King. On WritingI bought this book last year after checking it out of the library and not having time to finish it. I’ve heard many wonderful things about this book, and really enjoyed the parts I’ve read. Time to focus and read this start to finish.
  5. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Having a Mary HeartThis one has sat on my shelf for years. Is it ironic to say I don’t have time to read a book about making time? I’ve started it and nodded along with the opening points. This is another I need to buckle down and get read.
  6. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. The best yesConfession Time: I’ve never read a Lysa Terkeurst book. I’ve had friends who’ve raved about Made to Crave and Unglued, but I haven’t gotten around to reading one of her books. I knew I had to read her work when I watched her at the creative summit The Influence Network put on.
  7. Rising Strong by Brene Brown. Rising StrongConfession Time #2: I’ve never read a Rene Brown book. But I did hear her speak on Magic Lessons, and the moment I did, I had to have this book. This is a book about how to rebound from failure. This is something I struggle with. I hate failing. I can’t tell you how many things I didn’t do because I was afraid to fail. So I’m hoping this one has some insights I can use to conquer that fear a little more.
  8. A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer. A Curious MindI heard Brian Glazer on the radio talking about his curiosity talks and was fascinated. As someone who loves to  interview people, I’m interested in reading about how he made the most of opportunities to talk to some of the worlds most fascinating people, and how I can use a few tips to make my interviewing better.
  9. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Not a FanThe back cover copy sold me on this book. I’d heard all the hype about it and largely ignored it. But going through the Religion aisle at the bookstore studying covers, I picked this up and read the back and instantly knew I needed to add this one to the list.
  10. Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank. Muscle and a ShovelSo many of my friends have told me how this book completely changed their views on God and Christianity that I’ve just got to read it. It’s a true story about a newlywed couple who befriend a man that challenges their religious views. It’s supposed to be a challenging read that incites some strong feelings. I’m not one to shy away from things that may challenge my views, so I’m eager to see how this strengthens my faith and causes me to dig deeper into what I believe. We are to be prepared to give an answer for the faith that is in us, so it will be interesting to see the interaction between my faith and this book. I would love to get a small group together to read this one with me.
  11. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo. Talk Like TedI REALLY want to be a better speaker. I know that I have messages to deliver to women. But I can’t expect people to want to hear me speak if I’m not going to put in the effort to be the best speaker I can be. I’ve long admired TED talks and find them to be wonderful. I really want to see a Christian version of this speaking series come to be. I’m anticipating learning a lot about speaking that will help me improve my presentation reading this one.
  12. Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. Still writingI checked this out of the library with On Writing and didn’t get a chance to finish it, though I loved Dani Shapiro’s writing. I bought it last year when I bought On Writing. I’ve gotten almost to Middles and I love it. I can’t wait to see how Dani relates more of the writing process.
  13. Bonus Book #1: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. Women of the WordI heard Jen Wilkin on a podcast and was really intrigued by this book. Since then I’ve seen many women talking about this book online, how it changed the way they study the Bible. I love anything that gets women reading the Word for themselves, or anyone else for that matter. I’m always looking for ways to improve my Bible study time. This should be a good book for that.
  14. Bonus Book #2: The Art of Fiction by John Gardner.  The Art of FictionI read this book some time ago and loved it. The exercises led to some great writing for me. I can’t wait to dive into it as a more mature writer.

I have a ton of fiction that I plan to read as well. I write more about fiction and my writing process on my writing blog, Copywrite1985.com.

What are you reading? I’m always looking for book suggestions, so feel free to leave your favorite reads or what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.

XOXO,

Erica

Join me tomorrow for my 10 January goals!

Posted on

GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALS!!!

Every time I have to sit down and contemplate my goals, I start to sweat. I feel so much pressure to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Goals too dependent on numbers are thought to encourage comparison, competition, or feelings of inadequacy. The trend in Christian women’s goals now is to simplify, focus on family, go smaller. It’s not on trend to have big, scary goals anymore. Not in Christianity.

I don’t believe that goals need to be SMART. I believe dreaming big allows God to be bigger than our dreams. I want my goals to be reaches, big leaps of faith that require God to catch me and carry me to the finish line. I don’t put easily achieved goals on my yearly goals list.  I don’t make goals if they don’t make me a little anxious and encourage me to depend even more on Christ. I like goals that show my belief in God’s ability to meet me where I am and take me further than I ever imagined.

I dream big and make goals people think are crazy. I’m also reticent to share my goals because there is a good chance what happens may be different than I imagine. I don’t want to fail so spectacularly in front of everyone. But if I don’t give God room to work, how can I bring glory to Him?

All of that to say, some of my goals have scary numbers and metrics. Some of them are huge (to me). I can say with confidence I may fall flat on my face on them if they aren’t in God’s will. But I felt led to take a big leap this year. So without further adieu, here are my yearlong goals for 2016!

Aim High
Aim High
  1. Seek God. The overall goal this year is to seek God with my whole heart. The ways in which I plan to do this are to study the bible more, pray more, and integrate other spiritual disciplines into my life. To this end, I will study the bible each day, pray each day, and meditate each day. I want to attend Sunday school and bible study each week and fast at least once this year. I’ve never completed a fast from food for any period of time, so this is one thing I am excited and nervous about.
  2. Seek to make God known. The goal of the books that I write and things that I sell is to promote the cause of Christ. It’s hard for me to market or get my work in front of other women, but I want to reach more women and get them excited about being serious about God in whatever season they are in. To challenge myself to reach more women, I’m giving this area number goals. I will speak at least three (3) times in 2016. I will sell 500 copies of my new book, The Season for Getting Serious. I will sell another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Writing these goals makes me queasy.
  3. Seek to Serve Others. I want to get back into serving others well. I think that the point of Christianity is to be united with God and others in the body of Christ as one. I’ve created goals here that will help me love on others this year. I will: participate in the benevolence Ministry at least three (3) times this year, go door knocking at least once (1x) this year, and complete at least two (2) Passion Projects. A Passion Project is something that can enrich my local congregation that I see. I don’t want to say what they are. The point is not for people to know that I’ve done them, but to do something that helps spread the gospel or encourages other Christians right where I am. These goals make me want to hide in my room and read or stay behind my computer, but I know it’s important to serve right where I am. In person. Gulp!
  4. Seek to Soar. These are the personal goals I want to pursue. I will get a publishing contract for my inspirational fiction. I will get a contract for my third Christian Living/Non-fiction book. I will turn The Season for Getting Serious into a site that encourages women to get serious about pursuing a Christ centered life no matter what season of life they are in. This goal makes me the most insecure. Rejection is a real probability for every one of these goals. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

cropped-A-Serious-Season-best1.png

What are your goals for 2016?

XOXO,

806

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica

Join me tomorrow for my first Monday Motivation of 2016: Praying Hands!

Posted on

Word of the Year 2016

I’ve chosen a word for the year for at least six years documented (nearly 13 based on my diaries!). Each year I choose a word that will guide my spiritual, professional, and personal goals and dreams. It can be difficult to set an intention for an entire year full of unexpected twists and surprises, both good and bad. The Lord has given me great words that were exactly what I needed in each season of my life and this year’s word is no exception. I believe it will help me to lean into, press into, and abide in Christ like never before in the upcoming year.

The words I have chosen in the past are:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus (which I obviously didn’t accomplish if the linked post is any indication!

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

2015-attendance

The word I’ve chosen for 2016 is: SEEK. 

What are you seeking?

alice_in_wonderland01

Why did I choose seek? Up until I began this post, I was thinking of using other words, but the Holy Spirit placed this word very strongly on my heart. Thinking about everything I wanted to do this year–publish another book, speak, serve, be more disciplined, ask for the things I want, and really dig in and make some big changes–I knew that overall I wanted to glorify God. I wanted to want what He wanted for my life.

I was struggling with what word would best convey that when I remembered David saying that the one thing he desired was the thing he would seek after:

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, everything else will be added to us. God calls His people to seek His face. We seek Him for safety, freedom from worry, for our everyday needs, and for our lives.

In the last sermon of 2015, Brother Drummer preached a sermon on Phil 3:12-14 that really struck me. In these verses, Paul talks about trying to grab hold of the reason for which Christ grabbed hold of Him. Why did God choose me? In verse 10 we learn that Paul seeks to know Christ. An apostle with intimate knowledge of Christ is writing that he seeks to know Christ. A man who knows he has been called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles is still pressing to learn why Christ saved him. Because there’s more to know and more to why we are called.

Christ is everything. I love the promises of God through faith in Christ, but sometimes I don’t love the process by which I obtain those things. Sometimes I go about gaining the wrong way. I covet things God never meant for me to have. I don’t bring glory to Him in what I do sometimes because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

That is a hard, hard truth to acknowledge. You have no idea how much I want to backspace over that sentence. So I’m going to write it again:

Sometimes I don’t bring glory to God in what I do because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m getting tired of running hard in the wrong direction and getting turned back; of worrying about myself and not being able to rest in all the promises we like to “speak over ourselves” or “speak into existence”; of claiming the promises without keeping the conditions and ending up disappointed. I’m just plain tired of wanting things God doesn’t want for me and being heartbroken about things that were never in the plan for my life. 

So I’ve decided this year will be the year I seek God. For real. I will seek His will for my life, His kingdom, His righteous, and His forgiveness of sin. I will seek His face. I will live in His presence. I will live in the truth that if I seek, I will find. I will pursue with purpose and passion one thing: a closer relationship with Christ in which I know Him as He knows me. 

I know I won’t get there this year. I won’t fully get there until I’m in Heaven. But this is the guiding framework for how I want to be in my life.

There have been quite a few wonderful posts and periscopes on people’s word of the year. Here are some of my favorites:

Courtney Kirkland chose SURRENDER (this was a contender for me, too): Instagram

Katie Brown chose SERVE (another contender of mine!): Instagram

Val Woerner of Val Marie Paper wrote about her word of the year, Small, and her goals for 2016 on her blog.

Lara Casey is doing her annual goal setting series on her blog. You can read the first post here. She revealed her word of the year, ASK (again, one of my contenders), on Periscope yesterday. You can view it via Katch here (and it won’t disappear in 24 hours like on Periscope!).

What is your word for 2016? How did you choose it?

Join me tomorrow to see my year long goals and my goals for January!

XOXO,

785

Erica

Posted on

Goal for 2015: Perfect Attendance

As those who have been reading my blogs for a long time know, each year I make it a point not only to write out a list of goals, but to choose a word of the year, a simple concept that I can focus on in this calendar year to guide the improvements I want to make in my life. In years past, I’ve had some wonderful words to guide my goal setting and make positive changes:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

This year has a tough act to follow. Last year’s goal to submit was an amazing opportunity to grow. I’m in awe of how God worked things out so that I REALLY had to learn this submission thing if I wanted to get out of this year alive. I had to learn to submit to those in authority spiritually and in the world in a major way this year! I also had to learn to take any disappointments and setbacks and submit them to God instead of dwelling on them. Finally, I learned to submit my writing for publication and for public consumption. God was really with me in achieving this goal. So what do I hope to accomplish this year? What’s the word that I hope will develop me even more on this journey?

The word of the year for 2015 is…attendance.

One simple definition of attendance is a record of the number of times a person has been to a certain place. If you want, you can make attendance into a numbers centered thing. I could make this goal about how many times I attend church, get up and study the bible, pray, visit the sick, and so on. But that’s not what this goal is about for me.

I want to use another simple definition of attendance: the act of being present in a place. One thing I noticed last year was that I had a really hard time being in the moment, appreciating the accomplishments that I made, etc. I was always rushing off to the next thing. I wasn’t present for most of my life; rather, I was waiting to get to the next goal, to reach some other pinnacle. I was waiting for the next thing to happen, or actively pursuing the next thing. In doing a year end review, I realized how many things I simply missed because mentally I was somewhere else. So one purpose of this goal is to adjust my focus so that I am present in each moment this year.

But there’s more. I want to attend things, or be at certain places consistently, and I want to be present in the moment, but there’s another part to this goal. A couple other definitions of attend: to apply the mind or pay attention; heed, and; to direct one’s attention. I’ve spent entirely to much of 2014 attending everyone else’s life and leaving my own unattended. I spent a lot of time focused on what others did to achieve success in different areas of their lives and trying to replicate it in my life without actually giving my attention to my life. Occasionally I would see my life clearly and note that I needed to work on something or change it, but then my mind was consumed with something else and I never got around to doing anything about it. This year, I want to be where I’m expected to be, be present in mind as well as in body, and apply my mind and direct my attention where it needs to be. In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So what’s your word of the year for 2015? What are you trying to change in this new year?

Posted on

Publication for Dummies

St. Augustine
St. Augustine

The last few weeks have been a crash course in business for me. Before I began working on this book for self-publication, I had no desire to be an entrepreneur. In all honest, I still don’t. I am just trying to get my book into as many hands as possible, legally, with no surprises at tax time or anyone using the sweat of my brow inappropriately.

I’ve spoken to other self-publishers, accountants, attorneys, bankers, and small business owners on different aspects of publishing that I should be aware of, as well as started to set up some marketing opportunities for myself like speaking engagements and etc. I’ve always known that writing the book is only half the battle, but now it’s more real to me than ever. In fact, I would argue that when it comes to self-publication, writing is less than a quarter of the battle.

Today, I want to share and get opinions on some of my plans in the coming weeks for the rest of my book’s journey to publication and the first couple weeks afterward.

I revealed the title of the book on this site on Friday. The response has been very positive. I think that I nailed the first marketing aspect of the book with a good title. I also think I nailed the second part of good marketing–the cover, which I will reveal tomorrow, if all goes well. So what are the next steps for me?

The next steps I have to complete in this process are BIG steps. As I was reading over the book, I noticed some sections would work better in other places, some thoughts could be condensed, and some personal stories or asides were unnecessary. I also didn’t fully introduce each new couple that I quoted. In other words, I need to get the final draft of the book like I want it. I also need to get beta readers in the target audience for feedback. I have to secure the person I want to do the Foreward and finalize all the front and back matter–acknowledgements, dedication, definitions, appendices, etc. These things are easy for me to do, just large tasks. They are in my comfort zone.

The next group of things venture into INEBIGTDIA territory. I have to format the book or pay someone to format the book. I have to upload everything to CreateSpace, set up my Amazon author page and product description, metadata, etc. I have to establish my sole proprietorship over my press by running an add in the paper and registering the name with the state as well as getting an EIN. I have to decide on a banking set up for it. I have to order the first batch of books I plan to sell myself physically, which  means I have to determine how many to buy and ship them on time to have them for planned festivities. I need to revamp this site and set up the book’s site with all the fun goodies I have planned for it.

In addition to all of the scary things in that paragraph, I have to plan some fun book release things. I’ve already started planning an event with my aunt for a local chapter of a women’s group she is a part of to do a presentation on a topic from the book. I need to kick planning for a release event locally into high gear. Separate from the book release event, I want to put on a singles conference or one day workshop/seminar for single women to attend. I am pulling together a list of people and organizations to give free books to for review or possible group sales. My goal is to put this book in the hands of as many Christian women as I possibly can to help them realize the importance of godly guiding principles in their relationships, so I’m open to speaking at events, hosting dinners or ladies’ days, etc. to get the book into the right hands.

I am not excited about the business things I have to do, but I am not intimidated by it either. I know that if this is of God, He will bless it. I can’t hide behind my computer if I want to help young women. The whole point of this book, this site, is to influence women to get serious about their lives in Christ. I can’t afford to be timid or complacent. I want people other than my friends and acquaintances to be exposed to the scriptures, stories, and lessons in the book, and it’s up to me as my own publisher to make that happen.

Any other self-publishers out there with any advice? Anyone else chasing a God-given purpose and refusing to be overwhelmed?

XOXO,

Erica

Posted on

Cheat Sheets

Good News!

I have finally realized a mini-goal of mine: I now write reviews for Harlequin romance novels via the website Harlequin Junkie (I will be creating a tab for you to see where else I am writing around the web soon!) I have completed my first two reviews and have been given EIGHT NEW BOOKS to review, not to mention the ones I have to finish up for Net Galley. In consequence, reading and reviewing have taken over my calendar…my still non-existent calendar that is supposed to track everything I have to do. Anyway…

I’ve developed a cute little cheat sheet to help me get my reviews done quickly and easily. My cheat Sheet has the book title, author, main characters, supporting characters, important physical details, first impressions, what’s keeping them apart, how they finally come together, and etc. so that I don’t have to try and find the basic information in the Kindle copy. I have found this invaluable in my reviewing. I’m thinking it might be even more valuable in my life.

Passing Tests with Cheat Sheets

In the story of my life, there are going to be obstacles in the way when I am trying to achieve goals or just be happy. I have seen most of them before, or at least know they are there. I know what things I will have to overcome for me and my ultimate dream to “be together.” I think that most people don’t write things like this down because they don’t want to be negative or visualize negative things, but I think that if I write down what needs to be overcome, it will get me thinking about a plan of attack, a way to get past those obstacles. In other words, I need a game plan.

In school, I had quite a few classes where we were allowed to make cheat sheets. A cheat sheet allowed you to compile the most important information in a condensed format so that you might be able to pass the test. A cheat sheet was easier than trying to search entire chapters for an answer to a specific question. The best thing about a cheat sheet was that you got to decide what went on it. You could put more information on it to help you out in the areas in which you were weaker.

Are You Sensing a Theme Here?

No matter which cheat sheet we are referring to, they both serve the same purpose: to quickly assess the information needed to answer the questions at hand.  As I looked at my cheat sheets for my reviews, I realized that I can anticipate what obstacles in my life will need to be overcome just as well as I could those of the characters in the books I read. If I can identify the things I need to overcome, I can also begin developing a cheat sheet with information on how to overcome that specific obstacle. So it’s time to start working on my first cheat sheet for life.

TO BE CONTINUED…

In Other News…

I’ve noticed a lot of things have been affecting those close to me. I’m seeing a lot of hurting in those around me. I haven’t been reaching out as much to people because I’ve been wrapped on in my own things, but I HAVE to make time to get back to that. There have been a few major trends going around in my circles lately: death, illness, financial hardships, divorce/marital issues, and unemployment. In an effort to be more mindful of this, I am going to pray a prayer at least once a day for other people, and I would love it if you joined me. I will be keeping my eyes open each day and look for those in my circle who need prayer so that I can pray for them specifically. If you want to join me, try and find at least five people to pray for and get to know specifics about what they need. Maybe what they need is something you can provide to them physically or emotionally, but even if it isn’t, offer up prayer for them.

Be blessed,

Erica

Posted on

Confessions of a Pantser

My desk calendar for this month. Notice anything strange??
My desk calendar for this month. Notice anything strange??

This week, I’ve made great strides in getting things done with the book, as I shared in my last entry. Through the development of my routine the last few days, I’ve noticed something that I’d forgotten about myself: I thrive on routine, To-Do lists, and deadlines. I am NOT a born procrastinator.

For the past few years, I’ve attempted to be someone who just goes with the flow, someone who  is flexible and deals well with change, when in reality, I’m so far from that! I’ve been floundering living without a real schedule. My apartment has gotten out of hand, my bill paying system is no longer effective, the way I approach my daily schedule is haphazard, and I’m starting to become one of those late people that annoy me so much. The worse thing is that everything has built up to the point that all of my manic “just get in there and get something done” machinations don’t seem to make a dent in the things I need to do.

Looking at the desk calendar pictured above, you may notice that nothing is written in after yesterday’s date when this picture was taken. That’s because I don’t update it until I get to work the next morning. This is not an accurate account of what I have to do, but what I have done, mainly for my Monthly Wrap Up posts.  I have several ideas for this site written down on post it notes and index cards floating around in my all purpose Zeta bag. I have outlines for different parts of the book stashed in different notebooks and folders. My life is a disorganized mess right now, and every positive change I try to make seems to get derailed by my lack of organization. So I’ve decided to take back my time and sanity by organizing my face in.

INEBIGTDIA

Anyone who is familiar with any of my sites knows what INEBIGTDIA means. For those of you who are new to my world, INEBIGTDIA stands for “I’m not excited, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Some things just have to be done to preserve sanity, get things accomplished, or improve your life. Since I have an official deadline for the book, I need a plan to finish it. Since I’m tired of living like a pig, running late, and being stressed out from the time I open my eyes until I go to sleep, I need to bring some order to my life.

He's got a lot on his mind.
He’s got a lot on his mind.

The fact that it’s so daunting only underlines the necessity of getting started now. The only issue is figuring out how to get started. INEBIGTDIA tasks have to be started immediately or I know I won’t get to it. So what could I do immediately to bring some order to my life? Well, it’s not just what I can start doing, but also what I can stop doing.

STOP: Ignoring My Calendar(s)

I have several calendars and calendar apps that I could be utilizing to keep me on schedule and up to date on what I’m supposed to be doing. At work, I have an outlook calendar that could send me reminders to do things. I actually do have a few reminders set up for my payday and a few of my bills, but not much else. I have the desk calendar that I only update after the fact. I have a calendar app and a reminder app on my cell phone. I have to do lists that go on my refrigerator. All of these tools at my disposal, yet none of them being utilized to get myself organized and on task. It’s time for me to begin to implement a more structured schedule until some things become habit.

Some of the things that I will need to put on the calendar will seem silly or old-lady-who-forgets-things-ish, but this isn’t for anyone else to see. It may seem silly to schedule shower time at night or have an alarm tell me to go to sleep, but if in the end it leads to clearer skin, healthier digestive system, a cleaner house and less late fees, I am all end. Besides, I’ve been silly and uncomfortable for free; at least this will have benefits.

START: Making My Lists and Checking Them Twice

There’s something very freeing about writing a to do list and checking items off of said list. It triggers my brain to release those “I’ve accomplished something” feel good chemicals that make hard work worth it. It also means I don’t have a list of “I Meant To-Dos” a mile long for this site, Net Galley reviews, writing projects, and menial tasks like grocery shopping and getting gas that come back to bite you in the butt when you keep putting them off.

So how do I start to get things done? I am starting by making some lists, setting some alerts, and getting to work. I have started an editorial calendar for this site and will be filling in post topics, recurring features, and other sparkly things. I am writing down my internal to do lists, keeping a separate folder for each major project. To keep everything straight, I am adding it to my iPhone’s calendar feature and setting up reminders. I will post my daily to do list to the refrigerator for personal things and on my desk the night before for work related tasks. I will keep a list of when things like eggs, milk, bread, and my Brita filter expire. I will create a list of planned meals so that I can grocery shop accordingly. I am going to slowly but surely organize my life.

I know that a few to do lists and calendar alerts aren’t going to help if I don’t actually do the activities written therein. I am going to bask in this first step towards creating my best life.

Progress

I have been drinking more water all month, thanks to the Brita filter and my CK jug. I have written on a regular schedule as well. I have written two potentially life-changing emails, started researching a major project to pitch to some potential collaborators, and spent more regular time doing morning devotions. I have come up with my outline, table of contents and title for my book, and I have options for cover designers. I have an accountability partner for getting healthy and another for getting the book published. Last but not least, I finally watched and sent back my Netflix and received some new ones to watch while editing and writing today.

It’s Your Turn

  • What are you working on getting serious about?
  • What concrete steps are you taking towards accomplishing your goal right now?
  • Tell us your progress so we can cheer with you!

XOXO,

DSCF1643

Erica

Posted on

Lifestyle Changes

DSCF1643

Before I went to my high school reunion, I made a decision not to try and shed a bunch of weight or drastically change myself in the short amount of time between registering and going to the reunion. I read on some wedding articles and blogs once that you shouldn’t make drastic changes too close to your wedding day, like chopping your hair off or getting a chemical peel or facial for the first time, because something could go wrong. At certain times, it’s just better to stick with a routine. I felt like going to my reunion, I wanted to go as I was: I didn’t want to pretend that my job was more exciting than it was or that I looked better than I did; I wanted to be my normal, bubbly self.

But I haven’t been satisfied with some things in my life and I wanted to change them. I waited until after the reunion to begin to look into making some of these changes, but some seeds were sown at the reunion. One in particular was from a conversation with my friend John.

John and I at the reunion
John and I at the reunion

I hadn’t seen John since graduation, but I knew what he’d been doing from Facebook. I knew he had just completed the Insanity workout program. When we saw each other and hugged it out, I had to take a step back to take in how much fitter and happy he looked. This wasn’t the John from high school! Even as I felt my best looking days might be behind me, his were right now. I had to ask him about doing Insanity and recent lifestyle changes. “Starting out, I thought I was going to throw up and I did horribly,” he told me, rolling his eyes. “But you just have to keep doing it. It gets better; you just have to stick with it.”

I haven’t stuck with much of anything for long enough to see results, health-wise. As I’ve read over entries in the making of this site and for other projects, I have noticed how often I’ve started going to the gym only to fall off. I see where I picked up running a few times and fell off. Registering for a 5K didn’t keep me from falling out of the habit of going running. I remember seeing my co-workers face as she completed the 10K less than ten minutes after I completed the 5K, and seeing how proud she was of her accomplishment. I tried to remember the last time I felt that in regards to my life, especially in the area of heath/beauty/fitness, and I couldn’t come up with anything, not one thing that I’d finished and basked in the results.

Leaving the finish line in my dust
Leaving the finish line in my dust

Throughout the beginning of this year, I focused on going after a few dreams I’ve had for years. One of those dreams was to have a self-hosted site where I could place most, if not all, of my blogs. I buckled down on getting this accomplished. I put a lot more effort into finishing my book, focusing on just one project. I accepted a speaking engagement to promote the site.  I started to feel a bit accomplished, even though I wasn’t posting as regularly as I would like. But I knew the rest of my life wasn’t going as well. I needed to bring a bit of balance to my life.

Mr. Perfect (aka MensHealth aka Tech Support) has been trying to get me to take my health and fitness more seriously for years, but I couldn’t do it for him. Honestly, ever since college, I couldn’t do it for God, either. In college, I would tell myself my body was a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, and I needed to make sure it was a fit temple. Somewhere along the way, “my body is a temple” began to mean that I wasn’t to have sex before marriage or drink or smoke, but eating poorly and not exercising were perfectly fine, as well as not doing my hair or keeping my skin looking nice. I didn’t have any accountability in this area at all. I would get offended when people would tell me I had put on so much weight or ask me if I was pregnant. I wasn’t happy with how I looked, but I wasn’t ready to address it.

Then the mild health issues came up. I started to have a need for tums. I had such heartburn and gas in my stomach. My stomach was irritable. I was feeling so tired all the time, but not able to sleep well. My ankle, IT band, and hip hurt frequently. My apartment started to get messier and messier. I was just trying to get through the day. I am way too young for these types of aches and pains and health problems. So I began to get back into the Word and read blogs and books where people address appearance in a godly way.

DSCF1872
David, Steve, and I at the reunion.

I am slowly making changes, using the philosophy of just one thing at a time. It’s like juggling; you start out with a few, then add a ball. Then you get into a rhythm and make sure you can keep things going before you add another. I have started out with a couple of balls: drink more water, cook more at home, and do something physical every day. I order some vitamins off of Amazon after a little investigating that I hope will provide me with some nutrients that I don’t get enough of in my diet. I’m still researching different things I may want to incorporate, but this is a good start. As far as beauty is concerned, I am writing down a schedule for doing my hair and I hope to stick to it. Since I do it myself at present, including protein treatments and deep conditioning, I need to know when I did what so I don’t end up damaging it. I have a lot of hair and it gets overwhelming to keep it done, but I just have to get used to it. I bought some Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), which has a million uses, and plan to experiment with it in a few different areas.

I’m slowly starting to realize that my health and fitness is just as important in my walk with God as my willingness to serve. I can’t serve if my body isn’t working properly. I will make an effort to update on these goals often for accountability. I am still looking for an accountability partner in this area of my life, and let’s hope I find one quickly.

Just one thing at a time,

Erica