Reading Challenge 2017

In keeping with my 2017 goals, this year I am embarking on my first ever reading challenge! I know, right, so exciting. Well, actually I did participate in the Goodreads reading challenge last year, but I didn’t get on board with it until October and I only committed to three books (you know, one a month for the rest of the year) so that doesn’t really count. Anyway, I’ve been scouring Pinterest in search of just the right one, and you know what? I didn’t like any of them (boo). And then I found just the one I was looking for.

Ta-daaa!

Reading Challenge 2017 | misshapenjourney.com
Photo taken from modernmrsdarcy.com

Okay, so I know technically I’m a year behind on this. It appears this lovely blogger does a reading challenge every year, and she does have a new one up for 2017, buuut it looked complicated and scared me a little. I like this list better, and since it is my first challenge I figure I should go easy on myself. If this goes well maybe next year I’ll jump on board with the 2018 challenge.

In addition to this challenge, I have also committed on Goodreads to read 12 books this year. Since MMD’s reading challenge is for 12 books this will work out perfectly. Two commitments to the same goal? Clearly, I have to follow through. (That is how that works, right?) I haven’t decided exactly how I’m going to go about incorporating this challenge into my blog, but I do have a couple ideas, we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s to good books in 2017! And making time to read them. 

2017 Goals | A Snapshot of 2016 and A Look at the Future

2016 was a heck of a year. I know a lot of people would say the year was bizarrely harsh. If I’m being honest I’ve had better years myself. If I’m being really honest I’ve definitely had worse. I could say something really cliché, like, this has been a year of changes”, but let’s be real, every year brings changes some just more than others.

2017 Goals | A Snapshot of 2016 and a Look at the Future | misshapenjourney.com

At the start of the year, I didn’t have any delusions that it would be “my year”. I didn’t think it would be the year that I ”made it“ by any interpretation. I moved to Chicago with a specific goal in mind, and, like so many times before, that didn’t work out quite like I’d hoped. By the start of the year, I’d pretty much given up. I switched focus. I forced myself to stop thinking about the goals and dreams that brought me here and instead chose to alter how I saw my future.

Redirecting my focus has been amazing and difficult. I’ve found so many new paths and in many ways I’ve found pieces of myself that I’ve been looking for for years. Pieces of myself that I think I knew were there, that I’ve even stumbled across before, but never really took account of. I’ve learned with much more certainty what I want from life and not just the career choices I’ve chased and obsessed over for years, but even more so the person I want to be and the type of life I want to lead. Even more importantly how I want to get there.

I’ve found new creative outlets and uncovered a bajillion (yes, that’s a real word – google it) ideas and dormant passions that I’d all but forgotten I had. When I think about this new course for adventure I’m filled with excitement, peace, and a happiness I had almost given up on ever feeling. With all that said, I still find myself confronted with bouts of depression and sadness. My heart hurts. Despite the excitement for my future, this new path seems almost as unattainable as the last.

December was a hard month for me. In addition to finding myself stuck in a job I heartily dislike, I kept thinking of the life I’ve pushed aside. I spent more time in December than I had the entire year thinking about why I moved to Chicago and what if I just tried again? I feel a little torn, if I had everything lined up to be able to move forward with the life I’ve dreamed up this year, I would ironically also have everything lined up to move forward with the life I’d dreamed up 10 years ago. Ah, life, you can be so cruel.

2017 has arrived, and for some (i.e. me) it doesn’t feel any different from the year we just left. This is a new experience for me. Usually, the new year is full of excitement and plans, this year not so much. I really want to start this year off right and to lay out a kickass plan for success, but honestly, I’m a little bummed right now and I don’t really feel like it. But, I’ll give it a try.

My top five goals for 2017, in no particular order…

Grow my blog

Ideally, I am looking to make blogging my primary source of income, I cannot do this with a blog with no readers, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure my blog is reader worthy at this point. In 2017 I plan to change all that. I have 3 main blogging goals for this year.

  1. Actively look to engage and grow my reader base. Linky parties (if I can ever figure out what exactly they are and how they work), social media (particularly Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, with some Goodreads and Facebook for good measure) and Bloglovin’ I think will be my primary modes of attack.
  2. Write regularly. Write regularly. Write regularly. Oh, and WRITE REGULARLY.  I seriously slack in this area. I often have multiple posts floating around in my head, but I’m really bad at getting them out into an actual, publishable post. I’ve already started taking action to change this, so hopefully, I’ll make writing regularly a habit this year.
  3. Monetize my blog. This is a big one for me, I started this blog after reading about all the opportunities that running a successful blog could create, I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve been looking for a way to live the free-spirited life I’ve always wanted and still be able to pay my bills, blogging seems life the perfect solution. I plan to find the best blog monetization methods for me and start implementing them this year.
Move

My lease is up the end of May, and I can’t wait to move! When I first moved into my apartment the idea of living in a small studio in an older building had a fun, romantic flair to it. I was excited to live here and the old building quirks were charming and amusing. That was then. Now, I feel crowded living in a single room, the old building quirks are annoying at best, not to mention the revolving door of annoying neighbors. I’m just over it.

I know I’ve said before how much I love Chicago, and I do, but I’m itching for something new. I’ve never “settled” very well, I’ve always been eager to go to new places. When I first came to Chicago I thought I would stay here forever, and there’s a chance I might, but there’s a part of me that is really wanting to go somewhere new. Of course, there are several things to consider before making any decisions, but leaving Chicago is definitely an option I’m leaving open.

Whether I stay in Chicago or not is yet to be determined, but leaving my little studio is a definite. I’m really excited to move, but also apprehensive, because moving is hard.

Pay down/off debt

This is one of the issues I’ll have to deal with before I make any solid decisions about where I’ll be moving. This is also an ongoing issue that I’ve been working on for the last several months, and something I’m hoping blogging will be able to help me with in the long run.

A couple of years ago money issues were at their peak, I landed myself in a great deal of additional (yes, additional) debt. I’ve been struggling to get my head above water for about 3 years. Moving to Chicago was supposed to help, and it has, but it’s also given me some additional struggles. In 2016 I finally stabilized financially, which is great, but I’m still not where I want to be. This year I’m looking to put the bulk of my debt behind me, and I am definitely not looking to incur anything new.

Invest more time in lost passions

I already said in 2016 that I rediscovered some things about myself that I’d lost or forgotten about. For example, I used to read, like, all the time. In addition, I read a lot of classic literature, you know the stuff they make cliff notes for, but I did it willingly and I didn’t need it explained to me. In the last several years my joy of reading has been put aside to allow me to focus on what I viewed as my top priorities. I hadn’t realized it until last year, but I miss reading.

My time away from books has had a sad impact on my brain functions. While I used to breeze through the uncommon language of 19th-century prose, I find that now I struggle with the similar but modernized language of recent books set in the 19th century. I’ve noticed other aspects of my dwindling intellect too; frankly, I used to be smarter. I’m hoping I can redeem my mind if I return to my old book friends.

In addition to reading, I have a list of other hobbies I used to enjoy that have taken a back seat to daily survival that I’m hoping to revisit. They include: playing piano, baking, sewing, writing (I used to write small stories, now I write blogs, maybe I’ll write stories too), running, exploring nature. I’m sure I’ll think of more throughout the year too.

Be a more present friend

Not everything is about me. The last few years have been rough, like really rough. While dealing with my life’s problems I’ve cut myself off from those around me, those I love. I’ve actively avoided people, I’ve left unsaid words of support and condolences while people I care about struggled, I’ve skipped over birthdays and other anniversaries. I’ve been so wrapped up in me, that I’ve deliberately separated myself from the world around me including MY people. I’ve been a bit of a shit.

I’m not one to apologize for self-care, it’s important to look after yourself and not to sacrifice yourself on the altar of “friendship” but self-care is also not an altar on which to sacrifice relationships. No matter how shitty your life may be, it’s not so bad that you can’t take the 10 seconds required to shoot out a “Happy Birthday” greeting or an “I’m sorry for [fill in the blank]”. Social media makes it so easy to stay connected to people no matter where they are. If your current circumstances require a level of self-care that you can’t do a full conversation or an in-person catch-up, the least you can do is acknowledge your friends and family with an online nudge. Let them know you are there, and you care (unless you don’t care, in which case you should probably remove them from your life instead of just avoiding them).

This year I mean to do better towards my people. Things were rough, and while they certainly are not where I want them, they are certainly not where they were. I can do better. I will do better.

So, there’s a snapshot of my main goals for the year. I have other things I want to do too, some wrap up into the items listed above, some stand on their own. Maybe when I’m feeling a little less sorry for myself and the most immediate struggles I’m dealing with have subsided I’ll expand on this list.

Writing this post has helped pull me out of my funk. I should probably force myself to think on positive things when I’m down more often.

Gratitude: Day 15 | Your Favorite Time of Day

My favorite time of day for as long as I can remember has been mid-morning, between 9 am and 11 am. There are a few other times of day I enjoy, some of them vary by season, but these 2 hours remain consistent. Unfortunately this ideal time of day, for me, is usually spent in a windowless room staring at boards and monitors hating everything, but on my days off this time of morning is my happiness.

Gratitude: Day 15 | Your Favorite Time of Day | misshapenjourney.com

I’m not really a morning person, in that I don’t really like getting out of bed, or waking up to alarms, but I do enjoy the morning when I get to actually enjoy it rather than rush through it. If I didn’t have to get up and go to work (particularly a job I don’t enjoy) I would always be up early. I love lazy mornings, slow mornings.

When I was little my dad used to get up before dawn to go to work. I would always get up just after he left and go out and sit with my mom. She would make me hot chocolate and we would usually watch QVC. I inevitably would always fall asleep on the couch for a couple of hours and then get up again at a more normal time, but those wee hours of the morning were always special for me.

Now that I’m older the only time I’m up before dawn is when I’m stressed or otherwise have insomnia. I don’t mind being up around 7, but the earlier part of morning doesn’t carry any special feeling for me. Mid-morning is the time of day I love. It’s when the world seems to wake up. In the fall/winter the overnight frost starts to melt, in spring/summer the dew begins to dry, the birds and animals start getting active and there’s something special in the air.

These days it’s hard for me to find things that make me really happy and peaceful, even during my favorite time of day. It seems I’m always focused on the things that bring me grief and stress. It’s hard for me to focus on what I enjoy when those things are so easily drowned out by the rest of life. I’m working on changing that. I have some plans (which I’ll try to share in due time) that will hopefully help me replace some hours of anxiety with hours of peace and growth.

What is your favorite time of day?