— Clean and organize my toiletries. — Sort through books and put some in storage. — Update my resume and portfolio website. — Read 10 books. — Have an adventure day. — Keep writing my newsletter. — Write 3 blog posts a week. — Write 3 freelance articles. — Pitch a book review to a website. — Write 5,000 words for a writing project.
My priority this month:
Mental and physical health.
Lots of these goals come from my 2019 goals, if you missed that post!
I went to an exhibit called NOTORIOUS RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Skirball Cultural Center this weekend. It was lovely.
Here’s the museum’s description:
With so much at stake on the Supreme Court, come explore the American judicial system through one of its sharpest legal minds. Coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of her appointment to the high court, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever retrospective about the famed associate justice and American cultural icon.
The night before, I went to see On the Basis of Sex, the movie about RBG’s life that stars Felicity Jones, and I cried for half the movie because I felt so inspired. The exhibit was no different.
We weren’t allowed to take photos, but it was so lovely. Each section of Ruth’s life is in its own little interactive section: a living room set up for her early life, a car for her early marriage, her desk set up for her life on the Supreme Court. You can put on a judge’s robe and sit behind the Supreme Court bench to pose for a photo. I heard a woman when we were leaving say that the exhibit was so much better than she expected. I knew it was going to be good, but I agreed: it was much more interactive than I’d expected.
It would be easy to make this exhibit information-heavy, but it didn’t feel that way. Instead it felt like I was walking through Ruth’s life and learning about her impact on those around her and then later, the country as a whole. Ruth had never intended to become a judge; she instead saw herself as an advocate for others, especially the marginalized. She co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights project and sought to strike down sex discrimination laws one by one. She also had a truly equal partnership with her husband, a rarity at the time. She is amazing.
The combination of the film and the exhibit had a profound effect on me. I’d already known that Ruth was a hero, but to hear about the specifics of her life really cemented that for me.
The exhibit is open at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019. Adult tickets for the museum are $12, and the exhibit is included in the ticket price.
In addition to monthly goals, I like to set quarterly goals to make sure I’m keeping myself on track. A few years ago I read a book called the 12 Week Year, which suggests dividing your year into 12 week chunks to better get things done. The idea is that you try to do less in less, more focused time. The original idea is that you take 12 weeks and then a week of resting. I prefer to do it in quarters, which is 3 months.
I broke down my 2019 goals into smaller chunks for this. These are the goals I’m hoping to accomplish through the end of March, at which point I’ll come up with new goals and start again!
Goal 1: Manage my money well.
— Hit emergency fund goal. — Pay taxes and use any refund to pay off credit card debt. — Reduce debt to less than $500.
Goal 2: Finish novel draft.
— Sketch out rough novel plan. — Identify a writer’s group to join for support.
Goal 3: Maintain a thriving online presence.
— Hit my goal of 100 newsletter subscribers. — Get published on another website. — Polish portfolio site to best represent me. — Blog 3 times a week each week for the whole quarter. — Write about my 2018 concerts, my 2019 word of the year, and three “deep/feelings” posts.
Goal 4: Love others well by showing up for them.
— Schedule hang outs with friends. — Send 12 cards or letters to people I love. — Celebrate people well for their accomplishments and just because. — Give good gifts.
Goal 5: Live with less to experience more.
— Participate in a Contentment Challenge in February. — Give away 15 books I won’t read anymore. — Organize the clothes in my drawer (possibly try the KonMari method for clothing.)
Goal 6: Develop heart healthy habits.
— Get back into running with a 10k race in mid-February. — Eat vegetables every day. — Simplify meal prep with recipe lists and follow through with meal prep on weekends.
Goal 7: Explore new places + things.
— Have two adventure days (three if I can swing it.) — Do 4 things from my list of 111 things to do in Los Angeles. — Blog about each of those things. — Try two new-to-me restaurants.
Goal 8: Read 100 books in 2019.
— Read 30 books. — Blog books each month. — Post a quarterly wrap up of my book thoughts + feelings. — Hit 450 followers on my bookstagram.
Goal 9: Record my memories creatively.
— Try to stretch my bullet journal to last through the end of the quarter if possible. — Keep up with the One Little Word project. — Organize photos twice monthly. — Craft either through Project Life or a possible other scrapbook project.
I’ll check in again the week of February 10th, the midpoint of Q1, to see how things are going and how I can adjust from here.
As an enneagram 3, goal setting is my absolute + forever jam. I’ve been using the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets to help me set goals for a few years now. (My 2018 goals are here.)
Here’s what I have for this year.
Manage my money well.
What this looks like for me: paying off debt, hitting my emergency fund goal, starting a longer term savings fund, and continuing to use You Need A Budget (that’s an affiliate link, FYI, and if you use it you’ll get a free month). It looks like learning how to invest and figuring out how I can start saving for retirement. It looks like spending money only I have and being smarter with my money. It looks like saving for a trip. It looks like being able to give people gifts and make donations to causes I care about.
Finish novel draft.
What this looks like for me: finally doing the damn thing! Hoping to start on this in Q2.
Maintain a thriving online presence.
What this looks like for me: keeping up with blogging on a regular basis, getting published on another website, keeping up with writing my newsletter and getting more subscribers, and telling my story.
Love others well by showing up for them.
What this looks like for me: making more time for others through hanging out with friends, sending them cards just because, and letting them know I’m thinking of them. It looks like volunteering and being there for people.
Live with less to experience more.
What this looks like for me: purging my stuff, donating it, and buying less in the first place. It looks like doing a Contentment Challenge. It looks like sharing the wealth, hitting up the library, and shopping in thrift stores.
Develop heart healthy habits.
What this looks like for me: becoming healthier mentally + physically. Committing to November Project. Running more. Stretching more. Getting a half marathon PR. Training myself to be ready to run another marathon. Eating in ways that fuel me in the long term. Eating more whole foods. Going to therapy.
Explore new places + things.
What this looks like for me: visiting new places in California. Doing 15 things from my book of 111 things to do in Los Angeles. Having more adventure days. Saying yes.
Read 100 books in 2019.
What this looks like for me: Reading 100 books! I talked more in depth about my specific goals here.
Record my memories creatively.
What this looks like for me: keeping up with my bullet journal, Project Life, and my 1 Second Everyday video. It looks like creating for myself.
I’ve already started on some of these goals, and I’m excited to see what this year brings!
After not quite meeting my reading goals for 2018, I’m excited for a fresh start to set some new reading-related goals for this year!
This year, I will…
Read 100 books. I’m back with a second attempt at this goal. I know it’s doable if I keep up the pace of reading.
Read 60 books I own. Like many book lovers, I’m incredibly guilty of buying new books in favor of reading the ones I own. I’ll be moving some time this spring, and I don’t want to move alllll those books again.
Participate in the RAD Reading Challenge. I love Rachel’s blog and I’m excited to participate in this with her.
Read at least 10 books from the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge list. I want to say I will complete the whole list, but I’m not sure that’s realistic with my other goals! But the secret goal is to complete the whole list.
Keep tracking my reading and to-be-read lists. I’m going to do this this year with Goodreads and a (yet-to-be-created) spreadsheet. This will help with my next goal, which is…
Read 75% books by women and people of color. I had this goal last year and I fell behind on the data aspect of this, so I have no clue how I did.
Keep up with book club. I started a book club in the fall of 2017, and life events have kept me from going the last few months. I want to get back to it, because I love it.
Get my monthly reviews up on the blog in the first week of the month. Last year I wasn’t great about this, and it led to a backup, which for me leads to inaction.
Post quarterly reading updates. I love writing reviews, but I also want to write deeper thoughts about a few books I’ve especially loved over the last quarter.
Keep posting on my bookstagram. I’m loving the community over there, and I want to focus on interacting with people who love books as much as I do! It’s so fun to have people to talk about books with, and I get lots of ideas for books to try
Use the library more. I want to check the availability at the library first instead of deferring to online book shopping.
Stop reading books I’m not loving. I’m awful at this because I feel so guilty and I want to be able to count the book in my yearly book goal. That’s dumb and life is short and I should only be reading books I love.
I read 78 books in 2018, more than I’ve ever read before. Some books I loved, some I hated, and some were fine but forgettable. Today, I’m sharing the ones that have stuck with me. They may not be the best books of all time or ones that will win any literary awards, but here are ones I can’t stop thinking about and hope to reread one day.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies
This list is in no particular order, but this book absolutely gets the top spot. This book has everything: it’s the saga of one man’s life growing up in Ireland, picking up with him every 7 years to see what he’s up to. It shows how Ireland’s cultural attitudes changed over time and how Cyril adapts to them. It stuck with me because it’s gutting and heartwrenching, but so, so good.. It made me happy and it made me cry. It’s one of those books that only comes around once in a while.
This book stuck with me because it’s like Friday Night Lights, but set in Sweden instead of Texas, and with hockey instead of football. It’s the story of how one small town’s obsession with its youth hockey team is a positive force for so many, but ultimately destructive in other ways. It’s about family and growing up and becoming an adult. The emotion in this book is unparalleled. I loved it.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
This book about the Golden State Killer was published after the author’s death, and shortly after that, the killer was captured. This book stuck with me because it’s like a cross between a novel and a textbook: the depictions of the killer breaking into houses are so vivid from people’s memories that it was easy at times to forget these things actually happened. It’s the first true crime book I’ve read in a long time that I wasn’t able to stop thinking about.
The Great Alone
I have recommended this book to everyone I know. Kristin Hannah is incredible. This book is about a teenage girl that moves to Alaska on the whim of her father, a Vietnam vet who struggles with PTSD. Everything is fine at first, but then it gets closer to winter, and trouble strikes. This book stuck with me because evokes such specific feelings. I felt the cold of Alaska, I felt the stress of being in that situation, and I felt stressed right along with the characters.
This book, a story of four siblings who visit a fortune teller to find out the date of their deaths, ripped me apart. It stuck with me because the siblings all approached their lives differently after the meeting, some in healthy ways and others in healthy ways. It made me wonder if I would want to know the date of my death if I had the opportunity. I feel like I wouldn’t, but I can see how knowing would make me concentrate on what I really cared about. It’s helpful to remember that any day COULD be the last day, and I should be living in a positive way as if it is.
Instead of doing a typical “year in review” post, I’ve decided to instead recap the best of each month of the year. To do this, I went through my monthly highlights on Instagram and wrote down the very best things!
I spent the first day of the year in San Diego. I woke up early and went to visit November Project San Diego, which was my first ‘traverbal’ and so fun, even if my parents were hesitant about dropping me off at 6 am in a park on a foggy morning. The Patriots made it to the playoffs. I ran my fifth half marathon, this time with my friend Mallory.
I saw The Killers in concert on the first of the month and Dua Lipa the following week. I started cycling classes. I had feelings about doing the damn thing, aka making it work in LA. I read a lot of books, saw Black Panther, and started watching Queer Eye.
I turned 25 with a really fun celebration. I went to a lot of movies. I ran a marathon! I tried to go home but my flight was cancelled for a snowstorm on the East Coast. I had extra time in LA as a result. I worked at the Irish Film Festival in Boston, and I got to hug my dog!
I voted in my first California primary. I did two workouts on Global Running Day, one in the morning with November Project and the second with Lululemon. I went to Pride. I ended the month in Santa Barbara visiting my friend Sarah.
I got a fun freelance gig. I saw The Goblet of Fire at the Hollywood Bowl, with an orchestra playing the film score. I saw Harry Styles Live on Tour two nights in a row. I flew to Philadelphia, where I got to hug my friend Sara, and then made my way up the East Coast. My second stop was New York, where I stayed with two different friends and decided that California was still where I wanted to be living for now. My last stop was home, where I saw my dog, hugged my family, and went to the beach.
I saw Niall Horan in concert three times in one week: once in Irvine, CA, and twice at the Greek Theatre (my fave) in LA. I ran a lot. A picture from my bookstagram was featured in a post on Buzzfeed. I went to Disneyland three times in one weekend, since my pass was about to expire. November Project did Hell Week, which involved five straight days of workouts. I saw Panic! at the Disco in concert. I saw my friend Mallory again. I flew to Denver and saw Niall Horan at Red Rocks.
I went to the Getty Museum with Bri. I ran a 5k race, my first official race since the Marathon in March. I hiked a mountain, and thought I would maybe die in the process. I had my first Adventure Day, which involved seeing Needtobreathe in concert. I went to a book swap, and came away with a bunch of books. I saw Bastille in concert. I started marathon training.
I went to Malibu Wines with friends. The Red Sox made the playoffs and then won the World Series against the Dodgers (while in LA!) so that was very fun for this Boston transplant. I got a new job at Athleta and made good use of the generous discount right from the start.
I voted in the midterm elections and got a long overdue haircut the same day. I got a massage due to some back issues, and contemplated making it a regular monthly thing (still haven’t bit the bullet, but hopefully!). I ran a turkey trot and got to see my friend Mallory again. Had a surprise welcome home party for my friend Molly.
I started the month with a new job at the LA Marathon and put my LA marathon dreams on hold as a result, since I now have to work that weekend. I saw Picture This in concert the same day I started the job. I caught up with friends over coffee dates and dinners. I started a newsletter, Three Things on Thursday. I went to Ireland for Christmas and New Years, my first time in the country since July 2016.
The two books I read in December were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Both were great. That’s a boring blog post, so instead I’m going to talk about my experience of reading all seven Harry Potter books this year.
For years I intended to read the series in its entirety but never quite got around to it. Truthfully, I’d usually get stuck on the first or second book. Those are the ones I’d read the most, and definitely the quickest reads, which is why it’s ironic that I’d get stuck there. I just didn’t want to read them for the 15th time, and I’d stop.
But this year I kept going and pushed through, and it was totally worth it.
In re-reading the series, I got to rediscover the characters I grew up with. I was seven when I read the first book. I don’t think it needs to be said how important the Harry Potter series has been to my development.
I learned that my favorite book is no longer Order of the Phoenix but rather Goblet of Fire or Deathly Hallows. I learned that the comments made after the 2016 election about how the books are alarmingly applicable to current times are true. I learned that I still want to be Hermione when I grow up. I learned that this series is as applicable to me now at 25 as it was when I was 10 years old. I get different things out of it now, but I love it just the same. I hope it’ll be as applicable in another 15 years.
I know I’m romanticizing a book series, but it’s something I can’t help. It’s part of who I am, and I’m happy for that to be the case.
I won’t be doing another reread in 2019, but if you’re on the fence about doing one, I definitely recommend it. My practical tips:
Start early, and keep going. I ended up reading the last two books in the last two weeks of the year. I was reading the last one on the car ride home on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. I made it in the end, but I’d have preferred to avoid that if possible.
Plan it out. If you’ll need to borrow the books from a friend or a library, give yourself plenty of time to get a copy. You don’t want to be stuck on December 29th looking for the last book.
Don’t read them all in a row – or do! There’s no right way to go about doing this. Maybe you want to immerse yourself in the world, or maybe you want to sprinkle the books in amidst your other books for the year. Whatever way you choose, I hope you enjoy the ride!
I’m taking a page out of Kristin‘s book and updating you on current events in a coffee date format. I have so much to catch up on and this way is fun. I have plenty of posts in the pipeline – including lots of posts that would traditionally come at the end of the year! – and a catch up post is a great way to get started.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I had the very best time in Ireland over the last two weeks. I was ready to come back, but man do I miss it. I haven’t relaxed so much in a very long time. I got to see almost all of my family, I sent a lot of nights catching up with people over drinks and a lot of mornings catching up over tea, and we had the best weather. My granny always says that my dad gets the really good weather when he’s there, and I’m starting to think that there must be some truth to it.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I started a newsletter! I’d love for you to sign up HERE. It’s called Three Things on Thursday, and in it I share three fun things I’ve learned, read, or watched recently that I think you should check out. I’ve wanted to do a newsletter for a long while now, and it’s so fun to actually make it happen.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I fell short of my 2018 books goal by 18 books, and I’m strangely okay with it! I can identify some of the reasons I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, but at the end of the day it just didn’t happen, and that’s fine. I can tell you that I’m shooting for 100 books again this year, in an attempt to redeem myself. I’m on my third book of the year already, which is progress! Stay tuned for more thoughts about books.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that my roommate Bri and I watched the Reputation tour video on Netflix last night and relieved seeing Taylor Swift live last summer! I’m listening to it again now as I type this. We saw her in May (I’m planning to write a post about 2018 in concerts, because I went to a lot) and she was incredible. The tour video is great, PLUS she sings All Too Well, which is one of my absolute favorite songs.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that my mantra for 2019 is ‘less useless shame.’ This is something I’m already putting into practice. For me it’s about caring less what other people think and putting worries aside to do whatever I want. It’s not about being perfect, but rather about not feeling bad for being myself. I’m trying to become a person who allows herself to feel things fully and does what she wants, and this is helping, four days in.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m reading a great, sad, heart wrenching book right now: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. My friend Rachel recommended it to me. I keep thinking that the title is “Beautiful Ruins” and I have literally no reasons for that. (I actually think that’s a different book entirely.) It’s set between two time periods, and one in 1985 Chicago and the other in 2015 Paris. I’m only halfway through, but I definitely recommend it so far.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I finally decided that I’m going to do a 6×8 album for Project Life in 2019. I had grand dreams of completing a 9×12 album, because that’s my favorite layout, but I just don’t think it’s realistic. The 6×8 album is the one that I’m most likely to complete. It’s a smaller, more manageable size, and I’m going to make the most of it. Project Life is something I’ve always wanted to blog about, so I’m hoping to make this happen in 2019.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I bought AirPods yesterday with my Christmas money. They’re definitely an investment, but I already feel like they’re worth it. They connect instantly, the sound quality seems great, and somehow they work well when you’re on a call even though they’re nowhere close to your mouth. I think my favorite thing about them is that I don’t feel the need to be attached to my phone. I’m trying to get better about putting my phone down and being a bit more unplugged. I’m hoping this helps. I already can see myself using them while I cook or clean or read, and I won’t need to be attached to my phone.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that I’m really excited about my goals for 2019. Oddly, this is the first January that the first of the year hasn’t felt like a big old restart button; it just feels like I’m carrying on with my regular life in a new month! Not sure what that means but also not really into trying to analyze it. Just gonna roll with the punches!
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that this is my first weekend off in two months (barring vacation, obviously). I get both days off from the store and I am thrilled to get to sleep in and take things a little bit slower. December especially was an incredibly hectic month, so two days at home is just what I’m looking for. What are you up to this weekend?
So it’s pretty clear I’m not gonna meet my reading goal for this year. To be honest, I’m surprisingly okay with it. 100 books in a year was an ambitious goal, and I hoped I’d meet it, but unless I want to read 24 books in the two weeks, it’s not happening. My hope for December is to read the last two Harry Potter books, and if I read anything extra on top of that, it’s great.
If you had asked me my favorite Harry Potter book a year ago, it would’ve been Order of the Phoenix. Now that I’ve reread it, I cannot tell you what I was thinking for all those years. This is a good book, but it’s fairly boring a lot of the time. It perfectly captures what it’s like to be 15, and I absolutely understand why Harry is so angry throughout the book, but I just didn’t want to read it. If we’re totally honest, this book is the reason I didn’t get through many books this month – I just felt like I was reading it for so long. S
This is a first person recollection of Addie’s life growing up in early 20th century Boston as the daughter of Jewish Russian immigrants. She’s being interviewed by her granddaughter for a school project and telling her granddaughter all about her life. I borrowed it from my mom, who thought I would like it. It’s a cute read, and I loved that I recognized a number of the places mentioned. Critical reviews on Goodreads have mentioned that numerous historical events have been sanitized, and I sort of agree with them, but I also thought it was just a fun book. It’s definitely sad at times, but overall I loved how hopeful it felt, and how it showed that women throughout history can be the same despite all our differences. (Cheese alert much?)
I wrote my senior high school thesis on female bullying in literature. This book feels like the opposite of that. It’s all about how female friendships shape our lives. In some cases they’re stronger than our relationships with our significant others, more enduring and solid, and this book did a great job of conveying that. It’s a bit more research-focused than I was expecting, but I found I really enjoyed it. This book had me texting my friends with goosebumps on my arms to tell them how much I adore them.
I don’t want to say too much about this book; I think it’s better if you just read it. Briefly, it’s about a young man who wants to be a published author but is a terrible writer, and all the awful things he does to get to the top. Parts of it flat out shocked me because of how ruthless he is. I picked this immediately from Book of the Month when I saw who the author was – you may recall that I deeply loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies. This book is different, and not quite as engaging, but still really interesting. Also a lot shorter, if that’s your thing 🙂
I bought this for myself for my birthday in March because I wanted to buy a book that would make me laugh. This nearly qualified. It’s not laugh out loud funny but it’s definitely worth a read, ideally if you can get it at low cost. My favorite parts of this book of autobiographical essays were the ones about how weird moving to Los Angeles and seeing just how damn hard Anna had to work to get where she is. And yes, she was the best friend in Twilight.