2017 Reading Goals

We are 22 days into the new year, and I am finally getting around to writing my reading goals.  This year’s goals are a bit different, but I am hoping they prove to keep me motivated to read and, most importantly, encourage my love of reading to grow further.

As some may know, I am a grad student in an online program.  I will complete my program on March 12th, which means that roughly the first two and a half months of 2017 are dedicated to my Capstone and not personal interests such as reading.  2015 and 2016 were slower reading years for me because of school work and working full time.  In 2016 I didn’t even set a Goodreads goal.  Which brings me to the fist 2017 reading goal.

  1. NOT setting a Goodreads goal.  It may sound crazy and even counter productive in some ways, but not setting a goal has allowed me to choose more books that I’ve been wanting to read but have put off because of length or just simply because I felt they were too much to tackle to get through and process in a quick fashion.  No posted goal where I log in and the website tells me I’m behind x number of books means I don’t feel stressed about something I shouldn’t be stressed about anyway.
  2. Read books I already own.  Between my husband and I we hover somewhere around 1,000 books in our home.  While some of these are technical and DIY books my husband uses for his various interests and projects, many of them are books that should be read and loved.  I spent so much time in the last few years trying to grab all the best and newest releases I learned of from BookTube videos, that my own personal collection – each that has been chosen for some reason by my husband or myself – has been falling to the back burner.  This means shelves of books I haven’t read, or books that I read so long ago but don’t recall much of because I was trying to cram so many books into a year.  While I won’t stop buying books all together – especially at library book sales – I won’t be purchasing like a crazy lady like I was for a while there.
  3.  Purge the bookshelves.  I’ve done several unhauls over the past few years, and I want to continue doing so.  Instead of holding on to books that I won’t read again, I am going to be getting rid of them.  If I loved or really enjoyed a book, then I can keep it.  I want my bookshelves to tell their own story of our literary tastes, and that cannot be done with mediocre books that we won’t be picking up again or recommending to anyone.
  4. Don’t force myself to read anything.  I get this idea in my head that if everyone loves a book I have to at least finish it.  I hate to DNF a book, but sometimes it happens.  Too many wonderful books to read out there in the world, no reason to stick with something that isn’t appealing to me.

And that’s about it… I think.  Basically I want to enjoy reading for fun again and focus on my own shelves.

Hopefully I will be back soon with another update… but that will depend on how fast my brain goes to mush from this Capstone.

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Achieve.

If you’ve followed me on any blog I’ve ever had, I tend to buck the idea of the New Year’s Resolution trend.  Instead, I choose a word that becomes *my* word for the year.
A few years running I used “Believe”.  It’s my favorite word and not hard to see why it’s a good word to use to help guide you.  Focusing on faith and a belief that I can do anything and that anything is possible was a good foundation.
Last year was “Authentic”.  I wanted to be more me than I ever had been.  I achieved this by studying my heart out, standing up for myself a bit more, speaking out about more about the causes I am passionate about, a few new tattoos, and some funky hair color choices – just to name a few.

This year I was struggling to choose a word.  My husband suggested “Achieve”.  The more I thought on it, the more sense it made.  In March of this year I will have my Master’s degree – a major achievement for me.  I also want to achieve other goals such as: getting closer to buying a house, adopting a healthier lifestyle, organizing every part of my house, even simple sounding things such as reading more books.

I simply want to achieve things that will, likely, make my life happier/healthier.  These things can allow my husband and I to move forward together and start new adventures.  Some of you know that we have been struggling to get pregnant for over three years, and so far no luck.  By making these changes I am hopeful that either a) God will step in where science is telling us no or b) it will open new doors and other avenues for us.

So, here’s to 2017 and achieving all I can to be better for myself and those around me.

A year in review

I keep seeing these 2016 dumpster fire memes.  I feel lucky to say that that wasn’t completely the case for me.  While school and mental health kept me from blogging often, I experienced quite a bit this year.  So, here’s a quick review of 2016:

January – A fairly quiet month.  My husband’s beloved Ford Ranger finally died for good which left us as a one car household for a bit.  One of my idols – David Bowie- passed away.  It was cold, a lot.

February- After several pushed off coffee dates one of my best friends, the woman who has been in my life for 25 years, called me.  Which terrified me – we hardly ever talk on the phone.  She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding in the summer.  I, of course, accepted.  We also went bridesmaid dress shopping this month.
At the end of the month my car died… leaving us without a car for a few days.  Talk about a humbling experience.  I realized how much I take for granted having my own reliable transportation.
I also got to meet author Rainbow Rowell and her her speak!  I have a post here that explains why this was so huge for me – not only meeting one of my favorite authors of all time, but also overcoming my anxiety to go alone.

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March- March 1st my husband and I went to a car dealership where a friend works to talk about maybe, possibly leasing a used car.  We drove off the lot that night in my first ever brand new car – a 2016 Kia Forte that we named Fiona.

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I got to meet Author Markus Zusak and here him speak!  One of my all time favorite book is The Book Thief.

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April – I got another new tattoo bringing my total to three at that time.  This time it was the stars in the Harry Potter books on my foot.

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My grandmother, my last living grandparent, passed away at the age of 102.

May- The bridal shower for my best friends wedding took place early in the month, it was a surprise shower and went off quite well!

June – Wedding day!  The wedding was perfect and beautiful!

wedding

The Cleveland Cavs won a championship and our city went NUTS.  It was so amazing to watch it happen (granted I watched on TV).  Cleveland also had a huge victory parade!

July – I got another new tattoo, this time a bookish theme.

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I also, for the first time in my life, dyed my hair a non natural color, purple.  Not the whole thing, but enough that it was noticeable and I LOVED it. Also cut it way shorter.  LOVE.

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I turned 34 on the 31st.

August – Went to my first burlesque show, ever.  Even better was that a dear friend was performing and I was able to go with some amazing friends.

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This was a rough month.. major tragedy struck one of my best friends.  However, I am happy I was able to be there for her.

September- I learned my own level of capability when once again, I was left without a co-teacher for a bit (which started back in August).  However, through some great teamwork I made it through Meet the Teacher night in one piece.

October – I met my childhood writing icon… R.L. Stine.

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I participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk with some amazing friends.

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I also went on a great pumpkin and apple picking adventure with my darling husband.

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November- Another new hair style.  A bit shorter and darker with teal. Election day.  Much sadness.  Enough said.

December – Christmas festivities and a fun game night for a friend’s birthday.Christmas break – nine full days off wok.  Always nice.

And there you have it.  My 2016 year in review.  At lest some main points.  I plan to update in the next few days about my goals and word for 2016.  So, until then.

Because it’s been the better part of a year…

It has been a busy year.  A good year, overall.. but a busy year.  I have somewhere around 80 drafts of posts I have started and just never finished because my attention span is that of a goldfish most days.  Ideally, when I have a week off (starting in like ten days) I want to do a year in review.  Maybe get back into blogging like I once did.

Basically this is a place holder.  I’m alive and fairly well.  Not sure why I thought that doing my thesis in the dead of winter when seasonal depression rears it’s ugly head was the best fucking idea ever… but that will be starting in a few weeks.  Christmas in 11 days… my favorite time of year.  Trying to cram three weeks of school work into this week and be done by Sunday night so next week and the week after I can enjoy the holiday (and that break).

Planned posts… maybe? Include my year in review, a (very short) reading year in review, a coping cosmetics/skills/self care type deal, what it’s like to live with a chronic illness for me, and a backstory of my love affair with books.

So here’s hoping I’ll see y’all soon.

2016 Reading Goals

Alright, if you read my last post this title may seem counter productive since I mentioned that I was not planning on having a set number of books to read in 2016.  The reasons for this are many.

Namely, grad school has taken up quite a bit of my free time, and when I had a number goal -especially early on last year, I felt like I *had* to read in order to try to achieve my goal.  Sometimes, I just wanna binge watch Netflix a few days on end in my free time and NOT read. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, but yet I was feeling like every free second should be spent with my nose in a book.  I think that’s why I was feeling so slumpy all year.

So, if I am not setting a number goal what’s the point of this post?  Well, there are other goals reading and book wise that I can achieve, or at least try to.  These are things that have no bearing on how many books or pages I read.  If I don’t hit them, then I don’t… but it’s just an idea of what I would like to do with my reading time this year.

The first thing is my book buying habits.  Two years ago I was buying everything I could get my hands on.  I had lists of popular, mostly YA, books and series I needed.  Most of those have since been passed on or sold off.  I need to stick with what I am feeling at the time.  This past year I did better, with the exception of one library bag sale that led me to buy nearly 100 books (well between my husband and I).  I still love buying books and I still strive to have an amazing personal library.  With that said, it needs to be made up of what I (and my husband) enjoy and not just what’s popular.  I want to continue to buy physical books (duh) – but I want to do so by visiting charity shops, small local stores, and library sales more than purchasing from Amazon and other big book sellers.

With that said, what good is a personal library if you never use it?!  I have so many books on my physical TBR shelves that I have intentions to read but I never do for whatever reason.    I need to start going through those books and reading them.  If I enjoy it, back on the shelf it goes.  If I don’t into the sell pile it goes.

Using my Kindle more – both for buying books and reading them.

Finally, the books I read.  I want to have a good variety and quality this year.  I feel like last year was lacking and that makes me sad.  By tackling some of my physical TBR this will help.  I need to stop being intimidated by size of a book and just read it – even if it takes months and I am breaking it up with other books.  If I am enjoying it that’s all that matters.

One thing I am leaving off this year is my promise to review every book.  I did very very few reviews last year.  I do want to do more, I would love to get into reviewing everything I read.. and maybe I will try to do better but if I don’t… whatever.

I am hoping to get a best of/worst of post up soon for the books I have read in 2015.

Til next time…

 

Authentic.

So about a year ago I chose the word “Be.” as my word for 2015.  A one word mantra, if you will.  I did my best to stick to that.  I worked hard to be present in the moment, I did my very best to keep myself calm even in times where I wanted to lose my shit (I wasn’t always perfect, but I did try).

In that post I also mentioned things such as:  blogging a review on each book I read, womp womp.  Sticking with this blog, well… not updating often, but I do still use it.  I mentioned my hopes of becoming a mother in 2015, which sadly wasn’t meant to be.  But, through it all I realized how freeing it was to just be present in my life.  Some things haven’t changed much… my iPhone is still an attachment to my hand in any situation that I am even remotely anxious in – it’s a coping mechanism, and I know I’m not alone in that.  I still much prefer to be home and binge watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime rather than going out – and I am absolutely awful at making and keeping plans.  My anxiety issues have grown slightly, and I have some thoughts on that topic that I will, hopefully, remember to share soon.

So, I had to ask myself what I want out of 2016.  What word could I use this year to keep tucked away as a mantra to help me grow and learn.  This year I am choosing “Authentic”.  This is because in the last year I have become more un-apologetically myself than I have ever dared to be before.  I have always relied so heavily on what people think, and I am starting to let go of that.  For nearly my whole life I would consult my mom on things – ideas I had, a new bedspread or shoes.  I never felt confident in my choices without someone close to me backing me up.  And this past year, I realized I can be confident without someone’s explicit consent.

In order to be the authentic me, I need to do what I feel is best.  Go with what I like/enjoy and not worry what someone else might think, especially if they may not like it.  That’s not to say this is in everything, because I am a happily married woman so my husband’s thoughts do come into play on some things.

I will continue on in school and do my best- it has been so good for me in a lot of ways, even when I am feeling burned out and too exhausted to think.
I will, hopefully, get more ink – getting my first two tattoos helped me feel complete in a way that I didn’t realize I craved.  Putting my story onto my skin isn’t a testament to the world, but rather a way to honor myself for myself.
I will be working on getting our home set more to what WE want- It doesn’t matter who else likes it, as long as we do.  Time to get that in gear.
Along with that, working to find organization and routines that work for us to keep things looking good around here because chaos makes my brain fuzzy.

I will be working on my physical self – eating better, sleeping better, and getting into better shape.  It will only benefit me on several levels.
I will NOT be setting a reading challenge this year – I think part of my issue with reading the past few years has been that I was so concerned with meeting a certain number of books.  I started and never finished so many books, and wouldn’t even attempt longer books.  My hope is that by not setting a specific goal, I will read and enjoy more.

Here’s hoping for a beautiful 2016.  I hope a year from tonight I can look back and smile at how things have changed.

My Sorority Experience

Well… this one has been bouncing around in my head for a bit, and it’s not entirely easy to write – for a few reasons.  But, to start, I will say this:  No, I will not be saying what sorority I was involved with.  A few of you may know, but please keep that information quiet, because I know my sisters are lovely people – in their own way.  I know my own issues with anxiety and depression played a role in how I feel about things today.

A lot of people are surprised to find out I was a “sorority girl’ in college.  One regret is that I never went through what my school called “Formal Recruitment”.  That even takes place at the start of the fall semester every year, where girls go to each and every house to visit… from there it’s pref parties and bid day, yadda yadda.  I went through what we called “Informal Recruitment” – which generally takes place in the spring semester.  The houses who are looking for girls would post invites in the paper, you show up to the house, if they like you then you get a bid.  I’m making it simple for the sake of time.

I went to one house with a good friend of mine.  I knew a few girls in the chapter casually – and I enjoyed my time.  I got an invite back for the next night.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to work, so I called to let them know.  There was an informal bid day a few days later and I went to see if I had a bid with my hopes high.  I felt confident… but I didn’t receive a bid.  I was pretty crushed, to be honest.  Later I found out that it was likely because I didn’t meet enough of the girls for them to properly “vote” on me – it wasn’t that they disliked me… but I just wasn’t able to do what they required to get a bid.
Anyway…  I believe that same night, or within the next week, I was talking to a girl on a committee I was on about Greek life and she invited me to join her at her sorority house for an informal recruitment event.  I accepted… and from the moment I walked in I felt at “home”.  Everything from the colors to the girls wearing Chucks on their feet made me feel comfortable.  I got invited back, and I went back the next night to meet more girls.  A group walked me back to my residence hall, we laughed and chatted the whole way.  I got home with a smile on my face and realized that even if I didn’t get a bid I likely had new friends on campus (this was pre-Facebook).  I had just finished getting ready for bed when there was a knock on my door – and when I opened it there stood a huge group of girls that I had met that night, one holding an envelope in her hand.  They were extending to me a formal bid – meaning I was being asked to join their ranks.  The next day I went and signed my bid and was officially a preliminary member

Honestly, that night is still one of my favorite college memories.

My pledge class was small.  I think there were six of us… I was the Vice President of the pledge class.  We had weekly meetings.  We were allowed to wear our letters from the day we signed our bid (some sororities don’t allow that).  And let me be VERY clear – we were never, in any way, hazed.  We had fun.  Fun signs showed up on my dorm door.  Random gifts here and there.  Girls nights at the house.  We had our ribbon ceremony, we learned our history and significant parts of things. We had big/little week ending in a beautiful reveal.  We got initiated that spring.  I had sisters, and for an only child that was a BIG deal.

I was offered to live in the sorority house (it wasn’t a requirement) for the next year and I would be rooming with my “twin” (my Big’s other Little).  I was so excited to be living in the hub of things.  However at the end of that summer I was offered a resident adviser position.  I had applied prior to even joining the sorority but my GPA was, literally, .25 too low to get the job.  My GPA went way up in the spring and when a position opened, I was offered it.  At my school being an RA was a BIG deal.  There were, let’s say, 150 spots… and around 400 people every year applied.  So to be offered it was HUGE.  It was free room and board.  I had to quit my current on campus job, but I was fine with it.  I also, however, had to back out of living in the house.

I got some shit for it… we had to have the house full.  Girls were mad at me, we could be fined or have an independent (a lady NOT a part of the sorority) put in the house to fill the space.  Honestly, I think that’s where it all started to fall apart.

I went through my first formal recruitment as a member of the chapter.  My boyfriend got really hurt and had to go home – so I missed a weekend to be with him.  Another strike against me to some, even though it was okayed by our president.

I felt left out of the loop… the girls I had gotten close to were all living in the house or in apartments together.  One of my sisters was an RA with me, but she had done her time in the house, so while we were friendly we weren’t close.  I debated leaving the sorority.  I was closer with my RA co-workers anyway.  But I decided to stick it out and put more into it the following school year.

Except, I never went back for that school year.  At the end of the second semester something else pretty major happened to me.  I won’t get into it here… but suffice it to say that it wrecked me when it came to the anxiety and depression.  REALLY long story short, I left school for a while.

In 2005 I decided I wanted to go back to college, and go back to the school I was at.  So in January of 2006 I went back there.  I tried contacting the sorority but never heard back- and because of my anxiety I never just dropped by even though “once a sister always a sister”.  Summer 2006 I did some poking around, contacted nationals and they put me in touch with our current chapter president.  She was super nice via email and welcomed me back.  Until I was actually back.

I felt odd being back.  I wasn’t the oldest, but I was one of the oldest.  Girls weren’t really being kind.  I was ready to stop and just drop out, and the night I made up my mind that was what I was going to do, a few girls invited me to sit with them.  I stayed.  They were my saving grace over the next year.  They also told me that apparently another girl had left and come back, but she did it only for the resume boost being Greek can get you… that’s why others were so mean and rude.  They thought I was like her.  I really had come back for the sisterhood and friendships, but they would continue to believe what they wanted.

I made it through formal recruitment again, knowing it would be my last one.  I went to gatherings at the house to watch Grey’s Anatomy every week.  I made it to Chapter meetings and was becoming more comfortable.  I intended on being back for a full year and doing my internship in summer 2007 and then graduating that summer as well.  I found out last minute I could intern in the spring of 2007 – letting me graduate in May.  The caveat was that I had to drive to and from home – two hours each way – twice a week. This just made those that though I came back for a resume boost believe it even more.  I couldn’t leave on the terms that were considered ‘okay’ so I had to still pay dues but I was excused from any activities since our secretary and president weren’t complete assholes.

I went to a handful things that semester and felt like a complete loner.  When I needed support the most I didn’t get much.  I never went back.

I am currently Facebook friends with, I think, two girls from my chapter.  One is someone I consider a good friend.  That’s it.  No real lasting bonds of friendship and sisterhood.  They never even formed when I was active.  Some of this is my fault – I’m awkward and shy… I have anxiety and struggle with depression.  It makes it hard for me to open up.  But it also makes it hard for people to get to know the ‘real’ me.

I wanted a sorority experience that was full of friendship and bonds.  I didn’t get that.  I felt that once I was an initiated member I didn’t count as much.  I felt that when I achieved something – like becoming an RA – no one shared in my joy.  I felt that when I came back to school I would have a place that felt like “home” and instead was met with a house full of ladies who didn’t embody the chapter that I started with.  It wasn’t welcoming and the girls were mean.. it wasn’t what I signed up for a few years prior.

I know most girls don’t have a negative experience.  Most form bonds for life.  Unfortunately, Greek life wasn’t for me – no matter how hard I tried.  I don’t regret it, not one bit… but I do wish it had turned out differently.