a (brief) look back at 2016…the good stuff

In my last post, I talked about how 2016 wasn’t a great year. And it wasn’t. But I didn’t want to end the year with an entry that, even though a little hopeful, dwells on the bad. So.

At the beginning of 2016, I made some resolutions. I started a “monthly check-in” (that I promptly failed at keeping up) where I tried to see how I was doing with the small-ish goals I had made for myself, and I’m proud to say that if I look back at where I ended up, I did pretty damn good.

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Okay, so technically, I completed very few of these things. I started to be better about my water intake thanks to daily messages/check-ins with my girls, but a lot of these things didn’t happen: I lost my job so I could barely pay anything let alone pay down my debt, and I didn’t finish NaNo due to November being an absolute pain in the ass. I didn’t write one fic per month like I planned but I DID break my word count goal, which makes me feel really good about myself. I also finished a huge, huge writing project — my longest story ever at 250,000 words. And in case you missed it, I ran the Disney Avengers half-marathon. I guess that counts as “running at least one big marathon somewhere”, right? (I think when I started this I definitely had intentions of doing another run before/after Disney in the NY area, and I tried, but the timing never worked out.)

One of the biggest goals I set for myself was to read more in 2016. I had fallen off the train due to laziness and (sad to say) an increase in screen time that took my time away from reading. I didn’t read AS much as I wanted to — I really would have liked to read more. But between re-reads and new books, I think I did pretty well, and I read more books than I have in the past two years. As for 2017? I have a whole new list of books I want to read, and thanks to the holidays, I have a crop of books already queued up and ready to go. Bring it.

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I haven’t fully finished my goals/resolutions for 2017 yet, because I haven’t really sat down to look at things in my new planner. (I haven’t even gotten a chance to finish things in my old one, and I might not…we’ll see. I’m debating just starting fresh at this point since we’re so close to the New Year and it won’t do me any good to “catch up” on the week.) But as much as 2016 sucked, I did a lot of things I was proud of. I had a lot of personal accomplishments (some of which I’m not writing about just yet, but they belong in this year), and although some of the bad outweighed the good, I prevailed. I accomplished the things I didn’t think I could do. I didn’t let the bad guys win when I could have, even though I came very close.

I’m still here. I’m a little more tired and broken-down and cynical, and I still have things to work on, but I’m here.

goals, part one

In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of setting goals and resolutions for myself at the end of the year. It used to make me feel excited, because New Year! New Things! New Beginnings! But I never followed through on anything that I set for myself, unless it was a big long-term thing like “get a relationship” or “go to grad school.” Which aren’t BAD things, really, but the small, day-to-day life improvements? Nope, never really happened. Or, well, I tried to make them happen and that lasted less than 24 hours.

Eventually, I got lazy and stopped trying to essentially better my life. I also stopped making short-term goals because it sort of became, why bother if I’m not going to do anything, anyway? But in my ongoing quest of realizing how important certain things are to keeping my mental health in check, and in my renewed passion to take charge of those realizations rather than just pushing them to the side, I’m looking at 2016 as a change in organization, commitment and responsibility, in all ways.

  • Internet/Tumblr

This is a big one. This year, I fell into the black hole of letting social media consume my life in an overwhelming way. (Okay, let’s be real, it wasn’t all bad. Fandom brought me some amazing, important friends that I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t so involved, and I’m forever grateful for that.) Some of this “immersion” was due to anxiety, in that to keep my mind off of real life things, I fully threw myself in denial and Internet life instead. Some of it was due to work, and the fact that because of the job I have, I need to be connected 24/7 or at least keep up appearances on Twitter and such. It’s tiring. But even after staring at news websites and tweets all day, the first thing I do when I get home? Get on Tumblr and do the “fandom, fun, relaxation things” that I don’t get to do at work. And instead of giving myself limits, I let that consume me, to the point where I’d bypass dinner or forget to call my parents or forget something else important in favor of sitting on the computer. (Living alone can kind of suck sometimes.)

I’ve realized that personal relaxation time is important to me, and it’s important for me to HAVE that time to dick around on the Internet and flail about fandom things. But I’m going to try to improve the way I integrate all of that into my life: an hour or two of online time, maybe, and then doing real world stuff. Getting myself into the mindset I don’t NEED to be connected all the time, that the world won’t end if I don’t see my entire Tumblr dash, etc. Curating the amount of time I spend will (hopefully) help make me more productive in the long run.

  • Reading

I wrote about this in another entry, but I miss how I’ve fallen out of reading regularly due to being busy, or just not being in the right mental state. Reading is not only so much of who I am (I wasn’t an English major for nothing) but as a writer, it’s so important to keep my brain active with other people’s words. Good fic is a nice substitute, but I miss real stories. So I’m hoping to read more this year, and even if I can’t get through a lot of books, I at least want to regularly read each night or each weekend. I have a pile of stories on my list and I’m trying to get recs from friends, and hopefully that’ll help.

  • Time Management

Probably my biggest self-improvement goal for 2016. I’m currently waiting on my newly ordered passion planner (thanks, Shelly) which I plan to use religiously. I’ve become so dependent on technology, especially since my Mac syncs everything from my phone to my iPad to my computer, that I haven’t used an actual paper planner for far too long. A lot of my friends started bullet journals this year thanks to the fabulous advice of Kelly Sue (glow little shark, glow) and that’s hopefully going to be something that I start doing, also. But I’m hoping to use my planner to chronicle everything from commitments to writing time to life events. And hopefully relying on that will help me put order back into my life.

  • Money

Oh, the big one. I’ve been struggling with debt for years, thanks to bad choices in my past, and that hasn’t been helped by the fact that going back to grad school 2 years ago meant taking on student loans, which I hadn’t had before. While I’ve gotten better at being aware of how to handle money, I’m nowhere near satisfied with my financial state, and there are multiple “life” things I need to face in 2016 that hinge on money. I can’t even remember the last time I kept a checkbook, because I stopped writing checks when everything became electronic, but I’m making an effort to make notes when my bills are due (so I don’t miss deadlines), and sign up for programs that will help me budget correctly so I’m constantly aware of what I’m spending.

  • Writing

Allocating writing time! In addition to blocking off specific Internet time, I want to block of writing time, too, for both blogging and fic and original personal writing. I’d like to at least get into the habit of blogging once or twice a week, no matter what I’m writing about, with set times to work on fic or just write in general. (This will go out the window when it’s NaNo time but whatever.) In the same way I plan to set limits for myself with Internet usage, I want to give myself time for writing: an hour or two each day, but at the very least, regular writing time each day no matter what so I’m constantly working my brain…and then not feeling guilty for not having time.

A lo of the things I want to do this year are going to be challenging — not because of how big the changes are. But I’m not “settled.” I’m still going out every so often and messing up my routine some nights by not getting home til 10 or 11 at night, I’m not living somewhere that’s a real home or that I know will be a real home where I can feel settled as much as I love my apartment. I’m a little worried that I’ll be thrown off if I miss a few days of not being able to do things with the regimen I’m trying to put into place, but that also feeds into my efforts to be better about my mental health. Just because I don’t do something every day, that’s no reason to fall off the wagon. Just because I don’t do something every day, it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed at anything.

It should be enough.