The Ups and Downs of 2016 – The Year in Review

2016 was…a year. It was harder than some others were. It was a year of growth for me. It’s early in 2017 and I am feeling optimistic so far. It’s early days, and I though it would be fitting to review what happened to me in 2016. The year had its fair share of ups and downs. There were many things learned and a lot of positive change.

Let’s start with the “ups”:

  • I truly enjoyed celebrating my birthday this year with the impromptu plans that came about. It was great to be surrounded by awesome people.
  • I didn’t increase my debt-load.
  • I reconnected with some old friends.
  • I started a new job and it is the first job I’ve had where I truly feel respected and appreciated.
  • I made an amazing new friend as a result of starting the new job. I can’t imagine not having her as a friend.
  • I learned to love living alone. I’m not so sure I could live with someone again unless they’re REALLY special!
  • I became a lot more comfortable with who I am as my own person.
  • Tobi is a happy kitty and is well on her way to being a healthy weight.
  • I saved up for and built my new computer. (Built with the help of said amazing friend and her husband!)

And now for the “downs”:

  • My best friend moved across the country – This is kind of bittersweet because it was an amazing move for her personal happiness, but I miss the shit out of her.
  • I didn’t pay down any significant amount of my debt.
  • I didn’t manage to save any money that stayed saved. (see “ups” above)
  • Some pretty influential celebrities in my life died. Carrie Fisher was the hardest for me because she is such a strong advocate for mental health. She was a bit of a hero, and not just because of Star Wars.
  • Tobi had a health scare. We caught it in time, but it is looking more and more like the issue will crop up again. It’s almost time for another visit to the vet to avoid the scare again in the future…

I created a few goals for myself at the beginning of 2016 and they included getting healthier and being kinder to myself. I think I am definitely better at being kind to myself than I was. Getting healthier is still a work in progress, but I feel like I will make some serious headway with that one in 2017.

A lot of changes were affected in 2016, including these:

  • I went on antidepressant medication. I was in a really terrible place when I finally went to my doctor to ask about this. He was more than happy to talk about it with me and suggest some options. I stand by this as quite possibly the smartest decision I made in 2016. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t done it.
  • I am finally started doing a better job of looking after myself and working on finding the work-life balance that works for me. I also starting improving at practicing regular self-care.
  • I came to terms with a lot of things and I feel like I finally started to heal. This is especially true in the last half of 2016.

Because of these changes that took place in 2016, I also noticed small things about my habits:

  • I started listening to music again.
  • I started wanting to read again.
  • I was more present in my life than I ever was in the past.
  • My weight started to finally go in the right direction (DOWN instead of UP!)
  • I was able to manage my spending well enough to make the new computer happen and get back into playing PC games again.
  • I finished my big blanket project that I started in the summer of 2015. (I finally finished it in the summer of 2016.)

I started a few projects, however, that were not so successful. I won’t beat myself up over these because being kind to myself is so much more important. The kind of things that I am listing below used to cause me a lot stress and upset, but no longer.

  • Life Reboot and Life Reboot 2.0 were almost complete failures in terms of accomplishing the goals I set out for myself. HOWEVER, the items I listed in these projects have slowly become incorporated into my daily life and continue to become easier as time goes on.  This is why I refuse to call my “life reboot” a complete failure.
  • I got rid of my gym membership that I was so excited to have at the beginning of 2016. Frustrations and bad experience with the gym over and over again prompted me to bite the bullet and cancel my membership early. I have found that home workouts and yoga are a much better fit for me. This isn’t so much a failure or not a success because it was something that I learned about myself.

In 2017, I will continue to be kinder to myself, and focus on getting healthier. In addition to this, financially I am determined to pay down a chunk of my debt and start saving for a house. I also have a reading goal of 25 books and want to pick up my camera again. I miss taking photos. The only times I picked it up in 2016 were for Mason’s and Sloane’s birthday parties. I want to get the creative juices flowing this year. Because I am in a much better place mentally, I think these will be easy to manage. 2017 is shaping up to be a good year around here.

img_5145
I had more fun in 2016 than I’d had in years!

 

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100 Things I Love Part 5: 81-100

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2017. I am feeling a lot of positivity about this coming year and am looking forward to seeing what it brings. In the meantime, I bring you the last installment of my little self-care project. 100 Things I Love, has been really uplifting, and I have found that I have generally been able to keep a more positive attitude versus before. I am calling this self-care project a success!

  1. Watching my friends’ and my sisters’ kids grow up
  2. A freshly tidied space
  3. Scented candles that smell like baked goods
  4. Breakfast
  5. Scarves – I hate having a cold neck!
  6. A nice hot bath
  7. That I can take medication to help manage my depression
  8. Super hero movies
  9. My antique desk
  10. Being able to play PC games again (It’s been years.)
  11. Organizing my clutter
  12. Coming home after time away
  13. Sleeping in my bed after I’ve been away for a night or two – it really feels amazing
  14. Being able to drink tea from a travel mug!
  15. A sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day
  16. Writing when I can; when I feel inspired (however rare it may be)
  17. Curling up in bed right before I fall asleep when I am good and tired
  18. Fresh starts
  19. The amazing friends I have in my life
  20. Coming up with this list

And there you have it. 100 things I love, complete.

2016 was a heck of a year. There were a lot of changes, and a lot of things that stayed the same. I started a new job, and as a result I made an amazing new friend. The new job also resulted in working at the first job I’ve ever felt appreciated and respected. She is truly wonderful. I finally started loving living alone, and that has resulted in being able to focus on things I wasn’t able to before. My best friend moved across the country. I am thankful however, that we are able to keep in touch thanks to Apple! I had a health scare with Tobi, but we weathered it and she is healthy now, aside from the continuous issues she has had to deal with for most of her life.

I have big plans for 2017 though. I plan to travel! I plan to meet people! I will be starting my house savings. I will be improving things around my apartment, a plan for which has already been set in motion. I will be taking better care of myself and my health as well. I have many goals I have set out to accomplish. I am excited for these things, and will of course be sharing what I can.

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

Oh boy what a year 2015 was. Many changes took place, and I think things got better in many ways through the year.

The first of those things being how I spent my holiday season. I was able to spend it where I wanted, with my family. I attended the traditional Christmas Eve gathering at my Grandma’s house for the first time in probably five years. I stayed overnight at her house and helped her cook Christmas Dinner.img_2006 We played some pretty rad board games with some “healthy” competition to boot. On Boxing Day, my sister and I had Christmas dinner with my dad. I also watched my sister get a bit emotional over her gift from Dad. Also, Boxing Day included a morning of colouring with my sisterimg_2019and an evening of Magic: The Gathering and wine. After the Christmas rush, I had a gift exchange with another good friend. I made her a scarf, and she gave me a collection of Classic Doctor Who novelsimg_2030! Super geeky and awesome! The 28th brought a day of yarn shopping, kombucha brewing and home improvements, and the evening a img_2046Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie date with my step-sister Nikki. It was a really good Christmas this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Now for all of those changes and lessons that happened in 2015… There were a lot of them! Let’s look at a few of the changes, and the things I’ve learned. Here’s a little summary:

  • I became single.
  • I started living along – for the first time ever.
  • I’m much more happy than I was, though I still have a ways to go.
  • My cat is happier, less stressed and less anxious.
  • less stressed and less anxious.
  • I started learning how to manage my money on my own – it’s tricky sometimes!
  • I started reconnecting with friends, forging new connections – being more social in general.
  • I started to put myself and my happiness first, rather than that of others
  • I fully embraced my geek.
  • I started learning (however slowly) how to be me and how to not allow others to define me and who I am as a person.
  • I learned that only I am responsible for my happiness and the direction my life goes.
  • I learned that only I know what’s best for me.
  • I  made huge strides in coping with my anxiety and depression, thanks to my therapist’s help (even though I do still have some really bad days).
  • I started learning how to stand up for myself.

This is not an exhaustive list of what I learned and what changed, but it is a pretty comprehensive one. I experienced a lot of personal growth, not without the help of friends and family. I even spent my New Year’s Eve with friends and some pretty cute kids. Today, on New Year’s Day, I am looking forward to what 2016 will bring for me.

I was a little bit cliché this year and I came up with a small list of goals I want to accomplish in 2016. As always, I refuse to call them resolutions, it just seems so lame when I do . Anyways, this is THAT list:

  • Be kind to myself, stop holding myself up to the ridiculous double standard I have up to this point.
  • Get properly healthy. E.g. eat better, make use of my gym membership, generally be more active
  • Break some bad habits.

Since I moved into my new place and settled in, I’ve developed a few bad habit and kept up with some old ones. They include leaving the dishes for days, sitting and not getting things done that need doing, and riding the bus to avoid walking. These all easily remedied if I set my mind to it, and I finally have. Motivation is key and this year I hope I have found it in a way that I never have before. Here’s to 2016 and being successful in my goals, and you in yours!

Happy New Year!

Learning to Blog More Effectively

Over the past several months I’ve tried to improve my blogging habits and to try to blog more effectively and efficiently. Too often I fall victim to the last-minute scramble to get something written and ready to be published. Much to my frustration the last-minute posts are fraught with spelling and grammatical errors missed when I proofread my work on a screen. Sometimes the WordPress spelling and grammar check I run on my drafts misses them as well. I have two words for this: not cool. I would get a number of texts from friends pointing out these errors, which I would have to fix as soon as possible because I am a stickler for proper spelling and grammar. Some might even go so far as to call me a “grammar nazi.”

The goal is for this kind of stuff to not happen anymore. I want to publish high quality and fun blog posts with a minimum of errors. To do that, I need to learn to blog more effectively. So far I have managed to keep to a blog post a week, which also happens to be one of my 30 before 30 goals. Ideally I wanted to be able to publish twice a week, but so far that has proven difficult and even a bit stressful. That is one thing this blog is NOT supposed to be. To that end posts twice a week aren’t an option; at least not now. Though the fact that I AM publishing a post once a week is a pretty big accomplishment considering I used to go for weeks or even months without publishing any new content. I am very proud of that.

I’ve spent my blogging time up to this point trying to create some new and to change current blogging habits. I’ve learned that my time management is what needs the most work. Ultimately, I want to give myself enough time to write an first draft, edit and revise it myself, send it to a trusted source for a second proofreading, then publish it on its scheduled day. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Let me tell you that it is. I’ve dropped the ball many times in trying to use this ideal-for-me process. This past week’s post being one of them. It’s an okay post, but nowhere near the quality I have come to expect from myself. It motivates me to work harder and be better. That is something I need now. I can always use something to motivate me as it’s something I struggle with regularly.

So, it’s come to this: creating a list of goals to help me manage my blogging time better, and putting a plan together to blog more effectively overall. It will be easier than with some of the other blogs I have looked at where they are income generators and posts are published almost every day of the week. I’m looking at a once weekly post for a blog that exists for no other reason than I enjoy keeping a blog and writing for it. It’s really grown and matured and I enjoy writing for this blog more than I ever have before. I hope it will continue to evolve as it has in the past three and a half years. These goals have to, in my opinion, go hand in hand with this idea of having fun and continuously evolving into something better. They need to contribute to this idea. This is what I am going with so far:

  1. Commit to writing for a minimum of 20 minutes each day. (It doesn’t always have to be for the next blog post, it can be free-writing, stories, anything. Who knows, it could make for another great blog post down the line!)
  2. Have the week’s blog post done and ready to publish a full 24-hours before it needs to be. (It gives plenty of time for last-minute revisions before it is presented to the public’s discerning eye.)
  3. Stay a week or two ahead on ideas for new posts. (This way I will never be stuck on what to write about next!)

This has been a great learning process for me, and an enjoyable one so far. I’ve learned more about what blogging means to me and how it is going to work for me. Along with these goals, I think a means of planning is going to be very important. I’ve experimented with a few different ideas, ranging from a notebook, to an actual planner, to a calendar, to lists, and I’m still not sure what is going to work best for me. It might be a combination of all the above. I know that a regular notebook will not be sufficient for me, and while a calendar is useful, I know I need so much more. A planner is just too rigid for me. I’m not trying to make money from by blog or run a business, so that’s just going a bit too far. I need a place to keep all of my ideas, my drafts and any other materials blog-related. I’m thinking I may try a 2-subject notebook with a storage pocket next. Using a notebook like this, I can store loose ideas in the pocket, keep track of ideas in one half of the notebook, and write out my drafts in the other half. I’m going to give that a shot and see how it goes. I think it might be what will end up working best for me. I blog at my best when I have everything at my fingertips. I hope to find the method that will allow this to happen for me.

This months-long process has allowed me to grow and better understand myself as a blogger. I’ve learned more about my strengths and weaknesses and I know now the kinds of practices that will keep me motivated to continually be better than before. I have come a long way and I hope it never stops.

A Year of Firsts and Learning

The new year brings many things for many people: fresh starts for some, and new plans and goals for others. Some of the take the form of the “New Year’s Resolution”. The resolution isn’t really my thing. I think it is to much of a cliché to even bother with. But I DO tend to make new plans and create new goals for myself. Sometimes they have to do with things I want, things I want to do, or slightly more abstract things like self-improvement. I’m not really on for things like getting healthy and losing weight. I feel like these are things I work on anyway, however slow the process. I like to make my plans and goals a little more specific… Or a lot more in some cases.

Here is a snapshot of the kinds of plans and goals I have been making for 2015. As the title of this post states, they have themes of learning and firsts, sometimes both together.

Firsts:
Attend Rib fest
Attend a play during the Fringe Festival
Get the tomato situation right in my garden
Submit a photo to an online collective
Go for a hike at the Fanshawe Conservation Area

Learning:
Learn to crochet
Take a writing course
Learn to balance my hobbies, start stitching again
Take full control of how I live my life

I chose these ‘firsts’ because I want to try new things. I played things a little too safe last year, and I have the goal of changing that this year. My main goal is to be a little more adventurous and open to new things this year. I spent much of last year hiding from life, and just don’t think that’s an option this year. These plans help me to accomplish this goal, as they are all things that are completely new to me. I’ve been to local festivals but never Rib fest. We strolled through last year but never participated. I’ve always wanted to see a live play here in my city and I think Fringe is the perfect opportunity. In four years, I’ve yet to grow a successful tomato. That will happen this year. I kind of pot my photography practice on hold late last year, but I intend to pick it back up and put my work out there, and I thought submitting an image to The Broken Light Collective is the perfect way to start. Finally, I’ve never been on a proper hike and I’ve never been to the Fanshawe Conservation Area. I want to spend more time outside. BOOM. Two firsts in one!

Through 2014, I discovered how much I was actually missing learning. Learning in all forms. I decided to start learning again. I started last year by taking an online comic books course. I am continuing this year with the learning trend. I need to keep my mind busy! Starting January 12, Jay and I see taking an online course together in astrobiology. I’m excited as I think it will be very interesting. Jay is excited for it as well. For myself though, I have set up a few more plans for learning some new stuff. As I love writing, but don’t think I write all that week, I plan to take a writing course. Improving my writing skills, even if just technically, can only help me! I also have a friend who is going to teach me to crochet. She is always making beautiful things and I want in on that! I’ve actually featured some of her work here on the blog. As much sad I love and miss stitching, I have this urge to learn to make things that can really be useful. I love a good snuggly blanket, and that will be the ultimate goal in learning to crochet. My last two learning plans fall more under the self-improvement category and are therefore a little more abstract at first glance. For me though, they are quite specific. I want to learn to balance my hobbies. I find myself getting overwhelmed trying to do too many things at once, and this year I plan to finally get that under control. Lastly, I plan to take full control of how I live my life. I worry way to much about what others think of me and how/why I do things. This year will be the year of me focusing on being happy with myself, and not showing other people’s thoughts, actions or words dictate how I feel or act. Thus will be huge for me as I really do with far too much about others opinions of me and not nearly enough about my own opinions of myself.

I think 2015 will be a year of personal growth and expansion of my perspectives. It can only be a good thing for me to make these happen and I think I need for them to happen. I am looking forward to learning more about my changing self and sharing my journey and new experiences with Jay. He is so supportive. Much more than I give him credit for. And I love him so much for it. Moving forward together in this new year will be exciting.

Stitching Plans for 2014

I feel like I have big plans for stitching in 2014. I have to admit too that I am pretty excited about these plans. I hope to finish a couple of current works in progress as well as start and complete several others.

One of these, my readers will be familiar with. It has been the bane of my stitching existence since I started it over a year and a half ago. I fully intend to finally finish the vintage Colt this year. I have made countless mistakes, pulled numerous stitches and even finally restarted it from the very beginning. At this point I am further along (with no mistakes!) than I ever have been in the past. I plan to keep it that way and finally finish the darn thing! I know Jay will be happy to finally see the end result on the wall in his workshop.

Vintage Colt - 2nd Attempt

It will be quite satisfying for me as well.

The next work in progress I plan to finish is this one:

Current WIP - Pink Bird

I started it as a Christmas gift early on in December, but I just got so busy with the holidays that I was unable to finish it. I plan to finish this one in the early part of the year so I can finally send it to its intended home. I hope its intended recipient like it, even if it is a ridiculously late Christmas gift… Better late than never, right?!

Of the projects I plan to start (and hopefully finish) this year, I think this one night be the most important to me. The pattern depicts the tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A great little pattern I found online. Its recipient will be a sweet little lady in Scotland who is quite the little miracle to her mum and dad. Another one I planned to start ages ago but just haven’t found the time to do so. I hope her parents love it. They don’t know it’s coming yet, but they are all very special people to me and I wanted to do something special for their little one.

There are a couple of other projects I plan to start this year. One is a pattern I have had on hand for quite some time and have been really wanting to start. It will also be my first project stitched on linen, which is a goal I really want to achieve this year.

I Promise

The pattern is “I Promise” by Lizzie Kate. I am really anticipating being able to finally start this one.

The last stitching project I really want to get to in 2014 is my collection of Game of Thrones bookmarks. I found the patterns on DeviantArt at one point last year (probably while season 3 was airing)… with every intervention of stitching as soon as possible.

Game of Thrones House Bookmarks

Well, I didn’t get around to these last year either, so 2014’s going to be the year! It’s going to take me awhile though, so I’m not really expecting to finish all eight or however many there are this year… But starting them will be enough I think.

I have some exciting stitching plans this year and I hope I can find the time to stitch every last piece! I’m also going this year that I can expand my stash at least a little bit. But we will see about that one…

Happy New Year! (again)

So, 2013 Happened

And what a year it was. I’m not sorry to see it go, either. It definitely was not the easiest year. We had our fair share of struggles and issues to deal with. I am optimistic that 2014 will be a much better year. We have high hopes and are looking forward to positive change in the New Year.

I looked back on the goals I set for myself 2013 and I found that I didn’t accomplish as much as I had hoped. In keeping with my re-discovered positive attitude though, I have just added those goals I didn’t accomplish in the past year to the list for the upcoming New Year… There are only a few hours left, you know!

I also looked back on my finishes from 2013. I have a few, but again, not as many as I had expected or hoped. I won’t dwell on this. Again, I will just look forward to accomplishing more of what I set out to do in 2014.

As I mentioned just a couple paragraphs ago, I made my list of goals and things I plan to do or accomplish in 2014. I don’t make resolutions, I feel like resolutions are always always always broken. I feel like if I just make them plans and goals then there are no resolutions to be broken. If I don’t accomplish them all there is no reason for me to feel guilty about it as I would if I had made actually resolutions. This list is a bit longer than the last year’s list but I think this coming year will be the year for accomplishing things. Because  I’m not really too worried about the long list. So here goes…:

Reading

  • Read 35 books in 2014 – I set a goal of 40 books in 2013 and only read 27. I thought maybe decreasing the goal a little bit was pertinent.

Stitching

  • FINISH THE VINTAGE COLT – this was on my list for this past year, and it obviously didn’t happen…
  • Stitch on linen/evenweave – this was also on the list for 2013, also didn’t happen

Photography

  • Continue learning Photoshop – I learned a lot in 2013, but I have also learned that there is always more to learn!
  • Learn to use flash – I would like to do a bit more indoor photography and I think this would help me out a lot
  • Invest in a tripod
  • Print some of my best photos and have them framed and put on display in the apartment
  • Complete a photo project or two – I have a few ideas!

Garden

  • Keep tomato alive! – my tomato died again this season
  • Keep lettuce from bolting – my lettuce bolted again
  • Apply the lessons I have learned in years 1 & 2 of the balcony garden – there was lots learned, hopefully the 2014 season will be the best season yet!
  • Learn how to start tomatoes from seed and do it
  • Use the window boxes we purchased late last season – I’m thinking some nice flowers!
  • Get a stand for the second lettuce pot
  • Build a new garden stand to replace the rickety one I currently have – I’m thinking of building it out of cedar, both beautiful and durable
  • Grow one less container of green onions

Blog

  • Post more regularly – posting in 2013 kind of fell to the wayside and I hope to remedy that in 2014
  • Research self-hosting and decide whether or not I will start to self-host this blog
  • Create some new blog series – resurrect finishes around the house and possibly add some new ones

Personal

  • Continue the process of getting healthy and getting my health under control
  • Try some more crafting
  • Do more around the city – there are always things to do, and I want to do more of them!

I put this list on the blog for a couple of reasons.  1 – it makes for a great year-end/beginning of year blog post and 2 – it gives me a really easy way to look back at what I set out for myself to do in the year. It’s win-win really. I hope everyone has an excellent new year’s celebration and I wish nothing but the best for all of my readers in 2014.

Happy New Year!

Goals and Plans for 2013

HAPPY 2013!

I hope everyone had the New Year’s Eve they hoped for – be it spent at home with loved ones or partying with friends. 2012 is over, and 2013 has arrived.

With the new year have come new goals for me. I thought I would share it here so everyone can share their opinions and maybe make suggestions. I am very open to those! I also hope you might be willing to share your own goals and resolutions. So, without further ado, here they are:

Cross-Stitching

  • finish and frame Vintage Colt for Jay
  • start, finish and frame the birth announcement for my step-sister
  • start my first project on evenweave/linen

Garden

  • keep my tomato plant alive!
  • keep my lettuce from bolting again
  • refine what I am going to grow based more on what we actually use
  • change the look of my garden somehow

Photography

  • take a lot more photos
  • learn more about the features on my camera
  • keep practicing and learning more about how to use Photoshop
  • print some of my best photos and have them framed

Blog

  • post more regularly
  • resurrect Finishes Around the House (already done!)

Reading

  • read 40 books this year (even though I didn’t manage to reach the goal of 35 I set out for myself for 2012…)

Other Random Stuff

  • finish some old & try some new craft projects – finish a set of shelves that were started long ago, attempt to make a tea cup bird feeder  (maybe more as I come up with ideas)

Lastly, I also have some actual resolutions. Yes, they are same cliché ones that everyone seems to have every year too. I want to get healthy, more active and maybe lose a bit of weight as a result. I am hoping in doing this I will have more energy and feel a bit better physically. I guess I am just sick of sitting around the house like a bump and want to get up and do stuff for a change. Though this may be tough as I am quite lazy!

I am looking forward to 2013 actually, I hope that things fall into place a bit more this year. I also hope to accomplish the goals I have set out for myself!

Setting Stitching Goals

Stitching the Night Away Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop

Time for blog hop post # 3 in the Stitching Bloggers Blog Hop hosted by Stitching The Night Away! The prompt this time around:

Do you set stitching goals for yourself and how do you plan them out? (Weekly, monthly, annually?) What are your current stitching goals (if you don’t mind sharing)?

In addition to setting goals for yourself, do you have a special reward that you reserve for when you reach a stitching goal?

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I set small goals for myself, usually for each session I sit myself down to stitch. I try to get to the certain point in a project before I stop each time. I have never really set weekly, monthly or annual goals in the past, though I have set one for myself for this month! I am stitching a project (which I will share very soon) for a very close friend of mine who is currently living and working in Japan. I have decided that I will finish it and have it on its way to her before the end of the month.

I think this could be the beginning of a lot of stitching goal-setting in the future for me! I really like the idea of setting goals for myself in just about anything I do. Also, no real rewards for myself, as I find stitching to be my reward for hard work everywhere else. It is my time to relax and enjoy!

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night AwayStitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.