The temperatures in my area (Bellevue, WA) have been rising above what I’m used to. Eight years ago, I moved away from Arizona because I couldn’t handle the heat any longer. Imagine my surprise when we hit 90 degrees this week.
My motivation levels have been low ever since. My house doesn’t have AC and our windows are positioned perfectly to catch the late afternoon sun. The skylight window is the worst late in the day and we have no way of covering it. This is a rental and I can’t make any changes. In the afternoon, our house can get as warm as 88 degrees. I just want to melt in those temperatures.
My husband and I were discussing the heat on a walk last week. It’s been hard to get outside and walk because we have to wear a mask around other people and it’s so hot during the day. It doesn’t start cooling off until after seven pm and by then I’m winding down for the day. I tossed out the idea that maybe I need to do something completely different.
So, on Sunday night, I set out all of my workout clothes. I pushed my alarm up thirty minutes. Monday morning, I stumbled out of bed, climbed into my clothes, and immediately left the house. It took at least half of that walk to finally wake up. But once I did, I realized how nice it was outside!
The past three mornings have found me out walking first thing. It’s not my favorite morning activity as I’m a night owl, not a morning person. However, something needed to shift because I’ve been gaining weight and I’ve barely been able to convince myself to exercise.
I will admit that I’ve been enjoying these walks just a tiny bit. The air is fresh early in the morning. There’s less automobile traffic. There are less people on the sidewalks and I can actually remove my mask for parts of my walk when no one else is around.
I am hopeful that I will actually see more squirrels or even a raccoon one of these days. I’ve been surprised that the bunnies haven’t been out but maybe I need to get out even earlier to see them. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the few minutes of quiet before I jump into my day.
My husband made an interesting observation that turned this around for me. “You don’t think of exercise as productivity.” He was right. I’m always focused on increasing my productivity but exercise is never included in that category. Now it is! Now I’m finishing one productive task before I’ve even had breakfast.
I love the first day of the month. It’s a fresh slate, an opportunity to come up with new goals and a new outlook. Last month is gone; June is a new month with “no mistakes in it yet.” Thank you Anne Shirley for that encouraging thought!
I attend a Zoom Bible study every Monday morning. We have been studying the book of Galatians. I find Paul’s writings a bit challenging to understand but we are muddling through.
Several years ago, I was gifted the book Thrive by Mark Hall (the lead singer of Casting Crowns). It sat on my shelf for quite awhile, as most of my books do, until I finally picked it up and started reading it. I think my timing was perfect. I keep getting struck by various passages and the message is speaking to me. If I had tried to read this six months ago, I don’t think I would have gotten anything out of it. I’m currently reading chapter six, where Mark talks about the book of Ephesians and how God has done everything for us. It actually fits in well with our study of Galatians.
I am still making my way through The Hobbit. It’s such a fun book! Thorin was just captured by the wood elves as the rest of the group struggles to find their way out of Mirkwood.
We are Mother Abraham is prompting very mixed thoughts. I’m about two-thirds of the way finished with the book and plan on waiting until I finish reading before sharing my thoughts.
Last but not least, I am making very slow progress through Dragonlance Chronicles. I think part of my challenge is that the book itself is huge! It’s a compilation of the first three books and includes annotation by the authors. I am reluctant to read books on my e-reader but I may have to bite the bullet and borrow this one from the library in digital form. Then the book will be easier to carry around and maybe I’ll make some serious progress. I promised my husband that I would read and discuss this book with him!
Looking over my reading stack for the month, I am noticing a slight problem. There are no “escape” books. Last month I finished the last Agatha Christie novel from my bookshelf. I don’t have any light reading available at the moment. I will have to borrow an e-book from my library.
Please leave me a comment if you have a suggestion of an “escape” book. I look forward to hearing your recommendations!
My apologies to anyone who has left a comment in the past week. My husband is still trying to fix my blog on the back end because it’s not notifying me of new comments. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon. I do want to connect with anyone who is reading my blog so I apologize if I have not been able to respond to you yet.
Earlier this month I brainstormed routines that I felt were doable for this season of life. How does that quote go? Man plans and God laughs. I don’t believe God mocks us but I do suspect He chuckles occasionally and shakes His head at our naivete.
My daughter will graduate high school in four weeks. Last month, the school was still trying to figure out how online learning was going to move forward. At first, it seemed like they were taking the approach that as long as you make an effort, you’ll pass your classes and graduate. But over the past few weeks, teachers have been sending home more and more assignments. My daughter struggles with self-directed learning so I’ve pulled up a chair and started learning alongside her.
We have learned so much math in the past few weeks! We’ve also worked on a project researching Tesla and their efforts at globalization. We finished reading The Great Gatsby, answered questions, and wrote an essay. All of this takes two or three hours a day and uses most of my brain power. I feel that my brain is not very sharp because I haven’t been stretching it by learning new things. I study languages but it’s a small project, not something that takes up a significant amount of time. So I feel like my brain is a bit rusty!
My mid-morning routine was supposed to look like this:
Make a cup of tea Best Decade Ever journaling Process personal email Process any business email Complete all Chinese flashcards Complete all Japanese flashcards Respond to language partners on HelloTalk Japanese grammar lesson
Instead, it currently looks like this:
Process email Math English History Any other school related things (resume building, financial aid stuff) Make lunch
The rest of my time has been spent keeping my family alive and my house from falling apart. I’ve been spending a bit of time in my garden, trying to keep everything alive. I’ve made a few homemade meals but I’ve also made boxed macaroni and cheese because… well, life.
If there is any time left after all of this, I have a new computer game obsession. My husband was rather shocked that I have never played Civilization so he bought me the latest Civilization release with all of the extra content. I have lost several games and I’ve won several games. I had no idea a computer game could be so complex. If this game is anything like running a real government, no wonder politicians look so frazzled.
I’m not sure why this game is so addicting right now but I have a theory. Some areas of life feel out of control due to the coronavirus. I love to travel but I’m not allowed. I love to spend time at my local library but the libraries are closed. I love meeting with my friend at a coffee shop so we can knit and chat but we can’t do that right now. My life has gotten much smaller over the past three months and there’s no end in sight.
But here’s a game that lets me travel! I can build cities, add amenities, develop cultural attractions, and run a government. Civilization requires a ton of decision making and you have control of your entire civilization. When the real world won’t let you control a large portion of your life, a computer game gives you a semblance of control. In a way, playing Civilization is a coping skill for dealing with a rampant virus, a shut down community, and everyone being at home 24/7.
I would love to hear from you. How have you been doing with routines? Have you found that your routines are still serving you well or have you had to make changes?
Let’s talk about books! I love that no matter how calm or crazy life is, I can always find a book that will match my mood. Sometimes I can dive deep and contemplate new ideas. At other times, I just need an escape novel. Lately I’ve been reading mostly escapism novels but I do occasionally read a few chapters of something more profound.
Dragonlance Chronicles has been ongoing for awhile. I can’t help but compare it to Lord of the Rings, which is far superior in both storytelling and writing style. My husband said that Dragonlance gets better in later books and I’m trying to give it a good faith effort.
One of my Facebook book groups suggested that we read The Hobbit this month as a comfort read. I’ve only read The Hobbit once, back in 2016, so I am excited to reread it. I started last night and could feel myself smiling throughout the first chapter. I love this book!
I requested a free copy of We Are Mother Abraham so that I can read and review it. It’s about how mothers learn to release control of their adult children. I feel this is a time appropriate read because my daughter just turned 18. She’s wrapping up her senior year in high school, and even though she won’t be emotionally ready to move out anytime soon, I need to learn how to let her make all of her own choices.
My husband and I have a stack of Agatha Christie’s novels and we’ve been steadily working through the stack. Right now I am reading a Tommy and Tuppence mystery called Postern of Fate. The bantering between husband and wife is quite funny and reminds me of my husband and I’s interactions.
Lastly, I am reading a book on my Kobo called Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. I have no immediate plans to become an expat but living overseas is one of my Best Decade Ever dreams. I didn’t choose this book because it’s written for expats but because people keep raving about how well the author explains investments. We’ve eliminated all of our vehicle and credit card debt and are almost a third of the way done building our six month emergency fund. We need to start saving for retirement but I have an extremely basic understanding of investing. I am hoping this book will serve as a good foundation.
I don’t know that I’ll finish all of these books in May. I have high hopes that I’ll finish reading both The Hobbit and Postern of Fate. We’ll see how much progress I make on the rest of the books.
I leave for Boston on Tuesday morning! This trip felt so far away and now, all of a sudden, I’m finishing up some last minute items. Tomorrow morning, I can check into my flight and get my seat assignment.
I’ve somehow managed to complete all items on my wish list. Originally, I was hoping to complete at least half but I’ve finished all four items. I had to take things one item at a time and break them up in small pieces but I managed to complete everything.
Wish list item #1 – a haircut It took some searching, but I found a great hair stylist who took the time to talk with me about what I wanted. This haircut isn’t a drastic change; I only cut off four inches and added some framing around my face. I like it, though I think next time I’ll go shorter.
Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project I combed through hundreds of knitting patterns before settling on Dotted Rays by Stephen West. It looks like the perfect vacation knit, though I’m a bit intimidated by the length of the pattern. The description says that it’s the perfect travel knit. Hopefully that’s the case!
Wish list item #3 – a new book A bit different from my normal book selection, I am excited to read Story Thieves by James Riley. I was intrigued by the description on Goodreads – a girl who can jump in and out of library books. Sounds wonderful! An added bonus is that the entire series is rated well.
Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary I had so much fun assembling a trip itinerary! It’s not a set in stone list of destinations. It’s more of a list of suggestions of places we can visit dependent on the amount of time and energy we have on any given day.
We are spending time in three different cities. In each, I found one or two possible used book stores, yarn stores, quilting stores, and a highly rated local coffee shop. I know we won’t visit every destination but I look forward to the adventure! My priority is the coffee. Always the coffee.
My priority is the coffee. Always the coffee. If I could, I’d visit every local coffee shop around the world.
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.
I am so excited that today is September first! I love New Year’s day because I establish new goals for the year. The first of each month is a miniature reboot of New Year’s goals.
This month I want to concentrate on just a couple of areas.
Back to School My daughter starts her senior year of high school on Wednesday. She is excited and nervous at the same time. She’s thrilled that she’ll be able to hang out with her friends again. But she’s nervous because this is the start of the end of her high school experience.
My goal is to help make this back to school transition as easy as possible. This afternoon we’ll visit a salon to get her all prettied for the first day of school. A new haircut is definitely a confidence booster!
Smart Girl Edits I am in the process of preparing a proposal and quote for several potential clients. If either of them signs a contract with me, I’ll be busy this month working toward their deadlines.
If neither client signs a contract with me, I want to continue developing connections on LinkedIn. I also want to resume one of my business classes so that I can refine my business niche and make a plan for the rest of this year.
Travel My third and final focus this month is my Prince Edward Island trip! Last month, I posted several goals I want to complete in preparation for my vacation. I have selected and purchased a book to read on my flight. I have also selected my knitting pattern but still need to go yarn shopping. I will post about these things later in more detail.
Here’s to a productive and fun September! What are your September goals?
It’s summertime and that means our family has had more time to relax. We’ve watched a lot of movies and television shows this summer. We introduced our daughter to The Fresh Prince of Bel-air, a huge hit. I also introduced her to one of my childhood favorites – Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman.
The first season of the show brought back so many memories. I remember eagerly anticipating each new episode as it aired. I remember being incredibly frustrated with the cliff hanger at the end of season three, lamenting (loudly) over having to wait months for season four to start. At least I was young enough to not realize that sometimes shows get canceled! I can only imagine how disappointed I would have been if the story arc had not completed and happily ever after was not found.
Watching Lois & Clark reminded me of how much I wanted to be a journalist. I was inspired by Lois, impressed with her bravery and tenacity. I was enthralled with her job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper. I so desperately wanted to be a writer just like her.
I thought it would be interesting to try to recall what answers I gave when people asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Mom – elementary school. All I wanted to do was to be a mom. I took such good care of my dolls! I even had an imaginary baby that I would take to school with me and nurture while learning basic algebra and Bible stories and how to craft a piggy bank out of clay (it didn’t turn out well).
Journalist – ages 12 and 13. Before this point, I had already started writing journals. My brother and I, inspired by Harriet the Spy, used to sneak around and spy on people while taking notes and writing stories about the people we were spying on. Watching Lois & Clark on weeknights refined my writing aspirations to journalism.
Any animal related career – ages 13 through 17. I don’t remember why my dream changed from journalism to an animal related career, but something must have changed. I have always loved animals. I trained our dog to walk on a leash and imagined being a dog trainer. I helped our cat extricate her captured paw from her collar, dreaming of being a wildly successful veterinarian. I obsessively followed horse racing and wanted to become a jockey, even as I recognized that I was already too tall. Can’t be a jockey? Then I’ll train to be a show jumper.
Somewhere in there, I also dreamed of being an archaeologist, a librarian, and an astronomer. These were the short lived dreams, but I daydreamed about each of these careers in turn.
Always a dreamer but enough of a realist to truly plan for the future, I chose my high school classes with the goal of enrolling at university with a declared pre-vet major. I took an extra year of biology my junior year of high school, dissecting everything from worms to baby pigs and a shark. I was even one of the few girls in our class who had a front row seat during the cadaver field trip (most of the girls were outside puking).
Sometime during my freshman or sophomore year of college, I became overwhelmed with the number of math and science classes required for a pre-vet major. I concurrently developed a queasy stomach at the thought of any bodily fluids and dropped my major.
What was I to do when I felt too introverted and shy to chase a journalism career and too intimidated by the veterinary program? A literature degree, of course! I took American lit, British lit, and an entire semester devoted to Shakespeare. I took creative writing and novel writing classes.
After being asked a myriad of times what in the world I was going to do with a literature degree, I finally decided to finish my literature degree and then enroll in the education program to get a teaching certificate. I could then spend all of my time teaching literature to high school students.
Unfortunately, I dropped out of college due to a sudden realization of just how much student loan debt I was acquiring. By this point, I was married and my husband and I were struggling with our finances. I felt it was better to drop out of college to avoid accruing any more debt.
Over the next few years, I worked at an insurance company as a receptionist and then a mail clerk/administrative assistant. It did not feed my creative side and did not take into account my introverted nature but it did pay the bills. Eventually I got laid off and, by the grace of God, I was able to become a full time homemaker and then a mom.
Throughout this entire time, though, I never lost the desire to write. There was always a bit of Lois Lane inside of me, wanting out but never feeling quite brave enough. I’ve been an intermittent blogger for years and have written several novels, but I’ve never done anything more serious with my writing. Revisiting Lois & Clark has reignited that passion for the written word. I’m not sure where this passion will take me, but I’m eager for the ride.
What about you? What did you dream of being when you were a child?
A few days ago, I posted a wish list of things that I hope to accomplish before I leave for Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Wish list item #1 – a haircut Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project Wish list item #3 – a new book Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary
Today I have been happily perusing my to-read list on Goodreads. My to-read list is quite long, coming in at a hefty 1,756 books.
The photo above shows just how many books caught my eye today, each tab open to one book on Goodreads. I even took this screenshot after eliminating a few options. I am noticing a trend – bookstore or library themes, mysteries, historical fiction, time travel, and the occasional memoir.
I thought it would be fun to share a couple of the books under consideration in hopes that someone might chime in with, “Hey, I’ve read that book! It was great!” or “That one was pretty good but I found a similar book that was even better.” If you look at my list and have any thoughts, please share! I’d love to read your bookish thoughts.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – set in France, 1939. This novel was recommended by my bookclub as a recently written novel with tons of character development. I lean toward character driven novels rather than plot driven, though it’s a huge bonus if the novel has both strong character development and a great plot!
The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore – essays about inspirational women in literature. I really want to read this book but I’m not sure it’s a good pick for a flight and then trying to relax after a long day of traveling.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson – a contemporary novel featuring a bookshop scavenger hunt! This might be a really fun read though the reviews are all over the place, mainly due to readers disliking the main character.
The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser – I know so little about this book, only that it’s part of a series and I know that people love the series! The cover reminds me of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, which I love.
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone – time travel!! Need I say more? I know very little about this, other than the fact that it involves romance, time travel, and it’s rated fairly well on Goodreads.
While writing this post, I somehow managed to reduce my overall to-read list by one. Let’s see how many more books I add as I try to finalize my book decision. And if you have any suggestions, please let me know! Maybe someday my to-read list will grow to 2,000 books.
Next month I am traveling to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and I am so excited! My last getaway was in March, a two day women’s church retreat in Fall City, WA. For this trip, I’ll be gone for an entire week!
This week, I’ve been working on a to-do list specifically for my trip. This list is more of an “I hope I can get all this done” list rather than a list based in reality. But I’m still going to see what I can get done. Maybe I should just call it a wish list.
Wish list item #1 – a haircut
I tend to cut a lot of inches off my hair and then not get another haircut for years. I cut about 12 inches off around Valentine’s Day 2018 and have not gotten a haircut since. My hair is now almost down to my elbows and looks rather scraggly. I hope to take a lot of pictures on my trip and hope to actually be in some of those photos. I want to feel more confident in my photos and a haircut would go a long way toward that confidence.
Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project
My current knitting project, a cowl, is almost complete! (Side note – the pattern designer is really nice and answered several of my questions about her pattern). I really hope to take a new knitting project on my trip, knowing full well that I may be overwhelmed by everything else going on and may not actually knit. On the other hand, I did knit in both Taiwan and China, so…
For my new knitting project, I am looking for a pattern that reminds me of autumn. We are headed to Canada at a time when the leaves should be changing colors and I want to knit something that reflects that season change. I’m not sure if I want to incorporate falling leaves in my pattern or just knit in fall colors. If you have a pattern suggestion, please let me know!
Wish list item #3 – a new book
I definitely need a new book to read while waiting for my flight and while relaxing in the evenings. My husband suggested that I take my e-reader but I want a book I can hold in my hands. I have no idea what specific book I’m looking for, but I have a few ideas. I’m hoping for a lighter read, but not complete brain candy. Good character development. Again, something that reminds me of autumn. A cozy book, heartfelt. I’m open to suggestions!
Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary
Neither myself or my best friend want to be locked into specific activities on specific days. However, we have already made Airbnb reservations in different towns along our route. Between now and our date of departure, I want to compile a list of places to see, things to do, and food to eat in each of the cities we’ll be visiting. Of course, my number one priority is going to be a list of coffee houses to try! This list will just give us options to choose from based on how we’re feeling that day. I think a list of options will be beneficial so we aren’t completely aimless, but both of us will be approaching the list as “suggestions” rather than “requirements.” If we spot something along the way, I want the freedom to say, “Hey, let’s go check that out!”
I am well aware that my current reality may not allow me to accomplish every item on this list. I don’t have a hair stylist and will have to find one. I may not own the right knitting needles for my project and will have to buy those in addition to yarn. Each item on this list requires multiple steps and the next month already looks quite busy.
In the next month, my daughter is starting her senior year in high school. Before school starts, we need to stock up on homework supplies, shop for school clothes, get a haircut for her, and visit her school for the “taking care of business” day.
I also have to get my daughter’s last name changed with the school system (we just completed her WA state readoption!), make an appointment for senior photos, and possibly visit the doctor for a sports clearance.
Our car is due for some transmission work. I’m currently in a back and forth discussion with the State of Arizona over previous tax years. Plus, I’m trying to get my editing business off the ground!
Life is busy. I will have to prioritize what gets done and then just do my best.
Overall, 2018 was a rough year for our family and we concentrated on surviving and then finding our new normal. Towards the end of 2018, I started to feel more like myself and very slowly started finding motivation to move from merely surviving to thriving. I wish I knew what jump-started this motivation, but I don’t. Even if I can’t pinpoint the cause, it’s time to start moving forward.
In December, I listened to a podcast about compound interest. Normally, compound interest is a phrase used when discussing personal finance. But in this podcast, the phrase was being used to describe any actions taken on a regular basis to work toward a desired result. For example, cleaning one’s house for a few minutes a day will create a compound effect toward having an overall cleaner home. Skipping dessert today and then again tomorrow will create a compound effect that will later result in a more healthy body.
As 2019 started, I decided that it was time to ease myself back into my Chinese studies. A thought often discussed on language forums is that you don’t want to look back to a year ago and think of how much closer you would be to fluency if only you had taken the time to study a few minutes each day. This is a fantastic example of compound interest. It takes a regular, ongoing effort to become fluent in a language.
At the beginning of the month, I started out only studying a couple of minutes a day. My only goal was to catch up on my flashcard backlog, which consisted of roughly 100 vocabulary words and phrases and another 500 hanzi characters. As I started studying, I found that I craved more. As odd as it sounds, I missed studying Chinese.
Then I dug up a travel channel on YouTube about a guy who toured Taiwan in order to enjoy the local cuisine. That led to browsing Pinterest and adding pins to my travel board for our 2020 trip to Taiwan. Then I found another travel blogger who is a polyglot, someone who learns multiple languages.
Now, just two weeks after making a decision to embrace that compound effect of studying, I am thirsting for more language studies. I had forgotten how much I love learning languages. Suddenly, it hit me – languages are my passion. Either I’ve never given myself permission to embrace language learning as a passion or I’ve forgotten how much I have always loved studying languages.
In high school, I spent a year learning Latin and two years learning Spanish. After getting married, thanks to the influence of my husband, I spent a few years learning Japanese. When we decided to adopt our daughter from Taiwan, I switched to learning Chinese. And I have loved my time spent with each of these languages!
I don’t know where my language efforts will lead me. All I can do is make a daily effort and keep reminding myself that it’s ok to be passionate about learning languages. It’s not selfish and it’s not useless. There must be a reason I love the challenge. For now, I’ll continue with Chinese. Eventually, I hope to revisit Japanese and maybe I’ll start a new language as well. There are so many options and I’m excited about all of the possibilities.