Tag Archives: Goals

Defining Success

Lately I have been butting up against the question of what is success for me? It is no longer grad school. It is no longer teaching. I am really getting into art, but all questions of skill level aside, the very idea of going to an art show sends me into a panic.

Yet I do want to get my writing out into the world. To this end I am considering self-publishing, which is one of the things that came up in therapy. The question for therapy was about what I would do if I felt I was good enough. Maybe self-publishing is it. I’m not saying I’m ruling out pursuing traditional publishing. But I haven’t been doing that lately and that’s not really where my heart is. I’m just not sure, since publishing a poetry book yourself is not looked well upon. But I’m not trying to make money and I’m not somebody who’s looking for admission into any school, getting any teaching job, or getting any Fellowship. What I really want is for people to read my writing and like it. Or, if it’s on the blog where people can comment on what I wrote or send me an email, people to read my writing and give me critique. Helpful criticism is always great. I just want to get my writing out in the world. That’s what I really want.

I admitted last night in the midst of depression fueled complaining to my husband that I felt like a failure, that nothing I have done has amounted to anything. Being a man, he tried to fix the problem. I appreciate this quality in him, but obviously not every issue I have can be fixed. If it can be fixed he isn’t always the one who can fix it. He questioned me and what I finally got across to him, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on directly before, is that I want to be noticed. I’m isolated. Part of that is my choice. I’m about as gregarious as a spider. But part of that is simply my circumstances as a housewife. Someone better at networking than me may be able to do better than what I am doing, but I don’t know who they are or how they’re doing it.

I just want someone to read my poems. I love it when you guys read my poems. It makes me so happy. I want my art to be seen by people. Ideally I’d like to be appreciated by somebody. I’m not trying to sell it. Some of it I think looks really interesting but either isn’t of the caliber to be sold or isn’t the style that would sell. Still other things I make are things that are by nature impermanent. For instance, you could do pretty interesting things with watercolor on fabric softener. But that’s not something you’re going to be able to seal in and hang on a gallery wall somewhere. It’s really something you take a picture of while it’s fresh and then that’s what’s left of the art. And honestly that’s all I want.

What Craig thought was an expression of dissatisfaction with my life because I couldn’t articulate myself very well is in fact a sense of isolation and of being ignored. I love my life. I wake up in a nice home, spend the day with my daughter, take care of appointments and house work that needs to be done, and spend a whole lot of time reading. When times are good this means I get to enjoy a lot. When times are bad it means that I have much more time to spend at home recuperating than I would if I had made other life choices. My life is perfect for me. But the old ambitious parts of me just longs to see my name up in lights.

I’m giving this a lot of thought. What I think I want to do is just build up this blog. At the end of the day grad school is out of the question and I’m way too much of hermit to pursue much of anything out of the house. And what I really love is coming on here to post the things that I make and the things that I write. That’s what I look forward to. So maybe self-publishing is the right thing to do. If not, then blogging definitely is. And blogging is fundamentally a form of self-publishing. I have what I need. I just need to use it more freely.

Creative Goals For the Week

  1. Get the poems I have on my computer up here on the blog.
  2. Write more poems, and ask Craig to type the poems I have already written since he last typed poems for me.
  3. Work with more mixed media in my paintings. Bubble wrap, coffee filters, lace, thread, straws, random materials.
  4. Do some abstract digital collage. Try to include text.
  5. Finish my book of contemporary Mexican poetry.
  6. Break out my good camera and get some good outdoor photos.
  7. Use my good camera to get some still life photos in the house. With surgery coming up, I need to get used to working with what I have in the house. I need to keep things kind of staged and see if there is anything I can do.

Customized Planner!

I’ve been dying to get a custom planner. So many of the planners advertised as being custom online really just mean you can add your name to the cover page or choose your background image. That’s nice but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted a custom layout with very specific areas of accountability and goal setting. There was nothing on the market that really covered what I wanted. I wasn’t shocked since what I wanted is pretty specific and kind of a random combination of things, so I decided to try to see if someone makes custom layouts.

I found an awesome girl named Leah on Etsy who sells printable planner pages. I emailed her and she said that she would custom design something for me. I wanted to incorporate everything from daily creative goals to scripture study goals. I wanted some color on it. She took that information and design something perfect with every single category I was looking for lit up in rainbow colors like I asked.

Side A and side B. I am absolutely in love with this layout and I have printed a ton of pages already. I started on this planner this weekend and it’s making me really productive. I have every category of creative goal listed, and all my basic housework for the day with space to write in additional tasks that should be done. I can keep track of my mood and monitor my mental health. I list what I’m grateful for and that’s a great way to start the day. I have a space for specific things that I need to do during the day and overall goals such as dieting goals or certain attitudes I want to have or something like that. I’ve got space to keep track of scripture study and prayer. I’ve got a section for self-care to remind myself to slow down at least enough to do a couple of basic things to maintain my mood. I have a homeschool section where I can both set daily goals for what I want to cover with Angelica and keep records to record what actually happened in homeschool that day. Sometimes we end up covering subjects that I didn’t plan for or not covering things that I did plan for. So it’s dual parts planner and record keeper.

I really think this planner will make me more productive. With every kind of goal laid out and everything listed that I should be doing I really have a lot of inspiration to get working. Realistically since there are only 24 hours in the day, and since I don’t feel very well for some of those hours a lot of the time, there will probably be many days where I don’t meet every category in my creative goals list and do homeschool and clean the whole house Etc. But having these things written down reminds me to do things and gives me clear-cut goals to achieve. It provides me with inspiration, and if I am having a fantastic day I might actually get a lot of it done. It keeps me accountable.¬†

Sometimes I feel so dulled or tired or depressed that I stretch my mind to even think of things that I could do. I can’t think of things that I might enjoy doing and it’s hard to get up and do the things that I know I should. Having something in front of me that lists everything and with little spaces to be specific or to check off if I’ve done something might give me a push. Hopefully my faith section gives me the reminder I need to turn to God and get to know Him better even in times when I want to crawl into myself and slam the door shut.

This planner is absolutely perfect and now I need to start using it to make the most of my daily life. I’ve just begun my 30s and it’s time to be serious and productive. I want to do things that matter. I want to make a beautiful home for my husband, give my daughter a wonderful education, and spend my time doing things I love to do. No one knows how long they have.

Goals for my 30s

My 30th birthday was yesterday and it was fantastic. I am so grateful to my family and friends who made my day special. Now I want to set some goals, or at least try and write out my thoughts and get a sense of direction so that I can do that.

  1. I need to decide what to do with my writing. I’m going to try and figure that out this week. I write. I studied creative writing in college. I’ve been in magazines and have a chapbook published. What should I do in my 30s? More magazines? Hopefully try to get the chapbooks I’ve written in the past two years sent off to some potential publishers? Try to get a full length book published? Do I want to self publish? What do I need to do to feel satisfied with my 30s when I turn 40? Where do I need to be?¬†
  2. I want the wonderful magazine I edit to grow and to support more excellent writers. I get more pleasure out of reading the writing that comes into my inbox for the magazine than anyone knows. Not all of it is right for the magazine, either because it isn’t polished and ready or because the style or subject just doesn’t fit. But I’m grateful to read all of it, and it gives me a thrill to hit publish on a story or poem that I really like. I started the magazine at a decent pace and then put it aside for awhile because of health, hectic living, and travel. Now I’m back. I really want to build it up.
  3. I want to homeschool successfully. It is very important to me not to send Angelica to public school, and while we will consider private school, ideally we will give her her education at home. This fall has been the beginning of our homeschooling journey. But for the next decade (and beyond) school will be in earnest. It is my goal to give my daughter a personalized education suiting her interests and at a pace that works for her. I want her to enjoy learning as much as possible, and to develop the character and discipline to learn the things she needs to learn even when she doesn’t want to. My emphasis though is on tailoring everything to her interests and abilities. I don’t want her to have the mass produced, cookie cutter education of the public schools. I am making a commitment to making education a part of our daily lives, whether we are sitting down at the table formally with sums, or learning about ecosystems from a Netflix documentary, or about post modernism at the art museum. I want this to be interesting and organic for Angelica.
  4. Today I am committing to giving more of my time to learning something new. I love nonfiction books, coursera, edX, and MIT open courseware. I adore documentaries. But I’m not always focused. I want to make a more conscious effort to spend regular time absorbing new information. I recently bought a book about the history of syphilis and its effects on various historical figures. I’m also studying a book about the changing structure and politics of the family throughout the long middle ages.
  5. My 30s should be a decade of art. I paint a lot and I do digital collage. I’d like to branch off into other things too. I’m not an artist. I suck. But it’s therapeutic to creative visual art, and it renews my mind for my writing. Never be ashamed of being creative, whether the outcome of that creativity impresses other people or not. I like to share it because it is cathartic, but it’s for me – I don’t do it for other people.
  6. I want to travel. We’ve traveled this year and I want to do more.

I am going to keep thinking. I feel like I need more or different goals. Most of this is a continuation of or recommitment to things I already do. I feel like there should be something new in my 30s. I just like the life I have now though.

New Goal

I have perhaps the strangest Inspirations sometimes for writing. Well, my inspiration can come from anywhere and sometimes appears so randomly that I cannot pinpoint a source. But I mean the inspiration to keep writing on days that I don’t feel well or days that I am extremely busy. Sure, part of it is my innate drive and love of the written word, but on the days when I really don’t feel well mentally or physically or when I have a lot of housework, there’s something else that helps keep me going. I absolutely love collecting gorgeous journals. Buying a new Journal makes my soul sing. However I can’t keep buying journals if I’m not using up the ones that I have. Although I like to collect journals, I don’t like to preserve them as though they’re going to sit in a museum. Seeing a blank journal on my desk compels me to use it. The only thing better than a pristine new Journal is a journal that has been well-loved and used to the maximum. There’s nothing like a perfect, artistic pair of covers with poetry or diary entries or Bible journaling and prayer filling the inside. I have several journals waiting to be used, and I have more I want to get. So I’m going to write and write and write. However, I do all that writing when I am feeling creative. Then I write bunches. Sometimes I hit dry spells and I stop.

I’m not necessarily one of those people who subscribes to the theory that it doesn’t matter if you put out absolute crap as long as you’re getting something down on the paper. I’ve really had mixed results with that. For the most part, at least with my poetry, if I sit myself down to write when I really really don’t have anything to say, nothing good comes out of it. If I’m feeling utterly uncreative and mentally stymied, the writing I produce is absolutely hopeless. Like everyone else, or at least like most people who write, many of my rough drafts are not very good. They need a lot of work. But most of them, if I edit ruthlessly and revise, have some potential. They may or may not realize that potential, but they give me something to work with. The stuff I write when I really do not have any creativity in me is almost always unusable. I suppose it’s worth trying just to maintain creativity as a daily habit, and of course if I do manage to pull something out of my mind that has some potential usability, I’ll be glad that I sat down to write. But most of the time it is just pointless.

Journals don’t necessarily help me push forward in times where my creative well has run dry. But sometimes I am very creative on days when I am mentally or physically sick, or when the housework or errands are calling my name, and on those days having a journal that I long to fill really inspires me to sit down and take the time to get my thoughts put on paper. Annoying but true, some of my most uncreative days where I have completely run out of things to say and I feel as used up as a reservoir in a desert in August, are the days where I have almost no housework and no errands, and where I feel mentally and physically fine. Sometimes I just need to recalibrate and recharge, and on those days not much writing gets done. I wish I could somehow schedule these creative dry spells for the days where I am too busy or too sick to write anyway! Wouldn’t that be nice!

Because of this inconsistent output and waste of some valuable hours, I find myself weighing the possibility of writing every day to keep my mind sharp. It’s not that I don’t write a lot, because I do. Right now I have tons of poems just waiting to be typed up. It’s not that I’m not creative frequently. Even on the days I don’t write I’m usually messing around with photography or painting or collage. And it’s not that I don’t spend enough time with language, because on the days I don’t write I am always reading to engage my mind and expand my imagination. I love reading. It’s an absolute guarantee that if I have not been writing I have been reading. Not a single day goes by that I don’t do one or both. I just wonder if I could be doing more.

It might be good to develop some discipline.

Angelica is getting older and my life is only going to get busier. We are now homeschooling everyday. On top of that she has speech therapy twice a week. She may also be joining the Children’s Choir soon, although I am not decided yet. And as she gets older even more extracurriculars will come up. Having a commitment to write no matter what might encourage me to do more of what I love.

As much as I have never seen the need for making daily writing part of my routine, so many writers recommend it. I do wonder if there is something to it. It may be that my best writing will still come on the days where I feel inspired, but the writing I do on the days when I feel uninspired may improve my writing enough that the writing I do on the days when I am inspired will be that much better.

I have always put the inspiration first and the writing comes second. But it might be worth it, as an experiment, to try writing first and see if that makes the inspiration come more frequently. I have been thinking about experimenting with structure lately, or maybe with subject matter as well, but first I think I will experiment with my schedule. I’m going to set up a goal, and write it down in my daily productivity planner, to write at least one poem every single day. I’m going to do this for a month and see what the results are. If I got something out of it I’ll continue to do it for the rest of my life. If I don’t, well then I’ve got 30 poems and maybe I can make use of one of them. This goal is really going to be a challenge this month because on Thursday we are leaving for a two-week road trip. I’m going to be traveling from state-to-state every day for two weeks. It’s really going to take commitment to make sure that I’m being productive¬† in the middle of a vacation. No matter how much driving we’re doing or how much there is to see I need to write a poem. Let’s see how this goes.