Musings

Random thoughts

My 2018 TBR List

I spent much of yesterday getting organized for school to start next week. I printed out articles that need to be read, plotted dates on when to read what on my dry erase board, made notations in my books on what was to be read and by when and double checked dates/times listed in my calendar to make sure I don’t miss something. I feel as ready to go as one can, but will feel much better once I get some reading in, which will be tomorrow. I want one last day of freedom, where I can read for pleasure and nothing else.

I did create a January/February to-be-read (TBR) stack this morning. From top to bottom: My Kindle where I am currently reading “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck – because it’s a classic and I’ve always wanted to read it.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon – A reading assignment for school.
“Gulliver’s Travels” By Jonathan Swift – another reading assignment for school.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey – because I need to be more effective to survive work and Grad School.
And Finally, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Because I stopped reading the series after book 4 and want to finish what I started.

It might be a little ambitious considering I am such a slow reader, but if HP slides into March, that isn’t the end of the world.

26170385_10155384744713823_3123551086414874561_oA few other books on my 2018 TBR list include:

  • The complete HP series by J.K. Rowling:
    • “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”
    • “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”
    • “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
    • “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
    • “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
    • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”
  • “The Rules of Magic” by Alice Hoffman
  • “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – starting with The Infernal Devices trilogy:
    • “Clockwork Angel”
    • “Clockwork Prince”
    • “Clockwork Princess”
  • “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

What are you reading? What is on your TBR in 2018 list?

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Categories: 2018, Books, Goals, Gratitude, Life, Musings, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New Goals – Who’s With Me?

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated this blog, I’ve created a photography blog and a weight loss surgery blog over the past few years, but this one has always been my favorite. Because of this, I have decided to focus my energies on just this blog and incorporate my photography, weight loss musings and just everyday rants on one platform, this makes it easier for me and it makes it easier for those who choose to follow my blog – at least that’s what I am hoping, but I am always open to suggestions and feedback, so feel free to let me know what you think. Ok, on to the blog post at hand.

So, as I sit here typing this, 2018 is a mere two hours and twenty minutes away. As with every New Year’s Eve, I start contemplating what went right in the past year and what I hope to change and achieve in the next – this has been my internal conversation much of the day. Let me share some of my thoughts.

Summing up 2017

2017 was a pretty normal year, unlike 2014, 2015 and 2016 – there wasn’t much upheaval. Our living arrangements stayed stable, we have been in this house for two and a half years now and expect to stay here for at least one and a half more. M and I were fortunate enough to keep our jobs and feel as confident as one can with regard to our employment status for the upcoming year. The girls are doing well in their lives, branching out with new friendships in interests  – that’s all I can ask for at this time.

Not everything stayed the same though, in January, I started Grad school, pursuing my M.A. in English through UNF. This has been a rich and rewarding experience, and I am very fortunate to have a family that is supportive of my educational goals. Also, in June, I had weight loss surgery, specifically the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). In the past 365 days, I have lost 86 pounds and am hoping to lose at least another 20-30 in the next six months. 2017 has been the year to work on myself, and I believe I’ve done a pretty good job.

Looking forward to 2018

Even though I did a great job working on myself in 2017, I am nowhere near done. I am pushing myself to take more than two classes this year, mostly because I owe my employer two years of employment after my final class and I honestly don’t want to be beholden to them for the next seven years. So in January I will be taking two classes, and sitting in on a third, which means I will be on campus Monday through Thursday evenings after work, it’s going to be tough, but so worth it.

I have to continue working on my weight loss by eating healthy and working out, so in addition to working out with my trainer once a week, I need to add more cardio and strength training to my routine. I had been doing a good job walking during my morning break at work, so getting back to that is imperative, and then hitting the gym at least two days a week, but preferably three.

I am going to focus more attention on my writing in 2018. I’ve missed writing creatively and I’ve connected with some great writers, online as well as in person, who inspire me to write more and focus on learning the craft. It is my hope to join a well-known writers workshop in May to get some much-needed instruction and feedback to strengthen my skills. I also plan to work more diligently on my blog, specifically how to make it into something that could open doors to opportunities for travel writing, which is a dream of mine.

I have fallen in love with reading again this year, I attribute that to going back to school and spending my first semester reading James Joyce including Ulysses. Plus it helps that we don’t have cable anymore so I don’t find myself getting sucked into catching up on DVR’d shows I couldn’t watch during my school semester, though I really miss Project Runway, but I love that I’ve been reading more for enjoyment and hope that I can increase the number of books I read in 2018 by at least two.

I am hoping to find a little more time to focus on my photography in 2018. I know I won’t be able to get out every week to take photographs then come home, upload edit and write about my photos, but I barely picked up my camera this year, and I do not want that to happen in 2018. I feel as if I lost a lot of technical knowledge this year and that makes me very sad.

How am I going to do all of this?

As I mentioned to a friend earlier this week, I am great at making goals, but I am terrible at creating the steps to reach those goals. I know that I will have to be very strict with my time and schedule in order to accomplish all that I want to in the next 365 days, so I have taken a few small steps to focus on my time management. I have invested in a very nice Franklin Covey planner that breaks days into half-hour increments as well as space to list priorities for the day and notes. Additionally, I bought a dry erase board to keep near my desk to write down upcoming assignments and upcoming appointments.

 

I have to create new habits in 2018 to keep myself organized and as much as I don’t like living by the clock, that’s the only way that I will be successful this upcoming year.

The biggest time-suck-trap that I fall into is social media. To be successful, I have to limit my time on Facebook and YouTube. I find that I can waste an entire day taking Facebook quizzes or watching my favorite YouTubers talk about reading or writing. Instead, I need to use that time to visit with my parents, read, write and complete class assignments.

I hope that you will join me on this journey, I am excited about your feedback and hopefully some encouragement as well. What are your goals for 2018 and how are you going to accomplish them?

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Categories: 2018, Books, Goals, Gratitude, Jacksonville, Life, Musings, New Start, Photography, Reading, selflove, Travel, weightloss, Writings | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My birthday, a Cardinal, a sweet deer, and Florida alligators

This past Monday was my birthday and sadly I wasn’t feeling quite like myself. That didn’t stop me from spending the morning with an old friend and doing something that I love; enjoying nature and documenting what I see through my camera.

A high school friend of mine is planning her step-daughters wedding at O’Leno State Park in September and she needed to go out there to see the dining hall and pick some cabins for the guest houses. She knows that I love hiking and photography so she invited me and my camera along to hang out with her.

O’Leno State Park is located in High Springs, Florida – about an hour from Jacksonville. It includes a portion of the Santa Fe River and is home to a number of wildlife including deer, turtles, alligators, squirrels, and numerous birds.

There are several hikes throughout the park, but we chose the river hike which is about a mile and a half loop that takes you along the Sante Fe River, to a large sink where the river simply disappears underground. It was a gray and overcast day and as I said I wasn’t really feeling well, but in spite of that, it was a nice walk. Even though the water at the sink was covered in a thick layer of green algae, it didn’t seem to bother the turtles that were hanging out on the logs floating around.

In addition to the turtles optimistically waiting for the sun to come out and warm their dark green shells, we saw numerous squirrels, a few birds, including Cardinals, and a cute little deer chowing down on some breakfast. I spent the better part of the day fearful that we were going to come face to face with a gator, but if I am being honest, I am a little disappointed that we didn’t.

Below you will find a few pictures from the day.

O'Leno State Park February 2015

Suspension Bridge over the Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-14

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-5

Such a pretty little deer, checking us out before going back to her breakfast.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-6

I’m not exactly sure what these things are called, they aren’t really tree trunks and they aren’t saplings…

O'Leno State Park February 2015-7

Don’t go swimming out there!

O'Leno State Park February 2015-10

A turtle hanging out at the sink.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-8

Turtle teeter-totter

O'Leno State Park February 2015-9

Turtles at the sink. This log just slowly spun around all day long.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-12

2 Cardinals and a squirrel walk into a bar…

O'Leno State Park February 2015-13

Cardinal

O'Leno State Park February 2015-3

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-2

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-4

Tree overhanging the river

O'Leno State Park February 2015-16

Are you looking at me?

O'Leno State Park February 2015-17

A Monument at O’Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida

O'Leno State Park February 2015-15

The Dining Hall, O’Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida

All-in-all, it was a great way to spend a birthday. Have you ever visited a state park? Where’s your “happy place”?

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to Love Myself

There’s a movement afoot, and it’s one that has been a long time coming. It’s a movement for overweight people to love themselves, regardless of their size.

I have disliked myself and lacked self-confidence for a very long time, all because of my weight. I have been working on learning to like myself for years; surrounding myself with some very positive and loving people who accept me for who I am and lift me up when I am low.

What I have come to realize is just because I wear plus-sized clothes, it does not mean that I am stupid or ugly or unable to be successful in other areas in my life. My weight is only one of many characteristics of who I am, like hair color or eye color, it does not define me or negate the fact that I am a caring, empathetic, and open-minded person.  Nor does it mean that I should live in a world of shame where I should stay hidden in the shadows of life, wearing a muumuu and waiting until I am thin to be happy with myself. I can wear trendy, cute clothes and participate in activities I enjoy and anyone who has an issue with it, that’s their problem, not mine. I don’t have to carry that negativity or allow it to make me feel as if I am not worthy.

By no means does this mean that I am not going to work to get healthier; just as I will not stop learning new things because I am an adult. Just because I am learning to like who I am does not mean that I can’t also work to improve myself.  I realize there are areas in which I need improvement, but now I can embrace that and accept that those areas and that lack of perfection is what makes me human instead of hating myself because of it, and by liking who I am, that will make it easier and more enjoyable to take care of myself.

I now understand that you don’t have to wait until you get to your destination to love yourself, it is possible and also very important to love yourself where you are in your journey.

Categories: health, Life, Musings, nobodyshamecampaign, selflove, weightloss | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Eve

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and as anyone who’s ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner knows, it’s not a day of rest, but rather the day to do much of the baking and cleaning to prepare for the big day.

Today, we will make cheeseballs, dips, pies, cakes, and boil the eggs for deviled eggs. To be honest, those are my favorite things, the appetizers and desserts, everything else is just gravy (see what I did there:)).

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?

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