Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"New year, new me" LOL

I don't dislike the "new year, new me" motto - hell, I like anything that entails people trying to grow or change. But in my experience I'm not going for a new me so much as a "less screwed up, maybe more wise and more mature" me. I'm down for that. 

Let's talk about firsts. I wrote one of these posts for the first time last year. It was the first time I seriously thought about goals. The first time I picked a word to call to mind throughout the year (it was "persevere"). The first time I picked a Saint of the Year (Saint Anne). This year for the first time I actually researched methods to change habits and then stuck to them. It's the first time, ever, that the number of goals I've achieved is greater than the number of goals I did not achieve. That feels pretty good, even at a time when my life doesn't necessarily feel pretty good. With all that in mind, I've decided to do another review/goals post to start the new year.

I'll do a quick rant about 2015, but if you want to skip ahead to the 2016 goals, I feel you. You'llll want to scroll down to the Harry Potter gif, you will.*

I don't feel like 2015 was monumental. I did a lot of small things to better myself, but nothing crazy big happened. No super terrific job (le sigh), no super terrific relocation (le sigh), no super terrific man (le sigh). I had two surgeries; one very minor, another borderline-major. The earlier part of 2015 was probably the hardest physically, with endometriosis leaving me barfing and stuck in bed often. I try to block that part out. I had a nice stint in the hospital for a few days after having some problems with my liver and bile duct, and they're still not sure what caused that (which keeps me on my toes - I get the pain sometimes, but not ever as severe or long-lasting as it was then, so I'm glad for that but I DO get nervous). Because:

COULD BE YOU AT ANY MOMENT, CHAR. Not really. Probably not really.
And then I ended the year with a literal bang when I got into a car accident, and I spent the last few weeks of 2015 in doctors' offices and physical therapy. And it's looking like I get to spend the first few weeks of 2016 with lawyers and courts..... everyone's favorite. Le effing sigh.

New Years morning was spent in the hospital when I hit a nerve in my mouth and I know going to the ER for a tooth-related problem sounds ridiculous to a lot of people, but when you haven't had dental insurance and you have no money... let's just say it sucks. So at 7:30am on Jan. 1st I started the year with a needle in the jaw. Excuse my language but that was fucking rough. 

So yes, the medical aspect of 2015 was hard. That's kind of been my life for two-three years now, so it's slightly less depressing (though the way it affects job searching is awful) and I'm used to it, which is an improvement. I was joking with Liz earlier because at this point I can go in for a blood draw and tell them exactly which spot and vein to hit for a successful attempt. Two years ago I'd go in for a blood draw and hold back tears. So at least I'm... tougher? I suppose? 

I hesitate to say this because I don't want to jinx things, but... it feels like things might be looking up? When my endometriosis flares up, it usually doesn't last for days at a time. (Knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood.) The abdominal pain tends to be tolerable. My blood pressure has been up since getting into that accident (pain related, most likely), but that can be fixed, fingers crossed. I still have more health issues than I'd like, but they seem to be getting at least a bit under control, or at least more tolerable. (Birth control is really the only thing keeping endo at bay right now, and that's just a bandaid solution. Still working on longer term solutions, like excision surgery. But it can't be the main thing I focus on right now.)

The year has been mentally and emotionally difficult. I live with family right now, and while I'm lucky it's not my most toxic family members, it can still get really tense. Not to mention how hard it is to live approx. 15 hours from my friends in Albany who feel like family and have really been my support system. I don't have friends here and I haven't made an effort to make friends here - partially stubbornness (I'm not going to be here forever, why make friends!), partially depression. Stephanie visited once, but other than that I haven't really seen anyone my age. Not having a real job hasn't helped the mental situation. On top of that, someone who was an important person in my life kind of just walked out of it without any sort of explanation, which is, I think, supremely fucked up. It's made me go back to old ways of thinking that are not really good (doubting my friends, holding back on talking to even my close friends about difficult things, etc). I try to remind myself to not think like that. Can't let one b ruin all of my other relationships. Nope.

There have been some great things this year, though. Liz and I started Filthy Casket Book Reviews. I love blogging over there so much, and it's a great motivator for reading and writing. Not to mention I've signed up for Blogging for Books, so I receive complimentary books and review them in return. It is a pretty good deal. We get a nice traffic flow over at FC, and between that and THL, more people than ever are reading my posts. (It's a little intimidating because I know my writing is sometimes all willy nilly. But the increased readership is making me want to become a better writer and to organize my thoughts in more... coherent ways. Time will tell.)

Speaking of blog highlights this year, 2015 has brought more blog views than any other year I've been blogging. This saints' names post brought in hundreds of viewers in one day, and since then I've had a steady flow of visits. Before that my Baltimore riots post brought in a lot of readers as well. It's great to be able to write about such a variety of topics and still find a lot of people who dig it.

There were also some awesome things that happened this year that aren't related to blogging at all. I finally went to Disney World. Was that ever fun. I think that was probably 2015's highlight. I also saw my friend Stephanie for the first time in a couple of years, which is always wonderful. I lost a lot of weight. My friend Dana and I are together again. (That sentence will re-fuel old rumors of us being romantic partners [Can two people just not be very close??? I don't understand.] so let me just clarify that I meant we're good friends again after quite a bit of time apart. We reunited before 2015, but it feels like it used to now.) And I think I became a little more confident and it's showing - I gave up wearing nothing but jeans and large hoodies in favor of wearing clothes that fit properly and look nice, I do my hair - or at least try, and I'm over all just better in some ways. It's pretty fabulous. 2015 was not my best year by a long shot, but I'd be an ass to pretend nothing good happened.    

Let's talk about last year's goals. 

Last year I wanted to do a few things. Some of the specific goals were to write more, read more, lose weight, and get a job.

I've definitely been writing more. I haven't sent in a ton of freelance articles like I thought I might have, but I wrote more blog posts, did more book reviews that get posted on numerous sites, and I worked on my book (still definitely a work in progress!). I count this as a success.

And reading more! Oh yeah, this was definitely achieved. I read more books in 2015 than ever before. I feel pretty pleased about that. (Here's a list of my top five reads of 2015, along with Liz's.) Success!

The weight loss thing is more complicated because my goal was to get down to my ideal weight, and I'm not there yet. But I lost an absolute ton of weight. I'm starting to physically feel better, which is fantastic. I'm noticing the positive changes in how I feel every day. Right now I'm the lowest weight I've been in over five years! So even though I haven't yet reached my ideal range (165-180), I think I'm counting this as another success.

Ugh, the job situation. I wanted to get a real job and that didn't happen. It's been pretty difficult with back to back health problems. I did a few little gigs, like planting gardens, watering flowers in greenhouses, mowing lawns, picking up dog poop - really glamorous stuff! Like I said, my health stuff feels like it's getting more manageable, so a job will hopefully be more doable. I'm dying to work again. (Not to mention - bills. And drowning. Drowning in bills.)

Another thing I worked on, which I alluded to earlier in this novella of a post, was trying to be more mindful. I wanted to change some of my evil habits, namely procrastination. After thinking about it a while, I realized that it was important for me to be able to recognize if I am being lazy, or if my depression is hitting me hard. There's a big difference, and knowing which thing I'm experiencing helps me choose which way to go about acting. It's easy for me, if I recognize I'm just being lazy, to say, "You don't actually like being lazy, Charlotte. It's not a fun Sunday lounge day - this is something you need to do and you basically hate laziness and know it's a big trait in your family and you don't want to get ya ass sucked into all of THAT so get up and do this thing you're avoiding." And then I get up and do it. If I'm having a rough day and it's depression, I acknowledge it. I can still motivate myself to stop procrastinating (usually) but it's a more complicated process when the root is depression or anxiety. So working on that has been a big goal for me, and I'm happy to say I've gotten pretty good at knowing myself and recognizing what I'm dealing with and taking it from there. It's made a world of difference and I'm better for it. I'd like to continue that in 2016, and hopefully get to the point where not procrastinating just comes naturally to me, instead of it being an effort. We'll see.

Over all, I'm happy with how I've done on my 2015 goals. I should probably throw myself a party or something.

And for 2016....

I feel like I have to make 2016 my year or else I'll die of stagnation. I've set up a few goals for the year, some big and some small.

1. Make a two year plan. I've been given various bits of advice from people I have a lot of respect for, so I'm combining their advice. Some suggested making five year plans. Take things five years at a time. Others suggested a less planned out, more laid back view on life, and alluded to "three acts." Others have told me to take things a few months at a time. After a little bit of thought, I think a two year plan sounds like the best idea for me at this time. I'm going to sit down and look at all my options (lol "all") and put more effort than usual into really figuring out what I can do to get my life on track. This is something I'd like to finish by the end of January.

2. Get a job. Like I said, the health stuff is improving. I need a job.

3. Be less distracted. I don't know when I became like this, but I've noticed that I'm always doing a million things at once. If I have a movie on, I often also have a football game on, but on mute. Or I'll have a Netflix show up, playing during commercials during one of my tv shows. I do the same thing with reading, with writing, with essentially all the little hobbies I have. I don't fully experience any of them because I'm trying to do all of them. It needs to change. I want to just sit down and watch a football game without looking at my computer every two seconds. I want to put a movie on and not pause it a million times to chat on Facebook. Getting rid of my smartphone helped with this, but I have a long way to go.

4. Watch more documentaries. I love documentaries, yet I don't think I watched a single one in 2015. For shame! With Netflix at my fingers, there's really no excuse for not watching.

5. Make a pilgrimage. Money is tight nonexistent, so I won't be walking the camino any time soon. (But some point in my lifetime, God willing!!) I've always thought of pilgrimages as grand things in foreign lands, but there are plenty of places to visit right here in the US. I'd like to really try and visit such a place in 2016.

6. Exercise every single day. I'm not going to run a mile every day, but I want to do something every day. The only exceptions I'll give myself is hospitalization, violent illness, or severe endometriosis (but please let there be no reason to use those excuses!!!).

7. Go on a legit date. I've "hung out" with a guy this year, but never quite on a real date. It always felt just like hanging out with a friend. But with all the freaking engagement announcements over the last two weeks... let's just say I might die if I see one more. (Yeah, yeah, I'm happy for them. Just also miserable at my own romantic life.. or lack thereof.) I want to go on a legit date. I'm really sick of ambiguous dinners and lunches and outings. That all said, I need to get my ass out more often. No one can ask me out if I make it like I don't exist.

8. Finish the draft posts for the blog. Also, the series I've started but not finished. There are a bunch of unfinished posts in my draft folder. Some of them I'll delete if I don't feel the need or desire to write them anymore, but others are things I'd really like to finish. I also want to finish some of the series I've started.

9. Read. Dana and I made a pact to read 60 books each this year. I will make it happen! I have a few book-related goals, though. I've listed them here.

Other than that, I'd like to continue with my long term goals I've been working on for a while, like the good reading habits, good weight loss habits, etc. Blogging helps keep me accountable, so here's hoping!

And if YOU, reader, are also making goals, remember: YOU CAN DO EEEET.
And the fun stuff!

2016 Word of the Year: Challenge 
Like, good challenge. Challenge myself, don't be scared, hop on out of that comfort zone. You know.

2016 Saint of the Year: Saint Joan of Arc 
Because if I'm going to challenge myself, I should have a friend who is brave.

And I think that's it for this post!** 2016, cheers.

*Of course there's a Harry Potter gif!
**That technically is it for this post, but in case you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane (and because I included this in last year's post), here are my favorite posts from 2015:

1. Some of my Favorite Books

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