Where I’m Going

After last week’s post about where I’ve been, I thought it might be worthwhile to check in on where I’m going. Apparently, straight to the psych ward – I’m doubling up on classes again, taking an English Drama course and a Linguistics course. And classes started this week, when the husband and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary with a tropical, much-needed vacation in the Caribbean. I posted a few shots on Instagram, but really, the grad school train chugs along and I’m here for the wild, crazy ride.

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Summer vacation, woo!

Anyway, the blogging hiatus, the semester break, the vacation — all of these things have helped put life into perspective and I’m very grateful for that. I feel a renewed sense of purpose and focus and I’m ready to recommit to my passions and keep living my word for the year. Plus I got some great advice from a writing friend that I’ve been mulling over, about where you are in life and creating versus consuming versus connecting. I always feel like when I’m in one lane, I should be in another – a creative, lifelong learner’s “grass is green with envy” mash-up idiom, if you will. But I’m coming to terms that I can’t be all things, that I can’t be in all places, and that it is okay to consume versus create. But I feel rather sluggish and bogged-down by all this consumption of late; it’s time to start transforming again, to convert all that into creative hustle. I hope you’ll join me.

Where I’ve Been

Obligatory (?):

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Real talk, though: it’s been four months, and one of my biggest personal/professional goals was to maintain this blog and now I feel like I’ve traveled back to…well, freshman year of high school? I think that’s the last time in my life that I wasn’t maintaining a blog. I’ve had a steady LiveJournal/Tumblr/Wordpress kick most of my life.

There’s a lot I want to write about, so it’s just a matter of planning, drafting, publishing. But for now, here’s the skinny:

  • I’m on break after wrapping my first semester of my MA program. I’m loving it (minus the stress of doubling up on classes and working full-time), and I’m sitting at a 3.92 GPA. Success! My second semester starts on Monday.
  • I don’t write a ton about my non-literary life here, but obviously at least 40 hours/week are spent at my full-time job, which can be packed with tasks. I haven’t been the best at stepping away (literally/figuratively) at lunch or at the end of the day, but it’s something I’m working on (thanks to lots of support, of course).
  • This year has been fairly light on travel, what with not planning a wedding across the country or a honeymoon across the world. Oh, and the aforementioned reasons above – balancing class and work! Luckily, we were able to take a ski trip this winter and will be taking a vacation to celebrate our first anniversary.
  • Writing and reading have really taken a backseat in my life. This has been unfortunate, but kind of necessary. I have to be mindful about burning the candle at both ends, and I am prone to overextending myself.
  • …however, I have been taking care of me. I exercise. I make better choices about my nutrition. When I know I’ve hit my limit, I take some time to rest and recharge.

I mean, sure, I still get crazy anxious and worry about whether I’m living my best life, but that’s pretty normal, right?

New Year, New Adventure

I was sufficiently vague about some of my resolutions last week, but I can at least specify one of my  exciting new initiatives: I’m starting grad school today!

I was accepted into ASU’s MA in English program, a thrilling personal and professional development. My first graduate program was for Leadership, and I know I eventually want to get my doctorate — but would like to do something in an area in which I am passionate. As is evidenced by my blog, manuscripts & marginalia and not “motivation & management” or, you know, whatever.

I’m slightly nervous; it’s been almost four years since I took classes for my last graduate program. Can I remember how to student? To balance a full-time job with classes? I’m pushing myself to hit the ground running, notably with loading up on double classes for Sessions A and B in the first semester. There’s going to be a lot of reading with these classes and a fair amount of writing, too. I had my first anxiety dream in months last night, because I’m putting a lot on my shoulders this year and I’m nervous that I can’t carry this load, and that I’ll burn out. At the same time, I need to see what I’m capable of and test myself.

There are a lot of things I want from this life, in this world. It’s time I started earning them.

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Lofty Goals for 2016

In case you missed it, my first post of the year was about my 2016 word, forge. Go back and read it; this will set the stage for today’s post.

2016 goals

2015 was a good year, but with getting married and going on the best honeymoon ever (seriously, Japan is where it’s at; you’ll be going to beaches for the next ten-fifteen years if you have kids anyway), there was kind of this weird “plan everything around this three weeks of being MIA.” I had some cool ideas for things I wanted to start, but leading up to our wedding was bonkers and it felt odd to start something and then be gone for weeks, and then I just avoided the real world as much as possible after coming back; three weeks away from work is phenomenal and I wanted to put off responsibilities to keep that blissed out feeling burning as long as possible.

Of course it didn’t last, and it couldn’t, and now I’m more than ready to hit the ground running and get shit done for the year.

Writing

My broad goal: Write more, write more often. I’m still getting used to my new routine for the year and trying to make all the pieces fit together, but I’m going to try to work on my manuscript every other day. I also want to submit something for publication at least once a month — which means incorporating more flash fiction and short stories into my rotation.

(Oh, and one of the micro fiction pieces I submitted last year was published yesterday at The Drabble! Read “Something Like a Prayer” here!)

I’m also looking at expanding into more creative outlets, still focusing on writing but at a different level. Details forthcoming later in the year, I hope.

READING

Guys like everyone is doing #HamAlong so I guess I’m doing #HamAlong, too. Which makes one of my goals to be actually stick with a readalong!

I’m also going to do Book Riot’s #ReadHarder challenge, though I don’t know where to start and would loooooove suggestions!

I’m also trying to read 50 books this year, my usual Goodreads tally. I barely hit my goal last year, which makes this year — with its own to be announced, exciting challenges — even more of a push. But I can do it.

Of course, I want to read more diversely and plan to incorporate more variety into my reading. Every year I end up focusing on one thing – mystery or horror or SFF – and I want this year to be a little bit of everything.

Also, I should probably clear out some shelves.

BLOGGING

I feel like this blog is in a constant state of flux, and I’d like to have more stability and consistency this year. I’ll be resuming the Women in Fiction series next Friday, and I’m looking forward to having a full year to focus and hone that feature. I decided that I’m not going to do anything that I, effectively, can’t sustain – so weekly releases are out. I might talk about some books generally if I’m really excited about an upcoming release, but every week? Kill me. Listen to the All the Books podcast instead.

PERSONAL

I don’t talk about a ton of personal stuff on the blog, but I want to be better about managing my time and prioritizing. I have some exciting things coming up this year (more next week on that particular front!), but I want this year to be just packed with experiences.

I’m also (re)committing to being healthier. My day job is the busiest around Thanksgiving (at least for me), and I got laid out by congestion and allergy/sinus shenanigans for most of December. The last couple of months I haven’t been great about fitness because my health goals have been “be able to breathe today.”

So yeah. 2016. Bring it.

What are your goals for the year? 

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My Partner & My Best Friend

Scott and I got married May 16th, 2015 (or 5.16.15 – palindrome!) in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. One of my oldest friends, Sarah, was our officiant. Scott’s cousin Josh and his wife Megan were our best man and matron of honor, respectively.

I’m an only child and always wanted a mess of brothers and sisters. Now I have a sister-in-law, and since Scott’s mom and her sister spent holidays and family vacations together, Scott’s cousins are more like siblings. It’s a close-knit, tight family, and I’m grateful to be one of the newest additions.

Surprisingly – or perhaps not – the Justice family fits in pretty dang well. Our rehearsal dinner was his family and mine, and it felt normal. Everything felt right at home.

Scott and I’ve had our ups and downs. Heck, when you’ve been together for over eight years, you’ll have your share of highs and lows. But in the last couple of years, we’ve really hit our stride. Things feel right and wonderful.

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I’d heard that something changes in your relationship when you get married and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it feel different? We’ve been together for over eight years. We’ve considered ourselves a family for a while now. We were already sharing a life together, planning a future together. But it does change. I felt invincible and infinite, and that with this man, I could do anything. I could be the best version of myself.

Forever feels pretty great.

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Goodbye, 2014. Welcome, 2015.

2015

 

I’m back from my holiday hiatus, eager for 2014 to end and 2015 to begin.

2014 was a rough year for me. In 2012, one of my coworkers predicted that 2013 would be my year. And when it was (in so many ways), it made 2014 even harder by comparison. Coming down from a lot of personal and professional highlights wasn’t gentle. It was a hard, rough slam into the ground.

I don’t talk a lot of office life and what happens “behind the cubicle walls” – mostly to respect company policy, but also because I know a few coworkers read my blog and I don’t want to blur those lines. manuscripts & marginalia exists beyond my work life. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that part of the reason 2014 was so hard involved things that did (or didn’t) happen professionally. I struggled to overcome obstacles, some of which will continue to be challenges in 2015.

Writing was all over the place. I feel like I struggled to find my voice. Most of the year I was a muddled mess, and things didn’t coalesce until the end of the year.

I had some odd health issues that I barely mentioned (if at all?) in the first half of the year. Notably, a combination of factors forced me to the dermatologist, who confirmed I had a moderate case of adult acne. Several medications (including a discovery that I am, in fact, allergic to a type of antibiotic – The More You Know!) and a lot of self-esteem issues later, it was knocked out and I’ve learned to be grateful for the occasional blemish (and better quality facial products).

For all of the bad that came with 2014, there was plenty of good – and sometimes, the jaded, cynical pessimist needs reminding. I celebrated seven years with my partner-in-crime, and we made a lot of progress planning our wedding thanks to support from our family and wedding planner. We shared a joint engagement party with Scott’s cousin and his fiancée, and spent a wonderful long weekend celebrating their marriage this November. My parents also hosted us for many wonderful wedding planning trips, including some seriously gorgeous engagement photos and a touching engagement party.

I cried a lot in 2014, but I cried a lot of happy tears.

We joined a gym and I’m the healthiest I’ve been (possibly ever?). I still make bad food decisions, but they’re fewer and farther (further?) between…and also less egregious. I work out regularly, and while I might not be in the best shape of my life, I’m in better shape than I was a year ago.

Blogging was somewhat hit and miss, but thanks to being featured on Goodreads (something I didn’t even realize until my page views went berserk), I had more visitors than ever before. Considering my typical high page views came from Stitch Fix and way outdated Golden Tote posts, this was awesome.

For the most part, I live a life of privilege; the obstacles I experienced in 2014 made me a stronger person, and hopefully a better one, too.

There’s a bittersweet aftertaste from 2014 lingering, but I’ve got a good feeling about 2015.

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