My 2018 Resolutions

Yep, as you can see from the title of this, this is one of those posts – an overly optimistic goal-setting for the year ahead in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

For the first time in years, I had a pretty good year in 2017 in terms of resolution fulfilling. I finally stopped just saying I’d do things and actually did them. This was all in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth was and a just do it attitude. I think this was the secret to this year’s success, along with a healthy realisation that life is too fucking short and you can’t take it with you, this is it, this is life, so if you have the chance to live it and to do something, do it, before you can’t.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Realising it and enacting it are two very different things though… and in that spirit, I’m going to continue into 2018 and hope that the upcoming year is as successful. Let’s get to these resolutions and goals which, I warn you, are probably far too numerous… buckle in, guys!

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My 2017 Resolutions | Final Review

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the last of my check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions – the final review of how I did with my goals this year. Around this time last year, I set some resolutions or goals for 2017. It’s something I try to do every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. This year I also did quarterly check-ins to keep myself accountable – click to peek at my first quarterly check-in, my second quarterly check-in, and my third quarterly check-in – and it turns out regularly checking in on the progress of your resolutions might actually help you achieve them. Who would’ve thought it?!?

Before I decide upon my 2018 resolutions, I thought I would do a final review of how I did in the final quarter and for the year overall!

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Happy Holidays

As I sit here, having watched the traditional Christmas film with my mum (the 1994 Miracle on 34th Street obviously), my mind wandered to what topic I should choose for today’s blog post, the post that I’ve decided will be my final Blogmas post of this year.

There’s considerable pressure to make such posts perfect and reflective, wrapping the project up with some kind of retrospective of how the experience has changed your blogging and also provide a nice sense of closure to the affair.

Right now, I’m saving those thoughts for New Years, for 2018. Because the year isn’t quite over yet, and Christmas isn’t the end of anything. For me, it’s a time for friends and for family, a time to appreciate what you do have, and to remember those you no longer have in your life. It’s a time to just take a much-needed moment to just… be.

Obviously, my Christmas and family aren’t a perfect holiday card image of the day, and what I prioritise in the festive season might not be what you prioritise. But I’m grateful for what, and who, I do have in my life and Christmas provides a stark yearly reminder of just how lucky I am to feel safe and loved every single year. To have somewhere to call home and, soppiness be damned, to have somewhere to return to where I know I’ll always be welcomed back for Christmas.

For those of you who celebrate something during this holiday season, I sincerely wish health and happiness to you and your loved ones. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And thus “ends” my Blogmas…


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London Trip 2017 | Day Two aka the snow taketh with one hand and giveth with the other

Welcome to the second post in my wrap up on my recent trip to London – take a look a day one here if you haven’t already.

After a double musical day of emotional musicals, I think both Liz and I were happy at the prospect of getting out of theatres and heading out of London for our planned activities on Sunday but, as you will see, things didn’t go quite as planned. I know how to do suspense, don’t I?

We woke bright and (reasonably) early, excited for our day at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford, and donned our Harry Potter related clothing, also bundling up with scarves and gloves after a quick peek at the snow (!) falling outside. Sunday mornings in London are weird, to say the least, because there are so few people on ordinarily busy streets and the snow was also good encouragement to stay indoors if you could. Even so, the snow wasn’t settling as the ground was already wet, so we decided to walk the twenty-minute walk to Euston. I wouldn’t presume to speak for both of us but I believe that we quickly regretted this decision to walk when Liz discovered her Vans weren’t quite as waterproof as we first hoped and my Chelsea boots, whilst pretty, had no grip to speak of on the soles. This makes for a very interesting walk on slippy streets.

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London Trip 2017 | Day One aka “Do you hear the people sing?”

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting London for a long weekend of musical theatre and sightseeing! I feel extremely fortune to be able to see some many wonderful sights and I’m sure anyone who follows me on Instagram is bored of hearing about this trip but, for posterity’s sake, I thought I would do a quick travel diary on this blog to preserve the memories.

The entire trip was planned way back in January of this year for one very important reason – Liz and I managed to grab Monday night tickets to see Hamilton when it opened in the West End. We were both very excited, but it was January, and the tickets for the show weren’t until December. Even so, we started planning with gusto and decided to make a weekend out of it in the capital city. I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be a wonderful weekend full of sightseeing and musicals.

Luckily, Liverpool to London Euston is a short 2-hour train journey and we managed to nab early tickets which meant we got the train tickets very cheaply too – result! So Saturday morning rolled around, our suitcase was all packed, and thanks to a very kind lift to the station from Liz’s dad we were off on the 10 o’clock train zipping towards London. When we got to Euston plumped for a walk to the Travelodge hotel in Covent Garden since it was about 20-minutes away and it seemed a more appealing prospect than battling the Tube with a suitcase in tow. So, we headed off for Covent Garden. One of the reassuring things about trying to locate a hotel in Covent Garden is that, since it’s a major tourist spot, it’s handily signposted everywhere, and I vaguely remembered that, to get to it, you had to walk through universityland (aka UCL and SOAS) until you started to hit some of the more borderland theatres. Luckily, Motown the musical has opened up in a very gold and shimmery theatre just around the corner from the Travelodge so we definitely knew when we’d arrived in the right place!

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DC/NYC Trip 2017 | “Getting There is Half the Fun”

“Getting there is half the fun”… or so the saying goes, and to paraphrase the Ed Byrne joke: “If getting there is half the fun, surely getting home is the other half, you’re having no fun on your holiday, go somewhere else next year”. Well, for once, getting there was indeed half the fun for me. Until this year, I had never travelled outside of Europe before, I had never been on an plane for longer than 3 hours, I had never travelled with anyone other than my family – my recent trip to DC and NYC with my friend/housemate, Liz, back in September changed all three of those statements. Because my memory is terrible, I want to keep a record of all the things we did on the trip, from the interesting to the mundane, and since I have a blog, it seems the perfect place to record said memories before I (inevitably) forget most of them.

Disclaimer: If you’re here for useful travel tips, you’ll be disappointed, go find an actual travel blog. If you’re here just because you read my book blog anyway, I can promise some mentions of books amongst all the tourist things and self-indulgent musings.

Because getting to DC was a relatively painless journey, but interesting (at least to me!), for posterity’s sake I kind of wanted to record even the “getting there” because it was a new experience and, in some ways, genuinely fun. Don’t worry, in future blog posts, I fully intend to cover the actually interesting bits of the trip, maybe with some added photos because I took a lot of those. So if that’s your bag, stick around for my not-so-intelligent insights!

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In Five Years’ Time | Thoughts on Goal Setting

So, I haven’t written anything in just over a week, which doesn’t seem like a long time but I was on something of a roll back there and it was nice whilst it lasted, wasn’t it? You will have to indulge my self-centred nature for a post (or two) because the topic at hand is something that has been playing on my mind lately, mostly prompted by the fact I recently turned 25 (I know, just typing that makes me feel faintly sick) and partially prompted by Rosianna’s video about life plans, both of which have been urged onward by the fact that I now can’t for the life of me get this damn ‘5 Years Time’ song out of my head – thanks Noah and the Whale.

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the third of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in or my second quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of July, August, and September, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: Completed
I’ve definitely smashed through this challenge this year, to the point that I’m considering whether or not to up it to at least 75 books, or maybe 100 if I’m feeling especially industrious.  I’m currently sitting pretty at 67 though so I’ve upped my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 75.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing-ish
I’m getting better at writing reviews in general, even for books I was just so-so on but these reviews are rarely ever written on time. I like to leave a little bit of time between finishing a book and reviewing it, to let it really sink it etc. (and also because I’m lazy), but it’s just a joke sometimes. Must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
I’m really trying to get into a proper weekly schedule and, for the most part, I think I’m getting there. I’m now aiming to have 4-5 posts a week up, and these are usually a mixture of tags, weekly memes, discussions, TBRs, and reviews – I’d like to have more reviews and discussions and less tags but I’m happy-ish with the direction my blog is headed in. Actually scheduling ahead of time really helps me to read more of other people’s blogs and leave comments – I’m now trying to write my posts for the week ahead on a weekend but that doesn’t always happen.

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the second of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of April, May, and June, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’m sitting pretty at 46 books which Goodreads informs me is 20 books ahead of schedule. Let us take a moment to bask once more in the glow of that meaningless and arbitrary accolade, shall we? Back in Quarterly Check-in #1 I was wondering whether to up my Goodreads goal to 75 books but I’ve decided now not to do that. Whilst I’m sure it’s an achievable number, I want to concentrate on reading some longer books over the summer and I don’t want to constantly be thinking in the back of my head about my Goodreads goal – so at 52 books it shall stay!

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
Let me explain something – if I dislike a book, I find it infinitely easier to write a review explaining why me and the book didn’t get along very well. A recent case in point is Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. When it comes to a book I liked, if I loved it I will be high and delirious on the buzz of all the feelings and I will then happily skip onto reading my next book, forgetting to write a review. Skip forward a few weeks and then I have a moment of realisation that I never did write that gushing review about that book I loved. At that point I start to feel that perhaps too much time has passed for me to properly convey my adoration so the review remains unwritten. This is a silly cycle to get trapped into and I must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
For a while back there I was on something of a roll with posting to a vaguely regular schedule. And I wouldn’t say I’m failing this goal because I do still post a decent enough amount of things every week – it’s just that in recent days and weeks I’m feeling a bit disheartened about the quality of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love participating in weekly memes and all that jazz but I do find myself settling on doing posts like this because they’re “easy posts” for me to write and don’t require huge amounts of thought on my part. I’d like to have more discussion posts and reviews and interesting content. Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve been truly 100% happy with any of my posts and I constantly struggle to find the right tone for my blog given my academic literature background but desire to appeal also to a more popular audience. (Maybe that in itself is worth a blog post to unpack some of those feelings – would that be of interest to anyone?)

4. Read at least 4 classics

Verdict: Completed!
Guys, guys, guys, I’ve actually completed a goal – yay! I’ve read Hard Times by Charles Dickens, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Howards End by E.M. Forster, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Ok, ok, so Atwood probably counts a modern classic at a push, but it’s still considering a classic so I’m completely allowing myself this one. I didn’t even have to think “ugh maybe I should read a classic”, I just found myself picking up A Room with a View and then that led to me realising I found Forster’s style very readable and then I followed it up with Howards End and voila, here we are. It feels good to actually have something completed and so early in the year – but I suspect that’s because this was an easily quantifiable goal and I set the bar pretty low… even so, I’ll take it!

5. Be mindful of Reading Challenges and actually complete them!

Verdict: On Track
In terms of the Goodreads Challenge and the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge, I’m on track. For Around the Year we’re at week 27 and I’m at 36 out of 52 books which is not too bad at all. As for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, I’m no longer failing it quite as spectacularly as I was at my first quarterly check-in – I’ve now completed 8 out of 24 challenges which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t brilliant but it’s definitely better than I was doing. Must keep these challenges more in the back of my head as they will definitely require some tailored TBRs for me. And finally as far as Mount TBR goes, I’ve achieved Pike’s Peak (yay!) and am now aiming for Mount Blanc which means another 12 books – I got this, guys.

6. Explore more TV shows/films

Verdict: Failing
Unless you count watching far too many episodes of Police Interceptors as “progress” then, yeah, I’m failing this quite spectacularly. Case in point: yesterday when stuck on a train journey I chose to re-watch Ed Byrne’s Different Class rather than watch The Circle which I had not seen and wanted to. I ALWAYS choose re-watching for the sake of nostalgia/assured enjoyment and I need to stop doing this and let myself explore some new TV and film.

PERSONAL GOALS

 

1. Exercise more regularly

Verdict: Failing
So I changed jobs during quarter 2 which has meant that my walk to/from work has shortened considerably. However, that 10 minute (as opposed to 20 minute) walk in on a morning is now uphill and at speed because I panic about being late. And the downhill walk on the way to the station to get home is also at speed because otherwise I’d miss a train by like 2 minutes and have to wait for the next one. All of this is a way of procrastinating talking about what I really should be talking about… the gym. Ha hahahahaha ha ha. yeah, no, the gym is taking my money for no reason at all since I couldn’t tell you the last time I went. A combination of sheer laziness, lack of motivation, and near-constant blisters on the back of my feet making wearing my gym shoes uncomfortable have all meant I haven’t been in a while. It’s gonna hurt when I do but I know I need to work on my fitness. Sigh.

Also, if any of you happen to know of any beginners yoga videos online can you hook me up? I’m not so much about the mind-clearing and meditation aspects of it but I really need to improve my core strength, stability, and flexibility so I’d greatly appreciate any recommendations.

2. Experiment and find a skincare routine that works

Verdict: On Track
I’m still loving the St Ive’s face scrub in my morning shower but I’m yet to find a day cream that I really like. I continue to use No. 7 but I’m still vaguely suspicious that, despite its claims, it’s not actually the best thing for my sensitive skin. Will report back more later.

3. Travel more

Verdict: On Track
Ok so technically I haven’t been anywhere much since my last check-in (aside from tagging along with Liz and her parents on a lovely day trip to the Lake District which remains stunning by the way) but I do have a pretty damn exciting holiday planned – I’m going to Washington DC and New York! This is all down to Liz being amazed and getting flights but yeah we’re popping over to Washington for a few days to see all the sights and then we’re on a train to NYC for a couple of days and seeing Phantom on Broadway. I’m so ridiculously excited I can’t even begin to explain. Also, if you have recs for places to eat and/or things to do in DC or NYC, please let me know!

4. Allow myself to write more

Verdict: Failing
As I stated in my previous check-in: “I need to let myself write more, whether that is working on that novel I abandoned during NaNoWriMo or trying to get inspiration for some kind of new project. Or maybe I should just allow myself to write more reviews, for a start.” Nothing has changed since and I agree with that previous statement.

Overall

As we stand at the mid-way point of the year, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on a lot of my goals. I’m on-track mostly with my blogging and reading related goals, it’s just my “real life” and personal ones that could do with some much needed attention. That’s pretty par for the course for my life in general, to be perfectly honest. As the weather gets better though, my excuses for the exercise and travel goals really don’t really hold much weight and I will hopefully be trying to address these in the coming months.

Did you make New Years’ Resolutions or goals for this year?
How are you doing at achieving them?


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Musings | On Feeling Goalless

I’ve been doing some thinking lately (a dangerous start to any blog post, I know), mainly inspired by productivity videos I have seen on Amanda aka shesomickey‘s channel and Leena’s recent ‘How to Slam Your Competition (kind of)’ video. Both of these women are amazing YouTubers and inspire me to think a little more about myself and my own life, sometimes in a flippant way and sometimes in a “deeper way”.

(Yep, you’re in for one of those blog posts, so strap yourself in and get ready for some self-involved and (mostly) selfish musing that is particular to my own experience and in no way informed enough to speak to anyone else’s experiences or priorities. Disclaimer over…)

Both Amanda and Leena have recently discussed life goals and career goals, seeing that next step you want to make in your life, and the skills or experience you need to acquire in order to reach it. Last year for VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April) Amanda specifically made a video about 100 Life Goals, a tool to get you thinking about yourself and your priorities and do a little self-audit of where you are and where you would like to be “at the end of the day”. It is exactly what it says on the tin – you take out a pen and paper (or a blank Word document if you so prefer) and list out 100 goals. These can range from “visit Japan” to “write a book” to “work for a non-profit” to “learn ASL”. They can be a mix of travel, personal, or career-focused goals, in fact I think the best lists probably are a mix of those things. The key thing to having goals, though, is making them achievable, phrasing them so that they are a clear Thing to aim for, whether that is to visit a certain place or to live in a certain city or learn a certain skill. Although skeptical I could come up with 100 distinct goals, I was nevertheless encouraged by Amanda’s video to get out my own pen and paper and draw up my list…

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