Summer 2018 Goals


Summer 2018 Goals

This teacher is officially on summer break! The 2017-18 school year was a special one for me as a teacher. I had some the kindest students that I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching. But most of all, I finally reached a point with my teaching where I felt fulfilled by my work. Everything clicked for me this year, and I had a powerful moment where my individual purpose and goals as a teacher became crystal clear.

However, I am very much grateful for the summer break. To recharge. To not have a two hour a day commute. And most of all, to pursue some personal goals.

I am trying to keep a lot of structure and deadlines to my summer in order to make it as productive as possible. I’ll be doing Sunday check-ins to reflect on progress with each goal.

Writing Goals:

  • Query one agent per week for finished manuscript. (9 agents total)
  • Write a 60k draft of new sci-fi project (1500 words per day)
  • Enter Pitch Wars (August 27-29)

Reading Goals:

  • Read one physical book, one audiobook, and one graphic novel per week.

Teaching Goals:

  • I am taking a course on “Having Hard Conversations” for professional development. This should help me as I go into my second year as the Cultural Proficiency Liaison at my school.

Fitness Goals:

  • Attend four exercise classes per week (Body Pump, Barre, Yoga, Body Sculpt).

30582403_10104292164499915_2551495175536902144_nWedding Goals:

  • I got engaged in April. (At a castle in Portugal to my favorite person in the whole wide world! Yay!) My main goal for this summer is to choose a wedding venue and set a date.

Definitely feel like these goals are ambitious when they are all written out. Yikes! But I’m super happy with where I am right now, and excited about where I’m headed.

Anyone else setting summer reading or writing goals? Let’s keep each other on track!


How I’m Resolving to Read More Books

BookshelfI used to read closer to 70 books a year, but it’s been well over 5 years since I’ve achieved my goal of 50 in the Goodreads challenge. It’s frustrating because reading is my favorite hobby. Some of my best memories are devouring books in the summertime whether under the hot sun on a beach towel or lounging on an air-conditioned couch.

I spent some time reflecting on what had changed between now and 5 years ago to result in such a decrease in the number of books I read in a year.

  • I cook more now. I used to eat a lot of microwave meals, and now I cook from scratch most nights. Much healthier, but time consuming.
  • Five years ago, I used my Kindle a lot. It was new and I enjoyed reading on it. I have since stopped using Kindle, and read more paper books. I do have a Kobo eReader that I use now, though less often.
  • I was single. In the evenings, I entertained myself rather than spend time with another person. But my boyfriend is pretty great, and I like spending time with him 🙂
  • My commute was only 10 minutes rather than 35-60 minutes, giving me more time for hobbies.
  • Social media was a less constant presence in my life. I looked up when the Facebook App for iPhone was introduced–2010-2012. The last year I completed my Goodreads goal: 2011. Coincidence?

If I’m going to reach my goal of 50 books, some things will have to change. But there are things I’m willing to change, and things I’m not. Here are the ways I plan to read more this year:

Always have a book with me and use even short periods of time to read. My Kobo eReader will come in handy here. It is small, light, and easy to carry with me. Instead of pulling out my phone while I wait in the checkout line, I’ll pull out a book. On my lunch break, instead of checking Facebook, I’ll read a chapter. When I’m waiting for a pot of water to boil, I can knock out a few pages.

Utilize library apps, especially for free audiobooks. Audiobooks are pricey. But they could be the biggest advantage I have in reaching my goal this year. I started listening to more audiobooks last year during my longer commute. And audiobooks totaled about a third of my finished books last year. My two favorite library apps are:

  • Libby (by Overdrive): This app has the biggest selection of books, including popular titles. But there is often a waitlist for the books I want, which can be frustrating.
  • Hoopla: With this app, I get 10 borrows per month. I mostly use my allotted 10 for audiobooks, but they also have eBooks, movies, TV shows, music, and comics. The selection isn’t as wide as Libby, but I can usually find something to listen to while I am waitlisted for another title on Libby.

Restrict social media use: This is the hard one. The best method I’ve found for restricting my social media use is to not have my phone within reach. If I plug my phone in upstairs, I’m unlikely to check it while I’m down in my office. Using social media once or twice a day (morning and/or evening) will be my goal. An hour of social media scrolling is beginning to feel like binging a whole pint of ice cream. Fun in the moment, but I feel kind of gross afterwards. I feel more at peace, healthier, when I use it less. And reading a good book is the best use of my time!

Set concrete goals: Using Goodreads, I analyzed some of my reading numbers. I want to set a daily page goal–something to achieve daily. I read 9,673 pages for a total of 24 books in 2017. If I want to double my goal, I should double my pages. If I divide 9,673 by 365 days a year. I was reading 26 pages a day. Doubling that–I should be reading 52 pages a day. That’s my concrete goal. It also allows me to calculate deadlines for when I should have books read by with a daily page goal in mind. I’m using an online calendar (Asana) as well as a reading planner (from my December OwlCrate) to keep track of my reading goals.

Are you resolving to read more? How are you planning to achieve your reading goals this year?

Books as Windows and Mirrors

Windows MirrorsA friend of mine introduced me to the idea of books as windows and mirrors. She introduces the idea to her students at the beginning of the school year as a way of discussing book selection.

A book that serves as a mirror is one that we see ourself in. These kinds of books can help us get a better understanding of who we are, what we value, and how we navigate the world.

For me, a mirror book would be about a white girl who loves books and words. A recent read that was a mirror book for me was A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. While reading that book, I posted something about how the book was “speaking to my heart” because the main character resonated so powerfully with how I see the world.

A book that is window allows you to view a world outside your own. These books are the kind that let you step into another person’s shoes, however briefly, and see the world as they see it. These books promote empathy and understanding for people and situations outside our own experience.

For me, a recent window book was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book allowed me to see and understand the world from a black teen’s perspective. The book gave me empathy and understanding for all that a black teen might be dealing with, from code-switching, to police brutality, to interracial relationships, and more.

As you set reading goals for the new year, I encourage you to think of books as windows and mirrors. We need mirror books to become more self-aware and understand ourselves.

But we also need window books. Oh boy, do we need window books. We need to push ourselves to better understand other perspectives. With the understanding and empathy that window books provide, perhaps we can create a world with more love, more peace, and more kindness.

And if you want to watch a great video on the power of reading and empathy, check out this gem from the channel Just Write:

My Year in Books 2017

My Year in Books 2017

Overall, I wish I’d read more books and hit my goal of 50. I tended towards lengthy books this year and tackled several series, which definitely slowed me down. Audiobooks were a little over a third of my reading.

Goals for 2018: Decrease social media use. Set weekly reading goals. Read 3-4 books a month. I’m going to keep my overall goal at 50 books, despite not reaching it this year. I know it’s an achievable goal for me, especially now that I’m more savvy at checking out free audiobooks from the library via Hoopla and Libby (by Overdrive).

How was your 2017 in books? What are you pleased with? What do you want to change in 2018?

Return to Blogging 2017

It has been over two years since I’ve posted, but I’ve missed blogging! I took a break for many reasons: completing my MFA, enjoying the beginning honeymoon stage of my relationship with my boyfriend, and moving homes/jobs.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 2.54.41 PM

Ready to write!

But I realized that blogging helped me in two ways connected to productivity: getting my butt in the chair writing and giving me reading goals to work towards.

Having a writing schedule has always been the best way for me to produce new writing. While I want to be a fiction writer, not a full-time blogger, the act of producing blog posts helps me create a writing rhythm that my fiction writing benefits from as well.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that time management has only gotten more difficult in the time of social media. It is so easy to get sucked down a hole of distractions for an hour at a time.

It may seem contradictory to say that publishing posts online could then improve productivity! But I found that setting reading/reviewing deadlines and participating more in the online book world led to dedicating more time for reading as a whole.

Overall, having a blogging platform and the structure of regular posting increased my productivity as both a reader and writer. The one thing I have to keep aware of is not allowing my blogging writing to overwhelm my creative writing. Because ultimately, my end goal is to be a fiction writer not a book blogger.  🙂

The month of December:
Will feature reviews of all the books I read this year. Get ready to put some fabulous books on your to-read list!