May 2016 Goals

If the Lord wills and I live, in May of 2016 I will…

1. Go to bed by 10:30 fifteen times
2. Get up by 6:30 fifteen times
3. Walk or jog 100 miles
4. Read & Review four non-fiction books
5. Get WLHYL ready to send to beta readers and send it out
6. Stick to my healthy eating for at least 29 days

March 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in March: 

1. Editing and cutting down the word count in When Life Hands You Lymes 

2. Training for the marathon – Eating healthy, tracking my food, walking/running 121 miles 

3. Working at regaining my creativity 
4. My non-writing job 
Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 
2. Pray the “prayer of Jebez” every day for three months {Completed in December. +3)
3. Read the whole Bible {Psalm, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi}
4. Go to Wednesday night church 24 times {3}
6. Read 12 non-fiction “spiritual” books {4}
7. Read the Proverb of the day every day for six months {Completed March 31st}
12. Go to bed at 10:30 or before 24 nights (not in a row) {Completed}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {6 months}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {4 months}
15. Write 24 book reviews {8}
17. Track my food for 24 days in a row, not counting weekends {Completed March 28th}23. Read 24 non-fiction books {7}

None 

Reading Update
Fiction: 8
Non-Fiction: 7
Reviews: 15 
Audio Books: 4 (fiction)
Traveling
Nights Gone: 1
New Countries or States: None 
March Goals 

1. Walk or jog 100 miles – YES (121 miles)
2. Work 80 hours on my non-writing job – YES
3. Work 100 hours on my writing work – YES
4. Read at least an hour each day – YES 
5. Read and review 4 non-fiction books – YES (7)
6. Either re-write or edit each chapter in WLHYL – YES
7. Write at least 300 words on the re-writes every day – YES (although I won’t use most of them, they were more for practice)

What I’ve Been Learning
I spent March filling my brain with a bunch of words and it really helped me in various ways. I learned about goals, finances, technology, creativity, and living the way God wants me to live. 
It also hit me in March that although I’ve spent years being quite creative, creativity isn’t simply a part of my life – I have to cultivate it. The last couple of months were kinda “creativity killers” so I worked at learning how to combat that lifestyle and learn how to once again embrace creativity. Thankfully it was a fun process and really helpful. 
Throughout the month it was interesting to get to study the countries I “visited” in the Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks series: Italy, South Korea, Reunion Island, Luxembourg, and Denmark. It can be hard at times to find interesting information that I can weave into a short story, so it’s been a good challenge for me.
I’ve also been working at learning how to set realistic monthly and weekly goals that stretch me, but don’t totally overwhelm me. Thankfully I’m getting better in this arena of life.  

Other
This month I celebrated Noveltea’s 4th birthday, stayed home most of the month, and got to cut grass for the first time in 2016. 
I also discovered how to borrow audio books online through the library. *cue celebration music* It’s been really fun to listen to books while doing mindless work and while walking. Hearing the books instead of reading them has actually helped me pay attention better. I skim read a lot and so not being able to skim read has been an eye-opening experience. 
Walking and really training for the marathon I’m, Lord willing, going to run in October was one of the best and most challenging parts of the month. Ramping my health into full gear is well-worth the pain and discipline it takes. 
I reviewed (on Goodreads) every single one of the books I read in March, so that was a new experience for me. It was enjoyable to get to review the books, and really helped me gauge them as I was reading. I’m petty sure that 15 reviews in one month is my record, but I’m not positive. 
* * *
It’s that time again where we get to choose where Annie goes for this week in our Friday Series, Around the World in Fifty-Two WeeksMy blogging buddy, Hosanna, helped choose the country this week. (Thanks!) And the destination is: Bhutan!  

Hitting Milestones and Celebrating

On December 20th of last year I was musing about health issues I’d been experiencing (a leftover from my years fighting Lyme disease and some chemical allergies) and I wanted to pray that I’d feel better during 2016, then I realized something rather convicting. I wasn’t actively caring for my health like I should, so therefore praying and asking God to make me feel better was actually a lazy way out. Yikes.

Back when I was actively getting over Lyme disease I’d been very intentional about what I ate, making sure to fill my body with proper nutrients by eating Paleo. Paleo is a very natural diet consisting of vegetables (although not things like white potatoes, and peas), fruit, meats, eggs, nuts (not peanuts), and seeds and cutting out processed foods, white starches, grains, dairy, legumes, etc…

So, I decided to eat Paleo for 100 days and see how I felt. Not one to delay starting a challenge, I jumped on board the next day, although I did allow myself to have Christmas day free. (By the way, I don’t think everyone needs to be as strict as me, nor do I plan on always being strict, it’s just that overcoming other hurdles means I have to work extra hard.)

Over the next 100 days I noticed a shift. It wasn’t long before I began feeling better, but even on the days when I didn’t feel well, I wasn’t nearly as discouraged because I knew I was doing something to make a difference in my long-term health.

Then I began walking more, wanting to get into shape. On February 15th a friend suggested I start training for a marathon, which has been a life-long dream of mine, so I jumped on board. Around that time I also began rereading Every Body Matters. I started the book feeling confident that I could breeze through it, being encouraged but knowing I was on right on track. As I read though, I realized that although I was doing well with eating and excising I didn’t have healthy habits regarding sleep. Oopps. So that changed. Instead of staying up until the wee hours of the morning, I began trying to go to bed by 10:30 or 11:00 four to five nights a week.

And do you know what? Those changes have made a gigantic difference in my life. I am so incredibly, wonderfully happy that I committed myself to changing my lifestyle and I’ve been feeling leaps and bounds better than last year.

Take for instance my training for a marathon. At the beginning of March I set a goal to walk or jog 100 miles during the month. That was quite the daunting task since I’ve probably not even walked half that amount in a month before, but I was confident it could be done.

The first week I managed 25 miles and was pretty excited. Then I was informed I should jog and after doing math on how long it would take me to walk a marathon, I agreed. The next week I had a goal of jogging 20 minutes out of the entire week, 1 to 2 minute spurts at a time. It was hard folks, really hard, and I barely accomplished it. But by the end of the next week, guess what? I jogged (at 5 mph) for 28 minutes out of 60 minutes, mostly going in 3 minute spurts. I was ecstatic. Seeing the difference that less than a month of training had made was amazing. Then week 4 came and to my great surprise I ended up jogging (again at 5. mph) for 24 minutes straight, which was two miles.

I seriously never knew that I could change my health, my stamina, and my lifestyle so quickly. Each week I take two rest days from training (per the advice I’ve received), and genuinely miss walking on those days.

Yesterday was day 100 of Paleo, and I had told myself all along that no matter if I decided to stay on Paleo or not, I’d take day 101 as a celebration day where I could eat whatever foods I wanted. This morning though, instead of chowing down on the cheesecake I’ve been saving for the last week, I headed up to the treadmill with my computer to celebrate with an early morning walk/jog.

The most I’ve done in one day is 8 miles, and today I wanted to do 10. Two hours and twenty-five minutes later I had accomplished my goal. Excitedly marking it down in my book, I added up my miles for the entire month and… Not only did I reach my 100 miles, but I blew past it, walking or jogging a total of over 121 miles in 31 days.

It’s been a good 100 days and I’ll be back at Paleo soon, but for now? I think I’m gonna go and eat that cheesecake and then nibble on some white chocolate. 

March 2016 Goals

Because getting my goals for March posted late is better than never, here we go…

If the Lord wills and I live, in March I will:

1. Walk or jog 100 miles
2. Work 80 hours on my non-writing job
3. Work 100 hours on my writing work
4. Read at least an hour each day
5. Read and review 4 non-fiction books
6. Either re-write or edit each chapter in WLHYL
7. Write at least 300 words on the re-writes every day

November 2015 Goals & NaNo Update

Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m still alive. My brain is about ready to jump out of my head though. You should see the way that it’s dancing around inside my skull as I pound away at NaNo. I’ve been having a delightful time with building my word count and writing this book. The words have come slowly at times and quite rapidly at other times.

I told my mom today that I think I’m going to have to go to the chiropractor when the month is over because my neck and head and back are all tight from me being hunched over my computer with my fingers flying along and concentration a mile deep. I have been trying to stretch and move around though so I don’t cause too much damage to my little body. Plus I’ve been drinking a lot of water. That should help, right? And taking walks. (We have had the most beautiful days recently!)

This morning I’ve already been typing for a while, trying to build up that word count and get my story out of my head and onto the page. There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I can’t even concentrate on them any more. I’ve been dealing with absolutely zero writers block, which makes me quite happy indeed. That’s not to say that my mind is comprehending what’s going on around me or even in the story because I’m in a constant state of “Oh yes, there’s something I need to do. Focus. Stop chewing on that pen and start writing again”, but it’s a good feeling. 
I don’t know how to describe it except I’m feeling exhausted pretty much all the time and yet it’s wonderful. Yesterday I had an early meeting at work and so I didn’t get nearly the writing done that I wanted to (or blogging, for that matter) and yet today I got a fairly early start and so I took ahold of it and sat down and began typing without even eating breakfast. 
I’m off to find something of quality to eat, but before that, here are my three November Goals.

Goals for November 2015:
1. If the Lord wills and I live I will Complete NaNoWriMo
2. If the Lord wills and I live I will read one nonfiction book and review it
3. If the Lord wills and I live I will reach Lamentations in my Bible reading. 
…Mostly though, folks, I’ll be doing NaNo. Lots and lots and lots of writing. Amen and amen. 
* * *
What about you? What are your November goals? 

Confessions of a Goalaholic

This last April when I was at a hotel taking a writing retreat to finish the first draft of When Life Hands You Lymes I would work hard during the day and then by the time night rolled around I needed to just chill. With unlimited internet in my possession I had fun looking up old movies and watching them. While looking for a movie one night I remembered several years ago one of my friends mentioned Confessions of a Shopaholic and I had wanted to watch it ever since then so I looked the movie up and began it. 
I ended up turning it off after a little bit because there was something I didn’t like (I can’t remember what it was); it was late any way and I was ready to go to sleep. As I snuggled in bed that night I kept thinking about the main character in the movie. She was obsessed with shopping. And I don’t use the word lightly. If she was walking down the street and saw that there was a sale going on she had to check it out. Even if that meant she was late for work. Even if that meant she had to push another credit card to the max. Even though her apartment was full to bursting with other purchases that she would never use. 
I could not wrap my brain around that. To me shopping was a chore that must be endured unless it’s for craft supplies or books. I tried to fathom how anyone could be so addicted to shopping; it was like she had a compulsion when it came to stores. I imagined what it would feel like to have something that I felt like I had to do. It was a crazy thought. 
Then as I was about ready to drift off to sleep I went through my daily check-list like I do every night and I realized I hadn’t finished one of my goals for the day. Before I even fully comprehend what I was doing I had turned on the light, jumped out of bed and was working on finishing my daily goals. 
That’s right. I went from the “almost-alseep” state to “running-around-finishing-goals” state in about .2 seconds. As I crawled back under blankets I had to laugh at myself. Here I was marveling at how anyone could be addicted to shopping like in the movie and yet if you replaced shopping with goals then I was basically that girl.  
Goals are something you’ve probably heard me yak on and on about if you’ve been hanging out around Noveltea for any length of time. I’m probably what could be considered a Goalaholic. With that in mind do you want to hear something crazy? 

I’ve barely accomplished any of my year-long goals for 2015. In fact there are several of them that I haven’t even begun working on. Because do you know what? Life changes. Some of those writing goals that seemed so important as 2014 drew to a close paled when compared to getting to work more on When Life Hands You Lymes. Some of the goals were worthwhile but too overwhelming in the whole scheme of life. Some I’m working on, but at a slower pace than I imagined. So I’m learning. Learning to rearrange goals and set some aside and make new ones when opportunities arise. 
My daily and weekly goals are still firmly in place and I’m back to instituting monthly goals and might eventually return to my weekly goals… So, I probably still sound like a goalaholic, but do you know what? That’s ok. Because I’m learning to use goals as tool to help propel me down my chosen path in life. Goals are so incredibly helpful as long as you know when to let go and make new ones. 
* * * 
What about you? Do you use goals as a tool in your life? 

Goals for October 2015

Hey y’all! The last several days were crazy and amazing with our almost-sister getting married and a spur-of-the-moment trip out-of-state and all that kind of stuff the accompanies a huge event. It was all very beautiful but left little time (or brain-power) for blogging today. 
I’ve been tossing the idea around in my mind of not only having a review at the end of each month on my blog, but also having a post with some of my goals at the beginning of each month. So, I figured I’d better get that posted today and here we are. I’m still going to have to tweak the guidelines and all that of how it will work, but for now this will have to do. 
Goals for October, 2015
1. Finish the Fourth Draft of When Life Hands You Lymes

2. Focus and do an amazing job with the MWR (a big project at my non-writing job) 
3. Read two non-fiction books and write reviews 
4. Finish two baby blankets
5. Finish figuring out my 24 before 24 challenges 
* * * 
What are some of your goals for this month?

A Thousand Days

Celebration time! 
Yesterday marked the 1,000th day since I started writing a 100 words on my WIP (work in progress) each and every day. People, a 1,000 days is a long time. To give y’all a little glimpse of just how long it actually is, here’s a list of things that I’ve done/have happened in my life in the last 1,000 days: 
* Three of my books were published
* Three nieces and one nephew were born
* I completed 31 items from my dream list 
* My brother and I sold our herd of around 40 milk goats and kids 
* I’ve had book signings, author blog interviews and been on live TV
* Our family built a house and moved (Pictured: old office and new office): 

* One of my siblings got married
* I had three birthdays spanning from my late teens to early twenties
* I found out that I had Lyme disease and spent about two years getting over it (including multiple visits to Lyme disease specialists in Pennsylvania and Colorado)
* I published 617 posts on Noveltea 
In the last 522 days I’ve read 202 books (I didn’t keep track before that)
* My cute little puppy who was only a few weeks old at the time is now almost three:

* I got braces, had them for over two years and then got them taken off
* I went to the Grand Ole Opry, explored castles in Europe, ruins in Aruba and lots of museums in-between
* I wrote a book with 150,000 words 
* I did the A to Z blogging challenge three times
* I made a whole bunch of new and amazing friends
* I hiked up mountains, went caving, kayaking and snorkeling: 

And I traveled a lot. In the last 1,000 days I was gone for 318 nights (give or take a few)… 
I traveled to or through:
States:
California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia 
Countries:
Aruba, Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland 
Continents:
Africa, Asia, Europe, North America 
Had layovers in:
Ivory Coast, Africa
Nevada, USA
Qatar, Asia
So much has happened in my life in the last 1,000 days and to know that I’ve consistently written every single one of those days is pretty exciting. I’m so thankful for the support of my family and my writing group, Go Teen Writers. I’m also so thankful to be a writer and to know that God can use my imagination to inspire people. 
To celebrate the 1,000th day my family went out for milkshakes yesterday and then today I’m hosting a giveaway over on Go Teen Writers

What are some of your favorite things you’ve done in the last 1,000 days? 

My 2014 and 2015 Goals

At the beginning of the year I talked about goals and I told y’all I’d share some of my 2014 and 2015 goals and today’s the day. Just as a quick recap: To be a good goal it has to be 1) Specific, 2) Measurable, 3) Written down, and 4) Have a deadline. 

2014 Year-Long Goals 

In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have Where Dandelions Grow all ready to publish {Incomplete, but I did move forward with the book}

In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have the second Creation Quest book published {Nope! Didn’t get much done on this one at all…}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have the first Action Kids book published {YES!}
In 2014 if the Lord wills and I live, I read 50 books, at least 22 non-fiction {YES! Way exceeded this goal with over 120 books…}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have my Action Kids Club up and going {Yes, but not as consistently as I was hoping}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have someone to do illustrations for the Action Kids Club {YES!}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I am on either TV or radio at least once (for my book stuff) {No…}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I hold at least two book signings {YES!}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I am in a newspaper at least once (For my book stuff) {Nope…}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I make Mommy a blanket {YES!}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I keep up with my platforms on the Internet, but will not become consumed by them {Yes, pretty much.}
In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I memorize at least 50 Bible verses {Yes}
I had several more personal goals that I did complete and a few that I worked on, but didn’t finish. Plus I had my weekly and daily goals that I only missed a couple of them maybe once or twice the whole year. 

2015 Year Long Goals: 
(I also have several I’m not sharing on here.)
Writing:
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I write the second Creation Quest book. Get it edited and start illustrations. 

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I write the second Action Kids book. Get it edited and illustrated and self-published. 

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I get Where Dandelions Grow completely ready and decide where I’m going to get it published – if I’m going to self-publish it, get the date all set.

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I finish the first draft of When Life Hands You Lymes 
Physical: 
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I walk at least 250 miles.
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I walk 20 miles in one day. 
Business: 
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I do 15 book signings. 

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I get 10 places to sell my books. 

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I’m on the radio, TV or in the newspaper at least once. 
Spiritual: 
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I memorize 50 verses.
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I read 3 Bible study or devotional books. 
Mental:
In 2015, I will read 25 non-fiction books. 
Financial: 
In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I will keep track of all the money I spend until the end of May

In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I will create a budget for May through December. 

I also have my daily and weekly goals that I’m working on that help me to stay on track to accomplish these goals in 2015. Eventually I’ll be working on a time-line that will help me have varying deadlines in 2015 so I can pick which projects to work on first, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t done that yet.

***
What about you? Do you have goals for this year? I’d be delighted to hear them! 

Resolutions or Goals?

My New Years Resolutions for 2015: None 

Resolution ~ A firm decision to do or not to do something

I often make resolutions: I’m going to be more thankful, I’m going to eat less sugar, and so on and so forth. I don’t make New Year Resolutions though, because there doesn’t seem much point to that. I mean, why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? 



Goals, though? Goals are a whole other story. 

Goal ~ The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. 

I am a delighted believer in having goals. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that where there is no vision, the people perish. We weren’t created to wander aimlessly through life. God created us with purpose and I think we’re most content when we’re in sync with the life God meant for us to live. 

A goal should be specific, measurable, written down and have a deadline. If you don’t have these four qualities, then you have a dream or a wish, not a real, concrete goal. Studies have shown that you’re 42% more likely to complete a goal if you’ve written it down, amazing, isn’t it? 

Let’s say I have the goal to Write the second book in the Creation Quest series. Now that’s a great thing to do, but not an actual goal. It’s so open ended that it just ends up being a wish or a dream. Once I add a deadline, then it becomes a goal: In 2015, if the Lord wills and I live, I write the second Creation Quest book, get it edited and start illustrations. Now that, folks, is a goal And one of my real ones for 2015.

Having a goal is like having a target. 

Take a moment and imagine you and a prize-winning archer are having a competition to see who can hit a target in the least amount of tries. That seems unfair; surely the trained professional will win, right? But now picture this: You take the archer, tie a blindfold around his eyes and spin him around for two minutes, then he has to try and hit a target that he can no longer see. That’s crazy, right? I mean how can you hit a target when you don’t even know where it is? 

Or imagine getting in your car to go on a trip. If you don’t have a clue where you want to go, how do you know what to pack? What to prepare for? That might be fun for a few days, but not for a lifetime.

That’s how a lot of people meander through life. They wander aimlessly; recklessly throwing away their potential by not focusing their efforts on a target, a goal. 

The second part of Luke 12:48 says From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. I have been entrusted with a lot. I have a host of younger siblings and cousins who I interact with on a daily basis, I have a God-given talent for writing, I have all the blessings of living in America where I don’t have to spend my entire life working the ground just to grow enough food to keep me alive. 

My life is bursting at the seams, opportunities and choices abounding. It is my responsibility to seek God’s will for my life and actively listen to godly council and then run in the right direction, giving God my everything. 

We all have 24 hours each day. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. Some of us will use those seconds, minutes and hours to bring God glory and make them count for the good of eternity. Others will whittle them away, wasting them with little thought of what could be. Here’s the exciting thing, though: No matter what you’ve done up until this time, you can change and begin making your life count!

Y’all, life is exciting! God has amazing plan for my life and I’m thrilled to watch it unfold right before me. There are several things I feel called to at this time, Joyfully serving my family, My writing, Working at a private Christian retreat center and Going abroad when possible to encourage missionaries. Almost everything I do each day correlates with at least one of these overarching aims in life. 

This year I have seventeen main goals that are broken down into six catagories: Spiritual, Mental, Physical, Business, Financial and Writing. Each one of my goals (big or little) should directly or indirectly tie in with my life long purpose, which is to love God with all my heart and to use my life to give glory to Him. 

Our family had a group of friends over for New Years Eve and Dad was talking with everyone about setting goals, then we went around and a bunch of us told everyone our goals Telling other people your goals helps keep you accountable. Then, we got on the subject of goals that we’d completed in 2014 and my sister asked me to share a few of those, so I happily did. 

Yesterday at church one of the ladies who had been at our house came up to me and told me how encouraging it had been for her to hear about my goals and how it had inspired her to go home and write out a list of the goals she wanted to accomplish. That was so rewarding for me to hear! 

I believe goals are important because they help me streamline my life and propel me in the direction God has set for me. Matthew 25:23 says, His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord. This is what I want to hear one day, and I know my goals are helping me draw closer to being the person who God wants me to be. Isn’t that an exciting thought? 

***
I would be delighted to hear your thoughts! Have you ever set goals? Do you have any that you’re working on at this time? And stay tuned, a recap of my 2014 goals and a glimpse at my 2015 goals coming up soon.