Category Archives: Life

Snapshot: January 27, 2015

Photos of the week:

Dylan and CreeperDylan and Creeper 2

I don’t know what it is about cats and boxes, but Creeper loves them. The smaller the better. We’re not sure how he manages to squeeze into some of them, but he does.

Wearing: Black pants, blue and beige short sleeved top, black cardigan. Yes, breaking the all black rule today. (I need to get some laundry done.)

Feeling: Hopeful. Work gets easier deadline-wise after the first week of February.

Eating: Homemade soup.

Drinking: Strawberry-flavoured water kefir. Very nice!

Reading: I started Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves last night. I had a little bit of trouble remembering what had gone on in book one, which makes me think maybe I should have reread The Raven Boys first. But then I got to the scene with Blue at home with her relatives, and a lot of it came flooding back to me.

I’m also in the middle of Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga. I’d forgotten how different manga can be, but luckily it was pretty easy getting used to the different facial expressions and ways of conveying emotions. It’s an interesting, foodie manga that makes me hungry every time I dip into it.

Listening: I’m not listening to an audiobook right now, although The 4-Hour Work Week is still waiting for me. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it soon or not, though. And I don’t have anything on my to-listen list that’s really calling to me at the moment. I guess I have to be in the mood for audio, and I haven’t been.

Writing: I began brainstorming the murder mystery series I was planning, but then I came across the first three chapters of a draft of a children’s fantasy I’d printed out a long time ago. I reread the chapters and now I’m all fired up to write more of the story. Except I never did plot it out, so I’m going to do that first. I also have a dark fantasy novel I need to get working on.

Working: I’ve been working on indexes, as usual. I just finished one on organizational behaviour. I’ve also been writing blog posts for my legal blogging client. I’m still undecided how much I like (hate?) writing personal injury blog posts …

Creating: Not much time for creating, so I’m counting my brainstorming/daydreaming time as creating.

Discoveries: I don’t have a clue what to blog about when I’m too busy with work. December was so easy. I’d wake up and I’d know what I wanted to write about here. January has been tough. So obviously too much work saps my creativity. Which is good to know. I never realized this before.

Looking forward to: Dylan and I are stopping by the library on our way to his dance class, where a couple more issues of both Saga and The Sandman are waiting for me!

The rest of today: Library, Dylan’s dance class (my Starbucks time!), dinner and then more work. In that order.

Snapshot: January 20, 2015

Time: 4:58 pm

Wearing: Black pants, black short-sleeved top, black cardigan (I detect a theme going on here).

Feeling: Tired. A little stressed. (This one’s a recurring theme …)

Eating: Maple pork breakfast sausages

Drinking: Green tea followed by two decaf hazelnut coffees

Reading: I finished two books yesterday!

First was The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. Since I’ve been busy, I’ve been trying to read a bit from it every day, so it’s taken me a while to finish it. I turned to the last page and said, “wow”, because I hadn’t expected that last paragraph. This is an older book – published in 1980 – and it’s kind of surreal and quirky. I enjoyed it, and will definitely read more of Carroll’s work.

The second book was Saga, Volume 1. When I finished The Land of Laughs, it was around midnight, and I decided to keep reading Saga until I finished it. It was so good! I can hardly wait until I get volume 2.

Listening: I’m still listening to The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, but I’m at the part where he’s talking about different technology you can use to automate your life. This is the expanded edition, published in 2009, I think, and a lot of the programs he’s talking about are on the obsolete side. So I may just fast forward to the next chapter to see.

Writing: I’m mostly finished with the first draft of Lakeview Legacy – there are several scenes from a secondary storyline that I added that need to be written, but I need to sit down and brainstorm those scenes before I can write them. So three days ago I started making lists for the new mystery I’ll be writing next. The brainstorming’s been going well – I stretch myself by making myself list 100 points for each topic I’m considering. Today I’ll be working on motives.

It does feel odd not to be adding a word count to my word count tracker. I’ve been putting in a “B” instead, to indicate I’ve been brainstorming and planning.

Working: Still working through a slew of indexing deadlines, across a variety of subjects, plus I have two articles due tomorrow.

Creating: I’ve been working slowly but surely on a doodle quote. I figure if I add a little to it every day, I can still say I’m being #creativeeveryday, right?

Photo of the week: I was really too busy this past week to take too many photos. If I had to pick, I guess it would be this one of Creeper making himself very comfortable on Dylan’s laptop, while Dylan’s trying to play a game. He’s so comfortable, he’s napping!

Creeper on laptop

Discoveries: When I’m busy, it’s more of a struggle thinking up a blog post topic. Even the stash of ideas I started back in November, which I added to all through December, feel lacklustre to me. I never realized this connection between getting ideas and being overworked/overwhelmed before!

Looking forward to: February (I think that’s going to be the tune of all of this month’s snapshots). Also looking forward to the decaf Americano I’ll be getting from Starbucks later tonight, when I take Dylan to dance.

The rest of today: I’m taking Dylan to his dance class – I’ll do some writing at Starbucks while I’m waiting – and then back home for more work.

All Those Happy Moments

Photo 2015-01-15, 9 51 27 PM

It’s only been eight days since I started keeping a Happiness Jar but it’s already been pretty interesting so far. It turns out keeping a Happiness Jar isn’t just about remembering to write out a happy moment from the day onto a slip of paper to put into your jar.


I’m more likely to notice now when I’m happy. It sounds kind of strange when I put it like that – what, you mean you didn’t used to know when you were happy? – but sometimes I can be having a happy moment and, because my mind is somewhere else, I don’t even realize it. But now that I know I’ll be filling at least one slip of paper at the end of the day – and hopefully several slips of paper, because there’s a lot of room in that jar – I’m far more aware of all the times I’m happy. Mainly, I find myself taking the time to notice.

It’s the small things

I don’t know about you, but when I think about being happy, I think about the big things – you know, winning the lottery, getting “The Call” from a publisher offering me a six figure publishing contract, things like that. What’s been quite amazing to me is how it’s the small things in my life that make me happy. Walking hand in hand with Dylan on our way to his dance class, talking and laughing. Having coffee in bed on a bright sunny winter morning. Getting to the subway platform just as the train pulls in. A barista at the local coffee shop who has such a genuine smile.

These are the things that are filling my Happiness Jar, and they are so beautiful. The kicker is that I never really noticed them before, not the way I do now. And even better? I can have a whole day filled with all these happy little moments, and it’s like this cumulative thing. One after another, they can come non-stop. As if all those happy little moments are catching and contagious somehow.

Which feel just as happy as the big moments

And guess what? The feeling of happiness that shoots through me when something small and sweet happens feels the same as when I get all happy over something big. There’s no difference in the feeling, no matter what the size of the moment, the bigness or littleness of the situation. It’s all the same happy feeling.

More engagement

Not only am I noticing more often now when I’m happy, I’m also finding myself more open to those happy moments. When I walk outside, I’m not always doing it head down, focused only on getting to my destination. Instead, sometimes I remember to look around, see things, listen more – I’m more engaged with my surroundings.

A few nights ago I was taking Dylan to yet another dance class. It was super windy, and as we turned the corner a crushed Coke can came dancing along the pavement. It made an interesting sound – something I don’t think I would have noticed before – and Dylan and I ended up having a wonderful little conversation about it.

I said, “Did you hear the can?” And he said, “It sounds like music. Da da dada da da.” I said, “You’re right!” And he said, “Maybe one day that can will be playing with a symphony orchestra.” Just like that, the whole moment was transformed from some piece of trash getting blown about by the wind into something musical and magical. It was quite amazing, and it only happened because at that moment the can blew by us, I was more engaged.

Looking forward

Like I said, it’s only been eight days since I started putting those little slips of paper into my Happiness Jar. But I’m really liking what I’ve been discovering. Mind you, I’m still not that good at noticing and being more engaged – it’s just that I’m better at it than I used to be. I’m pretty sure I’m still deep in thought more often than not and not seeing the happy moment that just tried to embrace me. I’m hoping though, that this is all part of exercising the happiness muscle, and over time this way of stepping into life will be just that thing that I do.

Snapshot: 01-13-2015

Time: 9:10 pm

Wearing: Black pants, black long-sleeved t-shirt and gray (!) long cardigan

Feeling: A little stressed. I have so many deadlines this month. I’m not even sure how it happened. Well, okay, it happened because I have a hard time turning down work. I had to say no to a good client today, and it was tough, but after I did it, I was glad I did. I don’t think I could have handled another deadline this month.

Photo of the week:

Dylan reading

I took this picture earlier today. We had picked up our holds from the library before heading out to dance class. This is Dylan standing in -11° C reading El Deafo by Cece Bell. We were waiting for the light to change at an intersection. Right before I took this picture, he’d said to me, “Man, this book is SO good.” His hands were quite cold by the time we got inside again!

Eating: Spinach and ricotta sausages with onions and rice.

Drinking: Nothing yet, but I’ll probably be getting a glass of my mango water kefir when I finish this post.


land of laughs by jonathan carroll

I’m on page 99 of Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll and I’m really enjoying it. If you like books about books, you might want to look into this one. I’m not sure how I happened on it – I think it was on a list of books Neil Gaiman recommended and that’s why I put it on hold at the library. At any rate, it has a blurb by Gaiman on the back cover, where he says “The Land of Laughs is a book for anyone who has ever believed that a favorite book could be a safe place to go when things get hard.”

In the book, Thomas, a schoolteacher and the son of a big film star, and Saxony, an artist, get together to write a biography of Marshall France, a mysterious children’s book author they both adore. I am just about to get into the fantasy part, so I can’t tell you much more, but here’s what the final sentence of the synopsis says: “slowly they begin to see that something fantastic and horrible is happening. The magic of Marshall France has extended far beyond the printed page…leaving them with a terrifying task to undertake.”

I also picked up Saga, Volume 1 from the library today, and really hope I’ll be able to get to it before it has to go back.

Listening: I’m about a third of the way through Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek. It sure sounds like a great deal – who wouldn’t want to make more than enough money to live on while only working four hours a week, right? – but I don’t know how much practical use I’ll get out of the book. Right now I’m on the part about outsourcing your life, and there’s an excerpt from A.J. Jacobs’ My Life as An Experiment recounting his experiences when he decides to outsource his life. I’ve read the Jacobs book and thought the chapter on outsourcing was hilarious, but I’m not sure how applicable outsourcing would be to my own every day life.

Writing: I’ve been on track with my writing, and really hope all these deadlines won’t get me off track. So far this month I’ve written 23,092 words. I had one off day, on the 10th, when I wrote only 641 words, well under my daily target of 1,500 words.

Once I finish this draft (I’m converting a novella I wrote last summer into a full-length novel), I will have to figure out how to track my writing properly when I’m not writing a draft. I need to plan out the next WIP, and also do revisions on a bunch of things. That should all count as writing, so I need to figure out a way to track it as part of my daily writing goal. (I really don’t want to see zeros on my spreadsheet!)

Working: I’m working on a three volume (parts 1 and 2, plus a cumulative volume) economics textbook right now. It’s a well-organized textbook, which does make my job as an indexer a lot easier.

Creating: I’ve been doing a little something every day. I worked on a portrait earlier this week. It still needs a lot of work, so I put that aside last night to draw out a mandala that I’ll probably start colouring in tonight. I’ve discovered I really love Prismacolor pencil crayons. I’ve had a set around for a while but never got around to using them before now. They are nothing like the pencil crayons I used to use in school – the colours are thick and intense, and go down on the paper so smoothly. It’s almost  like colouring with paint.

You can see the latest thing I just did on my sidebar over there to the right. I’ve got it set to pull in the most recent post from My Year of Creativity tumblr blog.

Discoveries: I finally upgraded my iPhone to IOS 8, and have now discovered the delights of the IOS sharing button. It lets me share links to the apps I use quite frequently, like Flipboard, Buffer, Google+ and Twitter, and lets me quickly add things to Pocket and Evernote. Before this I was using bookmarklets on the Safari browser, and if I was in another app, like Feedly, I’d have to open the link in Safari, then use the appropriate bookmarklet. This is SO much easier and has been saving me a ton of time.

Looking forward to: February. I have a lot less deadlines waiting for me in February.

The rest of today:  Work, work and more work. I’ve got a whole night of work ahead of me still, unfortunately. And I’m feeling very sorry for myself …

My Standing Desk Experiment

I tried using a standing desk arrangement a few times last year, but never stuck with it. This time, though, I have incentive! First, I really want to start exercising and that right hip abductor muscle of mine is still not quite working the way it should yet, so I still haven’t been doing much walking. Since I’m doing so little walking, it makes sense to transform some of my sitting down work time to better-for-me standing time. Second, when I do end up doing some walking, which I have to do just to get from transit stops to my destination, I end up with a sore lower back.

It’s really the second thing that’s motivated me to give this another try. My back has been sore since Dylan and I rush-walked down five blocks so he wouldn’t be late for his dance class on Saturday. It was only five blocks – and yet the next day, my back was so sore!

So this morning, I hacked this standing desk:

Standing desk

The keyboard and mousepad are sitting on a lapdesk I haven’t used in ages, and that’s a banker’s box under my laptop and a bunch of black plastic organizers (my laptop normally sits on top of those plastic organizers anyway, as I like to have the screen at eye-level). You can’t see it, but there’s an old Wii fitness board on the floor for me to stand on; without it the keyboard is too high for me.

I used this setup to write this afternoon, and my back felt fine. I’m working on an index now, and my back still feels fine.

My legs, on the other hand? They feel like I’ve been walking for at least a few hours!

This time, though, I’m doing things smarter than the last few times I tried a standing desk arrangement. First, I’m using the Pomodoro technique, and when that timer goes, I’m alternating between sitting down for five-minute breaks with heading over to my pilates mat to do the exercises for my core and my hip abductor muscles. And I’m trying to remember to move occasionally while I’m standing, whether it’s walking in place or heel raises.

The best feeling? When I take a break and sit down, it actually feels like a break. Usually when I take a break I just go and sit somewhere else – same feeling, different location. Now I sit down and my legs are all, “ahhh, this is sooooo nice.”

I’m going to see how I feel after a week (if I can last a week! As I recall from my previous standing desk experiments, it’s the second day that’s the killer). This arrangement is nice because it’s pretty quick to alternate between standing and sitting – I just have to get rid of the lapdesk and the banker’s box when I want to sit down to work. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, because standing is so much better for you than sitting, and when I’m working, I can literally spend the entire day in a chair.

Happiness Jar

I’d heard about them before. And then around the new year, I saw someone talking somewhere about Elizabeth Gilbert’s post on Facebook about her happiness jar. And I thought, oh, how nice.

And then I forgot about it.

But then yesterday I was on Flipboard and I read this post at Huffington Post by Stephanie Weaver: Lessons from my Gratitude Jar.  And in it, she wrote one thing that leaped out at me.

It’s like re-reading a journal of the previous year while eating fortune cookies.

Most of you who’ve been reading my blog posts will know that journaling is something I keep trying to do consistently.  I didn’t make it one of my 2015 goals (and doesn’t that say something about my relationship with journaling?!) but I’ve found a lovely list method in Lynda Barry’s Syllabus that I’ve been trying to use. She calls it the 4-minute Daily Diary and really, how much easier could it get?

Except I haven’t been doing it. I don’t know why, and yes, it’s on my list of things I really want to do. After all, it only takes FOUR MINUTES A DAY.

But in the meantime …

As soon as I read the post, I said to myself, “I’m going to start a happiness jar!” Actually, I was so excited about it, I tweeted it.

“It’s like re-reading a journal of the previous year while eating fortune cookies.” That’s what I want! I have no shortage of big glass containers around here (I’m using an IKEA vase that we’d repurposed as a candle holder. And now it’s being repurposed as a Happiness Jar), so I grabbed one, washed it, and it’s sitting on my desk waiting for me to fill it with lots of good things.

(I’d take a picture but it just looks like an empty glass vase or rather, since it’s a modern design, a supersized glass tumbler. Plus my desk is on the messy side again because I’m on deadline and it appears messy desk syndrome hits me when I’m on deadline.)

And I had another wonderful idea. Why not use pretty paper to write my happiness slips? I have never scrapbooked, but I’ve also never been able to resist the pretty bundles of scrapbooking paper you see at the craft stores. I keep buying them, but have never found a use for them. Until now! I’m going to be cutting up a batch of these pretty papers to use in my Happiness Jar!

Photo 2015-01-07, 8 53 25 PM

I think this is one type of “journaling” I’ll be able to do consistently. As motivation, I keep thinking of a big jar filled with all my happiness moments at the end of the year …

What about you? Do you have a gratitude jar or a happiness jar?

Snapshot: 01-06-2015

Time: 2:39 a.m. (I know – what am I doing, up so late? Call it deadline crunch – only I don’t want to work any more, and I KNOW I’ll be working all day tomorrow, so I might as well get this post out now, right? 365 days of blogging and all …)

Wearing: Pajamas. With a hoodie (it’s -14 Celcius out right now. -14!)

Feeling: Tired! But my brain is still really wired (this is what happens when I work on a deadline late into the night. In case you were wondering)

Eating: Pork jerky. Lots of calories, I know. But I need the fuel – I’m on deadline (it’s a pretty good excuse, anyway. I should know – I use it all the time.)

Drinking: A glass of Domaine Bousquet malbec. It’s organic – that should count for something, right? (I’m trying to wind down so when I go to bed, I’ll actually sleep. That’s my goal, anyway.)

Reading: All I’ve managed today is a short story from Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon”. But it kind of wowed me, so that’s pretty good.

Listening: My piano playlist – all instrumental, all piano. No words to distract me. I decided to put it on when I felt so bogged down with my deadline earlier today – and guess what? It worked! I felt better almost immediately. I don’t usually listen to music while I’m working, but I’m definitely going to from now on.

Writing: So far (hold on a second while I check my handy-dandy word count tracking spreadsheet …) i’ve written 9,388 words, all on my novel Lakeview Legacy. All I can say is, I’m REALLY glad I decided to lower my daily word count goal to 1,500 words. I wouldn’t have been able to make 2,000 words the past few days, not with this deadline hanging over my head.

Working: I’m working on an index about money laundering. Trust me, it’s not anywhere near as exciting as it might sound.

Creating: Yes, I have been creating stuff! Hooray! I’m SO proud of myself. I also discovered earlier this week that the drawing skills I acquired over ten years ago (I taught myself to draw as an adult) haven’t left me! I thought for sure I’d have to learn to draw all over again – I haven’t drawn anything other than doodles in over ten years – but I’m finding my fingers still remember what I’ve learned. The best thing I’ve drawn this week? Here it is:

2015-01-04 00.07.13

I copied a painting by Colleen McIntyre from a book of fairy motifs I had lying around. I couldn’t quite get the shading on the cheeks right, and the neck needs more work, but still,  I’m quite happy with it, and definitely feel more confident now about the whole Creative Every Day challenge I’ve embarked on.

Photo of the week: We finally got a picture of Dylan in one of his Nutcracker costumes! We put my very old iPhone (one of the first generation ones, I think) in his backpack, and he asked another boy to snap a picture of him while they were waiting to go on in the 2nd act. We honestly had started to think we wouldn’t be able to get any pictures of him in costume, so we’re pretty thrilled about having this one. His chef role was a larger role, but he got to wear a fake beard and mustache as a guard (why, oh why is my spell check telling me I’m spelling mustache wrong?) for this one. During Act 2 he had about six minutes to change from this costume into the roly poly chef one (I’m guessing here – there are two dance numbers while he’s changing) and then when he’s done they whisk the costume off him asap so there was no way we were going to get a picture of him in his chef’s costume.

Photo 2015-01-02, 6 24 54 PM

Discoveries: So this is a somewhat nerdy discovery, but I was thrilled to find out I can use the RSS Subscription chrome extension to add feeds to my Feedly. The Feedly mini icon just wasn’t working for me – most of the time it didn’t show up on the blogs I wanted to add. I found the instructions for hacking Google’s RSS Subscribe extension to include Feedly here (scroll down to fievel’s comment).

Looking forward to: Getting this deadline off my desk. Oh, wait. I have another one coming up right after that. Never mind.

The rest of today: I’m going to bed! And I’d better fall asleep, because I’ve got to get up early-ish and finish this deadline.

{2015 Goals} Goals for the other parts of life

(Update: I changed the title of this post from “Goals for the rest of life” to “Goals for the other parts of life”. As Bryan pointed out, it “Goals for the rest of life” sounds like I’m goal planning for the rest of my life, which would be pretty awesome but so not me.  I’m definitely more of a “this year my goals are” type of person (and in previous years I wasn’t even this), and not a “in three, four, ten, twenty, fifty year I see myself …” type of person. I can barely remember what I have planned for next month as it is!)

Yes, I have more goals! These are the ones that don’t fit in the two major categories of my life, reading and writing. But since this is my year of change, I figure these other, rather practical, goals are important too.

1. Take a course or a workshop.

Online or offline, it doesn’t matter. But I feel like I need to start actively learning something again. I’ve been thinking about photography courses, art courses, writing courses, pottery courses – I’m sure there are a ton of things out there just waiting to be learned. I just have to figure out what I want to learn!

2. Make chores fun.

I’ve never been a very neat or tidy person, but I’ve been finding as I get older that I tend to notice messes more than I used to. I’m not sure why that is, I only know that’s what’s happened to me. So one of the things I’d like to do is find a way to make chores more fun. I have some ideas, like these chore stickers, or using HabitRPG (which I’m going to be using for basically all of my goals).

3. Go through my clothes and get rid of every single thing I haven’t worn in the past 12 months.

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages. This summer, for example, I didn’t wear any of the summer dresses I had hanging up in my closet. And now that the weather is colder, I’m finding I’m not wearing over half of my winter clothes. I open up my dresser drawers, look inside, and it’s like the clothes in there are invisible. They just don’t feel like me any more. Which is a good thing, anyway, because we’re short of space in the condo and I only get the one chest of drawers and one side of the very small walk-in closet.

4. Let people take more pictures of me … and eventually, take a selfie!

I HATE having my picture taken. But now that I’ve been doing a lot of meditating and rocking out to Eckhart Tolle’s fabulous stuff, I’m starting to get that my dislike of the camera when it’s pointed at me is all about ego, period. So I’ve told my husband he can take more pictures of me. But he has to tell me first. And I can say, no, not now. Because it will take me a while to get used to this new habit.

And one day this year, I’m going to take a selfie. I can’t tell you how much resistance I have to this idea. But I figure I’ll take a selfie with my son Dylan, and that should count, right? I imagine I’ll need an entire year to work myself up to this one, so it’s not likely to happen until December.

5. Keep my desk uncluttered.

I lived with a cluttered desk for the greater part of this year – until I just couldn’t stand it anymore and cleaned things up. I’ve managed to keep things fairly tidy ever since and I must admit – I like it! What I’ve been trying to do is a quick tidy-up right before I go to bed. Seems to be working so far. Plus it’s an easy way to get points for HabitRPG.

Desk before and after

I posted this before and after picture on the day I embarked on my 365 days of blogging. Getting decluttered really has made a huge difference in my life! I look at the “before” part of the picture and I can’t help but shudder. How on earth did I manage to get any work done with all that STUFF piled up beside me? (My laptop sits to the left of the desk.)

6. Develop consistent social media habits.

I know this is the opposite of what a lot of people have on their goals list, which is to spend time off social media. But this past year, because of everything that was going on, I did just that, and I missed having it in my life. I also have a tendency to go through periods where I’ll be really intensely on social media ALL THE TIME, and then you won’t hear a peep out of me for weeks and even months on end.

Now that I’ve come back to social media, it’s been really lovely. Since I’m self-employed, I don’t have an office watercooler to hang around (although I’m sure most of you who work probably don’t have an office watercooler at work either, but you know what I mean). With social media, I get to interact with people and it does liven up my day. Plus, if I build it into my routine, I also won’t let it take over my life either. Consistency + moderation – that’s the key!

7. Stay motivated and productive.

I think this last goal is the key to staying focused on all my goals this year. I’ve mentioned before that 2014 was one of my most unmotivated, unproductive years. Seriously, I felt like I was going absolutely nowhere (because I was). And when things happened, I just spent a great deal of time in total reaction mode, and then when I finally slipped out of that mode, I did absolutely nothing other than meeting work deadlines.

So I’ve loaded up my Feedly with all sorts of productivity and motivation blogs. And I have a long list of productivity and motivation books on my to-read list. I’m hoping to get many of these in audio, which should make going through them a breeze. What I’ve learned this year is that the best way to stay productive and stay motivated is to read about productivity and read about motivation. It’s like getting tiny refresher courses every time.

So those are my non-bookish, non-writing goals. What about you? Did you set goals in the more practical areas of your life too?


I’ve been thinking about my One Word for 2015 for a while now. Nothing really felt quite right.

The first word that came to mind was a really practical word: productive. And that seemed to fit a lot of the spheres of my life. For much of 2014 I felt unmotivated and unproductive, and I really want 2015 to be different.

But was “productive” really what I wanted to focus on for all of 2015? I mean, there are lots of lovely things about being productive, but there are parts of life where the word really is quite irrelevant. Some rather important parts of life.

So I thought about it a bit more. And I came up with “creative”. Not quite as practical, and much more fun.

Still didn’t quite hit the spot, though.

I wanted something special. Well, then, my mind said, how about “magical”? Or “being”?

Ooh! I liked those.

And yet …

The truth is, I don’t feel quite there yet. I’d love to have a magical year, but honestly? I’d be trying way too hard. Same with “being”. I know they’re where I want to be, but this year it’s really about the journey.

“Present” came closer. It’s what I want to be, fully present to the now. But what I feel in my heart is this year, I’m on a journey, I’m learning to be present. But I’m not quite there yet.

And then I hit on a word that I thought might do: practice.

I sat with that for a few days, sure it was the right word. Until I woke up and realized it wasn’t.

I know I WILL be practicing all this year. Practicing being present to the now. Practicing my writing. Practicing my art. But it’s not the word I want to focus on. I don’t want “practice” to define my year.

And then, this morning, I woke up and the word came to me.

Photo 2015-01-01, 6 10 21 PM


That’s how I want to approach this year. I want to be intentional with everything I do. Whether it’s the practice of presence, my writing, making art – I want to do so intentionally, with deliberate awareness.

Intentional feels good on day one of this new journey of mine. It feels right. It feels exactly where I am.

Did you pick one word to focus on for 2015?

Snapshot: 12-30-2014

Time:  12:51 p.m.


My pajamas


Anticipation! It’s going to be an exciting new year, and I’ve been immersed in planning and preparation – activities which always motivate me.

Photo of the week:

Family Christmas


We had the Wong family Christmas at my sister’s place yesterday. My uncle Joe composed a song for us, and my mom scooted in beside her brother for a picture op. They are both in their late 70s, and are great role models for living life fully, regardless of your age.


Nothing yet. I’ll have to check the fridge for leftovers when I finish this post. I’m not much of a breakfast eater (unless someone else wants to make me bacon and eggs), so I usually eat my first meal quite late in the day.


A decaf Americano from Starbucks. Ward has taken to going to Starbucks in the morning, so he brings me back one. We bought the reusable Starbucks cups so we don’t have to feel guilty about having to toss the cup.


Syllabus by Lynda Barry


Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, by Lynda Barry. It’s been on my wishlist ever since it came out a few months ago, and my sister gave it to me yesterday for Christmas. I love Lynda Barry’s previous book, What It Is, and I am loving Syllabus even more- it’s inspiring me to start keeping a proper notebook (one of my 2015 goals). Brainpickings featured the book here (I haven’t read the article yet because I didn’t want it to spoil the surprise of actually leafing through the physical book).


168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam, which I first heard about from Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. I’m hoping it will help me see time from a new perspective, so I won’t always be feeling so time-crunched in the new year. I have a lot of goals, and I definitely need more time in order to follow-through on each one of them!


Nothing yet. I know, this is what I wrote in last week’s snapshot, too. But I’m gearing up to start on January 1.


Just a little bit, although I’ll have to start again in earnest tomorrow. On the weekend I had to submit blog topics for approval from a client, but that was it. I’m writing a business article and will need to follow up on some interview questions I sent out for it, and I have a humungous index that’s due the middle of next week, so I can’t really take any more time off after today. But – I still have all of today!


Nothing yet, but I have a ton of ideas for the new year. I’m signing up for Creative Every Day and hope to do much better with this challenge than the last time I signed up for it. I’ll be creating a new Tumblr to help keep me accountable.


I love cooperative board games! I gave my son Sean several different adult cooperative board games, and I’ve been enjoying playing them with him. I have my eye on Eldritch Horror now, another game that’s based on the Lovecraftian universe. And we’re planning on making Sunday nights our family game nights.

Looking forward to:

The new year! I am promising myself to stay motivated and productive in 2015, something which I definitely wasn’t in 2014, and I’m really excited about the changes I plan to make in my life.

The rest of today:

I’ll be going to the afternoon performance of the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker. Ward got us standing room seats again. It will be the fourth time I’ve seen the performance. We only go in for Act 2 (it’s rough going on my back to stand for BOTH acts!) which is the act that Dylan’s in. We had wonderful seats on the Sunday before Christmas, so I’m not complaining about standing room – it gives us the chance to see him perform, without being too costly. I swear, I could watch him dancing over and over and never be bored of it!