One Little Word: Planning Freedom Wrap Up

At the beginning of the year I decided to split my goals for the year into three quarters, each of which would focus on one phrase that includes my word for the year: Free. The first quarter was about Planning Freedom. During the first three months of the year I worked on three goals to set myself up for the rest of the year to varying degrees of effectiveness.

Find a job. NO. I didn’t complete this within the time, but I dare-say I made a decent sized dent in trying once I put my mind to it. I had trouble at first getting into the mindset of applying for jobs, but once I started forcing myself to just do it, applying became easier. I’ve applied to about 50 jobs so far and gone on a few interviews.

While I had hoped to have found something by now, I’m comforted by statistics. An average job hunt takes three to six months – a parameter I am well within – and includes 100 applications. Not only am I halfway there on both counts, I’ve spent some time figuring out a system of applying that will serve me well if/when I am ever job hunting again. (Hint: it involves spreadsheets because I’m a NERD)

Re-launch and re-design the blog. NOT DONE.

This one I’m a little upset about, but I have no one to blame but myself. While I set this as a goal for three months I didn’t make an actual plan to complete it which meant that I wound up scrambling to attempt to start in the middle of March.

In slightly better news I did start, so I am still hoping to make some progress on this one. My focus will be on the above unfinished task, but I’m hoping to make some progress on blogging even if it is mostly focusing on content, something I’m planning on tacking in the second quarter.

Create good habits. YES?

There is a question mark there because this is a task that will likely never actually be complete. No matter how many goals and spreadsheets and habits I manage, creating rituals out of everyday tasks will always be an evolving job.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been working on this one the whole three months and have been taking notes of both what has and has not been working from when I’m the most productive to how best to complete daily and weekly tasks like doing dishes and laundry. Whatever my schedule is in the next days, weeks, and months, I’ll be able to take what I learned in these past few months and apply it to whatever my life winds up looking like in the future. If that’s not a win I don’t know what is.

*

While this first quarter wasn’t quite all I had hoped for I am still excited about these goals individually. I still plan on working with these goals in the coming months and hope to complete them soon. I’m also excited for my goals for the next quarter which I’ll be sharing later this week.

Next quarter: Free Write

This Will Be: April 2014

April is the launch of a new quarter and a new set of goals. More on the specifics of that next week, but I’m excited to jump into this month. My focus this month is absolutely on job hunting. I’ve been using a spreadsheet to track what jobs I’ve applied to and… I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s some of my goals and plans for April.

Career

Of course, the continued job hunt. I have a list of companies I’m going to be looking into that I’m sure will continue to grow as the month goes on and I come into contact with people who can help me along. Every time I start to panic (which isn’t too often yet), I remind myself that the average job hunt takes 3-6 months and includes ~100 applications.

April is the start of a new quarter and a new focus (which again, I’ll talk about next week more), but one of the goals for the quarter is to write a short film. I have an idea to work with, and this month I’d like to start to beat out the story and outline the film.

Similar to above, I’ll be working on writing and putting out more consistent content on the blog. This month my goal is to get up to three posts a week. I don’t have any visitors planned this month, so hopefully it’ll be a little easier to stay on track for April.

Education

A friend of mine offered to teach me how to longboard a few weeks ago and I’m hoping to take her up on it this month. I’ve surfed and snowboarded before, so I’m excited and a little scared to be trying this out. While it will be a great way to connect to the city, falling on concrete will hurt more than into water or on snow.

Relationships

I want to get back into serving at my church and investing in the relationships I have there. I’ve served on the production team for a few months, but haven’t been scheduled as often as I’d like to be. This month I’m going to sit down with my planner and request a few days to plug back into this community.

Seeing as this month is also Easter, I am going to try and get some friends together to celebrate Easter. I don’t really know who’s going to be in town or what’s going to be happening, but I know I want to do something more this year than I did last year (I didn’t really celebrate last year besides going to church).

Health

Somehow I feel like this month will be great for hiking. It’s something I’m excited to be getting back into and will hopefully be able to work into my schedule a little more often.

See also: Education. If longboarding isn’t exercise than what’s the point?

What are your plans for April?

This Has Been: March 2014

I have been pretty absent here for the past few weeks. I hate when bloggers apologize for not blogging, so I’m not going to do that. I’ve had a full month and my focuses were elsewhere. Sometimes life is like that. That being said, I spent some time this past weekend getting back up to speed and hope to be a bit more regular in these parts. For a reminder of what I was planning for this month go back to the start. This has been March.

Career and Finance

While I still haven’t found a job, I have kicked it up a notch in trying to find one. I have been putting myself out there more and working as a PA (sometimes paid, often not but good for the contacts and experience). A friend of mine also got me hooked in with a network that will be a great resourse going forward. This was a pretty big push for me this month and I’m glad that it was a focus.

I didn’t file my taxes yet, but I did print out a 1040. It’s the thought that counts? (If only it was that easy)

Education

I did finish five books this month and am still working on a handful more. I find that I’m constantly in the middle of at least half a dozen books, though usually only actively reading two or three. Check out my GoodReads profile to follow what I’ve been working on, and keep an eye out here for a few reviews of what I’ve read so far this year. 

I did spend some time thinking about the blog, but between friends being here and focusing on job hunting I didn’t post of re-organize as much as I had hoped. I’m fine with this for now though, because the things I was focusing on definitely come first. #sorryImnotsorry

Relationships

My roommates coming to visit was a clear highlight of my month. Between them and another friend from my early days in Chicago coming for a visit, I’ve had my fill of playing tour guide for a little while this month. I enjoyed having them here, and got a chance to explore the city more which has lit a fire that I hope to expand upon in the coming weeks and months.

Health

I can’t even believe that I failed at going to two yoga classes. I went to one, so that has to count for something, but I definitely did not quite have my act together on this one.

Other

Renewing my scooter was kind of a hassle because I had some insurance snags that meant I had to go to the DMV in person. Since I was also late (unbeknownst to me), it cost a pretty penny too. The good news is that it’s done and I don’t have to deal with that again for a year.

Another failure was window washing. I don’t think I’ll roll it over into the next month again though. I just don’t seem to have the motivation to get through to this one. On the other hand, I did finally get around to buying a real dining table (as opposed to the card table I’ve been using), along with a few other things from IKEA, so now my apartment feels even more homey than before and I love it.

 

Lent This Year

When I first started thinking of lent* a few weeks ago I thought of what would be most productive for me to give up. I jokingly thought to myself that it would be best if I were able to give up procrastination. Because I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with and my “TV habit” is under control. I use social media for job hunting and human connections, but procrastination? That’s everywhere.

But since it’s everywhere it’s nearly impossible to regulate. I can’t just give up one website or one application and call it a day, because as soon as I stop using that, I’ll find another to replace it with. But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. In giving up procrastination I am giving up a lot of little things that I hope will bring consciousness of where I’m at and where I’m headed.

Lenten Rules:

  • Awake at or before 9am.
  • Quiet time for an hour each day.
  • Yoga at 8:45 every weekday (baring other morning commitments)
  • Blocked sites: Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Thought Catalog, Huffington Post
  • No reading fanfiction

Note that I am not blocking myself from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Tumblr. These sites in and of themselves are not the problem. The problem (for me) are the links that my friends share on these sites. The list posts that lead to quizzes and start with one thing, but spiral into me looking up from the computer and asking when it got dark and how it’s already tomorrow.

Of course, this isn’t a catch all. I’m sure to find other things to procrastinate with, but I’m hoping that this base will make me more aware of falling into a hole of procrastination and more able to pull myself out of it. I’m sure that as the season goes on, I will find other things to add to the not allowed list. But I think this will be my most successful lent-en fast yet.

Even with less than a week with these rules I’ve noticed an effect. How much time a day do I spend doing exactly what I want all the time? At the moment, pretty much all of it. And a lot of that time is spent online derping around with no purpose whatsoever. It’s not what I want in the long term, but it’s what I think I need in the moment.

Spending time outside of these things has forced me to consider what I’m working on. I’ve realized this weekend that I have a lot of work to do if I want to meet the goals I set out to accomplish for the quarter and it seems to be a bit of a kick in the butt to get going. Lent is a time for thinking about the bigger picture, and seeing what comes from a more purposeful walk with God and a more considered life.

*A thorough explanation of Lent

This Will Be: March 2014

I’m testing out a new way of setting monthly goals. This may change as I go forward with the year, but I realized that just like I have split my yearly goals into categories, it would probably be helpful to split my monthly goals into categories as well. Not only will this give my some consistency, it will also give these posts a bit more of a formula to follow.

My categories are career and finance, education, relationships, and health.

Career and Finance

Obviously, since March is the end of the first quarter of the year, I am trying to complete the first quarter goals for Planning Freedom, one of which is finding a job. I had hoped to have more of a lead by now, but this month I am going to be applying to a few temporary things along with continuing to network and look for a permanent position.

Meanwhile, I received tax forms in the mail last month and have been avoiding doing anything with them. I’d like to file for both federal and state tax returns this month so that I don’t have to panic in April.

Education

My reading goal this year is 50 books and so far I’ve only finished three. Womp womp. To make up some time I’d like to finish five books this month. I have four (maybe more?) in the works already, so this shouldn’t be too hard. Honestly, I think the hardest part is making sure to record the books I’ve read when I’ve finished them. I could’ve sworn I’ve read more than three book already this month.

This doesn’t quite fit under education, but I’m not sure that education is actually quite the word I’m looking for with this category. Another Planning Freedom goal is to re-organize my blog. This larger goal will almost certainly extend into the second quarter, but this month I’m going to be working on a mission statement for the blog and a photo shoot for a new header and profile picture.

Relationships

Not so much a goal as just an exciting thing that’s happening this month, but my old roommates are coming to visit me this month. I’ve seen them a few times since leaving Chicago, but it will be good to reconnect.

Health

Probably the simplest goal, but also the least often done, I’d like to go to two yoga classes this month. That’s not even a class a week. I think I can manage this.

Other

A few little things that I’m not sure how to categorize. My scooter’s license plate expires this month, so I need to figure out how to renew that, and the sooner the better.

And a rollover from last month that I didn’t get to. I want to clean my apartments windows from the outside. I live on the first floor so this is possible, I just didn’t get to it last month because when I finally scheduled a day to do it, there was a monster rainstorm.

 

Thoughts on the Academy Awards: The Selfie That Broke Twitter

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Despite not watching many movies over the course of a year (the only best picture nominee I saw was Gravity), I still make an effort to watch the Academy Awards. I missed the Golden Globes this year, but was invited to an Oscar party and arrived happily as instructed: on time with a bag of chips*.

I don’t know that I have a favorite part of a four hour stint watching people I don’t know accept awards for performances I (for the most part) didn’t see, but Ellen Degeneres makes everything better.

Some highlights (and links to explanations where appropriate):

  • Ellen taking a selfie and crashing twitter. Because that perfectly explains why my phone wouldn’t load the app in my attempt to re-tweet.
  • Jennifer Lawrence eating pizza. Because she refuses to starve herself.
  • Idina Menzel singing Let it Go.
  • Realizing (after the fact) how badly John Travolta mispronounced Idina Mezel and this twitter account that came out of it.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Lupita Nyoug’o’s best supporting actress speech. Absolutely stunning.
  • The slightly belated tribute to Sarah Jones. Thank you.
  • Ending on time.

 

Of course, all this celebration brings up questions too. There is sure to be a strong backlash from Cate Blanchett winning the Best Lead Actress award. Not only does this pass over Sandra Bullock when Gravity nearly swept for many of the categories it was nominated for, but the win will also bring up the Dylan Farrow controversy again.

While I’ve never been a Woody Allen fan per-se, I’m also not not a fan. I wish that we lived in a society that didn’t demonize women for accusing men of indecency. If you believe Dylan Farrow or not is up to you, but by dismissing her completely you choose to continue the trend of society believing and supporting old, white men by default. This is not something I wish to support.

That being said, I also try to separate the work that individuals do on a project from my feelings of other individuals who may have been involved. While I may not agree with Woody Allen or his work, I can appreciate Cate Blanchett’s work on Blue Jasmine. Or at least I can hypothetically, I didn’t actually see the movie, so this is pretty much all in the hypothetical.

Award shows are fun to watch, but at what point does honoring someone’s work become validating a lifestyle that we don’t actually want to support?

*Actually I was ten minutes late, but I was still the first one to arrive. Why is chronic lateness a thing?

This Has Been: February 2014

I keep trying to write about February because it’s already March. In my head I’ve already moved on to Oscars and Lent and Fandom March Madness, but this post demands to be written because I finally have an editorial calendar, and this is the next to go live. So I’m writing it.

February is the shortest month, and appropriately it seems to have gone by really quickly. The best overview of the month can likely be found on my Instagram account. I really enjoyed playing around on Instagram last month. Execpt for that moment when some jerk spoiled the Olympic Men’s Snowboarding Half-Pipe for me in the comments section, but that was a one time deal. Instagram and I are good now. Sidenote: I watched a lot of Olympics.

Beyond that I also managed to get a decent amount of “stuff” done. I worked on some behind the scenes things for the blog, which I’m pretty excited about. I feel like I’m in a good place for all three of my first quarter goals; even if one won’t quite end up the way I had imagined. (Read more in my halfway there post!)

Late this month I spent a little less than a week with my mom visiting my grandma in Florida. I can’t seem to articulate my feelings on the trip very well, but I think it falls into the ‘win’ category. When I returned to the west cost I finally got around to catching up on Downton Abbey and Sherlock.

As a whole, February was good to me despite probably spending too much time locked in my own apartment. On the bright side, I did spend some time making my apartment as functional as possible.

I am constantly reminding myself that I’m in a good place for where I am in life right now and it’s true. I’m in a good place. Could it be better? Of course it could. But couldn’t everyone’s life be better than it is right at this moment? Of course it could. So que sera sera.

About a Boy, San Francisco, and Filming On Location

Since I’ve clearly documented my love of all things Olympics (here), it will come as no surprise that I spent my evenings in Florida glued to NBC’s coverage. I even watched the entirety of the documentary about the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harrding story, which I am just a bit too young to remember. And since I didn’t have anything else to do, I figured I might as well stick around for the pilots of About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher.

Both were interesting in the how-are-they-going-to-make-a-series-out-of-this sort of way, but I was most interested in About a Boy. I’m not usually a sitcom gal, but it was the setting of this show that piqued my interest the most. San Francisco. Anything filmed on location in San Francisco (and yes, it was definitely filmed on location) makes me ask a million questions.

With any TV show or movie set in any major city there are bound to be geographical and logistic questions. For one, where do they actually live? Of course Will would be able to afford to live anywhere with money to spare from a hit song, but with Fiona unemployed, it doesn’t seem like they would fit in the same neighborhood. Where does Markus go to school? The flier said Oakland, but why would they live in the city and then commute to Oakland? Unemployment rules out private school and the lottery system isn’t THAT crazy.

Beyond that there are the unrealistic convenience factors. We already know that characters don’t look for parking spaces. But even so it’s border-line impossible that Dakota was able to find a parking space right in front of Will’s house, never mind on the same block.

These idiosyncrasies are what makes watching TV shows and movies filmed in familiar cities exciting. I hope that About a Boy will be able to keep filming on location, and I am always excited to see San Francisco or Chicago on my TV. When TV show film on location, the local becomes a part of the show’s character and only adds to the magic.

Sherlock Season 3 and A Question of Ethics

I’m not the first person to question Steven Moffet’s female characters, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but the opening scene of the Sherlock season 3 finale (pictured above) struck me as particularly revolting. I’ll admit to being a bit behind on the times, but I’ve had this on my mind this week and need to get it out.

Sherlock SPOILERS ahead

Of course they wanted to make their newest villain terrible, and the message came across loud and clear, but another message was sent out as well. Of course, as always, it’s nearly impossible to know another person’s opinions on something from subtext in something they create, I’ve noticed the message of women as secondary – and subsidiary – characters come across in much of Moffet’s writing (Sherlock, Doctor Who, and to a different tune, Coupling)

Reading into the subtext, women – even women in power – are always going to end up submitting to whatever men want. This message comes across clearly to me, but it subtle enough that it isn’t the first thing commented on. Instead, the idea simmers on the minds of viewers without them even realizing it. And because it more or less matches what the rest of society is telling us about a woman’s role, it’s easily falls into subconsciousness.

Even past the opening scene, we see a Mary Watson in a new light. Mary is a powerful woman filled with mysteries that we will probably never really know. She was able to fool Sherlock, which (him being the all-powerful, male protagonist) is no easy feet.

When we are first introduced to this new version of Mary, I was excited. Finally. A female character who is pure strength. Who doesn’t used her sexuality as her defining tool. Finally, some progress has been made and we get to see a new type of lady from Moffet’s pen.

My dream is dashed when John confronts Mary. Instead of seeing a couple who deals with the emotions of a relationship partially built on a lie, John (literally) throws the information into the fire. He claims that he doesn’t care what her past is. What I hear instead is that he couldn’t deal with the idea of what she might be. Mary is an assassin. She is likely a foreign intelligence agent gone rouge. She is a great match for Sherlock and would make a great addition to their team.

And who knows, maybe she still will be a part of the thrilling team that John and Sherlock have become. But the question of Mary’s past and the story of what forced her into hiding, it’s probably never going to be told. And that’s so frustrating to me because I want to know!

The question becomes – since there are many fantastic elements to Sherlock and his adventures – should we submit ourselves to these subliminal messages to be entertained for a few hours with a fantastic mystery? Once these messages are seen, how can watching and supporting the show be justified if the goal of equality is ever going to be reached?

I don’t know the answer, but I ask questions like these constantly. In fact, Sherlock is only the most recent television show to bring the question up. Similar questions can be asked about the majority of written, produced, and distributed content. A combination of ‘how can they make that?’ and ‘how can I support it by consuming it?’

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