April 2017 Goals: Hello, Spring!

And just like that, it’s April! Last month I made progress on some goals. On others…not so much. But as Lara Casey says: progress happens little-by-little. So I’m going to celebrate my little wins and ring in Spring with exuberance! The Spring edition of The Magnolia Journal has a quote that’s just too good not to share! (So much so that one of my favorite bloggers, Cheyenne Schultz, had the same idea to share it with you all as I did!)

“Welcome Spring. Make room for what matters. Breath Deeply. Tidy Up. Learn Something New. Choose Simplicity. Keep Growing.”

Spring Goals
Image courtesy of Serendipity Weddings & Events Blog
March Recap

March was such a roller coaster for me in terms of managing my Bipolar II disorder. Some days I was just with it and some days I didn’t even want to get out of bed. But I feel pretty good about reaching some of my goals and making progress on others.

Monthly Goals Met
  • Taxes filed (I can thank the hard work of my husband for that one–although I did nag him and offer helpful info!)
  • Blog posts submitted (even though one of them was quite late, I’ve made huge strides on my blogging in a short amount of time)

Although I didn’t “meet” some of my goals, I did make progress. In particular, I worked on being kinder to myself. I also added some money to our savings account and am getting into the habit of creating a daily schedule. I’m shifting my grant application to April!

Weekly Goals Met

This is where I struggled the most, quite honestly! I didn’t meet any of my weekly goals in March. Spring Break really wrecked some of my weekly goals, especially writing group and exercising. But I’m going to utilize The Balanced Life‘s motto: grace over guilt. I’ll simply shift many of these over to April and continue to cultivate growth in these areas.

Daily Goals Met
  • Took my vitamins daily (with rare exception)
  • Bed by 10pm (almost every day)
  • Active 6 of 11 hours (improvement here!)
  • Dish-free sink (easy peasy)

Two areas of improvement for my day-to-day: drinking enough water and limiting my spending! One day at a time.

March Goals

Positive Reflections: March Edition

Despite some setbacks and difficulties, I had a lot to be thankful for in March.

March Gratitude

  • My PHist Freshmen; they call me Momma G and take time to foster a meaningful relationship with me
  • Kyle; he truly is a rock when I need to feel stable
  • Spring Break; I got to spend time with Kyle in Alabama and meet my friend Melissa’s not-so-newborn!
  • Had an opportunity to cultivate one of my friendships in the face of personal tragedy
  • Supported one of our students when he presented at the 2017 B’More Proud Leadership Summit
B'More Proud Event
Anthony giving a talk on Religion and the LGBQTIA+ Community
Spring Break Bowling
Went bowling with Kyle over Spring Break
Spring Break games
Lots of games played over Spring Break (this is Organ Attack by the guys at The Awkward Yeti!)
What’s ahead for the month of April

April Calendar

As it’s April, our semester is quickly coming to an end. That means it’s going to be a very busy month (even if my calendar doesn’t quite reflect that). Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to (quite sadly) cancel my trip to Boone to comment/chair at one of my favorite conferences: the Appalachian Spring Annual Conference in World History and Economics. But it did open up the opportunity for me to attend the 13th annual Privateer Festival in Fell’s Point!

April Privateer
Me in full pirate garb
April Privateer
Me and my new friend Chelsea!

This month I added my Outlook calendar to my organizing system. I think it will become my single-digital calendar platform for next year (once I sync it properly with my Google Calendar). I have a lot of grading in my future (projects, papers, blog posts, etc.) and many meetings to go. But one thing I’m REALLY looking forward to is heading to Philly on Friday for the Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness tour (with special guests Atlas Genius and Night Riots!) Another thing that’s really special is mine and Kyle’s 6 year anniversary. How has it already been 6 years!? I wish time would slow down. But now that it’s official I think it’s safe to share with you all: Kyle will be moving to the area very soon! No more traveling between Maryland and Alabama!!!!

April Prep
Prepping for April

For the month of April, I chose the word “Engage” as my word for the month. I know that it’s going to be so jam packed with deadlines and meetings and obligations that I wanted to remind myself to be present. I need to work hard to actively engage with my friends, my students, my family, and my colleagues. It’s a challenge I face daily. And I’m cultivating engagement one day at a time.

April Powersheets

April Goals: 2017

April Goals April Goals

I have lots of goals for the month of April. Some of them (especially my weekly goals) carried over from March. I want to continue to cultivate good habits daily, but some of them I don’t need reminders for anymore. And I decided to add one that wasn’t part of my personal health, but will help me with engagement.

Monthly Goals
  • Blog Posts: I want to keep up with these! I think they’re really helping me to focus and to work on my writing overall.
  • Grant Application(s): My friend Amanda just won two amazing grants (and she totally deserved them!). To see her struggle with the process (despite being absolutely brilliant!) made me feel even more motivated to knock this out this month. I was rejected from a fellowship I applied for, which initially had me re-thinking this goal. But the only way to win a grant is to apply. And keep applying!
  • Add $$$ to savings: A continuation for each month! One of my goals for 2017 was to learn to manage our finances better. Another goal for 2017 was to go on at least 1 vacation with Kyle. By paying attention to saving money, it will force me to think more critically about my spending.
  • Research JITP (Journal for Interactive Technology and Pedagogy) to possibly publish in: This will push me out of my straight academic work and help me to think critically about my place in Public History. I think this will make me a better educator, better researcher, and will knock out one of my 2017 goals!
  • Mail Cards: This is part of my engagement goal. I used to be amazing at sending out cards and notes, whether for birthdays, congratulations, or just because (ask my husband!). So I want to get back into that. Part of that is staying organized!

These last 3 goals I chose because with Kyle up here, they seem more attainable!

  • Organize Office (Home): I need to be able to work from home in a more organized way. Working in the living room/dining area is just not cutting it! I have an office at home, so I need to utilize it. But right now, it’s sort of a catch-all!
  • Paint Bedroom (Master): Our master bedroom is a DIY-gone wrong. Whoever owned the home before had some…interesting decorative choices. Right now it’s an odd shade of green with a “texturizing” overlay attempt, which makes it look like some really dated wallpaper. Time for a lovely shade of light blue!
  • Replace Foyer Flooring: Right now it’s an old, dark brown parquet style laminate that looks dated and too dark. I want to brighten the foyer up with something light, but still easily cleanable! Keeping my options open right now!
Weekly Goals

Many of these will look very familiar!

  • Attend Writing Group(s): I’ve been slack about attending the Stevenson Writing Group on Fridays due to conflicts with student meetings and deadlines. But no excuses! I also managed to go to this month’s Baltimore History Writer’s group, which reminded me of how important it is to read the work of other’s and get back into a history research mindset!
  • French Lessons (1 hour): I keep saying “I’ll get to it.” And I haven’t. So this will be the month. It will happen! And if I can do it at least one hour a week, then this summer hopefully I can up it to two!
  • Yoga/Exercise (3x a week): I still want to cultivate this and make it a habit.
  • Call someone just to catch up: I am an awful friend when it comes to keeping in contact via the phone. Social media makes it too easy, I think, to reduce our engagement in other ways. So this month, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to check in with friends. There are so many exciting things happening in their lives and if I’m not careful, I won’t be part of them any more!
  • Social Media Free Weekend: This is going to be tricky. Social media is the one way I can connect with all the loved ones I have who are so far away from me. But if I can do this at least once this month, I’ll feel really accomplished. Clearly the first weekend was a bust (because of the Privateer Festival). But moving forward, I’ll simply save my weekend adventures to share on Mondays! The goal: 7pm Friday nights until 7am on Monday mornings.
Daily Goals
  • Water (64+ oz. a day): Coming down with food poisoning yesterday helped kickstart me on this goal for the month. Now if I can just keep up with it!
  • Use Waterpik: I bought a Waterpik Aquarius Flosser late last month at the stern suggestion of my new dentist. He said that since my teeth are so tightly compacted in my tiny mouth (yeah, my mom will get a kick out of that!), regular flossing just isn’t cutting it. I can already tell a huge difference in just a couple weeks, so I need to keep it up. Less bleeding from my gums, minimal tooth/gum sensitivity compared to before, and a really great check up when I got my recent fillings (the result of bad flossing).
  • Vitamins: I’ve done fairly well with this and could probably remove it, but for now, I’ll continue to grow in this area!
  • Active 6 of 11: I’ve done better with this than I imagined. But I still need to be more active on days that I’m not teaching all day!
  • Compliment Someone: This is new! As a way of engaging not only with people I already talk to and care about, I want to use this opportunity to compliment strangers. One small way to brighten someone’s day with a sincere compliment!
Final Thoughts

We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. –Joseph Campbell

I find myself saying “as soon as” way too often. “As soon as” summer is here, I’ll be more productive. “As soon as” I have free time from teaching, I’ll exercise more. So this month, I will engage with the present. I will work to be here, in the now, and stop saying “as soon as” quite so often. My life is happening now. And I need to stop

SATC
As soon as, as soon as.
If I heard this phrase one more time…

My life is happening now. And I need to stop expecting it to look like something other than what it is, unless I actively change it.

That’s the key to having it all: stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like. –Enid (Sex and the City)

March Goals 2017: Academic, Personal, & Professional

Can you believe it’s March already!? It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the new year and planning my yearly goals. When I reflect on the last couple of months, I’m not nearly where I’d hoped I’d be. But I’ve made progress and I think that’s really the important point. Last year I bought Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, hoping that the sheets would help me more clearly define my goals and organize myself. Let’s just say….I wasn’t very good at completing them last year. This w as not the fault of the PowerSheets or of Lara’s message. I just wasn’t ready.

But I entered 2017 with renewed hope and motivation, excited to use the newly streamlined version of the PowerSheets. I bought the 12 month dated version again in the hopes that it would prevent me from skipping sections. If I bought the undated, I worried I’d tell myself “Oh, just come back to it later.” Confession: I almost never “come back to it later.” I am the worst about multitasking, procrastinating, and down right forgetting. So I thought that as I share my goals each month (lets hold each other accountable, y’all!), I’d share my PowerSheets pages as well.

February Recap

February Goals Recap

So you’ll see that I was really successful with some goals and totally bombed others. But as Emily Ley says: Grace, not perfection. I just got back into blogging this year thanks to my friend and colleague, Sam, who runs the British Naval History website. And doing so encouraged me to make better use of my personal website. I’ve long admired the blogs of Lara, Emily, Cheyenne Schultz, and the Cultivate What Matters team. They’re truly inspiring in their own ways. So I’m hoping my blog can be an inspiration to someone. And that it will help me achieve my personal, professional, and academic goals in new ways. I was thrilled when I marked that off my “monthly goals” last month, especially since I only made minor progress on my other monthly goals.

Rather than reflect on how badly I did with some of my goals, you’ll see I simply shifted many of them to this month. In particular:

  • creating a daily schedule
  • researching/writing each week
  • working on my French lessons each week
  • drinking more water
Positive Reflections on February

A lot of fun and exciting things happened in February. All too often, I bury the positives under the “daily drudgery” and forget to be thankful for those moments. So here are just a few of the highlights from February:

  • went to Yoga on Tap with Arrow at Diamondback Brewing with my friend Kerry
  • had an unexpected visit from Kyle (along with some pretty positive news that we’ll hopefully be able to share soon!)
  • attended the opening night premier of The Nether put on by my university’s Theater and Media Performance department with my friend Amanda
  • had a belated “Galentine’s Day” celebration with Amanda, Kerry, Lily, and Zina
  • got to give a (well-received) Tedx talk at the university
  • a couple of colleagues and I took several of our Public History students on a trip to Oregon Ridge Nature Center for a maple syrup/sugar event
PHist Trip Goals
From Right to Left (“front row”): Dr. Glenn Johnston (Chair), Austin, Caroline, Stephanie, Anthony; (“back row”) Karalyn, Dr. Joseph McGraw (our “Outdoor History/History Mystery” guru and Internship Coordinator)
Spring Refresh

Clear the Clutter Goals

I’m really happy that the Cultivate What Matters team moved the”Spring Refresh” between February & March this year instead of placing it between March & April. Yes, I know that Spring doesn’t technically start until March 20th this year. So it might seem odd to do the Spring Refresh at the beginning of March, but it was actually much needed for me. I love the idea of different types of “clutter” in our lives. Categorizing things in this way is helping me to make purposeful decisions about what to “clear out” of my life. In particular, I’ve found I’ve spent way too much time on social media. Part of that has to do with the fact that my loved ones are all quite far, physically, from me. So social media makes it much easier to stay in touch. But between the “highlight reel” of peoples lives (especially baby announcements and academic progress) and today’s political climate, I’m overwhelmed. One goal for Spring, then, is to limit my time during the week. And to try for “Social Media Free” weekends. You’ll see further below that I’ve tried to add that to my “Monthly Goals” for March.

Yes and No for Goal Reaching

Yes and No for Goals

My FMEC (Faculty Mentoring and Evaluation Committee) has encouraged me to learn to say “no” to things that are not going to move me forward in reaching my goals. As Lara Casey often says, “Remember: saying NO to one thing means you are saying YES to something potentially better.” I’ve found, in my second year of full-time teaching, that I’ve said “yes” to far too many commitments. I’m on 5 (maybe 6?) university committees. I’ve joined 2 writing groups (one meets monthly, one meets weekly). I teach 4 classes a semester. I’m editing an article for someone. I’ve aimed to attend yoga at least 3 times a week. Any time I’m invited to something (university event, field trips, etc), I almost always say yes. And don’t get me wrong, I love being so involved and feeling like such an integral part of my university.

But I’m finding that maybe I’ve stretched myself too thin. I was inspired by Lara’s reflection:

What does “having it together” mean anyway? Define the lie and the truth. The lie: I have to have the perfect plan and perfect results or I’m a failure. False. The truth: To me, having it “together” means I don’t have to do it all. 

For too long I’ve thought that not only do I have to “do it all,” but that I have to do it well. And the truth is: I can’t. So my focus word for the next three months is FAITH. Faith that I can so no to things that drain me. Faith that I can say yes to things that motivate me. And faith that I can let go of my self-doubt, excuses, and worry. I want to fill the next three months with love & learning, purpose, rest & rejuvenation, and most importantly: friends & family.

What’s Ahead for the Month of March

One of the things that I’m considering next year is buying 2 sets of PowerSheets: one for personal goals and one for work/academic goals. Because I noticed in each section of the PowerSheets prep, I was struggling to narrow things down in a meaningful way. But for now, you’ll see the two sets of goals are intertwined. I chose Self-Care as my word for the month of March because my word for 2017 is Balance. And I think self-care is an important component of seeking and finding balance in our lives. I have a lot of things on my calendar for this month, but I kept my PowerSheets list pretty short. All of my to-dos are already spread across my Google Calendar, my physical day-planner, and my large office wall calendar. Maybe that’s another thing for next year: a single-calendar system.

Wall Calendar Goals
Peg Leg McGee keeps watch over the calendar

Yeah….ignore the fact that I tried to make Spring Break a week later than it actually is. But of all the things I have coming up this month, it is the one thing I think I’m the most excited about. Even if I will be grading midterm exams during that time. I’ve loved using the Cultivate What Matters sticker book to help make everything seem more fun. If anyone wants to send stickers my way, I’m happy to take them off your hands! But it’s become increasingly clearer that I need to focus on organization and clarity in the coming months. I think it will make achieving my goals in March much easier (hopefully) and will make me feel more productive.

March 2017 Goals

Drum roll please…..

March 2017 Goals

Here are my March 2017 Goals. You’ll see that many of them are carried over from February, but that’s ok. My daily goals, in particular, are goals that I aim to make habits. So they’ll likely be part of my daily goals every month.

Monthly Goals
  • Create a daily “schedule”: I hope that this will prevent me from spending too much time on certain tasks and not enough on others. And hopefully it will help me more easily meet my weekly goals.
  • Add $$$ to our savings account: One of my goals for 2017 was to learn to manage our finances better. Another goal for 2017 was to go on at least 1 vacation with Kyle. By paying attention to saving money, it will force me to think more critically about my spending.
  • Write one grant application: Here’s a confession for you: I am awful at writing grant applications. I routinely ask for less money than I need. I feel completely incapable of “selling myself” to the funding agencies. Why is my work worthy? And why should they give me money over someone else?
  • Be kinder to myself: I am notoriously hard on myself. I never feel like I’m enough (smart enough, productive enough, fit enough, available enough…enough, enough, enough). So this month I want to work on finding ways to be kinder to myself.
  • Blog posts: Well look at that? I’m already part way through this goal for the month! I’ve set a goal to blog on my personal page once or twice a month. This is an addition to completing my blog posts for the British Naval History website. If you guys have ideas about what you want to read about (for either site), let me know! I’m happy for suggestions!
  • Taxes $$$: I have always hated doing our taxes. Last year, Kyle took on the responsibility of filing and he’s much better at it than I am. But I can’t let that stop me from being involved. So I’m going to be helping Kyle with the taxes this year.
Weekly Goals
  • Exercise (at least) 3x a week: I want to continue doing yoga at least 3 times a week (if not more). But I’m adding to the goal this time by adding at least 1-2 days of strength training into the mix. I’ve never really put my health at the top of my priority list. And that has to change. I want to be healthy for myself. I want to be healthy for my family. If I’m not healthy then I will not meet most of the goals I’ve set for myself. Baby steps. I’m a work-in-progress.
  • French Lessons (1 hour per week): I didn’t even touch this goal last month. So this month I intend to set aside 1 hour each week (whether that’s broken up into short increments or all at once). And from there, I can increase the amount of time I spend as needed. I think creating that “daily schedule” will help in achieving this goal.
  • Research/write (1 hour per week): Last month I had the goal of setting aside 2-3 hours per week for my research/writing related to my academic work. I think I was a bit overly ambitious.
  • Attend Writing Group: I placed this under “weekly” goals because I ended up having a lot of excuses last month. No more. This goal is directly attached to my research/writing goal. 2 birds, 1 stone.
Daily Goals
  • Take my vitamins: I’ve found taking my daily vitamins also helps me to remember to take my heart medication and to brush/floss/rinse. Win-Win.
  • Drink 64+ oz. water: I am the worst about drinking enough water. Although I limit my coffee intake, it often means not drinking anything else during the day.
  • In bed by 10pm: Establishing a defined sleep routine will hopefully help prevent me from feeling tired all. the. time.
  • No frivolous spending $$$: Step one towards reducing debt and increasing savings.
  • Be active (defined by my Fitbit) for 6 of 11 hours: Having a fairly “sedentary” job leads me to large periods of inactivity. Being more active will hopefully make exercising weekly easier.
  • Leave a “dish-free” sink each night: I think I might have read about this in Emily Ley’s book, Grace Not Perfection, but I honestly can’t remember. But it’s something that I’ve found makes my morning routines easier. Instead of having to wash my coffee-making accoutrements before making coffee, everything is ready to go first thing in the morning.
Final Thoughts

These are just some of the things I have planned for the coming month. Some things are ongoing: like working on a Lowcountry Digital History Initiative project with some of our students. And building a digital humanities collaboration between our department and the English department alongside my friend Amanda. But I’m motivated and ready to make progress on my goals. I have to constantly remind myself: progress over perfection.

What are you goals for the month? For spring? For 2017!?