beka stays : june recap (and a blogging vacation)

faithful : how weird is this…I didn’t write a faithful post in June! But this Making Things Happen Monday post definitely counts, and I loved it!

relational : did I blog in June? No relational post either…but this one from my weekend at home fits in that category…Go Mom, Go!

hungry : unsurprisingly, there are no shortage of posts to choose from in this section. But my favorite? Man Pleasin’ Chicken.

athletic : P90x!

creative : sunset city, no contest

compassionate : love, love, love the birthday project

intelligent : annnnd…I can’t seem to finish a book these days. I’ll be mailing my English degree back to Roberts tomorrow. But this month…I’m really hoping to finish Living on the Edge and read Love Does by Bob Goff.

in Rochester : sticky lips! finally!

out of Rochester : it was home sweet home this month! no big trips to report.

real : not sitting on the cactus

favorite good thing : fire and backflips and joy

favorite post : probably making things happen monday : the final lesson

People…we are halfway through 2012! Can you believe it?!

In order to keep things rolling smoothly here for the rest of the year, I’m going to take a week off of blogging to rest and reevaluate. In the meantime, I’ll be reposting my favorite posts from each month so far this year. A little blast from the (recent) past for ya.

Hope you guys have a GREAT week! Happy July!

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2012 goals : resources

Thought Number One: This afternoon I went for a run outside. I went for a run outside  in Rochester in January and I was not wearing a parka over 18 additional layers of clothing. This is because it was 50 degrees and the sun was shining…in Rochester, in January.

Apart from the fact that I haven’t watched a single episode of Friends OR Gilmore Girls all week long, stranger things have not happened.

(Also, let the record show that I’ve officially completed an outdoor run for the month of January (and loved every second of it). I think having a goal of running outside once a month throughout the winter is probably lame but probably as frequent as is realistic for someone who hates running outside in the cold, so therefore it’s reasonable and doable!)

Thought Number Two: Although I had lots of fun creating and sharing my 2012 plans, I’m ready to resume normal posting asap. (AKA…I’m ready to run on ad nauseum about what I ate for dessert dinner last night.) So here ends the 2012 goals series. From here on out you can expect to see the following:

  • Weekly Relational, Hungry, and Creative Posts
  • Monthly Compassionate, Intelligent, and In Rochester Posts
  • Seasonal Out of Rochester Posts
  • Faithful, Athletic, and Real Posts as they happen

You’ll also be getting lots of “Good Things” posts, which I’ve already started incorporating as a little preview of what’s to come. Basically, anything that makes me smile, think, cry, or beam will be featured in these sporadic posts.

I’m already loving this year and this new blog format.

Thought Number Three: I want you guys to have ambitious and full 2012’s too. So if you are in need of planning materials, feel free to peruse the few I’ve posted over on the Resources page. There are three PDF files (yearly, monthly, and daily worksheets) just waiting to be opened, saved, and filled with big ideas.

Happy 2012, everyone!

2012 goals : organization and documentation

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

So goes one of my dad’s favorite sayings. And I agree. I also agree that if you plan to not organize and document your plans, you plan to watch 3 consecutive episodes of Gilmore Girls while catching up on Google Reader instead.

Not that I would know firsthand.

I find that organization and documentation help goals progress in two different but equally important ways. The first one is obvious: accountability. It’s harder to not do something you committed to doing when you know you’ll have to face an empty page/journal/check mark at the end of the day. There’s nothing like the fear of failure for a good, healthy motivator!

But that’s what the second one is for. Keeping track of my progress keeps me from thinking that I’m not getting anywhere with my goals. When I can’t see that I actually have done something, it’s easy to believe the lie that I haven’t done anything. Seeing the proof in black and white is a huge motivator.

For this year’s goals, I decided to overhaul my Gmail calendar and use it as a multipurpose work/schedule/goal recorder. Each “section” of my life became a different calendar (and therefore a different color) so that I can easily see how much I’ve accomplished on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

See? And that’s just on January 1st! Think of how full this baby is going to be come the end of the month!

I mentioned this briefly in a rant a few months ago, but another calendar-related thing I’ve been doing consistently that has been ENORMOUSLY helpful to my productivity (and general well-being) is listing a Daily Top 5 using the Tasks bar in Gmail. This has seriously been such a lifesaver. Every night before I go to bed I pick the Top 5 things that need to get done the next day. Five and only five – no more and no less. If I know it’s going to be a fairly free day I’ll add a bigger project to the list. If I know I’m going to be gone from 8am-8pm I’ll only add things that can be reasonably accomplished, like answering a long-hoarded email or stopping at the bank.

This system works really well for me. It helps me get a realistic number of things done every day and keeps me focused on what I actually need to do. Otherwise, this happens: I come home after a long day, visualize an overwhelming mental to-do list, and decide to do nothing instead of something because it feels too daunting to tackle anything when you don’t even know where to start. It also helps me expedite the to-do list items I’m dreading for no reason in particular (whether it’s a bill to pay, a call to return, a decision to make, etc). That email that’s been suffocating on the bottom of my inbox for weeks on end? It’s so much more painful to realize, “Oh, I really need to reply to that” for the 50th time…and then not reply, again…than it is to just open up the email and write back already. Add it to the Top 5 and get it done. Over and out.

Then, when I’m done with the day’s essential tasks, I’ll wind down with a little Google Reader or a magazine I’ve been wanting to dive into. It makes me feel like I’m legitimately spending time doing something I enjoy instead of feeling like I’m borrowing time from getting other priority items done because I’ve already accomplished what I set out to do for the day. Everybody wins!

And if that weren’t enough…there’s more!

I use the Gmail system to keep track the Top 10 2012 goals and the Top 5 tasks that keep things swimming along productively (I’m starting to sound like a late night talk show). It’s a great system. Two thumbs way up.

But then there are the little things. The daily disciplines that so frequently slip through the cracks. Things like washing the dishes and making the bed. And do they really need to be organized and documented? Probably not. But I already had this graph set up on my fridge:

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I used it as the first draft of this blog over the summer! And it’s been sitting there all pretty and unused ever since. So I decided to make it the daily disciplines fridge where I keep track of things like washing the dishes and making the bed. Because the world won’t fall off it’s axis if they don’t happen, but my life moves along much more pleasantly if they do happen.
It’s an aesthetically pleasing way to trick me into flossing, basically.
Want to do this on your own? Go for it! I just used floral tape to section the fridge off, magnets I had already collected from the dollar bin at Michael’s to use as markers, and punched pieces of scrapbook paper for the tags. Couldn’t have been easier.
Whew! So that’s 2012 Organization and Documentation: 101. There will be a test. Study hard. And then go crazy on your own organizational systems!
But really, how do you guys stay on top of things? Does anyone else get inordinately excited about color-coded calendars?

2012 goals : pinspiration board

It’d be going a little far to say that Pinterest single-handedly saved 2012 from becoming a barren, aimless, unproductive wasteland. But it’s almost true.

When I started thinking about things to incorporate into a goal list for 2012 I wondered if perhaps a little inspiration board might help get my brain waves flowing. Hours Days later (Indecisive: party of one), I not only had this, but I also had a iron-clad plan for all things 2012.

Pinterest, you are my very best internet friend.

So here’s how I rolled with this: I started collecting images for the goals I already knew I wanted to put on the 2012 list. I didn’t have plans to expand the board/goals beyond that, but then I…wait for it…got inspired and added on from there. Shocking what an inspiration board can do for inspiration.

When I started collecting images I searched for keywords using the search bar, but then I realized that some of my favorite pins that were already pinned on other boards would fit perfectly for the 2012 board. Plus, I liked the idea of using pins that I already loved instead of finding random ones. Then the board expanded from goals to verses to chapters to themes to results and then exploded and then I had a finished product I was beaming over.

Here’s the signed, sealed, and delivered final board:

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chapters: found here

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verses: found here

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goal: found here

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key phrases: found here

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key phrases: found here

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key phrases: found here

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faithful: found here

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relational: found here

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hungry: found here

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athletic: found here

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creative: found here

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intelligent: found here

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compassionate: found here

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in rochester: found here

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out of rochester: found here

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result: found here

If I could wallpaper my apartment with this board I probably would. Clearly, heading over to Pinterest to make your own 2012 board gets my highest recommendation. Hop to it!

beka stays : 2012 goals

Usually I kick and scream and bemoan my way into the New Year in an anti-change protest. I hate to bid farewell to an entire year. It makes me feel like time is moving too fast.

But this year…I was more than ready to ring in 2012. Peace out, 2011!

It wasn’t a bad year by any means. It was just a bit messy. A little frenzied. Full of employment, not so full of sleep, and overall unremarkable. It’s painful to admit but it’s so true: 2011 was not a banner year. Banner-less, you might say.

So onward and upward! Since 2011 was kind of a dud 2012 was ushered in with a refurbished set of goals. I’m not trying to overachieve my way into 2012 or fail-proof it so that it’s less lame than 2011, but seriously, I needed a kickstart like nobody’s business. So for the rest of the week I’ll be posting about the formulation of the 2012 master plan and sharing the resources I’m using to keep everything organized and on track. Using the phrase “2012 master plan” literally made me laugh out loud because it usually follows that for every human master plan there is an equal and opposite divine master plan, but it’s a starting place. One of the things I prayed about when I set these goals was that I’d wholeheartedly pursue them but not be so attached to them that I’m blind to better things God might in store.

I actually started by making an inspiration board on Pinterest (try to contain your surprise), used that to formulate a 2012 list, and separated that list into big projects, goals, and regular disciplines. I knew that if I kept all of that in one big list it would be overwhelming, so I broke it down into daily, monthly, and yearly lists, which I’ll be sharing later this week! (Along with my therapist’s number, because I’m sounding a little OCD right now.)

Today’s feature: the top ten goals of 2012. One of the things I tried to focus on was making everything realistic and specific, which led me to make some changes to the pages on the blog. If you’re reading this on the actual site you may have noticed that some of the pages have changed. I decided to exchange the healthy, authentic, and committed pages for some new pages that were less ambiguous. It’s hard to achieve things that are general. “Commit to volunteering one day per month” is more likely to succeed than, “be committed.”

With that in mind, here are the Top Ten!

Faithful : Read one chapter a day from the New Testament via Project 345, a really helpful daily reading plan offered online and through the app YouVersion. Also, I used to be in the habit of recording one verse from every day’s reading in a journal. After I got out of that habit I realized how beneficial it was so this year I’m using this fun daily calendar to write down one meaningful verse and one thing I’m grateful for every day.
Relational : Make one meaningful, face-to-face connection with a friend or family member every week. (This is what normal people call being normal, but I tend to veer on the side of hermit so I’m making this a goal for my own good.)
Hungry : Make one new dinner recipe every week from the millions of magazines and billions of blogs I subscribe to. This will encourage me to not eat cereal for dinner every other night be more well-rounded in the kitchen and put many (MANY) saved articles/posts to good use.
Athletic : Run 1,000 miles this year. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that running keeps me sane. There has never been a time when I went for a run and regretted it or felt worse afterward. I always end up feeling energized and happy and healthy. So to make sure that I’m running on a regular basis I’m throwing down this pretty ambitious goal. It breaks down to about 20 miles a week, which is challenging enough to keep me motivated but doable enough to be realistic. I’ll be using Nike+ to keep track of my progress.
Creative : Take one legit picture that I genuinely like every week. This one is really important to me. My enjoyment of personal photography took a nosedive in 2011 and I am not on board with that! I started taking pictures to see God’s beauty on display and don’t want something that I love so much to turn into work. I’ll be using Flickr to keep track of each week’s photo.
Compassionate : Volunteer one day every month. I really, really miss helping people. It was something that was kind of built into my temporary job as an RD and something I haven’t built into my life since that job ended, which is disappointing. But I’m hoping to start volunteering at the Golisano Children’s Hospital later this month! I can’t wait!!!
Intelligent : Read one new book every month. I don’t even want to fess up to this…but I read 7 books in 2011. SEVEN. I can’t even remember the last time I had a single-digit book year. I think my English degree might be retroactively revoked. I hope that I end up reading more than 12 books in 2012, but it’s a reasonable place to start considering how many blogs and magazines I also read. I’ll be keeping track of each month’s reading progress with goodreads.
In Rochester : Visit one new place in Rochester every month. I’m not anticipating having any trouble with this goal. I’m also not anticipating visiting any many places that are not restaurants.
Out of Rochester : Travel outside of the greater Rochester area (and, if at all possible, the state of New York) once every season. Can I tell you where I traveled in 2011? I went to Massachusetts. Twice. OH MY WORD! This pill might be even harder to swallow than the fact that I only read seven books last year. No wonder 2011 was such a bummer! I was so boring! I really believe in the restorative power of getting away every now and then, so I’m looking forward to taking at least four trips this year.
Real : ENJOY LIFE! This is the junk drawer page to remind me that life is full of things that don’t go on lists. I want to value the map and follow the directions, but look out the window and enjoy the ride, too.

So friends, that’s that: my Top Ten for 2012. Stay tuned the rest of this week for more 2012 fun!

beka stays committed : for 21 days

Now that it’s officially November 1st I have several things on my mind. First is probably this:

followed VERY closely by this:

followed with reluctant thoughts about this:

(How is 2011 almost over already?!)

I realize that I’m not in the minority here, but I absolutely LOVE this time of year. It makes me more excited than I can say. And along with all of the goodness comes lots of food, extra things to do and places to go and people to see, and some reevaluating/goal making for the year to come. Since I’m nothing if not a professional eater/doer, goer, seeer/goal maker, all of those things make for a pleasantly replete two months up ahead.

However, let’s rewind two months. Or six.

Since May, my life has already been pleasantly replete. At times, unpleasantly replete. I think there’s a chance you may have gotten that vibe since I’ve been verbally waving the white flag for some time now, so we won’t rehash the particulars of the repleteness. Suffice it to say that any semblance of normalcy flew out of door when summer came to call.

Along with occupational normalcy went most of the normalcy attached to well-being: sleeping, eating, and exercising. You know things are bad when you’ve gone from running a half marathon to calling a 10 minute run around the block a workout. And when you have pie for lunch and ice cream for dinner. And when you set your alarm and it shows you how many hours of sleep you’ll get and you rush to jump in bed so the number is greater than five.

Even though I’ve been able to keep a more sane schedule lately and have posted daily updates on staying committed to wellness like it’s my job, I could still use some buckling down. And now, pre-holidays, before another round of less time/more stuffing comes around, seems like a great time to do it.

What is “it?”

Well, I have goals. They’re threefold. (Friends fans – that’s for you!)

1 – Sleep. Between 6-8 hours a night.

2 – Eat. Not comfort food. Not snacks. Healthy, substantial meals.

3 – Sweat. But only doing 3 things and giving them 100% effort: CrossFit, Long Runs, Yoga.

I’m unbelievably tempted to add onto that list. But for right now, this 21 Day Challenge is only focusing on physical health.

Why 21 days? Those reasons are also threefold.

1 – Research suggests that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I don’t necessarily need to form new habits, I just need to pick the old ones back up again. So hopefully 21 days will be long enough to make that happen.

2 – I have 21 more days left in my CrossFit intro plan.

3 – 21 days from now will be…wait for it…November 21st, leaving a few days of buffer time before November 24th, Thanksgiving. During which time I’ll reevaluate and develop a new holiday-themed plan. You might as well mark your calendars for that post becauase you know I won’t be able to help myself from sharing it with all of you.

So this whole challenge is all well and good, and I’ll be keeping track of my progress in each day’s dailies post, but I don’t want to do it alone!!! What do YOU want to accomplish in the next 21 days? Do you want to be healthy for the holidays too or do you have a different goal in mind? Maybe it’s reading every night in an effort to finish off a few books, maybe it’s connecting with one friend or family member every day, maybe it’s something else all together – but whatever it is, shout it out! Make it happen in the next 21 days!

What is your 21 Day Challenge?