My Self Care Goals for 2019

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Confession: I tend to put my heart and soul into everything I do; it’s practically impossible for me to do things by half. Because of that, I also carry around a lot of stress, anger, and disappointment because things never live up to my high expectations. That’s life, right? Expectations versus reality?

It’s something I’ve been “working on” for many years, but this time I’m making a real, concerted effort, and I’m doing that with a self care regimen. I’ve shared a little bit about self care for young professionals, but this goes a bit more into the nitty-gritty of what I’m specifically doing to give myself a break every once in a while. Self care goals should be just as important as work or reading or blogging goals, and I’m making an effort to treat them as such this year!

Daily yoga

Last January, my coworker Molly introduced me to Adriene Mishler and her Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube. I immediately jumped on the “30 Days of Yoga” bandwagon and ended up doing over 100 days of consecutive yoga!

And then life got crazy, and I stopped making time for it in my schedule. This year, I’m starting 2019 off right with Dedicate, this year’s 30-day yoga journey, and I plan to continue from there by either following Adriene’s monthly calendars or doing some of the 30 Days of Yoga series I haven’t completed yet. (I even asked for this yoga mat for Christmas, and I love it!)

Yoga makes me feel good on every level: physical, mental, and even emotional, which is why I’m making a conscious effort to include it in my self care for the year. Maybe for you, this translates to meditating daily (a great habit for writers to form) or making an effort to get in 150 minutes of cardio each week.

I find that finding stillness regularly is just as important for me as getting up and moving my body. Luckily, yoga does both!

Weekly baths

I don’t regularly take baths. And by that, I mean that before January 1, I had taken exactly one bath in our en suite bathtub. (To help put that into perspective for you, we’ve lived in our house since October 2015.)

But then I got these amazing sheet masks for my birthday, and I realized just how relaxing a warm bath with a glass of wine and a little skin care could be. I’m a total convert now.

I always take my baths at night. The longer the day, the more relaxing the bath. There’s nothing better than a little sleep-inducing, lavender soak to relax your muscles and lull you into the perfect zen state for a good night’s sleep.

Indulgent skin care

Ever since exiting those lovely teenage years, I’ve been pretty lucky with my skin. That’s why I’m prefacing this one with “indulgent.” Does my balanced skin really need biweekly masks? Probably not. Do I care? Nope.

I kick off the work week with something that leaves my skin feeling clean and my pores tight like this charcoal mask or this awesome mask made from carrots and kale. (I’m obsessed with the Yes to brand and can never seem to leave Target without a new sample to try.)

Then, on Thursday night, I draw myself a bath and chill out for half an hour with a sheet mask. I plan to use this seven-day sheet mask routine during my biggest work week of the year! The bath leaves my body relaxed and my face glowing, which is the perfect way to get the weekend started.

Hydration

I am the worst at keeping myself hydrated. I never remember to drink water, and then I eat when my body is trying to tell me it’s thirsty, and I get major headaches. This year will be the year of hydration for me, and it all begins with my new favorite water bottle. It’s a little smaller than my older one, but it keeps water super cold, and I actually think the smaller size makes it feel more manageable throughout the day.

Drinking more water, especially based on my yoga plans for the new year, is paramount to my overall health, making hydration the epitome of self care goals.

What’s your go-to for self care? A specific form of exercise? Food that nourishes your body? Particularly bad television? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I’ve also made some goals as a blogger, a writer, and a reader in 2019. Check ’em out!


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Self care goals are an important part of my resolutions for the New Year. In 2019, I'm being intentional about slowing down, giving my brain a break, and doing things that bring me joy like yoga and skin care. | An Aspiring Heroine

Getting Past the Post-NaNoWriMo Blues

You did it! You wrote 50,000 words in one month... and now you've hit that December slump, the post-NaNoWriMo blues. Here are my fool-proof ways for digging yourself out from underneath that writer guilt and revamping your writing practice! | An Aspiring Heroine
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I’m convinced NaNoWriMo does its “Now What?” months in January and February because they know their writers are mentally exhausted by the time November 30th comes around. For pretty much the entirety of December, it seems like an impressive feat when I manage to string four words together in a semi-coherent way. And I know that I always have the best intentions for December 1—finish the first draft I’d begun in November, continue to write consistently, keep up the momentum and writing mojo—but it inevitably all falls through when I decide to take a break.

Just for December 1st, I think. I’ll just take one day off to rest my tired brain, and then suddenly it’s Christmas, and I haven’t written a word since I hit 50,000.

This year was only my second “win,” though I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo four times in total. The last time I won, I got pretty down on myself when I didn’t continue my writing streak through the end of the year.

This time, not so much. I’ve accepted that December is perhaps my very worst month for following through, so instead, I focused on the positive and set myself up for a successful 2019. Here’s what I did to pivot from post-NaNoWriMo blues to excitement about all the good writing I’ll do in 2019!

Set goals for January and the rest of the year

In December, when I finally recognized I wouldn’t be making any progress on my manuscript, I took a good look at what I could accomplish even if I wasn’t feeling my most creative. I took stock of my manuscript and asked myself some questions:

  • What do I need to do to finish it? More brainstorming? A new outline? Just write the damn thing?
  • About how much more writing needs to happen? 10K? 25K? Another 50K?
  • How many days can I commit to writing in January?
  • What will I consider “success” at the end of January?

Then, I put together the following schedule for myself in January (and February): Write at least 3 days each week, 1,200 words a day, for a total of 30,000 words in January and February

And that’s what will guide my writing life for the next two months! From there, I have plans for a new story outline and eventual first draft plus a full edit and second draft of my current project. Knowing where I’m going in the long term helps me get there.

Put together a manuscript-specific TBR list

As we writers like to remind anyone who will listen, Stephen King once wrote that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” We all like to bring it up so much because it’s true!

Learning to write well is a heck of practice + a heck of reading, and what better way to keep the NaNoWriMo blues at bay than by compiling a WIP-specific “to be read” pile. (And then reading it. You should definitely read them, too.)

Think about books in the genre of your current WIP that you haven’t read yet (because you’ll need to be well-versed when it comes time to query). Consider the ones not even remotely related to your genre of choice that trusted reading pals have recommended. Maybe you can even add some nonfiction selections if there are aspects of your manuscript that need a little researching.

Once you’ve put together your list of books, dive in! Something you read now might bring the exact spark you’ve been waiting for.

Immerse yourself in a new project

I’m not saying abandon your current WIP completely. I’m not.

What I am suggesting is taking a breather from it, letting your mind wrap itself around a new idea for a bit, then taking that reinvigorated creative energy and putting it back toward your manuscript. Whether this involves brainstorming a completely new concept, outlining a story that’s been forcing its way into your brain, or writing flash fiction or short stories based on prompts from Pinterest, it’s going to wake up that right side of your brain.

Celebrate your accomplishments

That’s right. I went there. NaNoWriMo is tough; it’s long and arduous, and if you took part (yes, even if you didn’t win!), you did something worthwhile. What’s more, you don’t need to worry yourself about November. It’s in the past. Instead, you have the entire year to make your writing dreams come true, and I’ll be here throughout the year, bringing you all sorts of content to keep you energize, inspired, and ready to smash those word goals!

Your new mantra for the year? I am a writer.

What do you do to keep the post-NaNoWriMo blues at bay? And if you’re on NaNoWriMo.org, come hang with me!

P.S. If you haven’t found a good system for tracking your writing outside of November, let me introduce you to Pacemaker Planner!


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You did it! You wrote 50,000 words in one month... and now you've hit that December slump, the post-NaNoWriMo blues. Here are my fool-proof ways for digging yourself out from underneath that writer guilt and revamping your writing practice! | An Aspiring Heroine

What I Read: 2018, Pt. 2

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. READ THE FINE PRINT.

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I read some great stuff this year. I’ve already shared my top five books from the first half of 2018, so I thought it would be appropriate to give some great ones from the last 6 months some love, too. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these yourself!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: ★★★★★

This book was hands down my favorite of the year. I’d had it on my TBR pile for the longest time, and I really didn’t know anything about it before I put a hold on it at the library. Something about the cover always mesmerized me. What can I say?

And then I actually started reading it and was just enthralled. Mandel’s writing is so compelling without being too much, and her characters resonated with me on a real level. The story is a little dystopian (because zombie apocalypse), mildly Shakespearean (because there’s a traveling theatre troupe), a bit timey-wimey (because you learn about the apocalypse from characters both at the very beginning and 20 years later). And I cannot recommend it more. (In fact, I keep recommending it to coworkers and can’t wait to hear what one of them has to say when they finish it.)

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey

My rating: ★★★★☆

This book is a prequel to The Girl With All the Gifts, which I read based on a coworker’s recommendation. So when he admitted that he thought the prequel was even better than the original, I knew I’d have to read it as well.

Technically, I listed to it on the way to a friend’s wedding in Rochester, and as someone who has trouble getting into , the story had me engaged from the very beginning. This one’s another zombie apocalypse story like its predecessor, but in The Boy on the Bridge, you get the other side of the story: how the first scientific expedition fared, what happened to the crew, where they traveled. I always enjoy getting to know the full side of any story, and the prequel fills in a lot of necessary gaps in The Girl With All the Gifts because those characters simply didn’t know what had taken place.

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser

My rating: ★★★★☆

Last year, I decided it was about time to start focusing on professional development. And what’s the best way to get some first-rate knowledge? Go to the library. (Or so believes Hermione Granger and also me.)

I stumbled upon this book on some list for female professionals and if I’m being honest, it was the title that drew me in. Who doesn’t want to get ahead without becoming one of those corporate sleezeballs that you can’t stand being in the same room as? Hauser was a bigwig at Time, Inc. and other places for a while, and she is now an investor and advisor, helping woman go great things in the world.

I liked her book because it included survey responses from real women in corporate America about the things they struggle with, anecdotes about real women who worked with Hauser to become the best corporate versions of themselves, and actionable tips from Hauser for real women. Did I mention it all felt very real and useful? Because it did.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, Netflix, for forcing me to read this book. It wasn’t on my radar at all before the film adaptation came out this fall, and I knew I couldn’t not see it with the A+ cast it boasted. (Lily James and Michiel Huisman and Jessica Brown Findlay and Penelope Wilton?!)

Epistolary novels are the best if for no other reason than you have easy stopping points, though with this book, they weren’t necessary. I read the entire thing and watched the film in about 24 hours. I loved the main character, Juliet, and the story told a story about World War II that I’d never encountered before: the little island of Guernsey and its occupation by the Nazis from 1940 to 1945. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this story checked every box for me.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: ★★★★☆

I just barely snuck this one in before the end of the year. It was another book that I really knew nothing about until I started reading it (though I had seen the Jordandené shirts and been thoroughly confused by them), and I was pleasantly surprised.

First, by Schwab’s stunning prose, and second, by the two main characters, Kell and Lila. In Kell’s world, there are four Londons within four different realms: Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. He’s from Red London, but being one of the last Antari allows him to travel between them. Lila is a pickpocket from Grey London who is swept up in the unknown world of magic when she steals a dangerous stone from Kell.

I’m currently being the most impatient person as I wait for the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, from the library.

What was the best book you read in 2018?

P.S. I would also recommend a quick peek at my favorite books from 2017. There are some real gems on that list, too!