January Goals Wrap-Up and February Goals

One month of 2015 down, eleven to go! I was surprisingly successful on my goals for January.

1. Remove myself from any email lists I don’t use. I never actually did this, but I did do a lot of sorting of my emails into various folders so that they will no longer clutter my main inbox. I also took a big step in moving on from my former opera life by letting my account with YAP Tracker expire, so I will no longer be getting daily emails for auditions that I will never go on. #freedom

2. Organize miscellaneous areas in our house. Accomplished! It’s nothing spectacular, just some plastic bins from Bed Bath and Beyond, but I do feel better every time I search for an office supply or open up the drawer next to our dryer or need to find a tool.

3. Meal plan and grocery shop once a week. I was able to keep this up better than I expected. I had originally planned to go grocery shopping every Friday because it’s my day off, and while that didn’t always work out, I still managed to go roughly once a week. Because of that, we were able to cook at home more often and eat healthier than we had been before. I’d really like to be able to keep that up in the coming weeks and months.

And now for my February goals!

Truth be told, I’m busy almost every night in February. In fact, there are a bunch of nights when I am double- or even triple-booked. Let me just tell you, trying to work out a conflict schedule between church choir, San Francisco Symphony, and the musical I’m in was a nightmare. Did you know it’s really hard to make everybody happy?

All that to say that I don’t have very many specific goals for February. My main goal is to survive with minimal damage to my sanity, health, and relationships. But here are a couple of other things I’d like to accomplish.

1. Walk every day when I get home from work. A couple of weeks ago, I had had a tough day at both of my jobs, and when I got home in the afternoon, I felt like I really needed to go for a walk and clear my head. It was a pretty nice day, so I headed out and ended up walking the neighborhood for almost 45 minutes, just listening to music and letting the fresh air and exercise calm me down. It was so awesome that I vowed to do it every day, and of course I immediately dropped the ball on it. I figured if I wrote it down and made it public as a monthly goal, I might actually do it.

2. Continue blogging 2-3 times per week. My creative juices have really been flowing lately, and I’ve been able to come up with a bunch of fun topics (at least I had fun thinking of them and writing some of them). I would love to get a more consistent schedule going and maybe even create more of a series. Blogging is 100% a hobby for me, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to get more involved with the community.

What are your goals for the month of February?

January Goals: Mid-Month Check-In

Let’s see how badly I’m doing on my goals for this first month of the new year!

1. Remove myself from any email lists I don’t use. I haven’t technically done this yet, but my intentions are good. What I have done is create rules for certain email lists to be filed directly into certain folders/inboxes. That way they don’t clutter up my main inbox, but I can still find them if I’m dying to know about the latest shopping deals. That’s something, right?

2. Organize miscellaneous areas in our house. I have been working on this, hooray! I’ve come up with new solutions and bought storage bins, and so far I’ve reorganized our hodgepodge collection of tools, overflow of desk and office supplies, and plethora of lotions and bath items that I inevitably get as gifts. Still on the to-do list are the “junk drawer” in our laundry area containing mostly lightbulbs and batteries, blank CDs and empty cases, picture frames, and lots of T’s random tech equipment. #takeittoworkplease

3. Meal plan and grocery shop once a week. This has actually gone fairly well. I did great the first week and we ate way better than we have been. This past week I didn’t do as well with sticking to a schedule, but we managed to cook at least a few meals at home. I will be heading to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up for the coming week.

Are you sticking to your goals this month, or have you already fallen off the bandwagon? Let me know!

January Goals

I know I’ve already shared my 2015 goals, but I also know myself, and I know I will achieve my goals much better if I break them down into smaller chunks. So here is my short but important list of things to accomplish during the first month of this brand new year.

1. Remove myself from any email lists I don’t use. I get a million emails from stores and websites every day, and I end up looking at about .003% of them. By the end of the month, I’m going to go through them and unsubscribe to all the ones I haven’t found useful in the last six months.

2. Organize miscellaneous areas in our house. I already have a list of various collections of items around our house for which I need to find new storage solutions. That list includes, but isn’t necessarily limited to, tools, lightbulbs, batteries, lotions and bath products, toys, tech equipment, and instruction manuals.

3. Meal plan and grocery shop once a week. T and I are really trying to develop a healthier lifestyle this year, and part of that should include cooking at home. We eat out a lot right now and we know cooking for ourselves more often would make a big difference in our health. I really want to create a dinner schedule each week and stick to shopping on the same day each week, to work it into my schedule more easily.

What are your goals for January? How will you be starting the year off right?

2014: Looking Back

What a year it’s been for us. 2014 took off running and never slowed down. I feel like every time we got through one major thing, something else major came up. Here are the highlights (and some lowlights as well).

Travel: T and I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February, to visit friends. It was my first time in South America and T’s first international trip ever, and the language barrier was quite a challenge. I also went to England and France with my grad school chamber choir, where I explored Oxford, nerded out at Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studios, attended an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, took in tons of champagne and World War-era history in Reims, and admired the Paris Opera House, drank incredibly thick hot chocolate, and stood in awe of the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Finally, I spent a month in Weimar, Germany for a summer opera program.

T and me with Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

T and me with Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

Work: I started two new jobs, one at the dental office and the other as the director of our church choir. T made great strides in his job as well, getting promoted and working towards some certification tests.

Family: Three new babies were born into our family, which has been a huge blessing. My dad got married, and my mom sold her house, bought a new one, and moved just yesterday. Multiple family relationships have been stretched thin and subsequently healed this year, and I hope for further strengthening over the next year.

Baby T and me at Christmas.

Baby T and me at Christmas.

Friends: Two of our best friends got married in July in a wonderful celebration. Three weeks later, one of them was diagnosed with cancer. It was a big shock to everyone, and it definitely caused T and me to think about our own health and lives. After surgery and chemo, our friend is now cancer-free. In the midst of all this, we’ve continued to strengthen the bond we have with our friends and learn to trust in God for His mercy and healing.

Singing: I made the difficult but absolutely right decision to quit my pursuit of singing as a career and instead focus on the things that truly matter to me. It was a long, hard, painful process, but I know it’s where God has been leading me for a long time. I will continue singing as a hobby and a passion, but from now on my career choices will be ones that contribute to our current and future family. On a positive note, I did get to sing one of my favorite roles for the second time, as well as add a couple of new roles to my resumé, and I will be starting rehearsals for a new show next week.

Church: Our church had been going through a process over the past couple years of determining whether or not to leave our denomination, Presbyterian Church (USA), because of some faith-based issues arising in the upper levels of PC(USA). After months of discussion and debate, a straw poll in June, and more months of discussion and debate (and lots of fragmentation and division within the church), our church body voted earlier this month to leave PC(USA) and move our church to a different Presbyterian denomination, ECO. None of it was easy or pleasant, but seeking the will of God and following His direction is ultimately more important than anything else.

Personal: I achieved many of my monthly and yearly goals, including saving money consistently and adding at least one new role to my resumé (see above). I also overcame one of my biggest fears, and I made the extremely important decision to quit the business of singing and focus on creating a future for my family.

And now, my goals for 2015!

  • Look to God’s will for my life and use it above all else to determine my choices.
  • Create a solid savings account that will go towards a down payment on a house.
  • Develop a healthier lifestyle, whether that means cooking at home more often or being more physically active.
  • Figure out what sort of career path I might want and take steps to get there.

Happy New Year, everyone! May God bless you in the coming year.

November Goals Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe November is already over (though I definitely say that at the end of every month). Sadly, I did not do as well on this month’s goals as I should have.

thanksgiv-day_Fotor

1. Clean my house thoroughly, one room at a time.

Trying to complete this goal this month has made me realize that cleaning my house is an ongoing, never-ending project. Between cat hair/sand/residue from the cat tower, loose papers, shoes, stuff that used to live in the car we donated in September, and random tech equipment, it may be that our house will never truly be clean. I may need to rethink this goal and break it down into more manageable chunks in the future.

2. Get cast from one of my auditions this month.

Of the three shows I’ve auditioned for thus far this season, I’ve gotten rejected from all three. Ugh. I have an audition tonight and another one next Saturday, one of which will hopefully be fruitful.

3. Save another $300.

I’m happy to say I have rocked this goal and even exceeded it! It helps to be getting an additional paycheck every two weeks now that I’m conducting our church choir (more on that some other time).

4. Finish learning music for Don Giovanni.

Nope. Not even close. Moving on.

5. Plan a January retreat for my church choir.

It’s in progress. I’m still working on getting a venue, but I’ve definitely informed my choir members about it and I’m making sure it gets on their calendars. Once Christmas is over, I’ll get to do a lot more detailed planning, which will be fun.

How did you do on your November goals? Better than me, I hope!

November Goals: Mid-Month Check-In

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not doing as well on my November goals as I did last month.

thanksgiv-day_Fotor

1. Clean my house thoroughly, one room at a time.

I don’t know about “thoroughly” or “one room at a time,” but I’ve done a fair amount of cleaning. I put away the giant portable air conditioning unit that was taking up half our dining room, cleaned up our bedroom closet a little, and done a few other small projects as well. By the end of the month, I hope to have cleaned OUT the bedroom closet as well as the linen closet in the bathroom, and I want to clean out the pantry and the fridge as well.

2. Get cast from one of my auditions this month.

I already know I definitely did not get cast in one of the five, so now we’re down to four. However, I haven’t even auditioned for three of them yet, so there’s that.

3. Save another $300.

I’m right on track! $150 down, another $150 to go.

4. Finish learning music for Don Giovanni.

Ha! It’s funny that I thought this would happen. I’ve started working on the Act 1 finale, but there’s just so much other stuff to do instead, like spend evenings and weekends watching Friday Night Lights.

 5. Plan a January retreat for my church choir.

I have started working on this, if minimally. The ball isn’t really in my court at the moment, as I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of different churches to see if we can use their facilities.

How are your goals going this month?

October Goals Wrap-Up and November Goals

It’s hard to believe October is already over. Here’s how I did on my goals for the month.

October Goals photo

1. Have at least two voice lessons.

Accomplished! In light of my career decision I’m going to try to continue having them, but probably more like once a month.

2. Go to barre class at least twice.

I went zero times. Womp womp. I suck at motivating myself to work out… anyone have any tips for me?

3. Learn all my recitatives in Don Giovanni.

I managed to get most of them learned (and some memorized), but I didn’t quite finish by the end of the month. I’m okay with that though. There’s still plenty of time.

4. Save at least $300.

Accomplished! I picked up a sub gig at a church on a Sunday afternoon, so I was able to use part of that paycheck to meet this goal.

5. Finish That Hideous Strength and read another book in its entirety.

As you know from my mid-month check-in, I actually already accomplished this. So I went ahead and read ANOTHER book in its entirety: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. I’ll be posting a review of it soon.

And as for my November goals…

1. Clean my house thoroughly, one room at a time.

It looks like T and I will be hosting at least one Christmas this year (we participate in about five Christmases over two days), so I want to get our place to a party-presentable state.

2. Get cast from one of my auditions this month.

I’m auditioning for five different shows (seriously) over the course of November and the first week of December, and I’m really hoping to get cast in at least one of them. I would have to choose just one anyway because they all perform at the same time, but I would really like to do a show this spring.

3. Save another $300.

Pretty straightforward. We need to get on this whole saving-for-a-house-and-kids thing, so the more I can contribute, the better.

4. Finish learning music for Don Giovanni.

I probably won’t quite make this one, but I can try. The good news is, I already know most of Act 1 and my Act 2 aria, so really it’s just the big ensembles.

 5. Plan a January retreat for my church choir.

Now that I’m taking over church choir starting this week and I can run things my way (mua-ha-ha!), I really want to take them on a one-day mini-retreat on a Saturday in January to start working on music for the spring, particularly Holy Week and Easter. I would love to get this on the calendar and planned by the end of November, before things get absolutely insane during Advent.

How did you end up doing on your October goals? And what’s on your short list for November?

October Goals: Mid-Month Check-In

At the beginning of this month I set some goals for myself. It’s now halfway through the month (can you believe it?!), so let’s check in to see how I’m doing.

October Goals photo

1. Have at least two voice lessons.

I’ve had one so far, and I have another one tomorrow. Success!

2. Go to barre class at least twice.

I haven’t even gone once. Womp womp. Guess I have some catching up to do in the next couple of weeks. I’m determined to call today and reserve my spot for tomorrow’s class so I’m forced to go.

3. Learn all my recitatives in Don Giovanni.

I’m about halfway there (almost done with Act 1 of 2), so I’m on track to accomplish this one by the end of the month. Huzzah!

4. Save at least $300.

This one isn’t going so well. I had excellent intentions at the beginning of the month, and I even transferred $150 from my paycheck for the first half of the month into savings, but I had some unforeseen expenses, i.e. Blue Shield being one giant idiot, so I’ve only managed to save $225. Hopefully I can do more next month.

5. Finish That Hideous Strength and read another book in its entirety.

I finished That Hideous Strength and reviewed it, and I also read #GIRLBOSS in its entirety and reviewed it as well. Now I’m reading Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.

I think I’ve done pretty well so far. How are you doing on your monthly goals?

#GIRLBOSS: What I Loved and What I Didn’t

Sophia Amoruso’s book #GIRLBOSS has been taking the blogging world by storm lately. Even the title itself caters directly to social media-savvy 20’s-30’s female bloggers. As a somewhat social media-savvy 27-year-old female blogger, I decided I had to give it a read.

GIRLBOSS

#GIRLBOSS is the story of Sophia’s journey from broke, uncertain beginnings to running a multimillion-dollar corporation called Nasty Gal, a vintage and designer fashion retailer. She devotes the first four chapters to telling her tale with a colorful and hilarious vocabulary, and the rest of the book is a compilation of her advice to the aspiring #GIRLBOSS. Her words of wisdom include thoughts on saving money, positive thinking, creativity, and practical aspects of getting and keeping a job. Without giving too much away, here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action.” (14)

“When you approach everything as if it’s a big, fun experiment, then it’s not that big of a deal if things don’t work out. If the plan changes, that can be even better.” (65)

“We’re Internet kids who have been spoiled by our desires being no more than a click away. We think fast, type fast, move fast, and expect everything else to happen just as fast. . . .But, like everything, you’ve got to work for what you want.” (66)

“When your time spent making money is significantly greater than your time spent spending money, you will be amazed at how much you can save without even really thinking about it.” (109)

“The average American only saves 6.5 percent of his or her income, which is barely keeping up with inflation. But you, dear #GIRLBOSS, should save 10 percent at the bare minimum. I know it’s a lot easier to talk about saving money than it is to actually save it. Here’s a tip: Treat your savings account like just another bill. It has to be paid every month, or there are consequences.” (111)

“One of the best things about life–a reason not to go blindly after one goal and one goal only–is that sometimes it will take you to something that is way cooler than anything you would have consciously set out to do in the first place.” (124)

Now granted, there were some things I didn’t love about this book. The biggest issue I had was that I just couldn’t relate to Sophia as a person. She describes herself as a rebel, a perpetual rule breaker, a loner who hated school, questioned authority, and didn’t care what people thought of her. Those are pretty much the exact opposites of how I would describe myself, so it was tough for me to see how her life choices and consequent success could translate into my own life and my goals. Call me narrow-minded I guess, but I like to read and hear about people who are similar to me and who have managed to create their own successes, because it makes me feel like I can create mine too.

I also didn’t feel like anything she had to say was revolutionary. It was encouraging, but not super inspirational or earth-shattering. The concepts of “don’t worry about what other people think of you” and “you have to work hard to get what you want” aren’t exactly new ideas. That said, I’m sure everyone can find a few points in the book that apply to and resonate with them.

Have you read this book? Did it inspire you on your journey to becoming a #GIRLBOSS?