Goals For the Season

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”

MARK VICTOR HANSEN

Four years ago today, I sat overlooking the Rocky Mountains on an afternoon trip to Estes, Colorado, with one of my best friends. We spent the day hiking around the lake, driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, touring the Stanley Hotel, and photographing our journey along the way. I held my mother’s film camera tightly—just like I had in London, Paris, and Italy, right before this trip to Colorado. I still didn’t understand aperture, f-stops, or what to set my lens speed to, but that didn’t stop me from snapping through a film roll. I had always wanted to understand the rawness that film captured, and at the time, I was learning to love the light leaks and imperfections my processed photos held.

Right before this trip, I had let go of my biggest goal of the season and focused on what would come of grad school and writing. Around this time, the idea for my first novel came to me in the parking lot of the Elementary school where the kids I nannied each day attended. That idea later manifested into my fascination with the love that hangs in the words of a handwritten letter and how that interest and prompt would then become the thesis for my master’s degree. When I spoke about grief this time in September four years ago, I had no idea that later I would experience my grief more than ever before.

At the time of this photo, I was in a brand new relationship with its issues. I struggled each day to see the longevity of that love. At the time, my trustfulness gave power to the process of just following what felt right. I knew little of my callowness, but I later would learn that I did know something—I was trying to navigate the same raw and imperfect emotions that I would one day learn to love. I did everything I could to make the view come into focus for photography, but I needed my personal view to focus on what I was experiencing.

What I needed to improve on in 2016 sometimes feels like the same thing that I need to improve on in 2020—allow myself to be imperfect. 

For the first half of 2020, I began setting goals and then painstakingly laid the foundation of who I want to be and where I want to see myself in 2021 and 2025, and 2030. These goals became my benchmarks for recognizing change within my life. This included goals like “make two new friends,” “get a job,” and “start paying down student loan debt.” I have kept track of these goals in my 2020 planner—something many believe was the worst purchase of 2020, but for me, it was one of the best investments because it set into motion the process of becoming the person I most wanted to be.

My planner allows space for me to track my goals and to feel productive with my time. I feel best when my day is full, where I am productive, and I am working towards who I want to be. I hold myself to this standard because I know how good I feel when I get up early and tackle the day. At the end of those days, I feel tired and sleep better than any other day. At the end of those days, I look back at all the little red checkmarks and believe I made something of myself.

But because of that, the biggest challenge I face is allowing myself the space to be imperfect and making room for error. I look at an empty week in August and wonder what happened? Where did the desire to be productive go? Why wasn’t I proactive for my future? 

My negative self-talk can be all-consuming. Sometimes, I get angry at the girl from 2016 who was learning to love raw and imperfect emotions. What happened? Where did your desire to be productive go? Why weren’t you more proactive? Why didn’t you think of me, our future, and how your impulsivity brought me heartache?

I knew I would curse that Hannah for years to come. How disappointed I was in her for just rolling over on one of our goals and forging through the warning signs that she ended up internalizing. But something I am learning to understand is just how important those decisions in 2016 were for a growing me.

What I was learning in September 2016 is the same goal I am setting for myself this autumn. The goals I have set for this season include focusing on how I spend my time and allowing myself the space to learn from the past and what I deem as “imperfect traits.” 

Journaling and tracking my days are just some ways where I feel like I can take control of what I want for my future. I have found that I lose track of time quickly—weather it is scrolling aimlessly, binging the next season of a Netflix series, or cleaning all day while I put off what I really should be doing. A goal is to spend shorter intervals of time on tasks and breaking them up into sprints instead of marathons. And with that goal comes the responsibility to allow room for rest days.

This trip to Estes feels like a lifetime ago, but it was one day that put my future into focus. When you overlook the world’s vast beauty, it changes the way you view how small the imperfections are in your life. At that moment, I didn’t think about what I should be doing to better myself for the future; I was thinking about how beautiful a moment could be. So here’s to finding the beauty in imperfections and setting ourselves up for futures we sit in awe of when we set out dreams in motion.

More Than a Pet

Today would have been my first pet’s thirteenth birthday. Although it was rare for an English Bulldog to live that long, his passing before his seventh birthday meant I have missed him so much these past seven years. For as long as I could remember, every birthday up until my eleventh, I wished for a dog when I blew out the candles. Until I was eleven, I pet every dog I could, cried after I left pet stores and shelters, and wished for the companionship that a dog could bring.

Then, May 2006 brought Cooper into my life and changed the way I cared for dogs. All the fish I tried so hard to keep alive were pale in comparison to him. He was this wrinkly mess that plopped himself down everywhere his little legs would take him. He loved peanut butter and carrots, although not together. When I had my tonsils removed, together, we ate banana popsicles and lounged around. He didn’t like going for walks, but he loved sunbathing in the Florida heat.

He posed for all my embarrassing photoshoots, dressed up with me for Halloween, dealt with my constant pulls for attention and desire to carry his 60-pound mass around the house and on to my bed. He loved the toys that made honking sounds; his carrot was his favorite, of course. He taught me responsibility, and he taught me loyalty. When I came home from school, he was there. When I propped him up on my wicker chest for training lessons, we stayed still for the treats. As I grew older, he was the best dog. All my friends loved him and his funny nuances.

During my senior year of high school, he became sick. My parents had left the two of us alone, and I found him in his crate seizing. I was scared, eighteen, trying to balance high school and college classes, and watching one of my best friends in pain. For a week, the two of us lived at veterinary offices. I missed classes. I cried in parking lots. I was scared he wouldn’t be okay. For a little time, he was, until he wasn’t. I blamed myself for his passing. I felt responsible for the week we were alone together. We spent nights sleeping together on my parent’s bed. The medicine was helping until it didn’t. My friends left him alone one night, and a seizure left him in an unstable state.

We took him to the doctor I found for him, and they tried to help, but they drugged him to the point he couldn’t move. I blamed myself for what the doctor did because I was the one who took him to the doctor. For a while, I teared up when I saw a bulldog on the street. I couldn’t get past the grief of losing my first little buddy. It took years for me to stop blaming myself, and still some days I get sad that our time was so short.

During those days, I realize he was more than just a pet. He was the best first dog I could have ever had. Cooper loved giving kisses and sneaking treats. He loved ear scratches and to be with his people. I now have this undying love for English Bulldogs because of him. I can’t help but smile when I see them on the street. I can’t help but give them all the love I wish I could have given Cooper these past seven years. Here is to always loving dogs in the same way that they unwaveringly love us.

The Concept of Loneliness

Something that’s crossed my mind a bit this past month is the idea of being alone, being lonely, and feeling lonesome. It isn’t because I feel alone, neglected, or overseen but rather how today’s advances isolate us in ways different than the past. In February, I read The Lonely City by Olivia Lang as well as You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy. Together, these books examine how loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Together they focused on two thought-provoking topics. On,e is how even in a city as populated as New York City, you can feel incredibly alone. Another being even if we have people who we care about us may do little to make us feel acknowledged instead somewhat ignored. 

Something I felt when I first moved to New York was his it’s sheer size did, in fact, isolate me more than I already felt. I moved to the city of opportunities for a new life in New York. But, I moved here heartbroken

The man I love ended our last conversation by telling me he never wanted to hurt me. What he never understood was, saying a final goodbye to someone I wanted to always say hello to, was a pain that I could not numb.  He propelled me into the loneliness of heartbreak while I was alone, surrounded by strangers. 

I was smuggled by the emptiness each evening. Those who supported me felt the timing of it all was perfect—the only baggage that I would have was the emptied suitcases stored on the top shelf in my closet. I struggled to see how lost love would be a silver lining when I had no desire to find it with the city or the men who filled it. 

I used to say my hardest goodbye was London; a city that propelled me into the best version of myself. When I found love that was reciprocated in a way a city could not, I realized there were goodbyes that would drop me to my knees. I knew I couldn’t love like that again soon, so I took to explore New York. 

The first week here I found my, past intertwined with my future. A chalkboard that leaned against the window of a bar, just a block away from my apartment on 9th Street, caught my attention. It displayed happy hour prices that were grad student reasonable, but it was the bartender of the evening’s information that had my feet moving downstairs into the dimly lit dive bar.

His name, Alex, was the same as my older brother’s. He was born the same year as me, and only eleven days separated our births. We grew up in the same town in Southwest Florida, and somehow our paths crossed in New York. The serendipitous meeting was my first shot at finding a community in a place that associated closely with my lonesomeness. 

He introduced me to everyone he knew. Soon the other bartenders knew my drink order, and the regulars knew my name. The owner learned the story of how I came to be a regular and told it to everyone. Inside the bar, New York shrank in size.

Several times a week, I entered the watering hole for adults. I took notice of the novelty decorations that hung all around and seemed to have no reason to be there. I paid homage to Einstein, who overlooked the entrance and the knight amour who stood tall over the bar. Christmas lights colored the low ceiling, while small amber lights attempted to illuminate the faces who lined the mahogany bar. 

I’d press my fingertips to the cool copper countertop; lean in to greet my friend on the opposite side. Over their head was a wall of confiscated IDs, an underage drinker’s most wanted that filled the empty space above liquor bottles. They’d place a Guinness in front of me and smile. The froth with the first sip gave me a slight ‘stache which made me smile larger in return. I thought I found good company in New York that appreciated my presence. 

Men who frequented the bar took me as a damsel in distress that needed saving. They consumed my evenings with small talk, which lead to questions of nightcaps, numbers, and future dates. Single seemed to objectify me and the wrong men some became possessive—the last thing a woman wants/

One evening, I stood outside with them. The three of them wavered as beer replaced the blood swimming through their veins. In his thick Irish accent, one bartender enclosed me with his love which turned confessional of how much he cared for me and how glad he was that I was apart of the bar. He flicked the butt of his cigarette to the ground and held me tightly in his arms before he faded back into the bar. 

Another checked that I would be okay walking home as he inhaled his final drag. I nodded and he hugged me goodbye before he slipped downstairs. The last one closed the door and turned to me. I uttered goodbye as I turned for home, but my sense of safety slipped from underneath me. 

I was face to face with a man who wanted to hurt me. Aggression filled the words he interchanged for goodbye. His displeasing attitude stemmed from me not falling into bed with him. I caught on to that when I asked him to repeat what he just said. He wanted power over me. I stood in shock, as he listed threats that came one after another. Confused by how this change of events happened, I sought clarity with the bartenders inside and attempted to open the door. 

If his words weren’t painful enough, his hand clutched around my arm as he pulled me out of the entrance. He pushed me further outside and yelled at me to vacate the premises. The men who loved my presence did not get up. The men that just said goodbye ignore the scene which unraveled outside. They heard the yelling, but chose to stay downstairs. 

At that moment, I questioned if I had found a community, or had I found depths of another beast? Observe, but avoid confrontation if possible while here in New York. The community I felt dissipated in a matter of seconds. I spun a web and somehow became tangled in it. Embedded in the pain, I could not forget was feeling alone in a bar that I once felt safe in. I could see that evening was their eyes as they diverted from the conflict I was confronted with. I felt confused as to why they feared to lose me when I mentioned it wouldn’t be ideal for me to keep coming around. As if my final goodbye caused them some sort of discomfort.

Were they just as lonely as I was? I questioned, as their smiles grew each time they served another Guinness to the coaster that sat in front of me. I wasn’t surrounded by strangers, but that made the pain of loneliness feel different.

Since then, I’ve contemplated if there was any benefit of isolation. In the coming months, I went back to see them and share causalities of the day and weeks ahead of us. I used the bar to understand myself and the insecurities that were growing because of the company I felt. I vowed to focus on myself after the issues there piled up. And those weeks in December that I spent in isolation, I found myself. Like Murphy mentions, these men weren’t listening to me. Sure maybe my friendship benefited them in some way, but I gained little to nothing from them past more pain.

It’s strange to think I could ever feel alone or isolated in New York City, but as millions of people rush past you, and you know no one, then all you can feel is an amassing weight of being singular.

Fresh Start for February

When I set out to layout my goals for the year, I had a hard time finding what my focus would be. There was so much I wanted for myself, my career, and future that at times my list was growing without any focus and was quickly becoming a daunting and overwhelming list. But then I sat down and saw how there were roughly 12 overarching themes to everything I wanted, and then I saw how I could use each month to focus on the goals I set. 

January was all about getting organized—and that is precisely what I did. I knew throwing myself straight into focusing on routines or the typical “gym-daily” mentality would set me up for failure, just like in years past. My Unbound Planner has helped me visualize what it is I want and how I will execute it, but it took the first few weeks of January to get everything settled and organized. (If you still are in the market for a new planner, and love goals, I have recommended this one after sifting through the saturated market of agendas).

I have finally reached a rhythm where I know what needs to be done daily, weekly, and monthly to really maximize my time. But I know things will change in the coming months, which is why in February I have decided to Prioritize Health. 

I knew once I got a bit more organized, the next thing I really wanted to get started on was focusing on my mental, physical, and emotional health. There is a lot that goes into upheaving your life into a new schedule, especially while you are planning on having a significant life change when it comes to starting a new job, so I knew I needed to quickly prioritize myself.

At times, it would be hard to encourage myself to get out of the house and do anything but stare at my computer screen for hours on end. When you are in that mindset, you lose sight of yourself and what can be crucial. There’s a lot that goes into getting out and getting exercise when you think there’s a cover letter you should be writing or jobs to be hunting. When that happens, everything else falls to the side, and negative thoughts, emotions, and actions come into play.

Activities you found fun or enjoyable fall even lower in the priority ranking that they were previously. Who has time to read, when the most you can think about is your expenses collecting in your bank account? Who has the money to enjoy a Friday night movie when the tickets are close to 30 dollars, and you know that would be a good amount of groceries at Trader Joes?

In the past, during my more trying times, I lost myself. When I first moved here, I was a completely different person, and she is entirely unrecognizable now to who I am today. But it was her actions and her depths that have me really reminding myself that I need to take care of “me” first. 

Firstly, putting me first isn’t a selfish thing, and its taken me twenty-five years to really hone in on that. I have come to realize that its okay to say no, and not seek out these melodramatic experiences or friendships. I have learned that negative things happen when I put myself second. I think illogically. I hurt bonds, or worse, I make awful friendships. My health declines, I eat poorly, I don’t get outside, and I practice worse habits.

Now, as I stare down a daunting task of things to complete in the coming month, I thought I would share them along with you here. Every month I have twenty Monthly Goals and Tasks. Two of those tasks are set for me by my planner, “review your yearly goals & last month’s progress” and “add repeating monthly goals.” I have eleven, yes, eleven goals I plan on repeating monthly:

  1. Finish two books
  2. Write 8 blog posts 
  3. Plan an adventure 
  4. Send a letter 
  5. Earn a new career certification 
  6. Reflection writing piece
  7. Practice a new self-care routine  
  8. Learn something new 
  9. Write one chapter
  10. Reward yourself
  11. Plan a big date with David 

That leaves seven goals or tasks to set for the month. From my daunting list of goals, I took the ones that fit best with my theme and set them as goals I wanted to accomplish during the different months. There were only two significant goals in January, whereas February has four.

  • Have a job that best suits my interests  (Ranked #1 Overall) 
  • Under 30 min on Social Media daily (Ranked #13) 
  • Complete Whole 30 Challenge (Ranked #15) 
  • Have Recipes Organized (Ranked #9) 

I felt that these four goals really played to prioritizing health in February. Having an income and a job (outside of my freelance hustle) is really important for my mental health wellbeing. Limiting my social media engagement and screen time will allow myself to spend more time on myself, and those tasks I previously mentioned tend to get forgotten (like reading two books a month). I know I wanted to partake in some sort of healthy living, diet fad, to really get my body in better shape, because I know when I am physically feeling my best, then my emotional and mental health is right there with it. And lastly, I have hundreds of recipes that live on my computer in screenshots, links to websites, poorly taken photos, and scribbled down papers. I know when they all live in one place, I will finally have an easier time finding what it is I would like to meal prep for the week.

That leaves just three goals that I will set for the month after reflecting on the previous month’s wins, and what I can expect for the next month. I purposefully didn’t set all 20 in January, because who knows how I will be feeling in October. Maybe there will be more pressing tasks, such as how I found a fellowship to apply for in January that I hadn’t noticed until the second week into the month. For February, I want to continue with my health goal by trying to reach 10,000-20,000 steps daily. I believe that will have me out there getting active and not sitting on the couch if I don’t find a job on February 1st. I also want to set the goal of learning more about my body and taking care of it because I know certain foods don’t sit well with me, and I need to take better care of my ankle. And for the last goal, I want to reread You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy. While I worked at Celadon Books, this was the first book I was gifted, and it had always stayed on my mind. The first time I read it, it was a skim read for an assignment at work, but not I want to take the time and apply those skills mothing forward—so what better month than a month dedicated to a fresh start.

I took a photo of my February goal breakdown looks like! Hopefully, it will be an inspiration to you all as well. You can see there are still a few blanks of goals and tasks to do, but thats something I learned from January, you are always going to find new major tasks to complete, so I repositioned my twenty goals to wither be priorities or Ideas this month to consider.

IMG_2104 2.JPG

Happy February! 

New York, Unfocused

There’s a chill in the air. Everyone is bustling past, clenching their hoods tighter around their necks, or hunkering under scaffolding and billowing umbrellas. It’s wet outside. The rain pours down heavier and heavier until the fronts of your jeans are soaked, and droplets run down your jacket sleeves. Puddles are collecting on the street. Cars whip past spraying a wall of water onto unsuspecting pedestrians who focus more on looking down and getting home vs. what lies ahead. It’s dark outside. The streetlights shine out and illuminate the falling mist and low hanging fog. You can see who is home and what apartments are empty; you can see just how New York is getting by during the rainstorm.

While I stood, and when I walked, I watched the city come in and out of focus. I walked out of the house with just a raincoat and a pair of Docs (well and other clothes as well). My hair was platted into two separate dutch braids that follow my skull and curve down by either ear. I have my hood up, but no umbrella—part of me knew it was raining, but the other part didn’t know how much it was. For most of my walk from 80th street to Lincoln Center, it rained hard, but I had stepped out of the house wearing my glasses.

Why that last sentence is so important is because wearing glasses during a rainstorm is almost as bad as driving during one with no windshield wipers. The droplets form on the glass and streak down when they become too heavy. You could have big drops, little drops, and sized drops in between, but there is never anything to help wipe it all away. So when I leave the house with glasses on when it’s raining, they immediately go into my pocket—leaving me in this unfocused world that feels intimately alienating.

At this point, I love to be outside without my contacts on. There are no faces until they are right next to me. There are no signs, ads, or stores to distract me. There were just lights everywhere. The Apple Store on 67th and Broadway looked like a sun, the Hotel Empire sign glowed like a red halo over the skyscrapers.

I didn’t need any street signs, I knew where I was going. So I walked along and allowed the city that so famously catches everyone’s eye, fall to the background of everything else that lingered within in it. I paid more attention to the people around me because part of me wanted to see the face that was once a blur. I looked more at how the buildings reflected in the puddle like a mirror putting a scene into focus. I noticed the way the lights blurred when the cars drove past, and how the city seemed to calm down once you couldn’t see everything that was happening around you.

Highs & Lows

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Before heading into 2020, I had high expectations for myself and what is to come this year. I laid out exactly what I wanted to accomplish this year, and during what month I felt I would be capable of completing it by. I spoke a little bit about this in New Year, New York, but as we near the last week of January, I am entering the reflection stage of how my new resolutions are panning out. I know I want to write something monthly that showcases the highs and lows of each month, but at this point, I am not sure how I can measure it all independently of any extraneous details. Details such as how my income and financial insecurities this month impacts my social life, and travels, whereas how a job and a regulated schedule impacts the exact same entities in different ways (one I don’t have enough money, the other is I don’t have enough time)

In a few months, would I say this month was the best or worst so far? I don’t think it is possible to really measure these highs and lows except for recognizing my input and what the output was of the year. While I think about this, I can’t stop thinking about high and low tides and how they can affect a sailing ship, just as much as a weathering storm. And while I crave another vacation, enjoy a photo from one this summer during low tide.

This month has been a month of learning for me. I am learning how to conduct professional relationships with freelance projects. I am learning new skills, and I am learning how to construct a routine that works for me — and that is simultaneously a  high and low. As I continue to work out the kinks, I find myself still searching for the means to get myself into a routine. I think not having a steady job limits the opportunities I have when it comes to feeling regulated. This week, the last week, I sat and outlined everything I want to do before the end, so we will see how well I can manifest a routine without a job.

This month, I celebrated my birthday, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I traveled upstate with my partner and explored a new city as well as explore more of New York City. I looked back on relationship anniversaries and reflected on personal growth and favorite trips from the past. These were all incredible highs for this month, but it was coupled with some real feelings of insecurity and worry.

Some other memories from this month, I finished Little Women and went to see the film (reviews to come!). I watched an excellent dog for two months and learned the great and not so great parts of having a dog in New York City. And while I learn how to sail this ship into 2020, I am excited to continue to grow this blog until I can input exactly what I can to gain an output of what I always wanted. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see this linked with my Instagram page.

06 January 2018

This week, New York was quiet. Businesses closed their doors, travelers avoided the streets, and lovers stayed in their beds as nothing but the wind howled past the skyscrapers, brownstones, and buildings that huddled next to one another. The sight was peaceful to look down on from the second floor of my apartment. Individual snowflakes crystalized on the window pane. Piles of snow collected on the grates of the various fire escapes as the street, sidewalk, and cars were blanketed by the snow falling freely in the city. For a while, no footprints carved their way through the pillowy perfection and New York was a stunning sight to see.

The white was crisp, washing my face in a light that woke me in the morning. I reached out and divided the curtains, exposing the way the snow fell and remembered the beauty that came with winter. As I lied there, listening to crackling wood-wick candles and smelling the way they filled the room with a rich cinnamon and pine fragrance, I sat sipping my herbal tea. I felt the heat through the glass, escaping into my palms as I pursed my lips and blew away the steam. I caught a glimpse of the way the emerald green armchair in my room glistened. I felt the comfort of the blanket enclosed my shoulders and hugged me as I cuddled up in the pillows behind me. I dreamt of mornings like those, mornings of bliss and peace, but never did I imagine I would find those mornings with you.

Now, you are the light that wakes me up each morning. I lie and listen to the steadiness in your voice that greets my soft hazel eyes as they open. I catch a glimpse of your love lingering behind your blue-green eyes as they meet mine. I smell the way your t-shirt clings to the fresh citrus, spice, and musk of the Bearglove scent as I nuzzle closer into your arms. I feel the way your warmth drapes my body in nothing but comfort and relaxation. Never did I think I would wake up to steaming scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, and tea being carried in on a platter by the man I met on the 6th of January after a snowstorm kept me from meeting him sooner. And at that moment I think about how happy I am to have you as a lover.

I knew when we started talking, I’d never catch a pause when it came to finding the conversation to hold with you. Because with you, the words flow out of me as you constantly push me to think deeper, with more meaning, and thoughtfully. When I caught a glimpse of you, I noticed how brightly my smile shone, and it means the world to me that the light has only brightened over the years.

Today is the 3rd January 6th that I have spent by your side and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was on this day, that I learned of how much greatness someone could bring my life after what felt like a never-ending cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Since then, you remind me how much effort and care goes into a partnership and I will always cherish the laughs, frustrations, and sleepy Monday mornings with you by my side. So, what are you doing tomorrow?

New Year, New York

In case you missed it across your social media channels, newsstands, television, or ads,  its January 2, 2020 –– yes, a new year. But, I am sure it is impossible to miss the beginning of a new decade, so thus begins our daily struggle of writing 2019 on our homework assignments, journal entries, checks, and contracts and trying to scribble it out and make it look like it always said 2020

I have spent the most part of December 31st and January 1st listing my goals for 2020 because something I have learned in 2019 is that I love list almost as much as I love ticking off the boxes after I complete a task on said list. As each year passes, I learn more and more about my personality and I will always appreciate that growth. It’s the little character-building experiments that I have encountered in the last year, in the last decade, and the last twenty years that have shaped and molded me into the person I am on January 2, 2020. I won’t ever take that for granted as I look to the future. 

Right now, I’ll be cliché and say that this year will bring a “new me.” In the coming days, I will turn 25, so yes, I will be a completely different person no longer in her early twenties, but rather mid-twenties. But I have experienced some incredible highs and the deepest lows in 2019, and like 2018, I am leaving the hardships, anger, sadness, and grief in 2019 and doing everything I can to begin the new year in New York on a decisive lead –– forming a new outlook on what is to come.

There are many goals this year that “2019 Hannah” would never expect to see, one being that nearly 8 months after graduating my Master’s Degree from NYU, I am still finessing job boards, LinkedIn postings, and emailing everyone I have ever known as I look for more jobs to throw my resume at. The destitution, depression, and distress that comes hand-and-hand with being a tennant in New York City looking for work can be soul-crushing and leave you in a state of desperation. And instead of hanging my head the way Hannah 2019 did in June, July, August, etc. I am going to try and be a new me for Hannah 2021’s sake.

I don’t want to see a repeat of goals from 2019 and 2020 repeat on 2021’s list. I want to check off all my boxes this year, and “2019 Hannah” never pushed herself to do that until October. Until I sat down and said “enough,” and at that moment is when I was given an opportunity, and it taught me more than any goal in the past it. takes. more. than. effort.

I can’t just wish these goals into the universe and expect them to come back to me complete. I can’t work on my dreams for part of the day and spend the rest of my time watching others complete theirs. I won’t. Starting here with this blog. I can write my goals into existence, but it’s going to take more than effort to combat any lackadaisical “I’ll do it some other day” to manifest the goals that are sealed off for a 12/31/2020 due date. It was in 2019 that I formulated plans, found my interests, and began on the trail that leads me to 2020 with the desire to do better for my past self and future me.

With that in mind, I thought I would share the twelve main goals I have for 2020:

  1. Pitch Open When.
  2. Take a Mini-monthly Trip.
  3. Preform a Digital/Social Media Cleanse.
  4. Journal and Write Daily.
  5. Get Life Organized.
  6. Read More Purposefully.
  7. Learn A New Skill.
  8. Relaunch Blog.
  9. Organize Finances.
  10. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.
  11. Write a New Book.
  12. Plan my Career Path.*

While I have all of that ahead of me in the coming year, I am looking forward to sharing my progress on my blog, because the lingering goal that hangs over all of these goals is documentation –– I want to remember.

There is nothing wrong with “2019 Hannah”, thats not why I am here saying I am looking forward to a “new me”. Sure, old Hannah could have used a kick in the butt, but she was busy this past decade moving to four different cities, earning four different degrees, experiencing new cultures, falling in love, learning about heartache, and surviving –– what more could you expect out of her? 

Because all of that and more has happened in the past decade, I know there is going to be so much to experience in the next ten years, so what better time than starting to really focus in on the things that matter most and begin checking the boxes off one by one! So, goal number 8, let’s get this thing going.

*If you want to ever read more about how I have broken these goals down into smaller projects, daily habits, and weekly and monthly goals, I would be happy to share that with you on another post!

 

A Lick of Golden Sunlight

It’s the way shimmering golden flecks dance on the world around you––the reflection of light, illuminating the spot you stand upon. Have you seen the way the sun shines down upon you? 

It’s a harmony of chords, being plucked and strummed delicately like a song you never knew you had waited your entire life to hear. A song that speaks the soft truths that resonate with feelings you’ve never spoken out loud, but are nonetheless surprised to hear. And I hear you. 

It’s home. It’s a glowing ember that survives the night and leaves a trail of heat even as the sunrise drenches it in the morning light. It’s the soft fleece that covers your shivering body until the warmth returns to your fingers and toes. It’s delicate, but it is a haven. 

I can feel it on my lips—smooth, tender, and soft. It’s like waiting for a piece of milk chocolate to melt in your mouth. It’s the silky notes of creamy flavors that soak into every tastebud. The feelings blend and are never fleeting.  

I can see it grow like a tendril sprouting from the fertile soil that was turned over for the new season. My feet fumble through the rocky surfaces, but they always carry me back to these moments. 

I heard a song yesterday evening that could only be described as a lick of golden sunlight filling my mind with nothing but inspiration. Her voice is light and airy, floating into my consciousness, bringing tears to my eyes. It’s so different from any other song I had ever felt emotionally attached to. It’s so essential for me to make that distinction. This is so different, and that is the best thing I discovered this week. 

I heard the song and felt my fingers itching for my keyboard and pen. I found myself getting lost in the curves of my handwriting, and the rhythmic sound of my typing. For once, I remember what I cherish and how I love to express those feelings through prose. Those impressions are the most powerful, brooding, and intense emotions to capture––like the gaze of a barn cat enjoying the sunlight on a warm winter day, the image is unforgettable.

Are We Really Listening?

Earlier this week I received, the advanced reader copy of Kate Murphy’s novel, You’re Not Listening, set to release January 7, 2020, and was immediately struck by the contents of the story. The Houston, Texas-based reporter who in the past has written for The New York Times and The Economist, shows within the first few pages just how convincing and exquisite her story-telling skills are.

What fascinates me about Murphy’s book is that even during the increasingly unavoidable loneliness of today’s digital age, she’s found a way to combat isolation. In this book, Murphy addresses the epidemic through a profoundly personal style of teaching us to be better listeners and connecting with everyone around us. In a way, she urges us to stop talking and start listening.

I have been thinking a lot about this topic, and I want to motivate my readers to get their hands on the book come the new year because I think many of us can use it as a tool for our upcoming New Year resolutions in 2020. Ever since reading the first few chapters, I have changed the way I listen to the people around me. I have become conscious of my subtle cues, and have noticed times where I really am just not listening.

I say that with sadness because no one should feel ignored, and I should know better as I have been in the situation being ignored. It’s disheartening to be on the phone with a friend and hear the radio silence behind every “mhmm” and “yeah” that they mutter out as they go through the motions and “pretend to listen.” Your confidence can be crushed when you are catching up with a friend for drinks, and they keep checking their phone in the middle of your story about what you’ve been up to since you last saw them.

As a psychology student, I have always realized how widely essential listening can be for yourself and the relationships you forge in the future, and I regret to say I’ve ever fallen short when it came to listening to everything someone said. One thing Murphy pointed out is if we are actually listening, there is no need for the subtle cues that show that we are listening. We don’t need to interject with mindless mumbles, but rather when they are done with their point, we should be able to briefly summarize what the person may have said and then add our thoughts and point of view to continue the conversation.

It could be jarring at first, but after reading that chapter of her book, you come to realize just how often you nod your head and interject in addition to how often you may lose your focus on just merely listening when you are going through the motions of proving you are “listening.”

Maybe teachers have always tried to make us good listeners. Perhaps they know what they are saying when they tell us to put our hands down until they are done speaking.

It was in middle school when I heard a teacher interject, “you aren’t listening when you have your hand up, and you’ll have more questions later because of it.” Which is wildly accurate, in school and in life outside of the classroom.

Someone may have said something, and then you replay their statement over and over in your head because you have a question about what they may have said, or you might be formulating a response and all the while you never hear the rest of their story.

There is so much we can learn from just listening, and being an active listener versus a passive listener. Although my friends had always deemed me as a great listener when it came to heading their insecurities and struggles because I would typically ask thought-provoking questions in response to their statements, I know there is more I can do to prove I am a good listener. I have Kate Murphy to thank since she was the one who reminded me just how important it is to really listen to your friends.

How many of my readers have felt ignored or lonely because they feel like there is no one out there to listen to them? Has there ever been a moment where you felt like you couldn’t be your complete, authentic self because you thought, “what’s the point in wasting my breath, they aren’t even listening?” I want you to know you aren’t alone, but that there is so much we can learn by being listeners, and the more that we can do to inspire others to listen, the more we can change the way our future develops.