IWSG #11

At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).

November Goals:
Get car dents fixed.
finish planning for NYC
finish planning for New Orleans
figure out December travel

Other Successes:
✓ See the Colbert Show live!
✓ Visit Madison Square Gardens!
✓ Cancelled Pandora subscription (since we upgraded to unlimited phone data).

December Goals:
• Finish Christmas gifts.
• Decide on travel, if any.
• Blog year-end review.
• Upgrade to High Sierra (on my laptop).

IWSG Question/Year End Overview:

1. What didn't you complete this year? Is there a chance you will finish before year end? If you don't, will this task likely be at the top of the following year's list?

By the end of the year, I have found myself blogging and writing less. I'm not completing my reading goals and I've even struggled to keep up with blogs.Travel planning has become stressful.

So, basically, what I'm saying is that 2017 was a rough year for me. I became more involved in politics and got a job with more hours and higher pay, but it's made my personal life more of a struggle. Goals take more time to complete. And when I do have time, I don't want to work on them, because I'm tired, sick, or stressed.

2. What things worked and didn't work for you this year? If you have one, did you get your newsletter out on time? How did you do on the social media platforms you frequent? Is it time to think about dropping any and focusing your efforts in one or two places?

I was much better at handling social media this year. I made multiple attempts to track my social media successes, but my numbers kept getting deleted, so I can't really say how much better I am than I was last year at this time. Of course, last year at this time I had far more time to devote to twitter parties and such to help grow my numbers. Now, I tend to be working during twitter parties. :-/

Another thing that worked for me in growing my social media was using Recurpost. It shares posts, etc on your social media in a loop so that people who may not have been following you the first time the post was shared or who may not have seen the post the first time it was shared get a second chance to see it. If you have seen Twitter lately, you know that posts fly through your newsfeed, especially if you follow a lot of people. I feel like Recurpost reminds people that I exist. And even better when they comment on an old blog post or a twitter post about the "old" blog post to keep the conversation going. I love re-exploring old topics.

If I could drop any social media platform, it would be facebook. I dislike that Russia was able to buy ads that encouraged people to vote online rather than in polls. And then there is all of my family who disagrees bitterly with regards to politics on facebook. I just want to distance myself as far away from it as possible. I don't trust the platform. (Not that I should trust any social media platform any better.) However, Twitter, with all of its many problems, remains my favorite. I love bite size mini-blogging and sharing my thoughts in 280 characters or less. And Pinterest is great for sharing awesome blog entries and saving web pages for later.

If I could get better with a social media platform, it would be Instagram. I've seen services offered that allow you to organize your pictures so they show up beautifully in your feed, but I just haven't wanted to spend money on a service or time spent searching for a free service.

3. What do you hope to achieve in terms of writing and publishing? This is the fun part where you get to document in black and white what you will be writing and decide on deadlines.

I don't intend on doing any publishing aside from blog post entries in 2018. Maybe one day I'll put together a book, but right now my mind is blank and I have no idea what I have to say that is any more important than anything else that is already out there.

Ideally, I will work on writing more blog posts, though. I've really slacked toward the end of the year. It's frustrating having less time to focus and build my site. I'm trying to be patient with myself, though. Maybe one day I'll get my act together. In the meantime, it's not worth stressing out over. Right?

4. Is there any area or special skill set you're interested in that you could take the time to learn to enhance your personal development? This could be learning a new programme or researching a genre you may be interested in learning to write.

I'm always interested in learning more. I'd like to specifically continue working with language learning because it encourages you to think in a new way. I've kind of let up on that this year. I'd also love to continue traveling and seeing the world and the US through different lenses. Then, there is reading which helps me develop my vocabulary and voice.

I really don't think there is anything I could do that wouldn't enhance my personal development in some way, aside from doing absolutely nothing.

5. In all of the figuring you do, don't forget your personal life. Do leave yourself some wiggle room to try some fun activity that's new to you or simply time to work on being a better you!

Absolutely! Personal life is key. I believe that doing things you love will only help you as you grow and develop over time.

Your Turn

I feel like I've spent a lot of time in 2017 using IWSG as an excuse to go over my successes and failures, both in my personal life and in my writing/blogging life. It's because I feel my personal life and writing life go hand in hand; because I enjoy writing/blogging, I don't really see myself having one without the other. Furthermore, I think there is also a balance between my personal and writing life that I'm always having to be mindful of. Just because I'm struggling in one area doesn't mean I need to come down on myself; if I'm having success in another area, maybe I don't have my balance right. Or maybe the other thing is more important for that month. Maybe that's just how the balance has to be?

Do you find that you have to balance multiple aspects of your life? Is it easier some months than others? What do you think makes the difference for you?

I can hardly believe the year is coming to a close. It feels like 2017 just began the other day. Hopefully, we are winding down one year smarter, wiser, and better able to handle whatever comes at us in 2018. Are you ready?

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link up with IWSG!

Wordless Wednesday #30

Boston (April 2016)

Don't you just love how I take you all over the world for Wordless Wednesday? Last week it was New York City in the summer; the week before: North Carolina, in the fall; and now? Boston in the spring.

In April 2016, my husband and I went up to Boston with my in-laws to see my husband's great uncle. We'd been up to Boston dozens of times before, but this was the first time I was able to plan and actually see sights. We all went for a walk down the Freedom Trail, completely by accident. It just so happened that we were trying to get from point A to point B and the Freedom Trail was the easiest way to get their (assuming we didn't take public transportation). This walk was one of the best things I have ever done in Boston. Not only did I get to stare up at the city's architecture in amazement (how clean it is!), but I also got the chance to learn about Boston's culture and history. We took a water taxi across the river to our hotel, then on to Little Italy where we found amazing food, daydreamed in the park, and discovered history when we sought out Mother Goose's gravesite. More or less, for someone who had never truly explored Boston before (despite having gone up multiple times), this was the defining trip. This trip was the trip where I fell in love with Boston. Granted Boston and I still have a bit of courting to do before we get engaged or plan the wedding, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a return trip there for a delicious slice of their Boston Cream Pie.

Has that ever happened to you? You visit a place, don't fall in love, vow to never return… Then, you return. And return and return and return. And the place grows on you. Ever had that happen?

Live Blogging: 4 Trips, 5 Months 11/14/17

When I took my new job in August, I had no idea how exhausting it would be to have four fewer hours to get work done in a day. Ack. And so here I am blogging ahead on the weekend… Can't I have a Sunday afternoon nap?

Anyway, backstory, for those of you new to this series: In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I'm planning four trips in five months (now, two) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going.

With trip #1 out of the way, I am left with:

Trip #2 – New York City, Trip #3 – New Orleans, and Trip #4 – ?!?!

Here's what I accomplished this week…

Trip #2

Luckily, thanks to TripIt, I realized that I was not just one night short on hotels for NYC but two. So what to do? 

* I had a coupon for SPG: Buy one get one for 40% off, but I don't have status with SPG. 
* Then there was an offer for Marriott: stay 9 nights, get status. 
* I already have status with Hilton, which I'm losing this year, but I knew staying with them would get me free breakfast and potential upgrades. Only problem – I wasn't actually interested in any of the hotels they have in NYC. :-/
* And then there was IHG which was offering 3,000 points to stay for two nights in NYC and 28,000 points for staying with 3 different brands within their chain before December. Despite rarely getting upgrades and free breakfasts, I knew their Intercontinental branded hotels are some of the best. We were using one free night for the Intercontinental Times Square, so maybe it would be worthwhile to also try the Intercontinental Barclay?
* Finally, there is Hyatt, where I could book a $900+ room for 30,000 points. Heated bathroom floors and a tv display inside the bathroom mirror for the win?
* We won't even talk about boutique hotels with their rooftop views, and large tubs.

Long story short, I booked the Barclay. It was better to have a quick decision without much thought and guarantee we would have somewhere to sleep than to spend hours navigating the pros and cons of each. Because there are a lot of pros and cons to each. And it gets overwhelming… Especially when you consider how big NYC is.

I still have one hotel to book unless we decide to do as my husband suggested and sleep in the airport our first night there. (That doesn't sound too fun to me.)

Because we are leaving on Thursday night, this weekend (the weekend in which I'm blogging ahead), we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We had a party on Saturday night, and we are currently making sure to clean everything, get more of our travel plans in place, charge our batteries, pack, make sure we are ready to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas when we get back, do all of our laundry for the week, etc, etc… 

To put it lightly, I am stressed.

Of course, NYC is the easy, fun trip. The idea is that we will do what we want, when we want to do it, and not worry. New Orleans is the one that I'm really worried about…

Trip #3

About all I've done this week to prepare for New Orleans is (re)book a hotel in dollars rather than points. It's a good thing too, though, because apparently when I booked the hotel with Chase points, the transaction didn't go through. It is highly probable that had I not tried to cancel and rebook I would have found myself in New Orleans without a place to sleep!

Anyway, I have so much more to do in preparation for this trip! Right now I have a thrown together Visit A City itinerary, but it's what they suggest rather than things I've picked out. Plus, the itinerary is for three full days when we will only be there for two and a half days. Argh. I hope that's enough time. (My husband really disliked New Orleans last time he visited; can you tell?)

Trip #4

I set up Hopper to keep me updated for flights to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I am so late planning for this trip that I am probably going to end up paying crazy rates. Of course, the alternative is just staying home for the holidays.

I guess the good news is that we are ticking off our holiday chores. We have a gift for my in-laws, a gift for my parents, the beginnings of a gift for multiple friends, and my mom's birthday present… Only a few more gifts to buy this year. Like 10? Maybe. Which, now that I write it out, sounds and feels like a lot, but hey! At least I've started? And it's not even Thanksgiving yet!


I am beyond grateful for the life I lead. I realize I am crazy lucky to be able to travel as much as I've been able to in the past few months. I know that I should count my blessings. Not everyone has a reliable job, family and friends to spend the holidays with, good food on the table, and a place to call home.

But sometimes.

all of my blessings stress me out.

Isn't that normal?

Wishing all of my readers a wonderful, joy-filled week. May your blessings … not stress you out. ;) And thanks again for reading and commenting. It means more to me than you know. :)

P.S. I may not post next week since my husband and I will be out of town from Thursday through Tuesday and then again next Thursday to Monday with Thanksgiving in between. If not, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving (for those of you celebrating) and/or a wonderful week. <3.