#WeekendRewind: 7 Things I Want to Do Before 2018

I can’t take full credit for this post. It was definitely inspired by Marquessa’s list, 30 Things You Can Still Do Before 2018. Read Part 1 on Planet Simon and Part 2 on Marquessa’s blog, Simply Marquessa.

Oh, 2017, I’d like to say it’s been real, but like 2016, I’m ready to be rid of you! While this year probably wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, these last few months have definitely been difficult. I’ve said it before— I’m not satisfied with where I’m at in life right now. The fire that should have been lit at the end of 2016 (but fizzled out before February) is now blazing!

If I want next year to be different, I’ve got to be committed to making a change, and as someone who still struggles with procrastination, I’m not waiting until January 1 to do it. You can’t limp into the New Year expecting to miraculously leap once the clock strikes 12. You’ve got to start taking those steps toward recovery now. So, with that being said, here are seven things that I want to do before 2018.

1. Lose five pounds.


I’ve been on this weight loss journey since June of 2016, and while I’ve lost around 40 pounds, I still can’t fit in that size 4 dress collecting dust in my closet (well, I can, but it doesn’t look cute 😉 ). This October, I finally passed another milestone: I’m no longer plateaued! Yes, I’m back on my downward trend. It only took me a year to do! Originally my goal was to maintain that weight through the fattening foods of the holidays, but now I’m taking a more aggressive approach. I want to continue that downward trend. I might not make it to five pounds, but any weight loss before the end of the year is a step in the right direction!

2. Create a sleeping habit.

For someone who can barely keep her eyes open past 10PM most nights (and some nights even earlier), I never go to bed on time. I’ve been up after midnight, one o’clock, two, and when I pulled my all-nighter, FIVE IN THE MORNING! Funny thing is, I’m not a night person at all. The only good thing I’ve ever done at night was be born, but when it comes to productivity, I function so much better in the morning. The problem is getting out of bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth, and eating a balance breakfast in order to start my day, and I can’t do that if I’m only getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep.

I read somewhere that in order to get your body in the habit of going to bed at a certain time (I’m aiming for 9:30 or 10PM), set your alarm to 45-50 minutes before to alert you to start preparing for bed (like do hair, wash/brush, pack lunch for the next day, do nighttime exercises, write down everything you have to do in the morning so you’re not laying in bed worrying over it, etc.) so that when it’s bedtime, all you have to do is get in the bed and close your eyes. I’m going to give it a try, and hopefully, by January, cranky, irritable, baggy-eyed, needing a nap in her car after lunch, Nortina will be a thing of the past!

3. Wean myself off of phone dependence.

Every morning, the first thing I reach for (after I slam my hand down on my alarm’s snooze button for the eighth time) is my phone. And that backlight is sooo bright in the morning! I’ve dimmed it, and it’s still blinding! And what am I really checking? I’m not that big on social media—you won’t know my life by looking at my Facebook page, my last Instagram post was in August, Snapchat is stupid to me, and while I do want to tweet more to build my online author platform, I’m not there yet. Most of my emails are spam or notifications I could care less about, and while I do check WordPress comments, it still takes me a couple days to reply to them. So really, what am I checking my phone for?

Earlier this year, I went two months without a phone. I actually thought my phone had died and I needed a new one– I just didn’t have the money to buy a new one at the time (I still don’t). Surprisingly, it turned back on one morning, but those two months disconnected from the digital world were liberating! Yes, I still had my computer, and I was able to connect with people that way, but a bulky, seven-pound laptop is not the same as a phone, and I’m not going to carry that around with me everywhere I go. Not having a phone gave me the freedom to look at the world and enjoy it. I wasn’t distracted, plugged in, or feeling hypersensitive because of that damn backlight!

When my phone came back to life, I slowly started to become dependent on it again, until it reestablished itself as my permanent crutch. The moment I realized my phone had to go was when I was hanging out with a guy from work (not on a date, but I know he’s interested in me), and all he could do was look at his phone, scroll through his friends’ Facebook posts, show me shit I couldn’t care less about, tell me crazy crap our government is doing (and try to convince me he’s not reading “fake news”). I was just really bored with him. You mean to tell me all the conversation we can have has to be initiated by your phone? No thanks! So I’m officially killing my phone again, and whatever relationship that could have been. Quite frankly, I was never looking to be anything more than just friends with him– now I’m even reconsidering that!

4. Organize. Organize. Organize.

I’m sick of talking about getting organized and never doing anything about it. To finish this year, I want to be proactive in my organization. This week I cleaned my room . . . again . . . but there are still some things I want to declutter, like my closet and dresser. I guarantee about 70% of the clothes I have I never wear. Time to fill up those donation bins (and get a tax credit too!). There are too many people in need in this world for me to be hoarding all this stuff!

There are actually three facets to my organization goal. The first is my room; the second is my blog. At the beginning of 2016, my blog got a total overall. I changed the layout, the background, the title. 2016 was the year I really wanted to establish my writer platform, and I think I did that successfully. But I let some older posts that don’t fit in the direction I want to take my blog stick around. Even today they still get views, and I am sick of seeing them in my site stats.

So, come January, all of those posts will be deleted! There really aren’t that many—maybe about 50 out of over 800. And I’m pretty sure the people reading them aren’t staying to read my newer stuff, so I don’t think the posts will be missed (and Google can stop directing random searchers to my blog!). I may see my site stats go down, but I think over time, this will be a good move, because then Lovely Curses will only have one focus: my writing.

The third facet is organizing my email. I have so many unread emails, and as I mentioned in my previous point, about 90% of them are notifications and subscriptions that I don’t read. And the important emails, that require a response, get lost in the sea of unread emails. While my email has automatically organized my inbox to help weed out some of the spam I get, I think I want to take it a step further. I could waste my time unsubscribing to everything, but Marquessa suggested something that sounds even better. Trash it all!

5. Look for available apartments.

While 2017 was unfortunately a year of complacency, 2018 will absolutely be a year of big change! There were three big changes I considered making last year that I never did: Quit my job, go back to school and get my masters, move out of my mom’s house. I’m so close to paying off my student loans, so I’m hesitant to go back to school. I think eventually I will go back to get my MFA, but until I decide on what I really want to do career-wise, I’m going to hold off on that.

However, one thing I can change now is my living arrangement. I’m almost 26, and according to the healthcare law (has it been repealed yet?), 26 is the age to finally sever your dependence on your parents. I think it’s time. I love my mom and my brother, but I’m sick of living with them. And if I ever want to truly feel like an adult, I’ve got to start doing adult things, that includes venturing out on my own. It’s one of the main reasons I want to clear out my room: make it easier to move. So for the next two weeks I’ll be making my list of apartment candidates, I’ll start looking at and applying for the ones I like in January, and hopefully by my birthday in March, I’ll be moving out!

6. Aggressively look for a new job.

I’ve said it in so many previous posts, I’ve lost count. In November, I wanted to apply to at least one new job every day for a full week, but because of my procrastination relapse, I didn’t make it. However, Friday reaffirmed my need to pound the pavement again. In my current position, there’s no path for career development. It’s just busy, clerical work, and my critically thoughtful mind that I have developed from 17+ years of schooling is slowly wasting away. Because it isn’t a permanent position, I don’t get the benefit of paid vacation, or even paid holiday (it’s there, but you have to work a ridiculous number of hours within a certain time frame to get it).

Those lucky people who do get paid vacation have apparently saved theirs for Christmas. Friday was a preview of the weeks to come. Only seven people were in the office. Next week there will be even less. The week of Christmas it’ll probably just be me, struggling to keep awake while doing busy work, convincing myself that my bosses don’t think I’m getting paid to do nothing, and wondering if my bosses even think I can do anything other than what I’m doing now. Yeah, this job is killing my self-confidence. I need a change.

7. Chill the f*** out!

My last point was a bit of a downer, but it reminds me of one last thing I have to do going into the New Year. CHILL THE F*** OUT! Yes, I’m hypersensitive. I’ve come to accept that. And when I start to think about life and the future and goals, etc., I feel a variety of emotions: anxiety, depression, excitement, sadness, anger. I really do need a playlist for all these feelings. Marquessa mentioned it in her post; I think I’ll do it. I’m actually a step ahead—my playlists are already created. I have an “Acoustic” playlist for when I’m “in my feelings”; I just need to update it. I have a “Gospel” playlist for when I need inspiration and when I need to be reminded that God is still in control. And I recently created a “Vibe” playlist for when I’m in a good mood and I just want to dance. And guess what. I’m feeling good today, so I think I’ll blast my “Vibe” playlist on the speakers!

And that’s my list. So sorry for the length of this post, guys! I didn’t intend for it to clock in at just over 2,000 words, but if you read it all the way to the end, I really hope this list inspired you like Marquessa’s list inspired me. Is there anything you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments! Oh, and by the way, good luck on finishing out this year strong! I wish you a happy, productive, and fulfilled 2018!

—Nortina

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#LyricalFictionFriday: “No” #fictionfriday

Since it’s Throwback Thursday, let’s look back to the time a boy sent his homeboy to talk to my best friend to see if I was single. Or when the scrub tried to holla at me from the passenger side of his best friend’s ride parked at the 7-Eleven. Or all those times I’ve been hit on at Walmart. Or those terrible one-liners like, “You look familiar. Have I seen you somewhere?” Lemme guess, in your dreams?

No.

Needless to say, I have tons of material for this Friday’s #LyricalFictionFriday prompt. So head on over to Marquessa’s page for the details.

And remember, no means N-O!

Simply Marquessa

Today’s lyrical prompt is:

I think it’s so sweet…how you let your friends encourage you to try and talk to me…but let me stop you there…

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos directly above.

This month, I’m partnering with the following lovely blogger-writers who are promoting my Lyrical Fiction Friday Challenge as I cross-promote their respective challenges:
Be sure to check out their blogs, have some fun by participating strong and making a few new friends!

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#30DayChallenge: Epiphanies While Nose-Blowing #WriterWednesday

Last Wednesday, when I kicked off my new 30-day challenge for December, “Remembering What’s Important,” it never crossed my mind that I would get sick literally two days later.

It started off as body aches that I figured were a result of my all-nighter on the first of the month. Then the stuffy nose came, and the sneezes. By the time I finally went to the store to buy medicine (I initially increased my fruit and Vitamin C intake—and of course the tea with lemon and honey—hoping that would stay off the cold), I was done for.

Not to mention the spontaneous nosebleed I got, probably from drying out my nose with the endless blowing and rubbing with rough tissue paper.

And as I type this, I’m still sick, struggling to breathe. I hate being sick. When it comes to colds, I tend to release my inner Sheldon Cooper. I usually have one of two emotions:

Or…

Needless to say, I’m dreadful to be around.

As you can just about guess, I’ve gotten zero work done since contracting this cold, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the cold’s fault. True, when you’re sick you don’t have motivation to do much of anything other than eat a warm, comforting bowl of soup and pray it doesn’t come back up. But even with insufferable nasal congestion, I still didn’t call out sick on the job, although I probably should have (risk of passing along my germs, and all), which, as I set my goals for December and the year ahead, makes me wonder if I’m just using this cold as another excuse to procrastinate.

The truth is I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m a perfectionist; if I’m not satisfied with the products I produce, how can I expect others to be? But sometimes even I can’t live up to my own standards, which is why blog disappearing acts, unfinished stories, and last minute all-nighters are so common with me.

But I want that to change. I need that to change. While this cold was probably inevitable (especially since I work in an office that can’t decide if it wants to blow heat or cold, frigid air), my fretful, busy-body nature isn’t doing anything for my health, physically or mentally. I’m tired, and I’m stressed, and I don’t know about you, but I plan to leave those two feelings behind in 2017.

In an earlier post, I talked about struggling to find a purpose and fulfillment. While the search is still on career-wise, one thing that I’ve loved to do since the age of three; that has always brought me joy, satisfaction, peace, fulfillment; that has helped me to discover and rediscover myself again and again, is write, whether it’s stories, poems, random ramblings, spiritual devotionals, etc. But somewhere down the line I’ve over-complicated my writing. I can’t just sit down and write anymore. Fear of rejection, wanting everyone to love it, wanting to sound literary, well-versed, “deep,” has blocked the creative well in me so many times.

As I re-evaluate what’s most important, I know what I want to get back to: simply writing. That will be my challenge for January, maintaining a writing life that is not over-complicated but that simply displays my love for the art and my willingness to share it with others. That means writing and finishing my first novel but taking my time with it because I’ve come to realize that the pressure of NaNoWriMo just isn’t for me; writing a little bit of something every day (either for the blog or for longer works) but not worrying about word counts or page views or over-editing before an idea is even fully fleshed out and written; keeping a writer’s journal to quickly jot down new ideas as they come to me; and just having fun writing again, enjoying the spontaneity of creating new stories, new worlds. I miss that, like an ex-boyfriend who was nothing but trouble and yet exhilarating to be around.

What does all of this mean for my December? Well, I hope to get over this cold very soon, but my goals for this month are simply to prioritize, get better organized (i.e. clean my writing space), find a work-life balance (not so much with work, which is rarely busy, but with all the work I do outside of the office that doesn’t necessarily contribute to my personal writing goals… or pay me money), say goodbye to some of my other projects that have distracted me from my writing for far too long now (these projects I’ve also lost a passion for, and I’m not willing to bring that dead weight with me into 2018), and remember not to over-complicate things. I know it’s easier said than done, but November has taught me ways to accomplish this, through prayer and “to-do” lists, which I’d be stupid not to bring into 2018 with me.

And keeping those “to-do” lists short is essential. The trick is to stick to easy, short-term goals, officially retire the perfectionist in me, and simply do what makes me happy.

I have just three things looking ahead to January, a play on a book that, ironically, I’ve never read: Write. Pray. Love.

—Nortina

#LyricalFictionFriday: “Just Friends” #fictionfriday #marquessachallenge

Baby loves me but she never shows she cares. (No, you won’t see her kiss and hug me)…

Ok, wrong “just friends” song, but the songs and stories for this particular prompt are endless! So let’s go round and round to say we’re just friends (even though we don’t really mean it) and join in on another good one from Marquessa’s #LyricalFictionFriday challenge.

Oh, and by the way, stop pretending to just be friends with writing. You know you want it. 😉

Simply Marquessa

Today’s lyrical prompt is:

It makes no sense to be falling…you’ve got her, I’ve got him, should not even be calling…”

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

 This month, I’m partnering with the following lovely blogger-writers who are promoting my Lyrical Fiction Friday Challenge as I cross-promote their respective challenges:
Be sure to check out their blogs, have some fun by participating strong and making a few new friends!

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Still Procrastinating but Developing a Plan

When I graduated from college, I thought I was finally done with pulling all-nighters . . .  Then Friday night happened . . .

I’m still trying to catch up on some zzzz’s after that little stint.

I’m getting too old for this…

Ok, so I’m still in my twenties, but ya girl can barely stay up past ten most nights! This kind of behavior is just not efficient—it wasn’t efficient in college—and my body is screaming for me to let her rest.

In November, I challenged myself for 30 days to stop procrastinating. Did I accomplish that? For the most part, but those last two weeks, I relapsed, and I relapsed HARD! That all-nighter I pulled on Friday– I had two weeks to do it. TWO FULL WEEKS! I didn’t touch it. And the bags under my eyes are punishment for that.

But there were some things I successfully stopped procrastinating on in November. I made my bed every day, which is something I never do, just ask my mom. I managed to keep my bedroom half-way decent. I went on a serious cleaning binge, I even scrubbed the floors– although, I forgot to dust. I developed a work plan on the job to stay productive (some days were still more productive than others). My “to-do” lists made life so much easier for me, and I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: PRAYER WORKS!

If you remember my post about my long “to-do” lists, I’d mentioned that one thing I really wanted do to was write and submit an article to my church’s monthly magazine. Well, I finally did that, and it will be published just in time for the January issue. In the article, I looked back on all my troubles of 2017; what went terribly wrong, in what areas was I successful, and how I  can use that going into the new year. After Friday’s all-nighter, I had to reevaluate what I was doing. This morning I reread that article, because somewhere, in the two or so weeks since I’d written it, I had forgotten what was important.

That is going to be my new 30-day challenge for December: remembering what is important.

I know, it sounds very generic. What is important? How exactly do I plan to accomplish this? Well, you can call this #NoMoreProcrastinating 2.0 or #LearingToPrioritize. Simply put, I’m looking back at all the things that worked in November, and even the months before—my praying, “to-do” lists, going to bed on time, not taking on more than I can handle, understanding that it’s ok to say, “No, I can’t do that. At least not right now,” planning ahead on assignments, writing goals, etc., putting my mental, spiritual, and physical health first.—and building off that this month so that I can enter 2018 ready to conquer, and hopefully well-rested. 😉

Even though I started December, in layman’s terms, ass backwards, I’m feeling confident that I can turn this ship around before the year is up. Day one didn’t start the way I wanted it to, but thankfully, December has 31 days, which means I can still accomplish my 30-day challenge!

—Nortina


If you’re interested joining Marquessa’s 30-day challenge to develop new life habits, check out the details here. This post was also written for Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This month’s question is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

#LyricalFictionFriday: “Dammn Baby” #fictionfriday #marquessachallenge

Happy Fiction Friday!

Marquessa’s #LyricalFictionFriday is back with another good one from the iconic Janet Jackson!

If you’re like me, and you’re worn out from NaNoWriMo… and other things… this just may be the boost you need!

So when you’re done sucking at the choreography, head on over to Marquessa’s page to participate!

Simply Marquessa

Formerly called the #MarquessaChallenge

Today’s lyrical prompt is:

You gotta get up off that grey line…I’ll guarantee they’ll fall in line

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

Partnering with This Thing Called Life One Word At A Time and Lovely Curses

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#LyricalFictionFriday – “Back It Up” #fictionfriday #marquessachallenge

Fiction Friday is back, and #MarquessaChallenge has a new name…

Now introducing #LyricalFictionFriday! As the title suggests, #LyricalFictionFriday challenges you to write a story inspired by a lyrical prompt.

Are you ready for what you might find in today’s prompt? Head on over to Marquessa’s page to participate.

Happy Writing!

Simply Marquessa

Formerly called the #MarquessaChallenge

Today’s lyric prompt is:

Don’t look for what you don’t want to find…”

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Partnering with This Thing Called Life One Word At A Time and Lovely Curses

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#TribeTuesdayWPChallenge: Suffering Setbacks but Keeping Hope Alive!

If I had the money, I’d hire myself a personal assistant . . . 

Welcome to another Tribe Tuesday update, and I have some bad news. Last week I fell into old habits, started procrastinating again, conveniently forgetting things. I fell behind on certain projects I was previously ahead on. As soon as I realized what was happening, I felt terrible. I spent the entire weekend sulking.

This is the worst time of the year to start procrastinating again. Thanksgiving is literally in TWO DAYS. For me, it starts tomorrow. Since I’ll be traveling on Thursday (hopefully the roads will be clear, everyone stuffing their faces), the family at home has decided to have dinner a day early. I thought it was a great idea, until I realized that the majority of the cooking would have to get done tonight, which means all those tasks I procrastinated on will have to go back on the back burner (after I worked so hard to get them off), or else all of our sides will come from a can, and I’m not about the “can” life. Fresh, whole, organic—it’s the future, the fountain of youth. I’ve even started buying brown eggs. Guess what? They taste EXACTLY THE SAME!

At least we have someone else smoking the bird.

Yes, smoking, not deep frying . . .

Because we’re soo health-conscious.

I’ve decided I won’t complain (another bad habit I’m trying to kick) about all the things I have to get done tonight, nor will I beat myself up for managing to dig another whole after I’d just gotten out of one. Despite my minor setback (which happens to all of us, I must realize), there are other things I’ve been doing consistently throughout the month (I’ll tell you more about these next time) that definitely deserve some praise. I can now say with confidence that I am not as bad of a procrastinator as I was at the first of this month.

That being said, there is still much work to be done. So while the black-eyed peas are boiling, I’ll be NaNoWriMo writing. While the squash is in the oven roasting, I’ll be scheduling blog posts. While the cranberries are bursting into a sweet and tarty sauce, I’ll be answering emails. And in the midst of all this, I’ll be jotting everything down. I kind of slacked off in my to-do lists, and this week has proved to me how much they truly help me stay organized, and remember the things I’ve procrastinated.

It truly is a shame that my memory is this bad, as young as I am. That doesn’t give me much hope for my golden years, seeing that dementia runs in my family.

But hey, maybe all those things I forgot in my prime will finally come back…

Until next Tuesday.

Are you interested in joining Marquessa’s #TribeTuesdayWPChallenge? Is there a new life habit you’d like to develop over the next 30 days? Don’t procrastinate and wait until New Year’s Resolution time to do it. Start now. What better way to enter 2018 than with a new habit to enhance your life! Click here for more details on the challenge.

#MarquessaChallenge – “Age Ain’t A Factor” #fictionfriday #music #prompt #lyricalfictionchallenge

It’s Fiction Friday time with #MarquessaChallenge! Today’s lyrical prompt will definitely make the ladies feel good. 😉

What serenading words does this song inspire you to write? Be sure to head over to Marquessa’s page to participate!

Simply Marquessa

Are you up for the #MarquessaChallenge (soon to be renamed as the #LyricalFiction Challenge)?

You can find out more about this challenge here.

Today’s lyric prompt is:

“…I swear you get better looking with every year…your sexual peak, your full figure physique…”

You can use the entire lyric, part of the lyric, another lyric from the song or the idea you get from the song.

Don’t forget to pingback to this post or to post your link in the comment box.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Partnering with This Thing Called Life One Word At A Time and Lovely Curses

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#TribeTuesdayWPChallenge: Finding a Purpose

So, I just spent the last twenty minutes typing out a post that I’ve decided not to publish.

I know, I know. Bummer, right?

But my pastor recently said something that I should probably take to heart since my next #NoMoreProcrastination task is to look for a new job, and the internet is no longer safe for “work complainers.”

So I’ll keep how I really feel about my current employment to myself. Leave it as a draft post that mysteriously gets published after I’m dead; write the rest in my prayer journal to God.

He knows how desperate I am.

So for this third week in November, my goal is to apply to at least one new job every day. At least one, but I’m not limiting myself to just one. The more the merrier, right?

I think the reason why I eased off on my job search was because 1.) no one was biting, and it was kind of demoralizing, knowing that I spent all this money on a degree and then couldn’t find a job in my field (or as a writer, one that actually PAYS!)

The tragic flight of the millennial.

And 2.) as I mentioned in my introductory post, I got complacent with my current position, with the easiness of it. But the longer I stay, the more dissatisfied and unfulfilled I become with it.

Looking back on this post from two years ago, I laugh sadly at how not much has changed since then. I’m looking for a purpose, a reason for being. Yes, I’m praying about it, which is something I hadn’t done before, although I lied and told people I was.

I still have a firm belief that what I’m meant to do has everything to do with my writing, whether it’s working at a publishing company, or publishing my first book that becomes a New York Times best seller (reaching a bit? An Amazon top seller? That’s still an accomplishment).

I just hope I get some direction before I grow impatient and do something stupid on impulse, like apply for a job at McDonald’s.

I really don’t want to work at McDonald’s, but maybe Barnes and Noble is hiring…

Are you interested in joining Marquessa’s #TribeTuesdayWPChallenge? Is there a new life habit you’d like to develop over the next 30 days? Don’t procrastinate and wait until New Year’s Resolution time to do it. Start now. What better way to enter 2018 than with a new habit to enhance your life! Click here for more details on the challenge.