#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 need a change. Period. While my current jobs does put food on the table, it’s not permanent, I don’t get benefits, I don’t get paid vacation or holiday, which SUCKS during Christmas, and there’s no path for career development.

Call me crazy, but I’m the type of person who actually wants to work in her passion—you know, the field of study I got a degree for. Time to stop settling for complacency and hit that pavement to find the job that’s gonna make me eager for Monday mornings again!

7. Chill the f*** out!

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 under 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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Getting Rid of August To-Do Lists

I’ll admit . . . I’m still on vacation. My brain stayed behind in Alaska while the rest of my body returned home. It’s been a struggle getting back into the swing of things, especially when all I can think about are bright blue glaciers, mountain goats and black bears, sea lions, whales, salmon, sharks if you can believe it, the jagged edges of mountain sides, the calming teal color of sediment-enriched glacial melt, hiking through the Alaskan rainforest, conoeing towards mighty rivers of ice, making bids at art auctions, buying too much jewelry, being rocked to and fro by the waves of the Pacific ocean, meeting the literal man of my dreams and not having the courage to talk to him. Oh, Alaska! I want to go back!

But it’s time to get back to business. I’ve kept you waiting long enough. I know you’re dying for an update on the Love Poetry novella, so here it is . . .

I’ll be completely transparent with you. I don’t want to say I fizzled out . . . but the second half of July got very busy very fast, and while on vacation, I decided to say “Screw it!” with all my self-imposed deadlines. I didn’t come on a week-long cruise to Alaska to be camped behind a computer the whole time. So I tossed my laptop to the 40mph catabatic glacier winds (not literally—my entire life is on that thing!) and decided to enjoy my once in a lifetime (hopefully not) luxury vacation.

Oh, by the way, I’ve decided I want to move to Alaska. I don’t know how bad winters are in that part of the last frontier, but the summers are amazing!

Anyway, getting back to what’s on the agenda for August. Right now, I am currently purging myself of the things that have taken me away from my writing for much too long. By the end of August I hope to have the majority of those burdensome projects off my plate.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2.0 is definitely a go because I am determined to finish this novella once and for all! Basically, I’m just gonna pick up where I left of and keep writing until I’m finished (and nip this problem on never finishing what I start in the bud) like it’s still July. I’ll try to post excerpts here, if nothing else, to keep myself accountable.

Other posts you’ll see from me this month: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction will be returning, and for the next several weeks, they’ll all be Alaska themed (because as I said earlier, my brain is still there). Also coming back is Throwback Thursdays—quickly becoming a staple for my Thursday posts.

But, because I promised to be transparent, I’ll admit you really won’t see much from me in August. My #1 goal for this month is to de-clutter my overcrowded to-do list. I always seem to have so much to do and never enough time to do it. It’s times like this when I often consider quitting my day job, or at least picking up some part time work so I can dedicate more time to my writing, but then bills . . .

Seriously, I don’t know why I always do this to myself. Clearly I’m not superwoman. And if I’m being honest, having a day job isn’t what’s holding me back, because what’s my excuse for the weekends? And while I sleep (or try to sleep) eight hours a day and work another eight hours, why are those last eight hours of the day never enough? I’m not good at managing my time. Which is sad, because my goal for this year is to get better organized, and with more than half of 2017 gone, I fear I’ve gotten worse. I’ve been back from Alaska a full two weeks now, and I still haven’t put up my suitcase, or folded my washed laundry from the trip (drastic temperature differences prevents me from just wearing them to get rid of the pile).

But I will hold onto the hope that purging myself of the weight of time-consuming projects I no longer have a passion for will finally free me up to do what I love . . . and clean my room.

On another note, I’m revamping the Lovely Curses blog. I wouldn’t call it an overhaul per se, but since reading this very insightful article, I’m finally going to do what I should’ve done over a year ago—back when I first had my writer’s meltdown—and that is create a blog content plan.

This is another reason why I’ll be relatively absent for the month of August— because I’m busy writing posts for the next six months! What types of posts will I be focusing on? The typical fiction and poetry of course, as well as more 1MinFiction prompts, frightful Friday ghost stories, serials, throwbacks, and more!

What I’m really learning now, is to write shorter posts. Sticking to flash fiction, which I’m come to enjoy, between 100-300 words. On those days when the inspiration bug really hits me, I know I will more than likely go over, but the whole point of keeping it short and sweet is so I can have more time to write outside of this blog. Because, you know, my publication list is getting kind of dusty, and I know you all are waiting for that damn book! Plus I want to be totally free to write and just write, worrying about nothing else, this November when I participate in NaNoWriMo.

So enough chit chat! I only stopped by to let you know I haven’t disappeared again. (Don’t send out a search party!) I’m nearly done with the first purge, I can almost taste it! Camp NaNoWriMo 2.0 is underway. I’m already thinking up six new posts to get started on my blog plan for the rest of the year, and . . .  that’s it? That’s it. Don’t want to do too much. I am trying to trim down my to-do list, after all!

July Treats While I’m on Retreat

Have we reached the end of June already? Wow, this month just flew by, and with everything I’m preparing to embark on in July, it’s a wonder if I’ll ever see the sun again before mid-August. But I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, because these last three months I’ve been on a roll. Still, my epic meltdown was only a year ago, so I’m going to rein myself in just a little for July.

I’m Going Camping!

No, not outside. We all know I hate bugs. I’m talking about Camp NaNoWriMo. My decision to join Camp NaNoWriMo started in May. While participating in Short Story A Day, I was able to bring back to life some characters I let go dormant in 2015.

They’ve been revived, and my desire to finish their story has been revived too! What story am I talking about? Love Poetry, of course! This is a story I’ve been working on since November of 2014, when I first attempted the NaNoWriMo challenge. Back then, I only made it to a little over 5,500 words before giving up. This year, I want to get up to 30,000 words (about 968 words a day), and I want to FINISH! While it seems like a lot, many of the short stories I wrote in May were well over 1,000 words, and I wrote every day, so I have no excuse, especially since I have a plan going into this challenge.

I feel 100 times more prepared this round. First, I have lots of material right here on this blog to help inspire me, including my 2015 A to Z Challenge, and my recent epigraph poems that will remind me what’s supposed to happen in each new chapter. Then of course I still have the unfinished version from 2014 saved on my computer, which will help me get started, since I’m opening the novella with that same scene. Finally, I have my plot, which will tell me where the story’s going. Although it’s still a rough outline scribbled down on scrap notebook paper, it’s a rough outline of a completed story—something I didn’t have the first time.

While I’m away at camp, I obviously can’t dedicate the time I want to this blog, but fret not; I’m not abandoning you again. All July, I’ll be re-posting my 2015 A to Z Challenge. So for those of you who’ve never read it, you can get familiar with the story and the characters, and for those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning, this will serve as a refreshing treat. Although a lot of the story has changed since the A to Z Challenge (and I’ll tell which parts I’ve taken out, added to, etc.), it is still relatively the same story, so I think you will really enjoy this month-long trip down memory lane.

I’ll try to post Camp excerpts from time to time, mostly to keep myself accountable and to stay on track. 

What About My June Goals? Did I Meet Them All?

Before you ask, no, I still haven’t written that damn short story. But I do have an outline prepared, which is more than what I had at the end of May, so maybe by August I’ll have something new to submit to magazines.

Monday’s One Minute Fiction, was a success, if only just for me. It’s always good to have something to motivate me to write on a sluggish Monday morning, so I think I will bring it back in August. I truly love writing flash fiction. It has helped me so much in polishing my writing, making it clear and precise.

I love going back into my archives every Throwback Thursday and rediscovering posts I haven’t seen in a while. And you guys seem to love them too. I hate thinking that after something is posted, no one ever looks at it again. Throwback Thursday will definitely be back in August, and I’ll go even further back (which is really only three years), back when I first started this blog and had no idea what I was doing, just that I wanted to write and share my passion. Maybe I’ll even go back to those stories and poems that never made it online. Like that poem about the woman who strangles her husband while he’s eating a steak—my first “love poem.” 😀 Would you be interested?

I still want to do more Fright Night Friday stories. Conveniently, I haven’t been able to think of any scary good ideas lately, but I’m definitely bringing this series back after Camp NaNoWriMo, because I’m not me without posting at least one ghost story every week. I might even include a frightful badge! 😉

I’m re-reading some of my favorite books I read during my hiatus in 2016, so new book reviews will come soon, but let’s reserve those for September for the time being, just to give me some time to catch up.

And finally, what will be my next serial story? Well, it came down to a three way tie between Widow, For the Sake of Humanity, and Dry Spell—all my favorites! In terms of ranks, For the Sake of Humanity won out, so I will start with that one first, but I might end up doing all three at the same time, giving each series a designated day out the week. But that won’t come until August, because first I have a novella to write! Until next time!