Monday, November 7, 2011

Step Up Challenge Write Up

Now that October has come and gone, I can say with certainty I did well with my Step Up challenge. One of the reasons for its success was probably due to reading “The Happiness Project” (Gretchen Rubin) while it was going on. Like “Delivering Happiness” (Tony Hseih) in January when I was planning out my resolutions for the year ahead and “The Art of Happiness” (Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler) during my Incredible Lightness of Being challenge, it’s great when the perfect book comes along during a time when I was able to fully appreciate what it had to say. These books helped me put things in perspective.

Goals: Start keeping and filling up a notebook for one month. Do 30 minutes of focused writing every day.
A single-subject notebook (or even just a notepad) should be on every writer’s must have list. The goal of filling one up during a course of a month is very doable with focused and/or creative writing. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you see how many words you wrote.

Goals: Write a review for every book read. Read one new author in the A to Z Children’s Picture Book Series Challenge.
It was fun to figure out what to read, especially for the A to Z CPBS challenge. Taking time to reflect on what I liked and didn’t like about a book was a good exercise- and very helpful as an aspiring writer.

Goals: Lose 5 pounds. Exercise 5X/week including 2X/wk in the fitness center. No Spending Days 4X/wk. Limit eating out to 2X/wk. Vegetarian Days 3X/wk. No Food Court or Fast Food restaurant except Subway.
What you get in life is partly due to the decisions you make, a fact I was constantly made aware of every time I was on the elliptical. Finding time to go to the fitness center (or actually just exercising) was kind of a hassle but it always felt good afterwards. Deciding what to eat (or not) and what to buy (or not) reminded me I had choices in life- and a responsibility to take care of myself physically and financially. Bringing lunch to work instead of eating out or skipping on Big Macs and Quarter Pounders were easier to do when thought about in those ways. Most weeks, I was able to do more that the minimum. The last week of October was kind of crazy and I missed out on my Vegetarian goal by one day! And, I did end up getting a bubble tea drink at a mall so I guess I didn’t meet that goal either. But, surprisingly, I’m fine with it.

Goals: Cook something using fresh ingredients. Maintain blogs.
These were the only two I didn’t accomplish. The first one failed because there really was no reason or incentive for me to follow through with it. I may attempt this goal again at a later date but I’m also fine not knowing how to cook anything beyond canned soup or instant noodles.

Fall Cleaning. It may not have been to the extent I originally wanted but my place has a lived in orderliness about it now.

Do Halloweeny Stuff.
Boy, did I ever! Successfully navigating my way out of a corn maze, attending a horror reading, and reading a scary story were some of the highlights but my most favorite was finally carving my first jack-o-lantern!

Buy ticket for Las Vegas.

I also stepped up my volunteering.

To my delight and amazement, October offered many events that fit perfectly with my writing goals. Wordstock had a great roster of children’s book writers and illustrators that attended this year’s festival. I received a lot of very useful information. (I was also very happy I won their button contest with “i’m bringing paperback” entry!) My new writing class also started up. I was actually less enthusiastic about that but it has helped me make progress with my picture book. Another “step up” moment for me was asking Ellen Hopkins a question during her reading. For such a long time, I’ve let my shyness get the best of me. Not that I’m Mr. Confidence all of a sudden but it felt good to speak up.

It would be weird if I didn’t at least mention that my Dad died towards the end of October. Life is what happens despite of all the plans you make. Certain events are beyond our control. I would say this though: I think focus- and having goals and resolutions- in life helped me cope with this unexpected news.

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