50 Book Reading Challenge … So Far

October 14, 2014

reading challenges

In 2013, I wanted to participate in a reading challenge on Goodreads, but I knew I had trouble with quantity of books read. I made a goal of 25, and as I mentioned, had read 19 books by the end of the year. Never having kept a record of how many books I’d read in previous years, this felt like a huge improvement over an unmeasurable value.

I don’t quite know how I’ve managed it, but at the time of writing, I have read 35 books in 2014. That is only four books off of my “expected” goal (according to Goodreads) and is 16 books more than I read last year! My jaw just dropped doing that mental math; I literally punched the numbers into a calculator because it seemed so unlikely. 

In spite of not reaching my goal by December 31st, in the new year I knew I wanted to attempt the 50 book challenge. Half way through the year, with a wedding to plan and, you know, participate in, as well as the upheaval of moving house a second time in just over a year, I realized I was sorely lagging behind on my reading goals. In January, I shared a list of reading goals which I felt were ambitious, but not overly daunting. While I have not stuck to some of my particulars (likely due to the fact that I did not bother revisiting said goals since writing them), the overall theme of reading more, reading often, and reading with discipline has been paying off.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about this year’s reading challenge:

1. Audiobooks are no longer “a good idea” but are actually acquired, loaded onto my ancient iPod, and consumed during my commutes. No more tweaking of the radio dial in hopes that a passable song or radio show will be playing! Huzzah!

2. Due to their size, I have read a lot of children’s books.

3. Due to their format, I have read a lot of graphic novels.

At first I felt guilty and underwhelmed at my tendency to gravitate towards children’s literature. With so many books on my To Be Read pile, both in my possession or on a library shelf somewhere, I wondered why I couldn’t keep up with the pace I wished to be at. Then, as I gobbled up several graphic novels, I realized why it was that I was picking out these texts. Sure, I was cognizant of their size and quick format, but at the heart of it, these books are all texts I want to read. I’m not picking up Clifford the Big Red Dog with the sole purpose of plugging it into my Goodreads challenge five minutes later. I’m reading Matilda, The Little Prince, and Heidi. I’ve read the entire Worst Witch book series (based solely on my enduring love for the television show I watched as a child). I’m reading classic children’s literature that has shaped the literary landscape which I admire so dearly. I consent that they are children’s books, and therefore shorter and technically well below my reading abilities and therefore “easier” books to read “quickly.”

But if my goal has been to double my reading goal from last year, is it any wonder that I have chosen these texts? On their own, to read within the week or the month, these books are not difficult. But try reading eight children’s books in the span of four weeks. With everything else we have on the go, this is still a challenge in itself! Because my goal has been to teach myself the act of reading often, I am coaxing my crooked old habits into a gentle change.

I don’t advocate for quantity over quality. I don’t believe that we should participate in reading challenges merely to read books we are not interested in, but choose strategically to increase our page count. I do believe that challenges are exactly what we call them: a challenge. They are meant to make us act in the ways we wished we behaved, and they have the ability to force us to walk through the world pursuing our dreams through actions, not only words and wishes.

If you wish to read more, challenge yourself to do so. How this manifests does not really matter, as long as you are genuinely enjoying the content you consume. If you wish to read more often, be aware of what sort of stories you can stomach day in, day out. Some tales require digestion, while some stories invite quick successors. Ultimately, your reading challenge is just that: yours. Do with it what you will, but remember to reflect on whether or not it is taking you where you want to go.

What are your reading goals for this month, or this year? Share in the comments how you’re making them a reality. 

Monthly Goals | October is Full Steam Ahead

October 6, 2014

October Goals

How did you all do on your monthly goals in September? I’m pretty chuffed with my scores!

+ LAND MY DREAM JOB // After many applications and several interviews, I still haven’t found the right fit for a job. I have, however, been in touch with an employment advisor who has made me aware of all sorts of programs that I can apply to, so I’m using this opportunity to do a lot of online learning and study, specifically, graphic design!
+ WATCH 8 MOVIES // After a great movie binge in August, I only managed to watch three films this month! Two were not very good, but the last movie I watched was District 9, and I was absolutely blown away. Watch it, if you haven’t yet!

+ READ 8 BOOKS // I read a total of 11 books in September! After reading Essex County for next month’s Hello Hemlock book club read, I went on a bit of a graphic novel binge. I also, finally, discovered Saga. I have devoured the available trade paperbacks with visceral reactions.

+ MAKE 4 CHARACTER EDITS // This is sort of cheating, but I made three edits back at the end of August when I made this goal. I wanted to make more, obviously, but since these initial edits have yet to see the light of day, I’ll simply post those.

+ TAKE 4 NEW PHOTOS FOR OCTOBER SHOW // I participated in an art show (my first ever) this weekend! Initially I was going to try to display new work exclusively for the show. But because no one in Grey County knows me or my work in animal portraiture, I chose some of my best existing work to display at the show. (I sold two prints! I still can’t believe it)

+ COOK AND BAKE EACH WEEK // I can’t say I baked anything, apart from some cupcakes at the beginning of the month, but I can happily report that I cooked my own meals at least twice a week, right up until the last week of September! (I was staying at my mum’s house this past week, helping to look after her dog while she was away, and ended up ordering take-out a lot!)

+ YOUTUBE POETRY // I successfully wrote, recorded, and shared 15 poems in 15 consecutive days! While I got a lot more feedback and engagement on my poetry this year over last year, I found I was not as happy with my work on a personal level. There were some poems I really loved, but for the most part I was disappointed in my effort. But knowing that I have completed the challenge makes it feel like a success, in some small way.

REVISIT GERMAN // My fab friends Jason and Bee pointed me to DuoLingo, a website and accompanying app that lets you practice almost any language you wish through repetition. It even has a mic function that allows you to practice your annunciation! While I haven’t done any work on it in the past week (being sick with bronchitis and away from home had a hand in that) I am absolutely loving the level system and the ability to practice your “weak skills” which is the bare minimum I will do on a daily basis.

On with the present! What are you hoping to achieve this October?

LEARN NEW GRAPHIC DESIGN SKILLS // In my talks with the employment advisor, I shared that I have wanted to go to school for graphic design (and actually got accepted to a program last year!) and she has shed some light on several programs that would help me achieve this goal. Because it is something that I have wanted, I have been protective of this wish. Now that I have seen how helpful it is to share my intentions and dreams, even just with myself, out loud or on paper, I have decided to share this dream with you. I will be elaborating on my educational and portfolio (!!!) progress.

WATCH 8 MOVIES // This works out to 2 movies per week. My husband, Greg, and I have been watching more and more movies together, but due to his chaotic schedule, I know that I need to watch half of these movies on my own. I am not a scary movie person, but I am looking forward to watching some of the following Halloween flicks: The Addams Family, Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Edward Scissorhands, Wallace and Gromit, Shaun of the Dead, Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney’s the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Teen Witch.

READ 8 BOOKS //It still seems like a lot of books to read, but I’ve asked my brother for some help with finding graphic novels (my latest obsession!) and do plan on finished a few children’s books. Ha! Maybe next year I’ll be reading fiction at my age level.

PREP FOR NANO // November will be my second year in a row attempting to write a 50,000 word novel via NaNoWriMo! I am going to be using my fab writing pal, Scrivener, to plan some of this year’s story.

BLOG // After reassessing some of my blogging goals, I will be blogging once a week in the month of October. It isn’t much, compared to some of my fabulous favourites, but it will be a challenge to ease myself back into the routine of documenting and sharing my life!

GERMAN // I am loving DuoLingo! I did end up slacking in the last week of September, but if you’re fluent in German, let’s be friends! I can tell you all about how much Milcht I’ve been trinken.

Monthly Goals | Greetings, September!

September 2, 2014

Monthly Goals September

In an effort to be more like Viva Tramp, I’ve started making and publishing monthly goals. A cheery greetings to September! Last month I made several goals for myself, and I like to think I did quite well at achieving them!

August 2014 

+ GET MARRIED // Done and done

+ MOVE IN TO OUR NEW APARTMENT // Totally done!

+ WATCH 7 MOVIES // I’ve watched five films in August! They were all great, and I am excited for more movie marathons.

+ LAND DREAM JOB // While I haven’t had the opportunity to move in to a full time position anywhere, I have been working a wicked part time job at a show barn. The commute is beautiful, the horses and ponies are adorable, and it’s the most efficient barn I’ve ever been in! In the meantime, I’ve updated my resume and really love it now, so the hunt continues!

+ MAKE 8TRACKS PLAYLIST // It still hasn’t happened! But I made 5 playlists of about seven hours of music for my own wedding, so I’m calling that a win. 

+ READ 8 BOOKS // I’ll be honest: with the wedding and the movie challenge and the moving to a new place, I haven’t had much time for reading. I did sync some shorter children’s books onto my Kobo, and have read a total of SEVEN of them

+ LEARN A NEW WORD EVERY DAY // You can study some of the words I learned this month in my previous post. (Had you heard of any of them?)

Monthly Goals August

With August officially over, the nights are creeping into twilight quicker, and soon enough all the leaves will be changing colour. (We already have a few that have decided to turn orange and fall right off their branches! The nerve.) Here is what I hope to achieve in September 2014!

+ LAND MY DREAM JOB // books books books books books! That’s all I’m saying. 

+ WATCH 8 MOVIES // I did so well with my movie challenge in August! With Netflix on my side I was able to make a list of movies, tv shows, and even some documentaries I wanted to watch. I decided in August that rewatches would count, and so far Disney’s Tangled is the only one to have made the list. I think I’ll be able to accomplish this goal without any complications. 

+ READ 8 BOOKS // Reading all those children’s books at the end of August helped prevent me from getting into outrageous monthly book counts. If I want to make 50 books in 2014 I’ll need to read 8 books every month for the rest of the year. How is it possible we’re already in September, guys? 

+ MAKE 4 CHARACTER EDITS // I am completely self-taught with Adobe Photoshop and the Creative Suite in general. I learned by downloading photos of celebrities and actors I admired, and altering their images. Although the days of Livejournal are long gone, this is still a trend on tumblr.  

+ TAKE 4 NEW PHOTOS FOR OCTOBER SHOW // I am participating in an art tour this October. I will be displaying some of my photography alongside my friend, a potter, in her studio. With my farming adventures and my wedding, I have hardly had time to prepare for it! Time to get cracking. 

+ COOK AND BAKE EACH WEEK // Considering I’m married to a chef, this seems like an outrageous statement. But I haven’t made myself a proper meal in … months, if not years. And now that we are moving into our own space with our own galley kitchen and a full size fridge (!!!) and stove, I am quickly running out of excuses! 

+ YOUTUBE POETRY // I’ve been away from YouTube in a big way, what with the farming (working 60 hours a week with no real internet connection for three months) and getting married (!!!!!) In August 2013, I wrote 15 poems and recorded footage, and uploaded them to my YouTube channel. This September I plan to recreate the project. Finally! I also plan on returning to regularly scheduled programming on my channel. Vlogs, #feministfridays, book reviews, and more!

+ REVISIT GERMAN // Many years ago I took an introductory German language course. I want to revisit my old text book and rehash what I’ve already, technically, learned, so I can keep moving forward with my German language education!

What did you accomplish in August? What do you hope to achieve in September? Leave a comment below!

English Words and Their Definitions

August 27, 2014

WORDS on foolishoats

At the beginning of August, I made a short list of several ambitious goals. I wanted to learn a new English word and their definitions every day, and documenting each definition throughout the month. Today I thought I would share some of these words and their definitions.

DEFINE emeritus

DEFINE obdurate

DEFINE cacography

In September I plan on putting these words to good use. Any guesses how? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Hello, August! // Monthly Goals

August 1, 2014

hello august

It’s August First. IT’S AUGUST FIRST. I’ve been repeating this fact over and over and over to myself throughout the day. Lovely day, August First. ONLY EIGHT MORE TO GO until my wedding day.

With a new chapter patiently waiting on the horizon, I’ve made time for monthly goals. This was an effort I went to last year, with much success, but didn’t renew my subscription for 2014. Until now. August has never been an incredibly significant month in my life before. And here I am, just inserting all sorts of emotional attachment and flash forward nostalgia.

Although my wedding is taking up all of my finite brain space, I know that in eight days it will actually be happening, and I will finally get to experience this day that everyone around me has gone to strenuous lengths to make happen for me. And in nine days, it will be over. And once it’s over, I’ll have to do all of those things that I’ve told myself and everyone else on the planet “oh, for sure, just once the wedding’s over!”

hello august

All that being said, here are my goals for August 2014.

+ GET MARRIED // All over it.
+ MOVE IN TO OUR NEW APARTMENT // A few days ago we signed the lease on a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment in central Grey Highlands. It’s in a converted church, has a balcony, and it’s all ours! A little space for us to be newlyweds, with all it’s glamorous ups and spiteful downs!
+ WATCH 7 MOVIES // Every year, I set the goal to watch 50 movies in 365 days. I have never reached it, but I’m determined this time!
+ LAND DREAM JOB // I’ve been applying to a number of brilliant jobs that would get me back into the career swing since moving north. While several have been, from my vantage point, a perfect fit, there is one in particular I am crossing my fingers and toes for.
+ MAKE 8TRACKS PLAYLIST // I signed up for 8tracks months ago. While I love the music I’ve found through it, I want to take a more active role in music again, and share my own playlists with the world. Putting it on the list means it will get done, right?
+ READ 8 BOOKS // Last year I made the goal to read 25 books, because 50 was just ridiculous. I made it to 19. This year I went full blown and decided to participate in the 50 Book Challenge, which is exactly what it sounds like. So far I haven’t even exceeded last year’s total count, but I remain optimistic! Skeptical, but optimistic all the same. I’m including some children’s books into the mix, and will be reading some graphic novels as well. This will, hopefully, help my numbers!
+ LEARN A NEW WORD EVERY DAY // This was a goal I made for 2014, but not writing it (or any of the words I had learned) down, meant I didn’t quite grasp all of those new fangled words. (Today’s is emeritus)

What are your goals for August? 

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