New Year, New Horizons

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Mine was stressful, but good overall, despite depression sneaking back into my life.

2016 was quite the year: A lot of my favourite celebrities and authors passed away; I transferred to a new unit at work; I started eating low carb and began to lose some weight; I did not manage to meet my reading challenge, even after lowering the goal; I lost a cousin to cancer; I found a great and supportive group on Facebook that has begun to help me get back into doing the things I used to love; and so much more.

As I look back on the year that has passed, I can’t help but hope that 2017 brings new and exciting adventures, and better luck, for my family and friends. My husband and I have a few plans that we hope to at least set in motion this year. Most importantly is getting him back to college so he can work toward a new career.

I hesitate to say the word ‘resolution’ as I’m not really resolving anything. I’m setting goals with the intention of creating good habits. My goals for 2017, which I’ll go further into detail below, are:

  • Continue eating low carb;
  • Add exercise into my daily routine;
  • Build my stamina enough to start riding my bike again;
  • Read 25 books by the end of the year (I acquired new books to assist with this!);
  • Do at least one hour of creative endeavors each day; and,
  • Declutter, reorganize, and schedule cleaning times for my house.

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My low carb way of eating is paying off. I currently sit at 278.9 pounds, which is 21.6 pounds down from my starting weight on October 23rd. As I look back at the post I put up about it, I realized how overzealous I was. I am very happy with my achievements thus far and am looking toward continuing on the path of and average of two pounds per week lost. Moving forward, I am aiming to add in at least 30 minutes of exercise, no matter the form, per day. I would like to get back into riding my bike by the end of the year. I have set a micro goal (smaller goal within the larger goal) of another 40 pounds down by my anniversary, which is May 3rd. That’s about two pounds a week, which is totally reasonable.

My book goal, I set at 25 books. I want to push myself a little bit, but not make an outrageous goal. The 75 book goal was a bit overzealous of myself, but I kind of needed that push to get back into reading again. I am working toward reading for at least an hour each day. 25 books means just over 2 books per month, which seems easy enough.

Creative endeavors to me is crafting or writing. I have always been a crafty person, and I love to work on my cross stitch patterns. I’ve been trying to teach myself to knit and crochet, which is going alright, but I don’t dedicate enough time to it at the moment.

As for decluttering, reorganizing and cleaning of my house, well, depression sucks the life out of you. It makes it so you want to clean but just don’t have the energy to do so. Currently I have several small messes around the house that are mainly just piles of things waiting to be put into their proper place, or to have a place found for them. Also, my vacuum cleaner is broken and we need to look into getting it fixed or replacing it. Hopefully we’ll be able to go to a vacuum repair shop tomorrow.

As for now, I am off to spend some time with a good book!

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NaNoWriMo and Guest Post

Note: I planned my NaNoWriMo announcement to happen on Nov 1st but that didn’t happen. Life happens, work happens, so I’m not going to stress about it. I am just going to announce it now.

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I am doing NaNoWriMo this year!!

For all of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November). Oh, wait! 50,000 words in 30 days? Uhhhhh, crap. Why do I keep forgetting how stressful this is? Right, because despite all the stress, it’s actually quite fun to do! There is a great community of NaNo participants and if you click that banner, it’ll take you to the NaNoWriMo website.

I have done NaNo in the past, every year (except 2014) since 2011! I made it to 50,000 last year, an all other years came pretty close. I’m hoping to ‘win’ again this year, but I’m off to a bad start. All that stuff that kept me from writing this post about it? Yeah, it all slowed me down. I’m at 10,012 words as of yesterday afternoon, which is great but also 6,658 words behind today’s goal. I’m not stressing too much. I have a 7 day stretch off of work (starting today) to get caught up or maybe even get ahead!

Now, for the other part of the title. A guest post will be appearing on my blog in a few days. One of the awesome ladies in a group I’m part of on Facebook needs help expanding her writing portfolio, so I am volunteering my blog up to her for a guest post. I already have it, and it’s great (written so much better than my posts! :P)

And now, it’s time to get back to writing that NaNo novel!

Twelve

Twelve is a good number. Lots of things come in twelves; eggs, donuts, and roses, to name a few. However, being twelve books behind in your reading goal makes the number look like a bad one. I let myself get behind and then just kept slipping. Other things like games and movies have convinced my mind that they’re better than reading, however I know this is not true. A good book can relax me faster than a good game or movie can.

In order to remedy this deficit in my reading, I’ve acquired some new books. The first one, Fractured by Kate Watterson, I picked up from a nearby drug store after I’d found myself with some time to kill before catching my bus to work. I chose it because the description sounded interesting and I liked the cover art. Normally, I don’t buy books from the drug store, but I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the bookstore, a big chain store called Chapters. Partially because the drug store was right beside the bus stop, and partially because I knew I’d never leave the bookstore if I went in.

DSC_0025Fractured is the fourth book in a series, which I found out after I’d started reading it, though you’d never guess it was. I’m not very far into it, mainly because The Black Hand by Will Thomas (book #5 in the Barker and Llewelyn series) came in for me at the library and I was more interested in reading that. However, the book seems to be really interesting.

A few days after getting Fractured, I found myself wandering through Chapters with a friend. An employee came up and asked if we’d been told about their promo. You could get double points on books for a limited time. Always interested in racking up more points so I can earn enough to get a free book, I set about looking for some books I was interested in buying. In the end, I settled on 11/22/63 and Finders Keepers by Stephen King and two bookmarks featuring cute owls and sayings.

Stephen King has long been one of my favourite authors. I began reading his novels when I was about twelve (there’s that number again!). I remember sneaking them from my mum’s bookshelves at first, since they were not the books she initially wanted me reading, but eventually she relented and I got to read whenever I wanted. The only trouble I ever had with them was when I’d take them to school and the teachers saw me reading them. Apparently Stephen King novels are inappropriate for twelve year olds, who’d have thought?

My final acquisition was just yesterday, when my friend Ryan wanted to meet up at Chapters. After declaring that I wanted to buy the Barker and Llewelyn series, but being a stickler and wanting to get them in order, I went searching for the books in store. They had one copy of book 6 and one copy of book 7.

I wanted the books badly enough, and having just finished The Black Hand, I reeeeeaaaaally wanted to read Fatal Enquiry so, I gave in and purchased Fatal Enquiry, I couldn’t find the copy of Anatomy of Evil so I went looking for another bookmark. I found one that fit perfectly with both the book and me. It’s dark blue and says “Happiness is a cup of tea & a good book”, which I fully agree with!

Now, off to go do some reading!

March Reads and World Book Day

Currently, I’m still six books behind in my goal, but I’m still farther ahead than I would have been had it not been for my weekend reading frenzy. This month, I plan on not only reading, but putting aside any books that just aren’t cutting it. I have plenty of books, and plenty of time to catch up. For now, my selected list comprises the books I missed last month, plus a few.

March Reads are:

  • Before I say Good-Bye by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  • A Soul to Take by C.N. Bean
  • Detective by Arthur Hailey
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark

I’m hoping to narrow the gap between where I am and where I should be by two or three books this month, but even one will do.

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Image from World Book Day website’s Branding page.

Yesterday was World Book Day, which until yesterday, I’d never heard of. According to their webpage, World Book Day is “a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

There are many silly national/world/international days out there, but this is one I can agree with. Literacy in general is something that I believe should always be promoted, especially with children. Reading is a gateway to a new world, and helps exercise the mind. Not many people agree with me, but I find it relaxing too. I hope this ‘day’ catches on more, and becomes something big.

 

Reading Frenzy

Life has a funny way of running away while you’re not paying attention. It was with great apprehension that I looked at the calendar on Friday to check my work schedule. I felt that I was missing something and upon looking at the date, I realized that the month of February was nearly gone and I had nothing to say for the month, other than I worked and saw a few friends. Not to say this is a bad thing, but I also realized that I’d neglected my reading yet again. So, I set about working toward correcting this error of omission. And I believe I’ve narrowed the gap a bit, having polished off 3 books in 4 days, and picking up a fourth, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, from the library today, despite it not being on my reading list for the month.

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During the time I could over the weekend, I picked up The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas again and read. On Monday I finally reached the last page and rejoiced when I finished it. I realized that part of why it had taken me so long to read was because I found myself wanting to reach through the book and shake Llewelyn, and not just because work and life had gotten in the way. Though, overall, I quite enjoyed the book.

Then, after a short break to rest my eyes and grab a cup of tea, I picked up another book I’d received from the library, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This was another recommendation from Kim. It was with great anticipation that I tore into this book. I only set it down when my eyes could no longer focus on the page. I finished the book on Tuesday afternoon with more questions than any book of late has left me with. I sat there, pondering the story’s timeline, seriously thinking about if such a thing could happen in the here and now. How I would react was the next series of thoughts to cross my mind. And finally, as I stared at the simple cover, I wondered what happened next to Kirsten and her traveling group, to Clark and his fellows, and for the people of that ruined civilization.

Wednesday I didn’t read, but I made up for that today. In one sitting, I read The Hellfire Conspiracy by Will Thomas. The fourth installment of the Barker and Llewelyn series had arrived at the library shortly before the third installment, and has sat upon my coffee table taunting me ever since I placed it there. This episode in the life of the prominent private enquiry agent and his young assistant found them dealing with an unfortunate subject matter, child slavery and murder.

I spent the afternoon reading and theorizing who may be behind these heinous acts. At the end, I was quite surprised, and excited to see that I had pegged the right person as the criminal. Few things make me happier than putting the clues together and coming out with the correct theory on who did what or how something happened.

Few books have caught my attention recently as the Barker and Llewelyn series, and now Station Eleven have. I’ve found myself drudging through Before I say Good-Bye by Mary Higgins Clark, as the beginning chapters have been rather boring to me. I’m going to try to get to chapter 10 before I make my decision on whether to finish reading or scrap this book from my list and choose another. Time shall tell, and for now, I’m not ruling anything out.

February Reads

This is a lot later than initially planned, but life and feeling ill got in the way. So, uhm, better late than never?

This month, I plan on reading as many books as possible, hopefully 8, so I can catch up. So far I’ve read one book, and have two more on the go. I have the next five days off of work, which gives me time to finish those two and hopefully squeeze in a 3rd by Thursday.

My list this month consists of the books I didn’t get in last month, plus a few more. They are:

  • The Blackstone Chronicles by John Saul (read)
  • Before I say Good-Bye by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas
  • The Hellfire Conspiracy by Will Thomas
  • The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  • A Soul to Take by C.N. Bean
  • Detective by Arthur Hailey
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The last book may not come in from the library in time, so I may choose a different book instead. Either way, I’m liking the lineup I have. And now two views from the sun room at work (I work in a hospital on the shores of Lake Ontario, the sun room is a place where patients and their families can go sit and look out at the lake or watch TV together).

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The glare from the glass block dividing wall is annoying, but still a beautiful sunset that I enjoyed during my dinner break on an evening shift.
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A snowy/foggy morning. A few minutes after taking this picture, the sun tried to peek through the clouds, giving everything a wonderful glow.

January Review

Well, January’s coming to an end and I’ve only read 3 out of the target 6 books for the month. I could make excuses, whine about how life is getting in the way, but the truth is, I just didn’t set aside the right about of time to read. And I’ve spent far too much time playing Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I have the next few days off of work though, so I intend to get some reading done. I’m hoping to get 2 books in by Friday. Also, I’m going to try to make up at least two of the three books I’m behind this month. To that end, I have put the next two Barker and Llewelyn books on hold at my local library. I know I will read these books quickly. I wanted to spread them out more, maybe one a month, but with some catch up to do, I went ahead and changed my plan.

I finished the first Harry Potter book today. As I’ve read it many times in the past, I feel like I’m cheating on my goal to read books I own that I’ve not read before but, as I explained before, with the passing of Alan Rickman, I felt the need to read the series again.

Now, I’m off to get some reading in!

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The look I get when I’m on the couch and don’t let him up to cuddle.