My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the second quarter of the year. If you want to know how I did in the first quarter, have a gander at my first check-in.

ENTERTAINMENT GOALS

1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

I’m not going to lie to you, chief, I’ve made zero progress with this since the last check-in when I’d done precisely nothing either. BUT I have started a re-read of the Raven Cycle so that I can remind myself of what happens in the first three books before I read the fourth and final one (finally). I know, it’s little consolation but, hey, I have to take what I can.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

At my last check-in at the end of March I’d read 1 classic in 2019 and since then I’ve read 1 more which… isn’t good. Yeah, I need to get back on these monthly goals because I am just failing at them.

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Remember I mentioned the whole ‘failing at monthly goals’ just now? yeah, I’m failing this one too; I still haven’t read any non-fiction books. At this rate, I’m going to have to just read 12 non-fiction books during Non-Fiction November.

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My 2019 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Sometimes, I make resolutions/goals for the year. Mainly so I have something to write in the front of my bullet journal. Sometimes I succeed at them, sometimes I fail (spectacularly), but it’s always nice to have something to aim for and work towards. In recent years I’ve found that doing quarterly check-ins helps to keep me accountable to these aspirationally-set resolutions throughout the year, rather than just panicking and trying to do everything in December. So this is what it says on the tin, folks, this is a check-in of how I’m doing at my 2019 Resolutions after the first three months of the year.

ENTERTAINMENT GOALS

1. Read the 5 books on my ‘Books I Didn’t Get To In 2018’ list

Sooo, starting off strong, I’ve read precisely 0/5 books on this list so far. Good job, Emma, you’re doing really well with these resolutions already. I wish I could say this will change in quarter 2 but, let’s be real here, I’ll probably rush to finish those 5 books off in the final quarter of 2019.

2. Read at least 1 classic each month from my Classics Club list

To date I’ve read exactly 1 classic in 2019, and even that was waaaay  back at the start of January when I was full of aspirations about my reading. Since then I haven’t properly thought about including at least 1 classic on my monthly TBR so I’m majorly slacking on this goal. I will catch up though, I’m determined.

Anyone fancy buddy reading something that’s on my Classics Club list? Hmu!

3. Read at least 1 non-fiction book each month

Surprise, surprise, just like I’ve been ignoring the ‘put 1 classic a month on your TBR’ goal, I’ve also been ignoring this one too. In fact, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books this year. I’ve started them, sure, on audio I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Dolly Alderton’s What I Know About Love – the tone of the latter is super irritating me so I’m likely to DNF that, but the former I was really enjoying so I need to get back on my audiobook game and pick it up again!

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Discussion | Collecting Books, Hauls and Unhauls, and Marie Kondo

Today, I’m going to do a post that is, probably, a month or so behind the curve. A short while ago book bloggers across the Internet were a mixture of alarmed and flabbergasted by the idea, attributed to tidying-up goddess Marie Kondo, that people should own 30 books in their collection. Of course, as with often everything on the Internet, this was a misunderstood, misquoted, and distorted version of what Marie Kondo actually advocated in her Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up manifesto. But we’ll come to that later…

Overall, I’ve always been ever so slightly skeptical of the KonMari method. I could say that it’s because I’m not a big “mindfulness” person (and the idea of thanking your possessions for how they’ve served you still is kind of iffy to me, personally) but it’s mainly because I didn’t want to face the fact that, although I don’t consider myself a hoarder, I have stuff. A lot of stuff. And probably a majority of that stuff is stuff I don’t technically need to keep. I am that person who keeps train tickets from fun trips with friends or keeps tickets from going to the cinema or the theatre so that I have some kind of tangible “proof” that I went there (other than the intangible memory of that day). I don’t have that many knick knacks really but, being a bookish person, the knick knacks I do have are all bookish. They’re collected from years of people buying me bookmarks, or me collecting key-rings as souvenirs, or buying several bookish subscription boxes and keeping the merchandise (even if it was themed around a book I hadn’t read, and probably still haven’t). So, the KonMari method was always something I was wary of but, after being prompted again by a work colleague to give her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo a watch, I did that a few weekends ago.

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My 2019 Resolutions

As you may have seen from my final quarterly check-in of my 2018 resolutions, I did pretty ok at my somewhat ambitious yearly goals last year.

As always, I tend to do better at the reading goals than I do at anything else, partly because reading is always (and has always been) a priority of mine so I’ve never had to really work at those kind of resolutions. Even so, I still like making them because the process of deciding on them and actually checking in on how I’m doing at various points in the year actually really helps me to work out what I want to do with my year. Of course, it’s life so priorities shift throughout the year and I don’t expect any resolutions I make at the start of a year to have all been completed by the time we come to the end of a year, but it’s still nice to have something to aim for, isn’t it?

In that spirit, here are my 2019 goals…

lifegoals.gif
(I’m just kidding… mostly.)

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #4

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, throughout 2018 I have been doing check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, at the end of June I posted my second check-in, and my third check-in came at the beginning of October. Today’s post is my fourth and final quarterly check-in and will, ultimately, also deliberate on whether I completed my goals and aims for 2018 or not.

(If you need/want an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here before diving in to see how I did below.)

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in I’d read 63 books and I mentioned that I was hoping to get to 75 by the end of 2018. well, I surpassed that. I’m quite proud of myself for that. Presuming I finish off the book I’m currently reading tonight before that arbitrary ticking over of the clock from 11.59pm on 31st December 2018 to 12.00am on 1st January 2019 then I will have read 83 books in 2018 and will be rather pleased with myself for that.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: Completed
Progress on this slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2018, and I had many challenges left. December dawning weirdly motivated me to keep going because I was behind but not insurmountably so, if I just sat down and worked out what I needed to read to complete the challenge. As I sit and type this post up, it’s New Year’s Eve and I have one book left to finish the challenge of “a gothic novel”. About 120 pages stand between me and saying I completed Around the Year in 52 Books so I’m going to optimistically say I’ve completed this resolution and hope that, by doing so, I haven’t damned myself.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failed
As mentioned at my last check-in, I didn’t even think about finishing any series and that tradition carried on into the rest of 2018 too. It just wasn’t a priority for me anymore and, do you know what? I think I’m ok with that.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failed
It’s becoming a joke right now but, nope, I still haven’t finished War and Peace. It’s getting faintly a little ridiculous now. I just can’t decide if I’m going to need to start afresh or at least read a length summary of the first five volumes before I can finally read the sixth part of the book – not wanting to face up to this possibility is what has definitely put me off picking up Tolstoy’s brick again. I also didn’t read another Russian classic but, hey, I read a huge French classic in the form of The Count of Monte Cristo so does that count?

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30 Before 30

I have a love/hate relationship with anything that resembles a ‘bucket list’ or ‘X before X’ list. I love the idea of optimistic goal setting but the realist (read: pessimist) in me knows that I likely won’t get to accomplish every goal I set myself due to lack of confidence, lack of money, or lack of opportunity – or all of the above. It’s because of this mindset that I have quite a fraught relationship with anything in this vein of list-making, particularly because it also strikes a strangely sensitive chord in me when it comes to travel-related goals which so often take up lists such as this.

You see, I have been to very few places in my life – growing up we just didn’t have the kind of disposable income that allowed for holidays to far-flung destinations; what we did have was the money to have a bloody good time going on a family holiday to a caravan site somewhere on the Spanish coast. Again largely because of money, I didn’t go on any school trips to places outside the UK either (no Easter skiing holiday or history trip to Auschwitz for me). I’ve never really felt particularly deprived because of this, I’ve just been very aware that I haven’t been to a lot of places that other people might have. But it’s because of this that I don’t even know where to start with places I want to see in my life.

So, you see, bucket lists and 30 before 30 lists spin me to all different kinds of personal places – and not necessarily in the way they intend. Even so, I’ve decided (probably quite foolishly considering I’m 25 at the time of writing this list, and 26 is fast approaching) to construct a list because God loves a trier, right? There’s a mix of low key goals or challenges here and there are some that are more dependent on me having the financial means and (to be honest) the annual leave left to complete them. However, I hope it’s a nice mix of doable and then the more challenging things to accomplish.

As I composed this list at the start of 2018 (yes it has taken me this long to decide what I really think of 30 Before 30 type lists, it’s a wonder I ever achieve anything at that rate), I’ll be already marking off anything I’ve achieved so far this year in 2018. I hope to document each challenge in some way on this blog, whether that’s through a blog post series explaining why I want to do each item on my list and/or through a blog post of me recounting my trip to the given destination or the skill I wanted to acquire etc. Either way, I hope you will stick with me on my journey to complete this 30 Before 30 list which might just help to change my initial perception/hesitation on the entire idea of them too!

  1. Visit 10 National Trust/English Heritage sites/national parks
  2. Visit Chatsworth House
  3. Visit Greenwich
  4. Visit Versailles
  5. Visit Paris catacombs
  6. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
  7. Visit Sagrada Familia
  8. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
  9. Visit Wales
  10. Walk on Main Street USA
  11. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe
  12. Attend the Championships at Wimbledon
  13. Eat a croissant in France
  14. Eat a paella in Spain
  15. Eat pasta/pizza in Italy
  16. Read War and Peace
  17. Read Les Misérables
  18. Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
  19. Read a novel in Spanish
  20. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  21. Complete a ‘Classics Club’ list (reading 50 classics)
  22. Host a readathon/readalong
  23. ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in a month)
  24. Do a ‘blog every day’ challenge
  25. Knit a full garment (e.g. scarf/hat)
  26. Learn how to drive
  27. Own a MacBook
  28. Learn how to bake bread
  29. Learn a ballroom dance
  30. Attend a spinning class

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and at the end of June I posted my second check-in.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Even though the fact we’re now in October scares me a little a lot, let’s not panic about the encroaching end-of-the-year feeling and instead let’s see how I did with my resolutions in the months of July, August, and September.

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in, I was on-track to complete this goal at 45 books and I am very happy to report that I have smashed this goal and I’m now sitting pretty on 63 books read in 2018. I’m really hoping I can get to at least 75 books by the end of the year but let’s see how it goes, shall we?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
So, at my last check-in for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge I had 18 challenges remaining and now I have 15 left to go so it’s safe to say I’ve completely neglected this reading challenge in the last quarter. As we head into the fourth and final quarter, I’ll need to re-focus on this goal if I hope to finish it this year. It would be a shame not to.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
So, since my last check-in, I’m not sure I even thought about finishing any series. I really need to get back on this reading challenge too. I’d really like to think I could at least finish off the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting off finally finishing the fourth book since it was published so I’m not holding out too much hope.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Sooo I still haven’t finished War and Peace or another Russian classic, but I have read The Count of Monte Cristo if that at all counts. I don’t think it does but, even so, let’s all take a moment to celebrate the fact I actually managed to finish a huge (French) classic instead!

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Catharsis | On “Friends’ Weddings”

Catharsis: noun  ca·thar·sis  \ kə-ˈthär-səs \
1 a : purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
2 : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

I’ve always been the person who over-thinks things. The person who is indecisive because of this. The person who worries about whether what she has to say is worthwhile, or whether it’s whiny, or problematic, or just plain self-indulgent. Over-thinking is not a bad thing. But it does lead to a tendency to bottle things up and to let them fester, not expressing them, and thereby not releasing any tension they cause. My “cure” for this is a form of catharsis, my own personal brand of therapy, you might say, and since we live in a digital age it looks like I will be making the utterly foolish decision to put said thoughts onto the Internet instead of telling them to a licensed professional. But I’d like to be honest on this blog and I’d like this blog to be a true and accurate reflection of who I am… and who I am is sometimes self-centred and in dire need of a means of expulsion. So here we are, a new series of blog posts called Catharsis. I don’t know how frequent they will be, I don’t know how worthwhile they will be for anyone else reading them, but I know they will help me. And that’s kind of the point.


This past weekend was the start of what will surely be a lifetime of “friends’ weddings”.

Being at a friend’s wedding is… strange. It’s filled with the usual traditions, the usual obligatory “do you take this woman” and “do you take this man” etc., the usual toasts at the reception and inevitable drunken dancing that follows. But there’s something different about realising you’re at your very first “friend wedding”, as opposed to “family wedding”. There’s something different about realising someone your own age, someone you were at school with, someone who you joked around in English class with, is old enough and mature enough to not only consider committing to someone else long-term but also following through on that promise in front of a whole chapel full of people.

It comes from a place of genuine happiness – a sense of delight that your friend has found someone they love so much that they’re willing to enthusiastically vow to stay faithful for for the rest of their life. Words can’t express how amazing it is to see a friend you love dearly be so happy and settled in their relationship and their life. To catch their eye after the ceremony and witness how overwhelmed and startled, but also happy, they look.

But then, there’s the inevitable off-note as the concern starts creeping in. Wait. How on earth did we get here?! How did we get to the age and place in life where weddings are happening? When did I blink and miss the start of my transition into being an allegedly functioning adult? Oh… wait… I didn’t miss it because I’m not “there” yet, wherever “there” is. But my friends are and, as ever, it looks like I’ll be living vicariously through them as they get “there”.

“There” is where “we’ve moved in together” doesn’t sound weird.
“There” is where a “we’re having a baby” doesn’t sound weird.
“There” is where “we’re getting married” doesn’t sound weird.

My friends are “there” and I couldn’t be more delighted for them. But I can’t truthfully (even in my wildest dreams) imagine a time when I’ll be “there” so, instead, I guess I’ll be over “here”, watching from the sidelines – and, I presume, often from the pews of churches.


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Discussion | My Relationship with Exercise (inspired by Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel)

eatsweatplay.jpgThis is a post I didn’t ever think I’d have cause to write, particularly not on a bookish blog, but I suppose it’s been bottled up inside of me for long enough for me to need to get it all out of my system. And, as you will see by the time you (/if you, I wouldn’t blame you for not) reach the end of this post, this has been many years of pent-up feeling on the subject. As you can probably see from the title of this post, it is time for something completely different and a bit more of a self-indulgent personal post – it’s time to talk exercise. However, my thinking on this was inspired by a book which I (unfortunately) DNFed recently, Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play. I didn’t DNF the book because it was a bad book – in fact, there were many interesting points raised by Kessel in even the little that I did manage to read of it in order to give it a fair chance. However, I found her way of talking about sport to be entirely at odds with my own view on it.

You see, I have a confession that might not be so surprising to anyone who knows the littlest thing about me: I’m not a sporty person, either in terms of participation or spectatorship. In fact I’d state that I have very little interest in it. I’m pretty much ambivalent towards football which unfortunately seems to be England’s preferred sport, I don’t get the point of rugby, I can tolerate cricket, I quite like tennis (bizarrely enough, I love Wimbledon when it rolls around), but the Olympics and Athletics Championships mostly bore me to tears (special exceptions made for Winter Olympics which are a whole different kettle of fish). So much for spectatorship… but when it comes to participation in sport and exercise, oh boy, this one’s a complicated one.

For me, exercise is something mainly relegated to some of the worst of school memories. Trudging unwillingly into PE classes, then the horror of the changing room, the constant embarrassment of knowing you weren’t ~good at sport~ so therefore you were put in the “mixed” PE group instead of the “boys” and “girls” groups… I could go on. Thankfully, some of my friends were also in my PE group so we stuck together and, whenever we were playing a team sport where they allowed the boys and girls to play against each other (i.e. non-contact sports), we had a couple of boy friends who would make sure we played against each other. The other girls in the group were… not nice to me, but I counted myself lucky because I heard horror stories from the “girls PE group”, of cattiness, bitchiness, and flat-out fights. When our PE teacher was off one day our group ended up being dissolved and we joined our respective “boys group” and “girls group” for a lesson – it was one of the single most embarrassing lessons of my life, we were made to feel like we were shit, and not given any kind of instruction from the PE teacher.

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and here we are today with my second quarterly check-in for the months of April, May, and June.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing now we’re halfway through the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I stand at 45 out of 52 books read for 2018 so, unless something major happens, I should comfortably make my goal to read 52 books. Depending how industrious I’m feeling I may even up the challenge goal/resolution once I get to 52.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
At my last check-in, every single book I’d read at that point in 2018 had also completed one of the Around the Year challenges. That isn’t the case now since I’ve been doing some readalongs and readathons that don’t necessarily tally with the challenges. However, I’ve also had a pretty good quarter in terms of the number of books I’ve read so I’ve made good progress nevertheless with the Around the Year challenges. I’ve now ticked off most of the easy ones and have 18 challenges remaining so, with some forward planning, I should be able to complete this goal too.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: On Track
Although I haven’t actively been participating in Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge (I feel so guilty about this), I have subconsciously been trying to force myself to get to sequels and finish off series, or at least get as up-to-date with them as I can. Case in point: I recently finally read the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and am planning to pick up the newest book A Reaper at the Gates this month. I also only have one Winner’s trilogy book left, which is progress so… I’d consider this kind of a win?

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Well I still haven’t finished War and Peace. Believe me, I know… I know it’s getting ridiculous now. However, in this quarter I have re-read all my weekly posts from during the War and Peace Newbies Readalong, so I’ve refreshed my memory of the plot and am ready to tackle the last 200 or so pages of Tolstoy’s tome this month in fact. After that I think I might try to finally make it through all the pages of Anna Karenina, again, I’ve tried multiple times but I always stall for some unknown reason, but that likely won’t be until near the end of 2018 since I have other readalongs and readathons planned over the summer/autumn.

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