Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Feels: October 2018


This has been a long week, a long month, a long year. I've had ongoing car troubles, ongoing legal issues, ongoing ... everything. Even our moving plans are dragging on and on, creeping along so slowly sometimes I'm not even sure we're moving forward despite the evidence right in front of my face. I have days when I'm just a little bit hopeless, overwhelmed with all the change, all the weight of the burdens I'm struggling to carry with grace and composure despite the barriers around me.

And honestly, that's one of the biggest things I love about writing this Friday Feels series. I love the way it gives me a chance to really sit down and explore myself and how I'm feeling about my life right now. It's a great exercise for my mental health too, especially as a single mom with PTSD, battling the impact of traumatic experiences and chronic illness. Sometimes, life is hard - not just for me, but everyone, and I think one of the best ways we can cope with our challenges is just to sit with them for a while, accept what they mean for us, and seek the next step forward even if all we can manage is a baby step no one else notices.

This series is one of my baby steps, because in taking the time to look at how I'm feeling, I'm able to explore what I can do to improve the things that have me feeling certain bad ways, how to keep a grasp on things that have me feeling certain good ways, and when my feelings are unhealthily out of balance.

But what I love best about it is that it isn't driven by the usual emotions I might think of on the fly - it's not just "happy" and "sad" and "mad" and all that stuff. I like changing it up and surprising myself by using a random emotion generator to choose the prompts I use for these posts, which I have found both challenging and enriching along the way.

So, with that being said, here's what I'm feeling lately, and why I'm feeling it.


1. Angry:
Over the course of this year, a lot has changed for me health-wise - not because my health has changed specifically but because after so long, I now have solid answers to questions I've been living with for most of my life. Unfortunately, those answers have now created questions about the health of my children, as several of my diagnoses are thought to be hereditary and my daughters both have various appropriately similar symptoms.

And yet ... I can't seem to get away from the constant suggestion that I'm somehow making it all up, despite my MRI reports, confirmation from my doctors, and now increasing confirmation from my children's doctors.

It pisses me off to open up to people only to be so readily dismissed even when I have proof in my hands. I guess I'm still learning to be more careful.


2. Calm:
When I can remind myself to rest in my faith, I am calm. When I can remind myself that my doctors are highly qualified and trustworthy, I am calm. When I can bask back in the way my daughters love each other, when one of them reaches out to me with compassion when they see me struggling, when my dog lays his big, heavy head in my lap, I am calm.

The best pleasures in life really are in the little things.


3. Enthusiastic:
The opposite of calm, I am most enthusiastic lately when I switch my focus from the glass-half-empty to the glass-half-empty mentality. When I catch myself heading for a panic attack thinking of all the challenges in my life, my favorite way to turn it around is to play a little game with myself.

I like to ask myself, "What if everything works out perfectly? Then what?"


4. Festive:
The holiday season is beginning - soon, my city will light up with Christmas trees and lights. It will come alive with festivals and gatherings and celebrations. Our elf on the shelf will be back in the house, holiday cheer will be plentiful, and our local Weigel's keeps the best eggnog on the planet flowing.

I have high hopes and tons of excitement for this coming holiday season for sure!


5. Heartbroken:
There is serious loss in my near future - my Grandmother's Alzheimer's disease is worsening and her decline is pretty pronounced now, but I haven't set eyes on her in ages. I'm afraid I won't get to see her again before she's gone, because she's too far away for me to risk driving my van to see her. The thought that I've seen her for the last time shatters my heart ... but at the same time, I still want to hold onto the memory of her as she was. Today I got to see Disney's Coco for the first time, and I cried as I saw my Grandmother in the story.

My mother has now begun to develop dementia as well. I'm still not sure how to cope with that.


6. Inspired:
I had a text conversation with my oldest daughter recently, and as part of our chat, I showed her some of my content from this blog - bits about being strong, about taking steps, setting boundaries, loving yourself, being enough.

I've been thinking for a while about public speaking in various forms, and as I spoke to my daughter, sharing encouragement with her as she makes her way through the tumultuous teen years, I was moved to tears by her encouragement of me.

"Sometimes, I see what an amazing person you are, and I am ashamed," she said. That was how she started a message that addressed her depression, her insecurities, her issues with abandonment, her ongoing health issues, and her absolute fear that she'll never be able to get it together. She talked about her inability to hide those issues, the way it shames her to lie and tell her friends she's fine when she's not, only to have them know better.

"You are amazing and strong and I can't seem to be," she said. "I'm sorry."

And everything about that conversation solidified my why, reminded me of how valuable sharing our stories can be - not because being strong matters, but because in sharing the weakness behind my strength, I hope to show my readers how to find their own.


7. Petrified:
Sometimes I get too caught up in my mind, and I have to remind myself to breathe, to rest, to trust in God's plan for my family. I get overwhelmed thinking of all the obstacles in front of us, all the things I'm juggling, all the ways my life could completely crash and burn in an instant.

It's terrifying - I break out in sweats, lose sleep, skip meals. I have to take time to sit and write it all out, just to get it out of my mind for a while so I can stop the chaotic swirl of "what-ifs" that haunt me every moment of every day.

And then, usually, I go back to my Bible. I read. I pray. And I keep taking the baby steps leading me through.


8. Strong:
Despite everything going on in my life over the last several years and all the ways things have changed, I'm incredibly proud of the way God has used this time to work in me, growing and maturing my spirit while enriching my life with people who genuinely care about seeing me become the ME that's in my soul - not just the me they wish I was.

My life has always had people in it who had a vision for me, a little box they wanted me to fit in. I've been rejected a lot by people who couldn't love me for me, especially after realizing that I don't want to fit myself into a box that's not my shape. Family members, friends.

I spent way too long thinking the problem was something wrong with me, something lacking that made me so easy to discard, to forget.

But now I know better. And as I've grown more accepting of myself and the beautiful way in which I was made, more enamored with the purpose and will I was created to fulfill ... I've learned so much about how to advocate for myself.

I may not always feel it, but I am strong.


9. Stubborn:
I don't know that I specifically feel stubborn about anything ... but all the same, I am not ashamed to admit the role stubbornness plays in my life.

I stubbornly pursued answers regarding my health - and I got them. I stubbornly defended my personal boundaries even with long-time friends - and I found not only greater respect for myself, but the truth about who belongs in my life and who doesn't. I stubbornly advocated for my daughters, pulling together evidence to prove more than just "mother's instinct" or some kind of random hunch - and I got confirmation that my "mother's instinct" was right on point.

I don't necessarily feel stubborn, but maybe that's because anyone who calls me "stubborn" is just saying "persistent" wrong.


10. Worried:
As much progress has been made in my life this year, there's still a lot of changes ahead and I still have plenty of unanswered questions to work on as the new year approaches.

My top worries this month:

  • My van is literally embarrassing to drive now. We call it "the rattletrap" because it's so loud, and sometimes when I'm driving it, I notice people noticing the racket it makes. I'm 100% positive it's only still going by God's grace. Fortunately, the best hope I have of replacing it is God's provision, which I'm sure will be right on time, as always.
  • My dog has been growing a small lump in his belly that I haven't been able to afford to have checked out. Since spring, it has gone from one lima-bean sized lump to one grape sized lump, one blueberry sized lump, and one pea sized lump. None of them seem painful to him ... but not being able to go have them figured out is a major stressor for me.
  • One of my major financial things is coming to a head, and while I'm confident of it, I'm also completely and utterly terrified. This worries me constantly.
  • My mental health has been suffering quite a lot with everything going on lately, and I'm struggling to keep up with it all - but I literally cannot afford to drop any of the balls I'm juggling. I have so many days where I'm so exhausted and stressed all I want is to lay down and quit, but the show, as they say, must go on.



What are you feeling?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Undaunted: Surviving The Odds

It's funny how life changes, isn't it? Sometimes it happens so slowly you barely notice your life leaving behind what it is now in favor of what it will be some distant day; other times the change washes over us so quickly our lives become almost unrecognizable, almost overnight.

For some of us, the balance of life is pretty stable - you're born, you grow up, you take or leave certain opportunities. You do your best to succeed in your own way, to leave some small mark on the world and the people around you. And hopefully, you reach the end of your lifetime with at least some small manner of satisfaction in a job well-done. For others, there is very little balance - life is an overwhelming swing of ups and downs, a shifting of the lands beneath your feet that happens so strongly and so frequently that after a while, you become just a little bit afraid to even try to stand. 

You begin to believe, perhaps, that standing strong is simply not possible, that the shifts and changes of life are too strong a current to thrive in. You begin, perhaps, to switch mechanisms, to leave behind the hope of thriving in favor of surviving.

This is life with complex PTSD.


Mental health and wellness, personal development and empowerment, self love and compassion: some of my favorite topics to write about and speak on. Why? Because my life has given me innumerable opportunities to overcome adversity and do the impossible. From birth, I have faced and often conquered impossible odds, sometimes with help, other times simply by the strength of my God-given grit. Born with one of the most serious known forms of spina bifida, along with a chiari malformation and sheuermann's disease. Due to these defects, which I did not definitively know I had until recently, I am disabled. I have been for many years, but not only due to my spinal issues ...

Life has a way of building on itself - and just like with the way it tends to change, it tends to build in different ways for each of us, with the blocks of before forming the path blocks of the future are most likely to take.

And can you shift the path? Steer the curve? Drive the change?

Sure - but it'll be a hard, slow process. It will often be painful, and sometimes it'll be downright terrifying.

For me, adversity has been a challenge to overcome since birth - and my life in the years since has been a lengthy argument against the idea of impossibility.

HEALTH
The 1970's and 80's have been called the "dark ages" of spina bifida treatment, due to a major disagreement in the medical community over quality of life in babies born with spina bifida who were fortunate enough to be born alive, and also survive death by meningitis, kidney disease, or hydrocephalus. Babies like me were widely neglected in the medical community because it was believed that treating them and keeping them alive was more cruel than letting them go.

It didn't help that no one ever mentioned spina bifida to me until I was in my 20s, by which time I was already living with considerable damage. I don't know if my parents actively decided against telling me, if they maybe thought it wasn't necessary, if they were perhaps told (as many parents were in those days) that correcting the original spinal lesion meant I would be "healed," or if they were simply in denial after having dealt with my brother's considerable health issues, worked to muster up the courage to have a second child, and then ended up with me. I don't know.

But I was treated as an infant, my lipoma mostly excised and my spinal lesion "repaired" when I was a toddler, and I am still alive - part of only the 1st or 2nd generation of babies born with spina bifida to actually survive into adulthood. I am disabled, but I am a survivor.

I believe my parents probably didn't know that spina bifida is not "cured" with surgery. I believe they didn't know it would progress, that it would need lifelong attention. At least not until I was in school, where the return of unpleasant neurological symptoms aligned all too well with traumatic experiences relating to my parents' second marriages. Eventually, I was seen as a problem child because of the complicated neurological effects of multiple untreated, unmonitored spinal defects. I was often teased or even punished at home for things outside my control, and I was bullied mercilessly at school for the way my health impacted me outwardly. I often struggled in classes because of the ways everything I lived with impacted me mentally. Looking back, I can clearly see the impact of complex PTSD beginning in my late teens and early 20s.

And yet, thus far, I have survived.

I have limited mobility, chronic pain, I can't even cough or sneeze without triggering such severe headaches that it makes my vision swim, and I have multiple musculoskeletal deformities. I have panic attacks, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, hypervigilance, brain fog, and I struggle desperately with depression.

But I have survived.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
My parents divorced when I was very young, and while I don't remember those years very clearly, I do vividly remember certain moments from the years after, moments that exist to me only in flashes of memory as short as photographs and as overexposed as a bad polaroid. Many of my memories can only be put in order by using tiny clues embedded in those moments - sometimes I'm not sure I've got the order right even then.

Both of my parents are strong-willed, volatile people with unstoppable force, unshakable pride, and undeniable resilience. But as suffering young humans having lost their marriage, faced with co-parenting medically challenging children despite their various resentments, they both ended up in abusive second marriages - marriages which have scarred each member of our family individually, and torn rips in the fabric of our bonds that will likely never heal.

Before I even made it to middle school, I had spent a year in a children's home, because there was nowhere safe for me to be and the circumstances I was dealing with had taken enough of a toll to have effected not only my physical health, but also my mental and behavioral health.

Throughout my teen years and the years of my adulthood, I have become a victim of abusive relationships more times than I'd like to count, not because I crave the "drama" that was so normalized during my childhood, but because the "red flags" embedded in the human subconscious are so desensitized in people with upbringings like mine.

The problem with normalizing systemic dysfunction is that it ensures the continuation of dysfunction. You can't fix a problem you won't own up to.

Perhaps my willingness to own my story is why I've survived so much of it.


STILL A SURVIVOR
Like most people, during my lifetime, I been abandoned, rejected, and put down. Often (like with most people), this was behavior I accepted from people I should have been able to trust to lift me up, people who should have been in place to empower and encourage me. Family members more concerned with the appearance of my surgical scar than with the possibility that I would never be able to walk. People who teased and mocked me when my emotional and neurological health began to take a toll on my urological health. Relatives who should have protected me, friends who should have believed in me.

And yet ... I have overcome.

I am disabled but not dead. I need help with certain things, but I give my effort to not being helpless. I have pushed because I had to, kept moving because quitting wasn't an option, and struggled because I have known nothing else.

I have a good heart and a love for the suffering, I am a loyal friend and can be a fierce advocate. I am a strong writer, a terrified but willing speaker. I am generous with what I own, what I know, and what I can offer. I want to leave a mark that makes this world a better place, inspire a generation of survivors, empower those battling impossible odds, and coach the hurting who are still struggling to drag themselves out of the pit.

Because I am a survivor, and it is the survivors who stand strong to give strength to the suffering who are truly the faces of the Undaunted.


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Lifetime of Favorite Songs ...


A few months ago, I saw a video on YouTube, pieced together with clips from the video creator's favorite songs - one song from every year of their life. I sort of kept that topic in mind, letting it marinate in the background; it kept coming up, but I knew it would be a huge endeavor that would likely take a while, so I put it off and put it off and put it off ...

But then I tacked it onto the end of my to-do's in my bullet journal, knowing that I wouldn't allow myself to simply delete it. Once I add something to my list, it usually stays there, being migrated from one day to the next until the shame of not doing whatever it is makes me finally stop procrastinating and get it done.

And after migrating the idea for approximately 84 thousand, 972 bajillion days, I did eventually sit down and make a list, from 1984 to 2017. For each year, I looked up the Billboard top 100, chose my favorite song from the singles listed, and added that song to a playlist I set up on YouTube. 

I wasn't surprised to see that as it turns out, my taste in musical favorites is just as widely varied as my taste in most other things, but I did learn a little about the evolution (de-evolution?) of music through the years, as favorites were sometimes very difficult to choose when there were years I hardly liked anything on the list. Other years were harder because I liked everything on the list and struggled to choose just the right song. Either way, here's where the list ended up:

1984: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"
1985: Don Henley, "All She Wants To Do Is Dance"
1986: Foreigner, "I Want To Know What Love Is"
1987: Whitesnake, "Here I Go Again"
1988: Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
1989: Poison, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
1990: Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"
1991: Bonnie Raitt, "Something To Talk About"
1992: Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
1993: Meat Loaf, "I Would Do Anything For Love"
1994: Ini Kamoze, "Here Comes The Hotstepper"
1995: TLC, "Red Light Special"
1996: Ginuwine, "Pony"
1997: Hanson, "MmmBop"
1998: Chumbawumba, "Tubthumping"
1999: TLC, "No Scrubs"
2000: Donnell Jones, "U Know What's Up"
2001: Nas, "Oochie Wally"
2002: Eminem, "Lose Yourself"
2003: Jason Mraz, "The Remedy"
2004: Christina Milian, "Dip It Low"
2005: Eminem, "Mockingbird"
2006: Nelly ft. Paul Wall, "Grillz"
2007: Colbie Caillat, "Bubbly"
2008: The Pussycat Dolls, "When I Grow Up"
2009: Miley Cyrus, "The Climb"
2010: Orianthi, "According To You"
2011: Miguel, "Sure Thing"
2012: One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"
2013: Lorde, "Royals"
2014: Katy Perry, "Roar"
2015: Andy Grammer, Honey, I'm Good"
2016: Daya, "Sit Still, Look Pretty"
2017: Imagine Dragons, "Believer"

Want to listen to it yourself? You can connect to my playlist of favorites here - and if you're inspired to make your own, I'd love for you to tell me what's on it in the comments below!


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Digital BuJo: October Updates


Recently, I've talked a bit here about my journey with journaling, with a focus on bullet journaling and why it hasn't worked well for me in the past. I've shared a bit about the app I'm using now, why it didn't work before, and what makes it so perfect this time around - and I've even shared screenshots from when I first set my journal up.

But that was in August, and I've adjust things just a bit since then, taking things out that weren't working, adding things I needed in. I've been having fun using images to pretty things up a bit too, adjusting the sizes to create backgrounds, stickers, and digital washi tape. My index/table of contents is coming along nicely, and still creates a quick and easy way for me to get to any page I need. This index page has been incredibly valuable for quick use of my journal, and I've got it on the home screens of all my devices.


One of my favorite things has been seeing the monthly memories get filled in. I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of girl, so I like that this page is a great way to remind me to look for the beauty in my life even on days when it might be harder to find. In September, I got to watch the month fill in with little moments of joy - sometimes they were super small because it was a bad day and I had to actively search for them, but nonetheless, they're there. Still, I didn't like how the page turned out when filled in the way I had created it ...


I didn't like that in order to see the entire month, I had to zoom out so much I could barely make out anything on the page. So I rearranged it a bit, and ended up liking that new layout enough to carry it into October.


I've been using this page as a way to track my pain levels throughout the month as well, and while I haven't seen much connection or pattern between my pain levels and other things like the weather, etc., I still think it's a good thing to have a record of because I can use it to refer back to my doctors. My daily page has remained the same, from the way it's laid out to the way I use it, and I can see it being something I'll continue to use for a while yet.

I don't fill every box in every day, though, so when the day is completed and I've logged whatever I wanted to keep track of, I just go in and delete the empty boxes. So from start to finish, any given day might go from this ...


To this ...


Some days are more eventful than others, more emotionally varied, or more or less busy. Generally, most of the day's events fit well into the various "emotional" categories - when they don't, then I log them in the box just below that.

Another new thing I've added this month is a goal tracker, which allowed me to remove the habit-tracking app I had on my phone and also gave me the freedom to track from whichever device I happen to be using at the time. Instead of doing a new tracker each month, though, I wanted to use mine in conjunction with my lists of (Jenna Moreci inspired) quarterly goals, so I set it up like this:


So far, I'm loving it, and I also love the accountability potential; I'm planning to share a screenshot update of my goal tracker on my Instagram story each week!

What do you guys think? Are you into journaling or planning? If you are, what are your favorite pros and cons? How do you use your journal or planner? And if you're digital like me, what tips, tricks, and hacks do you think I should know about?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quarterly Goals 2018, #4


Last quarter, I said the previous quarter was the hardest I've pushed through since I started listing and posting my quarterly goals. Apparently, I hadn't yet realized the complexity with which 2018 was going to level-up my life. If this were a game, I'd be tripping over bosses and battles almost constantly, and I'm pretty sure I'd have a record number of respawns by now. (Pretty sure all it took was that one sentence for real gamers to be able to tell I'm not part of that particular club.)

That being said, I still find keeping these lists to be incredibly helpful in keeping myself motivated to try - even on days when the thing I do most spectacularly is fail. On those days, listing my goals and taking time to look back through those lists helps me take time to think about where I want my life to go - and what I need to do in order to move forward.

And, in quarters like this one where I managed an incredible amount of failures, these lists are also a great way to remind myself of my successes, regardless of how small they may seem.

Still, tracking my accomplishments is something I have really struggled with, because when I miss a goal one day, I allow myself to "make it up" on another day - but I also tend to allow me to beat myself up over missing days to the point where I end up missing more days due to the mental health hit. I think changing up my tracking method would be really helpful with this because it will allow me to focus on where my interests lie, with respect to the variations in my interests and the changing demands on my time. So this quarter I'm going to be trying something new - stay tuned to my Instagram stories and highlights for more on that, but in the meantime, let's start this new quarter!


SPIRITUAL:
Last Quarter's Goal: Keep up with my daily devotionals and continue focusing on my trust in God's provision for my family. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Stay focused on God and attentive as He continues to work in my life, building more dedication to spending devotional time daily.

I'm not giving myself a fail on this one because I did actually work hard to foster my trust in God's presence and provision in my life. I also made a point to spend time in my Bible, though it wasn't quite as regular as I would have liked. Still, there was a marked change in my focus and my prayer life, which is why I'm giving myself a "half-ass pass" - to acknowledge the progress even as I acknowledge the incompletion.


PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Last Quarter's Goal: Rebuild the habit of listening to a personal development podcast daily. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Focus more on making sure I spend time learning and growing - listen to 90 self-help and/or personal development podcasts.

This one was a struggle for me, not because I wasn't listening to podcasts but because my tracking fell off almost completely this quarter. So I can't say I listened to a podcast daily, but I can say that I listened to a crapton of podcasts during driving times, evenings, etc. Which is, again, why I'm counting the "half-ass pass." In the next quarter, instead of counting this goal as a daily to-do, I'm just going to keep a 90-block tracker - which I'll be sharing on my Instagram stories as the quarter goes on, so that I can stay accountable for my progress.


HEALTH:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 75 ounces of water every day. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Purchase and implement medication organizersPASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #3: Address better pain management options. PASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #4: Continue intermittent fasting 3x weekly. FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 50 ounces of water every day.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Get back to intermittent fasting 3x weekly - complete 15 16-hour fasts.

This was a big quarter for me, health-wise. I got a lot of answers about my health issues and made a lot of progress in finding the right treatments for my individual issues. That being said, those issues weren't helped by my addiction to caffeine, my inattention to drinking enough water, or my loosening of the intermittent fasting habit. Still, part of this was just due to my not being as able to track things regularly in this last quarter - I was struggling quite a lot with my mental health issues as well, so I'm just feeling happy to have made it this far and progressed as much as I have.

I did end up getting some medication organizers for the girls and I, and they have been incredibly helpful - both in the point of reducing the daily med-stress as well as in helping with my effort to coordinate all of our prescription refills. I know myself well enough to know that dropping caffeine isn't really an option at this point, but what I am going to do is turn my focus back to water in a more conscious way. And of course, I'm excited to get back to intermittent fasting - I really had missed it, but simply didn't have the motivation to discipline myself into it.


ROMANCE:
Last Quarter's Goal: N/A
Next Quarter's Goal: Still N/A

I'm still choosing not to put much focus on setting goals for this part of my life - I've got loads going on right now with my health, my kids's health, financial changes, and the upcoming move. Am I interested in dating and that sort of thing? Of course I am, and I wouldn't turn down Mr. Right if he happened to show up in my life - but right now, I'm not searching.


FAMILY:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: One weekly family fun day. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Plan and execute 10 or more fun family outings with the girls!
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal, not daily but at least 70 times.

This was another area where tracking my goals based on certain time frames increased the challenge on my mental health in ways I couldn't really handle. I also struggle to cope with the warmer summer weather, and I tend to stay in as much as possible - but as fall rolls in and winter approaches, Knoxville will come alive with festivals and opportunities for outings in the cooler air. I hope to take advantage of that in this quarter, getting my girls out of the house for some fresh fall air.

As for my secret goal, attempting to accomplish this daily last quarter was eventually so damaging that my daughters were commenting on how it impacted my mental health. However, while it isn't a goal I can simply stop pursuing, it's definitely one I'd like to get more balanced control over


BUSINESS/CAREER:
Last Quarter's Goal: Write at least 10,000 words on SFFF. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Catch up all writing tasks and Patreon rewards. FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Write at least 10,000 words on SFFF.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Catch up all writing tasks and Patreon rewards.

While I didn't accomplish either of these goals completely, I did make small progress on both of them, which I am proud of. Acknowledging the struggles with my mental health and the goings-on in my personal life, I'm choosing to see this failure with grace and give myself the compassion I need in order to be able to keep moving. In the coming quarter, I hope to increase my writing output in a way that will allow me to finally check these goals off and set some new ones.


FINANCE:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: 2500 page views a month. PASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goalHALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1:  3000 page views a month.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goal - same as last time.

It so excites me to be able to say I accomplished my page view goal every single month in the last quarter. I love that this blog is growing, that people are seeing my content and coming back for more - because in sharing my story I'm hoping to do so much more than make money and sell books. What I want is to share in a way that offers hope and companionship to people like me, people who have suffered and struggled, people who need a boost, people who need to be reminded that they are worth so much more than they've accepted. People who want to learn, grow, and improve. Through this blog, I hope to encourage the Undaunted - and I can only do that when I'm being seen. That being said, I'll be shooting for 3000 page views each month of this quarter!

My book sales goal will stay the same. I set a total download goal each month, including consideration for the fact that one of my books is actually free - but I also set a paid sales and income goal to keep myself consciously growing. In the last quarter, I hit various levels of success with both of those goals, so I'm going to keep them the same as I attempt a more regular pattern of success with this. After all, slow and steady wins the race, right?


FUN/RECREATION:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: Improve more regular accomplishment of my secret self-care goal. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Read four books. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Keep working on making my secret self-care goal a more solid habit.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Read four books.

This quarter was rough on these goals. I spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmed and completely swamped - for a while, I was actually attending various routine appointments 4 times a week, not including other incidental appointments and obligations. I got to the point where I was cancelling or rescheduling things, sometimes because I was double-booked, other times because I was so exhausted or upset, or in such severe pain that I just couldn't bring myself to leave the house.

I did, however, get some reading done - though the books I read were combined purpose. I did enjoy reading them quite a lot, but the original purpose of every book I read this quarter was to generate income as a freelance proofreader. I love the connections I've made, I love the way that has been working out, and I'm looking forward to seeing continued growth in that area of my life. That being said, I'm still shooting for four pleasure-reads this quarter - and I'm determined to check them off.


SOCIAL:
Last Quarter's Goal: Tell someone I'm thankful for them daily. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Make a consistent effort to build up the people around me.

In the last quarter, I did pretty well at taking the time to express gratitude to my favorite people - but I can't say with honestly that I did it every day or that this effort was as balanced as I would have liked it to be. So this quarter I'm changing it up a little, and while I still plan to tell my loved ones how thankful I am for their presences and influences in my life, what I want most is to make sure I've done something daily to make someone else more Undaunted. The world around us is becoming more and more ugly every day, with a toxic spread of pettiness and anger fueled by resentments, misunderstandings, and an unwillingness to hear each other out. We aren't focused on encouraging each other to grow and thrive - we're too caught up in the desire to bully and badger each other into becoming what we want them to be. In this quarter, I want to make more of a point of finding the traits inherent to the people around me and what they naturally relate to and thrive in, and I want to water those seeds in the people I love.

Because yelling at a rose for being a rose won't make it a daisy. It's much better for both the flower and the gardener if the rose is appreciated for what it is rather than shamed for what it is not.



If you've been following along with the PASS/FAIL ratio, you'll have noticed that we're at 3 passes, 6 half-ass passes, and 6 fails, which is quite a mix-up. Depending on how you look at it, we can call it either a solid win based on passes + half-ass passes, or we can call it a solid fail based on half-ass + fails.

Me? I'm just calling it an effort - one in which I gave the best I could, even when that wasn't a lot. Moving forward, I'd really like to focus more on consistency, and I think this is a going to be a great quarter of change in my life. Good or bad remains to be seen - but today, I'm optimistic.

What are you working on in your life? Do you set quarterly goals - or goals at all? If so, what goal is heaviest on your heart right now, and what are you doing to accomplish it?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.