Month In Review: July 2018

This month, my therapist said very blankly, “You’re depressed.” He’s right. I’m still depressed. I’m having a bit of an identity crisis as well. This review is a little late into August, but that’s okay. I’ll have a recap of August soon too. Let’s get into what I remember about July.

A celebration: I’m still here and am definitely climbing out of my rock bottom. Slowly, very slowly, reaching up to the fresh air again.

A change: Preparing for moving again. Preparing for my family moving out of province. My mental health changing because of the stress and changes.

A conflict: I’m still struggling with the right dosage for my medication. I’m also trying to balance my health management with my creative projects, which has been hard to maintain.

A relief: I’ve found a medication dosage and frequency that works for my health, along with some short term therapy.

A regret: Lack of commitment to all my projects.

A random memory: I don’t have one. This is the part that upsets me the most. I don’t… really remember anything.

August means back to work, back to school, and back out in the world again. I’m trying to keep up.

Month In Review: June 2018

My motivation for June wasn’t the best. It felt like I lost a few weeks to my mental health. In my review for May, I mentioned some goals I had for June—and I didn’t achieve any of them. So here’s a bit on what I did instead. (Spoiler: not a lot.)

A celebration: I applied for a college certificate program. I start in September! It’s an 8-month art and design course.

A change: More renovation work at the house means lots of changes to my surroundings. The upcoming school program is also a change I need to prepare for.

A conflict: I’m still struggling with the right dosage for my medication. I’m also trying to balance my health management with my creative projects, which has been hard to maintain.

A relief: The time I’ve spent at the gym has helped with my health (mental and physical health).

A regret: My creative projects—art, writing, the blog—have not gotten the attention I wish I could have given them.

A random memory: There’s a young bunny that likes our yard and I see it outside at 8am and 8pm every time I’m looking out the window those times. It makes me happy and reminds me of my pet bunny. I’m glad the wildlife likes the property.

I have only a few goals for July: my book, my art, and my health. I’ll try and keep the blog updated! But it won’t be as active as my Patreon, where I’ll be posting more about my writing and drawings. Also: back into therapy!

2nd Quarter Goals for 2018

I love working on goals by quarter. I already do month-by-month goals, but having ones that I can work on over a longer span of time is great for me. I still have flexibility, since the goals could be accomplished in 3 weeks, but also have more time to invest on my goals.

Over the next 13 weeks, I have a number of goals that I want to work on and achieve by the summer!

Writing Goals
  • Edit The Pilgrimage
  • Query The Pilgrimage
  • Submit to a literary magazine each month
Creative Goals
Personal Goals
  • Read 1 book every week
  • Do #CorylMornings as often as possible
  • Blog twice a week
  • Launch another super secret project
Freelance Goals

I’m keeping my month-by-month goals private and in my bullet journal for the time being, especially because my goals can fluctuate over time.

Two of my projects are secret ones, but they will be revealed over the next few weeks and months! I want to do a lot of creating as we go into spring and summer. Art, design, and writing are my top priorities.

My PTSD And Motivation

This is part of a series where I talk about my complex posttraumatic stress disorder. The first post outlines my C-PTSD/PTSD.

The majority of motivation lies in the thought, “I am able and want to achieve this.” We’re motivated to do something because we think we can get there, and ultimately we want to get there. There is an inherent desire spurring us to do whatever goal we’ve set for ourselves. We want to go to college, so we’re motivated to do what it takes to get there. We want to have a published book. We want to get the job. We want something and we see the means to the end goal, or we at least discover them on our way to the goal.

Having PTSD makes this a little difficult. I struggle with desire and capability.

I find it hard to set a goal and reach it, shown by my track record and trail of unfinished projects, because my PTSD fills me with fear and insecurity. My PTSD developed over a time of instability, and this affected my ability to set goals and maintain progress toward them. I grew up without knowing when something will get upended. I became highly alert of the possibility that things would change. In short, I was always on the lookout for the next interruption and disruption.

This pattern of seeking disruption stalks me. I’m a mile ahead of my goals and their means. I’m a mile ahead of doing Step 1. I process to a hypothetical Step 100 and essentially create disruptions for myself by looking at setbacks and obstacles between 1 and 100.

This is why I cried when I finished a complete rewrite of my novel.

Now, I’m there again, processing from Step 1 to 100 for the revision of that same novel. I’m trying to stay motivated to see Step 1 through to completion. I write to-do lists. I make checklists. I break my goals down into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely, small goals. “Revise THE PILGRIMAGE” becomes multiple steps of revision, with a checkbox beside them and an end point. I’m still on Step 1, which is a read-through and note-taking. I’m struggling to stay motivated. I’m jumping past Step 1, trying to rationalise and strategise how to make my way through the next steps… when I’m not there yet.

My motivation turns into tactics for the big picture journey, rather than the small goals I set up. The “traumatic” and “stress” aspects show in motivation and goal setting. The trauma comes back, and the past occurrences and similarities show themselves. The stress comes back and soaks through all the rational efforts.

Dissociation and low self-esteem are also factors that inhibit my ability to stay motivated, even with end goals and actionable steps to reach them. My PTSD also features manic episodes, and they’re a form of elated dissociation. I’m untouchable in mania, just like I’m untouchable in dissociation; but with mania I have power on the world, whereas with dissociation I have invisibility and disconnect from it.

How can I stay motivated when I’m not here, or when I am but I’m filled with wishful thinking? How can I stay motivated when my brain is wired to find every possible setback? How can I stay motivated when I’m too occupied with navigating fears? How can I stay motivated when there are 99 steps between my current state and the end goal, and I have zero idea what I might need to face with each step? How can I stay motivated when my brain and body have only been used to strategise my mortality?

It’s hard to rewire myself. All the motivational quotes, lists of achievements, goal setting, and reassurance in the world won’t help me if my mind can’t believe them; or if my mind is unable to use those to its advantage; or if I have a counterpoint to each one. There’s nothing my brain wants to do aside from continue its current patterns. After all, it’s spent most of my formative years and life doing that, and it’s seen the results: I’m still alive.

At this point, I think the only way I can really be motivated to do anything is remind myself that I’m hard to destroy. Is that the key? Do I need to rewire my brain to one of confidence in order to be motivated? Do I need to be confident in my existence before I can be motivated in my projects? We’ll see. For the time being, I’m… well, as I write this, I’m stuck in dissociation and can’t even feel my fingers as I type. But for the time being, until I’m managing my PTSD better, I’m going to focus on completing my checklists and ignoring the future.

2017: 2nd Quarter

We’re nearing the end of March, which means I’m preparing for the change in season and my goals. If we look back to my post starting the new year, I listed all my goals by quarter.

January, February, March
  • finish writing The Pilgrimage
  • edit The Pilgrimage and send it to beta readers
  • open an Etsy shop for my art
  • redesign my blog with a custom-coded theme
  • rebrand my personal identity online

I striked out are the goals I did not accomplish. Considering that I’m working on the fourth one (redesign my blog), and considering I’m going to start editing The Pilgrimage next week (FINALLY), I could very well get all these goals done!! Or at least in progress, which is better than not getting to them at all. I have plans for the Etsy shop still, so I’m not dashing that goal away just because I didn’t get to it when I planned to.

So now the seasons are changing, and for once I’m looking forward to spring. I prefer fall and winter over spring, but since I won’t be in Windsor for the spring months, I’ll be more comfortable. Is that weird? I’m moving farther north, so it won’t get as warm as quickly, and there might be a chance for snow still, but spring in my hometown is invigorating.

In the blog post opening the new year, I hesitantly planned goals for the second, third, and fourth quarters of the year. A lot of things were up in the air, so these goals were simply wonderings, rather than actual plans.

April, May, June
  • query The Pilgrimage to agents
  • start a second writing project
  • code WordPress themes for sale
  • consider freelance design, and a related portfolio

That first goal? I haven’t started editing, but I edit quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if I got to the querying phase during the spring! I already have my portfolio up, so that’s a bonus. However, these goals are definitely not enough for me to work on during the upcoming three months. When I have more to work on, I’m happier. I need to prioritise all my goals, but I have a lot that I want to do.

I will be moving in April. When I first made my plans and goals for the year, I didn’t know whether I’d be moving at the end of the semester or in the summer, but that was finalised in February. I might not have the time to code themes for sale until I’ve moved, but at least I don’t have to worry about finding a place to live. My dad is looking forward to having my home again. I’m a little on-the-fence about it, just because it’s hard to ignore the trauma I incurred in the house before my parents split. But, it’ll be nice to not pay rent and bills, to help him out around the house, and to hopefully get some driving practise in. My dad is planning on doing renovations soon, so I’m hoping to motivate him into getting that started, as well as cooking for him so he has less to worry about while he works his butt off to get the house refinanced! He also really wants to support me in my freelancing, which is such a godsend.

My updated goals for April, May, and June
  • move back in with my dad
  • send The Pilgrimage to beta readers
  • start outlining a new writing project
  • finish website design
  • code WordPress themes
  • design more

There are more details behind each of the goals, but I’m going to keep those to myself as I prioritise my goals and all the little tasks for them! For instance, I’m still planning on opening an Etsy shop, but I need to design more in order to get that underway. I’m thinking printables and other design resources, so I’m really, really excited! If I can get to that this quarter, that would be wonderful, but I’m not gunning for it.

I’ve realised I work better if I prioritise my projects, rather than working on everything all at once. I gotta get my head out of the “student” mindset—I’ve finished my degree. I can do my own thing now, whenever I want, and I don’t need to spread myself over different topics.

2017: Beginning

This will be the first January I spend out of school. Not only university, which I just finished, but any type of school. I started kindergarten in the 90s and have been in some sort of education institution ever since.

In a way, I’m hopeful. My life has been defined by grades and schooling—the classes I took and excelled in; the grades I received, whether I worked for them or deserved them; the people I spent time with. The framing device of my life-long narrative, up until this point, has been broken.

In another way, I’m terrified. I don’t have the guiding restriction of primary school, high school, or university… and that’s odd.

But I’m taking this new freedom and running with it.

Each quarter this year (because I am not going to be able to hard-plan my entire year right now) has a few different goals I’d like to accomplish.

January, February, March
  • finish writing The Pilgrimage
  • edit The Pilgrimage and send it to beta readers
  • open an Etsy shop for my art
  • redesign my blog with a custom-coded theme
  • rebrand my personal identity online

Q1 of 2017 is really the only solid plan I have. Everything else is tentative until I see how I’m doing by the end of March. I’m new to having deadlines that aren’t set by school, so I see the first three months as a trial and training run.

I’m starting to hate my online alias (“coryldork” and “Coryl o’Reilly”) and I want to change them this quarter. My last name is not “o’Reilly” but I won’t be using my real last name when I change it. I’m still so unsure about how I want to present myself to the world, both personally and professionally.

April, May, June
  • query The Pilgrimage to agents
  • start a second writing project
  • code WordPress themes for sale
  • consider freelance design, and a related portfolio

Q2 of 2017 has looked like an artsy and lucrative space. I want to get back into front-end design and graphic design. Since last summer, I’ve realised that my skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are incredibly valuable and useful. I want to work on them.

However, this part of the year will be hectic. My lease ends on July 31, so I’ll need to consider if I’m staying in Windsor. But I have time to think on that.

July, August, September
  • finish draft 1 of the new writing project
  • possibly move

Q3 is the true grey area and where the shrugging begins. It’s also the time of the year where I feel the most anxiety right now. It’s what people have been asking me once I tell them I’m staying in Windsor until my lease ends. They ask, “And then what?” Boi, I don’t even know either, so stop asking.

October, November, December
  • apply to teach English in Japan

Because of how Q3 looks, I’m not sure what else I’m planning for Q4. My living space and my subsequent connections and resources will be affected by what I decide—and what’s available—for the end of the year. The program I’m considering for ESL in Japan holds their applications in November, but if I’m accepted, I wouldn’t be leaving until the middle of 2018. Of course, throughout the year I’ll be looking into learning Japanese. I recently found out that my grandfather still has some knowledge in it, and he lives in Alberta (along with my brother)… so I have options there.

That’s what I’m looking at for 2017. Throughout the year, I’ll check in and see how my goals are shaping for the future, and how well I’ve achieved the ones I’ve set here.

My resolution this year is to persevere. I’m prone to giving up, and I have no excuses for it. The only way for me to live, as well as achieve my dreams, is to keep going. No matter how much I want to end something, like my projects or my goals or my life, my desire to stop is not a good enough reason to stop. I will keep going. I will persevere.

Month In Review: September 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

I started up my last semester of university this month, and I could not be more excited to be done with school. My boyfriend also moved in with me. September was so rainy and thankfully cooled down halfway through the month. I can wear sweaters again!

Here are some of my favourite posts from this month:
  • New Bullet Journal Setup (September 9) – I’ve been loving the new notebook and the setup definitely played a role in my enjoyment.
  • Thoughts On Fluid Sexuality (September 12) – This post was long-coming and I’m glad I got it out into the world. I’ll say it again: you can change your mind. You can keep figuring things out.
  • Writing Wednesday: Plane of a Face (September 21) – I’ve missed writing poetry and the language in this one was so fun to play with.
  • Bullet Journal Spreads: September 2016 (September 26) – I’ll be doing another roundup of all my bullet journal spreads for October. This was a great post for reviewing my bujo!
A single adjective for September was transitional

I had to get used to going to school once again. It feels like time has barely passed, though. I think that’s because I have two single-day classes per week, so it feels like I’m going to fewer classes (which is true). There was also a lot of change to get used to. I also didn’t do everything I wanted to, blog-wise, during September. Not even bothered by that.

In October, I look forward to:
  • My birthday on the 6th!
  • Finishing my WIP. I know that for last month I put this, too, but I was overshooting my goals then.
  • Preparing for NaNoWriMo.
  • A week off of classes.
  • Seeing my family again in the middle of the month.

I’m hoping October doesn’t go by too quickly, but I’m hoping it does—I’ll be even closer to getting out of school and facing the shit-storm of society. Let’s hope I also get a ton of writing done.

Writing Wednesday: October Goals

For this week’s Writing Wednesday, I’m sharing goals for the upcoming month instead of posting some of my creative writing. I figure it’s time I get a bit more transparent and permanent with what I want to achieve. Call it accountability, if you want; I’m calling it a reminder.

I love October. It’s my favourite month of the year. I love the way it’s written, the linguistics of the word, the change of season, my birthday in the first week, Thanksgiving in the second week (#Canadian, don’t forget), the chance of frost in the third week, and Halloween in the fourth week. It isn’t a December mess with Christmas and New Year’s fighting for a week.

So it’s only natural my biggest goal is a terrifying one. I have to counterbalance the wondrous ambience of this month, aye?

Word Goal 1: 70,000 by October 7

I have to reach 60,000 by September 30, and then I can do the 10K in the first week of October. I’m behind on my word count (and scene completion) goals right now, but I have a good feeling about this weekend and my writing.

Word Goal 2: 80,000 by October 15

The deadline for this goal falls near the end of a week-long break from university classes, so I’m confident I can achieve this one.

Big Goal: Finish this draft of THE PILGRIMAGE

I want to have this done by November 1. That deadline might cause some trouble, since it’ll come very quickly. I write by scene and have yet to complete approximately half of the story. I don’t know how word counts will reflect the completed scenes, so I can’t set a word count goal. My original goal for this story was 70,000, but once I reached 35,000, I knew that was too low. We’ll see how this goes!

I have pinpointed 4 struggles.

  1. The keyboard for my desktop finally wore out under my 110WPM fury. I am stuck with my laptop and its terrible keys that are much too slow for my fingers. I’ll be replacing the keyboard in the second week of October when I’m back up north with my family and have access to decent electronics shops. Until then, however, I’m left with this aged machine.
  2. It’s midterm season for university. My time management skills have improved, so the second and third weeks of October will be a test of those skills. Luckily, I don’t have many tests this semester, which means I won’t have to stressfully study as much.
  3. I’m trying to maintain relatively good grades and progress with readings in my courses. A lot of my time is spent reading and re-reading material for class, and I read unfortunately slowly.
  4. I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I also want to edit THE PILGRIMAGE during November. I’ll see if I can balance writing something for the heck of it and editing something I take seriously. There’s no shame in giving up one. (I’d be giving up NaNoWriMo, as is my tradition.)

I’m going to do what I can: manage my time carefully, remember to look after myself and my Self, and wake up earlier. I can function more easily by waking up earlier instead of staying up late. (The quiet mornings also give me a good space in which to meditate and do yoga.)

I’m shocked at my own motivation, to be completely honest. I won’t question it. I’m going to embrace the fiery in my ribcage and get this story told.

What are your writing goals for October?

Month In Review: July 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

In July, I didn’t do everything I wanted to do. At best, maybe I did half of what I wanted to it. Going into July, I wanted to write more—and I certainly didn’t. I don’t know why. I’m not looking for a why. An explanation for the past is only an attempt to seek justification; to remove guilt. I don’t feel bad for not writing for almost the entire month. Instead, I feel like I’m in a better place to know what I can and can’t handle, and what I do and don’t prioritise. Writing wasn’t the only goal I fell short on, but it doesn’t matter what else there was.

A new month. Rent and bills have been paid. Time to trek on.

Here are some of my favourite posts from this month:

A Typical Girl Day, July 25
Bullet Journal 101: Finding Inspiration, July 22

Since I was out of town for the start of the month, I took a break from blogging (and the Internet as a whole).

A single adjective for July was courageous

I didn’t do anything outrageously brave, but I took chances. I let myself fail one of my personal goals, but I’m not kicking myself for it—kicking myself for failing something doesn’t make me win at it. Duh. Right now, I feel a bit like Elle Woods: taking rejection and failed expectations, and using them to motivate.

It’s impossible to be at 100% all the time. The people who are at 100% all the time look like they’re at 110%—that they have “hustle”—but I’m not one of those people. And I don’t want to be. I like taking a weekend to binge watch all five Twilight Saga films. I may not like lying on my bed resisting destructive urges, but I have to in order to not follow through on those urges.

In August, I look forward to

  • following through on my goals for writing, reading, and design
  • seeing my client’s book get to print

And that’s it.

I don’t have much going on in terms of visiting, events, or birthdays. My brother’s birthday is on August 26, but I won’t be able to visit his grave and say hello and “You would have been 24 today.” I could try to go up on the train and have my room mate look after my rabbit for a weekend. I’m not thinking on it too much. This past week was the anniversary of his death and funeral, so… I’ve had my fill of mourning.

Month In Review July 2016

Month In Review: June 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

Another month, another milestone, I suppose. I did a lot of reading this month, as well as a great amount of writing. I’ve been making progress. The #WriteChain has helped a bunch with keeping me going on my writing. Halfway into June, though, I cut back on the amount I was writing after I finished the first 1/3 of my WIP. I switched to doing some intensive research on religions and mythologies to help me with building a key aspect of the fantasy world. There are so many similarities between all these diverse religions! It’s incredible! The differences between them have also been inspiring. I’m progressing well with this rewrite of the book. I’m confident that I’ll be able to dive into revisions on this draft by the end of August.

One thing I aimed to do through June was my “30 Day Salad Challenge.” I didn’t do 30 days of salads, but I got really, really damn close. For a few days, I didn’t have the groceries to make salads, so that was alright. I think I replaced at least 5 meals every week with a salad. That’s an achievement considering I used to never eat salads unless I was ordering one at a restaurant. I made lots of homemade dressing with Greek yogurt and olive oil (plus other ingredients). I never realised Caesar dressing was simple to make, if you can skimp out on “authenticity” (/coughs at a raw egg yolk in the original recipe) and go for flavours.

Here are some of my favourite posts from June
A single adjective for June was sluggish.

Though the month seemed to go by quickly for me, each day was excruciating to get through. The heat makes me want to curl up on a train headed into a snowbank. The summer always makes me feel less productive, more cranky, and less excited. It’s a boring season filled with humidity and too many teenagers roaming around. I’ve also been plagued by headaches/migraines/cluster headaches (whatever the hell they are) once the average daily temperature reached a minimum 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). I am not built for heat.

In July, I look forward to
  • seeing my oldest brother in the beginning of the month.
  • seeing my boyfriend for his birthday on July 5th.
  • going to the Royal Ontario Museum with my boyfriend.
  • starting design and formatting work for a local self-publishing author!
  • more writing—I have a very confident path for the book now that the scenes are in order and the beginning is completed.

Stay frosty, everyone. I know I’m trying to.

month in review june