It’s crazy how time flies. I keep meaning to write more on the blog, to do another post, and the days just get away from me. It’s not that I’m not doing any writing. I wrote over 50,000 words in November in my series. It’s just that I’m doing other writing and don’t get to any of the blogs I do. I hope to work in blogging again as a habit, so I do it on a regular basis more.
OT and PT still consists of what I do on my own. As winter sets in, it has become harder to do a lot of walking or to go out for hikes. Instead, most of my physical activity consists of using our small indoor trampoline, doing chores around the house, using a balance board and stretch bands, and just trying to move as much as I possibly can. We do have a gym membership, but once summer came, I was outdoors so much I barely used it, and getting there in the wintertime can be challenging with the road conditions.
My pain level still varies by day and by the changes in the weather. The cold is rough, having had so many broken bones and some nerve damage. I try to find ways to adapt to it, and bundle up when I need to go out so the pain isn’t so intense, but sometimes there is just no way around it. Sometimes I avoid outside all together if I can, which is one of the perks of working from home now. Sometimes I have to go out , or really want to, and we use hand warmers to help counter the pain. I love the outdoors, so staying inside all winter is difficult, so we try to find a balance between just staying indoors and finding ways to keep the pain at bay outside.
Ben’s neuropathy continues to progress, with no known cause. Almost two years later, we are still waiting on the nerve biopsy that was supposed to happen a few days after the accident occurred. Some days it feels like we are no further closer to answers than we were a few years ago. For now, we just keep on searching for answers and trusting God that there is a plan and a purpose in all of this.
Where did autumn go?
It seems like just yesterday it was the first day of fall. Now, here we are in December, and I haven’t posted anything on this blog since September. Time goes by too quickly. Since my last post, I’ve enjoyed many outdoor trips, including hikes, outdoor tennis, and frisbee golf. Ben and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. Annie enjoyed the first real snowfall of the season, and I successfully made a hike down a steep hill. We’ve enjoyed sunrises, sunsets, and the beauty that Autumm brings all around us.
I’m going to wrap this post up here. It’s almost that time of year when I review goals again, so there should be another post coming very soon. Among my goals for the coming year is to get back into blogging regularly and making a plan to do so. Hopefully I will be posting more into the coming new year.
The summer has flown by. We are now almost to the end September, and I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I keep meaning to. Many times, I’ve sat down to do a blog post and then been caught up in something else like my other writing projects, or a Facebook page I run, and the next thing I know, there’s just no time left to write in this blog. I’ve even started writing this post, and then come back to it two weeks later.
It’s been a busy summer for Ben and I. I will share some photos, but it’s been so long since I posted last, I could overload the page if I’m not careful. Life has slowly been returning to “normal” and yet it will never be normal again. I guess perhaps it is more of a new normal. I started a new job, teaching from home online, while Ben’s neuropathy continues to get worse. Annie keeps growing and changing as she gets closer to being an adult dog, and our other two dogs have reached their senior years. Summer has felt like a whirlwind.
I’ve continued the physical and occupational therapy exercises throughout summer, but haven’t made it out to the gym as much as I wanted to. In the month of August, our puppy and I walked at least a mile every day. I’ve also continued to try to lift heavier things and build back my strength, as well as to do the physical therapy exercises I was taught to. It’s slowly paid off. A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to lift a 50llb bag of rabbit food into a vehicle by myself. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve lost as much strength as I had, it is.
I have good days and bad days as far as pain goes. When the weather changes, the pain often gets worse. I also had pain loading up the rabbit food in my left wrist, but that may be a life-long thing because of the damage. I tolerate it pretty well most of the time. My left leg continues to get stronger, and I can now lift it pretty high most days. When it rains, sometimes this all goes away and Ben will help me get into bed because it stiffens, and lifting it becomes very difficult. I am hoping that as it gets stronger, this will change. The quad muscle was damaged so much, along with nerves, and it is still weaker than on the right side, but I’m slowly getting it back. I also still have abdominal pain, although that’s gotten significantly better since last year’s surgery. I can always tell when I overdo it though, as the muscles in my core will start to protest.
The peripheral neuropathy that Ben has continues to spread. He is losing more feeling in his fingers and hands, as well as developing the same nerve pain that he has in his feet. We are hoping a nerve biopsy will be scheduled soon to try to determine what is causing it. He had cataract surgery in July, which has made a big difference in his vision. He was able to do the Farmer’s Market for most of the summer, but fall has been rough so far.
Summer Flew By!
Summer went by so fast! As I write this, fall has officially arrived. The leaves are changing, birds are migrating, and the nights are getting cooler. We’ve had a lot of rainy weather the last couple of days, and even turned on the furnace briefly.
We’ve enjoyed lots of blooms, especially from our native plants. I went to the rodeo with one of our nieces and one of our nephews. We got to meet a couple of authors at the AuSable Canoe Marathon, and enjoyed time outside. I’ll share a few photos below. Summer went by too fast, but I’ve always enjoyed the different seasons and am looking forward to the cooler weather and more rainy days. I’m counting the days until the first snowfall, as I always enjoy watching it come down. And yes, here in north-west lower Michigan, we often get snow in the fall.
Songs on Repeat:
Do It Again- Elevation Worship
It’s Going Down- KJ-52
I’ll Find You-Lecrae
If You Want Love- NF
Scripture and Quotes:
Now that I have returned to teaching, and summer is winding down, I hope to get back into blogging again on a regular basis. Until next time,
Sometimes it feels like time just flies by, and before you know it, it’s been over two months since I last posted anything. Time goes by too fast. We’ve been busy, and we’ve had a lot going on. This will be a longer than normal blog post, I suspect.
I’m not even really sure where to begin. I’ve started this blog post over and over again, but life gets in the way, and I haven’t published anything until now.
Physical/Occupational Therapy/ Medical Updates For Me (Cindy)
I’ve continued the PT and OT exercises I learned during my time in rehab. Sometimes it’s meant going to the gym to do them, other times going for a hike or trying to do everyday activities such as gardening and laundry. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments over the past couple of months too.
I’m not even sure how much I’ve mentioned it to anyone, but during the scans completed after the accident, the doctors found white spots on my brain. After waiting to get into a neurologist, and further testing, it is believed the spots were caused by a stroke many years ago, possibly even as an infant. So I’ve had more tests to confirm this, as well as to assess my risk for another stroke. I meet with the neurologist again in July and will hopefully know more then. So far, everything is looking pretty good, and we are hoping it will stay that way. But life has a way of throwing you a curve, so at the same time, we’re bracing ourselves for that possibility too.
Physically, I’m doing better and better each week. I’m able to move more, I’m not as sore as I was, and I’m gaining strength back. I still have days when I’m pretty weak on the left side, and I’ve been having a lot of nerve pain as things reconnect but am making good progress. Being on my feet for very long is painful, walking hurts if I walk for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and my left wrist sometimes locks which is painful. I still have to be careful with all of the internal damage and nerve damage from the trauma. I may never regain full function of my left wrist, or the feeling in my left thigh, but I’ve come a long way. Most people would never know I was in a serious auto accident.
Ben’s Health Update:
Ben’s peripheral neuropathy continues to get worse. It is spreading into his hands and fingers, making it harder for him to grip things and open jars. The nerve pain, especially in his feet and legs, gets pretty intense at times. Basically, the nerves in his limbs are dying, but are going haywire in the meantime. So he doesn’t always feel when he steps on something, or grabs something sharp, but other times he gets super sharp nerve pain when he’s not doing anything at all.
We also recently found out he has a cataract. This is unusual for someone his age, and the doctors are not sure why he’s developed one, but his vision is pretty bad right now. He will be having surgery next month to repair it. It may be yet another symptom of whatever is going on with his body. We continue to pray for answers and seek out doctors who can help. We’ve tried a lot of things over the years, including natural remedies and elimination diets, but nothing has helped so far. In fact, some of the things have made it worse. We trust in all of this though that God has a plan beyond what we can understand.
Bring on Summer!
Summer is such a busy time of year for us. With a little help, I was able to get a garden in this year using buckets for containers and a couple of patches on the ground. I can’t wait to see what comes in for harvest this year!
I’ve started driving a little more again. I was driving again last summer, but after surgery in November, wasn’t able to for a while. As the warmer weather arrived and my body had time to recover more from the November surgery and infection in February, I was able to start driving again. It’s felt really good to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve been trying to stop between appointments to lakes and nature places, and on the rare day off, we intentionally schedule time to go too.
A few photos from the outdoor places and our garden:
Our puppy Annie is getting so big! She loves the outdoors and makes us laugh every day. We also had three baby rabbits born this summer, and introduced them to her. She LOVES the rabbits just as much as our older two dogs. A few photos of her adventures with us:
Songs on Repeat:
One Year Ago-KJ52
The Blessing- Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes
Goodness of God-Bethel Music
I’m Sorry- TobyMac
Give Me Your Eyes- Brandon Heath
Scripture and Quotes
Every Season Serves a Purpose
Life is full of ups and downs. For us, the past few years especially have been full of challenges and difficult times. Yet as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is joy even in the midst of the trials. We don’t know where this road is headed next. We don’t know where we’ll be a year from now, or if we’ll have any more answers than we do now.
What we do know is that there is a God in Heaven who has been with us every step of the way, and continues to be even now. What we do know is that He’s given us each other, and even when the road seems long and difficult, there is a plan and purpose beyond what we can comprehend. Every season serves a purpose.
This season we are in may seem long and sometimes never ending, but in the end, it is only a season. It will pass, like all the others before it. To quote Psalm 27:13:
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Psalm 27:13, NRSV
Times may be tough, the season may be rough, but God is still good, and there is a plan and a purpose even for a season such as this.
It’s been over a month since I posted last. I feel like that’s kind of become routine. I’m hoping to build a better routine for blogging, but it seems like every time I start to build one, something else happens and it throws everything off.
Since I blogged last, I’ve been trying to get to the gym for physical therapy exercises and have done them at home quite a bit too. We ended up with a couple of ice storms this past month, both on days I had scheduled time open to go to the gym, so we’ve gone a little less than I would like to, but the weather should be getting warmer sooner. At home, we have a trampoline, balance board, balance ball, dumbbell weights, an exercise ball, mat, stretch bands, and a few other things so it’s better than nothing, but I prefer the gym. What we have still allows me to get in some physical therapy though. As the snow clears, I’ve been able to get out for walks more too. It’s felt so good to get out!
I still have some soreness from the November surgery, but it is slowly getting better. The infection I had in February seems to have healed up nicely, and we are watching closely in case anything tries to come back anytime soon.
As far as occupational therapy, I keep doing things around the house as much as I can to work my wrists and hands. Annie, our new puppy, helps a lot with that too. She loves to play tug of war and gets my wrist moving in a lot of different ways. We started seeing a new chiropractor as well, someone closer to where we live. She specializes in sports medicine and does physical therapy in addition to chiropractic. I’m noticing more movement in my wrist and less pain in the hip, so hopefully we will continue to see improvement.
Annie is getting so big! We are enjoying every moment with her. She LOVES being outside with me, and loves to play with Ben, myself, and our other two dogs. Her favorite toys are pull-ropes and stuffed animals. So far, she hasn’t been very destructive with toys though. She just plays with them and moves on to the next one. We are very thankful to have her in our lives! We’ve been tracking her growth week to week, and I’ve included some photos.
Songs on Repeat
KJ-52- One Year Ago
Grits-My Life Be Like
Start Over- Flame featuring NF
Scripture and Quotes:
Aslan Is On The Move
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, and when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia has been one of my favorite series since I was a child. I shared a couple of quotes above, and I think about them often, especially this time of year.
Living in the snowbelt of Northern Lower Michigan, it’s not uncommon for us to have snow until at least May, or even into June. Some of the “old timers” who have lived in the area a long time, will tell you they’ve seen snow pretty much every month of the year. So by the time we get to this part of the year, we are all ready for spring to come, yet it seems so far off.
I think often of Narnia. If you’ve never read the series, there is a witch who makes it always winter but never Christmas, and spring never comes. When the lion in the story, Aslan, begins to move, winter can no longer take its hold. It has to leave. The lion is more powerful than the witch.
For Ben and I, the last few years especially have sometimes felt like an endless winter. Sometimes it seems like difficult things keep happening. It’s like a cold, frozen, dark season that goes on forever and ever.
And yet, we know the Lion moves. In our Christian faith, the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia is often viewed as being an allegory for Jesus. As Romans 8:28 so beautifully states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Times may be tough, but it will not last forever. Spring will come. Better times will come. Even with all the difficulties we face, we know there is a reason and a purpose, and that better things lay ahead.
Today, looking out the window, we can see the sunshine. Tomorrow, it is supposed to snow. But we know it won’t last forever. Aslan is on the move! Winter cannot keep its hold on us, and eventually, we will get through the tough times of winter and move into a new season. Until then, we have each other, and our faith grows stronger in the trials. And soon, perhaps very soon, spring will finally arrive.
It is hard to believe it’s been almost a month since I was in the hospital again. You can read a little about it here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2022/02/14/its-not-always-about-us/. I ended up spending five days in the hospital. They found I had cellulitis, caused by a staph infection in my thigh and near my hip. We were afraid it had gone into the hip joint, and that I could be septic, but thankfully we caught it in time. After a lot of tests and nearly a week in the hospital with IV antibiotics, I was released with antibiotics to recover at home.
The infection has been slowly healing. I still have some soreness, discoloration, and a lot of itching, but that has been slowly getting better as well. I haven’t done a lot for physical therapy over the past few weeks as the leg heals but have tried to do a few at home as long as the pain is tolerable.
Occupational therapy continues to be everyday tasks at home. With the infection, I was pretty sick at first, but have been able to do a little bit more as I start to get better and stronger again. I still have some soreness from the November surgery, but it has gotten a lot better than it was. All of the trauma and surgeries have taken a toll on my body, and I’m just run down. 7 surgeries, at least 11 broken bones, and internal damage is a lot to recover from.
Songs on Repeat
Goodness of God by Bethel
House of the Lord by Phil Wickham
Here I am To Worship by Hillsong
Scripture and Quotes
A Little Joy
Towards the end of February, we added a new addition to our family. Meet Annie. She is a basset hound puppy. Her name means “grace” or ““God has favored me.”
Almost two years ago, I graduated with my second Master’s degree in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. The one thing I really wanted as a gift was a puppy. We searched shelters and many different sites, trying to find one, but people were grabbing up puppies as fast as they arrived. Both of our other dogs are rescues, and they were a little older when we got them. Still in the puppy stage, but halfway through it, so we wanted a younger dog this time around.
Then the accident happened, and everything got put off. After almost a year and a half of searching and waiting, we finally were able to find someone who had puppies. We went on the waiting list, and were finally able to get a puppy in February.
Annie has brought a lot of joy into our lives in the couple of weeks we’ve had her. A few photos…
Life is full of ups and downs, and she’s added lots of laughter and happiness during some very difficult times in our lives. Before the November surgery, I was hiking regularly and getting stronger with physical therapy. Since the surgery, it has been a long recovery. My body is just worn down, and I’ve only been out snowshoeing once all winter, before the infection and hospital stay.
I am hoping as my body begins to recover more, I will be able to take Annie and our two other dogs out for hikes. Not all at once of course, unless I have someone else with me willing to take a dog, but it will be good to get out again. I’ve missed it! I am hoping with surgery behind me, and the infection healing, I will finally be able to get back to getting stronger and feeling better again. It’s been a long journey! I’m so very thankful for the little joys in life, like sweet puppy snuggles, the kind words of a friend through a card, and beautiful sunrises despite the winter cold. Life moves forward, even in difficult times, and finding the little pieces of joy, no matter how small, makes the dark times a little easier.
Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and other updates….
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I’ve slowly recovered from surgery in November and getting sick in January, I’ve started doing physical therapy exercises more consistently. Ben and I also signed up for a Gym membership. I’m hoping to regain the strength I lost on my left side after surgery in November. I also have a great workout buddy!
I’ve also continued to do everyday things around the house, such as laundry and dishes. Thanks to the help of one of our nephews and one of our nieces, I’ve even been able to get some cleaning and organizing done. I’m really trying to get back to a regular chair, instead of a recliner most of the time. I was getting there in November, but the last surgery took a lot out of me.
Our niece and nephew also went out snowshoeing with me. I knew it wasn’t safe to go alone, so they went with me. My hip was hurting a lot by the time we finished, and it took us over an hour and a half to go less than a mile. We used hand warmers to keep my hip and wrist from being to cold. My pain increases a lot when they get cold. We had to take breaks a lot, but it felt really good to get out.
As I write this, I’m actually in the emergency room. Last night, I developed a fever and wasn’t feeling well. I figured I was catching something. This morning, I woke up to a red hip and thigh. The skin is hot to the touch and very painful and itchy.
After a lot of tests, they believe I have an infection. As soon as they have a bed open, I’m getting transferred to Traverse City with more tests to come tomorrow. They plan to do a hip aspiration to find out more about the infection and go from there. Sometimes it seems this journey doesn’t end.
Scripture and quotes:
Songs on Repeat
Goodness Of God, by Bethel Music
Believer, by Imagine Dragons
Help is On The Way, by TobyMac
It’s Not Always About Us
If there is anything I’ve learned along this journey, it’s that it’s not always about us. Things that happen to us, difficult things we go through, problems we face. They aren’t just about us
Sometimes what happens to us are really opportunities to make someone else’s life better. Maybe through a smile at a nurse whose had a rough day, or a prayer for the person in another room who is obviously suffering. There is a bigger plan than just us and what happens to us. We never know the impact we have on someone else.
Going through difficult things can actually have a positive influence on someone else. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. We never know whose life is going to be better because of our hard times, because of how we respond and how we react to challenges. Difficult times are a part of life, but they don’t have to break us. Instead, we can use them to hopefully inspire others and make someone else’s life at least a little better.
Life isn’t about us. It’s about so much more. When we look for opportunities to help others and make their day just a little brighter, no matter how bad our day is, we can give others hope and inspiration.
If you’re facing tough times, it may not be about you. It may be about the opportunity to inspire and bless people you encounter on your journey. Look for those opportunities.
January has been a very off month. I was planning to start back up with physical therapy exercises, and even had an appointment scheduled to tour a gym, but then got sick. Ben was sick over Christmas and New Year’s, and then I came down with whatever he had near the beginning of January. So, the gym tour had to be postponed. I love the hospital gym I went to before surgery, after outpatient physical therapy, but scheduling with their classes and everything else we had going on was becoming difficult. Instead, Ben and I decided to do a gym membership so we could go together and have a more flexible schedule. Between a long recovery from surgery, and then getting sick, I’ve lost a fair amount of strength. I think my body is just run down.
A few days after I got sick, Ben became ill again. It’s been a long month with both of us slowly recovering. I am hoping to schedule a gym tour soon and get a membership so I can get back at independent PT and strengthening my left side. In the meantime, I’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises at home that I learned during my time in in-home and outpatient physical therapy.
Occupational therapy continues to be mostly everyday tasks. With Ben being sick, I’ve been doing more of the cooking. I’ve never been much of a cook, but I’m learning to make a few things that are pretty good. One of our dogs used to sit and whine whenever I would attempt to cook because it never turned out well, but he’s starting to accept that I can cook a little. Sometimes I think he’s even looking forward to my cooking. 🙂 A few of the things I’ve made… Taco salad, fried chicken breast, Tator tot casserole.
I am noticing a big difference outside this year. The pain in my left wrist especially, which has two metal plates, gets pretty intense. The colder the weather is, the worst the pain. My hip and ankle sometimes get annoyed with the cold too, but are easier to protect than my wrist, especially if I want to do anything with my hands outside. I am hoping handwarmers will help with this some at least.
Living in the snowbelt of northwest lower Michigan, we tend to get a fair amount of snow. This year, we’ve had less than normal but got hit pretty hard over the last few days. I’ve been trying to take short walks around our yard. Walking in the snow isn’t easy for me, but I’m sure it will get easier with time. Like I said, I lost quite a bit of strength after the last surgery and am hoping to get it back. I do have snowshoes and want to try snowshoeing again soon, but it’s been so cold, and my body just doesn’t tolerate the cold temperatures well anymore.
Both of our dogs love the snow, especially our Catahoula. It can be pretty much a blizzard and he wants to go outside at least for a little bit. I’ve shared a photo of him enjoying some of the recent snow we had.
Songs on Repeat
Love Feels Like- TobyMac, Michael Tait, Kevin Max
Hurt -Johnny Cash
Ring of Fire- Johnny Cash
Keep Your Head Up- Andy Grammer
Quotes and Scripture From This Month:
When Life Gives You Lemons
This past year hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Between the car accident, deaths in the family, sickness, appliances breaking, and just life in general, things have been hard at times. The saying “When life gives you lemon, make lemonade” comes to mind in all of this. It’s a way of finding the positive, even in the really difficult times. A way of sweetening something that should be sour.
This isn’t always easy. But finding the sweet in the sour makes things a little more bearable at least. We’ve had a lot of lemons this past year. Yet there continue to be sweet moments too. Like the beautiful sunsets against the snow, or the chickadees coming to our birdfeeders to eat, or the extra time we’ve had to rest and recuperate because we both ended up sick.
For both Ben and I, our faith helps a lot with this. Knowing that even in the worst of times, God has a plan and a purpose for it all. Even before the accident, I would often try to find things I was grateful for. It helps put things into perspective and makes the difficult seem just a little less so. Life is full of lemons. But we don’t have to focus on that. We can choose instead to focus on the sweetness, and make lemonade.
Every year, I like to make and set goals for myself. You can read about the goals from 2021 and 2022 here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/12/31/new-years-resolutions-2022/ Over the past several years, I have had people ask me about my system for setting and reaching goals. It’s fairly extensive and I realize it may not work for everyone, but it works for me.
One of the first things I do is to think about where I want to be a year from now, five years from now, and ten years from now. This can be career related, hobby related, location related, fitness related or anything else I want to change in my life. I like to work backwards. So I start with where I want to be in five or ten years and go backwards from there.
Also, I’ve been learning I need to limit goals. Charlie Gilkey (I’ll link to his book later) does a great job of talking about this in his book Start Finishing. He suggests picking no more than 3-5 goals (or projects as he calls them) at a time. So I limit myself every year to 3-5 projects, all based on where I want to be in 5 or 10 years but narrowed down so they are doable in a year.
I’m also learning to set SMART goals. Gilkey talks about this a lot. I made up my own pintables to help me to do so, but there are many out there. I will link to them below if anyone wants to print off the ones I made and use them. I shared a picture below that breaks down how I set the goals, thinking about each component (are they specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely?) Gilkey’s planner adds to this a lot. My sheets are just extras because I wanted more space to actually write out each goal and reflect on it.
One, Five and Ten Year Plans
It’s hard to plan too far ahead because life gets in the way. I start with an idea of where I want to be, but the real planning is for the next year. My 5- and 10-year goals play a role in where I want to be a year from now, but I don’t do a lot with them. For example, I want to be a published author. I want to write books. The reality is that writing books takes time, and it may take me closer to 5 or even 10 years to reach that goal. I could write out an entire five-year plan to write several books in the next few years and try to get them published, but life gets in the way, and I would likely never reach that goal.
So instead, I focus on the upcoming year. I know that long term, I want to publish several books. That’s a great goal, but too much can change between now and year 5. So instead, I make a plan for the coming year. What can I do this year? I can write a book, edit it, and begin to look for beta readers. I may even be able to get it sent out to publishers. So that becomes a goal for the coming year, knowing that in five years I want to have more than one book published, but I’m going to focus on one year at a time. I believe it is important to think about the future but planning too far in advance can lead to a lot of frustration if things don’t pan out.
One Year Goal Month by Month
Once I have an idea of where I want to go long term, I make a plan for the year on how I’m going to get there. I lay out quarterly and monthly plans. I use a system through Productive Flourishing Momentum Planners. The owner also wrote a book called ‘Start Finishing.‘ I highly recommend the book if you really want to start finishing projects you start. Productive Flourishing Planners have pages to layout the year and months. You can get a month at a time free on their site, but I recommend purchasing the planner. You can choose a digital PDF version or a printed copy, and I believe they are working on an app as well which should be available next year. I don’t get anything for advertising their products, but their planners have helped me so much, I like to tell others about them whenever I can.
Using their planners, I layout each quarter and each month. I set goals for each quarter, then use those goals to set goals for the month. Going back to my writing goal, I would break that goal down. So instead of “This year, I will write a book,” the goal becomes “In this quarter, I will write 80,000 words in my story.” Then, In January, I will write 50,000 words.” In February, I might write “In February, I will write 30,000 more words.” In March, the goal might be “I will catchup any missed words and begin the editing process.”
Over the course of the year, I will break down what I need to do to reach the initial goal of publishing a book. This includes editing, beta readers, and sending it to a publisher. I lay it out in the planners and set deadlines for myself of when each thing needs to be done. Everything from the quarterly and month goals then gets transferred week by week to the weekly planners, with the goals broken down a little more.
Weekly and Daily
Every week, I look at my schedule for the week and my goals for that month. I set goals for that week, based on the overall goal for that month. For example, if my goal in January is to write 50,000 words, I divide that by the number of weeks in January (about 4) and make a goal for the week based on that. I would aim to write about 12,500 words that week. I would then divide this up by the number of words to write per day (1785) and by the end of the month, I should have at least 50,000 words.
Now, when I look at my weekly schedule, let’s say I notice Friday is a really busy day that week. As I move from writing my weekly schedule to my daily schedule, I will keep this in mind and set a lower goal for that day. Instead of setting my goal to write 1785 words that day, I’ll add extra words to another day and write more to make up the difference. In that way, I can still reach my goal, but I’ve got a better cushion when life gets in the way.
At the end of the day, week, month, quarter, and year, I try to take time to reflect on where I’m at with my goals. This doesn’t happen every day, or even every week. Life gets in the way. But it’s still important to keep track of where I’m at and consider where I want to go from there.
I also use visual trackers, such as goal ladders and habit tracker sheets, to help me stay on task and keep track of where I’m at with a goal. This also helps me see if I need to adjust my goal. For example, maybe in January, I plan to write 50,000 words, but then I get sick. (Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but it has in the past.) My visual tracker would either be blank because I was too sick to write on it, or I would have just scribbled “sick” across those days. Now, as I write my goals for the rest of the month each week, or when I get to February’s goal, I may need to adjust. Maybe I’m not going to reach 50,000 words in January, but I can do more in February and push some into March. Or, maybe the goal needs to change all together because of what happened that month.
This isn’t to be an excuse for never reaching my goals. Rather it’s a cushion for times when life does happen; the tire is flat on my car when I am trying to get to the gym; the power goes out when I’ve committed to reading another chapter and I can’t find a flashlight; I get super sick right in the middle of trying to finish 50,000 words in a month. All of these are real life situations that happen. They can stop me for a day, or even a couple of weeks, but the important thing is to not let the setbacks stop me all together. I make adjustments to my goals as needed, and move forward, knowing that at the end of the year, I can look back and say I tried my hardest and did my best despite any obstacles that came my way.
Do I reach every goal 100% of the time? Nope. And that’s ok. I reconfigure and keep going. Change your plan if needed, even change your dreams if you can tell they are shifting, but don’t give up reaching for your goals.
Do you have to do every part of what I do? Nope. That’s the beauty of a plan. It’s your own. You can use what works for you, and even combine this system with another. It’s about finding what works best for you to help you reach the goals you want to accomplish.
The important thing is to find what works and stick with it. Don’t give up just because it gets hard, because it will get hard! I think I could do an entire blogpost just on chasing dreams and not giving up. But just know that once you start trying to set goals and chase your dreams, it will be hard, but it will be worth it in the end. There’s a difference between changing your dreams because they’ve changed and grown with you, and giving up on your dreams. Make a plan, be ready to adjust that plan, but never give up on reaching the final goal unless you know for certain that final goal needs to change.
Sometimes I can be wordy. So here is a quick summary of the above:
Amazing Resources I’ve found over the last few years:
(Most cost, but are so worth it!)
Links to Gilkey’s Planners and his book…. Because I can’t recommend them enough!!!!
Links to other helpful planning sheets I’ve found:
(Again, I don’t get paid to share any of these, I just like to share great products when I find them!)
What a year this has been! I’ve spent pretty much this entire year recovering from the auto accident. Ben’s neuropathy continues to get worse, with no known cause. We’ve had our share of ups and downs this year, with it sometimes seeming like the downs outweigh the ups.
Sometimes finding the good with all the bad can be difficult. As we look back on 2021, we are thankful that we are both still here. We are both alive. Most of the animals are still alive. We lost our rabbit Samwise while I was in the hospital but gained some new baby bunnies over the summer. We have a house to live in, and good food to eat. We can read almost anything we want to read at the click of a button, and worship as we choose. As I write this, I’m typing it from a decent computer that runs pretty well, and I have the ability to back up things as needed. We have cold, fresh water to drink whenever we want it, indoor plumbing and electricity. It’s been a tough few years, but there is still so much to be thankful for.
We look to 2022, with hope and anticipation of what is yet to come. And with that, we plan for the year ahead, knowing any plan made isn’t likely to stick 100%, but striving to reach at least some goals.
Review of Last Year’s Goals
Every year, I (Cindy) set goals for myself. Here are my goals last year, and how I did on completing them:
1. Regain my independence: I’ve regained much of my independence. I lost some of it after the latest surgery but am in the process of gaining it back.
2. Regain my strength: I’ve regained much of my strength, then lost some of it after the latest surgery. I will soon be beginning the process again to get my strength back.
3. Have any further surgeries that I need to have and come back from that: I had the latest surgery in November, and am in the process of getting stronger from it.
4. Finish my book series, Or at least get it organized enough that I can have a deadline better for finishing it: I did not complete this goal. Looking back, it was pretty unrealistic, all things considered. I did get a fair amount of writing done, despite having two broken wrists, and I started to organize things a little more. I also started a different series, with the goal of completing the first book in that within the next year, and coming back to my longer series at another time.
5. Start a book about my experiences: I started a book about my experiences. I’ve gotten about 11,000 words. It’s a work in progress.
6. Write at least 10,000 more words in my series before the end of January using Voice to text.:I was not able to meet this goal. My hip re-dislocated during rehab, and I ended up having four more surgeries by the end of January.
7. Blog more regularly: I have blogged more regularly on www.talesfromnorthcountry.com, but not as much on www.myamuseinglife.com. I hope to do more of both in the coming year. Just in case anyone is wondering, My Amuseing Life is not a spelling mistake, it is done this way on purpose, as a play on words. A-muse-ing, with muse being one of the keywords of the blog. It is my blog for creative writing, everything from fiction, poetry, writing prompts, and more.
Goals for Next Year:
Over the past few years, I’ve started using a system from Charlie Gilkey, author of Start Finishing. He also has a business, Productive Flourishing, that puts out amazing planners. I read a lot of self-help books, but his system is one of the best I’ve found. One of the things he recommends is only doing 3 to 5 projects at one time. So with that, I’m trying to limit my goals for the coming year to five.
Goals for 2022:
By December 31, 2022, I will write a book, edit it, send it to beta readers, and seek out getting it published. This goal might be too much for one year with everything we’ve had going on, but I do have quite a bit written already, and I really want to start pursuing publishing more. So I am hoping to meet this goal, or at least most of it.
By December 31, 2022, I will make time to enjoy a variety of my hobbies each week, including in music, reading, photography, birdwatching, arts and crafts, and writing. My hobbies are important to me, but I often don’t make time to do them. I read a book called Atomic Habits, by James Clear this year, and have been working on adding my hobbies into routines I already do.
By December 31, 2022, I will gain strength and become more physically fit. This one is extremely important after the accident. I really need to complete workouts and physical therapy exercises to regain strength. I am hoping in the process, I will become more physically fit, but my main focus for this year is on regaining strength and building my endurance.
By December 31, 2022, I will complete tasks around the house following weekly, monthly, and yearly checklists. I’ve actually done this one for several years now, but with limiting myself on goals and trying to do well with what I am doing, this really needs to be one of the projects I do. It takes time to complete chores and other tasks around the house, so I need to make it part of what I’m doing. Otherwise, I try for too many projects and don’t complete half of them, and then feel discouraged.
By December 31, 2022, I will create and carry out goals related to work, including teaching, blogging and photography. This was a really tricky one to write. Normally, I would narrow it down more. I had hoped to return to teaching in January, but recovery from the latest surgery is taking longer than expected. I try to treat my blogging and photography like jobs, as I do sometimes get income from them, and I want to do better in both areas too. When I am able to return to teaching, I will create goals for myself based on the current needs. In the meantime, Occupational Therapy encouraged me to blog as much as I can, as it helps build my endurance for typing. I was also encouraged to do more with my photography, as using my hands more can help build endurance with my wrists as well. So it becomes like a second job and third job in a sense. It’s really hard to write goals for these areas with things up in the air, so this area will become a series of mini goals throughout the year. I may also have to change some of my other goals a little bit, or may not meet them 100%, but this is just an unusual year with everything that’s happened.
Physical and Occupational Therapy/ Surgery Recovery
The recovery from the surgery I had in November continues to be longer than expected. I have been slowly building my stamina back up, and am able to do a little more most days. I still have days when I’m pretty sore, but have found if I rest for a day or two, the soreness mostly goes away and then I am less sore and able to do more afterwards.
Physical therapy has pretty much been put on hold until I recover more. I have been trying to do some simple PT exercises that my therapists taught me, such as lifting my legs as high as I can and rolling my ankles, but for the most part, I am not able to do a lot yet. I am getting closer though, and hope to return to PT after the New Year. For Occupational Therapy, most of what I do involves common, everyday things around the house such as pulling out laundry from the washer to the dryer, or folding it to put the laundry away. Sometimes I will use weights or a hammer with my wrists to help stretch the muscles out when they get tight.
My writing was slowed a little bit the past week, with the power outage. I’m hoping to catch back up in the next couple of days. I am aiming to write at least 50,000 words like I did for NaNoWriMo in November. So far, I’ve managed to write about 34,000 words this month.
I am also hoping to start posting a little more on www.myamuseinglife.com. It has been hard to get back into a routine now that I am able to type more, but I would really like to get my writing blog back up more.
Books On My Shelf
Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, by Dr. Caroline Leaf
Feeding the Soul, by Tabitha Brown
Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
Please note: I recommend books I am enjoying, but may still be reading some of them. It is always possible I may miss something inappropriate or may not have read a section yet that is inappropriate. Also, things I don’t have a problem with, others may find offensive and vice versa. While I am enjoying and recommend these books, please use your own discretion when picking out books to read.
Scripture and Quotes:
Tis The Season
We are hoping to get a family photo at some point, but I thought I would share photos of our dogs for now, with their Christmas Bandanas. Christmas has been my favorite holiday pretty much my entire life. I like to go all out, with decorations both inside and outside the house as early in the season as we can get them up, and Christmas music playing, as well as special treats throughout the month of December. Last year, it was a very different celebration which I wrote about here…https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/01/01/a-christmas-to-remember/.
This year is still not going to be a “normal” Christmas for us. Between me still healing from surgery, a power outage, and Ben’s health, the entire season feels off. It’s not our normal. But it is a new normal. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about starting some new traditions and finding a new normal in all of this.
Ultimately, no matter what we end up doing, what matters most is the reason we even celebrate Christmas to begin with. Now I realize there are many different beliefs out there, and not everyone agrees on Christmas. To me, Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know this likely isn’t His actual birthday, and I am also aware that much of Christmas as we know actually came from pagans.
But I choose to celebrate because I want to honor the One who came to save the world. I need to be reminded every year, not only of the fact that He came, but how He came. Every year, we put up a tree and I reminded that my Savior gave His life on a tree for us. We add tinsel, and I am reminded of how Jesus is the One true King. We put up the lights, and I am reminded that He is the light of the world. We add ornaments, and I am reminded of all the years He’s given me on this earth so far. So much of this season reminds me of my faith. No matter what happens, no matter what traditions we miss out on, or how difficult things are, the one thing that remains constant is the Reason for the Season.
Last Christmas was a Christmas to Remember. This Christmas is as well, in different ways. In many ways, every Christmas is special, unique. Yet some stand out more than others, and the past couple of years are an example of this. Tis the season for lights, tinsel, gifts, time with family, decorations, and so many other things. Yet it is also the season of hope. Of a belief in a better tomorrow, and a time to celebrate a Babe born so long ago who came to save the world.
I know for non-believers, it doesn’t always make sense. There is so much about the Christian faith that relies on belief, not seeing. To quote from The Santa Claus movie “Seeing isn’t believing; Believing is seeing.” Sometimes, I think more often than not, we aren’t going to see the entire path in front of us. We just have to believe that it’s there.
This season may be different for us than many others in the past, but we choose to celebrate no matter what circumstances we find ourselves because it isn’t just about tinsel, and lights, good food, time with family and all the other little things we do. It’s about so much more. It’s about hope, faith, and love. It’s about a love so great that a baby would be born, and grow up to suffer and die for us. Our circumstances cannot change that. Tis the season for joy, for reflection and peace. Because in this season, we got the greatest gift we could have possibly dreamed of, and nothing on this earth can ever change that.