Monthly Review: December 2017

December is a reflective month for me, between doing a personal annual review and a creative annual review. It’s also a month of recovery, after the intensity of November’s NaNoWriMo challenge.

Last month’s review.

Creatively Productive — doing pretty well

  • After years of putting it off, I finally created a Society6 shop and uploaded six designs! One thing I get to cross off the creative bucket list ;) Five were adapted from previous work, and I created one new illustration.
  • I re-read the draft of my Beauty and the Beast retelling that I wrote during NaNoWriMo. It’s worth finishing, phew! And I think the scene cards are working — I didn’t find any scenes that obviously needed to be removed.
  • I started re-reading the draft of my work-in-progress novel. I spent a lot of time over the spring reworking the first quarter, and I think that work paid off.
  • I did two outlining sessions and one actual writing session, where I wrote 2800 words over 5 pomodoros :)
  • I completed a creative annual review for my writing and graphic design productivity, work and practice. I evaluated how I did in 2017, and set goals for 2018.

Creative Work I want to Accomplish In January

  • Finish re-reading WIP novel draft
  • Write more of Beauty and the Beast first draft
    • Write scenes I’ve already created scene cards for
    • Prepare additional scene cards, and finish preparing the ones I’ve started
    • Goal = finish writing Act 2

process goals for Creative Work In January

I’m going to try following the creative process goals outlined in my 2017 creative annual review:

  • Complete 7 Pomodoros a week
  • Continue attending group writing sessions, and re-start solo writing sessions
  • Draw one day a week

Play — doing OK

  • I went to a Franz Ferdinand concert — one of my favorite bands. Beforehand, we tried a new all-vegan burger place. (Unfortunately the concert wasn’t great and the food was too rich so I got sick :P)
  • After getting back from out of town, I ordered a bunch of comics and coffee table type books from the library to finish out the year with some new reading material. I highly recommend The Photo Ark by Joel Sartore, a book of animal portraits that draws out their personalities while encouraging conservation.
  • While visiting my family, we went to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, where they were having a special exhibit butterfly room. They also had tons of pitcher plants, which I LOVE.
  • We’re hosting New Year’s Eve!

Ways to Play in January

  • Take a TBD “date” with DH
  • Go snowshoeing with my neighbor
  • Make a pilgrimage to see (a copy of) one of my favorite sculptures that I’ve never seen in person

Comfortable Sustainable Living — doing well

  • I’m desperately trying anything that might make it so I have fewer weeds to pull next year. What I’m testing out: cover crop (red clover), thick layer of cardboard, plastic sheeting, and burlap. Fingers crossed!
  • I bought carbon offsets for my holiday flight.
  • We decided to spring for a cleaning service, after years of putting it off. I got online quotes from four companies before picking one based on Yelp reviews.
  • I got a cold brew kit from my work White Elephant gift exchange, which I’d been planning to buy anyway for DH! We made our first batch of cold brew right away.
  • Since my allergies seem to get worse every year, I’m hoping to make this spring easier, so I got an air purifier for my bedroom.
  • Report back on robot cat box: one cat is too scared to use it; the other cat will use it but doesn’t step on the trigger stair that starts the cleaning cycle. Not the complete upgrade we were hoping for, but still better than nothing. I have to trigger the cat box cleaning, but that’s better than me or DH doing it ;)

Make January Comfortable and Sustainable

Taking Care of Myself — doing OK

  • Some little things popped up with my body towards the end of November and beginning of December to make me realize how stressed I was, so I took a day off at the beginning of the month to help me recover from NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure how effective it was.
  • I watched some fun movies I’d never gotten around to watching, on nights when I didn’t feel up to reading.
  • My work offers a free yoga class once a week at lunch, so I went for the first time. (I was very sore!)
  • I did one weight training workout.
  • Towards the end of the month, after planning out what habits I want to continue or build in 2018, I started to meditate before bed again.
  • For the last week of the month, I finally prepped a meal plan. (I also prepped one for the last weekend of December / first week of January.) (Download the meal planning template (.pdf) I made for myself, if you like it.)

What I actually ate (italics = different): Sat: oatmeal; leftover 7-layer dip, chips; tortellini and pasta sauce (store was out of mushrooms, and I wanted something easier to make); Sun: Indian buffet; eat out (salmon burger); Mon: scrambled eggs, country potatoes, coffee cake (I love brunch!); leftovers; carrots, cauliflower, rice, poached egg; Tues: leftover potatoes, scrambled eggs, coffee cake; leftovers, sausage, apple; andalusian chickpea and cabbage stew, rice (forgot to buy eggplant…); Weds: leftover potatoes, scrambled egg; leftovers, sausage, fruit; eat out (broccoli stir fry, pad thai); Thurs: leftover coffee cake; leftovers; eat out (veggie burger); Fri: oatmeal; eat out; chickpea pasta soup

My takeaway from the meal plan: I ate out twice when I hadn’t planned it, and swapped one complex dinner for an easy one. I think I should have only two to three complex / slow-to-make dinners, and fill the rest with easier dinners. I tried three new recipes, one of which was a definite keeper. Overall I did pretty well at either staying on plan or subbing in something healthy.

Active Lifestyle Goals for January

  • Participate in walking challenge at work (I’m team captain)

Wellness and Self-Care Goals for January

  • Meditate before bed on weeknights
  • Get an eye exam and order new glasses
  • Participate in work yoga at least twice
  • Do a weight training workout on Mondays
  • Re-start afternoon stretching break on workdays

Dietary Goals for January

  • Create a meal plan each week

Strategic Spending and Saving — doing pretty well

  • As part of my annual review, DH and I talked through our saving strategy and have planned some adjustments for 2018. We are still discussing how to prioritize our goals, between home improvements, early retirement savings and paying off the house, and taking vacations.
  • I set up automated transfers to our retirement accounts, investment account, and savings accounts for vacation and home improvement for 2018.
  • In reviewing my 2017 goals, I found one I’d forgotten about: donating a dollar for every book I read to my local library foundation. I love my library (and libraries in general), and I’m happy I can afford to contribute :)

Spending and Savings Goals for January

  • Make a prior year contribution to max out DH’s 2017 IRA contributions
  • Reduce our restaurant spending (current monthly average = $1,174 according to my credit card)
  • Meet the new savings goals and see if it feels doable or too tight

About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

One thought on “Monthly Review: December 2017

  1. Love your hoodie designs. They are a great idea.
    The automatic transfers for the savings is a great idea it’s so easy to think “I’ll do that” when the pay cheque comes in and then not do it whereas if it’s done automatically it happens without you thinking about it.

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