Yearly Goals

New Year’s looks different in 2020, but less different than you’d think.

We were never ones for huge get-togethers or parties to ring in the new year. The last few years, it was dinner with a couple of friends, and then joining another small group (like, seven other people) for some games and drinks before heading home around 11 and watching Bob’s Burgers until we fell asleep. So while I wish I could play Balderdash with my Game Night crew, or have a glass of wine while watching The Twilight Zone or The Three Stooges with my folks and my brother for the fifty-millionth time, I’ll be okay doing the Zoom thing for (hopefully) one more major holiday.

The two things that I am keeping consistent, though, have been The Big Clean (ughhh, that felt so good), and goal-setting.

2020 was a weird year for obvious reasons, but on a more personal level, it was weird because the goals I was most certain I’d fail at were the ones that I made the most progress with. Practicing art and drawing and not abandoning works and projects just because they were initially imperfect or disappointing; sticking to things; putting myself out there creatively. I had some degree of success with all of those endeavor this year, which isn’t just cool progress on 2020 goals, it’s… huge progress for me as a person.

I’d like to keep up the momentum this year. My main goals for 2021 are:

  1. Keep going out for collaborative art projects. I need to be more proactive about being social and “networking” with the artists I’m working with, but this could yield good opportunities and growth for me.
  2. Consider gallery submissions again. My first submission went nowhere because it was literally a week before COVID shutdowns, but I’m a far better artist nine months down the line, and ready to try again.
  3. Start making and collecting ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)! These have fascinated me since, no joke, the late-90s, when I first heard of them, but I never really explored the whole concept. I’ve been looking into it recently, and it seems like a lot of fun!
  4. Make it a point to buy art (and art can include jewelry and clothing) that I genuinely love, not just mass manufactured pieces because they’re cheaper (note: sometimes I genuinely love the mass manufactured piece, and that’s ok! But the deciding factor should be whether or not I love it).
  5. Practice mindful eating and exercise. I’m not interested in getting “thin.” I’m not even interested in losing weight. But my cholesterol is through the roof, I’m pre-diabetic, and I’m hypertensive. I want to drink more water, listen to my body, eat cleaner foods (i.e., more lean proteins, fruits, and veggies, with an eye on cholesterol and glycemic index) and get in some enjoyable movement every day. Having a sedentary job and being on lockdown in a highly urban area with a young child means I have not gotten out of the house and gotten moving in a very, very long time.
  6. Practice digital painting more.
  7. Read more poetry, and start writing my own again. I want to be okay with the idea that a poem can take days or weeks to write, especially if the bulk of my creative energy is going elsewhere. But I miss poetry, and I’d like to touch base with it again.
  8. Be more organized and utilize the schedules and scaffolding I’m putting in place for myself. The check-lists are thorough, cleanly designed, and detailed. And I need to learn to use them.

Those are the big focuses. For all my long-term goals and ambitions, my DayZeroProject bucket list is a living document (which you can find here; feel free to follow!), but the goals listed above are priorities for the year.

What do you hope 2021 holds for you?

The Big Clean 2.0

So we are past Thanksgiving, which means — in my eyes at least — it’s basically Christmas. And once it’s (basically) Christmas, the year is (basically) over.

Can you believe??

There are some days I wake up and 2020 has felt interminable, and some mornings where I wake up surprised at the chill in the air because part of my brain has stalled out in mid-March, but either way, next week in the first week of December. 2020 has days left in it.

Fucking finally, honestly. Despite being cautiously optimistic about the new year — Trump finally ousted, several potential vaccines, a number of personal projects on the horizon — I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself. There’s still a ways to go, I know, and likely I’ll be spending the earlier part of the year still mostly homebound (which isn’t necessarily the worst thing, honestly). But, if I’m going to still be stuck at home, my home is going to be my fucking sanctuary.

So, it’s time to start prepping for The Big Clean 2.0.

I did a Big Clean last year; it was part of the earliest days of this iteration of the blog. Essentially, I made a massive list of things to do around the house, and tore the house apart, one room at a time, in the liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s. Walls were scrubbed, cabinets were reorganized, matresses were flipped, linens were laundered, closets were cleared out.

After spending most of this year in the house, rest assured that there is much to be done this year as well.

The purpose of The Big Clean — my entire point in doing it last year — was the idea that, I am most creative and more productive when I set myself up for success. I have considerable executive functioning issues, so the more scaffolding I can put into place to establish organization, routines, schedules, etc. the better my mental, emotional, and creative health. In the past, that has meant creating daily schedules and checklists, buying and organizing craft and home storage, and getting a daily planner.

Most of those items from last year have fallen by the wayside as my needs have changed and adapted to our “new normal;” my morning routine is significantly different to what it used to be, my nutritional and exercise needs are drastically different (and my health, as I’ve mentioned before, is suffering as a result), and my systems of organization need refining, especially as I am using my crafting supplies more frequently and need to figure out how to adapt the storage to be both more mobile (I do a lot of work in my living room) and more inconspicuous (for the same reason).

It also means refreshing my perspective, my goals, and my personal space — both online and off. My bucket list, for example, has lain stagnant on this website for a while — I frequently forget to update and check in on it, and it doesn’t get a ton of engagement. That last part doesn’t bother me per se — I keep it because I like documenting my progress in pursuit of goals for personal accountability, and that was a major part of starting this blog — but, sans regular engagement, I often forget that it’s there, and if I’m not checking in on it every once in a while, I’m likely not making any progress on it, either. That being said, there are also a number of goals I’d put on this list out of a feeling of obligation, and goals I kept off out of a sense of them being a bridge too far, and neither of those things is really conducive to keeping a bucket list. The items should be a true reflection of your personal goals and desires, and not dictated by how obligated you feel to achieve them (“I should really put ‘write a novel’ on there, even though I really don’t love writing long-form fiction, because isn’t that the ultimate Writer’s Aspiration?”) or how plausible they seem (“I mean, touring around Italy sounds amazing, but would we ever really be able to afford it?” Bitch, if you make it a priority and shop smart, you might). I will be moving my bucket list, going forward, to a social bucket list site — DayZeroProject, or one of the Bucketlists, .org or .net ,who knows — which I can still link from here, but through which I can also gain targeted engagement with likeminded folks, so that hopefully my goals will stay closer to the forefront of my mind than they do with the current, less dynamic system.

I’m also going to take down my art page and link instead to an off-site gallery — I’m currently on DeviantArt, and actually like the community, so I may stay there and link to my DeviantArt portfolio — in order to save space on my account, and I have a lot of poetry from past NaPoWriMos and other older, abandoned projects to include in my Writing archive.

This weekend, I will be setting the list of To Dos for The Big Clean 2.0; I learned some things from last year that I will be implementing this year (i.e., the proper order in which to tear apart a room to avoid driving yourself crazy; where you can cut corners without feeling like you’re slacking; where the extra time and effort is really needed, etc) and made some discoveries along the way (such as how satisfying it is to own actual art from independent makers as opposed to mass market trinkets, and how that’s going to be a goal of mine in 2021, as well as creating a place in my home to properly display it (that’s going on the bucket list; you’ll see).

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me this weekend, since along with all this planning, I have two piece of art I’m working on, and a lot of organizational stuff I need to do in order to prep for work on Monday and Tuesday.

Anyone else, with a glimmer of hope in their hearts, planning for the new year?

Stay safe and sane. Stay hopeful.

Busy Hands

I think I’m going to recommit to learning American Sign Language this week.  It’s been ages (I don’t even know how long, honestly) since I’ve gotten any practice in.  I stalled out at Lesson 13 sometimes in probably February and just haven’t gotten back to it.

I know a lot has been said, including by me personally, about not feeling pressured to be “productive” or to emerge from quarantine with a bevy of new skills in tow.  But my anxiety has been hovering around baseline (with a lot of restrictions on social media consumption), and if I’m in a headspace conducive to pursuing an interest, I might as well — I certainly have the time to fill.

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve pursued any ASL studies, I remember feeling about it the way I feel about drawing now: how strange and unfortunate it was that I put off practicing it for so long under the baseless assumption that I would be no good at it.  And not just “no good” to start — everyone starts out not being good — but never any good.  I had somehow convinced myself that I would never get any better at either skill, because I had this perception of myself as being uncoordinated.  Which, to be fair, I am; but there are different kinds of coordination, and coordination can be improved with practice.  Within a couple of weeks of starting sign practice, I was remembering and recalling signs, able to show some dialectical variations; I was actually learning.  I was getting better.

So I’m going to start setting an alarm for 2:00 pm each day, and take an hour or so to work on ASL.  My work is done for the day by then, and any chores I do with any regularity should certainly be out of the way by then.  Let’s get back on track.


Speaking of improvements, I recently unearthed the mini-sketchbook I bought from Dollar Tree back in 2018 when I decided I was going to try my hand at Inktober, and oh my God, is that sketchbook a revelation, let me tell you.  Again, I know I have a long way to go, but it’s amazing how, even with sporadic practice (it’s really only since December/January that I’ve made art/drawing a regular part of my routine) my art has grown in leaps and bounds.

I have three new drawings to upload anyway, so I think I’ll try to find something relatively analogous (in subject matter or composition) for each of those in my Inktober sketchbook to do a side-by-side comparison.  That ought to be good for a laugh.


I spent some time today working from a resource my husband uncovered on Twitter¹ called Croquis Cafe.  They have both a Vimeo and a photo reference gallery of nude models for gesture drawing, anatomy drawing, etc. and it’s really great.  I did a few sketches of their model Tamara and was happy with the results.  (Also, please notice the emphasis — the subject matter is entirely non-sexual, but it is still full nudity, so NSFW, if that’s relevant to you).

Stay busy, safe, and sane everyone.  My husband is picking up reusable face masks for us tomorrow, courtesy of a friend who made them for us for free (two each for Bear and I, five for Andy since he’s an essential worker).  I’m hoping this makes me feel secure and safe enough to leave the house to go for walks and get a little fresh air, since I am actually starting to get a little stir-crazy.


¹ I deleted and recreated my Twitter yet again, because I still don’t know exactly what I want to use it for.  I start doing Twitter writing challenges and amass a following of folks who are very much Twitter Writers, and then I lose interest and start posting about, like, DnD Real Play podcasts, and I just know they’re all going “WTF?” and meanwhile my reading list is just haiku and self-promos (which is an absolutely valid use of Twitter, but I’m definitely not the target audience).  If you use Twitter for a smattering of personal.creative things, hit me up: @milkandkerosene.  I have zero followers and like, two tweets at the moment.

On Lockdown

No 31 Day Challenge today, because today’s prompts seemed like it was essentially a repeat of Day 12, so I’m skipping it.  Not going to rehash what we’ve already gone over.

The Governor has just made an official announcement that 1.) all schools in my state are now closed through April 7th; 2.) all bars and restaurants are closed; and 3.) all gathering of over 25 people are prohibited.

So I’m now at home — mostly alone, since Andy works security and still has to go in, at least until further notice — with a five year old.  Who, by the way, thinks this is the greatest thing ever.

I’m going to try to keep Bear’s weekday routine as close to usual as possible, which means up early, breakfast, circle time, chores, some academics, arts and crafts, and then independent art or reading (basically hobby time).  I also found some basic Draw With Me tutorials for little kids and some pretty simple beginner recorder tutorials so that maybe he can learn to make a pleasant noise on that damn thing.  I’m hoping that I’ll have the opportunity to do some of the things that I’ve been putting off as well.

My Quarantine To-Do

  1.  Clean the basement and the garage.  Once the weather gets nice and the worst of this passes (hopefully), I’d like to open up the garage and use it to augment the finished basement as a gathering spot, as well as use it as a more expansive arts and crafts studio.
  2. Continue with my Sign Language learning.  It’s once again been a very long time since I managed to sit and study lessons, and I feel it slipping from me again, so I want to try to devote at least an hour a day to it.
  3. Read more.  Our library is closed, but I have three books currently out on digital loan and a massive bookshelf filled with books that I’ve never read.
  4. Catch up on TV and/or start some shows I’ve been putting off.  Killing Eve, Derry Girls, Shrill, and Fleabag are onlya few of the shows I’ve had recced to me, and I’m hoping to have time to sit and actually consume new media.
  5. Start painting with acrylic again.  I got the house cleaned today, and I actually have space, as well as time, to spread out my paints and actually work.
  6. Plan out a topic and start setting up posts for Blogging A-to-Z, and get in the habit of note-taking and brainstorming for NaPoWriMo.  I often like to keep to the prompts for NaPo, but it’s not a requirement, and some prep might be good for me this year.
  7. Play some online games with my friends and family.  I’m trying to set up a movie night via screen-sharing on Discord, and my siblings and I want to pick a night to play Card Against Humanity or Uno online.
  8. Do some self-care.  Exercise, maintain a hygeine regiment, treat myself in small ways (pick up a hair mask or an exfolianting face mask on a grocery run, painting my nails a fun color, etc.), do some crossword puzzles, remember to gratitude journal everyday.
  9. Start a YouTube channel.  
  10. Create some ‘zines.  I often have little, fragmented ideas for art or stories that really don’t lend themsleves to something long form, so this would be a great time to turn them into something short form.  And hey, maybe even eventually sell them.
  11. Finish up my fanfics.  All, what, five of them by now.
  12. Pratice calligraphy.  My father-in-law is a master calligrapher, and bought me a set of pens and gifted me an old, ornate book for me to learn, and I’ve just been putting it off.  Maybe now’s the time.

What are you all doing while you’re homebound?

It’s Sunday.  This… suddenly means less than it used to.  Chill out, relax.  Nothing to do now but stay safe, sane, and busy.

Goals for 2020

First thing’s first, my daily sketch:
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This was about a 20 minute sketch, done while my soup was simmering on the stove (White bean and kale, if you’re wondering).  I was very happy with the proportions, as that tends to be what I struggle with most (I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s much better than my usual attempts, especially given the time frame).  Again, I have trouble with matching the values; I don’t go as dark on the dark, and the lights tend to be glaringly so; I attribute that partly to lack of skill, sure, but also I feel like if I had softer, more rounded pencils, I’d be able to do more fluid gradients of shading.  As it is, I only have my mechanical pencil, which is generally fine because I usually prefer to ink or paint anyway.

Today was my first day back to reality in two weeks, and I take comfort in the fact that everyone at work seemed as dazed and confused as I was.  I barely slept last night, but I was up with my alarm by 5:20, and eased into the day by brewing a cup of coffee, having a shower, writing up some brief morning pages and a to-do list, and listening to a favorite episode of Worst Bestsellers (which, if you like bad books, is highly recommended.  The episode I was listening to was their crossover with I Don’t Even Own a Television, another “bad books” podcast which I very much recommend.  I also may have a bit of a crush on  J.W. Friedman, but that’s neither here nor there).  Work itself was productive but overall uneventful (which, rest assured, is a good thing), but I am selfishly glad that tomorrow is Friday already, because the day also felt like it lasted several.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday that, in addition to my bucket list goals (a living list that grows sporadically), I have some 2020-specific goals that I want to cast out into to ether in the hopes that it will help hold me accountable.

  1.  Consume more media.  Which, honestly, probably sounds weird, but.  If I want to produce content — poetry, painting, short fiction — I need to be consuming content.  That’s reality.  I tend to get into ruts of “Comfort listening/watching/reading” things: endlessly watching the same show, or listening to the same album (or, worse, song) over and over, ad infinitum (and nowadays, a lot of that is media is also directed at and intended for five-year-olds).  I don’t intend to stop that, per se (that’s also kind of part and parcel of my neurodivergence, I think), but I do want to expand past that.  Watch new TV shows, stand-up specials (which used to be one of my favorite things to do), listen to new music and podcasts, read new books and poems.  Speaking off…
  2. Read 50 books in 2020.  I used to do that, easy, when I was in college — not so much because I was reading books for school, but more that I was reading books to avoid the books I had to read for school.  Also, I had long waits between classes and not exactly a ton of friends (okay, like five, basically).  Now, with the ADHD, the kid, a full-time job, and other creative pursuits, I’ve let this slip and I want to rectify that.  Today I started Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Springmostly because I’d been musing about meta-writing, and I’d loved her Writing Down the Bones when I was younger.
  3. Buy people more thoughtful presents.  I don’t love how commercial the holidays have become, but I do like buying people gifts.  I especially love buying themed gifts, or handmade gifts, or just unique gifts in general, but I tend not to do so as often as I’d like because November rolls around and I suddenly feel the time crunch because I know the holidays will be here any minute and I just need to get things done.  Throughout the year, I’d like to make it a point to pick things up for people whenever I see something I think they would genuinely love or that would bring them pleasure, instead of making a mad dash to the mall two weeks before the holiday.  I also want to buy more secondhand, or from small businesses or independent makers.
  4. Take more photos of my loved ones.  I have approximately five hundred thousand pictures of Bear.  I have maybe a dozen of my husband.  Fewer of my siblings, and almost none at all of my parents.  Even photos of friends haven’t really been a thing for a while now.  I try to enjoy things in the moment, and made a conscious effort, years ago, to not go camera-crazy, but now I feel like I have no momentos of so many instances and events in my life, that I really want to strike a healthy balance.
  5. Do something special for my husband for Valentine’s Day/our anniversary.  (I just realized that sounded like I’m conflating those two dates; they are not the same day.  Our anniversary is July 17th).  My husband always treats me and surprises me in little ways on special occasions, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever really returned to gesture adequately.  I’d like to either buy him something special or treat him to a meaningful experience.  Since this’ll be our 10th anniversary, it seems like as good of a time as any.
  6. Return to a regular gym routine/eat more nutritiously.  I don’t do diets, especially diets that outright exclude any particular food or food group, but I do think eating reasonable portions, drinking lots of water, regularly exercising, and eating more of the “good” stuff is generally pretty solid life advice, and I should follow it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

New Year

I don’t want to burden Bear with the whole New Year’s Resolution trend just yet, but it’s hard to talk about the upcoming year with him without mentioning or bringing up particular goals.  He’s cottoned on to the idea that people make changes at the start of a new year; it’s in pop culture, on TV, and he unavoidably hears me and my friends talk about our own ambitions.

I asked him if he had any goals for the new year.  He thought about it for a minute before deciding his goal for 2020 would be “to listen to [his] grown-ups better,” which overall I think is actually a pretty great, self-aware goal.  I tried to suggest that maybe he’d want to consider “keeping [his] room clean” or “trying new food” as a goal, but then I thought, hmm, if I ask him to clean his room or eat his broccoli, wouldn’t his own resolution to listen to me better hold him to doing it?

Man, it’s so rare a loophole works to my benefit.

I mean, realistically, he’s likely going to recant literally the minute he’s actually asked to do something he doesn’t like, but still, at five I appreciate the self-awareness.  At least he knows it’s something he needs to work on.  I guess it’s still up to me to help strategize how that’s actually going to be accomplished.

My own resolution is a little more loosely framed this year than it had been in the past; basically I want to make measurable progress on at least five of my bucket list goals (the primary focus right now being returning to the gym, drinking more water, and eating more “real” food), and knock out the ones that are one-offs (i.e., buy a binder, get a tattoo, write five fan letters, etc.)

So much of what’s on the bucket list are creative goals — at some point during the summer I became obsessed with publishing a zine or a chapbook, and I still want to follow through on that, and I’m determined to host a limited run podcast, though I’m having a hell of a time finding someone to co-host with me (I have a number of different ideas for what I’d want to do, but again, having trouble finding a co-host).  Painting and writing are always top priority as well, though I feel like I made great strides in 2019 towards making them part of a semi-daily routine; in their case, it’s more carrying forward and continuing the momentum rather than forging a new habit from the ground up.  Oh, and if it hasn’t become apparent, I’m also trying my best to write something everyday — yes, even if it’s just a “what I did today” entry.  2019 was the surest proof that “branded” blogging is just not for me — I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t want to do it.  I just want to talk, damn it, and have a place to keep the things I make that I’m proudest of.

I hope I make a lot of things I’m proud of this year.

My bucket list, by the way, is a sort of living document, so I’m constantly updating it and adding new goals.  I encourage others to try it out in the new year — I did it back in 2011/2012 and actually had a lot of success!  This was back on LiveJournal, and the memory of it was actually one of the things that spurred me to return to personal blogging.  I found a community of like-minded folks that actually offered real support and feedback on my goals, my failures, and my successes, and it was probably the time of my life I felt most successful and productive.

If you have, or plan to make, a bucket list, please share it with me here.


Oh, and on the topic of bucket list goals, specifically “Produce one sketch every day,” here’s today’s (getting a head start):

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