2014 Fall Bucket List

As much as I hate to be a bandwagon jumper, the idea of making a fall bucket list is just too perfect for me to pass up. I mean, you already know I love lists. And by now you should also already know that I adore fall. So combining the two seems like an inevitable act that will bring joy to my heart, regardless of how many people have already beat me to it! Sorry not sorry ‘bout it—and so here it is:

Fall 2014 bucket list.

My Fall Bucket List

  1. Find the best vantage point and watch the Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes Rodeo.
  2. Bake pumpkin zucchini bread.
  3. Make my own perfect #PSL.
  4. Bake this pumpkin cake.
  5. Bake the best pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
  6. Carve jack-o-lanterns.
  7. Toast the pumpkin seeds.
  8. Roast marshmallows with friends.
  9. Go to McCall’s Haunted Farm.
  10. Go shooting with Ryan.
  11. Go to White Sands & photograph the full moon rising.
  12. Hike the Sandias when the leaves start changing.
  13. Walk through the Bosque, also when the leaves are changing.
  14. Take a notebook, and maybe a picnic, and sit outside to write.
  15. Jump in a huge pile of leaves.
  16. Do something crafty for the apartment.
  17. Fall-themed photo shoot.
  18. Celebrate my best friends’ birthdays and my own birthday.
  19. Update my wardrobe.
  20. Listen to Taylor Swift’s new album 800 times.
  21. Charlie Brown & Lucy photos with Wally (Snoopy).
  22. THE BLACK KEYS CONCERT IN DENVER.
  23. Throw Friendsgiving celebration again.
  24. Give 30 days of thanks.
  25. Start Christmas shopping early.
  26. DON’T get sucked into Black Friday shopping.

5 Ways to Make Progress Towards Your Goals

5 ways to make progress on your goals

I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on life or even achieving your dreams. While I’ve read and heard the opinions of the masses regarding finding happiness and success in life, and I’ve seen a lot of inspirational quotes on Pinterest, the truth is that I’m only 23, and I have a lot to learn before I can deem myself a successful adult or become any sort of expert on anything.

That said, in the past few weeks I have made a few personal discoveries that have demonstrated to be beneficial to my achievement of my goals. I often find myself overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do and hope to accomplish. I want to keep up with this blog, but also keep up with my creative writing. I want to grow my photography business, but also remain invested in my day job now. I want to live a healthy lifestyle complete with a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen, but I also want to bake all the sweets in the world. I want to try new recipes, keep a clean house, and still have time to watch TV with my husband. I want to host parties and go out with friends, but I also want to stay home and veg after a long week. I want to travel the world, but also save money to invest in a home.

It’s enough to make you just want to bury your head in your pillow and never come out of bed. And I know I’m not alone in this dilemma. But over the weekend I came to a sort of sense of peace. I realized in which ways I can change to make myself more productive towards achieving my goals, and I also realized that it’s okay to not be able to work towards them all at once—because, well, that would just be impossible.

Thus, the five things I, the total non-expert, suggest for anyone who hopes to strengthen their progress to their own goals:

  1. Ask for what you want. If you don’t let your desires be known, then no one will have any reason to grant them to you. I have always had a hard time with this. I am a naturally quiet, people-pleasing person. I don’t like to raise a fuss. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this a few times lately. When I found out there would be an editorial position at the press opening, I went straight to our editor-in-chief and asked him what he’d suggest I do to best be considered for it. I turned down another opportunity at the press in hopes that the editorial job would pan out, and it did. If I had just sat around and taken what was first offered to me, I would not be in the job I’m in now. Similarly, I would not be shooting my first wedding in a couple weeks if I had not reached out to my friend who was searching for a photographer. Putting myself out there with my desires known was terrifying, but it has paid off time and time again.
  2. Start the day off right. Sometimes, my favorite thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to park myself right in front of the TV for a lazy couple of hours. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can get me started on a lazy streak throughout the rest of the day. Last Saturday, I woke up at 9, got myself a bowl of cereal and some coffee, and delved into my writing project all morning. Starting off the day with doing something productive actually made me feel ready to tackle the other things on my to-do list, like doing the dishes and adding to my photography website. Then I got some relaxing time in later, and felt better about taking it.
  3. Balance your time between your tasks and pursuits. If you have several things you NEED to get done during the week, don’t overestimate your time and energy and expect to get them all done at once. I get much less stressed if I divide each day during the week by tasks. For example: Monday I’ll catch up on blogging; Tuesday I’ll take care of photography business; etc. This doesn’t always work out, especially since there are other things that do have to be every day, but it helps me feel better when I reach the end of a day and realize I had no time for blogging after I worked, went to the grocery store, worked out, made dinner, and did creative writing for half an hour.
  4. Come up with realistic short-term and long-term goals. Strive for something you know you could achieve in the short term, if you put your mind to it. And keep all your short-term goals in mind when you think of your big, long-term goal. It’s okay if it seems unattainable at first. It’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to go through a lot of short-term goals before you’ll reach your long-term one. It’s okay. Your goals will keep you focused.
  5. Pray and/or meditate. Whether you’re religious or not, taking five minutes out of your day to recount your blessings, ask for your wants, and free your mind of all preoccupations has such an effect on your zen. It’s freeing.

Happy pursuits, my friends. Did I miss anything on my list? What do you do to increase your productivity?

love always, Delia

UPDATE on My 101 Things in 1001 Days

101 things in 1001 days February 2014 update

Welp, it’s been about over a month since I posted my list of 101 goals to accomplish in the next 1001 days, and it seems I’m due for an update. I’ve got to say, having this list to refer to and hold myself accountable for has really given me a sense of purpose  I don’t know that I’ve felt before. I’ve loved having a concrete list (no surprise there—you know how I love lists) of things I want to accomplish to remind myself of what I am working towards. And, since I’ve been keeping up with this blog as I vowed to myself I would, I’ve become so enchanted with the blogging world and all of the wonderful people who comprise it, that I’ve simply become more and more inspired to keep up with it all. So thank you also to all of the bloggers out there whose blogs I’ve been hungrily poring through at a rate I didn’t think possible!

And now, I’d like to toot my own horn for a second and add a couple of things that I’ve also done in the past month that didn’t happen to appear on my list (BESIDES transferring to a custom URL, which you can already see I’m excited about), just because I’m that proud of myself for getting shiz done! As you may have seen in my latest photo posts, I’ve recently designed my own logo and begun applying it in my new watermark for all of my shared photographs. I think of this as a significant, if small, step towards legitimizing my photography business, so it gets me really excited.

PLUS, I’ve also started flossing my teeth every single night. Which, for me, is actually a really major accomplishment.

Check out my progress so far on my goals below:

Purchases
11. New bed frame + headboard.
– Ryan is in progress of designing these for us!
12. End table.
– we just received one from Ryan’s parents, so that should tide us over for now

Career Advancement
21. Use tuition remission benefit to take writing and digital arts continuing education classes.
– just signed up for these + I started a photography class Monday night!
22. Use tuition remission benefit to take graduate writing classes.
– planned for Fall 2014
23. Use tuition remission benefit to take a copy-editing class.
– just started the class!
24. Actively pursue editorial tasks at work.
– in progress
25. Become fluent with permissions process, & any other relevant aspect of publishing possible.
– in progress

Writing
28. Write something every day.
– in progress–even if it’s just a list, I’ve been keeping this up
29. Write to a prompt once a week.
– I admit, I need to do better
30. Write a blog post at least 1-2 times every week.
– in progress, so far successful!
41. Continue writing for Newscastic at least once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!
42. Grow the blog & engage in blog communities.
– in progress, and I’m loving it

Photography & Design
43. Take & post one manually shot photo a week.
– in progress, so far successful!
53. Launch my own website.
– in progress of researching options now

Travel
64. Take a road trip.
– planned  for June 2014
70. Hike the Grand Canyon.
– planned for June 2014

Marriage
81. Have a date night once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!
82. Exercise together.
– in progress

Cooking, Baking, & Crafts
88. Cook or bake something new at least once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!

Personal
93. Read at least one book every month.
– I’m failing at this, but I will make it up & do better
94. Exercise at least once a week (but try for 3 times).
– in progress, so far successful!
97. Once a month, watch a small budget movie I’ve never heard of.
– been totally killing this one, thank you Netflix

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the success of this year so far. I’ve really been starting to dip toe, foot, and leg into blogging, and I’ve been writing for either the blog, myself, or NewsCastic, almost every single day. I’ve also been keeping busy taking photos and editing them for my portfolio every week, and I’ve just committed myself to 3 photography classes, 1 online editing class, and an creative writing class with a friend from work, all this spring. When I’ve not buzzing around with all that, or around the kitchen fixing up some new experiment, I’ve been spending time with my hubby watching the Olympics, Jimmy Fallon, or some new Netflix find. Life is good. I definitely need to pick up on my reading, but baby steps!

I’ve certainly got my hands full. Good thing I like it that way. How have your goals for the year (or more) been going?

love always, Delia

101 Things in 1001 Days

Long lists

This girl’s always loved her lists.

Making lists of things you want to do is not only good for motivation, but it is also a nice record to look back on months or years down the road. It’s an opportunity to see what mattered to you most at one time, remind you of what you have accomplished, and make you note what has changed most, and what you still hold important to do.

I know that I’m not normally the big “New Year’s Resolution” type, but I got this idea from a great friend of mine and, being the big listing type, I just had to make my own! I’m actually really excited about this particular resolution-esque attempt of mine. Just since compiling the list a couple weeks ago (this post is a little late because, well, thinking of 101 things was harder than I thought it’d be) I’ve felt a deeper sense of purpose in my everyday life, because I’ve just laid out all my biggest long- and short-term goals for myself.

So, here it is, on the blog for the world to see, even if it’s just so other people might hold me accountable…

My 101 Things in 1001 Days:
started 1/15/2014

Finances
1. Save a sizeable down payment for a house.
2. Save for below purchases.
3. Invest
4. Start family planning

Purchases
5. New laptop.
6. New phone for Ryan.
7. 50mm lens.
8. Macro lens.
9. Long lens.
10. Bedside table.
11. New bed frame + headboard.
12. End table.
13. Console table.
14. Dog and/or cat.

Career Advancement
15. Apply to the Creative Writing MFA program at UNM.
16. Research other MFA programs and apply where Ryan applies to jobs.
17. Apply to the teaching assistantship at UNM.
18. Volunteer as a teacher, mentor, or tutor; gain teaching experience.
19. Apply for grants, scholarships, and graduate assistantships at UNM.
20. Study for and take GRE test, if necessary.
21. Use tuition remission benefit to take writing and digital arts continuing education classes.
22. Use tuition remission benefit to take graduate writing classes.
23. Use tuition remission benefit to take a copy-editing class.
24. Actively pursue editorial tasks at work.
25. Become fluent with permissions process, & any other relevant aspect of publishing possible.
26. Tell UNM Press authors & photographers who come into the office my interest in their field.
27. Network with former classmates in my fields of interest.

Writing
28. Write something every day.
29. Write to a prompt once a week.
30. Write a blog post at least 1-2 times every week.
31. Finish screenplay.
32. Submit screenplay to agents, production companies, and contests.
33. Write 10 memoir pieces/personal essays.
34. Write 5 new short stories.
35. Write about something I have no experience with.
36. Outline a novel.
37. Revise old pieces until they’re “done.”
38. Submit writing to at least 12 publications a year.
39. Try self e-publishing.
40. Find or found a local writing group.
41. Continue writing for Newscastic at least once a month.
42. Grow the blog & engage in blog communities.

Photography & Design
43. Take & post one manually shot photo a week.
44. Photograph an event for a stranger
45. Photograph a wedding
46. Photograph an engagement session
47. Photograph a portrait session.
48. Print a canvas of one of my own photos.
49. Design my own book cover.
50. Design my own business card.
51. Design Ryan’s business card.
52. Design something for a friend.
53. Launch my own website.

Travel
54. Take big trip to Europe; visit London, Dublin, Rome, Venice, Prague, Barcelona, and Majorca. (and maybe Athens and Paris)
55. Go on a couples’ vacation with friends.
56. Go back to Mexico.
57. Go to the Caribbean.
58. Weekend trip to Las Vegas.
59. Go back to New York.
60. Visit family and friends on the east coast.
61. Visit family and friends in LA.
62. Go back to Seattle.
63. Go to Hawaii.
64. Take a road trip.
65. See the white sands.
66. Go camping in Jemez again.
67. Go somewhere unexpected.
68. Go to Elephant Butte.
69. See the Carlsbad Caverns.
70. Hike the Grand Canyon.

Friends & Family
71. Give all our Christmas gifts on time.
72. Go hiking, especially with my dad.
73. Run for the Zoo with my dad.
74. Host a fondue night.
75. Spend time with work friends outside of work.
76. Buy my parents dinner.

Marriage
77. Edit long-cut and short-cut wedding video.
78. Bind wedding cards into book.
79. Change my name on all documents.
80. Celebrate first, second, and third anniversary.
81. Have a date night once a month.
82. Exercise together.
83. Go snowboarding.
84. Go to a concert—The Black Keys, if possible.
85. Go scuba diving/snorkeling.
86. Host house guests.

Cooking, Baking, & Crafts
87. Make Christmas gifts, starting in November.
88. Cook or bake something new at least once a month.
89. Make a four-course meal.
90. Make art pieces for walls.
91. Make coasters.
92. Set up large votive candles in coffee beans.

Personal
93. Read at least one book every month.
94. Exercise at least once a week (but try for 3 times).
95. Take dance classes.
96. Try the insanity work out.
97. Once a month, watch a small budget movie I’ve never heard of.
98. Try a food I think I don’t like.
99. Go back to church.
100. Read the Bible.
101. Practice Spanish with Ryan.

If you made it through that whole list, I sincerely congratulate you! I’ll try to keep giving updates as I cross things off my list. So, until next time!

The Balancing Act

To be a good writer, one must invest not only countless hours in the act of writing itself, but also an immeasurable amount of time simply living a life. With few life experiences, what would a writer have to illustrate to the world? If I were to sit in my room and do nothing but write all day, every day, quite honestly I feel like I would run out of things to say, of stories to tell. How could I create characters like the crabby Starbucks barista or convey the imagery of a snowboarder falling his way down the most scenic mountains in New Mexico, without experiencing such things myself? True, writers have the artistic license to make things up. But you can’t make up everything. I can’t tell you how many times my creative writing teachers have advised to take a break and go for a walk, go see a movie, have dinner with friends, go do something I’ve never done before. Writing must derive from some sort of inspiration. Personally, my best inspiration comes from just living life. The moment I relax, forget about my constant mental to-do list, and quit over-analyzing what the future has in store, I realize that I have something new to offer. Whether this is a new story idea or just an idea for a character’s development, my leaving the writing behind for awhile ultimately pays off. And much more wonderfully than it would have if I’d instead spent a couple extra hours staring at the computer screen.

Write what you know. That is the Golden Rule of creative writing I feel I’ve heard hundreds of times. And while its secondary rule is that it should be stretched as far as believably possible, every work of fiction, even the most fantastical and surrealistic, has elements that must be based in reality, in the author’s experience. Otherwise, no one will be interested, because there is nothing for a reader to identify with.

And, quite frankly, writing might even become as much a chore as a  minimum-wage job, if that is all a writer allows himself to do. And we don’t want that.

But here is my problem. I get so involved in the rest of my life that sometimes the actual writing-it-down part falls through the cracks. I’ll attain many of those moments of inspiration I mentioned before, make a mental note, but then not revisit the old files of mental notes stacking up in my brain until weeks later, when the sheer volume of them is so overwhelming that I haven’t the energy to put them to any use. This problem of mine is even more accentuated when it feels to me that my time is on fast forward, as it has been this summer. Somehow May has become late July, and I can’t seem to remember how I got here.

I attempt to keep up with my writing every day, as so many great writers advise. But I must get better at setting aside this time, because too often it gets swept aside for my studies, working, and keeping up commitments to friends and family. Sometimes it feels as though there isn’t enough time in the day, or enough days in a week, to accomplish all that I set my mind to. This is when I worry that my high hopes for all my writing endeavors either won’t pan out or will take far longer than I would hope to receive any vindication. There is too much rolling around in my brain that I want to get out, too much life to keep living, and too little time to do it all.

Do you have any advice towards a better balanced writing life?

On New Year’s Celebrations and Resolutions.

I’m sorry that this is about a week late, but let me tell you why I hate New Year’s.

It is one of the most hyped-up holidays with the least amount of follow-through. On January 31st, millions and millions of people across the world get together and wait around to count down until midnight in their respective time zones. The kids get a kick out of being allowed to stay up late, the adolescents and young adults enjoy in their favorite binge-drinking and hooking-up holiday, and the more mature crowds sip their champagne and discuss what changes they will implement in their lives in the year to come. While I normally try and avoid stereotypes, from my observations in the last 21 years of my life, this is what tends to occur. In the midst of all this celebration, people convince themselves that the year to come will be the best yet, because the year that is coming to an end will be easy to trump. But in the moment they don’t realize that 365 days before, they were saying the same thing, and 365 more days later, they will repeat themselves yet again. There are other types—those who appreciate the year they just had, and hope that the next year will bring similar blessings. These are better. But I still can’t help but wonder why, simply because the calendar switched from December to January, they might think that everything could change.

Furthermore, as all these New Year’s celebrators amp themselves up to be better individuals for good, starting tomorrow, they unknowingly, in my opinion, demonstrate themselves to be hypocrites. Next year will be better, one might say, but for now, I shall drink until I black out and wake up in the new year unaware of what happened in the last moments before midnight. Next year I will eat healthier and exercise, another might think, while downing the last pound of Christmas chocolate all at once—so that it won’t be around tomorrow, of course—and ignoring the likelihood that by January 9th, the exercise regiment will dwindle away. Next year all of this good stuff will happen, we just know it. But then in the morning we will read at least five news articles that pretend in their headlines to contain the scoop on what big changes we can expect this year, while actually proving by the end of the article that, though the economy, the politics, the environment, the entertainment world, etc., may fluctuate a bit, there is little telling of any huge alterations.

I realize that this is quite a pessimistic view and negative point to start this blog off with. Be reassured that though I may seem to find myself far above the hype over the new year, I fall into its trap, too. The one thing that I can understand about people loving the idea of January 1st is that it provides a tangible clean slate to work off of. Though many people, as I’ve already depicted, fall off the wagon and return to the old slate of the past year, others are able to maintain their dedication to self-improvement. We all look up to these, and perpetuate our cycle of approaching each new year with the same enthusiasm.

I find myself with this similar feeling of a chance for renewal multiple times a year, thanks to being in school. At the beginning of each semester I think to myself: this time I will be more organized, I will not procrastinate, I will work my hardest in every class, I will earn more money at work, I will have fun on my weekends, I will keep up with my creative writing on the side. At the beginning of the summer, I compose lists of all that I want to accomplish with my time off. It is a good way to approach marked new time periods in your life, indeed. But we need to remember to distinguish the achievable goals and the higher wishes, and how much effort is actually reasonable to dedicate to each. We need to remember that though our goals define us in some ways, so does our ability to actually achieve them. I’ve learned to work at setting goals that I know I could achieve, but understanding that realistically, I should not expect to fulfill more than a handful in a short amount of time (like a semester, or a summer, or even a year). I’ve learned also that goals like “be a better friend,” or “do something new,” while worthy, are impractical if you don’t follow them up with more specificity. For example, if you want to be able to measure your broad goal of being a better friend, add in things like telling your friends you love them at least once a week, keeping in personal contact with your friends regularly, say at least once a month, and making the effort to see your friends as soon as possible.

On that note, I’ll finish off with my own list of goals for 2012. Yes, I make them too. So maybe I’m the ultimate hypocrite? I’ve considered this multiple times before.

  1. Graduate in December.
  2. Intern at Red Hen.
  3. Work all summer.
  4. Have $4,000 in savings by graduation.
  5. Work out twice a week or more.
  6. Have the best Dance Production yet.
  7. Live off campus my last semester.
  8. Obtain a DSLR camera (Sony or Nikon) and know how to USE it.
  9. Submit as many of my stories and poems as possible, to at least fifteen publications each.
  10. Enter the writing contest at school in February.
  11. See some of my writing published.
  12. Write and finish four (or more) stories.
  13. Keep up brainstorm for ideas on a novella.
  14. Submit my screenplay from class to several agencies.
  15. Read all of my new books.
  16. See Madison and Amy in Spain.
  17. Go to New York City this summer with Ryan.
  18. Go to Harry Potter World with my best friends.
  19. See my brothers and their families.
  20. Go to Las Vegas.
  21. Go camping in Jemez again.
  22. Find somewhere to dance at home.
  23. Keep up with this blog, and my journal.
  24. Give friends Christmas gifts (or at least cards) this year.

Some of the topics on this list are easily attainable. Some I realize I will not likely achieve or cannot control whether I achieve, but I find are necessary to keep on the list as reminders of some of my higher goals. Others are goals that aren’t so easy, but also not impossible; I could attain them with bona fide effort.

Notice, though, that all of mine are goals to do things. I don’t bother with “resolutions” to not do things (I also hate the word “resolution,” and as you may have already noticed, stick to the word “goal” because it feels less confining, having more of a liberating purpose). Accomplishment comes from doing. Regret comes from not doing at all.

I hope this entry inspires many to accomplish, and at the same time to do themselves a favor and not build up such high expectations for the holiday of New Year’s. People should allow themselves to set goals at any point, and not limit themselves to a particular day on the calendar to begin achieving their aspirations.