Hello! Welcome to another goals post for my monthly goal-setting series. If this is your first visit here, thanks for joining me! Exactly one year ago I decided to start setting three specific goals for myself each month. My objective was to be more intentional (my 2019 word of the year) in my day-to-day life. It turned out to be such a great experience! I’m back with my July goals and hoping to keep this momentum going! This series is designed to share those goals with you as well as to provide me with more monthly accountability.
Last month I decided not to do a goals post. So much has happened since I published my last goals back in early May. These are times of great change in our country and around the world. Everyday is history in the making. We are still in the throes of battling a global pandemic with Covid-19. Our country is also knee-deep in a long-overdue Black Lives Matter movement. Not a political movement, a human rights movement. People all over the U.S. (and the world) are coming together to protest on behalf of humanity. Protesting against violence and oppression that happens every single day against BIPOC in America. Against horrific police brutality and 400+ years of systemic racism.
Our family is currently going on over 100 days of quarantining.
In May I believed the most challenging thing in my life was that we had been in quarantine for ~2 months. At the time, that felt tough. But May has always feels like such a hopeful month to me. We headed forward with plans to extend our quarantine circle a bit by traveling up to visit my mom. Then toward the end of the month we planned to celebrate my birthday together at a nearby beach.
Our trip to my mom’s was lovely. It was exactly what we had all been needing; space for the boys to roam with a little more freedom plus a chance for face-to-face adult-conversations with someone other than Paul! I had been missing/needing that so much. We booked a small beach house through VRBO for the end of the month. And then we spent the weeks in between eager with anticipation for that adventure.
I had some anxiety about staying at the beach house (specific to covid-19).
We decided we would be hyper-vigilant. My plan was to clean and disinfect all surfaces of the house immediately upon our arrival, before allowing the boys to come inside. We weren’t sure how people would be following social-distancing regulations on the beach. It had just recently been reopened and we hoped for the best. It was forecasted to rain our entire trip. We packed games and toys to entertain the kids and puzzles/books to entertain ourselves just in case. A change of scenery was our main objective and we figured anything more than that would be a bonus.
The week of my birthday I learned of the murder of George Floyd.
Early one morning I was up trying to keep my morning ritual of waking before my family. That’s my time to hold space for some peace and quiet before the chaos of the day begins. I write my morning pages and enjoy a cup of coffee. As I so often do, I spent some time scrolling on Instagram as my personal time was wrapping up. It was there I first watched the heart-wrenching and horrific video of his death. As a white police officer knelt on his neck, George Floyd cried and called out for his “Mama” with his final breaths. My eyes filled with hot tears and my blood boiled at the injustice of what I was seeing.
My boys call me “Mama” I thought…
Less than a month before, I had read this poem by my friend Simone Griffen, inspired by the tragic news story of Ahmaud Arbery. This young Black man was murdered by two white men while he was out for a run in his neighborhood. He was someone’s son. Maybe he, too, called his mother “Mama.”
Of all my worries and fears as a mother of two sons, I have never once prayed for the protection of my sons from violence they might incur solely based on the color of their skin. What a heartbreaking realization of my privilege. Other mothers live this fear every day. Fearing for their children’s lives at the inhumanity of others… how had I this not occurred to me before? The thought of my son dying unjustly in the street, murdered by the very people who are sworn to serve and protect him, is more painful than I can even consider. Yet THIS is reality to so many mothers.
And THIS was a major reality check for me.
These past several weeks I have been listening, learning, and reflecting. Re-examining my own racial biases and working to better recognize my privilege. Educating myself on what it truly means to be actively anti-racist and an ally to the Black community. This is not a comfortable process. It does not feel particularly “good” to acknowledge the conveniences of my privilege. But this is the work that has to be done. Work that has to continue to be practiced in our daily lives – identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures, and behaviors that continue to perpetuate systemic racism.
This is not simply a moment in history. It is a movement we must commit to for LIFE. As we continue to find a new normal going forward in our lives (because the old normal was NOT working), I hope we can all lean in to the discomfort that may come and hold space for it.
And keep choosing love.
Since I skipped writing a goals post for June, here is a review of my goals from back in May:
>>Find the light
There is so much beauty in every ordinary day. Back in May, the ongoing overwhelm of the global pandemic and quarantining was like a dark cloud looming over us. We had been having a run of darker days. As I wrote out my goals for the month, I decided to pick up my camera more often. I wanted to be intentional about using it as a way to inspire gratitude in challenging times.
Finding the light has always been a way for me gain better perspective. Helping to refocus my mind on the beauty in my life when things are tough. It’s such a simple way to delight in how the light touches everything every day, no matter how dark the times may feel. I collected some wonderful moments on camera and shared them in a blog post that you can find >>HERE.
>>Send more snail mail
In my mind, nothing says “I see you” or “I thought of you today” more than a handwritten letter. Writing a letter is such a personal expression of thoughtfulness. I feel like the current vibe of social media and text messaging is all about creating connection. But honestly, most days that virtual connection feels like an illusion. Snail mail creates an opportunity to slow down in the midst of our fast-paced lives. To connect on a more intimate level.
It’s also a great way to pour some love onto friends and family.
In the past two months, I’ve definitely sent more snail mail. I even reached out to a new friend about becoming pen pals! My collection of stationery (most of them are from my favorite card company 1canoe2) contains a wide array of cards, from birthday greetings and congratulations, to blank friendship cards and more. I love having these on hand to choose from whenever the whim strikes to send some snail mail.
During these unprecedented times, making more of a personal effort to connect feels even more important. Receiving snail mail can be such a turning point, a highlight even, on a hard day. Letter-writing is becoming a lost art. It’s such a pleasure to be able to share my heart with someone in a card or letter. I plan to keep this goal as a part of my weekly rituals. I’ve even been inspired to try to create a snail-mail Saturday ritual for our family! I’ll let you know how that goes.
>> Keep Reading
In May I focused on spending more of my self-care-related free time reading. This is a hobby I have enjoyed since I was a little kid. It has always been a favorite of mine. I almost always have a few different books I’m reading at the same time and often an audiobook or two in rotation as well. This past month I finished up Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (3-stars), The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd | Coffee + Crumbs (4-stars), and Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan (3.5 stars). I started a few others including: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel, and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (which is INCREDIBLE on audiobook!).
One quick funny story on the subject of books I started.
My youngest sister Marinna reviewed a book called Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. She gave it 5-stars and I featured her review in my May newsletter. After I read the summary of it, I decided it sounded interesting. I promptly downloaded the audiobook. About 5 chapters in, I realized I was very familiar with the storyline. Come to find out, I had already read the book almost 2 years ago! Ironically this is not the first time that has happened to me. I remember really enjoyed it though so if you haven’t read it – check it out for sure.
My July Goals 2020
1. Diversify my Bookshelves and my #TBR list
In light of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I want to make a more intentional effort to further diversify my reading list. My current bookshelves are not as diverse as they should be. And they do not reflect my intentions to be continuously striving to practice anti-racism in my everyday life. I look forward to working my way through these reads over the upcoming months.
Here are ones I’ve added based on some wonderful recommendations:
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Strong in the Broken Places by Quentin Vennie
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
- Antagonists, Allies, and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
- The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Why is this a July goal? Reading isn’t the only action that needs to be taken, but it is a solid place for me to start.
Action plan: Keep reading. Keep listening, learning, and reflecting. Keep fighting for racial justice.
2. Start Listening to Podcasts
I’ve been hearing about some incredible podcasts. One by Brene Brown called Unlocking Us has been suggested to me on several different occasions. Listening to podcasts is one of those things that always sounds appealing to me, but that I’ve never really gotten into before. I’m ready to try it again – and with more intention this time around.
Why is this a July goal? I love audiobooks for the ease of enjoyment and I feel like I could learn to love podcasts too. It’s a great and convenient way to educate myself on all kinds of relevant, high-quality content.
Action plan: Listen to at least one podcast a week. Report back here next month! Any suggestions for really good ones?
3. Get back into Blogging!
I have really fallen out of the habit of blogging regularly and I’m not happy about it. This space is so incredibly important to me and I have found so much joy and fulfillment from writing and sharing here. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately examining how much I feel called to writing. Creating for my blog is a big part of that calling.
Continuing this process is very much on my heart and on my creative priority list.
I’ve spent the last few months getting comfortable with the ritual of writing morning pages every day before my family wakes up. I want to incorporate creating content for my blog into that sort of ritual for myself as well. One thing I have recently recognized is that I’m not great at planning and work flow. When I set aside time to work on posts, I often go into that time with an expectation for myself of publishing in one sitting. This tends to be overwhelming and causes me to start a lot of posts that get set aside without completing.
Setting some realistic goals (and offering this up to you for additional accountability!) will hopefully help me find a rhythm to publishing that offers consistency to my readers and offers me a chance to establish some better work flow tendencies to enhance my process.
Just carving out time for my creative writing and planning will be a big help!
Why is this a July goal? Blogging is something I REALLY want to do! Often it gets pushed aside in this season of life with two littles and a hectic daily schedule of priorities. I sometimes worry it is a “frivolous” hobby and forget how much it means to me. When I look at the things in my life that bring me the most joy (aside from my family!), creating in this space is high on that list. Things that bring us joy SHOULD be kept on our goal lists!
Action plan: I started brainstorming ways I can gain some momentum and prioritize my creativity. I believe setting aside *one hour* every day during the week to hardcore focus on my blog, creative writing, and my dream course (stick around I’ll share more about this soon!) is what I need to do at this point in my process. Turning off my phone, popping in my noise-canceling headphones, and staying in the zone for ONE hour without interruption should be a huge push for me. And documenting my progress is also going to be part of my plan.
I’ll be back next month to update you on how well I kept up with these July goals. And to share my upcoming goals for August!
What are your July goals? I’d love to hear – leave a comment below!