Emily M. DeArdo

writer

current projects

Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, knitting, life issues, memoir, Seven Quick Takes, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

—ONE—

I haven’t done this in awhile, so, hey, time to do one! Especially since we’re supposed to get a big old snow storm with insanely cold temperatures this weekend, so if you never hear from me again, at least you have this. (I’m kidding. I’ll be fine.)

This cartoon made the rounds a few years ago, but once again it looks like I’ll be living in Hoth:

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—TWO—

There’s been a lot going on over here. I’m moving, so that’s the first thing—in March! So I have two months to get my place packed up. Which means that yes, I’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and I love it. (And no, she’s never said that you only need 30 books, where did people get this?! I have WAY more than 30> I have more than 30 cookbooks, probably—yes, I might have a problem.)

But I’ve really enjoyed the process. If you haven’t heard of her, the idea is that you get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy”, or that you need (like, a screwdriver, for instance. Or copies of recent tax returns.). So you let go of things that you’re just holding on to out of guilt or uncertainty or “just because”, and it’s done in categories: clothes, books, papers, “komono “ (miscellaneous—she divides it down further), and sentimental items. I’m on “komono”, and it’s mostly household stuff and knitting stuff that’s left.


—THREE—

Speaking of knitting, here’s this week’s yarn along! I’m making a drachenfels shawl, again. :) Deets are at Ravelry, here.


—FOUR—

In other news, I’m very close to submitting my book proposal! Oh my gosh. This has been a few months in the making but I think I’m in the home stretch! Yayyy!

And you can help me!

Please subscribe to the blog! This is something that really helps me with publishers. It shows I have people who care about what I write! So do that, and then follow my author page on Facebook? Every follower/subscriber is important! If you already subscribe, thank you! Mwah!


—FIVE—

The proposal is a memoir about my life with CF and transplant and how it ties into the idea that life is always worth living, no matter what’s “wrong” with you. Today is the March for Life, so yes, I feel it’s a timely topic. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t exist. But I DO exist and so there. :-p

—SIX—

I made a holy hour yesterday, since I might not be able to get to Mass this weekend depending on weather. If you don’t make a holy hour (Or holy half hour, or Holy Fifteen Minutes!), can I recommend that you start? It’s restorative, transformative, energizing….it’s time with the Lord who loves you so much! Get thee to an adoration chapel! Or get to Mass early, if you can. God wants to visit with you!


—SEVEN—

And, also, if you missed it, Take Up & Read has a new study! We’re starting on Monday but feel free to hop in whenever! It’s called Call Me Blessed (here’s my blog post about it!)—and you can get it at other bookstores besides Amazon! Yay!!!!! It’s all about our vocation as women, our dignity as women, using women in the Bible and the writings of Pope John Paul II. I do hope you’ll join us!

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Bible Study for the New Year!

Catholicism, current projects, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment

I’m so glad to present to you Call Me Blessed, Take Up & Read’s first book with Word Among Us Press!

Since this book is published by WAU, you can get it LOTS of places, not just Amazon! For example, Barnes and Noble has it! So you can use their coupons and your membership card to get a reduced price! Yay! Or you can get it 20% off the WAU site!

This is a really lovely journal, tying together the stories of women in the Bible with St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). So it’s a twofer; a beautiful work from John Paul II, and the Bible all in one!

There are also touches of color in this study, which we’ve never had before!

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I do hope you’ll join us. The kickoff is on Monday, but if you are a few days behind, that’s fine. We don’t believe in “Behind”. :) I don’t have an essay in this one but I did edit it and got to read all these beautiful essays ahead of time!

If you have any questions, just let me know! I do hope you’ll join us in this lovely starting and in kicking off 2019 with the Word, thinking about our role as women, and Christian/Catholic women, in society. How are we to live out our vocations? Let’s pray and ponder together!

2019 Goal Setting!

goal setting, current projects, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I really love Lara Casey’s annual goal setting series (here’s part one!), and I adore using her Powersheets. The Powersheets have really been instrumental in setting GOOD goals, and in accomplishing big dreams for my life, so I heartily recommend them! (I don’t get paid to say that—I really do just love them!)

So I always look forward to the annual series, which I read along with doing the Powersheets prep work, and this year, I’ve got four main areas I’m working on:

Faith

Finances

Fitness

Writing

(OK, I couldn’t think of an “F” word for writing!)

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First up: FAITH

To be consistent in prayer and deepen my spiritual life to create a deeper relationship with God.

If God is the center of my life—which He is—then I need to make my days revolve around that. To that end, one part of this goal is to consistent in prayer. As a Lay Dominican, I say at least Lauds and Vespers (morning and evening prayer) every day. I need to be consistent in these, because often I’m not, especially vespers, because that’s around dinner and chaos and all that.

Another part of this is getting deeper into the Bible, which is part of the work we do at Take Up & Read, anyway—well, part of the work, it’s all of the work. :) It’s our reason for existing! So I’m taking time to get into the word every day before I eat lunch. Recently I discovered for the first time Isaiah 54, and man, did it ever speak to me! More on the later. :)

Third, getting to daily Mass more often. To that end I’m working on waking up earlier so I can get to the 11:45 Mass on time. It’s downtown so it’s not just across the street, but I can do it! :)

Lastly, incorporate more holy hours. I LOVE holy hours. So I want to do one at least once a week, which will be easy to do once I move because there’s a church less than half a mile away with perpetual adoration. Winning at life!



Second: Finances

I made good progress on this last year, but I still need to save a complete emergency fund. So that’s the goal right now, as well as doing the Contentment Challenge and realizing that buying stuff isn’t going to make me happy, because, yes, sometimes I’ve done retail therapy. But I’ve also been better about that. So progress being made here, but it’s still an ongoing goal!

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Third: Fitness

Ohh boy. We know I don’t like to work out, right? Well my goal is to find something I liek to do and do it, even if it’s for five minutes, every day. When I was sick in November and December and my joints and tendons took a huge hit because of the meds I was on, I realized that it was better than it could have been—because I’d been keeping my joints and tendons nice and flexible and warm. But I still had problems with them, and my right knee still isn’t 100% back. So I’m working, right now, on that aspect of fitness—getting back to baseline with my knees. I know I’m closer to 40 than 30, so this is important going forward! Gotta stay sharp.

Also part of this is to continue to meal plan, to eat healthy(ier) snacks, and also work on saving treats for feast days. I want to eat more “liturgically”, if that makes sense—fast when the Church fasts, and feast when it feasts! No, that doesn’t mean hard core fasting, but it does mean saving the special meals like champagne risotto (New Year’s Eve meal this year—YUM) and creamy chicken thighs and things like that for patron saint days or when guests come over. I’m not going to eat lentils and honey a la John the Baptist, but at the same time, I’m not going to go nuts every day, either. Simplicity. To that end, I’m also reading From a Monastery Kitchen * and Sacred Feasts. *

And finally….

Writing

I am currently working on a proposal. It’s been a few months in the working but I was getting so frustrated with it—I was thinking that it had to be perfect, and if it wasn’t perfect I was going to blow it and all these other not happy thoughts—so I took some time away from it. Part of that was being sick in November/December and part of it was a deliberate decision. I backed off and actually prayed about it.

Last week, I dove into it again, and I was shocked to see how the words were coming—I was creating pages that I did not hate! Huge step forward. So I’m hoping to have the proposal done this month and sent to the acquisitions editor (pray for me and my little proposal, please?).

Those are the four areas I’m focusing on this year. Also, I’m moving in the spring, so there will be serious decluttering/cleaning/all sorts of goodness happening in that department as well!

What about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions in the new year? What are they?









*=affiliate links

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A Friday surprise--quick takes!

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Seven Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I haven't done one of these in forever, so maybe it's time to do them again? :) Linking up with Kelly! :) 

1. 

Dad just got back from his trip to London for a DevOps conference (DevOps is IT related stuff, for you non tech geeks out there). I was a just a little jealous, especially since he got to go to Westminster Cathedral for Mass and see Buckingham Palace and just be in London, which is really the greatest city in the world. 

Westminster Cathedral 

Westminster Cathedral 

2. 

He also brought me back the papers, which delight me to no end. I love getting papers from other countries. The first thing I noticed is how big they are? No American paper is this big anymore. It's amazing!

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So yeah, I'm slowly savoring the reading of the papers. Because it's just fun, and that probably makes me a nerd. But a nice nerd. :) 

3. 

I always knew that London was fairly far north, but in checking the weather for my dad's visit, I noticed that it's a LOT farther north than I thought--the sun was rising at 4:30 AM! That's just amazing. But also, in the winter, London has to get dark pretty quickly. Sort of sobering. But I do think it would be cool to see one of the white nights, or even a sunrise at 4:30 (provided I could go back to sleep after seeing it. :-) 

4. 

Yes, my "desk"--my kitchen table--is a mess. I've got SO many things going on right now. I've started writing a new book (YES! Wheee! Let's hope someone wants it!) about churches and accessibility. I've been getting new library books like every day since the library actually has books I want to read, and they can be delivered to my local library so I don't have to drive all over creation to get them (our library system is huge).  I've been working more on my sketching, and I've been packing because we're going to Pittsburgh later today. So yes, it's nuts, and my table is crazy. 

5. 

Also, Catholic 101 is currently on sale for FIVE BUCKS! If you don't have it, you can grab it here. This is the cheapest it will be all year! 

6. 

I've been knitting, too, even though the hand thing took a bite out of that, but I finally got some more yarn for my scarf project so I'm back at that. I promise a Yarn Along next week!

7. 

And I also promise to do a reading round-up soon. I've been reading so many books that I need to talk about them. Soon, I promise!

 

A new project and Catholic 101 SALE!

Catholic 101, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

I've got a new project going on: 

Opening the Roof. 

This is a blog that talks about accessibility and churches--specifically, Catholic churches, because I'm Catholic. I know that we're not the only ones with this issue--I asked on Facebook, and my friends of all denominations said that their churches aren't great, overall, with this issue--but I'm Catholic, so I talk about what I know. 

The blog presents not only problems and food for thought, but resource and solutions. So it's not just a Blog of Complaint. We're not just airing grievances! 

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You can sign up to follow the blog at the bottom of the blog's homepage--just keep scrolling! 

The other thing is that my transplant anniversary is almost here! So in celebration, Catholic 101 is going to be five bucks. Yup. That's right. Five bucks, guys! It's normal $9.50, but for the anniversary, it's $5.00. This kicks off tomorrow (June 26) and will go through July 13 (two days after the anniversary proper). The only other time the book is discounted is Black Friday Weekend! So get it now or wait until November. :) 

So, starting tomorrow, head to Gumroad and pick it up! I will have another post tomorrow so you can't miss it. :) (It's also always available through the sidebar button and the Hello bar at the top of the page, but the new pricing won't hit until tomorrow.) 

 

Goal Setting 2018: April results and May goals

Barton Cottage Crafts, behind the scenes, current projects, goal setting, health, knitting, memoir, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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It's MAYYYY! Yay! 

So it's time to revisit my goals! Let's get started. 

Goal Number 1: 

Work through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps for Financial Peace to cultivate good stewardship, gratitude, and contentment.

April goal: Start the debt snowball; this is baby step 2, where all your debts are paid off. Fortunately I don't have much to do here! 

Status: Started! Yay!!

May goal: Continue working the snowball. 

 

Goal Number 2: 

Find an agent for my manuscript

April goal: Write a darn proposal!

Status: DONE!  I sent it to a friend of mine to read/peruse, so now I'm just waiting for her feedback. Once I get that, I can make any changes and send it out!

May goal: Send it (hopefully!) 

Goal Number 3:

To deepen and strengthen my relationship with God, because He is the center and the well-spring.

April goals: Confession/Holy hour/Weekday Mass once a week

Status: Confession, check! Holy hour, check! Weekday Mass....no check. Sigh. Something still to work on!

May goals: Confession, Holy Hour, and at LEAST ONE WEEKDAY MASS. Just one. :) 

Goal Number 4: 

Continue to lose weight and treat my body well so I can do everything else I want to do, and honor my body which God made.

April goals: Focus on healthy snacks and regular workouts. 

Status: Did really well here. Lost some weight (yay!), have found new healthy snacks, and I'm still doing yoga classes regularly. I've also continued to make progress on body measurements. I take my measurements on the first of every month, and this is where I can really see progress, or not. So I'm glad to see progress being made!

May goals: Consistent working out--yoga classes; continue to focus on health snacks. 

Goal Number 5: 

Grow Barton Cottage Crafts, to help with baby steps (goal 1), but also to have a creative outlet and for enjoyment. 

April goal: Finis commissions and get new ones.

Status: I did finish my commissions, and I'm working on getting new ones. Part of that is the new Barton Cottage Crafts page here on the site! I'm really proud of it! So in May, while I wait for commissions, I'm going to be working on new projects, as well as starting to plan knitting projects for birthdays and Christmas--because guys, handmade takes time. So if you want birthday presents/Christmas presents, you have to get them early. As in, now is not too early!

May goals: See above. :) 

Goal Number 6: 

Have a beautiful, peaceful, welcoming home so I can appreciate what I have, encourage hospitality, and cultivate peace.

April goal: Get another KALLAX unit for the living room. 

Status: The one I want isn't in stock--and wasn't for ALL OF APRIL. Grr, IKEA. Grrrrr. So I'm waiting for that. In the mean time, working on keeping spaces clear. I did do a lot better in having people over in April--I would say come on over, knowing the house would be presentable. So that's great. 

May goal: Pray that the KALLAX comes back in stock? :) If it does, that'll happen. If not--continue weekly clean/focus on certain areas (FlyLady zones, if you're familiar with those), and keep inviting people over. And continue contentment challenge--that fell off in April, so I'm doing month three now!

Goal Number 7: 

To nurture my creativity so I can learn new things, inspire myself, stretch my mind, and feed my soul. 

April goals: Knit two new Quince projects, start reading Artist's Way, get new commissions. 

Status: I knit the projects! Yay! And I have big plans for more new ones....I didn't read Artist's Way, but that is definitely on the list for this month. Commission--see above.

May goals: Start new knitting project; start reading Artist's Way. (I have to DECIDE on new project. I think it's going to be a tricolor cowl, but that means getting yarn, or a cowl with a textured stitch, in order to really "get" working in the round done.) 

This month, my brother is getting married--NEXT WEEK, holy cow!--so I didn't go hog wild on my goals. My daily goals are balancing my checkbook (yes, old school!), lectio, knitting, and working out 5/7 days a week. So they are important goals, but it's not a ton, so I can really focus. I didn't want to stress this month. I want to celebrate and enjoy this big moment for our family! :) 

 

Above All: A beautiful, intentional companion for Lent

books, current projects, Lent, writingEmily DeArdoComment
Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

I am so, so happy to present to you the completed Lent book by all of us at Take Up and Read! Above All is our newest edition to our library (you can see all our other books here), and I am SO proud of her!

Let me tell you a little more about her. 

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First of all, this is a big book. It is 338 pages of goodness that starts on Ash Wednesday and takes you all the way to Easter.  

Each day has: 

A bible verse (as well as additional verses for further contemplation);

An essay by one of our wonderful writers;

A lectio divina page, with Biblical background and research to help you understand the time period and background of the day's featured verse;

A journaling page, with questions to help you go deeper, 

And a prayer page, with a unique prayer for every day! 

There is lots of white space, too. This isn't jammed together. We want this to be a peaceful, useful book for you! There is beautiful art, as well, and calligraphy, all done by our gifted artists. 

And every week, we focus on Scripture memorization. That's long been a pillar of Take Up and Read. For this book, we're focusing on a beautiful passage from the third chapter of Colossians. 

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This book was designed very intentionally. We want you to have the tools to listen well to God, to go deeper into His word, and to be transformed by what you find there. You don't have to fill in every box, and you don't have to use every tool we give you. This is your book. Use it as you see fit!

I hope that you will join us on this beautiful Lenten journey, to put truly the love of God Above All

If you used Elizabeth's Put on Love study last Lent, you will find much that is familiar here. But even then, there are new essays by our wonderful writers, new art, and new tools for you. 

And the final, and really, most wonderful, bit about this? 

 

All of the profits from Above All will be donated to Adore Ministries in Houston, to provide Hurricane Harvey relief. 

 

I very much hope that you will join us! You can purchase your book here. There will also be a button on the sidebar, so you can always come here to purchase! 

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Catholic 101 is available for PRE-ORDER!!!!!

Catholic 101, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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Guys! I'm so excited to let you know that my eBook, Catholic 101, is finally available for pre-order on Gumroad! Yayyy! 

It works just like regular pre-orders; you'll be the first to get it when it's officially released next month. You will need to download the Gumroad app on your tablet or phone, which is super easy to do--you can just search for it in the app store--and voila, access to the book! It'll also be available on desktops, you just don't need an app for that. It works right off the Gumroad website. How easy is that, right? 

It's $9.50 for 80 pages of content, with several pieces that are new and exclusive only to the ebook--you won't find them on the blog or anywhere else. I wrote special pieces on the ten commandments, Mary, angels, Christmastide, Papal elections, and the Trinity--six new ebook exclusives! 

I've been working on this project for over a year now and I'm so excited to finally present it to you. I hope that you all love it! If you have any questions, please let me know! 

Welcome, October

behind the scenes, essays, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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 A month ago I was in Duck, NC, sitting in Duck's Cottage, writing in my journal and thinking about what the month would hold. And now it's October, one of my favorite months of the year. It finally feels like fall here in Ohio, so all the windows are gloriously open, the nights actually feel chilly, and it's definitely candle-lighting season at my house. 

September was a month of great progress, both inner and outer, and I'll be writing about that over the next few days. My October Power Sheet tending list is huge. A lot of it is small things, but there's a lot I want to accomplish this month! One of the big things is finally finishing my ebook and getting it ready to sell! Yay! It's so close, guys, and I'm so excited to present it. 

Do you set monthly goals? What do you want to accomplish in October? 

And happy Feast Day, St. Therese!  Little bloggy throwback there. 

Have a great Sunday, everyone! 

Creative Burst

behind the scenes, Catholic 101, current projects, knitting, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The last week has been so exciting! I've been making progress on some big goals, including one thing I never thought I'd do, so I thought I'd share this with you today. 

First, as I said last week, I've got a cover for my ebook!

This was a big hurdle for me, because graphic design is elusive in my world. But I'm really pleased with how this came out. I took the photo during my last trip to D.C., when I visited the Franciscan monastery

Now I have to finish writing and editing a few pieces, then it gets sent to a few beta readers for testing, so to speak--and then it's almost ready for the rest of you! If you use an e-reader, what format do you use the most? Kindle? iBooks? Doesn't matter? Let me know!

The ebook is based on my Catholic 101 series, but there are also brand-new pieces, to make it worth your while. I'm hoping to have it on offer later in the fall! 

The second big thing--I've decided to start selling some of my knitted pieces. 

 

Whenever I post photos of my variegated basketweave scarves, people always say how much they love them. And that got me thinking--would people buy them? Turns out, YES. I have three orders already! I'm really excited about this. 

I'm not planning on making this a huge thing, but I'm excited to be offering these scarves, and some other projects, in various styles and colorways. Right now I'm posting most of the information about them on Instagram and Facebook. So keep your eyes out--I might also cross-post some things here, too, when the pieces are available. Right now I'm sort of behind the gun because I had to order yarn for the projects, but soon I will have some available! 

And in between all this, I'm still working on proposals for my memoir. Whew! There's a lot going on. But I'm using pockets of time to work on these things in a somewhat organized fashion. For example, the yarn for the next project isn't here yet, so I can use today to write and work on the proposal and the ebook. (And give my shoulder muscles a break--knitting so much really does cause them to work!) 

Thanks for all your kind comments and support with my projects! I really appreciate it and I can't wait to share these with you in the near future. 

 

Saturday Miscellany

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Jeopardy, knitting, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Normally, as you know, I don't do a blog post on Saturdays, but I had a stomach bug on Friday, which derailed my plans to do one then, so, here we are: Saturday! (Stomach's fine now.)

First, the winner of the Cultivate Book: Cristina! Yay! I'll get this book out to you in the next week!

Second: Next week marks a year since my appearance on Jeopardy!, which you can read all about here. The Tour de France, people! :-P (If you don't get that, read the posts....or try to find my episode online. I wish Jeopardy re-runs ran around here....)

Third: Take a look at this!

 

I'm kind of a fan. Do you like it? Let me know! I took the photo at the Franciscans of the Holy Land Monastery in D.C. a few years ago and I thought it was a good choice for the cover. 

And finally, in the knitting area: here's the second Christmas gift in progress. 

Yes, it's the same pattern as the first scarf. But man, I love this yarn too! This is called Sugar Cookie--same yarn as the last one, too. 

So, that's my miscellany for this Saturday! Hope you have a great weekend! 

Making Things Happen 2017: One Month Later

current projects, goal setting, Making Things Happen, writingEmily DeArdoComment
photo by the amazing  Amy Nicole Cherry

photo by the amazing Amy Nicole Cherry

So it's been a month since the Making Things Happen Conference began in Chapel Hill. 

And I can happily say that I've spent this past month doing things that matter--intentionally. 

Here's some of the things I've been doing: 

  • Daily Bible Study with the She Reads Truth app. Every morning, I do morning prayer, morning offering, and this. On the rare days I don't start with this combination, it is not a good day! I've even gone father in this area by  adding a small segment of Bible time in the afternoon, too; reading a chapter of an Old Testament book, and starting to read the Gospels again. It's quicker--maybe five minutes?--but it's a good check in. I'm being much more intentional about prayer, and starting my day with it, in various forms. 

  • Cleaned out my office closet from top to bottom! Yay!!!!! There are three areas of my house that are crying out for organization, and this was the first one I tackled. So much trash, so many instances of What the heck is this and why do I still have it?!?!? later, I have a clean closet, and a much cleaner office, too.
     
  • I've read through my ebook and made the first revisions. Huge step forward there. Now I know what I have to do to get it ready for some beta readers and I can make an action list of items to complete there. 
     
  • I did a lot of blog research and reading. I read a series on search engine optimization and I finished reading and implementing the ideas from a blog how-to series about using Pinterest and making blog upgrades. Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't. Most of it's been very subtle. :) It's part of an ongoing series about better blogging that I'm working through. One thing I really want to do is be a better blogger, so this research and workshops are things I've been needing to do, but felt so overwhelmed at the idea of doing all the things. But by reading one article, or implementing one change, every day--growth! Things get done. 

For the first time, I think ever, in the few years I've been doing Power sheets, I checked off all my monthly goals!

I'm deeply realizing that little by little is powerful.

Good things grow with that little by little, concentrated effort. 

 

When I sat down to do my April Powersheets, I read through all my conference notes, my goals, and the past months work I'd done so far this year, and I decided to be very deliberate in my goal setting--to choose to work slowly, to plant good seeds, and to let them unfurl in their time. Writing this actually makes me realize how much more I did than I thought I'd done since I came back, and that makes me feel fabulous!!

I am so excited to do my May Powersheets next week. In fact, I might even do them early. 

Has every day been a perfectly cultivated day? No! (haha.) But that's not what matters. What matters is that forward progress and growth. Not minute-by-minute perfection. And that's where I'm making strides. 

2017 Goal Setting

writing, essays, goal setting, Tidying Up, knitting, health, current projectsEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The last week of the year usually brings a few things for me--time with family, lots of books, and goal setting for the new year!

Ever since I discovered Lara Casey's powersheets, I've adored goal setting--and I've actually been getting things done. Her shop is called "Cultivate what matters", and that's what the powersheets do. Without them, there's no way I'd have finished my manuscript, written book proposals, sent queries, or upgraded my website/social media presence. That's probably the biggest thing the powersheets have done for me, but I've made progress in other ways, too. 

(And, no, I don't get paid to say this--I just love powersheets!)

I got my 2017 set in November and spent a few days doing the prep work. This is one of the best parts of power sheets. It's where you really get down to the reasons why you want to do things--why do you want to save money, or take that trip, or get that thing? What's your real motivation? Are you afraid to do big things? What's defeated you in the past from reaching your goals? (Lara's current blog series dives into this stuff, too!) 

So after doing the prep work and figuring out my "big" goals for the year, I then break those goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals for each month. The idea is that everything you do here is intentionally helping you meet a goal that will help you do what matters in your life. 

With all that said, here are my goals for 2017: 

1. To deepen my prayer life through more regular attendance at daily Mass and more times of daily prayer/devotions. If I don't have a deep, solid relationship with God, nothing else matters. 

2. Pay off the rest of my debts and grow my savings account. One of the things I really like about post-transplant life is my ability to travel, and I want to do more of that--and traveling takes money! So by cutting back on buying things I don't need (I'm doing the contentment challenge in January to help with this), I'll be able to pay off debts and have money for fun things like traveling! Again, there has been progress in this area, but I need to be more consistent. 

3. Be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy by instituting regular workouts, weekly meal planning, and keeping up with my journal (I've been letting my journal slide of late. I don't want to do that!). I have grown in this area this year, but it's erratic growth. I need to make it a much more permanent part of life.  

4. Get the book published, offer a ebook for sale, grow the blog, and write what matters. I want to write things that matter to the people who read them--things that help you, inspire you, make you laugh, whatever. I don't want to write click bait. I want to write things that improve the lives of my readers. (So tell me what you want to read, OK?) 

5. Fuel my creativity by continuing to learn Italian, working on new art and knitting projects, and, of course, reading. I love learning new things! 

6. Simplify my space: Less stuff, more beauty, more organization, and increased hospitality. I made big progress on this this year as well--cleaning out my closet, taking many books to the secondhand shop (along with CDs and DVDs). So I'm proud of the progress I've made here. But there's more to do!

So those are my six big goals for the year. Each month, these get broken into monthly, weekly, and daily things I need to tend (in powersheets parlance). Daily things are things I want to make a habit--like exercise, checking my checkbook against the online transactions, reading the Bible for 10 minutes every day, practicing Italian. Stuff like that. 

Weekly things are things that get done every week: Daily Mass at least once, making a meal plan, doing a basic clean of the house, putting a certain amount of cash into my emergency stash here at home. 

Monthly tending are bigger things that I can do throughout the month. Some examples from my January tending list are editing my Nano 2016 novel, going to confession, completing a 30 day exercise plan.  

Some things are broken into monthly and weekly categories. The contentment challenge is broken into three months, with a weekly topic in a corresponding book. So there's a monthly "task", but also something to read each week. So the weekly devotion is written in my weekly tending list, so I don't forget to do that. 

I also write the daily tasks into my planner. That also helps keep me on track, because if my powersheets aren't easily available (though I always keep them on my counter, so I can find them quickly!), I can see at a glance what I'm doing that day. It's also great for things like the weekly cleaning--I can dust on Monday, vacuum Tuesday, etc. 

I find this is a better system than making resolutions. Resolutions are OK, but they usually don't have a plan or a why attached to them. "Lose 20 pounds" is a nice resolution--but how to do it? By going through the powersheets, I have an idea of how to do the things I want to do, how to achieve my goals, and how to be accountable to myself. I only have so much time here and I want to use it to the best of my ability!

Do you have goals for 2017? What are they? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 121: Fourth week of Advent

Daybook, books, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

It's snowing. Again. We're receiving our entire winter weather in one wallop thus far, it seems. Snow, ice, temperatures in the single digits...but then it'll be almost 50 on Christmas Day. Ah, Ohio! 

Wearing::

A blue t-shirt, yoga pants, and oatmeal colored leggings--I'm writing this after I just did a workout at home. Go me, right? :) 

Reading:

I just finished The Catholic Table, which I highly recommend. For Christmas, my friend Tiffany got me Frog Music and the Alexander Hamilton biography that Hamilton is based on, so I'll be reading those this week. 

In the CD player::

The Christmas music playlist, obviously. 

Listening to :

Sherlock on the TV-John and Mary just got married. (I'm Netflixing the series.) 

Living the Liturgy:

Current projects: 

Working on editing the Catholic 101 ebook. I've been doing a few entries a week so that I can devote proper attention to them and not feel like I have to fly through them all quickly. Really excited about this project!

From the kitchen: 

Sicilian spaghetti tonight, involving yellow raisins, fennel, garlic, red pepper, and pine nuts. Should be delicious. I hope. :) Also a black bean soup and a Moroccan chicken dish. 

Plans for the week: 

Since it's the week before Christmas--trying to tidy up the house before the big celebration, finish any menu planning, etc, that has to happen for the post-Christmas parties and such. One nice thing about really cold temps (and ice) is that you have to stay inside, so that means a lot of housework can get done. In theory, anyway. :-P (No, really, I have gotten quite a bit down. But it just...keeps....coming....:-P) I'm also planning to swatch some new yarn for a basketweave scarf project, but that'll keep until post-Christmas. 

Christmas carol!: Well, OK, not really. But this was always one of my favorite parts of Messiah to sing. Handel loves altos. He sort of hates tenors and sopranos, but he loves altos. :) 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates from the writing desk

behind the scenes, writing, current projectsEmily DeArdoComment

(No, I'm not going to ask you why a raven is like a writing desk.)

I have begun editing  Tempest, my NaNoWriMo 2015 winner. My editing process works in layersThe first is--I don't start editing right away. In this case, I gave myself more than a month to let the novel "sit" and give me a break from it. I want to approach it with fresh eyes when I begin to edit. 

Second--I don't read it all in one gulp. I've set about 45 minutes aside each day for editing. Yesterday, that turned out to be basic copyediting, for the most part, because I was really pleased with what I'd written. I think I captured Julie's voice really well in the first section, and that makes me happy. (Julie is my protagonist, for those of you just joining me.) The novel is divided into several parts, and yesterday I got through the first part and a few chapters of the second. 

Third--after I do my first edit, I go back to the beginning, and read it all again. Is everything still working? Do I like where the novel goes? Does the plot work? Do I need more detail anywhere? Do I need less detail? 

So far, that's how my process works. After these steps, I'll leave it alone for another few months, to, again, give myself distance from it. I repeat the process until I'm satisfied with what I have. 

Since Tempest is the first part of a planned trilogy, I need to make sure that what happens here is really clear in my mind (and in my notes!), so that when I go to write books two and three, they are built on the solid foundation of the first book. I've begun writing book two, but I've held off really getting into it until I've done at least one editing pass on Tempest

 

Daybook No. 113

Daybook, books, Catholic 101, current projects, fiction, holidays, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

 

Outside my window::

Grey and cloudy. This is helped by my tree, which is glowing in the corner, and the Joy candle I have lit on my counter. I don't mind rainy days and this is a good day to get things done after the holiday weekend. SO much goodness happened, which I'll be writing about below--but suffice to say, I don't mind a rainy day today!

Wearing::

a Pure Barre sweatshirt, Athleta workout capris, and....flats. Yeah. This outfit is AWESOME, right? :) I'm going to be working out shortly, and since I'm hanging out around the house, does it matter what I wear? Well, OK, probably. But  don't care. :) 

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming's Christmas in New York, alternating with Part I of Messiah. And yes, Adele 25 is sitting on my counter, waiting to be heard.

Reading::

Cinder (again), and my crazy stack of Advent devotionals: 

Come, Lord Jesus is my FAVORITE devotional for this time of year. SO much wisdom, so much to pray about. 

Writing::

NaNo is over and I'm not even going to ouch Tempest until January. It is, though, tentatively the first book of a trilogy, so I've done some note taking and brief preliminary planning about those two books. I'm not pressuring myself to write anything substantial in those for awhile, and I'm sort of afraid to until I do Tempest edits. Suffice to say I have a vague idea of the content of those books, but that's all it is right now--a vague idea.

Also working on the new Catholicism series I talked about yesterday.  While I teach first graders, don't think I'm going to use first grade vocabulary and write like you are first graders, lovely readers. We'll use "big people" words and concepts. 

 

Tidying Up: 

I think I have just about reached the "click point" the book talk about--where you know how much of a thing you need. and you enjoy having. There are a few more books and movies that can go (this is like the fourth round of purging in that area), but I think I'm at the point of saturation. Yay! I didn't think I'd get here when I first started, to be honest. 

The second part of the book talks about finding places for everything. This is another hard thing for me because I have things that I need (like, Duct Tape), but where does it go? (It's too big for the junk drawer, it doesn't fit in the tool box, etc.) So that's what I'll be working on next. 

Since I've decorated for Christmas, there is some chaos around here, because I have to move furniture to put up my tree. But it's all good. 

 

Thanksgiving::

I had a great holiday. Did you? I hope you did. Thanksgiving day was in the high sixties here, so we got to hang out on the deck and enjoy the warmth before dinner!

And yes, that's my sister, who came up from Houston to surprise me! She's here until tomorrow. We've had a LOT of fun while she's been here--she helped me decorate my tree, we went to the Penguins/Jackets game with our brother, and we all (us siblings) had a great meal last night at The Barn, one of our favorite local restaurants. Since Mel lives in Texas now, I don't get to see her nearly as often as I used to, and it's always fun when she comes up! 

I also had a great day with my friend Sarah (who made that GORGEOUS wreath two photos up). We had lunch and talked on a rainy Saturday while her husband watched the OSU/Michigan game with some of our friends. She's another friend I almost never get to see, and not nearly as much as I'd like. 

What was the best part of your Thanksgiving Weekend? 

 

 

Daybook No. 112

behind the scenes, books, Catholicism, current events, current projects, Daybook, Dominicans, fiction, knitting, links, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a marked contrast from yesterday's blue skies and sun, but since It's going to be in the 60s, I'll take it. Especially since....gulp.....snow might in the future! 

Wearing::

My PJs--I just got up (it's 8 AM as I'm writing this) 

Reading::

North and South, Mockingjay, Rising Strong,  and The Betrothed. I really like North and South--Margaret Hale is a great character. I'm late to the Rising Strong party, but better late than never, and I also have Daring Greatly to read.

In the CD player::

Fun Home and Hamilton. No Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving!

Living the Liturgy::

Today is Lucy Pevensie's feast day! And since she's my Dominican patron, I get to party all day. 

 

Around the House::

Doing the deep cleaning to get ready for decorating> I don't have much to do--the tree, a few baubles, and my Fontanini creche (one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received, ever). The Baby Jesus doesn't go in the creche until Christmas Eve, and the Magi make their way into the set proper by Epiphany. If you're looking for a Nativity set, I highly recommend this one. The figures are made of a type of plastic that means kids can chew on them, play with them, etc., and they won't break!

Speaking of Catholic households, this is a good article from Our Sunday Visitor that's worth a ponder. 

I'm also in the last stages of Tidying Up. I took three bags of books to Half Price books yesterday, so I'm still looking for the book/CD/DVD "click point" that Kondo talks about. I'm sure I'll find it--eventually. :) Until then, I just keep taking books to HPB. 


Creativity::

I have "won" NaNo--but the book's not done. Oh no. I'm going to write a sequel. (I can't believe it either!) Nothing about this book has gone the way I thought it would, but it's been in a great way. My friend Andrea says the "muse has inhabited me", and while that may or may not be true, it sure is fun. I will officially "win" NaNo on the 20th, when you can start verifying word counts. 

So I have to put an ending on this guy (a cliff-hanger, of course), and then start the new document for book two, maybe do some outlining--and then touch nothing until January. This is what usually happens with my NaNo books--I finish them in November and then don't touch them until January. That gives them, and me, a nice break before I begin revising/editing. 

And I can purl! You'll see the proof tomorrow in the Yarn Along. 

 

Pondering::

In light of the attacks on Paris, this is an excellent read. It's long, but it's well-worth the time it takes. 

There are so many problems in our world that are new, and all colliding at once--fighting a war against an enemy we can't see (as Judi Dench said in Skyfall), the Syrian refugees, elections, earthquakes in Mexico and Japan....

The only solution I can see to it is to pray more intensely. 

 

Plans for the week::

Not much, which is nice. CCD on Sunday, when we'll talk about Jesus' birthday (we talked about Advent last week). And then it's Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December! Holy cow!

 

This Week's Question: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family? 

 

 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 

Wearing::

jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 

Reading::

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 

Writing::

So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::

spectre-poster-black-white.jpg

I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: