I’ve spent most of November feeling great while simultaneously looking at my to-do list and wondering how on earth I’m going to endeavor to tackle it. Well, bit by bit, I’ve been hacking away at it. More than anything, though, this month has been quite the unexpected development, but I’ll talk about that in my discussion of my health goals. I hope your November has had you prancing about unexpectedly in silly bouts of joy.

Also, I would like to point out that I successfully met my SMART goal of posting my December goals on December 1st. And there was much rejoicing.

November Books to Read:

  • It Starts with Food
  • This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live
  • There is No App for Happiness: How to Avoid a Near Life Experience
  • Grinders and Grammars: A Victorian Controversy
  • Braving the Wilderness
  • About half of the Pseudolus (graduate school Latin nerd reading)

My bonus book and a half for November were We Were Liars and Native Son. I’m not quite done with Native Son, so I’ll have to save the discussion of that novel for later. I did manage to start Grinders and Grammars, which is a collection of letters to the editor about Latin teaching pedagogy in the 1860s (did I mention being a nerd?), but I haven’t finished it.  Alas, it’ll be a holdover:  just like Braving the Wilderness, which is still in both of my library queues. (Why have one library card when you can have two?)

I can’t say that There is No App for Happiness was my favorite book on happiness; it was definitely more talk-y than rooted in popular science, but I did enjoy his points about disconnecting more from technology (as I write a blog post on my computer for my internet community).

Similarly, if you’re interested in reading about healthy eating and considering trying out an elimination diet, It Starts with Food is a good place to, well, start. At the same time, it’s not a book I would ever eagerly pick up to read. Still, the writing was conversational and engaging, and I did find it a useful book to read on my Whole30 endeavors.

With my lukewawrm recommendations out of the way, let’s talk about some books I absolutely and 100% enjoyed:  This Is Where You Belong and We Were Liars.

This is Where You Belong is a book about one woman’s quest to learn to love the town that she moved to. After years of picking up and moving every few years, she wanted to establish roots and learn to love, genuinely and truly and deeply love the place that she lived. She began researching place attachment, and her book ranges from topics such as civic engagement to guerrilla campaigns to set up signs providing the walking distance to area attractions. Not joking. I found her writing engaging and informative, akin to Gretchen Rubin’s works on happiness. I have certainly reflected on many of the reasons why I love my own hometown so much and on how I could become even more involved and attached to my community in various little and small ways. She makes this easy to do by providing actionable lists at the end of each chapter. I heartily recommend the book to anyone who feels the itch of wanderlust waging a battle against the desire to settle down in one place.

We Were Liars is young-adult fiction novel that packs a powerful surprise ending. I’m not often completely surprised, but I unequivocally can say that I had no idea that ending was coming. Sure, I knew something was up… but not that. At any rate, I won’t spoil the fun for you (my dear friend Alex hates spoilers), but the gist of the novel is that a extravagantly wealthy patrician family with its own summer vacation island is harboring a secret: What terrible accident caused Cadence to lose her memory and suffer terrible pain? Why will no one share this secret with her? Lockhart weaves back and forth between the past and the present as Cadence tries to jumble the pieces together.

Lockhart ties in stories about King Lear and fairy tales as Cadence’s past and current family wage their battles in time, form allegiances, break faith, fall apart, and knit back together. As her aunts, mother, and grandfather play this tug-of-war over money and possessions, the cousins (aka the liars) form their own alliances and youthful dalliances and act in concert against the adults who are destroying their families and their idyllic summers on their private island.

I must confess, now that I know the surprise ending, I see the clues all along. Perhaps you’ll be a more astute reader than I was, but I definitely recommend this as an engaging story with a good plot and writing that is unexpected and bright, even when it is quite dark.

And, of course, the Pseudolus is an absolutely delightful play. I love it, and I’ve certainly giggled aloud while reading Latin, which makes it all worthwhile. I’ll be finishing it up next week, but that’s technically into December.

November Hobby Goals

  • Purchase a live meat rabbit, process it, and eat it (sorry mom!)
  • Present professionally on the relationship of vocabulary to reading comprehension
  • Complete the November Food in Jars Mastery Challenge
  • Quilt my Honeycomb Bee Quilt (ish)
  • Finish spinning the last of the roving for the project I want to knit
  • Plan the details of our backpacking trip over winter break and fire-up the dehydrator
  • Kills as much of the Bermuda grass as I can with kill mulch (yes, I know that’s not a SMART goal)

I managed most of my hobby goals this month! You could count the bee quilt on a technicality because I did technically quilt my bee quilt. I haven’t finished the binding, however, and I meant finish the bee quilt when I wrote that goal last month, not just quilt it. Oh well, close!

Otherwise, I wrote about the experience processing the rabbit (sorry mom, thanks for still loving me), the Food in Jars November Mastery Challenge, the Kill Mulch, and I’ve finished the spinning, planned out the backpacking trip, and my first meal is officially done dehydrating. Success!

I presented professionally (just today!) on the relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension in Latin, and I felt really good about the presentation. I’ve been encouraged to apply for a conference and to consider publishing a paper on the topic. I just might.

November Health Goals

  • Run in a 5k
  • Be a better record keeper of my health goals
  • Stand at my desk for two hours a day (except bad days)
  • Walk or stretch three times a week
  • Complete the Whole30 program—yes, over Thanksgiving too

I ran in a 5k, and I felt wonderful. Achy, mind you, but wonderful.

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My record keeping has been pretty decent, but I’ve changed how track it. I still write an M for Meditated, a W for Walked, and a S for Stretched in my daily planner, but I stopped recording the time spent standing because I am acing that two hours I wanted to stand at my desk every day. I’m probably standing about half the work day at this point, and that’s something I’m darn proud of.

In fact, my energy level has had a noticeable spike since I started Whole30. I’m energetic and peppy, and I can feel those old versions of my cartoon-character school-mascot self bouncing around and busting out the silly dance move. Granted, my peppy silliness still comes with all those aches and pains, but I am significantly happier and have been waking up with more energy than my husband in the morning.

In fact, he would be the first to tell you, quite adamantly, that I am not a morning person. I’ve joked repeatedly that his job in the morning is to wake up and make coffee for me so I can be a human. Sometimes he’d make coffee, and I still wouldn’t get out of bed. Now, I’ve sometimes woken up before him by a whole hour and felt refreshed and well rested. Not always, mind you, but other times I wake up a few minutes before the alarm clock sounds and make the coffee myself or take care of the wood-burning stove.

In short, I’m nigh well a functional human being. I might even be too peppy and silly and cheerful for my husband sometimes, whom I’ve caught looking at me a handful of times with this look of bewilderment on this face. Who is this woman I’ve married?

I ask myself that too, but of course, the question is more like: Who is this person in the mirror?! Why do none of her clothes fit her? (Answer: the weight I’ve lost this year!)

I usually like to write my goal posts for December at the same time as I reflect on how I’ve done at November goals, but I’m not going to do that this month. I’ll be out of town for about half of December and have no clue what I’m going to read on my backpacking trip just yet, so I’ll have to pass on making and recording any SMART goals.

Except, well, I’d really like to finish that bee quilt…

And then, of course, my biggest SMART goal is impending:  I’m revising and changing my website (which is why I haven’t posted this week), so you can soon expect to visit Casula Mellita at its new home (www.honeyedhomestead.com). I’ll still be writing about our homestead, crafting, and books, and I look forward to continuing our adventures there!

But, in the mean time, I love talking to people who read my blog. Tell me more about what y’all have read this month! Which books do you recommend? Which hobby or health goals have you tackled that have you feeling like busting out a weird dance move at work?

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