Tag Archives: NaBloPoMo

Recapping NaBloPoMo and Introducing 7 in 7!


January ends today, and with it, my second solid attempt at NaBloPoMo. November 2014 went very well. This month felt kind of blah but was a huge boost nonetheless.

I am still a big fan of link-ups and memes to draw in new visitors and give me ideas. I really liked this month’s NaBloPoMo prompts. Habits are a huge part of who I am, so I enjoyed the opportunity to stretch and focus a little bit.

My traffic is still on an incredible upswing. My total page views are up 25% from November after a small drop in December. I reached nearly 11,000 views for the year, and I did more than double my average views per day from 2013 to 2014.

Yet the goal of posting every single day eludes me. I think it always will, honestly. I have explained/not explained past seasons of scant posting by noting that I have to be out living my life to have anything to blog about. Sometimes I just don’t want to blog, and sometimes blogging is not a priority. I’m still not making any apologies for that.

I think it was my nomination for the Sheenazing Awards that made me realize (a) how far I’ve come as a blogger in the last year and (b) how much I want my other blogging friends to enjoy the same success. As I commented on Kendra’s Sheenazing post, since I regularly read so many blogs in the “Under-appeciated” category, we must have just been hanging out with each other this whole time!

In that vein, I would like to introduce you to the charming Christina of Waltzing in Beauty.


Christina and I met (first by email and then in person) in the wedding of a mutual friend. Her kindness cannot be overstated. I have a mini superpower of being able to tell when I’ve found someone I just “click” with. I got that feeling with Christina. Fun fact: She is engaged to be married to her ballroom dancing partner (which is also how she met our mutual friend, I think)! Christina blogs about beauty, joy, and seeing the brighter side of life.

I love reading Christina’s writing. I can only imagine that planning for a wedding and then being married will probably change her posting pattern, but I wanted to take the opportunity to expose her to my audience (which isn’t very big!) and encourage both us to post more. When Jen Fulwiler hosted 7 Posts in 7 Days, I was on a big swing of not blogging, so I missed out. But no more!

Christina and I have pledged to write 7 posts in the next 7 days. That is ideally once per day, but you’ve seen how well I do with that. “7 in 7” leaves some wiggle room for those days that are so ridiculous I wonder whether I am secretly being filmed, like in The Truman Show.

So go check out Christina’s blog, subscribe here and there if you haven’t already, and brace yourself for the awesomeness!


Being a Christian and a Creature of Habit Sets Me Free


Do you feel chained or released by your habits?

I’m a Christian. The theology of freedom and slavery is never far from my mind. As a Catholic in particular, I face criticism for believing and living as I do. I intentionally surround myself with friends who are living the same way, but you can’t control every presence in your life. There are people who meet me now and have no idea where I came from, and there are people who’ve known me all along and can’t quite grasp the change. Why would I voluntarily choose a life full of restrictions and rules? Why would I actually follow those rules? How do they see chains where I see liberation?

In their defense, I can understand how it seems so strange that I find my habits freeing. When I think back to my past life (or read about it in my old blog posts), I remember the way I used to think and act. Even thinking back to just a few years ago gives me examples of changed habits and new-found freedom.

Before I made a habit of modest dress, I wore some clothes I’m not proud of. I remember feeling like I had no other choice, because that was what was in the stores, and everyone else dressed the same way—or worse. I got attention for my immodesty. I liked the attention, but I wished I didn’t have to get the looks with it. So I started listening to that little voice and decided I wanted to dress differently. Modesty set me free to be who I wanted to be.

Before I made a habit of modest style, I was covered-up but boring. I still dressed basically the same way I did in high school, except that I dressed up for church on Sundays and didn’t wear jeans to work. Modest, stylish role models like Audrey at Putting Me Together and Chandra at More Modern Modesty set me free to dress as fashionably and tastefully. That’s what I wanted.

Before I made a habit of chaste love, I did some things I’m not proud of. Fear not: I’ve repented, confessed, received absolution, and moved on. My heart has healed, and I have been made new. Intentionally building chaste relationships with all the people in my life requires much more effort than anything I had tried before. I have to learn how to genuinely love them, to do what is best for them. I feel more loved now, and I think I show more love now. Isn’t being a Christian all about love, anyway? Learning to love purely and authentically set me free to love like Christ.

My faith lends itself to habits. One of my favorite things about Catholic worship is that we do basically the same thing every time. I don’t have to think about the details, so I can immerse myself in the experience and fully open myself to God and my community. Similarly, I don’t have to pit culture versus conscience every time I walk into a store. If I don’t like any of the clothes I see, I don’t buy them. I don’t have to decide whether each person I meet is worthy of love. They all are. Every single one.

I am a creature of habit, I am a Christian, and I have been set free.


Not Alone Series: Plans for 2015


How are we going to make 2015 different than last year? What goals are you planning/making to be more YOU this year? These goals can be personal growth, spiritual life, physical/health, or even your love life! Maybe you don’t have concrete ones yet, but it helps to talk them out and get motivated!

I posted about resolutions yesterday, including a recap of my philosophy about making New Year’s resolutions. (I wrote about resolutions last year, too. I’m still going on both of those.) In a nutshell, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I make resolutions when I think they need to be made, and they usually stick.

My best resolutions of the recent past have been flossing, setting a bedtime, drinking more water, budgeting, and using GTD and Wunderlist. For the near future, I am working on setting a bedtime and something secret.

Past Resolutions I’m Going to Continue

I started flossing daily in December. I am embarrassed to admit that it took this long to develop the habit, but I’m in for the long haul now.

I did National Blog Posting Month in November, and it was great for my writing fluency, my traffic, and my confidence.

On October 14, I drew a line in the sand and gave myself a bedtime. Going to bed earlier than I would like forces me to be more efficient with my time. I set an alarm on my Google Calendar, which is synced with my phone. (That is how I know the exact date I started.) GCal is always open in my browser, so the pop-up interrupts what I’m doing and forces me to at least acknowledge that I ought to go to bed. It literally says, “Go to bed.” My phone chimes to alert me if I’m away from my computer (although it is rare that I’m not at my computer at that time of day). Most nights, I push through to wrap up “just one more thing,” but I know that it is bedtime. Knowledge is power.

I adopted GTD and Wunderlist in September. I needed a better to-do list. I think I’ve found it. My use of both tools grows and changes over time—and that’s exactly what I needed. I started to describe my implementation for this post, but it turned into enough for a separate post! Basically, I use the Wunderlist browser and mobile apps to write down everything I need to do. I cross tasks off the list during the day and review my progress daily and weekly. It’s been fantastic. More to come.

Last summer, I realized that I needed to drink more water. My office has a water cooler. I left my beloved FOCUS Nalgene bottle on the plane when we landed in Nicaragua in 2012, and I hadn’t replaced it since then. A cute striped bottle caught my eye at Target, beginning a new love affair. I used the stripes to measure how much I drank, and I slowly started increasing each fill-up. At home, I just refilled my water glass; I use one glass per day. I don’t always stay hydrated all day every day, especially on weekends, but I love the way I feel when I do.

I found YNAB (You Need a Budget) (referral link) in May. It changed my life permanently. I effectively fell in love with YNAB. Read my story, and you’ll understand.

New Resolutions

NaBloPoMo is biggest in November, but BlogHer actually hosts it every month. I signed up for January. I haven’t decided whether to keep going through February.

I feel good about my spiritual life these days. Lectoring is my favorite ministry, so it brings me peace to belong to a parish and lector on a schedule. I’ll keep going to Spirit & Truth every week unless I don’t live in Austin anymore or have a child I can’t bring with me. Resuming my individual weekly holy hour is on my Someday/Maybe list for now. Not only do I make resolutions whenever I need them, I make them only when I need them.

As for love life resolutions, I have one, but I’m not sharing. I love expressing myself here, but until/unless I’m ready to let the whole world know, I can’t blog about it. Trust me when I say that it is SMART and will hopefully be fruitful.

Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.

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