2022 Goals & Aspirations

Hullo, world!

(And Happy belated New Year!)

As you might already know, I’m the kind of person who generally enjoys goal-setting. *tries to hide my stack of journals and planners in a closet* Last year, I did a similar thing where I shared a bit about my goal-setting process. Reading back, I do have to admit I still follow a somewhat rigorous goal-setting method, but I’m learning to simplify more. If last year taught me anything, it’s the need to focus on the heart of things, not the result. 

So for this year, I’m going to take a step back, relax, and perchance pour myself tea as I walk myself–and you, dear SJ readers, through my 2022 Goals & Aspirations

Reading 

Depth. Since my terrible reading year in 2020, I’ve become more sensitive to the kind of books I read. With the start of university last fall, I’ve had to read books I don’t necessarily a) enjoy b) agree with c) or would pick up, period, but it’s led me to realise I should not be only reading books I like. Which inevitably led me to re-examine my reading life. (Some of you will recall my Rethinking Reading Ethics post.) 

Well, I’ve been developing my reading ethics since then, and have updated it to groups of somewhat organised reading lists. So far, I’ve been able to keep it within ten categories (I know, it still sounds like a lot) that I’m happy about. Of course, I’m thinking I might change it up as I go on, but for now, they are as the following:

  1. Theology/Philosophy (a long-due list of apologetics books & c.)
  2. Academics (mandatory readings I can’t escape from)
  3. C. S. Lewis (all of his works I haven’t read yet)
  4. Classics/Dark Academia (def. One of my favourite lists)
  5. Political Science/History (similar to academics, but more for fun)
  6. Haruki Murakami (almost all of his works, idk?)
  7. Re-Read (books I desperately want to re-read but haven’t)
  8. Omnibus/PHC (still trying to finish this one…)
  9. Japanese Nonfiction & Literature (somehow I can read them faster than English works??)
  10. Others (anything else that doesn’t fit but suits my fancy, or have been recommended to me)

Also, I’m trying to impose a ten-book library limit on myself which is not working so well… And you know, it’s probably the library’s fault for letting me take out up to fifty books in the first place. (ˉ ˘ ˉ; ) 

Writing

WIPs 

Focus. I’m not as hell-bent on getting traditionally published young anymore for several reasons, one of which is that I’ve realised it’s okay not to have “made it”. Publishing isn’t my only goal when it comes to writing, and the biggest reason I write is for fun. I love writing. I’ll probably keep plodding away at words, slower than I’ve been doing in the past, yet definitely for sure. 

From last year’s experience of project-hopping, I know I cannot multitask. (Which, by the way, is no brainer, but still! I thought I was that one in a million!!) So for the year 2022, I’m going to focus–I’ll be working on one WIP at a time, and will stay at it. I tend to have “seasons” for all my WIPs, so I’ll be sticking to that in a roughly two-or-three month cycle.

Example:

SeasonWIP
Dec~Jan, (maybe) MarchOsthauptstadt
Feb, NovElijacomb
March~May, (maybe) Nov?Woodstone Abbey
May~JuneJuliet (revision)

There are a few WIPs out there that I’m still debating about working on. I have terrible lapses during the summer, and *whispers* I might be travelling for my best friend’s wedding, so I’m going to keep it open. And even if I do work on another WIP, it’ll be only one, and something that’s in progress. For now, though, I’m going to keep it to these four. 

Another fun thing I’ve started is a writing journal. No, it’s not a tautology, in case you’re wondering. I love my bullet journals & planners to pieces, and I thought, “Why not start a journal for my WIPs?” Reading DeSalvo’s The Art of Slow Writing has made me realise how much writing is heart and process. So far, I’ve had encouraging days and less than encouraging days, but the good thing is that I can more easily reflect on where I’ve been–and where I’m trying to go. ⸜( ´ ꒳ ` )⸝

A glimpse of what my writing journal looks like

Blog

I kind of debated whether or not to include this section in this post. Alwith, given how things went last year when university started, I think it’s relevant. 

In the previous years since I started my blog, I never doubted it. Okay, that sounds kind of strange, but when I started blogging, I never really thought about quitting or taking a break (a long one) or how long I’d actually do it. It just…came to me as another aspect of life. 

Through last year’s experience and looking back on my senior year in high school, however, I think it’s better if I established a more lax schedule around my blogging. Please don’t get me wrong. I love blogging, and now that I am thinking about this, I don’t think I ever want to stop. But I know that once university starts again, I will have weeks when I’m flooded with assignments and/or exam preps and won’t have the energy to get to blogging. 

So, for now, I’m going to stick to the roughly once a week routine. You’ll probably still see an Author Health post at the beginning of the month, Writing Life in the second week, Reading in the third, and Afternoon tea at the end of the month. But, I’m not going to be too rigid in the structure of my blog. They’ll serve as guidelines, but I hope SJ Barnard will be a place you can step back with a cup of tea to relax. And I’ll continue writing to that end. (୨୧ᵕ̤ᴗᵕ̤)

That’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading the post. How was your New Year? Do you have any goals for the year 2022? What are some of your aspirations for this year? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

December Afternoon Tea with SJ 2021 Review

Good Afternoon and Merry Christmas, everyone!

We are actually having a WHITE CHRISTMAS this year!!! It’s been raining/sleeting/snowing on and off, which means we had many false starts, but the snow stayed, and I can’t contain my joy. ( ᐢ˙꒳​˙ᐢ )

And, I can hardly believe it’s Christmas, let alone the year 2021 is ending…Where did all the time go?? *incessant flipping of my journal*

But without further ado, let me present to you today’s tea!

-December Afternoon Tea ‘21 Setting-

Location: living room with a roaring fireplace & twinkling Christmas tree

Tea: Elderflower blackberry, cream of earl grey, lavender-rose

Offered with: matcha snowball cookies, Japanese cheesecake, eggnog ice cream

This year, I read 157 books. Earlier in the year, I resolved to rethink my reading ethics. Last year (2020), I read a lot of books that didn’t matter to me or were valuable to me despite reading a lot. I felt like I wasted my time and efforts and certainly didn’t want the year 2021 to look like that.

So, I set up some values in reading books, created various reading schedules (Note: they have been updated three times from the month I wrote that blog post) and overall, am really happy with what I read this year. I think I could regain my focus and improve the quality of my reading life, so I hope to continue that next year. ୧꒰*´꒳`*꒱૭✧

>> See my Year in Books on Goodreads

More tea, anyone? I absolutely love the elderflower blend! But the cream of earl grey is also fantastic. Fun fact: Our family makes hundreds of snowball cookies each Christmas to give away to our friends, neighbours, and pastors. We haven’t been able to continue the tradition in recent years, but this year we went back to it & I’m remembering how much fun this is!

Anyhow. Let’s move on to one of the most fun discussions here. 

Music 

So for those of you who have noticed, I have officially been converted over to Spotify. I think I started using it earlier this year, became a regular listener until I was habitually complaining about the ads, and have finally upgraded to premium, which I love so much I wonder why I didn’t subscribe earlier. Here’s my Spotify wrapped:

(Although, tbh, it doesn’t represent the classical music sector as well since I listen to them either as borrowed CD or on the radio…)

>>My 2021 Playlist on Spotify

Practising: Mozart Sinfonia concertante K.364, playing from chord charts

Listening to: Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas, Studio Ghibli soundtracks, various playlists & classical music (like Tchaikovsky’s 5th & 6th)

Movie/TV shows 

Another new thing that has popped up in my life since the pandemic was intense movie-watching! This year, we haven’t been able to watch that many movies, but we did watch a lot of Japanese dramas and TV shows. Some of my favourites this season were:

  • Pierce the Blue Sky (a year-long drama/documentary about Eichi Shibusawa, who will become the new ¥1,0000 ($100) bill)
  • Come, Come, Everybody (a morning short drama about English conversations radio in Japan which is too heartbreaking and cute beyond words)
  • I Only Gave Consent to Marriage (another super cute fake-marriage rom-com!!)
  • Japan Sinking (a very realistic eco-sci-fi based on a book)

Manga/Anime

Would you like another slice of the cheesecake? Or another cup of ice cream? Or more tea??

If you hadn’t heard my squeals and flailings earlier, now you hear it. *inserts extreme fangirl squeals, screams, and any other indescribable sounds you probably also make*

Well, for starters, I have acquired more wotaku goods than the previous years–I have an acrylic key charm display on my writing desk that I absolutely love. I have a Mob Psycho 100 calendar by the talented pea/helen beside the display that I absolutely love. I got a bunch of die-cut stickers for my computer (TPN, MP100, KNY, JK, Narnia, Wycliff, etc.) that I absolutely love. 

You can probably already see what my problem is. 

Some of the fandoms I’m so happy to have found this year are: 

  • Kimetsu no Yaiba (actually cont. From last year, but who cares? It’s KNY!!)
  • Attack on Titan (I can’t believe I didn’t know AoT before. Seriously.)
  • My Hero Academia (MHA has been the most surprising fandom out of all here. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do now)
  • Jujutsu Kaisen (I just read the manga up to vol. 9 and can’t wait to read more!!)
  • Spy & Family (Okay, also technically not this year but when the serialisation started on Jump+ back in 2019 but who cares? It’s getting an anime soon!!)

Okay, enough fangirling for now. I think I’ll have the lavender-rose tea. I love lavender, and my sister loves rose. Nothing can ever go wrong with those two. 

Writing. 

*inserts crickets chirping*

Date Title of WIPWordcount
Jan, May, Sep, NovOsthauptstadt50.2 K
Feb, NovElijacomb 17th27.4 K
MarchSecret project no. 19.9 K
March-April, NovWoodstone30.2 K 
May-June, DecJuliet (revision)20.6 K
June-Aug, NovSecret project no. 211.2 K 
July, Oct Secret project no. 34 K
Jan-DecBlog39 K 
Jan-DecBrainstorming18.9 K 
154 K (in WIPs) 212 K (in total) of 200 K goal

At first, I thought it was nothing to be fan-faring about, which explains the crickets. But after I went back to see how much I’ve written, I’m quite relieved. Although one can’t deny there was a lot of project hopping done this year & a lack of focus in general, I’m surprised to find I’ve actually been writing consistently this year. Through reading various writing books this year, I’ve been struggling to find the writing life that works for me. (You can see the trend in my posts about writing.) A writer’s life is one marked with struggles. It’s daily, when you’re trying to excavate writing time. It’s monthly, when you realise you haven’t written what you promised yourself you’d write that month. And it’s yearly. 

Yet, when you look back, you very often realise that you’ve done so much more than you believed to have done. And I’m going to leave it at that. 

I’m so thirsty now I actually need to boil more water for tea… (Here, I am placing the kettle on the stove IRL.) 

Anyhow. I don’t think I need to mention academics, other than I’ve finally started university and am so happy for the Christmas break. There, done and taken care of. Plus, next year we’re probably back to online classes. *sighs*

All in all, this year has been a busy one after the leisurely one of 2020. I can’t explain all that’s happened this year; what I can do is to tell you that yes, there were a lot of adjustments, struggles, fangirling, &c. But at the end of it all, what matters is the heart of what I do. And even though I made a lot of mistakes, I can say with confidence, that I could focus on the why and how, more than the what

So thank you, dear SJ readers. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I’m looking forward to another year with you. ଘ(੭*ˊᵕˋ)੭* ੈ♡‧₊˚

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to you all!

Thank you for reading! How was your year 2021? What are some of your highlights? Have you discovered anything noteworthy this year? Or accomplishments? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Cathedral Book Review

Hullo, world!

It’s a beautiful Saturday here in Vancouver with a ray of unusual sunshine and rain (I know, that never seems to go away). I got my second cup of Caramel Brûlé latte of the season, the malls are playing “White Christmas”, and it snowed (!) one day, so life has been fantastic. (Okay, near fantastic if you forget the fact there’s a final exam on a Sunday morning which I still haven’t reconciled with.)

And so, on such a perfect day, it’s only fitting that I introduce to you my favourite author and blogger–Maya Joelle!

Cathedral

Cathedral is a collection of poetry and creative prose about beauty in the midst of grief and joy in the face of great sorrow.

oh brave one,

oh broken, beautifully brave one,

remember.

remember that no matter how tiny the fragments this time,

how far apart they are scattered,

how long you must search,

he will help you find the pieces of the person you once were

and the image you once bore.

// to the broken ones

My Thoughts:

First of all, I don’t read many books of poetry. But when I do, I’m always reminded how much I love it. (And of course, we know what Tolkien would say– ”poetry works into prose!”)

Some of my favourite lines:

Is it a shipwreck if the boat doesn’t break? 
Is it a tragedy if I wanted to wreck myself?
I am broken. 
And in my brokenness, I break things.
If I am dashed to pieces 
May it be doing something worthy 
For those who stand by my side.
I’ll kill your suitors and open my doors 
And tell you that you’re loved 
So come home to me, my love 
I am your Odysseus

In my hands there is a brick. In that brick is the beginning of a cathedral. 

Maya Joelle, Cathedral

Some of my favourite poems:

  • coming
  • to the broken ones
  • beacon
  • walk around the pasture
  • dust

This book is for you if you like:

  1. little snippets of poetry
  2. classics & song & poetry inspired themes
  3. small but honest warmth in poetry

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maya Joelle is a wordsmith, bookdragon, and avid forest enthusiast from Michigan. In addition to poetry, she writes high fantasy novels and short stories that turn into novels. When she’s not writing or studying, she is often found marvelling at the beauty of creation through the wonders of nature, music, and friendship. She writes poems to remind herself and others of God’s goodness amidst pain and sorrow, for the glory of the Author who knows the ending of her story.

all the important links: https://mayajoelle.carrd.co/

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! Do you like/read poetry? If so, do you have any favourite poets? Better yet, do you write poetry? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!