February Snapshot: Bonds, Boundaries, and Goals

Every so often, the fates align and a monthly theme emerges. For me, the theme for February is bonds and boundaries, and it manifests not only through the tarot card I drew this month, but also through all of the travelling I’ve been doing lately. But more on that later. Because before I dive into bonds and boundaries, I need to bounce back to January’s post on goals. Like many people, I try to set yearly goals for myself every January. But this year, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck. I simply haven’t felt like setting up any particular goals.

But that won’t do!

So, I’ve decided to go another route with this. I follow PostSecret, a site that catalogs anonymous secrets sent in via postcards. In January, the creator posted a link to the Vice article below:

Bonds and boundaries, Resolutions Suck; Make A List of Things to Be Excited About Instead by Hannah Smothers


I’m a big fan of this idea for a couple of reasons:

(1) I’ve been stressing out over goals. While not the same as resolutions, necessarily, goals can sometimes feel just as binding.

(2) The manuscript I’m working on has a protagonist with a big to-do list that seems innocuous to the outside world but actually has significant consequences, so the idea of creating a (much more relaxed) checklist myself resonates.

When you’re a writer, visual artist, musician, or other creative, there’s often this internal pressure to spend every moment not working at your 9-to-5 creating. But as wonderful as creating is, it doesn’t do your work or yourself any good to not take breaks. With that mentality in mind, creating a list of things to look forward to seems like the perfect way to build in wellness breaks.

So, without further ado, my 2020 list of things I’m really looking forward to

  1. Going to Japan next week!
  2. Sewing a pair of wearable shorts.
  3. Telling Cierra’s story in a fun, heartfelt way.
  4. Writing a short story in the adult literary space.
  5. Giving Vikki’s story the attention it deserves.
  6. Going home sometime in the summer.
  7. Taking myself out for dessert :)!
  8. Reading, reading, reading and more reading!
  9. Drawing (and drawing) more tarot cards (btw, I got a new tarot deck and it’s gorgeous).
  10. Taking many a nap :P.
  11. Decorating my apartment with mid-century modern finds.
  12. Finding a great craft book on writing (any suggestions?) or taking a writing class.
  13. Voting.

Okay, so that was a lot

This list doesn’t even begin to include all of things I’m excited about in 2020, but it’s a great jumping off point. As the year goes on, I’ll try to add or remove things that no longer apply.

But, in the meantime, let’s talk about Japan!


I’ve wanted to go to Japan ever since I spent weekday afternoons running home to catch Sailor Moon on Toonami (we are truly blessed to have streaming services now. Everyone born after me will never know the struggle of having to catch their favorite TV show at a specific time.)

While my interest in Japan began with anime, it’s the language itself that ultimately made me invested. I studied Japanese language back in college for three years. Before that, I took French in high school and was horrible at it. I don’t remember a thing ^_^;. But Japanese language has stuck with me, and even though I don’t remember everything I learned, I’ve tried to keep up with it by reading any and all hiragana, katakana, and kanji I come across.

What I like so much about the language is that it takes me outside of my everyday way of reading and writing. Because the characters that make up the language look so visually different than the Roman characters I’m used to–and because the syntax differs–it forces me to pause for a moment, switch gears, and power through. And I love that. It’s a bit like writing a story. You start with the foundation and then build up from there, adding layers and layers as you grow more familiar with what you’re doing.

Anyway, that got long-winded, didn’t it?

But I can’t help myself. This is my dream vacation, the one I promised third-grade Jen I’d take her on, and I could not be more excited.


Which brings me to this month’s theme: bonds and boundaries

I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot recently (to make up for all the years where I rarely left the state). With all this exploration, I’m trying to take bits and pieces of my travels and use them in my writing. Travel teaches us to experience the world in a different way; to try new things and get outside of our comfort zone; and to connect with people outside our normal sphere of influence.

My current work is all about exploration. My two protagonists are learning about the world from each other in a way I hope feels organic and true. So, as I embark on my trip to Tokyo (and hopefully Nara. Fingers crossed!) I want to remind myself to step out of bounds. To ignore the usual boundaries of introversion and shyness and try to truly live in the moment.

But where do bonds come in?

With my monthly tarot card, of course. As I mentioned in January, I drew a lot of swords this year. Swords are not typically a welcomed suit in tarot readings as they often signal a struggle, conflict, or challenge. But challenges can’t be avoided, only conquered. So, I might as well make the most of them :).

This month, I’ve drawn the Eight of Swords:

Eight of Swords











It’s the card of bonds, restraints, and creative frustration. And that last one, creative frustration, is exactly how I’ve been feeling in 2020. But, the Eight of Swords is not an unforgiving card. Any restrictions I’ve felt creatively are self made, and it’s up to me to get out of it.

That’s why I’ve been listening to a playlist of songs related to the story I’m working on. And lately, it’s helped me get into the writing headspace before I ever begin typing. In that way, I’ve been taking steps to break away the bonds I’ve felt since January 1st. And finally, on this second full week of February, I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

I’ve still got a ways to go in revising Cierra’s story, but I’m excited and optimistic about the outcome now that I’ve been deepdiving into the playlist I created. As I travel next week, I’ll be looking for stories I can take with me to make her world as colorful on page as it looks in my head.

And with that, happy writing! And Happy Valentine’s Day ;).

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