Friday, January 30, 2015

One Mere Month

We're now less than a month away from our next cruise.  Eek!


This is stressing me out like no other cruise - because of my weight gain.  I know it's actually quite silly to be so perturbed over ten pounds...but I was in the best shape of my life - or in recent memory - at the beginning of November.  And now I seem to have no control over my weight.  It's making me despair in a very new way.

If you know me, you know I'm a control freak and a bit OCD.  Even though I heard the endocrinologist say that she just had to get my thyroid dosage right, my brain still wants to do something.  It wants control.  And so I'm working out like crazy and when I can get to the rec center at lunch, I do - usually 3-4 times a week.  

I'm seeing results - my arms and legs seem to be firming up in new ways - but not in the way I want: on the scale.  So wish me luck!  I have to get into a bikini in less than a month.  Hopefully, without my new tummy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Michelle Dozois: BodyFit 360 Vol 2 - Dance Conditioning (Review)

I was so excited when Michelle Dozois announced two new BodyFit 360 workouts.  Unlike the new Athletic Conditioning workout, I was really looking forward to the Dance Conditioning one.  The original 360 is near and dear to my heart - it effortlessly combines dance, flexibility, and cardio.  I just love the concept.  That being said, this is not your old-school dance cardio.  This is something unique and effective.


The new Dance Conditioning 360 has premixes and chapters, which is very nice when you don't have an hour for a workout.  

When doing the whole thing, you start with cardio.  Michelle blends dance, yoga, and even some high-impact moves to get you warm and sweating.  Yes, I had sweat dripping off of me!  The high impact moves - mainly some squat jumps and dance hops - can easily be made into low impact moves if you want a lighter workout.  You move in every direction, standing up and on the floor.

After about 25-30 minutes of cardio, you move to the floor to work your arms.  This track is really hard for me.  You do push-ups, mermaids, spiders, and tricep work.  Ouch!

Next up is ab work.  This section is tough, though not quite as tough as the original 360.  There is quite a bit of focus on your obliques and even some quad work thrown in.  Wow.

After this you get to stretch and I love Michelle's stretching.  Here, she incorporates some more yoga to get your warm muscles nice and stretched out.


This workout is just so nice.  I love having lighter day workouts that make me sweat without killing me.  About 30 minutes of cardio is great, as is the stretch.  This is a great addition to the BodyFit 360 collection.

The entire workout runs for 55 minutes.  For a clip, go here.  

Bottom Line: While this is not a difficult workout as far as impact, some of the moves are challenging and some experience in dance or yoga will really help you get through it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Combat Challenge: Week 3

Well, with my weight up (though I hope the endocrinologist will help with the thyroid meds later this week), I'm super motivated to work as hard as possible to get these pounds off.  But let me tell you, after eating well for two weeks and doing all these crazy workouts, I better see some results.  Sigh.  That's what clues me into this being the thyroid - usually, my body would have kindly shown me results by now.  

I'm still going strong with my Combat Challenge…

Monday: Michelle's Cardio Strength 2 + Strength Total Body + dance

I was off today for MLK and decided to double up on workouts.  Yes, I'm crazy - and motivated!  I started off with CS2 on Glo - ouch!  This one is tough with all the floor work interspersed throughout.  Then, to get in some much-needed weight training, I did Michelle's strength workout on Glo, which is a lot like her Pure Strength workouts from Peak Fit.  My arms were aching by the end.  For about ten minutes after this, I danced to get the kinks out of my arms and legs.  Almost two hours of working out.  Whew!

Tuesday: Combat 45 - Power Kata + walk

A new workout this morning!  Combat 45 was a nice change from the rather basic Kick Start (Combat 30) - and longer!  It was cold in the house this morning but I warmed up rather quickly with the workout!  Ha!  It got me working and sweating in no time with tons of punches, jabs, and kicks.  I added in my own cardio at the end to get in 45 minutes before stretching for five minutes.  At lunch, I walked at the rec.

Wednesday: Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101 + Combat Shock Plyo HIIT 2 + yoga

For my short cardio bursts in the morning, I'm trying to not do Michelle Dozois' workouts this week - because I like them too much.  Ha!  Ilyse's dance workout is fun - mainly cardio intervals - and I did it for about 15 minutes before Combat Plyo.  This Combat workout is really difficult and has taught me just how much I loathe lunge jumps.  Ugh!!  Yoga was lovely today; not as intense as last week, it was more of a stretch.

Thursday: Jeffrey Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + Combat Power HIIT 1 + weights

I like Scott's HIIT because it's low pressure and different.  It warmed me up before Combat.  This Power HIIT - using weights for about 10 minutes - isn't as difficult as the other Plyo HIIT but has 5 minutes of burpees, which is not at all fun.  At lunch, when I went to do weights at the rec, my legs were still so achy from Combat HIIT that the inner and outer thigh machines were not at all easy. Usually, I breeze right through those machine reps so it was nice to know that something is making a difference with Combat!

Friday: BodyFit 360 Vol. 2 - Dance Conditioning

Today was my "rest" day so I did Michelle's new BodyFit 360 - Dance Conditioning.  It's a lot like the original 360 and I really do love it.  Michelle combines high-impact moves, yoga, and dance to get you moving in every direction - and to get you sweating.  It's just enough to make you feel worked out without overworking on a rest day.

Saturday:  Combat 60 - Extreme Cardio Fighter

After eating badly last night - oh, it was so much fun! - I was ready to burn some calories this morning.  Combat 60 definitely gets me sweating.  I put all I had into every punch and it wore me out!  Wow!  I did some extra cardio to get in 60 full minutes and then did my own push-ups (like what they do in the video).  My abs were aching from Michelle's BodyFit the previous day, so I skipped abs today.

Sunday:  Combat Power HIIT 1+ Michelle's Cardio Interval Burn on Glo

A Sunday with little to do but relax meant that I could do an extra long workout.  I started with my own five minute warm-up and then did Power HIIT.  Good grief, those burpees!  I then did three-quarters of Michelle's CIB on Glo.  That totaled 70 minutes of cardio.  I then did abs for five minutes followed by a nice, long 10-minute stretch.  A good day!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1258
Tuesday - 1274
Wednesday - 1274
Thursday - 1278
Friday - BAD
Saturday - 1277
Sunday - 1288

I received good news from the endocrinologist on Thursday.  When I asked her what I could do to lose the 10 pounds my thyroid has caused me to gain, she said, emphatically, nothing: she needs to get my dosage right.  So, I'm on a higher dosage and she wants me to get bloodwork done in two weeks in case I need an even higher dose.  That's good considering the cruise is now only a month away.  Eek!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wild

My book group chose a non-fiction work for the month of January and, once again, I'm amazed at how much I'm enjoying non-fiction.  Sure, as a history major, I'm used to reading non-fiction....but not non-history non-fiction.  Ha!

Here's the review for Cheryl Strayed's Wild that I posted to Goodreads (you may recognize the title as it's now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon):

I had never heard of Cheryl Strayed's memoir until my book group recently chose to read Wild. And then I was excited by the idea of her journey (I love hiking! I love national parks! I love nature!). But when I read about Cheryl and how her story begins, I was appalled at just how selfish and idiotic she was. 

The situation of leaving her husband reminds me so much of Eat, Pray, Love. And it infuriates me! "Hello, husband. I love you but I'm really so busy with my own issues right now, that I"m going to break your heart just because it's inconvenient for me to be married while I find myself." Ugh! I hope Paul is getting some of her book money. 

Her journey, on the other hand, is fascinating. I loved it all! Strayed's writing is witty and personable; I didn't want to put the book down. My only disappointment was that she had to skip Yosemite; I would have loved to hear an account of that leg of the trail. 

If you can suffer reading about a woman who is truly messed up (don't get me started on the drugs), this is a fun read about a journey most of us won't ever get the opportunity to make.


I can honestly say that I have no interest in seeing the movie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Les Mills: Combat 30 - Kick Start (Review)

I've now run through Combat 30 several times now.  It's the first workout you're instructed to do when you begin the Combat workout calendar.  



Before this video, I was not new to kickboxing but I was not an expert by any means.  The terms were familiar to me - at least most of them - as was the form.  This video consists of the basics - jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, front kicks, back kicks, roundhouses.  

Your warm-up is a series of jabs, crosses, and shuffles.  You then move on to kicks.  All of this is rather low-impact and doesn't really get your heart rate up.  However, as you become more familiar with the video, you can definitely throw everything you have into those punches to get your heart pumping!

As the workout progresses, you learn some combinations that incorporate kicks, punches, and basic footwork - jacks and shuffles.  I try to make every move possible high impact, which helps to keep my heart rate elevated.  The hardest move is a jump kick - but it's fun!  
At the end you're given a short cool down.  


I can see why this workout appeals to both men and women.  It's fun, the music is fun, and the instructors are motivating without being annoying.  It's a good introduction to kickboxing and to Combat in general.  If your fitness level isn't quite up there yet, or if you cannot do high-impact moves, a modification is shown.  

Bottom Line: This is definitely a good intermediate workout for those starting kickboxing or Combat.  Your arms will ache afterward!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Combat Challenge: Week 2

My cruise/holiday weight isn't budging and I'm about to get desperate.  After eating really well all last week (and weekend) and working out every day, I'm hoping to see some results this week.  I just need something to know I'm making a difference.  

In the past, I've been able to drop weight a bit more quickly - at least, I've been able to see a difference. I blame the thyroid.  Thankfully, I go in to see the doctor in about two weeks and she can re-evaluate my hormone dosage then.  

In the meantime, here's my week in workouts…

Monday: Combat 30 - Kick Start + Ilyse Baker's Dance Intervals 101 + yoga

I really tried to give 105% with Combat this morning, to keep my heart rate up.  If sweating is any indication, I succeeded.  To get in a full 50-minute workout, I did about 20 minutes of Ilyse's Dance Intervals, which is more athletic cardio than dance.  Jogging, jogging, jogging.  Yoga was back in session at the rec center and it was a lot of fun - and challenging.  The teacher is too cute.  "Smile," she says, "so I know you still like me."  Ha!

Tuesday: Combat Power HIIT 1 + Jeffrey Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals

I was not looking forward to this Combat workout, since the last five minutes is spent doing burpees.  But I got through it.  Barely.  I paired it with Scott's HIIT workout, which I've done a few times.  It's definitely effective.  Lunch was spent at a nutrition talk, so no extra workout today. 

Wednesday:  Amy Dixon's Intervals + Dozois' HIIT - Breathless and Energized + yoga 

On the Combat calendar, I'm supposed to do another Combat 30....but I'd rather do other cardio, thank you very much.  For some reason, Amy's 30-minute Intervals Glo workout looked appealing - though it repeats the same 4 moves over and over.  I made some modifications to keep myself entertained, but otherwise it was fun. And Amy wasn't quite as chatty.  Dozois' HIIT is one of my faves and it rounded out my 50-minute workout.  At lunch, I did yoga, which was super hard today. 

Thursday: Combat Shock Plyo HIIT 2 + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast

I woke up with crazy lower back pain, which is something entirely new to me. It must have been yoga yesterday.  I got through Michelle's cardio and the Combat HIIT but all I wanted to do was round my back for relief.  Sigh.  I had a shock this morning: I got on the scale for the first time since December and it was not good.  I'm sure my thyroid meds will have to be adjusted when I see the doctor next week.

Friday:  Peak Fit Dynamic Flexibility + abs + weights 

For two weeks, I've been going hard with these workouts, so I decided to give myself a treat this morning.  Wow!  (My "rest" day on the Combat calendar.)  It felt so good to do Michelle's Dynamic Flex (especially with my low back still achy).  You get warm enough to stretch out and feel invigorated for the day.  I followed that 30-minute video with 10 minutes of abs from Star Trainers - Rob Glick's circuit.  At lunch, I did weights (ugh) and then made two laps around the track.  

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix 

The Combat calendar called two days of Combat 60 this week, but I needed my Peak 10 fix. Michelle's CIB Remix was a nice change this morning.  Because I like it so much, I always forget just how demanding this workout really is.  Wow!

Sunday:  Combat 60 - Extreme Cardio Fighter

While I wasn't really looking forward to this workout, I wasn't dreading it.  This one has no burpees or lunge jumps, like the HIIT videos.  But there are so many punches and kicks and jumps….  Whew!  My FitBit goes crazy trying to count my steps!  I added on some of my own cardio to give me a full 60-minute workout and then treated myself to ten minutes of stretching.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1275
Tuesday - 1260
Wednesday - 1284
Thursday - 1290

Friday - 1372
Saturday - 1271
Sunday - 1257

Once again, I really tried to stay on track this week and was proud of myself.  However, getting on the scale on Thursday morning did nothing to help my psyche.  I can't believe this weight isn't budging.  I allowed myself a few extra calories on Friday night, though we didn't do our usual Friday night out.  And I was good the rest of the weekend.  We're already talking about going out next Friday - our one and only night out in January….and I can't wait.  I can already taste the margarita!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Michelle Dozois: BodyFit 360 Vol 3 - Athletic Conditioning

A few months ago, I was able to buy Michelle Dozois' two, brand-new BodyFit 360 workouts in a pre-sale.  Considering how much I loved the first volume, I couldn't wait to do these two new workouts!  Since volume three had "athletic" in the title, I was a bit nervous: it appeared much more difficult - er, athletically challenging - than the first volume.  But I've now done this one more than the second volume, Dance Conditioning.  I'm excited to tell you about it today.


There is no equipment required for this workout, except a towel and a mat.  The cardio runs 40 minutes in length.  It is then followed by a 20 minute athletic stretch.  

For the warm-up, you'll use the towel to help you stretch and add resistance to your movements.  Michelle starts out a bit slower than usual with squats, side lunges, knee lifts, and planks.  

For the next thirty minutes, you move non-stop.  Unlike the Peak 10 workouts, you get no breaks; this is non-stop athletic conditioning.  Ha!  These are mostly high-impact moves - athletic instead of dancey - so shoes are necessary, unlike in the first BodyFit.  An example of one circuit in this section is scissor legs into a touch-down lunge, courtesy lunges, ski jumps, jacks & hamstring curls, skipping, kneeling lunges, plank kicks, and high kicks.  Whew!  Then you repeat that on the other leg.  

After all that cardio, you move to the floor for about five minutes of arm and ab work.  You'll need that towel again for this section, which is not easy but at least you're done jumping around!

Michelle then leads you through a wonderful stretch - 20 minutes of stretching!  (The DVD also has chapters so you can straight to this stretch if you want to add it on to a different workout.  That's very nice!)  Michelle incorporates a bit of yoga here, which is a great way to stretch out your hips and legs. You need this after the cardio!  


I really do enjoy this workout. The cardio is different and unique so I really feel challenged when I go through it.  But since it's only 30 minutes, I never feel fatigued afterward.  The stretch is great - by itself or after the intense cardio of the first half of the DVD.  This workout is worth every penny.

For a preview of this workout, go here.

Bottom Line: This is a great way for an advanced exerciser to be challenged in new and different ways - even with stretching.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Archies: 2014

With a new year comes the wrapping up of the old one.  It's that time again: time to reflect upon a year gone by and what we did during that year.  It's time again for The Archies!  This idea came from Donna and it's something I've really enjoyed doing.  It's basically a list of my 50 favorite things from the year.  Every year you compile a list, you add an additional item, so I'm now up to 55!  See also 2013,  2012, and 2011.  Okay, here we go....

1.  a new work best friend.
2.  work wellness program.
3.  Kate Quinn’s Rome novels.
4.  yoga at the rec center.
5.  new dishes – our first new dishes!  fiestaware.
7.  TCU football.
8.  Cane Rosso.
9.  EDGE OF TOMORROW.
10.  Erin Condren planners.
11.  FitBit Flex.
13.  Nevis.
14.  FitnessGlo.
15.  Ron Jon Surf Shop, Port Canaveral.
16.  Micelle Dozois’ Peak 10 Challenge.
19.  my honey cowl.
20.  hard-boiled eggs and omelets.  i’m finally an adult.  ha!
21.  a book group.
22.  new accent walls in the house.
23.  Taco Diner.
24.  Blue Bell's Coconut Fudge - delicious.
25.  CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
26.  a new hair salon/stylist.
27.  new Sundance Square.
29.  The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. 
31.  JalapeƱo Lime Chicken Soup - our favorite soup, ever.
32.  walking and doing weights at the rec center.
33.  Iguana Joe’s, Aruba.
34.  cinnamon margaritas.
35.  new BodyFit 360 workouts (Michelle Dozois).
37.  Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos tacos.  never thought i'd like Taco Bell.
38.  “Gotham.”
39.  Greek yogurt.  i’m now a fan.
40.  Project Life, Sunshine edition.  i’m using it for 2015.
41.  Sandbar, Port Canaveral.
42.  new couch/chairs in the house.
43.  my own Keurig.
44.  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
45.  work conferences, in interesting places like Las Vegas.
46.  “SHEILD” – it finally got good.
50.   The Cloisters, Nassau, The Bahamas.
51.  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY score.
52.  Nachi Cocum, Cozumel.
53.  lentils.

Wow!  2014 was quite a year!  Filled with food (obviously), family, fitness, and fun!  Here's hoping your 2015 is a great one!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Combat Challenge: Week 1

The week before last, after New Years in Tennessee, I got home and prepared to get back in to the routine, the workout routine, that is. 

Saturday: Michelle Dozois' Rockin' Body Cardio

After going up and down stairs all day to pack up Christmas decorations, I was not physically ready to do anything more difficult than this cardio workout.  I needed to ease back into working out after 10 days of lethargy with family, and this video fit the bill.  I sweated and got my heart rate up without killing myself.  Yay!

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix 

I was ready to really work today.  Since I meant to do this workout right before leaving for the holidays and did not, I did it today.  It's still a favorite!

---------------------------------

This week, I start my first 8-week Les Mills' Combat Challenge.  This program has been on my wishlist for a long time and I finally received it for Christmas this year.

Monday: Combat 30 - Kick Start + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + walk

My first day of Combat!  I was a bit surprised at how little actual cardio there was in the Kick Start workout, which runs for 30 minutes.  There were tons of punches and kicks.  I sweated and my heart rate was up but I immediately began to worry about losing weight with so little cardio.  To start my workout, I did Michelle's 15-minute cardio blast on Glo.  That sure got me going!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center.

Tuesday:  Combat Shock Plyo HIIT 2 + Ilyse Baker's Dance Intervals 101 + weights

I started my workout off with 15 minutes of Ilyse's dance workout.  It really gets you moving fast.  Then on to my second Combat workout - Shock Plyo (30 minutes).  I was a bit worried after the crazy hard warm-up.....   But that ended up being shorter bursts of the same moves done later in the video.  Still, this was a tough workout.  At lunch, I did weights at work.  My arms were achy from all the punches done the day before, but I got through my weight routine with minimal pain.

Wednesday: Combat 30 - Kick Start + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast

The workout calendar for Combat had this workout done twice in the first week.  Okay...  I don't know if I'll ever do it twice in one week again but at least I had a chance to get more familiar with it.  I may sub in more intense cardio next time.  I started off with Michelle's cardio workout again; it's just so good.  Is there anything that Michelle does badly?

Thursday: Combat Power HIIT 1 + Dozois' Quick Lower Body Shape-Up

Since the Power HIIT used weights, I decided to add in Michelle's weighted leg routine from Glo.  This one always makes my legs burn.  Power HIIT (again, 30 minutes) began with another crazy intense warm-up and then weights for about 10 minutes.  Ouch!  The cardio that then followed was 90% burpees - tons of them with various slight modifications.  I don't mind burpees but is that really all they could come up with?  It gets a bit redundant.  In the future, I don't see myself looking forward to this particular workout.

Friday: Dozois' BodyFit 360 Vol. 3: Athletic Conditioning

What I really wanted to do, and what was on my schedule to do - since this was my "rest" day on the Combat calendar - was Dynamic Flexibility.  But my holiday weight doesn't seem to be budging (I refuse to actually get on the scale for another week or so) - sigh.  So I opted for Michelle's Athletic Conditioning.  It contains 25 minutes of good, effective cardio, followed by arms, abs, and then stretching.  Very nice!

Saturday: Combat 60 - Extreme Cardio Fighter

I had no idea what to expect from this new video.  It turned out to be a lot like Combat 30 - but a bit more difficult with more cardio.  There was one 6 minute segment near the end that really tested my cardio limits.  Holy cow!  I did some of my own cardio to stretch this into a full 60 minute workout and then I stretched.  I love stretching!

Sunday:  Michelle's Cardio Interval Burn on Glo

The Combat schedule called for another round to Combat 60 today, but I wanted more sustained, full-body cardio.  And I missed Michelle and Peak 10. I think I'll do at least one of these a week.  I miss them too much if I don't do them!

Calorie Counts:


Monday - 1263
Tuesday - 1293
Wednesday - 1288
Thursday - 1263
Friday - 1425
Saturday - 1274
Sunday - 1389

My new goal for calories is to stay under 1300.  I was super happy with myself for being good on Monday through Thursday, even with one day of eating out for lunch.  We stayed in on Friday, trying to save money and calories.  I splurged on dessert, but was otherwise good.  Saturday was easy to stay on track, for some reason, but I allowed myself a few extra calories on Sunday.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Craft Update

I'm busily trying to get some crafty projects wrapped up now that 2014 is over.  Here's what is on my plate....

--Project Life.  I still need to wrap up 2014 and get my title page done for 2015.  My kit for 2015: Sunshine!  I'm super excited to dig into that and see all the pretty new designs!

--December Daily.  This year, I bought a kit from Gossamer Blue and it's just too cute.  I'm about a quarter of the way done and, obviously, have a lot more to do.  Hopefully, I can made some good headway this weekend. 

--Knitting.  It's falling by the wayside, though I did have time over Christmas break to start on my first adult sweater.  Yay!  I already have my first knit night scheduled for 2015 - next week!  So I'll get some done then. 

--Card-Making.  Before too much of 2015 gets away from me, I need to make a new batch of birthday cards.  There are so many birthdays coming up this winter/spring so I need to be well stocked!

--Reading isn't really a craft but at least I make progress on that front!  I have two books going - one, for my book group, is non-fiction.  One of my 2015 goals is to read five non-fiction works so that's good!

There's never enough time to do all the crafty things I want to do.  Le sigh.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pillars of the Earth

I was so close to finishing Pillars of the Earth in 2014, but alas that did not happen.  

Here's the review I posted to Goodreads.

This novel has been on my "to read" list for ages. It's been recommended to me countless times by historians and history lovers alike.  

About five years ago, when I first tried to read Pillars of the Earth, I didn't last long - only until Follett misstated the vows of monks. Disgusted, I set the novel aside. I picked it up again in August - and only now finished it. The main reason it took so very long was because this is not a book that can easily be carried around; it's just too big.  

I both loved and hated this story. It was much darker than I expected but I love the architecture talk throughout. I hated the disgusting antagonist but loved Aliena and her story. The story is so dark that I fear anyone with no concept of history will truly think that the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages, with good reason. My inner historian shudders at the thought of this.  


Follett's World Without End sits on my bookshelf, untouched. I honestly don't know if I'll ever pick it up.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Goals for 2015

Last year was the first year that I set goals for myself.  These were not resolutions (I hate that term) but merely things i wanted to accomplish.  I did a pretty good job at accomplishing those goals.  They kept me motivated and focused during the chaos that life tends to be.

Since this was a success, I think I'll set some new goals for next year!

1.  Lose my holiday and cruise weight.  Along those lines, do Les Mills' Combat program, which I received as a Christmas gift, and complete at least one Peak 10 Challenge.  Continue to utilize my rec center membership for weights and yoga.

2.  Read 22 books this year.  At least 5 of those need to be non-fiction.

3.  Try 10 new recipes.....not as many as last year but there's only so many great recipes one can find, especially considering how little cooking I actually do.

4.  Knit my first adult sweater.

5.  The biggie: finish my novel and contact publishers.  

Wish me luck!