2019 Goals

For the first time that I can remember, undoubtedly due to Mom’s recent death, I find myself looking forward to the year ahead and not really knowing how it should look. In some ways, so much is on my plate that wasn’t before. In other ways, there is a lot I don’t have to worry about or do.

The goals that I feel most drawn to right now are goals like “take it easy on yourself” and “give it time.” A Facebook friend posted this thought:

Instead of resolutions, ask yourself:

  • What do I need to Stop?

  • What do I need to Start?

  • What do I need to Continue?

So, as I sit down to contemplate the year ahead, I am going to reorganize my list into those categories.


  • Taking painting commissions
  • Stop entering plein air unless you really find you enjoy it
  • Take fewer workshops (limit to Skip Lawrence)
  • Mom’s Estate (the goal here is to be done with it by the end of the year)
  • Trying to fix other people
  • Taking things personally


  • Establish MY style when I paint
  • Get my website current and keep it that way
  • Submit my paintings to these new events:
  • Taking care of my body
  • Find a source for yoga and/or meditation and go to it
  • Get 8 hours sleep (this means going to bed early)
  • Making time for friends
  • 52 books for the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge
  • Allowing  myself to admit that I don’t like certain things


  • Blog at least once a week about art
  • Attend critique group
  • Continue to enter these shows:
  • Go to Weight Watchers regularly
  • Caring about the environment
    • Not taking plastic bags at the store; use reusable bags (2013)
    • Using coffee cups at coffee place (2014)
    • Picking up after the dog every time (2015)
    • Not consuming palm oil (2016)
    • Less car, more bike (2017)
    • Energy audit my house (2018)
    • DIY household products (2019)
  • Training Key in nose work
  • Remember that alone time is an important part of my mental health

2018 Goals in Review

2018: A year that changed dramatically from what was planned. Still, progress was made.

The items in blue were accomplished. Items in red were not. Items in green are partial.


  • Keep painting
  • Finish the commission that is taking FOREVER
  • Do RB homework
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Sunday) about your art
  • Attend critique group (did a few times, but more often was doing other things)
  • Enter both WSO shows
  • Enter the Equine Art Show (Emerald Downs)
  • Submit to the AAEA Show
  • Submit to both NWWS Shows (new goal for 2018)
  • Submit to Emerald Art Center show
  • Organize and attend Ruth Buchanan workshop (2018 drawing)
  • Participate in local art group Artists in Action
    • Participate in Paint the Town
    • Fall Studio Sale with Artists in Action


  • Go to Weight Watchers regularly
    • Eat more vegetables
    • Eat less sugar
    • Eat more fiber
    • Drink water
  • Participate in walking challenges (particularly with the dog)
  • Find a source for yoga and/or meditation and go to it
  • Go to physical therapy; improve knee and foot – I believe I did this, but as I’m still struggling, I am not giving myself full credit for this.
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Wednesday) about your weight loss
  • Get 8 hours sleep (this means going to bed early)


  • Goodreads 2018 Book Challenge: 104 books (accomplished 86)
    • 2017 goal – 86 of 104
    • 2016 goal = 100 of 100
    • 2015 Goal = 100 of 100
    • 2014 Goal = 80 of 90
    • 2013 Goal = 118 of 125
    • 2012 Goal = 111 of 200
    • 2011 = 56 of 50


  • Edit and finalize the book I “finished” during the 2017 NaNoWriMo
  • Participate in the 2018 NaNoWriMo


  • Do a walk after work, hike on the weekends
  • Get Key Odor Recognition Trial (ORT) certified
  • Participate in 4 trials (including ORT)
  • No more cats if Bob dies

Home and Garden

  • Water my new front yard to ensure the plants don’t die
  • Put in my Little Free Library area
  • Improve kitchen table area


  • Continue 2013 goal of not taking plastic bags at the store
    • Use reusable bags
  • Continue 2014 goal of using coffee cups at coffee place
  • Continue 2015 goal of picking up after the dogs every time
  • Continue 2016 goal of not consuming palm oil
  • Improve on 2017 goal of scaling back on car use
    • Bike to work at least 3 of 5 days per week
  • 2018 goal: energy audit my house


  • Finish four projects
  • Investigate a knitting group


  • Let’s just put it out there that I can improve…
  • Donate to charity


  • Church – website and tech team
  • WSO – website and fall convention
  • State Food Drive planning
  • Decide on a volunteer project (either Food Bank or Fostering Dogs) and do it!


  • Remain employed
  • Say hello in the morning


  • Go camping at least once
  • Explore the local art museum (Ford)
  • Visit the Salem carousel
  • See 150 species of birds
  • Remember that alone time is an important part of my mental health

How’s the blogging going – 2018 version

For each of the five years I have been blogging, I have posted a fairly geeky post about my progress and numbers.It’s something I look forward to, and it helps me get an idea of what the next year might look like.

Posts and Other Numbers

  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Posts 158 124 71 64 112
Sessions 2899 7081 2700 2277 3545
Users 1262 5108 1691 1334 2795
Page Views 9790 13586 7009 7925 9888

I did VERY well this year on posts, almost doubling my total last year. I tried to blog each week about my weight loss journey, but that still leaves a lot of art and life posts

The users have picked back up after dropping last year, and the analytics reports that Facebook is my main source of engagement (no surprise there.)

Data Trends

I’m going to go light here this year. I have a lot of data that I find fascinating, but I’m not sure how readable it is!

Most popular posts (by month)


My next post will be about how I did on my 2018 goals. After that, it’ll be 2019 with a list of new goals.


Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time since Mom’s death. While I can’t say I’m excited (at least not with a straight face), I do think it’s time. It will be nice to talk about normal things again.

While there is still a long list of things to get done, sorted, addressed, or otherwise dealt with, I have used this time to accomplish what I  can.

  • Called banks
  • Called insurance
  • Called lawyers, CPA, and investments
  • Met with funeral home
  • Selected memorial date ( April 13)
  • Notified list about death
  • Cancelled accounts
  • Transferred accounts
  • Reassembled house into correct compartments

While some of these chores will have to be revisited after more paperwork arrives, this is a good start. It may even be where I should leave off because most other progress requires death certificates. I  need to let the wheels turn.

So, it’s back to work.

But the other point of re-entry is that I need to address the year end/year beginning blogs that were pushed aside in the shuffle. And that, my friends, is tonight’s goal!

Good-bye, Maggie

Margaret Choate: August 21, 1947 – December 31, 2018

As most will know by now, my mom, Maggie Choate, died yesterday in the late afternoon. I posted the information on her CaringBridge site and then on social media. For those left out of those venues, I have spent the day emailing and (as a last resort) calling with notifications.

I sat down just now with the intention of doing a formal obituary, but I am not sure I can do that today.

Instead, I think I will thank all the people who have been in contact over the last couple of months. Cards, social media, emails, and phone calls. It was nearly a hundred names that I could find, and I’m sure I missed some people.

  • Linda Aguirre
  • John & Margaret Albrect
  • Mike & Lori Anderson
  • Ruth Armitage
  • Linda Betts
  • Jaye Blackwood
  • Suzi Blaisdell
  • Connie Brauer
  • Harold & Connie Brauer
  • Vern & Velma Buttolph
  • Dorothy & Tom Carlson
  • Gayle Chestnut
  • Karen Childers
  • Sharon Chinn
  • Molly Choate
  • Robin & Darrel Choate
  • Pat Cunningham
  • Joanne Daschel
  • Jessica Dominic
  • Kathy & Dan Draper
  • Laurie & Ray Dunbar
  • Helen Eden
  • Denise Evans
  • Linda Feammelli
  • Dick & Marty Ferguson
  • Alana Ferrell
  • Carol Forncrook
  • Patricia Frost
  • Charlene Fugel
  • Kathy Furman
  • Janet Gifford
  • Shaun & Mary Beth Gilluly
  • Kelly Gilluly Weyd
  • Judy Hardy
  • Chad Harris
  • Collen & Jim Hartell
  • Becki Hesedahl
  • Mary Margaret Hite
  • Stevie Hoblitt
  • Dolly & Stephen Howe
  • Sue Iman
  • Colleen Jordan
  • Charlotte Kammer
  • Holly & Tom Larson
  • Sandee Margeson
  • Janalee McFadgen
  • Jamie Meckey
  • Marc & Diane Melone
  • Paula & Wayne Messmer
  • Jan Molnar-Fitzgerald
  • Ann Moore
  • Jane Myers
  • Stephen Nelson
  • Devon Nichols
  • The Nottis
  • Marjorie Pool Davis
  • Cheryl Ann Redfearn
  • Julia & Bob Richardson
  • Kristina Rinell
  • Bob & Phyllis Roberts Daniels
  • Dee Ann Rogue
  • Linda Romine
  • Marilyn Rosenfeld
  • Robin Shelby
  • Ann Skow
  • Janette Skow
  • Marty Sodorff-Ferguson
  • Thomas Straugh
  • Darrel, Sharon, & Brad Vallance
  • Mary Wallace
  • Lori Westling
  • Jan Wilson
  • Gina Wimsey
  • Bobbi Wolf
  • Amber & Ken Wood
  • Quynh Ane & Zack Wood
  • Don & Donna Wood
  • AJ & Kathy
  • Brad & Linda
  • Carmin
  • Connie & Harry
  • Dennis & Linda
  • Errol & Sally
  • Janette & Tom
  • John & Donna
  • Kem & Mistie Dog
  • Krystel, Rocky, Griffey, & Haden
  • Lynn, Steve, Maize, Zinc, & Valor
  • Melissa, Jacob, Madison & Hudson
  • Nancy
  • Penny & Arnie
  • Robin & Mike
  • The Coffee Group: Nancy, Carmin, Ann, Jan, Penny, Alana, Colleen

Thank you all for your support, and thank you to the ones I  missed from this list!

Third background technique

I had a blog post all planned about how staying home and taking care of Mom was turning out to be good painting time. And I was going to show you what I was working on and talk about it.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m just too blue tonight. It was a tough day that ended in harsh words.

Here are the paintings. I’m working on the “third background” technique, but it’s harder than it sounds.

Hit and Miss


Maiden in Braids

Stick the Landing

Tell someone you love them today.

Happy Art-a-Days

It’s been more than a month since I posted about anything art related. Sorry. It’s been busy and I think I have a pretty good excuse.

As things have settled down, I have had to spend a lot more time at home. Getting out of the house takes a lot of planning. That means that I should have a lot of time for “arting”.

I have to admit, some evenings I have felt creative (or at least bored enough to try), but the flashes tend to be short lived. I have finally put the house back in order (for the first few weeks there were a lot of closed doors to conceal the evidence), and this weekend I was even able to set up corner of my office as a studio.

I’ve been thinking about goals for the coming year, which seems to be the only way I get things done. Among the first shows I would like to enter is the “Wild Women” show at River Gallery, but I think I have my piece(s) picked out for that

Next, I’d like to enter a piece in this year’s Salem Reads event. The book is “Good Morning, Midnight”. I was inspired by the first page of the book to create this non-objective piece.

“Page One”

Or maybe it’s this way?

“Page One”

Next, with a vague idea about trying to enter something in the American Academy of Equine Art Spring Online Showcase.

“Keenland Legs”

It’s okay for a study, but needs another attempt if it’s gonna be in a show.

Finally, I’ve been spending some time getting to know my “new” (year old) watercolor pens. I thought they might be portable enough to fill some of the short, quiet moments.


I might add some collage or other things to it. I have to admit the watercolor markers felt enjoyably like being a kid and playing with the art equipment, but I’m not sure I enjoy the effect enough to continue.

There is an official, art post. I wish everyone Happy Holidays!

Healthy Steps – Weeks 49 &50

I weighted in on Wednesday as was up 2.8 pounds. This is not shocking, but it does mean that I am yo-yoing a bit. Again, not shocking.

This week is Christmas, and I have a lot of time off (yeah!) but of course I’ll but spending it at home, which means more cooking. This is good.

Wednesday is a “dark” day at this weeks WW, so I’m saying right now that I’m just gonna accept it all and tell you I will catch up on this on January 2, which will be week 51.

Happy Holidays!


The last few days have been tough. Mom fell on Sunday morning and call for me for an hour before I heard her (it was early morning and I was sleeping.) When I finally woke up, we called the firemen for a “non-emergency lift” and later that day I got baby monitors so I could hear what was going on downstairs.

This morning, Mom couldn’t sleep, so I was awakened… early. I was too nervous to turn off the monitor, because then I was scared I wouldn’t hear her if she needed me, so I ended up getting up early.

Perhaps that is the reason that today felt hard. Or perhaps it was that my right knee, which has been hurting since all the activity necessary when Mom was in the hospital, seemed to be getting worse. It was so bad today that I went to urgent care. And got a shot of corticosteroid in my knee for arthritis.

There is such an element of shame in going to the doctor’s office as a fat person. You know it’s all your fault. That you have acerbated every normal aging process by abusing your body. Like a drug addict, your high is sugar and you obviously can’t stop.

As I sat there in the waiting room, wheeled in by wheelchair because of the pain, I had a thought: “I don’t deserve help. I did this to myself.”

I would like to report that I immediately gave myself a pep talk about the silliness of that viewpoint. That I shook it off and resolved that I could work harder on loosing weight.

But I didn’t. I’m still struggling.

After the doctor, I didn’t go back to work. I went to the local wildlife refuge and looked at birds for the last hour of sunlight. There were some tagged dusky geese, which felt special.

I came home the long way and stopped at a restaurant for dinner before returning some library books. I came home to a very talkative caregiver and a phone call by a friend of Mom’s who hadn’t been able to get in touch and was worried about her.

I started a site on CaringBridge to help people be more connected to Mom. I worry that by posting stuff here (a site that is about me) that my feelings may get confused with what is going on with her. 71 views in 3 days. I think it was a good decision.

Tomorrow is WW weight in day. And then I am going to really try to post an art piece. I have several deadlines coming up. That’s gonna be… interesting.

Random Notes about Hospice

  1. Morphine is not living up to the hype.

As a “Generation X”er, I am sure that most of my colleagues remember sitting in health class and being told terrible things about drugs. How they were so addictive and terrible. Of course, heroin was the most terrible of all. One dose and you would become a depraved addict, roaming the streets in your dirty clothes, mugging passerby for spare change for your next fix. Of course, the teacher would always tack on, opiods are a very good pain killer when prescribed. But ONLY if your doctor okay’s it.

Somehow, from all this, I thought that morphine would be administered and BAM! No more pain.

Let me assure you, that is not the way it works.

2. My expectations of privacy have shifted… dramatically!

I’ve always had an iffy relationship with privacy. Again, as a “Generation X”er, I came of age in the time of Alanis Morissette:

I, recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone, yeah
I, recommend walking around naked in your living room, yeah

“You Learn” by Alanis Morissette

If the shades weren’t all the way down when I needed to change my shirt, I always felt (to my mom’s dismay) that if someone wanted to see me in my bra for a half a second… well, no one was going to die.

Still, I have to admit to more consternation that I counted on when I came downstairs Wednesday morning to find the day’s caregiver here and me with no pants on (they were in the dryer, which was my next stop. I swear!)

3. The amount and variety of drugs is… amazing.

So, when Mom first went on hospice, they made a big deal about “reducing her pill load.” She ended up with 10 pills a day. Then 12. And then there are the “bad days” and there are just so many pills then.

4. The number and diversity of humans in this process is… astonishing.

My dog, Key, has always been a little weird around people. One of my concerns about Mom coming here was that I knew that more people would be coming into the house and I wasn’t sure how Key would take that.

After just under a month, Key has proven to be just as weird as ever, but now when people come in, after barking to announce that they are here, he just goes back to his spot on the couch (unless it’s one of the people who give him treats; those people, he pesters endlessly).

All this is to say that an average day is a caretaker, hospice person (there are a variety of those), and 1-2 visitors. Some days an additional caretaker. And some days, even more visitors.

I feel like my house has become Grand Central Station.

5. I am weirder than I thought I was (by a lot!)

I remember my mom and aunt talking one afternoon about how having their parents visiting was hard. “She takes my towel sets and refolds them into piles of the same size. But I want them as sets!” my aunt wailed.

I remember thinking that was weird.

I now am completely on my aunt’s side.

Because Mom has a variety of caregivers, and those caregivers make food, wash clothes, and do other light housekeeping, I can no longer find anything. My “measuring” drawer is filled with non-measuring items. My pot and pan drawer has tupperware in it.

I could go on… but you get the idea.

6. I say, “I love you” a lot

Mom will occasionally tell the story that her mother would never say, “I love you,” until Mom started using it as a sign off on their telephone calls. “I guess it’s just a generational thing,” she would conclude.

I think about that as I leave the house for work every morning and say, “I love you.”

“I love you” as I make sure Mom’s comfortable in bed before I head to my own room.

“I love you” as I leave to walk to the dog.

Because the last thing I want Mom to know is that I do love her.

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