Blogiversary — A Look Back and Ahead

Hello readers! One year ago, Flinntrospection went live on the world wide web. So for our blogiversary, I’m taking a look back at some of the posts we’ve all enjoyed over the past year, and giving you a sneak peek into my plans for 2017. If you’re new to the blog, this post will also provide a nice little summary of what you’ll find here on Flinntrospection!

My First Post

This post, “hello and welcome“, went live on Boxing Day 2016. I was so nervous to release my writing into the world! We’ve come a long way since then, but it’s fun to look back and gain perspective on the journey.

Physics Studies & Academic Life

In case you missed it, I studied physics at university. (I know, I know, I’m nuts.) I’ve written a few posts on the topic:

Young Professional Thoughts & Tips

I’ve been in the working world for almost two years. I’m in no position to provide definitive advice yet, but here are some thoughts I’ve shared on the topic here on the blog.

My Fitness Journey

I hesitate to call it a “journey” at this point, but looking back a year ago, I’m surprised by how far I’ve come! This blogiversary is a great chance to reflect — especially since everything is documented! I’ll put these in chronological order:

Products & Apps I Love

At this point in my blogging journey, I’m not getting sponsored by companies to write posts or reviews. If I’ve told you great things about a product, program, or application, it’s because I’m genuinely a big fan!

Writing, Grammar, and the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

The whole point of this blog was to write. So naturally, it follows that I would write about writing, right? Uh…right.

(Don’t know what NaNoWriMo is? Click here.)

Goal-Setting and Check-Ins

Every so often, I publish my goals on the blog, in the hopes that I’ll be more likely to stick to them. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. For this overview, here’s a link to my Goal Check-In for 2016 from a few weeks ago, and my “30 Before 30” Twenty-Something Bucket List!

Other Stuff

If you browse around Flinntrospection, you’ll find all sorts of things that I haven’t mentioned here. There are discussions on astrology, motivationsblogging and budgeting challenges, my favourite teas and TV shows, and ramblings about my cat

I’m not yet at a point where I’m narrowing this blog to a particular area. Someday I might. But I’m enjoying the flexibility of a full-on geeky lifestyle blog, so that’s where I’m headed for now. Now that this blogiversary has come and gone, I want to let you all know that my blogging goals and focus for 2017 will be similar to 2016. Perhaps I won’t be averaging a post every 3 days like I did this year, but who knows?

If you’ve been following along for a year now, thanks so much for your support! And if you’re brand new, hello and welcome! I’m so glad you could make it.

Happy Blogiversary and Happy Holidays!

Goal Check-In for 2016

I don’t mean to scare you, but there are only 70 days left in 2016! Boy, does time fly!

This year has been jam-packed for me so far, and I’ve undergone quite a bit of change. When I first started blogging last December, I had no idea whether I would be able to stick it out for longer than a couple of weeks. But hey — here we are!

One of the first posts I wrote back in January was a list of goals I wanted to achieve this year. I’ll be honest: I had forgotten almost all of them before starting to write this post. In the interest of transparency, let’s take a look back at the goals I decided were so important at the beginning of this year, and see where they stand so far.

1. More Steps per Day on my Fitbit

I have a confession to make. I lost the charger for my Fitbit back in August…and I haven’t used it since.

Yes, I know, it’s awful. I fully intended to buy a new charger and get back into it, but I got so used to life without it. Plus, having a more demanding work schedule was making it much more challenging to stick to step-count goals. Still, though, I should probably go buy a new charger.

However, the intention behind this goal was to focus on a healthy lifestyle. I’ve been practicing yoga fairly regularly, which is a step in the right direction, at least.

2. 8 Hours of Sleep

This goal is still a priority for me, though I haven’t been very successful with it. Heading to bed as early as is necessary for 8 hours of sleep (i.e. 10pm) is a huge transition. I think I’ve made improvements — but I guess I don’t really know without my Fitbit tracking my sleep. Hm.

3. Read More

I’ve read a bit more this year than last year, I would say. I’m currently in the middle of three non-fiction books, and bouncing between them depending on what I’m in the mood for. I haven’t found time for fiction recently, though, thanks to a little friend called Netflix…

4. Knit a Pair of Socks

In January, I was really into knitting. Like, a lot. But almost immediately after writing my list of goals, I basically stopped knitting altogether and moved onto something else. I daresay it has joined the Hobby Graveyard. I think I would be amenable to retiring this goal altogether for this year. Maybe some other time!

5. Improve my Technical Skillset

My progress in regards to this goal has gone in an entirely different direction than I had anticipated. While I didn’t end up taking a course in programming, which was the original idea, my transition to a new department at my company has led to the development of some bomb Excel skills. Plus, I wrote the book on using our database interface for standard queries. (Literally — I made a training guide. It’s only 30 pages, but still.) So while it’s a little off-track compared to the January intent, I’d say this goal could be counted as a success.

6. Keep Blogging

I’ve made it this far. Only 70 days to go! Obviously my post frequency has decreased a tad, but that’s just a product of a busy life and blogging authenticity.

7. Identify my Dream Job?

The real purpose of this goal was to do some soul-searching and try out some new things. I made a change to my career path this year, and it was definitely a valuable decision. Beyond that is still a work in progress.

8. Track and Plan my Goals

I was pretty good about this early in the year, but I fell off the wagon over the summer. Honestly, I think that’s okay at this stage in the game. I have some vague targets and I’m not letting everything in my life go wild, but I don’t think the rigid goal structure I’d originally conceived would be very helpful for me right now. Keeping track of these goals (or what’s left of them) for the next 70 days should be good enough for 2016!


What goals did you set for 2016 — and how will you achieve them in the next 70 days?

How I Quit Nail-Biting Using Apps

I’ll start this off by saying that it wasn’t easy. Nail-biting has been a 16-year habit for me (a solid 73% of my life), and an unpleasant one at that. For context, I’d say I was a middle-of-the-road addict: I would bite them right up to the nailbed, but usually not beyond. The exception was back in middle school, where a combination of stress and boredom really took a toll on my fingers. It hurt! Not to mention the hangnails, infections, and inability to scratch or grasp anything that needed nails. At that point, I knew it was time to stop, but I didn’t really know where to start. It was so ingrained in everything I did.

My thumb in July 2014. Ick.

My thumb in July 2014. Ick. And this is nowhere near the worst of it.

Like most people, the first thing I tried was straight willpower. It was just a habit, right? All I needed to do was not bite my nails. Simple enough – but not easy. I could last about a week or two this way (and only when I was really trying). But when it came time to clip my nails shorter so they wouldn’t break or tear, I’d just bite them off and start all over again. The second one of my nails had a jagged edge, I knew I was screwed. It took me a long time to finally figure out that I should carry a nail file with me, but even that solution wasn’t very effective since I was prone to forget about it.

Next I tried keeping my nails painted. A number of problems arose from this:

  1. It was hard to keep up – every time the polish started to chip off, I’d be back to biting.
  2. My job at the time only allowed clear nail polish, and since I couldn’t see it to remember it was there, I’d end up biting anyway.
  3. I ended up not minding the taste of it. Gross, I know, but that’s the truth.

Then there were the drastic measures: bandages on my fingertips, gloves everywhere all the time, that gross-tasting polish stuff. They all failed; none were consistent enough to actually make a lasting difference.

#nailspiration

#nailspiration

About a year ago, I started getting really excited about apps for everything – games and stores and fitness and organizing and finance and writing… and it occurred to me that there must be an app to help people quit nail-biting habits. When I sought them out, I found lots! But most of them didn’t suit my needs. In fact, many were general habit apps, and a lot of them tracked on a day-to-day basis. Back then, it had become so bad that I couldn’t even make it a day without biting my nails. It was pretty demotivating to see long streaks of “missed” days. Not to mention, if I happened to bite my nails in the morning, I would treat it like a free-for-all and end up biting them straight through the day – it would all look the same on a habit tracker anyway.

Much further down on the Google Play search list, I found a funny little app simply called “Nail Biting“, and it looks like this:

Nail Biting App

And that’s it. You open up the app and press the “I DID IT” button whenever you bite. To be clear, it was a little annoying to have to open the app every time (I would have preferred a widget), but because the app itself is so simple, the loading time was negligible.

The cool part, which ended up being the most helpful, was the granularity of the statistics:

nail biting app stats

Hourly! So exciting!

I used this app on its own for a few weeks. I did see my no-biting stretches increasing, but I still had some slipups now and then. Once I was able to go a day or two without biting, I added another app to the mix: HabitBull (the free version). This app has a lot of features and is good for lots of habits, which I won’t get into here.

This is my real progress back in April. The thought bubbles indicate comments I've added to those days.

This is my real progress back in April. The speech bubbles indicate that I’ve added comments to those days.

I would log my nail-biting in the Nail Biting app throughout the day, and then transfer the number of times in the day over to HabitBull before bed. I would also add comments to days when I filed or clipped my nails, since those were they days I struggled the most. It was the combination of mindfulness and accountability (in the form of red “missed” days) that made the difference. Plus, I love charts.

It took me a few false starts on HabitBull, but as of April 14th (260 days ago), I no longer bite my nails! I stopped using HabitBull in August; it was getting pretty tedious to record each successful day.

how I quit nail-biting in 2015 using apps — progress

Progress!

I should clarify: I no longer bite my nails. I still do, on occasion, pick at them, tear them, or randomly find that I’ve got my fingertip in my mouth after zoning out for a while. I’m working on those things. The longer I go without biting my nails, though, the easier the other pieces of the puzzle are to leave behind.

Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed that my nailbed doesn’t seem to be growing back. Every time I clip my nails, it sort of looks like I’m starting from scratch (though not nearly as gross). So a warning to you nail-biters out there: even if you quit, your nails may never be as good as new.

Do you have any nail-biting struggles or tips to share?

Happy New Year to all!

When it comes to my hobbies, I tend to be pretty hot-and-cold. One minute I’m totally obsessed with one or a couple of activities, and the next, I’ve completely cast them aside for something else. As 2016 is fast approaching and I’m looking to set some goals, I really have to think back and be realistic about what I’ll stick to and what is just another one of my fads. To that end, I’m reviewing some of the hobbies I have adopted whole-heartedly in the past year or so, only to completely abandon them later.

Zentangle

20151228_200314

I strongly hinted to my boyfriend that I would like this book as a Christmas present last year. I figured it would help spark my creativity and relieve stress in my last semester of university. I got 18 pages into the 144-page workbook before cluing in that my inability to draw made Zentangle a lot less fun. Go figure.

That led to the purchase of an adult colouring book. Colouring a pre-existing design is a lot less stressful than doing your own design. I’m not doing much colouring anymore, but I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve abandoned this hobby, so it doesn’t make the list.

So much more relaxing!

So much more relaxing!

Friendship Bracelets

Remember this?

Oh, the memories.

Making friendship bracelets was a huge part of my life… in Grade Six. And for some reason, I rediscovered the fun of tying colourful knots while watching hours and hours of Netflix. I made something like a dozen bracelets early this year, and bought a massive pack of embroidery thread from Walmart to expand my creative horizons. I even started printing out patterns from www.friendship-bracelets.net (the most nostalgic site ever).

Friendship Bracelets

There was a Pattern Duotang. I’m not even kidding.

But alas, a few short weeks later, I realized that I was never going to wear the vast array of friendship bracelets I was planning to create. I still have the basket of embroidery thread for the next time I get the urge to tie hundreds of colourful knots.

League of Legends

I don’t know why this happened. I played it in my first year of university, and really didn’t like it all that much. I started up again earlier this year, when I had just graduated and felt like I had so much time on my hands (and no parents around to tell me to get off the computer in the middle of a match). I had some graphics issues with the game on my old laptop, which were resolved when I got a new desktop in October, but by then, the LoL ship had sailed. Good riddance.

Cooking/Eating Healthy

Hmm, what will I have for dinner today? …Kraft Dinner sounds good.

Finishing school, moving out, and starting a full-time job made me think I could cook. Like, every meal. Like, healthy meals. Like, Pinterest-worthy meals. Maybe this hobby is an acquired taste (hah), but I’m not there yet.

Organizing

My Label Maker

Such good intentions…

I’ll start by saying that I haven’t abandoned organizing entirely as a hobby. I’m still very interested in how to get and stay organized, both physically and digitally. However, it’s a lot of work to really get your home to that place where you can call it “organized”, and I just haven’t yet found the motivation to see it through.

Running(?)

The Running Book

Hah. Hahaha. Let’s be honest. This phase ended before it even began.

I am not an athletic person in the slightest. I have no interest whatsoever in sports, fitness, or physical activities of any kind. I know that’s terrible, and I honestly wanted to do something about it this year. And in typical Hillary fashion, I bought a book about running. And then didn’t do any running. (Not to mention all of the fitness apps, sites, and videos I signed up for.) Oh well, there’s always next year! Or the next year. Or the next…


In conclusion, I like to go all in with my hobbies – even if “all in” only lasts a day. Am I the only one that does this? I wonder what hobbies will be the next big thing in 2016!

Last Christmas, my dad gave me a cute starter knitting kit as a gift. (Okay, so I picked it out and he just paid for it and wrapped it. Close enough.) Prior to that, I knew garter stitch. That’s it. I couldn’t even cast on or off. Since then, in conjunction with the purchase of a Netflix subscription, I’ve knit quite a lot! But I still have a long way to go.

Here’s a review of some of my projects from the last 12 months.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I get a chance, I’ll upload an image of the one project I’m the most proud of: a wine bottle sweater for the mulberry muscato my boyfriend made over the summer, which we gave to my parents for Christmas. I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it to them!

I’ve got a week left to ponder what my “Knitting Resolutions” will be for 2016, now that I have my interchangeable circular needle set. And the next decision will be: What show should I binge watch next on Netflix while I knit?