Well, last night didn’t turn out at all the way I hoped it would and as a result, I’m not in a great place emotionally this morning. Everything is fine, but I will need some time, some sunshine, some loud music, and at least one thing to go right before I can get out of my head and over this wallowing.

I had thought to make up some excuse to get out of the work I’d scheduled for myself today so I might get some time to myself to read or to write but I know I’ll only feel bad for it later. It might be better if I leaned in instead and kicked today’s ass rather than letting it kick mine.


Do you also have a ‘stop doing’ list?
Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives.  We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing—and doing more.  It rarely works.  Those who  built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists as ‘to do’ lists.  They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.”

— Jim Collins, as excerpted from Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t (via Steve Layman)

Today is the end of one kind year and the beginning of another. A year with seasons like any other. A year with cold month, hard months, months of growth, and warm months of sun and green too. A new year with my love begins and no matter what it brings we will weather it, always.

I wish there could be more celebration but there was already so much last month and there will be so much more in a couple of months. Still, this day means everything and I can’t let it end without saying so. This day, 17 years ago, was the beginning of my real life and today I celebrate that most of all. It’s been such a lovely life. A life other’s might only dream of and one for which I am infinitely grateful.

If We Were Having Coffee // Taking a Break from the Stress

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

This weekend I have done a good job of getting out of bed early but I will admit, I haven’t done a very good job of staying productive throughout the day. The early morning clouds and cool temperatures make it hard to get motivated but the heat rolls in quickly, wakes you up, and then exhausts you all over again. Today will be no different. According to forecasts, we’ll spend yet another day over the 90-degree mark.

But please, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. It’s still cool enough for hot coffee now and I could use a change from cold brew. I’m putting the Moka pot on the stove and using a light roast coffee grounds because it is still summer, after all. Let’s talk about last week!

“I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.”

— Napoleon Bonaparte

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that today is a very special day today is the anniversary of the beginning of me and my wife’s long journey together as a couple. A journey we began 17 years ago. I’m not sure if other couples celebrate the anniversary of when they acknowledged they were a couple but since most of our relationship it wasn’t legal for us to get married, this day was all we had and it’s become very important to us.

But after finally getting married just under one month ago and looking forward to our honeymoon in the coming months, we aren’t much in the mood for a big celebration. Last night we spent the evening at the movies, one of our favorite ways to spend any evening but today we’re just hanging out at home together, eating junk food and drinking, of course, and watching more of our favorite movies.

We’re taking a break from the stress of these last months and doing our best not to think about the stress that will return with tomorrow. We’re taking the day to simply breathe and be, and to reflect on the last year and to dream about the one to come.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was a long one. It was the first week the kids went back to school and so the first week that my driver and I began picking them up. This route is the same one I’ve had for two years already so I knew all the kids and minus a few small hiccups, the route went very smoothly. The real stress came when I was off the route.

The hours spent riding the bus with the kids as an assistant are easy. I get to talk with them—when they are awake enough to talk—and when they aren’t, I can let my mind wander. The worst I dealt with this week was a bloody nose and a few parents who weren’t home to retrieve their child in the afternoon. It’s easy work, and rewarding when you have the children’s trust and respect.

When I’m not on the bus, I spend a few hours a day training new drivers and testing existing drivers on our Special Needs Transportation Policies. I help them use the equipment safely and I help them problem solve unique situations in student management. We’ve been short-staffed for a long time now and that means we are always hiring new people for me to train, and it also means I have to help out in other departments.

I worked a lot of hours last week, a lot more than I normally care too, but it felt good to help and, I imagine, it will feel especially good when my next paycheck arrives.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I expect this coming week to be a little easier than the last but I don’t have my hopes up. So much is changing around me and there is very little that I have any say in though it affects me. My coworker is trying to get our positions redefined and as a result, the expectations and consequently the way I spend my days may change drastically.

I have no reason to believe it will be anything bad or anything that I wouldn’t want but my anxiety is whispering quietly in the back of my mind that whatever happens I will be stuck with and it’s also reminding me, in a voice growing ever louder about just how limited I am and just how easy it would be for everyone to find out I am not as smart or good as they think I am.

I’m countering the whispering with facts. The fact is, I am not stuck. I can pull back whenever I please. I can even say no if I want to. The fact is, I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t have to say yes to show gratitude and I should never feel bad for saying no to something that doesn’t get me closer to my personal goals no matter how good the opportunity looks to other people.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am trying very hard to get back some of my motivation and focus.

Though it may not look like it from your end, I actually had a better writing week than I have had in a long time. I’m working on the first essay of my essay a week project but like a brand new notebook or sketchbook in which the first page is the hardest to mar I find I cannot begin until I have a perfect idea and plan for execution.

Of course, I know this is impossible and I know that if I were to just begin, it would be so much easier to accept imperfection and instead move forward with progress and passion. I even have a note on my to-do list that says, “Do not stress about choosing the perfect topic since any topic is better than no topic and any essay is better than no essay at all.”

For the coming week, I have a detailed schedule and a plan. Each day I have just one thing to do to write this thing and the subsequent essays I have ideas for. I am telling you now because I am tired of talking about writing and about what kind of writer I want to be but never posting anything.

At the same time, I’m also trying to remember that my value as a(n aspiring) writer is not determined by what I post here and what I post here does not have to be all there is to me as a(n aspiring) writer

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my wife and I have long since switched from coffee to mimosas and now that the afternoon heat is creeping in through the west windows we are switching to cold beer. The couch is calling and I suspect we’ll soon be napping together with our cat and dog and afterward, I’m hoping for a Vietnamese food feast ordered for delivery. It’s going to be a perfect Sunday evening.

I hope you had a good week. I hope wherever you are the weather isn’t too sweltering nor too wet. I hope you have been sleeping well, eating well, and taking care of yourself. I hope you aren’t under too much pressure and I hope you know you can ask for help when you need it.

Thank you for chatting, for being an ear, a shoulder, and a sounding board.

Until next time. 

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by Yanal Tayyem on Unsplash

Today feels good. It felt good to get up early and it felt good not to have to go anywhere at all.

I’m doing my best to keep to my weekday schedule even on the weekends in an effort to both sleep better and write more. Today was my first attempt. I half succeeded. I got up early like I wanted to but I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be. Oh well, any progress is good and the weekend is far from over.

We went to see the movie Luce tonight and I had to take a moment to write here that is was one of the best films I’ve seen this year and maybe in a long time more. It was layered, thought-provoking, and so intense it bordered on psychological horror.

Everyone should see it. Please, go see it.

The Week’s End // A Collection of Inspiring Art and Words

Happy Saturday everyone! If you’re looking for some interesting things to read and see while you kick back and relax, look no further, here is the best from around the web this week, according to me.

1. The simple, yet expressive digital illustrations of Sharia Barzilay.

2. “ Here’s one way to discourage people from indulging in a damaging habit: tax the hell out of it. Cigarettes and alcohol are already taxed. In some cities, soda is too. Is it time to embrace a meat tax?”

3. “We may not do good for the sake of being noticed, but in a world that seems to be growing in hostility more than ever before, we desperately need to see yours.”

4. “The real task of a trauma victim—the task that makes life worth living again—is to reconnect the self to the world.”

5. “ State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.”

6. “…it’s very easy to be wrong about other people’s motivations. You might assume that they share your perspective or context, think like you do, or have circumstances similar to yours. With such assumptions, you may conclude that they should also behave like you would or hold your beliefs. Unfortunately, often these assumptions are wrong.

7. “In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. On the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.”

8. “ Write what you know,” goes the adage, but you don’t really know what you know until you write about it…It’s one thing to write to find out what you don’t know, but to write to find out what you don’t want to know takes guts.”

9. “ I don’t want to become a better man, because you all know, what I’ve been told manhood is, it’s not anything I’m trying to aspire to. I want to become a better human person.”

10. “The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.”

11. “Look, I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books by men, I just get…tired.”

12. “ The idea here is simple. Scratch your own itch…if you want to create something that solves your own problem, something you plan to love and use yourself, you already have a head start.”

13.“A liberal-minded couple, Amy and Peter Edgar, are forced to reconsider their image of their adopted son after they discover he has written an extremely disturbing essay for his class at school.”

Have you read, watched, or written an interesting or inspiring thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly, think deeply, or see the world in a new light? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out!

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

The weekend took its sweet time getting here but at least it had the decency to end on a better note than it began. I may have worked my ass off and I may have exhausted myself and stressed myself out but I got paid for it all and though I mourn the loss of my free time and I’m looking forward to that paycheck!

I’m grateful. The work isn’t hard physically and here I have respect and a lot of leeway is given to me to do things when and as I please. Most people don’t have this luxury and the truth is if I really wanted to I could take a lot more time off than I do. The truth is, though the year is starting out hard and I am exhausted and stressed part of me still enjoys helping out, doing my best work, and getting to be a part of a team.

The problem is that another part of me—a rather large part—would rather not.

Today my workload is looking lighter than usual so I’m taking some time for myself and tackling a long list of small things that feel more like procrastination than productivity on a normal day but nonetheless need to get done.

I recently discovered Google Tasks and fell instantly in love so I’m migrating my Todoist lists over and now I have my mail, calendars, and to-do lists all in one place. While I am there, I’m filling out my editorial calendar, then creating drafts for my upcoming posts, and getting links together for the return of my “Weekend Reads” lists.

For the last two days, over lunch, I’ve been working on the first essay of my upcoming “Essay a Week” project. I’m following these steps but instead of writing 3,000 words in one day I’m spreading the work out over the course of one week. I’ve got my topic and most of my outline complete and I’ve even worked on step four in advance and have tons of quotes too. Tomorrow I’ll flesh out the intro and perhaps get a few random paragraphs I have already written in my head onto the screen.

For the late afternoon and evening, my goals are just to finish a few chores around the house and then read a big chunk of Notes from Underground. I am so close—and so ready!—to finally be done with this very boring but, I admit, very important book and to move on to something that feels more like an escape than a lean into the dreadful realities of human existence.

And all that for the most foolish reason, which, one would think, was hardly worth mentioning: that is, that man everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated. And one may choose what is contrary to one’s own interests and sometimes one positively ought (that is my idea).”

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground