If We Were Having Coffee // One Last Busy Week

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

I got up late this morning, but I made coffee the first priority this morning so I’m moving fast. I sure wish I had a good espresso machine, or even a little Moka pot, though. This cold brew is good and strong, but I need more “on demand” options for these higher caffeine concentrations. There’s a lot to do around the house today. Cleaning, laundry, and dishes mostly, and in between, some writing in too, obviously. I was too tired for any of it yesterday and feel the need to do double the work today, after chatting with you.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The sun is shining, and the air is warm again today. We’ve been 10-15 degrees above average temperatures for weeks now. It was nice at first but it’s beginning to worry me a little. Still, best to make the best of it right? Best to throw the windows open, let the fresh air is blow through, and take full advantage of these perfect conditions for some good conversation I think. Let’s talk about last week!

“Whenever I drink coffee I love being alive.”

creamysmooth

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was exhausting!

Part of my job, when not riding the school bus with the students, is teaching other people how to ride the school bus with the students. We had a new class of employees start and it was a bigger class than I’ve taught in a long time. I was out of practice and off my game at the start. I injured myself twice and struggled to stay positive and motivated, but I got through it. I hear there will be more of the same in the coming week too. This time I’ll be ready.

I spent the weekend healing a pulled muscle, some sore joints, and a couple of deep cuts on my hands. I rested, ate well, drank plenty of water, and rested some more. I got out of the house. I saw some friends for a “pancake cook-off” and a couple of strong mimosas. I did a bit of window shopping and got some projects done around the house too. It was a good weekend and I feel physically and emotionally ready for the next 5 days of dark mornings, long days, and early nights.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last Tuesday was “infusion day”, the day every 8 weeks where I hang out at the clinic and get my ulcerative colitis medication through an IV drip. Because I had been tolerating the infusion process so well the nurses and I decided to start doing them a little faster so I can get the heck out of that place as soon as possible.

Not that it’s awful, especially if my girlfriend stays, and if I have a good book and plenty of snacks, but being there makes me feel like a sick person and when I leave, no matter how I actually feel, I’m well and normal again. 

The one-hour infusion went well but there was some bad news too; I think. Before every infusion, I have to get blood work done. Two months ago my liver panel came back with some concerning numbers and looking at the results from Tuesday things are looking even worse. I expect—hope!—to get a call from my doctor this week letting me know if it really is bad news, or if we will continue to “keep an eye on it”.

Either way, I am sure she will tell me not to worry, she always does, but I know that if my liver continues to be damaged by this medication, I may not be able to take it anymore. There is a chance of getting sick again while we try something else, and greater and greater financial burdens too. 


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have failed completely to do any of my Christmas shopping before the deadline I had set for myself, or before it would be too late to ship them. I just keep forgetting that it’s the holiday season at all. I don’t have my tree up or any Christmas lights either, plus, like I said, the weather has been beautiful and having no kids of my own the holidays simply slip my mind sometimes.

This is my last week to get it done though. I know Christmas isn’t all about the gifts, but it’s kind of all about the gifts. I’ll have to do the shopping every day after work when the sun has already gone down and I’m already tired. Knowing me, I won’t make it and those gifts are going to end up arriving at their intended destinations and recipients very late. I hope everyone is feeling rather patient and grateful this year.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that one of the many perks of working for a school district is getting to end the year, and begin a new one, with a nice long rest. This coming week, though it will be busy, will be the last busy one for a good long while. Schools will close, and buses will stop running until the second week of 2019. I’m so looking forward to resting my body and mind and having time to prepare for the new year and to reflect on the last. 

Of course, this long break it isn’t great for the paychecks, so I’m not taking all the time off offered. I’ll go in for at least half of the break—along with the rest of my team—to check our buses and make sure each bus is stocked with supplies and set up in accordance with policy and law. It will be easy-peasy work. Half days and half or less of the stress and I get to put my headphone in, listen to podcasts, walk around in the sun, and take all the breaks I need.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it’s getting dark outside. The sun is coming in low through the west windows and that means it time to switch from coffee to tea—and later, wine—else risk fueling my anxiety late into the night, and speaking of anxiety, I’d better get a move on and finish up these work week preparations, else risk a light night wide awake with worry.

I hope you had a good week. I hope that you are excited for the fast approaching holidays, not stressed or depressed. Do not forget to make time for you and to reflect and remind those around you occasionally what the true meaning of the season should be. Do not forget to show love and look always for ways to be kinder.

Until next time.


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

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // The New Year Begins Now

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

I’m moving slowly this morning. I’m ambling about unfocused, scattered, and distracted. My schedule was thrown off by the cancellation of a group brunch this morning and now I don’t know what to do with myself. I did all the cleaning yesterday (thinking I wouldn’t have time) and writing—the thing I know I should be doing—is proving too difficult to be enjoyable. I’ve just now been able to pull myself away from my phone, and I’m hoping a cup of coffee and some good conversation can motivate me to get back on track before the day is done.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The sun is shining today and the temps are warm enough to open a few windows and let some crisp air in. Let’s talk about last week.


“The best Maxim I know in this life is, to drink your Coffee when you can, and when You cannot, to be easy without it.”

Jonathan Swift

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was another long one. It’s hard going into work when it’s dark and coming home, cold and exhausted when it’s gotten dark again. This is usually when I start feeling depressed. It’s like the world stopped existing and all there that’s left is work and home. I feel trapped, but knowing there is nothing I can do I simply resign myself to it. Winter is forever…

This year I’m trying not to let myself get too down. This year I’m trying to get out more, with friends if possible but even a walk around the parking lot at work during lunch will do. I have to remind myself that the world is still out there and that I can still do things, go places and be happy, even in these cold and dark times. 

I actually made all kinds of plans this weekend. We had the above-mentioned brunch and a birthday/Christmas party to attend too, both of which were canceled. Part of me is disappointed. I probably won’t have the time or the energy to get out again until next weekend, but part of me is relieved. The part that wanted to wallow on the couch, binge watch The Walking Dead and sleep way too much, that part of me won this weekend. I’m realizing now that, as usual, her promises renewed energy after so much “rest” have proven hollow.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you, honestly, that I didn’t accomplish much this week, but it’s ok, my priorities were a little different. I spent much of the week brainstorming ideas, reading, and practicing doing nothing at all. 

I’m about halfway through The Iliad now and on track to finish by the end of the month. That is my last reading goal of the year and I am determined not to fail this one too. I keep feeling tempted to pick up something else but I’ve set my expectations so low (just 10 pages a day) that there is no excuse, and at the end of the day when I read for 30 minutes before bed, if I still want to pick up something else, I have Emily Dickinson’s poems waiting on the nightstand.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that when I wasn’t reading I worked hard to avoid social media and instead worked on some ideas and strategies for next year’s goals. I’ve always believed that the time to start your new year’s resolutions is the December before. I want to hit the ground running on January 1st; you know? 

I’ve got my new body weight fitness routine just about figured out. I had to make a few modifications since I don’t have a lot of equipment and I have chronic joint pain. I still have to clear out the basement bedroom and convert it to my basic home gym but all that requires is a Saturday morning’s worth of cleaning, carting the old TV down there, and picking up a new area rug. 

I’ve also downloaded the Year Compass booklet to fill out this week. I was looking for a way to take stock of where I am and start planning for the year to come. I filled one out last year but I can’t for the life of me remember what I did with it. This year’s I’m going to keep in the back of my journal, and the next one too, and I’ll leave it in the last journal I use for the year before filling out another. 

I’ve also downloaded the new daily goal tracker from Elise Joy to use for a new year-long creative habit. I have been trying to work up the courage to start using my the art journal I made last summer, but for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to sully those beautiful, pure blank pages. Perfectionism and a fear of looking silly are keeping me from starting but I will not let another year go by while those pages stay blank. I’m going to start, and I’m giving myself permission to keep those silly drawing all to myself if it helps.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have a very busy week coming up. I had planned to take it easy but much of what my week look likes is, unfortunately, out of my control. We’ve got a lot going on at work, and there have been hints we may have a lot going on for a while. 

I’m going to take it easy as much as I can though. It’s “infusion week” this week. For those new to my story, two years ago I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and my current treatment plan includes drip infusions of my medication every 8 weeks. That means every other month I spend the afternoon in an infusion center eating snacks and reading while a nurse makes sure I don’t have any adverse reactions.

After these infusions, I’m always exhausted. I think part of it is being anxious the whole time, and the fluids they give me make me feel cold and tense too. A nurse once told me dropping all the medication into the body at once contributes to the tired feeling too. I always take it easy during my infusion weeks. I figure it’s my body’s best chance to calm the immune system and give the medication a chance to work.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun is getting low now and I’ve finally found that energy I needed all day. I’d love to stay and chat through the evening too but if I don’t start preparing for the week ahead I know I’ll regret it. 

I hope you had a good week and that wherever you are winter isn’t rearing its ugly head. I hope you got out and made time for you. If not, there is still time and I urge you to spend it doing something that will make you feel good or at least a little more ready this coming week.

Until next time.


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

Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

Seven December Shifts

    1. If you can’t be wise, be observing. It’s easy to think you always know what’s going on and what should be done, it’s harder to consider that you may be missing something. You can’t become wise if you aren’t willing to—at least occasionally — admit your stupidity, shut your mouth, take a step back, and learn something.
    2. If you don’t want to do it, but you must, try doing it with spirit! Half the battle is attitude and you’re more likely to win with a simple shift in perspective and greater enthusiasm. Fake it if you have to. You’ll still feel better.
    3. Take breaks even when you don’t think you need them. All humans have their limits, some of us more than others, and rather than push yourself to said limit and risk going too far take a break and rest a little. Later you will wish you had.
    4. Be more protective of your focus. Just because people around you want to talk doesn’t mean you have to make yourself available to them. Be vocal and be clear.
    5. Move your body. Use the space you have and begin slowly at the beginning. Be mindful of those limitations but don’t let your body convince you it cannot do anything. 
    6. You can be an artist, but it takes seeing, practicing, and letting go of perfectionism and forgetting what people think. It’s that easy, and that hard.
    7. Spend more time thinking. Not making lists, not filling out calendars, not looking for inspiration, emailing, or posting. Get a pencil and a pad of paper and fill the pages with ideas, questions, thought fragments, and wild dreams. Write them all down no matter how personal, unachievable, incoherent, or, seemingly, idiotic they may seem. Find time for your own ideas.

Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // A Long Week Back

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

I was up early this morning—despite a terrible night’s sleep—getting some Sunday housework out of the way and trying to work out some writing snags I encountered over the week and somehow lost track of time. I nearly forgot completely about our coffee date and would have missed it entirely if I hadn’t felt the caffeine withdrawal headache coming on. 

I know it’s late but, come, fill up a cup and pull up a chair. I’ve got just enough time to catch up with you before dinner is done. Let’s talk about last week.


“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”

Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this last week back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday felt like it would never end! I really struggled to get back into my usual routine. I went to bed too late, woke up too late, ran late and arrived too late everywhere I went. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t catch up and ended up falling far behind where I meant to be come Friday.

The roller coaster weather didn’t help much. We had dreary conditions nearly every day. Then, my girlfriend came down with a nasty cold. Her coughing kept me up late at night and I did my best to take care of her during the day. And on top of it all, I had headaches nearly every day. It was a hard week back all around.

The kids on my bus really struggled to get back on routine too. By midweek they were either snapping at each other or they were sleeping through the ride. I did my best to keep their spirits up, which required a lot of caffeine and a return to naps during the day on my part. 


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was sad to see another month go by and to realize that we are now entering the last days of 2018. I’m just not ready for another year yet. I spent so much of this one just trying to feel good again and then once I did all I wanted to do was more of what felt good: being with friends and family, going out to new restaurants, movie theaters, events, house parties, and into the beautiful rocky mountains.

I love writing, but it doesn’t always feel very good. I know there was time, in between the friends, the food, and the hikes, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I spent that time doing. Bottom line, I don’t feel like I accomplished very much at all. 

I’m sure I have though. I wish I had done some kind of inventory at the end of 2017 and I could make some sort of comparison. Maybe that is something I should do this year? So that next year I won’t be wondering the same and feeling so down on myself. 


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I did not complete even half of my goals for the week. I set myself up for this failure by asking too much and not taking into account the fact that I was returning to work after a whole week away. I started to list each goal here and how or why I failed but it was pretty painful and embarrassing so I deleted it. Instead, I’ll just celebrate the few wins and try again with a shorter more manageable list in the coming week.

I’m thinking of implementing a system where I track and record exactly how I am spending my time every day so that I can visualize where I am wasting my time. Not that I have to be productive at all times, but I do want to at least be wasting time in ways that actually feel good, and Facebook and Twitter are increasingly not those places. So, this week, I turned notifications off for both and I have found that just checking in when I feel like it and not every time these apps try to trick me to has been very freeing.

I look forward to cutting back more and more not just to reclaim my time, but to limit the ways I am controlled by corporations making big bucks off of my time and attention and offering so little in return.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the delicious smells coming from the kitchen tell me that my girlfriend’s stir-fry is just about done cooking. I’m off to eat and mindlessly binge old episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix before the work week starts all over again.

I hope you had a productive week or that you at least found a bit of peace between prepping for the Thanksgiving holiday and the stress of Christmas shopping. I November was good to you, that you hit the ground running in December, and that you learn from all your shortcomings and leave them behind.

Until next time.


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

Photo by Najib Kalil on Unsplash

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Today we had an open forum meeting at work on guns and mandatory reporting in the workplace. 

Occasionally kids will bring Nerf guns, or water guns, or facsimiles of firearms on the school bus. None of these are allowed on school property and therefore not allowed on the school bus. So, if we see them, take them and report them to the school security and our direct supervisors. The teachers will take the toy and if the kid wants it back he has to return with a parent. The kid is given a stern lecture by all the adults involved, and the incident is put behind everyone. It was just something that kids do.

But now, it’s different. Now we never know whether or not it’s a toy, and now, even if it is a toy, a kid could lose his life if he pulls it out and someone thinks it looks too real. So, now, the police have to be called and reports have to be filed. Now, the cops show up to the school or the child’s home and let them know exactly why his lime green water gun could get him killed. It isn’t something “that just happens sometimes”, or “no big deal”. It isn’t harmless anymore and there is very little space for understanding and gentleness in the process. 

I understand the philosophy. Better they think a lime green water gun is as serious as a real gun than to think the real one is as harmless as the fake, but it’s still sad the way the world has changed. It hard to adjust to these all too common “worst-case scenarios” and to react from a place of fear. It’s hard to watch simple mistakes create such deep scars. I get it, I even agree with it because the world is the way the world is, but it’s hard.

I mourned a simpler time today.

Currently // November 2018: The Last Chance Has Passed

Despite, or, more likely, because of, the Thanksgiving holiday and all the planning and prepping, and the time with family, and the time off from work too, November seems to have come and gone faster than any other month this year. It was a bit jarring, and a tad frightening to wake up this morning and realize I am suddenly so close to the end of the year. 

Honestly, initially, I felt really disappointed. Not just the usual general disappointment I always feel over the passing time, but a deeper disappointment—in myself. There were so many things I had hoped to do and accomplish and thinking about all the ways I failed to do and accomplish it just made me feel really bad about myself. How could I let myself down like this? Why didn’t I push harder? Why didn’t I even try?

I feel this way at the end of every month though, and I bet a lot of other people do too, but this time it hit particularly hard. This month felt like my last chance. I mean, December will be too filled with activities, obligations, and holiday stress to make up for the all the time I wasted until now. That means my project won’t get finished and I won’t achieve my goals. How things are now is how they will end.

Fortunately, that initial disappointment didn’t last very long because, fortunately, I had so much to be thankful for in November. So, instead of trying to fix what I fucked up, I will use what is left of 2018 to simply celebrate and plan. I will let myself feel good and I do what I can to make sure I have the motivation and the optimism I need to give it another try in 2019.

But first, here is what I am…

Writing much, much more often and much more efficiently too. They say that the tools aren’t as important as the passion, but having shitty tools can really sap your drive to create. I’m thankful that my old slow and buggy laptop finally bit the dust and forced me into getting a new Chromebook. I no longer have to pause and wait for the cursor to catch up and I can have as many tabs as I need open at once. I can edit photos without crashing and take my writing wherever I go again. I’m getting used to enjoying writing again, but my ability doesn’t quite match my enthusiasm yet, so I’m sticking to purely blogging right now. I’m just practicing.

Making more blackout poems and collages for Instagram, because they are fun to make and I miss pouring over newspapers and magazine articles looking for words to pop out at me, begging to be reimagined. I like to take those words, someone else’s words, and make them my own. To reshape them to tell my story and reveal who I am and what I think. There is a sick satisfaction in such a simple medium.

Planning a month-long body fitness challenge for myself in January. I’m not sure I can do everything I want to with the limited space and equipment I have but I am sure that anything I can come up with is better than the nothing-at-all I am doing now. I can start slow if it will just help me start, you know? I’ve been feeling so tired and weak lately and I know it’s because I am growing soft from inactivity and age. I’ve been gaining weight I can’t seem to get off and I struggle with stamina and endurance. This past summer I was running and hiking but since the cold has moved in I’ve gotten lazy. I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.

Anticipating Christmas break! I usually try to work as much as possible during the breaks because I need the money, but this year I’m considering taking a significant amount of time off. I’d like to spend some time holed up in my “creativity room” making progress on one of my dream projects. I’d have to isolate myself—no screens, no notifications, no internet access, no dopamine hits at all—and just brainstorm, design, and write. I don’t have to finish the project. I just want to feel like I really gotten started on something.

Reading The Iliad, still…I love the book, I swear, but it is not at all easy to read. Epic poems, I learned after reading The Odyssey, require more time for pausing and thinking, for letting the story work into you. They require the imagination to take an active role. So, I read a chapter and sit with it, sometimes for a week or more. I reimagine it. I weigh the actions and the morals of the characters, and I look up all the heroes and gods I’ve never heard of before. Next time I read something like this I think I’ll carry around a second, easier book to read while I ruminate. It looks like I’ll be spending the rest of 2018 with The Iliad and wait to start anything new until 2019 since this years reading challenge goals are shot to hell anyway.

Watching the second season of True Detective on HBO, but only because I want to feel like I’ve gotten through it before season 3 starts in January. The show is an anthology series so each season is a different story. Season one was amazing and I highly recommend you check it out. The problem is, it’s so good that season two just doesn’t measure up. Season 3 looks like it’ll make up for it though. I’m also in the middle of Homecoming on Amazon, a psychological thriller that follows a counselor working with vets at an experimental facility. I like it but it isn’t keeping my attention easily. Most nights I’m rewatching The Walking Dead, and at work, I’ve been working my way through both Castlevania and She-Ra, two awesome animated shows on Netflix.

Feeling stressed and depressed, already, just like many of you this holiday season. There is so much pressure to be cheerful and expectations to buy the right gifts and spend the most amount of money. It’s hard to balance all that pressure and expectation with my bank account and this chronic fatigue. I think this year I’ll put my foot down and ask that people refrain from buying me gifts at all, or if they must, to donate to a charity in my name. I just don’t want to spend the money and I don’t want to stress about what to get for everyone. I don’t want to feel bad for getting the wrong thing, or for not spending enough money, or for secretly hating what I get. 

Fearing the new year. I wish there was time to reflect on the last year before you had to hit the ground running on the new one. It’s scary to have all those days looming ahead of you and you moving toward them so quickly. As of right now, all those days are still pure, full of potential and promise. As of right now, you haven’t screwed it all up yet, but once they start coming you know you will. Mistakes are always made and we always fall short. We’re never who we thought we’d be, and even if we are still good, we’re never good enough. I’m afraid that a year from now, after all those pure and promising days have come and gone, I will feel just as disappointed and for all the same reasons that I do today. I pray that this fear will grant me focus and courage.

Reflecting on the lessons of November. I’m reflecting on what it means to be grateful and how I can express my gratitude better. This year for Thanksgiving my family created turkey hats and each of wrote notes to one another expressing what we were grateful for in every family member. This level of expression and vulnerability has never been the norm in my family so I struggled not only to find the right words but the courage too. I did my best, but there was so much more I wanted to say. I know I am very lucky to have so much warmth and love surrounding me and to have so many people I can run to and trust. Next year, I want to have the right words, and I want to be brave enough.

Needing a good writing class. Learning on your own, through practice and experience is great but sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. I think I would benefit from being shown ways of thinking and doing things that have never occurred to me. I also think pushing myself in a structured and supervised setting would give me a sense of accomplishment and inject a new energy into my work. I’m looking at this course from Roxane Gay, but I’m open to other (affordable) suggestions for beginners too.

Learning how to “deep work“, or rather, to work on one task or project for hours at a time without distraction. I’m learning how to embrace and use boredom and to keep the wildly important in the front of my mind always. 2019 is right around the corner and while I don’t feel regret per se in the way I spent 2018, there are definitely changes I want to make, goals I want to accomplish, and projects I want to see brought to fruition. There is so much to learn and do, but first I have to relearn how to learn and to work. I have to unlearn what social media, capitalism, and technology have taught me about what it means to be busy vs. being productive and learn to resist temptation and keep my thoughts on a tighter leash.

Loving how close we are to the new year! I know, I know, I said I was afraid of the new year, but I am just as excited as I am afraid. A new year with this year’s lessons sounds like a year when I finally make something big happen. I’m looking forward to once again applying for the Bitch Media Writing Fellowship for Writers. I’m looking forward to trying—for the third time—to complete the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I’m looking forward to building new relationships and discovering new writers and being discovered too. This coming year, like all years, is mine!

Hating anxiety. I hate being so scared and feeling so frustrated all the time. I hate how tense I am, how boring I have become, and how exhausting all this fear and frustration can be. I hate fighting myself, hating myself, and falling short of everyone’s expectations. I hate being so weak. Most of all though, I hate all the ways my anxiety affects the people around me. I hate that I can’t control it, only cope, and I hate that they have to cope too. I think it’s time I looked into getting some help and doing more to take back my life.

Hoping, as the days grow short and the temperatures dip lower and lower, that this winter won’t be too hard on us—or on me in particular. I’ve never done well in winter. There’s nothing to do, it’s too cold and cloudy, the nights start too early, the holidays are stressful, and it always feels like it will never end! No, I really don’t do well in the winter but I’m hoping that this year I can get through it in better spirits by changing my perspective. Seasons aren’t always comfortable, but they can be useful triggers for the change we need. Winter is a good time for introspection, to go inside yourself and face what is there. It’s a good time to fall in love with solitude and silence. It’s a good time to learn to be resilient again and to take care of the home and the mind. Winter is when we prepare to face the world again come spring, and I will be prepared.


So, yeah, all in all, this November was…better than most Novembers. I can’t bring myself to call it a good month considering it’s still autumn, and I really dislike autumn, plus it’s so close to winter, and I really, really hate winter, but it wasn’t bad at all. Hell, even the weather was decent this November. We only had a few little snow storms here and there and a lot of days the temps climbed well above the 50s. It was the best November I’ve ever had, and that is something.

But what about you? How was your Thanksgiving? If you celebrate it that is. How was the weather where you are? I fall a favorite season of yours? Or is it just one long, drawn-out reminder that the endless cold dark winter is about to envelop us?

Let me know in the comments.


“Wind warns November’s done with. The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.”

Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems

Featured photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

Monday Motivation + Goals // Deep Work

My biggest goal this week is to start practicing the art of “deep work“. I learned about the concept through an old Ezra Klein podcast interview with Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes about the toll technology takes on our ability to be productive.

According to Newport deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. Half of it is secluding yourself for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks to work on a project, and the other half is using the chunks of downtime you have throughout the day to brainstorm and problem-solve your project rather than checking social media or catching up on the news.

The first part isn’t as easy as it sounds. It means no social media, no scrolling, no novelty or dopamine hits at all. It may mean no internet access at all! I would like to start with just 1 to 2 hours during the work week and 6 hours over the weekend devoted to writing. For now, I will just be focusing on blog posts but after a few weeks, I will switch to writing for a major project I have been planning. I want to practice focusing for a while and fail a few times before I direct my attention to things I’m much more terrified of.

To be clear, writing blog posts doesn’t mean searching for featured images, quotes, or editing. It means writing and only writing using what notes and ideas I already have. It means keeping my ass in the chair and the cursor moving no matter how frustrated or bored I get.

The second part is also two parts. I need to stop getting sucked into twitter threads or Facebook video holes. If I have a free minute that allows me to use my brain for writing rather than work I have to use it to take notes or research with intention. Just like when I was learning to meditate I have to be mindful of where my attention is being paid and do the work to redirect myself with kindness. To help me avoid this distraction, I’ll schedule my social media time—because I can’t just quit cold turkey—and keeping my phone anywhere but within arm’s reach.

During these “deep work” blocks of time, I will simply work my way down my editorial calendar putting together my notes and writing post after post after post. I’ll spend the last 15 minutes or so of each session writing a short journal type post for this space summarising how I feel and how the day is going.

I will also schedule what Newport calls “shallow work”. Checking my email, working on my editorial calendar, posting to Tumblr, answering comments, tweaking my blog themes, looking up “calls for submission”, reading other blogs, etc.. These tasks are surely important, but they are easy so I often do these things rather than to doing the actual writing. I feel busy, but at the end of the week, I have little to show for all the effort. I’d like this week to be the first in a long time I feel like I have made significant progress.

In addition, I have quite a few other items that have been lingering on my to-do list:

  • Set up an appointment to tour one potential wedding venue.
  • Create one newspaper blackout poem and a collage poem for Instagram.
  • Draft next Friday’s newsletter for Zen and Pi
  • Read every day for 40 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes before bed.
  • Finish my Christmas shopping!
  • Get an oil change and new tires.
  • Develop/choose a bodyweight fitness routine

I plan to write these “motivation and goals” posts every Monday with information and links to what is inspiring me to work harder and smarter and a few specific things I’m working to accomplish. Then at the end of the week (perhaps during my Weekend Coffee Share posts) I’ll check in and let you know how I fared with each new productivity and writing tactic and my ever-overwhelming to-do list.

I’m starting slow, but I’m definitely starting, and I hope that being accountable here and sharing what I’ve learned about what works might help you too.

***

So how about you? What goals do you have for the week? And what is your plan to achieve them? Have you heard of or tried the “deep work” method? If so, what did you think? How did it fit into your lifestyle?

Let me know in the comments, or write your own goals post and link back if that’s easier.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee // A Perfect Week Off

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, and welcome to my new blog!

It’s not as put together as the other place, I know. I’m still moving things around and figuring out what to bring and what to leave behind. We probably should have spent one more Weekend Coffee Share there but I’m excited and ready to be here despite the mess. 

So, come, fill up a cup. The cold brew has been steeping since last night and is nice and strong. I’ve got the blinds open and a few windows cracked. After yesterday’s freezing rain and high wind warnings, it’s nice to see the sun and let the fresh air in. Pull up a chair and let’s talk about last week!

***

“Good morning and be at peace with your coffee. We’re under the same sun.”

Juansen Dizon

***

If we were having coffee I would probably start by showing off my new tattoo. It’s becoming a tradition now that whenever my sister comes up to visit from Texas us siblings celebrate by going to our favorite shop and getting some new ink. This time it was only three of us, just the girls. My brother, quite understandably, wasn’t comfortable with the expense right before the holidays. Us girls just couldn’t resist though *shrug*.

I got a storm cloud with an eye in the middle of it, a bolt of lightning and a few blue raindrops too. It’s a common traditional style tattoo but the design spoke to me.The rain and lightning made me think of all my uncontrollable sadness and anxiety, the eye is the calm in the storm. It represents wisdom, mindfulness, and self-awareness, but the eye is also part of the storm too, not above or beyond it. The cloud represents the temporary nature of emotions and hard times, and the whole piece taken together is a reminder that everything that is bad, uncomfortable, or scary will pass, and the sun will always shine again.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my week off from work was just about perfect. I spent every day with my family. We chose not to try to pack in too many activities and instead just ran errands, tried a few new restaurants, and watched movies. I think I liked it better this way. It was like my sister lived here again and there was no need to rush or to stress. It was like we had all the time in the world.

As always after one of her visits, I’m feeling a bit sad. For one, it’s hard to get back into a routine. For two, I worry the visit wasn’t a good one. I worry I didn’t do enough or say enough while they were here. I’m worried I was too tired, too negative, too boring. I’m worried they don’t know how much I looked forward to seeing them and they don’t know how hard it is for me when they leave again. 

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Thanksgiving this year was a good one. We had plenty of food and the whole family was able to attend. For us, that means just immediate family. My mom and siblings, spouses and the kids. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Thanksgiving with aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. I’ve never been close enough with any of my extended family. It’s just been us, and the rest of the world.

We all made Thanksgiving turkey hats and write notes to one another with what we were thankful for in each person. It was nice to hear how you have impacted everyone around you. It’s a nice reminder that you do have a place among the people you love and their lives are in fact better with you here.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m not looking forward to returning to work tomorrow. After a whole week off its hard to go back to getting up early, spending my days doing things I don’t always want to, and then coming home just before dark, too exhausted to do anything I want to.

Then again, I miss the kids and my coworkers, and as much as I complain, I do miss waking up early and getting to bed at a decent time. I’ve always worked best when I was forced to a schedule. I guess I just wish I didn’t have to work so many days in a row. I should get to ease back into the schedule.

And of course, as soon as I do get used to it again it’ll be time for Christmas break. 

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m spending the day with my girlfriends family, watching football, playing games, and eating more holiday food. The game is about to start and the smells coming from the kitchen tell me it will be time to eat very soon.

I want to thank you again for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I hope you had plenty to be thankful for and that you know how thankful others are for you.

Until next time.

///

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

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

A New Place to Start

“We have not seen enough of the rough drafts of those we admire. Confidence means forgiving ourselves for the horrors of our first attempts.”

The School of Life Confidence Prompt Card

Hello, hello, and welcome. My name is Lisa, and I’m very glad to meet you.

Some of you may already know me from Zen and Pi where I have been blogging for a couple of years now. This blog is new. I made it after months and months of struggling to write and realizing that much of what was holding me back was not having a place where I felt truly free to experiment.

For those who don’t know me yet, I’m a 33-years-old aspiring writer born, raised, and currently residing in Denver, Colorado. I work as a Bus Assistant, riding school bus routes with Special Needs children keeping them safe, and entertained, to and from school every day. 

I live with my girlfriend. We’ve been together for over 16 years now and less than a year from now we’ll be calling each other wife. We share our home with an anxious dog, a grumpy cat, and two very shy snakes. I come from a pretty big family that could be described as dysfunctional, but we’re close and we’re trying to be better and that’s enough for me.

I’ve been writing in journals since I was a teenager and have always had some small place on the internet to share my stories and secrets, usually anonymously. About two or three years ago I started writing under my own name and since then I’ve had a couple of pieces picked up by small online publications. I was initially very excited, but the recognition terrified me. I suffered intense imposter syndrome and lost all of my momentum and focus.

I’m trying a few different things to get my mojo back. I’m submitting work to publications again, entering contests, and joining challenges. I’ve also decided to convert Zen and Pi to something separate from myself, a place with its own niche and focus, and writing for myself here.

This is a place to learn how to practice. It’s a place for all my bad ideas and horrible first attempts to go. It’s a place to be accountable. A home base to return to, and start out from, again and again. It’s a place I will become a better writer in.

I like to write short, creative nonfiction and particularly personal, confessional, and memoir pieces but I’m working on perfecting my hand at persuasive and informative posts too. I enjoy poetry and have dabbled in micro-fiction as well. I am cultivating a habit of writing daily in a physical journal, excerpts of which may appear here too. When I’m not writing I like making little collages with words and images I find in magazines or old books.

Like most writers, I started out as a reader first. Right now I’m obsessed with Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare, and ancient Greek literature. Philosophy is another passion of mine and I’m working my way through authors like Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Camus. I also read graphic novels though not as much as I used to. My favorite at the moment is the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan.

Science has always been an interest of mine, especially astronomy and biology. I watch a lot of movies particularly from the horror genre but I’m also into superheroes, documentaries, anything the makes me feel deeply, and anything from A24. I enjoy hiking and consider napping an art form. I’m an admitted coffee snob and a staunch political liberal.

I believe in honest painful self-reflection. I believe in sharing our stories, even the ugly and terrible ones, especially the ugly and terrible ones. I believe that beauty and profound truth can be found in ordinary and everyday places. I believe in being authentic and flawed and in love with humanity. I believe in grey areas.

I am a collector of quotes, perspectives, and interesting facts. I take what is useful—from the past, from religion, from schools of philosophy, from stories, from tradition, from ideologies—and leave the rest. I am a weigher of points, arguments, and ideas, and I am a talker.

Like most talkers, I guess I’m just looking for a place to shout myself out into the void and waiting for someone out there—or something inside me—to answer back. 

What I mean to say is, even though I am writing here for me first, I’m hoping that you’ll find something you need too and that we both might find a way forward. So, follow along, leave comments, say hello, and leave all the feedback you can.

***

Photo by Simon Goetz on Unsplash