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