Hello, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.
I’m up early this morning despite another late night last night. Words are coming slowly though and I am fighting my own body which longs for more sleep and my mind which would much rather do anything but create. I’m learning very quickly that the new year has found me with no more willpower or self control then the previous year left me. Still, I am up, and I am at my desk as I am scheduled to be so there has been some improvement.
The sun is rising now and my desk is lighting up with gorgeous hues of pale blue and pink. The forecast calls there to be plenty of sunshine but winter is definitely in the air. That’s fine with me though. I have no plans to leave the house. It’s my last day to do nothing before returning to my regular work schedule and I plan to savor every minute doing just as I please.
So, please, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. I have a light blond roast steeping in the French press and a bit of frothed sweet vanilla soy milk for flavor and silky texture to pour over top. Let’s talk about last week!
“So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.”
― Raymond Carver
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was supposed to work three days this week but I only ended up going in for one, Friday.
My wife and I wanted to begin the new year with our new last names so we spent Monday morning at the Social Security office and Tuesday, New Year’s eve, at the Department of Motor Vehicles presenting the proper documents and dealing with bureaucratic errors. It was both an exciting and a frustrating experience and though we weren’t able to get everything done before the new year we were able to end the week with our new names being made official.
In the meantime we went about planning for our evening. We had hoped to celebrate the coming of 2020 by attending an event or going out for drinks and dancing even if it was only just the two of us but, to be honest, the world has seemed less safe lately and we felt that by staying home we could relax and really reflect on the new year without anxiety or worry.
We spent the day munching on snacks and for dinner we made a shrimp and crab leg boil with sausage, corn, and potatoes and plenty of wine and dessert too, of course.
I was exhausted come midnight, but I fought my fatigue tooth and nail. I had to stay up no matter what. It’s been a tradition for my wife and I for as long as we’ve known each other. Just after midnight on our first New Year’s day together, 17 years ago, my we said “I love you” to one another for the first time, and every year since we have stayed up to relive that first declaration. I hope to begin every new trip around the sun this way for as long as I live.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of the week was mellow. I spent New Year’s Day lounging around the house and napping on and off throughout the day and then seeing my dad for a late night dinner. I was surprised at how many people we’re also opting for dinner out on New Year’s Day and by how many of them were for birthdays.
I stayed home from work Thursday. Since it is still winter break I am not required to go in. I’m just offered the opportunity to come in, complete a few projects, and get paid if I want, but the late night before, the pain in my stomach from over indulging over these past few weeks, and the fact that my dog and I both woke to her vomiting in the dark made me give up on the day before it really had a chance to start.
Friday I returned to work but only physically. Mentally I was elsewhere and if I’m honest, I spent more time on my personal passions than I did the work I was being paid to do. Luckily many of my coworkers were in the same sort of mood. We all ended up chatting and ordering pizzas for lunch, then heading home early.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that so far my New Year’s resolution to be more mindful about how I spend my time by scheduling my days in advance is going…ok. I am getting more done but it will take a lot of practice before the battle between what I want to do and what I really want to do is more easily won.
At first I would look at the calendar and see so many hours in which to do all the things I wanted but as the days wear on and I try to pack more and more into those hours, they have slowly become less and less abundant. I’m also struggling with procrastination and distraction. Phone notifications, Netflix, naps, ideas and tangents that suddenly pop into my head, the urge to get out of the house, my coworkers, and even my wife and pets have easily pulled me away from my schedule.
The problem, as I have mentioned, is willpower. I don’t have much of it yet but I’m practicing and working out new strategies, but it has been hard.
The most glaring obstacle I need to overcome is getting enough sleep every night. Without sleep I have no chance at all of doing anything I set out too. I don’t even look at the schedule or the to-do lists. I fail by not even trying. Going forward I will stick to a bedtime as well as a time to wake even on the weekends, even when I’m in the middle of binge watching a good show, even when the thought of losing so many hours to unconsciousness fills me with dread.
My second mistake has been failing to include a little time to be unproductive in. I’m beginning to believe that the human mind, or at least my human mind, needs time to shut off. I’m just not ready yet to be so present and so aware all the time. I need to give myself permission to watch a show or jump on Twitter for a little every day. I need the daily break from reality.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing wise this was not a good week. I was able to come up with some essay ideas and I have every intention of working through each of them one by one over the coming weeks, but they were ideas for pieces I wanted to write for me, not for other publications.
I have been trying to find opportunities for pitching and for collecting rejections but the more I look the more I realize that though I might need community, and inspiration, and accountability, I am not keen to write for anyone but myself.
I plan to keep looking and to keep trying but I doubt I will hit my goal of 100 rejection in the next 12 months. I’m going to be a little picky, to start at least. Who knows how I will feel in a few more month’s time and after a few first attempts.
For now, I have returned to my top priority, my own blogs. This place has a new theme. I needed something that felt more like a notebook and that offered the option of post formats. I’m rethinking the kinds of posts I have been writing here week by week here and considering moving some of them into a weekly newsletter. I made an editorial calendar and spreadsheet for Zen and Pi but overcoming my need for perfection there is a hurdle I have yet to clear.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing isn’t the only area I’m trying to make improvements in.
I didn’t make a proper resolution but only a renewed effort to start moving my body more by working out 3 times a week and walking with the dog more often. So far I’m doing far better than most weeks of 2019 and though I’m proud of it I’m not letting myself get too excited. I don’t want to push myself too hard since I am still dealing with a bad ulcerative colitis flare up and I don’t want to get to a point where I will be devastated by disappointment if I have to cut back. My symptoms are triggered by stress and stressing the body with too much activity certainly counts.
I’ve also started writing in a physical journal by hand again, for two reasons. As much as I like sharing a little of each day here with all of you under my Journal tag, there is a lot that I cannot share. Stories that don’t belong to me alone, feelings I would like to keep private, and little anxieties and moments of self-pity I don’t want to live on the internet forever even if no one will ever read them. I needed a private space for my eyes alone.
I’m also ending each day with gratitude by listing 5 things no matter how small that went well or felt good. I may share those things here too but for now I need them for me.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am deeply dreading the return to regular working hours and expectations in the coming week. I need the structure, sure, but it has been so nice to spend a few days living just for me for a change.
Technically, I’m off tomorrow too but like the rest of winter break I am being offered the opportunity to come in and work if I want. I’m choosing to use the day as a way to ease back into work and plan to wake at my usual time and stay at work until a little closer to my usual leave time. I’ll make sure everything is all clean and organized, that all my projects are wrapped up, and that the next four days are all scheduled out and I know exactly what I have to do to get through the week.
Still, I can tell already it’s going to be a long and grueling one.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the caffeine made me far too long winded and wordy. The sun has moved on from the east windows and I have lost track of my time. If I want to use any of this energy on my chores and to-do list I’d better end our date here and get on with the rest of my Sunday.
I hope you had a good week. I hope your New Year’s celebration was a lively and safe one, or a quiet and reflective one if that is what you needed instead. I hope your resolutions are still intact, if you set any at all, and I hope you know you can start again any time on any you may have struggled with so far.
Until next time.