Goals // Week 41: A Hard Sell

This week is already long, and it’s only just hit noon on Monday. The problem this time isn’t having too much to do, quite the opposite actually. I had planned, or prepared anyway for an agenda scheduled to the brim but the powers that be many pay grades above have decided to move their pawns to another strategy and I must adjust, rearrange, and put off that preparation for a future week unforeseen.

So, this week I’m scrambling. I’m working to find other things to do, to dig up old forgotten projects, and to make myself at the least appear useful.

It might be easier if my mind wasn’t already focused on next week. For the first time I am taking fall break off and spending the week with family visiting from out of state. I’ve been looking forward to this visit and this time away for months, and that leaves this week looking bleak in comparison with my expectations of the next.

I’m bored already and my usual passion for my work seems to wane as the hours pass and I get closer to time I will get to call my own. This week is going to be hard to sell to myself, but I do have to get through it and I should find a way to enjoy it.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning. I’ve renewed this goal every week for over a month now, and every week I fail to return to the practice. This week I want to examine exactly why I am so avoidant. What is it in me that is getting in the way of doing this thing that I know benefits me at nearly every level from my anxiety, to my relationships, to my focus? Why do I deny myself this opportunity to improve my quality of life?

Spend more time at my desk. I did well last week making a little more time for writing and for exploring my ideas last week and this week all I want to do is carve out just a little more. It helps that I have been able to leave work a bit earlier than I used too but I still need to spend a little less time in the livingroom or scrolling social media and more time typing away at a few ideas and problems working their way around my brain.

Write an analog journal entry every night. Last week I started carrying three notebooks with me, two of which have already gotten extensive use, but the journal still sits untouched since at least last January. THis week I’d like to revive this private writing space and express those things that can only be expressed far from the judgement of other human beings.

Read a little every day. I’m falling further behind again and losing all the progress gained just one week ago. In my defense, reading is much harder to do when fatigue is laying in wait to drag you to dreamland the moment you stop moving and get comfortable. This week I’m going to utilize my lunch hour at work, when I’m not so tired and can retain more of what I’m taking in.

Write a newsletter. I’ve been working my way through the Science of Well-Being course on Coursera for some time now but have been stuck at week seven where the assignment is to commit to a habit change or two for four weeks straight. Many of the ideas presented are habits I’ve long incorporated into my daily practice, but looking at them in terms of what I have needed lately, I’ve decided that building social connections is the area I need to work on the most.

Since the pandemic started I have struggled more than ever to maintain my personal relationships. I have let long stretches of time pass between speaking to my friends and family. I have grown more introverted and private. I have isolated myself and fallen into a loneliness that’s grown too easy to live with. Besides reaching out to those close to me, I on being more vulnerable and accessible to strangers as well. Sending out a digital letter to the few followers I have seems a little more personal and, I hope, will lead to a deeper connection than a simple blog post.

If you want to be a part of this journey, you can subscribe to my Tinyletter, Every Now and Again.

This week I will not lose myself in anger or hopelessness. For months now I’ve tried to pull away from political news and current events, but every day there seems to be some breaking catastrophe or cruelty, and the cell phone alerts and updates from friends and family nearly always pull me back in. But as much as I want to be informed and as righteous as the outrage is, and as good as the speculation feels, I realize that none of it is very good for me, mentally. Not right now, anyway.

I’ve started to recognize the emotional manipulation that takes place when the news is reported. That isn’t to say I believe that the news is fake or misleading, I just think the facts are often reported in such a way that my attention is grabbed and heald and I’m sucked in to never ending negativity and fear, to anger and hopelessness, and I don’t want to feel that way all day, every day. This week I will refrain from watching live news reports or scrolling social media endlessly looking for more information, more “takes”, more opinions and arguments. The news will be there at the end of the day. I need not give it more attention than that.


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

Goals // Week 40: Amor Fati

This week is going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride of alternating work days scheduled to the brim with projects and classes and days with little more to do than wake up and walk in and while it sounds like a luxury to have any days at all where expectations are so low, there will be times when even that will be too much.

My health has been improving somewhat and in someways but fatigue is still a hard obstacle to overcome and worry over tasks that must lie undone until the next low burst of energy or fleeting moment of focus can cripple me with stress and guilt.

I have been suffering so long now with this flare up of symptoms though that I have decided, this week, I will move from hoping to return to some old normalcy or version of myself and my life I can recognize and start moving on toward a new life that is compatible with who I am now. I have to work with and sometimes around my body. I have to work through my emotions. I have to to make the most of my new insights and perspectives.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning. It’s been weeks since I last made time to be still, to breathe, to be present, and it’s really beginning to show. I find myself getting too easily swept up in the emotions of the moment or the problems of the past or future. I feel what control I’d gained over my perspective slipping. It’s time I get back to it and I regain the peace I’ve lost.

Spend more time at my desk. I spent a good portion of the weekend purging and reorganizing my “creativity room”. The space feels much more welcoming and conducive to writing, and I’m eager to make a little time every day to this little hobby and passion of mine. I have a pile of thought fragments and scraps of ideas to get to work on, and I’m excited to see where this system of reflection and writing might lead.

Take better notes. No more post-it notes and pieces of scrap paper! This week I will carry around three notebooks: a journal for writing about the day, a small notebook for recording more formal writing ideas, and a pocket notebook for all those thought fragments and raw ideas I don’t want to lose to forgetfulness. Bonus: Schedule time in your calendar to review each of these notebooks weekly.

Read a little every day. This past weekend I made a little headway toward catching up to my reading goals and now that I have this momentum I do not want to lose it. To make the goal easier to meet, I’ll make sure to keep a Penguin Little Black Classic on me to read during all those minutes between tasks and events that add up throughout the day.

Go for a walk or two. I’ve started seeing small signs of improvement in my health and healing journey, and I think it’s time I found my way back to physical activity. I have to be cautious and mindful not to push myself too far and undo all the progress I have made. Just three days this week, I’d like to get out and around the block with the dog.

This week I will not not feel sorry for myself. I will not get sucked into patterns of self pity and suffering because I focus far too much on the gap between my expectations and my lived reality. It’s okay to be sad. It’s not okay to wallow. It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to get stuck. This week I will work on acceptance and forgiveness, for myself, my body, and the universe at large. This week I will work to love my fate.


Photo by kyler trautner on Unsplash

Goals // Week 37: A Long Short Week

This week is a short week, but short weeks always seem to drag on the longest. A short week does not mean less to do or fewer expectations. A short week just means less time to get the same amount of work done in. That means a lot more rushing, a lot more stress, and a lot more mistakes. It means I’m going to need a lot more patience, a lot more forgiveness, and a lot more help.

I’m still not feeling great physically, which is having a big impact on me mentally. Healing has been so slow and all progress is fragile. This week I will keep putting my needs first, defending my boundaries, and giving myself permission to rest without guilt. I can’t help others without helping myself. I can’t do my best work if I don’t make time for myself first. I can’t get well if I’m pushing myself for the sake of others.

This week I will:

Delete time sucking apps from home screen. I’ve already gotten rid of Instagram, next up is Facebook, and then Twitter. I’ve been feeling down lately, I think we all have, and it’s easy to escape by scrolling through endless and pointless feeds, but what feels good right now doesn’t always feel good in the long run. There is more I want to do with my waking hours. Bonus: Before I pick up my phone, pick up a book instead.

One “No TV Night” this week. Just like social media, TV shows offer an easy escape and mindless ways to pass the time, but I don’t want to be mindless for so many hours on end. There are art and writing projects I want to complete. There are books I want to read. There are things I want to learn and courses I am determined to complete. I can’t, I won’t, do any of these things if I am not more mindful of how I spend my time.

Read 20 pages a day. I’m really far behind in my reading goals for the year, so I’ve decided to let them go to focus on day to day reading goals instead. My current selection, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, is a little intimidating and overwhelming which causes an avoidant reaction in me. Normally I ask 40 pages from myself, but it’s easier to start again if you start small.

Meditate at least once a day. I wrote yesterday about how chaotic mornings and evening exhaustion have made it difficult for me to continue my meditation practice. The problem isn’t the mornings or the exhaustion though; the problem is me. I felt like I was failing, so I began to avoid doing it. I didn’t realize at the time that I actually hadn’t failed until I quit.

Take life one day at a time. There has been a lot of bad news coming my way lately and very little I can do but wait, and watch, and worry. In the absence of control my mind plays out all the possibilities, but instead of clarity all I gain is more stress and suffering. I’m living too far in the future where nothing I imagine may even come to pass. It’s all just more lost time and lost opportunity to live my best life today.

This week I will not make anyone else’s problems my own. Lately I’ve been feeling like little more than an emotional support human for everyone I encounter. While I’m honored to be so trusted, respected, and needed it’s all getting to be too much in a time when managing my stress levels is so critical.

I recognize that I have a tendency to feel too deeply the emotions of others and to make fixing everyone’s troubles my personal responsibility but the reality is as much as I want to make to, there is only so much I can control, fix, or face. The truth is, I cannot risk neglecting my own needs, responsibilities, and relationships to focus on lives I’m not living. The truth is, while I’m helping everyone through their challenges, no one but me will help me through mine.


Photo by Nicolas Moscarda on Unsplash

Goals // Week 35: Push a Little More

This week my work schedule is a little more relaxed, though not by much. The school year is still in the very early days and as chaotic as it normally is, between Covid and settling into my new position and responsibilities there is plenty to be stressed and overwhelmed by.

Still, I’d like to take advantage of the few extra minutes I see here and there across the calendar and start finding my way back to doing the things that I love. My greatest hope it that my health will continue to improve along with my mood and I can muster the energy and focus to match.

This week I will:

Read for 30 minutes every day. I’ve fallen so far behind my goals I doubt I can make up the distance between where I am and where I ought to be. So, I’m letting it go and choosing to focus on daily reading goals rather than yearly. I want to read for just 30 minutes every day this week. Between lunch time and the time I use to wind down before bed, this shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Write for an hour every day. The morning has always been my best time for writing, but with my new position and schedule that may no longer be possible. The good news is I am going home earlier most days and if I can start cultivating the habit now, I see no reason why mid-afternoon can’t become my new favorite time to type.

 Implement one new “rewirement” habit from The Science of Well-Being on Coursera. I’ve already been doing two of them: gratitude journaling and meditating and it would be easy for me to just keep on doing what I have been, but I think it’s time I try adding a new element. This week, find a way to work “increased social connection” and more frequent “acts of kindness” into my day-to-day life.

Get back to updating my logbook and to-do list in the evening. This one I can do while watching my evening shows. All I have to do it review the day and mark what I didn’t and didn’t do and record the good and the bad. Then I think about my goals and tasks for the next day and type them out. It’s that easy and I get to end the day and begin the next with a clear mind and plan. Bonus: Start journaling both here and on paper again.

Focus on one day, one hour, one minute or moment at a time. Life has gotten pretty overwhelming lately, and it’s all too easy for me to spiral into worry and regret but for my health, for my relationships, and for my productivity I have to let the thoughts and emotions pass and focus my mind on what I can do right now because the truth is, it’s all going to be fine, one way or the other.

Push myself a little more, but only a little! With all the rest, medication, diet changes, and support from loved ones, I am finally beginning to feel a little better. I have so much to catch up on, so much I’ve been wanting to do, and I think I can finally start letting myself take on more work and responsibility again. I have to be careful though. I have a strong tendency to push myself too hard the moment I have a bit of energy or focus, and I end up taking two steps back before I’ve even completed one forward. This week, do a little more, and be happy you can do that much.

This week I will not be pushed by others. I have a schedule and a list. I have my goals and my priorities. I have to keep them at the forefront of everything I do this week. I will not blindly follow what others are doing, what they think I should be doing, or what I think they might think I should be doing. I will not be lead around directionless or powerless only to be left regretful and disappointed at the come the weekend. I have to live my time and live with my choices, no one else, so I will decide how it is spent, no one else.


Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

Goals // Week 33: Let Yourself Move Forward

This week was off ahead of me before I could find my bearings. My mind and body are dragging, but I’m keeping one foot in front of the other and doing my best to at least fall no farther behind. It’ll take focus and willpower, but the plan is made, and the time is there if I seize it.

Already this morning I’ve worked on my calendar and got my to-do list in order. I spoke with my team and made a back-up plan too. I deleted that one last distracting game on my phone and set my alarm 15 minutes earlier. From here, the week looks long, but at least it’s smooth.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning and every evening. Work through the basics for 10 minutes before work, then practice long guided sessions before bed. Breathe, check in with the body, give space to the emotional and physical state you are in rather than the states you wish you were, clarify your intentions: to give your body the best chance to heal, to cope with the pace of healing, to be your best self for your loved ones and your team, to be an example of what meditation can do.

Make time for being creative. Don’t let go of your artistic goals and project in favor of more writing, more reading, more cleaning or resting. Creativity is as important as the rest and giving your mind time to work through your hands, to take a break from screens, to find meaning and metaphor in image the way it does words is vital to every other goal you wish to achieve.

 Write every day. I am making so much progress on the pieces I’ve been wanting to write and coming up with new ideas every day. I’m sorry nothing has been shared, but I’m just not ready. I’m not putting that pressure on myself right now, not with the health and work stress I already have going on. Writing has to be my secret joy and escape right now. Writing has to belong to me alone for a little while longer.

Finish week seven of The Science of Well-Being. I’ve been on a roll these last couple of weeks, making time just 3 days out of seven to watch a few videos, take a few notes, and reflect on how this new knowledge might change or impact my life for the better. Knowing isn’t everything, it might not even be half the battle by far, but it’s the first step and every step after gets a little easier. Bonus: Implement some weekly retirements.

Practice the WOOP exercise. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan. Sit down and choose an outcome, a want, desire, goal, or achievement. Visualize the very best outcome you can. Now switch gear and visualize all the things that will get in your way, including emotions, beliefs, bad habits. Now, what will you do to overcome that obstacle? Going to implement this reflection into my weekly goals and actions plans.

Get through the last of my very big and very important training classes by the end of the week. Despite the challenges, I’ve been trying to get some new certifications under my belt for work and this week is the last of my classes for a while. I’m feeling incredibly nervous and flighty right now. I’m on the verge of sabotage and outright avoidance but deep down I know, all I have to do is my best and I can make it through with flying colors. Just do it!

This week I will not give in to despair. These past few months have been a long struggle. I never meant for the focus of this space to become my chronic illness, but when you live life in pain, with anxiety, shame, and plummeting self-esteem it’s hard to think, let alone write, about anything else. Already this week I got some good news and some bad news. I got a plan and an end point, and now I have to let myself move forward through the pain, anxiety, shame, and low self-esteem and back to life.


Photo by Rory Hennessey on Unsplash

Goals // Week 32: Getting Better Every Day

This week is going to be a busy one, though not hard, although it is off to a rocky start already. I’ve already written about the health issues I’m coping with and though I’m still suffering, I’m getting better every day and fully expect to feel much stronger and more capable by the end of the week.

It’s hard to feel so limited. To have to remind yourself to keep your expectations, your focus, your goals so narrow, but I’m trying to remember it’s better for the long run. This week I’m not looking too far into the future. I’m focusing on here and now, on my mind, my body, my mental and physical health, what I need to do each day, each hour, and with each action to take care of me first.

This week I will:

Rest when you need it. It’s hard enough to admit to yourself when you just can’t but it’s so much harder to have to admit it to your superiors, your team, and your loved ones. Remember that they want the best for you too. Remember that even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. You are your own responsibility. You are the one who must live in this body. You have to put you first and heal so that you can take care of work, relationships, obligations, or passions.

Medicate, meditate, and hydrate. Rest is important, but there are other needs to be met. Don’t forget your medication. Don’t forget to drink water. Don’t forget to be present, to focus on your breath, to observe your world, your thoughts, your emotions without judgement. Stress is your number one trigger and to quell it takes only 10 minutes a day. You can give yourself at least that.

 Make something with my hands. There is more than one way to meditate. Put on a podcast, get out your X-Acto knives and magazine pages and clippings. Find words to play with, scenes to reimagine, bodies to remix into your own reflection. Find your flow and lose a little time to something that belongs to no one but you. Don’t forget, the healthy mind needs new challenges and novel ways to think and play.

Write something every day. You’ve set up a schedule and made the work easy enough. You have ideas to explore and even if nothing gets finished, posted, shared, or turns out in any way the way you meant it to, even if you get lost, frustrated, or feel wholly incompetent and full of doubt, you have only to keep writing and it will pass, it will get easier, it, you, will get better. Just try a little each day, that’s all I ask.

Finish that book, then finish another one. Too much rime has been spent on screens lately. Uninstall that game, those apps, shut it all down by 8:00 PM every night and pull out a book instead. You’ve only got 20 more pages left on this one, and the next is less than 60. #) minutes before bed will get you a lot farther than that and is much better for you than that phone.

Reach out. I’ll expand on it later but, since the time of Covid began, I’ve found it harder and harder to reach out to family and friends. I’m becoming more and more isolated, and I’m struggling to both understand why and break through this reluctance. It’s as if I’ve decided I’m living in a time outside of time, a life outside of my life. I’ve decided I am alone and left the conclusion to stand, but life is passing by and the people I love are still out there living, loving, suffering, changing, growing farther and farther away. I don’t want to come out of this alone.

This week I will not get caught up in every passing emotion, thought, or physical sensation. My body is me and my mind is me, but not everything that happens or occurs is me. Not everything is a thing. There is control to wield if I would seize it. There is peace to be had if I would allow it. There are blue skies over every cloud, and every cloud is always on the move. It’s okay to let it pass. Let it pass.


Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Goals // Week 31: Building the Habits

This week felt busy before it even began and before goals could even be set obligations were already getting in the way.

I have some big meetings scheduled, but they are largely brainstorming sessions. I have a couple of projects on my plate, but nothing outside of my expertise or capability. I have a long virtual training session I’m a little nervous about but it won’t take more than a morning to get through and many members of my team are attending too so I’ll have plenty of help and support along the way. It’ll be a busy week, but in a good way.

My greatest roadblock will be managing my health and overcoming fatigue. I’ve been on a downhill trend for a little while now, but I’m starting a new medication and reviving an old daily meditation habit to help. My hope is that by the end of this week I’ll feel a little more like myself and making good progress toward my goals.

This week I will:

Update my to-do list and logbook nightly. It has been nice to have one place to keep my tasks, notes, ideas, and journal so that I can walk through each day with a clearer head and calmer outlook but the place offers no benefit if it isn’t reviewed, updated, and improved regularly. The goal is to spend at least one half-hour every evening reflecting on the day and preparing my tasks and goals for the next day.

 Meditate every morning. I recently learned that I qualified for a free subscription for the Headspace app and I couldn’t be more excited to return to the mediation habit I strove to build years ago but abandoned to disappointment. I’ve already committed to the practice for the past four days and already I am noticing the benefits. Bonus: Practice short breathing exercises in the middle of the day and join group meditations every evening with my wife.

Complete the work projects I have listed as due by Friday. I’ve been working for the same company for almost 14 years now, but it’s only been three months since I was chosen for a new position. I’m enthusiastic but feeling a bit overwhelmed by my new role and responsibilities. I know I am capable and respected, but avoidance is my usual approach to anxiety, which only ever leads to more anxiety and further avoidance . This week I won’t let my worries win.

Hydrate. The more active, focused, and engaged my mind is with my work and surroundings, the less connected I feel to my body and its needs. I forget to eat, to rest, to drink water, even to take bathroom breaks sometimes! This week I want to exist in my body more and pay attention to my physical needs as much as I do my mental. I’m prone to dehydration right now and if I want to stay motivated and productive, I have to start by heeding those phone reminders and drinking more water.

Find a new time for reading. I have an alarm on my phone to remind me every evening to turn off all screens and spend time reading a physical book. This worked well when I was feeling well but as fatigue takes greater and greater foothold reading just a page or two puts me right to sleep. I can’t make any progress reading at this time so I’d like to try reading earlier in the day and getting through the 40 page per day and catch up to where I should be by now in my reading goals.

Work on my essay a week project. I can’t promise the piece will be done by next week but I have added the daily writing tasks like choosing a topic, researching quotes and facts, outlining, freewriting, and editing to my logbook and tasks lists and plan to time block these items in my calendar as well. As long as I work on each of these items in the time I’m meant to I will consider the goal met. I know that through practice, a habit is formed and through habit I will become comfortable, confident, and consistent.

This week I will not make other people’s problems my own. I will not feel guilt for things that are not my fault or that are out of my control. I will not attribute every mood to my actions. Not everyone’s well-being is not my responsibility. My job is to be kind and authentic and to protect my boundaries first and always. To take responsibility for every emotion or action around me outside of that framework denies other people the chance to reflect, learn, and grow, and deny’s me space to simply be.


Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Goals // Week 30: Resettle

This week I’m coming back to a schedule that feels more like normalcy and safety than I’ve been able to work for a very long time. I’ve missed having control over how I allocate my time and choosing the work I want to concentrate on or produce. This week I get to have a little more of that again and it makes all the difference toward increased morale.

That isn’t to say this week won’t be a difficult one. I have a big project on my plate and many meetings and deadlines on the calendar. I have virtual training sessions to attend, and a new class of employees getting ready to train, and a to-do list that will take me well into next week even if everything stays smooth and right.

But this is the work I have always done. I don’t feel anxious or incompetent. I don’t feel incapable or alone. My team is supportive and helpful, and my part is but a small piece in our grand scheme. The pressure is spread evenly and there is time enough for everything I need to do.

Still, just to keep the stress levels down, I’m not making any big changes this week. I’m not cultivating new habits or chasing radical shifts in perspective or productivity. After so much uncertainty and so much time away, I need to resettle into reality. This week I’m focusing on the boring, the background noise, and the basics of life. I’m looking for contentment, for good enough, for ordinary.

This week I will:

Keep the vacation frame of mind. Last week I spent ample hours away from the internet, from the chaos and confusion of the pandemic, and the tragedy of the daily news. I remembered that there is more to the work than what is splashed across my screen and the rest gave me a chance to rejuvenate and refocus, but my heart and mind can’t wait around another year to recover again. I have to find a way to step outside of myself and my life to a place where more than just human struggle and strife exist. I have to find nature, find wonder, disconnect, reconnect, and, finally, see.

 Not just be mindful, but also willful about how I spend my time. I’ve been fighting fatigue and malaise to very little success these past few months and falling farther and farther behind where’d I’d hoped to be by now, but I think the solution is much easier than I’ve begun to imagine it would be. The simple truth is I haven’t been doing my best and if I just try to do that much and nothing more, I think I could turn this year around. So, even on days when there is so little time or energy to give just use what little you have. Nothing very big has to be accomplished. I only have to be present and choose.

Get back to my “52 essays” project. I started the year-long posting challenge a couple of weeks ago, but after just one post, life quickly got back in the way. I’m disappointed and reluctant to try again now that I feel I’ve already failed, but I know that if I ever want to reach my goal, the best thing to do is to get right back to work. I know that writing is what I love. It’s the only thing I can create from myself alone and give to the world and no matter how small, or ugly, to bad my little words and writings are they are so important for me to share. This project is more than a goal, it is self-care.

Keep up on medication and meal schedules. My health has been improving though by only the most infinitesimal increments and only when I am 100% compliant in taking my medication and supplements and eating the right kinds of foods, in the right portions, and at the right times of the day. It’s been a long road of trial and error, successes, and failures, and I am still so far from where I would like to be, but if I just stay with it I know I’ll get there. I owe it to myself to care enough, to remember, to commit to the work of healing.

Read. I had hoped for more reading time while I was away, but the desire to unplug and the desire not to weigh down my bags made it impossible. While we were up there, I did find a neat independent bookstore and managed to come home with two new additions to my already overflowing bookshelf. I can’t wait to get to them, but first I have to make it through others that have been waiting far longer. This week I’d like to do more than read books. I have an embarrassing number of articles saved. I’d like to make progress there too.

Try yoga, both for a light workout, for mindfulness practice, and to relax. Running and weight lifting are still my workout types of choice but both have been putting too much stress on my body but rather than let my muscles atrophy and undo all the benefits I’ve earned, I’d like to find something easier on my bones. I’d like something that’s conducive to a calming climate and keeps my immune system from going haywire. I’m starting with a few Sun Salutation sequences in the morning and a few Moon Salutations at night. Nothing strenuous or stressful.

This week I will not be too easy on myself. Normally I have the opposite problem, but looking back over the last few months I have struggled to hold myself accountable to any number of expectations. I know, I know, I needed the rest. I needed the time to adjust. I needed it to be okay not to know what to do and not to want to do it when I did, but life is moving on and I have to get on with coping, with changing, with growing and sooner rather than later. Tomorrow is uncertain, scary, unpromised, but today is here and now. How will I choose to meet it?


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

Goals // Week 27: Asking Nothing More

This week I’m taking a break. I’m reading and writing and nothing else. My own personal retreat. I’m feeling better and I’d like to continue that success. I’m resting and waiting. I’m watching and processing. I’m accepting and yielding. For that reason, I’m reluctant to set any goals at all. For me, the pressure to produce is suffocating, and expectations only lead to failure and the obligation only leads to avoidance.

This week I’d like to just get up early every morning and see where the days take me. I’d like to ask nothing more of myself than to spend part of each day at my desk away from social media and another part between the pages of a few good books. Still, there are a few guidelines, reminders, and tasks I’d like to set for myself to keep from wasting time or wandering too easily when things get hard.

This week I will:

 Keep up my daily routine. It’s too easy to fall into old habits, especially when away from work. I tend to stay up too late and lose too much of the day by sleeping in. I tend to forget my meals and my medication. I forget to drink water, to move my body, and to take care of my basic self-care and needs. This week I want to start and end each day as if I were heading off to work and instead of leaving I’ll spend tie cleaning and writing as my duty and service instead.

Finish my next long-form post. I’ve been working on the same piece for weeks now and it’s grown disordered, unwieldy, and full of tangents and side stories. I have the time now to hack and force it back into shape, but I know I will be reluctant to finish the job. If I remember that 90% is good enough and that no piece is beyond revisiting then I can finally make something somewhat cathartic and coherent out of these ugly words. Bonus: Go back to using Google Docs to draft posts. The built-in dictionary and “explore” feature keeps me from getting distracted.

Make some new collage art. I finally have the desk-wide self-healing cutting mat of my dreams, more X-Acto knife blade replacements than I will probably ever need, and plenty of magazine material to flip through. There is no excuse not to make a little something every week or so. Writing is great but time spent off screen making something with my hands give my mind time to rest, to breathe, to slip into a more abstract space than typing usually allows. One art feeds the other.

Read. I made great progress this weekend but I am still three books behind where I should be for this years reading goals. If I spend an hour each day at least reading a Penguin Little Black Classic rather than watching an episode of a show or scrolling Twitter I should easily be ahead of schedule before the end of the week. Next week I’ll move on to tacking the new ebooks I downloaded from Verso Books. Bonus: Tackle a few of those articles that have been piling up in your “to-read later” folder too.

Get ready for our big trip. In a few weeks my wife and I are heading up into the mountains for some much-needed time away from work, from the news, from the internet, from everything. It’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of our wedding and though it’s been one of our happiest (we’ve been together nearly 18 years now), it has also been one of the most stressful. We’re in desperate need of a reset and I want to make sure I’ve got everything we need squared away so we can leave the stress down here in the city.

This week I will not feel sorry for myself. I haven’t been feeling great and the world is in chaos. I’m feeling anxious and all around me there seems to be despair and death. I feel powerless, small, anxious, incompetent, and incapable, but I know none of those feelings reflect reality. They are only a reaction. They should be given their space to exist. They should be heard. They should even be learned from, but then they must be let go.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Goals // Week 23: Some Kind of Normalcy

This week will be my third back to work and to some kind of normality. I’m easing into things and for that reason I haven’t really been pushing myself to set or meet any goals or expectations and I’m glad I had the foresight not to. These past weeks have been exhausting and there would have been almost no time or energy left to accomplish much of anything outside of basic self care.

This week I’m increasing my work hours from four a day to six and though there still might be nothing left of me at the end of the day for pursuing these goals, I want to try but with the compassionate caveat that my well being must come first. If I do nothing outside of work but sleep, shower, exercise, and hydrate that’s good enough for me. No regrets, no shame, no should-haves.

This week I will try to:

 Choose healthier alternatives. Every week I do a little better and this is the first week that almost no sugary sweets were purchased. (I couldn’t deny myself a little ice cream now that the weather is getting warmer but it, and any other sweets I manage to get my hands on, cannot be an everyday indulgence.) There are health goals to meet and my gut health to think about right now. This week I have dried fruit, fresh mango, cuties, and cashews to have in place of fruit snacks and chips. There should be no reason to give in to passing craving or moments of weakness.

Have one TV free evening. I’ve been watching a lot more TV since the pandemic began, but now that my strict quarantine is over I’d like to break the habit and spend my evenings doing other things. I’d like it to be the same night every week, Tuesdays perhaps, when I have no new episodes premiering and when I won’t have to stop whatever project I’m working on to cook dinner. That’s up to 6 hours straight that I could give to collage, writing, reading, or a free online course. Bonus: Give up one episode every other night of the week too.

Write my first in a series of 52 weekly essays. I’ve been wanting to start an essay a week project, but it never feels like the right time. When I’m ready, the ideas are hard to find and when I have the ideas life gets in the way again. Deep down I think I’m just afraid of writing poorly or failing to meet my own expectations, but it’s time to let go of that fear and begin. The first one is always the hardest to write. No mistakes have been made and if I never start, I’ll never have to face not being perfect but I need to let go of that hope too so I might one day be good.

Read. Every night I am supposed to turn off all screens 45 minutes before bedtime and head to bed where I read as much as I can before lights out. Lately I’ve been staying up too late watching one or three more episodes of mindless TV instead. I just bought a new cover and a few reads for the iPad I’ve repurposed into an e-reader and I have over 60 books left in my Penguin Little Black Classics book set. There is no reason I should still be two books behind schedule right now.

This week I will not lose the progress I have made over the last two weeks. I’ve been eating on a regular schedule, taking my medication every day, workout out every morning, and spending more time on self care than ever. I’m proud of myself for not letting anxiety or fatigue get in the way of these basic habits I’ve worked so hard to fold into my daily routine and make automatic, regular, and easy to do every single day. They are small, but they are the building blocks of grander goals. They are the foundation of feeling good and journeys to happier and healthier.


Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash