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

Goals // Week 19: Lowered Expectations in All Areas

This week got away from me before it even began. Weekdays and weekends are so alike it’s hard to tell where or when one ends and another begins. So, the goals are being set a little late, but with no less enthusiasm or resolve. I’ll need extra focus this week since it may be my last of total freedom.

Next Monday the meetings to decide how and when we come back to work begin and shortly after I’ll find out my schedule. I knew this day would come eventually, but I just thought I had more time, time for me, time away from the world, before all the expectations and obligation had to begin again.

So, this week I will:

 Clear out one bag of trash from the basement and one bag of waste from the yard. The basement had to be demoed years ago and the backyard has fallen into severe neglect. The work that needs to be done is so overwhelming that I never can find the will to start, but a little every week can have both done on a few months if I’m consistant.

Work on the post idea from last week. I’d like to try my hand at writing more timely, relevant, or relatable posts. My hope is that the realm of current events will provide a natural deadline and the pressure and panic I need to actually start and then to actually finish writing things. I can’t let (what little) momentum I built last month wane.

Read another Penguin Little Black Classics. I’ve been slacking so badly on my reading goal and there really is no excuse for it. These books are less than 60 pages each, short enough to finish in a week and certainly within a week. I should be able to finish two or three but the current state of the world requires lowered expectations in all areas.

Finish one week each of courses The Science of Well-Being and Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader. This is the last week when things will be easy to do and I have to take full advantage of that. These courses are simple but they are a sort of practice for the much more serious learning I want to do later. Prove you can do it.

Keep working my way through the mess in the “creativity room”. Like all major cleaning projects it looks worse the moment you try to make it better but the more you plug away, the more you purge and organize the better it feels. Soon I’ll have a space I can create in again.

Eat, sleep, move, and hydrate. This si becoming a regular here on the goals list and will continue to be until I get it right. Moving is getting easier, so is sleeping. Eating is still a struggle and hydrating still lags near the bottom of my priority list. It’s getting better, slowly. Bonus: Meditate and take your medication.

This week I will not give myself too many choices. We all want to believe we have the willpower to resist our own desires and cravings but desire, hunger, and need all overwhelm and though we may fight at first inevitably we give in especially when we are contending with fear, uncertainty, depression, and loneliness. When I can do anything I do nothing. When I get hungy I choose the worst things to eat. I say I want to I can’t and when I have to I do my best work.


Photo by Damian Denis on Unsplash

Goals // Week 18: More of the Same

This week looks a lot like last week, and the week before, and the week before, and on and on back. The world around me was set to restart today, and I was planning on returning to work soon, but just over the weekend county officials announced they would extend our stay at home orders through May 8th at least. The weeks, it seems, will go on being the same for a half a month or so longer and I imagine when things change again they will change just as abruptly as they did nearly six weeks ago. So, this week will be more of the same and I will plan on more of the same for the next, only better, more.

This week I will:

 Seek better input in the hopes of better output. I’ve been thinking a lot about Austin Kleon’s ideas on input and output and trying to get to the bottom of my lack of ideas, my reluctance to start, my inability to finish a writing piece or project. I spend my time either trying (and mostly failing) to write or (when I can’t or I give up) I spend my time consuming junk from social media or TV. There is a third aspect I have been missing, quality input.

Allow time for doing nothing, or at least doing things that do not require a screen. Having a screen in front of me is not conducive to deep thinking. Screens create input sure, but they do not allow for new ideas to form easily. This week I’d like to do more analog free writing and exploring ideas that my own mind generates from the menagerie of concepts and stories that I encounter through the types of media I choose to consume and contemplate.

Finish one week each of courses The Science of Well-Being and Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader. The Science of Well-Being is going fine except I don’t have access to a printer for the handouts and Memoir and Personal Essay is going better since I’ve let some of the pressure off and decided to do the assignments in a way that works for me. These are free courses and though it’s important to take them seriously enough to get something out of them, I don’t have to take it so seriously or pursue perfection to the point that I cannot move forward.

Finish reading Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. I’m very close to finishing and if I don’t make the same mistakes as last week, I can finish it quickly and finally move on to my ebook experiment. The key will be going to bed on time. I have an alarm on my phone for 8:15 PM that reminds me to get ready and go read until I fall asleep. Lately I’ve been dismissing it, this week I’m going to heed it. Bonus: Read some Essential Essays about Feminism.

Eat, sleep, move, and hydrate. Now that I now longer have to take so many pills with my meals, I’m not longer avoiding my meals. I’m going to bed earlier and I’m drinking more water too, but moving has been the hardest habit to build lately. Part of it is lack of motivation, but most of it is a body that can’t or won’t cooperate. New knee braces are on the way. I’m split my workout in half to alternate, and I may give yoga a try on days when weighted workout are too much.

Tell myself no. I indulge and spoil myself too much but will power is not an absolute recourse, it waxes and wanes, it must be strengthened through use the way any muscle does. I’d like to start by saying no to myself at least once a day. No to sleeping in. No to sugary snacks. No to putting it off until tomorrow. No to another drink. No to self-pity. No to giving up, to giving in, to wasting time or energy. Just once a day and when that gets a little easier, I can try twice.

This week I will not let my emotions rule me. Being isolated for weeks on end can leave one feeling lonely, angry, irritable, and afraid. Even with my wife here and the pets and plenty to do, I am quickly approaching my limit. I’m sensitive, on edge, and ready to blow up under the slightest provocation. I need to get outside. I need to mediate. I need to get it all out and write it all down. I need to reach out. I need to understand it normal, understandable, and completely preventable but I have to do the work on myself.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 17

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Goals // Week 17: The Earlier the Better

This week is the last before the state wide stay-at-home order here is Colorado is set to expire. I’ll still be staying inside for a few weeks more at least but the city will be coming back to life and I’m sure that life will find a way inside these walls, or maybe I’ll find a way out, just a little, if it’s safe. If I am safe.

Beyond that I want to make a renewed effort to focus myself and do more real writing: pieces that delve deep and reveal something about me, about us, about the world. I want to focus on real goals and spend less time passively watching and waiting. I want to spend more time being brave, being reflective, and doing what I know is right and good.

So, this week I will:

Wake up earlier. 7:00 AM is ok for weekends but Monday through Friday need to be work days again and the writing needs to start by 6:00 whether it’s blog posts, journal entries, a course assignment, a poem, an essay, or an idea for a larger project I just have to begin and the earlier the better.

Update: I set a new alarm for 6:00 AM but I had set it to vibrate only since I am a light sleeper and my wife is not. I didn’t want to wake her before her own alarm at 7:00. Most mornings I heard it and most of those mornings I was able to get out of bed. One thing I have learned is that the hardest part is getting up. After that, it’s easy to stay up…mostly.

Finish one week each of courses The Science of Well-Being and Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader. I’m already behind in Memoir and Personal Essay because it got hard, and I started stalling but even though this goal is small, finishing these courses is one thing I’d like to be able to say I completed before the summer starts and I have to return to work.

Update: The Science of Well-Being is easy enough, I just wish I had access to a printer so I could fill out the handout and track my happiness and emotions as I work through the videos and readings. Memoir and Personal Essay is giving me a harder time since the first writing assignment prompt contained parameters I didn’t feel I could meet but then I decided to stop prying to be perfect and just try to be productive.

Clean my side of the “creativity room”. I write best from my desk but when the area gets too cluttered or disorganized, I migrate to the kitchen table, or the couch, or, worst of all, the bed. I can’t write or work in any of those alternate places without suffering severe distraction. The answer is to set aside one hour this week to

Update: My side is such a mess that I don’t even know where to begin, so I didn’t Most of it is post-it notes and loose leaf paper I’ve written a variety of notes on from writing ideas, to shopping lists, to to-do items, reminders, wish lists, and projects. Some pages contain a little of everything and most are so out of context I can’t even remember what past me is trying to say. My goal is to decipher, type, and organize as many of these notes as I can, but the task is daunting. Maybe next week…

Eat, sleep, move, and hydrate. I’ve been, as my wife puts it, forgetting I am hungry. I’ve been going to bed too late and waking up too late. I’ve been house-bound and sedentary. I can’t even remember when the last time I drank a full glass of water was. I’d like to start doing better. I need to start doing better.

Update: I ate, I slept, and I hydrated, but I did not move nearly as much as I needed to. A lot of the reason was laziness, but some of it is persistent joint pain that is making me feel old, invalid, and depressed. This week I’m going to buy a new compression sleeve to support my knee, one that is more comfortable than the one I have and can be worn when I work out or go for a walk. The added support should ease the pain and raise my spirits so I can be more active.

 Watch less mindless TV and more educational videos instead, or listen to more podcasts or music, or read a book. Do anything to keep time from slipping away so quickly. The point is not just to be mindful of how I spend my time, but to be mindful while I’m spending it. Bonus: Spend less time sitting and more time on my feet.

Update: I watch less TV but I still watched more than I’d like. Still, everything counts, and better is better than nothing at all. It helps that my wife is also trying to watch less and that I have binge-watched pretty much all the shows I am interested in any way. Now I just have a few I keep up with and only one episode each of those a week to watch.

Finish reading Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s an easy read and I’m already over halfway there but finding the time, or taking the time I should say, to read has been hard these past few days. All I have to do is trade some Facebook time for reading time and I’ll be on to the next read in no time. Bonus: Read some Essential Essays about Feminism.

Update: This book is beginning to bore me and when I get bored with a book, I start avoiding it. The problem is, of course, that the book takes longer to finish. The fastest way out is through and if I am not going to be the kind of reader who quits books when I don’t like then I have to be the kind of reader that reads consistently and quickly. Get the book over with, then you won’t be bored anymore.

This week I will not do only what is easy and only when it’s easy. The hard thing is always the thing I know deep down I should be doing. Sometimes I read so I don’t have to clean. Sometimes I clean so I don’t have to write. Sometimes I write so I don’t have to work out. I do the things I want but never when I want to and this week I will not give up so much control to my fear and cravings. I will not use one goal to procrastinate on another.


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

Goals // Week 16: Another One Around the Sun

This week is a new beginning of sorts, one of many that come every year. It feels right that my 35th year of life should begin on a Monday, though for the last month Mondays have meant very little. Still, Mondays are our chances to start again every week and this Monday I get to start the first week of a new trip around the sun. I’m excited, but it’s a somber and focused kind of excitement. I’m starting a new chapter but I’d like to write a little more of this one myself rather than simply reading along waiting for the plot to unravel and the twists to surprise me.

So, this week, the first week, I will:

Write one blog post every day. I’d like for them to coincide with the WordPress Discover Prompts but I’m utterly incapable of writing anything short and that means some pieces can’t be wrapped up before the sun goes down. So, if I can’t finish a post before the day is up, I give myself permission to save it as a draft and pick it up again later. I am committed to sharing something for each day of April, even if it must come late. The point is to make a real effort, to get up and try. That’s all.

Read a little every day. With so much writing in the schedule now there will be less time for reading but I have finished the longest book of my entire reading career and can confidently move on to regular sized novels and my Penguin Little Black Classics set of which each book hardly exceeds 50 pages. Bonus: Finish this list of Feminist Writing.

Get back to regularly updating my to-do list, logbook, and schedule. Time seems to be compressing in on each side of the present and the days are harder to remember and to plan. I need a schedule to orient myself, to get a hold of time, to get things done, to remember how I want to live, and in order to do that I have to take the time to sit down and map out not just what is to come but what has passed too. To give my mind proof that though time is always slip, slip, slipping away I can make use of it as it passes.

 Enjoy my birthday. Being stuck inside during a global pandemic and a snowstorm is not the ideal way to spend a birthday but it is what it is and there is still so much to be grateful for and to celebrate. My wife, my best friend, my partner, is right here with me and there has never been an end to the joy we’ve been able to find in one another. It’ll be a good day if I decide that it is and what I have is not only good enough but a great blessing.

Work out. My body has been falling apart for years now, but the inherent inactivity that comes with social isolation is resulting in further joint stiffness and increased pain. The only remedy is to move through the hurt and eventually the body will adjust, become more pliable and less resistant. I have everything I need for a good home workout the only thing missing is my willpower. There are no more excuses to make. Bonus: Go one day this week without a sugary snack. It’s a start.

Practice more self-care. It’s becoming harder to remember to do the basics when you have nowhere to go and no one to impress, but the purpose of self-care is not to impress others but to provide a sense of calm, comfort, and care for yourself. Self-care can help you self-sooth. Self-care can distract the mind. Self-care can help you begin the day with focus or end it with peace. Self-care lifts the spirits and energizes the body, and in these times it’s more important than ever.

This week I will not give in to the draw of inactivity. So much of what our bodies crave is not only bad for us but counter to what it is we really need. My anxiety and the creeping depression and loneliness are making it hard to stay motivated and focused. All I want to do is binge eat and binge watch. All I want to do is nothing but I know that isn’t really what I want and it’s far from what will make me feel better. This week I will not let time slip away. I will not reach for what is mindless or numbing. I will not let the walls close in.


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Goals // Week 14: Find a Way to Stay Sane

This week will marks our third of social isolation. I had hoped it might get easier as time went on and as I settled into acceptance and a new routine, but it has only gotten harder. I am surprised to find I do not have the urge to leave or to find things to do, but rather I’m fighting a strong desire to sink further and further into apathy and lethargy. I’m also experiencing irritability and mood swings and a new kind of anxiety that, though it is duller and less defined, is quite large and widespread. This week I expect things will get harder not just for me but for everyone, everywhere and we will all have to find a way to stay sane through it all.

This week I will:

Practice more self-care. When you have nowhere to go, it’s easy to let yourself go. For me work has always been my reason to wake up on time, to shower, to get dressed, to do my hair. Without the prompt of going to work, I found I simply forgot that I still needed to do those things. It will be late in the day when I remember I’m still wearing pajamas and haven’t eaten anything at all. This week I want to start a new “wake up” routine in which I carefully and deliberately take care of my basic needs before doing anything else.

 Teach the dog to roll over. The dog has been loving all the extra walks, extra play time, extra attention and cuddle time she’s been getting and I figure why not take it a step further and make it extra learning time too? She already knows sit, lay down, stand up, turn around, shake, back up, jump up, fetch, and “drop it”, but roll over has eluded her. She loathes to be on her back and most of my efforts so far to teach her have resulted in confusion and frustration for us both. I have a new technique though and I think this week we just might get it.

 Be more active and see more of the sun. The mornings are still too chilly to get back to my old jogging habit but the afternoons have been warming by the day and are just as good a time as any for me to get out and around the neighborhood. I’ve been too cooped up and though I crave to sink further into this isolation, the best thing I can do for my mood and spirit is to remember there is still a wide world out there to return to. I need to get out of this house and out of my head, and the only way is to grab the dog and spend some time in the sun and spring air.

Spend time away from screens. I had been doing a commendable job curbing my obsessive consumption of news in an effort to quell my anxiety but over the last few days I’ve slipped back into my old bad habit of watching, scrolling, and searching for updates all day long. These devices are just too tempting to misuse, and it’s too easy to make excuses to get around my own rules and boundaries. This week I will set up a schedule for screen time and tie that I am to put away my devices and find more analog things to do with my time.

Finish reading It by Stephen King and book eight from my Penguin Little Black Classics book set, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. I’ve been getting a lot more reading time in these past couple of weeks, and I cannot let myself lose the momentum. I have just over 100 pages to go now for It and less than 10 for A Modest Proposal. Those are both entirely reachable goals for the week. If I keep up this pace, I’m sure to catch up and ultimately get ahead of where I should be by now if I want to beat my 50 book challenge for the year. Bonus: Finish book nine too, Three Tang Dynasty Poets.

Get more cleaning done. I have been lax about disinfecting the house, especially after either my wife or I has left and come back or after bringing in items from the store or having items delivered to the house. I’ve read a lot of different timelines for how long the novel coronavirus can live on various surfaces but the CDC had a handy page of guidelines for how to clean different type of surfaces and materials and recommends going over “high touch” areas daily. The is the second most important thing I can do for my family right now, the first is to…

Stay home. It’s hard to stay in and when we start feeling cabin fever coming on and loneliness creeping in we make excuses for why it’s okay to head out for a little non-essential travel. I’ve seen videos of people visiting friends and family and congregating far too closely in public spaces. I’ve been guilty myself of going to stores not just for groceries but to simply browse the aisles, anything just to get out of the damn house! But doing these things puts us all at risk and the truth is no matter what your gut tells you it just isn’t worth it.

This week I will not let the walls close in. This past week the President announced that the CDCs social distancing recommendations would be extended through the month of April and I have serious doubts I will return to work before the summer. That means I have to make peace with this seclusion and find a way to joy and fulfillment within this tiny space. I have to learn to self start, self motivate, and self sooth. I have to get used to not having time away, or alone. I have to use my imagination and to start where I am using whatever I have on hand.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 13.

Photo by Jason Krieger on Unsplash