114 // Resistant

This morning, like yesterday, started later than I would have liked. I was out past my bedtime last night having an amazing night out with friends checking out the mind-bending and beautiful exhibit “Convergence Station” at Meow Wolf for a late birthday celebration.

As a result, I’m feeling resistant today. My body is still protesting my daily workouts and my social meter is depleted, but there are still events to attend and people to support. I want to, but I don’t want to. To be clear, I want to more than I don’t want to, but still…you know?

It helps to keep an irrationally positive outlook. It helps to ignore, for now, that resistance and prevent any possibility of wearing myself down to apathy.

What’s worse is the eagerness with which the workweek is waiting to begin. I’ve read news stories of school districts across the country moving to a four-day workweek, and I can hardly contain my jealousy. Two short days a week is not enough to run errands, visit family, complete projects, and rest—and not so much rest as in sleep, but just time not to think, not to worry, not to work at things that aren’t for me.

Much of my exhaustion is my own fault. April is my birthday month and I traditionally celebrate the entire month. I make time for special events with my wife, and my friends, plus multiple family dinners. I’ve pushed myself too far, but I don’t regret a second of it.

111 // Wasted and Wanting

I woke this late this morning, groggy and grouchy. It turns out that when Amazon says a delivery could arrive at 4:00 AM, it will arrive at precisely 4:00 AM. The dog was sure this was finally the threat she’s always worried and warned us about and it took some time to convince her otherwise. Lesson learned.

These 30 short seconds ruined the end of my night and the beginning of my morning and it wasn’t until I left the house and arrived in my parking space at work that I was able to shake the irritable feeling. The good news is that I managed to make time for a 10-minute meditation in the car and it has calmed a lot of that anxiety and anger.

It wasn’t just this morning that I needed calming. Exhaustion put me in a bad mood yesterday evening too and I didn’t get down nearly what I planned or nearly the number of words down that I wanted. I have a post that is half-finished and the seed of another planted by the WordPress WordPrompt challenge. Perhaps I can make some progress if I can turn the day around?


The afternoon wasn’t spent as I hoped it would be, but it wasn’t wasted either. I helped out my coworkers and remembered that sometimes social interaction can be uplifting, inspiring, and energizing. The lesson didn’t last, of course. By the time I got home and through my third day of workouts—Woohoo!—I was ready to retreat into solitude again.

I feel bad for my wife sometimes. I know that work gets the best of me, but I promise it isn’t on purpose. It’s not that I am giving my time and energy away so much as it is being taken from me. Every day I set out to keep some part of myself aside, but there is so little I have available that before I know it I am wasted and wanting.

I think I may go back to taking 20-minute naps every evening after dinner. My wife calls them my “before bedtime” naps. She’s not a fan, I think, but it’s better than sulking on the couch through bedtime. This way I can feel refreshed enough to give her at least an hour or two of the version of me she misses all day and I’ll no doubt have more than enough fatigue left over for a good night’s sleep, too.

109 // Your Own and Only Obstacle

For the first time in many long and frustrating months, I managed to wake up with my alarm. I’ve tried so many tactics from going to bed earlier to putting my alarm across the room to teaching the dog to wake me up after she goes outside for the first time. None of it worked for more than a few days. What worked today, and what I hope will work long term, was telling myself two things just before bed the night before.

First, I reminded myself of how bad I feel when I hit snooze and I imagined how good I would feel after waking up earlier with time to prepare for the day and arrive to work gently. I also gave myself a reason to wake up early. I reminded myself that getting up early means I can begin my meditation practice again and I imagined how good that would feel, too.

The last time I sat for even a 10-minute session was probably more than a year ago. I started as a way to manage my stress levels, but I stopped because fatigue made early mornings impossible. After breaking a streak of daily sessions, sheer shame kept me from beginning again. I’m ashamed of that too.

This morning’s meditation wasn’t a particularly good one. My mind was all over the place planning my day and practicing possible conversations, and time and time again I had to *gently* return to counting my breaths, but even that worked like a charm. I opened my eyes and felt calm and capable of facing whatever the day had in store. I should have begun again a long time ago.

But the lesson of Zero is always relearned the hard way. The hardest part is forgiving yourself. The second hardest part is accepting you are back at the beginning.

And while I am at it, I think I’ll start working out again today too. I recently learned that the Down Dog apps are free for students and educators and I figured out how to mirror my phone screen to my TV, which means that I can work out, practice yoga, meditate*, and more from the comfort of my own home. I have no more excuses. All that is left is how easy it is, and how hard.

Since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis five years ago, it’s been hard to get back to being active on a regular basis. I was very sick, so doing all the things I used to love, like jogging and hiking, was not possible. In the last year, I have finally achieved remission, but I’m not the same person I was, and this certainly isn’t the same body. Everywhere I push, I meet resistance. My comfort zone has contracted significantly.

They don’t tell you that, as hard as it can be to get used to being sick, it’s almost as hard to get used to being well again, too. It’s hard to move from having no control over how you feel to taking responsibility for your health. It’s hard for you to be your own and only obstacle again.

*For meditation, I am actually still using the Headspace app, which is also free for educators.

108 // Mind and Pen in Hand

It was a slow start to the morning, but the day is picking up speed fast. I feel good, in general, but there is the threat of falling into a funk. What I mean is that the details of the day aren’t so bothersome, but the overarching essence is dull and irritating.

There’s very little work to do and sometimes that’s nice, but sometimes it can be worse than a full schedule. There’s less reason to feel motivated, and the empty hours tend to drag. There are two things I can do now. I can fill the empty hours with tasks and to-dos, or I can enjoy the privilege of long and languid time. Not everyone has hours they can relax in, hours they get to feel.

I think I’ll try a bit of both. The Pomodoro timer has gotten me through the morning, but I think this afternoon I’d like to cultivate and savor as much silence as I can, while I can. Instead of doing, I’m simply being. Instead of social media scrolling, I’m letting my mind and pen wander together hand in hand.

I’ve been rethinking the way I write here. I’ve been reevaluating my reasons why. I love my little blog, but lately, it has felt too static, too directionless, too impersonal when it was meant to be the very opposite. It was meant to be more.

I’d like to share more of my personality. I want this to be a place I run to again, a place that is mine. Recently, I stumbled across the concept of a “digital garden” and the ways one may differ from a personal website or blog. I’m interested but intimidated. I’d like to have something similar, but simpler. An intermediary between this and something that could grow.

Of course, I have other wide and varied interests. My ego is but one, and that’s what this place is for, but I often think of bigger things too—of humanity, of philosophy and physics. I want to have a place to run to for those thoughts, too. That’s a post for another day though…

On the surface, this is only a repackaging of old ideas and pursuits of mine that I’ve become disillusioned with or distracted from, but not quite. An incremental change, a small shift in perspective, can mean everything, I hope.

I thought my little dream was too small, but now I think small is exactly what I need. That small thing means everything. Now I think that growth is only the process, one that has no end or is an end in itself. An end to which the self is only the beginning, the rest is all exploration of life, day after day, minute by minute, with mind and pen in hand.

100 // Reorganization

I managed to rise early this morning, though I felt reluctant to begin the day. A start means there will be an end and an end to Sunday means the beginning of another long work week.

I tried to keep busy. When you don’t want to move, the last thing you should do is stop. I cleaned out the rest of the cat’s old things. I’m trying not to feel like I am erasing her, but without the food bowl, or the litter box, or the toys and treats, it’s as if she never existed. It helps to look at pictures and to remember that she was part of my life longer than most people I’ve known.

There is a sense of reorganization happening in my life now. It started with the season. When the weather finally warms, you long to open up, clear out, and clean up all that clutter and stagnant air.

It’s also my birthday month and I am readying for all the ways aging is going to change me—has already changed me. Every year the truth sinks in deeper. I am a year farther from my birth, from both the old traumas that held me in painful patterns and from all versions of me I could have been.

I’m also a year closer to my eventual death and a year further into the decline that will precede it. My body already isn’t what it used to be, but I know that if I make some changes now, changes I will be grateful for this time next year I am sure, I could reverse or at least halt the damage. I want to, or I want to want to, anyway.

Existential dread aside, I am feeling pretty good about turning a year older. I certainly don’t feel old and I certainly don’t feel like time is running out. Life has only ever gotten better and better, but sometimes better is as terrifying as worse.

099 // One Small Task at a Time

I woke up this morning and remembered. I remembered I needed to check on the cat, feed her and give her her medication, and I remembered I won’t need to do any of that anymore, ever. I remembered I will have to learn how to wake up, live, and go on a little bit differently now.

It’s amazing the impact such a small creature had on my day-to-day existence. It’s awesome to know that even this smallest presence can compound year after year. There is hope for me too.

The sun is bright and warm today and that is keeping me from falling into a proper funk. That doesn’t mean that motivation is coming easy, only that I have been given a fighting chance at productivity.

It helps to take the day one small task at a time. Start the laundry. Go to the home improvement store to pick up the benches we bought yesterday. Come home. Clean up the backyard. Eat lunch. Wash up the dishes. Move the cat’s old carrier and the heating pad. Acknowledge your grief. Write some words. Call your mom. Open a bottle of wine. Cook dinner.

The clouds are rolling in now. Beginning this evening, the warmth of Spring is forecasted to give way to Spring snow by Wednesday. I’m glad I got out in the sun today even if it was only to do yard work. It felt good to move, to sweat, to make something ready for new growth—the Earth, my life, myself.

098 // A Hard Goodbye

My wife and I have decided it is time to humanely euthanize our very sweet, but very old cat. It was a hard decision to make, especially after having her in our lives for nearly 18 years. That’s 90% of our relationship and the entirety of our adulthood!

She’s been the picture of health her whole life, but these past years she has declined so much. She can no longer do her normal cat things and there’s little that seems to bring her joy anymore so, to preserve her dignity and stop her pain, we have decided it is time to say goodbye.

My wife likes to say that getting her is what made us into a family. She was the first thing outside of ourselves that we felt jointly responsible for. I was scared to get her at first. Kittens can be a handful, but she was a good cat from the very start.

Of course, she did the normal kitten things in the beginning, but to a minor extent and for only a small duration. She used to steal my hair ties out of the bathroom drawers while I was at work and push them under the refrigerator. At night she would pounce on my feet or try to sleep on my chest. We had a parakeet that she tried to eat once, and a guinea pig she terrorized often, but that was about it.

Her greatest quality, in my eyes, was her harsh selectivity in what other people or animals she would accept or even acknowledge. She has never been a social cat. She hated every dog we ever owned and could not stand to have another cat in the house. She hid when other people came over, especially from children, and would often hiss or scratch when approached.

There is another side to her, though. Every once in a while, she would pick a random friend or family member of ours to welcome into the fold, typically someone who had no interest in her or any other cat. Whenever she picked someone to love on, I always felt that they must be a good person, and the fact that she was always so loving and affectionate with me made me feel like there was something she sensed in me that was good and worth trusting too.

That is what I will remember most about her: how she made me feel special. I will remember how she loved to sit on my lap or sleep on my chest with her head in my neck. We could lay that way for hours and whatever I was sad or stressed about would seem so far away and small, so very unimportant. I will remember that there is more to love, to living, and to being than we humans have limited ourselves to.

Sophia certainly wasn’t the pet we were looking for when we set out to make our little family, but she was definitely the one we needed and I have always known that she chose us more than the other way around.

There are no words to express how much she will be missed.

Sophia a.k.a. Sophia Bia, Sophia Marie, Cat, Sweet Cat, Ol’ Lady

093 // Time Already Spent

Taking it slow and easy today. I’ve injured my back doing something so mundane it’d be embarrassing to give the details and that has left a lot of my to-do list impossible without further pain. So, the bare minimum and plenty of time on a heating pad are all the Sunday plans I can manage.

I’m spending time with the cat too. We have less than a week left until our appointment to euthanize her…I hated typing that sentence. I’m sad it has to be done, though I know in my heart and am reminded every time I look at her that this is the right thing.

Still, saying it to other people puts a sour taste in my mouth and a small seed of guilt in my chest. I worry that there is a greater moral law I may be breaking. Life and death are not mine to wield, my soul screams, but my human mind says if you can then you must.

I’m trying hard not to make this about me, though. It helps keep the grief at bay if I focus on making her last days peaceful and enjoyable. I let her sleep on her heating pad as much as she wants. I’m giving her treats by the handful. She can lay with me, or on me, as she pleases, and, when she is crying, lost, or in pain, I find her, reassure her, or help her to the bed or couch to rest her bones again.

I’m dreading the coming week. Not just because of the cat situation, but the workload too. I’m also feeling anxious and afraid. I have to drive somewhere new. I have to meet with some very important people. I have to teach in front of a class and take a class to learn to teach another one too. And that isn’t even a full work week!

The foreseeable future is all filled up. The time already spent before the present could arrive. It’s not so bad though. It means next weekend is just a few—large but narrow—tasks away.

055 // Sense the Enormity

I woke to the news of Russia invading Ukraine and have been living in a kind of shock since. I know so little about the “why” and I have even less to offer about the “what now?” but I can sense the enormity of the act. It’s so big, but it’s also so far away and there is so much suffering close by that I can’t see past. How can we do it all, fix it all, save them all?

There are dire predictions and grave warnings floating freely across social media timelines today, leaving me overwhelmed, powerless, and, frankly, disappointed in those who aren’t. I hope, as a country, we will do more than center our fears while homes burn and lives are lost half a world away. I hope we will do the right thing, fight on the right side, and for the right reasons this time.

I read something on Twitter this afternoon about the times we are living in being “very, very precedented. I have a feeling that we are all trapped together in a terrible cycle. It’s as if these same dreadful events keep happening again and again. Only the date, and the technology available, changes. We keep living and inflicting the same patterns of pain on one another again, and again, and again.

These past years have worn me down. I can hardly watch the news or think about politics without a low and vague sense of panic I cannot name or place gripping me. Every day is the worst day. Every headline signals the end of life as we know it. I won’t live long enough to fix any of it. Sometimes, it feels like the only thing I can do is focus on loving where I can, being kind where I can, changing one mind of billions at a time, but at that rate, I wonder why it matters?

Then again, as I sit here wondering what love can do, there are those who spread hate and never stop to doubt its power. Hate has done so much damage, why wouldn’t love be capable of as much good or more? Of course it is.

Of course it is!

054 // Wintering

It’s been a biting and bitter cold day, but looking forward through the forecast to next week is keeping me optimistic. Spring is making her first furtive steps toward the front range with warm temperatures and, hopefully, melting these persistent snow mounds for good.

Of course March has always tended or be our snowiest month, so I have doubts as deep as the drifts, but it’s possible, right?

My return to work was rather rough. Besides the cold outside I’m also feeling a little under the weather myself. I suspect a bit of tonsillitis or a bout with my old and familiar nemesis Streptococcus. I took another Covid test thinking I might have actually caught it this time but it was negative again so I went in.

The gloom of missing my wife through her Covid isolation is hanging about too. She’s here, close enough to talk to, to see, to care and feel sorry for, but too far to comfort and find comfort in. It’s hard to hold on to hope what you can’t feel the sun. It’s hard to be grateful with the clouds hanging so low. I’m beginning to lose hope this winter feeling will ever end.

I wish the days felt this long in the Summer. It’s strange how those long hours fly by and the short ones between sunup and sundown drag so. The cold can freeze time too it seems.