123 // Already Exhausted

I woke up already exhausted by the day ahead. After the alarm sounded, the most I could manage was a few steps toward getting ready for work before I was back in bed. I’d lost control of my body. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I couldn’t convince my feet forward, and the longer I lay there, the harder it got to change course. After a while, I was forced to accept that I just couldn’t do it. I stayed home.

I’ll admit I probably could have toughed it out, but I saw no benefit in doing so. I’ve come to a point in my life where I know that forcing myself through a bad day there is no way around won’t make anything better, least of all me.

If it had just been mental or emotional fatigue, I could have talked myself through it like I have been doing for a while, but maybe because I had been pushing myself too often already, my body stepped in and forced me to take a break.

I hate the term “mental health day”, though some might call what I did exactly that. I have noticed I’m not the only one who finds it hard to find the want on occasion, but what I see is people taking these “mental health days” and coming back as burned out and bad-tempered as they were before.

It’s rare that one day is enough of a break to relieve enough stress to change your perspective or renew your motivation and unless you spend it doing something that actually helps you’ll come back to your day-to-day feeling worse.

What helps is reflecting on what led to these feelings. When I thought about it I realized I’d been neglecting my mental health lately. My body had been trying to tell me in a kind and whispered way and I didn’t pay attention, so now it’s screaming.

This is why I have been so tired. This is why the tension in my neck has been giving me migraines. This is why my stomach has been hurting. This is why my mind feels scattered and full of fog. I’m stressed out. I am overwhelmed. I am anxious and quite probably depressed. I hear you. I hear you!

So I started today by sleeping. Sleep is the best way to heal your body fast and when I felt better in my body, I felt around in my mind for what I need to get back to myself today.

I spent the afternoon doing things I wanted to do and not feeling at all bad for not doing all the things I should be doing. I spent time on my blog. I wrote in my journals and notebooks. I listened to all the podcasts I have been saving for later. I talked to my sister. I made a lot of tea and the season’s first batch of cold brew coffee.

Then I thought about what I will need to feel less stressed and more fulfilled going forward.

What’s made the burnout so hard to see is that on the surface of my life, I really am happy overall. I’m married to the love of my life. I do good work that pays well. I even have a side job that speaks to my passions. I have friends that I enjoy spending time with and family that make me feel good about the life I have built for myself. What more could I need?

The problem is a lot of what I have in life leaves me with very little time for doing things that are just for me. I love my job, but it’s for someone else. I love my side hustle, but it’s also work I do for someone else. I love my wife, but marriage is rife with compromises. I love my friends and family, but the social expectations take a lot out of me.

When do I belong only to myself? When am I free? What do I do that is just for fun, or for nothing else other than it makes me feel good?

I don’t know how to fix it yet, but I do know what the problem is and that is a critical step toward a solution. I feel better already and knowing that it isn’t what I already have in life that is the problem, but something else entirely that I am missing makes it easier to return to my life of obligations and blessings both.

Suddenly, I’m hopeful and excited about tomorrow again.


123 // A Way of Living

The rain is waning, and the breaks between clouds are growing. The wind is warmer, but a chill is forecasted to stick around through Thursday. My mood and motivation never fair well through these grey days, and the longer they linger, the lower I sink. I’m trying to focus on the sun. I soak it up when I can see it and I remind myself that even when I cannot see it; it is there, trying to warm us.

It’s a strange morning. I don’t feel quite like myself. This isn’t the result of the grey days. I know myself even when I’m down. This is something else. I am not anxious, or angry, or even especially anti-social. I am only uncomfortable. My body won’t sit or shift right. My normal routine feels foreign. I feel out of place, even in my skin. I feel unwelcome in places I am most often found.

I think this feeling is an internal sense being confused with an external cause. The cause is being uneasy inside myself, not being unwanted by the world. Somewhere, a disconnect has occurred.

Simply put, the way I would like to live and move through life is incompatible with the daily shifting of expectations and obligations. I am resistant to change and change is all I seem to face. The problem is that the last thing I want to change is who I am but not changing risks living in perpetual resentment of the people that need me and the system that keeps us all needing.

I don’t mean to be so melodramatic. I only have to figure out a new way to do all the things I want to do. I only have to rethink these assumptions about when and where I do my best work and what a radically different way of organizing my day would look like.

The truth is, I am capable of being flexible under the right conditions, but it is up to me to cultivate those conditions. A schedule is nice, but a schedule isn’t static. Time here can be exchanged for time there. The trick is to watch the columns and keep the weight balanced. Move a bit of personal time to work time now, move a little back later. That’s all.

That’s all. So why is my chest so tight and my mood so glum? Why am I so angry and why is it so hard to resist the urge to pack up only my most beloved belongings to go live and work and write deep in the woods, high on a mountain, or on a broad beach next to the open and beating ocean?

Perhaps it’s the fluorescent lighting, or these uncomfortable chairs, or my sinking and shriveling heart. Perhaps it is something in me that remembers what we all used to be.

That ancient and wild one does not recognize the meaning of a spreadsheet, cannot fathom these subtle and serious social structures, cannot stand these suffocating walls. Something in me will not stop longing for a kind of freedom no human has known for eons. I don’t speak of a kind of freedom that was more or less, only the kind that meant the sun on my skin and a way of living that felt closer to life.

123 // Use These Swinging Moods

I woke this morning to yet another cold and dreary day. I don’t mind rain so much, usually, but we’ve had quite a lot of it and none of it’s been quite the right kind. It’s been the all day gray and depressing stuff, not the swift and severe kind that roll in through the summer afternoons that I love so much.

It’s hard to focus today, though I have very little around to serve as any distraction. The mind always finds a way, it seems. I’m far too fatigued and unfriendly feeling to get anything done for myself or for anyone else.

I don’t expect the clouds or the chill to lift until tomorrow, neither do I hope for my mood to improve until the sun peeks out again. I’m learning to use these swinging moods of mine to my advantage. A drab day doesn’t have to mean being listless or low, it can mean being pensive and purposeful. It can mean time to pull inside myself and pull at what’s been building or bothering.

When the blue sky returns I will emerge again, to focus on interaction, inspiration, and input, but today is for introspection, silence, and solitude and there isn’t a thing at all wrong with that.


I woke to thick fog outside this morning as the moisture left behind from last night’s rainstorm evaporating in the rising sunshine. I started the day with a quick shower and rather than a walk I did a quick but effective warm up followed by a few each of lunges, squats, and bicep curls. I’m still taking it easy on my knees while I wait to order a second compression sleeve, but I’m trying to do some activity every day so I can get ready for a short hiking trip in a week or so.

This Sunday is a strange one. I don’t feel like doing my usual Sunday thing, so I won’t. I want to be up doing projects sround the house and cleaning out corners that haven’t been touched in years. I guess the season is really getting to me. Nothing feels more important than this house, not writing, not reading, and definitely not learning. I feel guilty for it but I suppose I would no matter what I did.

I think I just miss going work and taking care of the house is the closest I can get to that feeling I used to get after a hard but satisfying work day. It’s a funny thing to learn about yourself. That day job you resented and thought was getting in the way of your dreams and fulfillment iturns out to be the things you end up missing more than anything. Your hobbies are still your hobbies and your work is as necessary as love.