319 // Catching Up with Myself

For weeks, maybe months now, I’ve been longing for time to do nothing but what I want to do, even if that means doing nothing at all, and finally that day has arrived. The plan is to catch up on much-needed sleep, reading, journalling, doomscrolling, and more sleep.

The weather has taken a strange turn since this morning. The day started sunny and calm, but very quickly the wind began whipping around the house and dark clouds rolled in on it. I could hear trash cans, and furniture, and things blowing through surrounding yards and all day hoped the fences, trees, and power lines would hold upright.

Besides the cold creeping in through every hidden crack and failing seal and the eerie sounds waking me again and again from those much-needed naps, the winds passed with little more than threats and this evening we’ve returned to quiet and calm.

Inside I’m feeling far from peaceful though. Yesterday I spoke with my doctor and we are officially and finally changing course in my care. There are going to be new medications, new expectations, new hopes, and new norms to get used to—again. It’s a good thing really, because what I am doing isn’t working, but change is always scary.

So, in addition to resting, I’m processing what all of this might mean and how I feel about all of it. I’m working hard to practice acceptance, gratitude, and self-love. I’m forgiving my body and focusing my thoughts on how strong I have been through all of this. Moving forward I’ll have to keep being strong and that means gaining a new perspective. That means crawling out of this funk and finding the blue sky, even if I have to wait for a few clouds to pass first.

314 // From the Warmth and Comfort of My Couch

Winter has returned today with gloomy skies, steep temperature drops, and fat snowflakes falling off and on throughout the day. Thankfully, I’m working from home and get to watch this weather roll in from the warmth and comfort of my couch.

For the next three days, I’ll be attending a big and important virtual conference for work, and my district has trusted me to bring everything I’ve learned back to my coworkers. I’m excited about the opportunity and honored by the trust but I can’t help feeling a little bummed that the event isn’t being held in person, that I am not staying in a hotel somewhere in a city I’ve never been, enjoying a continental breakfast and networking in the lobby.

Still, there were some very cool moments, including the chance to hear animal behavior expert and autism activist Temple Grandin speak this morning! She is such an interesting and insightful speaker, and I feel ashamed not to have heard more of her talks until now. I fully intend to scour the internet for every video I can find of her. Might re-watch the film based on her life too. Might even buy her book!

Still, not everything has been good today. That great weight that had previously been lifted from my chest has already been loaded back on. My workplace has reversed position and asked that staff members return to work as early as this week.

At the same time, I’m also reading reports that my state is experiencing an uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus. I had hoped that management would allow us all some time away to take the precautions we needed and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, but I guess the priorities have changed.

This all leaves me feeling very…angry. I simply can’t see any reason why we have to come back in so quickly. The students are staying home and the district has agreed to pay us through the next month. So, between the risk of contracting the virus and the benefit of having us all at home (including the chance to disinfect our work areas), I just don’t understand the reasoning.

Underneath that anger, there is fear. Even by the districts own metrics it isn’t safe for us to be at work and without knowing how my coworkers are spending their personal time or what precautions they are—or are not—taking I don’t feel that simply wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, doing our best to maintain a six feet of distance between us will keep me safe.

But what choices do I have?

313 // Moving Against the Wind

The exertions of the last few days to weeks have finally caught up with me. Every muscle above my waist is sore, and I can’t seem to find the energy for even the most basic items on my to-do list. A can of Redbull and a little music are helping at the moment, and knowing that for the next three days I get to work from home and by midweek my time will be all mine for at least the next three weeks.

In the meantime, I’m simply doing my best and trying hard to let that be enough. It hasn’t been easy though. Everything I touch or try to do today seems to be going wrong, and I’m falling into negative thought patterns too easily. Instead of this mistake being normal, understandable, forgivable, I’m seeing every misstep as a confirmation of some inherent badness in me.

I’m holding these false narratives at bay, for now, but guilt and low self-esteem are threatening like dark clouds gathering on the horizon. I’ve just got to keep moving against the wind and I should make it to the end of the day, but if I stop for even a moment to look behind I know the blue skies will be overtaken and I’ll be engulfed in gloom and doom until morning.

312 // Something for Me

Even though it’s the weekend, and I’d be off from work anyway, it still feels like the first day of my second quarantine which is feeling more and more like a kind of vacation from all those things that have been terrifying and stressing me so much lately. I woke up light, happy, and feeling more like myself than I have felt in a very long time.

Today was also first time in weeks—months maybe—that I have been able get out of the house and do something for me. Some much needed shopping was done and some shopping that was just for fun. I enjoyed some of it very much, and some of it not at all, but I’m home now, feeling a little tired and very content.

In light of the recent rise in COVID cases I can’t help worrying over my little outing. I hoped the stores would be somewhat empty what with our local officials recommending we all take further precautions but it was quite the opposite out there. The stores were packed. Everyone was wearing their masks but social distancing was nearly impossible and the closeness of all those bodies, breathing all around me, made me feel very anxious. I don’t think I’ll be venturing out into the world again for a long time.

And anyway, too much of what little energy I have anymore is used up during these outings. The time for staying in, for making this house more like home, for resting, reflecting, and recuperating has arrived.

I’m starting right now, spending the evening on the couch wrapped in my comfiest blankets and watching President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris call for unity, peace, and healing throughout the country. It’s such a soothing and calming messages and gives me hope that even if compromises must be made over the next four years they will be made in an effort to move us all forward together because the truth is we are all Americans and so many of us have been left behind in so many ways and on both sides of the political aisle.

311 // Quarantine: Part Deux

A great weight has been lifted from my chest this week. Yesterday the powers that be announced that the school district I work for is finally, finally, moving to 100% remote learning which means I will get to stay home, get the rest I so desperately need, and avoid contracting the novel coronavirus from my often careless coworkers.

I am being asked to return to work in just over three weeks to continue training new classes of employees but with cases rising as fast as they are and the peak of cold and flu season approaching I will make the decision whether I return to work based on the case counts and my health at the time rather than what my superiors would like me to do. I just can’t keep on risking myself and my family for work I know can wait.

A weight of another kind is lifting too as the ballots go on being counted and this country moves closer and closer to an official resolution to the 2020 Presidential Election. The writing is already on the wall and the sitting President’s rants and legal challenges are only postponing the inevitable. I for one am relieved and proud, though still quite disappointed, in the work it took and more motivated than ever to do my part in that work moving forward.

For now though, there will be rest, on all levels and in as many ways as I can think of. I’m going to sleep more, of course, but I’m also going to rest my mind too and take a break from the stress and intensity of cable news and social media.

I learned a few lessons during my first quarantine last Spring and this time I’m a little more clear on what it will be like, what will be required of me, what I can do, and what I don’t have to do. I expect to enjoy this time a whole lot more and to focus on what really matters—my mental and physical health only.

297 // Gloomy Friday

It’s a cold and gloomy day here along the Front Range Urban Corridor. We woke falling sleet and thick layers of ice on our cars and walkways, and as the sun rose we realized there would be very little improvement in the way of warmth and blue skies would likely not make an appearance. So much for a happy Friday.

As for me, things have improved in what ways it can since the last time I posted here. In some ways they are worse too. Every day brings new challenges and every day we discover new ways to be strong, or to fail. I suppose all life’s major changes and tragedies follow this pattern, and perhaps the peaks and valleys never will quite flatten out again, but only shrink toward one another.

Getting back to work has helped some, and being with my wife makes it easier, but even through the laughter and love, emotions of pain, stress, fear, and helplessness continue to be the predominate. My family is in an upheaval and we’re being forced to take not only our circumstances but one another on a day by day basis.

My health has not improved overall either, but the time for answers either way is fast approaching. More tests and a new plan are close enough to give me both hope and anxiety. I’m worried I’ll be told something else entirely from my original diagnosis is wrong, or, worst of all, I’ll be told nothing is wrong at all. I’m worried the answers will come too fast and I’m worried that I will have to wait, and suffer, just a little longer.

Still, I’m grateful for so much. I’m grateful for the family I have and for small victories. I’m grateful to be alive, to fight, to support the people I love and to receive support too. I’m grateful for what I can give, even if all I wish anymore is that I could give so much more.

What I’m learning though is that gratitude is not the same as happiness. It’s only a small part. I need more than gratitude and I’m at a loss as to what that thing is or how to find it right now.

285 // A Monstrous Storm

I can promise you I am not being dramatic when I say that in the past few days my whole world has been very much turned upside down in some of the worst ways imaginable.

People I love have been hurt and are hurting and I’ve been living in an alternating state of shock, anger, anxiety, guilty sadness, and helplessness for some days now. These “some days” have stretched for an eternity and moving forward from here in any emotional or temporally sense is a foreign, unimaginable, and impossible notion.

It’s as if I am existing at the center of a raging storm that, while it’s only just gathered, has managed to gain monstrous shape, speed, and strength. Some small calm can still be found in my very immediate surroundings, but the winds are shifting unpredictably and I feel if I do not shift quickly with or in response to them and the needs of those I love the storm will grow beyond my control and I will be sucked in and blown away as well.

My suspicion is this sense of control is an illusion, and my efforts to maintain it are futile. There is worse and on the horizon and it will come whether I fight or fly. Part of me is already at work in the recesses of my mind to prepare for those hardships and heartbreaks.

And I keep wondering how much more we can all take? I’m trying not to make the surrounding storm all about me, but I am involved. I am affected and not from one direction or by one thing, but from all sides and on many levels. I’m hurting. I’m afraid. I’m lost. I’m so very lost…

My instincts tell me to pull away from writing, from this space, from everything I love, from all the things I do for me. I’d thought to write here only to announce an indefinite hiatus, but I’ve always been, always had to be, skeptical of my instincts. I hardly ever really want what’s good for me. My urges and impulses tend toward the self-destructive because—I believe—it is the simplest and most satisfying place to find control and satisfaction.

So, if my gut says pull away, I have to at least consider the idea that what I need most is the exact opposite: to lean in, to try harder, to give more. Self-expression, even these small and stale attempts, mean something very much to me and the way things are going I should probably cling to whatever I can call my own as much as possible.

There is another side of me that is offering alternative solutions to that sense of control: radical acceptance, incredible patience, and flexibility. Planning and expectation may be unreasonable undertakings in times such as these.

Each day, and whatever it offers, both good and for bad, may have to be taken on its own separate and alone from the day before. Hell, each emotion, thought, need, idea, and action may have to been received separate and alone from all previous and even from their cause.

I see no other way to cope. Time—both laid out behind and stretching out ahead—has become an overwhelming concept.

From here and for a very long time, there can only be now.

275 // A New Month

I’m stuck at home and stuck in bed today, feeling awful physically but worse mentally. I’d been seeing some real signs of improvement, and I let myself get a little too excited. I let my hopes get too high, and then today there were strong setbacks and swift backslides into painful and all too familiar symptoms.

I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little under the weather. My dog, Lola, got into something she shouldn’t have and she’s got a little upset tummy too. I don’t like seeing her sickly but it is kind of nice to have someone, even if it’s just the dog, to be miserable with. At least she’ll be okay in a day or so with a little rest and plenty of fluids. I wish it were that easy for me.

I keep thinking about how bad of a start this is to the new month. Then again, perhaps starting at your worst can be an opportunity in disguise. When you are at your worst there is nothing you can do but get better. There’s nothing to do but improve. There is nothing to do but start again. A new month and a new chance to let the past go and move forward.

Currently // September 2020: Summer’s Ghost

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”

— Henry Rollins, from “Summer Be Gone!” published in LA Weekly

The wind has shifted and instead of carrying warmth from the west, there’s a chill now that blows from the north straight through my bones. The first leaves are starting to brown and fall and early Autumn, the time of change and preservation has begun.

At first I tried to ignore the signs. but as temperatures began to fall, as the clouds rolled in and as the earliest snow I can remember fell, I knew I could no longer live in denial. The time of long days, warm weather, and sunshine has gone.

Summer technically ended just weeks ago, but I’ve been mourning its loss for a long time now. Last March the world shut down and though it’s opened up somewhat it’s only been enough to permit work. The usual summer activities and festivities have been cancelled, postponed, or outright avoided for safety reasons as the pandemic continues to rage and the worry over risk remains high. What we had was a ghost of a summer, just enough to remind of us of what we’ve lost.

We’ve tried to create a bubble of time outside of time hoping to return to our life and loved ones after the danger passed but the new normal is quickly become just normal and hope is waning that we will return to a more recognizable world. Life is marching on and change is blowing in. The time for grieving the old world must end as we make this Autumn in particular a season of acceptance and protection. This Autumn in particular must be a time of letting go…

…but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing every day,. Most of September found me feeling fatigued and frustrated with my physical health, which in turn deeply impacted my mental health, but here at the end I am finally feeling a little more like myself. New ideas are finding their way out from the part of me that endured, and I’m doing everything I can to make the time to write them down whenever and wherever they occur. I may not post here, but I’ve got a notebook on me at all times and I’m putting pen to paper as often as I can.

Making the best of the time and energy I am afforded every day. Having a chronic illness and coping with daily pain, distress, and fatigue makes it hard to create any new writing or art on a consistent basis, let alone any good writing or art. Still, there are small moments of relief when I am something like myself again and the world can widen beyond this pain. I’m doing everything I can to seize those moments when they come.

Planning a return to my other writing outlets. I’ve long neglected both my newsletter and my other site, Zen and Pi. My newsletter was never very good but I enjoyed writing it and Zen and Pi was becoming something good but that frightened me and I began to avoid it due to pressure. I had pulled all the posts down hoping to go through them one by one with new edits before republishing, but the task has proved quite overwhelming. I’m working out a schedule, a system, and committing myself fully to the writing I know I want to do.

Reading The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar thought-provoking tome of literary exploration and criticism from a feminist perspective. The book is both fascinating and frustrating to work through, and keeping up with Gibert and Gubar is difficult. It’s not a text for beginners, but I’m trying my best to take it slow and work through the arguments methodically. Luckily, I have my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set to read when I need a break.

Watching Lovecraft Country, a sci-fi/horror series mixing fantastical monsters and situation with the heart-wrenching pain of navigating the Jim Crow era in America. There is nothing else like it and I highly recommend every one check it out. Each episode is packed with historical nods and Easter eggs, and to help you catch them the Langston League has created a free unofficial syllabus for each episode. In addition, I’m also watching The Vow and old episodes of True Blood, all of which can be streamed on HBO.

Learning not much lately. Most days I have so little in the way of physical energy or mental capacity that trying to add and retain new information is at best exhausting, and on the worst days, impossible. I’d like to get back to it though, and I do have some goals in mind to get there. Two free courses I was taking required some assignments I was unable to finish, but I figure if I focus solely on them, the remaining months of 2020 should be plenty of time even at the leisurely pace I need to finish.

Anticipating a second city wide shut down and a winter quarantine to begin soon. Coronavirus cases are already rising again in many parts of the country and though my district remains open, even the superintendent has expressed a belief that sometime this year the school will revert to 100% remote learning and I will more than likely be furloughed for a time. I am concerned over what that will mean for me financially, but to be honest with you I’m looking forward to a winter quarantine. I don’t feel safe going to work every day right now, and trying to complete my tasks through the thought of such risks is taking a mental toll. I felt better in the spring when all I had to worry about was staying healthy and safe.

Reflecting on the ways I engage with politics and charity and what my role has been and can be toward making this world a better place. Lately I have been feeling both powerless to do anything and guilt-ridden for not doing nearly enough. There are a plethora of community meetings, volunteer opportunities, protests, and place to give money and I have failed to settle or join in any of the work. I feel paralyzed by the daily cruelty and injustice in the world and the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to change any of it, but doing nothing is no longer an option.

Fearing rising tensions as election day approaches. Every election year is tense and the closer we get to America declaring victory for one side or the other the blood boils all along the political spectrum and divides between friends, family, and compatriots deepen but this year feels so much more chaotic, more violent, more frightening than ever. This year the country feels on the verge of a change I am sure will bring a better life for us all, but the path feels fraught with hatred and fear, ready to explode and consume life indiscriminately.

Hating the wildfires raging throughout the western states. I worry about what long-term health impact all this smoke and ash is having on not just my loved ones and me, but on my community, on all the cities and states that have been affected. I’m worried what impact the loss of all those acres of vegetation will have on the climate and in turn how many more acres will burn in the future as a result. I’m worried about the families who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, their hope.

Loving my messy corner of the house and this insignificant little corner of the web and the world. I spent a weekend this month on a purge and organize project of my creativity room. The task isn’t complete by far, but my half of the room (my wife has her own space on the other side of my desk) feels a lot more comfortable and conducive to truly doing some proper writing. And whether or not anything interesting or good comes of this little corner, the point is that it is mine. Just like this little site where what I make and what I share need only be for me. Both spaces are only useful, beautiful, or interesting in so far as I love them and think them so.

Needing some solid signs of hope and healing. I’ve been blessed with a good day or two between all the bad, but progress isn’t really being made and all I’m being told that, for the time being, all I can do. I need a decision to make, an action to take, a path made clear. I need to see some real change. dI know the old me may be long gone and I am ready to accept that as long as I can get on with the work of building a new self, a new life, a new way forward.

Hoping that all the people I know, and even the ones I don’t start to see some improvement in their quality of life too. Nearly everyone I know is going through a tough time right now, and my heart breaks every day for their struggles. I long to fix it all, but all I seem to be able to do is listen and hope, hope, hope. I’m not sure what help that is, but giving up and giving in, even in proxy, feels wrong.

Hope like every emotion leads to action if kept in a sufficiently high state. Hope, like anger, like fear, like joy, fills us with the desire to move and keeping hope alive is the same as keeping at the ready to act once the opportunity presents itself. Hope keeps us from giving up when the way grows dark, dire, and depressing. Hope can literally keep you alive when all other reasons have failed. I keep hope for myself and for everyone I know and those I don’t as a way to keep them moving, growing, and living in my own way.


So, yeah, all in all, September was quite a month. There was plenty to celebrate, but there seemed so much more to bear, to accept, and to struggle through. There was a lot of loss and a lot of work, and no end or answer either way has presented itself. October offers no promises, it seems, only more chance to further endure.

But what about you? Have you found some light, some courage and success through September? What have you learned about yourself during this time of political strife and failure? Have you registered to vote and made a plan to get it done? How have you mourned the losses? How have you kept hope alive?

Let me know in the comments.


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

274 // Bad Start

Well, this morning is off to a pretty bad start. I woke up late. I struggled to get ready for the day. I’m tired and irritable. I’m messing everything up and as much as I have given up on today, it seems today has given up on me right back.

I had thought upon arriving at work that the wrinkles of my mood and luck would smooth out but everything seems to be going wrong and the gap between my expectations for the day and the reality of the day is widening all the time and with it my frustration and impatience keeps on growing.

The good thing is I’m lucky enough to have the kind of job where I determine my days and I have the support I need to set back and determine my attitude too. I don;t have the emotional strength yet, but I’m sure after a few things get checked off my to-do list and I’ve had a meal and a cup of something with caffeine in it.

The good thing too is there are going to be plenty of breaks and the real possibility of the day ending early. That means time to decompress, to write, to practice the self-care I clearly need. Until then, I’m doing my best to focus on the positive, on the blue sky I know is there above the clouds and behind all this curmudgeonry and complaining.


The day did in fact improve, and with it my mood. I was able to get some real work done, more than I have in many weeks, and I even managed a smile while I did it. Everything just needs time. Everything changes, both for good and bad, in time. My sour perspective has brightened, and that’s good, but I am under no illusion that tomorrow I won’t have turned back toward the worst again. Good and bad, good and bad, they both come in their turn, in time.