205 // Mindlessness

Spent most of the day lounging about and finding it hard to get up. Mindless TV has been running for hours keeping me mindless too. The urge was near impossible to fight, so I chose not to and gave myself a time limit instead. Mindlessness for the next hour and then no more.

By midafternoon I was up and heading to my niece’s 5th birthday party. My sister-in-law is working on building a party planning business and she does her best work for her kids. This year’s party was movie theater themed complete with a projector and concession stand with hot dogs, popcorn, and all the boxed candy favorites.

I had a good time overall, but it’s hard being going to these kid events when you are childless yourself. I sit awkwardly among the moms hearing them go on about pregnancy and early milestones, about the difficulties of the last one and the hopes for the next, all the while wondering how weird it is for you to be there and when would it be appropriate to leave.

It’s hard to relate to the lives they lead. Any comments or thoughts I add aren’t much welcome and any mention of my own difficulties or accomplishments are quickly dismissed. It isn’t their fault or mine, we’re all just traveling vastly different paths. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

The evening is better. I’m happy to be back with my wife and pets, my own little family in our own little home. Mindless TV is still running, but I’m so easily persuaded this time. I’ve chosen to read a little instead.

I’ve been so overwhelmed by how far behind I’ve fallen in my reading goals it’s taken months and months to begin again. The trick, I realized, is not to pick up the same book you keep putting down, but to pick up something new. I chose an old favorite with a new twist: The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson, the first woman to tackle the epic. The introduction alone has pulled me back into literature in a way no book has this past year.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. After being on vacation there’s very little cleaning to do and having learned my lesson today I’m resolving not to let mindlessness tempt me so again.

204 // Back From Fantasy

It’s been a little while since I’ve been here, properly. I’ve been busy, as usual, not that business is ever any real excuse, but then I was off vacationing with my wife and I wanted to be present for her, and for me. I wanted to try being in the world rather than thinking about the world for a while and it turns out that’s exactly what I needed.

My wife and I were more than just vacationing. This past week marked our third wedding anniversary, and we chose New Orleans for this year’s celebrations and it was one of the most vibrant and wondrous experiences of my life.

We went looking for good food and rest, and that is exactly what we found. Both my wife and I are adventurous eaters. It’s one of the things I love most about her. We found duck, rabbit, chicken livers, all the oysters we could eat, and more together. When we weren’t eating we slept the rainy parts of the day away and lounged poolside with mimosas.

It was beautiful and even with the heat, the humidity, and the rain, I desperately want to go back. Maybe one day. Maybe one day I’ll make it there and never leave…

For now, I’m trying to work my way back from fantasy. The readjusting to real life, and work-life, has been jarring, and a bit depressing, but much of that is only the circumstances I returned to.

There was work stress well before we left, and it waited patiently for me to return. I had dreaded these last three days for the past month and I find myself feeling quite proud to have gotten through them. Next week will be the real test of my new calm and confidence. I’m stepping well outside of my comfort zone and taking on more than I ever have.

I have strong worries about my ability to do my job well, but I’m doing my best to push them out of my mind tonight. Tonight is time to rest. To ground myself a bit better. To find balance and make room for all the ways time away has changed me.

187 // Marking the Growth

The only thing worse than starting the workweek on a Monday is starting the workweek on a Tuesday. It’s an easy day at least and there is a real possibility it will be an early day too. At least I hope it will be. There’s a growing list of to-dos I’d love to check off and writing projects I’d like to make some progress on.

I was in meetings all morning and though meetings are never anyone’s favorite way to spend their time; I was at least among friends and left feeling more appreciated than I have in a long time. There are things I want to do better, and people whose respect and admiration I’ve yet to earn, but I know I have done my best and outperformed many of my peers, all while surviving one of the hardest years of my life.

My team was informed of big changes coming our way, including higher expectations and more involvement from upper management. I appreciate the advanced notice and I’m marking the growth I have undergone made clear by the calmness with which I took the news. My confidence is growing and some of that old spark I used to feel for my work is returning, ever so slowly but surely.

Too much of the afternoon was wasted with unnecessary chores and napping, as always, but I acknowledged the little voice in my head urging me to think, create, and learn on multiple occasions. A few words were typed and a few more read. It wasn’t enough, but it was better than most days and miles beyond none.

186 // An Extra Day

Well, I wasted another weekend on the couch but thankfully powers that existed long before me saw fit to make the day after the 4th of July an “observed” holiday. Meaning I got an extra day off from work and another chance at my weekend goals. But first, coffee!

We’ve spent these last days running ragged from one side of town to the other and back, trying to buy all our needs and wants for our upcoming vacation. I worry we’ve overdone it, but it’s the first trip my wife and I have taken in a very long time and the first time we’ve flown out of state together at all. We’re understandably excited and overzealous.

There is still a lot left to do, but I’ve in danger of pushing my body too far. It’s better to choose to rest now and be back on my feet tomorrow than to keep going until I’m forced to rest and I’m in pain for days. I’ve got a busy work week ahead and personal projects that have already fallen behind schedule. I can’t afford not to do nothing today.

Nothing, of course, still includes some light cleaning, meal prep, and scheduling the week. I’m looking over my planner, making lists, and counting the hours I have to work, write, and rest. They never equal out the way I wish them to, but I’m thankful to have enough to give both to others and to myself. Looking out through the month and the season, I feel a sense of sadness.

Summer is waning. There’s still much of it left, but not as much as I’d like or not enough of it I can use to explore the mountains, the city, or the night. I want more, but winter will make her way. I’m not ready for this time to end and I don’t know whether it’s better to pretend it never will or to keep the end ever in my mind?

185 // Summertime

This is summer in Colorado.

Hot dry heat the settles in early and clouds that build by the hour through lunchtime. The thunderheads make their meandering march down from the mountains and east across the plains, throwing lightning and turning the skies alternating shades of bright and blue to dark and grey. When the rain begins it confounds, falling softly in the darkest hours and flooding the street while the sun shines.

This is my favorite time of the year. Soon, hopefully, the clouds will part and the illegal neighborhood fireworks shows will begin. Most people hate them, and I understand. If my anxiety were triggered by the loud booming or if my pets were freaking out, I might hate them too, but it’s quite the opposite.

Both our dog and elderly cat practically sleep through them, and I am awed by both the sound, the light, and all the pretty colors. They are illegal, so I don’t actively encourage them, and I don’t buy or light them myself, but I appreciate those willing to risk a fine and a finger or two to light up the skies tonight.


We left to walk our little street after sundown and the locals didn’t disappoint. We attempted to bring the dog, but we learned she has her limits. The sounds and smells of fireworks going off directly above is overwhelming. She was sent inside, where she promptly forgot all about them.

The neighbors all had their garages open or their kids in tow while they walked the streets. I love the feeling of community on nights like these. No one calls the cops and all get to enjoy an exciting show. On the flip side there seems to be a mutual understanding that setting these off after midnight is unacceptable.

I’m sad to read on social media that other communities don’t have such unspoken understanding. Many called the cops, and many more complained. Many called them out and many more argued and argued and argued.

I realized that my community is, perhaps, a good one, and I am grateful today for my home, my place, and the surrounding people. Though they are little more than strangers to me, they make me feel a sense of peace and connectedness. This and only this is what I celebrate tonight.

182 // A Second or Seventh Chance

It’s the first of a new cycle here at work, we’ve officially moved on to the 2021-2022 school year. A lot of changes go into effect, including new bosses, new team members, new expectations, new anxieties, and new possibilities too.

I’m thinking this muggy morning of my life outside of my work and how I might take advantage of this new beginning, a second—or seventh—chance to get it right, depending on how time appears to you and how desperate you’ve been to begin again.

I’m feeling pretty desperate myself. I have some big goals for the second half many of which look nothing like the goals I set out at the beginning of this calendar year. A lot has changed, and that’s okay. I never want to go on wanting what I used to. I want to change and my life should reflect who I am now. The hard part is only keeping up. I have to start moving a lot faster, and with a lot more confidence if I want to accomplish anything before I become a new me again, and again, and again…

I’m grateful for the chance to start the month off slow. With the 4th of July just around the corner, little has been expected of me this week. I’ve had time to reflect, to set out some concrete goals, to think about what progress will look like for me.

As for today I have a little work, but time is flying and I have a feeling I’ll be back home before I know it. I started a 100 squats-a-day challenge and already got 35 of them in. I’m writing this post and my goals for next week are taking shape. Later I’ll get 500 words in toward a new post and get some of these fragments from my notebook organized. After I’ve made it through these hours of daylight, I’ll reward myself with a glass of wine and a walk through the neighborhood before bed.

Looking out at the many hours before sundown I feel excited rather than afraid, motivated rather than overwhelmed, capable rather than helpless. The only way today could be better is if it were tomorrow.

Currently // June 2021: The Edge and End

It is June. I am tired of being brave.

― Anne Sexton, “The Truth the Dead Know

The heat has been harsh and when it lets up it only serves to let the rain in and it has been just as extreme. There have been clouds climbing in from the west and thunder rolling over every night. There have been threats of flooding and hail tearing leaves from limbs, but nothing disastrous, yet.

The season has only just started and like most years here on the front range Spring came and went before we could blink and the daytime highs have risen well past pleasant. Still, this is my favorite time of year. I only wish work would let up so I could enjoy it more. These weekends won’t be enough for all the outdoor adventures I want to have.

I have promised myself to do what I can and already there has been a beautiful hiking trip and more have been planned for as often as our bodies will allow. There have been whispers among our friends of camping trips and I am hopeful for at least one weekend tucked away in the mountains among the bass and the bears.

At work things are ramping up but this is normal for my department. We hire more at the end of the summer and we are planning for our yearly all staff training day. I’m not overwhelmed yet but looking at the calendar ahead I know it won’t be long.

Personally, I’m not doing great. Like Anne Sexton, I am tired of being brave. The month of June, like many months and more than a year before, has been one of endurance that has waned to exhaustion and the brave face I show is threatening to falter. The edge and end are near, though both are temporary and overcome if only I can hold on. If only I can find space to let my guard down and let the light in.

But before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing many many notes, fragments, journal entries, and drafts. I used to be stressed about how little was making it out of the “in progress” phase and into the realm of “published” but I’m learning to trust my process and to give my mind a chance to show my the way. I’m tried of forcing my feet to one path when they clearly want to walk another.

Making time for myself. I still have a whole lot of worry and a good amount of trauma to work through, but there is a lot more light in the tunnel and things don’t feel so hopeless. Learning to live with this hurt and this uncertainty is getting easier and easier. A new normal might be a good thing and there is space for me and my needs too.

Planning some major life improvements. I’ve been given some good news, and it looks like accomplishing some of those big impossible goals isn’t as impossible as it felt after all. A weight has been lifted and the way has been cleared substantially. I’m looking forward to new siding, tile, cabinets, flooring, and more! I wish we had started sooner but later is a whole lot better than never.

Reading nothing. I’m sad to say reading has been hard to keep up with this year. I blame chronic illness and fatigue. I blame a wandering mind and an anxious body. I blame being too busy and I blame being too tired. I blame loving life and I blame apathy. Underneath it all, I blame myself. There were too many hours of TV and Twitter that could have been used otherwise. A lesson I seem to need to learn time and time again.

Watching Ozark on Netflix, a dark drama following a financial advisor who agrees to launder money for the mob and must move his family to the Ozarks in Missouri when things go wrong. I started binge-watching just a few days ago and I will say, it’s been surprisingly engaging. Some other favorites this month include The Mare of Easttown on HBO and both Loki and The Bad Batch on Disney.

Learning to ask for help. I am learning, As in, I haven’t learned. As in, I’m still trying to ask. A lot has been on my shoulders, on my chest, and on my mind. Some of it is from this past year, but much of it has collected over a lifetime. Try as I might I can’t let it go and I can’t keep carrying it either. Someone has to hold something. Someone has to help me sort it out. Someone has to be there to say it’s ok to give it back. It’s ok to throw it away.

Anticipating some quality time away with my wife. We’re planning a trip, a real and proper vacation out of state complete with a flight, a hotel, and an itinerary. We’re going to spend five whole days drinking and eating our way through the great city of New Orleans. I just know it’s going to be just what we need to reset and restart just as the new school year looms and we begin another 10 month work cycle.

Reflecting on the difference between judgment and criticism, of listening and solving, of helping and hurting, and how easily each is confused for the other. I only ever want to help but help isn’t much help if it isn’t what the other person needs. Still the act of judging has an undeserved connotation and unbridled empathy has it’s risks. No one talks about that though. No one even considers it a possibility.

Fearing loss. This past year meant loss, some real, and some only threatened, but all was felt nonetheless. I have a feeling there is more to come. Of course, there is more to come. The older I get the more there is to lose and loss is more than anything a numbers game. The more you love and the longer you love, the higher the chances climb year after year. This knowledge is what keeps me up at night.

Hating getting older. I didn’t mind it so much before, but these past few months the signs have been showing. It’s harder to move, harder to wake and harder to recover. It’s harder to change and harder to change back. I don’t recognize myself some days and other days I am disgusted by what I see. There is so much to regret and less and less time left to make it right. I want to go back, or at least stay as I am. I hate that neither will ever be possible for me.

Loving myself. I love both how amazing I have been, how strong, and smart, kind, and helpful, and how well I have realized my faults, my wrongs, and all the ways I can improve. I love how far I have come and how far I have to go. I love the good and the bad, the light and the darkness. I feel more whole than I ever have and I love every piece and part, all the past, the present, and the potential and promises.

Needing a little more love myself. My relationships are feeling a little one sided lately and I suspect in my attempts to appear smart, strong, and steadfast others may have forgotten I have a heart and hurts of my own in need of addressing. They may have forgotten that I need them as much as they need me. They may have forgotten there is more to me than what they take.

Hoping to reconnect with my talents. I miss the things that used to get me out of bed early in the morning, the things I couldn’t wait to read or write about. The thoughts that wouldn’t stop until I got them on the page. I miss my notebook and the pages that would fill from my pen and hand and mind with ease. I miss the weight being lifted. I miss the feeling of creation and connection.


So, yeah, all in all, June was a hard month but I’m used to hard months now and I’m grateful that time has started moving a little faster. It’s hard enough to hurt, it’s worse to hurt while the world stands still. It’s hard to hold your little hurt against a global grief too enormous to fathom. June was hard but it was the first month to feel normal in such a very long time.

But what about you? Have heat waves or flash floods affected your community? Have you finally been vaccinated? Have you returned to your own sense of normalcy? Are you comfortable eating at restaurants, swimming in community pools, or enjoying a night at the movies? Does the idea of each excite you, or does it fill you with fear?

Let me know in the comments.


171 // Painful Obstacles

“Thank you for being there, for checking on me, and always making me laugh. Thank you for being my father and my friend.”

I wrote this in my Father’s Day card yesterday. I hadn’t seen my dad since my grandmother’s funeral this past February, and our quick dinner at the local barbeque place felt wholly inadequate. I miss him and I miss the closeness we used to share. I want to say so much to him about all the ways he failed as a father and all the ways he succeeded too. There just never seems to be the right time or the right place

I suppose I should be grateful. At least we have a relationship at all. My siblings each fall between indifferent, indecisive, and angry at my father. My family, as with many families, has troubling histories and harmful cycles to face, but anger and fear, however justified, prove to be painful obstacles.

None of us can control any other and doing our best, being self-aware, open, encouraging, and willing has only so much impact on the behavior of others. They have to want it too. They have to be ready and they have to see a reason. They have to see your reason and no amount of explanation alone can force it. Having patience while gently, gently planting seeds and setting good examples is all you can do.

And this, I think, is the job of any big sister but to be the oldest sibling means bearing both the burden and the blessing of radical love and acceptance and it has to be held for the self as much as for others.

170 // Hurting From Head to Toe

I’d meant to return to mindfulness and discipline this morning and wake up early to write a bit and organize some of my ideas into an actionable list, but the stress of the past week caught up to me in the form of a worsening headache and a generally exhausted and icky feeling.

I’m chalking it up to a week of being on my feet too much, then sitting in chairs that made proper posture impossible all while hardly eating, or eating poorly, getting too little sleep, and drinking little more than coffee and energy drinks.

As a result, my body is hurting from head to toe and I’m craving rest badly. It was hard to leave the bed and I admit I couldn’t manage it until nearly two hours after my first alarm went off. I think it’ll take a day or two of rest and strict adherence to good eating habits, my medication and supplement schedule, and any kind of exercise whatsoever to return to functional.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m somewhat better than just a day or two ago. The latest crisis is working its way toward resolution and I’m able to attend to unresolved emotions.

With each wave, with each pull beneath the surface and each rising and breath, I feel myself grow stronger. I can see others growing and gaining insight too as we fight through these troubling waters. I’m only glad not to be alone. I’m glad that we are safe—for now. I’m glad there is strength left yet.

169 // Readjusting or Time In Between

I got back in town last night after a few days away for a work conference and it’s taking a surprisingly long time to readjust back to my life. I certainly got more sleep, but getting ready for the day felt confusing, and returning to the workplace was hard on my nerves.

I think it’s a lack of peace and quiet affecting me. I learned a lot while I was away and I need space to reflect on all the notes I took and ideas that were sparked over these past days. I need time to organize my intentions and plan a path forward.

Instead, my mental space has been taken up with small talk and small tasks. The urgent is over taking the important and the worst part is it’s not even my urgent. Other people’s problems are threatening to become my problems and the battle to preserve my mood and motivation is hard fought and far from won.

Even when nothing is being asked of me, there is an incessant amount of clamor and chatter and around me. The way others can feel enclosed, trapped, and panicked by lack of space, I feel enclosed, trapped, and panicked by sounds. They are all around me today and closing in.

There are only a few more hours left in the workday and I’m hopeful for a few hours after that I can call my own. I need a chance to reset. To sit down with everything from the past weeks—my notebooks, my goals, my emotions, and my needs—lay it all out and figure out what to keep and what to throw out, what to use and what to give away, what to share and what to hide.

It’s hard to make time for this sort of reorganization on any given day. I already have things I’m having trouble making time for including family, friends, home projects, and rest. I’d have to make time out of that time and most days that feels absolutely impossible.

I have to get back to making time in between. That means between meetings, between classes, between events, between phone calls and to-dos, episodes and intimate moments there has to be time to think. There will be days when I can make real time but when life gets hectic and expectations are piling up, I can’t lose sight of my own creative needs both personally and professionally.