I lost someone I love very much yesterday. A woman who was greatly influential in the course of my life. A woman who, without that influence, I may not be here. Maybe not in this space specifically, and maybe not at all.
This woman, an only child who founded a family totalling in the several dozens at least in children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I was her first grandchild, and she was not ashamed to call me her favorite. I acknowledge the unfairness of my status and I admit fully the joy this privilege brought me my entire life.
This woman showed me the purest love I have ever known. It was a love that had no expectation. A love as close to unconditional as this world has ever seen. I could do no wrong in her eyes and somehow that only made me want to try harder to be good, to be better, to just be me.
I wish everyone could have that kind of love in their lives. I wish everyone could have a vibrant, wild, kind, funny, and wise grandmother like mine. I wish I could have felt that kind of love for a bit longer myself.
Today is a new day! Today a weight left my chest, and a tension left my shoulders. I’m a little less afraid. I’m a little less angry. I’m a little less hopeless.
Today there is a new leader of the free world was sworn in and he is one whose values and vision for this country and its many and diverse peoples are closer to something that looks like progress, unity, care, and compassion.
I’ve been waiting four long years and to be honest, I had so little faith in my fellow compatriots that I still can’t believe it happened.
I don’t believe everything will be peace and perfection for the next four years. Neither Biden nor Harris were my top choices to take the reins and lead us through this time of recovery and resolution, but the more I have thought about it and the more I have considered strategy, I think the best candidates won in the end.
The office of the presidency should be one of centrism. The President, after all, must represent all Americans and not just the right Americans, the real Americans, the Americans who elected him and constantly threaten his political future.
Biden wasn’t the right choice for me, but I have a feeling he’s the right choice for us all.
These past couple of weeks have been hard on me. The work week was more than I could handle and on top of new medications and new side effects plus returning fatigue and recurrent pain, there was nothing left of me for me.
It was harder to adjust from my light quarantine work schedule to full work days. I hadn’t done much past noon, or past Wednesday to be honest, in months, and suddenly I was being asked to stay later and do it all. I’m proud of myself for making it through with minimal mistakes or complaints.
I’m working on getting through tasks I find difficult, undesirable, or uncomfortable by just doing them and getting them over with. The longer I stall and the louder I complain I only succeed in prolonging the pain and proving to be a loathsome person to work with. No, it’s better to put on a smile, put one foot in front of the other, and focus on a job done well and quickly.
I think I succeeded in that goal at least, and now that the long weekend away has arrived, I can let the anxieties and grievances of the past five days go. I definitely deserve some “me time” but sadly there is very little to carve out today. So, I am staking a claim to these few and fleeting minutes to catch up on notes and to-dos from the past week and through the next.
There will be more time tomorrow and the day after that and in the weeks to come my calendar should lighten and give breadth and breath to life outside of work and rest.
I’ve never had a Friday feel less like a Friday than this Friday did. In fact, this Friday felt more like a Monday than most Mondays do.
All employees returned to work at once for the first time since the beginning of November and it was…overwhelming. Of course everyone wants to know how you have been, how you spent your holidays, how is your family, and how you have been coping. It’s fine if you have one, or two, or even 10 coworkers, but to have 50 or more stop you for the same stories is exhausting.
Thankfully, there are quiet corners to retreat into and solo tasks that keep me busy and keep the others at bay.
I’m feeling a little down on myself. Looking back over my journal and planner, I can see I’ve failed to meet a lot of my goals this week. It’s been hard with my health in decline again and with work ramping up. I know I shouldn’t have expected to be perfect, but I did expect to do better. I spent too much time on my phone playing games and doomscrolling Twitter.
And how could I not? After the week we’ve had in this country, I think it’s probably entirely understandable that I struggled to feel motivated or focused on my goals or my work. Of course, when the world is falling apart, your willpower and willingness decline. Your priorities shift. Your needs shift.
I’m trying hard to remember that even without the dystopian images on the screen and the hopelessness creeping in, it is only the first week of the year and no one is expecting me to work so hard but me. I’m trying to remember that there is more to life than check marks and time blocks and even if I didn’t read or write as much as I wanted, I did laugh and I felt loved and maybe some weeks that’s more important than the work.
Emotionally, I’m still reeling from the news of riots in Washington, D.C. yesterday. I’m finding it hard to tear myself away from news outlets and social media platforms, as I feverishly seek out visuals and first-hand accounts in a quest to understand how and why this has happened. I’m trying to process how violent and vulnerable we’ve turned out to be.
I don’t think any of us should expect to be productive in any way today.
When my thoughts aren’t on yesterday, they are running ahead to tomorrow. I keep thinking it’s Friday and that I have no time at all left to prepare for the next work week. When I remember it’s only Thursday, I find myself disconnected and idling. The panic returns quickly when I realize I’ve been distracted and I scrabble again only to lose interest once I remember I’m getting a day ahead again.
It’s not exactly anxiety I’m feeling, but something more like excitement. Tomorrow all of our employees return to work as a sort of practice day before the kids return next week and while part of me isn’t yet ready to give up the peace and quiet, part of me needs a little more noise and chaos to feel alive.
I wish I was being given a little more time to ease into the return to normalcy. It’s been so long that it doesn’t feel like the old boring routine I once thought it was. Instead, I’m going to have to hit the ground running come Monday. It’s probably better this way. This way I’ll have less time to think, to worry , to find reason to object, to fight, to fail.
I went to bed last night sure that we would lose both Georgia runoff races, our chance at control of the senate, and any hope of relief or progress for the American people. I woke up this morning shocked to find one race already called in the Democrats’ favor and the other very likely to go the same way.
I’m in such a state of disorientation and disbelief that I keep checking the results to be sure I haven’t read them wrong and that they have not changed.
It’s an exciting turn of events, but I’m cautiously optimistic. The Democrats have a history of squandering such gains. They hold all the power, but timidity and fear keep them from truly exercising it. In the time of unprecedented potential, we may only see the bare minimum from our elected officials.
I’ll be following the news and commentary closely today and celebrating while I can such a momentous victory. I’ll let myself hope for a time that these coming years will be a time of healing, compassion, and real progress for my country.
The events at the capitol this afternoon have me in a state of profound anger, fear, and exhaustion. I am angry there are supporters of such a hateful man and his message of cruelty, destruction, and misinformation. I’m fearful of what the next few weeks will bring as we move closer to inauguration. I’m exhausted by the daily pressure placed on us all to keep those who would subvert our institutions and undermine our ideals of justice from destroying our country from the inside out.
What I am not feeling is surprise or shock by today’s events I’ve been waiting for something this big to happen for quite a long time. The entire country has been living in a constant state of tension that has only grown more and more volatile since election night. I’m only surprised this act of terror and insurrection were not even more violent than what we saw.
I live many states away from Washington, D.C. but seeing how little the police did to stop these people from storming the chambers of congress has left me feeling very unsafe. I believe the cops could have stopped the mob…if they’d wanted to. I believe cops that would allow certain groups to inflict violence on certain other groups are employed in every city in every state in America.
What happened in the nation’s capitol today could happen in any city and to lawmakers at every level of government. It could happen on any street and any of us could be caught in the crossfire, or even targeted as the enemy, the other, according to the radical right.
I’m working on learning how to do the things I don’t much like doing.
Every day we are all expected to do things we don’t want to do. We have to make a living. We have to feed, clothe and care for loved ones. We have to live in a society. Every day we are all expected to look like and behave as if we are someone else entirely from who we are with entirely different wants and needs than we have.
More often than not it’s for the best, but more often than I realized before the pandemic, it’s at the expense of my mental and physical health. Still, the world is what it is and there is only so much boundary setting and advocating I can do against capitalism and culture. These hours aren’t mine. I am not mine.
Not a lot of the time anyway, but looking back at the way I used to complain and struggle, I wonder if it might be easier to just give up and give in. Sometimes the fastest way out of doing something boring, uncomfortable, undesirable or difficult is to simply do it and be done with it. Sometimes in trying to change something, you only manage to prolong your pain and stroke your anger.
Each of us, it seems, has to find our compromise with the world.
It takes actually getting up and getting to work. It takes turning off or at least tuning out the critical areas of the mind and letting your emotions, your instincts, your ideas run things for a while.
Stop being so damn rational all the time. Stop finding so many obstacles and excuses. Stop getting in your own way. Stop turning a blind eye to your own bad behavior.
Put the phone in another room. Make a list. Set a timer and do as much as you can before it’s up. Open your planner, your journal, and your notebook and mine the ideas there. Keep a notepad next to your laptop to write down the little thoughts and to-dos that pop into your head before they become distractions.
This is the way I would like to work and for a time today I managed it, but not enough to make the progress I’d hoped. Still, it was many times better than most days last year. I suppose that makes today a success. Of course, but before I could celebrate the accomplishment, my thoughts returned to tomorrow again to replace my pride with new obstacles and excuses, fresh failures and bad feelings.
This month it seems, at least until I’ve practiced the art of mindfulness and positive thinking, will be a long and hard battle with myself. I always have been my own greatest enemy. Maybe 2021 is the year I learn how to believe in myself? The year I realize the problem hasn’t been my lack of motivation or focus, but my lack of encouragement and faith.
The year is already moving much too fast for me. My mind keeps jumping ahead to tomorrow and from there it’s easy to start worrying over Monday too, and while there I may as well obsess over the rest of the work week, right? Once there the month is practically half over and with so much to do and fail at before mid-month today starts feeling like a good day to give up.
The calendar might only say the 2nd of January, but as far as my anxiety is concerned, it’s weeks from now and nothing at all is done, different, or better for it.
I can’t seem to stay in the present. I can’t seem to focus on today’s tasks and troubles alone and though my mind insists this jumping ahead is for my own good, I can see from the missing check marks and empty pages in my planner and journal, that way of thinking is killing my motivation and productivity.
More than that, it’s killing my joy. Why is it when I think about the future I can only see all the problems and all the ways I will fail? Why can’t I see good things? Why can’t I imagine success? Perhaps this should be another kind of mind shift for me: for every worry or failure you can conjure, imagine a victory. Imagine happiness.
I’m a realist bordering on pessimistic so I have my doubts that thinking one way or another can impact an outcome or future event, but what I hope is that it will help the present, and what happens in the present has a direct impact on what happens in the next hour, the next month, and over the course of the next year.
It’s been a slow introduction to the New Year this morning. It seems staying up to celebrate the occasion makes for a poor start to your resolutions. I should have known, though. Staying up late has rarely felt worth the loss in energy, motivation, or focus the following day. I have a suspicion this may be the end of that tradition, or I’ll at least establish a new one: the New Year’s Eve Evening Naptime.
So, I’m giving myself a day to do only the bare minimum and just the basics. Hardly any of my resolutions this year require a dedicated daily practice and the ones that do I have marked off already. I got my 10 minutes of mediation and stretching in before sunrise, and today’s journal entry is complete. All I have left is to write for so many words and read for so many pages before the end of the day.
THe greatest excitement today will be getting to fill in the first page of my planner and preparing for the first weeks of the month by scheduling my time and working out my “to dos”. This analog system feels good and my hope that having everything written down in front of me and not on my phone I’ll have a little more focus and with just a little more focus over the next 365 days, I think I can get a lot done!
My specific resolutions aren’t quite done yet, but that’s okay. I’m taking a different approach this year. I’m letting this 2021 version of myself become rather than expecting her to emerge today fully formed and perfect. This 2021 version of me isn’t sure who she is or how best to express herself or move forward, so she’s taking the year slowly and I’m giving her permission not to know yet and to change her mind when she does work it out.
I don’t have to start everything today, and it’s probably best that I don’t. That’s the fastest way to feel overwhelmed and the surest way for me to fail. The new year has arrived but I I am not arriving, I am growing.