121 // Any Small Peace

I woke up this morning believing it was Friday rather than Saturday and though nothing at all indicated that it was a workday—no alarms had rung and my wife was still in bed—I dragged myself from the warmth into the cold darkness of my house to begin getting ready.

I shortly realized that I’d made a sad mistake and promptly returned to my cozy comforter, but what struck me afterward wasn’t the mistake and the disruption to my rest, but that I’d a habit was forming again. I was able to do what needed to be done, the hard thing, in response to a circumstance without complaint or the need for negotiation with the self.

All this is to say, it’s getting easier to rise and enjoy my mornings again. This is a sure sign of healing and a welcome return to a part of myself I can recognize and cling to in these hard times. It’s a small thing for most, but for me, any small peace whether found in time, space, or the heart, is crucial.

120 // Returning

Today was a good writing day, but only because it was allowed to be an entirely unproductive work day. My bosses are often understanding of the need for days of rest and relief, days where there are no expectations, only time to take care of self or reconnect with the team. Today was one such day.

I wrote a new “Currently” post for the first time all year and tried my hand at drafting the first newsletter I’ve sent in years. I also shared a letter I wrote over a week ago to someone very dear to me. Between those pieces and these recent journal entries, a lot has been released. I’m lighter than I’ve felt in weeks.

The weekend looks busy from here, but instead of focusing on the tasks and to-dos I’m looking forward to getting back to rising before the sun and spending a few quiet hours over a cup of strong coffee and the lit up keys of my laptop. I’m looking forward to more writing.

Returning to written words has been like returning to an old friend, picking up where I left off and going on as if I’d never left. It’s a relief to be so accepted, to be loved back by something you thought had stopped loving you.

Currently // April 2021: After the Storms

April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

― Edna St. Vincent Millay, Spring

I’m not in the mood for Spring this year. Though I’m glad to be rid of winter’s frigid drab, I’ll admit that the flowers and sunshine serve only to remind me more of this last year’s hardships and the long road of growth and healing that lies ahead. This particular April has been the cruelest month.

Normally April is the beginning of my own personal new year. In April I grow older and in April I come alive. It’s in this prelude to the summer when I come into my prime emotionally, physically, and professionally. There is still some of that, some days. I can’t keep the sun from my heart, no matter how much it breaks and, anyway, time heals as much as it hurts anymore.

The snow is melting, and the storms are passing. There is sunshine and rainbows, life coming back to life, and a new cycle appears ready to begin.

I’m desperate to begin with it.

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

Writing on a real schedule. It isn’t much, just one hour a day after work and two to four hours starting just before sunrise on the weekends. I’ve only just started, but I have noticed a two-fold benefit already. It’s not only easier to write when the time comes, but easier to do non-writing things without guilt at any other time I feel like it.

Making some blog changes. You may have already noticed some small design changes and I’ve been posting regularly again too. I’m working on a lot more posts to come and trying out different kinds of posts too. In addition, I’m keeping up with comments, following new sources of inspiration, and working to connect my writing to real people. There might even be a newsletter revival around the corner too!

Planning those weekend house projects. We’ve gone too many years letting too many things fall into disrepair and we’ve come to a point where we have to face what is difficult, make the time, and simply take the work weekend project by weekend project, and for the overwhelming bits, we’ve decided that it’s better to pay someone else who knows what they’re doing than to continue procrastinating or take action where we are ignorant.

Reading Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. I started it many months ago for a bookclub I never met with and only just now getting around to working through it. This month I also finished The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, and Poetics by Aristotle. According to Goodreads, I’m just 12 books behind schedule for my goal.

Watching A Black Lady Sketch Show on HBO for the laughs and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC when I don’t want to think too hard. Some other things I enjoyed: Tina on HBO, an account in her own words of the life of music icon and domestic abuse survivor Tina Turner and Exterminate all the Brutes a frank account of race, oppression, and genocide through European colonial history.

Learning how to focus on breath and body again. I’ve rejoined Headspace and after three or more months away it’s amazing how much effort it takes to keep the body still while the mind follows each breath in and out. The worries intrude easily now, but I know with practice I can find my peace again.

Anticipating additional anxiety as we return to some semblance of “normalcy”. I feel as though I have forgotten entirely what I used to enjoy before the pandemic began, and the proper way to socialize outside of work and immediate family escapes me. Worse still, there is a part of me that has grown to like my isolation and would perhaps prefer never to come out of it again.

Reflecting on the lessons of right now. I am not exaggerating when I say that this last year has been the hardest I’ve ever been through. I’ve lost some people, almost lost others, and even lost myself for a while too. Life is looking vastly different from here than last May, and since I can’t change a single second of it, I may as well take in the new lessons and find the new joys.

Fearing more missteps and misunderstandings. One lesson I’ve learned this past month is how quickly things can change. I’ve dealt with downward trends that took weeks or even days, but it is possible to come to such a volatile time in life that within hours your entire universe can invert. I fear now that nothing can be fully predicted, least of all the people you think you know the best.

Hating how little control I actually have. We pretend at control. We imagine free will. We think ourselves each the master of a little universe willing and manifesting day in and day out. It’s an illusion. It’s worse than that. It’s a lie. What choice and will you have is smaller than you know. It’s ok though. Work with what you have and let go of the rest.

Loving the chance to learn from someone younger than me. I’ve struggled with my fears for a long time. I thought I had come to a place of progress, but it was only a place of comfort. I have been hiding while pretending to be brave. I’m learning to find my courage by watching the next generation surpass me in every way.

Needing rest. I don’t mean sleep exactly, but simply, rest. I need a place or a time to put down the weight I’ve been carrying. I’m not just talking about the weight of the last year. I realize now I’m carrying things that have been with me for far, far longer. I need to stop for a moment. I need to lighten the load.

Hoping the worst is behind me and my loved ones, and we can finally look forward to a life of light and love. I’m hoping for a sense of self and safety that won’t be shaken again. I’m hoping with all my heart for joy, for connection, for meaning and purpose. More than anything, though, I’m hoping for a reason to hope.


So, yeah, all in all, April, was hard but I’ve learned and loved and taught and been loved back so much that the heartache and heaviness have become at least possible to bear. I know where my strength lies and I know what weaknesses need work. I know what to look for and I have a better idea of what to do next. None of it was in vain.

But what about you? Has Spring sprung where you are? Have you received your COVID vaccine doses? Is your world opening up? Are you yet in bloom?

Let me know in the comments.


119 // Seized the Day

What does your mind need right now?

This was an email subject line from the marketing team at Headspace—a meditation app I’m an avid user of. The email itself wasn’t very interesting, but the subject line did catch my eye. It made me wonder what does my mind need right now?

At that moment I didn’t know the answer, but I did know I was in deep need of something. So, I spent the day working out what I needed instead of wasting energy giving others what I thought they wanted of me.

Today I wasn’t as outgoing. I didn’t laugh or talk as much. I didn’t get sucked into conversations or cares that didn’t serve me and what my mind needed today.

I read. I wrote some. I deleted all my tweets older than one year on a whim. I ate. I took my medication. I drank water. I walked in the sun and I talked to my wife on her lunch break. These are things that bring me joy and fill me with a sense of purpose. I filled my day with them and made this day a good one.

It feels good to have some control over my mood and my doings. Tomorrow may be totally different. Tomorrow will probably be totally different. I may have fewer choices and chances to make what I will of my time, but the fact that I saw the opportunity today and seized it is certainly something to be proud of.

118 // Ever Better and Better

I woke to rain still falling this morning. I normally hate the rain, but right now it’s comforting to have the skies mirror my mood. I’m imagining the world is trying to comfort me, to show me it understands, to give me space to feel whatever I feel without judgement.

The universe has been piling the pain on lately. Each day seems to bring some new heartache, but I’m learning that if you look hard enough, each day brings its own joys and successes too. They are just harder to see and it takes many more of them to outweigh the same quantity of bad, but the more you look the more you see and the more of those little goods you collect the easier the heartbreaks become to bear.

One step back, sure, but two steps forward always follow and in the end, it’s progress all the same. I welcome today’s ups and downs and anxiously await tonights totaling.

It’s going to be an unusually busy day, but that’s ok. One day out of all the rest of the week isn’t too much for me to give and anyway I still have my evenings and early mornings and the rest of the week looks brighter and more hopeful from here. I just have to deal with right now. Not “get through it”. I don’t want to waste my life anymore “getting through it”. I want to face it, fix it, finish it and move on to an ever better and better and better right nows.

They are getting closer day by day. I can almost feel them.

117 // Wishing for the Sun

Winter weather has finally given way to spring storms. The clouds have rolled in and the rain is forecasted to stick around for at least the next days or two. The weather experts are calling this our first severe storm of the year. I’m excited by the prospect of high winds and hail, and I’ve missed the sound of rolling thunder for half a year now, but I can’t help wishing for the sun. I’ve needed light and warmth more than ever lately.

But the truth is, the sun and the whole bog blue sky is still there, even when I can’t see it. There is space that exists above the storms, above the cold, above all the drear and drab. There is warmth even if it can’t reach me, and even if it can’t reach me today that has nothing to do with how the air will feel on my skin tomorrow, and it by no means stops me from bringing yesterdays blue skies along to warm me whenever I need.

As for the work of life, it’s easier today. I’m more rested than I have been in days, and my mood is stable. I’m a little anti-social but not angry or avoidant. I’m only reflective and taking life all too seriously and days like this tend to put me at odds with the general public and their little whims and worries.

Writing is coming easier and easier. I feel myself slowly getting back into my old groove. The scheduled hour of “real writing” is proving to be helpful in some surprising ways. Not only does it get me to do the hard part at least once a day, it makes it easier to get other things like these journal entries, post drafting, image searching, commenting, curation, and tweaking appearance or making customizations without feeling guilty.

It turns out that knowing what to do and when is half the battle. Once you make it that far, the rest just takes a small dose each of courage, focus, and dedication to get you the rest of the way.

116 // This Incurable Thing

I’m on shaky emotional ground this morning though this morning isn’t out of what I am calling the new new new normal.

The thought occurred to me on the way to work this morning that there is just never enough time to do all the crying you need. I know this sounds rather sad, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m ok, but sometimes getting through life, enduring this incurable thing we call the human condition, just requires an occasional emotion cleansing. I’m long overdue and in desperate need.

Perhaps, like all things in our time of high productivity and unbridled consumerism, it has to be scheduled. Time blocked, with reminders on and timers set. Time between meetings, errands, meals, visits with family and friends, dinner, dishes, and bedtime to put on a sad song and let your heart truly break for yourself, your loved ones, and the whole world of struggle and suffering.

Time to mourn and time to grieve. Time to lament all that time that’s been wasted, the time that’s been lost, the time we’ll never even have. Time to wish and regret. Time to be angry, to be confused, and simply to be sad.

We work so hard to avoid all those weak, negative, and useless emotions, but I don’t believe we truly ever rid ourselves of them. They bubble below the surface, waiting for the most insignificant and insidious trigger to jump out and surprise us.

No, better to find time to feel them regularly. Better to make time or it will happen when you least want it to, I promise. And don’t worry, after you’ve screamed it out and soaked your shirt with tears, you’ll do the same thing we all do. You’ll take a good look in the mirror and remember who you are, where you are, and what must be done. You’ll clean yourself up and get on with the hard work of living life from emotional purge to emotional purge, as if neither the pain nor the purge ever happened.

Until I can make time though, I’m trying to remember that though life is generally stressful and often terrifying right now, not every minute is made of chaos and catastrophe. There can be—no, there are—moments of calm, security, and even joy. It’s hard to seize them when they come along, though. I guess when you are carrying the past with one hand and clinging to the future with the other, there’s nothing left for you to hold the present with, you know?

115 // Paradox of My Life

You ever have one of those days where outwardly the world appears calm, everyone you love is collected, and all of your problems are neatly under control, and yet beneath it all you sense a black and simmering chaos that you cannot reach? On days like these all you can do is watch and wait for that inevitable eruption of darkness, and it is this watching and waiting, not the bubbling chaos itself, that fills you with a vague dread for which there is no cure.

Or perhaps there is? I tried coffee and yard work today, then watching a stupid show and taking a short nap, and suddenly I can see the sun and tomorrow doesn’t seem so dreadful. I feel better, but I also don’t. I suppose it’s another paradox of life, or maybe only of my life as it is right now.

There is something about that dreadful and bubbling chaos that feels almost good.

The fragility of the world is never far from my thoughts lately and “ends”—my end, the many ways life as I know it could end, the end of the humanity, the end of the world, the cold and distant end of the universe—are weighing on my heart but, strangely, I have never felt so alive either.

It’s been so long since I’ve been walking mindlessly through life from work to home to bed to work to home and bed again and again and again, but I’m not mindless anymore. I’m awake. I’m aware. A sudden truth has come to the forefront of my mind and it won’t be shoved back again so easily. I’m hurting more, but I’m living more and I cannot make sense of it except that to avoid any one part of life is to neutralize it all to endless grey monotony.

You are alive, but it is only the barest kind of life. You are content, but you are not happy. You are safe, but all sense of self and meaning have been removed. You will have your years, but you will not grow. This, right now, is a lesson.

114 // I’m Not Good at It

This is my first morning in a long time getting up with the sun, making a cup of hot coffee, and sitting alone in a space that makes me feel free and motivated. It’s only the end of the kitchen table, but it’s quiet, it’s clean, and it’s mine for now.

I’m trying this writing thing. I’m not good at it. I don’t mean the words; I mean the focus it takes. I mean the discipline. Even this early, with nothing going on and nothing to force me away from myself, I can still find so much distraction and procrastination. Even this post is a kind of avoidance, though I’m calling it a warm up.

I have the draft open though, and I have my body where it needs to be. I have a timer at the ready and a notepad to write down all the things my mind wants to do instead so that it might not feel neglected, defensive, or demanding. I will get to the to-do list, the pets and plants, the news, Twitter and TV in time, but not right now.

Right now, I need simply to cleanse.

113 // A New Battle to Fight

It’s a strange morning. I’m working from a different location and the change in schedule is sending my anxiety levels sky high. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and the coping skills I’ve learned to calm and care for myself. I validate my thoughts and fears. I give myself space to feel. I can sit with the feeling without being overwhelmed. I can leap into action to put in place plans to ease my mind.

It didn’t used to be this easy. It still isn’t but I can see now that it gets easier every day. Maybe this is what they mean when they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Each fear, each failure, leads to a new insight, and each insight leads to a new strategy, a new way to win against yourself. I just wish there wasn’t always a new battle to fight.


I read a great post over on Brevity this morning, and it’s got me feeling inspired to write again. It’s started with these little journal entries and some reviews and personal essay drafts I’ve begun in the last few weeks. I have a list of posts on Are.na where I can collect quotes and webpages. I have everything started, but that’s all I’ve got, a start.

But I’d like to try the actual writing part again. I’d like to simply schedule time to sit down for an hour a day (three or four over the weekend) and plug away at them one post after another. No talking, no cleaning, no social media, nothing but writing. I have the time, all I need is the discipline.

And like the post said, “I’m slow and it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. I can do this.” There are no other goals or expectations to meet. There is no one I have to be better than. There is no one to impress. The goal is only to write until the time is up, no matter the subject or the pace or the skill level I’m at.