326 /// Tuesday “Friday”

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the last workday for everyone before we enjoy a break for the holiday. It’s everybody’s “Friday”…except mine.

Technically, I am supposed to work tomorrow, but I have a feeling I might be the only one to show up. I was feeling a bit bitter about it but the more I think about out I’m kind of excited. I’ll be mostly alone, so it’ll be an easy day. It will be a quiet day.

Perhaps I can steal a few moments for myself for a few words. I have missed this place but every time I’ve tried to come back something pulls me away before I’m ready to hit “Publish”. The drafts are piling up and I’d like to post one or two before I lose interest entirely.

A lot has been going on and I’m so disappointed that so little of it has made it down on paper. I’ve been doing some real writing work. By that I mean paid writing work—which is not the same as doing the kind of writing I want to do someday—but far closer and more fulfilling than anything I have done in years.

It’s felt so good to be seen, to be appreciated, to be told that I am good at something. I had forgotten. I had forgotten to trust myself and it feels good to remember that my passions absolutely align with my talent and that my talent, though small, is real and absolutely worth cultivating.

So, I will keep going, and the little baby steps will keep adding up. I’m already looking forward to next year. New journals have arrived and are waiting and just as this year’s notebooks are more filled than the year before. I know next year’s will be even better.

These are my only resolutions. Write for me and write here. I have goals too, which are not the same as resolutions, but they need to be a bit more defined and then broken down into manageable steps before I can share them here.

For now, it’s week by week, day by day. For now, I look at each moment and ask myself, “What can I do now?” and I do my best to do that. Sometimes I have the wisdom and the willpower, sometimes I don’t but I don’t dwell on the missed moments. I only try to do better the next day.

One thing I am learning is that there is more to writing than pen and paper, keyboard and screen. So much of writing is about getting out in the sun, seeing people, talking and laughing. These things are all part of writing. Some days the thing I can do right now is do anything but write.

279 /// They Are Changing Me

I’m feeling that good kind of tired this morning. The kind that comes after physical exhaustion rather than mental. I spent yesterday evening celebrating my nephew’s 4th birthday at the trampoline park nearby along with his young sisters.

When I arrived, I swore I would not get out there much with them, but I quickly found myself sucked in by their adorable enthusiasm, and the next thing I knew I was playing, running, climbing, and jumping right along with them. It’s been a long time since I have moved my body for the sake of simply feeling where it meets the world and what it can do within those limitations—if such limitations do exist.

Before we left, I even considered signing up for a monthly membership just so I could bring them again and let them take me away on their little adventures, exploring and learning about the world all over again. I have forgotten what it’s like to see the world with new eyes. Children have their own wisdom and I’d like to spend some time in their world seeing from their point of view.

I rode on a new route at work today and talked at length with another coworker about how much we have both learned from the child we serve on the job. This year I got to spend quite a few afternoons with a young girl on the Autistic spectrum. She is non-verbal, so communication was difficult at first. I am not good at being still, observant, or patient enough at times, and she takes her time warming up to new people.

Limited seating forced me to sit next to her and since the driver we were with learned the route quickly, I had time to get to know her. I would talk to her softly, asking if it was okay for me to sit by her, if she had a good day, and if she was excited to see mom. She didn’t respond verbally, but I began, slowly, to notice the way she turned from the window and tried to look at me when I spoke. I noticed her eyes widening. I noticed when, after asking for a high five, whether she would push my hand away or run my palm.

Thinking she didn’t like me much I told mom that was all I could get from her and to my surprise she got very excited. Apparently, the hand rub meant she liked me. I began to notice more. I noticed sly smiles and short bursts of laughter and marked when they occurred. I noted the days she was getting specific snacks or when dad joined mom at the bus stop to greet her. When needed, I repeated myself slowly. I was patient with her responses and did my best to learn the basics of her language.

I have been working with these children for years and there are many such languages I have learned, but they are the ones the screamed their needs in every gesture and misbehavior. I had yet to take in something calmer, slower, subtler. I feel challenged again. I feel opened to something new.

I used to hate having to switch routes so much. I get so attached and I have never handled change well, but these past couple of years I have gotten to meet more students than ever with wide-ranging needs, and ways of interpreting the world have opened my eyes. They are changing me and always for the better. They are teaching me more than how to listen; they are teaching me new ways to speak.

I wish I could teach others in turn what I have been taught, but it would only be a hollow mimicry, flat and fake. I suppose the real lesson they are teaching me is what it is I am really called to do in my work. It is up to me to show others how to be open to their wisdom too.

253 /// Autumn for a Day

I woke this morning to drizzling rain and a chill that had crept throughout the house. Quite a change from the record heat wave we suffered only two short days ago. This taste of autumn won’t last though. Summer has never left the front range so quietly as that. We’ll see days 30 degrees warmer by the work week’s start.

So, it’s officially a lazy Saturday, and not by accident this time, but by conscious choice. I know that taking a day for myself means giving up a day later, but I need it—desperately. The school year has been off to a particularly hard start this year.

I’m spending the day under warm blankets with hot cups of tea, bad movies, and internet rabbit holes.

Many of those rabbit holes are of my own making. I’m organizing my Are.na channels and sifting through old blocks. There are interests I have abandoned and new ones waiting to be named. I have old concepts that have revealed new threads and new concepts waiting for categorization and context.

I’d like to make a little progress through James Baldwin’s Collected Essays too. He’s a fascinating man, one of my favorite “Great Minds“, but he isn’t always easy to follow. The places he leads are the place where we are most hurt, most raw. It’s uncomfortable to face and your instinct is always to fight or fly or freeze, so if you really want to be changed you have to give yourself time to acclimate. It’s a slow journey.

As all journeys are—as all journeys should be. Growth takes time as the old truism goes. It’s one of the great tragedies of human existence. By the time you have finally gotten your heart and mind into a good place, your body is ready to fail you. I’m sure I will be no different. Not at this pace, and certainly not with so little discipline. Some things are beyond even time to change.

Luckily, there are other joys in life.

229 /// Good News/Bad News

The beginning of any school year is at once exciting and exhausting, but this one in particular is markedly more chaotic than most. The added challenges—though frustrating—have also reminded me why I enjoy my job so much. I miss having problems to solve. Novelty is a human weakness. We will take bad over boring any day, I suppose.

The week is dragging on but I’m still feeling optimistic, surprisingly. There’s something to be said for having so much work you don’t have time to think about the stress you are under or the minutes you can’t get back. All I have mental space for is getting shit done and getting what sleep when I can.

The break I’d hoped would come with the change of schedule never materialized. My hopes have shifted past Labor Day. I fear even that will come and go without a chance to rest, recuperate, and reflect. My fear is that summer has already gone from me and I hardly got to enjoy it.

The good news is, I still feel good. My body is still strong and resilient. I’ve come through with enthusiasm intact and gratitude is becoming an almost automatic practice. I cannot let myself forget that I have so much more than most. I’m allowed to have bad days, sure, but I would do great cruelty to myself if I didn’t stop to feel the sun on my face, to smile at a friend, to see the blessing behind every hardship.

The bad news is a new wave of new COVID infections is breaking across my workplace. Much of the management team is out with it and we have a few more every day. I haven’t had it yet, so far as I know, but with my immune system the way it is, and my tendency toward severe and prolonged illness, I need to take extra precautions again.

I’m happy to see so many others in my building doing the same, but it’s disconcerting how many people are confused when they find out COVID is being transmitted at all. I feel threatened by them. I feel angry with them. I wish the world was such that I could hide away from them until the risk had passed.

216 // Trying on Other Lives

I’ve been away from my life for a time now. I’ve been busy trying on other lives, other anxieties, and other pleasures. I’ve spent time remembering the people I might have been and forgetting all the reasons why I’m not.

All that is to say I have had a long summer of hard work, delightful travels, and exhilarating adventures but the summer is winding down now, though with this blazing heat you might never know it, and something is calling me back to reality—my reality. It turns out that all those other lives aren’t meant for me. They are only costumes to slip in and out of for a bit of excitement and spectacle. I hope to slip into others still next summer and every year after.

I’ve begun to think of my life as a cycle of seasons, and the summer sun has always beckoned me out and away from myself. I am a citizen of the world and in love with all of humanity. I want to be where the people are and I want to want all the same things they do. The season is for soaking up the experience of living and shoring up enough stimulation to carry me through the dull and dreary winter.

With the school year beginning again in just over a week, and my work schedule forcing me back to regular and routine, I find myself returning to the internal and the intellectual. I’ve, unprompted and quite by surprise, picked up reading again and rummaged and rooted through desk drawers for notebooks that have been buried since spring.

Life is a cycle of seasons, a going out and a returning to the self with a clearer understanding and a deeper love and appreciation not for who I dreamt I might be, but for who I am only just learning that I really am. You have to see for yourself that who you already are is the best version of yourself there is. It’s the long way to self-love, but it is the most fun you can have while healing.

189 // Dogged Days

I’m spending the day at home after a long bout with a tension headache turned migraine overnight. I’m feeling better now, but without a good night’s sleep, I simply wouldn’t make it through the work day. Worse still, without rest, I might risk the pain returning.

I’m up now and trying to write while I have some time. Sadly, as I have learned many times over, the want isn’t enough to bring the right words forth. I can focus, but I can’t find clarity. I can type, but my fingers won’t settle on a subject.

So, I’m doing what I always do when I can’t find the words inside. I’m searching for other people’s words instead. When there isn’t a path you can see, there are always rabbit holes to fall into and many can lead to the most surprising places. That’s the beauty and the bane of the internet. The trick, of course, exploring mindfully, rather than running where the algorithms lead.

Austin Kleon’s newsletter is always insightful and inspiring. I’m ashamed to say that I never knew that the term “Dog Days” referred to a specific time of year, and I certainly had no idea where the name originated.

The term refers to the rising of the star Sirius though and the time period between July 3rd and mid-August. These dates may or may not coincide with the appearance of the “Dog Star” but are often associated with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.”

This time of year has always been my favorite, and it feels right to finally have a name for these days of dogged heat, for lapping up the long hours of sunlight, for the bark and bite of thunder and lightning every afternoon, for the bite of the hand that feeds when the body meets extremes, for the bite from a lover while the rain batters the windowpanes, for the grief that grows as each day passes but gives way, always, to anticipation as the time of fallow nears its end.

There are different ways to work for every part of the year and, I wonder, what kind of work is best done when it’s too hot to move or too beautiful out to force yourself in?

144 // What We Will Live With

There isn’t anything left to say. My hope has waned to nearly nothing, and now I must cope with what was once shock and indignation but has grown and spread with each tragedy into an overwhelming rage I worry I may lose hold of.

It isn’t just the news of 19 children killed today, or even the mass shootings that happened only last week, or the babies that we have no formula for, or the withering rights of women, or the pandemic we are pretending never happened, or just ended, or both, or the wages in free fall and the masses drowning under the cost of living, or even the threat of war.

More than all that—and wouldn’t all that be enough?—it’s the resounding and remorseless silence I can’t stand. I’m not sure if my sanity is slipping, or if I am among the few left who can still think clearly. I feel trapped between what I know is right and what the utter evil I am forced to live with.

It is absurd to think we can reconcile the carnage on our screens and the callousness of our leaders and their supporters, who have measured what a life is worth and judged each a mere trifle. It’s all utterly absurd! I didn’t think we would let it happen again, and now there is nowhere left to put my grief. And mine isn’t even much! Don’t ask me to fathom what those parents are going through, and all those children…

How can I sleep tonight? How will anyone ever again?

But the terrible truth is I will, and tomorrow I will go to work, and in a week I, like much of the American public, will simply forget—while we can. What else can I do? How else can we live? What does that say about me? What does that say about us all?

The worst thing about human beings is not what we will do, but what we will live with.

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.

122 // Any Season at Any Time

Usually, I’m bright and bushy-tailed on Monday mornings, but I didn’t sleep all that well last night.

We had our first real thunderstorm of the season roll in through the evening and by the middle of the night; the rain was in sheets and thunder cracked so loudly that every window pane shook in its frame. I love the sounds of spring storms, but knowing as soon as I drifted off, another bolt would light up the room and send its boom through the city made it hard to relax.

The thunder eventually settled, but the rain never stopped. This morning the temperatures are slipping and rain is turning to fat flakes of heavy snow.

I feel like people in other cities think their weather is unpredictable, but they must not have spent a season along the front range. We had our driest April on record this year, and just as the calendar flips, we have our heaviest rainfall of the Spring. We’ve seen 80-degree days, and today we’re down in the 40s again. Wind, rain, sun, snow, all in a single week’s time. Spring here means being ready for any season at any time of day.

The goal today is to keep the chill and gloom at bay. All I want is to find a warm and cozy place to wait out the rain, but tasks and to-do are keeping me from it. I’m very near a place of resentment and irritability, but a bad mood won’t get me through any of it any faster. An ice-cold cup of cold brew coffee and a large “sunshine” smoothie* should keep one foot in front of the other through midmorning. I will deal with the afternoon as it arrives.

This evening it is important that I get back to working out at home. At the end of last week, I fell into a self-pity slump and ate a lot of unhealthy food, and spent too much time on the couch. I have to begin again before it gets too bad. I’m keeping up with my journal and picking up White Teeth before I fall too far behind. It doesn’t have to be a perfect week. It only has to be better than the last.


*Sunshine Smoothie recipe:

1 or 1/2 orange
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup baby carrots
2-3 slices fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk or water
Any seeds, supplements, or powders you desire
Blend
Enjoy!

118 // Convincing Yourself

I’m waiting for the weekend again. This will be my last rushed morning for a while, I hope. I’ve been battling car troubles for quite a few months now and have had to find my way without transportation of my own. Not having a vehicle limits your freedom of movement. It limits your feeling of autonomy. It’s damn depressing.

I know this is quite a first-world problem to have, and I know that I am lucky to be able to afford not just a vehicle but the repairs it needs, but after years of battling driving anxiety, time without my car means setbacks.

The good news is the problem might have finally been identified and resolved and my sense of freedom could be restored as early as this evening. I already feel that inkling of impending doom in my gut, but the sense of excitement layered on top lets me know I have made so much progress through these fears.


I’ve been reflecting on the difference between the things I say I want and what my actions show that I want.

What I mean is, we pick out these little habits we want to have and think we can simply add each on top of the person we already are, but we fail to consider that since we aren’t currently the *kind* of person who does those things, we aren’t really the kind of person who truly wants to do those things either.

I say I want to work out, but I don’t. What I want is to be the kind of person who wants to work out. An enthusiastic 30-minute workout after work every day does not align with the person I am today. If it did, it wouldn’t be so hard, so uncomfortable, so damn frustrating. I wouldn’t have to fight, and bargain, and threaten, and shame myself into it. If I was the kind of person who wanted to work out, nothing could keep me from doing it.

To become that person, I have to change more than my schedule. I have to do more than want it. I have to become a person who wants it. I have to grow and change into someone different from who I am now, and that’s a hard thing to accept. I want to be me, minus 10 pounds. I want to be me, but feel solid, strong, and capable. I want to be me, but not me.

So, how do you become different? The easiest way? Simply pretend. If you pretend you are someone who eats less sugar, works out every day, excels at their job, writes every morning, reads every evening, if you pretend every moment to be the kind of person who does those things, pretty soon you won’t be able to tell the difference. You won’t even want to think about it.

And I try not to. It may be too soon to claim success, but I did start working out over a week ago and have kept up the habit every day but one. What has helped is turning off my mind. It helps to tell myself that I am now a person that does this, and then I slip into autopilot. Change clothes, get water, get the hand weights, and start the workout video—move, move move!

I don’t come back to myself until it’s over and by then the feeling of accomplishment far outweighs the exhaustion and pain.

The person you want to be is not the person you are now with better habits. The person you want to be is wiser, calmer, determined, and stronger-willed. That is what makes those better habits easier. Becoming them takes little more than convincing yourself that you already are.