The weekend took its sweet time getting here but at least it had the decency to end on a better note than it began. I may have worked my ass off and I may have exhausted myself and stressed myself out but I got paid for it all and though I mourn the loss of my free time and I’m looking forward to that paycheck!

I’m grateful. The work isn’t hard physically and here I have respect and a lot of leeway is given to me to do things when and as I please. Most people don’t have this luxury and the truth is if I really wanted to I could take a lot more time off than I do. The truth is, though the year is starting out hard and I am exhausted and stressed part of me still enjoys helping out, doing my best work, and getting to be a part of a team.

The problem is that another part of me—a rather large part—would rather not.

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Today my workload is looking lighter than usual so I’m taking some time for myself and tackling a long list of small things that feel more like procrastination than productivity on a normal day but nonetheless need to get done.

I recently discovered Google Tasks and fell instantly in love so I’m migrating my Todoist lists over and now I have my mail, calendars, and to-do lists all in one place. While I am there, I’m filling out my editorial calendar, then creating drafts for my upcoming posts, and getting links together for the return of my “Weekend Reads” lists.

For the last two days, over lunch, I’ve been working on the first essay of my upcoming “Essay a Week” project. I’m following these steps but instead of writing 3,000 words in one day I’m spreading the work out over the course of one week. I’ve got my topic and most of my outline complete and I’ve even worked on step four in advance and have tons of quotes too. Tomorrow I’ll flesh out the intro and perhaps get a few random paragraphs I have already written in my head onto the screen.

For the late afternoon and evening, my goals are just to finish a few chores around the house and then read a big chunk of Notes from Underground. I am so close—and so ready!—to finally be done with this very boring but, I admit, very important book and to move on to something that feels more like an escape than a lean into the dreadful realities of human existence.

133 // An Audiobook Experiment

Today was a good reading day. I finally made it through The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but I still have to make it through Notes from Underground and the “Other Stories“.

I purchased and began my very first audiobook today as well, Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin. My sisters and my mom all “read” by audiobook and have been trying for a long time to convince me of the method’s virtues, but I know myself and my comprehension cliff dives whenever I am listening to rather than reading words. Hell, I can’t even read well from a screen! Old fashioned ink on paper is the only way for me, I guess.

But! Times are changing and I’m watching the stats of other readers climb to numbers that I know I just cannot attain through traditional means. Plus, Google offered me $5 toward a purchase so I thought, why not give it a try? Perhaps practice is all I need.

I’m enjoying how quickly I can move through “reading” by simply listening, but my habit of reading with a pencil has become another hindrance as well. With audio, I cannot mark the margins, insert my opinion, underline, or argue with the author! I cannot move through a book smoothly without being able to get my thoughts out along the way.

So, I’ve already decided that when I finish I will simply have to buy a physical copy and read it again.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

094 // Communing With the Past

I’ve been criticized for buying the books I read rather than borrowing them, but despite all the good reasons why, this last book reminded me why not.

I have developed a habit of reading with a pencil, writing in the margins, and, as it feels to me, reading each book as a conversation between the author and me. I read by writing out my own thoughts too.

I borrowed Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge from my little sister last week and since it wasn’t mine, I couldn’t read it with a pencil the way I normally do. Well, it turns out that the habit had become absolutely crucial to my comprehension. It turns out not being able to write, argue, or think in the margins made it impossible for me to engage with the material on a deeper level.

Worse yet, I would read something that stuck in my mind and not being able to store it anywhere I could not move past it. I had to resort to taking pictures with my phone and writing notes on scraps of paper just to refocus my attention.

I’m happy to be done with that book and on to reading a book that belongs to me again, this time Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I have my pencil sharpened and look forward to communing with the past again.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

089 // Me and Myself

I’m surprised by how much I’ve come to enjoy my time alone. Of course, I miss my girlfriend, and the dog is here to provide a sense of security, but the silence rather than being unsettling is quite calming and comfortable.

I used to hate being confined to my thoughts but slowly I’m becoming one of my own favorite people. I’m enjoying my own company and seeing the value in companionship with myself. Me and myself have finally, it seems, come to a place of understanding, non judgement, and embarked on a burgeoning friendship.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

Currently // March 2019: Seeds of Possibility

“March is the Month of Expectation.
The things we do not know—
The Persons of prognostication
Are coming now—
We try to show becoming firmness— 
But pompous Joy
Betrays us, as his first Betrothal
Betrays a Boy.” 

― Emily Dickinson, March is the Month of Expectation

March has never been a month that carried much weight or meaning for me. There are no birthdays in March. There are no major holidays, or none that I am interested in anyway. The only thing that marks the month for me, is the long-awaited start of spring and the beginning of the part of the year when I feel the happiest and the most free.

This particular March was much more stressful than most but somehow turned better than most too. My fiance and I accomplished a lot together and I made a lot of progress on my own though not exactly in the ways I’d hoped. It wasn’t a good writing month, but it was a good learning month and a good planning month. I gained confidence in March and began to practice the art of discipline. March was a start, I hope.

And now it’s time for April, my favorite month of the year. My birthday month and the time when winter’s grip loses its hold, and the air grows friendlier and love buds in our heart as the leaves do on the trees. April is when I was born and constitutes a kind of second New Year for me. It’s when I begin the trip around the sun again and deep and fervent thanks for whatever may come.

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

Writing little blog things. I’m still finding my feet here and still trying to figure out how to revive Zen and Pi, but I’m not giving up. I’m still sharing my daily journals, though I have to stop letting the digital replace the physical, and working on drafts book reviews and personal essays. By summer, I’ll be publishing proper long-form blog posts. I’m exploring submitting to other publications again too and making writing my second job rather than something I do when I feel like it. I’m scheduling time rather than waiting for time and working at the hard parts rather than doing what comes easily.

Making an effort. There are things in my life I have taken for granted and gotten lazy about. My relationships, my goals, my home, my work, and even my health have all been slowly falling into a state of disrepair on account of simple carelessness and fatigue. I’ve let things go and left things half finished telling myself I would come back and when I didn’t I fooled myself by saying there was plenty of time. But when you leave things they do not wait for you to return, they simply fall apart while you are away. Though we may grow weary, there are just some things in life that require a constant effort. Like a heartbeat, if you stop, they die.

Planning a possible NaNoWriMo project! My last NaNoWriMo attempt failed miserably, and I haven’t had the courage to try again since but this year I’m rethinking not only the genre, topic, and feeling of my project but also intended audience and means of publication. Suddenly more possibilities mean more possible and I want to give myself the best chance by starting now. I want to throw my future self the life jacket she is going to need to stay afloat. I’m taking notes, collecting and cataloging ideas, and keeping an outline in mind.

Anticipating another awesome birthday month! Most people I know hate their birthdays. They dread them, minimize them, and treat them like any other day, and for the life of me, I cannot understand it! My birthday is the most important day of the year to me because if I had not been born none of the other things in my life would matter. I wouldn’t be here to love, to learn, to hate, to grow, to experience any of it. So I celebrate not just my birth but every year I have been gifted on this planet because there have been so many times I could have left it. This year I’m planning a big dinner with at least 12 friends in addition to the family dinners and a planned “perfect day” with my wife to be.

Reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, still. I expect to finish Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race within days, but Emily Dickinson may take the rest of the year or more since I’d like to analyze and understand every poem. I’ve just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and have to say it was possibly the most beautiful book I have ever read. I had a hard time with it at first but once I chose to trust that Márquez was leading me the right way and that he would reveal the answers to my questions at the right time I had a much easier go. Next on my list is Notes From the Underground and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky and We the Animals by Justin Torres.

Watching American Gods on Starz and Barry on HBO in preparation for the new season premiere this weekend. I’m also watching The Magicians, my new guilty pleasure and Grey’s Anatomy my old guilty pleasure I cannot wait to be rid of. Honestly, though for the last few months, I haven’t been in the mood for TV but I know that will very soon change. Many of my favorite shows are returning this month including Game of Thrones, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Killing Eve, and The Chi. My weekends will once again be spent on the couch.

Learning a lot! I got to attend a conference for work and while I can’t say I learned a ton but I really was inspired and walked away with a lot to think about. I’ve also been making up for lost time starting my New Year’s Resolution to take some Massive Online Open Courses. My goal is to complete 7 for the year and I already have 2 done! Granted, they were short and sweet ones, but I’m already enrolled in 2 longer ones and I’ll start a 3rd next month. To keep track, and to encourage others on their own journey of independent learning I made a new MOOC list page to track all the courses I’m taking and the ones I’ve completed.

Feeling very tired. March might not have been important, but it sure was busy! We had my brother’s wedding; we made progress in planning our own wedding, and we spent a lot of sleepless nights stressing about both. Some of my family came to visit and my fiance was out of town for nearly a week visiting her’s. I already mentioned the conference plus we had spring break though we both worked through it. The city shut down for 2 days because of a blizzard and my fiance had 2 photography jobs to work and edit for. March was packed and I am in desperate need of rest though my expectations for relief in April are depressingly low.

Reflecting on this episode of The Partially Examined Life on Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. I had heard the name Hannah Arendt before but I never knew how influential a philosopher and thinker she was. I’m intrigued by her argument not that evil is common in the world, but that each of us is capable of doing great evil for no other reason but that we are stupid, strongly inclined to follow along, and far too eager to please. It’s far easier to fall into committing or enabling cruelties to occur than we are willing to accept and this is why we will go on committing and enabling them. She believes only through acknowledging this weakness can we prevent future mass atrocities from happening.

Fearing the next election cycle. I know it’s a bit early to be anxious but looking at the scandals rocking the current administration, the unwavering support of the far-right, the ever-widening field on the left, and the rise of hate and violence all over the world, things are starting to just feel bad. I don’t predict the world will end, but I do predict a lot more turmoil and a lot more lives lost. The scary part is when you look at who is being affected and whose lives are being lost you can recognize your own face in their place. I’m afraid, not just of what will happen to me but how my character may be tested too. I’m afraid for my loved ones, and for a future time when we will all be judged by subsequent generations. 

Hating the American healthcare system. If you’ve been following along, you know that I have struggled through the month of March to change from one medication to another to treat my ulcerative colitis. Because the medication is so expensive I have to apply for financial aid through drug companies, each with a different set of requirements and each with a different procedure for reimbursement. This time I had the added stress of my insurance provider putting a hold on my request so they could decide if they wanted to pay for it and all the while I’m slowly slipping into a flare. I’m happy it’s over, and I know it could have been worse, but I still hated it. It was still frustrating, stressful, and scary. The American healthcare system leaves you feeling powerless, confused, and afraid.

Loving my fiance. I love her every day of every month but this past month we’ve really had to come together as a team, support each other, push each other, and comfort each other through a lot. I don’t talk about everything here, some stories aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that I know I am one of the lucky ones. No matter what life throws at us, no matter how uncertain the world gets, no matter how much we fight amongst ourselves, we know there is somewhere where we are always safe. That love and safety has been crucial to my healing and enriched my life beyond words. 

Needing nothing but to believe in myself. The more I look at my life the more I see I’ve come quite accidentally to live nearly the life I want and need to live. I am lucky not just to have love, and work, and passion, but to have such small and quiet aspirations that can easily be pursued even if they cannot so be easily achieved. I just need to know I can do it. I need to quiet the doubts, silence the self-hate speech, and stop trying to divine what other people think of me. I have everything I need to be who it is I am trying to be, including the strength. I only need to believe it.

Hoping that more and more of our schools become places that are welcoming, supportive, and safe for our children. This month I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation on the benefits of moving toward a reflective and restorative based disciplinary system in our schools. Our current disciplinary system doesn’t teach kids to be disciplined adults, it teaches them to be compliant and complicit adults. I want to see more social-emotional training that teaches kids how to process emotions, build relationships, and connect with their communities. I’d love to see more schools, smaller, poorer schools servicing the most vulnerable youth being given the political and financial support they need to teach children not just how to pass tests, but how to live in this world, together.


So, yeah, all in all, March was a month of many things. It was busier than the two that came before and I have a feeling that while it doesn’t feel like it meant much now, come the end of the year I will look back and see that seeds of possibility were planted here.

But what about you? How did March treat you? Did winter hold tight til the last? What good did you do? What trials did you meet? Are you excited for April?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Damiano Baschiera on Unsplash

088 // Disoriented

I finished Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude today and I have to say, no other book has ever left me feeling so disoriented and wretched (in the best possible way) as this one.

I was so enthralled by the Buendía family and so ensnared by Marquez’s writing I more than half believed it was all true. Not just the events but the wisdom and the warning of it all. I lived through those one hundred years and witnessed such fascinating and terrible events only to wake up to this reality. What a colossal disappointment in comparison.

This is both the reward and the agonizing pain of a damn good book.


These entries are inspired by Thord D. Hedengren

028 // Beginning with Emily Dickinson

Another snow storm rolled in today and this time we got far more than the local meteorologists were predicting. Visibility was low and the temperatures were frigid. The road conditions were treacherous and traffic locked up all over the city. We all should have stayed home but the worst of it rolled in after it was already too late to call it a snow day.

My bones still ache and I’m entirely worn out for no reason except that the air was cold and I —having been forced to go out in it—had to work harder just to stay warm. I hate the layers I have to wear, and the clunky shoes, and the slow stupid way I have to walk to keep from busting my ass on the ice.

I’m tired, I’m angry, and I’m outraged I have to do it all again tomorrow.


It wasn’t all bad. I did finish reading The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (my sixth book of the year already!) this morning. It was an incredible book but not quite what I had expected it would be.

(I have to start writing this year’s book reviews before I get too far behind)

Luckily, I remembered to bring The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson to work knowing how close I was to finishing The Soul of an Octopus. So far it’s been a…challengeing read. I thought Dickinson would easy since the poems are so short. Wrong!

I could spend days analyzing just one of her poems. I only got through 10 of them today but they were so beautiful that I don’t mind at all. Looks like I’ll be spending a good long while with Ms. Dickinson. So much so that I may have to change my reading schedule to accommodate the research I want to do and the notes I want to take in the book.

I’m also going to start reading a second book to keep from falling behind on my reading challenge. I haven’t decided which one yet but I’m thinking something short and easy. Candide by Voltaire perhaps? Recommendations welcome.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.


Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

020 // Decisions and Doubt

Book shopping day! The sun was out, and the air warmed enough to persuade me to get out of the house. I gathered up the gift cards I’ve been hoarding since Christmas and went to my favorite place, the bookstore. I got the two newest volumes of Saga, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m excited to read them all, but more excited for the book shopping I’ll get to do again once I finish these.


I’m nervous about tomorrow.  We’re heading out early to look at a wedding venue. It’s going to be a long drive there, and a long drive back, and in between a long talk and a hard choice. Wedding planning isn’t fun, I’ve learned that.

The money, the time, the endless decisions and doubt. Not about our life together but about what you have to do to begin it. Our future began a long, long time ago and paradoxically the more that time has diminished our need for a wedding the more we feel the need to have it and the grander our day needs to be.

So, tomorrow we may have one step settled but then the other dominos will need to fall into place quickly. It’s all very scary, and hard, but the sooner it’s done the better and I’m sure, once we find our groove and get over enough humps, we’ll find the fun in it.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren