Concepts I’m Lingering With

Different ways to tell a lie/mixing secondary colors/the addicting bitterness of coffee/how to ask the right questions/books that fit in your pocket/vulnerability in friendship/henley shirts/freshly sharpened pencils/the times of day that feel safe/the thrill of spicy food/cold showers/knowing the world through emotion/suddenly ostracized members of elementary-aged friend groups/Solipsism/the build-up of dead skin cells in the winter/how quickly X-Acto knives wear dull/what the word “sorry” means to me/birds that collect shiny objects/sleep procrastination/how much hate gets expressed in love/seizing the means of production/the quiet companionship of plants/pomegranates/where people go when I forget them/manifestos/is it possible anymore to do nothing at all?

Inspired by the poet Topaz Winters

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Goals // Week 51

This week is going to be a long one, I already know it, but there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or to make the hours less grueling so there is no point in dwelling or whining over it. Instead, I will focus on the moment rather than wishing for the weekend. I will give each of my tasks my best and when it’s time to rest, I will give that my best too.

This week I will:

Read 100 more pages of The Plague by Albert Camus. Having such limited energy level lately means that not only must my best hours be spent on the most physically taxing tasks but that the act of reading has become a rather potent sedative. To be too tired for books is a rather depressing way to live, and I’d rather make cuts elsewhere than go on like this another week.

Update: I did it but I’m not happy with how it went. I read the most on Monday making it halfway to my goal in the first day of the week, but every day after that I made less and less time for reading. What I’m trying to do is read a little every day. I want reading to be a habit. I want to treat each book like a marathon, not a sprint.

 Stay on top of my meal and medication schedule. I’m still tweaking the regime and trying to find the best way to take all my medications and supplements that facilitates maximum absorption and effectiveness and results in as little nausea as possible. I’m doing well but the slightest distraction can mean skipped doses, missed meals, detrimental cravings, and debilitating fatigue. Bonus: Stay hydrated!

Update: It’s been so hard with work, with holiday festivities, time spent out shopping and with my withering appetite but I’m doing my best. I have the schedule down and the pills separated so that they are spread throughout the day. I take them with me wherever I go and I give myself permission to stop and eat when I can and where I can to make sure I stay on top of my health.

Schedule time to create a new “Bradbury prompts” list every day and write 1000 words. There is no goal beyond that. The words do not have to be good. They do not have to be interesting or even make sense. They do not even have to be published or shared. The goal is to practice the art of WORK RELAX DON’T THINK and all I need for that is a pen to write and paper to spill my thoughts onto.

Update: This is my greatest disappointment this week. Making the list last week really worked. It got me thinking, feeling, and writing in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. But writing, real writing, the kind that forces me to delve deep, feel my feelings, and then to expose myself to others is terrifying. I famously avoid anything that is hard or scary, so, I just didn’t make the tie and put the whole thing out of my head.

Finish my Christmas shopping and ship packages to out-of-town loved ones. It’s going to be hard but every day after work I am going to have to go back out into the world, fight the cold and the crowds, and get my gifting done. I have a few packages to ship but have little hope they will arrive on time. I just have to do my best.

Update: I’m done! I hated every second of it but I’m happy now knowing all the cute and fun things I bought are on their way to my loved ones across the country. I had hoped to send them a week earlier than I did to avoid the up charge to guarantee arrival by Christmas but I’m content knowing I wasn’t so late it was impossible all together.

Start a gratitude journal. Since I have been posting here (almost) daily I’ve severely neglected my physical journal. When I was journalling by hand regularly I used to end each day with a list of 5 good things that happened or that I felt, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. These things are often too personal for the internet which is why I haven’t continued the practice but I miss it. Time to get back to making gratitude a daily practice.

Update: I wanted to but to be honest, I wasn’t having a very good week and since the journal is a new one and I couldn’t bring myself to start out a new journal in such a negative time. Things have since improved. I have a better outlook and a lot more hope and excitement for the year to come. I am ready to start fresh for the new year.

This week I won’t let people who don’t have my best interests at heart get to me. I won’t let their bitterness push me to act out of character and I will remember that every opportunity I have I earned through hard work and passion. When I feel my frustration rising, I’ll isolate and immerse myself in my work and look toward a bright future I know is on the way.

P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 50.

Photo by Nicolas Moscarda on Unsplash

Goals // Week 50

This week I have a lot to get done, again, but not as much as last week. The new class of employees is just about done and by midweek I should start seeing more time for myself and I just hope to have the energy, the mental resources, and the emotional stability to focus on what is important when that time comes along.

This week I will:

Read 100 pages of The Plague by Albert Camus. Last week I didn’t get any reading done at all and while I already know I will fall far short of my reading goals for the year, I had hoped to end with at least two more books under my belt. So, this week I have to get back to it. I don’t think 20 pages a day is too much to ask of myself.

Update: I made it just over half way which was better than nothing so I won’t be too hard on myself. I just have so little energy right now that reading has become a chore. I’m actually really missing it and hoping that paring a cup of black or green tea with my reading time going forward will help perk me up and get me through the pages.

 Stay on top of my meal and medication schedule. Between medications and supplements I’m up to at least 17 pills a day. Some of them have to be taken with food, some 30 minutes before I eat, and some make me so nauseous that they have to be spaced out as much as possible front the others. That means I can’t miss a meal, or eat too late, or forget a pill or I end up feeling cruddy or slipping back down hill. My health has to be the top priority now.

Update: I only missed one evening dose of my medication and between 17 pills and having to break my meals up into four a day rather than three I think that’s pretty good. I made some small tweaks to the schedule and wrote it down to keep with me so I won’t forget what to take when. Just 7 more weeks to go like this.

Begin my own list of what I have started calling “Bradbury prompts“. These are simple words or phrases pulled from the mind without too much forethought to kick start blog posts and essays. The list is the first step in the Ray Bradbury WORK RELAX DON’T THINK system. I’m looking for patterns, for concept groups, for my motivation and possibly a project.

Update: I did “start” but I failed to keep going. I did enjoy the exercise very much and saw immediately how it could save me time and help me start writing when I don’t know where to begin. Going forward I really want to make this something I schedule and do every day and follow the list up with 1000+ words toward an essay or blog post based on what pops out of my head and into the list.

Get the Christmas shopping finished for our out-of-town people. December is slipping away quickly and before you know it, the last day for gifts to arrive before Christmas will be long passed. I’m sending to small children and I cannot have them disappointed in on Christmas day when there is nothing from Auntie Lisa under the tree.

Update: I did “start” but I failed to keep going. I did enjoy the exercise very much and saw immediately how it could save me time and help me start writing when I don’t know where to begin. Going forward I really want to make this something I schedule and do every day and follow the list up with 1000+ words toward an essay or blog post based on what pops out of my head and into the list.

Finish my resume! There is a new opportunity coming up very quickly that I know I would be perfect for and I want to be ready but I am procrastinating, badly. I have started but I haven’t finished and half finished means nothing at all. This opportunity was made for me and I have only to be brave enough to reach out and seize it.

Update: I don’t even want to talk about it. I failed miserably to finish it and rather than let myself down again I have taken it off of my list for next week and pledged to revisit the document at home during my winter break. I’ve already added it as an even in my calendar and turned on multiple notifications with note proclaiming “No excuses!”

This week I—hopefully—will slowly be returning to my old self. The temptation will be to overdo it. I’ll want to eat foods I know I can’t eat, to do things that I know I can’t do, and to push myself too far too soon. The danger now is losing progress. This week I have to listen to my body over the needs of anyone else.

P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 49.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

There is a nervous excitement all around me today. A snow storm is forecasted to move in tonight and there is a real possibility it will at least be significant if not record-breaking. We hope with each storm for a snow day, but this time, in a week where we’re only scheduled to work for two days anyway, we are daring to allow the certainty of it.

I’ve still got Ray Bradbury in my head telling me to WORK RELAX DON’T THINK. I’m up to the task of writing 1000 words or more a day but I’m not sure what those words should be about or what form they should take? Should I write in a stream of conscious? Should I simply begin in my preferred genre, the essay? Should I start with an idea, a quote, a point in mind? I have the time but too much self-consciousness to begin.

That sounds as sad as Bradbury said it would.

How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared released a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”

— Ray Bradbury

If We Were Having Coffee // Keeping My Workload Light

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and catching up over a hot cup of coffee.

I didn’t get up as early as I had hoped to this morning, I never do, but I have a lot more energy than I have in the last few days at least and I’m feeling especially motivated and accomplished. I’ve checked off most of my usual Sunday to-do item, and the day is only just half over. At this point I usually end up sitting down, getting distracted, and wasting the rest of the day but this Sunday I’m keeping out of the living room and keeping my task list in front of me. A relaxing Sunday never makes me feel very good, but a productive one is by far the best start to a new work week.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab a cup. The autumn air blowing in through the west windows is a bit crisp, but the sun is warm enough to warrant the open windows. I’ve fallen in love with my French press all over again since I remembered it can be used to make more than cold brew coffee. I’ve got a fresh bag of blond roast and a carton of sweet vanilla almond milk to go with it. Let’s talk about last week!

“Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.”

― Edward Abbey

If we were having coffee, I would tell you last week was a pretty good week.

More mornings than not I was able to get up on time, get ready for quickly and smoothly, and make it on time to work. It may not sound like much but working on a school bus means working in an industry that is time focused and unforgiving of tardiness. You would think that in all the years I have been doing this I would have gotten used to the early mornings but I never have no matter what or how hard I try. Hitting at least 3 out of 5 mornings where I am not feeling frustrated, breaking down in tears, rushing around, or running late is a big deal for me.

The new class of employees I had been working was released midweek and are already out working with the kids all on their own so my workload was light. I hear I may have a new class coming in at the start of December, anywhere from 4 to 20 people they say. I’d prefer to keep it under 12. That is where I can do my best work and trust I have both give new people all the tools and time they need to do the job and judge their compatibility with children and with our culture as a district.

Until they start I plan to go on keeping my workload light too. I know now that for the two weeks or more I will be with them I won’t have time or energy left over for any of my personal passions and pursuits. I know now that the balance I need in my life can’t be found in the chopping up each day into parts for me and parts for others but in chopping up whole months. I know now I need to look at life on a larger time scale.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I did get a lot of reading done this week though I still haven’t been able to finish Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. If I can get my Sunday chores done in time I may try to make it through the last 50 pages or so. I’d really rather not take it to work with me one more day.

I spent most of my free time working on little blog things. Zen and Pi has a new introductory post up. I don’t think it is my best work, but it’s a start and it did feel really good to finally write, finish, and hit publish on something over there. Now that it’s both been purged of the old posts, and marred by a new post, I feel much more excited about writing more in-depth and challenging pieces over there. I’m ready to start doing something that feels more like real writing again.

This week I want to get another post up but I haven’t settled on a topic yet. That’s okay though, the editorial schedule is pretty loose for now with once a month being the bare minimum and once a week being the most I can hope for. My goals are the opposite of this place, 10% quantity and 90% quality.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend was good but not in the way I had planned or hoped for it to be.

Friday night we went out for a much-needed evening of dinner and drinks with our “couples group”—our core group of 8 friends in which every member happens to be married to another member. I cannot express the importance of long-term couples having friends who are also in long-term (and healthy) relationships. It’s such a wonderful thing to be around people who are not just like you as an individual but like you in their choice to live their entire lives with another person as well.

Yesterday I meant to spend the day writing and working on my resume but I woke up feeling groggy from the night before. I struggled to stay focused or productive and by midday; I opted for a short nap thinking that when I woke up again I could start the day anew. Instead, I woke to a phone call from my brother asking if I would please step in to watch my niece and nephew because their scheduled babysitter needed to back out suddenly.

I love my niece and nephew and always enjoy visiting with them, but I do best with supervised visits since I’m not great with kids for long periods of time. I’m not good at being silly or seeing the world through a toddler’s eyes to know what they want. This is the main reason I choose to work with high schoolers at my day job. We had fun though, and I feel more confident that I can help my brother out when he needs me.

The kids only wore me out further though and even after they left I couldn’t muster the motivation to do anything but eat and watch some old favorites on Disney+.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week should be just as relaxed as the last. I took Monday off to help a family member and I pushed the bulk of my tasks off until after midweek. I want to take advantage of the opportunity for free time right away, and to give myself a chance to take it easy for a few days. I’m still feeling the effects of work stress that has already passed.

Sadly, I believe that my ulcerative colitis is beginning to flare again. I have already filed to required paperwork in case I need to take leave from work and tomorrow I’ll shoot an email to my doctor and emotionally prepare myself for the appointments and tests she will probably require. I’m trying not to stress before I know what is going on, but it’s hard when I can still remember so clearly the pain and the misery I went through during my last flare.

The worst part is, I blame myself. I didn’t take care of myself when I should have the most. I didn’t eat right, rest well, or take my medications on time. I forget that I can’t be like other people and that I can’t worry about what other people think. I have to put myself first and ask for help, for more time, and for a break when I need it whether other people do or not.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the air is going colder now. I’ve got to stop drinking coffee if I want to have any chance of sleeping well tonight and I’ve got to finish getting my house in order if I want any hope of another one of those smooth mornings tomorrow.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are feeling well and that wherever you are you are staying warm and I hope whatever stress you are feeling is the good kind and that whatever obstacles you face only encourage rather than deter you.

Until next time.

lofi hip hop radio // Chillhop Music

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // A Project and a Passion

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and a chance to catch up over a hot cup of coffee.

I’m up early this morning and starting the day with a big breakfast and at least half of my housework list. It helps me feel better about taking the midday to write if I’ve marked a few to-do items done by then. To be honest, I’m almost sad to be stuck inside. It’s such a beautiful day—We’re looking at a mild midday near 70 ahead of snow that’s forecasted to roll in over night, ugh!—but having the chance to clean, and write, and chat all day long sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday to me.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab a cup. I’ve just remembered that I actually own a French press and it can, in fact, be used to make other kinds of coffee besides cold brew. Let’s talk about last week!

“Coffee is a language in itself.”

― Jackie Chan

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was just as hard as the week before. I finished up training the new class of employees that started last Tuesday and though it stressed me and scared me and considering I had very little idea what I was doing most of the time; I think it went very well.

I definitely feel like I’ve earned more respect of my coworkers and my bosses by taking on this task and executing it so well and for freeing up some of their time to work on more pressing matters. The truth is a year ago no one would have considered giving me such a big task, not for lack of competence but because it simply isn’t my job, but now that we are so short staffed there is just no one left with the time to do it.

Of course this actually works out in my favor for the long term. There is no better time to demonstrate that you are an asset to a workplace than when the workplace is in utter chaos. Every day I find a way to help out, and every day I make an impression and add to my resume. Soon there will be a chance for advancement and I mean to do everything I can to leave no room for any other option than me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend was just what I needed. I did nothing at all but what I wanted to do.

I took care of myself. I got back on my medication schedule. With all the work last week I found myself skipping meals and missing my medication alarms. I’m definitely feeling the consequences so much so in fact that tomorrow I’ll be sending off an email to my doctor and filling out this years FLMA request to prepare. I expect a round of lab tests and though I know I am not supposed to stress about the “what ifs” I can’t help worrying a little about both what could happen if my IBD flares up but the possibility that doing more at work is just too stressful for me to keep this disease in remission.

Yesterday I also took a leap and deleted all my old posts from my other blogging project, Zen and Pi. Many of you might know me from there but for those who don’t, Z&P is where my blogging dream first started, and died.

See, I meant to write about things there, and sometimes I did, but slowly I fell into a bad habit of getting too personal and mundane and that is why I made this place. I wanted somewhere to put the personal and mundane but then I never went back. I never lost the desire to write about things, but I didn’t know how to begin again with all that old personal and mundane still being hosted there. So, I deleted it all.

Of course, I didn’t really really delete it all and my hope is that much of it will be resurrected, revised, and reposted here where I also want to write about things, just different, more personal things instead. Anyway, if you want to tag along on the journey, you can check out the new space and follow.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week should be a lot more relaxed than the last.

I was going to spend my time working on those National Blog Posting Month pieces I had drafted at the end of October and never got around to finishing or posting but if I’m honest trying to catch up or to begin such a rigorous editorial schedule this far into the month doesn’t sound like much fun. It doesn’t sound like the kind of writing I really want to do be doing right now. I already have a project and a passion of my own and I need to focus my time on that.

I’m still interested in writing about those ideas but I want to do it more slowly. I want to go deeper and do better than what I had planned at first. Rather than quantity over quality, or even the other way around, quality over quantity I’d like to learn to balance the two both here and over at Zen and Pi. I want to stop trying to write the way other people do. I want to stop writing for other people too. I want to follow my own interests and instincts.

I want to write more selfishly.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun has moved on to the west windows and I can feel the cold air moving in both from the north and west from the mountains bringing grey clouds and the threat of snow. It’s time for me to put away my screens and spend time with my little family before I’m forced to start another work week.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you were busy when you needed to be and that you were able to find peace when you didn’t. I hope you’re feeling well. I hope you are taking care of yourself when if don’t.

Until next time.

Risk // FKJ, Bas

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

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.

155 // A Dent in the Mess

I was back at work today, bright eyed and bushy tailed. I got in earlier than I have since school ended and I hope the trend continues. I want to start acting more like me even if I’m not exactly feeling like me. I want to start getting things done in all areas of my life again.

Tonight I cooked dinner, the first time in a month or more, I think. I made salmon sliders and hated it but my wife to be was impressed so somewhere I’m happy I suppose.

I’ve decided to go ahead with the “Essay a Week” challenge, starting the first week of July, I hope. I spent the evening getting a head start by cleaning up my old ideas, and prompts lists in Simplenote. I barely made a dent in the mess but what I did get through was inspiring. I love dusting off my old notes, expanding them, tearing them apart, tearing them up.

The hard part will be separating the pieces for the challenge and other fun things I want to posts and write. The even harder part will be not falling behind so I can write all those other fun things instead.

These entries are inspired by

154 // A New Project?

I stayed home again from work. I was hoping to intercept our engagement rings as they arrived from the postal service but I found out too late that they had been delayed and would not come today after all. Now I have to try to leave early tomorrow (or whatever new date and time the package tracking app demands I be available) to sign for it.

I spent the day doing what I always do when I get some free time; I cleaned the house. I should have been writing, but I didn’t know what to write so I finished up a few drafts here, backdated them, and pledged not to fall behind again.

I did come across a new 52-week writing challenge idea. Inspired by Andrea Askowitz, I’m thinking about writing an essay a week, every week, for the next year.

I think it would be good practice not just for writing but for focus and idea generation. I’ve always written best and most consistently when I have a direction and a deadline and this might just be what I need to start posting real content here and to start submitting pieces to other blogs and publications too. Plus, I think it would just be fun.

So, 50+ essays in the next year, whew! Should I do it?

These entries are inspired by