113//366

I used writing as an escape today but not in a good way. I was supposed to be working on my course assignments but I wrote an Earth Day piece that I’m not sure I like. The problem is that so much of what I share has been free writing session with little to no editing beyond spelling grammar checks and rearranging paragraphs. What I’d like now is to spend some days on a piece without losing energy or focus.

I’m going to be returning to work in just under two weeks and I have to start thinking about how I can transition what I have learned, what I want, and what I have time now into what I will have time for when most of my day will be filled up with work and the needs and expectations of so many people.

Less time means my goals will take longer. It doesn’t mean they are impossible to achieve. I’ve had a chance to make a start and I don’t want to lose it to poor planning and foresight.

In a way I’m kind of glad I’m going back to work. I miss my friends and my routine and I think as much as both get in the way of my writing and my goals I think they also make both possible too. I need the inspiration and mental stimulation that comes from being with people and with doing things that have nothing at all to do with writing. It seems I need a life in order to have anything to say about it.

112//366

Today, in an effort to enjoy some social interaction outside of the house we met a close loved one in the parking lot of Chipotle to to enjoy a nice meal and some pleasant conversation from the safe distance of inside of our own cars. It was strange but it was nice too. I think this is a small taste of what the future will be like. Of course, it won’t be so extreme forever but this time and terror will be with us for years to come. I may never feel comfortable being so close to other people again.

Yesterday I lamented the possibility of my wife returning to work in the coming weeks and today I am stressing about the prospect of me returning to work too. My boss sent out a series of emails this afternoon asking who had a mask and who didn’t and if we’d be able to return to work the week of the May 4th.

To be honest, I’m freaking out a little bit. I’m not just worries about the virus, but the precautions we are going to have to take are really going to complicate my work. Training already takes weeks as it is, but I may have to maintain distance, do one-on-one training, wear masks and gloves, and disinfect equipment between trainees. Calss time will be doubled at least. The good news is I probably don’t have to worry anymore about my pay through the summer and I might be able to get the hold up over my promotion figured out.

This next part is going to be scary, but it sounds like we’re going to take it slow. I just hope that if things get bad the powers that be won’t let pride or even optimism get in the way to turning back to keep us all safe.

111//366

I got my goals out for the week, but to be honest I wasn’t as focused or motivated as I wanted to be today and very little in the way of progress way made. This week will be off to a late start, but Tuesdays are as good a day to start as Mondays. I plan to get up early and to start my routines and rituals right away so writing can be a priority for the rest of the day.

The sun was out but my knee is still giving me trouble, so I couldn’t go for a walk like I wanted to. I’ll try again tomorrow. I have to get out and into the sun soon. I have to move these bones and stretch these muscles. I have to spread out in the world a little.


This afternoon my wife got an email prompting her and the rest of her team to discuss plans for returning to work next week. I’m worried it’s too early and terrified of the risk she may be taking as an asthmatic. I’m not even sure the Governor’s orders allow for her workplace to open and meet the requirements to keep everyone safe and healthy. I just don’t understand. Why do we have to get back to normalcy so soon?

FOr the rest of the world I somewhat understand. The system sucks, but it’s the system we are stuck with and money reigns supreme. Most of us can’t eat, keep our homes, have water, electricity, internet, or healthcare if we don’t go back to work soon, but my wife and I are not one of those people and neither are the powers that be deciding our fate. School is cancelled for the year and we are all still being paid. What’s the rush?

Goals // Week 17: The Earlier the Better

This week is the last before the state wide stay-at-home order here is Colorado is set to expire. I’ll still be staying inside for a few weeks more at least but the city will be coming back to life and I’m sure that life will find a way inside these walls, or maybe I’ll find a way out, just a little, if it’s safe. If I am safe.

Beyond that I want to make a renewed effort to focus myself and do more real writing: pieces that delve deep and reveal something about me, about us, about the world. I want to focus on real goals and spend less time passively watching and waiting. I want to spend more time being brave, being reflective, and doing what I know is right and good.

So, this week I will:

Wake up earlier. 7:00 AM is ok for weekends but Monday through Friday need to be work days again and the writing needs to start by 6:00 whether it’s blog posts, journal entries, a course assignment, a poem, an essay, or an idea for a larger project I just have to begin and the earlier the better.

Update: I set a new alarm for 6:00 AM but I had set it to vibrate only since I am a light sleeper and my wife is not. I didn’t want to wake her before her own alarm at 7:00. Most mornings I heard it and most of those mornings I was able to get out of bed. One thing I have learned is that the hardest part is getting up. After that, it’s easy to stay up…mostly.

Finish one week each of courses The Science of Well-Being and Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader. I’m already behind in Memoir and Personal Essay because it got hard, and I started stalling but even though this goal is small, finishing these courses is one thing I’d like to be able to say I completed before the summer starts and I have to return to work.

Update: The Science of Well-Being is easy enough, I just wish I had access to a printer so I could fill out the handout and track my happiness and emotions as I work through the videos and readings. Memoir and Personal Essay is giving me a harder time since the first writing assignment prompt contained parameters I didn’t feel I could meet but then I decided to stop prying to be perfect and just try to be productive.

Clean my side of the “creativity room”. I write best from my desk but when the area gets too cluttered or disorganized, I migrate to the kitchen table, or the couch, or, worst of all, the bed. I can’t write or work in any of those alternate places without suffering severe distraction. The answer is to set aside one hour this week to

Update: My side is such a mess that I don’t even know where to begin, so I didn’t Most of it is post-it notes and loose leaf paper I’ve written a variety of notes on from writing ideas, to shopping lists, to to-do items, reminders, wish lists, and projects. Some pages contain a little of everything and most are so out of context I can’t even remember what past me is trying to say. My goal is to decipher, type, and organize as many of these notes as I can, but the task is daunting. Maybe next week…

Eat, sleep, move, and hydrate. I’ve been, as my wife puts it, forgetting I am hungry. I’ve been going to bed too late and waking up too late. I’ve been house-bound and sedentary. I can’t even remember when the last time I drank a full glass of water was. I’d like to start doing better. I need to start doing better.

Update: I ate, I slept, and I hydrated, but I did not move nearly as much as I needed to. A lot of the reason was laziness, but some of it is persistent joint pain that is making me feel old, invalid, and depressed. This week I’m going to buy a new compression sleeve to support my knee, one that is more comfortable than the one I have and can be worn when I work out or go for a walk. The added support should ease the pain and raise my spirits so I can be more active.

 Watch less mindless TV and more educational videos instead, or listen to more podcasts or music, or read a book. Do anything to keep time from slipping away so quickly. The point is not just to be mindful of how I spend my time, but to be mindful while I’m spending it. Bonus: Spend less time sitting and more time on my feet.

Update: I watch less TV but I still watched more than I’d like. Still, everything counts, and better is better than nothing at all. It helps that my wife is also trying to watch less and that I have binge-watched pretty much all the shows I am interested in any way. Now I just have a few I keep up with and only one episode each of those a week to watch.

Finish reading Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s an easy read and I’m already over halfway there but finding the time, or taking the time I should say, to read has been hard these past few days. All I have to do is trade some Facebook time for reading time and I’ll be on to the next read in no time. Bonus: Read some Essential Essays about Feminism.

Update: This book is beginning to bore me and when I get bored with a book, I start avoiding it. The problem is, of course, that the book takes longer to finish. The fastest way out is through and if I am not going to be the kind of reader who quits books when I don’t like then I have to be the kind of reader that reads consistently and quickly. Get the book over with, then you won’t be bored anymore.

This week I will not do only what is easy and only when it’s easy. The hard thing is always the thing I know deep down I should be doing. Sometimes I read so I don’t have to clean. Sometimes I clean so I don’t have to write. Sometimes I write so I don’t have to work out. I do the things I want but never when I want to and this week I will not give up so much control to my fear and cravings. I will not use one goal to procrastinate on another.


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

110//366

I woke up today and quickly realized that my knee was hurt bad. I think I irritated the joint while working out a few days ago and now it’s swollen and forcing me to spend much of the day seated and on ice. There’s a lot to do around the house though so I’m up on it as much as I can be. The kitchen is a mess. The bathroom needs cleaning. The laundry needs folding. The snake enclosures need attention. The plants need watering, and a lot more. I’m opting out of dinner cooking duties with the promise, the hope, that things will be better tomorrow.

It was a bad writing day again. I can’t think past the pain and the things I have to do so I spent my time doing those things and listening to podcasts to calm me and to sooth my loneliness while my wife works. The good news is I did just about everything I set out to do. The bad news is I still feel bad for what I couldn’t.

I’ll never quite get over how little Sundays feel like Sundays when Mondays aren’t anything like Mondays should be. The only thing that has stayed the same is how little I loath to start the week. The transition from weekend to work week is a painful and regular reminder that time is still passing away. With more time to think and more mental space to pay attention, I realize I miss days that do by. Perhaps this is one of those things we use work and relationships to distract from. I miss last week. I miss yesterday. I miss an hour ago.

I can’t imagine allowing myself to feel this loss on the scale of years.

109//366

I got out of bed early for the first time this week. I’m trying to squeeze an extra hour out of the day to look over my to do list for the day and start my journal entries.

It’s an hour before my wife and the pets wake up, so I have to limit my activities to keep the house quiet. It’s nice because it means I can only write or read and I can’t make coffee first thing when I wake up. I can only have water, which is much better for me, anyway. When she wakes up the day can begin and the expectations start, those from her, from the world, and myself, but for now I am just me and there is nothing but peace. This is my favorite part of the day and I wish I was able to get up early enough to enjoy it more often.

Still, despite the early start and the enthusiasm, the words aren’t flowing as easily as I’d like. I’m stick on this assignment and growing more discouraged by the day. It’s been four now and I still can’t figure out what angle to take or how to go from this germ of an idea to a whole essay complete with paragraphs and a beginning and an end. I may try free writing but that sounds lame, or maybe I’m just being hard on myself.

108//366

I had a phone appointment with the doctor today and for the first time in a long time it was all good news. Starting tomorrow I can begin tapering off of the medication I have been on the longest and which has done the least for me and next month I can start tapering off of the mild steroid I was put on. By summer I’ll just be taking supplements and going for half hour infusions every other month. It’s a dream come!

Less than six months ago I was worried about how close I was to surgery and losing my colon forever. I was worried about more medications being added and never getting out of the painful flare I was in. I was feeling so down and hopeless, but I’ve got an awesome support team and a body that is always frustrating me but is always fighting to heal the best it can.

On the flip side, I also had to make a series of phone calls to the financial department and the drug company’s patient assistance program to try to work out paperwork problems and payment delays. I’m lucky to be getting help to handle the infusions costs which are thousands of dollars each but the stress of submitting proper forms and making sure the two sides speak and knowing that if something goes wrong, I will be the one held financially responsible is incredibly stressful, and I’m supposed to be watching my stress levels.

I spent the rest of the day in the “creativity room”. I was supposed to be cleaning but spent the time writing instead. That’s a nice change from the norm and feels like a good sign of progress. Perhaps that is the key after all, using writing to procrastinate when I have other things to do rather than doing everything, anything, else rather than writing.

107//366

Today is a better day than yesterday, or it was. I set an alarm for 6:00 AM, but I slept right through it and lost over an hour of daylight. I still haven’t been sleeping well and waking up is getting harder again. I do have the morning routine down so it’s easier to get moving, get cleaning, or writing, or reading, or whatever I feel like doing.

My wife had a long work conference this afternoon, which always makes me feel a little more shut in and stuffy. I have to try to keep quiet and the “creativity room” become off limits to me. The walls close in and this small space grows more suffocating. Not only that, but I am jealous. Even though she is working, she gets to interact with people outside of this house. I can hear laughter. I can hear them asking after each other’s health and catching up over current events. It made me feel overly sensitive and irrationally hurt and somewhat ashamed.

Afterward an old friend of hers invited her to join their family happy hour party on Zoom and the feelings only deepened.

Of course, I can always reach out to my own family and friends and organize a Zoom meeting or video chat if I wanted to, but it always feels better to be the one invited rather than the one doing the inviting, doesn’t it? I know that isn’t right, or it shouldn’t be. I know that if I want to feel less alone, I have to be the one to make the first move and I think I really will. I’d like to plan a virtual version of our old “Margarita Fridays” we used to have with our friends next week. I’d like to plan a Sunday family day too, but I don’t really know how to plan it, yet.

106//366

Today was not a good day. I woke up too early and with a pounding headache and though copious amounts of caffeine and aleve have blunted the worst of the pain and fatigue, I’m still feeling very low and blah.

I tried to push hard to get through all the things on my to-do list. It was slow and tedious going, but I’m happy with what I was able to do. It seems like my wife and I are working on similar house and spring cleaning projects, only I am a day behind her. Yesterday she rearranged much of the kitchen and today I deep cleaned it. Today she organized her desk and half of the “creativity room” and tomorrow I’ll do my side. While I’m in there she’s going to start on the basement and by the weekend, I’ll be doing my share down there too.

I had the energy to focus on straightforward tasks, but writing was out of the question, though I have the germ of a new idea beginning to grow. A personal essay I’d already been thinking of writing that I might be able to tie into my first assignment of the Memoir and Personal Essay course I enrolled in. I have a life event, an emotion, a story, and a point but within the piece you’re supposed to reference and tie in a greater global event that was happening around the same time as this person was impacting your life. This is where I am drawing a great big blank.

The truth is, I didn’t try all that hard either. I’m feeling really down about this isolation and I’m growing more concerned about our financial future. My wife and I discussed the idea of me getting a temporary job to help get us through the summer and keep our savings intact. This sent my anxiety through the roof and I felt some initial guilt for not wanting to do it. It’s just been a long time since I’ve worked anywhere else and I afraid.

Everything will be okay. I know that. I’m just having trouble believing it at the moment.

105//366

I finished my first week of Science of Well-Being today and I have to say I’m really glad I enrolled. In fact I wish I had started with this course when I first set out on this self-guided learning journey.

The videos were a great introduction, but most eye-opening part was the tests set up to measure your levels of happiness and your character strengths. My happiness level was lower than I expected, only 2.6 out of 5, and my number one character strength is…judgment?

I never even thought of judgment as a character strength let alone considering it to be one of mine but in reading the description I think it actually does apply to me.

“Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.”

Some of my other top strengths were perspective, love of learning, prudence, and appreciation of beauty and excellence. All true, but still quite surprising. There were others much lower on the list—not weaknesses per se but traits that just “come less naturally to me”—that I wished were nearer the top but all in all I’m thrilled to have found the words to describe a part of myself I’ve never quite been able to put into words.

I also started week one of Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader but after the first couple of videos I felt I’d spent enough time on learning for the day and committed to picking it up again tomorrow. I have to pace myself and avoid burnout, boredom, and becoming too consumed and neglecting my other goals and interests.

Not much writing got done, but I felt cruddy and distracted this morning. It wasn’t until after lunch that I was able to wrangle my mind and focus enough to form thoughts or retain information. I think tomorrow will be better.


Update: Had my wife take the character strength survey too. Her greatest strength is fairness, and that is exactly right. Fairness came up surprisingly low for me and in taking it over with her I realize there is more than one way to think of fairness. She treats everyone the same, both for good and bad, I treat everyone as I believe they deserve in accord with their actions. Comparing the rest of our results was really interesting too. In some ways we are really similar and in some ways we are very, very different but in a good way.