I was up before the sun again but my wife joined me shortly after so we could Facetime the nieces and nephews and watch them open their gifts together and then head to brunch at my mother’s house to open gifts with our in town family.

As much as I love my family and enjoy giving and sharing joy with them, I’m looking forward to a quiet Christmas dinner just the two of us. We’re cooking together, our new holiday tradition. On the menu is lamb again, like on Thanksgiving, but this time with a new recipe, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, lots of wine, and a raspberry mousse cake for dessert. I’m very excited.

But until then I’ll have to feign the holiday spirit. I’m not feeling well still and Christmas day has always been a holiday tinged with some anxiety and sadness for me. Coming from a broken home and a dysfunctional family meant missing the family that couldn’t be there and fighting with the family that was. Coming from poverty meant feeling guilt for whatever gifts you got and shame for your angry over what you didn’t.

Of course, life it different now, but our childhood selves never leave and they never grow and we carry their pain with us too. To that little girl in me: I’m sorry. It gets better. I’m here and this Christmas will be better than one you ever knew with love and warmth and safety. Merry Christmas. I love you.


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Currently // December 2018: This Year’s Past, Present, and the Future

Decembers are strange months. They force us—through our grieving over the last year, our anticipation and expectation for the next, and the celebration of the present with good food, family, and friends—to live fully in all aspects of our lives. The past, the present, and the future. Decembers can be exhausting, sad, and overwhelming, but they can also be joyful, hopeful, and so very warm. It all depends on what this year’s past, the present, and the future feel like to you.

I’ve had many Decembers full of loathing, curmudgeonry, and gloom because, well, the holidays were never happy times for me. They were the time of year that pretending to be merry and bright only brought out the worst in my family. This year felt different. This December was a warm one. I felt loved, and I allowed myself to be loving too. Time certainly heals and I have come far enough from those sad Christmases I used to know to a place where I can give myself over fully to the season.

But now it’s come to an end. Now is the time to let go of Christmas and to think of the New Year. Now is the time to muster up the best of ourselves. Now is the time—fueled by all that good food and deep love—to become who we’d like to think we are.

But first, here is what I am…

Writing slowly but steadily, on big projects and small. I had high hopes of starting a daily blogging habit for the new year but upon further reflection and introspection, daily blogging just isn’t for me, yet. Turns out I just don’t have a ton of energy to go around and focusing on blogging so much means less time and energy for my dream projects. Not only that, but failing to post daily makes me feel like, well, a failure, and being so filled with disappointed makes it impossible for me to write anything at all. So, I’m writing here, and for Zen and Pi, and I’m even resurrecting my newsletter too! but I’m only committing to one piece per online space per week for now and looking forward to creating and sharing more meaningful work with you soon.

Making promises. I promise to spend less time in from of the TV and more time in my “creativity room”. I promise to keep a list of dreams and projects in front of me rather than my Twitter timeline. I promise that whenever I feel bored, I won’t let my first instinct be to pick up my phone. I promise to read a book instead. I promise to write every day. I promise to stop apologizing for my weaknesses and to embrace my vulnerability. I promise to keep on doing what I have been doing but to use the lessons I have learned to do better.

Planning everything. I have been experimenting with using Trello to keep track of tasks for all my big projects and my blogs. I have a list for each project and lists titled “this year”, “this month”, “this week”, “today”, and one for “every day”. I’ve been moving items (or cards) from their project lists into the “time frame” lists once I feel I’m ready to begin. Each card can have a description, a checklist, attachments, and I can add comments and links underneath too. I love that I can keep both short-term and long-term to-do lists in front of me without getting confused or overwhelmed and it’s easy to shuffle them around as needed.

Anticipating a “Dry January”. For those who’ve never heard the term, Dry January is a movement where people pledge not drink any alcohol for the first month of the year. I don’t consider my relationship with alcohol to be problematic per se, but the medication I am on for my ulcerative colitis is affecting my liver and cutting out my daily drink proved harder than I thought it would be. A hard cider or a glass of red wine can be a real comfort at the end of a long day but I need to take care of myself and learn to decompress in new ways. I look forward to the money saved and maybe losing a few pounds too.

Reading The Iliad, still. I knew I would be reading it to the end of the year but with the holidays and this weird period of laziness and listlessness between Christmas time and the new year I haven’t been able to finish the book. That’s ok though. I’ll pick it back up as soon as I feel ready. I’ve set new reading goals for the year too, 30 books once again. I am determined to make 2019 the first year I meet this goal by making reading a priority, something I must do, every day.

Watching old episodes of Veep on HBO while I wait for most of my usual shows to come back between now and April. Before that, I was watching Killing Eve on Amazon Video and I cannot recommend it enough. I have been a fan of Sandra Oh since her days on Grey’s Anatomy (another show I anxiously awaiting both the return and the end of). I saw Bird Box on Netflix; it was good but not great, and I finally got around to Isle of Dogs which was exactly the work of art I knew it would be.

Feeling tired. December was, as all Decembers are, exhausting. I feel bad for having been so lazy this past week off from work but it felt so good that I know I needed it, mentally as well as physically. I regret nothing but I do resolve to get off my ass starting today.

Fearing a new year that will be just like the last. I’m afraid that I won’t get anything done at all and that I will fail all the challenges I start and the goals I’ve set. I’m afraid 365 days from now I will be sitting at this same desk writing this same post saying all the same things about how I failed, but it’s okay, I have a plan for 2020 and this time I’m going to get it right! I’m afraid that I am not capable of the work I need to do or worthy of the successes I hope to achieve.

Reflecting on 2018 and what it meant to me. This year I completed a Year Compass booklet for the first time and it really helped me get over the initial disappointment I felt over all the things I didn’t get done. I realized that while 2018 wasn’t productive in all the ways I had hoped it would be; it was still an amazing year. Looking back, I had a year full of warmth and love, friendship, family, and fun and I’m pretty proud of that.

Needing willpower like I have never had before. Willpower is the word I chose for 2019. I wrote it in my Year Compass under the coming year and underneath I wrote: “productivity is planning for the future weaker, stupider you”. I was thinking of a Tumblr post from Stowe Boyd, “Will Power Is A Myth, So Take The Damn Nap“. I’m asking for the strength to do the work, or do what needs to be done now so I can pick the work back up again later.

Learning Classical Sociological Theory! I’ve been looking for some free online courses to take for a while now and this was one that looked good. I’m on a mission to learn how to practice and I think taking a structured course would help me cultivate a habit of daily discipline and fuel my writing with new information and perspectives! Win, win and all for free right? I haven’t enrolled just yet (I’m implementing new habits in a more staggered fashion for 2019 rather than all at once) but by February I hope to start.

Loving this past year. I know it was a horrible year politically here in America and in many places around the world because of America but personally, in my own little suburban bubble, it was a pretty good year. That isn’t to say I didn’t have my ups and downs, or that the bigger picture not affected me but what I did have was an amazing support system and what I did was take breaks as needed from said bigger picture. I know that is a privilege many don’t have, and I am grateful that I do.

Hating that this past year was so politically ugly and divisive. I hate how much we hurt one another out of fear and of pride. I hate how the unknown makes us so cruel and how easily we justify suffering and death. From the growing threat to immigrants, the frequency of mass shootings, the number of animals that went extinct, and the abandonment of our responsibility to the global climate crisis, 2018 was the year that humanity broke my heart and I hate that I have no expectation that 2019 will mend it.

Hoping, on this last day of 2018, that all of us all around the world can find the courage to forgive and begin again. I hope that we can start a new year with a little less of the past holding us back or holding us apart. I hope the new year can begin with more clarity and that 2019 brings out more of what is good in us. I hope you all have a safe night and a productive start—in whatever way is meaningful to you—to your brand new year.


So, yeah, all in all, December was beautiful. It was by far the best December I’ve ever had, emotionally anyway. I look forward to ringing in the new year with my fiance, in our home, while enjoying good food, getting some writing in, and completing a few projects in the house. It’s just the tone I want to set.

But what about you? How did December treat you? How did 2018 treat you? Did you have a wonderful Christmas and will you ring in 2019 quietly with close friends and family, or will you attend a grand gathering somewhere and meet it with flare?

Let me know in the comments.

“The first of December was a wintry day…and the year seemed getting ready for its death.”

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Featured photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // I Am, in Fact, Not Ready

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m up late this morning, as has been the case for many days in a row now. Being on such a long break from work means that every day I fall further and further from my usual schedule. I’ve been staying up far too late, waking up too late, and doing far too much of nothing in between. I’m hoping to put an end to the laziness today. I may be up late but I’m writing and cleaning, and soon I’ll put on real clothes and leave the house for the first time in days.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. I have a fresh batch of cold brew in the fridge for a quick buzz, or I can put on the Moka pot if you’re in the mood for something strong but hot. Let’s talk about last week!

“I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end.”

Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Christmas was actually wonderful this year.

We saw my family briefly on Christmas Eve for a rushed gift exchange and catching up. I had hoped to spend less and stress less about gifting this year but behind all the pressure there is a real pleasure in finding just the right gift. I honestly wish I could have done so much more.

We spent Christmas Day with my girlfriend’s family this year. We had too much food, and I had too much to drink and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The holidays are hard and it’s good to be with people who not only love you, but make you laugh, make you feel safe, and who appreciate you being there.

For dinner, we had a deliciously cheesy lasagna with acorn squash topped with orange marmalade and butter with spicy Italian sausage on the side. For dessert, there was cannoli and tiramisu too. We at it all in courses and by the end we were struggling even to get down the last cup of strong coffee and all our stomachs were hurting. None of us regretted a thing.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’m secretly looking forward to doing some shopping for myself after all this giving. I know that sounds bad, but the truth is there has always been a deep selfish streak in me too. It’s possible I love getting gifts just a tiny bit more than I love giving them.

Thankfully, I got plenty of gift cards with hard limits to keep me under control. I’ll be heading back to the mall and browsing the shelves of bookstores this week for a few things I promised myself I’d come back for when I was out shopping for others.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the days since Christmas have been uneventful and wildly unproductive. I’ve been feeling down, negative, restless yet exhausted, unhappy and rather moody. I’m not sure why except that I feel a vague longing to be doing something other than what I have been doing or even should be doing.

What I mean is, there isn’t enough time to do all the thing I want to do. There isn’t enough time to paint the living room, repair kitchen drawers, clean the whole house, visit friends and family, go out and do something, write, read, and rest all at once.

No matter what I do, I feel like I should be doing something else, but that something else isn’t what I want to be doing either. So I end up feeling guilty and then at the end the day I just feel disappointed. There is a slow panic rising too as I realize how much time I cannot get back and how close the end of my break is looming.

To be honest, though, doing nothing hasn’t felt entirely bad. In fact, I’m beginning to resent all those obligations and considering my time at home to be a glorious “stay-cation”. I’m working on a compromise that will get me through the coming week.


If we were having coffee, I’d sigh as I remembered that this is the last Sunday of the year. As much as I tried to be ready for this ending I admit that I am, in fact, not at all ready to let go of 2018. I’m excited but I’m also afraid. I’m sad, but oh so hopeful and happy too. I have high expectations for 2019 and whenever expectations are high I have a tendency to withdraw. I’m fighting that tendency now and hoping that I will wake up early on January 1st, 2019 and do what needs to be done.

I haven’t exactly pinned down my New Year’s resolutions yet. Instead, what I have are a few mindset shifts I’d like to make and year-long to-do lists for my blogs, my other writing opportunities, my dream projects, my home, and my finances. I’ve been experimenting with using Trello, breaking done projects into actionable steps and moving items from their respective project lists into lists for “this year”, “this month”, “this week”, “today”, and finally, to “done”.

I guess my New Year’s resolution is simply to write down the things I need to do and finding a way to get them done every single day of 2019.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the grumbling in my stomach reminds me it’s getting on toward lunchtime and time for me to get ready to head out into the world.

Today we are picking up paint supplies and samples (the first step in our “transform the living room” plan), going to IKEA—that wonderful hell of beautiful and cheap furniture we can never stay away from—and, if I still have the energy, we’ll pick the newest new Saga volumes on our way back home.

I hope your Christmas was lovely, and that you got as much as you gave. I hope the days since have been more productive for you than me and that you are ready for what the new year will bring.

Until next time.


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

Photo by Julien Labelle on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m not up as early as I wanted to be, but I went to bed a lot later than I should have last night. I knew I had a lot to do today, but I just wanted some time to be home, to write and to watch some TV before I had to get up and go back out into the world and finish this Christmas shopping. I regret it though. There’s nothing worse than Christmas shopping two days before Christmas except doing it while tired and grumpy. Thank God for coffee, am I right?

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. We have wonderfully thick, strong coffee brewed thanks to the new Moka pot I found at Target last week marked down to just $5! I’m still getting the hang of it so every other cup is a little overcooked and bitter, but bad coffee is better than no coffee at all so we’ll drink either way.

Let’s talk about last week!


“Hot coffee and cold winter mornings are two of the best soul mates who ever did find each other.”

Terri Guillemets

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this last week turned out a whole lot better than I thought it would the last time we met.

I still had a lot of work to do but a slight change in perspective really helped. I did my best not to think so much about how tired I was or how stressed I was or how much Christmas shopping I had left to do and instead I focused on racking up as much overtime pay as I could and I have to say I’m so proud of myself for showing up and getting the work done even though all I could think about what was the stress of the looming holidays and my longing for a nice long break from it all.

On Monday I found out that both of the schools I transport to would not be running on Friday. So, I put in a request for the day off and stayed home to do nothing at all. That isn’t true. I cleaned the whole house because I was supposed to be writing. I am procrastinating on a few projects I wanted to get a jump on and I could not focus long enough to at least generate some ideas. I’m hoping that after the holiday I’ll be able to try again to get ready for the New Year.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that despite what my anxiety and constant complaining would have you believe, I am actually enjoying Christmas shopping. Part of it is that we are doing so well. I would prefer that it was done already but my girlfriend and I both happen to be chronic procrastinators and it has taken great amounts of willpower and patience for us to drag each other through this process kicking and screaming.

The packages we needed to ship were sent off in time to arrive at their recipients by Christmas Day and while we have a have a few people left to shop for we at least have ideas. We were scrambling—and at each other’s throats—this time last year. We had no ideas; we were late shipping gifts out, and we forced to settle for less than ideal gift selections in order to have something, anything, to give. We haven’t had an argument or shed a tear at all this time!

Today we have just a couple of people left to buy for and then we just have to get all the groceries we need to get through to Wednesday.

Christmas Eve, we are spending alone. I am cooking us some spicy chorizo, salsa, and egg hash for brunch and my girlfriend is making crab legs, shrimp, and potatoes for our dinner. Christmas day we’re going to be with my girlfriend’s family and food-wise we’re going non-traditional. We’re having lasagna with mussels because it turns out none of us is really in the mood to have the same feast we prepared just last month.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that until just yesterday it hadn’t really felt like Christmas season at all.

The weather had been so warm and with our school calendars being shifted so that Christmas break began the week of Christmas rather than the week before it didn’t feel like we were approaching anything but endless December.

But yesterday, the temperatures dropped. A cold wind was blowing through the city and there were even a few snowflakes falling, and walking from that cold wind into a very bright Macy’s store with the Christmas music playing, all the holiday decorations, and the place packed with shoppers, I felt it. It was Christmas time.

I’m a little excited about it too. I always am despite myself. I always am despite how I loathe the money spent and the expectations. I love it despite all the bad Christmases I had growing up. I love all the coming together and the thinking of others. I like getting people things I know they will love and I love being out with the scores of people doing the same for their loved ones.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my plans for the rest of the week have changed too. I had hoped to go back to work the day after Christmas but the school district has decided that no one at all is allowed to work this week. That means a smaller paycheck next month, but I’m trying not to worry about that right now. Instead, I will use the extra days to get ready for the new year and reflect on the last.

I’m going to clean up my “creativity room”, work on my editorial calendar, break out my index cars and get some boxes for a couple of projects that have been rolling around in my head, and gather some drawing prompts for my art journal. I have some pocket notebooks to make and a new DIY journal to plan. I’m going to start early doing all the things I want to do next year and I encourage you to do the same if you at all can.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the morning hours are getting on and if I want to have any hope of beating the crowds out there I have to get up and get ready to go.

I hope you have some fun getting ready for the holiday and that things aren’t too stressful or depressing. I hope your holiday will be warm. I hope you will get all that you asked for and all that you give will be appreciated. I hope we all can remember what the season is really about, come together, and express love with more than money and things.

Until next time.


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

Photo courtesy of Barn Images