365//365

I spent the morning at the motor vehicle office with my wife trying to complete step two of our name change before the new year is set to begin. We’d hoped for a day like yesterday at the social security office, exciting and easy, but this was entirely the opposite. We both encountered troubling issues and only one of us walked away with the name change applied. My wife will have to go back Friday and hope everything is cleared up by then.

Afterward we set about the business of marking the last day of the year. Week’s ago we talked about going out tonight but our group of friends are in a delicate state right now and the world hasn’t felt very safe in general these past few days. It’s going to be bitter cold, we’re both over 30 and not as quick to recover as we once were, and to be honest not many events felt worth the expense so we’re staying in.

So instead we bought copious amounts of indulgent and delicious foods. We have a large spread of snacks, andouille sausage, crab legs, corn and potatoes for dinner, a bottle of white wine, some syrupy amaretto to sip, and two perfect little cakes for dessert.

I had thought I would spend the day reflecting on the past year but I’ve done so much of that in the last 30 days that there is nothing else left to go over. This day feels outside of the calendar entirely now, not part of 2019 but not yet 2020 either. Today is a day for waiting, a single breath taken before the beginning of a new journey. I’m ready to let go.

I only hope I can make it to midnight to kiss my wife and tell her I love her for the 18th New Year’s Day in a row.

Currently // December 2019: Warmth for the Body and the Soul

“It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready.” 

Sarah Kay

December for many is dull, dreary, and depressing. For others, it is the exact opposite, a time of brightness, warmth, happy memories and memory making. For me December typically falls into the former description. I’ve never liked the bitter temperatures or the snow storms of Colorado winters though I have lived here most of my life but this year I tried to find the good, or at least the usefulness of the season.

I still have not learned to love the weather but I see the value in all the rest. The brightness, the warmth, happy memories and memory making, they are tools to get us through the dull and dreary and depressing. We turn to family, food, giving and gifts. We turn on bright lights and turn out for parties, for feasts, for shopping, and for what little activity the winter has to offer. We seek warmth where we can and when it can’t be found for the body; we manufacture it for the soul.

And now winter is in full swing and the holidays are nearly over. Though the calendar confirms there is a long way to go still, our patience with the cold and clouds is already running thin and the more the month wanes the more we begin to question whether we will make it through these next months of sacrifice and suffering now that the lights, the feasts, and the giving and getting is done.

But the new month and the new year are not here yet. We have one more day to celebrate, to share, to reflect, to carry with us into the cold of January. December is a month of letting go and of hoping. We hope to become someone new, someone better, someone we always knew we truly were. I admit I’m not ready for such a chance this time around. A new decade of myself is too grand a thing to imagine so I’m resolving not to put my future self into a box or to dictate to her who I, in my ignorance, think she ought to be.

So for now, for today, I’m simply coming to terms with an end I thought would linger for a while but ended up passing by the same as the whole of the year that came before, far too fast. I did enjoy the end despite the stresses of the holidays and the resurfacing of old health issues and one thing I’ve learned is that our problems are reminders of our blessings and the problems I do have are better than the problems I could have. I’ve learned to find happiness under every obligation, frustration, and pain through gratitude, giving, and self-care.

And somewhere deep down, I think I’m looking forward to the new month, the start of a new year, and a brand new decade with enthusiasm and optimism. I have so little to regret and so much to look forward to, to experience, and to accomplish, but before I do, here is what I am currently…

Writing whatever pops into my head whenever I can. The content is not as important as the act right now. The point is to just write, write, write. I’m writing daily blog posts, personal essays, and flirting with prose poetry. I’m writing in pocket notebooks, in handmade journals, and the margins of books. I finishing neglected drafts, creating lists, and using any means and inspiration available. I’m writing as consistently as I can and my hope is that eventually I will begin to recognize a pattern, a purpose, and a message. I’m hoping, through hours and hours of all kinds of practice, it will get easier to WORK RELAX DON’T THINK as Ray Bradbury advises.

Making Cut out and blackout poems, still. I haven’t had the time or the courage for proper collage work but working with words has always been easier for me than working with images. It’s nice to take a creative break from pulling words out of my own head and to use the words of others for a while. It’s a small way to get my mind out of any ruts it might have dug and to think freely for a bit. I’ve found a lively collage community on Instagram too and that only makes me want to make and experiment more. I only wish I could find the same kind of community for my writing too.

Planning nothing at all. This isn’t 100% true. I’m planning each day, one by one, and that is all. Planning for anything longer term than that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere these past few years. Plans never work out and always go awry. I go awry. So, for 2020 I’m changing the way I spend my life by planning how I spend my days. I’m looking at life hour by hour and already I have found so much time that was slipping away unnoticed and unused. Of course, not every free hour can be given over to writing, nor should it be. There are hours for my loved ones, hours to read, hours to study, hours to eat, to walk, to rest, hours for art, for cleaning, for date nights, for shopping, and even hours for mindless TV too, but it’s all scheduled. Each thing must have its beginning and end.

Dreaming about a comic book again. A long time ago when I was a different, younger, more creatively ambitious version of myself I dreamed of creating an epic dystopian graphic novel but there is a steep learning curve to pen and ink and I was not dedicated or driven enough to put in the work. These past few months I’ve felt characters stirring inside of me and some are even beginning to gather into visible entities. I fear soon they may develop personalities and, worse still, desires! Maybe 2020 will be the year I begin to play with real art and storytelling?

Reading Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza. The book is short, I can tell already it will be slow going. It wasn’t a very good reading month. I only managed to finish one: The Plague by Albert Camus, a simple story of very big ideas about a town suddenly ravaged and isolated by a deadly plague. It was not a good reading month for me. I had hoped to end the year only 10 books behind schedule but it looks like I will miss even that goal by 2 books. That’s ok, I did better than the year before and I know that in 2020 I will do even better still. I am considering creating a list of books to read in advance but so often I find books at thrift stores or on impulse that it makes it hard to commit to any particular book, author, or genre.

Watching all things star wars. This month my wife and I re-watched every single star wars film in preparation for The Rise of Skywalker. (I love that she is so willing to indulge in my little obsessions with me.) The films are terrible but somehow I love them for their fault as much as despite them. I enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker though I do have some issues with the way the story was told and the big surprises revealed. I finished The Mandalorian on Disney+ and it was a breath of fresh air from the films. On Saturday mornings I’m re-watching the animated series Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels in preparation for the rumored returns and premiers of many more Star Wars shows and films to come.

Learning math again on Khan Academy, again, and Spanish on Duolingo, still, but not much more, for now. I haven’t used Khan Academy in a while. I realized quickly that though math isn’t harder for me to learn than any average person, math after a certain point is hard no matter who you are or what your aptitude. I would like to get back into it though and finish learning what I never got a chance to in school. Spanish is also getting harder and I am resolving now not to keep on doing the easy lessons but to move on to new words and harder grammar. My work on Coursera has been on hold mid-august when my work schedule grew more rigorous but things are beginning to settle down now. With this new year comes a new beginning and I have a plan to start again and all of my study and deep learning time will be strictly scheduled. No excuses.

Anticipating some big changes, opportunities, and projects in 2020. At my day job there is a quickly approaching opportunity for advancement and with it comes more freedom, more chances to learn and to grow, and a lot more responsibility too. I may be taking new classes and I am being sent on my first out-of-state conference trip. I have some big ideas about how to change the way we do things and the way we teach people too. At home my wife and I will tackle some big house projects, we’ll attend some big events, and we’re planning some big out-of-state trips for ourselves too. I’m terrified of all of it but I’m learning to be open to these changes, to be flexible, and to even be excited.

Reflecting on the past year. 2019 really was a good one. I got married. I got to travel. I got to spend time with my friends and I got to try some new ways of doing things at work. I feel different, but in a good way. It’s important that I take a moment to take stock of all the ways I have changed and how I hope to go on changing going forward. Right now I feel stronger, more secure in who I am. I feel more content with my life and more willing to try new things. I feel safer, smarter, and I have begun to realize my own power. Going forward I’d like to become even more fearless and bold. I’d like to learn how to be bored, to be silly, and to be a better role model. I want to become more me in all the ways that are possible.

Feeling not so good, to be honest. Around last Thanksgiving time my ulcerative colitis symptoms returned suddenly and severely after two years of blissful remission. Since then I’ve been put back on old medications and a high dose of steroids and I am still struggling to recapture remission. I’m improving and I have an amazing doctor but this disease can be debilitating, isolating, embarrassing. I have anxiety about leaving my home and I grow increasingly depressed by what I cannot do and by the burden I place on others. I’m frustrated by my body and angry that chance has chosen me to live with such a condition, and I have nowhere to direct any of it. I’m learning to cope with it but every day brings new challenges. Keeping my goals in focus helps. Resting when I need to helps. Helping others through online support groups helps. Knowing that eventually this will pass too, helps.

Fearing failure. I have so much to look forward to and so much more I want to do but I am afraid that none of it will come to fruition and, worse still, that it will be due to my own failure of talent or failure to try. I fear ending next year the same and this one and the year before this, exactly in the same position as I ended it, no healthier, no more fulfilled, no closer to my dreams. I fear that I will always be all talk, no action, no progress, nothing at all to show for all these hours spend working and writing. I fear staying ignorant, staying small, staying put. I fear that my fear of success and change is greater than my fear of failure. I fear that failure is who I am.

Hating the necessary social culling that comes with age. This year I lost friends I never thought I would, some by my choice, and some by theirs. It hurts and the urge to dig at the wound, to try to repair the relationship by blurring my boundaries and making concessions, and to know why, why, why is strong and painful but I know that such prodding will offer me no answers, no happiness, and none of what used to be. People come and go and that is okay. People will not always like me and that is okay. I will not always like others or my like may at anytime turn to dislike, and that is okay too. What isn’t okay anymore is the indifference, the unreciprocated efforts, and the hurt and I simply don’t have time anymore for what isn’t working. Though it’s painful to let go, it is unbearable to hold on.

Loving myself. Even though I am not my best self at the moment, I have to say that I am so proud of all I have experienced, accomplished, and fought through this year and every year. My sprit is strong. I am a good person. I don’t give up and I don’t give in. I do what is right. I help people. I have a big heart and a passionate curiosity. I still have a lot to improve but everyone does, the point is that I like me. I enjoy time with myself. I feel safe with myself. I no longer fear the strange thoughts and inner workings of my mind. This year I have made long strides in learning to self soothe, to advocate for myself, and to fight for my time, inner peace, and needs. I have learned not just to love myself, but how to show it too.

Needing to learn the art of leisure. I have plenty of time to myself throughout the day but I spend most of it doing the most mindless things just to fulfil a sense of purpose and worth. When I should be doing nothing I think about how much money I’m not making or how little I am contributing. When I do nothing I feel like I am nothing. I don’t think I even know how to do the things I love without feeling guilt and I certainly have no idea how to do nothing at all. I’m not sure doing nothing is even possible, for anyone, anymore! I’d love to try though and to be honest I think it’s something we all need not just as individuals but as a society. We have to find a way to value simply existing.

Hoping for another good year filled with love, friendship, health, warmth, and vibrant life. I’m hoping for everything and most of all for more hope. I’m already beginning this new year with more hope than I’ve ever beginning any other and It’s not just because this past year was so good but because I feel so much more ready for all the things life has to offer. I feel capable and deserving and that opened me up to the possibility of finding joy in the act of hoping alone. I feel protected from disappointment and from despair should my hopes come to nothing because I know I can simply hope for new things and feel hope’s joy whenever I choose.


So, yeah, all in all, December was not really a good month in itself but became one through the act of reflecting on a year that contained so much good. I suppose that is what Decembers really are. They are all the 12 months you lived before rolled into one by memory, good food, gift giving, and being with those who loved us through those months too. Perhaps Decembers are growing on me?

But what about you? How did you spend your holidays? Did you receive the gifts you wanted? Has looking back on the year given you a sense of accomplishment, happiness, or hope? Or have you avoided looking back out of regret or sorrow? What do you want for you in 2020?

Let me know in the comments.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

— Dr. Seuss


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

Photo by Luke Hodde on Unsplash

364//365

So, I overdid it today just like I told myself not to. I couldn’t help it though. I was feeling so good and happy and the sun was shining and I just wanted to feel normal for a while. I don’t regret one minute of it.

I woke up early to get to the Social Security office first thing. It’s only around the corner from us but the place was very busy and I think we may have waited over an hour for our numbers to be called. The wait was hard. There were no seats left, and the room was small. There were two security officers and more than a couple people making us nervous in the place. I worried over what might happen if we reached code capacity.

Once our tickets were called though all my anxiety melted into pure excitement. The procedure itself was painless and I now have 2—unhyphenated thank you very much!—last names. We are finally a family unit.

Afterward we tried a new brunch place near our house that I always thought from the looks of the outside was nothing more than a knock-off Starbucks but it turns out is actually a legit establishment with an extensive and delicious menu. I ordered the corn beef hash and was not disappointed. Even the drip coffee had flavor!

Then we went around to a few near-by thrift stores hoping to find something to house the new air plants. I didn’t find what I was looking for but came home with new camping plates, Moscow mule mugs, drinking glasses, wall decor, a vase, and no less than 10 new books.

Since being home I’ve worked out, done laundry, ate a most delicious gyro, and had a glass of amaretto straight up. The night is turning late and there’s no more good I can squeeze out of the day. I think it’s time to head to bed. Tomorrow will be another big day and I need the rest. We’re heading to the dreaded Motor Vehicle office for step two.

Goals // Week 01

This week is the second week of winter break and I’m only planning to go into work the last two days just to schedule the next week and complete some small tasks. With all those extra hours at home—outside of a few small errands, time I plan to spend with my wife, and the New Year’s celebration and subsequent day of recovery—I’ve decided to set some bigger goals than I’ve been used to these last few weeks.

This week I will:

 Schedule every hour of my days. It’s simple. I’m using my Google calendar to create events and reminders for blocks of time and how I would like to spend them from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. The goal is not to perfect adherence but to only cultivate a habit of thinking about what I would like to be doing with my time. Every night I will look over the next day and edit, move, or adjust where needed.

Update: I completed scheduled about half of my time last week. This is far more of my time than I have ever set out in black and white before so even though I marked it incomplete I count the effort alone as a success. GOing forward I will need to start scheduling a time to make the schedule and forming that as a daily habit.

Finish my cover letter. I’ve gotten my resume finished but I think it would be a nice touch to add a cover letter. I’ve done none of this before so I figure the more practice I can get the better and the additional effort couldn’t hurt my chances. Bonus: Ask 3 people for letters of recommendation.

Update: I was premature in setting this down as a goal. I will have to wait until the new position I am hoping for is available and then based on the description and the requirements I will craft a letter based specifically on my interest and qualification for the job.

Change my last name. I got married nearly 5 months ago but the bureaucratic hurdles I have to jump through, the number of institutions I have notify, and my fear of speaking with officials has kept me from adding my wife’s maiden name to my own, but as a Christmas gift to us both and a chance to start the new year as a new us, I’m getting it done.

Update: I have officially added my wife’s maiden name to my own last name, and she has added mine to her’s. It was quite an ordeal and we are from done but the most important first steps are complete. All I have left is to notify all my financial institutions and to perfect my signature.

Find my first rejection opportunity to kick off of #Rejection100 on Submittable. I’ve decided to get back into submitting work to publications again. I miss the motivation and direction that comes from a call for submission. I miss working with editors. I miss being part of a community writing toward the same goals. I also need the challenge in order to grow. So, here’s hoping for 100 rejections in 2020!

Update: To be honest I am rethinking this yearly goal entirely. The more I search for writing opportunities to pitch and then write for the more I realize that writing first and pitching later is the way that I write best. Of course the point is to push myself and to step outside of my comfort zone so I am still looking but the priority going forward will be the kind of writing I do because I have something to say, for me.

Finish a personal writing project for each of my own blogs. I have been slacking and spinning my wheels for months and it’s time I gather up some notes, ideas, and inspiration and try for 500 or 1000 words of real writing here and on Zen and Pi. I don’t want to lose sight of my own passions. I don’t want to grow stagnant writing what is easy.

Update: I made progress but I will be honest here and say that I did not do my best. I’m getting more comfortable carving out and devoting large blocks of time to this craft and I ideas are flowing easier every day but finishing is still the greatest obstacle. I’m getting there I promise.

Read 100 pages of Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza. This book isn’t an easy read but I really want to mark it off of my list. The time will be scheduled but at the very least if I could just do 30 minutes of reading before bed every night I think that would be enough. Bonus: Set a new reading goal on Goodreads.

Update: Despite its small size this book is deceptively hard to finish. It is dense and hard to understand though I do find it full of interesting and thought-provoking ideas. It’s not a book I can read before bed (it puts me to sleep) and it isn’t a book I can easily read at work. I must have the energy and be clear of any chance for distraction. Perhaps this is the kind of book that must be read in tandem with something easier and more exciting?

Keep eating right, taking my medication, and resting when I need to. I’m getting better but it has been slow and I have a strong tendency to push my body too hard and to grow lax about my meals and medication the moment I start to feel even remotely like myself. This week I have to remember that I am still quite sick and that I will get sicker again if I don’t take care of myself now.

Update: My meal and medication schedule are become second nature now and I even though I felt better I still stuck to the regime and allowed myself no excuses. I did miss one dose, and I did have a couple of instances where I overate or ate what something I knew would cause discomfort but taking the difficulty and the willpower involved I’m choosing to view my efforts in the most positive light possible.

This week I will not be too hard on myself if the temptation to skirt the schedule and these goals and instead get out and enjoy my time away from work becomes too strong. It’s still a vacation even if I’m not leaving town. I won’t close myself off entirely to spontaneity or serendipity. Time spend in joy or sunshine is never time wasted or time that should be regretted.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 52.

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

363//365

I’m feeling quite the opposite from last night. Much more productive and positive. I’ve been in the “creativity room” for hours now, writing little blog posts and working on my resume. I’m proud to announce it’s nearly finished now and all I have left is to draft a cover letter.

I’ve never had a resume before. I’ve worked at my current job since I was in my early 20s and since then I just haven’t needed one. I’ve taken on more responsibilities, been given more hours and perks, and the opportunity to learn a lot of neat things but none of them required a title change until now.

I was worried when I started it that there would be nothing to put on it but it turns out I have done and still do quite a lot, and I even left some out! I needed to see it all laid out like that to see just how hard-working and driven I am even with walls erected all around me I still find room to grow.

The day passed slowly and then suddenly, in just this moment, I feel like it’s just about over. There was so much more I wanted to do. Most days are like that I suppose. I think there is so much more time than there is and so much more energy and focus in me than is probably possible. Still, I feel good and for the rest of the evening, even if I do nothing else at all productive I have this small moment of pride. That’s more than most have on most days.

362//365

I got up later than I wanted to but after a late night back home and a restless night of sleep I can’t really be too hard on myself over it.

The goal is to spend the day taking care of myself so I can recover and get back to the schedule I have worked so hard to cultivate these last weeks. So, it’s a lazy Saturday. I’m happy about it but there is a grain of guilt irritating underneath it. I think I should be doing more around the house but none of those projects are what I really want to do. What I want to do is read and write and spend time I know I won’t have again for months and months in my “creativity room”.


And as I always do when I’m caught between doing what I want to do and feeling guilty for not doing what I think I ought to do, I opt for the worst possible choice, to do nothing at all instead. By now my willpower is non-existent and I’m wasting the evening watching movies and playing games on my phone. I know I should get up by my body won’t move without a satisfactory answer to why and “because we should” isn’t at all good enough.

“And,” my body reminds me, “we need the rest. We deserve to tune out and here we have cuddly pets and a loving wife willing to waste the night with you. It isn’t so bad or useless and you say. Life is lived here too, and it is a worthy life. Allow yourself to enjoy it.”

This morning started out slow. I didn’t get the best night’s sleep last night and part of me tried to negotiate me out of going into work but I knew if I just fought through it, faked it until I made it, and focused on how good I would feel after going in, doing what need to be done, and then starting the weekend guilt free, I would be just fine.

Since then I have alternated work with writing, stayed hydrated, kept moving, and consumed copious amounts of coffee. I’m feeling good at the moment and savoring every second.


The good feeling didn’t last long. I crashed hard as the caffeine wore off and after lunch my poor body could take no more. I slept for over an hour on the couch. I needed it though and now I feel rested and ready again to venture back out into the world.

Tonight is date night. We have movie gift cards to spend from the holidays and I have been waiting a long time to see the Uncut Gems. I’ve loved every movie I have seen from A24 and from the trailer it looks like Adam Sandler plays the hell out of this lead role.

The temperatures have plummeted outside and I can see fog forming around us under the streetlights. It will start snowing soon but no one seems to mind. The streets are still packed and the first restaurant we tried had a line too long for us to wait. It’s ok though. One of our favorite restaurants moved even closer to the movie theater, just a block’s worth of walking away.

We’re having bar bites and wine for dinner and for dessert we’re looking at the holiday cocktail menu and an order of churros to share. It’s going to be a frigid walk back the car in a few hours but for now, winter is nice.