366 // A Day of Waiting

New Year’s Eve is a strange day. It’s a day of preparing, of wanting, and of waiting and as that waiting goes on, and the body and mind fill with nervous energy you grow anxious, impatient, and quite feverishly, hopeful. You are simultaneously excited to leave the last 12 months behind and terrified to begin the next.

There are many hours left still before the end will come and the new beginning arrives finally. Here we are keeping our celebrations quiet and, most importantly, safe.

We aren’t marking the day as we usually do: with family or friends, drinking and partying. It’s just my wife and I softly ringing in the new year together and considering how much we’ve been through in these last many months, I couldn’t think of any way or with anyone I’d rather celebrate.

I’m practicing a lot of self-reflection and managing my expectations of what 2021 will bring. I remember New Year’s Eve before the start of 2020 I thought I was about to enter the a time of great joy and productivity. I imagined so many successes and experiences, and within months I the whole world was turned upside down.

I have no such expectations of 2021. I do not even believe it will be a better year than this last. All I hope for is that I will be better at coping with pain, disappointment, change, loss, and anger. I hope I will find ways to make the best of whatever I have and wherever I am. I hope to endure better, and that is all.

365 // Monotonous Routine

We’re just a day away now from New Year’s Eve and everyone keeps asking me what I’m doing to celebrate the holiday. I am absolutely doing nothing at all. I’m not even sure I’m going to stay up long enough to watch the calendar date roll over. The New Year feels more like an event to accept this year than to celebrate. A thing to get on with than to spend any time acknowledging.

The truth is too; I feel guilty for how much I have been out shopping and visiting with family over these last few months. I took some precautions, but it’s hard to break from norms and old traditions and isolate yourself entirely.

It doesn’t help how starved I have felt for anything to get out of the house, to see people, to laugh, to talk, to feel normal again. The cold and dreary weather and this awful monotonous routine of work, then home, then work, the home, then work is wearing on my willpower. I gave in to these needs and, quite surprisingly, to the holiday spirit.

So for the next few weeks at least I plan to stay in and stay away from anyone outside of my household as much as I can. Unfortunately, I still have to work, though even there I will do better to social distance.

The news broke yesterday that the first U.S. case the new, even more contagious strain of the coronavirus was found in my state and in someone who apparently had no travel history, at least not to the United Kingdom. That means it’s already spreading through the community and knowing this, my state of panic has been restored and my resolve renewed.

364 // The Worst Part Is Already Over

This hasn’t been as smooth of a morning as yesterday was, but for me that’s to be expected. Unlike almost everyone else in the workforce, I’m always at my best on Mondays and as the week wears on my energy levels, attention to detail, and efficiency seriously deteriorate.

I know it’s only Tuesday, but this has been a hard week already. It hasn’t been due to any particular external stressor but simply my own anxieties. I have to teach a class tomorrow and the worry of it has been building since at least last Friday. I know the material, but I’m co-teaching with different people than I’m used to working with and the material has been updated, making me doubt my knowledge.

The week’s decline is also greatly accelerated by the wintery weather and some concerning effects of my the last in a series of iron infusions I had to undergo. The dosage was higher, and I ended up having a slight adverse reaction, leaving me feeling more fatigued than usual and generally icky.

Still, I am proud of myself for mustering the willpower to leave the bed early and work in time for meditation and a good stretching session before beginning the day. Taking those 10 to 15 minutes for myself every day really makes a difference. At the very least, I arrive to work with a sense of accomplishment already instilled.

I had thought to skip going in entirely and staying home, but today is scheduled to be a very, very short day and the worst part of it, the getting up and getting ready, is already over. All I have now left are a couple of quick tasks, a short bout of work outdoors, a bit of preparation to make for the next day, and a few emails to send off.

After that, it’s just breathing and remembering the blue sky until bedtime.

Goals // Week 53: Set the Tone

This week is a transition week. It’ll begin with the last days of the current year and end with the first days of the next. That means not only wrapping up, letting go, and forgiving the last 366 days of failures, disappointments, and losses, but then finding ways to hope again, to try again, and to keep trying long after the calendar date flips over.

So, this week will set the tone for the year, but it does not define it. It’s good for moral to hit the new year running but if your first steps falter, you need only keep putting one foot in front of the other to find your balance and your way again.

This week is simply a place to begin.

As for me, this week is a “practice week”. It is my first attempt to stick to establish boundaries and stick close to the schedule I’ve laid out for myself—no excuses! I’ve got each day’s tasks written out and notebooks for recording the day’s thoughts and activities. I’ve given myself space and permission to adjust as needed. All I ask is that an effort is made.

This week I will:

Use my notebooks. Last year I tried taking the digital route for my to do list and logbook but both quickly became unwieldy and I spent more time tweaking the look rather than marking off items. This year I bought a simple Moleskine 2021 daily planner that leaves little room for customization and between it, my journal, and my pocket notebook there is little more to do but think, write, and record.

Get my steps in. The over indulgences of the holiday season are catching up and it’s best to head them off now with exercise and mindful eating before bad habits are established. I’d much rather be moving my body outdoors, but the weather outside this week will not be conducive to jogs through the neighborhood, so I have to be motivated to pull the treadmill out instead. The goal is small, just one quick mile after work every day.

Start my 365 Headspace meditation journey. I suppose I should technically start this on the 1st of the new year, but I like starting beginning at the beginning of the week and anyway a few days to practice and work out any kinks before the official start couldn’t hurt. I’ve set my alarm half an hour earlier to make time to to focus on breath and body and start each day centered and present.

Write just a little. It’s been hard the last few months since I’ve lost my “creativity room” but last week I brough my old office chair up to the kitchen and commandeered a corner of the table to use as a writing space. One of 2021’s themes is going to be “a little every day” and I think 300 words a day (not including my usual Journal posts) toward this blog post—or a book perhaps?—is a good place to start and to keep moving from.

Read 20 pages of a book a day. Just like with writing, I’ve found it hard to get in the mood or stay focused long enough to read for any significant length of time. I fell short of my 2020 reading goal (though I did better than any year before so I’m counting it a success) and one thing I learned was that even a few pages a day will get me further and keep me much more motivated than trying to read 50, 100, or more and falling into a hole of guilt and apathy when I fail.

This week I will not forget that I deserve to take breaks and time to claim as my own. Work is not the most important nor the most immediate part of my life anymore, and I should not guilty for that.

My time is not just valuable to me, but actually of use too. Time spent doing things outside of work and labor is not time wasted, and there are more ways than one to be productive. I am productive when I am with my family, when I am writing, when I am watering my plants, and when I am resting. These and many more are all more worthy and worthwhile ways to spend my time than through labor. I am not defined but what I do for a living; I am defined by what I do to feel alive.

This is my focus.


Photo by Katie Doherty on Unsplash

358 // How Little Time

The year’s end is closing in faster than I realized, and it only just today hit me how little time I have to prepare.

I’ve always been weary of setting up any New Year’s resolutions for myself. Part of me thinks it’s pointless not because resolving to change, do better, end or begin new habits or believing in fresh starts, clean slates, or new beginnings is pointless, but because the date we choose to do so is so arbitrary.

Of course any of us can change or begin again every day and we can try again whenever we fail, but by March we’ll all have given up and it’ll be another nine months at least before we reflect and resolve again.

So, I don’t really believe that January 1st holds some mystical power or that my resolutions will fare any better just because the calendar year has changed over but I still make my list anyway and I still hope a new version of myself will emerge, the one I have wanted to be since the last time my resolutions failed.

I tend to think of resolution setting as a numbers game, setting up an impossible number of intentions knowing that although many of them will fall by the wayside or end up on the back burner there will necessarily, by fact of volume, be one or two come next December 31st that I can count as successes.

It’s been a slow and painful year but I have been strong—we all have—and I’ve met another side of myself, many sides if I’m honest, that I never knew existed. Some versions I liked, some not so much, but all I have accepted. Each aspect was given space, and each provided valuable insight in turn.

I’d love to take what I’ve learned and make the next year one of even greater endurance and resilience. I’d like to focus on self-care and in more areas than just emotional and physical. I’d like to find ways to care for my social, spiritual, financial, professional, and personal life.

I’m resolving in general to take a more well-rounded approach to my well-being going forward and through pre-planning, recording and reflecting, boundary setting, and all the willpower I can summon, 2021 will be a much better year.

357 // Doing Nothing

Today I am doing nothing, and a lot of it. I woke up early, just to do nothing and then the nothing tired me out so much I needed a nap. Now I am doing nothing again and have plans for very little more from here until bedtime. It’s glorious, all this nothing. I’m hopeful I’ll have more of it tomorrow too.

Doing nothing looks like reading all the articles and listening to all the podcasts I’ve been saving up. It looks like reading and writing in my journal. It’s reflecting on all the little notes I’ve taken these past weeks, scheduling and editing blog posts, and taking more notes on the new things I’d like to write and share. It looks like me, camped out on the couch with my laptop, my books and notebooks, pens and pencils, and plenty of pillows, blankets, and cup after cup of coffee.

Later there may be a small to do list, a few chores and some small errands perhaps, but nothing stressful, nothing demanding.


Wintery weather is rolling in tonight. The winds are whipping around the house tonight, and the cold can be felt creeping through cracks unseen. It’s nights like these when home feels much more fragile and I much more vulnerable than I feel on warmer, brighter days and nights.

Still, these nights are made for huddling close to those you love under piles of warm and soft blankets. There is strength and comfort in that, too. We’re safe. Even if all the fences, trees, and these walls themselves cave in, we have each other, the greatest protection any human can have.

356 // Holiday Chaos

With the break from work and the ongoing holiday chaos and stress, it hardly feels like Monday at all, which sounds nice in theory, but the work week and my old routine were reasons to get up, get moving, and get shit done. Now I’m feeling a little lost and desperately trying to get back to my routine.

I’ve just been too tired after days of shipping and shopping to do anything for myself. There’s too much to do to get to bed on time, and not enough time spent sleeping to wake up early enough.

Last night I didn’t even realize that the weekend was ending and completely forgot to change my alarms over. I slept in more than I meant to, but I’m not too disappointed in myself. I needed the rest and a whole lot more, if I’m honest.

I’m still battling with my body and walking these stores and malls, worrying over gifts and dates is beginning to take a toll, but the end is in sight and if everything goes smoothly today I should be through with those stores and malls, shipping and wrapping all and free to rest all the way through to the holiday.

And I plan to take full advantage of it too! With Christmas falling on a Friday this year, I’ll be heading right back to work and my old schedule with nothing but a short weekend in between. The pressure of the holidays will be replaced with the pressure of meeting work expectations almost seamlessly.

354 // Bah Humbug

I’ve never been a big fan of the Christmas season. Oh, there are things I like about the holiday. I like the lights, and the food, and the time spent with family, but all the shopping, shipping, and stressing about gifts and cooking is just more time spent away from the things I enjoy doing for me.

Instead of giving in to disappointment, I’m trying to think of these weeks as time outside of time, a break from productivity and passions to get a little perspective before the new year begins. It’s helping, but I miss my books, my journal, my blog, my courses. I miss sitting and silence.

‘Tis the season for giving of the self, I know, but with the pandemic and so much of life and tradition put on hold or cancelled entirely, it’s hard to get into a festive mood and a half holiday or less hardly feels worth the effort.

I don’t mean to be a grinch. I wish the season found me in better spirits, but this year has been too hard on me—too hard on us all!—and I can’t seem to find my holiday cheer, or perhaps it can’t find me. My hope is that come Christmas morning when all that stress is behind me and there is nothing left but to enjoy good food and time with family, I’ll finally find the Christmas spirit that eludes me now.

345 // Grey Day

The weather has turned wintry again. I’d hoped to work outside a little or fit a walk in before the temperature dropped, but the morning warmth never arrived and the clouds carried too much gloom. The cold kept me inside, bored and irritable, and time slowed to a crawl and I grew more and more anxious to return home.

I did try to keep a positive attitude through the grey day. I’m still feeling good physically and any way a boring day is better than a bad day, right? I tired, but I didn’t get far with that. There was just not enough excitement, laughter, progress or accomplishment to boost my mood.

I think I’m just missing the warmth and sunshine from the first half of the week. More than that, I’m longing for the days when I could leave work and walk over to the coffee shop to read or write for a while before anyone even knew I was gone. I can’t wait until Spring, or the coronavirus vaccine, or whenever the world might open up again and those third spaces I hardly used and always took for granted can offer my that escape I need.

I love my home, and work is never as bad as it could be or as bad as I think it is, but I need more than that routine. I need a place that puts me among other people, where I feel both part of the community and apart. A place that offers a new perspective.

344 // Rebuild Endurance

This morning is off to a nice, smooth start. I got up on time and made it through my routine easily. I’ve started thinking of each day as beginning the night before and sticking to a bedtime routine that helps me prepare that included going over my to do list, getting my bags and clothes ready, and spending some time cleaning. This week my stress levels are notably lower, and I’m spending less time laying awake at night with worry.

I think getting back into my daily meditation groove is helping too. I didn’t realize how much I had missed, or needed, those 10 to 15 minutes of focusing on body and breath every morning. It’s hard not to beat myself up over the months’ long lapse but I’m countering it with plenty of praise for taking up the practice again.

Symptom-wise, I only continue to improve. Some side effect of the new meds is joint pain and headaches, but even those discomforts are getting better with time. Every day my energy and drive increase and so does my ability to find purpose and joy.

The doctor mentioned that a big contributor to my fatigue may be a depletion serotonin levels. I had no idea that so much of the body’s supply of the “happy chemical” was made and utilized in and by the gut. I’ve been advised to manage my emotions and rebuild endurance through time, rest, and plenty of self-care and forgiveness. The journey so far is easier than expected. It helps to have so much to be grateful for.