Week 14: The Best of Me for Me

A full fourth of the year has passed me by and already I have to say, it’s far from what I thought it would be—far more exciting and far more exhausting too. My work schedule has been busier than I would have liked and between obligations there and at home, it’s been hard to make time for myself.

It hasn’t all been unpleasant or unsatisfactory. It’s only that, for a time there, romantic love and fulfilling friendships have taken precedent over personal passions, but I feel something changing.

I suppose it’s the warming weather and the sense that, despite my personal views, the pandemic is being forced to the edge of our collective consciousness. We’ve been given permission to go against our better judgment and that feels better than it should.

I’m left now with a deepening sense of security and normalcy I haven’t known in two years at least. I’m aware of the delusion, but it’s a hope too tempting to resist. I want things to be more like they were. I want to be more like I was. I suppose I still am, in a way. It’s hard to explain, but I am me, only just changed. What I want to find out now is what this new me could do with those old dreams and aspirations?

In the meantime, this week I will:

Keep a to-do list and with each item, indicate not just the steps needed to complete the task, but how to know when to stop. I’ve been taking on too many open-ended items and found them either too daunting or all-consuming. I either don’t want to start them or I don’t know how to end them.

Spend time with my notebooks. I have already returned my pocket notebook to its place, but my journal, logbook, and commonplace book have been long forgotten in dark and dirty bag pockets. I want to get back to doing what I enjoy: jotting, noting, tracking, and documenting.

Get some fresh air. The dog has been far too cooped up over the winter and she seems to know just as well as I that Spring is here and with it the end of excuses for staying in. It’s time to explore the neighborhood again, revisit her training, and work on my endurance. Bonus: Work out just three days.

Read 224 pages of White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith. I’ve been calculating pages to read by whether I want to finish in one week, 10 days, or a fortnight. White Teeth is rather long, so I’m shooting for 14 days to finish. That means 32 pages a day over lunch breaks and before bed.

Spend time with my cat. This week we are euthanizing our old cat, Sophia. There are no doubts now about whether it is right or whether it is time. Now it’s only a matter of making her last days some of her best. Treats, time outside, and lots of warmth and cuddles—for her as much as for me.

This week I will not let myself get overwhelmed. My work calendar is full, but there’s nothing beyond my capabilities and no shortage of support all along the way. the work will be hard but it’s not all going to be bad and, anyway, there will still be long hours I can make my own if I can meet them with the right attitude and focus.

It’ll take holding back a bit so the day doesn’t end with work. It’ll take giving “good enough” to everyone else and saving the best of me for me.


Photo by Katie Doherty on Unsplash

Week 04: Fragments and Snatches

This week promises to be another busy one, but not nearly as busy as the last two. The problem really isn’t the workload, but the lack of help I’ve had of late. One coworker is out with an injury and another left for greater opportunities elsewhere. There are still members of my team available, but still fewer to carry the same load, so each has a heavier weight.

This week the load is lot lighter in some ways, and a little heavier in others, but none of it is anything we can’t handle. It helps that I have been practicing preparing myself ahead of time for these weighty weeks. I knew my calendar events would grow dense and I would be more tired and less motivated than usual, so I gave myself permission to use my free time to rest or retreat when needed.

These weeks I am reading, writing, and learning in thought fragments and snatches of time rather than by hours or essays, and it’s ok. I’m ok. When there is more time, I can pick up right where I left off.

In the meantime, this week I will

Wake up 15 minutes earlier. I have been struggling to get up with my alarm and find myself cutting corners in the morning to make up time. I’ve been starting my days with frustration and forgetfulness and wasting hours and energy just to get back on track. I need to do better, but to go from what I have been doing to what I should be doing would mean a 45-minute difference, too much to ask from myself before sunrise. So, just 15 extra minutes this week, please?

Read more. I am proud to have finished two books already this year, but with increased mental strain comes a sharp downturn in my discipline. There have been far more episodes watched than chapters read and I’m disappointed in the disparity. I don’t want to stop watching TV. It’s not rotting my brain, only taking too much time. This week I just need to even out the split.

Keep up with my paper journal and logbook. I had one goal this year, and this was it: document what you did and how you felt. Keep track of what you think and how you change. It’s a small thing that I am convinced will, in time, make a vast difference to how I write. As you do it, though, the act can become mundane and feel unimportant at the moment. You throw the notebooks in a bag and forget. This week I will keep them visible during the day and make time during all those episodes in them every night.

Use my weekend mornings to my advantage. I have been lamenting the lack of time during the week and complaining about the endless obligations during the weekend, but I know there is time enough available. To start, I have Saturday and Sunday mornings entirely to myself. If I could get myself up and get my ass in the chair. There is more, but this could be a start—or a return, rather. Wake up a little earlier and take some time for yourself.

Make my health a higher priority. A busy work schedule makes it too easy to push your basic needs aside. You arrive at your desk and set down your water bottle, your breakfast smoothie, your medications and supplements, and your lunch, and never pick them up again until it’s time to return home. This week, eat when you are hungry, drink water when you aren’t thirsty, and take your medications and supplements at the appropriate times.

This week I will not let fear limit me. I try so hard to be brave every day, but I fail in moments when later I think I might have been able to be strong. I want to practice saying yes when fear is the only reason to say no. The hard part is discerning when that is.

For me, fear always arrives in disguise. Fear pretends to be wise, and I feel foolish to ignore it. There are reasons why something is scary and I have no trouble explaining and convincing myself to avoid what I know I need to do. Even when guilt comes nagging, I say, “Wait until you are stronger, better, smarter. Wait, wait, wait.”

This week, when my first instinct is to say no, I will figure out why. When my mind provides the worst case scenario I’ll then ask, “And what if the worst truly went wrong?” For every reply, ask again all the way down until you have found nothing but your fear standing in the way, do it anyway.


Photo by Katie Doherty on Unsplash

Week 01: Gently Return

The first work week of the new year has begun, but I am not beginning with it. I’m taking my time and using today to prepare instead. I’m meal prepping, gathering my notebooks, and laying down some light goals. I’m aiming for a gentle return to a regular schedule, but this time I hope to have a little more focus.

I’ve been thinking about the way the mind wanders during meditation. When you are supposed to focus on your breath but, inevitably, you start thinking about other things. You plan for the day ahead or replay mistakes from the day that passed. You daydream and ride rails of wonder all over the place!

It can be frustrating, but the key is knowing that this is normal, that this is okay. The hard part is noticing it. Once you do, you just gently return your awareness back to your breath. This is a lesson I want to bring into the new year, into every part of my life. I’m aware of my wandering. Now it’s time to find where I left off and start from there again.

Before I do, I want to take a moment to reflect on the wonderful two weeks I had away from work. I’m grateful for the opportunity to take time out for my loved ones, for myself, and for the rest and reset I so desperately needed. I’m ready to return, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m already looking forward to my next long break away again. Until then, those scant hours between shifts will have to do.

With that being said, this week I will:

Meditate. I had started the year with the intention of completing a 365-day course on Headspace, but I missed a few days over the summer and was never able to get back to it. I felt guilty. I felt like I’d failed. I want to begin again with the new year and this time I won’t let the loss of a streak get me down. This year I will practice with zero.

Get back to eating right. A little indulgence over the holidays is understandable, but I don’t want to let the habit follow me into the new year.

Make time for my notebooks. My only resolution for the coming year is to write more things down, and that takes making time to sit quietly, reflect, and write. I don’t need a lot of time. Lunch hours, while watching show episodes, and even just half an hour before bed is more than enough to make sure nothing slips away.

Finish reading The Mirror of My Heart. I’m just 62 short pages shy of the end and it’d be such a confidence boost to get my first book of the year marked off in the first week. Bonus: Finish Dune Messiah. I’m only 83 pages short of its end and eager to start book three: Children of Dune!

Make a plan for next week. I have a class of new employees scheduled to start training and my best coworker is out with an injury. That means I’m on my own not only to teach but to drive to each location. I’ve made a lot of progress in overcoming my driving anxiety, but I’ve still got a long way to go. A solid plan will take me half the distance.

Stay safe. Covid-19 numbers are on the rise and though I’ve had my booster and I am diligent about wearing a mask, I want to be extra careful in the coming weeks. Already I’ve heard we will be taking extra precautions in the workplace and I know it’s imperative that I do my part by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and keeping my hands and high touch surfaces clean.

This week I will not let politics or pandemics get me down. I will stay informed, of course, but I will not practice doomscrolling or allow rolling news reports to play.

There is bad news everywhere these days and nothing much we can do beyond what we already are. Instead of listening so much, find something to say. If you have nothing to say, try taking action. If you feel down or overwhelmed reach out and if you feel alone, help someone in need. The most important good you can do is for the people around you and the community you are in.

The world is too big for any one human. It’s enough just to take responsibility for your share alone.


2022 // Pay Attention to the Present

“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself—what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.”

— Warsan Shire

It’s that time of year. The first day of the next 365, when we all resolve to become that better version of ourselves we wish to be. We start diets. We join gyms. We quit smoking. We challenge ourselves to work harder, create more, reach for that unachievable goal, that impossible dream somewhere, someday.

I’d love to join you all in these grand goals, but if I’ve learned nothing else these past couple of years, it’s that the best way to keep from breaking a promise to yourself is not to make one at all.

I, admittedly, have broken a lot of promises, and the disappointments have piled high. So, this year, I am making no such promises.

It’s not that I don’t trust myself. Moreso, it just feels cruel to hold the future me to present passions. I put my future self in a box when I do this. I make a servant out of her and don’t think for one second about what she might want when her time comes. If I’ve learned a second thing these past years, it’s that present needs always trump past desires.

Life never looks the way you planned it to. Most of my days go off the rails within the first few hours and by the time I can catch my breath, the to-do list, the habit trackers, and the writing are far forgotten about. All I want then is to rest, to be with my wife, to lose myself in social media, in another episode, in a good night’s sleep.

There’s never time for what I wanted in the first place. There’s never time for all those grad goals and habit changes. And slowly, slowly, the person you were when you made those plans changes. Your wants change, but you can’t give up, you can’t fail, so you force yourself to chase a fading dream.

Another pandemic lesson: New year’s resolutions inevitably lead to future feelings of entrapment or future feelings of failure because we don’t leave any room for change.

This year, I have very few resolutions. I actually have only one. Pay attention to the present.

This year I’m asking that I only notice the present and do what feels right in that moment. On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. There have been plenty of nows in which I have done exactly the wrong thing. I have wasted time. I have done the opposite of what I wanted. Looking back, the mistake wasn’t choosing wrong, it was giving up the choice entirely.

This year, I’m not looking forward, and I’m not looking back. I am not wishing nor am I regretting. I am learning and shifting. I am choosing.

I’m giving myself permission to want something different and asking only that I stay true to that. The hard part is knowing what you really want and you cannot see it with time pressing in on both sides. The present has to get bigger, but as the world tilts further and further toward chaos, it gets harder to stay in each moment.

Free will is a spectrum and our capacity to choose waxes and wanes with stress, emotion, and information. For the past two years, the world has been thrown into utter disarray. For the past two years, I have felt my stress levels rise, my energy levels decline, and misinformation has overwhelmed me. That isn’t even accounting for all the loss.

Under those conditions, how can I promise to work out, eat right, or write? Under those conditions, how can I expect to have any sense of willpower?

You cannot account for the impact that pandemics and politics will have on the personal. You cannot know when your whole world will be turned upside down or emptied of everything that gives it light. What you can do is observe. What you can do is ask. What you can do is make sure you are truly giving yourself what you need now.

Sometimes that is doing nothing, but more often, what you need is to do something.

The what of my resolution boils down to mindfulness, a practice that sounds simple but is harder than it seems. The how of my resolution might sound complex, but it comes as easy to me as breathing.

All my life I have kept a journal. Since I was a teenager, my notebooks have been a place to explore and explain myself to myself in a way I can understand. These diaries were often the closest thing I had to a friend, and I have filled many with bits of small talk, encouragement, and tough love. I would not be who I am, I might not be at all if not for those blank pages being so patient with me.

But life changed, obligations grew, I become an adult and told myself to leave childish things behind. I turned to those pages less and less and without a past self to talk with, to egg me on or offer advice, I have felt more and more untethered in time.

This year I want to return to these pages but this time with the purpose: noticing. A journal is a place to pour the present into. It’s a place to ask: How have I changed? Do I want this? What can I do right now? Social media won’t give you that. Nothing on your phone will. You have to slow down. You have to look, and it can take many ways of writing to see.

Last year I bought a planner hoping it would help me keep my focus, but that wasn’t the best way for me. Turns out I want to do the same things every day and none of it is enough for a planner. So, this year I’m trying something different. I took the lead of one of my favorite writers and artists, Austin Kleon, and bought another planner, but not to track all the things I want to do, but to track all the things I have done. A logbook.

There are other notebooks for other things too, lists and fragments of all kinds, and each carries its own part of me in it. Each is a record of where I have been and a map of where I am going, and all it takes is to record the present.

I’m also starting a sketchbook this year. There are some things in life language is too poor at capturing. Our eyes are the primary way we take in the world and our minds alter the image to highlight what is important. Memory makes its cut and its additions, reinterprets and feeds the new picture back. Each time it’s pulled up, it’s different. Each time you pull it up, you are too. I’d like to get back to capturing these iterations again.

There are also apps and of course, this blog, all of it part of an interconnected system for seeing myself, my world, and working out what my work actually is. All of it is only a way for the subconscious and the conscious to circle around, to start and save their conversations that say one thing in the moment and another in a different time.

These words are the well of my life and I don’t want to lose any more of either.

It sounds simple, just write it down, but humans are notoriously bad at noticing the present, let alone recording it with pen and paper. We’re too busy reliving the past—when we aren’t avoiding it that is—or dreaming up an impossible future neither of which I want to do here because neither has ever led to any real accomplishment.

This leads me to one last hard lesson I am bringing with me to the new year: You cannot change what you do without changing who you are.

This may be hard to hear, but the person you are right now does not want to eat right, exercise, quit smoking, start a new hobby, or write that book. The person you are right now wants to be the kind of person who wants to do those things.

I’m not saying this to shame. I’m saying it to start the year off with the right mindset. Harsh truths are needed sometimes. I am not yet the kind of person who wants to write every day, who wants to write well, who wants to write thought-provoking essays. My first ambition is simply to be her.

And I suppose this is no new revelation, only a different way of saying habit-forming.

I have poor habits right now. I have no discipline. I am often short-sighted. That’s hard to say and harder to hear, but you have to accept where you are in order to get anywhere else, right?

My hope is that, like tracking your calorie intake, the act of having to write it down will be enough to force the right choice, but I’m taking it to an extreme. I’m recording it all, thoughts I have, movies I watch, people I meet, and conversations I overhear. I want to see what simply seeing will get me.

No grand promises and no lofty goals this time around, just seeing and recording, just pen and paper. In 2022, as in any year, nothing will be for certain, but every day means something. The course can always change, but the future has to go somewhere. How we spend our days is how we spend our life and I won’t let either slip away.


Currently // December 2021: Peak Unproductivity

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

― Sarah Kay

The end of December, and 2021, find me satisfied in some ways and, admittedly, deeply disappointed in others. In my work and my relationships, my home and my hopes, so much progress has been made.

I feel leaps and bounds beyond where I was this time twelve months ago, but the anxieties and uncertainties are still weighing just as heavily. That isn’t even accounting for the griefs that hurt all the same and I fear may never diminish.

Still, December is only a month, not a year, and perhaps should be counted up alone.

It’s been a strange winter so far and this December is unlike any other. Normally, I’d be well into a seasonal depression. The end of December is a time of hopelessness, a time of bitter and biting cold that feels as though it will never end. I had expected to be struggling through that usual despair and fighting pandemic fears, but this winter has been kind and this December is among the happiest of my life.

Autumn settled in months ago and simply never left. It seems, sometimes our wishes come true, and, I’ve learned, sometimes when we get what we want we find we never really wanted what we thought we did. All month we’ve been well below snowfall averages and shockingly high of average temperatures. At first, it felt good, but as the autumn warmth wears on, I become increasingly disturbed. I never thought I’d say it, but I hope for snow soon, and lots of it!

The threat of Covid and the rise in gun violence across the city have me more afraid to leave the house than ever. I’m happy I took time away from work this holiday season to be home, with people who matter and doing the things that make me feel good. It’s necessary to shut out the world every once in a while.

A year of stress and fear cumulated to burnout in December and I have been running a peak unproductivity. Not that I have been doing nothing at all. Besides the holiday festivities spent in the company of friends and family, December has been a month of relaxing, reflecting, and reevaluating. You have to know what went wrong to do it differently next time, right?

I have plans for the turn of the year, much more modest and manageable expectations this time around. Politics and pandemics make it hard to focus and personal griefs have left me disoriented and directionless. This coming year I want to get back to basics and learn again who I am and what motivates me.

This year I’ll be giving more of my attention to the present rather than letting the confounding future paralyze me. I’ll let the past inform the future rather than dictate it. This year I’m giving space to the person I become day by day, hour by hour…

But before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing all the time. I have come back to my focus by means of timers and stimulants, mindfulness, and a complete abandon of purpose. Letting go of grand goals has allowed me to feel joy in writing again. It’s easy to forget that writing is my passion and I do it for myself before anyone else.

Making entries, notes, lists, and records of my daily thoughts, discoveries, comings and goings. I have four notebooks now (a fifth if you count the new sketchbook) each with its own purpose. To aid in my memory and remind me of all the things that are important to me. These notebooks are an extension of my mind and they provide a path forward.

Planning for another self, my future self. She is often selfish. She loathes to concern herself with past wants. Still, the present must allow the future to be its own time. What does she owe me? My job is to give her all the tools and motivation I can, but she has to do what is best for her when the time comes. I am planning not to want the same things I want today.

Reading The Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women translated by Dick Davis, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks, and The Odyssey by Homer translated by Emily Wilson. That’s a lot of books, but it works for me. When I get bored, I can move to a different read rather than quitting altogether.

Watching a lot of shows that feel like guilty pleasures: Gossip Girl, Legacies, Evil, and A Discovery of Witches. I had a small Spiderman marathon and made it to the theater for No Way Home. It was genius and I highly recommend everyone see it. Matrix: Resurrections was everything I thought it would be and Don’t Look Up was a surprising discovery.

Learning about Human Behavioral Biology, from Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky, again, still. I haven’t been able to get past some of the more complicated lectures and I admit that when it got hard; I quit—a common pattern with me. I’m picking it up again today.

Anticipating a fresh start. I don’t believe the turn of the new year is any special time to start over. It’s only a time that we all start again together. Knowing you aren’t on the path alone makes the going easier. When you can’t be accountable to yourself, it helps to be accountable to others. I’m looking forward to sharing my start with you.

Reflecting on the last 12 months, of course. What else is there to think about come the last day of the year? I’m doing my best to hold on to all the good and let go of all the bad. I did some things right, that is the truth, and I like who I have become overall. That being said, I see a lot more clearly now what needs to change this time around.

Fearing what the next year will bring. We only ever plan for the best, but these past years have taught me there is as much unhappiness as there is happiness waiting just out of sight—oftentimes more. I’m afraid of the coming losses and the inevitable disappointments. I’m afraid of adding to my grief.

Hating capitalism. They say you get more conservative as I age, but the older I get, the more radical and socialist I feel. Life is just too precious for us to spend it laboring, producing, and fooling ourselves into thinking we are so individualistic. Meeting our basic needs universally makes happiness achievable for all.

Loving this feeling of contentment I have finally found. I have made a place that is truly a home. Home, I have learned, is only a place of safety. It is the safety you can make a life in. You can’t love, create, or change unless you feel safe. I wish I had known this sooner, but I am happy to know it now.

Needing more months like this. More months with more time in them. More chances to shake off expectations and obligations and get to what I truly need for myself. Other months have their days but those days are largely spent before I can even flip the calendar page. Decembers have whole weeks!

Hoping 2022 will be a little less painful than 2021, and a lot less than 2020. I’m hoping for less disappointment, less fear, less uncertainty. I’m hoping that everyone I love starts to find their footing. I’m hoping everyone in the world finds hope again, especially me.


All in all, despite the holiday stress and the end-of-year regrets, December was a good month and there was a lot of good in the year to look back on, too. I found time for my friends and family and for myself. I made time for celebrating and withdrawing, for looking back, and for looking forward.

But what about you? How did you spend the holidays? What has the weight of 2021 come to for you? What has the second year of the pandemic taken? What has it given back? Do you have someone to kiss tonight when the clock tricks 2022? Have you listed your resolutions yet?

Let me know in the comments.


Currently // October 2021

Take What is Offered

October is nature’s funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming—October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.

― Henry Ward Beecher

There are warm days still but as the season waxes on they are growing fewer and farther between. It’d be easy to spend the season sulking, but that only leaves so much less for me to enjoy. No, it’s better to seize what warmth and sunshine that is left. Soak it up and save what you can through the dark months to come. October is teaching me gratitude.

It’s hard, but this year I really am trying to see October in a new light. Autumn has never been among my favorite seasons. Just as the worry of a thing is always worse than the thing itself, the cool breezes and color-changing trees are worse than the winter they warn of.

Instead, I’d like to think of Autumn as just another kind of Spring. Not a season of death, as it always feels to me, but another season of change. It’s best to accept the shortening days and the cooling nights. It’s better to marvel at the leaves and find warmth and safety inside rather than out. There can be good this fall but you have to take what is offered and not lament what is lost.

And the truth is, a lot was offered. Some big changes happened this month and nearly all of it was good, nearly all of it was earned. This Autumn certainly is a time of reaping the rewards of sacrifices and hard choices that were made month over month this past year. I’m grateful beyond measure for what is given.

With that being said I’m taking the time to prepare not for the death of a thing, but for reflection and strengthening. Like trees pulling chlorophyll from the leaves, I am consolidating my resources. I am growing hard and readying for the worst of the winter. I’m making improvements. I’m making repairs. I’m preparing for a long season with myself. This fall I am letting myself change.

But before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing in my own space again. Our spare bedroom is slowly being turned back into my old office space again. It’s a slow process, but it has meant making it easy to get away from distraction and make some real progress on my writing goals. I’m looking forward to a new month of prolific output.

Making poems and pictures again. I haven’t posted much yet but I am finding new ways to be creative with Instagram again. Going through my old photos on my phone and giving them a monochromatic make-over has been deeply satisfying and with my desk space returned I’ve gotten my old tools out and readied to make more poems and collages again.

Planning a new newsletter adventure. I’ve got a template and the start of three drafts already going. It’s been a long time since I’ve sent one of my old letters but I’ve missed the more intimate space of inbox to inbox writing. It’s so much more freeing but also so much more terrifying than a blog or Twitter feed. Check it out, subscribe, and let me know what you think?

Reading All About Love by bell hooks. I had a good run of reading motivation back in August but since finishing The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, I’ve lost the drive again. Reading about trauma was draining and though I learned a lot about myself through it, it’s been hard to want to go back to such deep introspection.

Watching Y the Last Man, though news of its cancellation has left me somewhat subconsciously uninterested in finishing the season. Like many of you, I also binge-watched Squid Game on Netflix and found it both horrifying and exhilarating. My favorite film this month was Dune from Director Denis Villeneuve. I suspect the novel will be my next fiction read.

Learning about Human Behavioral Biology from Standford Professor Robert Sapolsky, still. I blew through the first videos quite quickly but I had read a couple of his books before watching. Unfortunately, I have been stuck on video 12 on Endocrinology. I think my issue is that Sapolsky does not teach this lecture himself and he’s the entire reason I’m interested at all.

Anticipating a year of big changes ahead of me. There has been reaping this harvest season sure, but the sowing is far from done. My wife and I are finally feeling like we are coming into the lives we’ve been meant to lead all along and though it’s taken us some time to arrive, on coming into ourselves we feel the timing feels right after all.

Reflecting on what it means to make meaning and whether this very human impulse serves us well at all. I’m sure it has its uses, but moving away from the pressure to have so much purpose all the time sounds freeing. I am reflecting on where the meaning I have made for my life or the purpose I hope to serve comes from. Are these my impulses, or impulses that my culture has imposed on me?

Fearing the uncomfortable feeling that comes with growth. I’m feeling well beyond ready, and I can even say I am excited too, but there are fears that are hard lost and I will have to fight through some of my worst and long-standing. I’m confident I can do it, but the little voice in the back of my mind that has only ever wanted to protect me has her doubts.

Hating how little the Democrats have been able to accomplish in the year since Biden’s election. I knew then Republicans would obstruct his every endeavor and I make no excuses for them, but I had no idea how much our own party would blockade the way. These are reasonable benefits we all should be fighting for like paid parental leave, free community college, or expanded healthcare coverage. What should our taxes be paying if not this?

Loving the resilience I have seen from the people who mean the most to me. It can be easy to judge another person’s position in life or to resent the hardships your family put you through but when you learn to look past your pain, you can see how hard it was for everyone. You can see how each person did the best they could given their pain too. It makes it easier to see the strength you come from. It makes it easier to love.

Needing help. I have healed quite a few of my old wounds just fine on my own over the years. That isn’t to imply it was easy, only that it was done. Recently I’ve accepted there was more damage done than I was perhaps was willing to admit and there is still a long way to go. These next steps are more than I can do on my own and though I’ve known that for a long time now, I admit the time has come to make the call.

Hoping to see a change soon in the fight against Covid-19. There are still people dying every day and there is still so much more we can all do. I’m hoping those who are hesitant on getting the vaccine are able to find the clarity they need and those who refuse to wear masks consider those who are vulnerable around them. I hope this winter will not bring the same level of loss we had over the last.


All in all, this October was a month of extremes. My family has seen some terrifying times these past weeks but found time for laughter and memory-making too. I worked more hours than I have in a long time, but found a whole week in which to rest and take time for me and my loved ones. I’ve been up. I’ve been down. I’ve been all over the place! I’ve been scared, but I’ve been oh so grateful too.

But what about you? What ups and downs have you been through this October? What did you choose for your Halloween costume? What new memories have you made? What old fears will you face? Are you ready for the stress of the holiday season?

Let me know in the comments.


Goals // Week 40: The Hard Thing

It’s been a while since I’ve last set down some intentions for myself and I have missed the motivation and the chance for accountability. More than that, I have always enjoyed keeping track of the way my goals shift and the way the things I want from myself change.

These past weeks have been hard on me, but my hope is that this will be the one in which the demands start to wane and the to-do list shortens. The calendar is already lighter than this time last week and I feel calm, focused, and strong.

I’ve been trying more than anything to be disciplined. To do the hard thing. To say no to myself, and to keep in mind what I want in the future and not what I want right now. Cravings are hard to curb and executive function is hard to muster in the moment, but I have been practicing and I’m getting better and better all the time.

With that being said, this week I will:

Keep reading. There are no number of pages to get through or a time limit I must meet. I just need to remember to read whenever I can, a little every day. My lunch hour is the perfect time to get a few paragraphs in, or a bit before bed—if I can manage to turn the TV off in time.

Reduce snacking. I’ve done a great job altering my meals to be more nutrient-dense, but snacking continues to be a problem. Intense cravings come on in the afternoon and I find myself reaching for cookies and candies with no will to resist. The key is to remove the temptation.

Wake up on time. Move your alarm across the room. Avoid hitting snooze. Turn on the lights. Drink some water. Get out of the bedroom! Do whatever it takes to give yourself enough time to adjust to the day to take each task one at a time. The extra time will make all the difference. Bonus: Use the extra time to meditate.

Spend an hour in the evening all on your own. Between the long work hours and the demands at home, there just never seems to be enough time for all the things I enjoy doing. My journals are neglected. I’m behind in my reading, and it’s been over a year since I’ve made anything with my hands. A little time every night to call my own is sorely needed.

This week I will not let social media get the better of me. It’s easy to lose track of time scrolling through timelines and laughing at silly videos but before you know it the sun has gone down and you’ve done nothing that makes you feel any good. You end the day filled with guilt and self-loathing. How could you be so weak? How could you give up so much of your time and attention?

I’m tired of the waste. I’m tired of being the product. I’m tired of algorithms and ads, controversy, and click-bait. My intention is not that there should be no joy, no laughter, no fun, but I want to find joy in the things that interest me, in the things I seek out, not the things that are fed to me. Not the things that are sold to me.


Currently // August 2021: Settling Down and Settling In

Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar…

― William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

The heat of summer is still raging, but it’s not the same heat we’ve seen since May. The heat of August is an aggression. The heat of August is an insistence. Summer has not left the northern hemisphere and will not until she is ready, no matter our contention or complaints.

Despite the heat, we can feel Autumn rising over the horizon. The days are growing noticeably shorter now and with the late sun and early moon, the cool air comes too. The breaks between heatwaves are increasing and the smell of crisping leaves is on the breeze. There is a sense of settling down and settling in. It’s time to reap and ready ourselves for the long wait of Spring’s return.

I’d hoped to begin the school year feeling safer than we did this time 12 months ago but Covid is raging still and even the sense of security that the vaccine brought is waning. The “Delta variant” is tearing through populations and the uncertainty over my own vulnerability makes it all that much harder to work and to socialize. I’m almost happy the summer is ending. At least I won’t be so preoccupied with what I can’t have, who I can’t see, and where I can’t go.

So, this August, more than any of the others, is a time of letting go. I’m releasing expectation and desire. I’m releasing the carefree days and warm nights. I’m releasing the world as I once knew it and opening myself up to what could be, and what has to be. I’m moving on with the world.

But before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing regularly again, sort of. Longer work hours mean longer lunches and more time at the peak of my day to call my own. I’m using the time to rebuild old habits and reconnect with my thoughts and interests, my curiosities and convictions. The first step was reorganizing my notes, task, and fragments. I have half-written drafts and threads I’ve yet to follow but they are in order now and the plan is to follow them one by one and one to another a little each day.

Making changes. I’ve made it to the “late-thirties” and I’m finding the age another era of metamorphosis. What sets this time apart from all the others is this time I’m learning about myself through others. Nearly all recent revelations have come from off-the-cuff comments and constructive criticisms. I’m making an effort to let down my defenses and take it all in. There is truth in the way I am seen and much as the way I see.

Planning for my weaknesses. With great revelation comes a great revolution, and changes to who I am have to be complemented with changes to how I live. I’m relying more on lists, calendars, and timers to keep me on track and doing what I know I really want to be doing. I’m working on writing as a way of exploring, accepting, and planning how I can change the way I work and interact in this world. I’m planning on a better version of myself and she is coming along beautifully.

Reading Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey. This year has been my worst yet for reading goals but I haven’t given up. Books never venture far from my heart and now that I am moving to ebooks it’s a little easier to make time in between life’s moments for a chapter or two. This is my second time around with wily Odysseus, and I find him as confounding as ever. Is he meant to be good, or bad? Or perhaps it is only my idea of good and bad in this time that makes it so hard to decide?

Watching Marvel’s What If…? on Disney+. The series is essentially an exploration of what might have happened if things had gone differently in the movies. If different characters existed, swapped places, or never existed at all. Some other favorites are HBO’s The White Lotus, a fictional series following the interactions between rich hotel guests and their rather less privileged staff, and The L Word: Generation Q, a new take on an old queer favorite.

Learning to accept. It’s hard to let humans be so human, but the reality is though my beliefs work for me, they aren’t for everyone and unsolicited advice is never welcome. I’m learning to listen, be supportive, and lead by example. I’m learning to prove through actions rather than assertions that I am as intelligent, patient, and thoughtful as I know I am. I’m learning to let people come to me. I’m learning that I don’t have to be so insistent. I don’t have to be so right.

Anticipating some big life changes. My wife and I have been putting off the future we know we want in exchange for the comfortable now simply because change is scary. We’ve been working together to overcome our fears and our habit of procrastination to make some big steps forward. I’m looking forward to what I know we can accomplish when we work together.

Reflecting on how easy it is to be completely wrong without the slightest inkling of the possibility. I’m thinking about how easy it is to hurt someone, even when you hold the best of intentions. I’m remembering all the ways I thought I deserved something I didn’t and the times I gave someone a part of myself I’d thought they’d earned. Boundaries are hard to set and we can’t be everything to everyone, no matter how hard we wish. The key is, after reflecting, you go and make it right. You acknowledge and you change.

Fearing for the people of Afghanistan. The United States has never had the best interests of any other people in any operation, but these years we’ve spent over there half-assed destroying them and half-assed supporting them has left the country almost worse off than when we arrived. I feel for the people in harm’s way now and I fear for the people who will be harmed in the years to come as the clock ticks backward and old rules lead to new oppressions.

Hating the lengths people in this country will go to protect perceived freedoms of the welfare and security of not just their fellow citizens, but other human beings living all over the world. I’ve been learning a lot about why we are so divided and why we can’t seem to see past the color of our skin or our origins of birth to care. What will it take to love thy neighbor? What will it take to finally see that to save ourselves, we have to save someone else? I hate that I am living through the beginning of this end.

Loving my simple little life. I look around at the lives and loves and losses of others and I know that I am where I need to be with the person who is just right for me. I’m madly in love and happy beyond words with the world we have built. There’s more to do, sure, and more I want, always, but I’m on the right path, there is no doubt, and feeling more confident and loved than ever. I know it’s going to be ok. I know it’s going to be good even if it’s never perfect.

Needing time, always time. It’s always moving too fast and running out before I know it. There’s always less of it left and looking back the waste is overwhelming. I need time between, time at the end, and time away. I need time for me, time for her, time to live. All I seem to have is time to work, and the work is growing more insistent. Of course, there can never be more, but there can be a rebalancing. I only need it to be a little easier to do.

Hoping for clarity. I’m hoping for a spark. I’m hoping for the old obsession and motivation. I’m hoping for a sign and a chance to make something of my own. I’m hoping a way will open and a path will clear. I know it takes work but wouldn’t it be nice for something good and easy to come along for a change. Wouldn’t a little talent, a little privilege, and some hearty support make all the difference? A girl can dream. A girl can only ever dream.


All in all, this August was a good end to the summer. Through the chaos and the fear, I have been able to find my own way. Autumn has never been good to me, but I know I can be good to myself. These last months of 2021 will be better than the first and instead of lamenting, I only feel a great and beautiful gratitude. Everything is going to be okay.

But what about you? Have you been vaccinated yet? If not, what is it that makes you hesitant? How have you fared through this latest Covid wave and how have you learned to cope in such uncertain times? What does the end of this summer mean to you and what are you most looking forward to in Autumn.

Let me know in the comments.


Goals // Week 27: Again, and Again, and Again

This week is the second of the new school year and the work is ramping up again. We’ve recovered from the holiday and we’re looking out through the end of the season and the end of the year. We’re heading to the finish line and whether we’re ahead or hopelessly behind the new year and the new beginning are closer than we imagine.

So, I’m letting go of the last six months and taking the next day by day, hour by hour even. The result is lighter weight and a way forward. There’s no reason why significant progress can’t still be made. I only have to swallow my pride and forget my failure. I only have to love myself enough to keep trying again, and again, and again.

With that being said, this week I will:

Wake up with the alarm. I miss out on at least 30 minutes to two hours a day, or about 8 hours a week of me time by hitting snooze or sleeping through my alarm. That is time to think, to process, to plan. That is time to read, or write, or learn something new. Hitting snooze never results in more rest but it does deprive me of time to achieve my most important goals.

100 squats every day and a walk around the neighborhood every evening. I’m on a mission to regain muscle tone lost to both chronic fatigue and simple laziness. Beware, overdoing it only ever leads to pain, resistance, fear, and failure. Take it slow and spread the squats throughout the day and keep the walk to under 30 minutes.

Take one direct step toward your July writing goals every day. Most days that means doing one thing, showing up, and typing for as long as you can, but there will be other days that call for input more than output. This means reading, listening, and experiencing mindfully and with a clear purpose. This means knowing not just what you are doing, but why.

Take no direct steps at all. Just as muscles need rest between workouts in order to grow, the mind needs rest too. There is not just input and output, there also needs to be periods of pause where the subconscious does its work, connecting concepts and generating ideas all without your knowledge. Take no steps and watch the path clear on its own.

Limit snacking. It’s been a long road to remission from ulcerative colitis and hard work to heal the gut and get back to some semblance of normalcy. It feels good to eat again, too good, and the numbers on the scale, and my increasingly ill-fitting clothes are reflecting that. Time to rebuild a mindful eating habit and I’ve got to start by limiting the between-meal snacks.

This week I will not say yes when I mean to say no. I will give myself time to think before answering and I will remember both that the lack of planning on another person’s part does not constitute an emergency on mine and that doing for others is not the only way for me to show love.

I will not overextend myself or allow my boundaries to be disregarded. I ask so little of others, but what I do ask must become non-negotiable. My well-being is not up for debate nor is it subject to compromise. Other people seem to forget that I am a person like them with feelings and needs in return. I think it’s time I start reminding them that love and connection both depend on boundaries, therefore, enforcing them is doing the right thing for me, and for them.


Currently // June 2021: The Edge and End

It is June. I am tired of being brave.

― Anne Sexton, “The Truth the Dead Know

The heat has been harsh and when it lets up it only serves to let the rain in and it has been just as extreme. There have been clouds climbing in from the west and thunder rolling over every night. There have been threats of flooding and hail tearing leaves from limbs, but nothing disastrous, yet.

The season has only just started and like most years here on the front range Spring came and went before we could blink and the daytime highs have risen well past pleasant. Still, this is my favorite time of year. I only wish work would let up so I could enjoy it more. These weekends won’t be enough for all the outdoor adventures I want to have.

I have promised myself to do what I can and already there has been a beautiful hiking trip and more have been planned for as often as our bodies will allow. There have been whispers among our friends of camping trips and I am hopeful for at least one weekend tucked away in the mountains among the bass and the bears.

At work things are ramping up but this is normal for my department. We hire more at the end of the summer and we are planning for our yearly all staff training day. I’m not overwhelmed yet but looking at the calendar ahead I know it won’t be long.

Personally, I’m not doing great. Like Anne Sexton, I am tired of being brave. The month of June, like many months and more than a year before, has been one of endurance that has waned to exhaustion and the brave face I show is threatening to falter. The edge and end are near, though both are temporary and overcome if only I can hold on. If only I can find space to let my guard down and let the light in.

But before I do, here is what I am currently:

Writing many many notes, fragments, journal entries, and drafts. I used to be stressed about how little was making it out of the “in progress” phase and into the realm of “published” but I’m learning to trust my process and to give my mind a chance to show my the way. I’m tried of forcing my feet to one path when they clearly want to walk another.

Making time for myself. I still have a whole lot of worry and a good amount of trauma to work through, but there is a lot more light in the tunnel and things don’t feel so hopeless. Learning to live with this hurt and this uncertainty is getting easier and easier. A new normal might be a good thing and there is space for me and my needs too.

Planning some major life improvements. I’ve been given some good news, and it looks like accomplishing some of those big impossible goals isn’t as impossible as it felt after all. A weight has been lifted and the way has been cleared substantially. I’m looking forward to new siding, tile, cabinets, flooring, and more! I wish we had started sooner but later is a whole lot better than never.

Reading nothing. I’m sad to say reading has been hard to keep up with this year. I blame chronic illness and fatigue. I blame a wandering mind and an anxious body. I blame being too busy and I blame being too tired. I blame loving life and I blame apathy. Underneath it all, I blame myself. There were too many hours of TV and Twitter that could have been used otherwise. A lesson I seem to need to learn time and time again.

Watching Ozark on Netflix, a dark drama following a financial advisor who agrees to launder money for the mob and must move his family to the Ozarks in Missouri when things go wrong. I started binge-watching just a few days ago and I will say, it’s been surprisingly engaging. Some other favorites this month include The Mare of Easttown on HBO and both Loki and The Bad Batch on Disney.

Learning to ask for help. I am learning, As in, I haven’t learned. As in, I’m still trying to ask. A lot has been on my shoulders, on my chest, and on my mind. Some of it is from this past year, but much of it has collected over a lifetime. Try as I might I can’t let it go and I can’t keep carrying it either. Someone has to hold something. Someone has to help me sort it out. Someone has to be there to say it’s ok to give it back. It’s ok to throw it away.

Anticipating some quality time away with my wife. We’re planning a trip, a real and proper vacation out of state complete with a flight, a hotel, and an itinerary. We’re going to spend five whole days drinking and eating our way through the great city of New Orleans. I just know it’s going to be just what we need to reset and restart just as the new school year looms and we begin another 10 month work cycle.

Reflecting on the difference between judgment and criticism, of listening and solving, of helping and hurting, and how easily each is confused for the other. I only ever want to help but help isn’t much help if it isn’t what the other person needs. Still the act of judging has an undeserved connotation and unbridled empathy has it’s risks. No one talks about that though. No one even considers it a possibility.

Fearing loss. This past year meant loss, some real, and some only threatened, but all was felt nonetheless. I have a feeling there is more to come. Of course, there is more to come. The older I get the more there is to lose and loss is more than anything a numbers game. The more you love and the longer you love, the higher the chances climb year after year. This knowledge is what keeps me up at night.

Hating getting older. I didn’t mind it so much before, but these past few months the signs have been showing. It’s harder to move, harder to wake and harder to recover. It’s harder to change and harder to change back. I don’t recognize myself some days and other days I am disgusted by what I see. There is so much to regret and less and less time left to make it right. I want to go back, or at least stay as I am. I hate that neither will ever be possible for me.

Loving myself. I love both how amazing I have been, how strong, and smart, kind, and helpful, and how well I have realized my faults, my wrongs, and all the ways I can improve. I love how far I have come and how far I have to go. I love the good and the bad, the light and the darkness. I feel more whole than I ever have and I love every piece and part, all the past, the present, and the potential and promises.

Needing a little more love myself. My relationships are feeling a little one sided lately and I suspect in my attempts to appear smart, strong, and steadfast others may have forgotten I have a heart and hurts of my own in need of addressing. They may have forgotten that I need them as much as they need me. They may have forgotten there is more to me than what they take.

Hoping to reconnect with my talents. I miss the things that used to get me out of bed early in the morning, the things I couldn’t wait to read or write about. The thoughts that wouldn’t stop until I got them on the page. I miss my notebook and the pages that would fill from my pen and hand and mind with ease. I miss the weight being lifted. I miss the feeling of creation and connection.


So, yeah, all in all, June was a hard month but I’m used to hard months now and I’m grateful that time has started moving a little faster. It’s hard enough to hurt, it’s worse to hurt while the world stands still. It’s hard to hold your little hurt against a global grief too enormous to fathom. June was hard but it was the first month to feel normal in such a very long time.

But what about you? Have heat waves or flash floods affected your community? Have you finally been vaccinated? Have you returned to your own sense of normalcy? Are you comfortable eating at restaurants, swimming in community pools, or enjoying a night at the movies? Does the idea of each excite you, or does it fill you with fear?

Let me know in the comments.