Goals // Week 40: Amor Fati

This week is going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride of alternating work days scheduled to the brim with projects and classes and days with little more to do than wake up and walk in and while it sounds like a luxury to have any days at all where expectations are so low, there will be times when even that will be too much.

My health has been improving somewhat and in someways but fatigue is still a hard obstacle to overcome and worry over tasks that must lie undone until the next low burst of energy or fleeting moment of focus can cripple me with stress and guilt.

I have been suffering so long now with this flare up of symptoms though that I have decided, this week, I will move from hoping to return to some old normalcy or version of myself and my life I can recognize and start moving on toward a new life that is compatible with who I am now. I have to work with and sometimes around my body. I have to work through my emotions. I have to to make the most of my new insights and perspectives.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning. It’s been weeks since I last made time to be still, to breathe, to be present, and it’s really beginning to show. I find myself getting too easily swept up in the emotions of the moment or the problems of the past or future. I feel what control I’d gained over my perspective slipping. It’s time I get back to it and I regain the peace I’ve lost.

Spend more time at my desk. I spent a good portion of the weekend purging and reorganizing my “creativity room”. The space feels much more welcoming and conducive to writing, and I’m eager to make a little time every day to this little hobby and passion of mine. I have a pile of thought fragments and scraps of ideas to get to work on, and I’m excited to see where this system of reflection and writing might lead.

Take better notes. No more post-it notes and pieces of scrap paper! This week I will carry around three notebooks: a journal for writing about the day, a small notebook for recording more formal writing ideas, and a pocket notebook for all those thought fragments and raw ideas I don’t want to lose to forgetfulness. Bonus: Schedule time in your calendar to review each of these notebooks weekly.

Read a little every day. This past weekend I made a little headway toward catching up to my reading goals and now that I have this momentum I do not want to lose it. To make the goal easier to meet, I’ll make sure to keep a Penguin Little Black Classic on me to read during all those minutes between tasks and events that add up throughout the day.

Go for a walk or two. I’ve started seeing small signs of improvement in my health and healing journey, and I think it’s time I found my way back to physical activity. I have to be cautious and mindful not to push myself too far and undo all the progress I have made. Just three days this week, I’d like to get out and around the block with the dog.

This week I will not not feel sorry for myself. I will not get sucked into patterns of self pity and suffering because I focus far too much on the gap between my expectations and my lived reality. It’s okay to be sad. It’s not okay to wallow. It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to get stuck. This week I will work on acceptance and forgiveness, for myself, my body, and the universe at large. This week I will work to love my fate.


Photo by kyler trautner on Unsplash

Goals // Week 37: A Long Short Week

This week is a short week, but short weeks always seem to drag on the longest. A short week does not mean less to do or fewer expectations. A short week just means less time to get the same amount of work done in. That means a lot more rushing, a lot more stress, and a lot more mistakes. It means I’m going to need a lot more patience, a lot more forgiveness, and a lot more help.

I’m still not feeling great physically, which is having a big impact on me mentally. Healing has been so slow and all progress is fragile. This week I will keep putting my needs first, defending my boundaries, and giving myself permission to rest without guilt. I can’t help others without helping myself. I can’t do my best work if I don’t make time for myself first. I can’t get well if I’m pushing myself for the sake of others.

This week I will:

Delete time sucking apps from home screen. I’ve already gotten rid of Instagram, next up is Facebook, and then Twitter. I’ve been feeling down lately, I think we all have, and it’s easy to escape by scrolling through endless and pointless feeds, but what feels good right now doesn’t always feel good in the long run. There is more I want to do with my waking hours. Bonus: Before I pick up my phone, pick up a book instead.

One “No TV Night” this week. Just like social media, TV shows offer an easy escape and mindless ways to pass the time, but I don’t want to be mindless for so many hours on end. There are art and writing projects I want to complete. There are books I want to read. There are things I want to learn and courses I am determined to complete. I can’t, I won’t, do any of these things if I am not more mindful of how I spend my time.

Read 20 pages a day. I’m really far behind in my reading goals for the year, so I’ve decided to let them go to focus on day to day reading goals instead. My current selection, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, is a little intimidating and overwhelming which causes an avoidant reaction in me. Normally I ask 40 pages from myself, but it’s easier to start again if you start small.

Meditate at least once a day. I wrote yesterday about how chaotic mornings and evening exhaustion have made it difficult for me to continue my meditation practice. The problem isn’t the mornings or the exhaustion though; the problem is me. I felt like I was failing, so I began to avoid doing it. I didn’t realize at the time that I actually hadn’t failed until I quit.

Take life one day at a time. There has been a lot of bad news coming my way lately and very little I can do but wait, and watch, and worry. In the absence of control my mind plays out all the possibilities, but instead of clarity all I gain is more stress and suffering. I’m living too far in the future where nothing I imagine may even come to pass. It’s all just more lost time and lost opportunity to live my best life today.

This week I will not make anyone else’s problems my own. Lately I’ve been feeling like little more than an emotional support human for everyone I encounter. While I’m honored to be so trusted, respected, and needed it’s all getting to be too much in a time when managing my stress levels is so critical.

I recognize that I have a tendency to feel too deeply the emotions of others and to make fixing everyone’s troubles my personal responsibility but the reality is as much as I want to make to, there is only so much I can control, fix, or face. The truth is, I cannot risk neglecting my own needs, responsibilities, and relationships to focus on lives I’m not living. The truth is, while I’m helping everyone through their challenges, no one but me will help me through mine.


Photo by Nicolas Moscarda on Unsplash

Goals // Week 35: Push a Little More

This week my work schedule is a little more relaxed, though not by much. The school year is still in the very early days and as chaotic as it normally is, between Covid and settling into my new position and responsibilities there is plenty to be stressed and overwhelmed by.

Still, I’d like to take advantage of the few extra minutes I see here and there across the calendar and start finding my way back to doing the things that I love. My greatest hope it that my health will continue to improve along with my mood and I can muster the energy and focus to match.

This week I will:

Read for 30 minutes every day. I’ve fallen so far behind my goals I doubt I can make up the distance between where I am and where I ought to be. So, I’m letting it go and choosing to focus on daily reading goals rather than yearly. I want to read for just 30 minutes every day this week. Between lunch time and the time I use to wind down before bed, this shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Write for an hour every day. The morning has always been my best time for writing, but with my new position and schedule that may no longer be possible. The good news is I am going home earlier most days and if I can start cultivating the habit now, I see no reason why mid-afternoon can’t become my new favorite time to type.

 Implement one new “rewirement” habit from The Science of Well-Being on Coursera. I’ve already been doing two of them: gratitude journaling and meditating and it would be easy for me to just keep on doing what I have been, but I think it’s time I try adding a new element. This week, find a way to work “increased social connection” and more frequent “acts of kindness” into my day-to-day life.

Get back to updating my logbook and to-do list in the evening. This one I can do while watching my evening shows. All I have to do it review the day and mark what I didn’t and didn’t do and record the good and the bad. Then I think about my goals and tasks for the next day and type them out. It’s that easy and I get to end the day and begin the next with a clear mind and plan. Bonus: Start journaling both here and on paper again.

Focus on one day, one hour, one minute or moment at a time. Life has gotten pretty overwhelming lately, and it’s all too easy for me to spiral into worry and regret but for my health, for my relationships, and for my productivity I have to let the thoughts and emotions pass and focus my mind on what I can do right now because the truth is, it’s all going to be fine, one way or the other.

Push myself a little more, but only a little! With all the rest, medication, diet changes, and support from loved ones, I am finally beginning to feel a little better. I have so much to catch up on, so much I’ve been wanting to do, and I think I can finally start letting myself take on more work and responsibility again. I have to be careful though. I have a strong tendency to push myself too hard the moment I have a bit of energy or focus, and I end up taking two steps back before I’ve even completed one forward. This week, do a little more, and be happy you can do that much.

This week I will not be pushed by others. I have a schedule and a list. I have my goals and my priorities. I have to keep them at the forefront of everything I do this week. I will not blindly follow what others are doing, what they think I should be doing, or what I think they might think I should be doing. I will not be lead around directionless or powerless only to be left regretful and disappointed at the come the weekend. I have to live my time and live with my choices, no one else, so I will decide how it is spent, no one else.


Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

Goals // Week 33: Let Yourself Move Forward

This week was off ahead of me before I could find my bearings. My mind and body are dragging, but I’m keeping one foot in front of the other and doing my best to at least fall no farther behind. It’ll take focus and willpower, but the plan is made, and the time is there if I seize it.

Already this morning I’ve worked on my calendar and got my to-do list in order. I spoke with my team and made a back-up plan too. I deleted that one last distracting game on my phone and set my alarm 15 minutes earlier. From here, the week looks long, but at least it’s smooth.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning and every evening. Work through the basics for 10 minutes before work, then practice long guided sessions before bed. Breathe, check in with the body, give space to the emotional and physical state you are in rather than the states you wish you were, clarify your intentions: to give your body the best chance to heal, to cope with the pace of healing, to be your best self for your loved ones and your team, to be an example of what meditation can do.

Make time for being creative. Don’t let go of your artistic goals and project in favor of more writing, more reading, more cleaning or resting. Creativity is as important as the rest and giving your mind time to work through your hands, to take a break from screens, to find meaning and metaphor in image the way it does words is vital to every other goal you wish to achieve.

 Write every day. I am making so much progress on the pieces I’ve been wanting to write and coming up with new ideas every day. I’m sorry nothing has been shared, but I’m just not ready. I’m not putting that pressure on myself right now, not with the health and work stress I already have going on. Writing has to be my secret joy and escape right now. Writing has to belong to me alone for a little while longer.

Finish week seven of The Science of Well-Being. I’ve been on a roll these last couple of weeks, making time just 3 days out of seven to watch a few videos, take a few notes, and reflect on how this new knowledge might change or impact my life for the better. Knowing isn’t everything, it might not even be half the battle by far, but it’s the first step and every step after gets a little easier. Bonus: Implement some weekly retirements.

Practice the WOOP exercise. WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan. Sit down and choose an outcome, a want, desire, goal, or achievement. Visualize the very best outcome you can. Now switch gear and visualize all the things that will get in your way, including emotions, beliefs, bad habits. Now, what will you do to overcome that obstacle? Going to implement this reflection into my weekly goals and actions plans.

Get through the last of my very big and very important training classes by the end of the week. Despite the challenges, I’ve been trying to get some new certifications under my belt for work and this week is the last of my classes for a while. I’m feeling incredibly nervous and flighty right now. I’m on the verge of sabotage and outright avoidance but deep down I know, all I have to do is my best and I can make it through with flying colors. Just do it!

This week I will not give in to despair. These past few months have been a long struggle. I never meant for the focus of this space to become my chronic illness, but when you live life in pain, with anxiety, shame, and plummeting self-esteem it’s hard to think, let alone write, about anything else. Already this week I got some good news and some bad news. I got a plan and an end point, and now I have to let myself move forward through the pain, anxiety, shame, and low self-esteem and back to life.


Photo by Rory Hennessey on Unsplash

Goals // Week 32: Getting Better Every Day

This week is going to be a busy one, though not hard, although it is off to a rocky start already. I’ve already written about the health issues I’m coping with and though I’m still suffering, I’m getting better every day and fully expect to feel much stronger and more capable by the end of the week.

It’s hard to feel so limited. To have to remind yourself to keep your expectations, your focus, your goals so narrow, but I’m trying to remember it’s better for the long run. This week I’m not looking too far into the future. I’m focusing on here and now, on my mind, my body, my mental and physical health, what I need to do each day, each hour, and with each action to take care of me first.

This week I will:

Rest when you need it. It’s hard enough to admit to yourself when you just can’t but it’s so much harder to have to admit it to your superiors, your team, and your loved ones. Remember that they want the best for you too. Remember that even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. You are your own responsibility. You are the one who must live in this body. You have to put you first and heal so that you can take care of work, relationships, obligations, or passions.

Medicate, meditate, and hydrate. Rest is important, but there are other needs to be met. Don’t forget your medication. Don’t forget to drink water. Don’t forget to be present, to focus on your breath, to observe your world, your thoughts, your emotions without judgement. Stress is your number one trigger and to quell it takes only 10 minutes a day. You can give yourself at least that.

 Make something with my hands. There is more than one way to meditate. Put on a podcast, get out your X-Acto knives and magazine pages and clippings. Find words to play with, scenes to reimagine, bodies to remix into your own reflection. Find your flow and lose a little time to something that belongs to no one but you. Don’t forget, the healthy mind needs new challenges and novel ways to think and play.

Write something every day. You’ve set up a schedule and made the work easy enough. You have ideas to explore and even if nothing gets finished, posted, shared, or turns out in any way the way you meant it to, even if you get lost, frustrated, or feel wholly incompetent and full of doubt, you have only to keep writing and it will pass, it will get easier, it, you, will get better. Just try a little each day, that’s all I ask.

Finish that book, then finish another one. Too much rime has been spent on screens lately. Uninstall that game, those apps, shut it all down by 8:00 PM every night and pull out a book instead. You’ve only got 20 more pages left on this one, and the next is less than 60. #) minutes before bed will get you a lot farther than that and is much better for you than that phone.

Reach out. I’ll expand on it later but, since the time of Covid began, I’ve found it harder and harder to reach out to family and friends. I’m becoming more and more isolated, and I’m struggling to both understand why and break through this reluctance. It’s as if I’ve decided I’m living in a time outside of time, a life outside of my life. I’ve decided I am alone and left the conclusion to stand, but life is passing by and the people I love are still out there living, loving, suffering, changing, growing farther and farther away. I don’t want to come out of this alone.

This week I will not get caught up in every passing emotion, thought, or physical sensation. My body is me and my mind is me, but not everything that happens or occurs is me. Not everything is a thing. There is control to wield if I would seize it. There is peace to be had if I would allow it. There are blue skies over every cloud, and every cloud is always on the move. It’s okay to let it pass. Let it pass.


Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Currently // July 2020: At My Best and at My Worst

“Things are prettier in June, but they’re clearer in July.” 

― Sophie Flack, Bunheads 

After months and months of spring and early summer that seemed to drag on and on with catastrophe after catastrophe, after we floundered and continue to flounder leaderless and lost, July gives way to August and yet further uncertainty and strife.

Still, we are finding our footing slowly and despite what you see on the news and what you hear from the politicians, if you look up and look around people everywhere are coming together, supporting each other, growing and pushing forward with strength and compassion.

The consciousness of the country is rising, and though they fret and fight, those who would have our country return, or perhaps never leave, the hazy dream of individuality and universality, law and order, and hard truths left unsaid, undesirables lost to the dark and to silence, those people will be, are being, left behind in favor of a world more inclusive, for connected, more giving and forgiving than we’ve ever dreamed.

At least this is my hope because to be an American right now and watch the failure, the cruelty, the death all around you and closing in is to feel hopeless and utterly ashamed. I’m fortunate to live in a state where even though cases are rising we are not seeing numbers as high as others and the people have elected a Governor who, though not perfect, is trustworthy and has his heart in the right place.

Protests are still happening regularly, but I worry that attention to racial injustice is waning as justice takes its time and the cause is trivialized. I worry I haven’t done enough for my part to keep the country’s focus.

The end of July marks the end of summer’s spirit, and the issue on everyone’s mind now is the reopening of schools. There seem to be no definitive answers about the safety of students, teachers, or staff, only a rising insistence that schools reopen no matter the cost or concern. Working for a school district has made an already stressful time all the more terrifying. None of us know what will happen and though we all want to return I have not spoken to one fellow employee who is in any way anxious to return to work right now.

As for me, I’m trying not to dwell on what I cannot control. I returned to work months ago, but only in office and without students to transport. Looking toward the start of school in just a few short weeks, I’m taking stock of my own options, my own boundaries, the compromises and the precautions I’m willing to take and deciding what is right for me. I have my health and the health of my loved ones to consider. I have to stand up for what I believe is right, to keep us all home and safe so that more of us can live.

To distract from it all, I’m focusing more and more on my mental and physical health. I’m making time for more of what I love through schedules, lists, priorities, focus, and self-care. I’m meditating, eating better, taking my medication, and resting often and without guilt. The paradox of July has been that I feel both at my best and at my worst.

With August’s arrival, I plan nothing more than incremental and infinitesimal change. I’m doing the right things now and if I find myself doing these same things 30 days from today, I will count that a monument’s success. The goals going forward are to fight, to breathe, to rest, to work, to learn each a little bit every day…

but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing essays. They’ve been slow to write and even slower to post, but every day I find some new idea or take time to flesh out some part of a new piece. The hurdle has been consistency and persistence. It’s easy to begin, but the challenge of finishing is hell to overcome. I’m working on my self-confidence, getting comfortable with vulnerability, and chasing that elusive state of high challenge and high capability known as “flow“.

Making collages, blackout poetry, and cut out poems again. Last month I bought a desk wide self-healing cutting mat and now creating new work is as easy as folding my laptop away and pulling out my X-Acto blades, markers, and magazines, putting on one of my favorite podcasts and zoning out for a while.

Planning every hour of every day. Throughout the day and at the very least each evening I spend time updating my calendar, to-do list, and digital logbook in preparation for the next day. It’s been helpful to clear my mind of so much clutter and to always know what the next steps should be.

Reading less than I should be and falling farther and farther behind my goals. These past few weeks I’ve found my way back and finished a couple more from my Penguin Little Black Classics Set. I’ve purchased a couple of new one to add to my TBR pile to keep me motivated too. There is still a lot of year left to make up for time lost.

Watching I Know This Much is True, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and Perry Mason all on HBO. I’ve been into dark dramas lately. They are comforting for the mind the way weighted blankets are for the body. I’m missing movies though, and movie theaters particularly, and hearing that so many studios have pushed back their premiers breaks my heart.

Learning about The Science of Well-Being on Coursera. After so many months of putting my learning journey on the back burner, I’m finally finding the time by asking just 5 hours a week from my schedule to log-in, watch videos, read, and reflect. It sounds like a lot, but waking up earlier on the weekends has given me more than enough time to make it happen. I’m still on Duolingo too if anyone wants to be friends.

Anticipating the end of summer. This is typically my favorite season of the year. Summer is when I feel the most free, the most myself, but between Covid-19 shutting the whole world down and my own health holding me back, this summer has been nothing but disappointment and loniliness. Sometimes “not the same” is worse than “not at all”. I’m ready to move on and try again in 2021.

Reflecting what exactly it feels like to be alive right now. As hard as it is to navigate these trying times, to be frustrated, to be afraid, to grieve, this is the life I am given and though much has been lost all need not be lost. I can still let myself feel. There are times now when feeling is all I can do. I won’t give that up too. Even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts.

Fearing what the end of the season will bring. I’m afraid of returning to work more fully. I’m afraid of being around more coworkers, more kids, more chances to contract the virus. I’m afraid I’m not doing enough to protect myself, my loved ones, my coworkers, or my community. I’m scared of the worst I see predicted by news outlets and over social media. I’m scared of the combination cold, flu, and Covid season to come.

Hating anti-maskers. It’s hard not to see people like that as the enemy. It’s hard not to wish the worst on them for their ignorance and disregard for life, but I’m trying to remember that they are human like me and prone to fault and failure. As a species, we will never be perfect. We must cope with the contrarians, drag the ones we can, kicking and screaming, and make right the mistakes of others the best we can.

Loving Colorado’s monsoon season. The heat of the summer might set me free, but it is the monsoon season that gives me life. Each afternoon as the summer starts to wind down we see afternoon thunderstorms roll from the mountains, through the cities and off toward the planes. They pick of strength as they swirl and gather most times unleashing their fury over the eastern half of the stats but some night the city feels the wrath in the form of rain, hail, flooding, bright lightning, and deep rolling thunder. Nothing is more soothing.

Needing some good news. I’ll take it personally, professionally, or politically, I’m not picky. I’m desperate. The good has been so hard to find. Everywhere I look there is nothing but bad, and pain, and anxiety, and anger, and death. All our usual means of escape are cut off and our usual means of connection along with them. I need something good to balance all the bad. I need something good to balance myself and make it through.

Hoping one foot in front of the other can go on being enough for now. I hope this not just for me, or just for you, but for us all together. Life may never return to what it was and we are going to be limping along, broken, lonely, angry, uncertain, terrified, and the weight of failure and loss trying to find a new way.

The only thing to keep on dragging one foot in front of the other. The only thing we can do is not give up. I hope we won’t stagnate. I hope we won’t lose hope. I hope, in the end, we won’t give up on one another. I hope we learn the value of community. I hope we learn to love more and to let love, and care, and community guide us forward into this great unknown we face, together.


So, yeah, all in all, July was…not the worst month of 2020. The bar is low, sure, but everything felt a little lighter. The world took a moment to breathe in and come August we will breathe out and begin. There is still work to do, life to live, a year to get though, and just now I can begin to sense, a new year beginning to form on it’s end that we’ll have to ready ourselves to begin starting now.

But what about you? Were there any celebrations? Any trip? Any bit of good news or chance for joy? Are you still wearing your mask? Are you still doing your part to keep the people you love and people you will never meet safe? Have you registered to vote?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash

Goals // Week 31: Building the Habits

This week felt busy before it even began and before goals could even be set obligations were already getting in the way.

I have some big meetings scheduled, but they are largely brainstorming sessions. I have a couple of projects on my plate, but nothing outside of my expertise or capability. I have a long virtual training session I’m a little nervous about but it won’t take more than a morning to get through and many members of my team are attending too so I’ll have plenty of help and support along the way. It’ll be a busy week, but in a good way.

My greatest roadblock will be managing my health and overcoming fatigue. I’ve been on a downhill trend for a little while now, but I’m starting a new medication and reviving an old daily meditation habit to help. My hope is that by the end of this week I’ll feel a little more like myself and making good progress toward my goals.

This week I will:

Update my to-do list and logbook nightly. It has been nice to have one place to keep my tasks, notes, ideas, and journal so that I can walk through each day with a clearer head and calmer outlook but the place offers no benefit if it isn’t reviewed, updated, and improved regularly. The goal is to spend at least one half-hour every evening reflecting on the day and preparing my tasks and goals for the next day.

 Meditate every morning. I recently learned that I qualified for a free subscription for the Headspace app and I couldn’t be more excited to return to the mediation habit I strove to build years ago but abandoned to disappointment. I’ve already committed to the practice for the past four days and already I am noticing the benefits. Bonus: Practice short breathing exercises in the middle of the day and join group meditations every evening with my wife.

Complete the work projects I have listed as due by Friday. I’ve been working for the same company for almost 14 years now, but it’s only been three months since I was chosen for a new position. I’m enthusiastic but feeling a bit overwhelmed by my new role and responsibilities. I know I am capable and respected, but avoidance is my usual approach to anxiety, which only ever leads to more anxiety and further avoidance . This week I won’t let my worries win.

Hydrate. The more active, focused, and engaged my mind is with my work and surroundings, the less connected I feel to my body and its needs. I forget to eat, to rest, to drink water, even to take bathroom breaks sometimes! This week I want to exist in my body more and pay attention to my physical needs as much as I do my mental. I’m prone to dehydration right now and if I want to stay motivated and productive, I have to start by heeding those phone reminders and drinking more water.

Find a new time for reading. I have an alarm on my phone to remind me every evening to turn off all screens and spend time reading a physical book. This worked well when I was feeling well but as fatigue takes greater and greater foothold reading just a page or two puts me right to sleep. I can’t make any progress reading at this time so I’d like to try reading earlier in the day and getting through the 40 page per day and catch up to where I should be by now in my reading goals.

Work on my essay a week project. I can’t promise the piece will be done by next week but I have added the daily writing tasks like choosing a topic, researching quotes and facts, outlining, freewriting, and editing to my logbook and tasks lists and plan to time block these items in my calendar as well. As long as I work on each of these items in the time I’m meant to I will consider the goal met. I know that through practice, a habit is formed and through habit I will become comfortable, confident, and consistent.

This week I will not make other people’s problems my own. I will not feel guilt for things that are not my fault or that are out of my control. I will not attribute every mood to my actions. Not everyone’s well-being is not my responsibility. My job is to be kind and authentic and to protect my boundaries first and always. To take responsibility for every emotion or action around me outside of that framework denies other people the chance to reflect, learn, and grow, and deny’s me space to simply be.


Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Goals // Week 30: Resettle

This week I’m coming back to a schedule that feels more like normalcy and safety than I’ve been able to work for a very long time. I’ve missed having control over how I allocate my time and choosing the work I want to concentrate on or produce. This week I get to have a little more of that again and it makes all the difference toward increased morale.

That isn’t to say this week won’t be a difficult one. I have a big project on my plate and many meetings and deadlines on the calendar. I have virtual training sessions to attend, and a new class of employees getting ready to train, and a to-do list that will take me well into next week even if everything stays smooth and right.

But this is the work I have always done. I don’t feel anxious or incompetent. I don’t feel incapable or alone. My team is supportive and helpful, and my part is but a small piece in our grand scheme. The pressure is spread evenly and there is time enough for everything I need to do.

Still, just to keep the stress levels down, I’m not making any big changes this week. I’m not cultivating new habits or chasing radical shifts in perspective or productivity. After so much uncertainty and so much time away, I need to resettle into reality. This week I’m focusing on the boring, the background noise, and the basics of life. I’m looking for contentment, for good enough, for ordinary.

This week I will:

Keep the vacation frame of mind. Last week I spent ample hours away from the internet, from the chaos and confusion of the pandemic, and the tragedy of the daily news. I remembered that there is more to the work than what is splashed across my screen and the rest gave me a chance to rejuvenate and refocus, but my heart and mind can’t wait around another year to recover again. I have to find a way to step outside of myself and my life to a place where more than just human struggle and strife exist. I have to find nature, find wonder, disconnect, reconnect, and, finally, see.

 Not just be mindful, but also willful about how I spend my time. I’ve been fighting fatigue and malaise to very little success these past few months and falling farther and farther behind where’d I’d hoped to be by now, but I think the solution is much easier than I’ve begun to imagine it would be. The simple truth is I haven’t been doing my best and if I just try to do that much and nothing more, I think I could turn this year around. So, even on days when there is so little time or energy to give just use what little you have. Nothing very big has to be accomplished. I only have to be present and choose.

Get back to my “52 essays” project. I started the year-long posting challenge a couple of weeks ago, but after just one post, life quickly got back in the way. I’m disappointed and reluctant to try again now that I feel I’ve already failed, but I know that if I ever want to reach my goal, the best thing to do is to get right back to work. I know that writing is what I love. It’s the only thing I can create from myself alone and give to the world and no matter how small, or ugly, to bad my little words and writings are they are so important for me to share. This project is more than a goal, it is self-care.

Keep up on medication and meal schedules. My health has been improving though by only the most infinitesimal increments and only when I am 100% compliant in taking my medication and supplements and eating the right kinds of foods, in the right portions, and at the right times of the day. It’s been a long road of trial and error, successes, and failures, and I am still so far from where I would like to be, but if I just stay with it I know I’ll get there. I owe it to myself to care enough, to remember, to commit to the work of healing.

Read. I had hoped for more reading time while I was away, but the desire to unplug and the desire not to weigh down my bags made it impossible. While we were up there, I did find a neat independent bookstore and managed to come home with two new additions to my already overflowing bookshelf. I can’t wait to get to them, but first I have to make it through others that have been waiting far longer. This week I’d like to do more than read books. I have an embarrassing number of articles saved. I’d like to make progress there too.

Try yoga, both for a light workout, for mindfulness practice, and to relax. Running and weight lifting are still my workout types of choice but both have been putting too much stress on my body but rather than let my muscles atrophy and undo all the benefits I’ve earned, I’d like to find something easier on my bones. I’d like something that’s conducive to a calming climate and keeps my immune system from going haywire. I’m starting with a few Sun Salutation sequences in the morning and a few Moon Salutations at night. Nothing strenuous or stressful.

This week I will not be too easy on myself. Normally I have the opposite problem, but looking back over the last few months I have struggled to hold myself accountable to any number of expectations. I know, I know, I needed the rest. I needed the time to adjust. I needed it to be okay not to know what to do and not to want to do it when I did, but life is moving on and I have to get on with coping, with changing, with growing and sooner rather than later. Tomorrow is uncertain, scary, unpromised, but today is here and now. How will I choose to meet it?


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

Currently // June 2020: Dire Predictions and Unpleasant Truths

“Words of Emancipation didn’t arrive until the middle of June so they called it Juneteenth. So that was it, the night of Juneteenth celebration, his mind went on. The celebration of a gaudy illusion.” 

― Ralph EllisonJuneteenth

After the past three months of uncertainty, change, and fear I had hoped to settle into a new normalcy this June. Covid-19 cases seemed on the decline. I had returned to work. The precautions and the masks were quickly becoming habits. I was starting to feel safe and secure again. I was daring to feel proud that the world had grown more connected and empowered as we came together to face the pandemic and keep one another safe. Sadly, that new normal, that sense of safety, and that faith in humanity were short lived.

Covid-19 cases are back on the rise again and every day I see videos of people protesting stay at home mandates and refusing to wear masks that keep us all safe. I dealt with my own incident of indignation as a fellow employee in a CPR class I was teaching spit near me in retaliation for being asked to comply with precautions in response to the pandemic.

And as if the pandemic weren’t enough, police officers all over the country continued to brutalize protesters and murder POC in what could have been routine stops if any of them were trained in deescalation and possessed an ounce of self-awareness. They’ve learned nothing—listened to nothing!

The President continues to exacerbate every level of our problems and offers no reason for hope or words of wisdom to sooth or inspire the country he ought to be leading through these crises. The country grows further divided as the Left moves further left and the Right embraces and openly enforces old world systems of classism, racism, and sexism to hold on to power.

Instead of stability June brought only more uncertainty and anger, but none of it has been in vain. Change is happening all over the country and inside each of us and so much of that change is for the better and, slowly, slowly, I’m learning to not only accept, but to embrace and demand that change in others and in myself. This year has been a wild, frightful and wonderful ride and we are only halfway through it!

Working for a school district means July is another kind of New Year for me. This second beginning brings dire predictions and unpleasant truths, sure, but I’m committed to moving forward by focusing on one day at a time, one thing I can control at a time, one emotion at a time. I have a plan, a project, and so much to learn and say before another six months roll by. I’m excited to begin again…

but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing one essay a week. With the second half of the year comes the perfect time to start a new project. This project has been a long-time dream of mine and it seems life, and work, and illness, self-doubt, and laziness keep on getting in the way, but I’m determined to start. My first piece goes up this Thursday and, unless extraordinary circumstances prohibit, every Thursday thereafter.

Making new collage pieces and poems, or at least I hope to. I have a new clean setup in my “creativity room” with a new full length self healing cutting mat and plenty of material to work with. It’s been months since I last held an X-Acto knife and lost myself in the precise cutting of words and images and remix them into something all my own.

Planning for more coronavirus surges and shut downs. The numbers are already up in many states and though Colorado is holding steady, but I have a feeling the mistakes of the Federal Government and surrounding states can’t be kept beyond the boarders. A springtime quarantine was bad enough. It’ll take emotional preparation and work to ready for one in the winter.

Reading Penguin Little Black Classics. There are 80 books in the set and each one is less than 60 pages long. There’s quite an assortment to the collection including short stories, poetry collections, essays, and excerpts. Some are fantastic, some are boring, but each is a new perspective, a piece of history, and satisfying to finish either way. In addition, I was able to find a few free books on police violence and racial inequality from Verso Books.

Watching the entire Avatar: The Last Airbender series on Netflix, followed by Legend of Korra on CBS All Access. I hate to add a new subscription service, but I could not move on without watching both. Luckily CBS comes with the new Twilight Zone series and with Jordan Peele narrating plus just the right amount of nostalgic elements, make the series is well worth the price.

Learning Spanish on Duolingo, but not much more. Going back to work meant a lot had to be put on the back burner and free courses had to be put off. I’m looking for new ways to return to the pleasure of self-education. I’ve started scheduling TV-free nights throughout the week. Some of that time is for writing, but some is for taking a few courses. I’m looking forward to finishing The Science of Well-Being and starting Race and Cultural Diversity in American Life and History.

Anticipating some time in the mountains away from the city, from the news, from social media, and as far from the pandemic as I can manage. My wife and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary in a luxury tent enjoying gourmet farm to table meals and complimentary wine tasting. I’m looking forward to new hiking trails and breathtaking views.

Reflecting on all the things I never learned. I’m a queer woman of color, but I’m also light-skinned and I’ve had the privilege of an accepting family, workplace, and community. I was raised by a white woman and though she did her best to talk about race with us, I still inherited her innate privilege of ignorance. I’m learning how much I never learned because of what she could never really know.

Fearing the near future, still. Each month brings its own fresh horror, but each is proving worse than the last and we are but halfway through the year. I worry what I will be typing here in 30 day’s time, in 60 days? I’m terrified of the next 90 days.I’m afraid of more and more death. I’m afraid of getting sick. I’m afraid of four more years like the last.

Hating the at times muted, at times contradictory, and always damaging response from the current White House administration to every crisis this country has faced since 2016. Whenever the president speaks he only divides us further and pushes us closer to violence and self-destruction. I’ve never been the most patriotic citizen, but seeing my country in such a shameful state saddens me.

Loving the hard truth telling I see happening in the feeds of every social media platform I visit. I love the way communities have come together to speak up, protect each other, educate each other, and show love. I love the hope I feel despite all the suffering. I love the fearlessness in the demands for justice. I love the ambition and imagination I see in the calls for change.

Needing some energy! Having a chronic illness means my body is always either actively destroying itself or trying to heal itself. It means every day half or more of my energy stores are reallocated, leaving little left for loved ones and personal pursuits. I’m tired of being tired and I’m furious at the unfairness of it all. I’m low from being a burden and ashamed at how one-sided my relationships inevitably become. Just a little more energy would go such a long way…

Hoping that the side of the righteous, the compassionate, the oppressed, and the deserving gain real ground against racism, individualism, capitalism, and hatred in all its forms in the coming months. All around me I see opportunities to for real change and long overdue righting. It’s time we stop thinking in such small ways and moving so incrementally. It’s time lives are made better. It’s time lives were saved.

The world is always going to go on changing, it’s up to each of us to do our part to guide that change toward dignity and justice. I hope I see so much more change in my lifetime. Now is the time!


So, yeah, all in all, June was an enlightening month. I faced some ugly truths about the world, about people, and about myself. I saw the worst in us and I saw the best, the brightest, and the most beautiful too. I’m afraid of what July might bring, but I’m so very excited too. I’m ready to endure anything if it means changing the world toward a happier, more hopeful, and connect place.

But what about you? Have you found a sense of normalcy? Are you heading back out to work and open restaurants? Are you at least wearing a mask? Have you joined any protests, signed petitions, or contacted your state and local governments lately?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Goals // Week 27: Asking Nothing More

This week I’m taking a break. I’m reading and writing and nothing else. My own personal retreat. I’m feeling better and I’d like to continue that success. I’m resting and waiting. I’m watching and processing. I’m accepting and yielding. For that reason, I’m reluctant to set any goals at all. For me, the pressure to produce is suffocating, and expectations only lead to failure and the obligation only leads to avoidance.

This week I’d like to just get up early every morning and see where the days take me. I’d like to ask nothing more of myself than to spend part of each day at my desk away from social media and another part between the pages of a few good books. Still, there are a few guidelines, reminders, and tasks I’d like to set for myself to keep from wasting time or wandering too easily when things get hard.

This week I will:

 Keep up my daily routine. It’s too easy to fall into old habits, especially when away from work. I tend to stay up too late and lose too much of the day by sleeping in. I tend to forget my meals and my medication. I forget to drink water, to move my body, and to take care of my basic self-care and needs. This week I want to start and end each day as if I were heading off to work and instead of leaving I’ll spend tie cleaning and writing as my duty and service instead.

Finish my next long-form post. I’ve been working on the same piece for weeks now and it’s grown disordered, unwieldy, and full of tangents and side stories. I have the time now to hack and force it back into shape, but I know I will be reluctant to finish the job. If I remember that 90% is good enough and that no piece is beyond revisiting then I can finally make something somewhat cathartic and coherent out of these ugly words. Bonus: Go back to using Google Docs to draft posts. The built-in dictionary and “explore” feature keeps me from getting distracted.

Make some new collage art. I finally have the desk-wide self-healing cutting mat of my dreams, more X-Acto knife blade replacements than I will probably ever need, and plenty of magazine material to flip through. There is no excuse not to make a little something every week or so. Writing is great but time spent off screen making something with my hands give my mind time to rest, to breathe, to slip into a more abstract space than typing usually allows. One art feeds the other.

Read. I made great progress this weekend but I am still three books behind where I should be for this years reading goals. If I spend an hour each day at least reading a Penguin Little Black Classic rather than watching an episode of a show or scrolling Twitter I should easily be ahead of schedule before the end of the week. Next week I’ll move on to tacking the new ebooks I downloaded from Verso Books. Bonus: Tackle a few of those articles that have been piling up in your “to-read later” folder too.

Get ready for our big trip. In a few weeks my wife and I are heading up into the mountains for some much-needed time away from work, from the news, from the internet, from everything. It’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of our wedding and though it’s been one of our happiest (we’ve been together nearly 18 years now), it has also been one of the most stressful. We’re in desperate need of a reset and I want to make sure I’ve got everything we need squared away so we can leave the stress down here in the city.

This week I will not feel sorry for myself. I haven’t been feeling great and the world is in chaos. I’m feeling anxious and all around me there seems to be despair and death. I feel powerless, small, anxious, incompetent, and incapable, but I know none of those feelings reflect reality. They are only a reaction. They should be given their space to exist. They should be heard. They should even be learned from, but then they must be let go.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash