Goals // Week 01: There Is Time Enough

This week will the first time in months that I will return to something like my old full-time work schedule. I have been eager for a return to a time of more interesting and fulfilling work, but I expect the reality will remind me was days just like these, only longer and more tiring. Still, anything to break up the monotony. Anything just to feel normal again.

This week will also be the first test of the daily habits I’ve worked hard to establish over the last few months of half work days and half work weeks. It was easy then to meditate, to read, to write, to drink enough water and get enough sleep, but from now on the life/work balance will be tipped back the other way. I’m anticipating less time to myself and a lot more stress to manage. I’m expecting good habits to fall by the wayside and bad habits making troubling returns….if I let them.

This week it will take focus and willpower to keep moving through the to-do lists and the assigned tasks, but more than that, it will take a little self-compassion. It will take encouraging and believing in myself and making this space safe to fail in. No more shaming and blaming. Instead, there will be nothing but praise, patience, and pep talks.

This week I will:

Read the introduction and chapter one of Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. On a whim last month I joined a book club and according to an email I received last week, it turns out I’m actually expected to read the material and join a discussion in a little under two weeks from today. Bonus: Finish the current chapter of The Second Sex.

Meditate every morning. Cultivating a meditation practice is one of the very few resolutions I have made that are expected to be daily habits . I’ve done great so far and I’d like to keep it up through the end of the week. I have set my morning alarm 30 minutes earlier; I have reminders in my phone, and if it doesn’t get done first thing in the morning, it must be the last thing I do before bed.

Stay hydrated. Last month a few of my lab results came back with troubling numbers regarding my kidneys. I have been struggling with dehydration for months and now that I am finally seeing some healing, it’s important I give my body the best chance by drinking a lot more water and laying off the sugary sports drinks that have become a habit.

Fill in a page of my journal and update my planner every day. My journal and my planner are two out of the four keys to my success in 2021. The third is sitting in my office chair and the fourth is setting a timer. I’m easing into the productivity shifts and the start is simply writing down what I think and what I want to do about what I think.

Finish week two of Social Psychology on Coursera. I enrolled into an irrational number of courses last month in an attempt to take advantage of free certificate offers in subjects I’d long been interested in. Immediately upon looking at the number of lectures, reading requirements, and assignments, I felt overwhelmed found it impossible to even begin. This week I’m going to begin by taking each in 20 and 30 minute chunks at a time for as long as it takes until I’m done.

This week I will not get discouraged. There is time for the things you want to do, you only have to find it. It’s in the little breaks and the small moments between this task and the next. It’s in the space you give to too much TV, to the games on your phone, to social media and sleeping in. There is time enough to do a little every day and you have to let that be enough.

The theme of 2021 is slow and steady. Keep in your mind a vision of yourself 12 months from now all that might change and how far you might find yourself from where you stand now if you were to take just one small step every day. The step need not be perfect. It need not even be right. It only has to be forward. It only has to be done.


Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Currently // December 2020: Never Be the Same

“It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better.”

― Leonard Cohen, Famous Blue Raincoat

The end of December has arrived and with it the end of one of the longest and most horrific years in my memory. Thinking back to this time last year, it’s shocking to mark the number of changes. I hardly recognize myself or the world around me. I can hardly believe how much has changed, how much has been lost, and how much we have to gain back.

The official winter season has only just started here in the northern hemisphere, but we are already halfway toward the next summer, my favorite season of all. The dark days and the deep cold will be with us for a long while more, but it helps to know that slowly, slowly the sun will start setting later and the number of days above freezing will steadily increase.

Twenty-twenty has been quite a year, one none of else will soon forget. We’re living through a time of unprecedented uncertainty and grief. The pandemic is still ravishing communities here in the US and though, like Spring, the vaccine is bringing an end in sight, there will still be many more dark days to survive.

Still, there have been some small victories, and plenty of lessons learned. I’ve never felt more connected to my local community and have found a sense of trust and pride in state officials and local business and leaders. I’ve had more time than i have ever had—or will ever have again—to rest, to read, to write, and to learn about myself.

Besides the fear and anxiety brought on by the pandemic raging around me, inside I was also experiencing what would turn out to be the longest and most severe flare up of my ulcerative colitis symptoms since my diagnosis. This disease took so much from me in 2020, but it also gave me something back. It showed me how strong I am. It showed me the power of the human body, of my body, for both good and bad. It brought me back to my meditation practice and reacquainted me with the calm of early mornings. It taught me it is possible to overcome yourself, and it taught me gratitude.

I’m ready to take these lessons and many, many more that this dumpster fire of a year taught me into the next. Though I know that things can always be worse, from here, looking on the innocent potential of the New Year, I can only see how good things are finally going to get. The world has a vaccine. The US has a new President. I have a new medication. I am healing. We are all healing.

As with every norm and tradition, making New Year’s resolutions just doesn’t feel the same this year. What used to be important has become trivial and forgettable, and what used to feel unimportant is now vital.

This year I’m setting very few large goals and instead focusing almost entirely on self-care. The biggest lesson I’m taking with me into the new month and year is that I must build and continually rebuild emotional endurance and resilience. This year I am putting I have to put my health and my well-being before all else because it turns out I am vulnerable in many more ways than I knew, but before I do, here’s what I am currently:

Writing from a new place in my home. The old creativity room had to be converted back into a bedroom this year, and I was left without a place to call my own. For weeks I wandered through the house from couch to bed to counter to floor, and nothing felt right until the idea struck to clear the cluttered dining table and claim a corner of the kitchen for writing alone. I’ve got my old office chair and all my notebooks here, the only essentials I need. I will have an office again eventually, but for now this will do.

Making this house a home. My wife and I are notorious for procrastinating on needed house projects and repair, but with reduced hours at work due to the pandemic, boredom has pushed us to complete project after project just to have something to do. My wife has taken the lead and going forward I have a feeling my role will be regulated to simply approving or disapproving plans but that’s ok. Slowly and steadily these ugly fixtures, bare walls, and outdated decor are being transformed into something personal, something more livable.

Planning and tracking each day of 2021. In preparation for the coming year and upon reflection of the last, I thought it might be a good idea to move back toward an all analog system of allocating my hours. I have long been a fan of author Austin Keons system of note taking and logging and have tweaked it somewhat to include to-go lists and goals. I have a new, and quite plain just the way I like it, Moleskine daily planner to my habits and schedule. I have a Journal to record the day’s moods and thoughts,

Reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. Many of Beauvoir’s ideas are now outdated since the advancement of science and the understanding of gender, but her writing style is wonderfully unique and her power to inform and impassion is inspiring. I haven’t technically started Poor People’s Movements, but it has moved to the top of my TBR since I, on impulse, joined a book club that is meeting virtually in just a few weeks to discuss the introduction and chapter one.

Watching The Stand on CBS and old episodes of Veep on HBO. Some of my favorite shows this year include The Mandalorian, Raised by Wolves, The Queen’s Gambit, and Lovecraft Country. I have tried these past months to reduce the amount of time I spend in front of the TV, and largely I feel I have been successful. Unfortunately, Disney recently announced a slew of new Star Wars shows coming to their streaming app, and I suspect my couch time will significantly increase as a result.

Learning about Social Psychology. I’m two weeks into the course and while I find the material interesting, I’m having a hard time progressing due to time constraints. This course requires has quite a bit more reading than the previous courses I’ve taken. Still, I’m excited to get through it, not for the subject alone but for the courses I have lined up to take after. On a whim last month, I enrolled in four new Coursera courses—the certificates were being offered for free, I couldn’t resist!—and to keep from overwhelming myself, I’m only allowing myself to take them one at a time.

Anticipating a return to a normal schedule and routine. All through autumn I had wished and wished for my district to go fully remote, but when we finally did it wasn’t at all what I expected. Unlike the last shutdown I have still been expected to come in and without the kids, there has been very little to do. At first the quiet, easy days were nice, but experiencing boredom and isolation both at home and at work has proved detrimental to my mental health in ways I couldn’t imagine. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but actually I’m ready for more work, for more coworkers, and to see the kids smiling again.

Reflecting on the lessons of the pandemic. There is no doubt that this year will be a defining one for all of us. It will be one of those times in which there is a great before stretching back through our lives and along after the is laid out long after our lifetimes. We’d all be fools not to spend some time taking in all the ways the spread of this virus has shaped and reshaped our new world and in turn shaped and reshaped who are. I know I’m not the same person I was just last March and I don’t think any one of us is, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Fearing things will get worse before they get better. The vaccine is here and already the most vulnerable are being inoculated, but it will be a long while before the reports of record-breaking sickness and death are behind us. Now that the worst of winter is upon us and the cold is driving us indoors, now that we are desperate for community and connection, now that we have grown weary and stupid, the virus has grown more contagious and we are all the more vulnerable now. My fear is the worst is yet to come, for me and for all of us together.

Hating how little empathy and care is being shown to the American people by their own government. I’m thrilled to know that in just a few short weeks the office of the presidency will be handed over to the Democratic party, but I have little hope Biden or the Democrats who hold a majority in the House of Representatives will be able to do any good there. The Republicans will more than likely hold the Senate, and majority leader Mitch McConnell will go on blocking compassionate legislation and allowing the most vulnerable among us to go on suffering.

Loving this sense of community I feel everywhere I go. Whether I’m at home, at work, in the grocery store, on the internet, or watching TV, I feel part of something. It’s the neighborhood, the city, the state, the country, the world, we are all in something together and though I wish it hadn’t taken so much fear and anguish to bring us together, I’m happy we’ve pulled together to pull through it. We more united than ever. We are more like mind and like hearted than we’ve ever been. This is one thing I hope will never go back to “the way things were”.

Needing to see my friends again. I have spent some time with family throughout the year and that has been a great salve to my mental woes and lonely heart, but I have had no time with my friends and I miss them all very much. I miss dinner and drinks. I miss brunch. I miss movies and house parties. I miss our laughter and our talks. My family has been great, but I miss being around people who are under no obligation to like or even tolerate me.

Hoping that 2021 will be a little kinder to us all and if it isn’t I hope we all have learned how to care for ourselves and go on living and loving despite our fears and failures. I hope that we conquer this virus and we learn how to prevent such great losses when the next one—perhaps even more virulent and deadly than this—rises and spreads. I hope we have learned what it means to be species, united in our struggle to survive. I hope we have learned the meaning of humanity.

I hope we will never be the same again.


So, yeah, all in all, December, like all of 2020, has been fraught with both fear and hope. Better days always felt near and yet never quite arrived. I begin the new year in much the same place, still just on the horizon of a new world and way of living.

But what about you? How has the month, and the year itself for that matter, treated you? How have you learned to cope, and how will you go on coping when the world begins its next revolution around the sun? How will you celebrate tonight and who, if anyone, will you celebrate with?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Unsplash

Goals // Week 53: Set the Tone

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

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

This week is simply a place to begin.

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

This week I will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my focus.


Photo by Katie Doherty on Unsplash

Goals // Week 50: Start Small

This week will be another condensed one. The district I work for has decided to continue with 100% remote learning at least through the new year so though I’m still expected to work there is little to do and the hours are greatly reduced. I’m not complaining at all. I still get paid and there are many more hours I get to claim as my own.

So, this week I’m going to take some steps toward returning to my old life. My new medication and treatment plan are working wonders, and with the addition of a myriad of supplements, I hope to only go on improving more and more.

The sudden influx of energy makes me feel as if my mind has been rebooted, reformatted, and my whole perspective realigned. I am no longer forced to focus solely on the body. I now have the luxury of problem solving, planning, reflection, and abstract contemplation. I can think again.

This week I’d like to put that energy and focus to good use. This week I’d like to start small and write one thing, read one thing, and plan for one project in the future. I’m not expecting anything big. If that one thing is only a sentence, a chapter, or a line in the calendar, I’ll count the week as a success.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning. Some months ago, I embarked on a journey to cultivate a daily meditation habit. I’d been doing well, managing to wake up early every morning for weeks to fit in 10 minutes of breath and body, but as my illness got worse my mornings became too difficult to expect more than the bare minimum before work. Now that I am feeling better and waking up easily with the alarm again, it’s time to get back to the basics before I start the “Headspace 365” course in the new year.

Read before bed every night. I’ve been doing really well making time each day for a few pages, but this week I’d like to set some more specific goals. I’m on book ## of my Penguin Little Black Classics, and I’d like to finish the 50 pages before Friday. I’m also slowly working my way through Simone de Beauvoir’s tome, The Second Sex. I don’t expect to finish it anytime soon, but I’d like to find myself 100 pages ahead of where I am at today come the weekend.

Go for a walk. I’ve set reminders on my phone through the first part of the week to make sure I get outside and enjoy the weather. I’m sure the sun and that warmth will do wonders for my mood and go a long way toward helping me heal. The second part of the week won’t be as conducive to outside activities, but I’ve recently acquired a treadmill and though it will have to be indoors, the act of getting up and moving my body is a good idea no matter where I am.

Write one long form blog post. I have a writing schedule kind of mapped out, all I need now is a list of topics and I can start writing more regularly. I’d like to try this week to get 500 or 1000 words down toward a blog post. I miss the kind of blogging I used to do when I first started, and I’ve been trying for a long time to find my way back. This week I just have to spend a little time every day organizing some thoughts, then muster the courage to finish and hit publish.

Write for me. A few weeks ago, I dug out my old Moleskine journal. I hadn’t written in it since before the pandemic, and trying to find a way to begin again felt impossible. How can I wrap up the last 10 months of my life and then get on as if I have been documenting my thoughts this whole time? The reality is, I can’. I have to move on and begin again, no matter how ugly or strange it may look or feel.

This week I won’t let the pandemic, or worries about the future get me down. There is no particular anxiety or fear I can point to or solve, but instead a general cloud of uncertainty and frustration that leaves me despondent and evermore irritable. I’m no longer happy at home or work because hardly anything is in my control and what is doesn’t seem to matter much.

But I’ve realized more is in my control than I could see because I was stuck in an old way of thinking about the world and work. I’m angry and a bit afraid when I have to work and that makes me give up on my projects and tasks before I’ve begun, but this week I will start by accepting this reality and instead of trying to do the same work I always have I’ll find new projects and ways to thrive and succeed.

And when I’m not at work, which has been a lot more time than in the pre-pandemic days, I won’t wallow in what could be and isn’t, what I want and can’t have, or where I wish I was and can’t be. I’m going to keep this list and my priorities close and hand and heart and spend the hours doing what I know will make me proud comes the week’s end.


Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

Goals // Week 41: A Hard Sell

This week is already long, and it’s only just hit noon on Monday. The problem this time isn’t having too much to do, quite the opposite actually. I had planned, or prepared anyway for an agenda scheduled to the brim but the powers that be many pay grades above have decided to move their pawns to another strategy and I must adjust, rearrange, and put off that preparation for a future week unforeseen.

So, this week I’m scrambling. I’m working to find other things to do, to dig up old forgotten projects, and to make myself at the least appear useful.

It might be easier if my mind wasn’t already focused on next week. For the first time I am taking fall break off and spending the week with family visiting from out of state. I’ve been looking forward to this visit and this time away for months, and that leaves this week looking bleak in comparison with my expectations of the next.

I’m bored already and my usual passion for my work seems to wane as the hours pass and I get closer to time I will get to call my own. This week is going to be hard to sell to myself, but I do have to get through it and I should find a way to enjoy it.

This week I will:

Meditate every morning. I’ve renewed this goal every week for over a month now, and every week I fail to return to the practice. This week I want to examine exactly why I am so avoidant. What is it in me that is getting in the way of doing this thing that I know benefits me at nearly every level from my anxiety, to my relationships, to my focus? Why do I deny myself this opportunity to improve my quality of life?

Spend more time at my desk. I did well last week making a little more time for writing and for exploring my ideas last week and this week all I want to do is carve out just a little more. It helps that I have been able to leave work a bit earlier than I used too but I still need to spend a little less time in the livingroom or scrolling social media and more time typing away at a few ideas and problems working their way around my brain.

Write an analog journal entry every night. Last week I started carrying three notebooks with me, two of which have already gotten extensive use, but the journal still sits untouched since at least last January. THis week I’d like to revive this private writing space and express those things that can only be expressed far from the judgement of other human beings.

Read a little every day. I’m falling further behind again and losing all the progress gained just one week ago. In my defense, reading is much harder to do when fatigue is laying in wait to drag you to dreamland the moment you stop moving and get comfortable. This week I’m going to utilize my lunch hour at work, when I’m not so tired and can retain more of what I’m taking in.

Write a newsletter. I’ve been working my way through the Science of Well-Being course on Coursera for some time now but have been stuck at week seven where the assignment is to commit to a habit change or two for four weeks straight. Many of the ideas presented are habits I’ve long incorporated into my daily practice, but looking at them in terms of what I have needed lately, I’ve decided that building social connections is the area I need to work on the most.

Since the pandemic started I have struggled more than ever to maintain my personal relationships. I have let long stretches of time pass between speaking to my friends and family. I have grown more introverted and private. I have isolated myself and fallen into a loneliness that’s grown too easy to live with. Besides reaching out to those close to me, I on being more vulnerable and accessible to strangers as well. Sending out a digital letter to the few followers I have seems a little more personal and, I hope, will lead to a deeper connection than a simple blog post.

If you want to be a part of this journey, you can subscribe to my Tinyletter, Every Now and Again.

This week I will not lose myself in anger or hopelessness. For months now I’ve tried to pull away from political news and current events, but every day there seems to be some breaking catastrophe or cruelty, and the cell phone alerts and updates from friends and family nearly always pull me back in. But as much as I want to be informed and as righteous as the outrage is, and as good as the speculation feels, I realize that none of it is very good for me, mentally. Not right now, anyway.

I’ve started to recognize the emotional manipulation that takes place when the news is reported. That isn’t to say I believe that the news is fake or misleading, I just think the facts are often reported in such a way that my attention is grabbed and heald and I’m sucked in to never ending negativity and fear, to anger and hopelessness, and I don’t want to feel that way all day, every day. This week I will refrain from watching live news reports or scrolling social media endlessly looking for more information, more “takes”, more opinions and arguments. The news will be there at the end of the day. I need not give it more attention than that.


Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash

Currently // September 2020: Summer’s Ghost

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”

— Henry Rollins, from “Summer Be Gone!” published in LA Weekly

The wind has shifted and instead of carrying warmth from the west, there’s a chill now that blows from the north straight through my bones. The first leaves are starting to brown and fall and early Autumn, the time of change and preservation has begun.

At first I tried to ignore the signs. but as temperatures began to fall, as the clouds rolled in and as the earliest snow I can remember fell, I knew I could no longer live in denial. The time of long days, warm weather, and sunshine has gone.

Summer technically ended just weeks ago, but I’ve been mourning its loss for a long time now. Last March the world shut down and though it’s opened up somewhat it’s only been enough to permit work. The usual summer activities and festivities have been cancelled, postponed, or outright avoided for safety reasons as the pandemic continues to rage and the worry over risk remains high. What we had was a ghost of a summer, just enough to remind of us of what we’ve lost.

We’ve tried to create a bubble of time outside of time hoping to return to our life and loved ones after the danger passed but the new normal is quickly become just normal and hope is waning that we will return to a more recognizable world. Life is marching on and change is blowing in. The time for grieving the old world must end as we make this Autumn in particular a season of acceptance and protection. This Autumn in particular must be a time of letting go…

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

Writing every day,. Most of September found me feeling fatigued and frustrated with my physical health, which in turn deeply impacted my mental health, but here at the end I am finally feeling a little more like myself. New ideas are finding their way out from the part of me that endured, and I’m doing everything I can to make the time to write them down whenever and wherever they occur. I may not post here, but I’ve got a notebook on me at all times and I’m putting pen to paper as often as I can.

Making the best of the time and energy I am afforded every day. Having a chronic illness and coping with daily pain, distress, and fatigue makes it hard to create any new writing or art on a consistent basis, let alone any good writing or art. Still, there are small moments of relief when I am something like myself again and the world can widen beyond this pain. I’m doing everything I can to seize those moments when they come.

Planning a return to my other writing outlets. I’ve long neglected both my newsletter and my other site, Zen and Pi. My newsletter was never very good but I enjoyed writing it and Zen and Pi was becoming something good but that frightened me and I began to avoid it due to pressure. I had pulled all the posts down hoping to go through them one by one with new edits before republishing, but the task has proved quite overwhelming. I’m working out a schedule, a system, and committing myself fully to the writing I know I want to do.

Reading The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar thought-provoking tome of literary exploration and criticism from a feminist perspective. The book is both fascinating and frustrating to work through, and keeping up with Gibert and Gubar is difficult. It’s not a text for beginners, but I’m trying my best to take it slow and work through the arguments methodically. Luckily, I have my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set to read when I need a break.

Watching Lovecraft Country, a sci-fi/horror series mixing fantastical monsters and situation with the heart-wrenching pain of navigating the Jim Crow era in America. There is nothing else like it and I highly recommend every one check it out. Each episode is packed with historical nods and Easter eggs, and to help you catch them the Langston League has created a free unofficial syllabus for each episode. In addition, I’m also watching The Vow and old episodes of True Blood, all of which can be streamed on HBO.

Learning not much lately. Most days I have so little in the way of physical energy or mental capacity that trying to add and retain new information is at best exhausting, and on the worst days, impossible. I’d like to get back to it though, and I do have some goals in mind to get there. Two free courses I was taking required some assignments I was unable to finish, but I figure if I focus solely on them, the remaining months of 2020 should be plenty of time even at the leisurely pace I need to finish.

Anticipating a second city wide shut down and a winter quarantine to begin soon. Coronavirus cases are already rising again in many parts of the country and though my district remains open, even the superintendent has expressed a belief that sometime this year the school will revert to 100% remote learning and I will more than likely be furloughed for a time. I am concerned over what that will mean for me financially, but to be honest with you I’m looking forward to a winter quarantine. I don’t feel safe going to work every day right now, and trying to complete my tasks through the thought of such risks is taking a mental toll. I felt better in the spring when all I had to worry about was staying healthy and safe.

Reflecting on the ways I engage with politics and charity and what my role has been and can be toward making this world a better place. Lately I have been feeling both powerless to do anything and guilt-ridden for not doing nearly enough. There are a plethora of community meetings, volunteer opportunities, protests, and place to give money and I have failed to settle or join in any of the work. I feel paralyzed by the daily cruelty and injustice in the world and the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to change any of it, but doing nothing is no longer an option.

Fearing rising tensions as election day approaches. Every election year is tense and the closer we get to America declaring victory for one side or the other the blood boils all along the political spectrum and divides between friends, family, and compatriots deepen but this year feels so much more chaotic, more violent, more frightening than ever. This year the country feels on the verge of a change I am sure will bring a better life for us all, but the path feels fraught with hatred and fear, ready to explode and consume life indiscriminately.

Hating the wildfires raging throughout the western states. I worry about what long-term health impact all this smoke and ash is having on not just my loved ones and me, but on my community, on all the cities and states that have been affected. I’m worried what impact the loss of all those acres of vegetation will have on the climate and in turn how many more acres will burn in the future as a result. I’m worried about the families who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, their hope.

Loving my messy corner of the house and this insignificant little corner of the web and the world. I spent a weekend this month on a purge and organize project of my creativity room. The task isn’t complete by far, but my half of the room (my wife has her own space on the other side of my desk) feels a lot more comfortable and conducive to truly doing some proper writing. And whether or not anything interesting or good comes of this little corner, the point is that it is mine. Just like this little site where what I make and what I share need only be for me. Both spaces are only useful, beautiful, or interesting in so far as I love them and think them so.

Needing some solid signs of hope and healing. I’ve been blessed with a good day or two between all the bad, but progress isn’t really being made and all I’m being told that, for the time being, all I can do. I need a decision to make, an action to take, a path made clear. I need to see some real change. dI know the old me may be long gone and I am ready to accept that as long as I can get on with the work of building a new self, a new life, a new way forward.

Hoping that all the people I know, and even the ones I don’t start to see some improvement in their quality of life too. Nearly everyone I know is going through a tough time right now, and my heart breaks every day for their struggles. I long to fix it all, but all I seem to be able to do is listen and hope, hope, hope. I’m not sure what help that is, but giving up and giving in, even in proxy, feels wrong.

Hope like every emotion leads to action if kept in a sufficiently high state. Hope, like anger, like fear, like joy, fills us with the desire to move and keeping hope alive is the same as keeping at the ready to act once the opportunity presents itself. Hope keeps us from giving up when the way grows dark, dire, and depressing. Hope can literally keep you alive when all other reasons have failed. I keep hope for myself and for everyone I know and those I don’t as a way to keep them moving, growing, and living in my own way.


So, yeah, all in all, September was quite a month. There was plenty to celebrate, but there seemed so much more to bear, to accept, and to struggle through. There was a lot of loss and a lot of work, and no end or answer either way has presented itself. October offers no promises, it seems, only more chance to further endure.

But what about you? Have you found some light, some courage and success through September? What have you learned about yourself during this time of political strife and failure? Have you registered to vote and made a plan to get it done? How have you mourned the losses? How have you kept hope alive?

Let me know in the comments.


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

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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