Goals // Week 05

This week is the last of the month and the last of this crazy work schedule I’ve been struggling through since mid-January. I expect things to die down by mid-week but it won’t last long, I hear. There is another new class of employee lined up and ready to to start training come the start of the new week so I’m determined to make the most of this lull in work while I can. It’ll be another two weeks or more before I can claim any real time for myself again.

This week I will:

 Eat regular meals, on time, and take all of my medication. In order to avoid nausea I have to spread my medication and supplements out throughout the day. That means more frequent meals, which are hard to remember let alone make time for during the chaotic workday, but I can’t make such excuses anymore. My health comes first! Bonus: No candy or sugary snacks!

 Work out every other evening after work. As someone who suffers from anxiety, who struggles to get a good night’s sleep, and who it trying to lose a few pounds put on by this last round of steroids, exercise is very important. I may not feel much like it after a long day but that is the magic of moving your body it creates more motivation than it takes. All I have to do is start.

Finish writing the last few book reviews I started. Of course the reviews are only for me but writing anything is good for honing your craft and good for developing a habit. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a real blog post and sharing what I learned, what I liked, and what I loathed might help boost my confidence and enthusiasm.

Make and share a new “found poem” on Instagram. I miss the peace and the satisfaction that come from creating things that exist outside of screens and the internet. I miss working with other people’s words and reworking them into new meaning, and, anyway, if I don’t something soon it’s going to get harder to justify the stacks of old magazines piling up to my wife.

Read 100 pages of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I’ll have a whole lot more time to read this week than I have over the last two and if I don’t want to fall behind in my reading goal for the year than I need to take full advantage of it. Bonus finish another book from the Penguin Little Black Classics box set.

Take a break. I take pride in being a good employee. I take pride in a job well done. I like knowing others can count on me. I like getting things done before anyone has to ask. I like being a team player, going above and beyond, and coming up with solutions, but all that pride can’t come at the expense of my peace of mind. I have to practice balance and I have to learn to step away, for just a moment, to breathe and be reminded of who I am outside of work.

This week I will not let anyone make me feel bad for taking the time I need for me. At the same time, if I am going to set those boundaries I have to respect myself enough to keep the promises I make. I will not accept what I know is less than my best. This week is the start of showing my intentions with actions and not just words. I deserve better from, and for, me.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 04.

Photo by Brad Fickeisen on Unsplash

Goals // Week 04

This work week will be a lot like last week, busy, chaotic, and stressful, but it will be shorter week and though I don’t expect to complete every goal or to maintain my focus or enthusiasm through to Friday afternoon but I do expect to do better than last week. As the demands on my time slowly return to normal, I can begin slowly to move my attention and priorities back to personal pursuits and away from work projects. This week will be tough but it will also be better, and that is certainly something to look forward to.

This week I will:

 Write a book review for Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. One goal I had for this year was to write a book review for every book I read. I’ve already finished two books and if I don’t want to fall so far behind that I give up I need to get started this week. Of course they don’t have to be long, or even good, but they do have to get written and posted.

Update: There was simply no time for writing. I’m starting to sound like a broken record and even I am having a hard time believing my excuses. It really was a hard week, and I gave so much of myself up during my day job that there was nothing left in the evening to give to writing. I am going to do better.

 Read 100 pages of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I had hoped to finish half of the book last week but until my work-life schedule becomes a little more balanced, I can’t hope for so much time to myself. I was able to ready 75 pages last week. I think 100 isn’t too much to ask. Bonus: Finish As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Update: I made progress, but I didn’t hit my goal. I did finish As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anonymous and if you up all the pages (minus the bonus book) I was only 20 short of reading 100 pages of something.

Eat one vegan meal. Before the holidays I was up to two or three meat-free meals a week but since then it has been hard for me to return to my old habits. Eventually I would like to go meatless Monday through Friday but I have to start slow and begin again.

Update: I made some delicious and easy roasted sweet potato and cauliflower tacos (with “chipotle cashew crema!). One vegan meal a week is good, and I’ll do my best to stick to it going forward but eventually I’d like to eat more meatless meals. I’d love recipe recommendations if you have any.

Work out three days this week. I was doing so well a few weeks ago but between my chronic illness and fatigue and the demanding work week I’ve hardly been able to remember to work out let alone get to a point where I can consciously avoid it. This week it is in the calendar with notifications turned on.

Update: Yeah, no, not even a little bit. I worked out zero days and I am beyond disappointed in myself. There really was no excuse. I just didn’t try hard enough.

Spend more time with my headphones in. Regulating my mood is hard when I’m tired or stressed so instead of trying to do it on my own and risking lashing out at coworkers and loved ones I’ll use the power of music instead, the best mood manager. Bonus: Catch up on my favorite podcasts too.

Update: I kept my headphones on hand the whole week and though I didn’t listen to a lot of music it was from lack of want rather than lack of time. There were just too many good podcast episodes I wanted to catch up on to make time for music. The point was to tune out and I definitely do that.

Stay hydrated. Drinking water is important for everyone but since I am taking so many medications and supplements every day I feel it is especially important that I fill and empty my water bottle a few times throughout the day. It will help with the headaches too I’m sure.

Update: I’ve been drinking a lot of Gatorade to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes but there is so much added sugar and artificial flavors I know I have to get off of it but it’s going to take time to get used to water again. I stayed hydrated, I just didn’t drink water.

Get outside and into nature. The extended weather forecast is looking very nice, and I have been missing our old trails terribly. I think it’s time to get my hiking boots out, pack up the dog, and head toward the mountains. I just hope this winter hibernation hasn’t withered my endurance too much.

Update: I had hoped to take advantage of the early Spring-like weather we’d been having but the weekend got away from me and I never ended up making the proper preparations by the time Sunday rolled around. Luckily the forecast for the coming weekend is looking even better and I’ll have another chance at the trails.

Clean up the backyard. Spring is on the way and I have quite a list of home projects to complete before next winter rolls around. The dry and mild weather is a chance to get a jump on some of the projects I know I’m going to want to avoid later. Perhaps a “little at a time starting” strategy is better than “all at once whenever I have the energy and the will power”.

Update: It was nothing but pure and simple forgetfulness on my part. I obviously asked too much of myself last week and didn’t take into consideration at all how much I’ve been struggling just to get through the bare minimum I ask of myself every day.

This week I will not give up. It’s going to be hard but the light at the end of this work week is closer than most Mondays. I only have to get through four days of it and no amount of frustration, fatigue, or failure is going to stop me from putting one foot in front of the other and giving my best to every task I undertake and every person I meet.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 03.

Photo by Byron Johnson on Unsplash

Goals // Week 03

This week is going to be another busy one. There is a new class of employees starting and I will need work long hours to get them trained and ready for the kids. That means very little time for personal goals and pursuits. That means the calendar is out the door and I will need to be flexible and focused whenever I have a more than a moment for myself alone.

This week I will:

Read half of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, or 25 pages per day, on average. I will read as much as possible during my lunch breaks at work but with my rigorous work schedule I may be eating on my feet this week. That’s ok though. There will be time over the weekend to catch up. I’d really like to finish this book within the next two weeks so I can start on my new Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set as soon as possible.

Update: Yeah, no, not even close. I read a mere 75 pages all week which may not sound like much but it was something. This year I’m trying not to let a week go buy without having made at least some progress, any progress, through one of my books. Considering that goal, I succeeded.

Journal every day. Time for blogging and writing will most likely be non existent but I cannot go the next 5 days without writing something. Writing is first and foremost for me, always. It keeps me centered and sane, so even when I cannot write for others I must make time to write for me. I need a place to vent and a place to remind myself of what is good and I need that space every day.

Update: This was my most disappointing failure of the week. In my defense I am still getting used to journaling by hand again and I often forget to do it. Going forward I would like to start carrying my notebooks outside of a bag so that they are always within eyesight and always on my mind.

Exercise every other day starting today. Since I’ve started to wean off of my medication, my energy levels have plummeted and working out is not as easy as it was even as early as a week ago. Still. I have been doing well and I do not want to lose the momentum or motivation I have built up. Even if I have to cut back on reps and rounds that’s okay. I will do as much as I can and remind myself that everything counts.

Update: Once again I had just one day this week with enough energy and willpower to get through my goals. This one is easy to forget when it isn’t scheduled and since I knew I would be so occupied by work I never made the schedule. Oh well, lesson learned.

Make something with my hands. Between work and rest I doubt I will get this far but just in case I am on top of my game and crushing it I wanted to add a goal to create a little art if I get a chance. It’s been weeks since I had a chance to spread out some magazine clippings, to zone out with my X-Acto knives, to make a mess, and to surprise myself. I probably need it more than I know.

Update: Another failure for the week but I’d like to focus on the progress I made instead and note that I did make time to clean up the creativity room and to make space for my art. I’m also giving myself permission to consider art a weekend pursuit rather than something I have to commit to practicing every single day.

Breathe. My health depends on me managing my stress levels and that means being mindful of how long and how much work I have been doing and taking breaks before they are needed. But breaks don’t just mean stepping away from the work physically. The kind of breaks I will need are more akin to meditation. A chance for my mind to quiet and for me to focus on the body and breath.

Update: Sometimes breathing is all you can do. Sometimes breathing is all you can ask or expect from youreself. Sometimes simply breathing has to be enough.

This week I will not push myself too far. It’s often hard for me to see where my limits are and I often don’t learn their importance until after I have stepped across them but I will tread lightly and do my best to see the signs of burn out and declining health before they force me out and down.


For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 02.

Photo by adrian on Unsplash

Goals // Week 02

This week marks the end of winter break and a return to reality and my regular schedule. Since I’m sure it will be a daily struggle just to wake and work on time and to keep a positive and productive outlook I’ve decided to keep my goals small and simple. This week is about reestablishing the basics, practicing day-to-day habits, and slowly returning to real life.

This week I will:

 Set up a schedule of my days broken down hour by hour and include a list of tasks to be completed with each event. I’ve been slacking on filling in my calendar and when my calendar isn’t filled my time is at the mercy of my moods, my cravings, my impulses, my fatigued and directionless mind.

Update: Well, I set it up, though I can’t say I followed it very closely, or maybe I did but I did the most unproductive things I could within the definition of the task and the time frame given. So, progress was made but I’m about as far from perfection as I can be. Still, everything counts and for it only being week 2 of the new year, I think I’m doing pretty good.

Finish reading Ethics by Baruch Spinoza. This is the most difficult little book I have ever read. It is the most interesting book I have ever hated too. Up until now I have only been able to tolerate 10 or 20 pages a day. I have 100 left to go, and I am tired. This week I will be done with it.

Update: I did it! Don’t be fooled by the low page count. This book was very difficult to get though. Between the language and all the underlining I did and notes I took I couldn’t get through more than 5 or 10 pages most days. Still, in the end I count it among the most rewarding books I have ever read. Stay tuned for a proper review.

Complete my bodyweight work 3 days this week hit 6000 steps every day. Last week I only missed one day of working out but I wasn’t great about walking. This week I’d like to see some more effort and focus. It’ll be hard with my return to a regular work schedule but if I could manage just 3 days of the week, I will call it a win.

Update: I mostly completed this one. I did two days of work out and hit my step goal every single day. It’s already hard enough to muster the motivation to exercise after work but adjustments to my medication are also sapping my energy levels. I may try switching to a morning routine but I have doubts about my ability to wake up at 4:30 AM to work out.

Update my voter registration information. I completed the first big steps of changing my name since getting married last summer last week but this is a big election year and if I want to take part in the Democratic primary coming up this spring; I need to update my information with the county ASAP. All I have to do is fill out the form and mail it off. Easy-peasy.

Update: Ugh, I just plain forgot. I have the form. It’s all filled out. I just have to stuff it in an envelope and drop it in the mail. Next week for sure!

Write in my journal every evening. I have been good so far about posting little snippets of my life here but there are private stresses and anxieties I need to get off my chest and small instances of gratitude I think it good for me to acknowledge and document. Some things though they must be expressed are not for public eyes or the everlasting internet.

Update: I was able to make time for journalling about every other evening which is much better than not making any time at all. It isn’t easy to get used to writing by hand every day. I was making a lot of mistakes and my handwriting was atrocious. I had trouble recalling my day and would simply run out of things to say before the end of the page. It’s getting easier though and I anticipate a return to daily and long winded writing before the end of the month.

Create one cut out or blackout poem. I missed spending time with my X-Acto knives and my magazine scraps last week. My desk has been taken over with little writing notes and I will need to clear my analog space to get messy in again.

Update: There just wasn’t time and since the holidays the “creativity room” has become a storage space and dumping ground for everything that has come into our lives over the holidays. Once I clear a space for myself again and find my tools and get my materials and medium at hand, it’ll be easier to make the most of what little time I can give to my art.

Design my first new newsletter. I used to send my weekly round up posts out as an email newsletter too along with a bit of writing from me about some universal human experience of fact of existence that was on my mind but since splitting off from Zen and Pi I haven’t sent one because I wasn’t sure where “personal blogging” I ended and that kind of writing began, but I can’t work out the kinks if I never start again, right?

Update: Time was the issue here again, but also, I simply didn’t know where to begin. I need more time to think about this one so it won’t be a goal again for a while. I have to cutivate a better writing practice here before I can think about branching out.

This week I will not push myself too hard or too far. I will not make any big decisions or let big emotions or events rule me. I will not put myself at the center of the action or draw unnecessary attention. This week is for quietly observing, quietly planning, for quietly becoming and existing for me and no one else.


For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 01.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Goals 2020 // Part II: A Year of Deliberate Doing

I promised myself I wouldn’t declare any grand resolutions, or sweeping changes to my habits or lifestyle for the new year and though that may appear to be exactly what I am doing here I assure you this is not nearly so rigid or strict a list.

What I set out here are intentions, hopes, and kind works I want to give to myself on this journey into the new decade. This is what I hope for my future self now knowing that she may come to hope for wholly different things when her time comes. I offer her wisdom knowing that her life is one I am ignorant of and that she will come to possess a knowledge beyond my own through her own experiences.

The only habit change I chose to make for 2020 is to decide mindfully how I want to spend my time by scheduling out my hours from day to day. My hope is to get more done by being consistent, by knowing what to do next, and by not allowing myself to get sucked into avoiding progress by mindlessly scrolling, binge-watching, or conveniently forgetting what kind of life it is I want to lead.

To that same effect I thought is only right to make a list not of things I must do, but of things I would like to do, experience, or accomplish in 2020. The list is flexible. I can and will add, delete, alter, and update it throughout 2020 as I complete items or change my mind. If I’m really on top of things each item checked off will have a corresponding post, perhaps each deleted item will too.

I did a lot in 2019 but there were a few weekends that went by and a few opportunities missed simply because I lost track of time and failed to plan ahead. This list is meant to be checked at least weekly and as often as every month. I can edit then and choose one or three things to begin planning for the next month or two to check off. I want to make sure I get the most out of the year and this time next year I will make my final updates, share my thoughts, and post a whole new list.


This year marks the beginning of a new decade and a new journey for all of us together. From here 2020 feels like it’s going to be a big year, or, I want it to be a big year. After getting married, traveling out of state for first time since I was a child, and making so many lovely memories with friends and family, I’m ready to step even further out of my comfort zone.

This year I will:

Create a schedule—for everything, every day!—and stick to it.

Get that promotion at work.

 Go camping just the two of us.

Travel to Texas for business and for pleasure

Visit family in California.

Go back to South Carolina.

Hike new trails this summer.

Rent a cabin for Christmas.

Get active. Return to running and basic body weight training.

Achieve remission, again!

Post regularly to Zen and Pi.

Pitch one publication a month. Bonus: Collect 100 rejections in 2020.

Read 30 books.

Complete the big home improvement projects.

Complete 7 massive online open courses.

Complete one lesson on Khan Academy and Duolingo daily.

See another play, a ballet, and an opera.

Pay off half of our debt.

Save a little more every month.

Give back a little of what’s left.

Get my driver’s license.

Buy a new car.

Get my library card again.

Start a private gratitude journal.

Start a sketchbook.

Attend a political protest event.

Volunteer for the Democratic Presidential Campaign.

Seek therapy.

This year I will do my best to give up control, to let others make mistakes, and to forgive people their weakness as I would want them to forgive me mine.

This year I will demand more from my relationships and give more of myself to my relationships too. I’ll make the time and put in the effort and when others make it clear that they wish to move on, I will let them go even if it hurts.

This year I will stop helping every body so damn much. I will stop helping others in ways that only serve to make me feel better rather than the ways they need me to help.

This year I will say “sorry” less often and I will never apologize for being, loving, and needing help, connection, and understanding. I will accept that not everyone will like me or even hold a positive opinion of me and know that that’s okay and not my fault or a reflection of my value as a person.

This year I will honor others. I will uplift people I see being overlooked. I will speak up for others being held down. I will remember that we go further if we go together.

This year I will get involved. I will become informed about my local politics, environment, and development. I will find a way to help.

This year I will not try to be someone new. I’m already the person I need to be, that I wanted to be but never saw before. I only have to let her be free.

2019 left me feeling supported, encouraged, strong, and full of love for myself. I am ready to work hard, to defend my boundaries, time, and needs, and to take my dreams seriously. I’m ready to go beyond a life that though it is beyond anything I used to think I could have or even deserved is far less than what is possible for me.


Featured image by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Goals 2020 // Part I: Spending My Life the Way I Spend My Days

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”

— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Though 2019 was a phenomenal year, looking back, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. Looking back, I see so much good but also see a lot of wasted time. I lost hours playing games on my phone, binge watching TV, an scrolling Facebook or Twitter when I got bored. These where hours I could have been learning something new, reading more books, writing something, making something, doing absolutely anything else that would have been more fulfilling. I spent my year the way I spent my days and there were more days spent living a life I didn’t want than I am comfortable with.

I’m a naturally anxious and avoidant person. It’s not the failure I’m afraid of, or even the success. I don’t like to try because trying means finding out so much about yourself and there are things I worry I will find out that go beyond success and failure. So, I spin my wheels. I do what feels like work but isn’t I talk a lot about what I want and dream about who I will be after. I avoid living the life I say I want by mimicking, by wasting time, by making excuses. I don’t want to do that anymore.

So, I’m taking a moment to acknowledge that going forward the same as I always have in past years will only get me the same results I have ended past years with. I would like to step into a new decade with better prospects. I would like to try something new and perhaps make a little more progress this time around the sun. I’d like to live a little more like I the person I want to be one day.

This year I have a plan, and that plan is just to make a plan. If you think it sounds too simple or small for a new year’s resolution, I would agree. I refuse to refer to it as such. It’s not a big goal, or grand lifestyle change, it’s only a one, tiny habit change. All I have to do is make a daily schedule. I don’t have to plan the year. I don’t have to plan my months or weeks. No, in 2020 I will focus solely on the day to day, the hour to hour, the minute, by minute, by minute. I’ll spend my life the way I want to by making sure each day contains all the life I want to live inside of it.

I’m starting with Google calendar and carving out blocks of time for everything from when I sleep, when I wake up, when I work out, when I get ready for work, when I can eat, read, write, and watch TV. I have time for my wife, my family, my pets and myself scheduled to the minute. I have time for podcasts, for social media, for journalling, for making art, and for simply sitting and thinking for a while. Each event has a reminder set for one hour before so I know what comes next and when it’s time to begin there are notes and to do list items so I know where to focus.

In the evenings I’ll look over my calendar to adjust the days ahead. I can add events, to-do items, and notes. I can add more time, move events around, or delete them entirely. Of course not everything can be included into every day. Some days there may be no reading or writing at all because I’ll be working, traveling, spending time with family, or with friends, or shopping, running errands, or I simply decided to do something else or nothing at all. The point is not to do anything in particular but to make a choice. This time next year when I look back on this one I will know that wherever I ended up, whatever I did or didn’t do and whether I chose to focus or to slip into mindlessness more often than not, I will at least know it was up to me.

I know the exercise won’t be easy. There is so little in life we have a choice about. Even by making a schedule there is really only a small fraction of the day I can call my own. My day job demands a lot from me. My friends and family need me. I have responsibilities and obligations. I have to eat and sleep and will power runs low when the body or the mind grow weary, stressed, or depressed. To make matters more difficult you have to fight every day to wrench what little focus you have left from companies trying to see you something or sell your time to someone else.

The TV is always on, the phone is always buzzing; the ads are always running; the world is always telling you to consume, to post, to scroll. Choosing how to spend your time is not an easy choice to make in that vast current. It is a daily battle between you and yourself, you and the expectations of others, you and the giant machine of capitalism and consumerism.

I know sometimes I will fail miserably but I all ask of myself is not to give up. Day by day means beginning again, and again, and again every morning. With practice I hope to perfect my priorities and hone my focus. I hope to figure out what works and what doesn’t, what I can do and what is expecting too much. I hope to learn too what I thought I wanted to do and what it turns out I really didn’t, what feels right and feels wrong, and, what I really want my life to look like.

This system may sound strict and devoid of surprise or serendipity but the alternative has been to leave myself at the whims, cravings, moods, and flawed memory. The alternative has been lost time and opportunity. The alternative has been a lot of fear and regret.

But with this system there is nothing anymore to fear. I don’t have to count up my successes and failures. I don’t have to do one thing or another. I don’t have to be ashamed, afraid, or avoidant. If I don’t want to do something, then I don’t have to. All I need to do is leave it off the schedule and let it go, but if I want to do it, no matter what it is, accomplishing it can be the easiest thing in the world. All I have to do is block out the time, sit down, and do the thing I told myself I would do. That is all the success I want for 2020.


Featured image by Elliott Engelmann on Unsplash

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

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

Sarah Kay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let me know in the comments.

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

— Dr. Seuss


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

Photo by Luke Hodde on Unsplash