Currently // October 2021: Take What is Offered

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

― Henry Ward Beecher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let me know in the comments.


Goals // Week 40: The Hard Thing

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

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

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

With that being said, this week I will:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Currently // August 2021: Settling Down and Settling In

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

― William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let me know in the comments.


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

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

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

With that being said, this week I will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Currently // June 2021: The Edge and End

It is June. I am tired of being brave.

― Anne Sexton, “The Truth the Dead Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let me know in the comments.


Goals // Week 20: Celebrate this Ending

This week marks the end of what certainly feels like the longest school year I’ve worked in all the 15 years since I first joined the district. So much has changed. We’ve had major staff and policy shifts. I’ve been working and readjusting to a new role. The kids have gone and come back, gone and come back. They’ve missed major milestones and grown through an incredibly volatile and terrifying time.

We all have.

But now the school year is just nearly over and there is a solid sense of normalcy on the horizon as we shift to summer our summer schedules and some of us start thinking about a little sun and fun.

This week I want to enjoy myself a little more and I’m setting goals that to reflect that. I still have a lot to get through before the weekend is here, but I’m going to be mindful, grateful, and optimistic. I’m going to celebrate this ending that was so hard won and much-anticipated beginning of new schedules, projects, and expectations. I’m celebrating change and coming to it with open and welcoming arms.

With that being said, this week I will:

Bring my longboard out from storage and start learning to ride it. It’s been a couple years since I got it and I’ve been too scared—and too embarrassed—to actually get on the thing. I don’t want to fall. I don’t want to look silly, but you have to be uncomfortable before you can be comfortable. You have to fall a few times in order to learn.

Finish Professor Robert Sapolsky lectures on Human Behavioral Biology. Finally, something I can be proud to binge watch! I’ve been watching these for a few weeks now but they are sometimes hard to follow and if you aren’t giving 100% of your attention, you can miss important concepts. Some of them I’ve had to watch twice, but it is getting easier to grasp and setting the playback speed to 1.5x might just get me there.

Pick up reading The Stand again. I am still struggling to meet my daily reading goal and though alarms have helped, I just can’t seem to relax into reading. The problem might be the material. I’ve been focusing a lot on non-fiction lately and it may be that I’m just a little burned out. My mind needs something exciting, something fanciful, something far removed from this world, somewhere to escape.

Spend evening with ass in chair and a list of pieces I would like to write. I have a few drafts very close to publishing and a few that are little more than a 6:00 AM streams of conciousness. My wife is our house witting for a few days and, since i have no one to talk to and all our shows have to be watched with both parties present, I’m looking at hours every evening in need of filling.

Tackle a house project, give something away, and take care of yourself. I know this is a vague one, but I know what it means and what it will take. I have something I want to do for my wife. Something I want to do for someone in need. And, because stress levels have been running high, there are things I need to do for myself. Being kind is the key.

Laugh. I have been feeling very introverted and irritable. I’ve been uptight, tense, and judgemental. I’ve not been very much fun at all. My amazing friends have been understanding, and have given me space when the signs have been clear I need it but I fear I am pushing them too far. Laughter is good for the body and mind. Its revitalizing and relaxing. It’s medicine.

This week I will not let distraction get the best of me. I’ve noticed that, when I am alone or feeling bored, stressed, or tired—states I find myself in much more frequently these days—it’s too easy to get lost in my social media timelines. It’s too easy to sit down on the couch, pull out my phone, and open Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. It’s too easy to let hours go by unnoticed, un-experienced. Days that quickly add up to days and, over time, whole swaths of your life you let slip away.

Too often, we are indifferent to the loss. Too often, we welcoming that slipping.

Sometimes you just want to escape, but those platforms and post, they aren’t real life. They feel nothing like living. If you must, there are other ways, more fulfilling ways to escape. Every time you want to open Twitter, open a book, open Coursera, open a new document and write something. Hell, open a door and step outside entirely instead.

Do whatever you want as long as you are doing the choosing and not the app developers and their algorithms. Do not let them use your impulses and instincts against you. They will only twist them to keep you hooked, to keep you scrolling, to keep you generating ad revenue, but at what cost to you? Pay attention to what you pay attention to.


Goals // Week 20: Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

This week is the beginning of the end of the school year for many grades and that means a winding down of one aspect of my job, and a ramping up of another. For me that means it’s time to do all the employee training that we didn’t have time for during the year and even more so now that we have to make up for what was missed during the Covid quarantine months.

This week I’ll have to focus a lot more mental energy on my day job than I have in the past weeks we consider our “down time” of the year. I’m actually looking forward to it. It turns out that having too little to do for so long can be just as nerve-wracking as having too much. I’m ready for a change of pace. I’m ready to feel useful, knowledgeable, and accomplished again.

With the reallocated metal space comes the need to be more increasingly mindful of how I spend my free time. I’ve learned over the years that one of the way to stave off burnout during times of increased workload or stress is to make sure you do not waste what little free time you have. Make sure you mark it. Make sure you fill it with what truly soothes the soul.

With that being said, this week I will:

Finish editing my review of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and my piece for World IBD Day. Enough words have been written now. Adding more will add nothing. Instead, focus on subtracting, rearranging, and substituting. Take this unorganized, unclear, and, probably, uninteresting mess and mold a readable post from both. Do not let perfect be the enemy of done.

Read for 30 minutes every night before bedtime. I failed again to make this goal happen even one day out of last week, but in failing I have learned a lesson. I realized if nothing changes then nothing changes and if I expect this week will be a success, I can’t keep doing what led to failure before. So, I have a “reading time” alarm and a routine on my phone that turns on “do not disturb” and turns of my wi-fi and mobile data to keep me off of social media.

Heed my meditation schedule and food restrictions. I’ve been weaning off of another round of steroids and as I come to the end of the taper my appetite and cravings have gotten the better of me. For someone with an inflammatory bowel disease this is like playing with fire. This week I will take better care of myself and remember that while the schedules and restrictions aren’t much fun, they are what keeps me happy, healthy, and productive.

Take a daily walk. Though sunshine has been very spotty lately the temperatures are rising and, most days, there is some time to get out and at least around the block. For the days when the clouds and cold, or rain and thunder roll in, there is the treadmill. There is no reason to continue to be sedentary and with the increased appetite and the additions snacks and calories coming in I have to find a way to increase my physical activity too.

Move my scheduled hour of writing from after work to after dinner. It turns out there are a lot of things I need to do after work and almost none of them are related to writing. Instead of fighting myself every day, I’ve decided to simply ask what works better? It turns out, after the day has already been lived, after the to-do list is done and you’ve done had your fill of people, that is the best time of day to do your thinking in and I’ve always done my best thinking when I write.

This week I will not get too far ahead of myself. I will not let anxiety over the coming weeks workload push me to take on more than I can handle or avoid altogether what terrifies me. The key is to know how much each day can hold and fill every one of them just to the brim. No more, no less. There is always more time we wish we had and more we wish we could accomplish, but some must always be left for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.


Goals // Week 19: Time Without Work, Without Worry

This week I’m absolutely taking it easy. Between my birthday celebrations, Mother’s Day, upcoming weddings, and the world opening up in general, it suddenly it feels like there isn’t enough time to do all the things I have to do let alone anything I want to do or even to do nothing at all! I’m in desperate need of resting both my body and my mind, of finding time to be present, and of silence and solitude.

So, I’m keeping the goals light this week. The outside world is putting on the pressure and rather than pile on, I think it best to be kind to myself and provide some times of relief and release. There needs to be time for things I enjoy: writing of course, but other things too like podcasts, music, TV, games, walking outside, sleeping, laughing, and reading. Time spent not just without work but without worry too.

This week I will:

Finish writing my review of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and draft a piece for World IBD Day next week. I have the words written but the anxiety and resulting avoidance over editing and ending any piece of writing, no matter how trivial, continues to plague my existence. The only way through it is through it.

Read for 30 minutes every night before bedtime. Utterly failed at this goal last week, but I’m trying again. I’m already so behind in my reading goals for the year and every day the gap between where I should be and where I am grows. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself, but I can’t waste the days this way. If the trend continues, social media sacrifices will have to be made!

Make one or two black out poems. I’ve missed pouring over newspaper and magazine articles remixing the words of writers better than me into Instagram poetry. The results aren’t technically perfect, nor are the sentiments profound, but the work forces the mind out of its course and feeds creativity. More than that, it’s just plain fun!

Keep my headphones close. I’ve missed the magical way music can transform my mood into anything I want or need. Music can bring you up, bring you down, transport you far away, or bring you back to the present. When you are stuck behind a desk all day, wishing you were anywhere but here, music is the only way to travel.

Spend some time behind the wheel. For those new to the blog and unaware, I suffer from pretty severe driving anxiety. I rarely drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary, but I’m ready for more flexibility and independence in my life, and that means I have to face my fear and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s been far too long and I am far too late, but it’s better than never. I can do this!

This week I will not be so hard on myself. It’s been hard not to compare my place or progress with others. Everyone seems so capable and everything I do takes so much effort and half the time results in failure or disappointment. I know this is a problem of perspective, and I know that there are so many things I can do better than most. It’s just most days and in most situations, my soft skills seem of so little value.

This week I will work on finding my own way rather than going the way of others. I cannot do what others do and expect the same results others get. I am me, and I can only be me, and using my unique set of skills I can pick a path that feels a better fit, that feels a better journey, than struggling along someone else’s rocky way.


Goals // Week 18: Simply Flowing

This week marks the beginning of a new month and what I hope will finally be the end of wintery cold and clouds. I’m looking forward to the sun, Spring finally springing, and to the world opening up, to life returning everywhere.

It isn’t a particularly busy time at work right now. Instead, it’s a time of preparing. The school year will end in just a few short weeks and though the vast majority of the kids will be enjoying their summer break, there is still work to be done as we ready for the next year to begin. There is summer school, trainings, conferences, renovations and purchases to make, and a plethora of policy changes to implement.

This week I’m dividing my time. I’m preparing at work and I’m pulling away for my own passions too. I have returned to writing and I don’t want to lose my motivation or momentum by either looking away or looking too closely. This week I’m simply flowing.

This week I will:

Continue meditating. I let the practice go some months ago, and the failure hit me so hard I haven’t been able to return until last week. It hasn’t been easy to get return to either. I’m fidgety and mind wanders far too easily, but I’m learning not to resist them but to let them come and then let them go. A much-needed lesson in these trying times.

Set aside one hour a day of writing. Ideally, this will be the first hour I am home directly after work. No one is expecting anything from me during that time, and I am generally alone. I will sometimes use that hour for a quick nap or to take care of neglected house chores, but that is only a way of procrastinating that I think will result in less guilt. It doesn’t.

Use all other free time for doing the “fun” parts of blogging. Reading, commenting, image searching, idea generation, and design are all things I tend to do instead of actually tying words onto the screen. The point of the scheduled hour is two-fold, to remember when to write and to be able to give myself permission not to write.

Read for 30 minutes every day. The next TBR to tackle is Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. It’s a great book and the difficulty I face trying to finish it is through no fault of the author. I simply struggle to concentrate while reading from a screen, but like all things I expect I only need more practice. This week’s lunch hours are allocated for the work.

Finish one blog post this week. I have many drafts started and plenty of notes and free writing done, but nothing edited and nothing ended, which is always the hardest part for me. This week I’m going to stick to my writing schedule and tackle the drafts one by one. Hopefully next week I can hope for two blog posts! Bonus: Wrap up one newsletter draft as well.

This week I will not put too much pressure on myself. Things have been enjoyable lately and I don’t want to lose that feeling. I want to write, and read, and learn, and connect, but I don’t want it to be work and I don’t want it to be hard. I want these goals to be a source of joy and peace, not a reason to have to negotiate or berate myself.

What doesn’t feel good or right will go, and what works will go on working for me as long as it will. Change is not only welcome, it is sought, and I’ve decided too that it shouldn’t hurt. It just shouldn’t be this hard. The rest of life already is. What you give and ask of yourself should be the balance.


Photo by Tom Robertson on Unsplash

Currently // April 2021: After the Storms

April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

― Edna St. Vincent Millay, Spring

I’m not in the mood for Spring this year. Though I’m glad to be rid of winter’s frigid drab, I’ll admit that the flowers and sunshine serve only to remind me more of this last year’s hardships and the long road of growth and healing that lies ahead. This particular April has been the cruelest month.

Normally April is the beginning of my own personal new year. In April I grow older and in April I come alive. It’s in this prelude to the summer when I come into my prime emotionally, physically, and professionally. There is still some of that, some days. I can’t keep the sun from my heart, no matter how much it breaks and, anyway, time heals as much as it hurts anymore.

The snow is melting, and the storms are passing. There is sunshine and rainbows, life coming back to life, and a new cycle appears ready to begin.

I’m desperate to begin with it.

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

Writing on a real schedule. It isn’t much, just one hour a day after work and two to four hours starting just before sunrise on the weekends. I’ve only just started, but I have noticed a two-fold benefit already. It’s not only easier to write when the time comes, but easier to do non-writing things without guilt at any other time I feel like it.

Making some blog changes. You may have already noticed some small design changes and I’ve been posting regularly again too. I’m working on a lot more posts to come and trying out different kinds of posts too. In addition, I’m keeping up with comments, following new sources of inspiration, and working to connect my writing to real people. There might even be a newsletter revival around the corner too!

Planning those weekend house projects. We’ve gone too many years letting too many things fall into disrepair and we’ve come to a point where we have to face what is difficult, make the time, and simply take the work weekend project by weekend project, and for the overwhelming bits, we’ve decided that it’s better to pay someone else who knows what they’re doing than to continue procrastinating or take action where we are ignorant.

Reading Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. I started it many months ago for a bookclub I never met with and only just now getting around to working through it. This month I also finished The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, and Poetics by Aristotle. According to Goodreads, I’m just 12 books behind schedule for my goal.

Watching A Black Lady Sketch Show on HBO for the laughs and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC when I don’t want to think too hard. Some other things I enjoyed: Tina on HBO, an account in her own words of the life of music icon and domestic abuse survivor Tina Turner and Exterminate all the Brutes a frank account of race, oppression, and genocide through European colonial history.

Learning how to focus on breath and body again. I’ve rejoined Headspace and after three or more months away it’s amazing how much effort it takes to keep the body still while the mind follows each breath in and out. The worries intrude easily now, but I know with practice I can find my peace again.

Anticipating additional anxiety as we return to some semblance of “normalcy”. I feel as though I have forgotten entirely what I used to enjoy before the pandemic began, and the proper way to socialize outside of work and immediate family escapes me. Worse still, there is a part of me that has grown to like my isolation and would perhaps prefer never to come out of it again.

Reflecting on the lessons of right now. I am not exaggerating when I say that this last year has been the hardest I’ve ever been through. I’ve lost some people, almost lost others, and even lost myself for a while too. Life is looking vastly different from here than last May, and since I can’t change a single second of it, I may as well take in the new lessons and find the new joys.

Fearing more missteps and misunderstandings. One lesson I’ve learned this past month is how quickly things can change. I’ve dealt with downward trends that took weeks or even days, but it is possible to come to such a volatile time in life that within hours your entire universe can invert. I fear now that nothing can be fully predicted, least of all the people you think you know the best.

Hating how little control I actually have. We pretend at control. We imagine free will. We think ourselves each the master of a little universe willing and manifesting day in and day out. It’s an illusion. It’s worse than that. It’s a lie. What choice and will you have is smaller than you know. It’s ok though. Work with what you have and let go of the rest.

Loving the chance to learn from someone younger than me. I’ve struggled with my fears for a long time. I thought I had come to a place of progress, but it was only a place of comfort. I have been hiding while pretending to be brave. I’m learning to find my courage by watching the next generation surpass me in every way.

Needing rest. I don’t mean sleep exactly, but simply, rest. I need a place or a time to put down the weight I’ve been carrying. I’m not just talking about the weight of the last year. I realize now I’m carrying things that have been with me for far, far longer. I need to stop for a moment. I need to lighten the load.

Hoping the worst is behind me and my loved ones, and we can finally look forward to a life of light and love. I’m hoping for a sense of self and safety that won’t be shaken again. I’m hoping with all my heart for joy, for connection, for meaning and purpose. More than anything, though, I’m hoping for a reason to hope.


So, yeah, all in all, April, was hard but I’ve learned and loved and taught and been loved back so much that the heartache and heaviness have become at least possible to bear. I know where my strength lies and I know what weaknesses need work. I know what to look for and I have a better idea of what to do next. None of it was in vain.

But what about you? Has Spring sprung where you are? Have you received your COVID vaccine doses? Is your world opening up? Are you yet in bloom?

Let me know in the comments.