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

Currently // December 2018: This Year’s Past, Present, and the Future

Decembers are strange months. They force us—through our grieving over the last year, our anticipation and expectation for the next, and the celebration of the present with good food, family, and friends—to live fully in all aspects of our lives. The past, the present, and the future. Decembers can be exhausting, sad, and overwhelming, but they can also be joyful, hopeful, and so very warm. It all depends on what this year’s past, the present, and the future feel like to you.

I’ve had many Decembers full of loathing, curmudgeonry, and gloom because, well, the holidays were never happy times for me. They were the time of year that pretending to be merry and bright only brought out the worst in my family. This year felt different. This December was a warm one. I felt loved, and I allowed myself to be loving too. Time certainly heals and I have come far enough from those sad Christmases I used to know to a place where I can give myself over fully to the season.

But now it’s come to an end. Now is the time to let go of Christmas and to think of the New Year. Now is the time to muster up the best of ourselves. Now is the time—fueled by all that good food and deep love—to become who we’d like to think we are.

But first, here is what I am…

Writing slowly but steadily, on big projects and small. I had high hopes of starting a daily blogging habit for the new year but upon further reflection and introspection, daily blogging just isn’t for me, yet. Turns out I just don’t have a ton of energy to go around and focusing on blogging so much means less time and energy for my dream projects. Not only that, but failing to post daily makes me feel like, well, a failure, and being so filled with disappointed makes it impossible for me to write anything at all. So, I’m writing here, and for Zen and Pi, and I’m even resurrecting my newsletter too! but I’m only committing to one piece per online space per week for now and looking forward to creating and sharing more meaningful work with you soon.

Making promises. I promise to spend less time in from of the TV and more time in my “creativity room”. I promise to keep a list of dreams and projects in front of me rather than my Twitter timeline. I promise that whenever I feel bored, I won’t let my first instinct be to pick up my phone. I promise to read a book instead. I promise to write every day. I promise to stop apologizing for my weaknesses and to embrace my vulnerability. I promise to keep on doing what I have been doing but to use the lessons I have learned to do better.

Planning everything. I have been experimenting with using Trello to keep track of tasks for all my big projects and my blogs. I have a list for each project and lists titled “this year”, “this month”, “this week”, “today”, and one for “every day”. I’ve been moving items (or cards) from their project lists into the “time frame” lists once I feel I’m ready to begin. Each card can have a description, a checklist, attachments, and I can add comments and links underneath too. I love that I can keep both short-term and long-term to-do lists in front of me without getting confused or overwhelmed and it’s easy to shuffle them around as needed.

Anticipating a “Dry January”. For those who’ve never heard the term, Dry January is a movement where people pledge not drink any alcohol for the first month of the year. I don’t consider my relationship with alcohol to be problematic per se, but the medication I am on for my ulcerative colitis is affecting my liver and cutting out my daily drink proved harder than I thought it would be. A hard cider or a glass of red wine can be a real comfort at the end of a long day but I need to take care of myself and learn to decompress in new ways. I look forward to the money saved and maybe losing a few pounds too.

Reading The Iliad, still. I knew I would be reading it to the end of the year but with the holidays and this weird period of laziness and listlessness between Christmas time and the new year I haven’t been able to finish the book. That’s ok though. I’ll pick it back up as soon as I feel ready. I’ve set new reading goals for the year too, 30 books once again. I am determined to make 2019 the first year I meet this goal by making reading a priority, something I must do, every day.

Watching old episodes of Veep on HBO while I wait for most of my usual shows to come back between now and April. Before that, I was watching Killing Eve on Amazon Video and I cannot recommend it enough. I have been a fan of Sandra Oh since her days on Grey’s Anatomy (another show I anxiously awaiting both the return and the end of). I saw Bird Box on Netflix; it was good but not great, and I finally got around to Isle of Dogs which was exactly the work of art I knew it would be.

Feeling tired. December was, as all Decembers are, exhausting. I feel bad for having been so lazy this past week off from work but it felt so good that I know I needed it, mentally as well as physically. I regret nothing but I do resolve to get off my ass starting today.

Fearing a new year that will be just like the last. I’m afraid that I won’t get anything done at all and that I will fail all the challenges I start and the goals I’ve set. I’m afraid 365 days from now I will be sitting at this same desk writing this same post saying all the same things about how I failed, but it’s okay, I have a plan for 2020 and this time I’m going to get it right! I’m afraid that I am not capable of the work I need to do or worthy of the successes I hope to achieve.

Reflecting on 2018 and what it meant to me. This year I completed a Year Compass booklet for the first time and it really helped me get over the initial disappointment I felt over all the things I didn’t get done. I realized that while 2018 wasn’t productive in all the ways I had hoped it would be; it was still an amazing year. Looking back, I had a year full of warmth and love, friendship, family, and fun and I’m pretty proud of that.

Needing willpower like I have never had before. Willpower is the word I chose for 2019. I wrote it in my Year Compass under the coming year and underneath I wrote: “productivity is planning for the future weaker, stupider you”. I was thinking of a Tumblr post from Stowe Boyd, “Will Power Is A Myth, So Take The Damn Nap“. I’m asking for the strength to do the work, or do what needs to be done now so I can pick the work back up again later.

Learning Classical Sociological Theory! I’ve been looking for some free online courses to take for a while now and this was one that looked good. I’m on a mission to learn how to practice and I think taking a structured course would help me cultivate a habit of daily discipline and fuel my writing with new information and perspectives! Win, win and all for free right? I haven’t enrolled just yet (I’m implementing new habits in a more staggered fashion for 2019 rather than all at once) but by February I hope to start.

Loving this past year. I know it was a horrible year politically here in America and in many places around the world because of America but personally, in my own little suburban bubble, it was a pretty good year. That isn’t to say I didn’t have my ups and downs, or that the bigger picture not affected me but what I did have was an amazing support system and what I did was take breaks as needed from said bigger picture. I know that is a privilege many don’t have, and I am grateful that I do.

Hating that this past year was so politically ugly and divisive. I hate how much we hurt one another out of fear and of pride. I hate how the unknown makes us so cruel and how easily we justify suffering and death. From the growing threat to immigrants, the frequency of mass shootings, the number of animals that went extinct, and the abandonment of our responsibility to the global climate crisis, 2018 was the year that humanity broke my heart and I hate that I have no expectation that 2019 will mend it.

Hoping, on this last day of 2018, that all of us all around the world can find the courage to forgive and begin again. I hope that we can start a new year with a little less of the past holding us back or holding us apart. I hope the new year can begin with more clarity and that 2019 brings out more of what is good in us. I hope you all have a safe night and a productive start—in whatever way is meaningful to you—to your brand new year.


So, yeah, all in all, December was beautiful. It was by far the best December I’ve ever had, emotionally anyway. I look forward to ringing in the new year with my fiance, in our home, while enjoying good food, getting some writing in, and completing a few projects in the house. It’s just the tone I want to set.

But what about you? How did December treat you? How did 2018 treat you? Did you have a wonderful Christmas and will you ring in 2019 quietly with close friends and family, or will you attend a grand gathering somewhere and meet it with flare?

Let me know in the comments.

“The first of December was a wintry day…and the year seemed getting ready for its death.”

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Featured photo by Hybrid on Unsplash