I can hardly believe a new month has started already. I hate December but I’m excited by it too. It’s the last step, the last struggle, before a new beginning, a new year filled with potential and surprise. I’m anxious to get through the end and ready, so, so ready for all that potential and surprise.

I wish I had been a better blogger in November for National Blog Posting Month but I think, having learned the lesson for the hundredth time now, blogging challenges just aren’t for me. I can’t commit and I am terrible at community interaction. I did find something else that looked promising and, of course, I found it too late. “NaNoDoMore” is a list of things that you aren’t meant to get through in a month. The challenge is to try something new. I like that and though the challenge is over, I’m thinking seriously of giving one or two items a go on my own.

I’m also thinking that it’s time I made blogging my secondary writing outlet and start using it to fuel a greater project and not as an end in itself. NaNoDoMore feels like it’s about more than blogging. It’s about being a writer and working to find a path to the kind of writing you want to do rather than spinning your wheels, doing the same things you have been doing, and getting nowhere. It’s a place to find, or rule out, a start. I’m going to need a lot more of that.

Currently // November 2019: A Month of Waiting for What Comes Next

“The world is tired, the year is old,
The faded leaves are glad to die…” 

Sara Teasdale, “November”

Time flows strangely in November. The month passes slowly and then all at once it is here and gone and over. It is a month of waiting for what comes next. The time is spent in a joyous and terrible state of anticipation and anxiety waiting for the holiday rush and stress to begin. At the end we are in worked up into such a frenzy we can barely think. We gorge ourselves, indulge ourselves, we’re drunk and merry and tired, and still waiting, still waiting, on what more December will bring.

And while we were warm and waiting, merry and full inside, the beauty of autumn passed and the dreary and drab look of cold and death settled over the world. November is when winter really begins to dominate, to show it’s strength, to lash out in a strange insecurity. Soon it will settle, when it no longer fears the return of summer’s warmth nor the hope of spring’s return. Soon we will all settle into a duality of happiness and hopelessness.

I am doing my best this year not to let that cold hopelessness seep into my bones. I’m brining the memory of summer with me and letting it warm me whenever I begin to feel low. November need not be all waiting. This year I wrote, and I read, I got out into the world more than most Novembers. I found much to be grateful for and let my accomplishments outshine my failures. I learned not to let the snow or the freezing temperatures keep me down. I found beauty in the season and I hope to find beauty in the next too.

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

Writing every single day. This month I read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and I was reminded what it felt like to both take my writing seriously and to have fun with it. I was reminded of when I used to wake up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas and how excited I was to share them no matter how ugly or jarring my words were. I miss simply enjoying the work. I miss considering it work! So, going forward I am refocused. I am not thinking of what a writer should be, or even of the writer I want to be. I am simply being the writer I am right now. I’m writing what is in my head and heart now, what excites me now, what feels good to finally say, right now.

Making cut up and blackout poems and collages, still. I had stopped last month thinking that these little pieces I created were rather pointless and dumb but my wife has convinced me otherwise recently so I am back at it. This month I cleaned up my side of the “creativity room” separated my space into a writing space on one side and an art space on the other. Going forward it’ll be easier for me to slip into “art mode” and to share more of my work in the coming year as it improves.

Planning for the new year. The last month of the year begins tomorrow and I think the best use of the days leading up to 2020 are to spend them figuring out my goals, priorities, expectations, and obstacles. I want to have clear ideas for projects and at least a basic idea of the steps to take, how to spend my time, and what to do when I fall behind. I want to take my failures and their lessons with me next year but not as baggage. I want to see my weakness clearly and plan how I might overcome my most disappointing and persistent shortcoming going forward.

Reading The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca. I’m almost done with both actually and in addition to finishing Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and, as I already mentioned, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, plus the two more for December: Ethics by Baruch Spinoza and The Plague by Albert Camus, should put me just 10 books behind my 2019 goal. That’s a lot but I’m choosing to focus on the good. I have read more books every year than the last and 2019 is my best year yet. I know I can hit my goals in 2020.

Watching The Crown on Netflix, Shameless on Showtime, Watchmen on HBO, and re-watching all the Star Wars films on Disney+ in preparation for seeing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker next month. Beyond that, and the news playing in the background most of the time, I’m trying to limit my time in front ot the television. I lose far too much time and sleep to the comfort of the couch and mindlessly binging episode after episode of shows that aren’t all that entertaining or exciting when I really think about it.

Learning about Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights, still. To be honest, I made not a bit of progress throughout all of November. I’ve not had the time or the energy to finish any courses this month and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pick them up again until after the new year. I enjoy learning in such a structured way and I miss the feeling of accomplishment I got week after week but finding time for writing is my top priority now and that is hard enough without adding expection and excuses to procrastinate.

Anticipating a very busy December! This month we have “Friendsgiving”, a production of Shakespear’s Twelfth Night, a new Star Wars film, Christmas shopping, Christmas Day, a possible trip, and New Year Eve celebrations with friends. It’s a lot but I’m looking forward to it all. I had purposely left November’s calendar blank thinking I would relish the down time before the holiday season. In reality, I felt quite the opposite. I felt restless, bored, cooped up, and lonely. I hate venturing out into the world when the weather turns frigid but I am learning that that isn’t very good for my mental health. I’m trying, instead, to keep busy, to get outside, to see people, and enjoy the winter rather than feeling trapped by it.

Reflecting on all that I am thankful for and how I can better show gratitude. November is the month of giving thanks and no matter my feelings surrounding the origin story of Thanksgiving, I do think a holiday meant simply for being with the people you love and expressing gratitude before the end of the year is essential. I’ve made vast improvement over the years in my ability to take stock of all the good in my life not just once a year but nearly daily. Where I need to do the work now is in learning to express that gratitude to the people I love, an act that for some reason surfaces deep feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy. I’m exploring and working to overcome the reasons why I feel that way when all I want to say is, “thank you”.

Feeling tired. My health has not been good lately. Since the start of autumn I have had an upper respiratory infection, an ear infection, a bout with a stomach virus, and now the worst of my ulcerative colitis symptoms have returned. I’m stressed, disappointed, worried, and, above all, exhausted. I had hoped to end the year with a reduction in both the number of medications I was taking and the dosage of the ones I was to stay on but now I may be back at square one, taking steroids and looking to start yet another medication. I am getting ahead of myself though. My latest round of lab results are not back and the doctor has not decided the next course of action but even the waiting wears me out.

Fearing a possible upcoming promotion at work. I’m excited to take on a new role and to have more time to do the things I feel passionate about there, but I am afraid of not getting it and worse I’m afraid of not getting it due to my own lack of preparation. I’m afraid of failing, so I am avoiding working on my resume, gathering letters of recommendation, or practicing my interview answers, and that, in turn, is making me even more afraid to fail, which is only making me more avoidant. I know how to stop the cycle, but the fear of responsibility and of the unknown is overwhelming. I need help.

Hating holiday expectations. I’ve never been big on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I enjoy the food, and the time with friends and family, but the cloud of consumerism and the expectations we place on each other and ourselves to show our love through things disgusts me. I am disgusted with who I become this time of year. I’m disgusted by all the wanting and the disappointment I feel from not receiving what I desire. I am disgusted by the anger I feel when I have to force myself not to buy things for myself and I disgusted by my envy of what others and buy and have. The season brings out just as much bad in us as it does good.

Loving coffee! A cup of coffee is such and ordinary and everyday thing but I’m practicing not just finding joy in the ordinary but in injecting passion into the ordinary. I figure the best place to start is the most consistent part of my day, my cup of coffee. During the summer months I cannot bring myself to drink hot coffee and instead brew endless pitchers of strong cold brew to get me through the heat of the day but now that winter has come I have been able to make coffee with varying degrees of strength and taste through the Moka pot and my French press. I miss my espresso machine and doubt I will get to replace it this year but I’m considering buying an ibrik soon to practice making Turkish coffee.

Needing more time for me, always, always, always more time for me. The time exists but I feel guilty for claiming it. When I spend my hours on myself all I can see are hours I am taking from others. I am not contributing. I am not giving. I am being selfish, not selfless. I am being introverted, not extroverted. I am not being productive. I am wasting my time. So, I guess what I need isn’t the time but the strength, and the perspective, and the support needed to take time for myself and the things that are important or fulfilling to me no matter how little they contribute to or produce for anyone else.

Hoping that somewhere between here and 2020 something good happens for me, for the people I love, for every human all over the world. God knows we all need it. THis past year has been a hard one for everyone. Humans, humanity, we all need a win, a boost to our self-esteem and our desperate need to believe in the good of the universe and the good in each other. We need something to go well, to go right, to go the way we hoped. We need a little peace, love and understanding. We need the kind of holiday spirit we talk about but rarely see anymore. I hope we all can find it if even just a little bit. I know it would make all the difference.


So, yeah, all in all, November was a good month. I enjoyed my holiday, and all the time I took to rest and to wait, and though we saw a couple of significant snow storms for the most part even the weather cooperated. I’m looking forward to December and to the end of another year. I’m grateful I get to have it and all the good and bad it will bring too.

But what about you? Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Did you find much to be thankful for? Have you fallen very deeply into seasonal depression yet? Are you ready for a new year? How will you spend the last of this one?

Let me know in the comments.

“There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life!”

— Mehmet Murat ildan


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

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Seven December Shifts

  1. If you can’t be wise, be observing. It’s easy to think you always know what’s going on and what should be done, it’s harder to consider that you may be missing something. You can’t become wise if you aren’t willing to—at least occasionally — admit your stupidity, shut your mouth, take a step back, and learn something.
  2. If you don’t want to do it, but you must, try doing it with spirit! Half the battle is attitude and you’re more likely to win with a simple shift in perspective and greater enthusiasm. Fake it if you have to. You’ll still feel better.
  3. Take breaks even when you don’t think you need them. All humans have their limits, some of us more than others, and rather than push yourself to said limit and risk going too far take a break and rest a little. Later you will wish you had.
  4. Be more protective of your focus. Just because people around you want to talk doesn’t mean you have to make yourself available to them. Be vocal and be clear.
  5. Move your body. Use the space you have and begin slowly at the beginning. Be mindful of those limitations but don’t let your body convince you it cannot do anything. 
  6. You can be an artist, but it takes seeing, practicing, and letting go of perfectionism and forgetting what people think. It’s that easy, and that hard.
  7. Spend more time thinking. Not making lists, not filling out calendars, not looking for inspiration, emailing, or posting. Get a pencil and a pad of paper and fill the pages with ideas, questions, thought fragments, and wild dreams. Write them all down no matter how personal, unachievable, incoherent, or, seemingly, idiotic they may seem. Find time for your own ideas.

Post inspired by Nicholas Bate

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

Currently // November 2018: The Last Chance Has Passed

Despite, or, more likely, because of, the Thanksgiving holiday and all the planning and prepping, and the time with family, and the time off from work too, November seems to have come and gone faster than any other month this year. It was a bit jarring, and a tad frightening to wake up this morning and realize I am suddenly so close to the end of the year. 

Honestly, initially, I felt really disappointed. Not just the usual general disappointment I always feel over the passing time, but a deeper disappointment—in myself. There were so many things I had hoped to do and accomplish and thinking about all the ways I failed to do and accomplish it just made me feel really bad about myself. How could I let myself down like this? Why didn’t I push harder? Why didn’t I even try?

I feel this way at the end of every month though, and I bet a lot of other people do too, but this time it hit particularly hard. This month felt like my last chance. I mean, December will be too filled with activities, obligations, and holiday stress to make up for the all the time I wasted until now. That means my project won’t get finished and I won’t achieve my goals. How things are now is how they will end.

Fortunately, that initial disappointment didn’t last very long because, fortunately, I had so much to be thankful for in November. So, instead of trying to fix what I fucked up, I will use what is left of 2018 to simply celebrate and plan. I will let myself feel good and I do what I can to make sure I have the motivation and the optimism I need to give it another try in 2019.

But first, here is what I am…

Writing much, much more often and much more efficiently too. They say that the tools aren’t as important as the passion, but having shitty tools can really sap your drive to create. I’m thankful that my old slow and buggy laptop finally bit the dust and forced me into getting a new Chromebook. I no longer have to pause and wait for the cursor to catch up and I can have as many tabs as I need open at once. I can edit photos without crashing and take my writing wherever I go again. I’m getting used to enjoying writing again, but my ability doesn’t quite match my enthusiasm yet, so I’m sticking to purely blogging right now. I’m just practicing.

Making more blackout poems and collages for Instagram, because they are fun to make and I miss pouring over newspapers and magazine articles looking for words to pop out at me, begging to be reimagined. I like to take those words, someone else’s words, and make them my own. To reshape them to tell my story and reveal who I am and what I think. There is a sick satisfaction in such a simple medium.

Planning a month-long body fitness challenge for myself in January. I’m not sure I can do everything I want to with the limited space and equipment I have but I am sure that anything I can come up with is better than the nothing-at-all I am doing now. I can start slow if it will just help me start, you know? I’ve been feeling so tired and weak lately and I know it’s because I am growing soft from inactivity and age. I’ve been gaining weight I can’t seem to get off and I struggle with stamina and endurance. This past summer I was running and hiking but since the cold has moved in I’ve gotten lazy. I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.

Anticipating Christmas break! I usually try to work as much as possible during the breaks because I need the money, but this year I’m considering taking a significant amount of time off. I’d like to spend some time holed up in my “creativity room” making progress on one of my dream projects. I’d have to isolate myself—no screens, no notifications, no internet access, no dopamine hits at all—and just brainstorm, design, and write. I don’t have to finish the project. I just want to feel like I really gotten started on something.

Reading The Iliad, still…I love the book, I swear, but it is not at all easy to read. Epic poems, I learned after reading The Odyssey, require more time for pausing and thinking, for letting the story work into you. They require the imagination to take an active role. So, I read a chapter and sit with it, sometimes for a week or more. I reimagine it. I weigh the actions and the morals of the characters, and I look up all the heroes and gods I’ve never heard of before. Next time I read something like this I think I’ll carry around a second, easier book to read while I ruminate. It looks like I’ll be spending the rest of 2018 with The Iliad and wait to start anything new until 2019 since this years reading challenge goals are shot to hell anyway.

Watching the second season of True Detective on HBO, but only because I want to feel like I’ve gotten through it before season 3 starts in January. The show is an anthology series so each season is a different story. Season one was amazing and I highly recommend you check it out. The problem is, it’s so good that season two just doesn’t measure up. Season 3 looks like it’ll make up for it though. I’m also in the middle of Homecoming on Amazon, a psychological thriller that follows a counselor working with vets at an experimental facility. I like it but it isn’t keeping my attention easily. Most nights I’m rewatching The Walking Dead, and at work, I’ve been working my way through both Castlevania and She-Ra, two awesome animated shows on Netflix.

Feeling stressed and depressed, already, just like many of you this holiday season. There is so much pressure to be cheerful and expectations to buy the right gifts and spend the most amount of money. It’s hard to balance all that pressure and expectation with my bank account and this chronic fatigue. I think this year I’ll put my foot down and ask that people refrain from buying me gifts at all, or if they must, to donate to a charity in my name. I just don’t want to spend the money and I don’t want to stress about what to get for everyone. I don’t want to feel bad for getting the wrong thing, or for not spending enough money, or for secretly hating what I get. 

Fearing the new year. I wish there was time to reflect on the last year before you had to hit the ground running on the new one. It’s scary to have all those days looming ahead of you and you moving toward them so quickly. As of right now, all those days are still pure, full of potential and promise. As of right now, you haven’t screwed it all up yet, but once they start coming you know you will. Mistakes are always made and we always fall short. We’re never who we thought we’d be, and even if we are still good, we’re never good enough. I’m afraid that a year from now, after all those pure and promising days have come and gone, I will feel just as disappointed and for all the same reasons that I do today. I pray that this fear will grant me focus and courage.

Reflecting on the lessons of November. I’m reflecting on what it means to be grateful and how I can express my gratitude better. This year for Thanksgiving my family created turkey hats and each of wrote notes to one another expressing what we were grateful for in every family member. This level of expression and vulnerability has never been the norm in my family so I struggled not only to find the right words but the courage too. I did my best, but there was so much more I wanted to say. I know I am very lucky to have so much warmth and love surrounding me and to have so many people I can run to and trust. Next year, I want to have the right words, and I want to be brave enough.

Needing a good writing class. Learning on your own, through practice and experience is great but sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. I think I would benefit from being shown ways of thinking and doing things that have never occurred to me. I also think pushing myself in a structured and supervised setting would give me a sense of accomplishment and inject a new energy into my work. I’m looking at this course from Roxane Gay, but I’m open to other (affordable) suggestions for beginners too.

Learning how to “deep work“, or rather, to work on one task or project for hours at a time without distraction. I’m learning how to embrace and use boredom and to keep the wildly important in the front of my mind always. 2019 is right around the corner and while I don’t feel regret per se in the way I spent 2018, there are definitely changes I want to make, goals I want to accomplish, and projects I want to see brought to fruition. There is so much to learn and do, but first I have to relearn how to learn and to work. I have to unlearn what social media, capitalism, and technology have taught me about what it means to be busy vs. being productive and learn to resist temptation and keep my thoughts on a tighter leash.

Loving how close we are to the new year! I know, I know, I said I was afraid of the new year, but I am just as excited as I am afraid. A new year with this year’s lessons sounds like a year when I finally make something big happen. I’m looking forward to once again applying for the Bitch Media Writing Fellowship for Writers. I’m looking forward to trying—for the third time—to complete the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I’m looking forward to building new relationships and discovering new writers and being discovered too. This coming year, like all years, is mine!

Hating anxiety. I hate being so scared and feeling so frustrated all the time. I hate how tense I am, how boring I have become, and how exhausting all this fear and frustration can be. I hate fighting myself, hating myself, and falling short of everyone’s expectations. I hate being so weak. Most of all though, I hate all the ways my anxiety affects the people around me. I hate that I can’t control it, only cope, and I hate that they have to cope too. I think it’s time I looked into getting some help and doing more to take back my life.

Hoping, as the days grow short and the temperatures dip lower and lower, that this winter won’t be too hard on us—or on me in particular. I’ve never done well in winter. There’s nothing to do, it’s too cold and cloudy, the nights start too early, the holidays are stressful, and it always feels like it will never end! No, I really don’t do well in the winter but I’m hoping that this year I can get through it in better spirits by changing my perspective. Seasons aren’t always comfortable, but they can be useful triggers for the change we need. Winter is a good time for introspection, to go inside yourself and face what is there. It’s a good time to fall in love with solitude and silence. It’s a good time to learn to be resilient again and to take care of the home and the mind. Winter is when we prepare to face the world again come spring, and I will be prepared.


So, yeah, all in all, this November was…better than most Novembers. I can’t bring myself to call it a good month considering it’s still autumn, and I really dislike autumn, plus it’s so close to winter, and I really, really hate winter, but it wasn’t bad at all. Hell, even the weather was decent this November. We only had a few little snow storms here and there and a lot of days the temps climbed well above the 50s. It was the best November I’ve ever had, and that is something.

But what about you? How was your Thanksgiving? If you celebrate it that is. How was the weather where you are? I fall a favorite season of yours? Or is it just one long, drawn-out reminder that the endless cold dark winter is about to envelop us?

Let me know in the comments.


“Wind warns November’s done with. The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.”

Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems

Featured photo by Hybrid on Unsplash