1. It’s all about discipline, for everyone. Sure you have had your setbacks, you have your shortcomings and your challenges, but when you assume that everything is easier for everyone else across the board you commit a cruelty against yourself. You can do things, you just have to make the necessary modifications and persist through pain and disappointment until the new habit is established.
2. Do better for you. Do better not because you want to be liked, not because the people you love deserve better, but because you deserve better. Love yourself better. Spend more time with yourself. Do the things you love more. Encourage yourself. Go the extra mile and show yourself a grand gesture. Get help, get well, imagine new possibilities and chase impossible dreams, for you.
3. Take what is sucking you in and delete it. If it’s wasting your time, if it’s keeping you from doing the important work, if you regret it at the end of the day, get rid of it! Life is too short for you to waste your time racking up advertising dollars for websites and apps you aren’t getting anything substantial from. Delete it and replace it with something that makes you feel good.
4. Carbs are not the enemy and healthy eating is not so simple. What works in the short-term is not always good or sustainable for the long-term and diets are never one size fits all. Start simply with more fresh ingredients, more fruits, and vegetables. Move more and dedicate real-time to pushing your body and getting your heart rate up. It’s that easy and that hard.
5. If you can’t say something nice, at least don’t say something mean. Your honest take isn’t always what people want and not every criticism of you, your work, and your likes need to be defended against. Save your breath and move on.
6. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the fact is you may be a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe, or a transphobe, or a xenophobe, and more and worse and in any combination thereof. It’s nothing to get offended over. You weren’t born this way and you aren’t even necessarily a bad person because of it. You’re just part of an oppressive system that groomed you to think the way you do. It’s nothing to get defensive about. It’s common, normal, and perfectly changeable.
7. Doing better starts with allowing yourself to feel, acknowledge, and accept that you are utterly incompetent. You lack the knowledge and the skill to do something, many things in fact, and that is okay because, from incompetence, there is nowhere to go but up. From ineptitude comes capability and the unskilled have all the chance to become experts, but first, you have to know what you don’t know and begin from there.
Take yourself seriously. Your dreams are not silly and although you are only starting out, and you have no idea what you are doing or where you are going, nothing about your journey is trivial. What you do is of the utmost importance, you have to be the one to acknowledge it as such even when no one else will.
Don’t be afraid to ruin what is perfect. Mar that journal with your ugly words. Destroy that sketchbook with as many imperfect drawings as you can. Spoil that perfect dream by bringing it into this messy reality. Destruction is a facet of creativity after all.
Chip away at it. Think past one day’s work to a week’s worth, a month’s worth, a year’s worth of daily work. Do not move too fast or burn out by trying to pack more than you can into 24 hours and likewise do not forget that there are only so many days you are given to work in.
Stop taking the convenient viewpoint, stop spreading the easy explanation. Don’t accept oversimplification, isolated sound-bites, headlines, and quotes. Champion context, dig into the nuance, give the story, the idea, the concept the time.
Make for yourself some small happiness, something no one can take from you. Make for yourself a small place of peace and joy in the world and within yourself to run to, to ground you, to heal you whenever you need.
Don’t believe everything you think. Your thoughts don’t always come from within you and it’s not always clear why you think the way that you do. You carry biases, prejudices, and beliefs that are not your own and do not accord with whom you wish to be. Examine them. Question them.
If you care about your thoughts, keep them. Don’t keep them on an app, or a timeline. Don’t keep put them where they don’t belong to you. Keep them in notebooks, carry them with you, display them on bookshelves, and pass them on to the next generation.
This year’s resolutions are on a staggard schedule. This month I’m beginning my resolution to start taking some Open Online Courses.
My goal is simply to go on learning all my life, always in new ways and ways under new topics. I’m not looking for certificates, or to advance my career, right now. I want to use more of my brain and to broaden my horizons. I want to learn how to think better and about more than just my work and my writing. I want to learn how to learn, that is all.
And who knows, maybe it will lead to something bigger down the road. Maybe I will finally make up my mind and gather up the courage to enroll in a degree program and embark on a whole new journey in life.
The beginning of anything is always the longest part and 2019 is no exception. January has taken so long to conclude that the end managed to sneak up and surprise me. I almost forgot about February. I had begun to believe this month might never end and that my time would never run out.
I was lulled into laziness, I admit. Only half of my resolutions survived, though I expected as much and resolved in advance to renew them every month as needed. January ends with plenty of failures but none of the usual disappointment.
I’m choosing, on this last day of the first month of the year, to spend my energy contemplating the next. I’m looking for a new strategy, a new way forward. I’m talking myself up and back from the ledge. Do not give up, the future is still bright and full of possibility. There is so much left to do and plenty of time (though less than you might think) to do it in. There is still plenty of time left to change.
So, I’m moving forward and leaving January, and all it’s half starts and stresses, behind. February, a month of love, of self-love and self-starts, is finally here.
But first, here is what I am…
Writing much more but also less. I’m definitely writing more per day but my writing feels less substantial. I’m ok with this, for now. and hoping that quantity will lead to quality this second go around. I’m happy so far with my accidental commitment to posting daily. I never meant to start but once I did I couldn’t bring myself to break the chain. I’m going to keep it up, but I may tweak the format. I started this vlog with the intention of logging and storing my thoughts in the hopes that later I can pull a project or two out of the archives, so it makes sense to start using it as a sort of “topic journal” with revolving categories I post under in addition to the ordinary life updates.
As for Zen and Pi, it’s coming back I promise. I have so many ideas for it but lack the talent, knowledge, or courage to begin. Please don’t give up on me. It will happen, as soon as I can make it happen.
Making a new journal! Last year I completed a couple of small bookbinding projects one of which was a black Moleskine-style notebook with bright fuschia paper with alternating lined, plain, dot, grid, triangle, and hexagon ruling. Well, that journal is finally just about filled up and I’m ready to take what I learned from the last project and make a brand new one. I’m still planning and gathering supplies, so I’ve purchased a proper Moleskine to use until the new and improved DIY one is finished.
Planning the wedding, still. Progress has been made but we’re are in a serious time crunch now. I’m still excited for the big day, but it’s taking so long to plan that the magic has somewhat worn off. After the price tag shock, the hard choices about your guest list, and all the compromises you make on your vision for the day you begin to feel rather disillusioned. Soon, very soon, you are more stressed than excited and nothing you do feels like it’s for you anymore. I know I’ll feel differently when the big day comes, but right now I’m looking forward to it less and less.
Anticipating a very busy, and very exciting February. I can’t tell you all of the details yet but looking at my February calendar I get the feeling I’ll start climbing out of this winter depression I’ve been in since the New Year’s in no time. I’m going to get out with friends. I’m going to see the ballet. I’m going to take a trip. I’m going to enjoy some good food, and celebrate love, love, love!
Reading a lot! I finished six books in January, a new record for me. I’m currently on The Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson. I started a few days ago and I can already tell this one is going to take me a good long while. Her poems are short but I cannot read through them quickly. No, I’ve already been obsessively researching each and every poem and writing lengthy notes in the margins. So far, I’ve gotten through 12 poems out of…146. Which is why I am also reading Candide by the philosopher Voltaire. I needed a quick book to get through to keep my reading goals to track.
WatchingTrue Detective on HBO which has returned to the formula of their first season success, and Shameless on Showtime which is spiraling out of control as usual. I’m also watching a lot of mindless TV while I wait for the Spring premiers. I’m watching shows I’m barely even entertained by just to have something on. I watch them because I’m bored but I’m planning on watching a lot less for a while. All that boredom should be put to good use, don’t you think?
Feeling stressed and depressed, my usual state. It’s strange the way that happiness and hope can coexist quite comfortably alongside anxiety, frustration, and grief. I’m happy, but I’m sad a lot of the time too. I’m beyond tired and longing for something. A change I guess, but one I get to make on my terms. I want to finally start living a life that looks little more like the dreams in my head. I want to have some control and I want to be excited again.
Fearing our great collective uncertain future. More and more I have had to turn off and tune out the news, Every time things seem like they couldn’t get worse they do and these very big bad things begin to affect the very small and personal. The government shutdown, the shootings, climate change, Brexit, Venezuela, and the unofficial start to the 2020 Presidential election have me on edge and feeling angry, defenseless, and hopeless. I’m afraid that we are really seeing the beginning of the end of an era for America.
Reflecting on my resolutions, the ways I have failed and the ways I’d like to try again. There have been a few successes. I didn’t have one sip of alcohol all month and I cut my sugar intake drastically. I posted here every single night. I read 6 books toward my 30 book goal for the year. I did a lot but I didn’t start working out. I failed to write anything outside of this blog. I didn’t start any free courses, and I didn’t start drawing in my art journal. I’m not disappointed though. I know I have a lot of things I want to do and only so many hours in a day. But I do want to do more and that takes looking at what is working, what isn’t working, and finding creative ways to change.
Needing courage, always courage. The courage to look foolish. The courage to learn. The courage to fail and the courage to stand up to myself most of all. I’m distracted and tired, but I’m also lying to myself. I know deep down it’s all just a coping mechanism to avoid the things I am afraid of. I need the courage to tell myself to focus, to write, even when there is nothing to say. The words will come if I am strong and brave, I have to believe that.
Learning Spanish, still, and getting better and better all the time. I cannot sing the praises of the Duolingo app loud or long enough. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and while I don’t expect to become fluent from a free phone app, I have noticed that I am grasping the basics well and retaining and recalling more and more words. I’m hoping to attempt a short book in Spanish by the end of the year.
Hating the taboo of hate. I’ve been thinking a lot about people’s reaction to my hatred of things, ideas, values, certain norms and structures of society, events, and people. I’m told that hatred is too strong of an emotion. The word shocks and disgusts. Hatred, it seems, is no longer an acceptable feeling and has become a forbidden word. People tell me that they “do not hate anyone or anything”. They tell me I should not, could not, hate anyone or anything either. I may dislike. I may disapprove. I may not understand, but I may not, apparently, hate. I’m not here to encourage hate. I only know that I feel it, naturally, and I am not about to dismiss or deny it on the word of others.
Loving a whole lot of little things. When a lot of very big things—both worldly and personally—start going wrong we can become overwhelmed. We can become blinded by our stress, and anxiety, and grief and we can forget that there is happiness and good all around us too. But if you take a moment and do the math you may find that all those very little good things equal or outweigh all that very big bad.
For example, I love the way my friends ask me every day how I am. I love that I get to work with kids who always make me smile even when I don’t want to. I love the blonde vanilla latte at Starbucks, books that make me cry, perfectly ripe pears, and eating at least one vegetarian meal every week. I love how happy my dog is to see me when I get home and the way my cat meows and taps me politely to ask for pets. I love phone calls from my mom, my little sister asking me for advice, and the way my brother’s baby looks just like him. I love cooking dinner with my girlfriend at the end of the day, and how after all this time we still stay up too late because there is so much we want to say. I love how lucky I am, how rich I have become in all the ways a person can love. I love my life. I love how suddenly the big bad things don’t seem so big or bad.
Hoping that we, as a country, as the United States of America, can continue to weather this President and his ignorant and divisive rhetoric. I hope that everyone out there is coping well and that we can all just hang on a little longer. We’ve passed the halfway point and we’ve elected enough Democrats that there is some small check on his power. Not as much as I’d like, but we’re in a better place than we were a year ago and in two years I hope we’ll be in a better place, a place built on truth and compassion.
So, yeah, all in all, this January was a good beginning. I don’t want to think of the month as an isolated time frame that has begun and ended but rather a part of something much larger and in that light, I can let it go with satisfaction. I can move past all the “what if’s” to “what now”?
But what about you? How are your resolutions holding up? How is your city —and your mental state—faring through the cold? Where will you go from here while there is still so much time left to change?
Let me know in the comments.
“January. It was all things. And it was one thing, like a solid door. Its cold sealed the city in a gray capsule. January was moments, and January was a year. January rained the moments down, and froze them in her memory: […] Every human action seemed to yield a magic. January was a two-faced month, jangling like jester’s bells, crackling like snow crust, pure as any beginning, grim as an old man, mysteriously familiar yet unknown, like a word one can almost but not quite define.”