Goals // Week 08: Find My Footing

This week I have a little break from all the expectations and obligations that have long become routine. The weekend is a long one. I have an extra day off from work and the next class of new employees won’t begin with me for more than a week more. That means I have a chance to stop and think. I have a chance to look ahead and to find my footing before I take another step. 

This week I will:

Get well. I’ve been fighting a bad cold for over a week now and I’m feeling like I’ve fought my way through the worst of it and might just be on the mend. But I do have a chronic illness and the medications I take to have an impact on my immune system. If I’m not careful, if I don’t take care of myself by managing my stress levels, eating well, staying hydrated, and eating well this cold could gain a stronghold again or I could very easily catch something else.

Make a plan. I have neglected my calendars and to-do lists quite badly lately and as a result, no progress has been made. In my defense, my work life has been a bit chaotic and my health has made it impossible to maintain energy or focus outside of my obligations but the excuses aren’t holding up any longer. I know if I can make a plan I can find a way to do one small thing a day at least. It’s time to really try again.

 Read 150 pages of It by Stephen King. I’m sure I could make it further than that especially since I have decided to make T.V. time the new reading time these past couple of weeks. But I would like to move on through another book or two in my Penguin Little Black Classics set so I’ll have to split my time between It and Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling and settle for fewer pages of one so I can enjoy a little of both.

Complete my Heartsaver Instructor Essentials Online course. Before I can take the hands-on CPR and First Aid instructor course I have to complete the online potion. I’ve been putting it off because I’m nervous about it but my class is just a few weeks away and I do not want to mess up my opportunity to become an instructor because of a little irrational fear. This is a great opportunity for me, and I have to be brave, focused, and proactive and if I can’t be those things I better pretend until I am.

Vote. I’m so grateful that the great state of Colorado makes it so easy to vote. We have early voting and mail-in ballots. We have 24-hour ballot drop off sites all over the city and here independents are allowed to vote in the primaries. So, I have no excuse not to participate in this election or any other. But sometimes when things are easy to do they are even easier to forget.

Write something, anything. I don’t necessarily have to write here and I don’t necessarily have to write to share. I can write something privately. I can write something that’s boring, unimportant, confusing, and bad. I can write as little or as much as I want or can and I can type it or use a pen and pad. I can write whatever I want so long as I write something real.

This week I will not forget this list. For weeks now I have been setting goals and promptly forgetting them. This week I will not let I must do for others eclipse my personal passions so completely that I forget them entirely. This week I will not put myself on the back burner.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 07

Photo by Shaz Sedighzadeh on Unsplash

Goals // Week 07: Keep It Simple

This week is already starting off on a rather negative note. I have a throat infection I’m fighting off and had to take the first day of the work week off to rest so I’m ready for the infusion center and my new medication starting on Tuesday. All this while still teaching the new employees at work and trying to keep in mind the pile of little errands and items to complete before the week’s end. I’m overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted already but I’m doing everything I can to turn that around and into excitement, enthusiasm, and energy.

This week I will:

 Get well. So far this winter I have had an upper respiratory infection, an ear infection, and I’m now on my second throat infection that I fear is leading to another ear infection too. I regret not getting a flu shot this year and live in fear every day of contracting it or the equally nasty streptococcal pharyngitis. I have to work harder to get well and stay well. I will take my medications and supplements religiously, disinfect surfaces around me, and wash my hands more often.

Update: This cold was the worst I’ve had in a long time. This one scared me. I was in so much pain I nearly gave in and went to urgent care but I knew it was too soon for them to take me seriously or do very much for me. Rest and fluid, rest and fluids, that’s all they ever tell me so that is what I did and after more than a week I’m in a lot less pain and breathing a lot more easily. I may just live through it.

 Read 100 pages of It by Stephen King. I started It this past weekend and just 40 pages in I already know I will love this book as much as just about every Stephen King book I’ve ever picked up, but I know this will be a difficult read. First of all it’s long, over 1,150 pages long, and it’s heavy so I can’t carry it with me wherever I go. It’s an “at home read” so I will have to dedicate time to it every night. Bonus: Finish Book 7 of Little Black Classics Box Set, Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling.

Update: I read 300 pages! If I keep up this pace I could finish this tome in just over 3 weeks! I doubt I will keep it up though. I tend to get burned out on long ones just after I pass the halfway point. That’s why I’ve been reading two books at once. This book is so long I foresee multiple instances of burnout and more than one extended break. So, I’m slowing down a bit and adding another book to the mix. I’m shooting for six weeks instead.

Get reacquainted with my to-do list. I’ve been struggling to complete tasks for weeks now and I know it’s because I have failed to even glance at my to-do list in weeks. I had tried to move the list from analog scraps of paper to a list in my Google calendar but the benefit of paper was being able to keep the list in front of me at all times. THis week I would like to get back to that and create a hybrid system of keeping a master list online and a physical daily list in hand.

Update: When I wasn’t working I was dead to the world. I had only enough strength to live in the present and nothing left over for dreaming, planning, or plotting. I had nothing left for anything more than that basics and the bare minimum. I knew it all would have to be put on hold before I could even begin and so, didn’t bother wasting the mental energy on lists or calendars.

Print and fill out an editorial calendar, by hand. Just like my to-do list a digital editorial calendar doesn’t help me much because it’s too easy not to look at. It’s too easy to forget about entirely. I’ve noticed that I sit down to write and if I don’t have an idea or prompt ready to go, I give up right away. This week I’m going to start a new calendar with a list of prompts and projects to work on so I can’t ever say “I don’t know what to write about”.

Update: Like my to-do list I simply didn’t have the time or energy to brainstorm new ideas, start drafts, or jot notes but I made sure to at least print blank calendar pages of the next couple of months and as soon as I am feeling better, more focused, and motivated I will have them on hand to begin filling in.

Make a new blackout poem. Last weekend I started working my way through my hoarder-sized pile of magazines ripping out useful images and blocks of text and tossing the rest. Now that I have a sizable stock of material to work with I would like to reincorporate this meditative practice back into my evening or at least weekend routine. Bonus: Re-work the cutout poem from last week and post.

Update: I couldn’t make this one happen either but I have the pages I want to work from all ready to go on my desk once the headaches and sinus congestion subside enough for me to concentrate without pain. I have the cutout poem from last week reworked and edited but for some reason I cannot bring myself to share it. I may shelve it until the time feels right.

Find a new balance. I’ve been working under the same schedule for years and years but with a new role and new responsibilities comes a new work hours and an increased demand on my attention and energy. I had hoped that these demands would come only every other week or less but it looks like I’ll have to let go of that idea. Things aren’t going to “die down” anymore and if I want to avoid burnout, I need to find a new way forward in my pursuit of an equitable work/life balance.

Update: This week I swung too far to the other end of the spectrum and took too much time for myself and my needs. It’s what I had to do, but it’s not something I can go on doing. I haven’t found the balance yet, but I have decided that no matter what happens through the rest of this month and the next, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The last day of school isn’t as far away as it feels and one way or another fewer work hours and more time for me are on the way.

This week I will not complicate things. My goals are simple and 100% doable if I make the time to do them. I fail when I get distracted, when I allow new ideas or the needs of the moment to monopolize the now. The goal is to stop trying to do everything all at once. Instead, I should do each thing one at a time. I should not overwhelm myself or place more demands on myself than I know I can meet.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 06

Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

Goals // Week 06

This week I had hoped to take it easy, to make time for myself and my personal pursuits and interests but it looks like the hectic schedule of the last two weeks will continue for at least two more. That means I’ll need to be mindful of what little time and energy I have left over and do my best to stay positive, enthusiastic, and focused in the face of fatigue and frustration.

This week I will:

 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I bring a water bottle to work every day with the intention of getting through at least two refills and I barely end put drinking half of one. This week I need to drink water, not Gatorade, not carbonated water, not juice, water, water, water. Bonus: Avoid sugary sweets throughout the day and alcohol throughout the work-week.

Update: While I was dealing with the worst of this last ulcerative colitis flare, I started drinking Gatorade and now that I am feeling better I am having the hardest time switching back to plain water. It’s almost as if I would rather drink nothing than to have plain water. This week I fought through the cravings and the taste and gulped down at least a bottle full a day. It’s getting easier.

 Make those phone calls, send those emails. I have put a sticky note below the keyboard of my laptop with a list of people I’ve been needing to contact for weeks now. Most of them are over important and timely matters and I cannot allow myself to go one feeling anxious or being avoidant. There’s just no reason for it.

Update: I did make some calls but not all and I know deep down I could have but allowed myself to fall into the trap of procrastination and convenient forgetting. Phone calls aren’t easy for me. No form of communication is. Not email, text, fax, none of it but I have to get over that. I have to just grit my teeth and get it done.

Finish reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I’m less than 100 pages from the end of this book and though I’m having issues with it and though it’s getting more tedious and difficult to pick up every day I have to remember that the fastest way out is through. Bonus: finish another book from the Little Black Classics Box Set.

Update: Yes, yes, yes I finally finished Love in the Time of Cholera, and I got through Traffic by John Ruskin, the 6th book in the Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set, too. I’ve mentioned many times how much I both loved and hated Love in the Time of Cholera so I won’t get into it now but I do want to say that I was surprised by how much I loved Traffic especially after the ratings on Goodreads were so low.

Return to writing my Journal posts. I’ve been slacking on both my physical and digital journals and I have felt both their absence through burn-out, irritation, stress, and anger. I’ve had nowhere to vent my feelings except onto other people. I’ve had nowhere to put my thoughts so they circle around in my mind to no avail. For my own mental health, I need these spaces.

Update: I’ve been catching up but making time to journal properly has been hard lately. In my defense work has been overwhelming, and I came down with a nasty throat infection that is sapping what little energy I have left after those long grueling hours. I haven’t given up though, and that’s what really matters.

Start my taxes. This is the first year my wife and I are filing jointly after getting married and after job changes, interest earned, and account reimbursements I know we are facing a hefty bill. Better to get an idea of the damage so we can start planning and paying sooner rather than later. No procrastinating this year!

Update: I just forgot. I meant to begin this weekend, but I had so much to do and so much on my mind that I just forgot. Luckily there is still plenty of time to begin and a long weekend with a lot less to do or worry overcoming up at the end of this workweek. I’ll get it done.

Control my anger. I’ve been feeling very frustrated with processes, procedures, and people everywhere around me. I’ve been snapping at people who don’t deserve it or being harder and harsher with people than I mean to. This isn’t me at all. I have to find a way to resolve what is upsetting more or to cope with what I have no control over before I burn too many bridges or earn a reputation I cannot correct.

Update: I’m learning to step away, emotionally if not physically, when I feel myself getting irritated or frustrated. I’m learning to examine why it is I feel the way I do and to ask myself why it matters or what the impact really is on my life. I’m learning to be grateful, proud, and focused on my accomplishments, my privileges, and my goals and not to let the actions or opinions of others to take up so much space in my mind and in my life.

This week I will not try to be perfect. I will not try to do it all and I won’t worry so much over the mistakes of others. We all have a right to learn by trying, by making mistakes, and by correcting our mistakes. I have to allow, or, better yet, embrace this process in myself and in others.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 05

Photo by Grant Lechner on Unsplash

031//366

The end of the week, and the end of the month, has finally arrived. I have mixed feelings about both. January is probably the farthest from being my favorite month but the older I get the more I want to slow it all down, even the most miserable of months.

But today I’m eager to get to the end. I’m eager to see 5:00, to leave work, and to see my wife. It’s date night. We’re going to the movies, of course, to see Parasite, finally. I hope it will be as good as critics say. I hope the hype is real and I will love it as much as media says I will. It seems like my kind of film: slow building, a little weird, a little disturbing, and open to all kinds of interpretation.

I’m eager to see the rest of the weekend too. The weather this weekend promises to be beautiful and I have every intention of getting out to soak it up before the snow forecasted to hit by midday Monday.

030//366

I spent the day getting ready for next week. Turns out I’m not going to have the week of rest and recuperation I thought I was going to have and that I know I so desperately need. I’m preparing paperwork and preparing myself emotionally too. If I’m honest it’s frustrating but at the same time it’s forcing me to focus on the time I have now and to do what makes me feel good today.

I’m reading a lot and I’m enjoying it for a change. Lately reading has been a chore, a race, a goal and milestone I have to achieve. I read to say I have been reading and not for the pure enjoyment of it. I’m keeping track of pages read and pushing myself to get through just 20 more, 10 more, 2 more and I can stop. It’s been a long time since I just got lost in the story. I want to get back to that again. I’m getting lost in a book today. No time limits, no page goals, just reading while it feels good and stopping when it no longer does.

029//366

Life is feeling somewhat back to normal today. My favorite coworkers are back, the class of new employees is being released, and for the next few days nothing “above and beyond” will be asked of me.

Everyone is sick and I’m a little scared of catching this flu or infection going around. Whatever it is it appears to be highly contagious. It escalates quickly and impacts the body severely. A lot of my coworkers look like zombies: pale, sluggish, and devoid of rationality. For my part I’m keeping the office clean, keeping my distance, and drinking Emergen-c religiously. The last thing I need right now is another nasty cold as I’m weaning off of one medication and about to begin another.

I am trying to write but I’m feeling stuck, passionless, and empty. The words won’t come and they are hidden so well I don’t even know in which direction to begin my search. No amount of promises or punishment is working and I’m already out of coffee so I’m giving up for now. I’ve written this, and that is better than nothing. Time to switch to reading. Love in the Time of Cholera is getting better and I’m excited to start Aphorisms on Love and Hate by Friedrich Nietzsche today. I should get through as many pages as I can while the enthusiasm lasts.

028//366

Yesterday I wondered over creating space between myself and the emotions and actions of others, I meant it metaphorically but today I am manifesting it literally. I’m staying home and enjoying some much wanted if not much needed time alone.

It’s not just that though. I’m having that heavy exhausted feeling again, that fatigue that gets into the bones and won’t leave no matter how much sleep you get or caffeine you guzzle. I’ve had to take two naps and make two carafes of coffee in the French press and I’m only just now feeling somewhat myself again.

I had hoped to spend the day half cleaning, half writing, but neither of those were possible in significant amounts. I did get a lot of reading done though, almost half my goal for the week already! I’m proud of that at least and that goes a long way (in addition to the rest) toward making me feel a little more prepared to return to the real world tomorrow.