Goals // Week 10: We’re Going to Be Okay

This week is going to be much like the last few. I’ll have long hours and plenty of work to fill them with. I’ll have few hours left for me and even less energy to make much use of them. This pace is growing tiresome, and it’s getting harder and harder to fend off burnout but I’m trying to remember that when all else is out of my control I can still control my reaction. I owe it to my coworkers and more than them I owe it to myself to fake that enthusiasm and energy until it becomes real.

This week I will:

Stay present in the moment, do my best to maintain perspective, and practice gratitude at the end of every day. It’s going to be another long and stressful one, but that’s okay. I can make it. It’s not so bad. All of our problems are simply reminders of our blessings and I am grateful for the responsibility because it signals respect. I am grateful for the work because it means I can care for my family and provides opportunities to find purpose. I’m grateful for my conflicts and difficulties because it means there is room to grow. I’m grateful to have another week to make it through at all.

Read 100 pages of It by Stephen King. I had hoped to reach at least the half through these 1,150 pages by now but with this book being so big I can’t carry it around with me when I go out the way I have other books. That means reading time is limited, and it’s going to take me a little longer than usual to finish. That’s ok though. I have my Penguin Little Black Classics set and working my way through those tiny books is a much easier endeavor. If I make the time that is. Distraction has been hard to overcome lately. Mindfulness and limiting screen time are crucial this week.

Write for one hour every day without distraction. That hour can fall anywhere within the day, before work, during my lunch, after work, before bedtime, whenever, the point is that it must be completely distraction free. One tab with a text box for writing, a “lofi hiphop” Spotify playlist going in the background, and a timer set so that I won’t even have to glance at the clock. I’m shooting for one hour but I knw there will be days when that is asking a lot so, in the spirit of this year’s motto (Everything counts!) I will accept a half an hour as long as that is my best.

 Create a blackout poem. I have 3 pages of solid text torn from a magazine I’ve been carrying around for weeks I’ve been meaning to mine for new poems but I’ve just been too lazy and forgetful to look over them. It easy to put it off, to opt to watch T.V. or to find some chore or to-do item that’s more urgent instead, but this is my meditation. This is how I return to the present. This is how I slow down and give my mind and body a chance to reconnect. This is how I unplug. It’s as important as food, water, medication, and writing.

Drink more water! Who knew Gatorade could be so addictive? I can go a day or three without it but because water isn’t as refreshing or as flavorful when I don’t have Gatorade I often have nothing at all. I’ve noticed a dry throat and cracked lips returning and as someone with a chronic illness, intermittent anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and a suppressed immune system I cannot afford dehydration on top of all my other issues. One full bottle of water a day at least for now and no more Gatorade at all after the bottle already in the fridge.

 Not panic. Between the Democratic primaries and the coronavirus there has been much in the news to be anxious about lately and every day seems to get worse and worse. And the problem isn’t just online or just on the news. Every person I speak to has something to say about either or both and none of it is ever positive. It’s hard to think about anything else right now but what we can’t see is that though everything that is happening is very serious nothing is the end of the world, not yet at least. Chances are we’re going to be okay.

This week I will not let others pull me into their negativity, nor will I allow the actions of others to impact my mood, focus, or motivation. I will not be pushed to distraction, pushed off my path, or pushed to think or behave in ways that do not align with my values or goals. I can’t control other people and to be honest what other people do or don’t do, though frustrating and disappointing, has very little to do with me. All I can do is my best and at the end of each day that has to be enough.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 09.

Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

Goals // Week 09: My Own Worst Enemy

This week I may be looking at a lot more free time than I’ve had in weeks and I do not want to waste it. I want to write, or at least to complete those tasks that have been looming over me. This week I have to be mindful, willful, and fierce in my defence of my focus and my boundaries. I have to be hard on those who would distract me and harder on myself still. I am my own worse enemy and my most clever and insidious saboteur.

This week I will:

Read 200 pages of It by Stephen King. I’m nearly 400 pages into the tome and I’m desperately trying to reach the approximate 600 page midway point. I didn’t read as many days last week as I’d hoped to but the days I did pick it up I was able to read quickly and blast through over 50 pages in a sitting easily. If I did this every night and shot for just 30 or 40 pages I could hit the halfway point by Sunday and perhaps glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel. Bonus: Finish reading A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.

Turn a few of those notes scribbled on scrap paper that I call “ideas” into post drafts and choose one to explore and write 1000 words on. The desk in my “creativity room” is overflowing with notes on post-its, scrap paper, napkins, envelopes, and notebooks most of which I’ve waited so long to revisit that I cannot recall the context or meaning but if even 1% of those ideas is viable, I would have a wealth of concepts to write about. It’s time I start digging into the heap and turn the fragments into fully realized pieces.

 Start a distraction journal. A schedule and a plan mean nothing if when it comes time to sit down and do the work all you can think about is the 100 other small things you have to do (or could be doing instead). I’m one of those people that writes two sentences and then gets up to do the dishes or switches tabs to check my email or picks up my phone to send a text and never gets back to the work. I’d like to keep a journal, or at least a piece of scrap paper next me where I can unload these impulses and thoughts onto, and then when the work is finally done I can devote guilt free time to these little tasks.

Finish my taxes. I have no excuse why this isn’t done yet except that I just keep forgetting to do them. It’s a daunting task and there are so many things to get done that feel more urgent. My mind is a limited space and the immediate tends to outweigh the important. What I fail to realize is that “immediate” should not have a monopoly over “important” and I have to be more mindful and more willful about what needs to get done “now”.

 Vote. Just like my taxes my mind pushes my ballot to the back burned with the excuse that there is much to do now and this is both simple, straightforward, and not immediate. I have plenty of time so why not put it off in favor of what has to get done now? The problem is there is always more to do now and often what is not immediate or urgent becomes so from too much stalling. Either that or it is forgotten entirely until it’s too late. Avoid the guilt and the regret. Do it now and be done with it.

Be mindful of how much of my time I give away. I love hanging out with my friends and coworkers but sometimes we get carried away and a short visit takes up two hours or more of the day and when that starts to become a daily habit I lose a lot of time I could devote elsewhere. Of course I still need to see them, to laugh, to vent, to feel a part of a group and community but there has to be balance.

Schedule weekly phone calls with my loved ones. I’ve been carrying so much guilt about how much time passes between talking with my family and friends. The guilt builds up and the longer I take the harder it is to make the call but I desperately want to be the one that keeps the ties of my family and relationships strong. I want to be a part of people’s lives. I want my loved ones to know I love them; I think of them, and it matters to me what is going on in their lives.

This week I will not allow the failures of the past to keep me from moving forward. It’s no secret I struggle with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. It takes me longer than most to recover from even the smallest mistakes and missteps and in my despair I lose passion, drive, and focus. This week I will work hard to talk to myself and understand my mistakes as I would a close friend or loved one. I will not engage in the self depreciating talk I have in the past. I will not give up on myself.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 08.

Photo by Drew Lindsley on Unsplash

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.

Update: I’m feeling 100% again and the memory of that sinus pain and congestion misery is already fading. I did my best to stay hydrated and made sure to take (most of) my supplements often and on time. I’ve been sick a lot this season but nothing like that last cold and it’s left me with a bit of anxiety and paranoia. I’m sterilizing everything and washing my hands raw trying to avoid another infection.

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.

Update: I made progress, but I did not stick with it. I have a list and a calendar now but they are not fully filled in and I have made little effort to keep either in front of me rendering both completely useless. But, progress is progress, and even if I only just keep filling it in every week for a while something ought to stick in my brain at some point.

 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.

Update: I did get a couple of good reading days in but only made it about 80 pages toward my goal. I found myself very distracted both on my breaks at work and at home. My schedule kept shifting and changing and it never felt like a good time to pull such a heavy book out and start reading. I was able to finish Wailing Ghosts though and that counts for something.

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.

Update: It was long, and it was incredibly boring but I got it done. I did gain a lot of useful information about the process of teaching a CPR class which is very different from attending a class and learning CPR. Weirdly the new knowledge only made me feel more anxious rather than comforting me but I’m trying to tell myself that I am excited, not afraid.

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.

Update: I simply forgot. I know who I’m voting for and I only have one little circle to fill in before folding the ballot back up and dropping it off on the way to some other errand or destination. It’s simple, too simple. It’s so simple my mind considers it insignificant and not worth the effort of committing to memory. This is exactly why I have to keep that calendar and to-do list in front of me.

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.

Update: For something I love and long to do writing is sure hard to make myself do. It’s difficult to begin or to know where to go. It’s hard to develop a voice and a message and it’s hard to silence my self-doubt and insecurities. It’s hard to make time when what is easier to do feels better now, but in the long run this feels so much worse and the longer it takes for me to begin the harder it is for me to get out of my own way.

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.