008 // Less Like a Friday

I’ve never had a Friday feel less like a Friday than this Friday did. In fact, this Friday felt more like a Monday than most Mondays do.

All employees returned to work at once for the first time since the beginning of November and it was…overwhelming. Of course everyone wants to know how you have been, how you spent your holidays, how is your family, and how you have been coping. It’s fine if you have one, or two, or even 10 coworkers, but to have 50 or more stop you for the same stories is exhausting.

Thankfully, there are quiet corners to retreat into and solo tasks that keep me busy and keep the others at bay.

I’m feeling a little down on myself. Looking back over my journal and planner, I can see I’ve failed to meet a lot of my goals this week. It’s been hard with my health in decline again and with work ramping up. I know I shouldn’t have expected to be perfect, but I did expect to do better. I spent too much time on my phone playing games and doomscrolling Twitter.

And how could I not? After the week we’ve had in this country, I think it’s probably entirely understandable that I struggled to feel motivated or focused on my goals or my work. Of course, when the world is falling apart, your willpower and willingness decline. Your priorities shift. Your needs shift.

I’m trying hard to remember that even without the dystopian images on the screen and the hopelessness creeping in, it is only the first week of the year and no one is expecting me to work so hard but me. I’m trying to remember that there is more to life than check marks and time blocks and even if I didn’t read or write as much as I wanted, I did laugh and I felt loved and maybe some weeks that’s more important than the work.

007 // Still Reeling

A gorgeous Colorado sunrise this morning.

Emotionally, I’m still reeling from the news of riots in Washington, D.C. yesterday. I’m finding it hard to tear myself away from news outlets and social media platforms, as I feverishly seek out visuals and first-hand accounts in a quest to understand how and why this has happened. I’m trying to process how violent and vulnerable we’ve turned out to be.

I don’t think any of us should expect to be productive in any way today.

When my thoughts aren’t on yesterday, they are running ahead to tomorrow. I keep thinking it’s Friday and that I have no time at all left to prepare for the next work week. When I remember it’s only Thursday, I find myself disconnected and idling. The panic returns quickly when I realize I’ve been distracted and I scrabble again only to lose interest once I remember I’m getting a day ahead again.

It’s not exactly anxiety I’m feeling, but something more like excitement. Tomorrow all of our employees return to work as a sort of practice day before the kids return next week and while part of me isn’t yet ready to give up the peace and quiet, part of me needs a little more noise and chaos to feel alive.

I wish I was being given a little more time to ease into the return to normalcy. It’s been so long that it doesn’t feel like the old boring routine I once thought it was. Instead, I’m going to have to hit the ground running come Monday. It’s probably better this way. This way I’ll have less time to think, to worry , to find reason to object, to fight, to fail.

006 // Disorientation and Disbelief

I went to bed last night sure that we would lose both Georgia runoff races, our chance at control of the senate, and any hope of relief or progress for the American people. I woke up this morning shocked to find one race already called in the Democrats’ favor and the other very likely to go the same way.

I’m in such a state of disorientation and disbelief that I keep checking the results to be sure I haven’t read them wrong and that they have not changed.

It’s an exciting turn of events, but I’m cautiously optimistic. The Democrats have a history of squandering such gains. They hold all the power, but timidity and fear keep them from truly exercising it. In the time of unprecedented potential, we may only see the bare minimum from our elected officials.

I’ll be following the news and commentary closely today and celebrating while I can such a momentous victory. I’ll let myself hope for a time that these coming years will be a time of healing, compassion, and real progress for my country.


The events at the capitol this afternoon have me in a state of profound anger, fear, and exhaustion. I am angry there are supporters of such a hateful man and his message of cruelty, destruction, and misinformation. I’m fearful of what the next few weeks will bring as we move closer to inauguration. I’m exhausted by the daily pressure placed on us all to keep those who would subvert our institutions and undermine our ideals of justice from destroying our country from the inside out.

What I am not feeling is surprise or shock by today’s events I’ve been waiting for something this big to happen for quite a long time. The entire country has been living in a constant state of tension that has only grown more and more volatile since election night. I’m only surprised this act of terror and insurrection were not even more violent than what we saw.

I live many states away from Washington, D.C. but seeing how little the police did to stop these people from storming the chambers of congress has left me feeling very unsafe. I believe the cops could have stopped the mob…if they’d wanted to. I believe cops that would allow certain groups to inflict violence on certain other groups are employed in every city in every state in America.

What happened in the nation’s capitol today could happen in any city and to lawmakers at every level of government. It could happen on any street and any of us could be caught in the crossfire, or even targeted as the enemy, the other, according to the radical right.

Please stay safe out there.

Please stay strong.

004 // I Am Not Mine

I’m working on learning how to do the things I don’t much like doing.

Every day we are all expected to do things we don’t want to do. We have to make a living. We have to feed, clothe and care for loved ones. We have to live in a society. Every day we are all expected to look like and behave as if we are someone else entirely from who we are with entirely different wants and needs than we have.

More often than not it’s for the best, but more often than I realized before the pandemic, it’s at the expense of my mental and physical health. Still, the world is what it is and there is only so much boundary setting and advocating I can do against capitalism and culture. These hours aren’t mine. I am not mine.

Not a lot of the time anyway, but looking back at the way I used to complain and struggle, I wonder if it might be easier to just give up and give in. Sometimes the fastest way out of doing something boring, uncomfortable, undesirable or difficult is to simply do it and be done with it. Sometimes in trying to change something, you only manage to prolong your pain and stroke your anger.

Each of us, it seems, has to find our compromise with the world.

Goals // Week 01: There Is Time Enough

This week will the first time in months that I will return to something like my old full-time work schedule. I have been eager for a return to a time of more interesting and fulfilling work, but I expect the reality will remind me was days just like these, only longer and more tiring. Still, anything to break up the monotony. Anything just to feel normal again.

This week will also be the first test of the daily habits I’ve worked hard to establish over the last few months of half work days and half work weeks. It was easy then to meditate, to read, to write, to drink enough water and get enough sleep, but from now on the life/work balance will be tipped back the other way. I’m anticipating less time to myself and a lot more stress to manage. I’m expecting good habits to fall by the wayside and bad habits making troubling returns….if I let them.

This week it will take focus and willpower to keep moving through the to-do lists and the assigned tasks, but more than that, it will take a little self-compassion. It will take encouraging and believing in myself and making this space safe to fail in. No more shaming and blaming. Instead, there will be nothing but praise, patience, and pep talks.

This week I will:

Read the introduction and chapter one of Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. On a whim last month I joined a book club and according to an email I received last week, it turns out I’m actually expected to read the material and join a discussion in a little under two weeks from today. Bonus: Finish the current chapter of The Second Sex.

Meditate every morning. Cultivating a meditation practice is one of the very few resolutions I have made that are expected to be daily habits . I’ve done great so far and I’d like to keep it up through the end of the week. I have set my morning alarm 30 minutes earlier; I have reminders in my phone, and if it doesn’t get done first thing in the morning, it must be the last thing I do before bed.

Stay hydrated. Last month a few of my lab results came back with troubling numbers regarding my kidneys. I have been struggling with dehydration for months and now that I am finally seeing some healing, it’s important I give my body the best chance by drinking a lot more water and laying off the sugary sports drinks that have become a habit.

Fill in a page of my journal and update my planner every day. My journal and my planner are two out of the four keys to my success in 2021. The third is sitting in my office chair and the fourth is setting a timer. I’m easing into the productivity shifts and the start is simply writing down what I think and what I want to do about what I think.

Finish week two of Social Psychology on Coursera. I enrolled into an irrational number of courses last month in an attempt to take advantage of free certificate offers in subjects I’d long been interested in. Immediately upon looking at the number of lectures, reading requirements, and assignments, I felt overwhelmed found it impossible to even begin. This week I’m going to begin by taking each in 20 and 30 minute chunks at a time for as long as it takes until I’m done.

This week I will not get discouraged. There is time for the things you want to do, you only have to find it. It’s in the little breaks and the small moments between this task and the next. It’s in the space you give to too much TV, to the games on your phone, to social media and sleeping in. There is time enough to do a little every day and you have to let that be enough.

The theme of 2021 is slow and steady. Keep in your mind a vision of yourself 12 months from now all that might change and how far you might find yourself from where you stand now if you were to take just one small step every day. The step need not be perfect. It need not even be right. It only has to be forward. It only has to be done.


Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

003 // A Hard Battle

It takes actually getting up and getting to work. It takes turning off or at least tuning out the critical areas of the mind and letting your emotions, your instincts, your ideas run things for a while.

Stop being so damn rational all the time. Stop finding so many obstacles and excuses. Stop getting in your own way. Stop turning a blind eye to your own bad behavior.

Put the phone in another room. Make a list. Set a timer and do as much as you can before it’s up. Open your planner, your journal, and your notebook and mine the ideas there. Keep a notepad next to your laptop to write down the little thoughts and to-dos that pop into your head before they become distractions.

This is the way I would like to work and for a time today I managed it, but not enough to make the progress I’d hoped. Still, it was many times better than most days last year. I suppose that makes today a success. Of course, but before I could celebrate the accomplishment, my thoughts returned to tomorrow again to replace my pride with new obstacles and excuses, fresh failures and bad feelings.

This month it seems, at least until I’ve practiced the art of mindfulness and positive thinking, will be a long and hard battle with myself. I always have been my own greatest enemy. Maybe 2021 is the year I learn how to believe in myself? The year I realize the problem hasn’t been my lack of motivation or focus, but my lack of encouragement and faith.

002 // Thinking Makes it So

The year is already moving much too fast for me. My mind keeps jumping ahead to tomorrow and from there it’s easy to start worrying over Monday too, and while there I may as well obsess over the rest of the work week, right? Once there the month is practically half over and with so much to do and fail at before mid-month today starts feeling like a good day to give up.

The calendar might only say the 2nd of January, but as far as my anxiety is concerned, it’s weeks from now and nothing at all is done, different, or better for it.

I can’t seem to stay in the present. I can’t seem to focus on today’s tasks and troubles alone and though my mind insists this jumping ahead is for my own good, I can see from the missing check marks and empty pages in my planner and journal, that way of thinking is killing my motivation and productivity.

More than that, it’s killing my joy. Why is it when I think about the future I can only see all the problems and all the ways I will fail? Why can’t I see good things? Why can’t I imagine success? Perhaps this should be another kind of mind shift for me: for every worry or failure you can conjure, imagine a victory. Imagine happiness.

I’m a realist bordering on pessimistic so I have my doubts that thinking one way or another can impact an outcome or future event, but what I hope is that it will help the present, and what happens in the present has a direct impact on what happens in the next hour, the next month, and over the course of the next year.

001 // A Slow Introduction

It’s been a slow introduction to the New Year this morning. It seems staying up to celebrate the occasion makes for a poor start to your resolutions. I should have known, though. Staying up late has rarely felt worth the loss in energy, motivation, or focus the following day. I have a suspicion this may be the end of that tradition, or I’ll at least establish a new one: the New Year’s Eve Evening Naptime.

So, I’m giving myself a day to do only the bare minimum and just the basics. Hardly any of my resolutions this year require a dedicated daily practice and the ones that do I have marked off already. I got my 10 minutes of mediation and stretching in before sunrise, and today’s journal entry is complete. All I have left is to write for so many words and read for so many pages before the end of the day.

THe greatest excitement today will be getting to fill in the first page of my planner and preparing for the first weeks of the month by scheduling my time and working out my “to dos”. This analog system feels good and my hope that having everything written down in front of me and not on my phone I’ll have a little more focus and with just a little more focus over the next 365 days, I think I can get a lot done!

My specific resolutions aren’t quite done yet, but that’s okay. I’m taking a different approach this year. I’m letting this 2021 version of myself become rather than expecting her to emerge today fully formed and perfect. This 2021 version of me isn’t sure who she is or how best to express herself or move forward, so she’s taking the year slowly and I’m giving her permission not to know yet and to change her mind when she does work it out.

I don’t have to start everything today, and it’s probably best that I don’t. That’s the fastest way to feel overwhelmed and the surest way for me to fail. The new year has arrived but I I am not arriving, I am growing.

Goals // Week 53: Set the Tone

This week is a transition week. It’ll begin with the last days of the current year and end with the first days of the next. That means not only wrapping up, letting go, and forgiving the last 366 days of failures, disappointments, and losses, but then finding ways to hope again, to try again, and to keep trying long after the calendar date flips over.

So, this week will set the tone for the year, but it does not define it. It’s good for moral to hit the new year running but if your first steps falter, you need only keep putting one foot in front of the other to find your balance and your way again.

This week is simply a place to begin.

As for me, this week is a “practice week”. It is my first attempt to stick to establish boundaries and stick close to the schedule I’ve laid out for myself—no excuses! I’ve got each day’s tasks written out and notebooks for recording the day’s thoughts and activities. I’ve given myself space and permission to adjust as needed. All I ask is that an effort is made.

This week I will:

Use my notebooks. Last year I tried taking the digital route for my to do list and logbook but both quickly became unwieldy and I spent more time tweaking the look rather than marking off items. This year I bought a simple Moleskine 2021 daily planner that leaves little room for customization and between it, my journal, and my pocket notebook there is little more to do but think, write, and record.

Get my steps in. The over indulgences of the holiday season are catching up and it’s best to head them off now with exercise and mindful eating before bad habits are established. I’d much rather be moving my body outdoors, but the weather outside this week will not be conducive to jogs through the neighborhood, so I have to be motivated to pull the treadmill out instead. The goal is small, just one quick mile after work every day.

Start my 365 Headspace meditation journey. I suppose I should technically start this on the 1st of the new year, but I like starting beginning at the beginning of the week and anyway a few days to practice and work out any kinks before the official start couldn’t hurt. I’ve set my alarm half an hour earlier to make time to to focus on breath and body and start each day centered and present.

Write just a little. It’s been hard the last few months since I’ve lost my “creativity room” but last week I brough my old office chair up to the kitchen and commandeered a corner of the table to use as a writing space. One of 2021’s themes is going to be “a little every day” and I think 300 words a day (not including my usual Journal posts) toward this blog post—or a book perhaps?—is a good place to start and to keep moving from.

Read 20 pages of a book a day. Just like with writing, I’ve found it hard to get in the mood or stay focused long enough to read for any significant length of time. I fell short of my 2020 reading goal (though I did better than any year before so I’m counting it a success) and one thing I learned was that even a few pages a day will get me further and keep me much more motivated than trying to read 50, 100, or more and falling into a hole of guilt and apathy when I fail.

This week I will not forget that I deserve to take breaks and time to claim as my own. Work is not the most important nor the most immediate part of my life anymore, and I should not guilty for that.

My time is not just valuable to me, but actually of use too. Time spent doing things outside of work and labor is not time wasted, and there are more ways than one to be productive. I am productive when I am with my family, when I am writing, when I am watering my plants, and when I am resting. These and many more are all more worthy and worthwhile ways to spend my time than through labor. I am not defined but what I do for a living; I am defined by what I do to feel alive.

This is my focus.


Photo by Katie Doherty on Unsplash