319 // Catching Up with Myself

For weeks, maybe months now, I’ve been longing for time to do nothing but what I want to do, even if that means doing nothing at all, and finally that day has arrived. The plan is to catch up on much-needed sleep, reading, journalling, doomscrolling, and more sleep.

The weather has taken a strange turn since this morning. The day started sunny and calm, but very quickly the wind began whipping around the house and dark clouds rolled in on it. I could hear trash cans, and furniture, and things blowing through surrounding yards and all day hoped the fences, trees, and power lines would hold upright.

Besides the cold creeping in through every hidden crack and failing seal and the eerie sounds waking me again and again from those much-needed naps, the winds passed with little more than threats and this evening we’ve returned to quiet and calm.

Inside I’m feeling far from peaceful though. Yesterday I spoke with my doctor and we are officially and finally changing course in my care. There are going to be new medications, new expectations, new hopes, and new norms to get used to—again. It’s a good thing really, because what I am doing isn’t working, but change is always scary.

So, in addition to resting, I’m processing what all of this might mean and how I feel about all of it. I’m working hard to practice acceptance, gratitude, and self-love. I’m forgiving my body and focusing my thoughts on how strong I have been through all of this. Moving forward I’ll have to keep being strong and that means gaining a new perspective. That means crawling out of this funk and finding the blue sky, even if I have to wait for a few clouds to pass first.

314 // From the Warmth and Comfort of My Couch

Winter has returned today with gloomy skies, steep temperature drops, and fat snowflakes falling off and on throughout the day. Thankfully, I’m working from home and get to watch this weather roll in from the warmth and comfort of my couch.

For the next three days, I’ll be attending a big and important virtual conference for work, and my district has trusted me to bring everything I’ve learned back to my coworkers. I’m excited about the opportunity and honored by the trust but I can’t help feeling a little bummed that the event isn’t being held in person, that I am not staying in a hotel somewhere in a city I’ve never been, enjoying a continental breakfast and networking in the lobby.

Still, there were some very cool moments, including the chance to hear animal behavior expert and autism activist Temple Grandin speak this morning! She is such an interesting and insightful speaker, and I feel ashamed not to have heard more of her talks until now. I fully intend to scour the internet for every video I can find of her. Might re-watch the film based on her life too. Might even buy her book!

Still, not everything has been good today. That great weight that had previously been lifted from my chest has already been loaded back on. My workplace has reversed position and asked that staff members return to work as early as this week.

At the same time, I’m also reading reports that my state is experiencing an uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus. I had hoped that management would allow us all some time away to take the precautions we needed and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, but I guess the priorities have changed.

This all leaves me feeling very…angry. I simply can’t see any reason why we have to come back in so quickly. The students are staying home and the district has agreed to pay us through the next month. So, between the risk of contracting the virus and the benefit of having us all at home (including the chance to disinfect our work areas), I just don’t understand the reasoning.

Underneath that anger, there is fear. Even by the districts own metrics it isn’t safe for us to be at work and without knowing how my coworkers are spending their personal time or what precautions they are—or are not—taking I don’t feel that simply wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, doing our best to maintain a six feet of distance between us will keep me safe.

But what choices do I have?

313 // Moving Against the Wind

The exertions of the last few days to weeks have finally caught up with me. Every muscle above my waist is sore, and I can’t seem to find the energy for even the most basic items on my to-do list. A can of Redbull and a little music are helping at the moment, and knowing that for the next three days I get to work from home and by midweek my time will be all mine for at least the next three weeks.

In the meantime, I’m simply doing my best and trying hard to let that be enough. It hasn’t been easy though. Everything I touch or try to do today seems to be going wrong, and I’m falling into negative thought patterns too easily. Instead of this mistake being normal, understandable, forgivable, I’m seeing every misstep as a confirmation of some inherent badness in me.

I’m holding these false narratives at bay, for now, but guilt and low self-esteem are threatening like dark clouds gathering on the horizon. I’ve just got to keep moving against the wind and I should make it to the end of the day, but if I stop for even a moment to look behind I know the blue skies will be overtaken and I’ll be engulfed in gloom and doom until morning.

312 // Something for Me

Even though it’s the weekend, and I’d be off from work anyway, it still feels like the first day of my second quarantine which is feeling more and more like a kind of vacation from all those things that have been terrifying and stressing me so much lately. I woke up light, happy, and feeling more like myself than I have felt in a very long time.

Today was also first time in weeks—months maybe—that I have been able get out of the house and do something for me. Some much needed shopping was done and some shopping that was just for fun. I enjoyed some of it very much, and some of it not at all, but I’m home now, feeling a little tired and very content.

In light of the recent rise in COVID cases I can’t help worrying over my little outing. I hoped the stores would be somewhat empty what with our local officials recommending we all take further precautions but it was quite the opposite out there. The stores were packed. Everyone was wearing their masks but social distancing was nearly impossible and the closeness of all those bodies, breathing all around me, made me feel very anxious. I don’t think I’ll be venturing out into the world again for a long time.

And anyway, too much of what little energy I have anymore is used up during these outings. The time for staying in, for making this house more like home, for resting, reflecting, and recuperating has arrived.

I’m starting right now, spending the evening on the couch wrapped in my comfiest blankets and watching President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris call for unity, peace, and healing throughout the country. It’s such a soothing and calming messages and gives me hope that even if compromises must be made over the next four years they will be made in an effort to move us all forward together because the truth is we are all Americans and so many of us have been left behind in so many ways and on both sides of the political aisle.

311 // Quarantine: Part Deux

A great weight has been lifted from my chest this week. Yesterday the powers that be announced that the school district I work for is finally, finally, moving to 100% remote learning which means I will get to stay home, get the rest I so desperately need, and avoid contracting the novel coronavirus from my often careless coworkers.

I am being asked to return to work in just over three weeks to continue training new classes of employees but with cases rising as fast as they are and the peak of cold and flu season approaching I will make the decision whether I return to work based on the case counts and my health at the time rather than what my superiors would like me to do. I just can’t keep on risking myself and my family for work I know can wait.

A weight of another kind is lifting too as the ballots go on being counted and this country moves closer and closer to an official resolution to the 2020 Presidential Election. The writing is already on the wall and the sitting President’s rants and legal challenges are only postponing the inevitable. I for one am relieved and proud, though still quite disappointed, in the work it took and more motivated than ever to do my part in that work moving forward.

For now though, there will be rest, on all levels and in as many ways as I can think of. I’m going to sleep more, of course, but I’m also going to rest my mind too and take a break from the stress and intensity of cable news and social media.

I learned a few lessons during my first quarantine last Spring and this time I’m a little more clear on what it will be like, what will be required of me, what I can do, and what I don’t have to do. I expect to enjoy this time a whole lot more and to focus on what really matters—my mental and physical health only.

297 // Gloomy Friday

It’s a cold and gloomy day here along the Front Range Urban Corridor. We woke falling sleet and thick layers of ice on our cars and walkways, and as the sun rose we realized there would be very little improvement in the way of warmth and blue skies would likely not make an appearance. So much for a happy Friday.

As for me, things have improved in what ways it can since the last time I posted here. In some ways they are worse too. Every day brings new challenges and every day we discover new ways to be strong, or to fail. I suppose all life’s major changes and tragedies follow this pattern, and perhaps the peaks and valleys never will quite flatten out again, but only shrink toward one another.

Getting back to work has helped some, and being with my wife makes it easier, but even through the laughter and love, emotions of pain, stress, fear, and helplessness continue to be the predominate. My family is in an upheaval and we’re being forced to take not only our circumstances but one another on a day by day basis.

My health has not improved overall either, but the time for answers either way is fast approaching. More tests and a new plan are close enough to give me both hope and anxiety. I’m worried I’ll be told something else entirely from my original diagnosis is wrong, or, worst of all, I’ll be told nothing is wrong at all. I’m worried the answers will come too fast and I’m worried that I will have to wait, and suffer, just a little longer.

Still, I’m grateful for so much. I’m grateful for the family I have and for small victories. I’m grateful to be alive, to fight, to support the people I love and to receive support too. I’m grateful for what I can give, even if all I wish anymore is that I could give so much more.

What I’m learning though is that gratitude is not the same as happiness. It’s only a small part. I need more than gratitude and I’m at a loss as to what that thing is or how to find it right now.

285 // A Monstrous Storm

I can promise you I am not being dramatic when I say that in the past few days my whole world has been very much turned upside down in some of the worst ways imaginable.

People I love have been hurt and are hurting and I’ve been living in an alternating state of shock, anger, anxiety, guilty sadness, and helplessness for some days now. These “some days” have stretched for an eternity and moving forward from here in any emotional or temporally sense is a foreign, unimaginable, and impossible notion.

It’s as if I am existing at the center of a raging storm that, while it’s only just gathered, has managed to gain monstrous shape, speed, and strength. Some small calm can still be found in my very immediate surroundings, but the winds are shifting unpredictably and I feel if I do not shift quickly with or in response to them and the needs of those I love the storm will grow beyond my control and I will be sucked in and blown away as well.

My suspicion is this sense of control is an illusion, and my efforts to maintain it are futile. There is worse and on the horizon and it will come whether I fight or fly. Part of me is already at work in the recesses of my mind to prepare for those hardships and heartbreaks.

And I keep wondering how much more we can all take? I’m trying not to make the surrounding storm all about me, but I am involved. I am affected and not from one direction or by one thing, but from all sides and on many levels. I’m hurting. I’m afraid. I’m lost. I’m so very lost…

My instincts tell me to pull away from writing, from this space, from everything I love, from all the things I do for me. I’d thought to write here only to announce an indefinite hiatus, but I’ve always been, always had to be, skeptical of my instincts. I hardly ever really want what’s good for me. My urges and impulses tend toward the self-destructive because—I believe—it is the simplest and most satisfying place to find control and satisfaction.

So, if my gut says pull away, I have to at least consider the idea that what I need most is the exact opposite: to lean in, to try harder, to give more. Self-expression, even these small and stale attempts, mean something very much to me and the way things are going I should probably cling to whatever I can call my own as much as possible.

There is another side of me that is offering alternative solutions to that sense of control: radical acceptance, incredible patience, and flexibility. Planning and expectation may be unreasonable undertakings in times such as these.

Each day, and whatever it offers, both good and for bad, may have to be taken on its own separate and alone from the day before. Hell, each emotion, thought, need, idea, and action may have to been received separate and alone from all previous and even from their cause.

I see no other way to cope. Time—both laid out behind and stretching out ahead—has become an overwhelming concept.

From here and for a very long time, there can only be now.

275 // A New Month

I’m stuck at home and stuck in bed today, feeling awful physically but worse mentally. I’d been seeing some real signs of improvement, and I let myself get a little too excited. I let my hopes get too high, and then today there were strong setbacks and swift backslides into painful and all too familiar symptoms.

I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little under the weather. My dog, Lola, got into something she shouldn’t have and she’s got a little upset tummy too. I don’t like seeing her sickly but it is kind of nice to have someone, even if it’s just the dog, to be miserable with. At least she’ll be okay in a day or so with a little rest and plenty of fluids. I wish it were that easy for me.

I keep thinking about how bad of a start this is to the new month. Then again, perhaps starting at your worst can be an opportunity in disguise. When you are at your worst there is nothing you can do but get better. There’s nothing to do but improve. There is nothing to do but start again. A new month and a new chance to let the past go and move forward.

274 // Bad Start

Well, this morning is off to a pretty bad start. I woke up late. I struggled to get ready for the day. I’m tired and irritable. I’m messing everything up and as much as I have given up on today, it seems today has given up on me right back.

I had thought upon arriving at work that the wrinkles of my mood and luck would smooth out but everything seems to be going wrong and the gap between my expectations for the day and the reality of the day is widening all the time and with it my frustration and impatience keeps on growing.

The good thing is I’m lucky enough to have the kind of job where I determine my days and I have the support I need to set back and determine my attitude too. I don;t have the emotional strength yet, but I’m sure after a few things get checked off my to-do list and I’ve had a meal and a cup of something with caffeine in it.

The good thing too is there are going to be plenty of breaks and the real possibility of the day ending early. That means time to decompress, to write, to practice the self-care I clearly need. Until then, I’m doing my best to focus on the positive, on the blue sky I know is there above the clouds and behind all this curmudgeonry and complaining.


The day did in fact improve, and with it my mood. I was able to get some real work done, more than I have in many weeks, and I even managed a smile while I did it. Everything just needs time. Everything changes, both for good and bad, in time. My sour perspective has brightened, and that’s good, but I am under no illusion that tomorrow I won’t have turned back toward the worst again. Good and bad, good and bad, they both come in their turn, in time.

273 // I am Stronger

Today is full of things I don’t want to do. My anxiety is sky high at the thought of some of these tasks and my mood soured knowing there is no good or guilt free way of getting out of them.

I’m still working with the new class of employees and though I’m comfortable with a lot of the material, there are some skills I’m very new to teaching and knowing that I will still fumble over my words, forget to mention things, and generally look like I don’t know what I’d doing or talking about. My worst professional nightmare.

I try to tell myself that worst case scenario is never as bad in reality as it is in my mind or and never feels as bad afterward as my body assures me it will when I’m caught up in my worry. I know what I am doing and I only have to follow my instincts and share my knowledge, experience, and perspective. I’ve earned the right confidence in my ability to do a good job.

Besides, the truth is I’m not really on my own today and nothing that needs to get done today is solely my responsibility or rests only on my shoulders. We’ve got this.


Had a strange interaction today during my class. I was teaching Crisis Prevention and Intervention a class in which we give employees the tools to verbally descalate crisis situations involving our students.

We teach that all behavior is communication. We teach that behavior influences behavior. We teach reestablishing rapport with our students after any conflict or crisis. We teach that physically intervening with students always involves risk of harm and should only be considered as last resort. We teach that during a physical intervention the safety of the student, the care and compassion for the student, and the consideration for what the student is trying to communicate through the physical outburst be considered throughout the crisis.

In the class was an ex-cop. This ex-cop did not seem to think anything I taught was of value. He rolled his eyes while I spoke. He closed his eyes as if to fall asleep. He did not participate in discussion except to contradict me and near the end he openly admitted that he took nothing away from the class.

This both infuriated me and hurt me. At first I wanted to fight back, to defend myself and my passion for this material and perspective. Then I considered the entire class, and I considered the chances that I might change this ex-cop’s mind and decided that being confident and secure in my viewpoint and intention was the best strategy I had to defend myself and the material.

I decided to preserve my peace of mind and ignore his outbursts and fits.

I decided that I am stronger than one man’s doubt. I always have been.


It’s debate night here in America. The first Presidential Debate is airing right now and I have to say, I have never been so visceral embarrassed to be an American. This is honestly the first time I have watched or listen to Trump for this amount of time and it’s quite…upsetting. The man can’t even follow simple debate protocol and rules. Biden hasn’t been perfect but he is not the one currently tasks with leading and representing this country and he is showing the world the very ugliest side of America.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum there’s no way you can watch this debate and not know deep down that something deep in the core of this country is badly broken. You can’t watch this and not see that something fundamental in the way we all think and engage with one another and with our politics needs to change.