Goals // Week 23: Some Kind of Normalcy

This week will be my third back to work and to some kind of normality. I’m easing into things and for that reason I haven’t really been pushing myself to set or meet any goals or expectations and I’m glad I had the foresight not to. These past weeks have been exhausting and there would have been almost no time or energy left to accomplish much of anything outside of basic self care.

This week I’m increasing my work hours from four a day to six and though there still might be nothing left of me at the end of the day for pursuing these goals, I want to try but with the compassionate caveat that my well being must come first. If I do nothing outside of work but sleep, shower, exercise, and hydrate that’s good enough for me. No regrets, no shame, no should-haves.

This week I will try to:

 Choose healthier alternatives. Every week I do a little better and this is the first week that almost no sugary sweets were purchased. (I couldn’t deny myself a little ice cream now that the weather is getting warmer but it, and any other sweets I manage to get my hands on, cannot be an everyday indulgence.) There are health goals to meet and my gut health to think about right now. This week I have dried fruit, fresh mango, cuties, and cashews to have in place of fruit snacks and chips. There should be no reason to give in to passing craving or moments of weakness.

Have one TV free evening. I’ve been watching a lot more TV since the pandemic began, but now that my strict quarantine is over I’d like to break the habit and spend my evenings doing other things. I’d like it to be the same night every week, Tuesdays perhaps, when I have no new episodes premiering and when I won’t have to stop whatever project I’m working on to cook dinner. That’s up to 6 hours straight that I could give to collage, writing, reading, or a free online course. Bonus: Give up one episode every other night of the week too.

Write my first in a series of 52 weekly essays. I’ve been wanting to start an essay a week project, but it never feels like the right time. When I’m ready, the ideas are hard to find and when I have the ideas life gets in the way again. Deep down I think I’m just afraid of writing poorly or failing to meet my own expectations, but it’s time to let go of that fear and begin. The first one is always the hardest to write. No mistakes have been made and if I never start, I’ll never have to face not being perfect but I need to let go of that hope too so I might one day be good.

Read. Every night I am supposed to turn off all screens 45 minutes before bedtime and head to bed where I read as much as I can before lights out. Lately I’ve been staying up too late watching one or three more episodes of mindless TV instead. I just bought a new cover and a few reads for the iPad I’ve repurposed into an e-reader and I have over 60 books left in my Penguin Little Black Classics book set. There is no reason I should still be two books behind schedule right now.

This week I will not lose the progress I have made over the last two weeks. I’ve been eating on a regular schedule, taking my medication every day, workout out every morning, and spending more time on self care than ever. I’m proud of myself for not letting anxiety or fatigue get in the way of these basic habits I’ve worked so hard to fold into my daily routine and make automatic, regular, and easy to do every single day. They are small, but they are the building blocks of grander goals. They are the foundation of feeling good and journeys to happier and healthier.


Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

152// Only Choices

This morning is an emotional one. Nothing seems to be going right and everything is hurting my feelings. I so worked up and so down I just want to go back to bed for a while and try again in a few hours when I’m calmer, stronger. That isn’t an option though. There are no do overs, only choices, and though I can’t always choose how I feel, I can choose to do things I know will make me feel better.

The to-do list is long, but that’s okay. I always feel better after knocking out a few chores and projects. I have no hopes for any writing getting done and I think it best I not set myself up for failure and disappointment by putting those expectations on myself.

Today just breathing and being a good partner to my wife will have to be enough.

I’m somewhat worried to return to work tomorrow. The news cycle has been overwhelming these past few days and my anxiety and anger is at a level where the wrong word from a coworker on the subject could push me to explode. I’m an opinionated person and I work with other opinionated people and we as a group are from varied and widespread along the socioeconomic levels and points along the political spectrum.

I’m of the philosophy that if you force me to listen to your opinion, you will have to listen to mine. I can turn any discussion into a debate and more often than not I am more informed and more passionate than my opponent. People don’t like to engage with me on these kinds of issues and that is just fine with me. I have better places to expend my energy, anyway.

151// Celebration

It was a late start this morning, but after a long week of early exercise and hours spent at work, I felt like I deserved to sleep in a little. I almost wish I hadn’t though since the garage was that much hotter when I went to do my regular workout. I’m glad I still did it though. Breaking the chain would be devastating to my motivation right now.

This afternoon is my little brother-in-law’s graduation celebration. It’s going to be a small affair. Just my wife and I, her mom and dad, and her brother. We’ve got gifts, and cake, and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. I feel so bad for him, and all 2020 graduates this year. It’s bad enough to miss something like a birthday but to have your once in a lifetime accomplishment and recognition pretty much cancelled and the celebration greatly reduced is so sad. We did our best, but I know it isn’t the same at all.


The celebration is over now and I’m back home and I just received a notification on my phone that there is a curfew in place for the city of Denver. I had thought that though there was destruction and clashes with the police downtown last night that it was minor. I had even laughed it off earlier this morning, but now I’m growing anxious. I’m safe. My loved ones are safe, but my community isn’t.

I’m afraid of the escalation. I’m afraid of what will happen to these protestors. I’m afraid they will be suppressed and silenced by the very police force and government they are decrying. I’m afraid nothing will change and people will go on dying and living in fear forever. I’m afraid in my fear I will do nothing.

150// I Hope

The end of the week is here and I couldn’t be more relieved. I need a break from it all. I need a break from the who rest of the world.

The news is a lot today. I feel tense and useless. I feel a fear that encompasses the whole world and an anger that I don’t know where or how to direct. I am profoundly sad and though I don;t quite feel I deserve to use the term, there is something like grief trying to burst from my chest.

It’s strange to be of mixed race in times like these. To contend with your own privilege, your alienation from two communities, the hate you have for half of who you are and the hate you feel radiating down from half your history. I don’t know where my place is in all of this. I’ve never really known.

I do know how I feel and where I’d like to be but I’m not sure I’m welcome and maybe that is me being to sensitive, insecure, and self-centered. Maybe you aren’t given or offered a place. You have to find it. You have to make it.

I am one of the lucky ones though. My mother, my white mother, text me early this morning in full outrage over the murder of George Floyd and the heinous tweets from the president. I know she is afraid too. I know everyone is.

I thought about going to protest today or tonight, but I’m already seeing reports of tear gas so thick it’s hard to breathe downtown. I hope all the protesters stay safe. I hope that justice is served and that this time the world wakes up and make some long overdue changes. I hope, I hope, I hope…

149// Easier and Easier

Every day gets a little better. The morning workout started a little late, but it got done and though everything was pushed back, I still beat my coworkers in after all.

Work is easier and easier and I’m getting more and more used to the new way of doing things and my new role in the district. It feels good, but to be honest I miss the quarantine days of doing nothing at all. There is so much time and energy I’ve had to give up again. I’ve not been able to find a balance between what I want to give away and what I want to keep, but in time I hope a schedule, a norm, a rhythm will fall into place.

I miss writing though. I wish I had done more of it over the last few months, but all the uncertainty of the world got in the way. I’d like to learn to channel those emotions rather than let them bury me. I’d like to learn not to question and regret every choice too.


The evening was hard. I fell asleep after work again and when I woke up I was crunched for time to finish the cleaning and cook dinner. There was no time for a walk and just about everything that could go wrong did. By the time I sat down to eat I was sore and feeling very sour. Nothing is right, and nothing can be made right. I’m angry and I’m tired and I don’t know how to stop feeling this way.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way in recent weeks and it feels like it’s growing more and more frequent.

148// I Feel So Powerless

For the second day in a row I have managed to drag myself out of bed and out to the garage for an early morning workout before heading to work. Day two isn’t much but it’s better than giving up after you barely did anything on day one and made yourself nauseous and had to stop. I think I haven’t been warming up as well as I should but I found a five minute full body warm-up that does the job and can be done two or three times on the cold or particularly groggy days.

The work day was easy. I had more energy than yesterday and made more progress than I have all week. I’m still working half days for now but starting next week I might move up to six. We’re doing our best to stay safe but it’s hard to get anything done when you only have four hours and much it feels like you spend half of them washing your hands and wiping down surfaces.

There are a lot of rumors flying about the next school year. Some are saying that depending on whether there is a spike or surge in Covid-19 cases it’s possible we may not start on time. I’ve heard there are even districts that are thinking of starting early in case we have to shut down again in the winter. There is talk of unpaid furlough days and severe cuts to hours. It’s all very scary but I’m trying to remember that for one, I am one of the lucky few who will be paid no matter whether we shut down again or not, and two, none of this is knowable or within my control so worrying is useless.

Spent the afternoon after work cleaning the house and avoiding social media. I cleaned the kitchen. Made coffee for the rest of the week. Washed our masks. Cleaned out a bag each of waste and trash from the basement and the garage. I’m doing anything I can to to keep myself offline. I’ve seen the videos and read reactions of anger from both sides. I know where I stand but in yet another situation where I feel so powerless and vulnerable I have to step back to keep myself from being overwhelmed by grief, anger, and fear.

147//366

For the second time in less than a week they have shut the water off at my workplace and I have opted to go home early. I just don’t feel comfortable being there when I know I won’t be able to wash my hands as often and neither will my coworkers. It worked out great anyway because I needed to head to our west location free Covid-19 infection and antibody testing was being offered.

Before the shut down my wife had a nasty respiratory infection. I didn’t think much of it at the time, even though her symptoms were pretty bad. Now I wonder if she had a milder version. It’s possible, and it’s possible I was asymptomatic after being exposed. It’s much more possible she had a more common infection, and I didn’t get sick because we were careful to keep her in another part of the house and to disinfect high-touch areas even then.

Either way, I would like the peace of mind of knowing whether I may have any immunity or not, and whether others may have been put at risk or not.

I was home in time for lunch and spent the afternoon trying my best not to take a nap. It helped to stay at the desk, to make a list of the things I needed to do, and to have my wife sit across from me and work on her own projects to motivate me. I still have hours left to fill before bed time but as long as I stay well away from the couch or the bed I should be fine.


Going back to work means having less time in the morning to check the news or keep up with social media. After lunch I logged into Twitter and was quickly overwhelmed. I’d already heard about the confrontation in Central Park, but the stories seemed to have reached every corner of the internet, and then I saw the video of George Floyd being restrained by police officers. It hurt to watch. I’m still hurting. With everything that’s going on, you’d think the world would be coming together, but instead I only see more and more hate every day.

It isn’t just these incidents. The videos of protesters calling for us to accept more death and of essential workers and concerned citizens being spit and coughed on is weighing on me too. This amount of hurt only brings more hurt because every time we hurt one, we hurt the whole and when we kill one we kill a part of the whole we can never bring back. I wish more people knew that.

146//366

Today is a much better day. I haven’t felt this good, productive, and focused since last Friday. I still didn’t get out for my walk but I spent the morning clearing out space in the garage and moving in our old elliptical machine, my weights, and a yoga mat to make a dedicated space to work out. I think having spent the last few months cooped up into just the four main rooms in the house makes knowing I have a new place to go to move my body really exciting.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to wake up a full 45 minutes early to head down there and do what I can of a small work out. I’m still trying not to push myself too hard, but I’m also trying to make an impact on my weight, energy levels, and muscle tone.

After lunch I took another one of those too long and too deep naps I’ve gotten into the bad habit of slipping into. I was initially angry with myself for losing so much time again but the truth is I need it and though I don’t know exactly why it’s good to just listen to my body right now and give it what it needs.

I’m glad I did too. After I woke up my mood was greatly improved and Iwas able to get some cleaning done, prepare for work tomorrow, do some small self-care things, and finish reading Woman Much Missed by Thomas Hardy. It feels good to do the hard things that you know will make you feel better instead of the easy things you know won’t. I wish I had the willpower and the good health to do it all the time.

The holiday is an afterthought, I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t care about our fallen solders or because I don’t love my country or my freedom enough. It’s just that there is so much else on my mind. I’m grateful to every solders sacrifice, but the feeling is overshadowed by the gratitude I feel for those making sacrifices right now. I hope the fallen and their families can understand.

And anyway, and the unofficial start to the summer is no longer the celebratory time it used to be. There are no backyard barbeques, no pools or amusement parks opening, no festivals or events to look forward to. Summer will not begin for a very long time, if at all.

145//366

The weather has turned gloomy and cold outside and my mood has almost no chance of improving from yesterday. I still haven’t found a way out of this funk. I’m still irritable and down. I’m on the edge and everything feels like too much, or not right, or bothersome. I don’t want to do anything but not doing anything makes me feel, at best, guilty, and, at worst, angry, with myself and whoever happens to be around.

A lot of it might be because I skipped my morning walk. I forgot how much I need the fresh air and the perspective during these times. The little route around the neighborhood is a kind of walking meditation now, especially since I make sure not to take my phone out or put my headphones in. Those 20 minutes spent unplugged front the world mean more than I realized.

Then again, maybe it isn’t the walk, or maybe the walk is only part of it, a symptom of something much bigger.

Maybe I thought going back to work would help, and it turns out that having nothing at all to do but sit at home and go to work is worse than just sitting home. Maybe giving over all my energy and capacity to my coworkers and our simple duties left me with nothing for myself. Maybe the combination of isolation and loneliness coupled with increased fear and anxiety may just have pushed me over the edge of hopelessness and melancholy.

Maybe I’ve lost a sense of importance and purpose of my job over these past few months. My work is not essential and with everything going on the risk hardly seems worth it right now, for any of us. Maybe I’m a little angry too at being asked to come back before there are concrete answers about the virus and the future.

144//366

You ever have a bad day but can put your finger on any one thing that happened to make you feel that way? Today was one of those days.

Nothing feels right today. Nothing is what I want or need. I don’t want to do anything and I don’t want to do nothing. I don’t want to be left alone, but I don’t want to talk or be touched. I’m tried but I can’t sleep. I want to eat, but not because I’m hungry. I want to feel better, but I’m stuck in this perspective and I can’t see any way out.

I was able to knock a few things off of the weekend to-do list, but it was a battle the whole way. From my morning walk, to taking care of the pets, to cleaning and cooking, and even in leisure I fought myself, ridiculed myself, made deals and manipulated myself to try to elicit some change, some motivation, some better version of myself I knew was buried.

I may have won a few battles, but the war feels like a lost cause. So, I accept the facts in front of me. It’s a bad day then and there’s nothing left to do now but wait until tomorrow and hope.