Goals // Week 19: Time Without Work, Without Worry

This week I’m absolutely taking it easy. Between my birthday celebrations, Mother’s Day, upcoming weddings, and the world opening up in general, it suddenly it feels like there isn’t enough time to do all the things I have to do let alone anything I want to do or even to do nothing at all! I’m in desperate need of resting both my body and my mind, of finding time to be present, and of silence and solitude.

So, I’m keeping the goals light this week. The outside world is putting on the pressure and rather than pile on, I think it best to be kind to myself and provide some times of relief and release. There needs to be time for things I enjoy: writing of course, but other things too like podcasts, music, TV, games, walking outside, sleeping, laughing, and reading. Time spent not just without work but without worry too.

This week I will:

Finish writing my review of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and draft a piece for World IBD Day next week. I have the words written but the anxiety and resulting avoidance over editing and ending any piece of writing, no matter how trivial, continues to plague my existence. The only way through it is through it.

Read for 30 minutes every night before bedtime. Utterly failed at this goal last week, but I’m trying again. I’m already so behind in my reading goals for the year and every day the gap between where I should be and where I am grows. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself, but I can’t waste the days this way. If the trend continues, social media sacrifices will have to be made!

Make one or two black out poems. I’ve missed pouring over newspaper and magazine articles remixing the words of writers better than me into Instagram poetry. The results aren’t technically perfect, nor are the sentiments profound, but the work forces the mind out of its course and feeds creativity. More than that, it’s just plain fun!

Keep my headphones close. I’ve missed the magical way music can transform my mood into anything I want or need. Music can bring you up, bring you down, transport you far away, or bring you back to the present. When you are stuck behind a desk all day, wishing you were anywhere but here, music is the only way to travel.

Spend some time behind the wheel. For those new to the blog and unaware, I suffer from pretty severe driving anxiety. I rarely drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary, but I’m ready for more flexibility and independence in my life, and that means I have to face my fear and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s been far too long and I am far too late, but it’s better than never. I can do this!

This week I will not be so hard on myself. It’s been hard not to compare my place or progress with others. Everyone seems so capable and everything I do takes so much effort and half the time results in failure or disappointment. I know this is a problem of perspective, and I know that there are so many things I can do better than most. It’s just most days and in most situations, my soft skills seem of so little value.

This week I will work on finding my own way rather than going the way of others. I cannot do what others do and expect the same results others get. I am me, and I can only be me, and using my unique set of skills I can pick a path that feels a better fit, that feels a better journey, than struggling along someone else’s rocky way.


130 // Barely Getting By

Well, this Spring is continuing to bring more clouds and cold than sun or shine, and with it I’m continuing my trend of reclusivity and introspection.

I’m over these clouds and I’m over these pensive swings but rather than wishing for other weather or lighter moods, I’m planning on taking advantage of the ease with which words have been coming to me and spend my time in quiet focus.

The office is empty, and expectations of productivity are low. I’m grateful for the peace but it still doesn’t compare to being at home, cozy in bed, listening to the rain wash down the windows while I read a good book and sip a cup of strong coffee.

There clearly wasn’t enough weekend for me to do all the nothing I wanted because all I can think about now is the nothing I want to do the first chance I get but I expect that freedom won’t come until at least this coming Saturday morning. I’m imposing no expectations of rising early, writing, or working on anything at all. As good as moving through the tasks and to-dos feels, I think a day of doing nothing at all is long, long, long, overdue.

Until then, I’m simply putting one foot in front of the other. I’m breathing and barely getting by with the bare minimum. I’m surviving. I’m warning all my coworkers and loved ones alike—expect a complete lack of enthusiasm and eruptions of fiercely anti-social behaviors through the end of the day with relapses probable through the end of the week.

Sorry, not sorry.

129 // Tomorrows After

It’s getting easier. I woke just after my alarm and though my body protested and made sweet promises, if only I stayed in bed cozy under the covers, I still managed to make my way to the kitchen table to write. The words flowed without needing to be forced. And though I wish I could stay here all day, I’m happy enough with my progress that I can get on with the rest of the day free from resentments and regrets.

Coffee, as always, is the catalyst, but I’m starting to appreciate the motivating effects of a good breakfast and proper hydration. The mind, it turns out, is easier to wrangle when it isn’t preoccupied with your most basic biological needs.


I think this year’s Mother’s Day celebrations were a success! My mom was happy with her nails and the Your Mother’s Story Lined Journal I got her. She’s lead a remarkable and tragic life and I think it’s time we start writing some of her memories down and organizing them into something that could be passed down. My mother-in-law loved her homemade quiche and the signpost my wife built with all her children’s names and the number of miles away they are in any direction.

Now the focus turns to Father’s day, and then a barrage of birthdays through the summer and fall before the end of the year holidays. Looking ahead, suddenly, the time between now and 2022 seems too short and far too filled with stress. Suddenly, looking forward through time, I can feel my chest tighten with the panic of time tick, tick, ticking by. Suddenly life itself is too short.

And just like that, my mind has run away with me. Just like that I can start to spiral. This is why practicing mindfulness has become such a priority in my life. I tell myself that’s why a year lasts as long as it does. You cannot take it all in at once, the way my mind keeps trying to. You have to live it day by day, or, preferably, moment by precious and surprising moment.

This day, this holiday, was a good one. Tomorrow belongs to tomorrow and all the tomorrows after.

128 // Faster Than I Can Cope

Some days are easier than others, this one is proving a lot harder than most. The starting came easier than expected, but the my mood and motivation deteriorated soon after.

It’s the first of our Mother’s Day celebrations. I bought my mom a nice bouquet of flowers and an adorable cactus (her favorite plant) vase to set them in. We went out to the nail salon and had a girls’ day of being papered for a bit. Afterward was a delicious lunch at a restaurant nearby. The outing was fun, but by afternoon fatigue was setting in and my anxiety was rising.

It’s evening now and dark storm clouds are rolling in making me melancholy and lethargic. Looking forward to the next few days of dreary weather, I can’t help feeling pretty low. It seems no one day can ever contain only itself. No matter how hard I try, the past and the future seep in through the cracks faster than I can cope.

127 // Today Counts

It’s been quite a long week, but knowing that this is the last consecutive day that I will have to rise before the sun and head off to work puts my mood miles ahead of where it’s been these past few days.

A good night’s sleep has eluded me since midweek at least, and last night was no different, though the morning headache that’s quickly become my new normal was either less intense, or has become easier to bear with time. Either way, today counts as a good day, or at least I’m choosing to fudge the criteria and to have it included.

The gorgeous weather we are having helps. Looking ahead, dreary downpours and thunderstorms are forecasted for the next four days. I’m not happy about that, but the clouds are not under my control and dwelling does no good. Instead, I made time during lunch for a walk and ate outside to soak up as much sunshine and warmth as I could to see me through.

In addition, the workload is light, all the bosses are out, and there are plenty of coworkers around to get the work done early. Stress levels are low and coping is coming easily. Worries and thoughts of impeding doom feel far away, and I am grateful.

May these kinds of days come more frequently, and may I learn to recognize them more easily when they do.

126 // This is My Situation

I spoke too soon. Life, it seems, will go on swinging wildly between progress and regression, between good and bad days—sometimes between good and bad hours—and within the days and hours my moods will oscillate too from elated to despondent and back again.

I’m entirely overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions and find myself overcome with anger, sadness, grief, worry, and, occasionally, even hope at the most random times of day. Tears well up and my laughter comes too loud or fast. I’m outgoing one minute and longing for silence or searching for corners to hide away in the next. Motivation and lethargy come and go, and any minute I feel faced with a new version of myself I do not recognize.

I’m hoping these choppy seas will settle soon and I’ll find days of smooth sailing again. For now, the key is acceptance. This is my situation. These are my circumstances. Nothing can change what’s come before, only what happens now and even much of that is beyond my control.

I have to learn to be like the very waters I wish to navigate.

125 // Character Development

It’s amazing how much difference a week or two can make. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around and how easy, and just how agonizingly hard it can be too.

Something in me has certainly shifted. I know the when, but the why eludes me. To be honest, I’m not looking too closely. I have a tendency to over-analyze and agonize over questions that have no answers, a habit which only ever results in steep losses in motivation or opportunities. I’m planning on spending this cycle of ups in pure gratitude. I’m simply thankful for the energy and the inspiration.

I’ve been improving on nearly every level. I’ve obviously been writing more, and my health has been improving too, though I’m watching closely and cautiously. I’m concerned much of my progress is due to medications that I am going to quickly be weaning off of soon. There is a strong possibility I will start heading back downhill within weeks, and an almost certainty that I will within months or a year at most.

It’s nice to feel a little more like my old self and to get back to cultivating some of my old habits and goals. I’m waking up earlier in the morning. I’m meditating again. I’m sustaining energy levels for longer and longer. It’s getting easier and easier to do the hard things now. A sense of discipline and willpower have returned. I’m still waiting on enthusiasm and some social skills to return, but there’s no rush yet on those.

The life lessons are coming rapidly, too. I’m learning to take problems and worries as they come. I’m learning not to get too far ahead into places I don’t want to be or places that don’t serve me. I’m learning to have patience, to be resilient, to be understanding where I can be and to uncompromising when my principles are on the line.

This is certainly the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I look forward to further character developments, a change of setting and circumstance, and the possibility of a new plot.

124 // Heavy

The days never look as good while you are working your way through them as they do in retrospect. Yesterday, for example, felt slow, drab, and unproductive throughout but looking back over my goals and to-dos from this tomorrow I can see quite a lot actually got done and I’m proud.

My hope is that today will be the same. The sun is out at least, and that is a vast improvement already. It good to have gotten through Monday, and so far I’m plodding along pretty steadily from task to task. My workload is a little heavier but if I use my time mindfully this shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m struggling to want to write, but having the hour scheduled for later helps. I can focus on taking notes, freewriting, and thinking which has always been my favorite part of writing. That and the “having written“.

I thought I’d tackle a book review next. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve shared my thoughts on any recent reads. The books I tend to enjoy are so heavy though, it makes it hard to be light-hearted or short-winded. It makes it hard not to give the whole book away.

I think more light-hearted writing is in order though, to balance so much of my heavy feeling. I’ve always tended to take life and myself far too seriously and that makes for hard writing and I worry it makes for hard reading too.

123 // Use These Swinging Moods

I woke this morning to yet another cold and dreary day. I don’t mind rain so much, usually, but we’ve had quite a lot of it and none of it’s been quite the right kind. It’s been the all day gray and depressing stuff, not the swift and severe kind that roll in through the summer afternoons that I love so much.

It’s hard to focus today, though I have very little around to serve as any distraction. The mind always finds a way, it seems. I’m far too fatigued and unfriendly feeling to get anything done for myself or for anyone else.

I don’t expect the clouds or the chill to lift until tomorrow, neither do I hope for my mood to improve until the sun peeks out again. I’m learning to use these swinging moods of mine to my advantage. A drab day doesn’t have to mean being listless or low, it can mean being pensive and purposeful. It can mean time to pull inside myself and pull at what’s been building or bothering.

When the blue sky returns I will emerge again, to focus on interaction, inspiration, and input, but today is for introspection, silence, and solitude and there isn’t a thing at all wrong with that.

Goals // Week 18: Simply Flowing

This week marks the beginning of a new month and what I hope will finally be the end of wintery cold and clouds. I’m looking forward to the sun, Spring finally springing, and to the world opening up, to life returning everywhere.

It isn’t a particularly busy time at work right now. Instead, it’s a time of preparing. The school year will end in just a few short weeks and though the vast majority of the kids will be enjoying their summer break, there is still work to be done as we ready for the next year to begin. There is summer school, trainings, conferences, renovations and purchases to make, and a plethora of policy changes to implement.

This week I’m dividing my time. I’m preparing at work and I’m pulling away for my own passions too. I have returned to writing and I don’t want to lose my motivation or momentum by either looking away or looking too closely. This week I’m simply flowing.

This week I will:

Continue meditating. I let the practice go some months ago, and the failure hit me so hard I haven’t been able to return until last week. It hasn’t been easy to get return to either. I’m fidgety and mind wanders far too easily, but I’m learning not to resist them but to let them come and then let them go. A much-needed lesson in these trying times.

Set aside one hour a day of writing. Ideally, this will be the first hour I am home directly after work. No one is expecting anything from me during that time, and I am generally alone. I will sometimes use that hour for a quick nap or to take care of neglected house chores, but that is only a way of procrastinating that I think will result in less guilt. It doesn’t.

Use all other free time for doing the “fun” parts of blogging. Reading, commenting, image searching, idea generation, and design are all things I tend to do instead of actually tying words onto the screen. The point of the scheduled hour is two-fold, to remember when to write and to be able to give myself permission not to write.

Read for 30 minutes every day. The next TBR to tackle is Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail by Frances Fox Piven. It’s a great book and the difficulty I face trying to finish it is through no fault of the author. I simply struggle to concentrate while reading from a screen, but like all things I expect I only need more practice. This week’s lunch hours are allocated for the work.

Finish one blog post this week. I have many drafts started and plenty of notes and free writing done, but nothing edited and nothing ended, which is always the hardest part for me. This week I’m going to stick to my writing schedule and tackle the drafts one by one. Hopefully next week I can hope for two blog posts! Bonus: Wrap up one newsletter draft as well.

This week I will not put too much pressure on myself. Things have been enjoyable lately and I don’t want to lose that feeling. I want to write, and read, and learn, and connect, but I don’t want it to be work and I don’t want it to be hard. I want these goals to be a source of joy and peace, not a reason to have to negotiate or berate myself.

What doesn’t feel good or right will go, and what works will go on working for me as long as it will. Change is not only welcome, it is sought, and I’ve decided too that it shouldn’t hurt. It just shouldn’t be this hard. The rest of life already is. What you give and ask of yourself should be the balance.


Photo by Tom Robertson on Unsplash