It doesn’t feel very much like a Friday. Getting up was very hard this morning. So hard I almost opted to spend the day in bed. I’ve decided I get one day a month to do nothing when I should be doing something but November’s mental health day has already passed.

So, I went in, and then worked much more than I wanted to. We moved around office furniture and I ate lunch at a desk. At least we ordered out and at least I got to eat with the best coworkers around. And now I’ve been left to work alone. I sound like I hate it but I’m flattered by the opportunity to play boss.

Looking back on the day I’m grateful for a job where I can get up and move, where I get to be with my friends and laugh, where I have a team and where I know I’m wanted and doing well. I don’t think most people have that.

I’m trying.

It has been a good week for reading. I finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky on Sunday, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller this morning, started Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and made slow progress through Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca nearly every day.

It feels good to spend so much time with books again, but I’m also disappointed and perplexed in my inability to keep up the habit given how much I enjoy it. Why am I like this? People are weird and I guess I am no exception.

This week is long, they always are after I take a day off. I think there is a lot of anticipation in the week too. It’s the last empty week of the year. After this there will be Thanksgiving, there will be Christmas shopping, there will be Christmas, and then there will be a whole New Year. It’s a week of waiting and waiting makes the time pass slow.

I started a new post for Z+P. I started with a quote and a dim idea and I’m just exploring it. I’m writing to figure out what I think rather than beginning with my point already in mind. I’ll grow this piece one sentence at a time.

It’s raining now, but it’s not the kind of rain I like. It’s the kind of rain that you know will turn to snow any second. It’s cold, dark, and dreary outside. It’s only 5:00 PM, but it feels like 8:00 PM. I hate winter, the time change, the weather, the feeling that there is nothing to do but sleep and work. I hardly see the sun anymore. Tomorrow is forecasted to be even worse. I don’t even want to think about the coming months.

I think this weekend I need to get out of the house. These last few weekends I’ve stayed inside to clean or to try to write but I suddenly feel cooped up. Maybe I’ll start my Christmas shopping early, or pick up the piece of art I won from the Octopus Initiative? I just need to get out.

The worst way to start the workweek is to start it on a Tuesday. Nothing went the way I meant for it to though it didn’t necessarily turn out bad. I’m off my path but I’m still moving and that’s something.

I did have time to catch up on some things here and to get some reading in but not much more. This evening I spent with my wife. Between work, my personal pursuits, and my poor health there has been little left of me for her at the end of the night. I have to be mindful of the time I give to her just as I do the time I claim for myself and I realize that lately I have been coming up short.

The rest of the week looks bleak with lots of work, cold temperatures, and snow. I’m ready for the weekend again already.

I took off from work today to act be an “emotional support sibling” for my youngest sister. I can’t say why (it’s not my story to tell) but I will say that I enjoy the hell out of helping her whenever I can.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way every (or at least a vast majority) of our acts of kindness come tinged with self-interest. I used to feel bad about it but, hell, if helping someone else makes me feel good too isn’t that just twice the reason why we should be kind? Knowing this, accepting this, has not only made compassion feel even better but has freed me from the pressure to always put myself first.

Helping others is putting myself first.

Goals // Week 47

This week shouldn’t be any more difficult than the last. I have the same amount of work scheduled and the same surplus of free time. The trick will be the same as the trick always is, to be mindful of how I spend my time, to keep at it even when I don’t want to, and to be fiercely protective of my focus. 

This week I want to:

Listen to more music. I love finding new playlists to listen to while I work or write or read but lately, I have had to be so available for others that there is no time to tune out and focus. But, as someone who suffers from social anxiety and a tendency to overthink and succumb to irritable moods, music is a vital recalibration tool. Music is self-care. Bonus: Listen to more podcasts too!

Update: I made sure that when I was home, while cooking or washing dishes, I listened to a few songs at least. While I was at work I played my podcasts too though I dealt with so many interruptions that I can’t recall half of what I learned. Thank god for 1.5x listening speed!

Find a little spark for my next piece on Zen and Pi. I am excited to be publishing writing outside of my daily journals and life updates here but I’m feeling pretty low on direction and ideas at the moment. This week I will spend some time with pen and paper mind mapping and listing even the most uninteresting or absurd ideas. I would love to end the week with 5 things I’m excited to expand on.

Update: I found a small spark but I haven’t been able yet to coax it into a finished piece. I suppose that is okay. I told myself that as long as I made the effort every day I could take as long as I needed to publish any new pieces.

 Get through the first half of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky last night—finally!—and I’ve already picked up the next book. The Song of Achilles wasn’t supposed to be my next read, but I feel the need to switch gears and lose myself in fiction for a while.

Update: I got through ALL of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and the Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury too! I only wish I had had this zest and enthusiasm for reading months ago then I might not be so far behind my goal for the year.

Continue waking up on time every morning. I’ve been doing so well in the mornings and I really want that to continue for as long as possible. This week I’m going to remember that getting ready for any day begins the night before and that “5 more minutes” in bed never feels good and does great damage to the rest of the day.

Update: Why are mornings so hard for me? I’ve been working this early schedule for over 13 years now. When will I finally get used to the routine? Never probably. Oh well, all I can do is keep trying.

Finish my resume and prepare for an upcoming interview. This is exactly the kind of task that I would avoid doing until the last minute. I’ve never had a resume before. I don’t know what I am doing, I’m afraid of looking foolish, and I am afraid of failing. At the same time, I know it won’t actually take very long. My mind will convince me it’s ok to put it off. Do not listen! Bonus: Ask two or three trusted coworkers for a letter of recommendation too.

Update: I’m scared and feeling a little inadequate and avoidance is the only way I know how to cope. I have to stop though and before the end of Thanksgiving break I will have this done.

This week I’m going to build on the progress from last week but only an incremental amount, that is key! I’m still not feeling like my healthier self and I fear I’m getting worse all the time. I fear burnout, overstressing, and exhaustion. I fear there’s a high possibility that by midweek I’ll have done all I can and I’ll have to cut these goals short just to get through the workweek, and that will have to be okay.

P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 46.

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Other people are a prison, even when they are also a paradise. To balance freedom with expectation, your own needs and what they need from you, what you want me to be and who they wish you were is a daily struggle. I wonder sometimes who I would be if there were no other people in the world. Nothing like myself at all I suppose but what if everyone disappeared tomorrow? Who would I be without those eyes on me and the voices asking and imploring? Without ever having to wear the mask again would I finally get a chance to see myself fully? Would I be happy?

I don’t think so, now that I really try to imagine it. I quite like my paradise thank you very much, even when the bars become visible and I remember there is no way out.

Last night we went out for dinner and drinks with our “couples group”. I had a great time while we were out but all last night I laid wide awake in the dark replaying every interaction and word I said. I analyzed every response and tried to decipher tones and facial expressions looking for reasons to be embarrassed. I didn’t want to do this but my mind wouldn’t stop. The night was like a song stuck in my head. There was nothing I could do but wait it out.

I hate that I am like this.

My brother just called, waking me from a short nap I needed after my late night of self depreciation. He needs someone to watch the kids, and I am his last resort and hope. I agreed, reluctantly. I love my niece and nephew so much, but I am not good with kids. I prefer supervised visitations where I am not the sole responsible adult. I agreed though, it’s only for a few hours. My wife is on her way to buy snacks and we have Disney+ already up and ready.

Update: The kids were fine. We watched Frozen and Wreck It Ralph. We ate snacks. They broke a few things but nothing important. I feel much more confident and would agree to watch them again, but just as reluctantly as I did this time.

Today doesn’t feel very much like a Friday. Everything around me is happening so fast but time is crawling. I feel confused, clumsy, and very much in everyone’s way. I can’t keep up with the chaos today.

I’m here physically but mentally I’m just waiting around for the week to end. I’m unproductive and uncaring. I’m irritated with everyone else because I’m disappointed in myself.

There was so much I wanted to do but yesterday afternoon I lost the mojo I’d had all week. I suppose a day or two of rest is not only nothing to be ashamed of but also required. I just wish I could be more like everyone else and make it through the whole week before fizzling out.

I’m doing well again this morning. I have my energy back and my perspective is well to the positive side of things. I suspect the highs and lows I’ve been experiencing are hormonal, or maybe it’s only the weather, or maybe I’m not feeling anything abnormal at all. Maybe everyone goes through this.

There’s a new post up at Zen and Pi, the first new piece of writing there in a year or more, and a tweaked About page. It felt so good to write something outside of journal entries and updates that I am already hard at work on another. I’m hoping for weekly writing but will settle for biweekly or monthly if I have to.

The rest of the day I spent reading. I’m about 50 pages from finishing Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky and things are getting very exciting. I’m ready to give up the whole notion of free will and the tear down the entire justice system to make way for more understand, compassionate, and constructive institutions. As tough as this book has been, I honestly cannot wait to read it again someday.