Hello 2018 // A Good Year for Dreams to Begin

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I wrote yesterday that ending of a year is a strange time. Of course, there is no difference in who we are or how the rest of the world behaves from December 31st to January 1st, not any more different from any other two days, but something is different though isn’t it. Something about changing the date from 2017 to 2018 changes everything else too.

This morning when I woke I felt a kind of pressure in my chest. I felt full of potential and possibility, and I felt afraid. I didn’t want to explore that feeling. If you don’t acknowledge it, you don’t have to face it right? If you never dare to dream, then you never have to regret your choices or hate yourself for being so cowardly. You never have to try, or fail, or try again and fail again. You can just float through life all the way to the end. Easy peasy.

But what a waste, and I should know, I have been floating along for a very long time. I have been lucky that happiness, for the most part, made its way to me, but lately, I’ve wanted to find a kind of happiness I had gone after myself. I wanted to feel I had earned something.

This year, I need a win! It would feel so good to have something to bring to my family and friends to show them that I wasn’t a loser or a failure. It would be nice to have them feel proud of me. It would be nice to know they didn’t think I was wasting my time. I need to prove that I’m more than a mere dreamer. I want to be a doer too. Maybe I need to believe those things about myself first.

So, I am going to explore that feeling of possibility and potential. I am going to dream big impossible dreams about all the things I want to have and do, and little impossible dreams about what kind of person I want to be deep down inside.

I’ve written a list of 100 dreams that I thought were impossible but aren’t actually impossible at all. It was only that I had convinced myself I couldn’t do because it was too terrifying to imagine a life where I could. Dreaming and trying, focusing and making a real effort, believing in myself and finding the strength to love myself enough not to get lazy, undisciplined, or timid, that is how I will get through my list. This is how I will make my life into the one I’ve wasted all this time dreaming of.

Of course, I can’t tackle all 100 dreams in the short course of one year, but I can start with just a few. Some highlights include:

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1. Get over my driving phobia
2. Get my driver’s license

This has been on every New Years Resolution list I have made in my adult life, and every year I fail, but going into 2018 I feel closer than ever to getting it done. I have been driving, to and from work, to the store up the street, and around the neighborhood,  up until a little over a week ago. Then the weather turned nasty here, and I didn’t feel ready yet to drive in the snow without having a full on panic attack.

But the roads are all cleared now, and I go back to work tomorrow, so back behind the wheel, I go. I don’t want to lose all that progress, and I don’t want to go on letting everyone, most importantly myself, down. I will get through this by the end of the year. I have to because I can’t keep relying on others to get me where I need to go, and I want to because there are so many places I want to go and things I want to do and driving is the only way to get there.

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59. Journal every day
60. Hand make all of my own journals

I already try my best to write in my journal every day, but buying the same old journal, again and again, is sucking the fun out of the habit. It’s boring and monotonous. It’s the same pages every day, with the same number of lines and even if I bought a notebook full of grid or dotted pages they would get just as boring eventually too. Why not pages that were all different? Some ruled, some dotted, some with a hexagon pattern, and some that were completely blank? What about some different color paper, something that pops! Hot pink or bright yellow?

I’ve been looking for a new hobby, something I can do with my hands, in the real world. I want to make something beautiful and useful, and a new journal, one I might enjoy writing in again, sounded like an easy enough place to start.

I found a tutorial by Sea Lemon on YouTube and decided to start making my own journals this year. It feels right that a writer should make their own tools don’t you think? So, a new notebook, and maybe a few notepads, and a pocket notebook, and a planner, and maybe a bullet journal for my sister and if people like them maybe I can make a few more for anyone at all who would like one.

I also have a lot of pages piled up just waiting to be made into a brand new art journal for number 72, “Complete one year of a creative habit.” Then maybe next year I can get to number 52, “Learn to paint with oils or acrylics?”

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48. Publish a book of essays and poetry

This one is the hard one. This one is what my year will be all about. This one will take discipline, and focus, and hard everyday effort! I’m starting with 400 words a day, no matter what. No matter how tired I am, no matter what else I am doing, no matter how much I don’t want to. 400 words a day that is all I have to do. I don’t have to write something great. It just has to be honest, and it has to be mine.

I’m not trying to get rich, I’m only trying to say something. I plan to self-publish whatever it turns out to be on my own when I am ready, and I will consider the dream realized if I can get 5 whole people, who I don’t know, to buy a copy of the damn thing.

I have other writerly dreams too. Number 46 is “Publish a sci-fi/dystopian fiction novel.” Number 47 is “Publish a graphic novel.” Those are big, and very far away dreams but number 49, “Publish 2 blog posts a week” and number 50, “Publish a zine” feel very doable for 2018, I think.

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66. Read 30 books a year

This is another repeat resolution. Every year I set a goal of 30 books on Goodreads, and every year I fall short, but by a little less each time. Last year I read 22 books, my best yet. I got stuck a few time on books I didn’t enjoy and out of sheer pride refused to let them win and move on. This year things are a little different. This year I will move on when books aren’t interesting to me, and come back to them when I have the strength to try again. Some books take more than one introduction to click. It has to be the right time for you to meet you know.

I’m also going to work on number 58, “Get a library card.” I had one, many years ago but I checked out more books than I should have once and never got them back, and I’m afraid of how much money I might owe to be allowed the privilege again. But books aren’t cheap, and I don’t have the room to bring a brand new one home to stay every few weeks. I’m also going to give ebooks another chance. Number 67 is “Read more philosophy books,” and I happened to have a list of 135 completely free ones! And when I get tired of those there are many more authors, genres, and topics to turn to, all for free too of course.

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37. Start running
38. Join a gym, attend regularly
39. Make meditation and yoga a daily habit
40. Become a weekday vegetarian

And finally, finally, I have come to my last resolution, so common and prone to failure I almost chose not to include it, get healthier. I want to start a running habit. It seems like the easiest place to start. Even if I just went once around the block, it would be better than all the couch surfing I am doing now.

Then there is a gym up the street. Walking, or rather, running distance away from my house. If I could prove myself by running every day for a month or two, maybe I could trust myself with a gym membership. I could cycle, take classes, I wonder if they have yoga? And then, I could take the two nights a week I don’t eat meat and make it 5 days a week. A weekday vegetarian doesn’t seem so hard.

As you can see, I’m trying to take it easy and make small improvements to my routine. Too many people try for a 30-minute hardcore workout every day of the week with a goal weight and a brand new radical diet. I have no goal weight, and I have no diet restrictions, as of now. I’m just going to try, and if I can just do that much, I can’t fail.

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One hundred dreams feels like a lot, and I doubt the list could be completed in one lifetime. I doubt I would want to complete it. There are things on there I may want to do now, but five years from now or more I might change my mind. So, the list is a dynamic one. Not only will I be crossing things off, but I’ll be tweaking, and adding, and deleting from them too.

Hell, the list isn’t even finished yet! I made it to 85 things before the ball dropped last night and I thought I’d give myself some time to figure out the last 15. There is no rush after all. I have my whole life to figure it out, I only have to remember that lives tend never to last as long as we hope they will. I have time, but I better get started, and no time is better than the first day of a brand new year.

But what about you? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Do you believe they can actually work? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

― Neil Gaiman

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Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Check out my complete list of 100 Dreams, or what I have so far anyway and if you make one yourself, feel free to drop the link in the comments so everyone can check it out.

Featured photo is by Josh Boot on Unsplash

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2016 Dreams and Resolutions 

I can’t believe it will be a whole new year in just a few short hours. It snuck up on me this time, I thought I had more time than I did and I feel a little unprepared to start a new chapter in my life. There was so much more I wanted to do this year but I have to be content with what I did. Time neither stops nor slows for anyone right?

So instead I am thinking of all I want to accomplish in the next chapter, and working on a plan to get it done.

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Make my health a priority. I turned 30 this past year and I had to face the fact that I am never going to be young and carefree the way I was in my twenties. I can’t go on acting like I’m invincible, I have to start thinking about how I am going to live a longer life, and that means taking better care of myself. So this year I want to:

  • Join a gym. There is literally one walking distance from my house now. I have no excuse not to do this.
  • Start a meatless-Monday tradition. Studies have shown that red and processed meat can increase your cancer risk, so I’m going to start cutting back.
  • Buy a longboard. I want to do more to be active than just going to the gym. I need an activity that gets me out in the sun and moving and longboarding looks like a good time.
  • Stay smoke-free. No more putting poison in my body. I have gotten through the worst of quitting, and I know every day will get easier.

 

Make learning something new a daily habit. This was also a resolution I had for 2015 and while I did better than 2014 I still wasn’t perfect. When things got hard I gave up, for months, and lost a lot of progress. This year I am going to remember that even a tiny bit of progress is good and not get so down on myself.

  • Finish learning Spanish with Duolingo. I love this app so much! I think I might actually be addicted to it. I do little Spanish lessons anytime I have more than 5 minutes free time. I have a long way to go still but I would love to be able to finish it this year, and maybe start German next?
  • Continue working on Codecademy and Khan Academy. I don’t have specific goals for these projects except to say I need to work on a little bit of a project there every single day. I am interested to see how far I can make it through each site learning resources after a whole year.
  • Read 30 books. I didn’t reach my reading goal in 2015 but I’d like to try again in 2016. This time, I have a daily goal of reading 10 to 20 pages which won’t be terribly time-consuming.

Do more writing, outside of this blog. Last year I had a few poems published in felan zine and it was a great feeling to know someone thought I was good enough to be included in their work.

  • Get published again, this time in a bigger publication. I’ll be on the lookout for other places to submit work. I want to have more to add under my list of writing accomplishments, I want to have some “writer’s cred”.
  • I want to publish my own work too. I want to become a better essayist and poet and publish and sell my own zine. I think it would be great fun and good practice to self-publish a small zine of my own.

Be a better blogger. I think I’ve done well for myself here, considering I am still new at this. I was Freshly Pressed, and I met and surpassed my goal of 1000 followers (I’m sitting at 1450 now). Next year I want to change things up a bit.

  • Focus more on quality, not quantity. With everything else I want to accomplish I may have to publish here less often but what I do publish will be of much better quality. I want to go more “in-depth” and learn to edit better.
  • I want to try for Freshly Pressed again. I got a lot of exposure for this blog and it was nice to feel some kind of confirmation that I was doing something good and right. I’d love to experience that again.
  • I also want to involve my readers more. I’m not sure how yet but maybe an event of some kind….

Become a better person. Resolutions are all about improving your life and character but I like to focus on exactly what that means for me.

  • Learn to be less afraid. I still haven’t gotten over my fear of driving. this year I need to practice more and get my licence finally. No more excuses! I can do this!
  • Become more aware of and more involved in civil rights and activist movements. I’m not looking to do anything radical, yet, I just want to help spread the word and be more informed about what’s going on in the world.
  • Embrace minimalism. Starting in January 1st, I will be doing a 30-day minimalism challenge. I want to learn to control my impulses and spend my money and time and what is really important or what I really want to do. Practicing a bit of minimalism can give you perspective on you wants vs your needs.

Do a whole bunch of fun stuff. A lot of these things I did last year but they were so much fun I want to do them all again. The new ones are to travel to another city in another state and

  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • See a concert at Red Rocks
  • Visit the Museum of Nature and Science
  • Visit the art museum
  • See a play
  • Go camping
  • Spend a day at the hot springs
  • Visit another city, in another state
  • Get another tattoo
  • Get another piercing, or stretch my ears up another size

And finally, and most importantly, get married already! My girlfriend and I have been engaged for over 2 years now and we just cannot get our shit together enough to plan and execute a damn wedding. This year we are going to finally make it happen.

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I may have chosen to do too much but I felt it better to aim too high than to sell myself short and aim low. I’d rather give my all and accomplish more of this than to put together some half-assed resolutions and accomplish it all.

So wish me luck in the New Year and know I wish you the same in return. Next year is going to be a good one for us all, I can feel it :)

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

— Neil Gaiman

 

Monday Motivation – Short and Sweet and Dreaming

I was stuck in meeting all morning and then there was work to do after the meeting so I am a little late in motivating myself for the week, seems Monday started before I was ready for it to. Because of that, and because my mind both tired and focused, I am going to keep this short and sweet.

This week I am thinking about my dream. I am thinking about the phrase, “don’t quit your daydream”. I never did quit it, in fact I am only just now realizing it. This week I am thinking about what I want to do and what steps do I need to take to get there. Of course that is a hard thing to know but I take feedback from the feelings I get when I step outside my comfort zone to try new things. I listen to my inner-self and move in the directions that only make feel good.

I feel good about writing and I daydream about being creative.

So this week I am going to get back to working on my editorial journal and moving toward writing better and more creative non-fiction. I have recently taken an interest in Brevity Magazine and I saw that they were open for submissions on the subject of gender.

Fun fact about me: I identify as “genderqueer”. That means, for me, gender is not as simple as male/female. I don’t fit easily into either definition and often feel like my gender is both male and female, neither male nor female, or something else entirely. I’m almost 30 and I didn’t know there was a term for how I felt until about a year ago.

I also recently found another magazine looking for submissions too, Hippocampus Magazine. I don’t know much about them but I am doing my research. They are looking for pieces on the theme of “Guilty Pleasures and Vices” and boy do I have plenty of those! The deadline is in May so I have time to get something together.

I don’t have high hopes that my work would be accepted considering how new I am to writing in any capacity, but why not try? Why not put real effort and thought into this and see what happens? I think at the very least it will be a learning experience and will force me to think about writing in a different light. Having my own blog is one thing but writing for submission is another.

I am also thinking about sharing more of what inspires me and what makes me want to be creative even when I don’t have the time to be. I recently read Austin Kleon‘s book, Show Your Work and it made me think differently about what it means to be an artist even when you are not making art. And about ways to share your process even before the process as begun.

In his first book, Steal Like an Artist I learning how to be inspired, or how to “steal” effectively. In Show Your Work I learned that sharing what inspires you is just as important as sharing your own work. So I will be looking for other writer’s and artists to write about, and maybe even interview in the future.

So that’s the focus this week, planning. Planning for moving forward and planning for doing things my future self will thank me for. The daydream is still foggy and out of focus but there is hope and there are options.

What are you doing this week to move you toward your daydream?

My Worst Fears

Fear is a hard thing for me to write about. Not because of of a fear of talking about fear but because I have so many fears! I am secretly full of anxiety everyday but I try my best to mask it. Fake it til you make it right? My worst fears center around the meaning of my life and the impact of my death. Two sides of the same coin really. I have written about this before. I think about death a lot, just about everyday. I worry I will die soon and I worry my life means nothing.

I’m afraid that if I died my girlfriend would be left alone and depressed. I’m afraid she would never recover from the loss of me. She keeps to herself a lot and doesn’t reveal her feelings often. I’m afraid if she lost me she wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. I’m afraid for her emotionally on so many levels. She needs me just as much as I need her. We take care of each other and I have tasked myself with being the keeper of her secrets. I know her better than anyone and I fear that if I died I would be taking a part of her with me.

I’m afraid that if I died my family would fall apart too. I worry about all of them so much and I worry that if I wasn’t here there would be no one left to worry. I also do my best to help them out whenever I can. I’m there for them emotionally and financially, although they haven’t needed me as much recently. I’m still here though and I worry about what would happen to them if they needed me and I wasn’t here. I also try hard to be the peace keeper. In the past this has often backfired on me but in the end we almost always work it out. I try to act as a go between and talk to all parties involved and help them understand that we are family and we need each other.

I guess also afraid if I died I’d miss out on their lives. I’m also afraid to mourn anyone. I don’t want to miss out on my niece and nephew growing up. I don’t want to miss my little sisters wedding. I don’t even want to miss my parents funerals. I am afraid of them dying too but I want to be there for my siblings when it happens. I want to be there to see my soon-to-be wife grow old. I want to be there to experience all the joys of life in my old age.

I also fear of finding out there was no point in me being on this earth at all. I’m afraid the I am the epitome of insignificance. What if I do die and no one really cares? What if I die and it’s like I was never even here. I want to have some impact on the world. I want my family to remember me but I also hope that I have some affect of the world outside of my small circle of friends and family. Guess that is why I’m here and why one day I’d like to write a book. I want shout something to the world before I’m gone. My hope is someone will hear me, and maybe that person will even begin to think about the way they live and make a change. Maybe they will pass on my message and maybe a few people will change. That’s my hope, but my fear is I am talking to a void and my life will have meant nothing.

And finally, I am afraid that my life actually does mean something. This clearly contradicts my fear of being insignificant but we all know the human mind often makes no sense at all. The saying “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind a lot. What if what I think I want isn’t what I want at all? The drive to be something in this world is incredibly pressuring. If I mean something then I have to always be aware of what I say and do. My actions will live on after I am gone and I would hate to be remembered as anything less than good. If I mean something than I have to try hard everyday. If I mean something then I have to be something.

I deal with these fears everyday. I do my best to accept and overcome them. Worrying about things I cannot change doesn’t help me at all. I have to just do my best to be good and make the best of the time I have with my loved ones. I have to try to be true to myself and make an impact wherever and whenever I can. Maybe I will get to live the life I want. A life of happiness and meaning. Or maybe I won’t but I do think I have done enough good and seen enough joy that I could die happy.

Prompt via the Daily Post’s Writing 101 course.