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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Currently // December 2017: Nothing Has Changed, but Everything is Different

The ending of a year is always a strange time, but ending this particular year is quite a bittersweet thing. This past year was full of disappointments, death, and shocking setbacks but so many of us learned so much about ourselves and the world around us, and we came together! We grew stronger! And we’ll grow stronger still. A new year might be starting, but the same old work has to be done. So much has changed, but so much is still the same too. We have to bring 2017 into 2018 with us, as much as it hurts and as hard as it is.

With that in mind, while I have quite a few resolutions—big and small, personal and more worldly too—for the coming year, I only have one intention, to make an effort, to keep making an effort, every single day. No one really believes that these new year’s resolutions work because we give in, give up, and let it go until another year ends and another year begins, and we try to try again. But why waste so much time? Three months from now, when the effort gets hard, and the missteps start adding up, don’t give up.

I won’t give up. I will start again, a new me with renewed effort.  Every day is a new chance to start over. Every day I can be a new me, not just once, not just at the start, because there is no start, and the end was all in your head. You, I, we, we have to start looking at this a little differently. Discipline, focus, effort, those are the words we have to bring with us into the new year.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing slowly. Starting this year, I will be trying a new way to write. I am going to try word counts. I’ve never been good at them because on days when I don’t want to write it feels like torture and when writing feels like torture I write crap. But, I’m wondering if 400 words of crap might be better than no words at all. So, I’m starting with 400 a day of words that aren’t for this blog. It’s not a lot, but if I start with 750 or 1000, I’ll fail by January 31st. I’m going to start slow and give myself a chance to make a real habit of writing again. Slow and steady through 2018 is the goal.

Making a new journal, and some other bookbinding and paper goodies. I love writing by hand. Every day I fill in two pages of my Moleskine large ruled notebook, but I’m coming to the last pages of this one. As much as I love this brand, it’s pretty boring to look at, so, I’ve decided instead of buying another, I’m making my own, and I plan to make it very interesting. In the process of researching how to do it, I came across a lot of tutorials and inspiring examples that made me want to try other things, notepads, pocket notebooks, planners, etc. I need to make something with my hands and, loving words, and reading, and paper the way that I do, bookbinding feels like a good place to start.

Anticipating  So much pop culture goodness in 2018. There’s going to be some amazing movies dropping: Black Panther in February, A Wrinkle in Time in March, and Solo: A Star Wars Story in May, and the TV shows: A Handmaid’s Tale, and the return of Westworld, plus Game of Thrones, and maybe Atlanta. Oh, and the winter Olympics!

I’m also looking forward to the 2018 midterm election with great enthusiasm and anxiety. I’m hoping for a blue wave to wash across this country and cleanse the bad taste left in my mouth from the last round. I’m hoping we can take back our dignity and have faith once again, for the first time, in our institutions. I’m hoping the course can be corrected and compassion will return to Congress, for the first time, too.

Reading The Oresteia by Aeschylus. A trilogy of Greek tragedies—“Agamemnon,” “The Libation Bearers” and “The Eumenides”—that follows members of House of Atreus through murder, revenge, and eventually the end of a family curse. Apparently, it is the only surviving example of such a play and considered Aeschylus’s best work. I had never heard of it before but instead chose it from the many used books I won from Macrolit.

I didn’t hit my goal of 30 books this year, I only read 22, but it’s better than the year before and I plan to do even better in 2018. I’ve set another goal of 30 books, but I’m secretly hoping to read 40. I’ve carved out 30 minutes of every afternoon to read, and if I feel up to it, I can read before bed too. I’ll be getting a new library card, and trying ebooks again too to remove any financial obstacles. 30 books, no excuses!

Watching Black Mirror season 4 on Netflix. I have waited all year for this show. To be honest, I binged it in two days, and I’m already done, but it was so good I plan to watch it all again. The wait was worth it and not for a second did I feel let down. The” San Junipero” episode will always have a special place in my heart but some of this seasons came close to topping it. I highly recommend it! I’ve also finished The Crown, and I’m working my way through Planet Earth II.

Learning nothing right now. In the latter half of the year, I let learning go. My goal had been to watch a new Crash Course episode every day, work on a little math, and complete the International Health and Human Rights course on Coursera, but I didn’t get to any of it. So, I’m trying to start again. I’m trying to come up with a plan. I love learning, and I never want to let myself think I have done enough, learned all I needed to, or that knowledge and learning are not a top priority in my life.

Feeling a lot less stressed now that the holidays are over but also more stressed because some big changes are coming around the corner. My mother is moving in with us again, we’re fixing up the house, and we are getting married, I’ve been driving and slowly getting over this phobia so I can get my license in the next few months. After all that there will be school and maybe, possibly, talks about finally expanding this little family of ours. I feel like my life is going to begin soon, for real this time, and I am so happy and scared.

Needing a little love and patience, now more than ever. My anxiety has been worse, and depression is only barely being kept at bay. I’m doing my best to be strong and face my fears and my future and to do while working with my partner rather than against her. We need one another. We’ve made so much progress together this year, and I want us to keep going. We have to remember to love each other and be patient with each other, no matter what! We’re both flawed, but we’re both good, and smart, and creative, and worth every frustrating moment and every ounce of strength it takes to listen, communicate, and compromise too.

Loving that this year I will get to ring in the New Year in style, surrounded by my friends and my girlfriend. Not that there is anything wrong with easing into another year, but we’ve done that, and as nervous as I am to look nice, and have fun, and not make a fool of myself tonight, it feels good to do something different. It feels good to know that I will be with people. I’ll have people who like and care for me with me, and I’ll have complete strangers too. People I don’t know and may have nothing at all in common with except that we are alive right now and got to see another day, together. It’s beautiful. Plus there will be an open bar!

Hating how these little breaks from work never seem to be enough. The weekends aren’t enough either. I want so much more time to enjoy the things I love, my family, my friends, my hobbies, and my pets, but I’m always kept away by work and by trying to find work that can get me out of this work. I hate that this is just the way that the world works. That we all have to spend so much time doing things that don’t make us feel good just to keep a roof and a bit of food. My job isn’t the worst, but it isn’t what I love. It isn’t what I wish I were doing. It isn’t for a lot of you I am guessing, and I just think it’s all such a sad shame.

Hoping that in 2018 we can all find a way to spend a little more time doing things we love, without guilt or fear. Work is a reality, but it doesn’t have to be all there is. It shouldn’t be all there is. There can be hobbies, and side hustles, and small joys all your own. Ones that you make happen and that no one can take from you. I hope you find some, make some, and share some too. I’m going to make things, and write things, and put more of myself out there for you to meet. I’m going to learn to say no to people and help others to say it too. I am going to learn to say yes, and hell yes, to myself as much as possible too.

All in all, this year was a batshit crazy one, and I am 100% sure 2018 will be just as batshit crazy or worse, but I’m here, and I am happy, despite it all. I hope this year was good to you, and if it wasn’t, I hope 2018 will be full of fresh starts and all the healing energy you need. I will post a proper list of resolutions and goals in the coming days, and if I feel up to it we may have a little coffee chat later too, but if I don’t see you, please, stay safe out there and remember that tomorrow you will be a the same you that you were today, only new.

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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.

The inspiration for this posts come from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Featured photo is by Luke Hodde on Unsplash