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

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If We Were Having Coffee // It’s Been a Happy New Year….So Far

Hello friends, and thanks for stopping by for our weekly coffee chat. I apologize for being late but since I have been off of work my sleep schedule has been completely disrupted. I find myself going to bed around midnight or later and waking up angry because I have lost hours of the day to sleeping in.

It’s funny that the older I get the more I understand why my grandparents insisted that getting up earlier was always better. You really do get more out of your day that way.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that our New Year’s celebration was a quiet one this year. We spent it at home, just the two of us, doing our favorite things: Eating, drinking, snuggling up on the couch, and binge watching tv shows on Netflix.

For us, New Year’s is a special time. Just after midnight on our first New Years together, 13 long years ago, was the first time we said the words “I love you”. Ever since then we start every year off the same way, with a kiss and a reminder that we love each other just as much, if not more, than we did all those years ago, and a promise to continue to do so for another year to come.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that New Year’s day was a tough one. It was the first day of the 30-day minimalism challenge I am doing and the assignment was to stay offline. I did it, mostly, and it turns out it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

One thing I did realize is it is hard to define what is “online” and what isn’t. Obviously scrolling Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr were out of the question, but what about just checking notifications? What about playing games? What about streaming music? What about watching Netflix or Hulu on the TV?

I decided that using my phone for anything more than texts or phone calls was out of the question and spent most of the day reading with my phone and iPad in another room to avoid temptations. The TV was fine though since my girlfriend wasn’t participating in the challenge and I didn’t want to have to sit in another room by myself all day. I also made allowances for educational things I do daily like Duolingo and Codecademy.

The exercise taught me a few things. For one, no I will not die if I do not check my phone every five minutes. There is no notification that can’t wait. I also learned that not being online for a day kind of sucks when you have to catch up on emails and comments the next day. I learned that I do not see the value of staying offline for an entire day but I do see the value of taking some time to step away from the internet more often.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am really dreading going back to work this week. Working for a school district and having all this time off sounds nice, but it’s so hard to get back on schedule afterward. I mean, after doing what you want all day for almost 2 weeks, it’s really hard to get up early, go out into the cold, to go back to a place that you don’t like all that much, to do a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do. Ugh!

Actually, it isn’t all that bad, but my vacation brain is trying to convince me that I don’t actually need a job at all.

Luckily this year I have learned to prepare for these feelings and I have been taking an extra day off the Friday after a break. I figure this way I can ease back into a 5-day work week and not get too upset or overwhelmed by the real world’s expectations. That means I get a 3-day weekend this week, woot woot!

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that as much as I am enjoying this chat I had better get going. Since waking up late I am behind on the housework and I am visiting with family later on this afternoon so I’ll need to start getting ready for that.

I hope you all had a nice New Year’s celebration and you’re having a great 2016 so far. Let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments please, I’d love to hear from you :)

Featured image via Nishanth Jois

Monday Motivation // Don’t Give Up, Okay?

Hello and happy Monday to you all. It is the first Monday after Christmas and the last one of the year, a very important Monday. It’s important because it is the last chance to start things off right in 2015, and your first chance to set the tone for 2016. I urge you to take it seriously if you can.

I say if you can because for some the end of the year is not only stressful but depressing as well. Not everyone enjoys this time of year. Not everyone has a nice family to spend it with. Not everyone can buy gifts and decorate or take time off of work. Not everyone is in a mentally stable state to deal with all the stress and expectations that come this time of year.

 

Add to that any disappointment you might be feeling about the last year, and a big dose of anxiety about the coming year, and you can see why this is the time of year that can be the hardest time for some.

 

If you are feeling down, or lost, or hopeless during this time I want you to know you are not alone and that things can get better. I know what it’s like to feel like nothing matters and things are going to go on being crappy forever. I also want to share with you some things that help me when I lose hope, get tired and want to give fighting.

1. You are not crazy.

It can be hard to see everyone running around all cheerful while you are just doing your best to put one foot in front of the other. You might start thinking that something is very wrong with you or that you deserve to be miserable, but that just isn’t true.

A long time ago when things got bad for me I got up the courage to go to therapy. It didn’t last long but one thing I did get out of it was the realization that I was not crazy. I was doing the best I could under the circumstances I was put into.

Depression  and anxiety happen for a reason, whether it be outside situations or chemical imbalances, or a combination of the two. It is not weakness and it is not because you are a bad person. It is a natural occurrence and prevalent all over the world, in every race, gender, and class. You are not crazy, you are human, and you can learn to cope with this.

2.  This is temporary.

Depression can permanent but most types of depression are actually temporary and resolve on their own with time. While you are depressed that may be hard to believe but it is true. Even when things get really bad, remember that all types of depression are treatable too. You do not have to feel like this forever.

I always try to remember that life has its up’s and down’s, for everyone. It can be frustrating to feel like this and to be unable to do everything you want but the best thing to do is to cope during this time and remember that you will get better. Struggling against it, or beating yourself up about it, or worse, giving into it, will not help.

Recognizing what is happening, taking care of yourself the best you can, and remembering that it will pass, will help you through this tough time.

3. It’s okay to take care of yourself right now.

With it being the holidays and all it can feel really selfish to worry about yourself right now, but I think that the holidays are a perfect time to practice some self-care.

You don’t have to go out and do anything big, you can care for yourself right at home, just start small. A good meal, a hot shower, or even just taking a nap can be enough to help you through the really bad parts. Try to accomplish a small thing if you feel up to it, a load of laundry, a bit of writing, or just getting dressed can be enough to remind you that you can do things!

Here is an excellent interactive self-care guide to get you started. I’ve used it before and while it can’t solve all your problems it can get you into a better state of mind so that you can.

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For better or for worse, 2015 is coming to an end, and 2016 will be here before we know it. If you can, do your best to start planning your goals and resolutions now. It will feel good to hit the ground running on New Years Day. If you can’t, that’s okay. Just focus on taking care of yourself and working toward a place of healing, and remember that you are not alone, I’m here for you.

Don’t give up, okay?

Image via cwote, a Tumblr about positivity and self-care.