Currently // August 2018: Letting Myself Feel Better

And just that quickly, the summer (unofficially) comes to an end. The kids are back at school. The pools are closing and Halloween decorations are already up in stores. Can you believe it?

Of course, the heat will linger and it will be a while longer before we put away our shorts and swimsuits to make room for hoodies and pants but the signs are already there. The cooler nights, and here and there a tree whose leaves have become tipped with golds and reds. Autumn is on the way.

The summer is slowly fading and with it, a little part of my happiness is going too. I’ve never made it a secret how much I hate winter and autumn is nothing but a depressing descent into that cold barren void…but, not yet! For now, there is still some warmth, some green, some life in this world and in me yet.

Here is what I am currently:

Writing a thing? I mean, I’m writing something but I have no idea what it is or what it will turn out to be. I had planned on outlining a memoir for NaNoWriMo but since starting Nietzsche’s polemic On the Genealogy of Morals I’ve wondered if the genre and form might work for me too? So, I’m starting there. I’m starting with essays but I’m not limiting myself by labeling it one thing or planning on it being another. I’m just going to write this thing and see what it becomes.

Making a pledge to start filling pages in my art journal! I made the thing I don’t know how long ago—months maybe?—but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to soil the beautiful pages with my shitty scribbles. What a waste of hard work and creative space though, right? So, in September I am making a promise not to make any more excuses. I’m going to ruin the hell out of that journal no matter what.

Planning a new editorial calendar system. I’ve been slacking here for a long time now. I know it and you know it. I won’t get into the “I’m sorry’s” or the excuses, you’ve heard them already. I’ll just say that I’m going to try harder because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. Feeling obligated only makes it harder. This place is for me first, and I have missed it because it’s the first place, and often the only place where I feel like I am who I have been trying to be. So, I’m going finish these half drafts and then start fresh with a new schedule and focus.

Anticipating doing more of what I’ve been doing, working. I enjoyed the freedom of July, but I may have had too much of it. It’s amazing how motivating a big or restriction and responsibility can be. Its only been three weeks, but it’s been great for my focus and I’m very much looking forward to more early mornings, cups of coffee, stressful days and easy days too. I’m looking forward to Monday through Friday, regular paychecks, and stressing about real things again. I’m looking forward to nothing changing at all, at least for one more month.

Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche, still. It’s not that I’m struggling, it’s just that I’ve gotten so far off track from my reading goals that I kinda gave up for a while. Now I’m trying again and this time instead of focusing on how many books I want to read for the whole year I’ve decided to just focus on reading for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. I can read as slowly as I want. I take as many notes as I want. I can go back and reread chapters. I can spend as much time as I want in the introductions, the preface, and the prologue. I can enjoy the book my way as long as I do it for 30 minutes a day.

Watching Insecure and Random Acts of Flyness on HBO. I just finished up Sharp Objects too and it was by far the most riveting show I’ve watched in a long time. I’m also watching Castle Rock, the new horror series from Stephen King on Hulu and binging old episode of ER and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Netflix, and Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon every Saturday morning.

As for the big screen, Blackkklansman was really good. The whole theater was in tears by the end and I’m still reflecting on the nuanced message I believe Spike Lee was trying to express. I finally got around to seeing Avengers: Infinity War and I’m glad I waited because after that shocking end now I cannot wait for the next one!

Feeling better! I mean, I’m still tired all the time and my joints hurt. I’m moody and I’ve been getting these awful headaches. The medicine may or may not be working and I’m anxiously awaiting results on a slew of lab tests, but I do feel better and I’m doing my best to let myself feel better when I feel better without worrying when about how I will feel tomorrow, next week, six months or five years from now.

Fearing my future self. I’m afraid she will just be me, no different at all. Not better, not stronger, smarter, or kinder. I’m afraid of not changing, of not being able to change. I’m afraid that for as long as I live I’ll never get it quite right, never heal these wounds or grow thicker skin. I’m afraid that I will always be this sensitive and needing thing, trembling, mouth open and wailing.

Reflecting on the concepts I linger with and the ways they fade in and out of my life. I started following the poet Topaz Winters on Instagram and one of the first posts was a list she’d made of “concepts of she’d been lingering with lately“. Other poets quickly picked up the idea and made lists of their own and I was deeply inspired. I’ve made a few lists of my own so far, but I’m too shy to share. I’d like make these lists a regular exercise in examining what ideas, emotions, tastes, smells, actions, dreams, objects, people, and words are lingering in my mind. I want to watch the way these concepts change, fade, return, combine, and figure out what they might mean, or what I might make out of them.

Needing for one of these big life goals I’ve been striving for since forever to finally move from the “In Progress” column to the “Achieved” column. It feels like everything in my life, all my goals and every milestone I’ve tried to meet, has been all process and no matter how hard I try I never seem to get reach the end, the result, the completion on “the thing”. I know the journey is supposed to be just as fulfilling as the destination and all, but I feel myself burning out. I need a good stopping point. I need a sense of accomplishment! But, maybe that’s just life. Maybe it’s me and my very human inability to never be satisfied. More likely, I’m not planning enough or following through. Or maybe I just need new life goals?

Learning how to manage my time better! These past few weeks I’ve worked out a compromise between the work I have to do and the work I want to do so that neither is taking up all of my energy and neither is subject to something so unpredictable and out of control as emotion or impulse. Of course, I know this system I’ve put together won’t work forever. My workload will change, my work location will change, the weather will change, my health, my mood, my goals will change and the way I do things will have to change too. So, what I’m really learning is how to balance.

Loving that this August marked the 16th year since my fiance and I officially became a couple. It’s strange to have spent so much of my life with someone else. It’s strange to have spent so much of my life loving, supporting, encouraging, depending on and sometimes fighting with another person all while slowly but surely building a life and making a home. It’s strange to be both a whole being and half of one too. I’m loving it, all the good and all the bad. I’m loving every moment of it.

Hating the return of negativity to my life. Working for the school district, and working through the summer means I got two blissful months of peace While most of the staff was off. Now that everyone is back and properly stressed out moral has taken a nose dive right off of a cliff. I’m doing my best to avoid the gossip and the negativity, but some days I’m dragged down into the thick of it with everyone else and it takes everything in me to claw my way back out.

Hoping my family can get back to feeling like a family again. We’ve been going through some hard times lately, nothing too bad, and nothing I don’t think we could get past, but my family has a talent for taking a small slight and turning it into a grave injustice. We have a talent for hurting one another, for holding a grudge, and for being too proud and too cowardly to simply say we’re sorry. We’ve grown up, and grown closer, we forget there is still so much growing left to do.

So, yeah, all in all, August was a good month. I worked a lot, but it felt good, and I managed to get back to doing the things I love in a way that makes me feel good about who I am and where I am headed. I’m doing good and that all that matters.

But what about you? Are you tired of the heat yet? Does seeing the leaves change and feeling that chill n the air just fill you with gloom? See any good movies, binge-watching any good shows? I’m always looking for recommendations.

Let me know in the comments!

“We are now in August.
The first day of fall is September 22.
You can hear it in the distance.”

Michael Wade

***

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 virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by Agung Pratamah on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // Half of My Life and One Week Down

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m sorry it’s so late. I was so tired today, and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to pull up a screen and type. I just wanted to be here, in my home, in my life. It was nice to unplug for the day, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. I missed this chat and I felt I couldn’t end the weekend without a quick cup of coffee with you.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week.

“I let myself go, and made myself some coffee.”

— Anton Chekhov, from a letter to his sister written c. May 1890

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this weekend marked the 16th anniversary of my girlfriend’s decision to become begin a life together, us against the world. This year marks the halfway point between the years I have been with her, and the years I lived before she came into my life. Half of my life!

I hope by the time we are celebrating our 17th we’ll be working our way into our first year of marriage, but to be honest, this will always be the anniversary that means more to me. I think spending most of your relationship unable to legally get married changes the way you look at the institution of marriage and what it means to be a couple.  We are more than married already. We’ve cobbled together a happy home despite everything against us and we fought hard to stay together.

The day I knew I wanted to be married to this woman is more important to me than the day we will finally become so on paper. With that being said, I still can’t wait to call this beautiful woman my wife and to hear her call me the same.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we spent our anniversary just outside of town on a gorgeous day hike through Deer Creek Canyon. We both have always loved hiking but there never seemed to be enough time for it. From here to the mountains is a couple of hours and then to hike and then to get back requires half the weekend if you include planning and packing too. I forgot I live in Colorado and this state is all about keeping the great outdoors close enough matter how far into the city you are.

I found out there are quite a few places to hike within half an hour of me, and many that are easy enough that I can keep all the gear at home. Deer Creek was about a 40-minute drive and once we were there and on the trail, I forgot how close were to the city. The trail is nestled just far enough inside the canyon that all you can see is sunshine, green trees, and the red earth.

We arrived just after sunrise and planned to only hike the easy trails and be back the way we came in within a couple of hours but along the way we felt so good we decided to buck up and brave the tougher route to what was marked on the map the “scenic view trail” and I’m so glad we did.

After the hike, we came back home to take long showers and soak our tired feet. We made pot stickers for lunch and drank too many beers before napping the rest of the afternoon away on the couch. When we woke up the sun was on its way down and we decided to dress up and Uber to our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We had too much wine and not nearly as many oysters or crab as we should have. Next time we’ll order differently.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was the first week back to school for the kids was just as stressful as I feared it would be. I felt for a while there that it might never end and feared I wouldn’t make it but I’m proud of myself and all my coworkers for getting through it. It isn’t at all easy to get all these kids to school, through school, and back home physically and emotionally sound. If you don’t work for a school district you can’t fathom how chaotic and confusing it can be.

Every department has to work with all the others and more often than not they work against each other instead. Each has its own goals, policies, budget, and needs from the others to keep it working smoothly, and they never seem to agree on the best way to get the job done.

One week down, 39 more to go.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that after yesterday’s hike I’m hurting bad and if I want to have any hope of making into work tomorrow, I need to go soak these sore muscles, slather myself in soothing salves, and take something that will allow me to sleep.

I hope that your week was less stressful than mine and that your weekend was just as relaxing. I hope you found time to get outside and into nature, or that you at least found time to unplug and escape the pressure, the obligation, and the anxiety of your everyday life.

Until next time.

***

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 virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Mini Vacations and Pattern Recognition

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’ll be honest, I’m not in the best mood today. The suffocating summer heat has returned and so has the wildfire smoke blowing in from as far as California. I’ve got a strong batch of cold brew to help with the heat but my runny nose and itching eyes and throat are making me miserable. I’m hoping that some good company and conversation to pick me up though because it’d be a real shame to waste the last of the weekend this way.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week!

“and we drink our
coffee and pretend
not to look at
each other.”

— Charles Bukowski, Luck

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was my first week back to working my normal, non-summer schedule and even though I struggled with it—getting up on time, arriving to work on time, and staying awake through what has been my nap time all summer—I actually loved it. I’d forgotten how good it felt to wake up and have to be somewhere, to have things I have to and people who expect me to show up.

It’s weird but I’m just one of those people who thrives under strict schedules, clear expectations, and hard boundaries. I like to know what is coming up. I like to plan ahead and prepare emotionally for the day, the week, even the month ahead. It’s an anxiety thing I’m sure. A lot of my friends think it sounds boring, but to me, it sounds safe and efficient. I can have fun and do wild and crazy things. I can surprise myself and learn something new all the time, I just like to plan for it, that’s all.

I got to meet the new kids coming on to my route since 9th graders have a special orientation day before the official start of school. They seem awesome and I’m confident we’re going to have a fun year. I was sad to learn that one of my favorite kids from last year moved back to his home state and won’t be riding with us after all. He will definitely be missed.

Tomorrow all the kids I had last year are going to see me again for the first time since May. I can’t wait to hear all about their vacations and see just how much they have grown over the summer. That may be my favorite part of my job, watching kids grow up into young adults. It’s why I bid middle and high school routes exclusively year after year. The rapid changes these kids go through is so mysterious and fascinating to watch and I feel privileged to be a part of it, no matter how small.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the weekend was a relaxing one. Friday night we stayed in but made the night special by grabbing a pack of hard cider and picking up some hot wings for dinner. We watched Extinction on Netflix, a sci-fi alien invasion flick that wasn’t really worth the time I took to watch it.

Yesterday we went had lunch at our favorite sushi place and ended up getting marvelously daytime tipsy after a couple of ginger beer, lemonade, and grapefruit vodka concoctions. Afterward, we walked to the Alamo Drafthouse across the street to see the new Spike Lee joint, Blackkklansman. Now that is a movie worth every minute of viewing time and every penny paid to see. I highly recommend it and make sure you have some tissues with you. The entire theater was in tears by the end.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Saturday was such a good day, and so was that the Saturday before. They were so good that I’ve decided to do my best going forward to spend every Saturday doing something new, fun, or interesting.

It’s like going on a tiny vacation. You unplug, get out of the house and away from your day-to-day grind to get a new perspective. Doing this, even for a few hours a week has profound effects on your mental health and productivity. It’s even had a profound effect on my relationship.

These past few weeks my girlfriend and I have had to deal with work bleeding over into what was once time we set aside of one another. We haven’t been able to eat dinner together, go to bed together, or talk much during the day, but these past couples of Saturdays have given us a chance to catch up and reconnect away from those responsibilities and worries.

This coming Saturday we’ll actually be celebrating our 16th anniversary. It’s a big day but we’ll keep the festivities low-key, just a nice dinner at our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We’ve never been big on gifts but I did get her (us) something small, a beautiful copy of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack pressed on beautiful red vinyl.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m going to try something new this week. Last Friday I listened to an episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast featuring a thought-provoking interview with my favorite creative, Austen Kleon. In it, Kleon outlined a compelling writing strategy he’s been utilizing.

Basically, he carries around a pocket notebook and uses it religiously. The pocket notebook is for fragments, thoughts, aha moments, and quick notes and logging. Later, the fragments and bits are expanded into journal entries, blog posts, essays, pitches, poems, and then as they pile up, a year or two out, maybe later, maybe sooner, you start to see a pattern.

That pattern is how your mind works and contains the things you think about and the areas of life in which you have opinions about the way things are or the way they should be. You find out what you are trying to tell the world. You find your big idea.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I guess I’d heard about this way of writing before and just never put much stock in it but the way Kleon explained it made me think it might make sense for me. I already take notes on everything I hear, see, say, and think, but those notes are wildly disorganized, lacking context, and easily lost. If I manage to hold on to them they are usually indecipherable by the time I decide to sit down to articulate and share what I had in my mind only hours before.

So this week my goal is to write more of these fragments and to commit to organizing them and expanding them in my journal or here on the blog every evening. My hope is that a new system will lead to a higher quantity and quality of work not just here but in others areas of my creative life.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the rising temperatures in the house have me ready for a cold shower and a nap, so, I have to cut the conversation short.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope you learned something, made some small progress, or at least made it through with minimal stress and little to no tears. I hope your weekend was relaxing. I hope you were able to make time for you and if you weren’t I hope you know there is still time.

Until next time.

***

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 virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Hussain Ibrahim on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Losing Hope but Hanging in There

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. The weather this weekend has been gloomy, and by now the gloom has worked its way right into my mood. I’m tired, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea for the rest of the day. BUT the weekend is only so long, and I know that doing nothing at all won’t make me feel much better, so I’m up, I have my smoothie, a cup of cold brew, and you, to cheer me up.

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday was World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness Day and I celebrated by staying home, resting, and writing. I posted some thoughts on my fight so far with this disease. I tried to convey some of the things that I go through that go deeper than the symptoms and the medication. I tried to help people understand the way it’s affected how I relate to my own body.

Like most things I write here it was written as a reminder to myself, but like all advise we give ourselves, it’s hard to remember and harder to maintain. Just hours after I wrote all that about acceptance and loving myself I had a breakdown. There is so much guilt I have for not being able to be the best me I can not just for me (e.g., not being able to write, to exercise, or go place and do things I enjoy) but for other people too.

It isn’t even the bowel symptoms that are making life so hard! It’s the fatigue and frustration that are forcing me to become so introverted and irritable. I feel myself crawling back inside and away from people, not out of anger but out of exhaustion. I feel bad that I can’t be the sister, daughter, friend, or fiancé that my loved ones need me to be. Of course, they are understanding, but I can see the sadness there. I know that just because I am sick doesn’t mean they stop having needs to and I have no idea how to get back to them.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as soon as I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it moves. I’m starting to believe the light is an illusion and to fear that the tunnel goes on and on forever.

This week I was feeling a lot worse and was finally forced to contact my doctor. I was trying so hard to hold on and hang in there until I started my new maintenance medication on Tuesday, but what I was getting so bad I was worried about how much damage I was doing to my body by trying to toughing it out instead of trying something else. So, I called the doctor who then put me back on what I’ve learned is referred to as the “devil’s tic-tacs” in the IBD community, Predisone.

Neither of us wanted me back on that crap. It works miracles, at first, and then it wreaks havoc on the whole body and takes months and months to recover from. But okay, it’s what I need to do, so I felt hopeful I would feel better right away, but she put me on such a small dose it’s made only the smallest dent, enough to keep me working. Then I was hopeful that the new maintenance meds would help right away, but that probably won’t happen either. I’ve gotten so bad that it will be another month or two before I know whether this course of action is right or not.

So, I’ve stopped hoping. Now I’m just hanging in there. I’m going from day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, doing what I can and resting when I must.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing was slow this week. I just couldn’t get my brain to stay on task. It was drawn to scrolling Twitter and commenting on Facebook group posts. I did my best to redirect my attention though by remembering that I had pledged to get back to reading more this week.

My girlfriend surprised me with a bit of spontaneous book shopping this week to cheer me up after all that bad news, and I settled on The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, a creepy, heartwarming, and thought-provoking zombie apocalypse story unlike any other. It was the perfect book to get me back into regular reading. Well written, attention-grabbing, and easy to read and follow. I highly recommend it, and the movie too!

This week coming week I’m going back to The Odyssey. I love this book, but I’ve never been able to actually finish it! Too much detail I suppose. My brain just shuts down, and my eyes start to glaze over and close after only a few pages. I end up having to reread so much of it but I’m determined to finish it this year, so I keep plugging away.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the coming week is the last of the school year and as you might imagine the atmosphere at work has been tense. There is so much to get done. Graduations, field trips, bidding for summer school routes, bus and equipment cleaning, evaluations, and training. It’s a bittersweet time. We’re saying goodbye to the kids and as relieved and excited as we are we’re all a little sad too.

You get close to these kids, preschoolers and high school seniors alike. Some of my kids are graduating, and some will be moving away over the summer. Even if I get the same route next year, I won’t see them again. Next year new kids will be moving into the district, and many will be moving from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school. There will be new schools opening and routes will be rearranged somewhat and the training department I work for in my off time is moving and hiring new people.

Everything is changing and much of next year is up in the air. I have a little over two months to try not to panic about it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun is trying to peek out through the clouds and if I am going to get to spend any time outside of the house this weekend, I had better get up and get going now. I need to look at something other than these walls, hear something besides all the bad news on TV. I need to move my body and be around people. I need to feel that sun and smell the spring air.

I hope you had a productive week and that your weekend has been a relaxing and revitalizing one. If not I hope next week will be better than the last and that you find time to do something just for you before the weekend is over.

Until next time.

***

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 virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

A to Z Reflections: Part I // I’m Writing It the Long Way

Yes, that’s right, this is part one of my Blogging A to Z Challenge “Reflections” posts.

See, I’m not actually finished with the challenge yet, but instead of quitting after the race is over, I’m just going to go on running even as the other participants head home. I still have just over half the alphabet to go but I thought I’d at least share my thoughts so far, and, being sure I will have further thoughts after I cross the finish line, I’ll write “Part II” on the theme itself in a few weeks.

And still, even after all that, I’m want to take the challenge a step further, and with extensive editing, some additional creative writing, and a little art, I’d like make something real out of all that work, something I can hold in my hands. Something you can hold in yours too, and I’ll share my thoughts on that in “Part III.”

So far all I can share is my thoughts on the process. Writing, all kinds of writing, are a daily lesson not just in the craft itself, but in reflection, introspection, observation, and self-awareness. Writing teaches you how you feel about a lot of things and writing every day, or trying to write every day teaches you a lot about yourself too.

I’ve known for a long time that the kind of writing I naturally gravitate toward is a very slow kind of writing. I’ve known this, but I’ve worked hard to try to change it. I’ve read a ton of advice and tried a ton of strategies to “get ahead of myself” and even on good days when I spend every free second I have on words, I still can only get through a half a post at most.

My writing process is made up mostly of reading, gathering facts, ideas, and inspiration. I also enjoy brainstorming and drafting by hand. I like for writing to feel more like an assignment, a task, a very serious endeavor. I’m not sure that will ever change but I know that if I want to it, I have to start by trusting the process first. Maybe I have to just go with it for a while and write the way that feels right to me?

I also realized I’m still not a very good writer, but it’s okay! I wouldn’t expect to be a very good writer yet. I work a full-time job, and I don’t read nearly as much as I should. What I mean to say is, I’m not a good writer because I lack the capacity to be a good writer. I’m not a good writer because I don’t do the things I need to do to be a good writer one day.

I’m aware that I am long-winded and repetitive. I want to learn to either keep my word count but say what I want more clearly, so that I might say more, or, if I have less to say, learn to say it in fewer words and save us all the time. I’m sure I make a ton of grammar and spelling mistakes, many I catch only after hitting “publish.” Maybe my readers would be willing to read my posts with a more critical eye and share my mistakes with me?

Finally, I learned that blogging is hard to prioritize for a writer like me, a writer who has only barely begun to solidify their relationship with the craft. I have very little to show for all of my effort except what I have here on this little unknown and, I feel, unimportant corner of the World Wide Web. It’s hard to feel important when you can see the looks people give you when you talk to them about what you do.

Of course, I know it is only me projecting my own insecurities into the minds of others. In my mind, people only understand one way of writing. I expect that they are disappointed not to hear I am on my way to publishing a book, or a poetry collection, or that I have many articles in popular magazines. I’m sure they want to hear that I’ve written something they have read or something they might want to read someday, or now if I happen to have a draft to share?

I often think blogging isn’t real writing, this challenge reminded me that it most certainly is if I believe it is. If it’s important to me, it is important. My opinion is the only option that matters on the subject, well, and the opinion of my readers of course.

Which brings me to the last thing this challenge taught me this year, I am not very good at engagement.

If there was anything I felt disappointed in myself for or wish I could have done better, it would be commenting and sharing. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over it. I did the challenge for me. My writing is for me first, always, and with being so sick lately and with work getting in the way, I had to protect my writing time by making cuts to other areas.

I did read every comment posted here, and I replied to many. I still plan to reply to the rest. I’m finding the time to comment on other blogs too. I know engagement is critical here and I know that I give up a lot by not making it a priority. There is still time to make those connections since the master list will be up for some time longer. I will do better.

There are other bloggers I follow and admire who don’t even allow comments on their blogs and instead move to social media to engage their readers. I like that idea considering places like Twitter and Instagram are places I spend most of my time, but I’m sure no one likes little old me enough to open another tab and type their thoughts into yet another text box.

As for the challenge itself, I have very little to complain about. The hosts do a great job of keeping the participants motivated and on track. I only wish the lists provided for each letter stayed open a little longer so that other bloggers like me who fall behind can still share our work with the others. I still plan to participate every year that I can at the very least come up with a theme and a subject for all 26 posts.

I hope you all will continue to follow along while I make my way, slowly but surely, to the finish line. I love my theme, and I have no plans to give up before I’ve written every post I promised myself I would.

Thank you all for your support so far, for every kind or encouraging word. Congrats to everyone who signed up for the challenge, whether you wrote all 26 posts or none, I’m proud of you for at least trying and I want you to know that is enough.

See you soon for the rest of the alphabet!

***

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 virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections link-up. Check out my theme “Bleak Realities of Human Existence,” and my posts for the 2018 challenge so far, and, please, follow along for the rest! Even though I failed to finish on time, I am determined not to fail to finish at all. 

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Working on What Works for Me

Hello dear readers and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and conversation. I failed to prepare the cold brew in time, so I apologize in advance for the hot drip on this warm morning. I guess I could serve it over ice, but who likes watered down coffee? At least the sun is out, and I’m able to open up the house and let the spring breeze through. I have a feeling winter is finally behind us, and despite the pain I’m in right now, I actually feel happy.

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#sugarcube #culpability #coffee

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that ulcerative colitis is a real pain in the ass, literally and figuratively. I’m still feeling pretty cruddy, and I believe I will be for a while. The new medication my doctor prescribed isn’t doing much, in fact, I just seem to be getting worse, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, or at least that is what I keep telling myself. There will be stronger medication soon. I start infusions next month, and I have my fingers crossed and a heart full of hope that by the time summer hits I will feel something like my old self again.

In the meantime, I am getting along the best that I can, eating healthy, resting, and staying hydrated, but not exercising as much as I should I’m sure.

My fiance continues to be wonderful, taking care of me, comforting me, being patient with me, and I continue to feel awful for putting her through so much even though I know it isn’t my fault at all. The guilt just adds to my depression and anxiety and in turn makes my immune system react which makes my colitis worse which makes me feel worse which just makes me more depressed and anxious and so on and so on and so on…

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that due to the teacher walkout/call out I got to enjoy an unexpected 3-day-weekend. I’ll admit before I got wind of the coming protest I had no idea that our teachers made so little. I work for a district with a reputation for having a lot of money. We service a lot of the more affluent areas in the city, and our schools are among the best in the state.

Of course, I should have guessed. I work in the transportation department, and our drivers, assistants, and staff are all making less than their counterparts in the surrounding districts, I just always assumed the teachers were doing ok though. I fully support them and the kids we are all responsible for. We all deserve better, and it’s been disheartening to see so much pushback on social media.

I wish everyone understood how vital a teacher’s job is. Even more, I wish people understood how important every person working in a school district is to the safety and success of every child and our entire country’s future.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is the last weekend of my birthday month, and I decided to do a little more celebrating. On Saturday, since it was so nice out, and since we had a couple of free tickets, and since we had heard so many good things about it, we went to see A Quiet Place, and I am so glad we did!

I’m a lover of horror films, always have been. There’s something about getting to feel fear and anxiety and even sorrow and regret in such a controlled environment. It’s thrilling, but it only works if you can be fully brought into a story and can really believe you are there with them, trying to escape. A Quiet Place does that in some of the most unusual and captivating storytelling I have ever had the privilege of seeing.

A Quiet Place is a piece of art, and I recommend everyone see it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the Blogging A to Z Challenge ends tomorrow and I’m half an alphabet behind. I won’t be finishing on time, but somehow, I’m okay with that. I’m not mad. I’m not disappointed. I’m not freaking out or beating myself up. I learned so much, and I found what I came here to find, my passion.

The challenge most certainly was, and continues to be, just the kick in the ass I needed. I have posted more in the past weeks than I had since the beginning of the year. I have momentum, a groove, and I have not given up. I’m just having fun is all and working on what works for me.

I learned that I am a slow writer. I have to brainstorm first, by hand, on paper. Then I have to read three other pieces on the subject and figure out if what I am saying is different enough, interesting enough, or if it makes sense. Then I brainstorm again, by hand, on paper. Then I go through the whole mess trying to put it in order and type it up here.

It’s a lot, and obviously, there are better ways to write blog posts. I could do it that easier way if I wanted, but the truth is, I just like reading and thinking and brainstorming, the writing is just the part I do to justify all the time I put in. I also learned how I want to do better and what I could start adding to my way of explaining things. I have a lot more ideas and a place to work them out now. I feel like I’m back. I feel like I got to begin all over again.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve lost track of time. The sun is going down and turning the rooms orange and lavender, that means it’s getting late and I have fallen behind. I have so much cleaning and preparation for the work week, and I guess I really should wrap up this “L” piece I have sitting in my drafts and try to make progress on “M.”

I hope you had a good week. I hope it was stress-free and productive, and if it wasn’t, I hope the next will be so. I hope your weekend was warm and that you got to meet the sun some. If you didn’t, I hope that wherever you are, there is still time.

Until next time.

***

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.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Enough is Enough

Hello dear readers. Welcome, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. The weather report promises a gorgeous day, so if you don’t mind I’m opening all the blinds letting as much light and fresh air in as I can.

Spring is in full swing here in Denver, CO and that means our weather has become unpredictable and unstable. It may snow tomorrow for all we know so I’m soaking it up while I can.

I’m up early today because it is my week to do the grocery shopping. Anyone who knows me knows I hate grocery shopping. The crowds and the confusing layout send my anxiety through the roof, not to mention having to drive there in the first place, but now that I have gained a bit of confidence, I thought I’d try giving my girlfriend a break every other weekend. So, she’ll be doing the laundry and enjoying a little time to herself, for herself. She certainly deserves it!

Trade the drama in your life for coffee and see how quickly life improves.

@mutinyinfocafe

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If we were having coffee, I would start by saying I am so proud of everyone who made it out to the marches yesterday, especially the teens and children many of whom who are among the “187,000 who have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine”. I couldn’t make it out to the march myself, but my thoughts were with those I know and care about who have been affected by tragedies closer to home.

I watched the live steam from DC and was moved by Samantha Fuentes, a Stoneman Douglas student who was shot in the leg, and who, partway through her speech, threw up, finished her speech, then sang happy birthday to her friend who died in the shooting. I was also moved by Emma Gonzales, whose speech lasted exactly the number of minutes and seconds of the Stoneman Douglas massacre. And finally, there was Naomi Walder, an 11-year-old black girl who took it upon herself to include for the voices of countless people of color living in our cities fearing for their lives every day due to gun violence.

I hear rumors of another walk out in the works for April 20th. I hope the rumors are true. I was attending school in the same district as Columbine High School on that day in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire, and my heart has broken as I have watched the same happen time and time again.

We forget that the effects of a school shooting ripple far past the school and students affected on that day. Back then we became a little more aware that it could happen to us, but we still didn’t believe it would. Now every student, in every grade, and in every school across the country worries they will be next.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week I took a break from The Odyssey and from Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals to read Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer and I am so glad I did. I finished it in just three days and I am desperate for the second and third installments of the series.

The best part about reading Annihilation was having a friend who was reading it too and was willing to nerd out over the book with me.

We shared our favorite parts and the parts that frustrated us the most too. We shared theories of meaning and metaphors and speculated on what the future might hold for the biologist and Area X. My friend printed me a map highlighting landmarks and a picture of the lighthouse that inspired the one in the story. It was exciting to delve so thoroughly into a story, it’s world, and it’s characters, and I am seriously considering asking him if he’d like to start a book club even if it was just the two of us as members.

//

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that so many little things happened this week that meant big things to me but to tell you all about them in detail would take all day. So, here’s a quick list:

  • My youngest sister, who attends an amazing alternative school got to go on a field trip to see Hamilton this week! and I had to practice not being bitter about my own experiences in school and just be happy for her. She loved it, she wishes I had been there with her, and she assures me the ticket price is well worth it.
  • I invited a coworker and his wife to join our once a month couple’s dinner (we are up to 4 couples now), and it was a great success. I was awkward as usual, but everyone seemed to have a great time anyway.
  • My boss guilt tripped me into making a crock pot meal for our annual “buck a bowl” fundraiser at work. I hated every minute of it, but it turns out my salsa verde chicken was among one of the favorites! Everyone loved it, and I promised to make it again next year.
  • The countdown to my birthday has begun! Less than a month now to design a new tattoo, get tickets to the museum (and maybe a movie too), and plan the many and varied nights of celebration with my girlfriend, my friends, my family, and my in-laws. My birthday is kind of a big deal, at least to me, and I make sure everyone knows and participates.

//

If we were having coffee I would tell you that tomorrow marks the first day of my Spring Break and, of course, I’ll be working through it. Well not entirely. I am taking a day or two to get a jump on the A to Z Challenge. I don’t have much time left and I haven’t written one post yet! But I do have my letters and my topics all planned out so, that’s a start, I guess.

I’m going to take an extra day off of work tomorrow and use just about every free minute I have to work on these posts. I’m easily distracted so I have deleted apps like Facebook and Twitter from my iPad (where I do most of my typing) and disabled notifications on my cellphone lock screen for all apps on my phone. Apps I’m particularly prone to checking constantly have had their notification disabled entirely.

If you’ve been following along these past few months, you know writing has been hard for me lately, and I think I’ve figured out why. I need to be alone more. Whenever it is time for me to write it seems like people are around asking me to make a choice, hang out with them or write, and I feel bad when I choose writing. This weekend I cleaned up a little in my “creativity room,” a place I had begun dumping ideas but never spending any time in to actualize any of those ideas. I cleaned up my desk, sat down to write this post and realized that I have been in desperate need of solitude.

Not solitude as in physical space although physically this may be what it looks like. I am talking about solitude for of mind. I’m (re)learning that space, silence, and room to “spread my mind out in” are crucial not just to forming thoughts but critical also to getting said thoughts down on paper.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that it’s time for me to wake the rest of the house up, make a nice big breakfast, and start getting ready to brave the Sunday crowds at the grocery store. I’m also cooking something new for dinner tonight, crispy slow cooker carnitas!, that needs to be prepped and started very soon.

Thank you again for stopping by. I hope your week was productive and joyful, and if it wasn’t, I wish you less stress and more time to take care of yourself in the coming week.

Until next time.

//

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.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash