to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “it’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
(cw: death, absent parent, complicated feelings about grief)
I have not written on here for the last almost two months because February truly was the worst month of my entire life—so difficult on so many levels that I am still trying to process… most of it, to be honest. some of the things from the last seven weeks will continue to affect things as we move forward but, for now, I’m going to take some time to talk about my father.
my father died on the last day of January, on Shabbat. he was fifty-one years old and he walked himself into the ER with some shortness of breath—and then had a massive heart attack and keeled over. I got the call from my younger sister, who is twenty-seven, who had been called by my father’s widow. I didn’t understand what she said the first three times but, once I did, I switched into big sister mode and started trying to take care of her until the end of the call. I then called my mother and told her, and she hung up on me because she was so shocked, and then said she’d call my sister and figure out what had actually happened. I was at a Shabbat dinner with new people when my sister called—a group of lovely Jewish women of color—and they rallied around me and packed me a takeaway bag, got my stuff, called me an Uber, asked whether I needed them to book me a flight, hugged me, prayed over me… a really lovely moment where I saw how strangers can come together to care for one another. I then got in my Uber and cried on the way home, still a little shell-shocked.
hi everyone! I’m so excited to write the first weekly update of the year (although it’s the update for the second week, haha). I don’t anticipate that updates will always be this long, but since I did a lot of set-up work over the past week, I’ve got a lot to report!
create a writing routine. not a lot of progress on this yet—I’ve got some ideas and things are aligning for it, but I haven’t really deployed it yet (other than scheduling blogging time for Wednesdays, which I’ve been doing since last year). I have been good about logging stuff for my bullet journal and I did create a journaling/reflecting routine at least, so that should work moving forward. I’m hoping that this will improve moving forward, especially now that things are flowing with some of the other goals…
be responsible with money. this was a pretty good money week—things got paid on time and I was good about knowing what was due when. this will definitely be more of a long-term thing for me, so I’m waiting to see how things develop—but one of the things I wanted to do was to reduce the amount of times I got food delivered and I definitely did that! I’m also doing some inventorying in my closet right now and trying to schedule some time to slowly make my way through my room and start cleaning out the multitude of things I’ve accumulated but don’t use!
(recurring cw for the THIRD goal: mentions/discussions of mental health [specifically anxiety, bipolar II, ADHD], psychotropic medications, weight loss, food/nutrient/calorie tracking, intermittent fasting. if any of these could be remotely upsetting, please take care of yourself and skip that whole section! to make it easier to know what’s where, I’ve tagged mental and physical health in bold italics.)
y’all, somehow I’ve kept this blog alive for a whole year! and I blogged at least a handful of times every month… which is honestly pretty impressive considering how wild last year was. I started this blog with a post about resolutions and executive dysfunction so it seems fair to revisit that in the new year.
last year, I chose to do three things and, overall, it went pretty well—even if I fell short of the actual goals I had set for myself. I wrote more than I had in any previous year; I really improved my finances; I improved my self-talk. great wins! so, for this year, I’m hoping to continue working on two of those and add three new-ish things.
behold, this year’s goals (vague on purpose, as I have sub-goals for each that I will be tracking privately):
a day late, but here’s our second-to-last updates!
write something every day (except Shabbat). I’ve done some scribbling and done some thinking about several projects, but nothing in true progress… and I expect I will be working on my dissertation nonstop throughout the break so academic writing is most likely all I’m going to do. I officially have a dissertation playlist (which is almost exclusively Bastille, tbqh), so I expect that will also help me powering through. 🙂
be better about money. I did end up paying off those two accounts I said I would, which was awesome, and now I just have to grab a few Chrismukkah presents with this next check and get provisions for our little Chanukah party… but I’m getting some emails that indicate my student loans might go into repayment sooner than expected, so I do think this is going to remain an area for me to work on next year. I just think I’m going to have to get a little more specific than this year’s goal…
self-validate more. I celebrated myself when I paid off those two accounts, and when I took a lot of steps to take care of myself recently, including scheduling a bunch of doctor’s appointment and actually going even when they’re in the afternoon and I’m exhausted. I feel strongly that I’ve really improved in the way that I talk to myself, and I’m exploring different ways to take care of myself that I can add to next year’s list…
hello from testing logistics hell! admin’s out of town and we’ve got 108 students testing tomorrow, so please feel free to send any good vibes, thoughts, and/or prayers our way! in the meantime, here’s a quick check in:
write something every day (except Shabbat). this continues to be a struggle all around, particularly as I’ve been handling more logistics at work. the biggest issue for me has been that I haven’t been working on my dissertation proposal as I should be, and I’m not sure if it’s the stress of that of the pressure I’m putting on myself or what, but this feels like I’m crumbling more than a little bit. (I wrote more about the issues with progress on my dissertation, and with my workload in general, on Twitter yesterday.) I’m hoping that, once the test is over (tomorrow) and it’s time for winter break from work, I can spend a couple of weeks actually working on the damn thing. fingers crossed. and don’t even get me started on the bullet journal I’ve abandoned…
be better about money. I was able to get current on every payment last Friday, bless, and will most likely be paying off one more credit card before the end of the year—so, if nothing else, that feels awesome. I know I will have to continue working on this next year, and probably for the rest of my life due to my impulsive spending tendencies, but I have made more progress than I expected on this and I’m excited to celebrate that growth.
self-validate more. this has been tough over the last couple days as I have struggled with my lack of progress on my dissertation—and with the fact that I have to explain to my dissertation chair that I’m essentially falling apart in the face of this task. I’ve managed to not engage in negative self-talk for the most part, but haven’t necessarily avoided the negative thoughts or the self-blame. I’ve been really steady in this throughout the year with few exceptions, though, so I am not feeling too terrible about this setback right now.
until next time… two more updates and then I’ll have a new set!
it’s my first day back at school (since my stomach flu from hell!) and it was a back-to-back class-and-meeting kind of day, and I’m about to go get my blood drawn for some tests, so please excuse the all-over-the-place situation happening with today’s updates…
write something every day (except Shabbat). this is really tragic to consider after an absolute failure at NaNoWriMo, but the truth is that I’ve been too depressed to even work on my dissertation even though I need to get that first chapter to my chair ASAP. I’m hoping that December will be better in several areas, but I also don’t know just how much I’m going to accomplish in one month. I know I’ve written more this year than literally any year up to date, and that I’ve built better writing habits and come up with new and exciting ideas… but it’s so hard to have another year be close to ending and still be the aspiring writer with not a damn thing finished.
be better about money. we recently made the decision to cancel our April cruise, at least for now—it’s not financially feasible right now because of the strike and other expenses, but we might just book ourselves a cabin at the last minute to run off and still have a spring break trip. in the meantime, I will be grateful for the deposit’s return, as it will mean that I can catch up on some more payments and maybe even purchase some holiday gifts! but, really, the focus for me right now is on making sure I’m up-to-date on everything before the end of the year so I can enter 2020 on sure footing and be truly prepared to finish paying off a couple of things and get truly ready for student loan repayment time as I finish my PhD.
self-validate more. this was surprisingly hard over the past week. part of it has been that I’ve been in such a depressive haze, for sure; part of it was that getting as sick as I did and when I did not only ruined Thanksgiving break for me and my friends but also really got in the way of me completing the first chapter of my dissertation. a lot of the feelings of uselessness and hopelessness resurfaced and, since it’s been a good while, I think it took me longer to notice/counteract than it would have taken me at a different point in my life.
until next time… only three updates to go for this year on these resolutions!
hello from my classroom, where I am sitting during my lunch period and which is barely emptier now than it was my last class (where three students showed up). can you say “day before fall break”? anyway, as soon as I’m home from work I’ve gotta pack for my girls’ trip to Madison (also known as the finish-your-dissertation-proposal-draft trip), so here’s some updates for y’all…
write something every day (except Shabbat). this has continued to be a struggle, to the point that I think I’m going to have to roll this over because I haven’t really created this habit yet… and I know that the only way to improve my writing and complete any of my writing projects will be to, you know, write consistently.
be better about money. I’m still in the same boat as last week, except that I’m finally in the black, baruch HaShem. next week I’ll be getting my first full paycheck in over a month, whereupon I will make as many payments as possible to get caught up before the end of the year. what isn’t yet clear, however, is whether we’ll be able to pay off the cruise by the deadline and therefore attend as we’d planned… we made those plans before there was a strike in sight and now we’ve got some tough decisions to make…
self-validate more. I feel confident that I don’t need to roll this over (because, yes, I’m already thinking about new resolutions), and that’s a really exciting feeling. that said, I’ve realized that I’m struggling with some negative feelings about some other folk and finding ways to blame myself for issues in our relationships, so I think I’m going to be looking for a new therapist next year so I can work on processing these difficulties without making them my fault… the negative self-speak hasn’t resurfaced but I know that blaming myself for everything isn’t healthy, pretty words or not.
so that’s where we’re at right now! have a nice holiday, if you will be celebrating, and make sure you shoot down colonizer bullshit and support indigenous people and businesses whenever you can! until next time!
two days late and seeeeeveral dollars short, as it turns out, but here’s an update for y’all!
write something every day (except Shabbat). this has been an absolute disaster. I think having that project soured for me really put a damper on these efforts, especially because I felt like there wasn’t someone I could share my excitement for the project with since my usual sounding board had been judgmental about it. that said, though, I think dissertation panic played a big part in this and my brain might’ve just been looking for reasons not to engage.
be better about money. this has been really both easy and difficult because there’s been no money to spend so I’m not spending but also that means that, for the first time in over a year, I’m behind on stuff. it’s been tough because I took a huge hit to my credit last year when I closed almost every single credit line I had and dedicated myself to undoing the damage I’d done by overspending during hypomanic episodes… and now that my credit is finally back up, I’m worried it’s going to drop again and all this effort will have been for naught. on a bright side, the agreement was accepted and I don’t have to worry about going without pay again until, oh, the whole summer.
self-validate more. I’m still amazed at how this, my “long-shot goal,” is the one with which I’ve been the most successful! it’s been hard to continue it after my therapist’s retirement because I have yet to find a new therapist, but I really have managed to have patience with myself. the only kind of self-negativity I’ve found myself falling into has been related to my weight, and I think that says a lot more about the fatphobia I experience constantly than it does about me. but I’ve stayed true to my course and tried to make sure I’m using “fat” as a neutral adjective, which has helped!
until next time, which will hopefully come before the end of the year! ♥
hi, y’all…. it’s been a while, huh? I somehow didn’t really write at all last month (probably since I was working on my dissertation pre-proposal and getting ready to finalize my committee aaaaaand then we went on strike), but now I’m trying to get caught up and writing on a new project because OF COURSE.
write something every day (except Shabbat). I’ve done decently on this for the week, since I’m trying to get this new project off the ground; as mentioned, I took last month off but I also don’t feel terrible about that! the hope is that I’ll be able to keep this pace going throughout the month for both my NaNo project and my dissertation… yikes.
be better about money. hilaaaarious to think about this after a strike! I’ve been very blessed that some friends and family have been able to send me some money to help get some bills paid this month. the hope is that things will get better once we get back to earning money next month… especially because we have to pay off that cruise, lol.
self-validate more. this has been difficult lately, between the money stress after the strike and my fear that I wasn’t going able to get myself together to write my dissertation pre-proposal after taking over a month off from academic work to recharge my batteries. but I managed to pull through, so I feel like this will be more sustainable throughout the rest of the year because the wild times are over. (she says, jinxing herself.)
(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)
it’s been a hot minute—these after-work/weekend training meetings are really exciting and useful but they’re also exhausting because they mean I’m working almost 13-hour days—but I want to make sure that I share my thoughts for the second half or so of this month.
awaken. today was the first day students and I really started digging deep into what identity means and how it is constructed—with the hope that it has awakened their curiosity about it since we will be spending the rest of the quarter talking about culture and identity. as we spoke about our first media piece on this topic, I could just about see the wheels turning for some students. it made me realize that to be awake is not just to be conscious and moving through the world—it is to be present in the moments we are living and truly experiencing the world with the wonder it deserves.
ask. ah, to ask. ask and ye shall receive, they say, and yet it is so difficult to ask for help, to request the accommodations we might need, to inquire about different paths we could take even when we’re all headed in the same direction. today, as we discussed the creation narratives from Genesis in class, I found myself asking questions that I knew might be a little above them—and then working with them to co-generate answers—and I realized that, sometimes, the point is not so much the answer to the question as it is being able to know what to ask.
speak. now this is a word that I use often at work because we have speaking and listening competencies that students must meet—but that is not the first thing that came to mind. instead, I immediately thought of Laurie Halse Anderson’s incredible and life-changing book of the same name. it was the first book I ever taught to a class—I did it during student teaching—and I’d first read it in college. it gave me the words to talk about my own experience with assault when I was around Melinda’s age, and it helped me to think about healing in a way that allowed for hope. in a lot of ways, seeing as I was deeply suicidal the following semester and the book was how I began talking about my assault in therapy, I truly think speak saved my life—and empowered me to help others find their voices.