on being "productive enough"

okay, let’s take a moment and get real—we live in a capitalist hellscape and it’s made us hyper-focused on productivity and a global pandemic is probably a great time to shed that obsession… except, that’s not gonna work for all of us. some of us crave routine and structure; some of us have become the primary (or maybe only) breadwinners in our households due to the shelter-in-place orders moving across the country so we need to make it work.

so, then, what is being productive enough?

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a note from your flaky friend

Screenshot of a text conversation that reads as follows:
A: [9:29AM] I'm running like 10 minutes late because of who I am as a person but I am trying to hustle
B: [9:30 AM] Sounds good. See you around 1015
B: [10:07 AM] Just got here and sat down. See you soon!
A: [10:09 AM] I just parked and am heading on over!
yes, this is a real screenshot of a real conversation… sunshine is there to both protect this person’s privacy and highlight that they light up my life.

hi, hello, it’s me, your flaky friend. you might not have said this to me, or about me, but I’m sure at some moment I have canceled or amended plans at the last-minute and you’ve sighed and been like “yeah, that tracks.” I might’ve even called myself that in the multi-text message and prefaced it message with 35 apologies and some self-deprecating bit like because of who I am as a person in order to soften the blow.

the truth is, I’m not really a flake.

I don’t cancel because I don’t want to see you or because I don’t care about your time or because I think someone else is more important than you. I just have a bit of, a, cutlery issue and I run out of spoons very often. (not sure what I mean by that? you can read the Unified Cutlery Theory here, explained much more concisely than I could do it. no, really, go ahead. I’ll wait.)

so, how does the cutlery relate to me canceling plans? let me illustrate this for you…

(cw: mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety; discussions of ADHD; mentions of societal fatphobia)

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2020 reflections, week 2

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.)

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#BlogElul 13: Remember

(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.)

(pardon my scattered thoughts—I’m writing this with a lot of Benadryl in my system and the exhaustion of someone who chased, wrestled, and carried an almost-nineteen-pound cat to and from the vet today.)

as someone who has both anxiety and ADHD, I have a complicated relationship with remembering. the anxious side of me remembers everything it shouldn’t, like an embarrassing thing that I said to someone seven years ago—and the ADHD side of me cannot remember that she renewed her car registration even when she gets ticketed and, when she does remember, she cannot figure out where the sticker went after it arrived. (this is absolutely a true story, I am sad to say.) but if there’s one thing that this push-and-pull has taught me, it’s this: remembering is an active process. it requires effort to remember, either because one uses tools like reminders and calendars, or because one exerts large amounts of effort and focus to recall the information independently.

but, I think, there is also a Jewish aspect to remembering because remembering is, to me, a mitzvah. the important part is to be careful to remember not for vengeance but for justice; not for trying to find fault for the past but to inform decisions and prevent those mistakes in the future. it is our job to remember in order to preserve, and choosing to do that involves thousands of small decisions that allow us to remember, constantly, who we are as Jews and what that means in a world that is often unfriendly to us. having converted to Judaism, I feel a particular responsibility to remember where I came from and work on building bridges between the world I left and the world I joined. and, of course, there’s the element of wanting to be remembered—wanting to do something that impacts the world in a way that will outlast us. the work is now, and it is never-ending.

Shabbat shalom.

#BlogElul 12: Count

(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.)

when it comes to the literal meaning, counting is something that I do a lot. as someone with anxiety, I count every mistake I have ever made whenever I’m thinking about doing anything. as someone with ADHD, I count the overwhelming number of tasks on my to-do list (but not the minutes that fly by as I struggle to get going). as a Jewish person, I count the days between holidays and the hours of Shabbat and the fasts. but what I do not seem to be quite as skilled in is making it count, and that’s what I want to focus on this season.

as trite as it might sound, I think of the whole “life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” thing when I think about making it count. I remember that we have one life, that we get one chance to leave our mark on the world—leave our legacy, as my boss is so fond of reminding us—and that, whatever I do, I have to make sure I make it count. I have to make sure I live life to the fullest, even (or perhaps especially) when that means facing my fears and slaying my demons and surprising even myself with the things I can do. and yet, knowing that and rooting for myself doesn’t mean a lot if I don’t follow through… so I need to make the effort count, as it were.

#BlogElul 5-9: Commit, Want, Understand, Hear, See

(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.)

I wrote some notes for every day that I’ve missed, so I’m just gonna do a catch-all with some thoughts so I can jump back in the saddle today… here are my thoughts for the last five days!

commit. ah, commitment. this is such a double-edged sword for me because once I commit, I really jump in with both feet—but it takes me forever to make a decision I can commit to, as I discussed in my first post for this month. if anything, I think my issue with commitment is not so much with the commitment as it is with the follow-through; often, no matter how committed I am to doing something, I struggle to get it done (thanks, ADHD). my big push to hold myself accountable and recommit on a constant basis so that I keep making small decisions to bring me to those larger goals is how I am trying to deal with that—and that is why I am blogging these reflections rather than just journaling about them. this way, there are other people to hold me accountable also!

want. there is so much that I want—and I struggle so much with feeling like it’s okay to want. so many times it feels selfish and almost shameful to put my wants and desires first—or even to follow them at all—but part of my journey to start trusting myself again involves trusting that I can learn and grow and, therefore, I should listen to myself when it comes to making decisions. it also involves unlearning the shame that there is wanting more for myself—and the process of beginning to believe that I am enough and I do deserve better. throughout this month, when I am looking into myself so much and really processing my feelings and coming to terms with my actions, I will find it extra important to be kind with myself and accept what I want even if I choose not to pursue it.

understand. we’ve been talking a lot at work about what it means to understand—as this is essential to our work with students—and one of the things that is included as a facet of understanding is being able to empathize. it’s such an incredible notion, that empathy belongs in the classroom, and it has made me realize that it is not enough to be able to conceptualize someone else’s situation—to understand someone means to be able to empathize with their feelings and circumstances. (NB: obviously this can be a problematic idea for neurodiverse people who struggle with empathy, so I do not mean this as a blanket statement—but then again I believe that it is likely that said neurodiverse folx are actually showing empathy in ways and situations that are different from “the norm” rather than being incapable of empathy.)

hear. ah, here’s a word I struggle with as I recite the Shema every day. is it enough to hear? would it not be better to say listen or, better yet, focus or pay attention so that the language does not exclude those who are deaf or hard of hearing? what does it mean to hear, anyway? is it enough for the sound waves to make your ear drum vibrate so you have an awareness of the sound? or do we mean the point where the sound turns into comprehensible input and you can parse it out into words or musical notes? do we mean the extra step where you have taken what you recognized and thought on it, and figured out where to go from there? the issue for me is that it is such a broad concept that I cannot really answer those questions, so I am stuck in a cycle of feeling like hearing is not enough. perhaps this is also because I am not an auditory learner—in fact, I have auditory processing issues so I really struggle with auditory input—but it just does not seem like enough to hear, as if by coincidence. this season, I want to listen instead. (you can find more on this topic, including some beautiful examples of prayer in ASL, here.)

see. another word I sometimes struggle with, although to a lesser degree. while there are potential ableist connotations here, my work with inter-epistemology—in which we discuss learning to see what was previously hidden—has opened my eyes (there we go again!) to the possibilities in which the metaphors for seeing can be immensely useful and even powerful. still, I want to go deeper, especially this season—so I am interpreting see more as observe or even examine. what are the parts of my life on which I have not shone a light recently? what are some things I have not considered with the care they deserve? what are ways in which I can be more intentionally aware of what and what surrounds me as well as what they bring to my life?

that’s that for these terms… there’s another post to come today, in which I talk a little more about why I chose to approach this post the way I did—so stay tuned for that!