Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: life (page 1 of 6)

Existential Angst

Yesterday I was in a meeting that began with introductions and an icebreaker question: what is the thing that has you the most distracted right now?

As we went around the room, there were a variety of answers: staff with elderly parents who were struggling, staff whose kids had some major life changes ahead of them, and the typical work-project-related distractions that you might expect. And then we came around to me. “I’m thinking a lot about where I want to be in five years, what I want to be doing with my life.” Everyone laughed (some a little nervously). We moved on.

But it’s true. I don’t know if this sense of existential angst around my career is a product of being about six weeks out from my 30th birthday, or if it’s because I’m nearing five years at my current job – the longest I’ve ever been in one place. (I’m also a bit on the manic side this week, which is an added facet of the angst but definitely not the cause.)

I started asking myself last week, as I was pondering these questions, “What if, instead of thinking about what I felt I ought to be doing based on external pressures, I gave some thought to what it is I want to do?”

In the past, when I’d asked that question, I was too afraid to answer (or was in a place where I was more focused on survival and conserving energy, and didn’t have the bandwidth to think of an answer). That’s shifting, though. As I continue to work to get the rest of my life sort of in order, as the non-career areas of my life stabilize, I have more and more bandwidth to consider that, while what I’m doing now is somewhat interesting and I’m pretty good at it, there are other options that might be more…fulfilling.

See, when I entered the workforce, all I wanted was a job that I could leave at work, that would pay the bills, and that would leave me time outside of work to do the creative things I love to do. I didn’t care if my job gave me any sense of purpose or meaning, because my creative pursuits did that. As I near 30, though, I’m starting to consider that perhaps it does matter to me that the thing that I’m doing 40 hours per week is meaningful and fulfilling in some way.

I have some ideas of what the future might look like. I’m putting together wish lists and five/three/one year plans. I’m not ready to put any of my thoughts on the internet quite yet, but I’m starting to talk with my partner, my therapist, and a handful of friends about the directions my brain is taking me. It’s overwhelming, but also incredibly exciting – it’s been a long while since I felt like I could plan further out than six months or a year for more than one thing at once.

And maybe I’m just high on the sunshine that finally came out today, but…the future looks bright. So here’s to bright futures and finding meaning in the mess of life. May we all work to get there together.

Vitamins

I have been trying, with varying levels of success, to turn myself into a morning person.

I used to be a night owl. But as I’ve gotten older, I seem to have lost the ability (not to mention the will) to stay up late. Unfortunately, that has not meant a shift toward getting up earlier. I’ve felt for a while like I just sleep all the time. I like the idea of having quiet time to myself before I have to get ready for work in the morning, so sometime five months or so ago I started attempting to adjust my schedule.

It worked…for a while. And then it didn’t. I managed early mornings again in February while I was doing FAWM, but lost momentum toward the end of the month and haven’t really been able to get it back.

In talking with a friend a few months ago, we somehow ended up discussing the ubiquitousness of vitamin D deficiency, particularly in places where winter is a thing (and goddamn, has it been a thing in Chicago this year). I remembered a doctor in Minnesota telling me I was deficient years ago. I also remembered never doing anything about that.

But I had an appointment scheduled with my doctor to discuss some other questions I had and get other labs drawn, so I thought I’d bring it up there. I deal with chronic pain, and that often goes hand in hand with chronic fatigue (being in pain is exhausting), but this has been feeling…excessive, even allowing for that.

Long story short, I got my vitamin D levels tested, and the results came back this week. Turns out I am SUPER deficient. So now my doctor has put me on a highly concentrated dose of vitamin D that I’m taking weekly for a bit, after which point, I’ll be taking a normal, over-the-counter dose every day. I did the math, and it appears we’re basically carpet-bombing my system with the stuff for the next several weeks.

My hope is that, at some point in the near future, mornings will get easier. I hope I feel less like I’m constantly in need of a nap.

It might turn out that this doesn’t help those things. But at least it’s not going to make it worse. It’s worth a shot!

Spring

Tuesday was officially the first day of spring.

In Chicago, we had just-above-freezing temps and some pretty brutal wind to ring in the new season. A lot of places in the US got a significant amount of snow.

The weather may not feel very spring-like here yet, but I am trying to tune into the change of season on a mental level. I want to appreciate the lengthening hours of daylight, and celebrate the chance for new beginnings. I want to clear out some mental clutter I’ve been hoarding. I want to keep getting better at keeping my apartment relatively tidy.

I’ve been in a quiet, introspective place for a while, which has sometimes made it hard to blog. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface, but not a lot I’m ready to articulate.

I’m starting to feel, though, like as spring emerges, I am also entering a time of emergence. Ideas are getting closer to the surface, closer to being ready to bring into the light of reality. As overwhelmed as I can be by new endeavors, I think I’m mostly looking forward to letting the energy of spring sweep me along for a while.

I still don’t have much to articulate quite yet, but I think it’s coming. Meanwhile, I’ll lean into the feeling that new life is emerging around me.

February Lessons

March has arrived, which means FAWM is officially over.

February was an interesting month, and it taught me a lot. Some of the lessons I learned this month:

  • Inspiration is more likely to come if you give it a space to show up in. I didn’t feel super inspired every time I sat down to write, but it happened enough of the time to convince me that scheduling writing time is actually a really good idea.
  • If you want to write 14 songs in 28 days, you need to sit down and write songs. Showing up and putting in the work is how we get better at things. The more days I got up early to write, the easier it was to get up early to write.
  • I’m an overachiever. I’m sure some of you who know me are rolling your eyes at me, because obviously. But I really had convinced myself that I wasn’t, and I was a little surprised by how quickly I was shooting for a ridiculous stretch goal and how easily my brain can turn “you wrote 19 songs instead of 28” into a feeling of failure.
  • I actually write better under time constraints. The key here, I think, is structure. Open-ended songwriting sessions meander a lot because I am easily distracted. Sitting down to write when I know I have to start getting ready for work in an hour helps me focus.
  • Plans get derailed sometimes, and that’s okay. One of the reasons I didn’t hit my stretch goal of 28 songs was that I was dealing with the spasmed muscles in my shoulder and neck, which made it hard to write (it hurt to look down for any length of time) and play guitar. It was discouraging. But I still hit (and passed) the actual goal. Even if I hadn’t hit the goal, though, I think the fact that I showed up and tried something new is worth celebrating.

I’m pleased with my progress and like a fair number of the 19 songs I wrote last month. I’m excited to polish some of them for a gig I have coming up later this month!

Writer’s Block

I put this week’s blog post off to the last minute this week (I’m writing this less than half an hour before my posts usually go live), because I just don’t know what to write about.

My songwriting class has been…frustrating, if productive so far, but I don’t really want to rant about that.

I’m still learning how to be a morning person. It’s been mostly going well, although the last couple of days have been rough, probably because of the weather.

Work is going okay; this week I took an eight hour online class (over two days) to get a better foundation in my knowledge of how to pull data out of our system.

I’m incredibly sleepy this morning. I’m working from home, waiting for someone from the building maintenance team to come and take a look at our tub, which has been draining slowly and dripping incessantly.

Basically, life is happening, moving right along, but it hasn’t been especially eventful or exciting this week. But in an effort to have something to post this week, here are three things I’m happy about right now:

  1. The songwriting class has been frustrating, but I’m getting back into the project I started a couple of years ago of writing a song for every card in a tarot deck. That’s 78 songs, and I’ve only finished four or five, so I’ll be at it for a while. But it’s fun to feel excited about it again.
  2. I’m working on some fun knitting projects. I’m making a sweater for my nephew for Christmas, a sweater for myself, and I started some socks last night that have an interesting construction that I’m excited about.
  3. We hung out with some new friends last night, and it was a lot of fun. I love finding people that I can laugh with.

Unproductive

I’ve had a pretty unproductive week. 

Last Friday, my office mate called off with strep throat. I spent all weekend feeling off, and after work on Monday, finally bit the bullet and went to urgent care. 

I don’t have strep. I do, however, have a sinus infection, which explains why I’ve felt a low-key sort of miserable for a couple of weeks. 

I got antibiotics and a nasal spray, and I’m starting to feel somewhat better. But between my sinus infection and the fact that my office mate has been able to come in for all of two hours so far this week, I’ve not been feeling especially motivated to get much done.  

I definitely have work I should be doing. And I’m getting some things checked off the list. I feel like I’m avoiding some of the big items, though. I hate how mushy sinus infections make my brain. It’s hard to focus, and hard to prioritize what needs to get done first. 

I can’t believe it’s November. In light of the new month, here are a few things I’m grateful for from October:

  1. Hotdish Monday. My partner and I have a cookbook called The Great Minnesota Hotdish, and we’ve instituted Hotdish Monday as a standing part of our meal planning routine. It’s lovely, cozy food that pairs so well with the cooler weather. (Want to see what we’re making? We have a hashtag on Facebook and Instagram: #hotdishmonday.)
  2. I managed to get up at my first alarm the entire second half of October. As someone who has always struggled with mornings, this feels incredibly significant. 
  3. The cooler weather makes me want to hibernate (and eat hotdish), so I’m grateful that I have friends who are better at planning hangouts than I am. They keep me from becoming totally reclusive and remind me that I have the best chosen family. 

Down Days

It has, objectively, been a pretty good week I got to spend some quality time with friends, enjoy a comedy show, a theatre show, and a concert, and I’ve had some quality alone time, too. 

But because my Bipolar brain doesn’t always or only react to outside circumstances, the objective positivity of the week hasn’t translated to an equal level of emotional positivity. 

I’m in a bit of a depressed downswing, is what it comes down to. 

Now, this is nowhere near the worst I’ve felt, and I know that eventually I’ll be fine. But it’s still a struggle. 

At the same time that this downswing has been happening, I’ve been working really hard to establish more routine in my life. My partner and I have started meal planning over the weekend for the whole upcoming week. I’m getting back into the habit of using my planner and writing down my to do lists instead of trying to keep it all in my head. And I started working through The Artist’s Way this week, so I’m getting up early to do morning pages (three pages written longhand as a brain dump first thing in the morning) every day.

Establishing new routines is a challenge at the best of times, but it’s especially hard when depression hits and leaves you with no motivation. 

Still, I’m managing okay. I’ve done a better job than I was expecting myself to do. And I think it’s helping. Having a routine and a schedule to stick to saves energy, because I’m not wasting time figuring out what I need to be doing in the moment. 

So life doesn’t feel especially easy right now, but I think I can say that I’m doing okay. 

Joyful Travels

As I write this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, getting a little work done from home before heading to the airport. By the time this goes live, I will be in Minnesota.

With all the darkness in the world this week, it’s nice to have something to be really, genuinely happy about – one of my best friends from my bible college days is getting married, and I’m so glad my partner and I are going to get to celebrate with her and her soon-to-be-husband.

Here are a handful of the things I’m most looking forward to over the weekend:

  1. The wedding. I’m not always the most excited about weddings, but I’m looking forward to this one. This friend and I have been through some things together, and I’m happy to bear witness to anything that is making her happy.
  2. I’m getting coffee with one of my professors from bible college (the only one I still talk to at this point), who I haven’t seen since before I moved to Chicago five years ago. She’s been through a lot recently, and I’m grateful that she’s taking the time to see me.
  3. I get to see my dog and my nephew. My little old lady dog is 15, and she’s slowing down. Every time I’ve seen her this year has felt like the biggest gift, because it was only a year ago that I thought I would probably never see her again (since I wasn’t back in communication with my family yet). I am painfully aware that every time I see her from here on out may be the last, so I’m not taking any opportunity for granted. Our visit to my parents happens to coincide with the time that they’re watching my nephew, too, so I’ll get to hang out with him a bit. From what little contact I’ve had with him, he seems like a bright, creative kid, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
  4. This might be the least-packed weekend in Minnesota we’ve had in…well, in a long time. I’m sad that we can’t see everyone, but I’m also looking forward to just relaxing a bit. And I’m hoping it’ll make going back to work on Monday a little easier.
  5. On Sunday, after we get back, we’re going to meet up with a friend at an apple orchard in Wisconsin. Despite my allergies to almost everything outdoors, I love autumn, and apple picking feels like the quintessential autumnal activity.

Grateful, Centered

My first thought when I sat down to write this week’s blog was to whine, at length, about the horrible day I had on Tuesday trying to get to and from jury duty in the suburbs without a car. But I am trying to be a more grateful, centered person, so I’m not going to do that.

I’ve been feeling…a little off, lately. Not grateful or centered. I’ve been feeling frazzled about work, questioning if this is really where I want to be, or if I’m just staying here because of the good boss and good health insurance, and whether that actually matters. I’ve been having a lot of complicated feelings about gender and identity and privilege and what that all means (I regret none of the decisions I have made, but living in a world married to the concept of binary gender is frustrating). I’m trying to balance long-term planning (I’ve charted out how to pay off my credit card by 2020) and living in the moment. To be stable and flexible. And I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of any of it, like I’m just hanging on as the world spins, desperately wishing it would stop for a few minutes (or days) and let me catch my breath and figure out where I am and where I’m going.

I guess I’m in the midst of a minor existential crisis?

How irritating.

But back to the original point I think I was trying to make…I want to be a more grateful, centered person. I’m not doing a great job of it. But I do feel like the Universe is gently nudging me in the direction, despite the fact that I’ve felt like a cranky mess for the past few weeks. From my no-longer-daily-but-I’m-trying tarot meditations to sweet messages from friends to cute pictures of puppies on the internet, I run into reminders pretty regularly that really, I am okay. Even if I feel off-kilter, even if my allergies are driving me crazy and fogging my brain, even if I feel overwhelmed by a lot of things, even if I don’t know what (or possibly who) I want to be when I grow up, even if there’s plenty in the world at large to be terrified of right now, right now, in this moment, I am okay. And that’s really all I can ask for.

 

Turning on the Light

It’s Thursday, and I’m at a loss what to put on the blog this week. I’ve been feeling under the weather, the world is an increasingly scary place, and things feel a little dark right now. 

So I’m going to try to channel Albus Dumbledore, who reminded us that, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” In the spirit of this sentiment, here are some things that are making me happy right now:

  1. The Jewish high holy days have started, which means I get a bunch of abbreviated work weeks in the next month. Including this one. I’m off work today and tomorrow, and hoping to catch up on some stuff at home and kick the cold that’s been threatening all week. 
  2. Safe spaces outside of my apartment. I’m currently eating breakfast at Smack Dab, one of my favorite little coffee/quick breakfast spots in our neighborhood. I am a regular here, and always feel welcome when I walk through the door. 
  3. Good food. We tried a couple of new recipes this week that turned out really tasty. I made sweet potato hash browns last night that were pretty wonderful, if I do say so myself. And right now I’m eating a gluten free double chocolate pumpkin bread at Smack Dab and drinking a turmeric chai, and I’m pretty happy in this little slice of time. 
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