Resolutions 2018

Resolutions fell to the wayside for the most part this year, and I don't think that's a bad thing. 2017 was a difficult year, and survival and finding a way to endure everything superceded other wishes. This year, 2018, I want to try to focus on a couple things, and hopefully their broadness will help me focus on them, and the lack of commitment to one plan will give me the flexibility I need to stay on them, even when my life changes.

If 2016 and 2017 were about survival and strength, 2018 is going to be about sunshine. To me that means getting healthier and making time for music.

Health & Fitness. I've really been slacking on my health for a while, putting work first. Now that I'm back in therapy, I feel a lot better mentally, and I think that was a key piece in health/fitness motivation I was really lacking. I'm hoping to keep up with therapy and other doctor's appointments this year, as well as get back to working out. I really do need to just make that a part of my life-- it hasn't really been a regular part of my life since I stopped Taekwondo to focus on school. Making being healthy part of my life is going to make it much easier for me to be happy and do the things I want to do. Here's what I'm hoping to do to stay healthy this year:
  • Keep going to therapy.
  • Stay on top of doctors appointments.
  • Go to the gym at least twice a week.
  • Get a classpass? 
  • Start practicing martial arts again.
Music. I really miss music, y'all. I used to sing regularly and even did a couple musicals in school and now I rarely have occasion to sing. Practicing music improves my mood and makes me less anxious. Moreover, I can feel and hear how much skill I've lost since I was in choir and I want to build those skills back up again. Here's what I'm going to do to get back in the swing of things:
  • Sing every day. No excuses.
  • Do vocal warm ups while walking around the house or running errands. 
  • Try to learn more songs. None of this "I only know the chorus" BS.
  • Practice ukulele at least once a month.
  • Find an occasion to perform at least once this year.
What are your goals for 2018?

Check out Writes Like A Girl's New Year Intentions link up for more bloggers' goals for 2018.

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Winter Thoughts

I have been thinking about my own mortality a lot recently. Winter tends to do this to people (or so I hear, in literature, but maybe that's all poetic device). I've always been aware of it even as a child-- I was deeply concerned about my own fragility constantly. In many ways, I'm thankful for this, since it's given me a lot of time to come to terms with it. This past year in particular has been one where I have felt constantly aware of how quickly and senselessly life can be taken and cut short. And yet, I find myself continuing to search for satisfaction and peace in mortality. I really want to get joke-y here, but I feel like I shouldn't. Like I should sit in how uncomfortable it is to talk about something so big.

If discussions on death and suicide are difficult for you, please read with care or bail if that's what's best for you.

These past few weeks have been beautiful. I have been restless since fall to begin on new adventures and find deeper meaning in how I chose to live. I am remembering the things that I hold true in my core, and rediscovering how important those things are to me. Between working on my holiday cards and having many friends from different eras of my life visit, I'm reconnecting to my life's work: gratitude and affection. I write about this here because maybe my feelings about this will help someone else process their own mortality, whether things ring true to them or if this just provides a springboard for their own musings.

When I was growing up, especially in my teens, there were a lot of deaths around me. Not in my close circle, luckily, but very much in my communities. From suicides to accidents, too many of my peers' lives ended early. It will still take years before the number of weddings I am invited to will overtake the amount of memorials I have received notices for. The time when most people feel invincible, I spent in a deep awareness that not only was I mortal, but that so many of my peers had already died-- it wasn't an abstract reality, it was in front of me.

During this time, I started to really consider what would realistically make me okay with dying so young, god forbid it happened to me? Moreover, which deaths were preventable, and what could I do to stop them from happening to the people I cared about-- many of whom had difficult home situations or were struggling with newfound mental illness that they did not yet have the tools to cope with? And maybe not all suicides are preventable, but maybe a lot of them are delay-able. Maybe more days are winnable.

I've generally grown up with a fairly strong sense of agency, but building a relationship with death itself-- in real life and not just my sometimes-dark imagination-- was a massive task. It's one I'm still grappling with and will likely be challenged by my entire life.

I learned that a lot of things that seemed important were not central to me dying in peace. I didn't care about my grades or what I looked like when I died. My life seemed, through this lens, so comfortably small. My ambitions seemed less central to who I am, and more decorative than core to my identity. I have always aimed big and high, but in examining my mortality, I gave myself more permission to be broad and deep. Gold stars and achievements seemed so much less important than how I felt about myself and the world and how I engaged with things like people and art and ideas. Those were the things I wanted to spend time on. I felt so much relief in accepting that I am finite and that it's okay if I don't conquer the world.

I also found myself deeply prioritizing people-- which also meant letting people go, and accepting small or nonexistent roles in their lives. I recognized how finite my time is and how finite other people's time is as well, and detached myself from the expectation that I deserved anyone's lifetime or that they deserved mine simply for existing in proximity to each other. I consciously decided that I wanted deeper, better relationships with people and that I would let go of people easily if that wasn't possible. I also committed myself to welcoming people who tried to come back if deeper, quality relationships were more possible again. Relationships aren't always linear. Rejection can be positive. We need to have the space for good things and people in our lives and that means sometimes we let things and people go to make room.

The conclusion I came to-- and try to always come back to--is that I am alive, first and foremost, to be unafraid of loving people. I think we are afraid to let people know we care for them and at the same time, a lot of us forget how loved we are, or feel under appreciated. I don't believe that love cures all things, but I do think it can make a lot of things at least a little more bearable. In terms of my life here on earth, I really don't care what I "achieve." I care about following through on my feelings and letting the people I care about feel loved. The things I feel for others are meant to be vocalized and shared. I hate words left unsaid. I have seen affection and gratitude swallowed up and hidden when it might have been better externalized and shared. I'm trying my hardest not to do that.

Women are often asked to set themselves on fire to keep others warm, and I do not advocate overdrawing emotional energy purely for others' benefit. That said, I get a lot of fulfillment from sending someone a nice card every once in a while, when I have time. Every once in a while, someone will let me know that I made their day, or helped them deal with something hard, and that makes these things spiritually and emotionally replenishing. A mindset built around positivity and encouragement and affection for others pushes me to be more hopeful, even when situations aren't. When a bunch of people (including myself) were laid off, I went shopping for a bunch of encouraging cards and congratulations cards with the intent to send them to friends as they found their way to new jobs. That felt so much better than being sad.

It's a challenge to not harden my heart, but I think if I can keep it strong and warm, I can be courageous and help others be courageous as well.

Having this kind of mindset has been a blessing. It's helped me dream bigger for the achievement goals I do have, because failure is not identity-shattering, and that willingness to embrace a certain level of risk has helped me live bigger. It's also helped me live more honestly and cope better with rejection. Bad things can happen and I will still be okay and valuable and myself, so long as I love and have gratitude for the people in my life.

When I find myself in a bad mental state, I turn to gratitude and affection, and those two things help me find my way through any situation. These things are so trivial in some senses, but if all I ever will be is temporary, I think I'm okay with that. On the very broad spectrum of ways to cope with mortality, ranging from immense achievement to terrifying control issues, I feel happy here. My life will never be about big things, it will always be about how I choose to bring positive feelings into the world and connect to others. Whenever I die, that's all I'll measure my life by.

We are all so perilously finite, but also wonderfully so, I think.

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This is the astrologer I am trying to live by-- boy, is she on her game!

Speaking of astrology, dive deeper and take a look at your natal chart. (You'll need to know your place and time of birth.)

Help my friend, a victim of sexual assault, recover from the damage done to her body and psyche.

Limetown is coming back next year (FINALLY)! If you haven't listened to the riveting six-part first season, you absolutely must. Great road trip listening for those traveling this season.

Lots of work to be done recognizing POC and WOC in the Golden Globes.

My new planner is exactly what I need for 2018.

Back this zine-style anthology of love stories by muslim women put together by my amazing friend, Hadeel!

The Greatest Showman is almost here, and it's going to be my whole life, exactly the way Moulin Rouge was once-- listen to the soundtrack and get destroyed with me.

This Natasha Denona Eyeshadow Palette is winter me in color form. There's a cool tone palette as well!

I daydream about these luggages a lot these days.

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December Small Goals

Wowee, it has been a LONG time since I joined in on Nicole's Small Goals Round Up at Writes Like A Girl.  We talk about our little goals for the month and support each other. Be sure to check out everyone else's small goals and get some motivation to end the year strong!

Normally I'd do a recap of how last month's goals went, but since I haven't participated in a while, here's a little round of up things I'm really glad I accomplished in the past few months.

Started listening to audiobooks. Since reading-reading is hard for me to fit into my schedule due to my tendency to get motion sickness if I try to read during my commute, I have been investing in audiobooks with Audible. I'm super happy with this decision!

Got cracking on my professional site. It's still under construction, but I'm really happy with the progress I have made on my first ever professional portfolio site. It's definitely been a challenge since I don't do tons of visual-focused work.

Led a career and internship talk at my alma mater. It was super fulfilling to chat with college students of a similar background to me about how to tackle things like internships, networking, parental expectations, activism, and career. It was super informal and really fun-- especially since I got to team up with my brother. I hope to do more panels and the like!

Found a great therapist. This is something I've been meaning to do for a while and I'm really glad I did. I found a therapist who is a great fit and I'm excited to have help tackling tough stuff and support in growing as a person. I feel like everyone ought to do therapy since I think the world changes faster than ever and most of us grow up without having been taught how to process things fully. We're dealing with a world our parents never had to deal with and so we don't have strong models for coping with it. If you have had a hard time coping (and this world has been pretty unbearable these days) I really encourage you to look into getting therapy!

Got new furniture. We upgraded a lot of our pieces that were very "we are scraping by and need a $100 couch" kind of things in favor of more functional pieces that fit our space and needs better. I love IKEA. I'm still reorganizing in the aftermath of my new functional furniture pieces (so much more storage in my room!)

Went gluten-free. It's still a lot to deal with and it makes eating out a lot harder, but I have to say, I'm getting through this okay. It's only been a month though, so maybe I'm not through the worst of the transition yet.

I really have had a ton of stuff going on these past few months! I can't believe 2017 is almost over-- but also I'm super thankful because this has been a super challenging year. Personally, politically, and I guess even medically. Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish in the next month.

Write and send all my holiday cards. This is a yearly event for me! I started sending holiday cards the year I graduated from college and it's been a great way for me to stay connected to people, reflect on my relationships, and generally commemorate the passage of time. I like milestones and I feel like I get fewer of them since school ended, so I make an effort to make them on my own time. This year I put out a googleform so that people had to sign up to get one (which eliminated guesswork and new address hunting) which is a really great system and I think I will continue to use it in the future.

Continue on and complete my room cleaning. Ever since I got my new furniture I have been slowly but surely working my way through my room, cleaning out the crevices, reorganizing, and decluttering. I've sent out two big bags of clothes to donate! I've gotten rid of tons of too-old cosmetics! It's all happening, folks! I just need to make sure that by the end of the month it's all happened.

Prep my new planner for 2017. I've got my beautiful new planner for 2018-- an Ink & Volt planner in purple-- and I love using planners to get ready for the new year. Having a nice planner helps you do more than fill in key dates ahead of time-- it also helps you think through your goals for the year. This planner breaks down yearly, monthly, and weekly goals (and has 2 bookmarks so you can reference them easier) and I'm excited to have something that will keep me on track in terms of goals and intentions.

That's it for my goals this month! What are yours? Be sure to check out the link up at Writes Like A Girl and see other cool bloggers making plans for December!

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