43

the view to the left of my desk

I woke up late again this morning. I keep doing that — waking up before my alarm goes off at 6:30, my brain racing with giddy thoughts about the work ahead (nope, I’m not talking about that yet)… and then I cuddle in next to SHB and lo and behold it’s an hour later than when I last glanced at the clock. I need to stop doing that. I’ve been doing it most mornings for the past six months, really since the hullabaloo finally blew over when I left my last job. Going back to sleep makes me feel more tired than if I had just popped out of bed. This doesn’t feel like grown-up behavior, and yet I keep doing it.

Tomorrow, I turn 43 years old.

Yet I keep going back to sleep, luxuriating in the comfort of our bed instead of feeding the excitement in my brain. I think I’m going to stop doing that. Time to let that one go.

There are some distinct advantages to having a late-January birthday. It didn’t always work, but some years I was able to figure out what I wanted for Christmas but hadn’t arrived, and then it would turn up for my birthday, picked up for cheap in the post-holiday sales. Growing up in Texas, my birthday was equally likely to have weather in the high-60’s as it was to be closed for a “weather day” — what passes for a snow day in Dallas, where you get ice much more than snow.

Late-January birthdays are also a perfect time to set any resolutions for the year ahead. The gym dilettantes have all given up by now, so the crowds have abated. On the years I bother with “Dry January,” my birthday is when I just call the experiment “good enough” and enjoy a bit of my beloved bourbon. I skipped “Dry January” this year, but that doesn’t mean I’m without a set of resolutions. Plenty of things are irritating me about myself. They’re mostly within my control, and this seems like a good time for me to get hold of them and own that shit.

So then… resolutions.

You snooze, you lose.

Like I said, I’m going to forego the snooze button for at least the next few months (let’s say through end of March) and see if that helps me get more done overall. I expect that I’ll get more done in the mornings, but I’m playing the long game here and if that means I get squat done in the evenings I’m not sure it’s a winning strategy for me. If I’m trading the focus I often get after 7PM, I had best get something awesome in return. Maybe I will actually get both.

Write every day.

When I was in college — yeah, way back in the early 90’s — I wrote a lot of essays. It’s a normal college thing to do. Even though my writing wasn’t beautiful or moving, it was a comfortable activity that I navigated without much worry or overhead. Have an assignment, figure out roughly what I wanted to say, write it out, edit the hell out of it, turn it in, lather rinse repeat. I was working full time and going to school full time, and so I didn’t have a lot of time to mess around. I was efficient. It was a well-trod activity path. Fast forward over twenty years and writing anything more than an outline, technical documentation, or an email… really, writing anything >140 characters that feels like it comes from me, versus just a description of things happening in the world, has become an exercise in procrastination, then self-excoriation, then waiting and hoping for it to just go away.

I decided to write a book, wrote up the outline, talked to some people, lined up some interviews, wrote the intro… and then just couldn’t get my shit together to write out the rest. I haven’t given up on it, but it’s been hanging over me when I should be more excited. I envied my friends with writing partners — at least they had someone to kick them in the ass when they flaked out. My husband is a writer — a good one — and I sincerely do not know where he gets the well of inspiration and fire that drives him to keep writing when I can barely pull of a blog post these days. He tells me that much of writing is staring at a screen until blood comes out of your eyes, and it used to make me laugh. It doesn’t anymore. Writing performance reviews is bad enough — and I’ve done tons of those. This is something else, something internally-driven and somehow more personal. I need to get the hell over myself and just do it. I’m going to write some every day.

Every. Single. Day. For. An. Entire. Year.

Some of it I’ll publish, some of it will just be in my journal*, some of it will be long-form for Cathy Labs but it will all be me — email, twitter, etc. don’t count. I keep hoping that it will be like my physical therapy sessions. I threw my back out pretty badly in December, and my physical therapist has me doing all these weird pilates-esque exercises. They mean I’m trying to talk to muscles that I’m not used to talking to, and getting them to do stuff. It’s incredibly awkward. But it’s becoming less awkward, and I’m hoping this can be the same: figure out roughly what I wanted to say, write it out, edit the hell out of it, send it to its fate, lather rinse repeat.

Nourish myself.

People who have worked with me over the past decade-ish have heard my go-to rant about taking care of yourself. In short: You are made of meat. And meat needs maintenance. In classic “Do as I say not as I do” mode, I’ve often ignored this advice for myself. I would often tell colleagues, “If I’m acting super bitchy, make sure I’ve had enough water to drink because I will forget and it makes me grouchy.” That is all true, but not sufficient. I need to do more than just track my food and water on FitBit. I owe myself better than that.

I’ve never been a big fan of the sometimes absurd health fads some of my friends celebrate. I’m looking at you, self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, “I love Soylent,” “Have you put butter in your coffee OMG IT IS LIFE CHANGING!!” friends. [ I still love y’all, but here we differ. ] I am a person who has lived most of my life inside my head — classic introversion. Ergo, this resolution isn’t all about food for me, rather it is about remembering that there’s more to my experience than just what’s happening in my mind’s ear.

So here’s my resolution: I will embrace things that nourish me. I will embrace simple, healthy food because it makes my brain run better and because it’s just good. I will try to exercise until I get some actual sweat every day, which can be difficult when you’re in startup-mode but I will make room for it. I need to be the best b I can possibly be to do the things in front of me. That means fuel for the fire, and room for recovery. Sometimes I will knit. Sometimes I will read. Sometimes I will cook. I’m already at about 70% of this in my current behaviors, but this is my commitment to myself to do better.

None of these are grand changes.

I’m okay with that. They don’t need to be. They’re for me, not for anyone else, and besides which I have enough on the “grand plans” list for Cathy Labs that I can afford some smallish, simpler changes for myself.

Starting tomorrow.

*This whole journal thing is pretty new to me. But it was a great excuse to buy a new Lamy fountain pen and some amazing green ink with gold flecks in it. I’m all about the sparkly when it comes to journaling, apparently.


Originally published at bethanye.geekery.org on January 26, 2016.