Way back in December, I had an idea for my next newsletter. I was going to reread a favorite book from my childhood and write an essay about it. I reread the book, and I tried to write about it, but I couldn’t. I thought I’d give it some time, but that didn’t help either. And then my grandmother died, and Austin was walloped by Winter Storm Uri, and now here we are. It’s March, and I haven’t written to you in a while.
I won’t lie: I’m dealing with the current situation less well than I did when it started. And it’s not really anything in particular, just the continued drain of everyone being home all. the. time. I don’t really want to send my children back to school, possibly because I’m lazy and don’t miss the drop-off/ pick-up routine, packing lunches, or arguing with my oldest about getting out the door in the morning. But at the end of the day, I rarely have the energy for anything beyond flopping on the couch to watch tv or paging through a romance novel. Most days, writing is Hard.
Part of me is annoyed that I had a good idea and failed to follow through. But here is something I think about a lot, too: what if it’s just not the right time?
Last year I finally complete a project I first considered in 2003, as a freshman in college. I made a soundtrack for every month in 2020. It’s funny that a project that I could never see through to the end (indeed, previous attempts only lasted a month or two, tops) as a college student with endless amounts of free time (anyone else jealous of how a former version of themselves squandered the time available to them?!), actually came to fruition as a married person with two kids whose scant free time was further diminished by a global pandemic. I mean.
To be fair, there were a few things working in my favor last year that did not exist in the early aughts. Wireless earbuds and Bluetooth in my car, both of which kept me regularly listening to my soundtracks and interested in the project. Spotify, which made it easy for me to curate a soundtrack with easy-to-use playlists and a weekly infusion of new candidates via Discover Weekly. Not having any physical space away from my kids, which necessitates turning on music in the afternoon to drown out the sounds of Power Rangers on the tv.
I’m not going to get into why this is a Hard Time for most people attempting to do creative work. But I will say, if you’ve had a Brilliant Idea over the last year (or, just ever), and failed to see it through, consider that maybe it’s not time yet.
Maybe I’ll write that essay for you next month. (Hopefully, it won’t take 15 years.)
It was nice to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020. Even if the pandemic is far from over, at least we know what we’re signing up for this year. (And at least we have a new administration that will hopefully steer the ship in the right direction instead of just going around in circles over this thing.) I spent some time over the holidays thinking about what my goals are at this point in my life. I even wrote a 5-year plan after reading Elise Cripe’s Big Dreams, Daily Joys.
Read the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2020: an ambitious goal (I didn’t come anywhere close to reading 100 books last year) I shamelessly stole from someone else because it seemed like a good way to read well while also pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So far I’ve read The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan (cute but reaffirmed I don’t like Regency Romance), Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (loved), and Writers & Lovers by Lily King (already one of my favorite books of 2021).
Finish Underbelly: my visual memoir of postpartum anxiety. This thing is just an octopus I continue to wrestle with but it is a priority for me to finish and publish in the first half of 2021.
Take good care of myself: 2020 was brutal for my physical health. At first, I wanted to give myself a pass. I mean, it’s a pandemic! But at some point, giving myself a pass was more uncomfortable than doing something about it. So I did what everyone is doing and bought a Peloton (my referral code ABGPMV gets you $100 off accessories!). True story: I’d never done a spin class before. It was never particularly appealing. But the Peloton experience (on-demand classes with a variety of instructors, the data provided by the bike while you’re working out, the ability to let friends creep on my workout history) seemed like it would be pretty close to my ideal workout situation. And so far, I like it! Of course, ‘health’ is so much broader than physical fitness; I am also working on my menstrual cycle (which has been not great since it returned after my second kiddo a few years ago). So far that involves taking Elix ($20 off your first order with my link), taking my BBT every morning with my Lady-Comp, and tracking symptoms and data in my Cycles Journal. (Side note: this is one of two very niche journals I bought after getting served an Instagram ad. I’m still getting Instagram ads for workbooks and journals, many of which I’ve never heard of. I LOVE IT.) I’ve also recently started eating from the Blogilates meal plan and tracking my food in a 90 Day Journal— jury is out on the meal plan and the journal is a touch too small to write in comfortably, but I like the design. [Apologies for the barrage of affiliate links but I really do use and love this stuff and if it saves us both some money then GREAT]
One Color a Day journal: I love the idea of this practice. I am apparently terrible at keeping it up every week. I will keep trying.
Make memories with the boys: This is hard. I had a bit of a meltdown earlier this month about how I could barely remember anything that happened in 2020. It was the longest year and yet most of the days just blend into each other in a sea of every day like the one before. If memory is born of novelty, how are my kids making memories if every day is the same? I’m challenging myself to bring a little bit more magic into our days— I think I was better at this over the summer when I didn’t have the pressure of facilitating home school.
Here’s what I’m working on specifically in March:
Read Breathing the Page for book club
Finish a storyboard outline for Underbelly
Read a short story or essay and a poem daily (stole this idea from Rachel Khong, whose book Goodbye, Vitamin is really terrific)
Continue with my 100-day project of daily art journaling; I think I’m going to follow along with the Stamps! Prints! Books! class on Creativebug.
One Color a Day, a daily habit I am in and out of (but posting on Instagram stories when I’m ‘in’).
Plus, making some harem pants for my little guy.
My first personal essay was published by Motherfigure. It’s about how I first dismissed my symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder because I thought I had an anger management problem.
These Precious Days, a gorgeous essay from Ann Patchett.
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