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My Instagram is cute. My house is not always cute. Sometimes, parts of my house look like this. It’s okay…ish. It could be better. I like it when it’s better.

My schedule has changed recently, so things are falling through the cracks. Things that I’m usually pretty good at, like keeping up with my meal planning calendar and laundry. It’s been a long time since the table beside the couch looked like the picture above. I can’t say that I’ve missed that.

I recently lamented to friends that I was disappointed with how my year of wild is going. As someone who is mostly organized but is also a little fond of and prone to chaos, I was looking forward to wild really shaking my year up. A still life of cups and glasses was not the chaos I had in mind. On the surface, wild hasn’t stirred around much. My life is just as un-wild as it ever has been.

Or so it would seem.

One facet of wild that I am particularly interested in cultivating is freedom. Freedom from shoulds. Freedom from lifeless traditions. Freedom from good advice that doesn’t particularly work for me in practice.

In this way, this year has been super wild, and my progress on my resolutions shows it. I am farther along toward my goals this year than I was at this time last year. Who knew that, instead of just saying, “I do what I want!” while still bending over backwards to fulfill obligations that aren’t really mine to fulfill, intentionally embracing saying no in order to cling to what fulfills me would result in getting what I want done?

Everyone, you say? Literally everyone knew that? Okay. That’s fair.

Anyway, I apologize to wild for being disappointed. Although…don’t go anywhere, wild. We’re not done here.

Perhaps it doesn’t look wild to me because I use structure, but I think this is a misunderstanding of the term. Sometimes I expect wild to be loose and flowy, but then I watch an animal stalk its prey (and by animal, I do mean my mom’s barn cats). Wild definitely requires a certain measure of focus for survival.

So this week, I begin testing a new time management structure. I was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s best practices post. The ones that really stick out to me are actually writing when I have made time to write, setting boundaries but writing them in pencil, and fill your well (because if I’m not reading or eating right or staying active, everything else goes awry). I have added a second job writing SEO content, so it makes sense that my schedule could not continue as it was without something important taking the hit. I imagine it will take a few weeks of tweaking, but I’m confident that it will work.

For those who want to put a little structure in their schedule, it’s pretty simple. I started by making a list of priorities. For me, I thought about what I would need in order to consider myself as having my life together. Keep in mind that I am single and childless and that, for the most part, I operate on a pretty low supply of give-a-damns when it comes to other people telling me what my life should be. If this does not describe you, you’re going to have to concentrate a little more to get past the voices that want to shout over you. When you are listing your priorities, your opinion is the one that matters the most.

[Aside – this is not advice to shut out other people altogether. If you are in a committed relationship and you want to remain in it, you might want to list it as a priority. Please don’t ever use “I’m focusing on me right now” as an excuse to be an inattentive asshole. If you want to break up, just break up. Don’t be passive and shady about it. /psa]

After I had my list of priorities, I divided them into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. I listed each one as specific tasks to complete. For example, for my body weight, I need to drink 100 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated, so that’s what I listed as one of my daily health goals. Decide what you can reasonably do, and quantify each goal on your list. Once you have these lists, document them. I keep a goals calendar, but you can keep up with them in whatever way works for you. It helps you chart your progress.

What process do you use to meet goals?

Dale Bigsby

Photo, squirrel name, and office window credits go to my coworker Jessica. Post title inspired by this Facebook group and NKOTB.

Meet Dale Bigsby. He is the squirrel that likes to hang out by Jessica’s office. Summer days at work are super busy, but not so busy that I can’t go across the hall on occasion to say hello to Dale. Or Tank to his friends. I still call him Dale. Sometimes Mr. Bigsby. We are merely work acquaintances, but I hope that by the end of the summer, we will be on nickname basis.

When I walked in this afternoon, he was in his usual repose position:

Dale Bigsby 2

Dale Bigsby is all of us in this Texas heat.

But he heard us talking about what a cute little one he was, and then he had to get up and check us out. Then he looked like he was about to chase a bird, but upon hearing our counsel (that he probably wouldn’t catch it because birds can fly and he cannot), he decided that continuing his busy schedule of lying down was a wiser course of action.

I feel like this squirrel understands me.

Stay tuned for updates on what I am certain will be a riveting adventure in our budding interspecies friendship.

Not-Friday Five

Not Friday Five

So Friday got away from me last week, but I have some gems to share with you from the Internet, so here we are on Monday.

Summer is my second wind of trying new things. It’s also the season that I tend to eat the best (because really, it’s just too hot to eat anything but salad and fruit. And also snow cones). So a lot of the things that stick out to me that I want to save for later are food and indoor fitness related, because running outside right now until October? That’s ridiculous. And then there are the things that always stick out to me, like livable wages and social experiments. So…enjoy!

  1. I also like tacos, though, and so I need this book. I’m not sure this can be considered a cleanse in the traditional sense, but I’m willing to listen. Because tacos.
  2. I like stories like this, even though they’re clickbaity and possibly staged and insert-all-the-cynical-things-here. All wages should be livable. Living is what working is for.
  3. I might take tap and ballet again. That would be fun. And also indoors. Win-win.
  4. This made me laugh and laugh. Also, I can attest – accurate. Don’t #notallmen me. Because that’s not the point. The point is that it doesn’t have to happen every time; it happens enough that, statistically speaking, it’s likely just as much the result of societal conditioning as it is individual asshattery, so we as a society should look into cutting it out. Also, if you feel defensive, maybe ask yourself why. Is it because it really didn’t apply to you, or is it because maybe it applied a little and you feel uncomfortable that you may have made this impression? Honor that discomfort. Maybe deal with that instead of reacting defensively. As an aside, when I use this kind of response when people compliment me, and they like it, it makes me like them even more. My people.
  5. Last, I love this. This Gen-Xer agrees.

I’m thinking about sending another newsletter soon. I have some writing news that’s exciting and different. So if you want to hear me yammer on about it, you can sign up here. Also, there’s usually a recipe. I mean, it’s summer, so it may be for a snow cone. But it would be a delicious snow cone!

 

IMG_0945

More of these in my house, please. I love seeing flowers on the table when I walk in.

It’s almost mid-year, which is about the time I remember, “Oh, I made resolutions!” So let’s check in and see how they’re going.

  1. Word of the year – wild. I’m not sure how to answer this. Wild has been pretty vague this year. I catch moments of it, but it hasn’t disrupted things the way the last few years True, fun, beauty. Oh, the havoc they wreaked! But wild? I would expect wild to be…well…wilder.
  2. Read 100 books. SHUT UP, GOODREADS. I KNOW I’M BEHIND. Maybe I should read wilder books. Two birds, one stone.
  3. Learn conversational Spanish. Huh. Forgot I made that one.
  4. Making my home more welcoming. I have had people over more often – does that count? I have embraced the practice of inviting people over regardless of the mess. So maybe this one has morphed into welcoming despite the state of the home.
  5. Make strides in health goals. Plateaus are the worst. I was doing really well, and then plateau. Now I don’t want to do anything – exercise, eat right, sleep well – because it’s a lot of effort for nothing. This last weekend, I actually considered starting a detox program designed to hydrate you and adjust your gut bacteria and all other sorts of weird things just because I know it would be enough of a shock to leap off the damn plateau. This program? Requires me to give up coffee. I HATE PLATEAUS SO MUCH I CONSIDERED GIVING UP COFFEE. Thankfully, that brief moment of madness has passed. Summer is usually good for less ridiculous eating. I’ll give summer a chance.
  6. Finish a manuscript (lol) and publish a calendar. While finishing a manuscript seems like a strange, wonderful dream at this moment, I have been working pretty steady on my calendar project. It’s coming along slowly but steadily.
  7. Run a 5K. Maybe in October, and maybe at the beach! I’ve got a group that I’m going to try walking the July 4th race with, but there will be no running of a 5K in July. Because Texas.
  8. Attend a writing retreat – coming in June! I’m road-tripping to Virginia with my friend Michelle (and maybe others) to attend a retreat hosted by the leader of one of my online writing groups. YAY!!!!!
  9. Get paid for writing – also done (wow, my writing goals are going well. I’m so impressed with me). I have started SEO (search engine optimization) writing, and I’m addicted to it. I got my first paycheck for writing on May 11th.
  10. Continue/establish traditions. I already have my meal plan and grocery/booze list for the Hemingway party started, if that counts. That’s the only tradition I can think of right now.

So I’m not doing too shabby with my goals. This reminder was helpful.

Did you make resolutions? How are they going?

Friday Five 4

My mother is one of my favorite people. She is tough and moody and full of both wonder and practicality. She is the reason I have such a soft place in my heart for Emily Gilmore, because some of Emily’s lines could have come straight from my mother’s mouth. Today, I am highlighting items from the Internet that reminded me of her when I read them.

  1. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Simone Biles. She does not abide foolishness, and that includes the foolishness of being told what to do with her face. When asked why she wasn’t smiling during the judges’ positive feedback, she replied, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” I love her so hard.
  2. Mom Lesson #453: It’s okay to be mad; it is not okay to act like a banshee and pitch a fit on the floor when innocent people are just trying to get their grocery shopping done without incident. Kristen Bell and my mom would get along.
  3. While I’m not sure my mom would be comfortable with the idea of my attending Pride at all, she would insist that if I must that I at least Do. It. Right. If you’re going to try to be an ally, do the work of listening to what that means.
  4. I enjoyed and related a lot to this article on Gen X getting caught in the middle of Boomers and Millennials. My mother would respond with a combination of “Suck it up” and “Well, make them pay attention.” Yes, mother. I’m not sure why they call their generation the Silent Generation. That does not describe either of my parents accurately at all.
  5. I don’t know why this reminded me of Mom. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. This certainly doesn’t resemble her at all. Swear like a Mother.

spinster

Kate Bolick’s Spinster is an excavation of single womanhood in America. I enjoyed the book (for the most part), and I’m glad I read it (finally). It is an ambitious project – weaving together personal history and anecdotes with the country’s history and also the lives of five women who influenced the author’s life and ended up single – but Bolick handles it well overall.

I loved the profiles of the five women who influenced her life, and I loved reading about how they did so. I enjoyed all the historical aspects of the book and the discussion about what being single has meant for women throughout the history of our country until the present. I was expecting more of a traditional memoir, and while I enjoy memoir well enough, that it did not turn out to be Bolick‘s primary focus was a pleasant surprise.

With a subtitle like “Making a Life of One’s Own,” I expected to see more of that. Most of the memoir portion focused on other people. While I can appreciate that there will be significant others (romantic or otherwise) in anybody’s life and that a memoir will inevitably include some mention of them, the key word there is “some.” Not constant mention. Interdependence and independence are two different things. I was disappointed not to see more discussion about independence. There’s more to it than whether or not one is involved in a romantic relationship. The focus on all the men she’s dated and why they worked or didn’t work or ultimately worked but they broke up anyway was exhausting and felt extraneous. It’s this very focus on discussing who women are in the context of relationships to romantic partners (instead of focus on women as actual people on their own, regardless of romantic relationship or lack thereof) that is the root cause of the double standard for men and women regarding marriage. Parts of the book seemed to reinforce that double standard rather than break it down, which I had hoped would be the point of the book.

I enjoyed the book overall, and I’m happy to have read it. I’m not quite sure it was a successful reclamation of the word Spinster, but maybe it was a start.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Friday Five3

I’m having fun/trouble narrowing down poets this month. Today, I bring you tiny snippets of five of my favorites that I hope you will read.

  1. Audre Lorde – start with The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde
    From “Sisters in Arms” –
    “and wherever I touch you

    I lick cold from my fingers
    taste rage
    like salt from the lips of a woman
    who has killed too often to forget
    and carries each death in her eyes”
  2. Martin Estrada – Imagine the Angels of Bread
    From the poem of the same title –
    “this is the year that the food stamps
    of adolescent mothers
    are auctioned like gold doubloons,
    and no coin is given to buy machetes
    for the next bouquet of severed heads
    in coffee plantation country.”
  3. Yehuda Amichai – The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
    From “In the Middle of this Century” –
    “The earth drinks men and their loves
    Like wine,
    To forget.
    It can’t.
    And like the contours of the Judean hills,
    We shall never find peace.”
  4. Aja Monet – My Mother was a Freedom Fighter
    From the poem of the same title (read at this year’s Women’s March) – 
    “In a midnight voice, arms extended,
    she reads blues that lay the soul to dust.”
  5. Adrienne Rich – Collected Early Poems
    From “Two Songs” –
    “I’d call it love if love
    didn’t take so many years
    but lust too is a jewel
    a sweet flower and what
    pure happiness to know
    all our high-toned questions
    breed in a lively animal.”

Who are some of your favorite poets?

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