April’s Over Already?

GnnnnnnnnfhshdkjlGGGGHhgbh.

Huff. It’s been a while.

Quite a few Wednesdays and Sundays have passed since my last post, as well as the 15th of April, which should have been a LotSF update, but uh yeah. Whoops.

I’m actually not terribly upset with myself, because it’s not like I didn’t try. I have my LotSF post fully outlined, as well as the first few paragraphs written out, but wow I haven’t been able to focus lately. I sat down several times to try to write something and just really struggled to put words together. Even now I’m really fighting to get my thoughts in order.

It happens. Sometimes focus is not a cooperative thing. I did genuinely try, so I can give myself brownie points for that, and it just didn’t work out. Stressing myself about it is not worth it.

So until I get back on track, I’m probably going to ease back on my goals. Give myself some time to brainstorm and get the momentum going again. It’s all good.

The weather’s slowly been getting nicer here as spring makes its noncommittal return, so a few days ago I took a detour while walking home from the library and went for a walk through the small patch of woods near my house (the one that started LotSF, actually). There wasn’t too much green out yet, but there was a whole lot of moss that really stood out in the sunlight. I’m not sure if I’ve ever expressed my deep adoration of moss before (nature’s perfect carpet) but I love it so much.

It’s so nice to be back outside, especially in a place that feels so welcoming and familiar. It’s funny because as I’m walking through the trees it’s so easy to imagine myself as the Alex in my story, surrounded by so much life and magic that I just can’t see. I can imagine sprites and bearskins and lily-slips and the whole lot. I can see all those little details that fascinated me the first time and inspired me to look deeper, to imagine more.

And there’s that reminiscent feeling of spring arriving, driving out the winter blahs, announcing newness and fresh beginnings and the excitement of bigger and better things to come.

The way things have been going–with the lack of focus, the inability to blog, feeling out of touch with what used to inspire me–that’s the winter. That’s what made LotSF Alex deaf and blind. But with time and patience and determination, spring will bring everything back where it belongs.

This is why we write these stories. To remind us of the truths of the world.

I hope you are all well. Talk soon.

-Alex

 

Sunday Rambles

With all the LotSF stuff I’ve been doing the past few days, I had pretty much zero time to think of what I was going to write today. I mean, I spent the afternoon trying to come up with a suitable subject, and I did eventually settle on one that I like, but it’s a topic I want to invest a couple days’ worth of work into. So I shall save it for Wednesday’s post, and use this post to wrap up a few thoughts.

Firstly, I’m glad I did that LotSF chapter. I believe the story is an important one that I would like to continue telling, and it’s really good for me to have something like that to work on that I know I can really see progress with. I have lots of stories that I’m working hard on, but LotSF is special in that I am able to share it as I go along. It makes it feel more tangible, something I can say, “Look how much I’ve done,” and it’s great motivation to keep working hard and keep getting words on the page.

Secondly, I am so glad that spring finally seems to be arriving (knock on wood). This weekend was lovely, sunny and something resembling warmish, and it’s such a wonderful mood-booster. Despite spring signalling the start of the crazy stressful heartworm season at work, it also means that soon I’ll be able to spend more time outside without freezing my butt off. That means more LotSF inspiration and more opportunity to feel like myself.

Thirdly, I’ve been looking through old photos and drowning in happy nostalgia (more on that in my next post) and I am so grateful for the people I’ve met in my life. Especially my elementary school friends–people I’ve grown up with who are still so close to my heart. I’m very fortunate to know them and get to spend time with them, and it’s such an amazing thing to see them out there living their lives and figuring out what makes them happy.

And while I’m at it, I’m also grateful for people I’ve met through WordPress. I need to get a bit better at keeping in touch with all my digital friends, but I’m still so happy for the opportunity to have met them and gotten to know them. There are a few in particular who have influenced my life in all the best ways.

I dunno, I’m feeling so sappy tonight. I hope you guys had a good weekend.

Talk soon.

-Alex

Lost in Translation

I am actually a little disappointed to be posting this with the title “Lost in Translation” when I realize that “A Foreign Language” would have actually fit it perfectly. But alas, that was the name of my last post and of course hindsight is 20/20.

Oh well. Anyways.

I believe I mentioned at the start of the year that I rented a violin in December and was playing around with that and having a lot of fun with it. Well, it actually worked out that a barn friend of mine had a violin from when she was learning as a kid and she generously gifted it to me, which was pretty amazing. It’s a gorgeous instrument and I am very much in love, and after fixing up the strings and buying a new bow (and learning just how painstakingly difficult it is to apply a new brick of rosin to a brand new bow–it took me two days), it really feels like my own.

Actually learning how to play it though?

That’s been an interesting adventure.

I mean, I’ve learned how to make it sound like something resembling music and not a horrible hybrid between nails-on-chalkboard and dying-animal-sound, which is good, and I’ve learned to play a couple short and simple songs that actually sound like the songs they’re supposed to be, which is great, but wow what an instrument.

What an instrument, truly.

It’s quite interesting, because music is something I’ve always loved from a listening standpoint, but is something I never really felt a part of from a creating standpoint. I mean, I did take a mandatory music class in eighth grade so I did have some exposure to music, but learning three notes on the flute in order to play Hot Cross Buns doesn’t exactly equate to understanding and grasping music. And seeing as how I got a B in that class, I clearly wasn’t any kind of musical prodigy.

So jumping into the violin (which is on its own a much more difficult instrument to learn than most) without any real prior musical ability or knowledge has been a little bit disorienting. I mean, I couldn’t read a lick of sheet music a month or so ago, so trying to figure out how the little sticks and circles on the page are supposed to transform into sounds feels like trying to understand ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Lots of confused faces and question marks, let me tell you.

And what the heck is with this whole “an A note could either be an open A or the fourth finger on the D string or the third finger on the E string or the first finger on the G string” nonsense? Why couldn’t we come up with different letters for each? I am so confused????

But I’m slowly piecing it together and am actually making music. Which is. Wow. It’s really wow.

I mean, I’ve sort of got Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

Which are two songs that would really only entertain infants (and even then they would want me to be a lot better at violin first) but hey. It’s certainly a start.

And, and! I’ve also got a classical song by Beethoven in my musical repertoire. Yeah that’s right, I learned how to play a snippet of Ode to Joy. I actually only learned it yesterday, so I have a clip from then and a clip from now, which already shows a little bit of improvement (such as actually being able to remember the tune of Ode to Joy).

Warning: this song sounds a little torturous. Sorry not sorry.

Personally, I think it sounds a little more impressive than Twinkle Twinkle. I actually was a little surprised that Ode to Joy was in my learning level. I mean, I guess I never realized it was actually fairly simple in practice? And I guess when you think of Beethoven you don’t really think “beginner”. So it’s kind of cool to me to see that making music isn’t quite as astoundingly, impossibly difficult as I previously thought.

Although, that being said, I’m not finding every song quite so easy to get a grasp on. The song that is my kryptonite? Jingle Bells. Yes. Jingle Bells. I attempted it four times in the following clip and boy oh boy was that fun.

Yeeeah. Not very impressive.

I think perhaps the most fascinating part of this whole experience thus far though has been actually learning the music. I mean, I still don’t really know sheet music, but I learned how to do Auld Lang Syne using tabs and that’s actually a song I’ve memorized. And it’s really interesting to me, because to some degree I’ve got the finger positions numerically memorized (0 3 3 3 1 0 3 0…) but when it comes down to really playing it, I’ve actually got it memorized more by sound than anything else. I know the tune of the song, I know whether the next note will be higher or lower, I’ve learned the finger position associated with the different notes, and so playing Auld Lang Syne feels a little bit like speaking a fluent sentence in a foreign language.

Learning music feels like learning a language.

Because with this song in particular, I no longer have to sit there and think “okay what’s the note that comes next?”, my brain just knows it, and knows how to make it. I’ve got it memorized to the point where it feels intuitive and natural and it’s such an incredible feeling. This is why I wanted to learn an instrument–I wanted the feeling of music being an extension of myself and I wanted to feel the sound pour from my hands the same way the words pour from my mind.

I mean don’t get me wrong, you can hear plenty of mistakes when I’m playing it (I am so impatient and you can totally tell, ahaha), but it just feels so amazing to play and agh I love it.

I have a hell of a long way to go with violin before it’s quite what I hope for it to be, but I’m just so grateful that I get the chance right now to start to integrate something so amazing and meaningful into my life. The fact that I’m learning this new language, that I’m finding a new way to express myself, a new extension of my soul? It’s inspiring and powerful and breathtaking and I love it.

Y’know. When I’m not struggling with Christmas songs.

-Alex

Exciting News!

Well. I have some pretty good news.

I got accepted into college!

Yup, for the second time. I liked it so much the first time I just had to go back for more.

It’s so strange to be going through the process a second time. Part of me has this laid-back, “been there, done that” attitude that contrasts so starkly to the anxious and excited high schoolers who have just applied for the first time. The other part of me is just like them–am I gonna get in what if I don’t get in ugggggh when am I going to find out?

But yes, I got accepted, and I could not be happier. I’m so excited I actually wish I could start classes sooner and waiting a whole six months feels like torture.

You might remember that when I was in university last year and the year before, I was doing an animal bio major as a prerequisite for entering the vet college, and that lovely major featured thrilling courses such as biochem, physics, and statistics–three of my absolute favourite subjects, of course. You might also remember that I took this past year off of school because depression is a thing and stress really sucked and trying to do biochem and stats while you’re already feeling crummy is pretty friggin’ hard.

I was really worried about what I was going to do next, because I really wanted to go back to school and keep learning things and pursue veterinary medicine, but I didn’t feel confident that I’d really be able to tackle those difficult courses and keep up with the studying and homework.

However, I found a pretty perfect solution to the problem.

May I present: vet tech college.

A vet tech is basically what a nurse is to a doctor–they do a lot of the same things and have a lot of the same knowledge, but the tech is often more hands-on (running tests, drawing blood, etc) and the vet is often more knowledge based (diagnoses, treatment plans, etc).

This also means that the actual education required for each differs quite a bit; a tech does 2-3 years of college with lots of hands-on work, while the vet does 7-8 years of university with lots of theory work. So instead of taking courses like biochem and statistics for three years before I can even apply to the vet program, I’ll be jumping straight into courses such as medical exercises and animal nursing. Which will not only be slightly easier than memorizing the structures of amino acids, but will also be so much more interesting.

The other amazing thing about this program? They offer it in an alternative format, which means that I can keep working at the vet clinic (and learning/practising a lot of the skills that I’ll be taught in the vet tech program anyways) during the fall and winter semesters while taking a couple online classes, and then when all the other university students are off during the summer and looking for more working hours (therefore able to cover my shifts), I’ll be going to the campus to do the actual hands-on courses.

I’m actually so thrilled that I found out about this program and was accepted into it. I’m excited to be able to learn practical skills in the field that interests me and I’m just really happy that it feels possible for me to go back to school again without worrying about the stress I had before. I think this will be a lot more manageable and make me a lot happier in the long run.

There’s a part of me that feels like I might still want to go back to vet college and get the full doctor’s degree, but why not take this opportunity while I have the chance? I mean, in the grand scheme of things I am ridiculously young, so I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to go out and learn more and do whatever I’d like.

And it’s not like I’m going to be bored. In my time working at the clinic I’ve come to love doing things like lab tests and nursing care–things that the vet often doesn’t have time to do. So heck, maybe this is actually a better fit for me than being a vet. Who knows?

All I know is I am incredibly excited to be embarking on this new adventure and I can’t wait for it to start.

-Alex

A Fish that Doesn’t Swim

I’m certain that this will come as a shock to you, so it might be best if you read this sitting down.

Several people in my life have told me that I am, in fact, too hard on myself.

I know, I know, why would they say such a thing? That’s not like me at all!

Except that I know it is, and even though I know it’s true, it still doesn’t seem to help.

Well, that’s not entirely truthful. I’ve definitely learned how to tone it down recently. I no longer feel the need to call myself a lazy loser if my only accomplishment for the day is reading thirty pages of a book, or threaten myself with visions of future doom and destitution if I don’t manage to write anything creative by the end of the day. Life is stressful and difficult and tiring as it is without adding on all this internal pressure to do more, do better, be better.

I know I’m not alone in this idea of being too hard on myself, and I’ve seen it in some of my friends too. These impossibly high standards, this very strict definition of success, this merciless idea of what is “acceptable”. It’s an understandable trap, the desire to do more, because it comes from all the best intentions. We believe we can do amazing things, we want to do amazing things, and we want to constantly push ourselves to do the best we possibly can and always strive to improve.

It’s great to want to improve and make or do something you’re proud of.

There is, of course, a point where it goes too far, as is the case with most things.

Because when you start pushing yourself for more and better and greater, you sometimes forget that you’ve actually achieved quite a lot.

And when you start basing your worth as a creator or a person on how “well” you think you’re doing or how much content you’re producing?

That’s a dangerous game.

One big thing I’ve experienced while being depressed is that it is absolutely impossible to live up to any of my high standards while simultaneously fighting through a mental illness. In fact, it’s impossible to even be able to do what I was doing before, which I used to think was “barely adequate”.

No focus, no energy, no motivation. It makes those already sky-high standards feel truly exorbitant.

So as somebody who is often too hard on myself, not being able to accomplish very much is beyond frustrating. It started to eat into my sense of worth, my sense of value. If I’m not producing 2000 words in a day, what kind of writer does that make me? If I’m not writing stories to share, then what am I doing with my time besides wasting it?

It was really easy to fall into this trap of “wasted time”, as if every minute of the day had to be spent doing something “meaningful”.

It’s probably pretty obvious that beating up on yourself like that isn’t a good way to feel better when you’re depressed.

So. Slowly (and painfully), I had to learn to not be hard on myself. Which felt a little bit like telling a fish not to swim, or a dog not to wag its tail when it’s happy. I had to let go of this idea of “wasted time”, I had to let go of this idea of my value being in how many words or stories I was writing, I had to let go of this idea that it’s not okay for me to spend my time reading books and watching YouTube videos and eating snacks in bed.

Because it is okay to do those things. Of course it is.

There is no right or wrong way to spend your time, as long as it’s something you feel is good for you.

Just because you’re not producing or accomplishing something does not at all decrease your worth as a person.

Not gonna lie, for a long time it felt like if I stopped pushing myself, if I told myself it was okay to spend my evening lying in bed listening to music instead of writing, then I would never do the work that makes me feel happy and meaningful and I would never feel better. But making myself feel guilty for not being able to do very much work wasn’t making me feel good at all.

It does feel better, to just accept your limitations. To be gentle with yourself. To admit that broken bones can only heal if you give them lots of rest.

I know that the world favours the capable, that it praises those who can do big, remarkable things, and it feels lonely and disappointing to not be one of the achievers. But it doesn’t stop you from being beautiful or wonderful or incredible or important.

You can be sprawled out on the couch for hours watching Netflix and still have a gorgeous head full of astounding hopes and dreams and beliefs.

You can be wrapped up in a blanket in a dark room and still have a breathtaking heart that is brave and loving and kind.

You can spend your time doing nothing but breathing and still have a laugh that makes the earth shiver and a smile that makes the sun soar and a body made of atoms that started their lives in the hearts of stars.

Your worth will never be tied to how much you can do, you hear me?

You have my full and wholehearted permission to stop being hard on yourself.

I know, it’s like telling a fish not to swim. But you’ll get used to it.

Turns out, floating is kind of nice.

-Alex

Infinite Imaginings

Last week, I noticed on my way home that someone in the neighbourhood has acquired their own little food truck.

I suppose it’s more of a food trailer than a food truck, seeing as how it looks like it fits on the back of a regular truck to be towed around, but still. There’s no mistaking the flashy red paint job and “BBQ & Grill” emblazoned on the side with a picture of some sort of savoury food next to it.

Normally it’s quite easy to tune out the background imagery of the neighbourhood, seeing as how I can pretty much put myself on autopilot to take the familiar drive home from work, but it’s rather hard to miss a bright red food trailer.

The few times since then I’ve driven past the trailer, I’ve been nosily trying to see who owns it and what it looks like on the inside. A couple times I’ve seen the back doors open and someone working away inside, but I’ve never really got a good glimpse of the owner or the kitchen space. Still, it’s a little point of interest to break up the monotony of the daily commute.

And it’s really fun to imagine.

Imagining the proud new owner of the food trailer making plans, babbling on about menu and locations, eagerly setting to work getting the trailer set up for business as the summer creeps closer. Imagining what the summer will be like, the very first season of this new culinary adventure, with people lined up and smoke billowing out the top and the smell of barbecued meat wafting through the hot, sunny afternoon. Imagining what sorts of stories this food trailer owner will soon be able to tell.

It almost burns, the curiosity and accompanying desire to know more, to know what’s true, to know what’s going to happen.

But it’s funny that we humans with our big, imaginative brains, seem to do that. Make stories out of the things we see, weave them into our lives.

A few days ago, as my coworker and I were just getting out of work, I was standing by the door waiting for her when I looked over towards the shipping centre next door and saw a man and woman hauling a big box into their car. The picture on the box indicated it was a child’s stroller, and a big one too. Once they got it in the car, they exchanged a high five before climbing inside.

It made me smile a bit, the little high five, and I wondered if this was their first kid. Was it still just a baby or was it a toddler now, big enough to warrant a bigger stroller? Where were they going to go with that stroller? The park, Disneyland, the zoo? Was the kid actually going to want to be in the stroller or would they at some point demand to go up on dad’s shoulders, to get a better lay of the land?

Just today, I noticed on my way to work a young man taking pictures of the back of his flame-orange pickup truck, which was obviously crumpled from some sort of collision. I only got a glimpse of him, not even enough to see the expression on his face, and I wondered how upset he was. He looked pretty young–was it his first car? Was it his first accident? Was it even an accident, or was it a hit and run in a parking lot, the kind of surprise you really don’t want to find when you get out of the store?

And what possessed him to get such a bright orange truck?

I mean, it’s amazing, but wow. Not many people go for bright orange.

I wonder if it’s his prized possession, that tropical orange truck. Maybe he’s absurdly proud of how unique that colour is, how it makes him so strikingly different from everyone else on the road.

Sometimes it really is just so much fun to wonder these things, to imagine what the answers might be, even if you’ll never find out if you’re right or not.

And I think it’s neat to notice these things, to give them the time of day. Like I said, it’s so easy to slip into the monotony of the day, of routine, and just completely block out all the familiar things around you. But once you actually start to notice things, once you actually pay attention to them and treat them as significant, it seems to fill your day with so much more colour and life.

I mean, you’ve heard me say it before: life is the greatest adventure.

And what a many-layered adventure it can be.

Because if you think about it, even though I don’t own the food trailer or the stroller or the orange pickup truck, even though I could never see any of those things again in my life, they have irretrievably become a small part of my life. They’ve been written into the daily story I’m telling, and the story I’ve chosen to share here.

In a way, they have become a part of my adventure, landmarks to celebrate particular moments along the journey.

If you wanted, you could dive into those little threads of story, you could follow the food trailer and the stroller and the orange pickup truck and you could see all the places they go, all the things they witness. You could take the small part they play in my story and expand it, dig into it like a little pocket of space in the timeline of infinity, and the overall story would become larger.

Let’s say the person with the food trailer serves food to a couple of girls with neon-dyed hair. You could then choose to follow their story, watch them fall in love and get a dog and move to Europe. You could dig into their lives, expand a new pocket of space, and make the story even larger.

You could do that an infinite number of times, opening up pockets, unravelling stories, crafting the overall narrative into something as immense and limitless as the universe itself.

You could take something as simple and linear as my life story and transform it into something massive and boundless.

Just by noticing things, just by imagining things, just by following stories.

I suppose I’ll never actually know the stories of the food trailer or the stroller or the orange pickup truck, and I’ll never get to see the universe-sized story that could be woven together from all the small individual strands, but it doesn’t change that I’m still a part of it. I’m woven into it just like everyone else.

Part of something bigger. Part of something magnificent.

Part of an adventure that’s bigger than anything I could even imagine.

It’s kind of amazing.

-Alex

Your Story 2017

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In 2014, I started a collaborative project called YOUR STORY. It’s exactly what it sounds like–it’s your stories, straight from your own hearts. It reflects the belief that life is truly the greatest adventure, and we are all the heroes of our own lives. Everyone has strength and courage and hope. I want to hear those stories. I want to celebrate that strength. I want you to see just how remarkable you are.

This is your opportunity to share your story, to put it somewhere where it will be recognized for its worth and importance. Everyone has different experiences, everyone has different struggles, but it takes courage to live, to endure difficult times, to pursue happiness.

This is your story. This is your strength.

The Story:

  • You can tell your story however you think is best (fiction or memoir are both accepted)
  • You can use any style (e.g. humorous vs. heartfelt, essay vs. poetry)
  • Wordcount is flexible (the longest story was 3000 words, the shortest was 150)
  • Keep the language rated PG, please and thank you

The Rights:

  • This story 100% belongs to you forever
  • My only rights are to post it on my blog, tweak some formatting, and run a spellcheck
  • You can post it anywhere you’d like without crediting me
  • You can ask me to take it down at any point in time if you change your mind

The Process:

  • I’m accepting submissions from now till March 1st
  • You can submit your story by emailing me at valourborn@gmail.com
    • it can be an attachment or pasted in the email itself
  • You can have it published anonymously or under your preferred name
    • you can also give me links to your blog/social media to include with the post
  • Please include links/files for any videos and pictures you want to include
  • You will have a chance to approve the post before it goes live
  • I’ll also send you a link in an email telling you when it’s posted

There’s no theme for this story. Any experience of strength or weakness, courage or fear, happiness or despair are welcome. It’s up to you what you’d like to share, it’s up to you which moments are important, and there’s really no right or wrong topic for your story. I’m not looking for a polished masterpiece, I just want you to share something honest and meaningful.

I do ask that you keep the subject matter more or less PG, just because of the nature of my blog. If you have any concerns, feel free to send me an email and we can talk about it. I want you to be able to share your story in the best way possible.

If you’d like some inspiration, I’d encourage you to read the previous story entries. Or if you’d like to try writing to a specific theme, I’d challenge you to write about hope. This past year has been difficult for lots of people, but the darkest times are when hope is most important. Let your story be a beacon cutting through the darkness.

I hope that I can share lots of stories in the next couple months and celebrate the incredible strength and spirit of ordinary heroes. Whether you consider yourself remarkable or not, your life is truly an adventure worth sharing.

You are all wonderful. Never forget it.

-Alex

Lucky Number Seven

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Ah, 2017. The year that couldn’t come fast enough.

I’m not the only one who thinks 2016 was especially terrible. Not even just with world events, but in my own personal life there were lots and lots of stumbles. There were of course good things tossed into the mix that shouldn’t be ignored, but largely I’m welcoming 2017 with open arms.

My first real accomplishment of 2017?

Applying to college.

Y’know. For the second time in my life.

I’ve recently decided to make a slight change of direction regarding my career path, so instead of going back into the animal bio program this fall, I’ll hopefully be going into the vet tech program at a different university. The vet tech program will be nice because I’ll only be taking a couple online courses in the fall and winter semesters, allowing me to keep working at the vet clinic I’m at, and then in the summer I’ll go to the university to actually do the hands-on courses and build on a lot of the skills I’m already learning at work.

I think it’s going to be a more exciting and fulfilling experience for me than taking biochem for the third time, and I think it will be good to be able to continue my education without drowning in coursework that’s beyond my current ability. Therefore, starting off 2017 by finishing up my application is a very positive beginning to what I hope will be a very good year.

Speaking of positive beginnings.

2016 was a rough year for lots of people, requiring tons of strength, courage, and hope to get through it. But we made it. We are here starting over, redefining ourselves with resolutions and commitments to change. We are counting blessings and celebrating victories. And I think we should be celebrating. Because whether your last year was spent with endless struggles or with personal victories, I hope that everyone can acknowledge how remarkable and wonderful it is that we’ve completed another long year. I think one way of celebrating that accomplishment is with another round of your personal stories.

I skipped Your Story last summer because I was so swamped, but with the new year happening and myself being in a much better place, I’d like to take the opportunity to share your strengths and victories once more. I’ll make another post for that explaining the details and whatnot, and will hopefully have it up sometime tomorrow. So keep your eyes peeled and get your stories ready my dears.

So. Shall we review the past year?

October

Ah yes, my favourite time of year. I was a lot more relaxed about October this time around, trying not to stress myself out too much about the whole Halloween thing so I’d actually have time to enjoy it. And I did. I really did. My costume this year was Red from Transistor and I should really take the opportunity some time to talk about it more because the character means so damn much to me. I also just felt really good about myself in October. Lots of body positivity, lots of happiness. It was a good month.

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November

November, not so much. I did try to do NaNoWriMo, as per usual, but I really just struggled. I mean, things were changing at work and I had more hours and I was starting on with a new therapist and Christmas was starting to gear up and I just didn’t have the time or energy or focus to complete NaNoWriMo. I wrote a few thousand words, so I still accomplished something, but I was still a bit disappointed and discouraged to have failed this year. I know I can accomplish incredible things when I put my mind to it so it feels like a more personal failure.

December

Ugh, what a crazy month. Christmas snuck up on me for sure. I had one super stressful week at work where everyone but me had final exams so I was covering basically everyone else’s shifts, but I survived and impressed myself with my own capabilities, which is always a good boost to the old self-esteem. Christmas itself wasn’t even as stressful as I expected, me learning to take extra breaks and lower my expectations of myself when needed, and Christmas morning with my family was really, really lovely. This was also the month I decided to rent a violin and start learning to play, which has been such a fun experience so far.

So that was the past few months. As for the year as a whole, well. Many of the resolutions I made last January 1st didn’t quite take hold as well as I’d have wanted them to.

  • Work through the 3rd draft
    • Get some people to read it
  • Blog more (I’ve missed it)
  • Find balance and bravery, one step at a time
  • Build up my self-esteem
    • Start by admitting that my words and my self are important
  • Let go. Just let go. It’s the past. Let it go.

POTS, for example, didn’t get quite as far as I wanted, and nobody ended up reading any of it. Which is fine. It was a difficult year. I did what I could. Unfortunately, the blogging also went rather poorly. As did the whole finding balance thing… I’m maybe a little braver, and maybe think a little better of myself, but yeah–I could definitely still learn a thing or two about letting go.

Which is all right. That’s not really the point of the resolutions, you know? You don’t have to succeed, you just have to try. And I did, and I can see where I made progress, so that’s good. It’s all good.

But. This year has some resolutions too.

  • Keep writing. Always keep writing.
  • Blog more (for real this time)
  • Continue learning to love myself
  • Continue learning to breathe and let go
  • Spread more love to others

They’re not very specific, they don’t come with any particular plans, but they’re things I’d like to learn to do and they’re things I want to have as part of my life. I’m especially hoping for the writing and blogging ones, because I think they’ll help with the rest of it. And I’ve really missed having lots of words in my life.

As always, I’ll leave you with a song that meant something to me this past year. It’s High Hopes by Kodaline, because I have high hopes for this upcoming year and I believe that we are capable of amazing things. Sure, there are stumbles, sure, there are struggles, but we’re here. We are going places. I am hopeful.

Happy New Year, guys. I hope–I genuinely hope–it’s a good one for you.

Any resolutions you’d like to share?

-Alex

Lights in the Sky

There are some people who are as radiant as the sun.

Their light is bright and warm and powerful. They illuminate every room with their imagination, brilliance, and joy. They are not easily forgotten or ignored. They are wonderful and caring and oh so happy.

But there are some people who are more like the moon.

Quiet, reserved. Their light is subtler, surrounded by a deep and awful darkness. And their light is… fragile. Easily lost, easily drowned out. It doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but it makes it much harder to hold onto. Much harder to light the way.

And while the sun rises every day without fail, the moon is much less predictable.

Sometimes it’s bright and full, light unhindered and beauty shining for all to see, but sometimes it is thin and dark and swallowed whole by the abyss.

And those days are hard for the people whose souls are like moons. Because when the darkness has swallowed you whole, what light is left to guide you?

Of course, just as the moon passes through its phases, so too does the light emerge once more from the darkness in a never-ending cycle. But unlike the people whose souls are like suns, the moon people must accept that hardship, struggle, and fear are going to cycle in and out of their lives, ebbing and flowing like ocean tides.

And they must accept, as hard as it is, that there will be winter nights that are so much longer than summer nights–nights when the darkness lingers until it is nearly unbearable.

But every night passes. Every new moon bears new life. The full moon always comes back again.

It’s hard. But it’s the way the world is.

And just because the lights are different, just because one may not be as warm or as strong as the other, doesn’t mean one is worth more.

Because I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t stand to wake up without a sun in the sky.

And a night without a moon would be excruciating.

May your light be ever cherished.

-Alex