2017: A Special Every Day

We are very quickly reaching the end of 2016, and while it’s a little hard to believe how quickly the year has flown by—but not too hard, because it often doesn’t feel that way until the end, but now here we are—I’m okay with it, because Christmas and New Year’s are my two favorite holidays. I particularly look forward to New Year’s because it’s my anniversary with my boyfriend, but even before it was, I always looked forward to it because the first day of a new year always felt like an opportunity, a fresh, brand-new start. It still does.

I know I already touched on what a year it has been, and some hopes and dreams for the new year, but I want to revisit that, and I hope you won’t mind. Maybe it will inspire you to reflect on your year, too, and to pen some hopes and dreams for 2017—and in turn, maybe you’ll even want to share some of those with me.

My year in review…

  • Two successful semesters at UH done, putting me that much closer to graduation
  • Took on a double major, a summer internship, and now a part-time job with the company I interned for
  • Traveled to Athens, Greece, Vienna, Austria, and Isla Mujeres, Cancún, Mexico, as well as Saudi Arabia for the second time
  • Finished one journal and started another
  • Adopted a beautiful red heeler mix with Dylan
  • Created this blog
  • Was accepted into UH’s undergrad Creative Writing program
  • Accepted an invitation to be a bridesmaid in my best friend’s upcoming wedding
  • Two concerts with Dylan
  • Spent time with family and friends

I should really keep better track of the things that happen during the year…

And here’s a thought: there is one special day that happens…well, every day. Not Christmas, not your birthday…

Every day is the first day of the rest of your life.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty special. So maybe we should treat it as a special day—every day. I will with mine—you do with yours, too.

Hopes, dreams, and resolutions for 2017

  • Treat every day as a special day, because every day is special
  • More tranquility and self-care because “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ~ Audre Lorde
  • Be more careful about my use of “Yes” and “No”—perhaps also less of “I can’t” and more of “I don’t”
  • More productivity, less stress, and more FUN
  • MORE WATER, and yoga
  • Continue to study French, as well as other things/topics I’m interested in, such as reading Kimberly Wilson’s books and Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours
  • Save more money, and more TIME because “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” ~ Jim Rohn
  • Journal and WRITE
  • Finish Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix if I don’t finish them before the end of 2016
  • Graduate

Now it’s your turn to reflect and dream, and to picture your own 2017. What do you want it to look like?

Après Christmas Day

Anybody else recuperating from the excitement of a busy Christmas Eve and Day? Yes, you too? Good! Everyone deserves a little down time now and then. After some cleaning this morning, and a long shower, I’m spending some of my down time in bed with my new MacBook Pro, some TV, books, coffee, and a candle burning. This one—one of Bath & Body Works’ fall scents, “Cider Lane”—is nearing the end of its life, and I’m pretty excited for that because I got two new candles yesterday! The one from Dylan, an aromatherapy candle designed to help me “Choose Happiness,” is a very refreshing scent: “Sparkling yuzu and lime with essential oils of immortelle & lime peel” and makes the list of my three favorite gifts that I received for Christmas this year. The other two are an adorable Snoopy perpetual calendar from Hallmark, which shows Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse (of course) with his typewriter, and a coffee cup with one of my favorite writing quotes on both front and back—insofar as a round coffee cup has a front and back—and my first name printed down the side. Gifts to promote happiness, writing, and a smile on my face, and a thousand thank you’s to my family—my side and Dylan’s side—who do mean more to me than even the perfect presents they gave. I love each and every one of you, and there’s no one I’d rather have spent my favorite holiday with.

A pretty great end to a pretty great holiday, capping off a pretty great year. More to come later about my “year in review” and what I hope 2017 might look like. For now, here’s what I hope the rest of today might look like: finishing Return to Arroyo Grande, one of the books I’ve gotten from work, which is comprised of interrelated, magical realism short stories and is very good, and perhaps also read the French copy of Madeleine that my mom found for me for Christmas. I have wanted to read a French book or watch a French movie during my holiday break so my skills don’t completely disappear, and what better book to start with? It’s a children’s book, yes, so very simple, but it’s one that transports me back to my childhood, when Madeline was one of my favorite characters and one of my favorite TV programs. I credit my obsession with France to that, and, let’s be honest, every child has a few things he or she will never outgrow.

Another element of my childhood that I’ll never outgrow is Dr. Seuss, and I spent about ten minutes earlier just “liking” various Dr. Seuss quotes on Goodreads. Ever notice how his books for children are just filled with the best advice? More adults should take notice of that, I believe. I still don’t plan on having children, but I won’t deny that a lot can be learned from a child. Even just through looking at the world with the innocence of childlike wonder. It’s funny how easy it is to lose that as we grow up.

Hey, anyway, enough about that for now! Today is for relaxing, not ruminating on the human psychological condition. With that, I’m going to get off here and back to my quotes and my books. I wish you a quiet day, filled with peace, happiness, and holiday leftovers. A belated Merry Christmas to all, and just as well, happy December 26th, everyone. Make the most of the rest of today!

❤︎

Preoccupied With Preoccupation

Today, I’m thinking about busyness. Is that not a word? Well, it should be.

This is probably a topic I’ve reflected on before, but today it’s exceptionally present in my mind while at my desk at work on a Monday afternoon, thinking about when to leave work.

One of the great things about my part-time job at Arte Público Press is that Marina, my boss, lets me set my own schedule. With the fall semester having ended, my working hours can be more regular and don’t have to be squeezed into the holes of a class schedule, so my hours have been more or less set as Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. Except I got here at 8:30 this a.m., so I may leave around 3:30 rather than 4:00. If I stay until 4:30, though, that would give me a full eight-hour workday, rather than just seven hours. And at four days a week, an eight-hour workday would come to 32 hours per week, rather than just 28. (That four-hour difference doesn’t seem like hardly anything to me when I lay it all out this way…)

It’s somewhat tempting to just stay for another hour. It’s just one more hour, my mind says. What’s just one more?

One more is a lot.

One more hour can mean the difference between getting stuck in stop-and-go traffic on my way home or not. The difference between getting home before dark or after. Last week it meant getting to the bank before closing or not, or getting to Dylan’s in time to take Penny for her evening walk or not. Today it could mean getting home in time to run up to the church and do a little work there or not.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like much here. But to me, it can feel like much.

Then, take into account that that one hour each day adds up to four hours each week. Let’s see what I could do with four hours…

  • Watch one or two French movies, and cross that off my list
  • Finish Naranjo the Muse and update progress on Goodreads
  • Finish the Christmas gift I’m hoping to finish in time to give this year (can’t say who it’s for, in case I don’t finish!)
  • Update my fanfic, or possibly write and post a Christmas-y one-shot
  • Make some headway on organizing and putting back on the shelves the 900+ books for the church
  • Fill out the paperwork I have to do for an upcoming visit to a new doctor (I’m not sick, no worries)
  • Sleep

Just to name a few, of course.

I may have previously mentioned that I live approximately an hour away from where I work and go to school. Less than an hour without traffic, more than an hour with heavy traffic, which I frequently catch nowadays. I know driving relaxes some people, or just has no effect on others. Not me. I get tired and bored driving, so spending ~eight hours each week—minimum—in commute really wears on me.

So, busyness. Notice that everything I’ve mentioned up to this point involves me being busy in some way, shape, or form. Even driving and sleeping constitute some form of preoccupation.

I think the culture I live in is very obsessed with being preoccupied. Preoccupied with preoccupation—see, a preoccupation in itself, and I’d better stop saying “preoccupied” and “preoccupation” now before I lose you. Americans glorify busyness. Working 40+ hours each week, having a family, keeping a pristine house, being able to answer emails while on a conference call while working out… *exhale* College degree, six-figure salary, the corner office with the view, and even better if you can do all of that before your 40th birthday…maybe even your 30th. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, this seems fairly unrealistic. Not impossible, not unheard of, but unrealistic.

I know I don’t want to be busy 24/7, but I find myself wondering if putting in 28 hours each week at work is enough when I’m allowed to work up to 40. Would it be better for me, for my bank account, and for my employer, if I put in more time?

No.

It would not.

Because my busyness directly affects me and then that affects what I can offer to those who need me. I think it’s safe to assume that Marina would rather me do my work well and correctly the first time around, than she would be able to just erase all the tasks on the white board above my desk. Quality of work put out over quantity, every time. And in order to be able to offer quality, I have to take care of myself, too, and sometimes that means just not being so busy.

So I left work at 3:36 today, and I made a couple of phone calls and an appointment, and I did some dishes, baked brownies for our holiday office lunch tomorrow, and am finishing this blog post while catching up on a couple episodes of Gilmore Girls. (The closer I get to finishing these original seasons, the closer I get to watching the revival. Yay!) Soon, I’d like to paint my nails and catch up on some reading. Still busy, but it also helps to be busy with things I want to do rather than just the things I need to do. When that fails, sometimes it’s better to just do nothing at all, even for only a moment.

Actually, since I’ve been thinking about it all day, I’m going to go put my legs up the wall, and do exactly that. XO

A Thankful Holiday Season

Every year, I love the holidays. I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s, and not just the days themselves, but the days in between, where there is just this sense in the air of hope and anticipation and joy and truly “the most wonderful time of the year.” Christmastime, of course, is my favorite.

I hope this Christmas will be seasons better than this Thanksgiving turned out to be.

No, no details. Suffice it to say that my Thanksgiving ended on a very emotional note that left me saying, and at least partly meaning, “I hate the holidays.”

No. It isn’t true. Thankfully, because Christmas will surely sneak up on me, as it does every year now. I probably won’t be ready, but I guess all that matters is spending time with the people I care about, and not so much being ready with gifts. Gifts can come later.

Thanksgiving left me feeling not at all thankful, but the truth is I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Let me count the ways…

  • That there is even a holiday season to celebrate
  • My relationship with Dylan, and our fur baby, Penny
  • My parents will be home
  • My job at Arte Público Press
  • Having stumbled upon the lovely Kimberly Wilson—my new lifestyle guru—and her beautiful website, podcast, and blog
  • Bella Grace magazine—and a special thank-you to my Nonnie for gifting me a subscription for Christmas!
  • Seven Deadly Sins anime, and SDS fan fiction, my new guilty pleasure (Dylan said I jumped into an entirely new level of “nerd” with that one, a level that neither he nor any of his friends—whom I would often collectively refer to as nerds—have never reached)
  • The freedom to be myself in that respect, and to admit it on my blog because it makes me happy and damn it I don’t care who knows

and many, many more. It would take too long to list everything.

But now, let’s revisit that last one for a moment, to kick off a list of hopes and dreams for the holidays and some for the New Year:

  • Maybe to be myself a little more, without caring so much about what other people think, including my parents—not disrespectfully, of course—(#sorrynotsorry)
  • Write more, including blog posts, my fan fiction story, and work more on other ideas I have
  • Read more, including one or two French books, or at least watch one or two French movies
  • Try not to over-schedule myself quite as much, but I anticipate a lot of trouble with this one
  • Be calmer and more present in the moment
  • Go through my clothes and clutter; possibly try to create more of a capsule wardrobe
  • Do more inexpensive things with Dylan, such as picnics or museum outings, movie nights in where we cook, etc.
  • Buy healthier options next time I’m at the grocery store
  • DRINK MORE WATER—which is exactly why I bought my motivational water bottle, after all
  • Finish paying off my credit card and next time, buy an iTunes card instead
  • Get the church library books (900+) back on the shelves and organized before Christmas Eve service

The holidays always feel like a very busy time of year. Now that my fall semester at UH has ended, it has slowed down some, and that helps, but I always find myself a few days before Christmas running around trying to put together presents last-minute, finalize plans, bake cookies, etc. On top of that, the past two years, I’ve gotten sick with allergies or a cold or mild flu around the same time, so I’ll have to run around while not feeling 100%, and each Christmas Day, I’ve ended up having to take a nap at Dylan’s house in the afternoon to recover a little. Prayers, well wishes, and good vibes would be very much appreciated, in the hope that that doesn’t happen again this year!

As it is, this week already feels a little busy; the featured photo is from the planner page I’m currently on. I’d like to include a link to my Instagram in order to share what I wrote about that this morning, but my account is currently private, so I’ll just pen it here:

“I used to keep track of things in my head. But as soon as I went back to work at #ArtePúblicoPress, I had to start writing them down again. Now I write down things I want to do as well as things I have to do, and I think this way, it makes them more likely to happen. Thank you for cute planners and colorful highlighters, because it’s always easier to look at a pretty, fun #todolist and not feel as overwhelmed. Like life. Life is short, so make it pretty and fun as much as possible. You’ll feel better for it. I know I do.”

(Also, a special note to Dylan now, who commented Sunday night that I use too many commas: you’re right, as I noticed while copying that quote from Instagram to this blog post; I had to edit that piece on Instagram twice to get rid of two unnecessary commas.)

Maybe I should add that to my list above: be more comma-conscious! 😉

And a thank you for pointing that out. 🙂