My neighbor Sarah asked me to listen to the episode of Ezra Klein’s podcast featuring Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco. The journalist and the musician were discussing creativity.
Tweedy talked about writing first thing in the morning before anything else— no news, no email, no thought. Just words on a page.
Ezra said when he tries that all he ends up with are to-do lists.
Their discussion got me thinking about my own regular journaling practice which I started 30 years ago. In recent years much of what I have noted is done bullet style with occasional deep dives into the events of my life.
But what if I phrased anything I put in my journal as poems? Horrible terrible poems but poems.
For instance, instead of writing “Foster cats Khloe and Louise are getting closer to liking each other every day. They now sleep on the same bed at the same time with only a foot or two between them” it could be something like…
The fleet foot one is moody, The clumsy one timid. The who among them that starts the throaty snarls varies from time to time. Slowly, their soft warm bodies draw closer to each other, ignoring the other princess drifting to slumber in the soft blankets. When we find them, these insecure beasts of opposing kingdoms, their paws might almost touch.
To learn more about the Ezra Klein Podcast from the New York Times, click here.
My new Silk & Sonder planning arrived today (no wait, yesterday) after some mishaps with the postal service. To read more about that, Silk & Sonder’s marvelous customer service and my previous experience with the product, allow me to direct you here: Silk & Sonder posts.
I already did the boring stuff— the data transfer of dates already scheduled and associated what not like what Hello Fresh meals we still have coming. Now I will sit with the book for a while and interact with it while blogging my feelings. I received the May journal late in the month and used the time to experiment and test how I wanted to use the book so I feel ready to commit more fully.
So let’s open the book.
1. I find the space “if lost return to” a tad silly and makes me feel five. As in five years old.
2. Table of contents.
3. Editor’s letter. Let’s actually read it this month. Meha, the author of the letter, does a really great job articulating why June is a great month for this theme of “play.” She also has a great thought that addresses my fear of play. “Play can be nurtured in seemingly ordinary ways, but it’s up to us on how willing we are to open ourselves up to new characters, stories, and settings in the midst of our chaotic schedules.”
Play can be nurtured in seemingly ordinary ways, but it’s up to us on how willing we are to open ourselves.
Meha, Silk & Sonder creator
4. May reflections: wins, hiccups, favorite moments, hard moments, changing habits… I feel like I can answer these now and my answers will help frame the month ahead.
And coupled with this… on the same two page spread is space for June intentions.
So let me fill this out and I’ll be pausing there for right now. Until next time…
Greetings my readers — apologies for the lackadaisical level of blogging but in addition to mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy my life has been a tad repetitive.
I ended a beautiful work week with hitting my QC quota not once but twice, learning that my favorite nurse is leaving to take a job in hospice, introducing my daughter to some of my Stitch Fix colleagues, finding out I have to get the Covid vaccine* and wear a special sticker in the warehouse if I want to work without a mask this summer, and binging on fried food and a Swedish fish milkshake at Sheetz.
The new Swedish Fish milkshake at Sheetz (my favorite junk food spot in the middle of the night — scrumptious jalapeño poppers and Wisconsin-style cheese curds) topped off my night although I was a little “drunk” on sugar when I got home and slept like garbage because of it. But the sweet flavor and the tiny gooey chunks were a lot of fun.
And to make life exciting, my replacement Silk & Sonder June journal arrived. The excellent customer service made right for the difficulties incurred by the postal service. My original June journal has been sitting in the regional post office 8 miles away for two weeks and at one point did arrive in my local post office two miles away only somehow to be rediscovered at the regional post office yesterday. The post office claims it will be delivered today.
If I end up with two I will give one to my friend Gayle who is often my partner in crime. She’s a graphic designer, a college professor and, in my opinion, a professional and talented doodler. So if we use this “self-care” journal together, it could lead to some interesting feedback.
Another random side note, teenager #1 is considering returning to therapy. She has struggled to find a good match as she is a teen but an unusually mature teen with more adult than teen problems. I have reached out to a friend of a friend (we all went to college together) about the prospect of her professionally seeing my daughter and I was suddenly struck by the notion that I am now old enough that my friends have such fully developed skills and careers that we are, well, the grown-ups in the room.
Anyway, back to Silk & Sonder, the June 2021 theme is “play.” I am numb with fear. My mother and estranged husband all insist I don’t know how to play. I had carved away this small block of time before dinner to explore more of my June Silk & Sonder planner…
I transferred the June-related notes from my May planner. The basic layout is the same but I see they do try to change up the mood tracker and some of the pages. I didn’t try last month’s recipe or complete all of the “creativity” exercises.
But I was surprised at how distressed I became when I no longer had it. I’m a little behind on all my hopes for today so as I start working with it more there will be another post. Or many.
* Now, please don’t lambast me for not wanting to get the Covid vaccine. I am very glad there are products available for those who need it or would feel safer with it. But the research on this virus is still happening, the current products on the market are not approved by the FDA and the mRNA vaccines are new technology (using the same techniques developed by crispr to genetically modify mosquitoes so they can’t carry disease and the same technology was used by a Chinese scientist to modify a female baby so she can’t catch HIV) that is not a vaccine at all.
I had an appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as that is a more traditional (do they call it viral vector?) product. My appointment was on the same morning the FDA called for the pause, so it was canceled, not by my choice. I don’t understand the fuss about blood clots when plenty of women get blood clots all the time from hormonal birth control pills.
And if that wasn’t enough to make me think twice, the new guidance from the CDC suggests that natural immunity generated by the body after contracting and recovering from Covid, which I had in December 2020, should last for at least a year if not for life.
So I probably don’t need an experimental vaccine product, not yet.
And, I have anecdotal reports from a friend who works in Washington DC as a medical technologist who has attended events at the CDC regarding this virus, that the next round of vaccine products, boosters as it were, may allow those who have not been vaccinated to receive only one shot instead of two.
And, I think finally, I am concerned that since I had Covid, the vaccine may cause a reaction on the first dose and since I had Covid once, I’m not ready to volunteer to repeat any of that experience. In addition, vaccinated people often test positive on Covid tests when they don’t have Covid and this can cause unnecessary quarantine and prevent travel and delay necessarymedical procedures as one friend can attest.
Earlier this week it was 90 degrees and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and cloudy and prone to dramatic cloudbursts of dramatic rain.
Today, the high was around 45.
My knees ache and my ankles keep giving out. I collapsed on the floor at one point, scraped my knee and tore my fancy, super soft and cozy joggers I bought at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy employee pop-up store.
So I’m currently in bed with my electric blanket and two three-legged cats.
Tomorrow I will finish my May edition of the Silk & Sonder wellness/self-care planner. Even though June starts on Tuesday, apparently Silk & Sonder starts all of its planners on Monday, so Monday May 31 is part of the June planner.
The June planner shipped in mid May, with an anticipated delivery date of May 24. According to the tracking information, it arrived at our regional post office about 10 miles away in the early afternoon on May 18, but didn’t arrive at our local post office 2 miles away until 4 days later on May 22.
It has languished there for a week.
Now, in the great scheme of life, this planner is not vital. But it is rather pricey, and I find a weird emotional sensation in stressing over planning my mental wellness strategies because my calendar is lost in the mail.
Receiving a calendar that suggests you plan for the future with reflection and mindfulness AFTER the month starts defeats some of the purpose.
And if there are problems with the United States Postal Service, shouldn’t the merchant find a new method of delivery? The product is time sensitive.
Honestly, I find it difficult to evaluate if the planner has allowed me to plot a calmer and more mindful future/existence because I’m too busy freaking out that tomorrow is Sunday, that I have to not only work Monday but work day shift, and I can’t even fill out my to do lists, meal plans and other Silk & Sonder pages.
My subscription was due to start in June, but as tomorrow is my birthday I thought it would be fun to request the May book. I ordered it Saturday night. It was scheduled to arrive Friday, May 7. My mandatory overtime at work began May 10, so this would be the perfect way to organize my mental health.
Except it arrived Monday, May 17.
Regardless of this, and what feels like a very hefty price tag for an aesthetically pleasing but, in my opinion, cheaply manufactured spiral bound book (it’s not cheap, but I struggle to find the right words— the paper is not thin, but it’s also not as heavy as I would expect for the price).
For instance, it’s flimsy. You can’t write on your lap. You have to have it on a hard surface. For $20 a month, the cover at least should be a cardboard consistency to ensure it will withstand travel and daily use.
The interior is lovely. Ninety percent contains elements I already do in my journal, financial book, and/or on my phone: sleep tracker, expense tracker, habit tracker, mood tracker, meal planner, to do list, etc.
There is a weather tracker, goal lists, coloring pages, thought/writing prompts, and poetry and inspirational quotes.
My journal should contain what I have done and my Silk & Sonder should foster my goals, I suppose.
I’m definitely going to experiment with May and then decide on a system for June, which the company has already shipped.
I don’t know whether I should apologize, explain my absence or dive right into this messy, stream of consciousness blog entry. Nothing new is happening but so many little things have brought joy to my life.
I had a great week at the Bizzy Hizzy. I spent most of my week in QC, and I hit 80% of the daily production metric except for one day when I hit 90 percent. But I just can’t seem to replicate that success. Last night I was in receiving inbound processing where I unboxed and received a pallet which included Democracy Jeans and Market and Spruce shirts. I caught a mix-up in tags. And I met a young man whose name is an abbreviated form of Jesus’ Angel because he was born three months premature as I was.
A few nights ago, I was listening to a podcast, probably Mayim Bailik’s Breakdown. They were discussing the ACE Childhood Trauma Test. So I took it. That was a mistake. It made me think about a lot of things— my past, my mental health, my relationships. I didn’t expect the results and I suppose in a way it was profound.
But as much as life may have had some dark spots, the foster cats sure bring joy. Hermes of the Greek Pride is already starting to bound with his new dad. (And even broke something expensive.) Louise the Tripod had a meet and greet with someone interested in adding a new cat to their household. And Parker and Extra Crunchy of ten little kittens are now playing and acting cat-like. Even Touch of Grey seems cheerful.
I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.
On another podcast, I heard a host discuss someone who wrote a memoir from her 20 journals. What a joke! He said 20 as if that number is impressive. I have been journaling for 30 years! I lost count after 100 volumes.
Speaking of journals, I splurged on a Silk and Sonder self-care planner/journal. It’s a monthly subscription and I am already anxious that it will stress me out. My regular journal is more or less a bullet journal now. I think another book that requires a daily check in might not be worth the pressure. And it’s $20/month. That seems expensive. More to come. Including unboxing and review.
Speaking of unboxing, I bought myself a Lite Brite in a moment of nostalgia. #NoRegrets
I started journaling somewhere around my 16th birthday thanks to a very influential English teacher who somehow got me to apply to the University of Penn Young Writers Workshop.
I have journaled most of the last 30 years, though I do have a substantial gap in the early years of my daughter’s life.
I have always had the belief— and much of this may be from my attitude and frame of mind—that each journal begins and ends as a specific chapter. That each volume signifies a certain time period or life event more than a chronological record.
I would also never artificially fill a journal. Each much come to a close naturally.
Yesterday was my birthday and I finished my G journal. Today I moved on to H.
I am very excited. The G journal started in November. It came after the F journal which covered the time period around the end of my marriage. The E journal— or the E-book as Mr. Accordion calls it—brought me to my new employer and new career field.
The G journal covered the holidays, changes in interpersonal relationships, a shift in how my daughter and I communicate, an improvement in how my soon-to-be ex-husband and I interact (and I feel like we are rebuilding our friendship), the beginning of the stressful situation at work, and Covid-19.
Now I feel like hopefully, the pain and struggle will perhaps be more of a journey and time of growth.
May is finally warm. Flowers are finally blooming.
And today at 1 pm — my boss approved my vacation. Stay tuned for more fun.
The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.
It is my birthday after all.
At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.
Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.
One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.
The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.
I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.
March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.
Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.
And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.
My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.
So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.
And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.
Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)
Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.
And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!
Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.
To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:
And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):