Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gone too soon

The last post was supposed to be my last one of the year. Then tonight I learned that one of our best friends, Tommy, died yesterday. He had a stroke. He was only in his late-30s. And as of right now, it's impossible to wrap my head around. Two days ago we were talking about Christmas and the possibility of Matt and me moving back to Texas. Today, he's gone.

While I try to comprehend the loss, I'm struggling to put it in perspective. All of the shitty things this year, that yesterday shone like blinding light, today are barely a dull glow. This one single thing makes everything else feel petty and unimportant. As I look toward a new year, one that follows so closely on this loss, I can't help thinking about how short life is. How we never know, from one day to the next, when it'll be over or who will be taken from us.

And, I can't help wanting to try harder to make my dreams a reality. To finish writing my book, to lose the weight I've been struggling to shed, to try to be healthier. To try harder to live in a way that's meaningful. But I'm cautious too, because I think death can do this to the living, make us see for a while how fleeting it all is. I'm nearly 40 years old and I can't help feeling like it's now or never, even more so than ever before.

This is the first time I've lost a friend to death. I'm so torn up inside. He was a friend of Matt's from work, who became a dear friend of ours. More than anything, he was an amazing person, always trying to make everyone around him laugh and feel happy. He was a good friend, a very smart guy, and had a great sense of humor. Above all, he was a unique and generous individual who will be missed dearly.

This is a pic I took of Matt and Tommy a few days before we moved to Utah. We all went out for pedicures and then dinner. I can't believe he's gone.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

The title is a little bit misleading. I just spent the last hour writing a blog post about how horrible 2017 was. Two minutes ago, I saved it as a draft and started over. It was a bad year, but I realized while producing a ten paragraph brain-spill about how fucking terrible everything is, that there's absolutely nothing productive in putting that out there. I've heard people say getting it all out there makes you feel better, it's one of the reasons people write journals and go to therapy. But, having a pity part didn't really make me feel better, it made me feel worse. Thinking about the miserable year I had, writing it down, seeing it in black and white made me feel like shit.

So, I'm not doing that. This will be the last post of 2017. I'm not going to make the last blog post of 2017 ten paragraphs about all the crap swirling around in my head right now. That's pointless. So instead, I'm going to talk about the few things I did to better myself this year and how I intend to make 2018 better than this year has been. That seems much more productive than wallowing in self-pity. So, here goes.


Focus on Self 

The single best thing I did for myself this year was to try to turn my focus inward. What I mean is, I'm trying to start focusing on self-improvement and figuring out how I can help myself. I suffer with depression and anxiety, I have a pretty severe case of agoraphobia (which has been diagnosed as moderate, but feels pretty severe inside my head). Those issues have actually gotten worse this year. For whatever reason, my mental health is declining, which is confusing because every time I think it can't get worse, it does.

So, I started trying to focus on those things I could do, without going to therapy, to make myself feel better. To improve my mental health, even just a little bit. My husband suggested that mindfulness meditation might help with my anxiety and depression. He practices and swears by it. He's a pretty calm person, something many people actually comment on, and which he attributes largely to mindfulness. I figured I'd try it.

I downloaded the Calm app for my iPhone, upgraded to the premium service, and started trying this mindfulness meditation thing. The first thing, this shit is hard. It's not as easy as "breathe in, breath out, feel better." It may look that way on the outside, but it's tough and takes quite a lot of practice. Since I only started doing this late this year, I'm still trying to get the hang of it. What I like is that it focuses on trying to be mindful of yourself and your thoughts. No weird spirituality involved. It's like yoga for the mind.

The silver lining, it is actually helping me. I was skeptical that it would work at all and I tend toward pessimism, but am trying my hardest to take it seriously. I haven't had the energy to practice much this past month. I've been sick and can hardly breathe, so a practice that focuses largely on breathing is kind of out of the question. But, I have noticed an improvement in my ability to cope with my anxiety since I started doing this.

I plan to work harder to keep to a daily mindfulness meditation schedule in the coming year. Maybe that will make whatever's coming at us in 2018 easier to handle. If how I'm feeling so far is any indication, I'm hesitantly hopeful (ha... see what I did there?).

Weight loss

I lost 30 lbs this year. I may have gained some of that back during the holidays and with my depression, I tend to self-medicate with food, but I've manage to lose some weight. It's not a lot, especially for a whole year, but it's something. I'm counting it as a win for 2017 and something I hope continues into 2018, even though I have no plans to go on a "diet."


This is the hardest one. I've so neglected my writing, both this blog and my book projects. I've struggled with coming to terms with the fact that despite having written hundreds of thousands of words over the past ten or more years, I will likely never publish. The anxiety causes so much fear, I can't imagine putting myself out there that way. But, even still, I'm working on coming to terms with the fact that that's okay. That it's okay to write, just for me, without any artificial expectations about publishing. I can write the story in my head, the way I want, as an outlet for my creative energy. It's okay.

So, I've started to write again. A little at a time, I'm working on a novel that's been collecting virtual dust and I'm actually enjoying it. It's been nice. I'm hoping to finish that particular piece of work early this coming year. And, when I do, it will likely just sit in a folder on my hard drive. But again, that's okay.

I'm also going to try to blog more and work on starting another blog that I've been wanting to write for a long time. A book blog, of sorts, with a focus on romance--I read 3-4 romance novels a week, so I'd have more than enough material. At this point, the only thing holding me back on that project is that I can't seem to settle on a good title for said blog. Which actually kind of sucks since writing catchy titles for papers was sort of my jam in college. Professors would actually comment on how awesome my titles were. I think may be I'm losing my touch.


Ultimately, though the year wasn't a particularly good one for me, it wasn't as terrible as it feels either. Somehow, wallowing in self-pity made it feel monumentally worse than it actually was. At best, it was a stagnant year where I accomplished absolutely nothing. It could have been much worse. But, I'm hoping as I approach my 40th year on this damn earth, that I can get something done. Even one accomplishment of any kind would really help me feel like I'm getting somewhere.

So, since it's the last post of the year, here's the last selfie I took in 2017. We went to Salt Lake to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square and I snapped this pic, all bundled up with my Star Wars scarf. It was damn cold and I look happier than I am. But at that moment, surrounded with Christmas lights and wearing brand new shoes that were absolutely killing me, I was content. In that moment, I was okay. That feels like something positive, however small.