Goals

I think I mentioned last week that after I wrote my goals last year, I didn’t look at them again until I was doing my review of the year. That’s how goals go for me pretty often. I have a hard time sticking to them and keeping track of them.

I got a shiny new planner this week (inspired by a friend’s planner purchase), and I’m using it to try to better track my progress on my goals. This is not the first time I’ve tried using a planner to do this (I have a bit of a planner obsession, really), but this one seems to fit how my brain works better than others have. (It’s the Clever Fox Premium Weekly, for the interested.)

I think part of my struggle with goals is that if I mess up once, my brain tells me I’ve failed, period, and I should just give up. I don’t often think of myself as a perfectionist these days, but I definitely have those all-or-nothing tendencies.

So this week I’ve been trying, and then working on being gentle with myself if I fall short. I’m trying to establish a new, earlier morning routine, which is hard, and I haven’t succeeded every day. But I’ve done better than I honestly thought I would, so that’s something.

The new year is hard. No matter how much I tell myself it’s an arbitrary marker of time, it’s hard to ignore the “time for a fresh start” energy everywhere. There’s a lot of pressure to improve.

One of my Facebook friends posted one of their resolutions as something like “eat the elephant (one bite at a time),” and that’s an attitude I’m trying to adopt. I’m shooting for some big shifts in 2020, and the only way to get them done is one bite at a time.

2019/2020

Happy New Year, folks! We made it to 2020.

I have a tendency to set intentions and create resolutions at the beginning of the year and then never look at them again. That kind of happened in 2019. However, I looked back at my first post from 2019, when I laid out goals for the year, and even though I hadn’t looked back on them at all as the year progressed…it turns out I actually accomplished most of them? So that’s cool.

Let’s take a look back and a look forward, shall we?

Goals I had at the beginning of 2019, and progress on those goals:

  • Find a new therapist
    • I found a new therapist in January, and it was, on the whole, the most productive year of my life, in terms of therapy. I’ve been working through all sorts of things and feel like I’ve greatly increased my capacity for handling shit that comes up.
  • Complete a second FAWM
    • I wrote 18 songs for FAWM this year (the goal is 14), including two co-writes with my partner! We’d never written together before, so that was cool.
  • Write 30 songs
    • I wrote 50 songs, which is completely bonkers. The last one was written via quietly-recorded voice memos on the late-night drive to Minnesota for Christmas.
  • Read more
    • Technically I managed this – I read more books than I did last year. Didn’t quite hit my Goodreads goal of 25, but managed 23.
  • Go back to Song School
    • We did this, and it was such an incredible, affirming experience. I even managed to write a song while I was there, and got to perform it at the open stage with eight beautiful people.
  • Play out at least four times
    • Unless we count Song School, I played out three times. However…
  • Find at least one opportunity to play out somewhere other than the Acoustic Explosion
    • I did this! I played a show called Homolatte for the first time, and it was brilliant.
  • Play more D&D
    • While I always wish I could play more, I did this. Also got into some other games. I love the folks I game with so much.
  • Keep tracking finances and get money under control
    • I still feel less in control than I’d like, but I’m way better off than I was last year, and I’m on track to have my credit card paid off in June!

Other things that happened:

  • Saw my grandmother for the first time in nine years
  • Attempted 50/90 (and managed 17 songs)
  • We moved!
  • Reintroduced myself to my extended family (which went way better than I expected it to
  • Was a pallbearer at my grandfather’s funeral
  • Deepened existing friendships; made new friends

Goals I have for 2020:

  • Write. Songs, yes, but also other things, poems and short stories and maybe even games.
  • Read more, especially poetry and other things that inspire me.
  • Make music often, as close to every day as possible.
  • Do the work, in therapy and on my own, to be an adult that my inner child can be proud of.
  • Take care of my body and my brain and my spirit.
  • Follow through on the plan to have my credit card paid off in June.
  • Create more routine and space for ritual in my life.

May your 2020 be better than your 2019, and may this time of transition treat you gently and leave you with what you need from it.

Home for Christmas

We’re on our way back to Chicago today, but we’ve been in Minnesota since Sunday celebrating Christmas with our families. It’s been a good week. Here are some highlights:

We learned that the coffee shop where we had our first date is closing at the end of the year. We tried to go to say goodbye, but they were closed until Friday, so we went for a selfie outside.

Outside the Dunn Bros. where we had our first date just over nine years ago

We made the questionable decision to go shopping on Christmas Eve. Found this giant moose made of lights at the mall.

Merry Christmoose!

We celebrated with my partner’s extended family, and his aunt made me a stocking like she’s made for everyone else in the family. His family has always been welcoming, but this was an extra sweet reminder that I belong.

A beautifully cross stitched stocking from my partner’s aunt

We celebrated with my family, and my nephew was very excited to see us. We got many hugs, which were the best presents (which is saying something, because the other presents were also lovely)!

My nephew helped us open the present he gave us.

We had a smaller celebration on Christmas Day with my partner’s immediate family. I made the Yorkshire puddings this year from a recipe by Nancy Birtwhistle of Great British Bake-off fame, and they turned out so great!

Gluten-free Yorkshire puds!

It’s been a lovely week. I’m writing this Christmas night and feeling very loved and content. I do NOT want to go back to work on Friday, but that is what it is.

I hope you’re all having your own lovely winter holiday season, whatever that looks like for you. If you’re not, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that we’re slowly returning to the light now that we’re past the Solstice.

‘Tis the Season

Greetings, readers, from the shiny new Accidental Fudge site! Here’s hoping the links to these posts that populate to Facebook actually work now.

The holidays are upon us. This is, on the one hand, a lovely time of year – it’s festive and there are happy twinkling lights all over my neighborhood and we’re going to take some time off work to go visit family. On the other hand, this is a really challenging time of year – it’s dark around 4pm, my partner’s work is bonkers and leaving him exhausted, and there’s so much pressure to participate in the unfettered commercialism of the season. I feel like I’m never going to have money again.

It’s also the season where we’re all sniffling and pretending we’re not sick, which is a different kind of no fun.

Tonight, I am volunteering at the Old Town School. Tomorrow night, we’re wrapping presents and packing for our trip. Saturday morning, I’ll pick up the rental car, and then when my partner’s done with work, I’ll pick him up and we’ll start driving. I’m a little overwhelmed. It’ll be fun, and whatever we get done, we get done. But it does feel like there’s a lot to do between now and Saturday night.

Next week’s blog may be a little late, as we’ll be on the road on Thursday.

Whatever holiday celebrations you are or are not participating in, I hope your season is filled with love and twinkling lights.

Remarkably Healing

Hello, dear readers, and apologies that this post is going up late – it’s been a weird week, and I nearly forgot what day it was.

I wrote last week about my grandfather’s passing, my complicated feelings around our relationship, and my anxiety about going to the funeral, which was last Saturday. I am pleased (and still a little surprised) to report that going to the funeral, while hard and sad, was actually a remarkably healing experience.

My extended family, including the folks I was most nervous about seeing, all either called me Alyx or avoided names altogether. I heard one aunt use the wrong pronouns once, but she corrected herself smoothly and moved on. I didn’t feel othered at all – I was included every step of the way. I felt…well, like I had a family, in a way that I haven’t felt in a while.

I know that some of the responsibility for my prior estrangement from my family is on me. I chose to pull away rather than engaging with them. I still feel like I had good reason to (I didn’t have the mental or emotional resources to manage their potential responses when I first came out), but I also recognize that I did not give them a chance to prove me wrong about how I thought they would react to my coming out.

I’m also 100% certain that a large part of why the weekend went so well has to do with my grandmother. She and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but since we reconnected this spring, she’s done a phenomenal job of showing up and showing me love and respect, which I am doing my best to return. I think the fact that my nearly-92-year-old grandmother can manage to call me Alyx and meet me where I’m at meant that no one else had any sort of excuse to do otherwise.

It was a long day (I drove from Chicago to northeast Iowa on Friday evening, and back to Chicago on Saturday evening after the funeral), but I’m glad I went. I was genuinely disappointed that I wasn’t able to stick around and spend more time with my family (it was snowing in Iowa by the time we finished lunch, and I decided to head straight home rather than risk icy roads as it got later), which I was not expecting.

One of my aunts, as we were saying our goodbyes, gave me a long, firm hug before telling me she was so proud of me, and that if anyone wasn’t, that was on them, not on me. I still well up a bit every time I think about it.

I guess what I’m saying is people are surprising, complicated creatures, and I need to do a better job of remembering that rather than jumping immediately to worst-case-scenario planning when I interact with people who I expect to disagree with. (I’m also grateful that this funeral was not a place where politics came up, because I’m sure a lot of the warm fuzzies would have been…well, less warm and fuzzy.)

Optimistic

Happy Thursday, dear readers! I feel like I have been confused all week about what day it is, and so I very nearly forgot to write something today, but here I am. Part of my confusion is, I think, related to the fact that I’m still fighting some sort of cold/allergy bullshit that’s fogging up my brain (and making me feel physically pretty blah). I’m working from home today because I woke up achy and feeling like my body temperature was all over the place, which is usually a sure sign that I’m fighting off something.

It feels like there’s a lot going on in my life, but a lot of it is at a stage where I can’t talk about it yet. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll have more on that. I will say that thanks to some of these secret goings-on, I am feeling more optimistic about many areas of my life than I have in a while, and that’s a really nice place to be.

In therapy this week, my therapist and I talked about how hard it is for me to find language to express what I need (which, as a generally language-oriented person, is suuuuuper frustrating). I’ve spent much of my life trying very hard to make other people happy, and in the process have neglected to learn how to recognize what it is that want and need. I’m making huge progress here, though – my therapist pointed out that all the work I’ve been putting into creating safe space for myself is paying off, because I am finally getting to a place where I feel like I can try to name what I need instead of ignoring it. And it’s true. I’ve worked really hard to establish a sense of safety for myself, and it feels really good to have that work noticeably making a difference.

I’m not totally sure where I’m going with this post except to say that while the world is definitely still on fire and there’s a lot that I’m upset about on a global scale, things are actually going pretty okay for me personally right now. I feel like I’m getting closer to a place where I can move past just surviving and getting by and into engaging more with the world around me. So hooray for that!

Cleanup

Hello, dear readers, and apologies for the tardiness of this post! I am in the midst of last-minute cleanup in our old apartment.

I’m currently waiting for a junk removal service to show up to take away the old furniture that didn’t move with us. I’ve been cleaning the stove, oven, fridge, various walls in and around the kitchen, and I’ve been sweeping some of the empty spaces. It’s 1:15pm and I’m already tired. I just sat down on the couch that’s going to disappear in the next hour or two, and I feel like this may have been a mistake – I know I need to move and get more done, but I would much rather nap.

We’re so close to being done. There are things to haul down to the trash, and a handful of things we need to bring back to our new place with us. There’s more sweeping and wall cleaning to do. The freezer is clean, but the fridge isn’t yet. The bathroom still needs to be cleaned. A few closets and cabinets need to be swept out. But we’re almost there.

We have to be out by noon on Saturday. That’s less than 48 hours from now. It’s weird to think this place that we called home for almost 7 years isn’t home anymore. It was our first apartment together, and it served us well, despite the maintenance issues we had over the years.

I’m looking forward to really settling into our new space in the next few weeks. I’m hoping that will get easier when we no longer need to worry about this old apartment.

I think it’s time for me to drink some water and dive back into cleaning. Onward!

Trying

Readers, it’s been a week. I’m wrestling with some sort of upper-respiratory nonsense that I hoped was just allergies but that kept me home with a fever yesterday. I feel pretty gross, and I’m really glad I had a doctor appointment scheduled for today anyway.

But let’s take a step back. I want to tell you about my weekend, when I did not feel like my head was trying to explode.

Friday night, I picked up a rental car. Saturday morning, I got up early, packed my knitting and some snacks, and hit the road to go visit my grandmother in northeast Iowa. I had not seen my grandmother in almost seven years, though we’ve been writing occasional letters back and forth for a year or so. In her last couple of letters, she expressed a desire to sit down and talk with me in person. About a month ago, when I got her last letter, I contacted her and said I would like to come for a visit, and we agreed on this past Saturday as a date.

I started on testosterone five and a half years ago, so a few things had changed since we last saw each other. I had sent her a picture of me a few months ago, so my appearance wouldn’t come as a total shock.

I really had no idea what to expect from this visit going in, but overall it went better than I could have hoped. She greeted me with a hug. We went out to lunch and she caught me up on all the latest family news. When we went back to her apartment, the talk turned more serious – she had a lot of questions about my life, and I tried to answer them honestly. I learned that her little Baptist church had recently done a study on LGBTQ issues, because their pastor recognized that we’re not going away and felt the church should decide how they were going to respond. (She sent the books they studied home with me – I haven’t read them yet, but I do want to know where she’s coming from.)

The big takeaway of the visit was that we love each other and we do want to be in each other’s lives. It was a very long day (ten total hours of driving, plus the four hour visit), but worth it. We’ll see where we go from here!

Progress

Sometimes, progress is obvious and happens quickly. Other times, it can feel like it’s not happening at all. This week has largely been one of those other times.

FAWM marches on, and I have been writing – I’m up to 12 songs and it’s the 14th of the month. This week it’s been harder, though. I’ve had trouble waking up early to write. Still, I’ve written some keepers, and that’s exciting. Here are a few of the songs I’m proudest of so far:

Work has been frustrating, not because of anything specific to my job, but because my brain has been extremely foggy this week. I haven’t gotten much done, because I can’t keep my train of thought on the rails long enough to see things through. I feel stuck, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

I am looking forward to the weekend. A friend of ours is coming down from Minnesota to hang out for a couple of days. I’m looking forward to some low-key hangouts and pizza.

I’m writing this post on Thursday morning from my armchair at home, rather than from the bus. I have been feeling increasingly crummy every day this week, and this morning I finally woke up feeling definitively sick, so I’m going to work from home and keep my germs to myself.

So, this is going to be a short post today, because my brain is pretty foggy. Usually when I’m feeling like I have nothing to talk about, I go for some sort of list post. So…let’s go with three things I’m grateful for today:

  1. I can work from home. My boss told me I could just take an actual sick day if I wanted to, and I know that I technically can…but I’m almost out of sick time and I have to save my vacation time for Christmas travel. I’m glad to be in a position where it’s possible to do my job remotely when my body doesn’t feel up to commuting.
  2. Things are going better with my family. We’ve worked through the most recent round of hurt and seem to be closer to being on the same page, which feels nice.
  3. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here yet, but thanks to the adjustments that were made to my med regimen over the summer, my anxiety is much better controlled. So much so, in fact, that I’m able to drink regular coffee again! It had been about two years since I’d been able to handle that much caffeine. As I sit here and sip my coffee this morning, I am grateful for that.