Gratitude on a Sunny Thursday

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday, which I keep thinking is Wednesday…which is, I suppose, better than thinking it’s Friday. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

As of a couple of days ago, I’m officially two weeks out from my second covid vaccine and therefore as immunized as I’m going to be for the time being. It feels good to feel like I can start making some plans with (also immunized) friends again. It also feels weird. I am definitely going to need to relearn how to be social in person, and I’m sure my limit for how many people I can tolerate being with for an extended period of time has changed over the past year of isolation. (I’m an introvert, so that wasn’t a huge number to begin with…I’m a bit nervous about going back to group activities, to be honest.)

My tattoo is healing up nicely, though it’s in a very itchy stage right now. I can’t tell how much of that is the tattoo itself and how much is the hair growing back on my arm, but I’m trying to be careful about not absentmindedly scratching at it.

I don’t really have a lot to talk about this week, but let’s end this with a little list of things I’m grateful for right now:

  • I am grateful for my job. It’s still mindblowing to be in a place where I feel both challenged and appreciated, where I feel like my value is being recognized. It’s wild that I’m in a leadership position and enjoying it (not that it’s easy, but that it feels like a good use of my skills). It’s wild to have a degree of financial stability I have not had since moving out of my parents’ house.
  • I am grateful for my friends. I’ve had a lot of really great conversations lately that remind me that my people are the best people. I’m grateful for their trust and their insight and their love. I’m so glad I don’t feel like I have to carry everything on my own, or pile everything onto my husband or my therapist, but I have whole communities of people supporting me.
  • I am grateful for music. In the past couple of weeks, I rediscovered how much I absolutely adore P!nk. In college, I went from listening pretty exclusively to contemporary Christian music to dipping my toes into the waters of other options, and P!nk was one of the first artists I heard that really connected with my angsty, troubled heart. I hadn’t kept up with her music after graduation, really, but in diving into her newer stuff, it’s been a delight to see that, even though I am not an angsty college student anymore, her music still connects. We’ve both grown since then. I have immense respect for her as an artist. My current favorite track is this one (in case the link doesn’t work, or you don’t use Spotify – it’s the last song on her 2019 album Hurts 2B Human; the track is called “The Last Song of Your Life,” and it’s beautiful), but her newest singles (from the current year) are also incredible.

That’s it from me this week – keep taking care of yourselves and each other.

Spicy Dragon

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I nearly forgot it was Thursday today – I’ve been attending a virtual conference the past few days for work and it’s got my routine a bit out of whack.

I don’t have too much to report this week, except that on Friday, I got color added to my dragon tattoo, and I am SO EXCITED about it!

A bright red dragon clutches a purple and pink d20 and grins mischievously.

It turned out SO GOOD. It’s currently at a very gross stage of healing (the photo above is from when it was fresh), but I’m excited to get past that so I can show it off all the time.

While she was working on it, the artist was joking about this being a “spicy dragon” (by the end of the 3 hour session I was pretty sore), and that nickname has stuck, particularly since it was pretty tender for several days. They’ll get a better name eventually, but this spicy little dragon is bringing me a lot of joy this week.

I will have more news to report in the next few weeks (there are some big life changes afoot), but in the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other, keep wearing masks and washing your hands, GO GET VACCINATED if you haven’t yet.

Resting

Hello, dear readers! I’m a little late posting this today because I have been taking the last couple of days off from work – I got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to give myself time to recover. So far I’ve been mostly okay – tired, a little feverish here and there, and about 24 hours after getting the shot, the joints in that arm started hurting really bad. But Tylenol and sleep seems to be helping, and I’d much rather be dealing with the vaccine side-effects than the actual disease.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (more on that soon, hopefully), but things are good. I’ve been using this time off to catch up on some knitting. I finished a stuffed friend for my older nephew, and am slowly chipping away at a blanket for the younger one. (I’ve also been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately to get myself off my phone/computer screens, which has been fun.)

I’m going to keep this one brief – time for me to have some coffee and make some breakfast now that I’m finally up and moving about. Tomorrow I’m getting color added to my new tattoo, and I am very excited about that! (And very thankful I don’t feel worse post-vaccine, so it should actually be manageable.)

Little Gratitudes

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. For a number of reasons, I’m feeling like it’s already been a long week, and it’s not over yet. Thankfully, things have been mostly good and I’m feeling okay about it.

We have some big life changes coming up (which I will hopefully be able to go into more detail about in a few weeks). I am incredibly grateful to be in a place where I have the bandwidth to deal with these changes and make plans around them.

I feel like until I can talk about more details, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, so I’ll fall back on what I often do when I’m feeling less wordy. Here are a few things I’m grateful for right now:

  • Friends/Community. This has been one of those weeks when I’ve been super aware of how many incredible communities I have supporting me in different areas of my life. I think I sometimes get it into my head that since I’m an introvert, I must only have a few friends, which is absolutely untrue. I have so many wonderful people in my life supporting me in myriad ways. I’m particularly grateful this week for those friends who have known me forever, who I don’t get to talk to often, but who are always willing to pick things right back up where we left off.
  • Family. I’m really grateful that my family (and I’m including myself in this) has been willing to put in the work to make our relationships smoother. I’m glad to be talking with them more. I’m especially glad for the photo updates we get from my sister-in-law of our nephews.
  • Stories. I come back to this one a lot. Whether it’s playing D&D and collectively telling stories with friends, reading books, or letting myself dream of possible futures, stories are such a crucial part of my life, and I’m so happy that that’s true.

Keeping it short and sweet this week – time for me to dive into my work day. I hope you’re all hanging in there!

Brief Morning Musings

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday that I almost forgot was Thursday. I am dashing this off before starting my workday with a two hour training, so it’s going to be fairly brief. I feel like I need a little reminder to smile on this grey Chicago morning, so I’m going to share a few things that are making me happy lately:

  • Preacher’s Kid, by Semler. This album came out recently and I’m kind of obsessed. If you, like me, grew up a church youth group kid and are now an adult with a lot of religious trauma/baggage, this is an extremely cathartic listen. It also holds a lot of space for hope, and I appreciate that. This album has made some serious waves in the world of Christian music since its release (it was topping the Apple Music charts in that genre for a bit), and it’s just giving me a lot of hope for the future.
  • The arrival of spring in Chicago. I love that it’s warming up and things are starting to get a little greener and there are crocuses and we can often have our windows open…even though I’m allergic to basically everything outside, and have been a sniffly mess for days, something about this return to spring always makes me feel a little more alive.
  • Trader Joe’s gluten free cinnamon coffee cake muffins. I just learned about these recently from a friend and bought some last week and OMG they are life-changing. I let my partner (who is not gluten free) try one, and have confirmed that they are just good muffins, period. I ate the entire box of four in under 24 hours and have been dreaming of them since. haha
  • The new sweatshirt I got from Peace Coffee this week. We’ve been ordering from Peace Coffee since…sometime last fall, I think? Anyway, they’re great, and this sweatshirt is SO SOFT and delightful. The sleeves are exactly the right length and it just fits surprisingly well and it made me happy all day yesterday when I was wearing it.
  • My new glasses. My old pair kept trying to leap off my face at inopportune moments (like, anytime I went down stairs, or was walking down the sidewalk wearing a mask like a considerate, sane person), so I decided to get what I thought would be a backup pair…but I really like them and have been wearing them constantly since they arrived. They are very gay.
Do these glasses make me look gay? I hope so.

Running Late

Hi, friends. Late post today because I woke up later than I intended to and had a two hour training first thing in the morning, and then the rest of my morning was spent catching up on everything I missed while I was in the training. It was one of those mornings where I decided to make a full pot of coffee instead of our usual 2/3 of a pot, because my usual mug-and-a-half of coffee was NOT going to cut it.

I honestly don’t have a whole lot to talk about this week. It’s been a good week, things are going well in general, and I’m learning to be okay with things going well. I feel like there are some big shifts happening for me beneath the surface – now that I’m not in survival mode all the time, just doing my best to get by, and am actually thriving, I have the mental space to grapple with bigger questions (the sort that Douglas Adams would likely answer with “42”), and while that’s a bit daunting on one level, on another, it feels like I’m more myself when I can stretch my mental muscles around those questions.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this short and end here, because I have another meeting starting soon and I need to finish my lunch. I hope you’re all hanging in there and finding spacing in your lives where you feel affirmed and supported.

The Apartment is Alive with the Sound of Music

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday. This will probably be a relatively short blog as I’m writing this before work on Thursday morning, and I have a pretty packed workday ahead of me, starting with two hours of management training (which, don’t get me wrong, I am immensely grateful for as a new manager…it’s just a lot first thing in the morning).

It’s been an exciting week on the music front in our household. Last week, I was poking around the Old Town School‘s music store website, and I noticed they had a used Seagull guitar in their lineup that I had seriously considered buying back when they were in production, but hadn’t had the money to justify. In a bit of a snap decision, I went ahead and bought it. It needed some minor adjustments (I put lighter strings on it and learned how to adjust a truss rod for the first time), but now it’s in good shape and will make a great travel companion – it’s smaller and lighter than my main guitar.

I’ve decided her name is Gladys.

The same day I got the guitar, my partner was looking at gear online for the home recording class they’re taking. Long story short, we now also have a MIDI keyboard and…A DIGITAL PIANO. We are both very excited to get the apartment in a more orderly state so we can get it set up (it’s here and ready to go, we just need to clear out a couple of things first).

I’m so excited about my private lessons I’m taking in preparation for recording right now. Yesterday was our second session, and even in the first week, I’ve learned so much. I have 13 tracks picked out to record, and have started a spreadsheet with details on all of them. It’s all very exciting.

We also heard this week that Song School is hopefully going to happen in August, so we are going to be keeping extra alert for when we can get vaccinated. I miss our Song School friends so much, and I really, really hope we get to see them this year.

In non-music news, I’m feeling really good about my new role at work, and am just endlessly grateful to have landed where I did when I did last year. I hit one year with the company on Tuesday, and while on the one had it feels like I just started, on the other, 2020 was at least a decade long. I could not have gotten through last year nearly as well without this job.

That’s it from me for this week – I hope you’re all hanging in there and taking care of yourselves and each other.

Movement

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday. (I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday, since that’s what my computer is telling me, but I was definitely certain for most of yesterday that it was Tuesday, and just a moment ago was completely convinced it was Friday today…time feels particularly wobbly this week, for some reason.) FAWM has ended – I wrote 19 songs last month, and I’m actually reasonably pleased with several of them. The songwriting class I’ve been in for the past two months has also wrapped up – I’m really pleased that my classmates want to stay in touch, and we have an email thread going.

Yesterday, I started private lessons with one of my favorite songwriting instructors at the Old Town School, Sue Demel. I’ve never taken private lessons before (though I’ve taken many group classes, including group classes that Sue was teaching over the past four months), and it’s a little intimidating to get that kind of 1:1 attention. But it’s also great, because I adore Sue and her enthusiasm for helping singer-songwriters find their most authentic singing voices. The goal of our work together is to get me ready to record an album this year – I bought a bunch of recording equipment recently, and my husband is taking a class to learn how to make the best use of it, and we’re both experimenting a bit in GarageBand and Logic – it might be a self-produced album, or it might be something I start at home and finish in a studio this fall if enough folks get vaccinated and things open back up a bit. One of my goals for today is to nail down my track list (I have done a lot of brainstorming on this, but Sue has encouraged me to make an actual decision so we can narrow the focus of what we’re working on in our lessons). I’m very excited, even though I also feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew – I’ve been writing songs since I was 10, and since I started keeping track in 2012 I’ve written over 240 of them. It’s time to get some nicer recordings done and out into the world.

In non-music news, my new role at work is going well. I’m one month in and learning a tone – I started taking over 1:1s with my direct reports this week, and that’s been great, although I’m already realizing things I can adjust there. I also did a Mental Health First Aid training through work this week, which was super informative.

I hope you’re all hanging in there and continuing to stay safe and healthy and taking care of yourselves and each other.

Community and Celebration

Hello, dear readers! We’ve reached another Thursday. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, and for those of you in places that got hit with the blizzard over the weekend, I hope your heat is working. (Thankfully, ours is, but I know some of our friends have not been so lucky.)

I have been thinking a lot this week about community. But before I get into that, let me back up a bit.

A couple of years ago, I came across the idea of creating your own holidays – not just creating traditions for existing holidays, but making up holidays that make sense to you. I loved that thought. In an effort to be more connected to the changing seasons in the world around me, I’d been halfheartedly trying to follow the “wheel of the year” observed by a lot of neo-pagan traditions, which marks the solstices, equinoxes, and four points between each of those. The thing is, though…while some of the correspondences associated with these holidays made sense, a lot of it is based on an agricultural calendar for a climate I don’t live in, so it didn’t feel super applicable to my life.

Fast-forward to about six months ago: after toying with writing up some holidays off and on, I finally sat down with my husband and we came up with a list of holidays that made sense to us, using the dates of the “wheel of the year” but making the holidays themselves more meaningful. The idea is to be more attuned to time changing, and giving ourselves regular time to reflect. (I told my therapist about this in our session this week and she got so excited about the idea. I might make a zine about it at some point.)

We designated February 1 as Midwinter, and placed the focus of this holiday on honoring and connecting with the communities that help us get through the darker time of the year. For me, there are a handful of distinct communities I’m part of that have been doing so much to keep me grounded, both in the physically darker winter and in the metaphorically darker times we’ve been living through. I did a lot of reaching out on Monday to those people, both in my own observation of Midwinter and in an effort to step up my practice of telling people I love and appreciate them. It felt really great.

In therapy on Monday, I talked a lot about how I sometimes feel guilty for the fact that things are going well for me right now, when I know the world is on fire and a lot of people that I care about are struggling. But I realized a few things as we hashed things out in that session:

  • I am allowed to feel joy.
  • My joy doesn’t mean I’m minimizing what anyone else is going through.
  • The people in my life want to celebrate with me, just like I want to celebrate with them when they’re happy.

When I was younger, I ended up in some pretty messed up, codependent friendships (which I hesitate to even call friendships anymore, but I don’t know what else to call them), where me being happy was interpreted as me not caring about the other person’s pain, and I’m still hanging onto some of that baggage. But the reality is that in healthy relationships, you hold space for each other’s joy and pain. I realized I was holding myself to a different standard than what I’d hold anyone else to. Like, if I’m struggling and one of my friends has something amazing happen to them, I absolutely want to celebrate with them! And I know that they’ll still empathize with me in whatever I’m going through.

So here are some things I am celebrating right now, and I hope that you’ll join me in celebrating them:

  • I got a promotion at work! This is the good news I’ve alluded to in a couple of past posts, but it was officially announced to the company on Monday, so now I feel like I can talk about it here. I’m now a team lead – for the first time in my professional life, I have people reporting directly to me. It’s a big step forward for me, and while I am a little bit overwhelmed by it, mostly I am just excited to be able to support this team of rockstars that I work with.
  • FAWM is underway! And it’s been hugely successful for me so far – we’re four days in and I’ve written five songs. So far my practice of getting up early and writing before work is paying off – I’ve gotten a song done before starting work every day this week, and I also managed to write another last night after dinner. I’m really happy with how the songs are turning out in general, too, which is fun.
  • I’m just in a really good place emotionally right now. For those who might be newer to this blog, you may or may not know that I have a Bipolar II Disorder diagnosis, as well as a history of some pretty significant anxiety issues. I’ve been working with my therapist to see this things in a light that’s less pathologizing and more just a matter of regulating the energy in my nervous system, and I’m in a more stable place than I think I’ve been since…I don’t even know, way back in childhood.

What about you, readers? What are things that you’re celebrating right now? Or, if you don’t feel like you have much cause for celebration at the moment, what’s weighing heavy on you right now? I’d love to hear from you.

Midweek Musings

Hello, dear readers – welcome to another Thursday.

The past week is a bit of a blur in my mind. On Friday, I had an appointment with a rheumatologist out in the suburbs. A few hours before I needed to leave, I panic-rented a car – COVID numbers are out of control in Chicago (like they are most places in the US right now), and I didn’t want to spend an hour or more of my day trapped in a Lyft with a stranger. Of course, because it was so last-minute, I didn’t have the option of renting the car for just the day, so we unexpectedly ended up with a car all weekend.

The rheumatology appointment was disappointing, but the rest of the weekend was pretty nice. Sunday in particular was great – we went to our favorite breakfast spot in our old neighborhood with a friend and picked up some delicious food, and then later in the day we went back up to our old grocery store and loaded up on a ridiculous amount of food.

Tuesday was the tenth anniversary of my husband’s and my first date, so that was exciting. It was a low-key day, but it was nice to take a little time to acknowledge that hey, we’ve been together a long time.

Last night I had songwriting class. The song I wrote this week was unlike anything I’d ever done before, and I was super nervous to perform it, but I think it went well. It was a good reminder that vulnerability is often worth it.

This weekend I’m looking forward to the possibility of three D&D games and some other little chances to connect with friends (virtually, of course). It amuses me, sometimes, that my initial response to the pandemic was to pack my schedule with regular virtual social events – I am very much an introvert and would probably not socialize this much outside of lockdown. But I’m also increasingly aware of the importance of community and connection in these wild times, and I’m super grateful to have multiple little communities that I can connect with regularly.

Keep taking care of yourselves, friends. Wash your hands, wear your damn masks, stay in when you can. And check in on each other (virtually or at a safe physical distance). It’s the only way we’re going to get through this.