2020/2021

Hello, dear readers! Here we are, the last day of 2020, a year that has been… *gestures vaguely*…something.

Last Monday, on the Winter Solstice, I did a little looking back on the past year, on the goals that I set at the beginning of 2020, at how much progress I made (or didn’t) on those goals, despite (or because of ) everything 2020 threw at me. I made a similar post last year, so let’s follow that same format and take a minute to glance backward and look ahead, shall well?

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

  • Write. Songs, yes, but also other things, poems and short stories and maybe even games.
    • I wrote 42 songs, including one spoken word piece and something for every card in the Major Arcana of a tarot deck. I did not write poems or short stories. I started noodling around with writing a game, got overwhelmed, and set it aside.
  • Read more, especially poetry and other things that inspire me.
    • I didn’t read more – I read 13 books, contrasted with last year’s 23. But I did read more Mary Oliver poetry, which was an excellent choice.
  • Make music often, as close to every day as possible.
    • I did not make music as close to every day as possible. But I still made music, and in a year that tried to totally derail everything, I’m calling that at least a partial win.
  • Do the work, in therapy and on my own, to be an adult that my inner child can be proud of.
    • This is lifelong work, but I have done a lot of work in this arena!
  • Take care of my body and my brain and my spirit.
    • This hasn’t been a resounding success, but…you know what? Fuck it. Given everything that 2020 was, yes, this was a success. I got myself medical care when I needed it, I have a better awareness of what I need to do to take better care of my body, I’ve continued therapy, I’ve found ways to learn and grow despite *gestures wildly at the year*.
  • Follow through on the plan to have my credit card paid off in June.
    • I did this! I had it paid off in May, actually. This was a very big deal.
  • Create more routine and space for ritual in my life.
    • I often feel like I have failed at this, but in reality I have established some important routines and rituals this year. They just don’t look like I thought they would a year ago.
  • Get a new, better-paying job.
    • I didn’t post this one on the blog last year, because I knew some of my coworkers read the blog and I didn’t want to cause unnecessary alarm. But I did this! I started my new job in March, four days before we went into lockdown, and it came with an approximately 60% salary increase. I am so much happier where I am now (which is not to say I don’t miss my old coworkers, but this job is a much better fit for me).

Other things that happened:

  • Took a mountain dulcimer class, a couple of mandolin classes, three songwriting classes, and a handful of songwriting workshops.
  • Tried Tai Chi (for a couple of months, in the Before Times).
  • Cowrote a song with someone I met on the internet. Also cowrote with my partner.
  • Bought a gorgeous new octave mandolin that I’m absolutely in love with.
  • Got married!
  • Hosted write-alongs for Song School friends the week that Song School would have happened.
  • Performed with my partner at a virtual open mic.
  • Decided to take an indefinite break from Facebook.
  • Bought a Nintendo Switch Lite and played many hours of Stardew Valley.
  • Played a lot of D&D along with a handful of other delightful games.
  • Established a number of (virtual) social routines.

Goals for 2021:

  • Keep writing.
  • “Yes, and…” opportunities at work.
  • Keep investing in the communities and relationships that allow me to thrive.
  • Try to internalize the notion that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good or valuable.
  • Keep doing the work to be an adult that my past selves can be proud of.

May 2021 be a gentler year than 2020 was. May we keep finding reasons to hope. And may the lessons 2020 brought us not need to be repeated.

2019

Hello, dear readers, and happy new year! I hope you enjoyed whatever holiday festivities you took part in (or chose to abstain from).

I’m starting 2019 feeling a little scatterbrained, but I want to take some time to acknowledge what 2018 held for me, and look a bit at what I’m hoping for in 2019.

So here’s a (far from complete) list of what happened in my 2018:

  • I completed my first FAWM.
  • I started going to a Unitarian Universalist church. I joined the choir at the church. I quit the choir and stopped going to church.
  • I turned 30.
  • I played a lot of D&D with some really awesome folks.
  • I wrote 48 songs (blowing away what I thought at the time was an impossible goal of 40).
  • I played five Acoustic Explosions.
  • I went to Song School for the second time.
  • I hit five years on testosterone.
  • I made new friends and strengthened some existing friendships.
  • I reconnected with my grandmother via letter writing.
  • I finally started to really track my finances.

I’ve been thinking a lot about possible themes for 2019, and I think I’m going to steal mine from Ellis (a musician I greatly admire who I met at Song School), who posted on Patreon that her word for 2019 is EmbodyI’ve been feeling very disconnected from my body, and I think this is my year to really get grounded and learn to sit in my body through all its aches and pains and quirks. There’s also something in the word embody that feels like reaching for more genuineness, more honesty…and I think that is going to start with me being more genuine and honest about my needs, rather than constantly worrying that I’m being an inconvenience.

Other things I hope to do this year:

  • Find a new therapist.
  • Complete a second FAWM.
  • Write 30 more songs.
  • Read more (I fell short of my Goodreads goal of 30 books in 2018; I’m hoping for better focus this year).
  • Go back to Song School.
  • Play out at least four times.
  • Find at least one opportunity to play out somewhere that isn’t an Acoustic Explosion.
  • Play more D&D.
  • Keep tracking finances and get to a point where I feel solidly in control of my money.

So here’s to a new year and new opportunities. May the lessons we learned in 2018 not be wasted so we don’t need to learn them again this year!

Reflections and Resolutions, 2016 Edition

Well, folks, here we are at the end of 2015, and what can I say except…it’s been a year.

The past 12 months have held some of the hardest and best decisions I’ve ever made for the sake of my mental health. It’s been a year of purging in many areas of my life – from clothes and books and other belongings to toxic relationships – and while it hasn’t been easy, overall I’d say it’s been worth it. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about who I am and what I believe, about what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m exiting this year feeling better about myself, my space, and my relationships than I did entering it. Which, as it turns out, fulfills the loose goals I set for myself last year.

Some things, sadly, have not changed since I wrote that post last year. Police have continued to murder black people and suffer few – if any – consequences for it. Violence against trans women, particularly trans women of color, has continued to occur at alarming rates. It’s a frightening world we live in, and as a white dude, I have far fewer reasons to be frightened than most people. I am still learning how to use this new voice and new privilege for good, and I know I fall far short the majority of the time.

As I’m writing this post the day before New Year’s Eve, I’m formulating a little intention-setting ritual for ringing in the new year. At this point, it’s going to look something like this:

Supplies

  • Tea lights (real candles, not the electronic ones)
  • Tea light holders
  • A toothpick or pocket knife
  • Somewhat concrete goals for the year
  • Matches or a lighter

Ritual

  1. On each tea light, use the toothpick or pocket knife to carve a word or symbol representing a goal for the new year.
  2. Place the tea lights in their holders.
  3. While lighting each candle, take a few moments to focus on what the manifestation of that goal will look like.
  4. Once all the candles are lit, spend a few minutes watching the flames in meditation/reflection.
  5. Let the candles provide the ambiance for the evening as they burn all the way down.

That’s it. Super simple, but still something a little special to mark the beginning of a new (re)commitment to a goal. (I’m still working out exactly what goals I’m going to set for the year…perhaps one of them should be, “learn to be more decisive!”)

I’m not sorry to see 2015 go, but I feel like we’re parting on mostly amicable terms. I’m looking forward to 2016 and all the promise that it holds!

Reflections and Resolutions

This post will go live on January 1, 2015. As I’m writing this (on December 31, 2014) and reflecting back on the past twelve months, I am a little overwhelmed. On the one hand, 2014 was a year of many personal joys and triumphs – it was my first full year on testosterone, I feel more at home in my body than I ever really have, it’s been a great year at work, I got to be an Uncle Ommer, I managed to write a blog post every single week for a whole year, and I legally changed my name last month. But it’s been a hard year, too. The chronic back pain I’ve dealt with since middle school is becoming a more persistent problem. It’s become evident that my biological family on the whole has no real intention of affirming (or even acknowledging) the fact that I’m transitioning, even if I give them explicit examples of how they can do this. Many people dear to me have experienced loss of many kinds and wrestled (or are wrestling) with particularly dark periods of depression and anxiety.

From a national standpoint, it’s been a year marked by racist police violence and the murders of young black men at the hands of cops, which has shed much (but, as always, not enough) light on how systemically ingrained racism is in the world, and how determined so many white people are to be oblivious to it. As is sadly the case every year, trans people all over the world suffered unspeakable violence and hatred; just this past week, a young trans woman named Leelah Alcorn took her life because she felt she had no future, because her Christian parents forced her into “reparative” therapy, isolated her, and took away any hope she might have had. We need to do better. I want so desperately to believe that we can.

There’s still much to be learned from 2014, but it’s also definitely time to start moving forward and learning what 2015 will bring. I’m not usually one for resolutions, but there are a handful of things I want to work on this year:

  1. I want to take better care of my body. I am less concerned with weight loss (I’ve been at a stable weight for a whole year for the first time in my life, and that is more important to me that whatever else that number is or is not), but I’ve had chronic pain issues I’ve been pretty much ignoring for a long time now, and it’s time I dealt with that. Testosterone has reshaped my body into something I actually appreciate, and both for my own sake and the sake of my loved ones (who take such wonderful care of me when I’m in too much pain to effectively take care of myself), I need to start treating it with more respect.
  2. I want to de-clutter and take better care of my living and working spaces. I have way, way too much stuff. My partner and I have plans to go through everything in our apartment over the next six months or so and discard or donate all of the things we’re not using, don’t need, and just aren’t excited about anymore. It’s an overwhelming prospect, but I think we’ll both be happier for it in the end. (I undertook the process of cleaning off my desk at work last week, and discovered I actually do like having an orderly workspace, despite my tendency toward clutter. I think it was the encouragement I needed to get started.)
  3. I want to do a better job of taking care of my loved ones. I have always been very good at being there when people reach out for help, but I have a long way to go in remembering to reach out to people who can’t do that for themselves. It’s been my goal each of the past few years to get better at creating safe spaces for the people who walk in and out of my life. I think I’ve succeeded in that, but there’s always room for improvement.

It feels weird to put myself first on that list, but one of the things I’ve had to relearn (and relearn, and relearn) over the past handful of years is that if I’m not taking care of myself, I really can’t take care of anything or anyone else. I’ve gained a more concrete understanding of what that means this year, and particularly related to the goals above: If I don’t take better care of my body, I physically can’t help my partner clean and de-clutter the apartment. I can’t pick things up off the floor right now. It’s a problem. I want to help, so I need to get my body back into reasonably working order. Additionally, when I’m in pain all the time, that decreases the amount of mental energy I have to take care of other people. Bipolar cycles can greatly affect how much space I have in my head and heart for other people’s problems, no matter how well I manage that, so I need to be extra certain that I’m regulating how much energy my body is taking away from that store, too.

2014 was a big year, but I’m ready to part ways with it. Here’s to a brighter 2015!