Yearly Goals

New Year’s looks different in 2020, but less different than you’d think.

We were never ones for huge get-togethers or parties to ring in the new year. The last few years, it was dinner with a couple of friends, and then joining another small group (like, seven other people) for some games and drinks before heading home around 11 and watching Bob’s Burgers until we fell asleep. So while I wish I could play Balderdash with my Game Night crew, or have a glass of wine while watching The Twilight Zone or The Three Stooges with my folks and my brother for the fifty-millionth time, I’ll be okay doing the Zoom thing for (hopefully) one more major holiday.

The two things that I am keeping consistent, though, have been The Big Clean (ughhh, that felt so good), and goal-setting.

2020 was a weird year for obvious reasons, but on a more personal level, it was weird because the goals I was most certain I’d fail at were the ones that I made the most progress with. Practicing art and drawing and not abandoning works and projects just because they were initially imperfect or disappointing; sticking to things; putting myself out there creatively. I had some degree of success with all of those endeavor this year, which isn’t just cool progress on 2020 goals, it’s… huge progress for me as a person.

I’d like to keep up the momentum this year. My main goals for 2021 are:

  1. Keep going out for collaborative art projects. I need to be more proactive about being social and “networking” with the artists I’m working with, but this could yield good opportunities and growth for me.
  2. Consider gallery submissions again. My first submission went nowhere because it was literally a week before COVID shutdowns, but I’m a far better artist nine months down the line, and ready to try again.
  3. Start making and collecting ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)! These have fascinated me since, no joke, the late-90s, when I first heard of them, but I never really explored the whole concept. I’ve been looking into it recently, and it seems like a lot of fun!
  4. Make it a point to buy art (and art can include jewelry and clothing) that I genuinely love, not just mass manufactured pieces because they’re cheaper (note: sometimes I genuinely love the mass manufactured piece, and that’s ok! But the deciding factor should be whether or not I love it).
  5. Practice mindful eating and exercise. I’m not interested in getting “thin.” I’m not even interested in losing weight. But my cholesterol is through the roof, I’m pre-diabetic, and I’m hypertensive. I want to drink more water, listen to my body, eat cleaner foods (i.e., more lean proteins, fruits, and veggies, with an eye on cholesterol and glycemic index) and get in some enjoyable movement every day. Having a sedentary job and being on lockdown in a highly urban area with a young child means I have not gotten out of the house and gotten moving in a very, very long time.
  6. Practice digital painting more.
  7. Read more poetry, and start writing my own again. I want to be okay with the idea that a poem can take days or weeks to write, especially if the bulk of my creative energy is going elsewhere. But I miss poetry, and I’d like to touch base with it again.
  8. Be more organized and utilize the schedules and scaffolding I’m putting in place for myself. The check-lists are thorough, cleanly designed, and detailed. And I need to learn to use them.

Those are the big focuses. For all my long-term goals and ambitions, my DayZeroProject bucket list is a living document (which you can find here; feel free to follow!), but the goals listed above are priorities for the year.

What do you hope 2021 holds for you?

The Big Clean: Halfway Home

Yeah, halfway. Can you believe? I didn’t think I needed a room-by-room, play-by-play like I gave last year, so I opted out of it. I’m sure you’re all devastated.

The kitchen and both bathrooms are finished; today is my bedroom, and (if I’m making good time and feeling adventurous) Bear’s room (Bear’s room is officially scheduled for tomorrow, so if I don’t make it there today, no biggie; it’s basically a stretch goal, tbh). I count the two bathrooms as one because, honestly, both are very small, and one of them is technically a half-bath, so like — really, really small. But they are also the absolute least pleasant rooms to clean for obvious reasons, so knocking them both out in the same day and being done with it would likely have been the goal even if they were considerably larger.

The kitchen was the most time consuming room by far, because quarantine plus a whole lot of cabinets and drawers with not a whole lot of organization plus one person with an awful set of executive functioning skills equals absolute fucking chaos. The majority of clean time was cabinets, drawers, and the refrigerator (which, honestly, I don’t know that we’ve ever cleaned? And, hoo boy, was that patently obvious), but which was worth the effort, because damn if they don’t look amazing now. I legit keep opening the fridge just to admire it. It’s pathetic, maybe, but I will take my glimmers of joy where I can get them, and if you had seen the fridge in it’s before state, you too would be suitable impressed by its current state.

There are things, this time around, that I’m not doing; I’m not scrubbing down the walls, for one, and that’s probably the biggest change I’ve made. After last time (which was three years into living here) I realized there wasn’t such a significant change that it was was something that warranted being done every year, especially if we are consistent about dusting the walls as part of our weekly cleaning routine. Neither of us are smokers, we don’t burn a lot of things in the oven, etc. Aside from visible stains and marks (because we do have a kid, let’s be real), I didn’t touch the walls except to dust them. Let me tell you, it was a huge sanity-saver. I want to be thorough, but I also don’t want to waste my energy doing things that are unnecessary, especially this year, when my energy is so low in general. If I’m going to expend energy, I want to make it count. That energy can be put toward cleaning out my closet, or scrubbing the kitchen floor — something that actually needs to be done, and something I tend to shirk in the day-to-day.

Today is my bedroom, which is weirdly exciting. Since my wife started transitioning and collecting a shit ton of feminine accouterments — makeup and perfume and jewelry — but has not really thought about dedicated organization for them yet, this year’s Big Clean for our room includes a ton of organizing, cleaning out, and rearranging. I’m looking forward to finding permanent homes for her new possessions, and making them something integrated into our living space instead of just scattered across our bedside tables and bookcases.

Right now, I’m waiting on lunch to replenish my reserves, and then it’s back to work. I feel like once I get the house organized, the next thing on the roster is going to be doing a little shopping, since I’m determined to buy some new art for the house (since I’m incredibly dedicated to purchasing things that genuinely bring me joy this year) and I definitely need a new planner (since it looks like there will be an end to quarantine at least by mid-year (!!!) and even before that, I want to be able to organize my work stuff, home stuff, and personal projects in one place). And then it’s just… run down the year. I won’t be sad to see it go.

Hope you all are doing well, and finding a last burst of energy to set things in motion for a positive personal start to the new year.

Stay safe and sane. We’ll get there.

Goals for 2020

First thing’s first, my daily sketch:
20200102_190544.jpg

This was about a 20 minute sketch, done while my soup was simmering on the stove (White bean and kale, if you’re wondering).  I was very happy with the proportions, as that tends to be what I struggle with most (I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s much better than my usual attempts, especially given the time frame).  Again, I have trouble with matching the values; I don’t go as dark on the dark, and the lights tend to be glaringly so; I attribute that partly to lack of skill, sure, but also I feel like if I had softer, more rounded pencils, I’d be able to do more fluid gradients of shading.  As it is, I only have my mechanical pencil, which is generally fine because I usually prefer to ink or paint anyway.

Today was my first day back to reality in two weeks, and I take comfort in the fact that everyone at work seemed as dazed and confused as I was.  I barely slept last night, but I was up with my alarm by 5:20, and eased into the day by brewing a cup of coffee, having a shower, writing up some brief morning pages and a to-do list, and listening to a favorite episode of Worst Bestsellers (which, if you like bad books, is highly recommended.  The episode I was listening to was their crossover with I Don’t Even Own a Television, another “bad books” podcast which I very much recommend.  I also may have a bit of a crush on  J.W. Friedman, but that’s neither here nor there).  Work itself was productive but overall uneventful (which, rest assured, is a good thing), but I am selfishly glad that tomorrow is Friday already, because the day also felt like it lasted several.

Anyway, I mentioned yesterday that, in addition to my bucket list goals (a living list that grows sporadically), I have some 2020-specific goals that I want to cast out into to ether in the hopes that it will help hold me accountable.

  1.  Consume more media.  Which, honestly, probably sounds weird, but.  If I want to produce content — poetry, painting, short fiction — I need to be consuming content.  That’s reality.  I tend to get into ruts of “Comfort listening/watching/reading” things: endlessly watching the same show, or listening to the same album (or, worse, song) over and over, ad infinitum (and nowadays, a lot of that is media is also directed at and intended for five-year-olds).  I don’t intend to stop that, per se (that’s also kind of part and parcel of my neurodivergence, I think), but I do want to expand past that.  Watch new TV shows, stand-up specials (which used to be one of my favorite things to do), listen to new music and podcasts, read new books and poems.  Speaking off…
  2. Read 50 books in 2020.  I used to do that, easy, when I was in college — not so much because I was reading books for school, but more that I was reading books to avoid the books I had to read for school.  Also, I had long waits between classes and not exactly a ton of friends (okay, like five, basically).  Now, with the ADHD, the kid, a full-time job, and other creative pursuits, I’ve let this slip and I want to rectify that.  Today I started Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Springmostly because I’d been musing about meta-writing, and I’d loved her Writing Down the Bones when I was younger.
  3. Buy people more thoughtful presents.  I don’t love how commercial the holidays have become, but I do like buying people gifts.  I especially love buying themed gifts, or handmade gifts, or just unique gifts in general, but I tend not to do so as often as I’d like because November rolls around and I suddenly feel the time crunch because I know the holidays will be here any minute and I just need to get things done.  Throughout the year, I’d like to make it a point to pick things up for people whenever I see something I think they would genuinely love or that would bring them pleasure, instead of making a mad dash to the mall two weeks before the holiday.  I also want to buy more secondhand, or from small businesses or independent makers.
  4. Take more photos of my loved ones.  I have approximately five hundred thousand pictures of Bear.  I have maybe a dozen of my husband.  Fewer of my siblings, and almost none at all of my parents.  Even photos of friends haven’t really been a thing for a while now.  I try to enjoy things in the moment, and made a conscious effort, years ago, to not go camera-crazy, but now I feel like I have no momentos of so many instances and events in my life, that I really want to strike a healthy balance.
  5. Do something special for my husband for Valentine’s Day/our anniversary.  (I just realized that sounded like I’m conflating those two dates; they are not the same day.  Our anniversary is July 17th).  My husband always treats me and surprises me in little ways on special occasions, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever really returned to gesture adequately.  I’d like to either buy him something special or treat him to a meaningful experience.  Since this’ll be our 10th anniversary, it seems like as good of a time as any.
  6. Return to a regular gym routine/eat more nutritiously.  I don’t do diets, especially diets that outright exclude any particular food or food group, but I do think eating reasonable portions, drinking lots of water, regularly exercising, and eating more of the “good” stuff is generally pretty solid life advice, and I should follow it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

New Year

I don’t want to burden Bear with the whole New Year’s Resolution trend just yet, but it’s hard to talk about the upcoming year with him without mentioning or bringing up particular goals.  He’s cottoned on to the idea that people make changes at the start of a new year; it’s in pop culture, on TV, and he unavoidably hears me and my friends talk about our own ambitions.

I asked him if he had any goals for the new year.  He thought about it for a minute before deciding his goal for 2020 would be “to listen to [his] grown-ups better,” which overall I think is actually a pretty great, self-aware goal.  I tried to suggest that maybe he’d want to consider “keeping [his] room clean” or “trying new food” as a goal, but then I thought, hmm, if I ask him to clean his room or eat his broccoli, wouldn’t his own resolution to listen to me better hold him to doing it?

Man, it’s so rare a loophole works to my benefit.

I mean, realistically, he’s likely going to recant literally the minute he’s actually asked to do something he doesn’t like, but still, at five I appreciate the self-awareness.  At least he knows it’s something he needs to work on.  I guess it’s still up to me to help strategize how that’s actually going to be accomplished.

My own resolution is a little more loosely framed this year than it had been in the past; basically I want to make measurable progress on at least five of my bucket list goals (the primary focus right now being returning to the gym, drinking more water, and eating more “real” food), and knock out the ones that are one-offs (i.e., buy a binder, get a tattoo, write five fan letters, etc.)

So much of what’s on the bucket list are creative goals — at some point during the summer I became obsessed with publishing a zine or a chapbook, and I still want to follow through on that, and I’m determined to host a limited run podcast, though I’m having a hell of a time finding someone to co-host with me (I have a number of different ideas for what I’d want to do, but again, having trouble finding a co-host).  Painting and writing are always top priority as well, though I feel like I made great strides in 2019 towards making them part of a semi-daily routine; in their case, it’s more carrying forward and continuing the momentum rather than forging a new habit from the ground up.  Oh, and if it hasn’t become apparent, I’m also trying my best to write something everyday — yes, even if it’s just a “what I did today” entry.  2019 was the surest proof that “branded” blogging is just not for me — I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t want to do it.  I just want to talk, damn it, and have a place to keep the things I make that I’m proudest of.

I hope I make a lot of things I’m proud of this year.

My bucket list, by the way, is a sort of living document, so I’m constantly updating it and adding new goals.  I encourage others to try it out in the new year — I did it back in 2011/2012 and actually had a lot of success!  This was back on LiveJournal, and the memory of it was actually one of the things that spurred me to return to personal blogging.  I found a community of like-minded folks that actually offered real support and feedback on my goals, my failures, and my successes, and it was probably the time of my life I felt most successful and productive.

If you have, or plan to make, a bucket list, please share it with me here.


Oh, and on the topic of bucket list goals, specifically “Produce one sketch every day,” here’s today’s (getting a head start):

20191231_105155.jpg

The Small Clean (Or: The Big Clean, Pt. 2.5)

DykwlBSWoAAmd9l
My week. (Art by @nathanwpyle)

I’m on track…ish, for The Big Clean.  I have a few details to take care of in the living room — mostly carrying boxes up or downstairs, after packing away ephemera that had somehow made it’s way to the living room from other parts of the house, and vacuuming the couch before rearranging the pillows — but other than that, I’ve completed the living room!  Photographic evidence will be forthcoming, however, since I am a bit of a completionist, and I want to have the room in full working order before I show it off.

One of the things I did today that kept me from fully completing the task was I decided it was finally time to clean out the coffee table, which I suppose bears an explanation.

When we bought this house, one of the things I was excited about was that it had a partially finished basement.  It was neither nice enough nor spacious enough to really be of use for entertaining, but with the washer/dryer down there, it was a nice laundry room, and the built in shelving the previous owners had installed meant it also seemed like an awesome place to store our hobby supplies — board games, fannish collections, jewelry-findings, and most especially, art supplies.  We moved down all the aforementioned accouterments, refurbished an old desk, and thought that I’d finally have a craft room again.

Well, as it turns out, sharing space with the water heater means that our basement gets uncomfortably warm in the spring and summer, so for half the year, working down there wasn’t really on the docket.  Luckily we had, for totally different reasons (or maybe no reason besides a good price, since neither of us can now think what our original intention was) bought a storage coffee table.  That quickly because the home for all of my painting and art supplies, and man, let me tell you, it was not well organized.  Uh, it was actually not organized at all.  I had huge, unwrapped blocks of Sculpey tossed in beside empty Altoid containers (for altered boxes), dozens of magazine back-issues (for collage and decoupage), and brushes, palates, and art tools thrown everywhere.  It took me over an hour of concerted effort and a full garbage bag to clear it out, but dammit, I did it.  Given how one of my primary goals this year is to really focus on art, it seemed like now was the time to really get it done.

20191229_125720.jpg
Look, you can actually see everything that’s in there!  And it all has a place!

That being said, I’m currently trying to decide what to do for the rest of the night.  I’m sort of itching to get started with art, but I also feel like I’m not in the proper headspace to start one of the “big” projects I’ve been ruminating on, so I’m currently torn between paging through magazines (I have a stack of mags from the entire last year that my mother passed on to me when she was done; it was never the top of my priority list, so I probably have about 36 magazines sitting by my couch, untouched!), or sifting through Pinterest for photo references for the projects I know I want to embark on.  I found a few useful ones for a series I’m doing using geometric shapes as framing devices (i.e., instead of drawing using the edges of the pages as boundaries, I want to work on vignettes confined to small square, circles, or other shapes).  I might continue on that path tonight, and bring a few magazines up to bed with me.

I am on track to finish by tomorrow night!  I’m very, very much looking forward to greeting the new year with a clean home, and will be ready to tackle a few more organizational quandaries tomorrow night (I hope).