Of a difficult January!

I know that I will not be writing 31 days posts this month, not even close. But I am trying to do my best. To be honest, I have not even tried to write in the past week. I have been feeling quite low and have just found it easier to distract and numb with TV and/or social media.

This January feels very hard. I, and many other people, were expecting this, what with the combination of prolonged pandemic anxiety, cold gray short winter days, and the extended isolation. But it feels harder.

I have not been feeling well for almost this entire month now. I had minor cold/cough like symptoms that were not covid (I did get tested and it was negative) and fatigue. My gut issues have been all over the place – partly stemming from anxiety. I also tend to eat to fill the anxious void in my stomach, especially when I’m alone at home all the time, and that makes the GI issues much worse.

The first two weeks of January were busy as I had two rounds of interviews for a job I really liked and wanted. I heard last Monday that I didn’t get it and I was really bummed. I have now come to terms with it and am trying to focus on my learnings from this experience.

The last few weeks have been harder for me as I’m grieving the end of yet another relationship. We have been together for a year and three months, as of today. In my head, this is the point where we would be living together, thinking of getting engaged and eventually married. And I want these things, with this person. And yet, it is not to be. Whenever I have a couple of silent hours to myself, I am confronted with this loss and pain. I don’t understand why this can’t work. All I know is that I am exhausted, of falling in love and dealing with rejection and pain. I don’t want to do this again – I don’t want to date again and try to meet someone and invest the emotion and effort to build a relationship. I want this relationship to work. I love him, I love that we have similar values about many things in life, we love and respect each other and inspire each other to be better people, I love our shared memories, our inside jokes, our comfort with each other. So I have been behaving like a toddler dragging her feet, refusing to accept that this is ending, even though I have known this for a few months now. We are together for now because it is too difficult to survive a pandemic alone – with no human touch or comfort or support. This makes everything much more difficult, as you can imagine. I have been talking to new people on dating apps, but it is very hard to date in the middle of a pandemic and the winter. I have tried meeting for an outside walk but it is hard to feel a connection when you are physically uncomfortable with walking in cold wind and masks and what not. And when your heart is still in love with another person. I also want guarantees right now – that a person is ready for a long-term relationship and a commitment, and wants to be with me – things that are impossible to know when you meet someone new.

So I don’t feel like dealing with anything in life these days. Of course, I still have to work and do anything that needs to be done. And I’m still cooking and washing dishes and getting groceries once a week. I am also trying to do my physiotherapy exercises almost everyday, so that they pain stays in the manageable range. Other than this, I am letting myself wallow which basically means I watched TV for hours on the weekend and read a book. Because of all my gut issues, I can’t even eat comfort food, gah! And I’m now remembering the episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai convinces Rory to wallow after her first breakup and that involved Pizza and ice-cream and someone holding you and rubbing your back while you cry. Sigh. No matter how old you are and how many times you experience it, heartbreak is still so painful.

Okay I know I said nothing of consequence, this was just a mish-mash of January happenings in my life. I will be back soon! Take care!

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Ramblings about mornings!

I am sitting by the plants this morning as I write this post. This has been one of my favourite spots in the pandemic – it is funny how I spent 70% or more of my waking hours by this window now. This is going to be a random post about things on my mind right now:

  • For some reason, I woke up singing Joleen by Dolly Parton today. It is strange because I don’t specifically listen to this song or Dolly Parton much, but it has been playing in my head for the last two hours.
  • Also, I am wondering, why can’t I sleep in on the weekends anymore? What is wrong with me? Every single weekday, when I have to be awake and login for work, I somehow manage to open my eyes when the alarm goes off at 8:45 am and crawl out of bed at 9 to walk to my desk. Over the weekend, I will automatically wake up earlier or at 9 am, no matter what time I fell asleep. I have been trying to keep a consistent routine of going to bed around midnight, but I would love if my body cooperated and allowed me to rest a little more on the weekend mornings.
  • Talking about mornings, I started writing morning pages during the December holidays. Morning pages is one of the key practices shared in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, it is a book about creative unblocking and healing and involves 12 weeks of exercise and practices. The morning pages involve writing for three pages with a pen and paper, anything and everything that comes to your mind, and ideally should be done as the first thing in the morning. I haven’t read the whole book or gone through the whole process, but I do write morning pages every now and then and always find them to be quite impactful. During the holidays, I loved sitting in this chair in the morning and writing three pages in my journal. I would love to somehow wake up earlier and spend a half hour doing this but it almost feels impossible to build this routine.

Alright, this is it for this post. Leaving you with a picture of my favourite spot! 🙂 Take care and see you soon!

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Pandemic life: screen-fatigue, anxiety, new habits and routines!

Hello hello! I am still here, not giving up so easily this year. I will write as little or as much as I can on as many days as I can. When I started the blogathon this year, a friend reminded me that it’s the intentions that matter.

Of course, I started with high ambitions and expectations, as always. I actually signed up for new year journaling prompts by Suleika Jaouad and was hoping to use those to write thoughtful posts here every day. Alas, I have had too much going on and have not had the mind space to even read them. It is only Jan 6th and I am hopeful that I will find time to read, reflect, and write with these prompts. If you are interested, you can sign up here.

Talking about reading, I feel my reading has significantly decreased due to screen fatigue in the pandemic. Earlier, I used to read a lot on my phone. Once we started working from home in March, I find that I am spending a lot more time on screens – for work and for distractions/procrastination. Especially, during the first few months, if I was anxious and/or didn’t feel like working and didn’t have an urgent deadline, I would randomly scroll social media during the day. While I have been able to reduce my time on social media, work is often busy and challenging and I am so tired of screens that I’m reading much lesser now. (Side bar: Have you seen Social Dilemma on Netflix?)

Because of all this time spent on social media, I was also working longer days – I have to be online during business hours and would end up working late most evenings to finish things I had to do for the day. I didn’t have good work-life boundaries and was more tired and irritable. After a few months, I realized that this is not sustainable and started building better habits and routines. I now have timers on all my social media apps – I extend them and take breaks occasionally but it has led to some improvements. I also leave my cellphone in the bedroom for most of the work day now – I occasionally get up and look at it but it has significantly reduced my social media distractions and I am more efficient during the day. On most days, I also take a one hour lunch break now – I do my physical therapy exercises and stretches, talk to mom on the phone, and eat brunch. After work, I usually eat dinner around 7, watch some TV, go for a walk, and then come home and shower. Building these small routines has been so helpful in managing anxiety from being at home all the time and the isolation.

A habit that I am currently trying to build is to read and write in the evening. For a few days in November, after taking a shower, I would step away from screens and read a book and/or journal to unwind. This is something I need to start doing again.

Ooh, I also want to share a couple of tips that I have read in several places and found very helpful in building these habits:

  1. It is helpful if we can attach a new habit with something we already do. I think I heard this on the NPR podcast Hidden Brain. For example, I used to call mom and eat brunch around noon every day. Now, I do some stretching exercises while I talk to her and then eat brunch. Another example, there are higher chances of my going for a walk at night if I go right after dinner. The longer I stay on the couch, the lazier I get.
  2. If possible, minimize the effort you need to make to get started on a new activity. This is from the same NPR podcast. For anyone who remembers high school physics (or was it chemistry or thermodynamics?), it reduces the inertia and/or activation energy for a task. For example, my yoga mat is always open in my living room, it reduces some of the inertia I feel. I have noticed that when I put away the mat to vacuum my place, I often end up not stretching for 2-3 days. Let us not try to guess the frequency of my vacuuming, let’s just say I don’t like walking bare feet at home lol! Another example, I put my journal and pen in this warm corner I recently created where I like to sit and write. Okay one last example because I want to share this, I also leave my art supplies out on the art desk. I have found that I paint more often when everything is already out and accessible. 🙂
  3. This is a bit related: I often spend time on TV or social media and am dissatisfied later and am not sure what to do next. A trick my therapist suggested is to think about and set intentions for what I want to do next before hand. For example, I will watch this one episode and then go for a walk. Or I will look at instagram for 5 minutes and then write the blog post!

Okay I am quite happy that I didn’t just ramble here, it has turned out to be a coherent piece that is a respectable length lol! Of course, all the above experiences are thanks to having a lot of privilege: having a decent space, living by myself, being employed and having a job where I can safely work from home in a pandemic. Unfortunately, many people don’t have that safety right now.

How are you coping with the pandemic and isolation? Do you have any tips or tricks you use for mindfulness or building habits/routines? Please do share if you try any of these!

Alright, I will see you soon! Take care and be safe!

Love,

Kinmin

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Procrastination & Exhaustion

Okay I know it is day three and I have already missed one post. But it is alright, I will catch up on that additional post in the next few days. What matters is that I am here today.

I am thinking about procrastination. “Procrastination is defined as the action of delaying or postponing something.” As I googled procrastination, I came across this NY Times article on procrastination that explains the root cause behind procrastination, our brain responses and feelings that trigger procrastination, and some healthy ways to get past it. Another article on procrastination identifies reasons for procrastination based on your personality and also suggests potential strategies to overcome it.

As per the second article, one of the underlying reasons for my procrastination could be perfectionism. For quite some time now, I have known that I struggle with perfectionism a lot. The article suggests that perfectionists don’t leave enough time to do a task to remove some of the pressure for the end-result to be perfect – this could be quite possible in my case. It is interesting how one can procrastinate multiple things and how some of them can be used to procrastinate the others. I am sad that I have wasted several hours watching TV and attempted online shopping today, to avoid writing this blog post as well as some work related things I had to do.

Tomorrow morning, I am returning to work after a much needed two-week staycation. This time off has been a good mix of adulting (I am happy that I got a lot of important things done but it also kept me very busy for almost 10 days), recharging and creative activities, and little rest. The creative activities I did make my heart feel full – I really enjoyed painting, journaling most days, reading a book, watching and photographing a sunrise, walking most evenings, and building my first snow-person ever after living in snowy lands for 11 years. However, I would have liked a bit more rest. I don’t feel ready to be back to work and feel that I have been dragging my feet like a toddler today. But I also don’t know how to rest anymore. I think I have high-functioning anxiety. I am so high-strung all the time, constantly thinking of things to-do, making lists, doing research for every little thing that needs to be done but not actually accomplishing something in one go, avoiding making decisions, procrastinating in so many ways. How do you teach your body to slow down and unwind? What are things you do to rest?

Thanks to procrastinating all evening, I will probably sleep late tonight and have a busy day and evening tomorrow. Oh well! I guess I should get going and get to some things finally. Take care and see you tomorrow! I wish you a good start to the working week and a not too crazy Monday!

Much love,

Kinmin

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Happy New Year!

Hi everyone, here’s hoping that the new year is a healthy and safe one for everyone! As someone accurately described 2020 on the Internet, we have all been in this ocean storm with very different support systems – some have had ships or yachts, others with reliable lifeboats, while some have been in boats with holes or literally nothing. Having said that, I think almost everyone has experienced isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty in this year and we are all fatigued. It will take a while, potentially another year, for some things in the world to return to normal, and others may never get there. I hope that as a society, we can find and implement ways to get to a more just, sustainable, healthy, and equitable world for everyone.

Last week, I came across Ani’s post about the January blogathon and I felt a desire to attempt it again. I initially decided against it when I thought about my embarrassing last year’s (and maybe previous years’) unsuccessful attempts. When I signed up for the blogathon in January 2020, I literally wrote four posts. But then, I decided to dig deeper and questioned why I don’t want to attempt it – is the embarrassment and shame coming from internal or external judgement? I have experienced the blogging world as a comforting space where people are either supportive or mind their own business – nobody is sitting there to judge me for not completing this in the past years or even remember it for that matter! Since I know the critic is mostly internal, I want to try and acknowledge it and let it know that I will write nevertheless.

So here I am, daring to attempt this January blogathon challenge, again. As I step into this space, I am dusting the cobwebs, setting the photo frames on the walls straight, and smiling at anyone passing by. I am hoping to show up here every day, maybe we will chat a little and get to know each other (again?!). Please stop by and say hello if you’re around! How are you? Were you able to do anything special (virtually) to mark the beginning of the new year/decade?

Much love,
Kinmin

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