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Passing the time

I realized today, as I spoke with a beloved friend, that I’ve spent the past year wishing time away. What a sad and destructive thing. I’ve just been wishing for time to pass, to survive the Now and get to the Later. I’ve waited for something worth writing about, for something worth lingering over. The rest of the time, I’ve just been looking forward to that Great Thing, whatever it is.

The Now is just fine. It isn’t the most amazing, but it is fine, and has lots of room to grow. The Now is full of potential. I just haven’t been paying that much attention.

The Now means having the luxury to take risks. The Now means the flexibility to reinvent a lot of things. The Now means paying less attention and care to things that don’t matter, and reserving my emotional resources for the things that do. And yes, the Now even means giving myself permission to really dislike the things that I really dislike.

Here’s the thing about that: I’m very aware that my problems at the moment are champagne problems. But, rather than just owning that, I’ve been quietly wishing for time to pass, so the problems will get solved and I can move on. It’s not super mature, nor ideal. Rather than fixing what I can fix and accepting that the rest is temporary, I’m just sweeping it under the rug and waiting for it to pass. Pass, as in passive, and utter nonsense, that.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about tonight. I’m pondering how to get back in the moment. I used to be an expert at living in the moment, at enjoying the beautiful, small things and fixing the bad ones. I miss that, and I’d like the moment back, before it’s passed again and I’m looking forward to the next one.

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Rose-Colored City

I’m writing this from a room overlooking “my city.” Earlier tonight, the sun went down and turned the entire skyline rose-gold, a color that I’ve never seen in any other town but makes its presence known all over San Francisco on clear nights. This place, already magical and beautiful, becomes sparkling and otherworldly in that light.

Before leaving Encinitas, I wondered if it was a mistake coming here so soon. Two days in, I’m not sure if I have an answer. I’m having the most wonderful time, and I feel like I’ve just been away on an extended trip, and now I’m home again. And whoa, danger danger, because I’m not home. I’m leaving in a few days, going back to a place that still feels unfamiliar and lonely. I hugged one of my closest and most longtime friends today and got teary-eyed. I hadn’t realized how alone I had been feeling, and suddenly it all rushed in. I couldn’t breathe for a moment, drowning in the familiar and comfortable. It shocked me back to life, that feeling of home.

But here’s the thing: it is easy to love a rose-colored city when you’re not facing the reality of daily life. When the sun is shining and there’s ice cream a short walk away, when you see most of the people you miss within the span of a few days, when there’s no work to be done or laundry piling up or bills to fret about. In these moments, a place is perfect. Then, you get on the bus with a crazy person who nearly knocks you over, and you get on another bus with a person screaming horrible, abusive things to everyone. You see yet another favorite business that has been evicted, or another tiny, teeny condo selling for nearly a million dollars.

I’ve been struggling with the blog for a while, and I think a lot of that is just that personal blogs feel much more challenging than they used to. We’re also all getting older, and for me, that has dramatically changed my feelings about privacy, among other things. But lately, I’ve also wondered how much Bright Yellow World is tied to San Francisco. This website started here. Does it even fit somewhere else? Do I fit somewhere else? Again, I don’t think I have an answer yet.

I’m glad I came to visit this rose-colored city, and I’m glad I have a few more days. I’m not sure I’ll be quite ready to go. But I also see, quite clearly, that the lens I’m looking through right now would fade with time. The crazy bus people, changing landscape, or smells of city life would push out the blush of the light on the buildings. And there’s something wonderful about staying just long enough to enjoy the romance without the housekeeping. I’ll love this town forever, and I hope I can come back regularly for all my life. And, with any luck, not living here will preserve the rosy glow. Here’s hoping.

But for now, ice cream and pink-gold glasses.

SF view

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Day 25

I’m a quarter of the way through this, which seems unbelievable to me. I didn’t bother to update you last week, because a) who cares, really, and b) it wasn’t a great week. After some pondering, I realized that I needed to further refine a few goals to better suit the purpose of this exercise. I’ve updated “30 minute walk” to be “30 minutes in the world,” since the entire point of that goal was to have some interaction with people, and I found that walking was largely a solitary activity. I also changed the gym goal to be “intentional activity.” And, with that, I think we can all say that I’m officially Crunchy California. Basically, though, a two hour walk should count, even if it doesn’t occur at the gym. I’ve lived with these edits for a week, and this week was much better.

I also decided that to count any extra “once a week” things. Thus, if we go on three dates, two of those can cancel out two times that I didn’t make the bed, etc, when figuring out my success percentage. At first, I thought this was cheating. And then I remembered that this entire activity is A MADE UP THING. It doesn’t count. And, as mentioned above, no one cares. The point is to feel happier and better, so whatever, man!

Here’s my chart!

You’ll notice that I laughed a lot this week, and I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing that. The Horse Whisperer and I played mini-golf one night, and we also have started playing this dumb game that involves tossing a wiffle ball at the back wall of our garden. I’m certifiably terrible at both activities, which cracks me up. I also spent two days in LA with my wonderful friend, Anne, which was all kinds of good for my soul.

This week should be a good one, too! I’m headed back to San Francisco on Friday for a work trip, and I cannot wait. I’m a little bit nervous about how it will feel to be back home-not-home, but I’ve filled my dance card with many wonderful things and people. I’ll be eating the heck out of all of my favorite things, and I’m sure I’ll over-Instagram it. Good stuff!

Here’s our picture of the week. Have a great one, friends!

Blog 8.26

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Status update: ten days in

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I got a 79% this week. That’s a C+, my first C+ on anything ever. (WRONG!!! I got an 84%, because I am only counting the full week! MATH IS HARD.) Hopefully I’ll notice some big improvement over time.

I think the weirdest and most glaring lack of completion was beach time. I live literally four blocks from the beach, and I made it there once in ten days. That is ridiculous! That said, we had houseguests for most of the week, so there were plenty of other things that didn’t fulfill a spreadsheet box, but were nevertheless awesome.

I updated the “read something funny” to be “do/read something funny.” I had a hilarious evening with two wonderful friends, during which I laughed until I cried. The entire point of this exercise is to LIVE, and laughing at real life feels preferable to laughing at something written. Given my druthers, I’d always choose real life. But I’ll also take a funny book, or even a funny movie.

The biggest revelation so far has been the “being nice to myself” checkbox. It’s hilarious how often I’ll stop myself before finishing a thought by saying, “If you keep this up, you won’t be able to check off that box!” Yesterday, I fell down the rabbithole of my Flickr archives, resulting in about an hour of self-derision. I was also ill from something I ate, so I wasn’t in my finest mental form. It was pretty dumb.

Overall, I’m enjoying this exercise. Having small goals within a set timeframe helps me stay on track, and I like the gratification of putting marks in boxes. I also like being able to measure how I’m feeling against the data I’m collecting. I’ve realized that I’ll likely edit these goals as I go, and that’s fine. I’m looking forward to trying some new mini experiments within this one, but I’m mostly just trying to hit my stride in the first few weeks.

Oh! And here’s our picture from last week!

Week 1 - take more photos together.

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100 Days

I’m really good at certain things. Give me a work project, and I’ll break it down into tasks, timelines, and metrics, and I’ll deliver on time.

I’m really terrible at other things. Suggest that I prioritize self-care, and I’ll blow it every time. I’ll sabotage my best efforts, or I’ll get ridiculously obsessive. And the undercurrent of all of it: I’ll be really, really mean to myself about the whole thing. If I’m not doing the right things, I’m a failure. If I am doing the right things, I’m not doing them well enough. And no matter what I do, I will always, always berate myself for having the particular body that I have.

It always comes back to that, doesn’t it?

This gets particularly bad when I have too much time for navel-gazing, as is the case right now. I’m doing things, sure, but I’m alone most of the day, every day. I haven’t yet established a real routine, and I don’t have forced interaction with anyone else. I worry that I’m becoming socially awkward, that I’m wasting time, that I’ll never make friends. And these worries turn into self-criticism: I am socially awkward, I’m a sloth, I am not capable of making friends.

This has been a downward spiral for the past three months, and I’m now officially BORED.

So, in looking at what I’m good at and what I’m not, I’ve decided to treat this like a project manager. Yep, I’m going to micromanage the crap out of Outlook Improvement, and I’m going to do it for 100 days. Well, probably more like 103 days, because that gets me to my 34th birthday, and I like to bookend things like that. It feels satisfying.

My goals are pretty simple, and are divided into daily, thrice weekly, and once weekly tasks.

Daily, I want to eat healthy things at regular intervals, because it makes me feel better and prevents self-loathing of many varieties. I plan to take a 30-minute structured walk, to force myself to get out of the house and explore my neighborhood. I will floss my teeth, because I did this for three years every night, and I hate that I’ve broken the habit – again, five minutes of action to reduce self-loathing is a good thing. I’ll make my bed daily, because walking into a messy bedroom is totally deflating. And finally, I will be radically, deeply kind to myself. No more negative self-talk, no more awkward jokes at my own expense. No more talking to myself the way I would never, ever speak to a friend. Period.

Three times a week, I will go to the beach and the gym. If I rotate days, this means that I have structured, out-of-house time six days a week.

Once a week (on the seventh, non-structured day), I’ll go on an adventure of some type. I will also do a fun project once a week: making something artsy, cooking or baking something new, rearranging a room or hanging art… just something. I also want to remember what it feels like to laugh my arse off, so I plan to read something hilarious every week (suggestions more than welcome). And finally, since I really do enjoy my partner-in-crime, I’d like to go on a date of some kind every week, and take one picture together.

Just in case I didn’t make it clear before, I am not messing around with the micromanagement. I’ve made a chart. See? Structured fun in a delicious series of checkboxes.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.16.02 AM

I can’t promise that I’ll update you on this, or that I won’t OVER UPDATE YOU on this, but I feel better having a plan in place.

Here goes… almost everything.

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