That No Good Hiatus

Hey. It’s time to put this blog on ice for a while.  I’m starting to realize how much the internet has gravely impacted how and why I do what I do, how much pressure there is to meet perceived expectations, at a pace that is not maintainable. I’m always trying to keep up with somebody or some fabricated benchmark, rather than doing what I want to do.

My online presence is so much of a sham. A work, a calculated version of myself that I’ve grown to hate. It’s all geared in some way toward promoting myself and my work, when the truth is that there is precious little of that work to actually promote. It’s time and energy spent doing the wrong things. I went on and on about this last year, and again at the beginning of this year, so I won’t dive in again. In short, I’ve spent a lot of time doing things for the wrong reasons because I thought they were the right things to do, or the things that people would like, rather than enjoying my life and working on the stuff I really want to do.

I thought I had this all figured out a year ago. But now, here we are a year later, and I still feel beholden to many of those same pressures. This blog is one of them. Maybe it will be back one day, but for now, it feels like something I have to do, not something I want to do.

I will still be writing, drawing, and so forth. I’m still planning to launch a video game blog (a project I actually have some degree of passion for) this year. Other than that, I’ll be diving into my hobbies, and I probably won’t be blathering on about them on the internet for quite some time, not until I have something worth blabbering about.

If you feel overwhelmed, and you find yourself questioning why you’re doing the things you allegedly like to do, stop for a moment and re-evaluate. Remember to be you. Remember to be the thing you want to be, and do the things you want to do. Most of all, remember to have fun.

Tracking Activities for Fun and Something Other than Profit

I’m trying something new this year. No, it’s not the Bacon Club Chalupa, although, that does sound pretty good. I am, in fact, loosely tracking my daily activities!

My sister got me a Rocketbook (that’s an unsponsored link, sadly) for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to use it. I’m also always curious about where all of my time goes in a day. Thus, the activity tracker was given life.

In years past, I would have taken on a project such as this with the sole purpose of feeling bad for not filling in every box, every day. Today, I’d like to think I’m a bit better adjusted, and hoped tracking my daily ins and outs might give me some insight on why activities do or do not happen in my day-to-day life. The format is inspired by any number of bullet journal-style mood trackers that I’ve seen online. I’ve thought about doing one of those, as well, but the prospect was too depressing. Also, I don’t think I can do one because they always look so pretty! How do you people journal like this?! I have good handwriting, and any journals I’ve ever done look like a child spilled an inkwell on the page.

Anyway, I decided to track six areas, each represented by a different color because I gotta use these colored Rocketbook markers for something:

  • Exercise
  • Drawing
  • Game Art for Staff and Shadow
  • Writing/Coding
  • Family Time
  • Video Games/Reading

Work, eating, sleeping, crisis aversion, and household chores are all a given (well, sleeping can be a challenge in this house), so I didn’t bother including those. Watching TV or movies or whatever is also not included because it’s a passive activity, and is usually done at the same time as something else. Persistent existential dread? Also a given.

No, I wanted to track the activities that are, arguably, the most important to me, but are the first ones to be shoved aside by life when it decides to get in the way. This is particularly true of the first four. Family time and video games/reading are a little more protected, but they frequently suffer, as well.

So! As you can see from the progress thus far in the photos above, I’m really knocking exercise, family time, and video games/reading out of the park, while drawing, game art, and writing/coding are receiving quite a bit less attention. I am motivated to do all of those things, but much of my free time has been spent improving and/or cleaning up our new house, and otherwise settling in. And, don’t forget, I also have a day job, a three-year-old, and a wife who might like to spend time with me, occasionally (I hope), so I’m trying to squeeze a fair amount into a given day.

In general, I’m pretty loose with the requirements of filling in a box. It kind of depends on if I feel I’ve earned it or not. For instance, I’ve sometimes filled in the video games/reading box after powering through three pages of Harry Potter while on the toilet. The one exception to this is exercise. I’m strict on that one—I have to hit my steps goal and gain ground in my current program, or the box stays empty. I’m really proud of the exercise commitment—I’m finally accepting the idea of taking care of myself being the first, best step to doing all of the other things. (Now, if only I could apply that mentality to getting enough sleep.)

Having tracked my activities for six weeks now, these are the areas in which I’ve benefited the most:

Accountability

I often get caught up in—and overwhelmed by—things like side jobs, household tasks, and perceived obligations that are not actually necessary or even asked for in our lives. When I don’t spend time doing the things I enjoy, it’s helpful to see it, to have a visual reminder of, “Hey, here are these things you like to do, but you’re not doing them.” It’s true that time is often short, but I’ve found that even on the busiest days, I can still find a little to devote to what’s important to me. Creators always say that if you really like something, you’ll make the time to do it, and I’d like to think I’m actually doing that now, even if it’s not that much.

Speaking of time….

Relieve Worry of “Not Having Enough Time”

One of my goals for this year that I listed in my previous blog was that I wanted to stop worrying about time, both in the sense of not having enough of it or spending too much of it on one thing or another. By tracking my activities, I’m able to see that I actually am making time to do the things I want to do, even when it feels like I’m not. It may not always be a lot of time, but it’s there. That’s reassuring.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Now that I have a better grasp on the amount of time I have to devote to these activities, I also know not to demand too much from myself or my time, a mistake I make frequently. For instance, with everything going on at the moment, now would not be a good time to start a novel or some other big project. I now know my limits and that I’m already spread pretty thin—adding another obligation will set me up for disappointment and give me ammunition to take shots at myself that I don’t deserve. I’ve learned the hard way, so many times, not to take on more work than I realistically have time to do.

So, there you have it! I’m curious to see where things go from here, especially as we wrap up house projects and life returns to “normal,” whatever that is. If you’re having trouble finding time to do the things you want to do, or wonder where all of your time goes, or are looking to commit to a neglected hobby, you might consider setting up tracking activities, yourself! It’s surprising to learn where your time goes. And, your tracker might look more visually pleasing than mine! Good luck, and see you next time!

How I Spent My 2020

First, let me assure you that I am alive and well. I’ve been living happily (uh, well….) these past 10 days in the year 2021. Yes, we made it. Well, some of us.

2020 was supposed to be one of those glorious benchmark years. Look how far we’ve come! Look at the advances we’ve made as a society! Et cetera. But…nah. 2020 tested the collective mettle of humanity. Social unrest, utter political exhaustion, and a little flu bug called COVID—perhaps you’ve heard of it—soundly silenced any poetic waxing of our progress as a people. Instead, it kind of took all we had just to hold it together. And hey, to be honest, we’re still trying to hold it together, but it sure is nice to have that 1-ton, 20-pound gorilla off our backs.

On top of all that, 2020 was a big year of change for my family and me. You may have noticed this blog lay dormant since the beginning of June. That’s honestly not that out of the ordinary (see any number of months-long gaps in entries, circa 2016-2019), but it certainly wasn’t planned this year. A lot has happened since June. Mostly good changes or changes we wanted to make. Some unexpected, and some a long time coming. So, here’s the abridged version of how I spent my 2020.

Go on….

blackout

Listen, Learn.

Hey. Would you believe it if I told you I’ve had a lot on my mind lately? Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, there are so many elephants in the room, there is scant room for another, and our feet are all broken. I don’t feel right saying nothing, or talking about creative pursuits, as usual, as though nothing is happening in the world. I feel bad, embarrassed, uneducated on the matters of race in this country. The best thing I can do right now is to listen, to learn. It was suggested I start here. Take care. Be good to one another.

Bart waking up

Anti-Virus, Week 9 – Routine Maintenance

It only took nine weeks of quarantine, but I think I finally managed to settle into a morning routine.

I’m a routine kind of guy. I get more done more consistently if I do it the same way every morning. The only problem is that I notoriously and spectacularly fall out of routine on a regular basis, and when I do, it’s difficult to reestablish. In fact, I’ve tried to write a morning routine blog on at least three separate occasions, but every time I start writing the blog, or almost write the blog, I fall out of the routine and feel like I’m not qualified to write it. Even this time, now that I’m finally writing it for real, I biffed the routine twice in the last four days, so I really need to step it up this week and reestablish before it all falls apart. I hope that actually writing this blog will help hold me accountable, as well.

Go on….

Scott and Picard have a drink

Anti-Virus, Weeks 6-8ish – Puking into the Dilithium Chamber

In reviewing my previous two blogs, I came to the conclusion that they stink.

No, it’s not because of the quality of the writing. Although, that wasn’t very good, either. But dang, it’s just a blog, not a TMZ article. Give me a break.

Truthfully, they were just too negative. (Not to mention they were me complaining about unimportant personal problems while there are a lot of people struggling out there with real problems right now. Pretty serious loss of perspective there, champ.) In each blog, my negativity hinged on my age-old enemy: time. I’m reminded of a Jean-Luc Picard quote from Star Trek: Generations, which I’m sure is technically not a very good movie, but it’s a sentimental gem because it was my favorite TV show brought to the big screen. When that happens at ten years old, it’s a monumental deal. My brother took me to see it. It was a lot of fun. Give me a break! The score is good, too. Anyway, Picard says,

“Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment, …because they’ll never come again. …What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived.”

Big surprise—insightful words from the Captain. The guy could be actively puking his guts out into the dilithium chamber after the O’Briens’ wedding reception and still be capable of saying something eloquent and wise.

Go on….

Futurama - Garbage Ball

Anti-Virus, Week 5 Plus Video Game Talk

You know what? Forget even doing the one news dump a day. I’m just not checking the news at all. I’m better off living in ignorance than being disappointed in people. Or, maybe I’ll just get all my news from NPR from now on, as it seems as boring and unsensationalized as possible. Is that true? I don’t know; I haven’t checked.

Another challenging week at home has come and gone. I felt far less unease than last week, and although I thought I was doing well, I apparently am not. I fear I am becoming a less and less efficient employee as I continue to work from home—no focus, slower output. I’m short-tempered again, irritable, and prone to angry outbursts. Yesterday, I got irritated at people honking their horns at each other to say hello at the intersection outside. Amanda said, “See? You need social interaction. You literally just got pissed at people saying hello to one another.” I didn’t even notice that this was going on, and now I am ashamed of my behavior.

Go on….