Tag Archives: 365 Challenge

Half Birthed Brain Sludge

29 Mar

You know, the pressure of not posting for a long time never gets easier. And every time I write a post after there’s been a lull, I wonder if I need to recognize my time away or if that just leads to a series of posts that highlight my absence and make it worse (it does).

*breathes into a paper bag*

Okay listen. I’m going to get real here. I’m writing right now because for some inexplicable reason, people keep subscribing to this blog in spite of it only featuring a new post every 6 months or so with a half-realized promise to get back to it. Today, I checked my dusty old internet folder labeled ‘blog’ to find another handful of new hopefuls, and was reminded again that today could be the day I actually publish something. And hey: I’m on my second bowl of dinner Cocoa Puffs and feeling feisty, so here I am. I’m not going to think about whether I want to post this or not when I’m done. I’m just going to agree right here that no matter what half-birthed sludge pushes out of my brain, I’m going to publish it. Just like those good old days of the first 365 when I would write about my emergency underwear collection because I just didn’t have anything else to work with and I needed to post. We’re going old school.

brains color

Illustration by John Michnya 

The fact is that I’ve written oodles of posts in the past several months, ducklings. Oodles of them. They’re all sitting on my desktop with various file names like “blogpost,” “newblogpost.” “forrealsiespost,” and “postthisyoumoron.” I’ve even done Lollipop Tuesdays that I’ve never posted about. Lots of them. Oh yes. I took a spinning class in one of those uber hip Crossfitty sorts of places with a full screen projection of a fake road and trees. And you better believe that when there was already sweat on the seat just from me sitting on it for the instructor to adjust it at the start of class – presumably my ass sweat from just existing – I thought about how much I wanted to tell you. I even GOT ON A PLANE THAT WENT ACROSS AN OCEAN. And that One Good Thing challenge I started for myself? It actually worked. I may have only posted three total times in the entirety of 2016, but I made some serious tweaks to my daily habits and I’m now a person who wakes up before work and actually cleans herself, does yoga, and reads things (whuuuuuut?) My life has been full of conquerings alongside anxiety-inducing wickedness and I’ve been keeping all the drafts of the proof on my desktop because, well, for some reason I’ve become weird about the blog.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the blog. The blog is the thing that has remedied a great many of my serious and deep human flaws. I still depend on the possibility of being able to post about terrifying and awkward experiences in order to get through said terrifying and awkward experiences. 

But there has been a marked shift in my frequency of posting that aligns with my real life career.

Back when I started all this business, some of you oldest and wisest ducklings will recall that I was an overworked, overtired executive assistant who posted about a variety of work-related oddities I encountered in the corporate jungle, like work holiday parties and elevator moments. I had to wear professional, uptight clothes and do very big girl things, and having a blog to talk about how ridiculous all of that was really helped me survive those difficult years when I reported to a Gorgon. The beautiful thing about it all was that people at work didn’t know about the blog. In fact, very few people in my real life circle did. It made it really easy to get on here and blab about whatever and be my authentic, hyperbolic, anxiety-ridden self whilst maintaining a regular life and relationship with the people I actually had to encounter.

Then people started finding out. Like, real life people. Not you digital ducklings.

I used to have a very strict rule about not being friends with people I worked with on Facebook. I kept my digital life and my real life quite separate and that helped to distinguish a safe place to let the monsters in my head waddle around. That’s where I kept them: away from a real life place where I might have to talk about the blog or account for the things I’ve written in it to actual, real life people. But then I got out of the corporate jungle and started doing something I actually love: working in the arts. And I had friends in the arts. Like, lots of them. So I automatically was friends with and shared a digital presence with an enormous amount of people who were going to interact with me in my work life. Then I had to start helping with social media platforms at work, and friending people who it’s usually wise to keep some sense of decorum with. And suddenly I found myself with a hoard of posts that I would have published if only I didn’t have this filter that wondered if someone who I actually knew would read it. And if they would try to talk to me about it. Or maybe not talk to me about it and just judge me a whole lot for it and talk to other people about it. And if I would maybe defecate in my pants as a result.

I mean, I don’t really want to be running a board meeting and have a board member around the table who follows my blog so that even though I’m churning out some impressive year-over-year financial data analysis and I sound pretty confident, they know that the moment the meeting is over, I’m going to get lost trying to find the bathroom in the building and that the adventure could take thirty minutes if I get confused and anxious enough and that eventually I’ll have a blog post about it…which they will read.

There are two Jackies at war behind the scenes here. One is the Jackie who needs this blog to live a real, human life where she goes places and does things and has a place to talk about it – who needs it as her defense system against her natural, hermity, video-game-addicted state. The other is a Jackie who is hyper-aware of all the actual people with real faces that she’s seen who will read it and think about it and maybe ask her about it or have a different opinion of her for it and who can’t separate the difference between an online persona and a real life person. One of those Jackies has written a whole lotta posts and one of them never pushes publish.

So anyway, that’s what’s going on, friends. And because my brain is now wired in this MUST DEVOUR EVERY FEAR blogosphere persona, it’s simply impossible for me to hang on to these admissions too long without staring them in the face and figuring out how to beat them into submission. Since I’ve always brought you along for those sorts of rides, I thought I’d go head and continue that trend. At least I know that if I’m in a big important meeting and some big scary professional character makes mention of my little blog, I can come back to you guys and tell you all about how I soiled myself in public from anxiety. I mean, that’s what you’re here for. That’s why we’re here.

So I’m going to get over this hump, and in classic JackieBlog fashion, I’m going to create a challenge for myself to force it and pledge to post every single week for the rest of the year.

The shriveled up creative force in me wonders how I’ll possibly have anything to post about every single week, and the Jackiepants on me remind me that this whole damn thing was founded on writing without something specific to say. And hey, if I feel like I need material, I can just go hunt down a big juicy Lollipop Tuesday

If you’re a writer of any kind and you’ve got your own slump to get through, why don’t you hop on board with me and pledge to write and share something every week? Challenges are my favorite. 

Talk soon, ducklings. Thanks for sticking around. ♣

The Death of Jabba

1 Feb

I’m christening February with a brand new shiny post. Since that’s the most I’ve written in 3 months, I’m going to go buy and eat an entire pack of Oreos in celebration.

Now – last month I threw down (as I often do) and made much of my obsession with resolutions and goal-setting. It left some folks wondering what exactly I was going to do for the year if I was parading around trying to get everyone else do to things. Behold: the plan.

When I took a nice hard look at my current life approach, I observed some great attempts at superhumanism (Post-a-Day Challenge, Lollipop Tuesdays, Project Fat Ass 365, Completing a half marathon) juxtaposed almost immediately by Jabba The Hut-like life halts. I come, I conquer, I shut it all down. Way down.

It’s all here on this blog – it’s chronicled. Extreme highs and lows. I lose 30 pounds and am fitter than I’ve ever been in my life then I’m half naked on my couch buried in Skittles. I’m a human machine, then I have to attach fly papers throughout my apartment because I haven’t cleaned in so long that my potatoes are self-imploding in the kitchen. I don’t post for three months, I post twice in a row and eat a whole pack of Oreos. For all my self-discipline, I’m unbelievably undisciplined.

Now, granted, I have made some meaningful and real change in my life as a result of sharing my degradation and my paralyzing, anxiety-filled monologue with you all. But in the midst of all these highs and lows and personal achievements, I’ve continually wondered what a well-balanced life looks like.

Are there people who actually meditate every day? Who manage to eat breakfast every day without counting M&Ms? Somewhere out there, are there humans who have drawers of clean underwear and can touch their toes all year? Can balance be learned?

Let’s face it folks – if I can’t do it before the babies start falling out of my body then it will never happen. Because you know what my babies will want to do? Sit around half naked and eat Skittles. I’ll be doomed to live this way forever and to create an entire line of humans who do the same. 

So that’s the ultimate goal for the year: to experience a well-balanced life in order to save myself from sending my defective seed into the future thereby dooming my entire lineage. Now, as you studious jackieblog pupils will recall, that’s not really an actionable goal. We need specifics- things that I can concretely accomplish on a daily basis. Numbers. Expectations. Measurable outcomes. It’s sciencey and stuff.

(You can hop on board if you want. It’s never too late. That’s a rule here. There aren’t many but the few we have are legit. In fact, check out this rock star over at FattieGettingFit who began her journey on Jan. 27th. It’s not too late in the year, and it’s definitely never too late in your life.)

So here’s the plan.

The “One Good Thing” Challenge

  • Make a list of habits you wish you had or believe that you would have if you were your best self. Make them reasonable and beneficial long-term.
  • Hold each habit at least 7 days. You can’t move on unless you can envision adding a new habit without being overwhelmed.
  • You cannot move on early and all habits must be additive, not subtractive. Not doing something is not a habit. (that’s a good thing to remember for life in general.)
  • Reward yourself along the way at whatever intervals you please and with whatever rewards you find meaningful.

That’s it. Seems like it should work, right?

Here are a few examples of good things I personally think that doing every single day would help make me a more balanced, healthy version of myself:

  • Eating breakfast
  • Flossing
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Exercise/Stretching
  • Sleep for 8 hours (this is the most unfathomable for me)
  • Moisturize
  • Sending a note to someone I care about
  • Doing something creative

My list goes on. It’s big. I don’t even brush my hair every day.

My rewards list is also big because I plan to kick this squarely in the ass.

I started by picking one and doing it every day, no excuses. The deal is that I have to maintain it for 7 days straight. If I make it to day 6 and miss a day, I start again as if it’s my first day trying to do that habit. It’s okay if I spend half the year making an effort to eat breakfast every day. At least after 6 months I’ll be eating breakfast every day. Once I get two habits in the bucket, I cash in on a reward.

I started at the beginning of January and I’m 3 habits deep.  I’ve eaten breakfast every single day (perhaps a lifetime record at this point), worked out/stretched for at least 5 minutes first thing in the morning, and moisturized every day. I’m working on adding prayer/mediation. So far I’ve discovered the seemingly obvious: that the easier I make it for these things to happen naturally, the more likely they are to happen. I have a yoga mat and weights right beside my bed ready to go so that in the morning all I have to do is convince myself to roll over and start stretching. That usually leads to a little exercise. And that usually leads to me wanting breakfast. Sure – it’s just 5 minutes of movement and a breakfast sandwich now, but by the end of the year, who knows? I could be going for a long morning stroll to see the sun rise, get a cup of coffee and a newspaper (which I’ll presumably make time to read), and make myself Eggs Benedict before work. It will be a page straight out of Real Simple magazine.

I’ve been able to manage all right thus far, but I have to admit I’m having a hard time imagining getting too much farther. Sleeping eight hours every single night hasn’t happened since 3rd grade. That’s on the list. And sooner or later I’m going to have to come to terms with how to make it happen. I’m afraid I’m going to have to let some things go. I do a lot of my work while everyone else is sleeping. Like this blog post which I’m writing at 1AM and auto-scheduling for the following morning. 

So that’s the plan, folks. 2016 is the year I figure out what balance looks like so that in 2017 I can determine whether or not it’s all just a load of horse manure and go back to my night owlish, junk food injecting, willy-nilly ways with no regrets. I’ve got 11 months to go in my next human self-experiment. Yeeeeehaw. 

Psst:  I have a long list of ideas for daily habits, but I could use more.  What do you think is a daily habit of a well-balanced person? Let me know in the comments and help me to abandon my Jabba the Hut-like ways. 

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