Goals Refresher Part 3 – Creativity

“Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” my favorite millennial recently said on her podcast.

It’s going on 7 months since COVID-19 upended our world. I took advantage of the forced time with myself to work on a few goals I’ve claimed to want to achieve for years. How am I doing? Let’s find out!

GOAL: BECOME A WRITER.

COVID-TIMES: Thanks to F&A’s goal-setting strategies, I create a three-pronged approach. 1) Write every day: short stories, scripts, blog posts, whatever! 2) Revise. Repeat. 3) Submit: contests, magazines, agents.

TWO MONTHS IN: I’m blogging! A few people read it! Thank you, people! I found Carrot Ranch and entered their 99-word contests and won one! I entered a short film contest and a flash fiction contest too – didn’t place in either but who cares? I entered! I found a scripted podcast contest via the Austin Film Festival that I was too late to enter this year, but am dying to enter next year.

MID-JUNE: George Floyd was murdered. Black Lives Matter took center stage. COVID continued to rage. My creativity seeped away, replaced by deep sadness, loss and anxiety.

TODAY: I see the culture changes coming. They can’t come fast enough. Breonna Taylor. Jacob Blake. We need our moral compass to right itself. Like many of us, I now live with the tightness gripping my heart. There’s work to do, but there’s room for my storytelling too. I need the outlet to stay sane.

I’m back to blogging. Have I mentioned how much I missed you? But so far, this is all I’ve done. I haven’t drafted any new fiction. I’m not revising the slew of unfinished stories on my laptop. I haven’t started the scripted podcast.

I’m so, so far from selling anything I’ve written. Looking back at my original goal, I see how unfocused it is. It’s such broad, bland goal. I need to reign it in, make it specific, and then figure out what the steps are to achieve it. For example, in reverse order:

* Sell something I write
** Submit for publication and cross my fingers it’s accepted
*** Draft, revise, revise, revise, revise…repeat
**** Find places to submit material. Review submission criteria
***** Build up a stockpile of creative material
****** Draft, revise, revise, revise one story at a time

Of all of my goals, being a writer is the one I claim I want to do the most, but have the hardest time doing. “The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.” This is absolutely true. When I write, that moment feels magical. So what’s my problem? Why don’t I do it?

Does this happen to you? How do you get yourself unstuck? Please drop a comment or send me a message. I’m grateful for any and all advice.

Goals Refresher Part 2 – Community

“Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” my favorite millennial recently said on her podcast.

It’s going on 6 months since COVID-19 upended our world. I took advantage of the forced time with myself to work on a few goals I’ve claimed to want to achieve for years. How am I doing? Let’s find out!

GOAL: MAKE NEW FRIENDS BUT KEEP THE OLD.

COVID-TIMES: Zoom and FaceTime becomes our lifeline. I host a weekly call with my around-the-world girlfriends. I also run a weekly Zoom with two theater lovers. My husband and I join our first real English pub quiz, hosted by our friend Mark (who lives in Nottingham! Robin Hood! Merry Men!)

TWO MONTHS IN: Still going strong on the weekly Zoom calls. Honestly, I enjoy them. I feel more connected to my girlfriends than I have in months, maybe years. Virtual happy hour is a blast!

I experiment with social media. I follow lots of writers and DAYS fans on Twitter. I lurk. I play with the Stories feature on Instagram but delete most of what I publish within minutes. I’m still shy. I don’t know how millennials do it. They are unstoppable sharing machines.

MID-JUNE: The around-the-world group decides to drop down to every other week. The theater gals Zoom remains weekly but caps at under an hour. We don’t have much to talk about. No one’s doing anything new.

I find I’m distracted by social media throughout the day. I’m bolder with commenting and retweeting/sharing. I get why millennials love this. Likes and replies are like little gold stars. I’m a sucker for gold stars.

JULY: I get a DM asking if I’m subscribed to The Freddie and Alyssa Show on YouTube? She recognized my handle from the LiveStream they host on their Producers channel. Her name is Amanda and she lives in Manchester, UK. We DM a bit. Then more and more. She’s so nice!

TODAY: The scheduled Zoom calls still take place, but we all have screen fatigue. I’ve stopped reaching out to most of my friends. Calls and texts from me are rare. I respond but don’t initiate. I use social media to share, but hardly look at what my friends post. It’s the opposite of how I’ve been for years.

FUTURE GOAL: How do I fix this? I still adore my friends, so why am I isolating myself? I’m glum and sad a lot lately. Send me a message or leave a comment below. I’ll take any and all suggestions.

A GOOD THING! Amanda is now a real friend! We now talk by video chat about once a week. It’s great to have someone to talk to about DAYS, but we talk about everything else under the sun too. Look at what she gave me for my birthday!

My favorite millennial and her fiancé! (He’s a fave too, let’s be real)

Next up: Creativity

Goal Refresher Part 1 – Fitness

Remember when I posted I would pivot from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus? I take it back. I can’t help it if Alyssa says great stuff! “Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” she says in Ep. 097.

I just had a birthday. It’s been about six months since I seriously committed to a few goals. Time to check in, see how I’ve done, and plan what to do from here.

LOSE 20 POUNDS BY LABOR DAY

COVID-TIME: I logged my food. Everything I ate. Every day. I hate logging, but I pivoted my mindset. I decided it would not be terrible. Also, I finally started the Couch-to-5K training app that’s been hanging out on my phone for over 2 years.

TWO MONTHS IN: I completed the Couch-to-5K app in 8 weeks! I can run a 5K! Slow as f*ck but I can do it! And…I lost 10 pounds!

MID-JUNE: Running is stupid. I hate it. I hate Roosevelt Island. I run around and around this island and for what? Only 2 more pounds lost. And you know what else is stupid? Logging food. I hate thinking about it, I hate doing it, it’s dumb. Everything is dumb. I hate all of this. The same thing over and over day in day out BLEAH I’M SO BORED. I’m grumpy. I’m not doing any of it any more. Spoiler alert: I promptly stop losing weight.

Going to the gun show!

JULY: Since it’s too hot and humid to run most mornings, I opt to work out in the living room. I subscribe to The Fitness Marshall. Britney-inspired choreography for hundreds of songs. He’s brilliant! It’s the only workout where I smile as I’m doing it. I love dancing. Try Into You, Rain On Me, or Boss B!tch.

For strength training, I sign up for Snatched in Six Weeks, because you don’t get Michelle Obama arms by wishing for them.

TODAY: I dance with The Fitness Marshall twice a week. It’s still fun! I’m not enjoying Snatched. It’s not Snatched’s fault. Snatched is now Zoom-based due to COVID. I’m sick of everything being on a screen. The magic of the Unicorn Ninjas is their community. In person. I’ll try again when I can Snatch at the MFF Clubhouse, like I was supposed to back in March.

Put-your-pants-on handstand?
Challenge accepted, Mr. Massey.

I downloaded the 5k Faster training app. I don’t love running but I love being outdoors. I need to get away from screens. I have major screen fatigue.

FUTURE GOAL: handstands! Thanks yet again for the fitness inspiration, guru-adjacent Chandler Massey!

I still loathe logging. I’m using my hands as measuring guides. A palm or two of protein, two fists of vegetables, a thumb of healthy fat, a cupped handful of complex carbs or fruit, per meal, 3-4 meals per day. Spoiler alert: It’s not working.

As Mark Fisher says, “You can’t out-train your diet.” He also says, “If you’re not losing weight, 95% of the time it’s because you’re overeating.” Sigh.

This is not how I set my future self up to be grateful. Got any ideas? Comment below or send me a message.

Next up: Community

It’s Been a Minute

“You haven’t blogged in a while. What’s up with that?”

My friend Jeff and I were on the phone, old school: no Zoom, no FaceTime, 90 minutes and counting.

Jeff and me in the eighth grade play!

We met in the seventh grade. If I went back in time and told 12-year-old me that Jeff and I would still be friends 30 years later, I know 12-year-old Janet would look at me with clear eyes and say, A-doy, of course we will!

“I don’t know,” I replied to Jeff. “After George Floyd, I felt strange about blogging.”

“How so?”

I struggled for the words. “It’s sort of like what happened after 9/11,” I said. “The world shrank in that moment, yet the moment spread across the globe. We’re in the midst of a long overdue cultural shift. There’s serious work to do. Important moral changes need to happen. There’s so much to learn, especially about points of view. I only have my own, but I – we – have to learn to see the world from other points of view. It takes practice to be empathetic, to truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s the first step to truly becoming an ally.”

“It’s hard,” Jeff replied. “Especially if you have a limited imagination.”

“Generation X in a millennial world seems so pointless. I don’t think they’re handling BLM better than we are, I think it’s about the same. But they process it differently. They reflect and pour out their thoughts in real time. There’s no pause. I feel like Gen-X broods before sharing.”

“Why not write about this? What you’re trying to process?”

I snorted. “No one wants to hear a Gen-X white woman’s thoughts on Black Lives Matter.”

“No one,” Jeff agreed.

“How would I talk about processing the movement as me, but without it being about me?”

“How about just like that?”

***

My friend Melissa – also since the seventh grade – began sharing pictures of her family dinners again. She’d stopped because it seemed frivolous. “But, I realized a little frivolity goes a long way in trying times,” she wrote on Facebook.

Melissa’s Gado Gado from the original
Moosewood Cookbook

I’m glad Melissa’s posting again. Her posts don’t take away from the serious issues of our world. They provide a break, a chance to breathe. We need the breaks to keep up the BLM momentum because it’s all uphill from here. Breonna Taylor. Jacob Blake.

Melissa inspired me. Look at her beautiful meal! She’s inspiring you too, I can tell. We’re lucky to have Melissa’s gorgeous meals and witty life commentary back on our social media feeds.

So here I am after a three month absence. Hopefully with a little frivolity of my own.

I’ve missed you! Leave me a comment or send me a message on how you’ve been managing with COVID, BLM, unemployment, and everything else going on in the world.

Electric Skin (a 99-word short story)

Hot bubbles swirled around Dominic. Strong jets of water targeted sore muscles above his shoulder blades, along his spine, the backs of his calves. Dom shifted against them, letting new muscles get pounded back to health. Wrinkled fingertips skimmed the top of the water. A bell rang. Dom heaved himself out of the jacuzzi. He trudged over to a small circle in the floor. Bright light illuminated its still waters. Dom braced himself. He plunged into the icy depths. Every nerve sparked with life. Rainbows danced across his eyelids. Dom pulled himself out of the chilly water and grinned.

END

I’ve entered another 99-word flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The challenge is to write a story about deep waters. Why don’t you join me? The deadline is this Tuesday, June 16. See you there!