Now What?

Okay, so. THE CRUISE is done, and it was amazing, and while I’m not a total cruise convert like “OMG ALL OF MY VACATIONS ARE GOING TO BE CRUISES FROM NOW ON!!!” I could be talked into doing another in 2024. Disney is launching yet another big ship next year, and also a second private island destination, and I am IN! Okay, so I guess I’ve already talked myself into it.

Lighthouse Point had me at Joe Rohde. He is a rock star among Disnerds as the Imagineer behind a lot of the coolest stuff. I remember being at Animal Kingdom a few years ago when the whispering began: “Joe Rohde’s here!” He was mobbed by Disnerds in moments, as normal people walked by wondering who the dude with all the earrings was and why people were quivering like happy puppies, basking in his presence. As a Disnerd I’m very excited by the idea that he’s been lured back to Disney to do his magic on another destination island.

But there’s a lot of real life between now and then, and I have a lot of things I want to achieve between now and when I Turn 65 at the end of June. Yes, yes, Medicare supplement companies, I know! I’m getting hounded and emailed about all the insurance I’ll need because Medicare isn’t enough, etc.

In the meantime I have some boring real life goals. I am on a No Unnecessary Shopping plan for the foreseeable future, because yeah, that cruise was a splurge and my emergency account needs replenishment. I want to improve my fitness, my sleep, my finances, my social life, and maybe even get my creative groove back.

Spreadsheets and research have killed my creative groove, and I resent that.

In far more positive news, I got my first performance review in my new position. I don’t like my new position, because it doesn’t feel like a good fit for my skill set and I’m often frustrated, but the money’s far better than I’ve had in a long time, so I’m working on adjusting my attitude.

My review was really positive. My boss is a sweetheart, and she’s someone who has actually done the work, not a financial wonk parachuted in to “get experience” at the expense of the team. She was positive about my strengths and also honest about areas where I need to improve (she didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know).

We do the dreaded “360 review” process where you get anonymous feedback from people you work with, and my feedback was all about how professional I am, what a team player I am, how easy I am to talk to, how I go above and beyond, etc. etc. I got a raise and a bonus, and it was all a really good day. So that went quite a bit to the improving my finances goal (I’m hoping there will be other changes this summer) so now I have to focus on sleep, fitness, social life (what’s that?) and getting my creative groove back.

Anyway, that’s my mission for this trip around the sun: to find my creativity again. I used to bake and knit and crochet and write and make random shit and experiment. That’s something I’d like to get back to take into retirement, one of these days.

How’s Your Stress Level?

Mine is pretty bad. I alternate between feeling optimistic about the truly astonishing early voting numbers among young voters, and the record-breaking early voting numbers in general, to feeling depressed and anxious about the truly astonishing daily new COVID-19 numbers. (BTW, the “readability analysis” of that sentence scolded me for using so many “big words,” which is now another thing I’m depressed about.) This country is a shitshow right now, and anyone who claims to know what will happen next is a liar.

My job is a major source of stress. I’m very grateful to still have a paycheck of course. I’m very happy that I can still work from home, and at this rate I probably will be working from home through the end of January. That’s good, but the job is a source of stress and ZERO pleasure. It’s all deadlines and spreadsheets and problems to solve, and none of that shit “sparks joy.” But I’m better off than a lot of people so I’m not complaining. Actually I am, but I’m trying to get my head into a better place.

I keep a journal. I write in bed, in the morning with my morning coffee and two small, snoring dogs. My morning scribbling has developed a recurring theme: I’m in a terrible rut. I’ve lost my creativity to deadlines and spreadsheets.

I used to be creative. I’ve never been a “real” artist, but I used to make things for fun. I used to write more (and better), experiment in the kitchen, knit, crochet, grow herbs, mess with beads and jewelry making, and generally DO FUN THINGS.

In an attempt to snap out of my rut, I saved my pennies for months and bought myself a nifty camera for my birthday. (I didn’t spend this much, so now I’m really glad I bought it.)

I’ve barely used it. I’ve barely used it though I freaking LOVE this camera. It’s easy and versatile and best of all, it’s like it’s made for my small hands.

I’ve stopped doing fun things. I wake up, drink coffee, scribble in my journal, move to my desk, stare at spreadsheets and GIS systems and calendars and emails all day. Then I take care of the animals, fix something to eat, pour the first of too many glasses of wine, and sit in front of the TV until it’s time for bed. That has been my day, day after day, for far too long.

Add in financial worries, 2020 anxiety in general, obsessively doom-scrolling social media and this is a very unhealthy situation, in an unhealthy situation, in an unhealthy situation. Basically, my life is a shit onion right now – peel back a layer and – look! MORE SHIT!!

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, wondering how I can fix this situation when everything is so very, very abnormal. Then I realized that the solution was already sitting on my bookshelf, and has been for years: The Artist’s Way.

Yes, it’s already sitting on my bookshelf because I bought it years ago. I started the program at one point, but in a half-assed way. I did (and still do) Morning Pages, but fell out of Artist Dates and the other exercises within a couple of weeks.

I was lazy and I didn’t really feel it then, but I need it now. I really need it now.

There’s a podcast called The Artist’s Way Podcast Weekly Check-in – I’m going to use it to stay on track. It actually covers several of Julia Cameron’s books, but I’ve gone back to Episode 1 to start from scratch.

If you feel like you need a creative kick in the ass, or just want to distract yourself from the insanity of the world a bit, feel free to join me.