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Goals for 2017

Boston

Another year has gone by, and what a crazy year it's been! I've switched jobs, moved across the country again, and even sold my car! With all that happening, sadly, this is my FIRST post since last year's resolution post. To be fair, I rebuilt my website this year, and for a good portion of 2016 I didn't even have a system for writing posts. This post is about a week late due to the fact that I spent the last two weeks building out support for my blog on this version of the website. So...excuses out of the way, let's get on to the reflection on last year's goals.

Last Year's Resolutions

1. Write at least 6 posts or videos Giant Fail

This is really no surprise to me. My excuse for the blog is in the opening paragraph, but that doesn't explain my lack of videoing too. I've seen comments on my YouTube channel marking two years time since my last video. My priorities have been elsewhere, what with the move and getting situated here in Boston. I don't know that any videos will happen again until I leave this apartment for a larger space. We'll see though.

2. Make measurable progress on R2-D2 - Success

Admittedly, my statement in the paragraph following this goal was to have frame, dome, and legs in place. However, I learned how unreasonable that goal was after I got started. I'd have had to put a lot of money and time in to get the dome and legs done. However, I DO have a complete frame, which is definitely measureable progress. All things considered, it's a lot of progress given the disruption in my life this year. You can see photos of my R2 frame here.

3. Do something physically active at least twice a week - Mixed

Some weeks have been better than others with this. When I was in Iowa, I was very regularly doing HEMA at least once a week. Sometimes I was doing home workouts. Then I moved. Now, while I'm a member of a HEMA school here, which is supposed to be twice a week, I'm not always going twice a week. I'd say it's more often once a week than anything. I am, however, walking a lot every day now that I don't have a car. According to my smartwatch, I'm meeting my heart activity goal every workday. Still, I'm not quite sure I can say I'm active enough. So definitely mixed.

4. Take at least 2 trips somewhere for myself - Mixed

I've actually traveled a lot this past year. I went to San Francisco for a week in May. I went back for two days in June. I moved to Boston. I traveled to Norwalk, Connecticut and Rochester, New York for work. I went back to Wisconsin twice and Des Moines once. Some of these trips were for work. Some of them were for professional development. Some were for visiting family, but only one of them was really because I truly just wanted to go somewhere.

5. Create a healthier food plan and follow it - Another Giant Fail

Why is food so hard? Two years in a row now I've said this, and I've failed miserably. I am so damned lazy when it comes to food planning. Seriously, if I planned for food, I'd save so much money! Such a waste.

6. Drink more water - Fail

What can I say? I like soda. I like water too, at certain times like after a workout, later at night, when I'm outside in the hot sun, and when I'm dehydrated. Unfortunately when I'm not in those scenarios, I go for the sweet stuff instead. Bad Jess! Bad!

7. Pick up new hobbies / re-learn old ones: aka sewing - Fail

I did not do this. I have no excuse. There was time. I just... didn't.

8. Improve my makeup skills - Resounding Success

Thank you, Sephora free makeup classes! I got really good at the smokey eye technique in the third quarter of the year. I'm actually really proud of it. I still have things to learn. My next goal is liquid eyeliner. I tried it out for the first time today, and holy hell was it bad. I need lots of practice before I can be seen even in private with that stuff on. Regardless though, I'm enjoying learning more. It's fun and makes me feel good about myself.

9. Do something creative for myself - Success

My easy example is this website. I built the beginnings of it back in May / June, and I've been ever so slowly improving it since. Yes, some of it is technical, but the design elements are entirely my own. I'm really proud of how it's turned out so far.

10. Stay emotionally healthy - Mixed

With all the change happening in my life this year, my emotional health has been fluctuating a lot. It's been especially challenging with being alone and so far away from all the people I love so much. I am making new friends, but even with that, my emotional stability has had some extreme highs and extreme lows this year.

Summary Judgement of 2016

We have 4 fails, 3 successes, and 3 mixed results. That's actually exactly the same results I had in 2015. So at least I'm consistent! Shooting for 60/40 was definitely aiming for over acheiving. What a crazy year 2016 was though! It feels a bit like I've been swept into a maelstrom and I'm trying to find my way to smooth water. I know people call it a dumpster fire of a year. It wasn't quite that for me, but it was all over the place. I hope 2017 is smoother, though I expect it probably won't be.


2017 Goals

Goals, you say? Why not resolutions, Jess? Isn't that what they're called? New Year's Resolutions? Well, person reading this post, in reality that's not what these have become for me. I came to the realization this year that I'm really just setting goals for myself for the year. So why not just call them that? Furthermore, I'm going to divide them up into categories just to make it more complicated. So here goes:

Professional:

1. Learn at least 3 new programming languages

Continual learning is really important in my field, and plus, I just want to keep getting better at what I do. So I want to find at least three languages and learn them reasonably well. Right now I'm learning TypeScript. So that's one, I guess. Though it is a bit cheating since it's an extended version of JavaScript.

2. Learn at least 3 front end frameworks I don't already know

I'm very comfortable in Angular 1 and 2. This site is built with Angular. I'd like to learn React, Ember, and Vue. They're all very popular frameworks, and I think learning each one gives me much better insight into the front end as a whole. I think this goal flows into the next professional goal as well.

3. Follow through on at least 2 personal coding projects not including this website

Lately I've found coding at home to be addicting, which is a drastic change for me. In the past I've found it has burned me out. Now I'm just eating it up. I've been staying up way too late some nights coding on this website. Whole weekends have vanished into this project. It's been a lot of fun seeing it grow, and I'd like to see that happen with other project ideas I have too.

Personal:

4. Get out of my house / comfort zone more

Seriously, I stay in too much. I have always been perfectly comfortable staying in my apartment for an entire weekend lost in a video game, working on a project, binging a show, or what have you. While I know there's nothing wrong with that, I feel like I've been such a hermit over the past year. I know it contributes to my emotional health fluctuations. I need to get out there and be social. I'm not going to grow as an individual if I stay in my comfortable places and bubbles. I need to go out when I don't feel like it. I need to go to places I wouldn't normally. I feel like I'm not really living, and well...cliche but you only live once.

5. Don't settle anymore

I've done a lot of settling in my life. I do things because they are seemingly the best thing at the time regardless of whether they are the thing I want or not. This is bad. This is not acceptable. I need to change this behavior. I need to start saying no to things I don't want and yes to the things I do. If the things I do want are not there yet, I need to wait and / or work harder to get them. If there is any goal for me in 2017, this is it.

6. Stop thinking and start acting / doing

I have a LOT of ideas. Some of these ideas are creative writing. Some are web projects. Some are start up ideas. Some are just weekend projects. What do I do? I think about them a lot. What don't I do? I don't make them a real thing. This is another thing that needs to change. I think my motivation at the beginning of this year has been great. I just need to keep up the momentum.

7. Get my retirement plan in order

I've been actively avoiding this, to be honest. It's one of those things that I know is really important, but I just don't want to think about it. I need to though. I have retirement plans at several different former jobs that I need to get rolled over, and I'd like to have a solid financial direction other than "save a bunch". I've been doing that last part, but I need to figure out how real adults do this.

8. Learn to not hate cardio

Yes, this is the obligatory "I need to get in shape" post. In truth though, this is less about getting in shape than it is about how much I really hate cardio. Cardio hates me too. We're not on speaking terms. I have no trouble with strength exercises. I just hate that high heart rate, no air in my lungs, need lots of water feeling. I know it really needs to change, though. That's what keeps a heart and body healthy. Stupid body and it's stupid needs... *grumble grumble*

9. Make use of my passport

Now that I finally have my passport, I need to make good use of it. Right now there is the potential for 2 overseas trips this year. I need to follow through on at least one of them.

10. Visit friends as often as possible

If I've been feeling lonely, there are ways to solve that. I have friends all over the country. I need to visit them more. I know without a doubt that I will feel better about life after seeing people I care about. I need to make this happen. There are 12 months in a year. Let's see if I can visit friends in different parts of the country at least 4 times. If that number is greater than 4, it's a giant success.

Closing Thoughts

As I mentioned, 2016 was all over the place for me. I hope 2017 is smooth, easy going, and fun. I really hope for the fun part. I hope you have a great 2017 too.

Resolutions, 2016

It's that time again! That's right, folks! We're going to look back on the past year's resolutions to see how we did. Who is "we", you ask? You clearly ask too many questions. Anyway, on to the reflection.

Last Year's Resolutions

1. Stay Active - Mixed Bag

This definitely didn't happen with regularity. I'd say I was as active in 2015 as I was in 2014. I was in the gym a lot in the first couple of months all the way through March. Once Meat got sick, I stopped going with regularity like I had been. Then he passed, and I really didn't have much desire to work out for a while. I picked it back up in July and was really good about working out at home for several months. Then I got sick, and I never really got back to it. Now I'm back in a sword / fencing group, but that's only once a week. So I could use some improvement.

2. Eat Better - Fail

This is continually a problem. I don't cook for myself often enough. I'm eating a lot of frozen pizzas, pot pies, and other really not great foods. Sometimes I come home and have a bowl of cereal. I know other adults do this same thing, but that doesn't make it good. I just tell myself that to make myself feel better about it. What I really need to do is plan ahead for my meals rather than figuring them out on the fly.

3. Spend Less time on Social Media - Fail

Another ongoing problem... I read the Nerdist book last year, and Chris Hardwick talked about how social media can just soak up time with no valuable product on the other side. He created a way to manage that time, and I should follow in his footsteps in that regard. There's so much I could be doing with my time that would be better than what I have been doing.

4. Follow through on personal projects - Fail

I think my biggest problem here is that personal projects have been code related. In order for me to do anything code related at home means I have to not do code related things at work. Since that's not going to change, my personal projects will. In August, I decided to start a new hobby: building an R2-D2. I've already made some progress on it. So hopefully 2016 will be more successful in this arena.

5. Less Frivolous Spending - Success

While I think there's still a bit of frivolity in my spending habits, this year forced me to spend less. The house going on the market was a big part of that. The cost of rent AND half of a mortgage really forced me in to spending on things I need rather than want. I cut my expenses to the bare minimum, ate bag lunches, and still managed to save money each month. I'm really proud of that. I came out the other side better than I ever expected to. Here's hoping I keep it up. There's already good signs of that. I've cancelled unnecessary or unused services, switched to less expensive providers for others, and thoroughly researched anything else I needed to spend money on. Here's to a good financial future.

6. Less screen time overall - Fail

Considering my work is screen time, and I'm a technology fanatic, this was probably a bad resolution to make. Now I have a smart watch too. So screens are not going away for me. I honestly think that better management of #3 would make this a moot issue. So I think if I focus on that, things will be just fine.

7. Read More - Mixed Bag

I definitely have acquired more books in my Audible account. I started off the year pretty well. That continued through the middle of the summer. Every time I mowed the lawn, I was listening to a book. Same went with driving out to D&D on Sundays. Unfortunately the Sunday gaming ended. A few of the books I was listening to were not keeping my attention OR were giving me anxiety. So I switched over to Nerdist podcasts, which was great. Still, I should get back to reading.

8. Have Fun - Success

While there have been down times for me this year, I've had a lot of fun. I went to two comic cons. I spent a lot of time with friends. I'm in a Pathfinder and Star Wars RPG group. I started fencing again. I saw Star Wars. I started dating again. I let myself have fun with photography all summer long. I had a lot of good times this year, and I'm quite happy about that.

9. Learn a New Skill - Success

This wasn't quite what I had in mind when I created this resolution, but I think it fits. I have joined a fencing group, and now I'm learning a new weapon: German long sword. It's so much fun, and I'm so excited to keep learning. With my R2-D2 project, I had hoped it would be something related to making stuff, but that project is a bit more slow to get started than I had hoped. So, that new skill set will be learned in the next year.

10. Stay Happy - Mixed Bag

Between Meat passing in the Spring and the struggle of selling the house, I had a really rough down patch in the middle of the year. The rest of the year wasn't so bad. Keeping active really helps with staying happy, and I think each time I've gotten down, working out has helped pick me back up. I do feel like depression will be something I flirt with for the rest of my life, but at least I have all the tools I need to combat it and keep it at bay.

Overall Verdict for 2015

Doing the math, there were 3 successes, 4 fails, and 3 mixed. I'd say with that, it's about a 50/50 year for me. There were two big hurdles that really hit me hard, and now that I'm through those, there's nothing in my way. I'm sure 2016 will bring some new ones, but hopefully they won't be as huge as a house in Texas was. Let's shoot for 60/40 next year.

2016 Resolutions

For 2016, I'm going to do something slightly different. I'm going to make each goal measurable. That way it's not just a nebulous thing that can be fudged. Measurable also means easier to work towards and achieve. So here goes:

1. Write at least 6 blog posts / videos

I wrote 2 posts last year and made no videos. I really got lazy with video production, and that needs to change. I do enjoy it and people have been asking on my YouTube channel when I'll make more. So I really should. Plus, I need to post when I'm not just down, which seems to be what my blog has become. I'd like to change that, and concrete number goals are better than just "post more". So 6 is a good goal.

2. Make measurable progress on R2-D2

This one should be a fairly easy goal, but it still is worth writing down. For those that don't know, I decided in August of 2015 that I needed a new hobby that wasn't coding and involved creating something with my hands. After having seen home built droids at Planet Comic Con, I though that would be super fun. So I've joined the R2-D2 builders club. I'm on a waiting list for a frame right now, and while that's progress, I want appreciably more progress. I want to end the year with the build looking more R2-like and less "pile-o-parts" like. So for measurability, let's say frame, dome, and legs need to be present. Some of the skin finishings would be added bonuses, and anything beyond that is extra credit.

3. Do something physically active at least twice a week

This is easily one of the hardest one of all of them. I'm going to fencing again, which is about once a week. However it skips a week every month. So, that will require some monitoring. I'll need to add something else to the regimen too. I've ended my expensive gym membership, and I may start something like DailyBurn or similar.

4. Take at least 2 trips somewhere for myself

I've been out of college for 10 years now, and I've never treated myself to a real vacation involving traveling somewhere. No, Wisconsin doesn't count. Neither does the Twin Cities. It can't be traveling for a conference either. I need to go somewhere just for me. I'd love to go to Europe, but I don't know if that will happen this year. I'm thinking NYC and then I'm not sure where else. Suggestions are appreciated.

5. Create a healthier food plan and follow it

This is another of the more difficult resolutions, especially since "Eat Better" was last year's, and I failed that one. Still, this is important. I need some sort of system for planning for meals that doesn't involve frozen meals or a lot of pizza. It would be great if there was a website for this kind of thing. I need a schedule with an ingredient list and prep instructions for my week. Basically something that would create my shopping list and have everything mapped out. I'll have to look to see if that exists. Either way, that's what I want, and hopefully if it doesn't exist, I can create it myself. The biggest challenge is combating my own laziness, though. I get home from work and don't want to do anything. Hopefully the plan can help fight that. Measurable goals: cook a decent meal at home at least 3 times a week. Stretch goal: 5 times a week.

6. Drink more water

I've been making inroads with this goal at work already. I have a water bottle, and I've largely swapped soda for water there on most days. I do allow a cheat day, which is fine. However at home I don't drink as much water as I should. I have too many options. I really just need to remove soda from the house again. That will help a lot. Measurable goals: 32 oz a day of water.

7. Pick up new hobbies / re-learn old ones: aka sewing

Yes, I know that everyone sits and watches Netflix a lot or possibly plays video games. However, I'd like more productive time as well where I'm doing something I enjoy and get something tangible out of it at the end. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching TV or gaming. It just means I'd like to swap some of that time for hobby time. Sewing would be good, which means I need a sewing machine. Other hobbies may pop in as well. Measurable goals: finish my Jedi costume.

8. Improve my makeup skills

I have taken steps with this already by replacing all my crap makeup with decent stuff. I still feel like I barely know what I'm doing though. I got a cool urban decay eye shadow palette for Christmas, and I know enough to make a mess of things. I've been largely successful so far, but I'd like to get to the point that I feel like I'm somewhat competent in my skills. I guess this means practice. Sorry friends, you might see Raccoon Jess sometime soon. Measurable goals: Hmm, not really sure. Maybe post some selfies and get people's opinions? I'm open to suggestions.

9. Do something creative for myself

Photography doesn't count in this case. Yes, it's creative, but I want to do something other than that for this resolution. Plus, I don't think I'd describe my photography as creative. It's more just capturing nature in a moment I enjoyed. Maybe it's writing something. Maybe it's creating a video that's not just a talking head. Maybe it's doing something with animation. All of these things interest me. It's high time I get these ideas out of my head and on to some sort of medium. Measurable goal: at least one uniquely creative thing put out there for the world to see.

10. Stay Emotionally Healthy

I feel like this will always be in my resolution list because it's so important and so difficult. It's not exactly measurable, but it's still something worth writing down. As I wrote earlier, I feel like I'll flirt with depression for the rest of my life. There will always be up and down parts of my year, but the goal is that the up parts of the year far outweigh the down parts of the year. Another important facet is to not let my anxiety control my life. Here's to a healthy emotional 2016.

Closing Thoughts

2015 was a transitional year for me. The house is gone now. There's no more anchor keeping me in the past. Here's to making 2016 and beyond one of the best years on record. Happy 2016, everyone!

P.S. I thought it helpful to add that this year I have a friend that wants to help keep me honest on my resolutions. We'll be checking in quarterly to see how things are going and hold each other accountable. So there's that. I'm also strongly considering moving my blog to Tumblr since...why not. I really don't use this website for anything else, and well...tumblr seems pretty awesome. I'm sure I'll keep everyone posted.

Hehe...posted... :D

Motivational Malaise

I'm not happy.

Lately, and by lately I mean the past maybe four months or so, I've been feeling mostly just ok. I've had some fun times, some brief happiness here and there, but overall, I have this lingering dissatisfaction with life in general. My days are so routine. I wake up. I go to work. I come home. I feed myself. I attempt to keep myself occupied until I get tired. I go to sleep. Repeat. Nothing about it seems like something I could describe as fulfilling. It's really odd too, because someone commented on a picture of me the other day saying it always looks like I'm happy and enjoying life. I wish that were true. I guess I can put on a face well enough in a picture.

Some days I am social. In fact, I'd say it's more frequent than it used to be. I run in numerous circles, and I've had quite a number of weekend days that require me juggling overlapping events. I've felt bad because there's one circle that, for whatever reason, all of them are the more spontaneous types. They always ask me the day of or the day before an event, and it's always on the days I'm already booked for something that I was invited to weeks prior. Sorry, friends!

So yeah, it's not that I'm feeling like I don't get out or anything. I certainly have a lot of people that care about me. I know that. But I still sit here on the weekends staring at Netflix..or Facebook...or whatever...and I feel like I've just got half of a life. It's weird. Nothing is particularly interesting. I daydream a lot. I come up with plans to do something, but as of yet, I haven't followed through. Then I feel guilty for not following through, but not guilty enough to get motivated.

I feel like all my interests have died off. I haven't had the desire to play a video game in the better part of a year now. When I sit down and start a game, I play for all of maybe 15 minutes and I turn it off. They all seem so procedural and tedious compared to what I used to experience. I don't know if I'm losing interest in them overall or that I'm just depressed and everything isn't interesting. I suppose its possible that nothing that's out there right now interests me, but I guess it doesn't feel like that's the case. I just don't know what to think about it.

I can definitely say that my self confidence is quite low. My self worth is low too. I'm simultaneously lonely while also feeling like a relationship wouldn't work either. I'm not active on any sort of dating website. I'm not actively looking, and when I do get those feelings creeping up, I push them away consciously. If I find myself attracted to someone, I beat those feelings away. I tell myself that there's no way it would work. There's no way they find me attractive. I tell myself that I just make them uncomfortable or that they'd just hurt me in the end. I don't believe I'm desirable or attractive. Deep down, I feel like by not engaging in any sort of pursuit of romance, I'm saving both myself the heart break and the time of the lady I sought after. I also consciously know how deeply flawed these feelings are, but I cannot seem to fight them off or change them. They seem pretty deeply and firmly embedded in my psyche.

I know one thing that has me down is my house in El Paso, aka the second biggest mistake of my life. The house has been on the market for almost 2 months now. There've been maybe 5 showings total since it went on the market. The area where my house is located has something like 22 homes for sale within a couple of square miles. The El Paso market is saturated. I have a feeling the house will be on the market for a long time. I'm thankful I can manage the payments, but even so, it's the last remaining item tying my ex fiancee to me. It needs to go so I can close that chapter of my life and move on fully. It feels like an anchor keeping me stuck in the past.

All that aside, I struggle knowing what will make me happier. My daily grind definitely isn't it. I can't seem to get motivated to do anything else. I feel like I'm trapped in quicksand. I have all these ideas swimming in my head that I daydream about all the time. Yet I can't take those dreams and get myself to do anything with them. All this depressive muck has me mired in melancholy.

I told one of my coworkers recently that every day I leave the office and I look up. I wishfully stare at the sky imagining myself heading up towards the clouds, feeling the wind in my hair and anywhere in the world before me. I'm not exaggerating either. I literally do this every day. So the question remains: what do I want out of this short time I have on this rock? What will help me to be happy?

I sure as hell don't know.

Welcome, 2015!

Hey all! Yes, I've been quiet for months. Rest assured, this is not a bad thing. No news is good news with me. My quiet on my blog essentially means that I haven't had any emotional disturbances that had me turn to my blog to vent and cope. While my blog used to be a chronicle of my life, now it's become a method for me to move forward after tough times. Granted, it's not always that, but it is often what I use this platform for now. That's something I've learned about myself in the past year.

Speaking of past years, it's time to analyze my previous year and previous year's resolutions, as well as make some new ones. Let's see how we did.

Last year's resolutions

1. Be feeling more emotionally healthy in six months - Fail...but success

I wouldn't say this happened. It was a lofty goal, and that was good. It really took me almost a full year before I really felt back to normal, but I DID get back to normal. And that's the big reason why this is still a success despite it not happening in the time I specified. I do feel like my proactive approach of going to see someone to deal with all the emotional turmoil of the fall of 2013 was wise. Big thanks to everyone that was there for me while I was at my lowest point. You know who you are, and you're all amazing people. I really couldn't have done it without you.

2. Replace my car - Success

Success! See February 2014 for that news.

3. Take a trip or three - Fail

I'd have to say this was a fail. I wanted to go so many places, but ultimately I only made it home to visit family, to Eau Claire a couple times, and that's about it. This goal still needs to happen though.

4. Get out of my comfort zone - Success

A year ago, I was still pretty new to Des Moines. I had a lot of new acquaintances, but nothing solid yet. I did a lot of sitting around. I can easily say I got out there and did a lot of socializing. Despite my introvert nature, I made a lot of new friends and found a great core group...or two actually. I tried out new things, and really came in to my own here in Des Moines. I think it was a great year in that regard.

5. Be more physically active - Success

As cliche as this resolution was, I actually succeeded. It took a while though. Over the summer, I did a few bike rides that were great. Eventually the weather changed, and it got harder to get out there and bike. In November, I hired a personal trainer. Since then, I've moved on to a group fitness gym membership. So I'd say I really nailed this one despite it taking a while to achieve.

6. Save, Save, Save - Moderate Success

I didn't save as much as I'd like. I did set up automatic transfers again. However, there were a lot of expense changes with the new vehicle, the new place to live, and some frivolous purchases. Still, I have more saved than I did a year ago, and I'm proud of that.

7. Take on new challenges and hobbies - Fail

This really didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, I'd still like to do so, but I really didn't put much effort into it this past year.

8. Continue to write regularly - Fail

I do really enjoy writing, but when it comes to this blog, as I mentioned earlier, it's more of a place of self examination now than anything else. I write when I am feeling down and need to vent. But you know what, that's totally ok. Even with that, I had some great successes this year with writing. So I'm happy.

9. Do something creative - Moderate Success

Jessica the Nerd happened for a while. After my former roommate moved in, I stopped making the videos. I was really enjoying them, and now that I'm living alone again, I think I need to get back to being a content creator. It was fun, and it really felt like a great way to express myself.

10. Change my routine wardrobe - Success

Much like the being more physically active resolution, this took a while. But I did eventually change things up. I think it took a while due to my depressive state throughout a good portion of 2014. Once the depression lifted, I found myself really eager to change things up. I actually decided to join StitchFix to try new things too. It's been great so far. I feel good about the changes I've made.

Overall Verdict of 2014

Not too bad. I had some successes and some failures. All in all, I'm proud of my journey through the year. I came out of 2014 much better than I came in to 2014. That's saying a lot. I'm healthy now, both emotionally and physically. I have a great support group and a lot of great friends. I'm doing new things. I'm working out. It's all been a great step in the right direction for me.

I think another big positive for me is that I've moved on from all the turmoil I struggled with a year ago. That's huge. If there's anything I am most proud and happy about, it's that.

2015 Resolutions

Now that I've looked at my previous year, let's look to the future. Here are my resolutions for this year:

1. Stay active

I'm really happy with how I've been with my physical fitness and my health. My goal is to maintain that level of fitness and health throughout the year. I like how working out makes me feel afterwards (despite the fact that during the workout is torture). I really hope that this year is the year that has me focused on a future path of health.

2. Eat better

Great Hera, do I ever eat terrible! Despite the physical fitness, I still get pizza a lot. I have thankfully cut the soda again, but I really wish I could get myself to be interested in cooking again. It's so hard to cook for one person. Still, I really would like to change this bad habit and cook for myself more.

3. Spend less time on social media

I'm really terrible about use of Facebook and Google+. I know you don't see a lot of posts from me, but I will spend a lot of home time staring at a screen, and I need to change that. I will have to plan on taking hiatuses from social media for chunks because I think I waste a lot of time on there.

4. Follow through on personal projects

I've been meaning to develop jessicathenerd.com for how long now? Almost a year? Yeah, that needs to happen. I need to jump on some other projects too, like making an inebriator, or learning to sew the rest of my jedi costume. Time to set some goals and make them happen.

5. Less frivolous spending

I really need to be smart about how I spend money. I could be saving so much more, and instead I do things like buy new tech or some other stupid thing. I need to budget a bit more on how much free money I have to spend in a month, and that should help.

6. Less screen time overall

I spend a good portion of my life in front of a screen, be it a monitor, a phone, a tablet, or a TV. Sometimes I'm on more than one at once. I just would like to have less of it and do other stuff sometimes.

7. Read More

I've already started down this path with an Audible account, but I'd still like to read more anyway. When I was younger, I read a lot. When I got out of college, that stopped. Audible has really helped me enjoy literature again, though listening is different than reading. I would like to get my head back into a book.

8. Have fun

I like to have fun in everything I do, but I think I'd like to make it a goal this year. I want to have more fun of all types. Last year was a lot of wallowing that changed into something much more positive towards the end. I want this 2015 to be a super fun year.

9. Learn a new skill

This skill has to be unrelated to what I do for work. It can be technology related though. It just has to be something new.

10. Stay Happy

Depression is not fun. Now that I've dug myself out, I'd like to stay here in the happy, healthy land. :)

Closing Thoughts

2014 was a recovery year. I think 2015 will be a growth year. Things are moving in the right direction, and I'd like to keep things headed that way. I have a good feeling about this year. As I said in my introduction, typically when I'm silent on my blog for a lengthy period of time, that's probably good news. It means nothing tumultuous has been happening in my life. So here's hoping my blog will be fairly quiet this year. That said, it's overdue for a life update. I plan on getting to that in the next few days. So stay tuned.

Thanks again to all of you that helped make 2014 become the positive year it ended up being. I wish all of you a great 2015!

Rest and Relapsation

It's been a few months. I've been gathering my thoughts and feelings for a while now, and it's time to send them out in to the ether of the internet. This episode will feature a few things: relocation, relapses, and real estate; dating, drama, and depression; Silence and Solitude. There's a lot to talk about. I'll start with the items that are the most on my mind right now.

Relapse

Not going to lie, it's been a bit of a struggle lately. It began a few weeks ago when I received contact from the ex. It was cordial and professional surrounding the house and getting it on the market. The moment I saw the email...no, the moment I saw even the gmail label marked as having a new message...the blood ran out of my face. It made my heart drop. I hadn't thought much about her in general for a while. I was well on my way to a healthy emotional outlook. All it took was that...one glance at one email to bring a bunch of feelings back from their carbonite storage. Apparently the carbonite kept the feelings very well protected. Perhaps I should consider different emotional storage options if I want them to decay faster...

I knew it would happen like this. I was dreading it as soon as I started recovering from the breakup. This is the reason I asked her back in the early part of the year to buy me out of the house. I just wanted to be done with her. I still want that. I really wasn't looking forward to when I'd have to have contact with her again, and here we are. What I can say is that the emotional fallout from this is manageable, and it's also quite different from the feelings I was feeling last winter.

Let me explain. Last winter, I was lamenting the loss of her. I was angry with her. I was feeling betrayed and very hurt. Those feelings are certainly there now, but they are faded. The feelings I have now are more of just a general emptiness. There is still a gaping hole in my life. I haven't had a best friend for 9 months now. I miss having someone to turn to in which to share everything. It makes life kind of ho hum, really. Life has become this kind of...flatness. Each day is just another day. There's very little that is exciting or that could even excite me. I also miss the intimacy of being with someone...the inside jokes, the familiar looks and touches, and shared experiences. Long and the short of it, I don't miss her. I really don't, but I do miss being in love.

I just finished listening to "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman, and in so many ways I could relate to the main character of Shadow. He always seemed like he just followed where life took him, never really questioning or challenging it. I feel like the river of time is just pulling me along in its current, and there's nothing compelling along the banks to make me want to pull myself out. Though lately it's just been like I've been pulled under a few times. Sometimes when I'm walking down the halls at work, off to lunch, shopping somewhere, I find myself in my head wondering what's making my legs even move. Sometimes it feels like I'm on autopilot. It's a strange feeling that really makes me contemplate things.

I've dealt with depression a few times in my life. The first real difficult struggle with depression was before transition, and it totally surrounded not being myself. That's situational depression. My struggle right now is also situational depression. I am grateful that I don't have general depression that's omni and ever present. To those that do, you have my deepest sympathies. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Robin Williams. My heart goes out to his family. With his loss being felt so strongly amongst those of us who only knew him through TV and movies, it must be unbearably painful to those that were close to him.

My own depression has had me thinking about ways to describe it to those that have never dealt with it. Depression is like dealing with a heavy weight on your chest. If it were weight lifting, the barbell would be almost impossibly heavy to push off your chest. On the days I'm very down, even telling myself that I'm going to be fine is like I'm struggling with total muscle collapse. It's so difficult to do...like pushing back against the wind of a hurricane.  It occurs to me that I used to describe depression as a bit addictive, but that's not entirely accurate. It's more like an undertow. It's just so hard to fight that you have to give in for a while to build up your strength to fight it again later.  So for a while, you drown in depressiveness.

So yeah, it's a struggle for me right now, and it will continue to be one while I go through the process of selling this house. Here's hoping the house sale goes quickly. I'm eager to be done with all this and really forge ahead in life. Eventually this relapse will be just a blip in my past.

Relocation

I moved. Again. My goal was to move out of the place that I lived with the ex and closer to where I work. I wanted no attachment to the memories of that place. Don't get me wrong. It was a nice place. I had a great landlord. It was a bit expensive, but I had very few complaints. About the only thing I really wanted was a basement. Storage was a problem. It's not really an issue anymore.

I moved in to a stand-alone house. No more shared walls! It's a little cheaper and has a lot more benefits. There's a full basement, which means I won't feel as terrified next year when tornado season hits again. The yard is very green. It's at the end of a street and backs up to a small forest-like area that is very lush. It's very quiet, and also very pretty. I hear the chirping of insects every night. There's lots of birds too. I walked out onto my back deck one night shortly after I moved in and was met by an 8-point buck staring at me from the tree line. I know there are a bunch of raccoons in the area too. I enjoy nature a lot, and this place is surrounded by it. I have no complaints there.

The house does come with a few downsides. The garage is not attached, and there is no keyed back door. So I have to walk to get in the house. It hasn't been a problem so far, but come winter, it'll get annoying. The driveway is long too. So I'll definitely need a snow blower. There's no way I'd be able to shovel that without serious back pain. I also have to take care of the lawn. So, there's definitely more chores to do. I think the tradeoffs are worth it though. Alas, I'm no closer to work than I was before. Regardless, I think it worked out pretty well.

Dating

I had put in a lot of effort into going on first dates and using dating sites. After all that, I'm not dating anyone, and I'm done looking for now. It takes a lot of energy, and I just don't have it. I've met some cool folks, and I've met some not so cool folks. It's been interesting though. I've never done the dating thing like this before. In the past, dates have been few. A few dates led to a relationship. This whole "date a lot of people one or two times" thing is weird to me. I suppose it has helped me learn what I'm looking for, what I want, and what I don't want. That's nice, and I'm thankful for that.

Honestly, I don't know how people can maintain this kind of energy though. There was a point in which I went on like...4 or 5 first dates in a week. I had a hard time keeping them all straight, and by the end of it, I was pretty tired of first dates. And then I hit this relapse period. I would say that due to my emotional relapse, it's probably good that I'm not out there on the dating scene anymore. There was a pretty distinct change in my behavior after ex contact began, and that was sign enough for me to step away. It's hard to focus on the other person in any way when I'm struggling with my own emotional health.

The other hard thing is that I find myself struggling with confidence issues. I've had a few relationships now that have abruptly ended. One ended due to my ego at the time, and the other ended due to my ex's unhappiness with sex. There have been many times during this period of dating in which I found myself thinking "What the hell are you doing? You're just going to disappoint her in the end. Just give it up." The sad thing, and this is the honest truth, is that I believe it.

I'm not going to lie. That was really hard for me to write. It even made me cry for a while. It's the honest truth though, and it's likely that single thought is the fuel of the fire that's driving this ongoing depression.

Drama

The drama in my life lately has been interesting. It's probably the first time I've written about drama that isn't mine. It's actually drama between friends. I have mentioned in recent posts that I've been going to meetups. One of those meetups is called Drinking Liberally. This group has been really helpful in bringing me out of my funk and depression in the past. I've met a good portion of my Iowa friends there, and it's been wonderful.

Several months back, something changed. There was a kerfuffle between the hosts of the group. The end result was a rift and a splinter group forming.  Now some people go to one group, and others to the other group. Few, if any, go to both. It's a bit sad because I always looked forward to my Thursday nights. Now it's still fun, but it's definitely not like it was. There's a different vibe. I wish the hosts could come together and work out their differences, but obviously that's out of my control. I just hope that things get better over time. This group has really helped me, and I know it can help others too.

Family

I went home to visit my family a few weeks back. It was really nice to see them. If there was one thing I wish I could do more of is visit family. This visit I saw more of my family than I have in a long time. Not only did I see all of my immediate family, I saw a good portion of my aunts and uncles on my mom's side. A few of my cousins were there too. One of my cousins I hadn't seen in probably a decade. It was quite a bit of fun getting to hang out after all that time.

I think one of the things that I realized during that weekend was how fortunate I am to have the family that I have. A lot of my friends talk about their families in a less than stellar light. Some of them have estranged parental units. Others have siblings in prison. Still others didn't have much family at all and went through the foster care system. I've realized that my family is a rare breed. My parents are still married. In fact most of my aunts and uncles are still married. There've been no falling outs or anything like that. In fact, we all enjoy spending time together. Must be something in our genes...or maybe the water. I knew I was fortunate to have a family that didn't reject me when I came out, but I realize how truly fortunate I am to have the family I have. I'm very thankful for them.

My cousins, uncle, and I came up with a game that we played in the back yard. I had stopped and picked up three styrofoam gliders at the toy store before our evening cookout that Saturday. The original intent was to give them to my niece and nephews. As usual, the adults ended up having more fun with them. We ended up setting up a cross fire in the back yard. Two people would throw a glider back and forth while the other two would throw a nerf whistler football. The goal was typically to target the glider with the football and try to knock it out of the sky. This game went on for hours. It was a blast, and as you can imagine, it pretty much stopped when no glider was left with enough pieces intact to fly. If you have a gathering in the future, I highly recommend this game.

Birdwatching

I've been doing a lot of bird watching since I've moved. Now that I have a back yard and a deck, I've gotten a few bird feeders that I've mounted. This hobby of putting up bird feeders seems to be a familial one. My parents, my younger sister, and I all have them. I don't know why we like it so much, but we do. I think we all have a desire to be around nature. Birds are beautiful creatures, and they are a lot of fun to watch.

So far the biggest challenge has been how to deal with the raccoons. All the feeders are deck-mounted. So the coons have been climbing up on to the deck and finding ways to get at the seed or suet cakes. It's been a bit annoying. This morning I woke up to the suet cake cage thing missing entirely and only a chain remaining. I'm thinking they jumped and caught it, and their weight pulled it down.

Otherwise, I've seen a number of species of birds so far. Gold finches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers, Cardinals (the awesome kind...not the baseball team), grackles, house finches, doves, and black-capped chickadees. I think so far, the woodpeckers and nuthatches are my favorites. It's a surprisingly expensive hobby though. Those birds eat a lot!

Video Game Break

I know this sounds crazy, but I haven't had much interest in playing video games lately. So I took a break and have been doing other stuff. There's been a little gaming in there though. I played a surprisingly difficult game called "Banished" for a while.  It's a town building game, like sim city, but it also involves resource management and making sure you keep all your citizens alive. They have to plant food and hunt for resources. I thought it would be a much easier game, but nope. I have yet to have a very successful village. I tend to get by for a while and then suddenly realize I've made a grave error. It's a fun challenge once in a while.

I also recently decided to finally get through the original Bioshock. Over the years, I've started the game around 3 times. I've played it to a point about a quarter of the way in and then stopped. This time I've already played it most of the way through. I have maybe a level to go before the game is done. I'll probably finish it up this week.

Yeah, otherwise, I've been less interested. I don't know if the stress of the move played in to that or if it's perhaps the depression. We'll see if my desire changes in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, for now, I'm living a simple, solitary (aside from the roommate), and quiet life. Some would probably say boring. That's ok with me though...for now. I do have some things going on in the advocacy / education front, but I'll write more on it when I know more. Until then, thanks for reading, and live long and awesome.