We’re on the threshold of 2016, and a lot of people tend to make resolutions around this time.
I’m not one of them. My ‘new year’ is my birthday, and I generally hit ‘restart’ on things around then. And, to be honest, most resolutions are for things that are difficult, if not impossible to keep.
Still, in contemplating things I’ve wanted to do in the past, their success, and things I want to do in the future, New Years is about as good a time as any. Instead of resolutions, I’ve created and established habits. And this has worked for me. I’ve stopped spending too much money, improved my health, built up savings, and improved my life in many ways by changing or establishing new habits.
Establishing new habits or maintaining older ones is not a bad thing, if they’re beneficial for one’s life. I need to reestablish a habit- going to the gym and doing strength training, because my old gym closed, then I hurt my shoulder and ankle, and didn’t establish myself in a new gym. Going to the gym regularly helps to keep my weight down, which is not a bad thing. And I need to break some habits, too- like deleting things I’ve created before sharing or showing them to others. Doing this is necessary if I want to improve my life, or change it.
I see my life taking new directions in the next few years. Suddenly the “R-word” is looming on the far horizon, and I need to start retooling my life, habits, and expenses to prepare for this change. Am I saving enough money? Is the money I’ve already saved being utilized correctly to gain more money? Do I have any hobbies or interests I can use to continue to get a reasonable income once I leave this career? Should I consider bailing early before I get truly bored or burn out?
Decisions, decisions. People don’t tend to think about multiple careers, interests or streams of income, but I’ve become keenly interested in them of late. What I am doing right now- for free and for fun- writing- could become a means of income. Another hobby of mine, music collecting, curating and selecting might evolve into some kind of DJ- esque career. My continual jousting with the VA might also evolve into some flavor of advocacy for fellow female veterans who find themselves colliding with the boys-club culture of the department. My multiple interests could morph into something more than a bookmark tab in my browser.
It never hurts to pause occasionally to take stock of your life, and plug in a course correction if it’s needed. This includes relationships as well as interests. Relationships require maintenance and evaluation just like anything else in life. Is there room for improvement? Should things be escalated or withdrawal made? Is it time to get closer to someone? Or is it time to disengage from them?
One thing a new year brings is a rebooted sense of hope. Hope that maybe THIS YEAR, things will get better. It’s one of those things that seems to be on ‘repeat’ every time we reach this point in the year. Thing is, the only way that things will get better is if we make an effort. The Good Luck Fairy isn’t going to drop [insert thing you’re hoping for] into your lap. No, you’re going to actually have to get off your can, put down the tablet, smartphone, or computer, and make it happen. It’s not enough to ask the Universe for something- you need to start working towards earning and receiving it. Action is necessary.
There really is a connection between intent and results. But that intent has to be active, not just a vague sigh and scroll on. If you want to improve anything about your life- be it your job, relationships, health, etc, it requires some action. I had to do some deep research to figure out how to keep seasonal depression at bay, and get better sleep. I learned what supplements to take, and how to exercise ‘sleep hygiene’. Guess what- it worked! Same with weight loss, self-improvement, etc. I had to get to work, and get it done.
I also have to be easier on myself- I’ve failed more than a few times in creating and maintaining habits. My inner critic is ferocious and overbearing. I have yet to create a music track that I haven’t deleted. I’ll work hours on something, then get a case of the abdabs, and delete the music or essay I’ve been working on. Impostor syndrome is an evil thing. I’ve deleted more posts here than you can shake a stick at. I’ve deleted entire blogs- years of work. And yes, I regret that. If I create a new habit this year, it’ll be to stop deleting my work, and sharing more of it. And I’ll try to find a mentor, or an encourager, or someone to ask me how things are coming along musically. Self-doubt is an evil beast- it sits on your head, or your hand, or your lap and keeps you from moving forward. It keeps you from asking for help, encouragement, constructive criticism, etc. It locks you into a place where you see people succeeding all around you, and the only thing you can feel is that sinking feeling of incompetency, and the belief that you’ll never do anything as good as the things you’re surrounded with.
If I do anything this year, I am going to conquer that beast of self-doubt, and its accompanying fear of succeeding. I’m not afraid of failure- in not doing anything, or deleting what I have done, I’m already failing. That’s a given. But, one word at a time, one bar and midi note at a time, one ‘save’ and walk away at a time, I will beat this beast, or at least reduce it to something that I can manage. I may still fail, but at least it will be a learning curve sort of thing, not a deleted file or idea.
Last Friday, the internet and my workplace lit up with the news that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character of Spock, had died, of COPD. Unlike the passing of other celebrities and stars, Nimoy’s passing hit me deeply. And as the condolences and memories about his life and work filled my feeds, I began to reflect on my own long love of both the actor, and his wonderful character, Mr. Spock.
It’s probably hard for some to remember that people often got the Vulcan confused with another Spock, a baby doctor by the name of Benjamin Spock. I soon learned about the depth of a writer’s interest and understanding of the character when they called him “Doctor” instead of “Mister”. My Spock was Mister. Or Commander. Or, for a while, Captain. But even the honorifc “Mr.” was eventually dropped as Dr. Spock faded into obscurity, and Mr. Spock became a global icon.
This book will be on my reading list.
Almost seven years ago, I wrote an essay about my distaste of Apple’s hype machine. It was written shortly before the launch of the now-iconic iPhone, where people were lining up outside the then-rare Apple Stores, waiting for this new, and very expensive new phone. iPods had already swamped the digital music universe, pretty much wiping out any competition. Tablets were still rare, and the few that existed were clunky, required styluses, and people were hoping that maybe netbooks might be something people might want. Windows had launched Vista, which was a massive flop, and people were disillusioned.
2007 was an interesting time, so when Apple launched the iPhone, people glommed onto it like it was gold. Three years later, Apple scored again, with the launch of the iPad, sending people swooning and swarming to get it. Like the iPhone before it, iPads started showing up in the hands of affluent people, parked alongside their newer iPhones, and it seemed, to me, at least, that the digital world was reshaping itself to cater to Apple’s whims. (more…)
I spent the last hour fiddle-farting around with my network, trying to get the TV to talk to the computer.
It warms the cockles of my little techie heart to be able to write a sentence like that. And if you’d told me 30 years ago that TVs would not only talk to computers, but essentially be computers themselves, I would have stamped my foot impatiently and grumbled about having to wait for it. But this 21st Century digital paradise has more than a few bad Apples. And Samsungs, and Dells, too. OK, maybe not really bad, but definitely not grade-A techie-licious.
The problem with all this new-finagled stuff is- as Scotty once memorably said, ‘the more you overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain’. And that’s true. There’s been an advantage to waiting a while before pouncing on some of this stuff- like the refinements of the UX/UI, but there are still a whole raft of bugs in the system. It works… sort of.
I am an introvert, which makes me something of a minority in this extraverted world I live in. The internet is my main tool of interaction with this noisy, ego-driven place- permitting me to browse along the periphery of the crowds, dipping into thoughts and ideas that I would not normally peruse. In the Actual World, the cognitive noise of extraverts tends to cause me almost physical pain, and I stay well away from things that attract tons of people. In fact, the word ‘attraction’ serves as a warning for me to either avoid such places, or to carefully prepare myself to bail when things get to be too overwhelming to me.
I just read this article about folks like myself, and much of it resonated with me. One thing I sometimes get asked is if I am shy. No, I am not. I do not care about social judgment, or what other people think of me. I’d be unable to function if that were the case. Instead, I prefer to live my life as authentically as possible, permitting people to like (or dislike) me on my own merits. Happily, I’m a relatively humorous, intelligent, articulate person, and get along with all but the most pathologically insecure people. I also do not suffer fools or foolishness gladly, and will not permit such people to give me grief.
It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but already the shops are jingling and moaning with the usual musical treacle that the holidays bring. It’s hard to go into a public retail space without hearing the same tired old chestnuts roasting over their various fires while trying to find new socks. When this happens in September, as it did in one shop I furiously stalked out of, it’s criminal. Dashing through the snow before the trees have even turned should be a criminal offense, with the miscreant companies forced to be wrapped in fake spiderwebs until December 1st.
But I digress. I’ll admit that I dislike 95% of holiday music. Whether it is religious or secular in nature really doesn’t matter- most of it is syrupy drivel stuck in a time-warp that creates a place that never existed- except maybe in a movie or two.