Jo Club 8/n, “Are you creatively fulfilled?”

Nope!

I’ve been ignoring my blog and newsletter recently. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I do feel like I ran out of things to talk about. I used to have a lot of structure around writing, holding myself accountable by doing challenges and schedules and topics. However, doing this was a double edged sword, as I started to get stressed out over my self-imposed deadlines and drained by thinking of topics weeks, or even months, in advance.

I have recently found myself drawn to writing again. Earlier in quarantine, I kept a hand-written journal that I used to document the weirdness of self-isolation. Over time, it became a gratitude journal, and as the days continued to blend together, I stopped writing in it all together. I think about writing in it again every day, but I frankly don’t even know where it is now, so I don’t write, and then I get sad about not writing.

I even recently cancelled my 1-year subscription to Skillshare because, frankly, I was never using it. As much as I wanted to paint and design and do all of these ambitious creative projects, I could never find the time. If I couldn’t find the time during quarantine, then I probably wasn’t going to find the time ever!

Anyway, I miss writing. Consider this my quarterly note-to-self to start writing again!

Jo Club 7/n, “Do you feel like you’ve found yourself?”

Absolutely not!

One of my friends recently started meditating and asked what benefits I was receiving from my practice. This question was tough because, frankly, I had fallen off the wagon, so I hadn’t felt any effects recently! She did get me thinking about what I do like about meditation, though, and thinking about it made me want to take up a regular meditation practice again.

My usual, go-to answer to her question is that meditation clears my head and, while this is not wrong, there are definitely other effects that I don’t realize until after the fact. One major after effect that is particularly relevant to this question is that meditation has given me a lot of time to think about my life, my choices, and what truly makes me happy. Through this self-reflection, I’ve learned a lot about myself and honestly challenged a lot of my previously-held beliefs.

(I mean that last point in a very serious way – like, in the past few weeks, I’ve started reading the Bible and joining virtual services for a nearby, specifically-chosen Christian church… and actually really, actively enjoying them!)

I will admit that it’s one thing to mentally take stock of your life and know what makes you happy, but actually making the steps to pursue happiness is an entirely different story. As another example, I found that alcohol was causing me a lot more harm than good, but as society opens up little by little, I’m finding that it’s hard to turn down opportunities to see friends while still restraining my drinking, or, ideally, avoiding drinking situations all together.

(That is only one of many, many examples! “Real life” starting up again is testing my boundaries and my ability to navigate social situations again! Ask me if I want to talk about rediscovering my faith with anyone in my real life in person! I don’t, I’m scared of the judgement!)

That being said, the first step to (woo-woo alert) living a completely authentic life is knowing what that completely authentic life looks like, and the first step to knowing what a completely authentic life looks like is to sit down and think about it! So I’m halfway there, right?

Jo Club 5/n, “What brings you a sense of calm?”

Bryan left for a boys’ weekend earlier today and won’t be coming back until Sunday night. Though, over the past year, he’s left for nearly the entire day, we haven’t been completely apart for an entire weekend in… over a year.

On one hand, I’m excited for the alone time. On the other hand, I love having a full day of alone time… that ends with him coming back home. I can’t remember that last time that I slept alone in my own bed! (Is this what codependence looks like???)

In the spirit of independence, I’m trying to find ways to enjoy my alone time! If I don’t have a plan, I often default to mindlessly scrolling on my computer or on my phone, so I happen to have a to-do list of things-I-want-to-do-that-don’t-always-require-Bryan up in my brain already:

  • Cleaning! Chores like putting away clutter, washing the dishes, and wiping up spills sound like a boring way to spend my free time, but having things clean is very! satisfying!
  • Hot pot! I’ve written about it before, and we’re doing it a lot less often these days, but I’ve definitely found comfort in every part of the very predictable yet very tasty hot pot routine – buying the ingredients, one person prepping the food, the other person prepping the hot pot, the aroma of the steamy broth, I could go on! Though I love trying new dishes, it is nice once in a while to know exactly what we’re going to eat (and getting to look forward to it all day!).
  • Taking baths! Granted, these were a lot better in Japan (see: rooftop onsen), but I am glad that I’ve grown to appreciate a good bath and can enjoy one every once in a while. I was scared of them for a long time because of my sensitive skin, but through experimentation I’ve found the right temperature and add-ins that are right for me and my body. (I just wish our tub were deeper!)
  • Stretching! This doesn’t sound particularly calming, and honestly doesn’t feel that way in my body, depending on the day, but like hot pot, the routine is the real star of the show. Through, again, lots of experimentation, I’ve found the exact stretches, foam rolls, and self-massages that really feel good in my body. My muscles might be on fire, but there’s a very specific kind of satisfaction that comes with finding a knot and rolling it away.
  • Going for walks! This is not necessarily related to alone time – I go on walks all the time, sometimes with Bryan – but it’s one habit that I would love to continue into the rest of my life, even after “quarantine” is over. I love exploring different areas of my neighborhood, catching up on my podcasts, soaking up the sun, and getting my heart pumping a little bit. It’s been the perfect way to mentally separate my work day from the rest of my evening. I love a mental cue!