The major thing I wanted to highlight about this past spring is I worked on the Deep Life challenge from Cal Newport. In this you spend one month on four areas of your life to delve deeper into a life that isn’t shallow.
In April, I amplified my contemplation or mental health. I generated a To-Don’t List, something I learned from Margaret Atwood. I think I did fairly well there. I reduced the SPIN/SLIDE victim reactions by countering them with creator language, like rather than Shame counter with Love, rather than Pessimism counter with Optimism, rather than Isolation try to connect with someone else. Rather than No creative or productive outlet, do something productive like put stuff in the dishwasher or take a walk, or meditate. I’m going to focus on this again in September.
In May, I amplified my craft by doing a partial GTD installation at home, that I need to complete because the kids are going back to daycare in August, Meggan received a promotion at her job, and she has her first book coming out!
I’m also transitioning to a higher paying job with more autonomy and less reactivity to always being available over email and such. So for the craft side of things I reduced tv time to know I managed that but I’d like to reduce it further. I’m going to focus on this in August again. I would give myself a C on this challenge. Lots to still do and work on.
In June, I worked on my community. I spoke to a lot of my friends and former colleagues back in New York in what was a hectic time for our family. That went hand in hand with the reducing activity—I only used my phone for communication—no social media, no email, nothing like that except talking on the phone and texting. I would give myself a B on this one this month.
This month, I’m working on my constitution or physical health. I’m walking daily and reading for a bit before returning home. I’ve reduced alcohol consumption to just two days a week. I’m doing okay with this right now but the bar is very low.
I’m going to repeat this cycle over the summer to close loops and improve. Then afterwards I’ll focus on each one over the course of a week and level it up.
That said, this summer sees a lot of things happening:
- The kids are going back to school meaning things are going to be getting crazy with potential spikes in the virus and my new job means meeting with clients face-to-face daily. That means all of us coming back to this house for a time period probably this fall when the students return to IU. That means, staying loose and flexible because we can still get sick at any time.
- I’m transitioning to a deeper job this month, so I’m going to focus on Craft in August to make sure that I’m starting off on a good foot.
- I’m five chapters into the manuscript of the memoir, and halfway through editing the novel, so I’m going to start preparing the query letters, proposals, and other materials for submission to Pitch Wars and to agents.
- I’m also hoping to start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy soon—as soon as I can find a provider that has openings—because there is still a huge gap between intention and impact and learning how best to communicate my needs, and to work by getting started. I don’t have a problem with time management, organization, or task management but I do have a hard time just getting started on something if I’m unsure about the start of the process. This is why this season’s journal has these notes from John Rogers and Cal Newport is my guardian spirit:
That said, it seems like I suffer from something I call Seasonal Resistance Disease. Every change of season: January, May/June, September means I hit a wall and I slow down from the progress I made all season and regress due to transition points. I think this is a strong sign of my Aspergers as that’s been the case since I started teaching. Every season change there seems to be a regression of behavior and progress. Obviously this has got to change, and it’s why I’m trying CBT, because knowing this issue hasn’t changed the fact that it happens every three months.
That’s all for the review of spring. I’ll talk to you all again in the fall where hopefully we’ll be healthy and things will have reached some form of normal, and I’m making progress in CBT. As always my letters will go out weekly, and I’m thinking about doing a weekly thing on Instagram with my marginalia. We’ll see though.
Stay healthy, safe, and wise.
Good morning! That’s the end of our posts for the transition between winter and spring. It is obviously a difficult time. One of the new habits that I’m working on is cultivating more of my Stoic-self to counteract my Aspergers, ADD, Anxiety and Depression. I realize it’s a very white-guy thing to do but it does speak to me and I do think it helps in a wholistic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Way.
Here was March 29’s entry in Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s Daily Stoic: Why Do You Need To Impress These People Anyway?
The irony, as Marcus Aurelius points out repeatedly is that the people whose opinion we covet are not all that great. They’re flawed—they’re distracted and moved by all sorts of silly things themselves. We know this and yet we don’t want to think about it. To quote Fight Club again, “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.”
That’s so true. Do I need all these books, notebooks, paraphernalia to call myself a good father, husband, and writer? Some of them do serve a purpose — a purpose I value—showing my story the way I want. But could I be better? Yes of course. For every book I buy, I should donate one to others. To be a minimalist. To be present with my kids and my wife because I regard this time right now as a gift.
I don’t need all that much to tell my story: just a notebook and a computer. And not even really the latter.
But most of all I’m not writing here to impress anyone. I’m writing here in hopes that what I’ve learned over specific seasons of life will help someone else down the line in their own seasons of life. Who knows if I’m doing it well. It’s not up to me other than putting one word after another, one sentence after another, and so on. That’s the only part I can control.
So here’s what I’m working on this spring:
- Keeping my family safe, healthy, and together.
- Writing the first draft of a novel that I’ve been playing with off and on as an interconnected short story collection that will probably end up being more of a straight-up murder mystery like Winter’s Bone and Before the Fall.
- Solidifying my GTD habits and methods for working from home by using Bear and my Journal.
- Reading the backlog of parenting books I have.
I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy spring, and if you need anything at all (other than monetary and a visit from me)–despite my nickname (Depress)–I’m actually a pretty positive and optimistic person. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
My newsletter will continue to go out weekly (as long as me and my family are healthy). Please note the new url for the letter as I’ve transitioned away from TinyLetter.
Talk to you again this summer.
I’m coloring a donut throwing unicorn robot with Doodlehog crayons.
So, I have something to tell you all.
The daily reality of my life is no longer a fit to blogging; because, well, life with two kids, a busy day-job, and some great writing projects (here are a few loglines) on the horizon makes blogging more of a chore than a joy. So I’ll write posts during the first two weeks of every new season and whatever I end up posting is it. Can’t promise it will be daily.
So it goes.
Here’s what I’m working on this winter:
- Perfecting my GTD process and applying what works to my personal and professional life.
- Writing a memoir
- Then writing a murder-mystery novel similar in vein to Winter’s Bone.
- Engaging in Cal Newport’s Analogue Challenge.
Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have a productive beginning of the New Year. As always, if you want weekly updates from me, my newsletter will still go out weekly.
See you in the spring.
That is all for this season. Apologies in advance for the shorter posts, but I am kind of busy this season. Here’s what I’m working on this fall:
- Adjusting to life as a family with a newborn.
- Reading a lot of first novels that I’m mining as I begin to write my third novel that will hopefully be a breakthrough.
- Editing the novella for (hopefully) publication through one of my favorite independent presses.
- Developing something completely different from comics or novels or nonfiction.
And that’s it for now. As always, you can find me weekly at my newsletter. Be good to one another. Talk to you between Christmas and New Years.