Dispatches from the New Year

Hi friends. I hope you all are well. I have just one more week in what is usually my least favorite month of the year. It’s been very chilly this month, which has coincided nicely with half-marathon training. Thankfully, since this is my third winter (!) here in the Midwest, I have since learned concepts of moisture wicking and layering, and have been able to keep somewhat warm. Yesterday’s run was so cold that my legs felt numb as I ran. But it was beautiful and sunny and I enjoyed the scenes from our route, like running by a field of curious (and very smelly) cows. Even though I will never love cold weather, it feels good to be outside with a group of people. I’ve always felt more connected to a place through running and I am looking forward to what this training will bring me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been five years since I’ve actively trained for a race, and getting back into running has been great.

December was rough (cue Alice in Chain’s “Down in a Hole”) but I have mostly crawled out of it and have some good things to look forward to this year. I was just so ready for the holidays to end. Maybe it’s a trait of chronically lonely people, to want a normal schedule with activities rather than putting everything on hold. Post-holidays, I have been keeping busy, both with work (trying to get on new projects and learn new things) and in my personal life. I have Sinfonietta practice every week where I am still struggling with the really high notes (especially music with three and four flats-WHY) but I’m trying very hard to improve my playing.

I am also going to yoga classes almost daily (masked) and that has helped me so much. I was feeling so depressed waking up in the morning and having nowhere to go. For years, I had enjoyed working out at home but now that I’m working from home permanently, I realized I needed to leave my house in the morning and see other people. Now I have yoga classes to get me up really early and have a community that holds me accountable. I love the studio I’ve been attending – it’s only five minutes from my house (which still feels like a luxury after two years in the middle of a corn field). I’ve really enjoyed deepening my yoga practice after six years, too. My goal this year is finally learning how to do Wheel! I’ve always been wary of trying it with my home practice, but I feel more encouraged to do so in a studio.

I’m not one of those people who thinks that exercise cures all mental health issues. It’s just one of the things I’ve been doing that’s been helping me feel better.

The New York Times had a really lovely video on ambiguous loss last month that was really thought-provoking for me. I’ve been beyond privileged to weather the pandemic by working from home, but it’s still undeniable that we are all living through a collective trauma. I realized that I’m still so homesick because that’s what I associate with my pre-pandemic life. We had only been in Indiana for 8 or 9 months when the pandemic hit, and though we were starting to build a routine, it still felt novel in many ways. But my life in Austin represented not only a personal and professional peak but normalcy that I associate with pre-pandemic times, too. I think identifying that will help bring me closure as I work on making Indiana my home.

Which, speaking of home – Husband and I ripped up more of the carpet in the living room during our Christmas break. The hardwood floors underneath are in ROUGH shape. We’ve added some area rugs to cover up the multitude of imperfections for now. After doing some research, we decided we’re going to get the floors professionally refinished. Obviously that will cost money (and I want to wait until after this surge before I bring strangers into my home, if I can help it). We’ve been making progress on the house, at least, in the meantime. I removed the granny curtains in the living room and replaced them – I don’t love the new curtains in the living room, so I’m going to move them upstairs. It’s all an experiment, but we’re taking our time and figuring out what works best for our home with our taste.

I’ve been taking two writing courses this quarter – a poetry and flash fiction/nonfiction course, which has been enjoyable. Why do I write better work in a classroom setting? I need to figure out a way around that, since I can’t keep taking classes forever ($$$$). I do have good news, though – School of PE published my blog about my PE exam experience. It is my first paid gig as a writer!

This blog is already pretty long, so I will end with a list of “Taking Stock” questions from one of my favorite blogs, Meet Me at Mike’s. I hope you are all safe, warm, and content as we move through this new year together.

Taking Stock

Making: I’ve been so uninspired lately, but I’ve been working on a knitted scarf that I keep missing stitches with. My home office is soooo chilly, though, so I think I am inspired to start crafting again to make warm, cozy things!
Getting: Restless! I want to go somewhere soooo badly.
Reading: The Hate U Give. Heartbreaking novel infused with humor and love.
Remembering: Google Photos reminded me it was the five-year-anniversary of the Women’s March several days ago. I looked at the pictures, amazed that everyone was walking around outside in late January with short sleeves.
Listening: I’ve been obsessed with Jessica Pratt lately. This song was my gateway.
Wishing: For normalcy, whatever that means anymore.
Enjoying: Winter birds in my backyard! I put seed out for them everyday. We have juncos, chickadees, Mourning doves, cardinals, and wood peckers! Also greedy squirrels who try to eat all the seed.
Appreciating: This month marks 10 years that Husband and I have been together ❤
Wanting: to refinish these sad floors.
Eating: oatmeal that is rapidly losing its warmth.
Feeling: tired but optimistic.

6 replies »

  1. Enjoyed catching up with you! I hope you do get the floors refinished. We had our downstairs done this year and it was a huge improvement. I didn’t realize how sad they made me until they were redone and look so beautiful. If it helps, it cost around $2k to get three very large rooms and a stairway refinished. They also needed to patch in some new boards where there were holes from radiators etc. And congrats on the writing gig–that’s awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Bonny! I think I will feel so much happier with the house once we get them redone. That seems like a pretty reasonable price for that much space – fingers crossed it is the same here!


  2. Jenny – I so enjoyed your blog and am so impressed at all you manage to do. I agree Austin is the best place I have ever lived but I think if you stay in Indiana long enough it will be home. I never thought I could live in a town as small as Copperas Cove but now I love it. I am still early everywhere I go though because I misjudge how long it takes to get from home to anywhere in town. Congratulations on your long relationship and good luck with your house and all of your endeavors. 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Grandma Pat! I hope it becomes home too. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, it always makes me feel better to hear from people who have gone through it before. Sending all the hugs! ❤


  3. Jen-nay!! I have been thinking about you lately. So good to hear from you. Sounds to me like you are making the most of what life is dishing out. Change is hard. Creating routines is important but living in this constant state of unknowing makes it darn near impossible to get in a groove. Keep on keeping on, Jenny. Do I find it ironic that you are running??? Yes. Yes I do. (run Forrest! Run!)

    Liked by 1 person

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