“it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… and i’m feeling good”

 

when i kicked off my little writing project in september, i focused on getting myself to write a little bit every day. i started strong and it felt pretty damn good. the problem was that it just wasn’t… scalable. it was tough to set aside time every single day. and when i missed a day (or two), it was much harder to come back.

and really, it was much harder to want to come back. i’d made writing a chore rather than just allowing myself more time to focus on doing what i love.

at the same time, i tried to read a little every day, and workout, and eat paleo.

overachiever, i know.

and so, i failed. at all of it.

but we saw that coming, right? i tried to change—overnight.

as i failed at each of these things, there was something i wrote in my journal entries:

“but tomorrow is a new day. it always is.”

and it was true. it still is.

so in the spirit of chinese new year, i’m starting over.

for me, this new year is all about progress and productivity. so i’m going to start each week with a simple to-do list—two or three realistic items that can (and should) be done each week. and if i don’t happen to complete it in that week,
i’ll just roll it over to the next week.

so, like for this first week…

week one

  • bring pants to get altered
  • pack one box for salvation army
  • buy storage bins for basement
  • read a book

the goal is to be able to walk into 2018 looking back and saying, “damn, i did all that.”

which, let’s be honest, is a huge improvement from 2017’s “damn, wtf?”

let’s just see where the year takes us, eh?

“i wrote my way out… when the world turned its back on me, i was up against the wall… i had no foundation, no friends and no family to catch my fall”

 

it’s the eve of chinese new year and i’m spending some time reflecting… not necessarily on the last year, but on life.

it’s no question that the last year was a challenge, but just as i begun to think that the year couldn’t get worse, i found myself feeling the darkest moments of it in its final weeks.

in september, i started an exercise to force myself to write again, and on a daily basis—some of it, i eventually posted here, but most of it is in a journal. it started out really cathartic—encouraging me to deal with feelings i’d otherwise suppressed. but it quickly started to unearth feelings i didn’t realize i was having. and much of it quickly broke me.

i’ve since stopped journaling. it was too… exposing.

but in the spirit of the new year, i’ve been reading through my entries. and on september 28th, i wrote words i’d never imagined i’d think much less write out…

“if i’m not an auntie, who or what am i?”

between my two brothers, i have nine nieces and nephews. as if that weren’t plenty, when you also take into consideration the children of my cousins and friends, i have A LOT of nieces and nephews. while i’ve never really been keen on having kids of my own, i loved, loved, LOVED being an auntie. and everyone would tell you i was the best damn auntie they’d ever known. that was my thing.

the problem with this was that i’d lost myself in the process. who knows exactly at what point that happened, but it became very obvious this past year.

there was an incident that happened within my family last year—and i’m not going to talk about the incident itself so as to protect the privacy of the kids involved—but it occurred “under my watch“, so to speak. to be clear, i didn’t know it happened until a week or so after the fact. still, there’s no question the amount of guilt i felt just thinking that maybe if i’d done anything differently at that time, that i could have prevented it.

it didn’t matter.

because as soon as word spread about what happened, i wasn’t anything more than an auntie—and a bad one at that.

it’s as though i just ceased to exist…

as a daughter,
a sister,
a cousin,
a niece,
a friend.

everyone just disappeared. and i was made an enemy.

all of a sudden, i was the one they distanced themselves from. i’m the one they stopped talking to. i’m the one they blocked or unfriended/unfollowed on social media.

just like that.

after being the one who only ever tried to help. after being the one who would listen at any hours of the day. after being the one who, without hesitation, spent time, effort, and money. after loving unconditionally.

only to be met with conditions.

and so, as hard as it was, i spent the following months learning how to love myself first—to not take for granted the qualities that made me the auntie i was and to be proud to be that… person.

maybe i’m not the world’s greatest auntie anymore. maybe those days have come to an end. but i’m a damn good… person.

and as we enter a new year, i am embracing her.

and i sure as hell won’t apologize for it.

happy new year, y’all.

“i think it’s time to kill for our women… time to heal our women… be real to our women”

 

today marked a historic and amazing day for our country. for our country’s women. actually, even for women all around the world—hundreds of countries and millions of people supporting the fight for women’s rights. still. in 2017.

and i spent the entire weekend at home, feeling almost hypocritical—feeling like less of a woman because i wasn’t out there. because i didn’t physically participate in any of the nearby marches.

there were many reasons i didn’t go, some of them more solid than others, but as i watched highlights from many of the events (through social media, mostly), i was so proud to be a woman. and even though i didn’t “represent” for women today, i’ll have to tomorrow. and the day after. and the ones after that for as long as i’m alive.

but i’m excited to do that more than ever. because it matters. because it affects me. because it affects you.

shout-out to all the women who represented in some way, shape, or form today.

this was not just an event. this is a lifestyle.

“i’ve been thinkin bout you… do you think about me still… or do you not think so far ahead”

 

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

i’ve always considered myself a realist. and by no means do i profess that in a proud way… not 100% of the time anyway.

like ralph waldo emerson implies, realists are deliberate. we’re intentional. we like to influence (read: control) what happens. we don’t believe in leaving things to chance or fate. things happen because we made them happen.

realists are pessimists. we fear the unknown. we lack romance and whimsy. we over analyze. we don’t take risks. we’re always calculating the next step and can completely miss what’s in front of us.

but recently, and mostly due to a few experiences with friends of mine, i’ve found myself questioning the idea of ‘signs’—serendipity, if you will.

someone i know has been crossing my mind a whole lot lately… as a result (i think) of ‘signs’. for example:

  • frequent dreams with them in it
  • seeing/hearing their name and initials everywhere
  • realizing that for the last 4 years, i’ve been staring at their face 5 days out of the week but have only noticed now
  • getting lost and finding myself at places i’d been with them
  • …and at least 4 other (and more specific) instances that i actually can’t describe without exposing the person. ha.

for the first few weeks, i didn’t think much of it. a couple of my (female) friends were with me when these things occurred, and they insisted they were ‘signs’. (and yes, i specified the gender of my friends because i do think this is a thought process that women typically inherit over men. sorry.) my natural instinct did not follow suit—i just don’t really overthink things like this. and when i say ‘like this’, i actually just mean positive things. because i sure as hell overthink negative things. anyway, at most, i was concerned that some of these were signs to check-in on this person… just to make sure they were okay. as though these were just reminders for me to be a friend. (because we are… friends.)

as the weeks went on, i’d find myself just furiously shaking my head—as though to (literally) get out all distracting ideas that these were ‘signs’ at all. it was all coincidence. right?… right?

but it’s been months now. every. freaking. day. for MONTHS.

i’ve told myself on several occasions (and out loud) to “get it together, gemma”.

this is not like me.
this is foreign.
this is terrifying.

thankfully, this year is all about letting go of control—letting go of myself a little.

so we’ll let this play out at the pace it’s intended to. it doesn’t need to mean anything. but if it does, i don’t need to know what it means right now. shit, i’m not ready to know what it means right now.

but hey, look at me—not completely disbelieving in ‘signs’ and shit. welcome to 2017.

“always lying nonstop… always disrespectful… you was stuck on bullshit… i was stuck on potential”

 

happy. fucking. new. year.

like many, i waited anxiously for 2016 to wrap up. it was a tough year for a lot of people—i get it.

i’ve been hopeful. i’ve been excited.

but four days into the new year and people are still… whiny.

i mean, i understand that nothing changes overnight. i know that change is a process. i know that the problems that were still looming on december 31st didn’t disappear after the countdown.

but the start of a new year is full of opportunities—fresh perspectives, new ideas, clean slates.

…new attitudes.

admittedly, i have trouble with things i can’t control. it’s just my nature. when life throws curve balls i’m not ready for, i struggle. but i do try to focus on one simple idea:

“what we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
― john lubbock

essentially, while we can’t control what happens, we can control how we deal with it. so buck up, people. don’t get “stuck on bullshit“, get “stuck on potential“.

even more, surround yourself with it. make sure the company you keep and the people you spend your time with are present and have intentions of pouring love and positivity into your life. comisery is a real thing—let people lift you up and not bring you down.

there’s good out there—look for it. and when you find it, embrace it.

on that note, here are seventeen of my wishes for ’17:

  1. buy a freestanding heavy bag (and use it)
  2. get the leak under my kitchen sink fixed
  3. visit my family in hawaii
  4. buy a new car
  5. don’t “lend” anyone money 😛
  6. take a trip by myself (to a place that’s NOT chicago)
  7. put a stamp in my passport
  8. annual physical shows my lifestyle changes have helped
  9. don’t have to buy a single item of clothing this year that is a larger size 😉
  10. leave pandora’s box shut 😕
  11. let go of regrets
  12. take (at least) one risk i wouldn’t have in 2016
  13. make up with my brother
  14. take drum lessons
  15. see a broadway show in NYC
  16. do more of what makes me happy
  17. keep writing (for my blog and… my side project)