33: Completion is freedom

30: Be the conductor
31: Follow the fear
32: Plant the seeds
33: Completion is freedom

It’s my birthday, which means it’s time for a yearly review and a new theme to carry me forward!

(For previous years’ iterations, see this tag.)

I did indeed plant a lot this last year. Nathan and I got married (it was amazing, I’m so glad we did it, I have no desire to ever do it again, and we still haven’t exactly finished our thank-yous…). I love being married this time, which I expected, but which was also a relief. We went to Iceland for our honeymoon, which I have been describing as “like the moon, with flowers.” We still live in the same wonderful apartment with the same wonderful cat, who got a few teeth out this year, and is a single-fang kitty now.

I started a new role with a new company, and while I am pretty constantly overwhelmed by it, it’s my favorite job ever. I have a supportive team (who are extremely distributed around the globe), and I have the most amazing manager ever. What did it take to get here? It took getting totally fed up, writing a blog post, and sharing it. I mean, I had to do some other things, too, but it was kind of amazing how putting that out in the world really did exactly what I was hoping it’d do. I heard from three people I didn’t know, from companies I hadn’t heard of, and one of them is now my manager. It’s my first remote role, which is part of the overwhelmingness, but I keep finding myself grateful for all the lessons about remote work I learned at my last job. (I had tons of remote coworkers, and we improved our process greatly over time.)

We’re looking for a house (again), which is a bit terrifying in the current market, but unless everything (economically) comes crashing down, this might be our last opportunity to afford something in our neighborhood in Portland (all our close homeowning friends are in this neighborhood, and as a side note/reminder, “homeowner” has the word “meow” in the middle). We have a couple neighbors down the street who bought their houses four and six years ago; the market value on both their homes has about doubled since then. We’ve put in a couple offers which weren’t accepted; one, which was $60+k over asking, was in the middle of a pack of 18. Yipes. And yet. We feel pretty ridiculously fortunate to still be able to chase this dream.

I’ve been having what can most easily be summarized as “health adventures” this year (nothing scary, just frustrating), and my wonderful nurse practitioner suggested I might try seeing a Chinese medicine practitioner. (She’d kind of run out of ideas, and a western specialist she referred me to, after a lot of tests, said the best thing for now is just time.) Said Chinese medicine doctor is the first person who has looked at me without an ounce of surprise through this particular journey. Last week, I summarized this to someone as “western medicine said huh, and eastern medicine said mmm.” I’m taking two herb blends, one in tiny spherical tea pills, one in a foul-tasting powder whose flavor I described as “wrong chocolate,” and getting weekly acupuncture. It is the most positive I’ve felt about my health in a long time.

We’ve continued going to the powerlifting gym (though there was a gym divorce, and we had to pick a gym parent). Newly-split gym is a lot better in most ways, but it’s been much harder for me to track my progress over time. I’m probably better? I certainly have a bunch of muscles I couldn’t see before, which is awesome. I can pick pretty heavy things up. I can give really good piggyback rides to 7 year olds, even up hills or stairs.

I’ve continued building my 750words streak back up (1120 days today!), which feels good. I haven’t been great about writing them in the morning in a while, but I’m still doing them. It continues to be the proof I sometimes need that I can actually stick with things for a long time, even if they require regular effort. I am more likely to write my words than brush my teeth on any given day (and I brush my teeth every day!).

In short, it seems I have, indeed, planted a lot of seeds this year.

There are a lot of spaces in my life right now where I’m disappointed by my own performance, too. I’m not in trouble with anyone, but I know I could do better. I also find myself deeply irritated by the idea that it’s “just impostor syndrome,” and when I hear it, I take it as a signal that someone isn’t actually aware of both my capabilities and my performance. (To be clear, I think there’s a good dose of impostor syndrome going on, too — I just don’t think that’s all.)

In the long interminable space of unemployment, I got a lot better at many things — avoiding cabin fever, setting my own schedule, remembering to eat independent of an outside structure — but since I started my job, a lot of this feels like it’s slipping. I’m respected by my team, but not by myself. My partner’s deeply fond of me, but I’ve been slacking on my end of the bargain. I’m late for everything. I don’t tend to finish projects. I commit to things, then don’t follow through on them. I’m going through the motions, but I’m not pushing things forward. I feel like if I don’t turn my ship around somehow, it’s all going to catch up with me.

I’ve been thinking a lot, too, of how delicately I walk the line between introvert and extrovert. Having all my social contact be up to me (e.g. I have no local coworkers!) has accentuated this in a bigger way than ever before. I cannot be alone all the time — it’s awful — but I get profoundly worn out by being around people constantly for hours (or days, or weeks) on end — it’s awful. May has been social time for weeks on end.

And it’s been hard trying to settle on a theme for the year! I am intrigued by the idea of cultivating a comfort with discomfort. I want to flip “the journey is the destination” on its head, inside out. I am perpetually bothered by the idea of giving 110% percent (or even 100%), but I think I’d be thrilled with 80% or 90%. (Lately it feels more like 30%.)

Ultimately, it feels important right now to be uncomfortable. (I hear a strong echo of 31’s motto here.) I can do that because I’m coming from a place of strength and security. It’s not a dangerous discomfort I’m after — just the willingness to put myself in situations where I might make mistakes or fail (which is still a horrifying thought to me).

There are probably just a lot of ways to get there.

It would make me really uncomfortable to commit to finishing things. That seems valuable. I’m also kind of curious to see what happens.

Let’s do this.