What feels like eons ago (Thanks for that, 2020), I decided to try a new strategy for dealing with work.  It had been suggested by a couple of my Twitter mutuals, including some of the ones who share my issues with chronic pain.

Text reading "Waking up every morning in 2020 be like" above an image of the kid from the Princess Bride with the words 'Let's see, where were we?' Second frame is the grandfather and the kid with the words 'Oh yes.  The Pit of Despair.'

The suggestion was that I should try giving each day a work-theme.1 That way I would stop trying to accomplish absolutely everything on the running to-do lists all at once, and might have an easier time with things like rest and recuperation and not just working until I fell over.

Whenever I have actually managed to do this and stick with it for at least a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed an upswing in my productivity as well as in my general well-being.  It’s nice to take a day to focus on the posts and the various things that need to be done with them, with maybe some research reading on the side.2  It’s useful to throw as much at the heavier duty house-cleaning as I can in a day – not always the best idea for my physical health, but I do manage to get more done.

Which is the long-winded way of saying it was a very good idea.

Compliance with the new habit, though….  I’ve not been spectacular at managing that.

Especially this year.

I touched on some of the not-so-great coping mechanisms I have in the post-hiatus update – and the protocols I have for trying to do everything at once are really easily triggered by stress or high end pain or…

…and I had thought that one of those things was the reason for having such difficulty going back to the focused days.

Another friend3 suggested/shared a new method of tracking things to me a month or two back.  A method that might help me see patterns in amounts of work/types of work/types of pain/etc…  as long as I managed to stick with it.  It involves stickers.  Which, of course, adds an element of fun4. The hope is that the element of fun will help me stick with it.

That new method started today.

The focus for today was supposed to be reading/writing/audio.  Making Sunday a day of some of the more fun types of work – with some just-for-fun scattered through.5

I had a bit of a rough start.  Pain levels were bad enough that I started to autopilot directly into Do All The Things!  I was into my third cup of tea before I remembered.

I pulled down the new desk calendar journal of Tracking Things With Stickers, opened it up, saw what the day’s focus was supposed to be, and retrieved the binder clip full of posts and teas in progress.

Staring at the first tea post that needed to be written, I realized that it had not, in fact, just been the stress and pain that had been making things more difficult.

It was figuring out whether or not I was going to need to change anything due to the pandemic 6 – especially with the stories of the teas.

They are tales from the before-time.  The 2020 teas are mostly notations in the stack of Tea Journals – the furthest along also have tins in the leaning tower of teas-in-progress.  There will eventually be teas and tea stories that fit into the framework of this year – but they aren’t the ones ready and waiting.7

I think some part of me is still feeling like the normal things are not right for the now.  Especially as I sit here knowing that a combination of ego, power-hunger that pretends to be piety, and greed  is leaving millions of Americans without the lifelines that had been helping them to hang on through the nightmare of Covid.8

And nattering on about the tale of a tea that was inspired by events in the Before Time felt like it might come across as callous or tone-deaf to what is actually going on in the world.9

But, we are still here.  And we are still making tea.  And while it seems like a small frail thing, in the grand scheme of things – I know that our teas bring others joy and easement.  I also know that the stories of the teas are part of that.  I’m pretty sure the sometimes oddly interactive way in which we name the teas is, too.

When I take a step back, away from the pile of anxiety and the seeping sinkholes of worry and… take an objective and honest look at things?  The work of tea, all of it, from the first test cup to the final audio editing to the first time I blend a new tea for someone that doesn’t live here is a large part of how I cope with the rest of it enough to continue to be able to try to help in whatever other ways I can.

We’re almost done with this hellish year.  Where we learned or relearned so many unpleasant things.  A year where one of the mantras seemed to be “I don’t know how to teach you to care about other people.”

Problem is, I’m not expecting a magical aura shift as we head into 2021.

I’m not expecting a sudden end to the callousness or the ineptitude or the doubling down on bad decisions and disproven beliefs because, for some, it is absolutely unbearable to admit they were wrong.

A photo of Octavia Butler above the words "Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.  To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.  To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.  To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery. -Octavia Butler"

None of this is over.  No matter what the memes declare.

Many of the battles we need to fight have barely begun.  Every iota of cope, every moment of calm – we’re going to need every last scrap we can find.

So I will continue to tea.10  And listen.  And hope.  And care.  And help however I can, as I can.

Because despite what this year has shown me about so many of the people in power, both in this country and in others…  Despite what it has shown me about the fear and rage and delusion of such a disconcertingly large segment of the population:

I believe we can be better.  I believe we can do better.

And I want to be here to see that, and I want to be a part of it.

Here’s hoping for progress on that, in the coming year.

Tank Girl sitting on some rocks, cup of tea near to hand, making sure her boots are on solidly.  Thought bubble above her "I can't let things be this way.  We can be wonderful.  We can be magnificent.  We can turn this shit around."
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  1. Or a rest-theme… But I’ve not gotten to a point where i can declare an only-for-rest day.
  2. Sometimes I would even Read or Write for Fun on those particular days.
  3. A lovely human I met back in the Livejournal days… and now that I’ve typed that I feel Really Old. Then again, I could ramble on about muds, too.
  4. Which just put Spoonful of Sugar in my head… but she wasn’t wrong, it can help the medicine go down…
  5. Possibly even work on some of my fiction, depending on my mood and how much needed to be done for DSN. Maybe pick up a book that I want to read for reasons other than adding to the data stores in my head.
  6. And all the other interesting gifts and frills granted by 2020. But that’s another rant, and one I touched on a bit in the previously mentioned post.
  7. Naming a tea can be such a time-consuming process. And the name comes before any of the rest of the writing work, since it is a part of the story.
  8. This was true as of the writing of this post. Thankfully the lifelines have been extended, but not before the traits mentioned caused at least a week hiatus from them.
  9. There’s a part of me that worries about that with this post, too. I’m really hoping that’s just anxiety brain.
  10. I think I’m allowed to use that as a verb, as this point.

2 Replies to “12/28/2020”

  1. Heya! That’s a really good point, to not expect a magical aura shift. We’ll all have to work to push the lunatic fringe back to the fringes, as I wrote in my own end of year blog post. So yeah, tell the anxiety-brain to cool its jets, the whole post is great.

    • *chuckles* Thank you for this. And… yeah. It would be nice if things just cleared at the end of each year, but we are, sadly, not that lucky.

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