How to get out of a rut

How to get out of a rut

A couple of days ago, I was relistening to an old episode of my podcast that seemed particularly timely, so I decided to repurpose some of the content as a fresh blog post. A lot of us have been in a rut for all or most of the past couple of years, thanks to the pandemic. Lately I’ve been feeling more energized and focused, so I wanted to share some tips for getting back into that mindset for those of you who aren’t quite there yet.

I’ve spent most of the past two years grappling with grief, depression, brain fog, and a total lack of interest in basically anything that used to delight or inspire me. So I’m well aware that there’s no quick fix for getting back to a place where you feel like yourself, and I don’t want anyone to feel bad if nothing in this blog post helps. We’re all on our own schedules, and everyone I know who isn’t devoid of a soul has been struggling with other Big Life Things while trying to survive the weirdest two years of our lives. Alongside the pandemic, I’ve had to contend with the deaths of several people I loved and my father having multiple heart surgeries in 2020 and 2021. Beyond that, I had a separate trauma occur that I wasn’t ready to look directly at for several months after it happened, a major issue with my apartment that lasted a month, and some other fun stuff. So, also, I want to acknowledge that the pandemic is not the only bad thing any of us is dealing with right now.

With that disclaimer, if you’re starting to feel ready to work on something other than survival, here are some things that have worked for me:

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New Year’s Resolutions 2022

New Year’s Resolutions 2022

It has felt impossible to set or achieve goals the past two years. Only in the past couple of months have I felt remotely like the person I was prepandemic, and I’ve decided to celebrate with something I did every year in the Before Times: setting New Year’s Resolutions. Some of these I’ve adapted from my last list in 2020, as Pandi interfered with my ability to achieve them.

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Start here ⬇️

Start here ⬇️

This week, I migrated all the posts from my old blog to this one, and in the process of going through my archives to make sure nothing was amiss, I discovered that, actually, I like a lot of my old writing! So I decided to make a post of posts. It’s like a fund of funds, except I’m not going to come to your Investment Committee meeting and explain what all is in it, I’m just going to share the links below.

Here are a few of my favorite older posts that should give you a sense of whether you’re going to hate-read or love-read this blog:

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How to have a nice life in quarantine, part 1

How to have a nice life in quarantine, part 1

Quar is hell. But does it have to be? Not according to my Instagram, which we all know is a perfect facsimile of real life! Joking aside, though, most of us have spent A LOT of time at home for the better part of a year now, and it’s getting kind of old.

My friend, director Ivy Jelisavac, mentioned that she was interested in reading something about how to have a nice life in quarantine, so I decided to use that as a writing prompt. It’s really hard, all of this—and in different ways for different people—so while I don’t have all the answers, I can tell you what’s worked for me. I’m not going to claim I’m thriving in all of this, but I’m not, like, super miserable, which seems like a victory in these times, which are, as well you know, unprecedented.

This is the first part of a ???-part series (I’ll replace those question marks with a number in the next few weeks). Here are a few ideas to start with:

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5 things I love: Week of January 10

5 things I love: Week of January 10

1. Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

I saw Pizza Girl on a best of 2020 list and knew I’d love it. It reminds me of a Jenny Offill book but with weirder characters and a more-warped plot. I breezed through it and really hope Frazier has another book on the horizon!

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Year of New 2021: Week 1

Year of New 2021: Week 1

I decided at the end of last year that I’d attempt to restart my Year of New project on January 1. I abandoned last year’s attempt pretty early on, even before COVID-19’s impact fully hit the States, as I quickly realized it was feeling more like a chore than a creative outlet.

I sort of feel like I spent the end of 2020 in creative recovery, similar to what Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way aims to do for its students. 202 was a long, hard year where I didn’t feel like doing anything creative. In the last couple of months, however, I could feel this start to change. But instead of launching into something big, I wanted to try a smaller, more incremental endeavor. This led me back to Year of New.

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4 lessons in creativity from Julia Child

4 lessons in creativity from Julia Child

I’ve been in a massive COVID slump lately. While my mood has been up and down since March, I’ve recently found it very hard to remain hopeful for more than an hour at a time. I think it’s finally sinking in just how much longer we’re going to be living this way, and I’ve begun thinking more about the longterm impact this is going to have on my life. For much of quarantine, I’ve been able to deny that this whole thing is in any way traumatizing to me, personally. None of my friends or family members have died of COVID-19, I haven’t lost my job, and for the most part I am very good at being alone.

But knowing that my life, or what I thought was my life, won’t exist for another year or so has implications for the future, and it’s been really hard to shake myself from the idea of finality–that this is the thing that will definitively decide which doors are still open to me, and which are closed. Bleak, right? And aside from not being great for my mental health, that sort of fatalistic thinking serves no actual purpose. If I decide I no longer have options, then what? Do I just give up, accept defeat? Stop trying at anything? Lie down on the floor and scream until there’s an effective vaccine? (This option sounds the best, to be honest.)

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