Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pen and Ink

(Originally posted to the Goulet Nation Facebook group)

I woke up this morning after a melancholy sort of dream, and the first thing I did was reach for my notebook and a pen and start writing about it, since I didn't want to bother the person I normally talk to about the subject matter of my dream. (Not getting into it. Complicated and emotional.)

And I realized how much getting into fountain pens has changed my relationship with journalling.

I used to write in journals a lot as a kid/young adult (kids keeping diaries, that sort of thing, and also, this was pre-Internet), but that tapered off and I started getting into blogging. But blogging for me is not the same as journalling, because of course, I don't want to share EVERY single thought with the entire Internet. So it's like, either I share with EVERYONE, or I share with no one.

About a year ago, I started getting really into Bullet Journalling, and that brought me back to my pen-and-paper habit, and I was more so into the planning aspect, but at the same time, I did like lettering and doodling.

But... and I feel like this is fairly common?... I still had this hang-up about notebooks. Like, I LOVE the possibilities of a blank notebook, but I often feel like anything I could possibly say (as well as my sometimes messy handwriting) "sullies" the page somehow. Like, I think of all the beautiful handwritten letters and journals of historical figures saying profound things, and I'm like, "No way can I do that!" and so I get writer's block when it comes to beautiful notebooks and journals. I love to buy notebooks, but I totally freeze up when it's time to write in them.

So, I have a couple Leuchtturms that I started to set up for bullet journalling, but then decided not to, and so they've been sitting on my shelf, "ruined" because they are no longer "perfect." I decided this year to take one and just use it as a scribble book--I'm really into brush lettering, and sometimes it just helps to have pages where I can practice words or do ink swatches or whatever. (And I like the dot grid and smoothness of the paper. It's my favorite paper.) If the book is already "ruined," it's no big deal if I just keep doing random scribbles and messes, right?

And then I started getting into fountain pens, so now that I have a bunch, I'm just constantly practicing with the flex nibs, drawing lines, etc. Just doing whatever. Writing down notes and quotes. Just ANYTHING, to play with my pens and ink.

Lo and behold, writing down "just anything" started to turn into writing down my thoughts and feelings at the moment. And this messy, random, ink-stained scribble book has become my journal, and I have found that I can never leave home without it.

And I know this would NOT have happened if I had selected a pristine notebook and been like, "I AM GOING TO START JOURNALLING NOW." Because I've tried that so many times, and I feel like I couldn't live up to the weight of my expectations.

But this messy-AF notebook has become my lifeline. And I really think that it was me getting into fountain pens that brought journalling back into my life.

All this to say, Thank you, Goulet Pens and Goulet Nation, for giving me back something that my life was missing. Thanks for reading if you made it this far <3

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brick by brick

We're into the final push towards the Oregon Outlaw Open, and I can definitely say that I'm feeling anxious and amped up while at the same time feeling completely exhausted.

It's been a while since I've trained THIS much and this hard. I'm the first to admit that one of my flaws is lack of discipline and consistency, and that's something I've worked particularly hard at this time around--just showing up and doing the entire workout. (I also have no special love for accessory work, you should know.) Like, I know it doesn't look like much on the surface, but for me, internally, it's been hard making sure that I prioritize my training so that no matter what, I'm going in and giving my best effort three days a week.

When I initially signed up for this meet in December, I recall very specifically telling Jeron (my coach) not to let me bail, because last year I signed up for a meet and just couldn't stick to training, and I didn't want that to happen this time. I know myself--I'm great at making plans, but not as good at seeing them through. And because he's, like, the best coach ever, he didn't let me bail, and called me out (in a supportive, encouraging way!) when I really needed it, and that talk made a big difference to me, because from that point on, I showed up and did everything.

Ergo, the weekly grind of lifting. Putting in the work. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it really IS a grind (but the people I lift with are awesome and I enjoy their company, so it doesn't feel so bad). In between workouts, I'm trying to sleep enough, eat better, hydrate more. Day by day. Brick by brick.

It's not any one day of training that will make or break my meet performance. It's the foundation I create, the habits I build, that will determine success or failure. That's my major take-away from this training cycle--a PR would be nice; a record would be great; a WIN would be spectacular. But the small victories count too--in the last week or so, I've had bad physical health days, and I've had bad mental health days, and I think it really means something that I showed up anyway. In the past, I would let myself off the hook and stay home for the slightest discomfort, instead of finding a way to make it work. Last week, I was sitting around feeling really sad and unmotivated and tired, and it would've been so easy for me just to stay home and wallow, but I got up and went anyway. I didn't even give myself the option to stay; I just went.

Yesterday, I had a wicked sinus headache going on and off throughout the day, and all I wanted to do was take a nap, but Mondays are my busiest work day, and I had barely any time to breathe before I had to pack up and head to the gym. I was feeling pretty rotten, but I went anyway. NO QUESTION. And I did this:

And yeah, in between singles, I was sitting there massaging the bridge of my nose. My lifts felt great, but in between, I was trying not to hurl. But seeing some payoff for the work I've been putting in really helped a lot. I'm still nervous and anxious, but dammit, I'm EXCITED. And I'm proud, not just because I hit a really big number, but because I know all the exhaustion and time spent is paying off in a very tangible way and because if I can get through all this training, then I think I will come out of this mentally stronger too.

Two and a half more weeks to go. No rest for the weary.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

In a world of my own

I keep wishing it could be that way
Because my world would be a wonderland
When Jolie was much younger, and devouring every Disney movie she could, I used to sing the White Rabbit's song from Alice in Wonderland to her to make her laugh. You know, "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!"? That one.

Unfortunately, the White Rabbit's refrain has ended up being more like my life story at times--I feel like I am constantly rushing from one thing to the next (usually late), without a moment to "say hello, GOODBYE!" because I just have too much to do. I mean, adulting sucks.

I recently mused on Facebook that I wish I didn't have to work, not because I want to just sit around and do nothing (although, there are definitely times when that's a great idea), but because there's so much that I want to do and learn in my life. Unfortunately, time and money are always constraints--I have to work to make money, but then I don't have time to really pursue the things that excite my curiosity, because I have to prioritize work. I mean, the closest I get is my summer vacation, when I at least have some time to recharge, but what teacher ever really turns off teacher mode? I always ended up spending at least half my summer lesson planning, attending seminars, and just generally keeping an eye out for ideas and resources I could share with my students. It's never REALLY a break, you have to understand.

What would I do, if I had all my time to myself and money were no object? Besides improving upon my current hobbies (powerlifting, knitting, brush lettering, reading, etc.):

  • I've always really wanted to learn how to sew my own clothes. Sure, I knew how to use a sewing machine once, but it was such a learning curve for me that I'm not sure when I'd be ready to jump into it again. And as any artist or crafter knows, building up your stash of supplies and materials is important.
  • I'm not literate in Vietnamese. In fact, I can barely even speak much of it now, since my chances to use it are few and far between. I want to fully become bi-literate. (Is that a word?) 
  • And once I've reached some sort of fluency in my home language, I want to learn other languages too. (Can you imagine how exponentially my library would increase once I start getting into foreign-language books???? *hearteyes*)
  • I've started getting really into drawing and painting (and general mixed media art) lately, and I want to get better at it. I would love to take classes. I would love to just spend more time making art, no matter how bad it is. I've started keeping an art journal, and the time that I spend sketching and painting just makes me super happy. PS--I've also really gotten into fountain pens, so I've been hand-writing like, basically everything. 
  • I don't know if I will ever be able to run again, but I'd like to at least get back to walking. And it's not like I can't do that now, but again, other things always seem to take priority, and before I know it, another day has passed without me even touching my treadmill.
  • There are so many places in Portland alone, let alone the entire Pacific Northwest, let alone the entire WORLD, that I've never visited. I mean, god, the various places to eat, just by themselves, would take days and days :)
  • Speaking of food, I would love to do cooking and baking classes. There's a place called Collective Kitchen near me that has awesome classes (including a knife skills class) that I am looking into, but again... time. And money.
  • I would actually like to see my friends! I have a hard enough time as it is, handling person-to-person interaction (because I am horribly awkward), but that's why I need more of it, right? 
  • I have recently gotten into archery (I've gone shooting a couple times), and I really enjoy it! 
  • Also, just... blogging more. Not going for months between blog posts :)
So yeah, this is just a short list of whatever I could come up with off the top of my head at the moment, but wouldn't it be great if we could use our time to pursue our passions and push ourselves to our full intellectual, creative, and physical potentials, instead of being stressed out to the max by our jobs and worrying about how we'll survive? Wouldn't it be great not to need an alarm clock in the morning? Wouldn't it be wonderful to wield the full force of our own time and our own choices to try to put some good back into this world instead of having to push that off because we have to handle our own needs first? 

What would YOU do?