New Year, New Me?

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New Years Resolutions…Nay or Yay? You decide. But honestly I am curious if people actually set new years resolutions and if so do you find yourself being successful? Leave a comment if you have an opinion or experience on new years resolutions. I think new year’s resolutions are a great idea…to a degree. I think it is a great idea to come up with some goals and share them with your loved ones so you are held more accountable but making up goals for the sake of making up goals is counterproductive. I personally am not setting New Year’s resolutions this year, however, I AM setting realistic and timely goals.

I want to lose weight, however, being fit is more important than the number on the scale so I have set a reasonable and doctor suggested goal of working out three times a week at the local gym I joined. I hold myself accountable by tracking the days I go on a calendar and ensuring I go three times the current week I am tracking. This motivates me because with each day I mark with a check mark for having gone to the gym  I feel as though I have accomplished something. Consistency is key so I try not to overwhelm myself with strenuous work outs each time I go and focus more on actually going in general. That being said, I do currently keep a fitness journal where I track each exercise and how many minutes or reps I do of each one. It challenges me to maintain that workout the next time or even strive to improve it. If I am having a hard week for motivation, I allow myself one freebie workout where I go free form and just explore the gym and try new machines without the added pressure of tracking it and just write in my journal that I went to the gym that day. The important thing is going and getting yourself in the space and I find the rest falls into place.

The second goal I have is to manage my money better and start growing savings. My entire life I have never been able to save or manage my money properly. I tend to blow it as soon as I get it and I wish I was exaggerating. My first step in this process –  I have already begun  – is to track my money and understand better what I am spending my money on. Of course tracking my money did not stop me blowing my entire budget for January in two weeks, again wish I was kidding but I am not. However, I am making strategies for February and the following months to make my money stretch and have decided as of March I will be attempting to put away $200 a month into savings. Why March? Because February I have a trip to Toronto planned and am being realistic as to what I can do with my money as someone who is new to this whole “watching her money” thing.

My third goal is to volunteer somewhere this year and somewhere different than my previous place I volunteered at which was the Cat Adoption Center. I have already reached out to the local Food Bank and have arranged a meeting with the coordinator Monday to discuss me spending my time there as a volunteer. I want to build my resume but more importantly I want to contribute to something bigger than me so I can feel like I am offering something to the community instead of being a waste of space. Sometimes being on disability can make you feel worthless when you have too much time on your hands and battle with depressing thoughts often. I need a distraction and a reason to get up in the morning and I hope this will provide that.

My fourth goal is to quit smoking for real this year. I say it every year and never do it. I am going to use NRT products and go to counseling until I break this habit for good. I fall trap to all or nothing thinking though which I know I need to work on. I often think “what’s the point of quitting if say 8 months down the road I smoke a cigarette and then this cycle of quitting starts all over and those 8 months were for naught.” I realize I am making excuses and the worse one is “YOLO!” I want to live a longer and healthier life and the fact is I need to start taking steps today to make that a reality, including and especially quitting smoking.

My final goal I am going to discuss here is one my readers have heard before. I am going to set time aside each day to mind map, write and research for the book I want to write on my life with bipolar disorder. I think I am finally motivated enough and inspired enough to set aside at minimum an hour a day to work on this project. My biggest set back was thinking I would never be able to. The mind cannot create what it believes it cannot. Your mind needs to believe something is possible in order for it to be achieved. I finally got out of this mind trap and now believe in my ability to do this – it may have taken a self help book and a TED Talk to do it, but regardless of how I changed this thought process around, it is changed.

New Year, New Me? I have good intentions but I understand that may not be enough so I wrote this blog post about my goals this year in order to hold myself more accountable and reflect on why I am setting them. The fact is I am in a deep rut and have been for a few years now. I am finally willing to pick up the pieces of me off the floor and try at life again. I have not truly been living to the best of my ability and I know that. I am just finally calling myself out on it.

New Years Resolutions – Nay or Yay? – Let me Know!

 

Fantastic Mistakes

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In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Why does this matter to you or me? Well maybe it matters less to you and more to me because I found a hard copy of this speech also referred to as “The Make Good Art Speech” at the local library and it has inspired me to finally take on what I think I was meant to do in this world – write a book about my experiences with manic depression a.k.a. bipolar disorder.

The picture that I have included in the beginning of this blog post is a snapshot of a page out of the text as envisioned by Graphic designer Chip Kidd. It is a snapshot of the words that have sent me on this new quest and with a new vision for my life. They are as follows: “If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.” I have had a strong sense that I was blessed with the skill of writing and bipolar disorder so I may write about it and make people struggling with their mental health feel less alone. Since I was a child, I always envisioned writing a book and becoming a novelist so much so I wrote a letter of my intent to my favourite author at the time and she wrote back! encouraging me. Ideas for my novel have come and gone and have evolved into entirely different ideas over the years. However, ever since my psychosis I have held onto the idea of writing about my experiences with it. This is the one idea that has stayed in my mind the longest and is still prevalent.

Seeing these words, “then just go and do that.” It never occurred to me to just start writing and see where I and my idea end up. I feel as though it was by divine intervention that I came across this speech just as I have been faltering and procrastinating my idea. I struggle with the questions of how to write this book and in which way it will be organized but I believe these answers will come when the time is right and for now I just need to start working on content, no matter how disorganized it may come out. I have always wanted to help somebody with my writing and I do believe I was put on this earth with some intent. My life has some kind of bigger meaning than I think I realize and this may be it…not to get too carried away or spiritual here. But I do believe everyone has a purpose and I think it’s due time I began creating mine.

In the beginning of his speech writer Neil Gaiman says “I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along…” Even just reading those words at the very entry point to his speech, something dawned on me. I have been avoiding writing my story because I am afraid I will write it poorly or that it will be poorly received. However, I am missing the point of writing and its very nature which is that the only way to become a better writer is to write, write and then write some more. Nobody ever just wrote one draft of something and was content. You have to edit, edit, then edit some more. Revise, revise, revise. I need to simply put pen to paper and begin somewhere and stop dwelling on what it will end up being. The process is just as important as the end product. I just had to remind myself or rather be reminded by Gaiman that writing is my passion and that I DO enjoy the process, hell, I even enjoy revising.

As for what it will become? Nobody not even me can be sure. Maybe someone will publish it or maybe they won’t. Maybe I’ll self-publish or release it in a series of blog posts. Again, time will tell and I do not have to have all the answers right at this moment. But I do owe it to myself to try for fear of failure cannot have the last word…not anymore.

Gaiman also mentions in his speech that he tried never to do anything purely for the money but because he wanted to create something into existence and to be proud of his work and time spent: “The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality, have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.” The reality is I love writing and I love writing what I know and I definitely know my intimate experience and struggle with bipolar disorder. I think I am scared to start writing my memoirs because I am afraid nothing will come of it but after reading these words I realized the experience of writing in itself is worth it to me. So as of today I will be setting some time apart to write about my life and more specifically my cycles of bipolar – from mania, to depression, to psychosis, to mania, and back again because I know deep down that I am worth it. And I owe it to myself to try.

Stay Tuned for more posts and updates from BiPolarMania.

Where’s My F**king Unicorn?

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I recently went to the local Chapters bookstore to seek guidance on my never ending quest for answers. I purchased four self-help books and for simplicity’s sake I am going to address only one in this blog post and that is Michelle Gordon’s “Where’s My F**king Unicorn? – A Guide to Life, Your Unicorn & Everything.” I am going to be honest here and admit I regretted purchasing this book at first until it dawned on me I had never taken the time to figure out “What?” let alone “Where?” is my unicorn.

Now you’re probably confused as to what the hell I am talking about unless you too have of course read the book. Why on earth are you talking about mythical creatures? And what do they have to do with improving my life? Gordon explains in this text how everyone’s unicorn is different and illustrates this point by describing what her unicorn is: “My unicorn is living life as an author. A writer. My unicorn is being able to afford to write books as well as eat and keep a roof over my head” (Gordon 9).

Your unicorn or unicorns are your aspirations in life. These will change over time, for instance, your unicorn at age 7 will most likely be drastically different from your unicorn at say 27. Gordon raises a valid point in her book: “One of the biggest reasons why people don’t change their lives is that they have no idea what their unicorn is. They haven’t defined it. How can you find something if you don’t know what it looks like, feels like, smells like or sounds like?” (Gordon 10).

I realized I had not defined my unicorn in years, not since my mental health deteriorated to the point I was trying to simply survive. I had no aspirations or goals or ideas of where I wanted my life to be heading, not since being in University. I, however, have now been stable for a few years and am slowly recovering the ground I lost. Through this process of recovery, I have come to realize that I need to once again set goals for myself and chase that damn Unicorn. But what is my Unicorn?

My unicorn (and I am terrified to say it/type it out loud) is to write an autobiography on my life and struggles with bipolar disorder. I am terrified to say it out loud because then it becomes real. It is no longer an idea floating in my head but rather an intent, a call to action. I am fucking terrified of my unicorn because of a medley of fears such as “Am I qualified to write an autobiography? How will I market it? What happens if I invest all my time and effort into this project only for it to fail? What if nobody reads it?” and so on, and so on, and so on. You get the point.

This is the beauty of stating my unicorn, I can now work towards finding it. One good tip Gordon suggests is to “Get Off The Merry – Go – Round” so to speak and step outside our comfort zones (an excerpt from this section is pictured below as it appears in the book).

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I have definitely been in a rut and avoiding tackling finding my unicorn because I believe I will never find my unicorn but I know that’s just my fear talking. I have been avoiding writing my memoir due to several fears and one being that I will never finish it if I start it. I realize this is some serious fucked up logic. I resonated when Gordon said that breaking this cycle for her “was realizing that I didn’t want to get to the end of ANOTHER year and find myself in the exact same place” (Gordon 31). I want to as Gordon says “evolve, grow, change” (Gordon 31).

So How will I find my unicorn? Thanks to Gordon, I have a starting point with this book which was helpful enough to reference NaNoWriMo, the movement that encourages you to write a book in a month. All you have to do is write 1, 667 words a day for 30 days. I have decided to take on this endeavor and attempt to bang out my memoir in apparently 30 days. I am not delusional, I may sit there some day’s with writer’s block or come to hate half of what I have written but I can at least try to put myself out of my comfort zone and focus my energy on creating something. The result could end up being  truly beautiful.

Would I recommend this book?

Abso-fuckinglutely.