Pre-Planning GHDR 2017—Reflecting on My Resolutions-To-Be

Happy Sunday, everyone. January’s almost over, and that means it’s resolution time! Well, almost: for the 3rd year in a row, I’ll be using Groundhog Day Resolutions to keep myself focused and accountable to my priorities and goals. (You can see all my past Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.)

For those who don’t know about it, Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR) are a system created by Dave Seah to track work done and insights realized in a few focus areas over the course of a year. It’s a great system that helps my ADHD brain a lot, and serves as a good record of effort and discovery. The basics of GHDR are to set 3 focus areas, define them, think about the kind of work that is measurable proof of effort in each area, track tasks done, write reflections and insights, and blog a review each month. Goals are set on Groundhog Day, the 2nd of February, and then a GHDR Review post goes up (ideally) on the 3rd of March, the 4th of April, the 5th of May, and so on, with the last post going out on 12 December.

This means that, in less than a week, I’ll be setting 3 big areas of focus in my life, thinking of actionable items and desired outcomes for each, and posting about it here on the blog. I’ve been percolating a few ideas for focus areas since late December, and now I have to narrow it down to 3. Here’s what I have so far:

  • self-care & self-compassion: this has been on the list the last two years, and will almost definitely stay on this year
  • possible self-care subgoals: build a meditation practice, build healthy habits, read more for fun
  • learning new things: another goal from last year, but it ended up not quite suiting my needs or fulfilling the vision I had for it; if it stays on, it will definitely be overhauled
  • building discipline, aka finish what I start: big things happening in my life this year, starting with McNair and ending  with grad school applications next winter, so this will be an important component of my life this year… but should it be a GHDR? more thought needed
  • ask for help/utilize the resources I have: I have wonderful supportive community and lots of folks willing to help when I need it or who have ideas and resources they could share when I’m stuck, but I’m bad at asking for help when I need it
  • sharing my journey: I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a category here on the site titled ADHD2PhD to collect resources, share my thoughts and process, and create some community around grad school for folks with ADHD; I plan to blog about it a lot this year, and this seemed like a fun little idea
  • creating sustainable communities/creative community building: I’ve been getting more and more reclusive over the last two years, and I have so much on my plate that this won’t likely change much, so I need to think about how to keep in touch with folks, how to support and be supported by community, and how to fit my life into the larger picture; the US is a bit of a mess right now, and that will impact my life and my loved ones, for example, so I need to be ready for that
  • seek collaborations: some of the work I do is all me, but I do love sharing work and collaborating on projects, and I would love to do some small, fun things with other folks this year to decompress

Some of these are a little redundant, and none of them are in their final form yet, obviously, but thinking about it is helping me clarify what I want out of my life and how I want to feel. By this Thursday I will narrow the list and write my first GHDR post of the 2017 cycle. I love the first and last posts of each cycle: the February post is shiny and new, with all the excitement and vision I have for the year, while the December post helps me stop and take stock of all the amazing things I accomplished and the things I learned about myself and the world around me.

But the stuff in between is vitally important, as well. It feels authentic to me, to share my process here; not just the highs, but the lows as well. My moments of failure and struggle are as important a part of who I am as my moments of triumph and strength. By checking in with my resolutions every month, I can recalibrate, figure out what needs to change, and let go of what can’t be carried forward. I can challenge myself and my community to grow. It’s an important time for reflection in my life, and I value it for that. It keeps me real.

I’ve been thinking about what I want my blog to be and do this year. I want to add more posts regularly, and build more community here, to make the blog less about just me and more about other folks. I want to include some guest blog posts, some more resources, and get others involved here. At the same time, GHDR posts are important for me, so they’ll remain an important part of this blog. The rest depends on time and energy—I’m excited to see what this year becomes.

See you Thursday!

 

How about you: do you have a process to keep track of progress and hold yourself accountable to your goals for the year? What works for you?

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Farewell, 2016—2017, Here I Come!

And another year ends. Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to 2017 since I got the news about being chosen for the McNair Program, which is likely a sign that I’m a huge nerd. Luckily, y’all already knew that, right?

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since my last blog post, what with packing all of my stuff up and flying halfway around the world, swapping my summer wear for winter stuff, and figuring out my housing situation. I got an email from the school about maxing out my credits and losing my financial aid, and had to submit a petition to have my max enrollment pushed up, so that I can take these last few terms and complete the McNair program. I had a bit of a panic over it, but am very glad to say that it’s all been sorted out now.

Aside from the amazing opportunity that the McNair program offers in preparing for graduate school, I’m also excited for 2017 because I will finally be graduating, G-d willing. In the last year or so, I’ve gotten really tired of being an undergraduate student. I feel as though upper division courses, and graduate level courses especially, are more academically rigorous, and I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve been feeling frustrated and disappointed in lower division classes this past couple of years, wanting more out of them.

Along with this frustration, I also struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I’m glad to finally have solid goals and clarity on what I want to do with my life, long-term, but I struggle to avoid the trap plaguing many folks my age: the sense that I should have already been done with this part. I took a couple years off to work, and then changed my major a couple of times, and I’m finally going to be finished, which is a huge relief, but I still feel like I should be further along in life. Probably related to my ongoing battle with impostor syndrome; I am well aware that I will always be the first person to downplay my accomplishments. I’ve been working on combating this with various lists and such in my bullet journal, and I have two separate blog posts planned for next year to show y’all some of the tools I’ve been using; I hope you’ll check out those posts when they come out.

Overall, despite the losses and struggles I’ve faced this year, 2016 hasn’t been unkind to me. I don’t know how or why, but it felt less terrible and hard than 2015, and much less so than 2014. Perhaps it’s because I am used to my disability now, and have taken steps to protect and care for myself. Perhaps it’s the amazing healing I did in Ghana, and getting outside the US for a time. Perhaps it’s because I have a tangible set of goals for the next 12 months, and I know that I’ll be closing one chapter—my undergrad career—and preparing to open another in whichever graduate program accepts me.

Whatever the reason, I want to thank you, my beautiful community, for being there with and for me, throughout the year. I feel truly blessed to have you all in my life, and I wish for us all a 2017 at least as good as 2016 was to me. I wish you as loving and supportive a community as I have found. I wish us all the strength to accept grace from others, and to give grace to ourselves and our loved ones. I wish healing for the hurts and protection from the hateful. I wish us creative success and emotional uplift. I wish us peace and joy and a better world.

Happy new year.

#BoycottBlackFriday By Supporting Marginalized Communities

The holiday season is hard for a lot of folks. With the recent push to #BoycottBlackFriday, I wanted to provide a list of places folks can spend their money and know the funds go directly to supporting marginalized communities. Some of these are fundraisers, and some are small, individually-run businesses that could use a boost this holiday season. These are all queer and trans, Black, Indigenous and people of color, sick and disabled, or otherwise marginalized people. Some don’t have family support. Some have children to support. Some struggle to work due to health issues. All of them need help.

I am asking in the spirit of community wellness and loving kindness: if you have the funds, please donate to these people and groups. rather than spend money this holiday season at the mega-corporations, make a conscious, ethical choice to support people from marginalized communities who don’t have the same resources. Your support could save someone’s life. It could enable them to eat, to stay housed, to get necessary medical care

Charities and organizations are at the end of the list, with individuals at the top.

Individuals

Aaminah Shakur: “I am an Indigenous/Black Queer Crip artist/poet/culture critic and full time student in an art history program whose work is about challenging the canon and bringing forward the lives/work of forgotten Queer & Crip POC artists.”
Shop: mkt.com/shakur-arts
Paypal: paypal.me/shakurarts

Sumayyah Talibah is a brilliant writer and artist, whose work has appeared in several anthologies, including Mourning Glory Publishing’s After Ferguson, in Solidarity. Buy a handmade, one of a kind piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love this holiday season, and support her work!
Shop: sumayyahsaidso.com/shop
Paypal: paypal.me/sumayyahsaidso

Noemi Martinez, “a chronically ill Queer Chicanx single mama of crip children.”
Website: www.hermanaresist.com
Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/catrinacreations

Mallory: help a disabled woman and her children stay housed and away from their abuser.
GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/malloryandkids

Jaden: “I’m a newly disabled/chronically ill TQPOC who recently was denied for disability. Really struggling to pay for groceries, medicine, and other bills. I’m not currently able to work.”
Blog: www.chronicillnesschronicling.tumblr.com
Cash.me: cash.me/$surviveandthrive

Chaz Vitale, “artist, activist, magic-maker,” is seeking funds for a vital and life-changing surgery.
GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/chazs-surgery-fund
Paypal: www.paypal.me/ChazVitale

Olivia M: “I’m a queer disabled mixed Latina, and here’s where I sell my zines (mostly perzines).
Etsy: etsy.com/shop/ParadoxNowCreations

Chloe Viening-Butler is a disabled artist and poet, heavily involved in disability activism.
Shop: https://squareup.com/store/viening-butler-studio

Alex Dehoff is queer & chronically ill. They run Ms. Andry’s Bath House, a feminist bath and body company! (They have a great line of fragrance free products, too!)
Shop: www.msandry.com/
Fragrance free: www.msandry.com/product-category/fragrance-free/

Elizabeth Adams makes metal and enamel jewelry and art.
Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/nightshaderosestudio

Allison: “Allison means so much to me. She is a wonderful fat trans lesbian who I have had the pleasure of getting to know this year. Living in the south as a disabled fat trans woman she is VERY isolated bc of these intersections. She deserves support.”
GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/allisonsgoal

 

Charities and Organizations

Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an organization dedicated to the return of lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to the stewardship of the Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone indigenous peoples. It is an indigenous women-led effort: “guided by the belief that land is the foundation that can bring us together, Sogorea Te calls on us all to heal from the legacies of colonialism and genocide, to remember different ways of living, and to do the work that our ancestors and future generations are calling us to do.”
Website: sogoreate-landtrust.com/how-to-contribute/
Paypal email: sogoreate-landtrust@gmail.com

Daughters Rising: “I work for a preventative anti-sex trafficking/women’s empowerment project for Burmese refugee/ indigenous girls here in Thailand. We need funding for college scholarships and small business start-up grants.”
Website: daughtersrising.org/

Oogachaga: “Singapore’s *only* community-based (not sanctioned by Queerphobic government) LGBT counselling center might close due to funding cuts.” Donate to stop that from happening!
Generosity fundraiser: www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/support-us-supporting-singapore-s-lgbtq-community

Standing Rock: support the water protectors defending their land and sacred sites from the Dakota Access Pipeline, who are facing violence from pipeline workers, security, and police, while camping outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures.
Website: sacredstonecamp.org/donate/

The QTPOC Mental Health Fecebook page has been a resource for queer and trans folks of color for a over a year, and now they’re fundraising to create a website to host a searchable database of resources and articles to serve this historically unserved/underserved population, and provide even more resources than they already do.
YouCaring: www.youcaring.com/lgbtqiapeopleofcolorstrugglingwithmentalhealth-689882
Facebook: www.facebook.com/QTPOCsupport/

A Benediction for the End of 2015

I was recently invited to read at the second Grief Rites reading, for the Holiday Edition. As you may know, my father died on Thanksgiving when I was eight years old; I had originally planned to write a new poem about him to read there. But, as happens sometimes, it really wasn’t coming together. Instead, I read a selection of poems written around the holidays last year, and two new pieces written this holiday season. (You can read two of them online, one here and the other here.)

All of the poems I read explicitly address how I feel as a Black person living in America, a country — as I say in my poem “Colonize(d)” — “that would rather see me / shot in the face.” Of the poems I read, one memorializes the 16th St Baptist Church bombing, one memorializes the murder of Michael Brown, and the remaining three deal with the stress of protesting and racial justice work, and the pain of justice denied. They are heavy pieces, and I hesitated to read them.

Some readings, I leave the most radical or race-specific poems out if I am unsure of the crowd, because I have anxiety and chronic pain; baring my soul is hard enough without someone trying to argue with me, a depressingly common occurrence. This time, I read without censoring myself.

During the break, a white woman I’d never met came up to me. She began by telling me what I read really resonated with her, BUT… As it turns out, she was raised in Alabama, and the Alabama of my poem doesn’t exist any more. She insisted that everyone knew better now, that when she was growing up, no one would have done something so awful. She told me that her parents taught her that skin color doesn’t matter, that so long as a person was willing to work hard they would succeed. I pointed out the high rates of police violence against Black people, and she talked around that, reiterating that Alabama wasn’t like that any more, and then tried to say that as women, she and I face the same barriers in corporate America. I cited the racialized gender wage gap, and she said “Not in Dallas.”

She left to visit the bathroom, and then returned to assert that we shouldn’t focus on race, and that we just need to work hard; if we just work hard, we can succeed. She commended me on being strong, utterly missing the point of my poem, “Too Strong,” which is that having to bear up under the pressure of violence and discrimination is exhausting and demoralizing. When she finally went back to the bar, I hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes trying not to have a panic attack, and missed two of the other readers.

While this woman was doing her utmost to convince me I was wrong about the existence of racism, a wonderful friend of mine tried repeatedly to interrupt her, to get her to consider that I might not be open to this conversation, or that it might be painful to me. By the end of the night, I was so tense and overstimulated that I suffered severe migraine symptoms and passed out for 15 hours. When I woke up, I discovered that my contributor copies of Minerva Rising‘s latest issue, Sparrow’s Trill: Writers respond to the Charleston Shooting had arrived in the mail. Two of my poems are included in this special edition: “Placeholder for Home” and “My Black.”

Holding a copy in my hands, I feel so many feelings. This is the first time my poetry has been published outside my own press in half a dozen years, and it makes me feel validated. It reminds me that rejections are a part of the process, that my work can find a home. It reminds me that others are feeling what I’m feeling, struggling as I am struggling. It reminds me that even those who are not feeling what I am can empathize. It reminds me why I struggle. It reminds me why I sometimes feel burnt out.

When I finished work on After Ferguson, In Solidarity, one of our contributors asked me if we would do another anthology for Charleston. I said no; it took 9 months to get AFIS out, and I honestly needed a bit of a break. I started my press in order to put out AFIS, but I hadn’t reckoned with how hard it would be: soliciting submissions from folks, picking which pieces to include, chasing contributors down to get contracts signed, creating a coherent flow, getting the cover art done, fundraising, and more. I learned a lot, most of it the hard way, and I don’t regret it, but I’m also glad I didn’t try to do it again right away. Since I didn’t, I’m glad that Minerva Rising created this special issue, and I’m proud to be included in it.

I want to thank everyone who expressed to me at the Grief Rites reading that they appreciated my work. I hold onto that when I feel the urge to silence my voice, to be jaded and avoidant. The fatigue and frustration can be overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean my voice must be silenced; I have a community to hold me. I don’t have to do all the work myself.

So, for us all, I wish healing and comfort in the new year. I wish peace and joy and strength. I wish us loving community and found family. I wish us support in creative endeavors, and success in our work. I wish us a better world.

Happy holidays, everyone — I’ll see you on the other side!

Poetry as soul-food, self-care as struggle

I haven’t posted a blog post since the first week of term, three weeks ago. My first instinct was to apologise here, but I’m not doing that. Instead, a brief explanation:

I have high expectations for myself, and I tend towards taking on more than I can handle. When the term started, I thought that I could post regularly on my blog, send a weekly newsletter, write for two sites 1-2 times a month, work 20 hours a week on campus, and get all of my homework done. That’s been much harder than I anticipated, particularly with the heavy amount of reading: some 500+ pages per week.

This week, my Audre Lorde class shifted from her memoir Zami to her poetry. Sunday, as I read, I felt amazing, happy and calm and still, and I realised that I hadn’t felt that way in weeks. When I got home, I shuffled one of my tarot decks and drew three cards: the 4 of Swords, Strength, and the 4 of Cups, which reflected some things that had been on my mind that morning. I set several intentions for my week:

  • I will listen to my body and its needs, instead of pushing for more than I can handle
  • I will set boundaries and protect my need for nurturing space and quiet
  • I will let my friends and loved ones know I value them

I also posted to Facebook my gratitude for the day: being moved by beautiful poetry that speaks to that which is my ancestors in me. I have struggled to act with my intentions in mind, but I will keep them with me. And having set them inspired me to talk to one of my professors about my time crunch, and get some clarity on where I can focus, which frees me from a piece of anxiety that has been building.

Going forward, I hope to keep writing a gratitude in my planner each day. I hope to get caught up on my homework. I hope to spend more time with friends, which I know is a source of energy renewal for me. I hope to reassert my self-imposed boundaries around protecting my sleep time, so that I can be better rested. I may do all of these things, or I may not. But that’s to come; for now, I am simply determined to ease up on myself. My high expectations are holding me back, exhausting me… so I need to let them go.

What this means is that I may post to this blog every week, or I may miss a week or two. I may send a newsletter out each week, or I may miss some. I don’t want this to be a space of anxiety for me—I like sharing this space with the folks who’ve connected with me here and on other platforms, and dashing out posts for the sake of making them is a disservice to you all and myself. I want this to be a community: reflective,  caring. I need to be realistic about my own limits, so that this space is the best it can possibly be.

Thank you for being here and sharing space with me. I hope you know that I appreciate you.

See you next week—maybe.

#BinderCon: Too Short, So Sweet

The first ever BinderCon is over, and I’m feeling so much about this experience.

For those who don’t know, BinderCon is more formally called Out of the Binders: Symposium on Women Writers Today,and it’s amazing. The weekend is a space for writers, agents, and editors—most of them women or gender non-conforming—to come together and support each other in getting published and in publishing.

There was so much that was affirming about this weekend: being in spaces filled overwhelmingly with other writers from marginalised communities, in-jokes, understanding, teaching and learning and sharing. Everyone I talked to was so kind and friendly and helpful. The volunteers were amazing, and the #BinderCon hashtag was constantly running with quotes, thoughts, and connections made.

The only hardships for me were related to limitations largely uncontrollable. Being new and run on a tight budget, only one meal was provided by the con, and that was a little hard to navigate, especially as a non-New Yorker. The workshops/panels happened in different buildings in disparate locations, and there was a lot of walking, made more difficult because of my lodging difficulties: I carried all of my luggage with me for the vast majority of the last three days, and my body is not happy with that, and I ended up missing both of the Sunday keynotes because of my pain and walking issues. The only explicit identity panels—one for/about trans folks and one for/about women of colour—happened in the same time slot at the very end, and I had to miss them to catch my flight.

Still, the space was great, overall. It’s so important for ppl facing marginalisations to have nourishing spaces like this one, where our identities, issues, and experiences are centred and discussed. I feel so loved and inspired from the last three days—I’m excited for all the writing I will do!

 

My question: do you have a nourishing space to go to for support? Can you find one? Maybe brainstorm where you could look for community that supports you in your needs

Let me know in the comments if you have a resource to share!

Sharing Stories Saves the World

A lot of the work I’ve been doing lately centres on helping others tell stories, and telling my own story.

Recently, I started working at my university; I am the program coordinator for Queeries, an LGBTQ2 speakers bureau organised through the Queer Resource Centre here on campus. Queeries brings panels of folks with various orientations, genders, and intersectional identities to speak about their lives and experiences in college classrooms and the community. I just held the first training session for panelists, which focuses on orienting them to the program and helping them think about how to tell their stories in a time-limited but compelling way.

I also joined the Vanport Multimedia Project, collecting stories from survivors and family members of those who went through the 1948 flood of Vanport, Oregon, for a digital multimedia archive. Vanport was a war-time housing project for shipyard workers and their families. It was the second-largest city in Oregon, until it was obliterated by flooding on Memorial Day in 1948, and many of the residents scrambled to find housing in the aftermath. Some were also survivors of Japanese internment who had already lost all of their belongings, some were recent immigrants facing the difficulty of navigating a new place, and some were African Americans heavily impacted by redlining. We are performing video interviews, editing the videos, and then creating a video and transcript archive that will be freely available, so these stories can be shared instead of being lost.

I was accepted into the Black Girl Dangerous Editor-in-Training program, where we are learning to be editors for online publications, helping authors who submit refine their pieces for an internet audience. We are learning to be better writers ourselves, and will learn what makes an effective piece for online reading: what length to shoot for, what kinds of titles to use, how to shape pieces for BGD’s audience, and so on.

And now I’m in a group performance project about intersectional identities: 4 weeks of workshops ending in a performance where we will each share a personal story about our intersections and journeys. We’ve picked stories we want to tell, and have started generating important details to shape the narrative into an interesting, entertaining stage piece.

I’ve always believed in the power of storytelling: I’ve been participating in speaker’s bureaus for the last decade, and I’ve seen the understanding and interest that can be built through talking about our own identities. Recently, it’s become the focus of a lot of my life. This may be a natural extension of my work as a writer, but it’s the first time almost all of my work has focused on one thing, and it’s a pretty novel experience. I’m so excited for all of it, even if my workaholic tendencies are leaving me a bit frazzled.

I’ve seen over and over folks who have been told they’re uninteresting or unimportant gaining release and healing from sharing their stories and having them validated and affirmed by listeners. Especially for those of us from marginalised communities, who’ve often been made to feel pushed aside or ignored by oppressive systems, it is important to have spaces for this. These stories matter.

So here’s a question for you: what story do you want to tell, need to tell? What story is weighing down your heart? What story is resting like a stone in your belly? What story is buzzing in your brain, sticking in your throat? What story is filming over your eyes?

Whatever that story is, it’s important. I encourage you to tell it.