I spent the last few weeks of show and tell sharing my collection of gold stars with you all. But I’d like to reiterate a couple of things. First, all of these achievements require a bit of reading between the lines and re-reading the unsexy lines. 

The bullet journal habit took 4 years of false starts before the habit stuck. Those false starts (and books I’ve read) gave me insight to cultivate new habits: the daily meditation, the yoga, the exercise, etc. I’m breaking these things down into teeny tiny bites, which I often have to force feed to myself, because….

I don’t have the energy to digest much more. 

In the beforetimes, my house used to be filled with the smell of sauteed garlic around 6 o’clock pm. I used to whip up weeknight risottos and peel, dice, chop, roast until I had assembled restaurant quality meals; twice a week at least. These days—couch potato or work-a-holic—regardless of how I spend the day, by 6 o’clock I am depleted. As a result, a typical meal consists of frozen cauliflower, a side of beans (usually from a can), and baked chicken. 

Last night a friend asked, “is it burnout or depression?”. It sounds like depression but that’s not it. I considered burnout, too. But I think it’s neither. I think it’s exhaustion, and grace. 

My energy baseline has been much lower these past two years. And it seems like I burn through that energy faster and easier than I did in the before times. It’s taken me a while to accept and adapt to this. Of course it has. I spent a lot of money and tears trying to stick to my pre-pandemic recipes and grocery lists but then grace pulled me in for a bear hug. Grace says—exhaustion is a valid response to living as a 34 year old Korean-American woman in the year 2022.” Grace says—nourishment comes in lots of forms. And in response to my current dinner prep, my therapist says, “lots of people would consider that cooking.” 

What I’m getting at is: I’m giving myself gold stars for meditating, doing yoga, exercising, drawing, writing (again, teeny tiny bites of each), but I’m still not cooking, or reading, or hiking, or socializing like I used to. I’m keeping up with my bullet journal (for the most part) but I rarely complete my to-do list each day.

2020 took a lot out of me. 2021 managed to take even more. So the other point I’d like to reiterate is that while I do feel more like myself, I’m still not my whole self. 

Yesterday I woke up unmotivated, lethargic, and feelin’ emo. Every task required a pep talk. I haven’t had a full day like this in awhile, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the mere 4 hours of sleep I got the night before. (Thanks, heartburn!) As a result of that whole mood, Thursday was the first day this month that I didn’t meditate, do yoga, or exercises. I didn’t get to X off my calendar and now I have to stare at that gap for the rest of the month. 

There’s a few ways of looking at this. The first is: I’m a failure, I’m the worst, I can’t even take 15 minutes out of my day to fulfill my promise to myself AFTER I JUST WROTE ABOUT IT. Give up forever because what’s the point. 

The other is: Grace. Grace says “Hiccups are part of the process. Keep learning. Begin again.” 

After a solid night of sleep, I was hoping to ‘begin again’ by waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, but I didn’t. I had to parent myself and force feed the habits down. I’m not out there killing it and hustling and getting back to business *as usual*. But I am waking up, sometimes exhausted, just hoping to add one small gold star to my collection, one day at a time.

Keep going.