One Step at a Time, and Skincare

So I just want to say I’ve spent most of January basically honing my work/life routine. I know people always say keep a routine, and I’ve never liked that idea, but now, a year into the global pandemic, I realized how much routine is necessary in times of great stress and copious unstructured time. I didn’t think about how my husband going to work, coming back from work, eating out, grocery shopping on weekends, and a slew of other chores kind of naturally formed a loose routine before. I had a concrete starting and stopping time for work: when my husband leaves I work, and when he comes back I stop. Now he’s WFH and it’s so sporadic when he’ll be busy in a meeting or when he’s slacking off, it’s throwing off my rhythm too. My routine just went completely whack over the past year, which was both bad for my productivity and for all the other things in life, like washing my face/put on sunscreen even if it’s cloudy, you know, self-care things. (The IVF surgery/pregnancy/miscarriage hoopla did not help matters, but that’s a different story.)

I decided as part of my new year resolution was to get myself back on a functioning adult track. Which basically meant I started to rigidly follow a schedule of what I’m going to do at specific time of day. In hand-written form, mind you, because I found that writing down checklists with a pen is somehow magically more motivating than typing it out on screen. I bought myself the Hobonichi Techo (which I LOVE. 100%. It’s been so, so helpful with my work), started a random journal and forced myself to record down every thing I’ve done each day, and bought an actual timer (like, the kind you use in the kitchen – it’s cute!) so I don’t stray off course. A bit excessive, I admit, but apparently that’s what it takes to whip myself into shape. Now I’m a month in and have more or less established things, or at least have concrete goals and can see when and why I’ve slipped up (mostly because I kept on getting distracted online, so I installed a web blocker and diligently used it.) You know I’ve always thought writing creatively as a career for me is like an alcoholic trying to stay sober. You have to do baby steps at first and then keep it up every day. You might slip up once in a while, but the goal is to get back on track, hopefully faster every time you failed.

In addition, I’ve also found out that keeping a routine is inadvertently helping out my skin! I’ve developed seborrhoeic dermatitis a couple of years ago (thank you California drought weather!) and have been trying to keep it in check ever since. I’ve been using prescription steroid creams and they do clear it up, however, it always come back after 10 days or so. I don’t want to keep on putting steroid on my face indefintiely, so I’ve been trying all kinds of other creams and serums and etc. to see if I can manage it without medication. Well, turns out that if I consistently keep a skincare routine it gets better. Right now I have minimal redness and peeling, and I’ve honed down what kind of moisturizer works best for me and what kind of ingredients are huge no-nos (alcohol, mainly, and maybe niacinamide, which is a shame because it’s a great ingredient, just not for me). I’m still trying out things but the combo is working well, and I’m super stoked about that. Keeping a routine on my work made me also commit a routine on my health. Who’d have thought?

Now if only I can apply the same to flossing. (Need to go to a dentist, but am waiting for after I get the Covid vaccine, which might not happen until June. Ugh.)

Work · Writing

A Small Victory

I don’t know if I talked about this on here, but I’ve joined a writer’s group a while ago. We meet monthly at someone’s house, and read/critique each others’ works for a few hours on a nice relaxing Saturday. (Yep, totally relaxing, not nervous at all, especially if I’m the one that needs to be submitting next month, nope.) It’s not a class, so you don’t have to submit anything if you don’t want to. There’s no grading or expectations and most of us are amateurs. (It’s run by my author friend so she’s kind of the unofficial authority, but not really. She makes it a point to say it’s not her writers’ group, just a group she’s part of.) We basically let strangers read our works and collectively try to make them better, and chat and have food and just be social for a bunch of introverts. That’s it.

So we’re meeting next week (for the month of October) and I volunteered to submit a chapter of my novel. I partially did this because, well, I should, and also, I’ve been so, so, so procrastinating and haven’t worked on my novel at all for the past months due to one thing or another, and I need to get this damn draft done by hopefully end of this year. I need to revise the entire chapter before I can send it in, because the state it was was definitely not complete nor made any sense in context to the novel now, since it was written way before I figured out what the book was about and etc. It was daunting and scary, so I kept putting off working on it until literally this week, when the deadline to submit was yesterday. Yes, I’m a bad person for giving myself undue stress and for procrastinating. I fully acknowledge my fault here.

But you know what, in the end I did it. I worked a lot in the few days prior, basically ate, slept, worked, you know, like how most people’s days go and why American work ethics are insane (most not by choice.) And it was done, edited, not perfect, but submitted in an adequate state. And really, that’s all you can ask for, no? I emailed it to my group at 11:00 pm last night, an hour before the deadline (we have to enforce a deadline because people were like dropping 30 pages of work a few days before our meeting and that just wasn’t productive). And in addition the few days of hard work had kicked me into gear. Remember I said the more productive I am the more productive I get? Yeah, and now I actually feel like I have to write every day. Not necessarily on the novel – I need breaks, too – but some kind of writing daily. So all in all, this experience was a win. A hard win, but a win. Which was kind of why I signed up to submit this time in the first place. I know how to make myself do things, if slowly.

I don’t get many victories where I work hard and actually get things done on time in what feels like an acceptable condition. So I will definitely go celebrate today, as small a victory as this is. Perhaps I’ll buy a new book.