Volume 1, Issue 20: Let's Help Future Us

Hi friends! First a quick note: this newsletter has a fancy new url and can be found at www.theinfophile.com.

Happy Halloween! My favorite holiday though this year will be subdued, of course. I’m thinking of doing some baking and maybe we’ll watch a movie. My wife has never seen “Blade” so perhaps that will happen! It’s cooling down and the hours with sun are getting fewer (don’t forget to change your clocks back an hour this weekend). For me, the coolness and the darkness has lifted my mood and I’m feeling more like myself; however, I know that is not the case for many of you. I feel like we’re all some sort of version of this right now, give or take a few types of depression:

<image is a meme of multiple versions of Spider-Man pointing at each other. Text reads, “When my regular depression meets my seasonal, covid, capitalism, patriarchy, racism, & homophobia depressions.”>

I’m also going to be honest and say I have a lot of anxiety around Tuesday’s election. It’s hard for me to conceptualize what life will look like after Tuesday and that’s what I want to talk about in today’s newsletter.

Today is about present You setting up future You for success.

With regards to the election, honestly, I don’t know what to do to prep for that so I’m going to link out to the Instagram post below which has some helpful info. On a personal level it might be a good idea to make communication plans with like-minded friends and loved ones.

A post shared by @antiracismeveryday
October 14, 2020
<link is to an Instagram image that has some tips for things to happen on November 4th depending on who wins the U.S. Presidential election. I’m sorry, there does not seem to be a text version but I have emailed the creator to see if they have a text version available>

Back in April, I wrote about prepping for meltdowns before they happen. Now let’s talk about a wider, longer-range version of this for the next few months. Because these are things we should think about preparing now, or at least, soon.

If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may want to talk to your doctor now to discuss what you can do to help alleviate the symptoms. You may want to invest in a light therapy lamp and do things like putting up more lights in your home (I’m a fan of string lights) and turning them on in the late afternoon so that when it gets dark earlier in the evening, the change isn’t so abrupt. If you’re working from home, this may also mean lighting for your work space. If you’re like me, your “work space” is the dining table and yes, I plopped a fun desk lamp onto the kitchen table. I have this one from IKEA, which is like having a kickball-sized, softly lit sun next to me. Maybe it’s also time to start researching and getting a therapist so that you have one before it becomes urgent.

Today I started implementing my plan around snail mail by picking up an application for a P.O. Box so I can start sending and receiving letters and postcards to/from more people. And yes, I will share it here once I get it. Each year I usually send out around 150 holiday cards. Not gonna lie, I’m feeling really overwhelmed and for a few days I said I was going to send out zero. I’ve walked back my decision and I think I’m just going to compromise with myself and send “some.” One of the things that snail mail does is give me something to look forward to. I have people who write regularly so I always have this one, small bit of hope that there will be something in the mail that is not 1) junk or 2) something I ordered and knew was coming. But if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that snail mail is important to me. I cannot promise I’ll have the spell slots to write back to people right away, but having the P.O. Box will at least make it more likely that I can send/receive mail with people I don’t know well.

<image is animated gif of an airmail envelope that has a big red hard pulsing on it>

I know that no one wants to think about this, but it’s also time to make plans for the holidays. We will be on our own as we are not willing to risk our safety or the safety of our loved ones. But what does that look like? We’ve started compiling recipes to make menus. Planning things to bake. Keeping lists and Pinterest boards and flagging recipes in cookbooks. We’ll make menus soon. This also has given us a bunch of ideas for other cold-weather meals and I have never regretted having a few dinner ideas on hand.

If you’re buying gifts and you want to shop Black-owned small businesses and independent bookstores, give them as much time as possible because they often get overwhelmed during the holidays. I am working on a list of people I want to bake for and what I plan to bake. We usually go to the Golden Girls Drag show in San Francisco each year in December; however, due to Covid-19, it is online this year. We are still making plans to watch it virtually with friends.

I am aware that some of you may be solo for the holidays. I still encourage you to make plans. Maybe it means planning your snacks and what movies you will curl up and watch. Or the books you will read. Maybe that means making a date to talk to someone via Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts/Facetime. If you have loved ones you know are going to be solo, reach out to them for a virtual chat. I have a few such loved ones I’ll be reaching out to to make sure I can “see” them during the holidays.

Speaking of, actually having lists of books you want to read or movies you want to watch can be wildly helpful so that you don’t flip through Netflix or Overdrive for 2 hours deciding what to watch (or read). Since I read for the podcast I co-host, I planned my reading list through the end of the year. It makes me feel like a weight has lifted because I don’t have the pressure of choice every few days. I had no idea how stressed that was making me until I got rid of it. I also hadn’t realized how stressful it was to flip through streaming services trying to find something to watch until I had a handy list.

If you work, do you have any kind of vacation time or administrative leave to use before the end of the year? Or before you hit a limit? You may want to plan to use some of that as well.

I know this may not be true for everyone, but for me, having plans and things to look forward to are an essential part of my mental health and well-being. As I’ve mentioned, these things don’t always need to involve other people. It might be as simple as a recipe to try or a book to read. Pre-pandemic, the thing for me was travel. Since that is not accessible right now, I have been cultivating new ways of finding and planning joy. I would love to hear about any ways you have figured out to cultivate and plan joy during this time!

<animated gif of vintage cartoon. A skeleton rises above a gravestone. On the left and right, there are cats yowling on top of separate gravestones. The skeleton frightens the cats and the cats’ fur flies off>

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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