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2023 was overall a good year in terms of exploring who I am, gaining new skills, and trying to adapt to the world around me as an autistic person. However, as the year was coming to an end, I faced health issues which restricted my energy and resulted in many things taking a backseat. This website was one of them, as I had little capability to keep it up to date.
In this long and rambling post, I’ll look back on the year gone, and forward to 2024.
I became significantly more social online, making sure to post something to Mastodon every day, and check my feeds responding to people I follow. I have greatly appreciated the community I have found there, and believe it vital to feeling less isolated and alien, as I’ve finally met people who are similar to me and don’t judge me for being different. The support I get from emotional posts is encouraging and advice has been so helpful. As someone who didn’t have any such connections with others in early 2022, I’ve come a long way.
I hope I’m able to stay social as the year goes on, though I’ve recently had issues with low mood making me want to retract and be quiet. I am working on overcoming this, as I tell myself I have worth and deserve to take up space, but it’s harder believing that. It’s also resulted in a loss of some interests, and I have no motivation to keep up a daily journal as I have done the past couple of years. I am still fully attending to my Finch birb Nova though, have recently sorted out my dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) cards, and am enjoying doing chair yoga as an alternative to yoga on a mat.
Although I don’t believe in it, I’ve found great comfort in watching reiki videos on YouTube, which make me feel more grounded and calm, with the ASMR-like soothing music and speech, coupled with supportive and healing language. I find it’s been more helpful than meditation, as the process of “sending light” to various parts of my body creates a more interesting visual for my brain than simply sitting there getting bored or counting my breaths, which has always felt weird.
I wanted to achieve more with the online store, but health issues limited my energy levels needed to work on it. I have begun the process of adding a new line to the store, but it is cumbersome and taking a lot of time. I also need to update old lines as some marketplaces have modified their standards, and I want to open a Mastodon account for the business to help with promotion and increase sales.
I don’t like New Year resolutions, and find this CPG Grey video from a couple of years ago to be significantly more appealing. Rather than making a set goal, try to think of a theme that will prompt and push you towards making the changes you wish to see in your life. I much prefer this method as someone who struggles with health and energy levels as I cannot commit to doing X amount across Y days, as I don’t know if I’ll literally be able to do so.
In the video, it is suggested to find a word that resonates with you (if you want to read more about themes, lost letters has a blog post here about their chosen theme), and I’ve had two which have sparked something inside me.
One is quite stereotypical in that I want to be healthier. Diet wise, I think I eat pretty healthily and am satisfied with my weight, so my area of concern is fitness and general health. I tend to get ill easily, always feel tired, and my body can become weak for seemingly no reason. I’m not sure what to do about that exactly as I’ve been to the doctors and there is apparently nothing wrong with me, and I know exercise won’t necessarily resolve these issues.
However, despite my absolute hatred of exercise, having never experienced the famed “endorphin rush” most do, I get the benefits of stretching and feel better after doing some yoga. Though unable to do yoga every day, by having the theme narrative rather than a goal one, I am kinder to myself and instead look for opportunities to do yoga when faced with a choice.
Similarly, I have a step platform in my room, and though feel no obligation to spend X amount of minutes on it across Y days, I am finding myself spending a minute or two here and there stepping on and off it when the opportunity arises, and when my health permits, because I am aware of my theme of wanting to be healthier.
The other word that resonated with me was “simpler”. I want my life to be simpler, less complicated, and thus allows me to dedicate time and energy elsewhere. This is a bit harder to achieve, as there isn’t really anything concrete I can point to and change, but that’s why I like it as a theme rather than a goal. It’s about facing decisions, pausing, and asking myself if there is a simpler way of doing this?
It’s also meant that when faced with a difficulty, I’ve stopped and tried to work out if it has to be this way, is there a simpler way I could be doing this? So, this has caused me already to reorganise my phone apps to be less complicated, moved furniture and objects around so finding things is less of a hassle, and streamlined by self-hosting set-up.
Well, I didn’t initially plan to simplify my server, but after my Raspberry Pi became non-responsive one day, and plugging it into a monitor showed a kernel panic, I had to wipe the drive and start again. I had everything backed up, but it made me rethink what was I actually using, how I was using it, and could it be simpler? I’ll make a more formal post listing the changes I’ve made, but I already feel better with less applications to maintain.
As well as simpleness, I’ve also embraced the aspect of the Marie Kondo method of asking myself if something, anything, “sparks me joy”. This has resulted in me unsubscribing from various newsletters, leaving some Discord servers, and followed less people on social media, because, no, those did not spark me joy.
In another way, in DBT, one of the tenants is to “accumulate positives”, doing positive things that build up. As such, I’ve been trying to do things I find joyful and identify where I find joy.
Just as I became unwell at the end of 2023, I saw people on Mastodon talking about Neopets, and I logged back into my dormant account I created in 2001. I’ve since had a lot of joy spending about an hour each day doing my dailies, playing food club, getting rewards in the battledome, and zapping pound pets to make them more desirable for adoption. I don’t really have any long term goals as I already have my dream pets, but just popping in and doing these small things every day is enjoyable enough.
Looking back at the year and where I found joy, it was often with special events that punctuate something different from the usual day-to-day.
I watch Eurovision, and its semi-finals, every year, but as it was the first time in over two decades to be in the UK, I decided to really throw myself into it with scorecards, bingo, and spending time preparing snacks and clothes for the shows. I vividly feeling happier than I have done at past Eurovisions and wishing that feeling would never fade. As such, if possible, I will make sure to celebrate Eurovision again like this in the future.
While I cannot manufacturer a Eurovision all year round, and having such events all the time would likely reduce the effectiveness of it being special, I am still keeping an eye out for events to occupy my attention and have something to look forward to. In early January, I watched darts for the first time and really enjoyed it, and am writing this blog post up while having AFCON in the background. So, while not having dedicated time towards these events, finding ways to incorporate them into my free time has been enjoyable.
Christmas is also something I always enjoy every year, and do dedicate time and energy towards making it a good time of the year. I think it’s because I get to combine a few things I like together, watching corny movies, listening to fun music, and doing lots of cooking.
I wish I could spend more time cooking and baking, but with just me to feed, me not eating lots of food, and being economic by batch cooking for a few days at a time, I only end up cooking around twice a week. Maybe I need to find a way to cook more as it really does bring me a lot of joy and it’s a shame I can’t do it more.
Despite being happy with this website, I do have an urge to go simpler with it, reducing its size, and being as plain as possible. However, as I was writing this, I saw this post by Xandra enthusing about webpages, not just blogs, and how they contribute towards a richer internet, and it made me rethink about simplifying this website. It reminded me how I do like such parts of my website, including the pages on my birb Nova, my “shrine” to Glitch, and all my musical reviewing and rating content. As such, I’m going to, hopefully, not feel any need to redesign the website any time soon!