Today, I awoke trying to assimilate my last few weeks. These last few weeks have felt a bit chaotic and it seems to me that there must be some lessons or messages for me within the seemingly random occurrences. My sense is the largest lesson has to do with the importance of living in the now. We can all get pretty easily distracted and caught up in the day-to-day to do lists and responsibilities. Given my work load the past several months, perhaps I was living more from my list than from my life.
As April came to a close, I resolved to let it go and to let all of the things that were less than pleasing about it also go. So, with May for me came a sense of newness and perhaps an added desire to do things a bit more outside of my box than I have been in the previous weeks, perhaps months.
I have been able to do some pretty fun things so far this month that were definitely outside of my box and I have been able to interact with some of the same people in my world, but with a slightly different perspective. My perspective is more of a lighter heart and compassionate spirit, and I think I might have lost sight of that a little lately.
Nearly every day, I wake up, make my coffee, tend to my dogs and make my daily list. There is a spot where I have some weekly notes that involve tasks that can get worked in as I can. For the most part this is a daily thing and if I cannot remember it and put it on my list, then I invariably forget to do it. The list is used in my world as a liberator, rather than a dictator. What I mean by this is that if I make my list, my brain is then free to focus on the tasks at hand because I am confident that all I have to do is look at my list and be reminded. I think my fear is forgetting something important for a student or someone else in my world who is important! Having a list alleviates the potential anxiety of forgetting–for the most part anyway.
As I mentioned, my work load has been a bit more than usual in recent months and I have had far more work tasks on my list than usual as a result. I try to be ok with selecting a reasonable amount of things per day, but some weeks the amount of work is a bit overwhelming. For the first few days of some weeks, I hardly noticed it was Wednesday because I was focused and diligently whittling away at the list. As the list looks more manageable, then I will venture out and make contact with people and experience life more.
I think I need to work on the first few days of the really busy weeks and incorporate something else in there as a break. For a few weeks, I had a yoga opportunity on Monday evenings and while this was challenging to pull myself away, it worked out ok. Then the yoga class was canceled. intermittently, there is an opportunity to go for a run with someone or a longer dog walk on a Monday and intermittently, I will do that. As a general rule, however, I stay here working through the list.
I should clarify that working on the list often includes grading papers, assignments, participating in my classes with my students and responding to student questions. This is hardly not participating in life and I actually take great pride in the quality and quantity of feedback I provide my students. I also really enjoy the discussion weeks with them! I think what I am suggesting is that I find a little more of a balance at the start of my paper grading/participating in discussion weeks.
I certainly never want to only live by my list. I want there to be enough flexibility in my schedule (and there is, when I allow for it) to be open to doing something different or new or social on one of the earlier days in the week. As it is right now, I am finding myself pretty obsessively doing tasks, marking them off and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel some weeks. I rationalize that I will feel better if more gets accomplished today, so I keep working. I also rationalize that I will have less to do tomorrow if I can get more done today. Either way, it seems that my work gets done well within the standards set for the University, whether I do anything else on those first few days of the week or not. The obsessiveness makes my list more of a dictator, so I need to get back to where it is the liberator!
While things are pretty balanced right now, I am always looking for a way to fine tune and perhaps find an even better way!