A New Day

Standard

I went to bed earlier than the last couple of nights, and thanks to the sun blazing in to my bedroom window, I woke up to that instead of my alarm, which I actually prefer, so I don’t feel like I was jerked out of sleep this morning, but rather eased out of my slumber.

In light of Earnest English and Ink’s comments on the second of yesterday’s posts, I’m going to try to figure out what I have accomplished this semester. I got all my adjuncts the schedules they wanted and asked for. I organized search committee meetings and observations with two days’ notice. I’ve been much more on top of grading this semester than all previous semesters (including grad school). And I was nominated by the student government for faculty member of the year, so that was pretty cool. And I mostly stayed on top of my teaching and admin stuff. Plus, I ran a marathon and a half marathon, and while I didn’t stay on top of our bills like I usually do, I didn’t get behind in them (thank you GI Bill for taking 8-10 weeks to start paying out and depleting out savings which you haven’t given us back pay yet in order to make ourselves solvent again, really thanks).

But that doesn’t make me feel better about not getting “my stuff” done. And maybe that’s part of the problem. And Dr. Crazy had a great post on this issue a couple of weeks ago— perhaps if I didn’t think of it as “my stuff” as being disconnected from the teaching job I get paid to do, but that it’s part of “my job” in a larger, all encompassing sense, that I would be able to stick to a research plan and a writing plan like I do with teaching and grading, right? Maybe if I shift my focus here with my attitude rather than it being “this” vs. “that” or “research” vs. “teaching” then I’d have a better time of it, no? Because I know that’s why I’ve felt like I was a better teacher as a grad student than I am a professor–because I was reading and researching in every waking minute that wasn’t devoted to teaching. Ok, granted, I’m not exactly willing to do *that* again–work 30-50 hours a week and then spend another 30-50 researching. I don’t know, maybe if I were making $1million a year to do so, or if I were on sabbatical and I would be technically getting paid to put in a 40 hour week on research. So I need to think about it as being part and parcel of the job I have. Maybe a little Descartes inspiration–I research; therefore I teach. Or perhaps the other way around: I teach; therefore I research.

The other thing bothering me, and I have been trying to hard not to talk about this, bring it up, or even mention it, is the weight loss issue. That’s my other burn-out. Okay, I’ve managed to get 8-10 pounds off since February. And whenever I hit this particular weight, I plateau. I can get to a pound or two below it, and then it creeps back up to a pound or two above it, and I spend weeks, literally, trying to get below, and I just can’t. What makes it worse is that it stresses me out, so if I’m stressed about it, I’m not letting go of the weight. It’s a vicious cycle that drives me nuts, even following the WW! So, while I want to lose weight, while I need** to lose weight, which I know to those who know me might seem like a ridiculous statement to make, but still, it’s frustrating.

But right now? It’s not feasible for me to stress out over this. It’s not productive. It will most likely result in weight gain rather than loss. And not that I’m going to throw caution to the wind here, but I think the focus needs to be on hitting the gym at least one more day than I have been for two reasons–1) it won’t hurt the weight loss, 2) I need it for the stress relieving. And if I think of it right now as “I need to get to the gym because I need to log the exercise points,” then I’m going to stress myself out about my workout. If I think of it as “If I get to the gym, I’m going to be less stressed and I’m going to feel better,” then I’m so much more likely to go. So I’ve adjusted my office hours for the end of the semester (I do this every semester anyway so students who generally have to make a special trip or just can come during the regular office hours, it opens up days and times that aren’t feasible for me during the semester, but work at the end of the year) that allow me to get to the gym on M & W mornings if I need to. Plus I think not being there for 10 hours those last two weeks on those days will help too, both with my stress level and my attitude.

I think one of the things I put in my new year’s goals was being present and letting go–doing what I can with what I currently have and with where I am while working toward something larger. I need to focus on that right now. So that’s the goal for the next three weeks–to paraphrase Ink from yesterday’s comment: I can only accomplish what I can accomplish. And I will look at the gym as a place to make me feel better and less stressed rather than a means to an end because if I stress about the weight, I ain’t making any progress with it.

ETA: I had sort of a breakthrough with my paper that I’m doing for the faculty retreat and then for the conference at the end of May. While ordering a book and then looking for another on amazon, unsuccessfully for the latter, I have tweaked the scope of the project in a way that a) makes it more manageable for the two projects at hand and b) I think might make it more interesting for me. We’ll see. But I chucked a honker novel, which was a source of my anxiety and replaced it with a novel about 1/3 the length which pairs better with my other text I am using, so I’m feeling better about that. Plus, these are two novels I’m teaching in the fall for the methods class, and I think I might be able to make this fit better for the article due in July than turning the conference paper from last May into an article for this particular venue. I think this might be a helpful solution for research problem #1.

**I mean “need” here in terms of my running. Based on my health and appearance, I don’t. The problem, as always, is my knees. If I want to be able to run like I do, and continue to be able to run like I want to run into old age, then that’s why the weight matters. And that’s part of the problem, too, is that it’s not a dire emergency–it’s not as if I’m overweight, even slightly or that doing what I do now is going to damage my body or that I’m looking at surgery or anything like that. I don’t just want to be fit–I want to be athletic, and it’s hard to lose weight for that goal when you know, you’re not a competitive athlete.

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One response »

  1. Yay! Look at all the things you accomplished! *happy dance*

    I completely understand the “my stuff” feelings. It’s hardest for me to get the writing done (which, ironically, is what made me want to be a college prof in the first place) because everything else seems so immediate: class starts NOW and meeting starts NOW etc. etc. The times in the past that I’ve been able to get writing done inevitably meant that I had to give up doing other things (social activities, sleep, etc.). So every waking second when I wasn’t teaching or at a meeting or advising or whatever, I was at the computer writing. And that worked but it was brutal. If I were at a school where the teaching load were smaller (say 2/2 instead of 4/4), I KNOW in my bones that I’d be more productive. However, I figure that since the teaching load is so high and so demanding, the prof development has to happen when it can (in little spurts of time). So I guess how my perspective has changed on it is that I don’t expect myself to produce as much as I once thought I could or should. Which has made it somewhat more bearable. My mantra: I am not a robot. 🙂

    Anyway, thinking through your goals and such is wonderful and thoughtful and kudos to you.

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