Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring Fever

(or I think I need a vacation)

Its been really hard for me to focus at work lately. I'm writing this now as I obsessively check my phone for texts from G, who is at urgent care with L, to see if his arm is broken  after a fall off the monkey bars last night. So today's version of scatter-brain has a good reason. (UPDATE: its not broken, I still don't want to work)

But for the past few weeks its been a daily struggle. Every morning its that "ugh, I have to go to work now" feeling. Which isn't unusual, mornings are kind of like that. Typically, though, I arrive and dive right in, immersed and productive, until I'm dragged back ashore by my "leave to pick up B" phone alert. These days its like pulling teeth---forcing myself to get through tasks, frequently finding myself daydreaming, or doing completely non-work-related things like planning vacations, shopping, looking up recipes. I'm doing what I absolutely need to do, but I'm hating every minute of it.

I'm not falling into that amazing phase of "flow", where my brain  finds its rhythm and happily runs along, writing/thinking/researching/analyzing and the time just slips away. This is what I love about academia, the reason I put up with all the associated stress. Without it, I question my whole career.

It has been beautiful outside, particularly on the weekdays. I want to enjoy it. I have good books to read, I want to get back to them. I've been wanting to go shopping, to actual stores. I haven't actually had more than one day off from work since the holidays. We usually take a week off in May or June, and I typically go to a spring conference, that I'm skipping this year. So I probably DO need a vacation, or at least a stay-cation, though I don't have spare vacation days and I really really need to get some papers written before our trip in August.

I'm going to try taking my laptop to a coffee shop on campus later today. Or put my head phones on and listen to background noise or music for a change. I can't keep doing the same thing and excepting different results. I don't want to work, but I want to want to work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Ana

Lately I feel like I'm a different, but vaguely familiar, person to who I have been for the past decade or so. I think I'm rediscovering the real me, buried under years of working too hard, sleeping too little, being too anxious and sad and exhausted, to really have much of any personality at all.

Maybe its also age, and giving way less of a fuck what others think. Or my kids growing up and finding a bit of space outside the constant subversion of my wants for their constant, all-consuming ones. Or feeling a much more stable foundation in my marriage and my mental health, upon which I can actually branch out, and grow. 

Probably its a combination of all those things. But its definitely a good thing. 

I've been way more extroverted. Just this month I've planned several social outings as a family, a couple, and myself with friends and colleagues. Last weekend we went to a neighborhood picnic and I mingled and had a blast. We invited other friends over for dinner Sunday. And that was after a mid-week BFF happy hour. Next weekend a triple dinner date and then a concert with G. I got a group of colleagues together for a drink Thursday evening.  I bought plane tickets to visit friends down south this summer for 3 nights, solo. 

I'm reading constantly and unapologetically. 3 books going at any time---phone/kindle/"real" book. Trying new music after years of promising to without actually committing, and excited about seeing more concerts. Instead of trying to plan things every minute of the weekend to stay out of the house, I'm enjoying our time at home. There is puttering. I missed puttering. It leads to ideas, and creativity, and conversations that sometimes just need space to evolve. The constant need to DO DO DO was driven at least in part by my fear of stillness, and the thoughts and feelings that would invade.

Writing it out it seems minimal and pretty mundane, but life certainly feels different. And better. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Perfect Young Summer

June. My other favorite month (in addition to May and October). I love the whole anticipation of summer, the leading up to the solstice. Lots of celebrations, from our anniversary to the end of school. This June promises a lot of fun outings---I've already got several planned, and I'm sure we'll squeeze a few more in. It starts with lot of family time and will end with a kid-free week when we drop the boys off with my parents, at my sister's place (i.e. payback for Spring Break)

May had its ups and downs. To focus on the ups: I think I've cemented my meditation habit---I have a 32 day streak going, after lots of stops and starts and missed days here and there. I am doing 10 minutes of "Calm Light" on the free "Calm" app. There is a minute of guidance and then silent meditation for the rest. Sometimes I totally get in the zen and feel amazing---sometimes my mind wanders constantly. It all counts, and I keep trying. I also did a plank challenge, and worked up from 1:30 to 4 minutes in about 5 weeks! The challenge expected people to go from 0:10 to 5 minutes in 30 days, which is insane. I'm going to keep at it on my rest days from the gym/running and hope to get a solid 5 minutes by July.

I've been listening to old episodes of Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast, which I actually quite enjoy. One of the episodes mentioned a quote I'd heard before (probably on the blog) but never fully got: "Work is the most dangerous form of procrastination". I thought it was about how I used to organize my socks instead of studying in college, or similar. But when I listened to them talk about it, I realized it is way more insidious and its been my downfall the past couple of months. I hate writing papers. Hate hate hate. Love writing grants. Hate writing papers. Love analyzing the data, and doing literature reviews, and planning experiments. Hate writing papers. You get it. For a while I was flat-out procrastinating---social media, vacation planning, online shopping. But then I decided to get my butt in gear---and did every single non-paper-writing work-related task I could conceive of, crossing items off my list, and ending the day with a feeling of false accomplishment. Yes that stuff had to be done at some point (most of it), but it was not a priority.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, and today is going better. I've cut myself off email and even allotted a very short time for patient messages, so no "urgent" things derail me. We have a belated birthday date-night tonight, and I've got a fun new dress to wear. For the first time in a while, I'm loving all the clothes I'm seeing in stores, and I couldn't help myself from buying some new things for summer.

Happy June!