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Extended Absence Greeting 4 comments

Hey there – remember me? 🙂

So, the last few months of 2009 became a muddy blur during which time writing, and exercising, took a backseat to the following:

  • caring for the lovely Freddie as she recovered from surgery to repair ruptured discs in her spine (neck). My home became a baby-gated, cushioned, modified pet crate for seven weeks. My dog was in pain and I felt helpless. And then, shortly afterwards, broke. So grateful that Freddie’s Other Mom, and the lovely WWBA, were able to be such a supportive part of this adventure. But it did take its toll. Freddie needs to be carried up and down stairs and, at first, needed more, shorter walks. I live up two flights of stairs and my routine was tied more than ever, to Freddie’s requirements. I was exhausted.
  • … and thus got I ill myself with a persistent bronchial infection – several weeks of coughing and hacking and sleeping badly.
  • having my car vandalized, right here in the underground parking lot. Stuff stolen, car damaged. Much time and energy lost over a 10 day period, dealing with this. Not to mention feeling just a wee bit violated.
  • grading 174 really sub-par essay-like business reports in 3.5 weeks. That is a real number, 174. 87 in the first round that had to be done quickly and returned so they could have feedback to complete and hand in the second round. Second round to be graded to the grade submission deadline at the end of term. This activity will suck your brain out through the eye of a needle and will rip your heart out of your chest, tossing it away like last year’s PlayStation. Don’t let anyone tell you that teaching isn’t an emotional pursuit. After teaching plagiarism (how to avoid it, not how to do it) as a topic in class, finding students who persist in the behaviour is like getting smacked up the side of the head with a 2 x 4. I’m not sure I can explain why, it just feels … horrible.  It does get balanced out, of course, by students who really do make incredible progress and there were some really fine moments of this as well. Somehow, though, this term, the amount of grading and the roller coaster ride it took me on just about did me in.
  • ongoing negotiations with management on workload issues (see above) and the looming possibility of a strike that no one wants yet that seems difficult to avoid. Multiple meetings with management over next term’s workload. A workload review by a larger committee. Not much progress. Stress. Self-doubt. Worry.

As you can see, not a lot of writing took place. Furthermore, I actually have found myself daydreaming of the smell of my gym. What I’ve learned is that my mental and emotional health is linked to these two activities. Thus, I resolve to re-prioritize and get both disciplines back into my life. Although I’m going to wait until mid-February to actually step on the scales, I think. Yikes.

Anyway, thanks for your patience – all three or four of you. 🙂 Stay tuned for more … as for now, I’m off to the gym!

What … Me, Worry? 2 comments

"Does it really worry you, or do you feel obligated to worry?" Cate asks. Because she asks excellent questions that make me stomp and huff around in my mind, kicking the furniture and waving my arms, until I can answer them.

"Worrying" is a ridiculous waste of energy and I try not to engage in it actively. I've seen so many people work themselves into absolute frenzies about things they can't control and I just can't go there. When I "worry", I am usually wondering if I've "done the right thing" or if I'm prepared enough for something, or if I've forgotten to turn the stove off or unplug the iron. Actually, I iron so infrequently that this worry almost never happens. Except, on the rare occasion that I am forced to iron, I almost always obsess over whether I've unplugged it. Usually, I'm about 50 miles away from my place when this worry hits me.  After starting out on a road trip, I've been known to call my next door neighbours about an hour into the journey, to ask them to check whether I've turned the taps off in my upstairs bathroom. They are patient with me, as I am with them when they call me out of the blue, delayed by some circumstance, and ask me to feed their cat. It is a symbiotic thing.

This isn't the kind of worrying that Cate and I were discussing this morning, though. Off the top of my head, here are some people I *could* be worrying about, if I chose to:

  • my perspicacious friend who announces she is going to Uganda, land of ebola and rather unfriendly ambushes
  • my ex who is cheerfully placing herself squarely in the path of oncoming hurricanes, for two weeks in October, staying in a house on stilts for chrissakes, because she is head over heels for someone in Texas
  • another ex whose job it is to attend various war-torn parts of the world to tend to the psychological and structural needs of "displaced" children. I have promised to help her pluck shrapnel out of her butt someday, if needed.
  • another ex who has just "upped sticks" (moved her entire life) from Texas to Omaha, with great bravery and skill, to take on the next challenge in her career
  • the multi-faceted and ever intriguing ecologist who is happily stretching her limits somewhere out in the middle of the Indian Ocean – land of god knows what … 
  • my dear friend who is boldly preparing for a life-altering surgical procedure
  • a new friend who is extricating herself from a complex marital situation
  • my multitude of friends who have, it seems over the last six months, jumped ship from various and sundry short- and long-term relationships and are now in various stages of re-grouping and re-emerging into the world

Do I actively worry about these people? Honestly … no. They are all adults, grown-ups, accomplished and clear-headed. They certainly don't *need* me to worry about them.

Do I circle through the rolodex in my mind and wonder how these people – and others – are doing? Yes, of course. Do I get a tiny knot in my stomach, from time to time, wondering if I'll get to hear about their journeys over beer someday, or will they fall off a mountain, or into the ocean, or into some legal morass and disappear from view? Yes, I admit that sometimes I do get that momentary knot.  I don't think this translates into full-blown "worry", though. Do I curl up in a fetal position of anxiety on their behalf? Gawd, no.

I think it is about connection. My clucking and fidgeting is my knee-jerk way of saying "I'm connected to you, dammit, now don't go and get yerself kilt".  That's all. It passes.

I worried quite a lot about my mother, especially in the last few years before she died. My fussing, fidgeting and nagging had very little impact, and her death was sudden and (almost) unavoidable. Worrying, or not worrying – either state had no impact whatsoever. As it happens, this event has been a supreme test of my belief system, of my views on death and consciousness and spirituality. I feel light-years away from defining or articulating what my belief system actually is, but what I do know for certain is that I still feel very connected to this woman who gave birth to me on so many levels. I don't really know how to explain this, but when I think of her I feel peaceful and grounded. Somehow, this outcome causes me to be much less worried about the people I'm connected to now. Much more able to "let go" than perhaps I once was. Perhaps, on some level, I feel that if the connection is really there, there isn't much that can happen to sever it. In some brave cases, I've even learned to trust at some gut level this immutable thing we call connection, for lack of more clear terminology. If it is there, it is just there. No amount of worrying, or absence thereof, will change that.

But you will grant me, please, my occasional knee jerk fussing. It is just what I do. It too shall pass. 🙂

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