The Merits of Pacing Oneself

As we near the middle of the fall term, I gotta say, I’m feeling okay. I remember the middle of last spring term, because it landed on spring break. I was spent, and I really, really needed that week off. I gave my job and my kids all I had, and I didn’t have much left in me. I felt like I was clinging to a mast of ship in the midst of a storm. I couldn’t fathom how I would return from spring break and do it all again. I did it, of course. And this term, as I near the midpoint, there’s none of that thrashing and clinging and worrying. My energy level is fine. When my energy is low, it’s nothing that a nap can’t take care of.

I’ve learned how to make the most of each day, do what I can, not dwell on what I can’t, and not worry about plowing through the week. Part of this has to do with my schedule. I teach right up til the end of the week, so I’ve got to pace myself. Sometimes I find a few hours midweek to take a breather. I might catch up on lingering tasks at the office, or chip away at my research project. Occasionally I take a nap. Whatever it is, that midweek work slows me down and restores me. By Friday, I’m not gasping at the finish line. Good thing, because my weekends are not very lesiurely, anyway. So I steal relief where I can. I steal time for labor when I can. There is quite a bit of mopping and toilet bowl scrubbing and laundry and reading and lecture writing around here before the sun rises, but I just chip away at these tasks. Somehow, I’m accomplishing things, slowly, without giving it everything I’ve got.

Here I am on Friday night, looking at a weekend where I might catch up on household chores, plan some home improvements, cook, clean, cart the kids, prep for Monday’s classes and some campus service work, and if I’m lucky we’ll get the dogs to the dog park. I’m not exhausted. My lizard brain is urging me to get outside and enjoy the fall colors. I’d planned to, but my Friday walk date fell through. Too bad, because I was going to suggest we walk the wooded nature trail. I then thought it might be nice to hike or kayak this evening, but daughter had a friend over for a Star Trek marathon, so I needed to stay put. I knocked out some household chores, fired up the computer, and discovered that Season 3 of Luther is available through Amazon’s video streaming. My Friday night just got a whole lot better. I took the girls out to pick up pizza, ate mine with an episode of Luther, and soaked in the magic of Mr. Elba. I paused my Luther binge, looked outside, and got out there with a broom to sweep the driveway. I don’t usually sweep the driveway, but a layer of leaves accumulated, and it will get slick if it rains this weekend. Maybe it’s because I taught about torts this week, or maybe it’s because daughter’s friends parents are going to see my dishelveled house when they pick up their daughter. Whatever the reason, I swept my long, steep driveway, which seemed ridiculous but necessary. As I kicked up the leaves, the smell of fall wafted through the air. Then I came back inside with more Luther at the ready. Call me a has-been, but that’s a pretty decent Friday night.

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