Friday, July 19, 2013

The Proper Use of Downtime

Following the lovely madness that was the Joss in June conference (and we're still in the "wrapping up" stage of that project as we collect comments from attendees and make some decisions about ongoing "best practices" for convening a conference) and the end of my two summer school classes, FryDaddy and I had decided to take some time off in July.  Some of that time is going to be devoted to a couple of home improvement projects that we've wanted to do for two years (funny how that works, isn't it?), but we also knew we needed a getaway to have a chunk of time that was devoted just to us.

I highly recommend it.  In our case, it wasn't expensive - remember that I work for a public educational institution in a state that is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of pay scale and FryDaddy is a grad student, so luxury vacations for us are something quite different than they may be for others - and it was wonderful.  Since I was a little girl, my parents have had a beach place at the upper end of the Redneck Riviera.  It's a 1960s motel that was cut up into condos (complete with knotty pine ceilings!) and, with a little planning ahead, we can usually get some time down there in summer.  This time, my sister was down with her two youngest.  (Other members of the family come and go, but my niece is doing a gymnastics camp, so she and my sister are the constants in July.)  Our schedules don't usually permit much down time to visit - we live about two hours apart and we're both insanely busy, so our visits are usually the stuff of holidays.

This was nice.

I still have trouble unplugging as much as I want to (and as much as I should, to be honest), but I did all right.  I kept up with my newfound resolution to exercise thanks to YouTube videos and a willingness to look a little foolish in the living room.  We also took our youngest nephew to see Despicable Me 2 and got him totally sugared up on Slushies and Nerds.  I had a walk on the beach with my niece during which she explained the intricacies of her level of gymnastics.  All of us worked on a gigantic puzzle that was bigger than the table it was laid out on.  There was sand, and sun, and surf.  There was coffee savored in the porch swing.  There were days that started closer to lunchtime.  There were bookstores to explore when it rained torrentially.  And there was that most precious of commodities - time.

Don't overlook that.  Time.  You don't know how much of it you get and, to my knowledge, on their deathbed, no one has ever said, "If only I'd spent more time at the office."  Yes, work matters, but remembering why you bother in the first place - that ought to be at the top of the list every single day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Six Month Check In!


This is a couple of days late and once you hear about June, I think you'll understand.  This was a wacky, crazybusy month - Joss in June took up any spare time that wasn't already devoted to my two summer school classes (which wrapped up two days before the conference; grades were turned in yesterday) and that's a schedule I hope to never have again!!  Yes, I know - I'm the one who set it up, but I don't always look out for my best interests.

For a conference report, go over to the main blog (linked above) and let me add one thing.  Ensley served as social media contact & guru and this conference simply would not have happened so smoothly and so well without his efforts. Communication is key and he kept things up to date, which is a much bigger task that you might initially think.

Looked at in the cold, hard light of day (okay, it's July in North Carolina, so it's more like the "hot, humid, languid light of day," but that doesn't sound as dramatic), June was rough.  All the hard work paid off - not just with the conference, which is garnering rave reviews and warm fuzzies by the bucketload (all of which are greatly, greatly appreciated!), but also with my classes.  Five-week summer sessions are intense and there's just not time to fool around, something a few students always unfortunately fail to realize.  But these were really good classes - students were engaged, interested, creative, and attentive.  Still - it takes work and a tremendous amount of energy, so I had days upon days in which I tended to conference details before class, did six-plus hours of song&dance for my classes, then dove back into conference "stuff."  By the time I was done, I was done.  There was far too much collapsing on the couch for a couple of hours, muttering "Love you" to my stalwart husband who kept things running, then dragging off to bed to toss and turn over what hadn't gotten done that day.

While some habits are becoming engrained - through this madness, I kept up with my basic routines, drank my water, ate fruits/vegetables, and added in one called "me time" (see my previous "Twenty Minutes" post) - my exercise often consisted of running around with my hair on fire and my eating habits - well, let's say that stress causes me to eat very badly and leave it at that.

So in a lot of ways, I'm starting over.  But in a lot of ways, I have good habits already in place; they're just a little dusty.  Also, in the last two weeks, I started playing with adding in half-hour interval workouts (amazing what you can find on YouTube) and I found a couple of online coaches who don't yell at me, but instead encourage, cheer, and in general, make me feel good about deciding to try something that's both new and hard.  (Really.  "In shape" does not describe me, unless the shape of that of cookie dough.)

We'll see.  I've been here before, of course, so what makes me think this is different?

I do.

I understand far better than I used to the importance of recharging and rest in the process of working.  Oh, I've talked about it, sure, but I never really "bought into" the concept.  I deserve to feel good in my own skin and to feel soothed when I come into my house.  So a little strength training today, sweep the front porch and water the plants, all followed by a luxurious massage, and next week - an "unplugged" vacation with my darling, a stack of fun books, and a beach.

Yeah.  A girl could get used to this.  And I hope I do.  Hard work is a good thing, but too much of it for too long is not.  Rest.  Recharge.  Renew.