Monday, April 28, 2014

Keep Calm. I Am Alive.

On the morning of April 22nd at around 8:35am I turned in a 40+ page photo book to the office of Graduate Studies. My comprehensive exams were complete. The chapter of Graduate School is coming to a close.

The past two weeks have been a nice little hurricane of projects, lack of sleep, questionable self-care, work pressure, stress, angst, and finally a little bit of relief. Comps consisted of two large papers and a book of 100 original photos with captions, printed and bound. I thought I would have the opportunity to work out but all I worked out was my digestion track with the Dominos Pizza, McDonalds, Wrap Shack, beer, candy, and cookies I ate. Needless to say, I was a bit of a mess. I stayed focused and put my all into the projects, they got done, and I believe I did well. But I let myself go. I'm dying to get back to the gym this week.

The morning I turned in my photobook, I had 5 hours of sleep the night before and I had to work a 10 hour day. I was irritable and all my clients needed things in my absence. So there was no easing back into work flow. The whole week played out that way. Even after I'd sleep 8 hours, I'd wake up as if I hadn't slept at all. It was rough and I hated feeling so drained. My apartment was a mess, I didn't make it to the gym, I was eating a lot of microwavable things. I felt unbalanced.

Then this weekend hit. On Friday we said farewell to one of our coworkers who got a full time job at her part time place. Then a few of us went out to Happy Hour at this really awesome BBQ place near work. The restaurant made you feel like you were out at a Carolina BBQ! The way it is constructed and set back from the street, you really are transported out of the city for a bit. The food was delicious and the happy hour specials were fantastic. I will definitely be going back.

On Saturday I had to cover an arts festival in Cheltenham for the magazine. I was tired and I didn't feel like it, but I am so glad I got assigned that story. It put me outside in the spring weather for a good four hours. I really connected with the photographer assigned and together we created a good text/photo story. The whole experience was pretty enjoyable. I love journalism moments, they are pretty great.

After the assignment, I went home and took a nap...which lasted 3 hours. And somehow fell asleep that night and slept a full 8 hours. I suppose this was the catch up and collapse from the past two weeks. On Sunday I did laundry, ran errands and worked on some articles both for school and for the magazine. I cooked up some fish, farro and corn for dinner (FINALLY SOMETHING WHOLESOME) and picked up some produce for the week.

Today is Monday and I can finally say I feel a bit more balanced. I'm still a little tired, but at least I feel like I'm eating better again and I am in more control of my life. I'm planning on hitting the gym tomorrow after work. I have a departmental awards ceremony on Weds. I'm going to the opera this weekend for a final assignment for school. Then it is just two weeks until graduation!

Glad to be feeling more like myself.

Until next time...

Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm Rallying

Holy mother of exhaustion. The car crash nightmares. The feeling of chronic fatigue even after 8 hours of sleep. The trance-like disassociation I experienced. It felt like I was out of my body and watching it. I'd go to the grocery store and aimlessly wander the aisles like someone on a drug trip, not sure of my goal and overwhelmed how to achieve it. The simplest tasks were gargantuan. I'd sit on the bus and just pray to close my eyes and open them and be home without the effort. Eating was tiring. Everything hurt.

This is how the past week has been. Things are a little better, as I'm now just a tad groggy instead of full out depleted every day. The nightmares are taking a break. In fact, two nights ago I dreamt of Kate Middleton and reconciling with an old friend. Good dreams. The upswing started after I spent 45 minutes curled in a ball at the foot of my bed with the window open, just listening to the noises outside and concentrating on my breathing.

I've never been this bad.

My comprehensive exams are next week and its funny....I'm not even worried. I'm just going to knock them out, try my best and enjoy the 6 whole days I will have to just focus on journalism and journalism alone. No work, no chores, probably some exercise so I don't go crazy. But overall, just eating, sleeping and doing journalism projects. I'm excited! That seems like a break for me! Also, I enjoy journalism so much I'm bound to love composing my projects. I'm not nervous or dreading it. I'm ready.

But I'm exhausted. Work is taking it's toll on me. We keep getting new clients ever day. That means children need to be assessed and enrolled in our childcare on top of the myriad of meetings, committees and other work obligations which are expected of me. We just did a timeline of a client's journey from before they reach us to move out and after care. Many of their stepping stones and program opportunities are made possible by ME. After hearing my name so many times, it makes sense why I am so tired all the time.

Then comes the anxiety. The nightmares. The sleep which seems pointless. The anxiety over being tired. The anxiety over being anxious. It all sort of collides together. I'm lucky I didn't have a breakdown. I'm lucky I made minor changes to find some solace in the chaos.

Today I'm tired but almost relieved. I have one more day of work (Monday) before my comps break. I'm spending the weekend running a 5K, doing laundry, reading for comps and preparing for the week ahead. I've designated my dining room table to be my "comps command center" and house all the materials I need for these exams.

Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let It Go.

Until next time...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Whoop There It Is

Have you ever misplaced your keys and spent massive amounts of time searching for them? You feel completely anxious and panicked. How about when you try to figure out a complex problem and mull over possible solutions. Ever feel hopeless as if this solution-less state will never end?

When we hit snags, especially ones that don't resolve quickly, we get lost in the hopelessness of the all. We feel stuck and the notion of getting unstuck seems incredibly far fetched. We keep trying to get unstuck but eventually the hopelessness gives way to apathy.

That is until something magical happens. We find the keys in their obvious place. The solution to the complex problem suddenly dawns on you. You pull free of the snag.

That instantaneous feeling of joy and relief immediately erases the buildup of anxiety and dread you just went through. A weight is lifted off of your shoulders and you pretty much forget all about how stuck you felt and how long you felt that way. You solved the problem. Onto the next one.

Oftentimes we say "I'll never XYZ" But when we actually do XYZ, we're so elated we've forgotten that cynical struggle.

I have this inkling that I'm about to break free of a terrible snag. That something is going to give, really soon, even though I'm not quite sure what it is going to be. The moment I break free, all my pain and doubt and cynicism is going to just vanish. I'm going to be in a minor state of shock, disbelief and find new ways to adjust to that feather-light feeling of sweet freedom and solution.

I'm going to be able to say "Free At Last!"

I'm just not sure how, why or when. But soon, I feel it will be very soon.

Until next time...

What if I'm not a Writer?

I've mentioned this before. My first book I ever wrote was a few chapters long. Each page was a new chapter. I was in second or third ...