The Long Winter & Finding Balance

Time flies… maybe not necessarily when you’re having fun, but when you’ve got your head down in survival mode. The last five months have been hard graft, but I got through it. I took my highest credit load for school yet, all why still trying to work a full time wage job, be an active and present member of my household, and keep my sanity. I did not come through it unscathed, but I am still standing and my hard work paid off – I got three A’s and two B’s, passed a major examination and applied for the first of three benchmarks to complete my degree. So if nothing else, the first major hurdle in finishing school is behind me. And now I can soak up sleep and recover over winter break from school (though the wage job slogs on). 

I suppose it’s no surprise that I’m feeling introspective on this last day of 2018. I have mixed emotions about the past year. We had some hard-won victories and some pleasant interludes of time where things were calm, but if I were to sum things up, I’d say it was a blurry, fast sprint of careening from one thing to the next. 2018 felt like a bull in a china shop to me. And I am very ready to put the bull out to pasture. And that’s where things get complicated – I’m only halfway done with school and full time work isn’t going anywhere soon, so now what? How do I train my body and mind to be able to cope with another long haul, as spring term promises to be?

Well, these are certainly age-old questions. How many people are thinking the same things today? I’d bet a lot are. One of the concepts I really tried to understand and explore in 2018 was “simplify and slow down” and let me tell you – it is easier said than done. And that continues to be perplexing to me, and it’s frustrating that I can’t quite put my finger on either the root cause or the solution. As this year wanes away, I find that little voice in my head whispering “balance”. It was what I sorely lacked this year, and I’m certain I can’t take another step forward without being mindful of equilibrium. It’s such a basic necessity, like breathing air and drinking water. We’re not designed to thrive in extremes. We need balance. 

First up, no more 15-credit, five class class semesters. Four classes is hard, but I can manage that. Five classes was a forced march. If I have to do an extra semester of school instead, so be it. Better one extra term than a mental breakdown after doing three massive terms in a row. My second intention is to re-evaluate what is necessary to my well-being. I jettisoned everything that I deemed was not mission critical – my writing here, socializing with people outside of my family, and a good bedtime routine for healthy sleep. My justification was that there wasn’t time for everything and I could cut myself some slack on not trying to do it all. Which largely worked in practical terms – but I’m coming out of it feeling stunned, like I’ve just woken up from some bizarre dream. Where have I been the last six months? I think dropping back down to a reasonable course load will help me regain balance. I won’t feel guilty about writing here or reading a non-school book, or going to sleep at a reasonable hour because I can get the work done during acceptable hours instead. And I can still meet my goal of finishing school as quickly as possible. 

I’ve got three more weeks of winter break to recoup and center myself. I’m devouring novels and trying to shift my bedtime routine back into the realm of healthy (tonight excepted – my kid will be disappointed if he doesn’t get to stay up until midnight). And this post is a first step in getting back into personal writing; I miss it when I don’t do it. I’m hoping everything else will just naturally fall into place – I never like the new year trap of setting oneself up to fail. Too many lofty expectations, and that’s the last thing I need – I’ve got tangible goals enough that I’m progressing toward. So, to paraphrase Shakespeare – onward to the breach!