Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday morning

Saturday morning means...

...long, long runs for my husband (20 miles today).

...dark coffee with sugar and almond milk (often reheated a time or two in the microwave because I drink it so slowly)...

...a messy, messy family room, strewn with Legos and trains and books and balloons...

...sweatpants, sweatshirts, and warm socks...

...and me trying to relax, with varying degrees of success. It depends on the weekend. I always take Saturday off, but sometimes my mind continues to whirl even as I'm doing all of the things that supposedly constitute a lazy weekend.

I can tell my anxiety levels are higher than they were, say, a month ago. When I get anxious, I tend to fixate on things and become intensely self-critical. Right now, for instance, I can't seem to stop thinking about a big poster presentation I need to prepare in the next few weeks. Is there any point in sitting here for hours, visualizing where I might place various pictures on said poster? No, but I'm doing just that. I also can't stop thinking that maybe grad school was a big mistake, maybe I'm not smart enough, maybe my advisors have realized I'm an idiot, maybe I'll finish and graduate and nothing will come of it, job-wise. This is the first time in the entire year and a half that I've been in this program that I've had such strong self-doubts... and for seemingly no good direct reason. Thus, I can only assume that stress in my personal life is manifesting itself in my professional life. Emotions are getting distorted and displaced. At times like this I try to ignore what the critical voice in my head is saying. I remind myself that in all likelihood, it is wrong.

From an objective standpoint, I can see that yes, I am stressed out and overwhelmed, and perhaps I've been less patient with certain people - but in the past week I've finished every assignment that was due and attended every meeting that was scheduled. I've taught my class and written lessons. I've gotten up every morning and gone to school. It's true that I am distracted, and it's true that maybe I'm not powering along as I usually do, but I know that if I were an advisor, I would be understanding of that. I have to assume that my own advisors (who are aware that my mom was just diagnosed with cancer and is in the hospital recovering from surgery) can see where I'm coming from and aren't holding it against me.

Around my family, I've been tired. I often come home, eat dinner, and then lay in bed for a little while (a pre-bed nap, if you will). It's not ideal, but I need that time to myself. After a few minutes, I feel somewhat re-energized and can interact with my husband and son without being a complete zombie. Right now I am not being the best partner or mother. I am being a "good enough" partner and mother.

It's hard for a perfectionist to accept "good enough."

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Yesterday morning, I got up at 5 a.m. and ran four miles at a 10:30- to 10-minute-per-mile pace. That's faster than what I've been running, and I felt good. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to run 7 miles at a comfortable pace. I'm glad for the running. I need it. It's distracting, it's comforting, it's predictable, and it's a challenge that I know I can actually meet. Running is solace.

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