Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: back to school

The Value Of Mornings

Since returning from Alaska / back-to-school time, I’ve been getting up early with H. His alarm goes off at 5:40am and by 6am I’m downstairs in the kitchen feeding Carter his cup of food.

I’ve switched up my morning routine because of the heat. Usually I wake, write morning pages, feed the dog, run with him, eat/shower/dress and leave for work. But that means I could be out for a run as late as 8am and it’s just too damn hot for that right now.

Exercise is a priority, both for Carter (an exercised dog is a tired, won’t-chew-your-shoes dog) and me. That runner’s high keeps me going all day, unties stiff muscles and generally makes me a happier person. But running in the heat is bad for both of us.

So this is our routine for now: wake, feed dog / drink water, go for a run, write, get ready.

Unfortunately, most days writing gets lost, but I’m working on that.

I had this thought since getting back into the work groove – why do I feel obligated to do the work of my job outside job hours, when I never allow myself to do my personal work during job hours?

Hhmmm.

I have so much flexibility in my time and energy that it can become overwhelming – too many options, not enough parameters. But I heard Heidi’s voice in my head saying that this conundrum probably had something to do with value – valuing my time, creativity and personal work.

I’ve been actively putting my personal work at the forefront of my free time and not allowing my salaried job to spill outside of office hours. More so, I’m accepting that this is exactly what happens, and that I need to make conscious choices about what is important to me and what I want to get done with my time.

So, I’m running with the dog before the heat flares up. I’m blogging this before breakfast. I’m tying up email loose-ends and signing off for the night. I’m jotting down a poem instead of checking social media. I’m going for a run without music or a podcast.

My mornings are mine – and it’s important I use them for me. It sets a habit for the rest of the day and it refills my well. Valuing my time, and what I want to do with it, is a new practice for me – even though it’s something I’ve written about before – it seems like one of those lessons I’m meant to learn over and over again.

And it seems that right now, mornings are an opportunity for my daily practice.

 

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Summer Nights, School Days

Evening roller-blade

Walking at 5am

Math I don’t understand

My view most nights this week

Besides it being post-vacation-blues week, it’s also back to school.

H started his 7th year of teaching. Each year I hope he’ll hit the easy groove that experienced teachers do, and then some huge opportunity/challenge presents itself. Two years ago it was a masters program. Last year it was being department chair, a masters program and 4 different classes. This year, masters program completed, it’s department chair and multivariable calculus, which happens to be the hardest class they teach.

Which he is reviewing every night, all night, after working a 12 hour day.

Which means that it’s just me and the Carter-man for long stretches of time.

I’ve learned that the shift from summer break, having H home all of the time, helping around the house and generally being there for me, to the first week of school, arguably one of the most stressful times of the year, can suck. I love my alone time, but having him around all day, everyday and then not at all puts a strain on our relationship.

Or, should I say, a strain on how I feel about our relationship.

Because in reality, we’re the same as we were last week (well, not entirely the same since last week was still Alaska). I’m just going about my day assuming it’ll be one way and it’s another, totally different yet OK, way…

Luckily, I’ve noticed this pattern, and I let things slide to compensate. So, dishes won’t get put away quickly or he won’t remember to do something (because he hasn’t had a moment to himself) or I have to take the dog on all 3 walks for the day. It’s not easy, but it’s not awful either.

It’s just life.

—–

Yesterday I was up at 5am to be on a 6hr video conference call. Apsht. Somehow I survived, and the early start time meant an early leave time.

Feeling completely burnt from the meeting, I settled on yoga, made green juice, and took the dog to the park to run around a very dry, very hot baseball field. I straightened up and vacuumed. I ate turkey chili cold from the Tupperware. I perused Instagram, cleaned up DropBox and worked on a small project taking photos of our possessions in case we ever have an insurance issue. I cooked zucchini and heated up left-over pizza. I went out with Carter again, this time on roller-blades.

I wrote this sitting across from H as he went through calc problems and muttered things like “oh shit, I found the area instead of the arc length” which may as well be German to me.

We kept the front door propped open so a breeze came through the apartment while it went from twilight to pitch dark outside in what seemed like an instant.

I couldn’t fall asleep the other night and stayed up past 1am.

Carter mopes around looking for H, patiently waiting for him to finish his work so they can play.

It’s a transient time of summer nights, school days, 5am alarms, evenings solo even though H is home, and hot weather. The last of it seems to throw me off the most. Autumn feels like the natural signal for us all to hunker down, do our work, spend more time indoors. We don’t get that here in Southern California, the season or the natural transition.

I miss it.

 

Sundays Are For (Week 31)

 

Yesterday, I told H that, even if he hasn’t meant to do it on purpose, I see that he’s making our home life (and his personal time) as much of a priority as he can. Work is crazy this year for him – he’s teaching multiple classes, one of which he’s never taught before. He’s planning on the fly, during prep periods and before school starts, and also still attending grad school classes one night a week. While he’s super Type-B, you could not find a more diligent and organized teacher, so this whole schedule is a major upheaval for him.

I see his exhaustion and his determination to just grade one.more.class… and I’m doing what I can to help. So far, I think this is the best back-to-school transition we’ve had, but that may have more to do with my own self-care and less to do with how it’s really going for H.

But I also think it’s his intention to, as he put it, “have a real life” that is creating a bit of relationship reserve for us to draw on as the busy weekdays go by. Last week he brought the vacuum in to be fixed, helped me clean the apartment and continues to cook a few meals (omelets on the weekends and that delish chicken dinner this evening – above) I appreciate the attention and support, and I make sure to tell him so.

This morning we took the dog down to the beach path, grabbed hot drinks and sat on the sand for a bit. H graded and I journaled. It was H’s idea, and I know it’s because he’s trying to include me in his time, and make sure we’re relaxing some, even though he’s so busy.

H is grading yet another stack of papers with Carter Cash laying in his lap, and I’m here writing to you. I think we plan on splitting a small apple pie and watching some Breaking Bad before an early bedtime. (No BB spoilers, we just started Season 1!)

Hope you had a good weekend and will get some sleep too xo

Almost Silhouette

Taking a silhouette photo is on my Summer Manifesto and I have yet to take one. But tonight the light was so delicious, and our little walk was so relaxing, I thought it would be fun to try. Self-timer app + camera phone + sun setting = the above. Not exactly a silhouette but still a fun shot.

It actually sums up the two-some we are these days. With H back to school and my busy schedule, it really was freakin’ golden to have some quiet time alone this evening. I am so thankful for my four-legged companion.

On that note – I want to send love to Elizabeth of Squam. Her beloved dog Henry, whom I adored from afar via Instagram, left this world last weekend. Considering I didn’t know him (and don’t actually know her), her IG post of his failing health had me bursting into tears. It’s amazing how the internet makes the world so small. I thought this dog was the most beautiful, regal prince ever (he could be Carter’s dad, no?) and I really felt like one day I would get to meet him. Sadly, that won’t be happening. Hoping he’s with her in spirit.

Even on tough days like the past few, I relish the time I have with my little nugget – walking, cuddling, him following me around, waiting patiently for me in his crate, and how he’ll look up from a nap to check on where I’m moving around to in the apartment, then stretch his little toes, give a big old sigh, and fall back asleep.

 

Friday, again

I’ve been absent here. I do miss it, but life ebbs and flows, and there’s only so much time I can spend typing on a laptop.

Still doing much better than last year with the whole back-to-school transition. Spent today co-working with a friend. Want to do that more often. It really helps the loneliness to, y’know, not actually be alone.

And because this was a 4-day work week, we’re back to the weekend again. We’ve begun watching Homeland (which is awesome) and still running the a/c with this SoCal heatwave. Thumbs down. I started another online class (I know, I know) and I really want to post some new stories here and dig deeper into those classes in the next two days.

Even though I was down Tuesday and Wednesday (blame the dark-of-the-moon cycle, especially with it being in Virgo), I am proud of myself for taking charge of my happiness, doing what I needed to do to make the days work.

Hope you’re off to a grand weekend as well, even if you don’t have any plans xo

A Normal, Magical Day

Monday was back-to-school. Thumbs down. But I didn’t want circumstances to ruin my day. And I remembered that, back in June when I wasn’t feeling so awesome, the Day In The Life project helped lift my mood.

So, I tried it again. And it worked, again. #win

There’s something about anchoring my choices in photographs, documenting my existence throughout the day, that makes me appreciate what I’m doing. Photography validates the decisions I make and captures me in my life. How awesome is that?

My day ended up being really enjoyable. Writing in the early morning light, eating tomatoes from my own plants, walking with the pup, drinking green juice, good meetings, lots of tea and work at the office and leftovers for dinner.

A very normal, yet magical day.

Back To School

It’s back to school over here. When you’re married to a teacher, the transition from summer vacation to school back in session can be a harsh one.

After a few years of this, I’m noticing the pattern. The exhaustion on his part, the loneliness on mine. How comfortable we become with him being home and rested and not drowning in papers and activities. How disruptive it is the day it’s gone – no easing into it. One day we slept in until 7:30 a.m. and he was home for lunch, and the next a 5:30 a.m. alarm and not seeing each other for 18hrs.

It’s not being without him that’s so terrible, but that I also work alone – and so the days stretch out before me, taunting with all I could be doing or should be doing.

But this year I’m learning. I’m accepting the loneliness, inviting it in. I’m learning the awkwardness of now only having a few key hours in the evening to spend together – what what do we do with them? And I’m making sure to focus on what I need – sleep, exercise, lovely writings on the internet (here and here), podcasts, calls with friends and a general letting go of doing it all on my own.

He’s made extra effort to communicate when he’ll be home, what he can help with, checking in with me how I am feeling. These are all good things.

My aim is to feel better than I did last year, but more so, to not knuckle down until Thanksgiving, but to really see what this season brings to my work, my marriage and my creativity.