S is for Stop. I Must Attend to Schoolwork and Self-Care

SToday I had my very first real client. (It went well enough that we have another appointment next week, and I am SO glad the first one is behind me), and I am  excited that I have chosen this career. To sit and hear people’s stories, to have them share their fears and triumphs, to be a part of the healing process. I am feeling honored and quite fortunate.

I know Mercury is in retrograde (whatever that means), but my stars seem to finally be aligning. My practicum is shaping up nicely, I’ve made some great inroads for my upcoming internship which starts in the fall. And, then I realized  I am very far behind on my school work.  I need to Stop this blog-a-day thing at S.

I love the challenge of writing something to post everyday (and even though I’ve clearly not posted everyday as I should be on W, I have actually written something each day, but not everything is worthy of being shared). I’ll miss it, but I took a look at my syllabus today and realized I have to do a 3-5 hour online trauma training and write a paper this week. I also printed off about 200 pages of “supplemental” reading material I need to delve into (besides the two textbooks, and I’m about 5 chapters behind there too).

All the things I need to read
All the things I need to read

One of the concepts our instructors bring up in nearly every class in this program is the need for self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves as counselors, we will not be fit to help anyone with anything. So, something has to give. And for now, blogging everyday is what I have to let go of. I need a lot of time to think about what I want to write, to ponder, to come up with a point. And even if I take the better part of a day to do that, I still need more time to edit and revise and rethink what I’ve written. I don’t want to just throw something up here–it has to be somewhat meaningful and decently written.

I like the double meaning here
I like the double meaning here

So, since I don’t have time for long hot bubble baths, or the extra money for massages and pedicures, I’m going to have to take care of myself by cutting back where  I can and for now that means cutting back on blogging. I have to keep running or I’ll become very crabby, and I can’t possibly cut back any more on housework without endangering my health (besides, for me, having a clean house is self-care). So, here we Stop. With S.

Thanks for reading this far, Dear Readers. I’ll check in now and then to let you know how things are going.

 

Monkey Mind: On Time

Turns out there are writing prompts for this daily blog posting event. Yesterday’s was Five Interesting Things About Me. I made a list, but I am so tired of Internet lists. I’m going to start with just one of my endlessly entertaining quirks, and hopefully, Dear Reader, your curiosity will be piqued and you will return tomorrow and thereafter.

Shall we begin with a haiku?

Your hands sweep across
My face—time moves so slowly
And life rushes past

I am pathologically on time. My wife, The Little Woman, shares my sickness. We arrive early for everything. Movies, appointments, ferries, interviews, coffee dates, events. I don’t know what drives TLW, but for me I can trace my punctuality to two things: a self-help/self-awareness/personal growth workshop I took many years ago and a previous marriage. I guess maybe people were trickling in late to the workshop and the presenter asked them how important the workshop was to them. If memory serves, they all answered that it was very important. Then why are you so late? She pressed. Traffic. Kids. Spousal issues—the answers varied. Then the workshop is less important than all those things, the presenter said. They protested. No. Not at all. Stuff happens. If the workshop were more important than all of those things, the presenter said, you would have been here on time.

They went round and round for awhile longer on this topic. I squirmed in my seat, hating the conflict I wasn’t even a part of. The upshot was this—we will make time to get to the things that matter to us on time. How important is that job interview? Is it important enough that you refuse to risk being caught in a traffic jam? Is it so important you will arrive the night before and get a hotel room to avoid being late? How important is teaching your class? Your livelihood depends on being on time. You make time to get there. How important is this workshop? She asked again. Light bulbs went on. Pennies dropped. Heads hung. The lesson was not lost on me. I internalized that lesson.

The other reason for my punctuality has a lot to do, I think, with having once been “married” to a woman who, given an extra twenty minutes, would paint a bedroom before we left for an event. Didn’t matter if we were going to friend’s for dinner or to a play at the university. She could squeeze an extra chore into any sliver of time, no matter how small. Ten minutes? She’ll weed whack the back yard. Fifteen? Give the dog a bath. I hated living like that. Hated arriving out of breath and with paint in my hair. Hated the stress.

Being early for things certainly has advantages. I can find parking. I generally don’t arrive to anything sweaty and disheveled. I get good seats. Sometimes I get in to my appointments early if no one is ahead of me, which gets me out earlier. Getting to movies early is particularly entertaining—TLW and I have sort of made a sport of watching people arrive and choose their seats. Generally it’s comical. Sometimes it’s annoying. Occasionally we will be in a virtually empty movie theater and someone will sit right in front of us. One time, when there were at least another 50 seats available a woman and her friend sat right next to TLW—right next to her. No one seat courtesy. Just bam, right there to share the armrest. That was a WTF moment. But sometimes getting somewhere too early is awkward. People aren’t expecting me. I have to sit in the car an uncomfortable amount of time. Time drags by. I worry and wonder if people think I’m casing their homes.

So, I’ve been trying to fine-tune my time management skills, looking for the sweet spot between being too early and being late enough to cause stress. I’ve been noticing how much time I waste waiting. Since I got my iPhone ‘lo those many years ago, waiting is rarely boring, but perhaps I’m spending too much time on LOLz when I could be a tad more productive. I can take an extra ten minutes to finish up a piece of writing or to rinse out the coffee pot or to stop for gas so the low-fuel light doesn’t go on. I’m not going to start a major remodeling project, certainly, but I could wrap up a few small tasks instead of monkey-minding my way through my Twitter feed or flipping through my Facebook posts. Yesterday, for example, I made myself sit until I finished my blog and posted it. I had plenty of time, but I had to force myself to stay in my seat. I knew my pending appointment was only a ten minute drive away, max. Even in Bellingham where we may as well just make the speed limit 20 on every single road because no one drives faster than that, ever, I could get there with time to spare. So I sat. I finished typing. I edited. I glanced at the clock. Still plenty of time. I copied. Pasted. Posted. Even with the slow Internet at the café my blog post showed up before I needed to leave.

I put on my jacket. Finished my tea. Bussed my table. And sauntered to my Jeep. I drove the speed limit all the way. And I still arrived ten minutes early. I guess there’s still some work to be done.