What an embarrassingly long break I have taken! I am wondering when I will finally figure out how to do summer here in Vermont and find some time to myself to settle my mind down and just…slow…the…pace. This summer has been unusual, though. I was in Ohio for my four-week class, so that was new. We have two weeks of renters right in the middle of the season, which is completely fine, but we haven’t rented in a few years, so this is a shift. And, Anna is going to camp in Western Michigan right in the middle of August, which means a lot of driving from here to there and everywhere and back and forth and up and down again.
In the meantime, my new job as a freelance article writer for Bisk Education has been satisfying, busy, and a huge boost to my confidence. The articles I’ve written have all been well-received and they keep sending assignments, so this, too, is all new for me. For my entire working life, I have absorbed the writing of others, put my energy into my students’ essays, journal entries, research papers and more. I am weary of that kind of input into my brain, of the words of these others that need my opinion and feedback. Now that I’m away from it, my mind is happier,and is finding some space for its own ideas without the intrusion of outside words looking for my help.
In October, I’m going here! Ghost Ranch Fall Writers Week, October 9-15. It’s too exciting to think about quite yet, but this is the course I’m signing up for. Cannot wait. I might even drive out if I can spare the time. That would be, well, so much fun I wouldn’t know what to do with myself except just drive west and smile, smile, smile.
Finally! I am back in Vermont with the family after a month of the Appalachian Writing Project Summer Institute. Being back in a classroom setting, as the student this time, was a huge deal. I was so much better than I was the first time around, reading my assignments, contributing to class discussions, completing all written work on time, never skipping class because I’d partied the night before or because there was something better going on…I loved it. The last few days, though, I started thinking that if I ever do go back to school, the adjustments we’d have to make will be quite major. One thing I relearned about myself is that I need near sensory deprivation to read or write anything more substantial than “O” magazine or a blog entry. My mind refused to lock in on the work i had to do unless all distractions were removed for a sustained period of time.
I’m a procrastinator and I get distracted freakishly easily, yet once I am finally in the zone it’s very hard for me to come up for air and politely face friendly interruptions.
The other thing I noticed about my student persona is that at the end of a long, stimulating day, I have almost no mental capacity left. You might think that is an obvious one, but what I mean is that once I got home around 4 pm, I lacked the will or energy to be social, even for something as laid back as Celtic night at Jackie O’s with a friend, or yoga class, which of course would have been very good for me. The to-do list I’d generated once Aaron and the girls left had to be seriously adjusted once I discovered that the energy I thought I’d have was much less than I’d anticipated.
After interacting all day, my soul craved the solitude of the house because my entire being needed to recover before the next day’s class. A lot of this has to do with my growing awareness of the more research-based complexities of introversion, the focus of the big paper I need to write as my culminating assignment for the class. The more I learn about my own introverted tendencies, the more I get the way I’ve dealt with so much in my life. It’s not all bad, not all good, but it really fascinates me, and the one thing I know now that seems non-negotiable from now on is that I need way more alone time than I’ve been getting the past several years. This, I think, is why I’m constantly trying to tweak my career, why I’m forever seeking the sweet spot where it all seems to fit together a little better. We’ll see how it goes. I am in the thick of big thoughts.
I’m cleaning out our desk, and just found this from a year ago. Anna had half a dozen girlfriends from her 6th grade class over for a backyard campout and thought her parents needed some guidelines:
- No yelling.
- No being embarrassing.
- No being in the middle of things.
- No letting Charlotte be annoying.
- No letting the cats get out.
- No spying.
- No dragging me away from the group except for when mom has to twist my expander.
- BE GOOD!
Five days alone. I feel like I’m still in the adjustment stage, like I haven’t yet hit my stride, whatever that may be. The ideas I had on how to spend my solitude might shift, now that I’m actually in the thick of it. Today, class was heavy, and I arrived home mentally and emotionally spent. Our discussions on social justice and racism were at unsettlingly tense and silence filled, but at the same time beautifully facilitated and thought-provoking. It was also my day to give a 45 minute demo lesson to my classmates, and the lesson went smoothly, feedback was positive and everyone felt like they learned something they could take back to their classrooms. I’m completely wiped out, though, utterly exhausted, and I haven’t been able to shift my brain into “get stuff done” mode beyond cleaning out the tippy top shelf of the pantry and discovering a bag of unopened Easter treats.
I need to be aware of my energy levels and understand when they are working with me and when they are working against me, and probably take another look at what I want to get out of this extended period of being alone. This morning when I woke up and wrote in my journal, I had all kinds of plans for what to do once I got home from class, but my mind and body refused to comply when the moment came. These days, just about everything is an eye opener.
Seriously, though, what about those Peeps? I could not find an expiration date and that does not seem okay. Not at all.