Posted in Uncategorized

Exhausted, but in a different way

I let a couple weeks go by without a new post, but nothing felt right when I wrote it. You see, for all of my posts about taking care of yourself, I wasn’t taking care of me. I was just as weary and exhausted as ever, but still pushing to keep moving as fast as I could. In my mind, I needed to pick up all the pieces that I felt like were falling. I just happen to be one of those people that has great advice that I never listen to myself.

The truth is, I am still exhausted. In fact, I slept 13 hours last night because I had let myself get so tired. So if I’m exhausted, why do I feel better? I did some self-care this week, but maybe not in the way that is typically expected. This week, I was able to help with the competition at our gym (Mossy Creek Fitness) to benefit Tyler’s Voice. You can find more information about Tyler’s Voice here. It is a joke between the owners of the gym and myself that I am “scary organized” and since I have that quality, I love to offer my help when we have events. The competition was originally supposed to happen in May, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. So my self-care this week just happened to have me busier than ever.

For me, the opportunity to spend some time organizing, creating to-do lists, making (and re-making) scoring sheets, and crunching numbers on a spreadsheet system with some of the most lovely people around. I even got the opportunity to figure out how to run a silent auction using Google forms. I know, this doesn’t sound like rest. In fact, I agree, it wasn’t rest. It was super hard work put in by a ton of people to have an amazing event.

I also got the opportunity to workout twice this week for the first time in months. I have been in PT working on some stuff in my back and hip, and super busy, so getting in 2 workouts this week was wonderful, although also hard mentally, but I’ll talk about that in my next blog post.

All of the activity this week has left me exhausted, but exhilarated. Tired, but energized. Sad, but excited. I finally realized that maybe my self-care can sometimes not be about sitting still, but instead be about the motivating factor behind my movement. I still think we all need to take a break.

I still think I need to take a break. I’m still dreaming about a long weekend away from everyone and everything with a fireplace, a hot tub, and a great view. But those forms of self-care may not necessarily fix it all. They would give me rest and help me heal physically. They would give me peace and quiet to work on my mental health. They would give me free time to work on my stress levels. The opportunity that I was given this week was the opportunity to work on who I am as a person. The opportunity to toss all the cynical feelings about all the things going on in the world went out the window when I got to see Tyler do such amazing things in the CrossFit Total. This week, amidst the chaos and hard work, I got to do some self-care to heal emotionally. The toll that none of us like to think about. The toll that happens when you are a natural caregiver. When you will gladly work yourself to death if it will make other people happy or take away a burden.

This week, I got to see our gym (with a ton of help from others) do Tyler’s Voice competition. I got to see people of all types working together on something. I got to work with people that I am so lucky to call friends, and have amazing conversations with people that inspire me. I also got to be affirmed by someone that I didn’t expect to be the person to give me affirmation.

So, you see, I am absolutely exhausted. I slept 13 hours and could quite honestly go back to bed. I’m on the couch in pajamas and pretty much planning to stay there for the day. But, I feel better than I did because I was able to give my talents to something bigger than myself for no reason other than wanting to help. Lots of people talk about filling the bucket and taking care of yourself. Getting enough rest, finding time alone, disconnecting from the world for a few minutes or longer, eating healthier, working out more, communing with nature, enjoying a good meal, etc. are all great ways to do self-care, and are all things we should try to do every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to do something that maybe makes you busier, and even a little more stressed for a moment, if it will also give you the opportunity to give of your talents and gifts freely. The work this weekend was something I took on freely, just wanting things to be organized (I may be a slight control freak), but the repayment I got from this weekend is something that will help me get through the next few weeks.

Yes, I am exhausted, but it is a different form of tired. It is one that is like being wrapped in a warm blanket. It’s a happy tired. I hope you can find a way this week to find your happy tired.

Posted in Inspiration, This is me, Uncategorized

Take a Break!!

Stop working so hard! Have I gotten your attention yet? Before anyone comments that I am promoting laziness, please know that I am definitely not doing that. I am just telling you to make sure you are taking a break every now and then. With the movement of so many people to working from home due to the pandemic, a lot of the lines between work and home got blurred, if not erased all together. If you are leaving work every single day and you are feeling like your gas tank is permanently running on fumes, there is something wrong.

Ronda is running on empty

We are all guilty of it. We work just a little longer to finish up the day’s tasks. I hate having things on my to do list that don’t get checked off by the end of the day. I have a need for there to be no notifications on my phone or iPad because that signifies that something needs my attention. I will repeat: Quit working so hard!! I have to say it to myself (and I’m a horrible listener when I tell myself something). I am writing tonight, from my office, because I just finished teaching and wanted to finish up a couple of things. Writing a blog post has been on there for several days, so I decided to mark it off the list tonight.

Why are some of us so driven? I know the reasons for motivation and drive. I get intrinsic and extrinsic value. But what makes us push beyond normal limits? Is it a fight against perception? Sometimes I really think it is. Maybe it is that we don’t want to be perceived as lazy or expendable. Maybe it is because we like to feel important and needed. If we just work a few more minutes, or maybe another hour, we prove how helpful we can be. When we prove ourselves, people need us more. Or at least that’s a theory.

I have another theory for the push to keep moving. I think sometimes we are afraid of what will happen if we stop. I do realize that could go with what I just wrote as well, and there is some fear of being not needed if we don’t keep proving our worth. Think about it though, how many times have you heard the saying, “I will rest when I’m dead,” and how do you relate that to your life? Is the motivation to keep going synonymous with a fear of what happens when we stop?

How does that fall in with this pandemic? Does that add another layer of if I keep moving, it means I am healthy? Are we turning our homes into this?

It's OK to Miss the Office During the Coronavirus Lockdown - WSJ
Where is the work/life balance?

Who suffers the most when we lose the boundaries between our work time and our home time? The argument could be made that it is our children, and it is a very good argument. The argument could be made that it is our relationships with our family members or the ways in which we deal with stress when stress is present in every aspect of our life. I think it is changing us in ways we don’t even think about. For instance, have you emailed someone over the weekend and gotten irritated that they didn’t respond? Does everything seem like an urgent situation to you? I have heard the term surge capacity several times over the past couple of weeks. At first I thought it was a crazy term being used to make excuses. I’ve done a little more research (just a little, don’t have time to do much), and I am a believer. I think most of us have hit or exceeded our surge capacity limits. The world feels upside down and topsy turvy, and it seems to be getting crazier by the day.

Our Brains Struggle to Process This Much Stress | Elemental
Somebody put us back to right side up.

I don’t know how to solve the problems, and I’m really not even certain I know what all the problems are at this point. I do know this, we have got to take a break and get off the merry go round every now and then. We have got to start reestablishing the lines between work and home life.

50 Ways to Take a Break from: https://themostefficient.com/50-ways-to-take-a-break-infographic-brain-breaks-for-adults/

There are some great resources out there to help you re-establish those boundaries. I found the graphic above, along with some really great ideas for both work and home, at https://themostefficient.com/50-ways-to-take-a-break-infographic-brain-breaks-for-adults/. There are a ton of things that I don’t understand, and what is going on in the world is right up there near the top. I do know one thing for certain; if we all keep working this hard, we are all going to end up broken.

Take your foot off the gas and don't push yourself too hard. If you need to  rest, then take a break. The… | Inspirational words, Be gentle with  yourself, Cool words

So give yourself some grace, set some boundaries, and look up from your work. These things can only help you feel better.

Posted in Uncategorized

Building Perfect Chaos

So, every once in a while, you have to step out on a limb. That is what David and I are doing, stepping out on a limb. He came up with this idea (which i honestly thought was half-baked and kinda crazy) this summer for us to do a podcast together. After putting him off for a couple of months and us kind of batting it back and forth, Perfect Chaos is now well on the way to being a reality.

Last weekend, I created a logo and we recorded the first actual episode, in addition to creating a schedule that gets us through the end of the year and David creating the account to publish the podcast. We recorded our first episode with one microphone and while we were sitting outside on the deck.

Recording the first episode of Perfect Chaos

Through the process of recording the first episode, we determined that we needed to not record outside, and David determined that we needed to change the way we had things set up for recording. He ordered some more equipment, cleaned up some of the stuff in the office, and set us up to record our second episode this weekend.

The beginning of an actual space for our podcasting and office stuff

We have now recorded 2 full episodes and 2 trailers, and are now making plans to redo our office (which we have been talking about since we were all sent home in March to work and learn together). Stay tuned for more pictures of the morphing of this space which was the first bedroom for both of our kids, has been an office at multiple different points, and is now going to morph into an office/podcast studio that fits both of our tastes and is comfortable for us both to work in consistently. It should be a fun ride, and I will document it all on the blog. So, in the interest of truth, these before pictures were not taken until this afternoon, so he has already done some work in there. By the end, pretty much nothing you see will look like it does now, and most of what you see won’t be in there at all anymore.

This room is a very narrow room, so it will definitely be interesting to do what all we are wanting to do in there, but the vision is a change in color, a desk that goes along the whole window wall, a shared table coming off the desk where the card table is currently, and some seating. Wish me luck as we navigate this while still trying to keep all the other balls in the air. Hopefully, when we finish, we will have a nice area that works well for both of us individually and works well for us to do projects together as well.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Sound of Silence

Are you unnerved by silence? I have been for years. I could be really funny and blame that on the fact that I have kids or the fact that I did band for so many years. I was never traumatized because of or during silence, so it isn’t anything that has happened in my past that caused this. I just don’t like total silence.

I have always heard people talk about meditating or praying and doing it in silence so they can hear the response, and I tried that, at least 2 or 3 times. I used to get so frustrated with myself because I couldn’t do “the thing” correctly. I have finally, at almost 40, figured out why I don’t like silence. You see, the problem is that I am one of those people that doesn’t like to pause. I genuinely like to be busy. It makes me feel alive. It helps me to know that i am doing something that is contributing to my world.

I can remember many basketball games with the UT pep band or UT Alumni pep band where the arena has gotten totally silent and someone, usually a trombone player, screams, “Awkward silence!” We all laugh and noise starts back up but, for me, that brings a sense of relief. It is like I can breathe again.

The strange thing about this is that I also love to be at peace, with not a lot going on. My favorite places are out on the boat in the middle of a cove or on my back deck listening to it rain. I am writing this very blog post sitting outside under the awning with the fire pit going and listening to the rain while I wait for the sun to rise.

If you turn the sound on, you will hear what I’m hearing.

So, if I don’t like silence, why do i crave quiet? I think I have finally figured out why the quiet brings me such peace. I actually crave the stillness. Yes, I love to be busy, and I love to work and think, and I actually love to go and do the things. However, when I can sit and just listen to the small sounds around me, I can work on things (like writing a blog post), recharge my personal battery, appreciate the amazingness of where I live, and, for just a small moment, find my peace.

In the Southeastern United States, many of us are living in areas that have entered into “first fall.” Now, if you aren’t from around here, we have multiple seasons (all 4 of them actually occur here) but sometimes those seasons decide to come and go like a pendulum swinging. First fall is a wonderful time of the year when the days are finally getting cooler (the high on a sunny day has gone from being in the 90s with 85% humidity to a lovely forecast of 71 today with rain stopping around noon), the air starts to get a little crisp, if you live near the mountains, you wake up to see lots of fog, and, oh yeah, it’s football season. For me, although I love summer and spending time on the lake, and I love Christmas with the glitter and glitz of the holiday decorations, Fall and Spring are my favorite times of the year. You see, these are the seasons when I can really sit outside and enjoy my version of silence.

So, why did I write all of this? Because sometimes, what we are needing in this hectic and crazy world is just the sound of silence. Whatever that is to you. For some people, it is true silence, and that is wonderful. For others, it is the sound of animals rising to greet the day or their sound of silence is waterfalls or traffic sounds. Sometimes it can be the sweet sounds babies can make or the peace that comes from watching a movie or listening to music with family.

I think the word silence could use another definition. I think, perhaps, silence is not just the absence of auditory noise, but perhaps the absence of the “noise” that goes on around us continually. Maybe, just maybe, the silence that we are looking for is much less about actual sound and much more about pressing pause on the world around us. For now, try to find your silence, no matter what that sounds like, and take a few breaths. There is nothing more vital than that at this moment in time.

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking Care of You

Weary, exhausted, tired, and worn out. These are all words I have heard in the past week from some of my students who are teachers. These aren’t the only thing I have heard, though. Disconnected, stressed, alone, anxious, overwhelmed, and spinning are also words that I have heard from these same students. Amazingly enough, not only are my students who are full-time teachers expressing these sentiments, my undergraduate students are using some of the same words and phrases.

I have lost count of how many times a student has been in my office in the past week worried about a family member, or how many teachers I have talked with that are concerned about the lack of engagement in their classrooms. A small group of us had a conversation the other day about it feeling like our students aren’t really “awake” for what is going on in class, even when they are right in front of us and doing an activity.

It would be easy to throw a Bible verse out there during these conversations. Matthew 11:28 comes to mind as one that may typically be said to someone with these feelings. I mean, I do work at a Christian university, so that would be a perfectly acceptable response to my students and colleagues.

Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I just don’t have the heart to give that as a response right now, though. I still believe it, but right now I don’t even know that we can find the rest He gives because of all the other “stuff” and all the noise coming at us from every direction. I think He is trying to give us rest, I really do. Man, it sure is hard to stop and listen, though.

I started this semester with huge hopes, big goals, and a ton of thoughts about how this one would be different. This semester was going to be the one where I stayed on top of grading, thought more out of the box (I mean, we are all still teaching in a pandemic, so out of the box has to happen, right), and even managed to plan ahead more in an attempt to work less when I am at home. We are now 5 weeks in, and instead of those thoughts towards greatness and student engagement, I am starting to have the same feelings my students are having.

So, how is it that my own children in middle and high school, my undergraduate students, my graduate students who are also full time teachers, my doctoral students that I am still advising, and my colleagues are all saying and feeling the same things? There has to be a way to stop this, right? There has to be a way for us to all start to feel like we are on the other side of this thing and we finally have it figured out. Oh, how I wish that was what this blog post is about. I wish with all my heart and all my soul that I had the secret for us all that would make this year be everything we had hoped for when we were all so excited to see our students and colleagues again.

If only that was what I was here to tell you

So no, I don’t have the answer that will make everything right again. I honestly am struggling just as much as everyone else. And while I can’t make it all go back to “normal,” I can give you a couple of ideas that should help things feel a little better.

So, here it is, my list to take a little bit of the edge off of this crazy year, whether you are a student or a teacher, or both.

1. Schedule some time each week (at least each week, but it would be great if you can find something each day) for some self-care. This doesn’t have to be something huge, maybe it is 15 minutes outside drinking coffee in the morning before everything gets rolling. Perhaps it is a short yoga flow (I kind of like Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube for short yoga stuff, but I’m not very bendy) or a workout (I like to lift the things – can’t right now due to a back issue but, if that works for you, own it). Perhaps it is 30 minutes before bed with a good book, some music, or even practicing your own instrument. It can be any number of things, just spend some time that is solely yours. I know this is hard, but it will absolutely change your day, that I can promise.

2. Eat somewhere other than your desk. I set a goal to stop eating lunch at my desk about 3 weeks ago. Some days it has been a quick 15 minutes with a co-worker at a table in my office, but I have managed to not eat lunch staring at my computer screen in my office. I have even had some working lunches, but always away from my desk. If you can get out with a good friend or co-worker and actually leave your job for a few every now and then, that is even better. I have a co-worker who is my person at work. When either of us are overwhelmed, all it takes is a text that says Queso date and we immediately find a day within the next week to do lunch at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. It is nice to be around someone who isn’t depending upon you for anything other than nice conversation.

3. Give yourself some grace. This may be the most important of the three things. We all had expectations for what September of 2020 was going to look like, and I am betting it doesn’t look like any of our expectations. I’m pretty sure no one got it right in 2015 when they were asked where do you see yourself in 5 years. There are things in this world that we cannot control. Trust me, as an admitted control freak, I get that this is throwing us for a loop. It is ok that we maybe haven’t hit every goal we set for the week or checked everything off the to-do list for the day. For most of us, the work can, and maybe even should, wait until tomorrow. Unless you are putting off some life saving emergent procedure, cut yourself some slack.

For many of us, our energy banks are depleted, ideas are slowing down, circumstances seem overwhelming, and the world seems to be closing in around our heads. I “gently reminded” a co-worker today that she is no good to anyone if she isn’t taking care of herself.

This isn’t my normal thing to write about, and I promise to get back to good old sarcasm and crazy educational stuff next time. I just felt like maybe this needed to be said tonight more than anything else I could say to you.

So, until next time:
~Remember that everyone is trying their best
~Give yourself and others grace
~Choose joy in the morning when you start the day, it won’t keep crap from coming throughout the day but it will help you deal with the crap that happens.