Saturday, August 23, 2008

Odds and Ends

1. I went to a meeting the other day. The other faculty were in such high spirits they were bouncing off each other and ricocheting around the room. I think it is really funny how giddy and happy professors do become as a new school year starts. They keep talking as if they are rueful that the summer is coming to an end, but if you watch them work and watch how they interact with each other, you cannot help but notice that they are really happy and excited.

2. I've had a string of computer problems. Some are because we got new computers at work over the summer, and switched from XP to Vista. But others are totally unrelated. For example, my computer monitor went up in smoke all of a sudden. Now I have a new flat-screen monitor. I feel very modern and up-to-date now. The funny thing is that I had just heard that that can happen to the old CRT monitors, but I had never known it to happen to anyone. Then it suddenly happens to me! I do like that the new monitor takes up less space and uses less energy.

3. Speaking of being modern and up-to-date, I got an iPod for my birthday. I've been having fun loading a bunch of my CDs onto it. Then I make playlists that, for example, bring together different versions of Irish tunes as played by different groups. All of this has me listening to more music, more intentionally now.

4. When I received news that my natural father died, I made a new playlist of "laments" and listened to it and cried.

5. Then I finally picked up my flute again and played a bunch of laments, and didn't cry, but was sad to realize that my Irish father (well, of Irish descent) would never hear me play Irish traditional music.

6. I have been having trouble working, which at times has put me in a bit of a panic since the school year is rapidly approaching. But suddenly on Thursday I did work very well again. On Friday I was back to being moody and didn't work well. Today, though, I'm actually feeling optimistic.

7. Someone wrote to me yesterday to encourage me not to give up on trying to start a Peace Studies program here where I teach (I had been contemplating giving up because of all the other pressures in my life), and to ask me to take a leadership role in forming an Irish Session in our area. I found myself enormously grateful that someone valued me for two of the things I most value about myself (my interest in peace studies; my interest in traditional music), and also grateful that this person was also offering real help and support in both of these endeavors.

I've had lots of good ideas, but too often feel alone and unsupported as I try to carry them out. That's what led to my burnout. Last year I pulled away from a lot. But in recent weeks, I've started considering what I need to bring back into my life in order to feel meaningfully connected to people (in ways that are supportive of how I feel called). I feel I've healed enough from my burnout now that I can cautiously try to add some things back, as long as I'm careful not to overdo it again. I also have to be careful to add them back in ways that don't place undue pressure upon me.

So the fact that someone else has ideas about how to move forward in these two endeavors, and is willing to play a role, but also values my input, really means a lot to me. I feel a sense that at last the universe is trying to help me instead of dauntingly resisting my every effort!

There are other ways too that things I thought would be really challenging this coming year might in fact be resolved much more easily than I had expected, but we'll have to see.

All of this shows me how hard my life really has been in recent years. Everything has tended to be much harder than I had expected, finally wearing me down to quite serious burnout and depression.

But maybe things don't always have to be this hard. Dare I believe that some things in my life might actually start to become easier and more fulfilling? Is that really possible?


  1. I've only just begun reading your blog, and I love your thoughtful insights. I relate to much of what you have to say. But I also realize I don't know you, so the following may not apply to you.

    I was thinking, maybe you've just been trying too hard -- and expecting resistance. I think that's true of myself, so I naturally relate it to your situation.

    Maybe not trying is the key -- not pushing. It's hard to change when you've lived your entire life doing that, though.

  2. Alissa, Thanks for your kind comments. And yes, I agree with you that we can sometimes get used to resistance and come to expect it, and then get into habits of pushing too hard. This was definitely starting to happen to me.

    Much of the resistance was real for a while, but then I started noticing myself becoming more and more pessimistic and negative. I didn't want to turn bitter. Last year I pulled way back but for a long time nothing really changed. But now I am starting to notice signs of change, and so I am feeling hopeful and optimistic again.

    Thanks again! And, I looked at your blog and I really like it!