Friday, May 16, 2014

Breathe, just breathe

Summer has started, and so have the deadlines, some missed already and some for things due immediately.  That may be why my dreams are all about I'm writing a conference paper, but it's the wrong paper, not what I said I'd do at all. I can't see the words on the page when I type. I'm locked out of email--of course, since all the passwords for everything had to be changed because of Heartbleed, that's a waking reality, too. The nicest one was where it was the wrong paper I was writing, but for visuals someone had made silkscreened panels with portraits of the writer and gold thread embroidered in them, which was much better than PowerPoint.

But it's summer, or nearly so, and the trees are flowering. Between the smell of the early morning air, the trees, and the pine bark, walking and running every day is almost as good as chocolate. Although I have to stop working on it to work on the deadline things, the writing I've been doing has been going well and is interesting.

Breathing means taking a break from reading The Chronicle and maybe taking a break from Facebook and Twitter.  It also means mastering the art of replying to emails that say "Here's a great idea! Let's meet to talk about it!" by saying, "Fabulous idea! Why don't you look into it and we can talk about it in August?"  Like weekend emails, which I learned to stop seeing as something that had to be answered right away, these are expressions of enthusiasm and ideas, but that doesn't mean that they need a response.

Breathing means the kind of conscious spending of your time that you don't get to do during the school year.  You can choose your work, and you can choose to turn off the distractions, or some of them, anyway. Right now, with deadlines looming, it's easy to feel short of breath mentally, as though wherever you turn there is stressful work to do. I'm hoping that seeing this as being under my control (after all, I did agree to these deadlines) is going to help with the calming breathing that's going to get the projects done.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

I am looking forward to breathing. I have three days of grading and five days of conference... and then 10 full weeks to breathe. And write. And breathe.

Historiann said...

Hey, Undine: where's your semi-regular Mad Men post? I'm dying to discuss the latest MM episode, in which Don and Peggy have a professional heart-to-heart and he gives her some valuable advice.

(At least, that's how I saw it. How did you see it? Inquiring minds want to know!)

JaneB said...

"the trees are flowering... walking and running every day is almost as good as chocolate"

I have to assume you are either a masochist or a lucky, lucky person who doesn't get hayfever?? :-)

Everything is flowering and it's LOVELY here but after a few minutes my eyes are streaming and swelling, and chocolate never did that to me!

undine said...

notorious--10 weeks to breathe!
historiann--very soon for the post! I'm using it as the carrot to get me through this one piece of writing.
JaneB--sorry to hear about your allergies! My family has them, so I know what you mean, but no--I just get to enjoy the flowers.