Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rethinking my goals and possibilities

Well, I still have yet to actually get anything done or make any progress on anything so far this week, but today, I promise that changes!

While I am 100 million % not ready for school to start (as in I don't want to go back to work, and I'm totally unprepared for classes to begin), I think I actually NEED school to start so that I have some structure here. 

Perhaps I need to rethink summers. I got more written and read during the year when I was teaching than I have during this whole time that I've not been teaching. Perhaps summer is not a good "catch up on all the stuff I didn't get done during the year time." Maybe I got pretty decent at getting work done during the year that I just don't want to do anything else during the summer.

Maybe that sounds like a total cop out. I know for 99% of you, summer is when stuff gets done even if you are productive during the year. I'm jealous of that, actually. I would have liked to have knocked out my articles this summer. But one thing that I'm really, I mean REALLY trying to work on right now is the way I think about things. I mean, I think what I need to do for next summer is set a goal right off the bat. I won't be teaching--let me rephrase that--I do not plan on teaching since the J has a job, so I feel confident in saying that I'm not going to teach next summer. I think what I need to do is just say, "okay, from 9-12, M-F, I work--I will read and write things related to the work I want to do." And I will have to have a plan before the end of Spring Quarter.

While I have been down on myself about the lack of academic stuff I've done this summer, I have enjoyed spending the summer focusing on myself. I've gotten really good at cooking and meal planning (not that I always meal plan). I've gotten closer to my fitness and health goals. All things that will have a positive effect on what I hope to get done during the year.

Even though I felt this was an all important summer on getting research done, I think that was part of the problem--total self sabotage in this area. I made the work momentous and huge and prematurely too important. If this were my fourth summer and I were still where I am, then yes, this summer probably would have made or broke me in terms of my ability to get tenure. But as often happens with me, I totally shut down under the weight of importance.

That being said, it is imperative that I get something out by the time Spring Quarter starts and that I do try to get something else out by next October. I feel confident that I can meet those goals, and that I'll still be making good progress toward the tenure qualifications. (I have about 34 of the required 50 page minimum right now. Trick will not be in the writing, but in getting things accepted--and by October, all 34 of those pages will actually be IN PRINT).

I like spending the summer learning and focusing on new, non-academic things. It's been refreshing not having to move, not having to deal with a deployment, not having to finish a dissertation while working at a crappy job or finishing a dissertation while scrapping by for food. This is the first summer I've had in a very long time that hasn't been filled with stress and anxiety requiring medication in one form or another. I've had my freak out moments (uh, like what Friday? Saturday?), and it hasn't all been puppies and rainbows, but maybe the chance to "just be" is what I needed. I'm healthier than I have been in my entire life.

So right now I need to map out a plan, some goals, a reading list, and deadlines (both long and short), come up with a plan of attack (I should do the same thing with our outstanding debt, too). I need to get to work on finishing those syllabi (the goal is to have them both done, with the schedule of assignments finished by Friday). And I need to get the first two novels for the novel class read by Saturday so I can be ahead of the game a little bit and start prepping them. I am freaking out a little bit about this class to be honest, but oh well. It's only 11 weeks.

And tomorrow I go start getting the "sugly" (summer ugly) sloughed off with a hair appointment, and I think I'm going to get my nails and toes done, too. Today though, I read and work on those syllabi.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Moving Forward

I spent yesterday morning making a calendar for the next two weeks of things that I need to do in the next two weeks. It helped. And then I went and worked out, and I had a couple of successes in my training. That helped, too.

Even though Dr. Crazy pointed out the things I had accomplished this summer, I feel like this has been a long week of personal and professional/academic disappointments, false starts, failures. Yeah, it sounds melodramatic, I know, but it feels like this has been an especially crappy week. My point is, I'm glad that she pointed those things out. And the trainer at the box did the same thing to me too, so clearly I need to be focusing on the positives here and moving forward and building on the successes rather than wallowing in the disappointments.

And because it was all rainy, and I was still a little down yesterday off and on, and because I'm a total sucker for wanting to spend time with the J on Saturdays since he's a working man now, I did not accomplish the cleaning and stuff that needed to be done yesterday. However, when we get home from Gma and G'pa's, while he's grilling the food, I'm going to work on the guest room and stuff.

When I'm done with this post, I'm going to actually read. (I am almost an hour behind, but I need to blog and clear my head).

Plus, I was asked if I wanted to be on a SF panel (putting together a panel) for a conference which looks super freaking cool, and I so want to do it, so that has sort of given me the academic/professional push that I need right now (abstract is due in two weeks). I just decided that I am indeed going to work on an abstract for that. I find that these kinds of pushes to something immediate (for smaller projects) actually get me into a mindset for working on larger projects. However, the potential problem is that I haven't seen to make my way out of "smaller project" mode. But all of the conference abstracts that I want to work on ALL fit into one of the two larger projects on which I want to work, so the rationale is that these will jump start that research then. And that's what conference papers should do right? Lead into larger projects? Although that's been the rationale for the last two years, but oh well. After this I'll have no excuses then.

So that's it. I've got a deadline now to meet. I've got a goal. And I've got to sit down and figure out how all of this fits into the larger picture and then start chipping away at that. While I think my stress level just increased here, I think it's a good stress, and probably what I needed.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

End of Summer Blues

Well, so okay, this week has not gone according to plan at all! A couple of disappointments this week, some major exhaustion, a slightly pulled muscle (which, thanks to the oxymoron "rigorous stretching" is significantly better now), a total breakdown on Thursday afternoon resulting in lots of tears and wine (I have been exceptionally good about only drinking on Saturdays so I feel good and can get up early during the week). And well, you know, there it is. It's Saturday, and I'm trying to regroup. I need to get back into academic mode, and I'm resisting it whole-heartedly right now because I'm a) not ready for summer to be over; and, b) need more summer because I feel like I've failed in every aspect of my life this summer. I did not meet a single goal on any front at all this summer--not in terms of my health and fitness, not in terms of my scholarship, not in terms of my fall prep, not in terms of my finances, not in terms of anything on the home front either. And classes begin in 13 days. The house is a mess. I have too much stuff that I don't know what to do with. Some of it should be given away, but it's stuff I can't let go of, which is problem number 1--I should start with clothes--I really need to get rid of some clothes in a major way. And shoes. I need to donate some shoes, which is *really* hard for me because you know what if I get rid of something that comes back in style in 8 years? Then where will I be?

I have a stack of shredding that is seriously like up to my armpits.

I feel bombarded. This was supposed to be the summer of great things, the first summer where I actually accomplished something! Anything! On any front! This was the summer I was supposed to accomplish A LOT so that I could basically focus on teaching during the year and the next big project. I wanted to get shit done this summer so that this year would be a little bit less stressful. But, ah, once again. Not the case my friends.

Without sounding too melodramatic (because I am NEVER one for melodrama or histrionics, right?), I feel like I must now pick up the millions of pieces of my shattered summer dreams and figure out how to assemble them all in a sane way during the year.

First and foremost what needs to happen though is that my living space gets in order. That really needs to be part of today's project. Clothes need to be put away. Clothes and shoes need to be donated. My reading/work space needs to be set up. And the office needs to be cleaned out and what not. Maybe I can put the J to the task of shredding all this crap, and he's got bills and paperwork that's his that he needs to go through. Of course, he can't get to any of it because I've got the office in a holy hell state of a total mess.

Sigh. Now I'm overwhelmed just thinking about this. It's driving me batty.

what I need to do is what I did last winter and spring. I started making calendars. And while I didn't follow them to the letter, seeing that I had specific time blocked out for specific tasks helped keep me from feeling overwhelmed. Even if there were a lot of things on the calendar, just being able to see, with time blocked out, that there was enough time to do what needed to be done and still be able to you know, cook, watch t.v. with the husband, work out, etc., I think really kept me from going bananas. Plus, the satisfaction of crossing things off, right? The instant gratification of of x-ing off something on the list totally helps the stress level.

All right, well there it is. I'm going to start working on the calendar for the next two weeks here and see if I can't make myself feel better about getting some stuff done.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Busy, yet unproductive summer

Wow! Has it really been that long since I've last posted? Oh my dear little blog! I missed you! Is there anyone out there still checking in??

We've been busy over here at Chez Maude. Unfortunately, not busy with the work we should be doing, but busy nonetheless.

Actually, right now, I'm starting to lament the passing of summer into the Fall Quarter, which fortunately for me is still a couple of weeks away, and I need those two weeks like nothin' doin', yo.

And I'm stressed about the fact that I've accomplished very very very little this summer, once again, after I had deemed it an ALL IMPORTANT SUMMER FOR WORK! that just did not see fruition.

  • I had two course proposals I wanted to write. Neither of those happened.
  •  I had one little article and two big ones I wanted to write/research/get started on. The little one happened, was accepted, went through some minor revisions, and should be out in the fall. However, I needed a big one in the works to be ready by October or November, and well, now here we are.
  • I had a ton of books that I needed and wanted to read for research and for the fall prep. --I've read two books. Just two in their entirety. I've started three others, but yeah. Harumph.
  • I had hoped by the end of summer that I would have reached my weight loss and fitness goals. I'm still moving forward toward them, but it is much slower than I anticipated. Seriously. It's annoying, and I talk to the trainer about it, and it's a lot to do with me getting out of my own head and focusing more on the fitness than the numbers on the scale, but it's frustrating. At least the people at the box and the husband are supportive cheerleaders who "get it." 
One of the reasons that work has been so hard over the summer is because the husband has been home. He was gone of course while I was teaching, and because we were waiting for the job to start (that left us in the lurch for about a month), he had to quit school which meant he was back at home all day. And I like to spend time with him. Now that he's back at work, now that family has gone home and the trips are done, I should be able to get some stuff accomplished in the next couple of weeks.

There are three big things that I really need to do before the quarter starts:
  1. Prep as much of the new stuff for the new class that I can before the quarter starts.
  2. Write my syllabi.
  3.  Finish the great reorganization/cleaning/donation project of summer 2012 that has been ongoing for the last two months.  
Because now that the quarter is about to start and I've got to spend the next year doing what I didn't do this summer, the office and the guest room have got to get organized. We've got to get rid of some stuff and make some more room for ourselves. Yes, we've been here a year now and still have unpacked boxes! But now that the husband will be gone during the day, there's no reason why I won't have time to get done what I need to get done.

The plan then is to read/work in the morning and clean/organize/purge/donate in the afternoons. But since the husband is off on Mondays, tomorrow he's helping me do the cabinets and the kitchen, and then get to work in the guest room and go through his clothes for the donation pile.

And I promise to be a better blogger. :)