Getaway Day

A few months ago, April took a weekend away to stay in a cabin and go hiking and be alone with her thoughts and God. It was tremendously beneficial for her, and after she returned we realized that I hadn’t really had any time like that for a couple of years, and not really more than a few hours of alone time contiguously for longer than that.

I had won a night’s stay in a hotel through a charity auction, so we picked a long weekend and agreed that I’d take a night and two days to just get away. Leaving her and the kids was harder than I expected, and by the end of day 1 I was really missing my family and kind of wanting to go home, but I also found the weekend to be rejuvenating and necessary.

My regular self-care consists of playing computer games 1-2 evenings a week for 2 hours at a time, reading for 30-60 minutes before bed, getting as much sleep as I can with kids who wake up before 5 am every day, and meeting with a counselor every 2 weeks. I realized partway through day 1 of my getaway that my regular self-care is like drinking water: it’s necessary, life-giving, and refreshing, but it’s also the bare minimum. It helps me survive, but not thrive.

I had a lot of realizations in my time away and wanted to document them here. I’ll go through the days chronologically.

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Oh, right, I’m not in college anymore

I started college in 2003 working on a bachelor’s in religious studies. In 2006, I met April and fell in love, and I knew that I was going to need a job and some money before we could get married, so I started pursuing a full-time job and I was hired at Missouri State University in January 2007. Subsequently, I dropped down to part-time as a college student.

And then, due to bad advice from my advisor, I didn’t get the “right kind” of credit hours and it ended up taking an extra two years to finish my BA.

I almost dropped out. Technically, I did drop out for nearly a year, but I went back, and throughout much of my undergrad career, I was desperate to finish. So when I would see an ad from Phoenix University or others, I’d think, “Maybe I could transfer and finish faster!” Whenever I’d see a billboard for Kaplan or another program, I’d wonder if it’d be cheaper and faster to go to them.

Of course, it wouldn’t be. It’d be way more expensive, only slightly faster, and my degree would have been less respected. But this wasn’t a rational thought, it was an emotional one. I wanted to be done so badly.

And now I am done. Not just with my bachelors, I’m done with a master’s degree. But this emotional response, triggered by seeing these ads, is still strong. I see a billboard and think, “Hmm, maybe I should check that out so I could finish faster.”

And then I remember that I’m done. I’m done, and I smile. It’s hard to let go of that response because it’s so ingrained, but remembering that I have gotten all the formal education I need to is pretty great.

A Net By Any Other Name

I live and die by my calendar, and yesterday I looked at this weekend and discovered that I have just a few hours free on Saturday during which I can rest and relax. The semester has started out pretty well, but I’m busier than ever.

What is interesting is that all of these things I’m doing are very supportive of one another. That is to say, what I’m learning in my classes is helping me at work and at church; the work I’m doing at my job is giving me practice for church and school; my vision for my ministry will fuel my school and work. I feel like I’m on a rising tide, and it’s lifting all the ships.

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Preparing for Winter Break 2013

Since I haven’t blogged much this year, it seemed appropriate to me to write a bit of a catch-up post. I’ve also been planning on writing Christmas Letters to send to people, but here we are on the last day of work before Winter Break, and just five days from Christmas, and it seems increasingly unlikely that I will do so.

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What I might do with a degree in religious studies

Since I’m graduating this year, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do with all my glorious free time when I don’t have classes anymore. People also regularly ask, “What are you going to do after you graduate?” What they mean is, “Are you going to get a new job using your degree?” to which the answer is no. I like what I do, and something using my degree would be less enjoyable and would pay less. But I have thought of a couple of things I can use my degree for.

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Feeling alright

The antagonism of the last few weeks is waning, and yesterday was the best I’ve had in a while. I think part of the problem was a sense of being out of control through the start of the semester, with people moving away, people leaving work, new classes (and wrong classes and hard classes); just generally being too busy to live like I had been the previous months. My schedule was shifting, and it threw me.

I’m getting a handle on things, and I think it’s going to be alright. Yesterday was good. I hope today is too.

Not quite one year later – Back to School

I don’t feel completely comfortable about it. Taking almost a year off (I dropped my classes last October, partly out of frustration with how long college was taking and partly because my classes at the time were meaningless and one was led by a racist, sexist asshole) has been good for me, and the distance it has afforded makes me feel like this is all possible. I don’t feel confident, or happy to be back, but I might be able to handle it now.

Then again, I might not, and that worries me. I’m not used to lacking confidence or feeling incapable of dealing with something. At work, I fix things, whether they’re technical problems or people problems. I focus on solutions instead of problems, and I Get Things Done. I don’t feel like I’m able to bring that same mentality to classwork, maybe because so much of it is passive. Class isn’t me doing anything, it’s me sitting and absorbing information. And when there is work to do, it mostly feels like a way to justify awarding points for a grade, and nothing more.

Despite all that, I am hopeful about this semester. I’m taking Women in Religions, which I’ve wanted to take since my freshman year, and the professor is my advisor whom I like a great deal. Tonight I have Religion in the Global South, which is a subject I’ve wanted to study for a couple of years, so maybe that’ll be alright. It really depends on the professor, and I haven’t met the woman teaching tonight’s class.

On top of all this, my supervisor is retiring and I’ve applied for his position. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that here or not… I’ve been having trouble blogging, or writing at all, lately. He retires at the end of September and they hope to have his replacement hired before then so they can start promptly at the beginning of October. In regards to this, I do feel confident, but I’m not stressing about it one way or the other. If I get it, great–I think I can do a lot of good in that position and improve our unit at work. If I don’t, I expect my workload and stress to go down significantly.

Are any of you back at school this fall? It always seems like the summer “flies by,” but seriously, this summer was crazy. I needed another month to get everything done that I wanted done by the start of the fall. I managed to take all of two days off this summer and am still completely swamped with work.

Hopefully I can maintain a healthy balance this semester. Leave work at work, get my school stuff done the 1-2 evenings I have free each week and on the weekends, and not go completely crazy like I did last fall. No promises, though.