Friday, February 20, 2015

Things on the brain


Not sure what's causing the snow to fall, but hey!
I have been silent on all of my blogs for the past several months. The silence was neither intentional nor the the result, really, of something that's often called writer's block. I have been writing, as usual, at least once a day, usually twice a day, and often in three or four stints. What has felt stultifying and has deterred me from blogging has been a sense of rhythmic familiarity. I developed good habits. I settled into rituals. I began to anticipate seasonal events -- like the spring planting, the fall harvest, the frenetic pace of November's National Novel Writing Month, the celebrations of the fall festival season, and the quiet hibernation of winter -- and participated in them with joy. It was fun and enlightening, but there was nothing new to share. So my blogging voice -- remembering its training from the days of journalism -- fell silent. I had thought that I would wait until I had something truly "new" to report on before I began blogging again.

    And well, I still don't feel as if I have anything new to report on. But a new blog established by my friend Pauline Carrico (a former colleague at the college where I teach) convinced me that perhaps it is time to break the silence.

    Pauline's blog is entitled Thoughts on Everything and Nothing. That title led me to think that perhaps for a bit blogging on what's on the brain might be a way to kickstart the habit.

    And, so, it's Friday, February 20, 2015. What's on my brain?

    1. Winter, for sure. I am not fond of cold weather, but to be honest, I am not tired of winter -- yet. I rather like the northeastern New York winters with big dumps of snow, howling winds, and temperatures below zero. Not because I like to venture out in them. I am not the person you will see snow shoeing or cross-country skiing. I like the excuse they give me to slow down and stay in. Lately, I've been thinking of life cycles also as having sets of seasons. Not to get too graphic, but after thirty-nine straight years of monthly menstrual periods, something that my new primary care provider calls "perimenopause" seems to have kicked in. For the moment, that means a seasonal adjustment to my life patterns. My diet is changing, my habits are changing, my body seems to demand more rest. Winter is good time to let those changes sink in and become a normative aspect of life.
    For instance, over the past week, I took over -- perhaps temporarily, perhaps in a more sustained way -- the morning chore of taking fresh water out to the chicken coop at 5 a.m. so that the birds would have unfrozen water to drink as they began to wake up. Realizing that mornings are evolving into incredibly good times for me to get the quiet work of writing, reading student assignments, and prepping for courses done before the day's daily distractions kick in, I've been working to reset my body to fall asleep by 9 p.m. so that I can take advantage of the hours before the 10 a.m. "witching hour" of e-mail deluges, meetings, and appointments. What I have found is that resetting the body clock is really not difficult. My body demands eight hours of sleep, so if I'm up at 5 a.m., it will want to shut down at 9 p.m. What has been challenging has been resetting the rest of my life. For instance, how do you tell a student who works until 8 p.m. and needs to discuss an assignment that it will be very hard to be available at the time that they are?

    2. Overall health and diet. My husband and I decided finally to switch to a different primary care provider after four years of me feeling consistently dissatisfied with the "there's a pill for every ailment" approach that our previous doctor was taking. I did some research and decided to try a doctor with an integrative medical approach. We had our first appointment in late January, and after listening to my list of concerns, she ordered a round of substantial bloodwork, recommended a nutritional supplement for sinus relief, and told me to abstain from dairy products and most sugars for a temporary period of time. After two or three weeks, I can report that I feel better physically, but I am still not sure the regime is attacking the root ailments. I don't feel very hopeful that the bloodwork will reveal anything different, but I am hopeful that this doctor will not just shrug her shoulders and stop.

    3. And finally fitness training, teaching, writing, sleep, and farming. These feel like the biggest activities of my day-to-day life. The elusive search into how to balance them out so they each get the attention they deserve persists. So perhaps that's a theme to develop, as 2015 blogging resumes ...

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