Saturday, April 9, 2011

"In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse." ~ T. S. Eliot

It's been a while since I've posted anything and the excuse that I've been too busy is a lousy one. Yes, I was incredibly busy, but as I've been thinking about it, I realized that it has more to do with the fact that my world was in complete disorder.  And although I have a lot going on, that disorder has a lot to do with my own action or inaction. This is my first Saturday morning in a long time when I am neither running around like a madwoman nor comatose on the couch with no initiative to get things done.

Last quarter was a terribly difficult one for me. My students were absolutely horrid, and although the schedule was disrupted by snow and illness, I was intensely frustrated with them, their lack of initiative to help get things back on track, and their general attitude towards class. But, as I am prone to do, I began internalizing it as my own fault. Was I not working hard enough? Was I on autopilot, as I had taught this material before? Was I allowing the other things going on in my life to affect my teaching?

I found myself upset and frustrated with the way my days were going, what I was and was not accomplishing, but the truth of the matter is that I allowed that. I got lazy. I was procrastinating. And I was disturbed by the fact that I wasn't trying all that hard to right the ship. As with anything I do, I set incredibly high standards, and I was not meeting my own expectations. I thought about all the things I wasn't accomplishing, working through, or putting back in order. I let the gym slack quite a bit, I was still plagued by the hole left in my heart by Mr. Doe, and I had no sense of pride in the work I was doing. I was fighting myself.

Last Sunday, my aunt and my mother completed a half-marathon. They walked the 13.1 miles. I ran it last year, but this year I did not train. The excuses were my schedule and being sick a few times, but again, the truth of the matter is, if I worked hard enough, if I tried hard enough, I could've done it. And as I watched the runners come through, and as I watched my mother and my aunt cross that finish line, I had a conflict of emotions--insane pride for my mother and aunt for accomplishing something so amazing, and intense disappointment in myself. I loathe the feeling of regret, and I am fortunate that I have relatively few regrets, but this one hurt. And although my aunt and my mom didn't come down on me for it, I was disappointed in myself. I felt I had let them down.

The realization is this: Each day, a fair and reasonable balance for accomplishment needs to be set. I am the type of person that needs order in my world. Yes, I recognize that it's not always perfect, there are curve balls, there are surprises and disruptions in the universe. But these days belong to me. I can and should decide what is really possible each day. There were days in the months of disorder where my "to do" list was Olympian in nature (go food shopping, go to the gym and do three days' worth of working out in one, grade papers, clean my bathroom), and if I didn't accomplish everything on that list, again, disappointment and frustration. Balance, by definition, is reasonable. Are there days when it's go-go-go? Of course. But, the tasks I set forth for myself need to be reasonable so I can accomplish them all.

So, as I sit here at my clean and neatly organized desk, in my clean and neatly organized apartment, I feel a sense of renewal. I have a new quarter and a new batch of students now. So far, they seem great. Will I feel that way at Week 10? I hope so. But I also know that I might feel otherwise. The point is that I have to simply do the best I can with what I've got, and recognize that what I need in my world is order and balance. I'm simply that way. When it gets out of hand, I have to stop, think, and revise. And it only takes a minute to do.


  1. I love this post, Nikki, and you're absolutely right. Focusing on balance alone is something I've strived to do in the last few months as well, especially when life gets hectic and I can't find the time to do it all. We are always so hard on ourselves for what we don't accomplish, but I also think we need to recognize our efforts and all that we DO get done.

    I understand you're disappointed in yourself for not completing the marathon this year. And last year, as I waited for you at the finish line, droplets of rain gently falling on my face (I say this to indicate that HELLO! IT WAS RAINING!!!! and you ran that course like a champ!), I was so proud of you for all that you had accomplished. That feeling doesn't go away. I am still proud that you were able to do that and you can always say that you ran a marathon! You are one of the hardest working women I know. Don't ever doubt yourself or what you are capable of achieving.


  2. I can understand completely how a poor class can drag you down and question yourself. I relate, sister.

    I would not be so hard on yourself concerning the marathon: how would training have helped you recover from the illnesses? (granted, I don't know how severe they were). Playing devil's advocate...I like advocating for the devil! :)