Finding the why.

Ah, has it really been over a month since I last gave this blog any attention?  There have been some major adjustments to the dailiness of life, or liveliness of each day, or I guess I could just call it chaos, plain and simple.

First and foremost.  I learned a very important thing about myself.  I tend to plan things without a calendar in front of me.  Perhaps we can call this “organic planning” or “going with the flow”.  This leads to filling every (perceived) free spot with something to do, and usually this has nothing to do with vegging in front of the tv, or better yet – sleeping.  Add the busy schedules of two teenagers and a tween and the balance becomes quite precarious.

About mid-October I attended the first of eight sessions as part of my yoga teacher training, which admittedly was something I signed up for very last minute, after hearing about it from a fellow instructor.  Beyond the challenge of actually doing yoga again (who knew that dancing would create tighter muscles than running), we focused extensively on the attitude behind yoga.  Okay, maybe attitude isn’t the right word for most people…. but for the monster bitch I have evolved into over the past couple of years, it definitely applies.  I realized that if I were to continue down the same path, the health assessment numbers I take so much pride in (you should see my triglycerides – they are shockingly stellar!), it will all mean nothing if I’ve let myself be so overcome with stress that the entire family hates me and I have no friends.

Fact of the matter is, even though this really long journey of pre-requisites and graduate school has my priority since 2013, it isn’t everyone else’s priority, and I can’t expect everything to be all about me just because I’ve embarked on something that is life changing, challenging, and oftentimes overwhelming.  I started to make myself out to be the victim that no one respected and my self-pity was robbing me of finding happiness and contentment in just about everything, even in things that were supposed to feed my soul.  As a result, I forgot that I’ve been given an opportunity that isn’t available to everyone, and I was no longer enjoying this journey that I began with so much excitement, curiosity, and wonder.  I got into the mindset that I needed to hurry up and finish already so I could move on with my life and start making a real income.

Was that even the why behind this journey in the first place?  Um.  No.  I thought I wanted to help people lead healthier lives, which was why I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes for nearly a decade.  But now with all this knowledge and academics under my belt, I could widen my scope to populations beyond the marathon runners and gym rats, beyond the 9:15 a.m. Bodypump classes and weekend excursions with the run club.

After one month it seems that I’ve found a bit of clarity about the future simply by not allowing myself to worry about it too much.  I’ve let some things go (tutoring, for one) to alleviate stress and give me more much-needed family time.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty that can really cloud my mood if I let it, but at least I do know that one thing is for certain:  Everything will work out.

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The Queen of Procrastination.

My sister, who is an excellent therapist, shared some tips about procrastination.  Though they were meant for the Teenager, who is currently struggling with time management, I can certainly benefit from most of these tips myself.

This quarter my plan to take a grueling 16-credit load went from 12 credits to just 8.  This was likely divine intervention because I’m finding half way through the session that 2 courses have given me enough to juggle.  I’m not sure if I’m just burned out or if the courses themselves are challenging (Advanced Metabolism: Carbohydrates & Fats and Health Policy).  In my dual masters program I’ve completed 50% more classes on the MPH side than the MS in Nutrition/Wellness side, and for good reason.  The science end of it is kicking my butt.  Not that policy and law is any less tedious, but it’s a different kind of challenge that entails the regurgitation of knowledge and then some.  If that makes any sense.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t me.  This is just some really difficult shit.

I was actually very disappointed when I realized I may be taking much longer to finish grad school than I had initially planned.  I contemplated dropping the Nutrition component which would have allowed me to graduate this spring, with the MPH internship pending for the summer.  However, in my undying search for the “why” behind everything related to health and fitness, I decided to stick to the dual masters.  On top of that, my Nutrition advisor recommended that I take my time so that I don’t become too overwhelmed.

Blah.

But she was right.  The first year of grad school was a whirlwind.  I need to take this all in so that I know I’m ready when this milestone is behind me.  Right now many things are up in the air, simply because there are so many options.  And that is a great thing.  I never thought in a million years I’d be contemplating a doctorate but that may very well be the next step.

We’ll see.  For now, it’s time to bury myself in academia once again.

As the second year begins.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I started grad school.  Granted, during half of this first year, my other foot was still at the junior college completing prerequisites necessary for the second component of my dual masters program. Life during this time was so hectic that I think I successfully blocked it out of my mind.

Once the fog started to lift, I realized I had forgotten important appointments.  It had been 2 years since my kids last visited the dentist; this March will mark 2 years since my last ob/gyn checkup.  I was supposed to get a mammogram sometime as well, but I’m not even sure when.  The icing on the cake occurred while sitting in my Bioethics class and I received a panicked text message from my daughter that she couldn’t try out for the basketball team because her sports physical had expired.

But wait, didn’t we just do that?  They must be wrong.  They must have misplaced the most recent copy.  Or maybe she forgot to turn it in.

Right.

The irony is that one of my degrees is going to be in public health.  I should be on top of preventative health measures for those who are near and dear to me.  Grad school has made me a hopeless flake.   Not to mention more sedentary, with stiff hip flexors from sitting too long along and an annoying shoulder impingement from poor posture while typing endless papers and discussion posts.

While most people see the new year as a new beginning, I tend to view “the year” based on the school term.  Indeed 2015-2016  was great because I started a new chapter in my academic journey, though I wasn’t sure what direction I was going and the sheer amount of thinking rather than merely regurgitating knowledge was an adjustment, though a refreshing one.

I finally found my focus and this is what’s going to carry me through to the end of this leg of the journey.  Hopefully this newfound focus will trickle into the other aspects of my life which seem to run on autopilot, thankfully.

Although this short break between sessions has given me time to evaluate and improve, I have to remember:  No one was sick, injured, or felt deprived, as far I could tell.

We survived, and we’ll just keep going.

A teeny tiny break.

I was looking forward to a 6-week break in between sessions.  It would have given me time to just sit and BE, which usually entails learning new choreography for my classes and binge watching something on Netflix.  After all, the kids are starting school in a few days, the hubby will be at work, leaving my most productive hours in the day completely free.

But 6 weeks is long.  Way too long.  I was fortunate in that the two classes I took over the summer ended early thanks to enduring much pain and suffering in the final weeks, some of which involved working on some massive projects while my husband drove us through the Mohave desert twice while on “vacation”.  My poor mother sat in the back seat in complete silence for fear of causing distractions, unbeknownst to her that when I’m under stress there is very little that can distract me.  Needless to say, 16 hours of drive time from Vegas to Northern California and back were extremely productive.  I earned my pool time and the seemingly bottomless mojitos.

In pursuing a double graduate degree, my total credit requirements went from 64 to 96.  After 3 sessions, I’ve completed 28, which is not quite one-third.  It would have made the most sense to start in the Fall, since that seems to be when people start new things, academically anyway.  However, in keeping with my heightened productivity while under stress, I decided ASAP was a better option, prompting me to begin grad school immediately after acceptance into one of the two programs.  Why not?  Perhaps I’ve actually fallen in love with the rigors of academia because if given the choice between binge watching Game of Thrones and cranking out papers for public health ethics, both of which would require some serious commitment, I would honestly choose the latter.

Brains! I’m surrounded by Brains!

So yesterday grad school started.  Let me pause for a moment to take a few deep breaths because I’m often overcome by a plethora of emotions, from being over the moon excited to completely overwhelmed.  Granted the two classes that started are online courses, which was a necessity because I decided to start as soon as I was admitted, leaving a few loose ends to tie up regarding my teaching schedule.  And there is still that one pre-requisite at another college that starts in two weeks….

Forgive me.  I had to take a few deep breaths to keep the anxiety at bay.  Because it is really making me extremely anxious.

First came the introductions.  What else would I expect from a Master of Public Health program?  Of course there will be a handful of healthcare professionals, from doctors to dentists, who are already overachievers because of where they are in their careers.  Yet they seek to do more.  Sigh.  And then there is the former marine, the stay at home mom, the handful of social workers.

Meanwhile, I’m just getting started.  The only one with a degree in art.  The only one who hasn’t worked in a health care setting.  I teach group fitness classes – can we get a whoop whoop?

Next came the assignments.  The online courses are eight weeks in length, not ten.  Which should be fine, I told myself, because after all, these courses are meant to cater to people who work full time day jobs.  Yes, these very same people who are clearly overachievers.  And that may or may not include me because here I am venting out my anxiety in my blog instead of analyzing a statistical article that is due tomorrow.

Wah.

Breathe.

Or perhaps I will after I finally receive my textbooks for the course and catch up with the reading and necessary typed up homework entries on the student forums.  I think I will get this soon.  And then Biochemistry, the last prerequisite, will start at the other school I still attend.  The shit hitting the fan.  Yep, that’s exactly what will happen.