Advent 6 – When the Hard Days Come

I’ve written before about the pervasive need to be kind to yourself in stressful situations, in part to avoid behaving in a way that demands that you sheepishly apologize the following day. Well, some days are easier than others and, since the idea behind Advent Adventure is to live in the so-called Real World, I must report that today was not one of the “easy days.”

Let’s be honest here – in the big scheme of things, today was nothing much. Just a day like many others, when I found myself with too much to do and too little time to do it in. I firmly believe having a solid groundwork of self-care techniques keeps me sane on these days, so let me explain how I managed to hold onto the tail feathers of grace and humor (just the tail feathers, and just barely), for it is nothing inherent in my character – instead, it is the result of years of trying to walk this path.

My morning meditation was about handwriting. Sounds odd, I know, but think about it – it forces you to slow down a bit. My mother is “old school” in this way – I routinely get cards and letters (actual letters!) from her and it always uplifts me to see her handwriting, even on a dashed-off quick note that is clipped to a newspaper article that she thought I’d enjoy. It means she was thinking of me and – let me tell you – it means more to me than scrolling through my social media feed and clicking “likes” does, although I enjoy my online friends, too. So I made sure today to write a little instead of just typing it all.

That oasis of calm was much needed today and I returned to it mentally several times when I started to be spun up. Again, it wasn’t an awful day, it’s just that it’s the end of the semester, which is always an incredibly busy, grimy time. It’s not just the grading (although I don’t discount that part of it); it’s also the hand-holding that students always seem to need, regardless of age or educational level. (And – seriously – if you’re not okay with that, find another profession.) One of my RAC (Reverse Advent Calendar) challenges today was to “notice when you’re hard on yourself or others and be kind instead.” At one point, the best way for me to do that was to leave my study at home and find another place to work – I just was irritable and distracted, which helps no one. So I hied myself to a cozy coffee shop, chit-chatted for a minute with the kind barista, and settled into a booth. Got the work done and felt like far less of a Grinch. Kindness comes in all sorts of forms.

My other RAC today was to donate a gift to charity and I’d actually done that one earlier by donating a few books to a book drive at work. There’s fruit cocktail in the food box, and I’m learning a few more French words in the past tense. I got just a few Christmas items out today (the finishing touches for the mantel, some pretty antique glass ornaments in a cut-glass bowl on a cabinet) – I’m having the house cleaned tomorrow*, then I’ll arrange the Nativity set on a freshly-dusted shelf and we’ll deal with the tree. I managed to hit my water goal today, but the sheer amount of grading I was trying to get done meant that I didn’t get in much in the way of movement. (I’m hoping to at least do a few stretches before I go to bed tonight, but I’m not counting that as a done deal.)

So I did well on the Advent Adventure goals today – 8 out of 9 – but more importantly, I took breaks and realized that I was off-center before I was all the way in the ditch, wondering how I’d gotten there.

Progress. Provided you’re headed in the right direction, it’s enough. And even if you’re barely clinging to those tail feathers, that’ll do.

* It took me a while to warm up to the idea of having someone else clean for me and it seems like a huge extravagance, but I have a feeling that this might be a real game-changer for me. Between our work schedules and a houseful of Furs, it had just gotten beyond us. While we’re not in danger of being mistaken for a Hoarders house, it’s just not been as tidy as I like. And there’s a week to go before the semester is concluded.







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