It seems as if there should be a word – likely originating in German – to describe that feeling of satisfaction tinged with bewilderment when you finish a huge project. The Joie posts haven’t fallen by the wayside deliberately, although I haven’t posted a new one in three weeks. Instead, the notation to create one of these posts has moved from one “to do” list to another, without me ever quite finding the time and serenity to sit down and write. (Or paint! I’m a number of days behind on the ongoing 100 Day Project.)
Like most Divas here on Splendor, I have a demanding day job. In fact, that’s the reason I first began looking for ways to enjoy the small pleasures of my life on a regular basis in the first place. Who among us wants to reach retirement only to discover how many experiences, pleasures, and joys we let fall by the wayside because we were “too busy?”
However, pipers do insist on being paid, and the last few weeks have been demandingly busy without a corresponding amount of fun. It’s important to note that these times happen. If you’re lucky, they can be planned for and have an ending date, a square on the calendar that you can point to and say, “It’ll get better then.” That day might be a little malleable, but humans can put up with nearly anything for a short period of time.
For me, it’s the dual finish line of graduation and grade submission. The last fourteen months have been beyond crazy for anyone who works at any level of education. Last spring, we were making it up as we went and we acknowledged that we were doing triage. I spent the summer teaching and trying to scan the landscape for what on Earth things would look like in the fall, and we came back full force in the fall with face-to-face classes. Eventually, we got accustomed to the Twilight Zone landscape and (to be honest) we slacked off. Determined to finish quickly, we eschewed breaks and saw ourselves – faculty, staff, and students – begin to fray. (Side note – do you realize that the words “ravel” and “unravel” mean the VERY SAME THING? English is weird.) We went ahead with some major changes – the long-planned elevation to University status, changes to computer systems, a new learning management system and plagiarism checker, and a complete overhaul of the structure of the University – and I’m surprised that more of us didn’t take advantage of our mental health benefits. (I’m not really joking there. It’s been a hard-bordering-on-gruesome year, and anyone who says differently wasn’t paying attention. I don’t have that luxury.)
I am fortunate enough to have been exposed to a tradition that insists that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems.” The trick is that acceptance doesn’t mean “Oh, so this is how it is. Okay, I guess I’ll be fine with that” as much as it means “Oh, so this is how it is. Okay, I need to look at myself and my role in this.” In short, acceptance doesn’t mean you’re helpless. So I’ve been making notes and compiling lists – and I’ll work with those tomorrow.
Today is a hard core Day Off. I’ve had an extra cup of coffee, run one (and only one!) errand, finished a fluffy mystery, and intend to spend the rest of the day doing nothing that does not feed my soul. Tomorrow, I’ll do some necessary tidying up of my office and begin organizing the Master Summer To Do List, but today’s rest is as crucial as tomorrow’s work.
Unlock. Breathe. Laugh. Brush your hair. Eat the pastry. Walk in the sunshine.
The work – which is valuable enough to be done properly – will still be there.
Seek joy, Divas. It’s there if you look. And take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.