Friday, May 26, 2023

The Magical Madness of May

Happy Half-o-Ween!

Ah May! The Beltane candles barely had a chance to burn before Memorial Day rolled out the grills and hot dogs! Like the previous eighteen Mays, I spent my month closing out the semester and saying goodbye to my spring students. I graded final projects, submitted grades, and cleaned my home office. In my instructional designer role, I put the final touches on a Canvas template that I was building for one of the programs at SSU and helped their faculty release their summer courses. This week's festivities and Faculty Teaching and Learning Symposium ended the school year with a bang. 

Fort Sewell Beach, Marblehead

I'm exhausted; but, like every other academic, I'm plotting and planning my summer's research and writing. I say this every year. Every year I procrastinate and fumble until it's too late. Every year I don't give myself time to relax and rejuvenate because I know twelve weeks will be gone in a flash. Every year I start the fall semester tired, ill-prepared, and burdened with guilt. 

What am I doing differently this summer? I'm allowing myself to rest. I'm giving myself permission to take some time for myself and my friends and family. I'm allowing myself quiet mornings in the garden and lazy afternoons wandering an art museum. I'm spending my summer learning how to let my shoulders drop and relax, and how to stop holding my breath when I'm stressed. I know that the brain functions best when it has time to wander and relax. 

I know that I'm a better scholar, teacher, lover, and friend when my body is rested, well-fed, and exercised. I know that in order to do good work well, I need to cultivate joy, curiosity, and a whole lot of silliness.

As you can see from these photos, we have a lot of work to do in the garden. We're working with a clean slate, which means I can create the backyard of my dreams. Weirdly, I'm hesitant to do anything because I'm having a hard time figuring out what that even means. I know that I want garden beds, but where? I know that I want apple trees and rose bushes, but what kind and where should they go? We have a small cement platform for a shed and we need a new fence. I'm having serious issues committing, probably because I need a quiet moment to figure out the layout and plan. Of course, this has led me to research historical garden plans! You see how spending time in my garden to relax and to cultivate joy is actually really helpful to my scholarship? Yup. It took me a decade to figure out that lesson.

Hanging with my favorite human. 

In the past few weeks I realized just how much I used my responsibilities as my Mom's caretaker to give myself permission to do those things that love, like gardening. I would spend full days or weekends caring for my Mom's yard and garden. I would spend enormous amounts of time with Mom and would take her to her favorite shops and restaurants. I would bring over her favorite treats and surprise her in the middle of the day with an impromptu visit. She loved it and so did I. She needed it. And so did I! I'm only beginning to realize just how much I needed to take care of Mom, not out of daughterly responsibility, but because it gave me an excuse to turn my attention to the other pastimes I adore. I gave me permission to stop and be fully present with a person I loved deeply and utterly. 

Sadly, I don't do this anymore. Since Mom died, I don't have an excuse to give myself time to pursue my creativity or gardening. I don't have an excuse not to work all the time. I don't have an excuse to allow myself to be fully present with people I love. I realized that I need to carve out this time and space, and honor it! No excuses needed.

Back to coloring my hair. Black can't be far behind!

I know that the past couple of blogs have been these deep, introspective dives. I also know that I'm probably repeating myself or going in circles. I guess turning 50, dealing with all of the pandemic fear and loss, buying a home, my ADHD diagnosis, and starting my academic career again really turned my world upside-down. I kind of expected another whirl in the Underworld, facing my shadows and licking my wounds. I just didn't expect it to be this shattering, ground-breaking, and healing. Yes, healing. There are so many layers to mourning and grief that many of us very rarely peel them all back to understand and acknowledge them. And there's so many different kinds of mourning and grief! Understanding and accepting it as a natural state of being. It leads to deep and sustained healing. It's been a weird and wild year, that's for sure. 

I'm turning 51 in a few weeks, and that means I'm thinking about the next decade. Where do I want to be when I turn 60? Who do I want to be? How do I want to live my life? What do I want to accomplish? It's sobering to know that in ten years I will be asking myself if the next decade will be my last, or will I be here for another two or three decades? If I'm anything like my grandmothers I have at least another 30-45 years left. What do I want to do with that time?

1 comment:

  1. Very, very wise to take the summer off! Enjoy gardening, relaxing, and life! You look good with hennaed hair -- that colour really suits you. And I love the moon phases/triple goddess necklace you're wearing!