Ebbs and flows
I started staying home March 10. Granted, I am a homebody by nature, so I (like many others), assumed that the "stay at home" order would be an easier transition. And because I am an introvert and love cancelled-plans (that "buy" me back time), I thought I could continue as is. Looking back on the past 20 days, I feel a little foolish and chagrined at my naïveté. I didn't account for so many things: the fear and panic of groceries and supplies; the frustration of being home when I had to be; the disappointment of cancelled or postponed conferences, vacations, and now graduations. And most of all, I didn't account for grief:
The global grief of systems that have been failing us and failing us more than ever
The societal grief of, what feels like the world being halted
The communal grief of altered/virtual intimacy and sense of community
The individual grief of adjusting to "our new normal" and the guilt of not being able to adjust
The personal grief of lives lost, of lives at risk, of what is next and the uncertainty of it
The grief was unexpected, and one that has been hard to process. Some days, I feel like I can push past Covid19— should push past this— and be my "normal," productive self. I have a dissertation to finish. I have a faculty position to transition. I have publications to submit, papers to write, conferences and grants to apply to. Other days, I feel adrift, lost, and floating. This is the reality I refused to believe and still have trouble accepting. I stare at my wall— conveniently blank like my mind. I putter around my house as a way to "trick" myself in doing something. I take nap after nap and watch TV mindlessly or scroll through the endless Tweets and Facebook posts. And in between these is the cyclical guilt of not being productive/guilt for wanting to be productive in this mess; questioning what really matters; cabin fever; and what feels like anything and every thing else.
And thru it, I find myself coming back to one of my most favorite poems. I don't remember when I came across it, but it's one I've referred to constantly since then:
Grief comes in waves, and I am allowed to feel every ebb and flow (by Alex Elle)
I don't know how to close this blog post. I originally started March with the intention of writing regularly on this platform, but over the course of the 20 days, I couldn't. I just, couldn't. Writing this post, was a way for me to "get back on it" (though I'm not sure what the it is.) But I love this poem and it has kept me grounded as I've meditated about these ebbs and flows. To give myself freedom to feel and to remind myself that grief is a process and not a linear one at that.
In thinking through this blog, one of the things I really want to be able to do, is post on a more regular schedule. But despite making these plans, I always wind up getting stuck. I don't want to post until I have something to say, because the opposite (posting just to post), seems like a waste of everyone's time. In order to have something to say, I have to be motivated to write, which I am rarely... not just for this blog, but for everything now a days. I could easily chalk this up to writer's block (or more accurately, the journey of trying to finish my dissertation and transition to faculty). But to take a pause, I think it really speaks to the concept of motivation. Last week, I came across an Instagram post about motivation and working out. I don't quite remember the exact phrase nor the person whom I can properly credit (and googling "motivation" "working out" was not at all helpful), but the gist of it was:
We get trapped into this idea that we have to be motivated to work out because that makes working out more "fun." But motivation shouldn't be the driving force because we lose it. Instead, we should work (out) regardless and let the motivation come and go, but not let it detract from doing the work.
Or something like that. Again, it was a quick read and I have pretty terrible memory. If you came across it, please let me know so I can do it better justice. But this idea of motivation and the reframe of it not being my driving force, is definitely a huge shift for me. For writing, I like to have myself and my students to reflect on when we write best. And for me, I have to want it; I have to be motivated. It might be a spark, a new inspiration, but if I am not motivated, the juices aren't flowing, the writing is stilted, and I'll usually stop after a couple of (excruciating) minutes. The problem that I have right now, is that I am unmotivated to write. And so I won't. And I don't. I don't write. But I need to write.
Joan Bolker wrote a book called, "Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis." Obviously, you cannot write a dissertation in just 15 minutes per day, but the general gist is a similar critique on motivation: you just need to write. And so I've been. And so I have. And it's been painful. I look at the sentences I wrote the day before and cringe, but also know that in waiting for that lightning moment, I won't actually be getting closer to doing the work. So instead, I'm trying to push through my writer's block, find joy in being consistent, and (re)writing my relationship with motivation. And hopefully this will also translate to me writing more regularly on this blog as well... but no promises made~
In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).