Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn Stillness

The rain has been pouring on my little city, stripping the trees of their beautifully colored leaves, only brown, soggy ones left clinging to the branches.  The grey sky mirrors my outlook.  As I watched the wind whipping last week I contemplated those colorful leaves and realized how much they are a metaphor for this those of us struggling to reach our dreams; some cling so tightly to their dream that they will never let go, and some succum to the force of the winds and let go of the resistence.  Me?  I'm the soggy brown one barely clinging on.  I can feel that there is something still worth fighting for, but boy that wind is punishing me with doubt, disillusionment and yes, my dear old familiar friend, apathy.  I can tell whatever I have left in front of me is going to be an uphill battle.
As I began this semester at college, it became very evident where my priorities lay, as I traded in my attention to my diet and exercise for an almost exclusive focus on everything else.  School has taken the foreground, though I have been thinking about my diet daily, it just seems like too much to think about right now.  And getting up at 4:30am?  Wow, that seems like more of a challenge than putting healthy things in my mouth.  I spent the better part of two months sick with sinus infection that led to a thickness in my lungs.  Thankfully, I did not need medication for it, and for now I have just a little sinus irritation and a bit of a sore throat.  But the stress is constantly there, eating eating away at me.  I use food as a drug, but it isn't very effective, and despite being fully aware of that, I continue to stuff food in, to try to numb my stress.  It is to the point that I am sick of food.  Literally.  It has to stop before my heart does. 
Last week, my stress hit an all-time high, as my boss casually said this," What are your plans for next semester?  Because I can't work around your school schedule anymore."  I felt like a bomb had been dropped on me.  Was my boss really saying that I need to make a choice between my job and school?  In my head I was thinking, what am I doing?!  I'm going to school, working toward my dream of helping people with special needs.  I'm continuing on my journey that I have invested blood, tears, and a heap of money into so my family can have a better life.  What came out of my mouth was a jumbled mess about how this semester is stressing me out, and I am going to appeal to try and take some on-line courses at my school or might take a semester off.  And then I rushed off to statistics class, unable to focus on anything else but that lousy conversation.  What did she mean by that, will I lose my job if I enroll at college?  Will she offer someone else my hours?  Am I getting pushed out?  I know we are way over budget on payroll, maybe this is her way of remedying the situation.  Before I even brought myself to get back to her and ask for clarification, I started researching the legality of what I was being presented.  I know there are laws about folks in high school, and that employers have to give them time off for school, but no, no such laws about college.  It's a pretty black and white, the employer's always right kind of situation.  That is the way this country is set up.  I am not blind to the fact that they have a business to run.  But the fact that they could be so cold about it was a slap in the face. 
By the end of my shift, I was sending my boss an e-mail asking for clarification so that I could make the life-changing decisions she was forcing me to make.  Her response was that she would meet with me, and her boss, the following morning, so we could discuss how Prevea does and does not support their employees seeking higher education.  Basically, my bosses boss reiterated that Prevea supports their empolyees in their efforts to better themselves, but only when it does not interfere with their work schedule.  Insert the corporate foot into my proverbial happy place.  Since my university does not offer weekend courses, and only offers on-line courses in a very limited selection of majors, I have some hefty decisions to make.  My choices are these: 1. switch my major and take classes on-line through my current university or 2. enroll in an all-online university and pray that any future employers recognize those degrees as legit.  I have little other choice as the job I work pays far better than anything I could get that would work around my school schedule.  I spent so much time being stressed out about the whole thing this weekend, but once I started to examine how my time would be allocated, I realized that there are a lot of benefits to going to school on-line, including a lot less driving in the wicked Wisconsin snow. And finally, my stress is starting to lift a little just thinking about the change.  So, out of something pretty ugly, a little sunlight sneaked in. 
And because some of my stress has lifted, I am feeling ready to get back into making my health a focus again.  It will be about doing what I can, not trying to live up to some crazy standard.  I know there are days when the weather will impede my desire/ability to get to the gym, and I have found from experience that hardcore weight training more than 3-4 days a week is far too taxing on my already-stressed out system, and makes me sick.  So my goal is just that simple, to do what I can do without making myself sick.  Today that means eating on-plan.  And I spent a good many hours cooking/baking healthy foods yesterday, to ensure that I will have what I need to stay on track this week.  I am in the process of making a system for my weight training, three days a week, mixing up the moves and the type of training (circuit, supersets, active resting sets, etc).  It will be interesting to see what I have lost in the past two months.  I can still see some of those arm muscles I built during my Live Fit program, so hopefully my muscle memory wil be there for me when I do get back in there.  Oh, do I look and feel aweful right now.  And I hate being on this stupid cycle of doing good, doing bad, doing good, doing bad.  I just want consistency.  I need to find better tools to help me stay on track.  But, for now at least, I'm back to focusing on fixing the problem, and that is, at least, a start.
Some of my favorite moments this fall have been time spent with my kids and husband in the parks of Green Bay, watching leaves float down from the trees, and my kids' happy faces frolicing in them with wonderment, as if it were there first time playing in the leaves.  And, when we are all in the car to whatever family destination we have chosen, there is a particular Bob Marley CD we have been taken to listening to, and it is the first time I can recall, we all sing together loudly.  And happily.  And in those precious moments, all the stress leaves me and I realize that I've got a pretty sweet life.
I can't promise I'll be posting to consistently between now and mid-December when my classes end, but I am here, and I'll be back soon.
Autumn Stillness

Preparing for Winter
Hope you are all having a wonderful, colorful fall!

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