Thursday, July 21, 2016

Press Pause

What a whirlwind the last three weeks has been! I have been in a city that is three thousand miles away from my home, knowing only the people I have met online through my master's program, and often depending on the kindness of strangers, or if not strangers, people who are new to my experience. 

Three weeks ago today, I left behind my office desk with a note on it to not give me new work because I wouldn't be back until nearly the end of July, and I went home to do my final packing. In a way, it was like I pressed "Pause" on my work life.  That world would no longer occupy me for a period of three weeks. And so it has not.  I have become immersed in the atmosphere of students desiring earnestly to develop their skills, just as I am. 

Academically, this has been intense - there has been such a strong component of hands-on practice in what some have dubbed "Summer Intensive" (as opposed to Summer Institute, which it is really called).  I can literally feel my mind expanding as I have gone through these few weeks. I chuckle when I remember how the smallest of skills posed such a problem for me at first, and then, looking back, I wonder what all the fuss was about. My confidence in my abilities has increased exponentially. Yes, academically, it has been a good experience. It will stand me in good stead in my practicum, but that won't happen until 13 months or so from now.

As challenging and invigorating as that has been, physically, it has been exhausting. It took me a few days to realize that I was lagging behind other people and feeling out of breath all the time because I was 3,500 feet higher above sea level than I was used to being! Altitude sickness includes symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, acute insomnia, headaches and joint aches ....and I had it all!  It lasted for almost two weeks! About a week after getting here, I was given the opportunity to book a place in residence (on the campus). It turned out to be a good move for me, as I could devote more time to self-care than I had in months. And now, a lot of those aches and pains have disappeared or vastly reduced. I can enjoy the walk to and from class now, and it doesn't tire me out like it used to. And I have even gotten some sunshine in the process! It's like I have finally been able to press Pause, to gather my legs under me, to get my bearings physically.

Emotionally and relationally, this period has been difficult.  I have been confronted with just how much of a jerk I can be sometimes (even moreso when I am feeling tired, weak, and lonely), which has led me to begin to re-evaluate my approach to communication in relationships. That was - and is - a hard (and emotionally expensive) lesson to learn. I have had to press Pause, to reflect on a lot of things surrounding my insecurities and fears about how to be a friend and whether I have the ability to be true to who I am and say how I feel without being afraid of making someone mad at me. I sense that this will be a long Pause. There is a lot to work through.

And then there's the homesickness!! WOW have I ever suffered from that!! Especially in the last week, I have been (as my prof described to me) "off" - not quite on my game, if you will. And that has simply been a function of homesickness combined with the stress of public speaking without the benefit of either raised stage or microphone.  (Let me tell you, that is a totally different ball game...) But mostly it's just been that being away from my loved ones is wearing on me, and I just can't wait to see them again!!  I went to to create a countdown for not only the plane landing back home, but also for it taking off from here.  What's that you say? I got it bad? Yeah you bet!! 

Health-wise, this has been a pleasant pause. I am strengthening my lifestyle choices regarding eating and activity level, and have learned that I CAN look after myself (and yes, medication helps) and eventually beat my health challenges. My sugars are ALMOST back to normal and I feel less draggy and tired than I was two short months ago when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I can foresee a day when things will be completely under control and I will be able to get back to activities that I had to give up because it was just too uncomfortable and/or tired to do them. (Golf, folks. I was talking about golf.  And horseback riding. Tsk!) 

Photo "Stone And Sand Background" courtesy
of gubgib at

And now I get ready to press another Pause.  After this weekend, I will be officially finished this course and won't have to start another until September - and even then, instead of two courses, I will only be taking one. August is a month I look forward to simply because it is a breather from the constant need to stay on top of a pretty intense school routine added onto an already full plate of work and home (not to mention sleep, nutrition, and activity).  One less thing to focus on gives me a slight break in that routine. I'm thankful for that; it will give me a chance to reconnect with my friends and spend time with my family.

That way, when September comes and I release that Pause button, I will be energetic enough to dance to the music again. 

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