Sunday, February 20

Throw Open the Curtains

I once thought that self-denial was the best strategy to surviving grad school. I denied myself sleep, good food, exercise, relaxation, and oh, so many things. After all, I was passing graduate level courses, maintaining a good GPA, fulfilling my duties to the McNair program, and most importantly, taking care of my family (although I always strive to do that better). Weren't my priorities in order? NOT!! Wasn't I taking care of business? DEPENDS!! I realized last semester, I had sacrificed so much in pursuit of a degree it felt as if the curtains had been drawn on my soul (melodramatic?). I was run down and burned out, not to mention I was not passionate about the topic for which I was making so much sacrifice.

I have taken steps this semester to make some major shifts in that self-denial approach to earning my degree.
  1. I have worked hard to get at least 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep each night though occasionally it has creeped closer to 6 hours. I am finding that I really can't do that anymore without feeling like doody the next day whereas I used to sleep for 4 hours and wake up ready to go the next morning.
  2. I have put myself on an eating schedule on which I have three decent sized meals and 2 snacks a day. Even though it is more daily food than I have eaten in years, I seem to be losing weight.
  3. Exercise, what can I say about exercise? That is what I have missed most since returning to university 6 years ago. Previously, I had been very physically active and enjoyed feeling strong and fit. I haven't felt that way in many years. So, I have been squeezing in a work out daily, even if only 20-25 minutes.

I have worked on my physical health but realized today that maybe I haven't addressed my mental sacrifice as well.

As I walked into my bedroom this morning to begin homework, I noted that the curtains were still drawn and typically are when I work in my room. Feeling a little deprived because I am currently overwhelmed with work, a powerful rebellion grew inside me and I hurried to the windows and threw open the curtains. At that moment I resolved to work with the curtains open from now on.

As I sit here writing this, I look occasionally to my garden and imagine the sun on my face, the grass green and fragrant, abundance bursting forth from my plants, and the pleasure all this brings. At one time, I was concerned that all these feelings might serve as a distraction and illuminate the self-imposed deprivation in which I engaged to be successful in grad school. I now realize that they are quite the opposite. These feelings need to be a part of my weekly experience (if not more frequently). When I revel in these imaginings, they are like mini vacations of the mind and they will sustain me until the snow melts and my academic schedule lightens. They are just as necessary as all the physical changes I have made and maybe even more so.

Of course, I hate the cold so the snow storm outside my window makes it a little difficult to imagine the sun on my face. Maybe I will go take a hot bath and imagine that... I am in a hot tub on a cruise ship. The waiter just brought me a Miami Vice and it is as cold in my hand as the sun is hot on my shoulders...


  1. You are so poetic. And wise. Love ya!

  2. Did I forget to mention inspirational? Sorry, I meant to. ;-)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.