Empathy in Drowning

As we hit Week 3 of September a familiar pattern has begun to emerge:  my home is filthy, my desk is over flowing, I have more lesson preps and marking to do than I could have imagined a month ago and I’m engaging in avoidance behaviour.  This morning it was scouring iTunes with my son to find “good” music for my drive.  My justification (egged on by an overly enthusiastic 13 year old) was that I needed new tunes to survive my 2 hour a day commute.  Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) my son and I have more or less the same taste in music.

But as I wait for the last 36 songs to download, I am struck by the fact that whether it be my students or myself, we all take part in this procrastinating behaviour.  If it’s not music downloads, it’s surfing the ‘net or checking Facebook.  Even logging into Vista and Blackboard to make sure there are no messages becomes avoidance behaviour.

And the hours disappear all too quickly.  Outside there is sunshine and delicious fall weather taunting me.  But I know that if I don’t get myself sorted today, my week will be entirely too crazy.  I am organizing one child’s birthday party and spending half the week as a single working mom (yes, again).  I have five lesson plans to complete, 85 pieces of writing to provide feedback for, a SSHRC proposal to finish, and a dissertation chapter to edit (just the conclusion … again).  My preference is to be organized and on schedule.  I abhor being behind and late for anything.  So I’m stuck with a general uneasy dis/comfort in my fall schedule.  I am hanging on by my teeth, longing for some courses I’ve taught before, with lesson plans I can merely edit instead of write anew.  The life of a sessional with new classes every term is starting to drive me mad.

So I am searching for some focus, that amazing ability I sometimes possess to put my head down and get a massive amount of work done.  I have forged a great reputation for doing more than humanly possible.  For years I’ve heard colleagues say with a touch of awe:  “I don’t know how you do it.”  Alas, that ability seems to be hiding for the moment as I feel I am drowning in to-do lists.  Right now, no amount of coffee or chocolate is helping me find my focus.

Where could it be?

Somehow I don’t think I’m going to find such focus in my blog … egads, another procrastinating behaviour exposed …

So I step back, give thanks for the gift of a free Sunday, and simply pick up the first item on the list and start working.  Head down, slogging through.  By bedtime, I hope I’ll be able to feel a sense of peace in a job well done …


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