Assessing Old Habits As a New Chapter Begins

I’m back home, and after a week of balanced living on the east coast, I’m finding myself already getting sucked back into an unhealthy routine. For the past few years it’s been this way: extreme relaxation on vacation, then extreme stress as soon as I went back to work. I would love to find a balance someday soon.

Right now I wish I’d scheduled in a few extra days to recover from jet-lag and finish processing my elementary school experiences, but I’m scheduled to start middle school tomorrow. I had also hoped to start rested and energetic instead of draggy and coffee-fueled, but alas, it will not be so. Sigh…it’s true that old habits die hard. At least I’m making progress in other areas, which helps keep the little setbacks in perspective. Perhaps starting a new chapter of the project will help me make some positive changes. Here’s today’s progress report.

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Unhealthy Old Habits:

1. Suffering because of scheduling myself tightly.

2. Staying up way too late writing, even though my body and mind feel exhausted.

3. Eating right before bed.

(Late-night snacking on granola with almond milk is my favorite guilty pleasure, probably healthier than most, and I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up.)

Healthy New Habits:

1. Practicing patience and compassion in a potentially frustrating situation.

On the shuttle from SFO, the crazy old driver took a full van of passengers on a long and ill-planned route through San Francisco. This upset a couple of the passengers, who angrily voiced their disapproval, and added an hour or so to the trip. Instead of getting frustrated at the driver or those complaining, I committed to staying calm, using the time productively, and practicing compassion for everyone in the van. I ended up chatting easily with the man behind me and finding out that I knew one of his colleagues. I found that initiating a conversation in this kind of situation eases the stress for everyone, providing an energy outlet and passing the time.

2. Listening to my body and napping when I was tired.

Normally I’d push through, but today I decided that by investing a couple of hours in sleep, I’d be more productive afterward. Plus, self-care continues to be a stated priority of mine that I rarely practice.

3. Cooking dinner.

Even though I love to cook, my mom’s cooking is such a luxury for me that I usually defer to her. Tonight, she wasn’t feeling well, so I made breakfast for dinner: Scrambled eggs with cheese, organic veggies, and dried herbs, with toasted French bread and raspberry-champagne jam. I’d like to start cooking at least a few times per week.

4. Unpacking my suitcase right away.

This has to be a first, as usually I leave it on the floor for a week or so after a trip. I wanted to start middle school with good Feng Shui.

5. Charting my progress as well as my regress.

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Almost two steps forward per one step back!

I’m apprehensive about starting sixth grade, probably more than I was at age 11. Having worked with middle schoolers for the last five years, I know what a rough period it is emotionally, and I’m not sure that I want to relive it. Part of me wishes that I were going back to elementary tomorrow, to play four-square at recess with my little friends. I also expect that as the middle school workload gets heavier, I’ll wish that I were investing my time elsewhere. Since I’m aiming for experiential learning as I revisit my old schools, it’s useful for me to notice these feelings of resistance. I think I felt the same — hesitating to advance into the unknown, wishing for control over my schedule — back when I started middle school for the first time.

Well, onward I go, about to keel over from exhaustion but curious about what tomorrow will hold. Soon to come: the exciting developments for the spring phase of the project, and the elementary school stories and memories that I simply must share now.

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