A lot. Too much, perhaps. For the past ten days, my back has been hurting—especially at night—and I’m pretty sure I know the reason. Stress. I’m feeling overwhelmed, stretched too thin.
But it’s because of a lot of great things, which makes it so hard. To stop doing some of those things, that is. How do you choose between good and good? How do you choose between world changing and world changing?
I have a few ideas:
- Choose what’s most fun.
- Go where the openings are.
- Do what you’re good at.
Teaching and Learning
I’ve been given the opportunity to teach a class in the business department at Luther College this spring—a chance to see what it’s like to be a professor. Wow! This is an opportunity I can’t pass up. I’ll be teaching a management course called “Data Analysis for Business Decision Making.” It’s right up my alley. Numbers and logic, yes please.
Thinking about teaching also reminded me that I had planned to get an MBA at some point. I took the GMAT 5+ years ago, but decided to hold off due to the events detailed in Her Lost Year. Now that we are empty nesting, it feels like a good time. Beyond teaching, I know this credential will give me more options when I’m ready to look for the next thing.
Yoga, Yoga, Yoga
I am a casual yogi. I attend a gentle Iyengar yoga class once a week at work (thanks Luther College for subsidizing!). And I practice at home for a few minutes during my post-run stretch. Yet, I have experienced tremendous benefits from this meager practice. So much that I embarked on a quest this semester to create yoga resources for teachers in our region.
My mindfulness friends and I ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise money to produce yoga videos and posters for use in K–8 classrooms. Our talented crew has already shot the video and photos and now we’re looking forward to seeing the final product, while also working on information for teachers and parents to go with our launch in the schools.
If this wasn’t enough, my friend Parker (easily) convinced me to join her for a three-day Yoga Calm training in St. Paul last weekend. I was blown away by this curriculum. It beautifully integrates mindfulness with physical yoga and social and emotional learning activities, and that’s what makes it awesome. We’ve both decided to go through the whole certification process, which involves a practicum with twenty hours of teaching Yoga Calm to kids. Here we go!
Resilient, Sustainable Communities
I’ve been in conversation for several months now with a small group of people about how we can make our community more resilient and sustainable. We have a lot of great components: CSAs, a food coop, a food hub, a farmers market, school gardens, an energy district, holistic healers, a Center for Sustainable Communities, and a referendum to consider municipal internet (to name a few). But how do we become as self-sufficient as we can while creating partnerships with other communities to trade for things we cannot grow or manufacture ourselves?
This is a big question with no easy answers. One starting point is a program called Transition Streets. It’s a seven-session program to make personal changes in the areas of energy, water, food, waste, and transportation. Community building is woven throughout. The idea is to get together with neighbors and make changes together.
I had hoped to get a group started this fall, but it looks like spring is more likely. This is something I want to do for our family anyway, and it seems more fun to do it with others.
I spent three years writing and publishing a book. I estimate there are around 500 copies floating around in the world. That’s not bad, but I’d like to see that number go up to at least 1,000. Not to make money (I’ll have to sell more than that to break even!), but to get the word out to as many people as possible: mental health is a social issue. Therein lies the hope and the call to action.
I’ve tried doing some events, but for the most part, they’re not worth the effort (although I’ve made some really cool connections with a few folks that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise). My conclusion is that my time is best spent on two things:
- Writing guest posts for targeted online publications (such as Mad In America).
- Speaking by invitation.
For example, this week I guest lectured in two social work classes at Luther. This wasn’t to sell books, of course, but it led to an invitation to speak to the Active Minds group on campus and to another social work class.
My goal is to set aside two hours each week to promote Her Lost Year and continue to spread this message of hope.
Just for Fun
Most Monday nights, I head out to the home of my oldest friend, Marilyn, who is 85 years old, for Swedish class. The table is set, coffee is brewing, and somebody has provided dessert. We catch up for a few minutes (often more than a few), eat, and enjoy being together. Then we crack open our books and practice speaking Swedish. Often, we get sidetracked on politics or grandbabies or news from the motherland.
This is family. You don’t quit your family.
Singing is fun. So is playing the violin (even though I don’t do it very often anymore). So I’m singing with the church choir, and I’m playing along with other fiddlers for the Wall of Fiddles for a special benefit concert here in our town right before Christmas.
Our church choir is awesome in the sense that you can come and go as you are available. Not necessarily awesome for the choir director, but he’s chill and kind. It’s good to know that if school or work gets overwhelming, I can miss a rehearsal.
Or I can make sure to go, since I always feel happier and more relaxed after singing with others.
I want to do all these things, and I think I can. It’s really about making space—thinking about where I spend my time and where it could be better spent. I’m contemplating taking a break from Facebook, from blogging, and from saying ‘yes’ to too many requests. I need downtime at least 2–3 evenings each week. I need my day of rest. I need a housekeeper!
My mom is coming to visit in three weeks. I’m clearing my schedule in preparation for her visit. This is good practice. We’ll cook good food, knit, and enjoy the Driftless Region in late fall. I can’t wait.
Writing this all down is making me feel better mentally. It seems manageable. I have an acupuncture appointment on Tuesday. That should take care of my back. Tomorrow is my day of rest. It’ll be okay.