Thursday, August 23, 2012

Returning home: expectations vs. reality

So, returning to "real life" has just about brought me to me knees.  I consider myself a fairly resilient person who can, for the most part, quickly bounce back from travel, events, and/or a number of life changes without too much mental or physical wear and tear.  I worried about traveling to Nicaragua after the Boulder race, but gave no thought to the return from Nicaragua and how that would affect me.  Nor did I consider that a twelve-hour travel day on Sunday plus a sixteen-hour travel day on Tuesday would leave me feeling like complete hell on Wednesday.  Add to that the fact that I woke up on Monday, my head exploding thanks to a cold. All in all, the week has been a recipe for disaster.

Not that disaster has truly happened by any narrow or broad definition of the word/concept.  I, however, have felt somewhat crushed by the fact that my expectations have not unfolded in my return to "reality".  In the plan that I entertained, I would have rested well at the resort, eaten good food and maybe even gone on two runs.  Then, on Monday, after a long day of travel, I would bounce out of bed, excited that I was back in the States and ready to get in a final bike ride in Boulder - maybe even ride the race course loop as a final good-bye.  Wednesday morning, after a long drive from Boulder to LA on Tuesday, I would pull myself out of bed, motivated by the thought of going on a nice run while it was still cool.  On Thursday, maybe I would go for a swim or enjoy another run.  Add to all of this, I would spend 8 hours a day at school, starting to plan classes and catching up with people, finishing up the summer reading packet with careful notes.  I would look forward to next week - meetings starting, everyone back, feel the energy and the excitement of a new year.

Obviously, very little of this has happened.  I woke up Monday in Boulder and felt terrible thanks to a cold that fully blossomed.  We nixed the bike ride idea and spent Monday running errands and preparing for a long drive on Tuesday.  We returned safely to LA, for which I was happy, especially since our car battery died yesterday morning and could have possibly done so on Tuesday.   The drive was long, in part because we had a later start than we expected.  We locked ourselves out of my brother-in-law's guest bathroom and did not want to wake him up at 5:00 am to help us with the door (we did not have a wire hanger, but that finally did the trick!).  Thanks to the dead battery yesterday, we spent much of the day dealing with the car, which was somewhat a relief because it gave me a mental break from feeling that I needed to accomplish X, Y and Z.  I did go into work/school, and it was good to break the ice there - talk to different people, report on the trip, get ready to pack up my office and move.  Today was more of the same at school, as I boxed up all of my books, papers, files and "personal effects" and moved from one office to another. After a long lunch with a friend/colleague, I was exhausted and returned home and promptly took a long nap.

I realize that I'm still getting over a cold and have low-energy and that I am, in all likelihood, finally coming down from a "high" that has allowed me to get through the past few weeks.  Mentally and physically I pushed myself to this point, but the fatigue has caught up to me.  This realization does not, however, make me feel much better about my complete lack of motivation, and I hope that a few days of 'true' rest will allow me to re-energize before I have to be back on my game.

At the moment, I am trying to not panic because I've much of this week in a fairly lethargic state.  I've tried to hold at bay the annoying little voice that keeps saying "This was NOT the plan".  I will have to return to a plan soon enough (Monday morning!), but at the moment, I think that I need to give into this moment of pause and let myself truly rest from the summer.  As a teacher, I often try to squeeze every last minute out of the summer months, and this summer was not an exception.  I am certainly not saying "poor me, I've had a hard summer", after all, everything that I did was my choice.  I will say, however, that it has been full, especially at the tail end, and I am feeling the strain of that.

So, the plan for the next few days is to ease back into 'reality' while also resting.  I am going to a spin class tomorrow, and my body might hate me for 60 minutes and maybe for the rest of the day, but my mind will feel better, quieter, less anxious.  I will start to unpack my office and will enjoy the summer reading over the weekend (or finish it, at least!).  By Monday, I hope that I will be able to bounce out of bed.  At this point, my expectations are more in line with the reality of where my mind and body are (tired), but I believe that I will be able to transition to the new year as next week progresses and I return to a schedule.  That should prepare me nicely for September 4th, the first full day of class!

*Side note: I really kind of hate myself right now for writing this whiny post!  It totally smacks of "first world problems", you know, the I'm-so-important-and-so-busy-and-my-life-is-hell mentality.  But I am frustrated that I can't quickly find my rhythm at the moment.  It will come back to me, I know, so I just need to be a patient, a virtue that I do not possess!

**One more side note: As much as I complain about returning to reality, I am also incredibly happy to be home.  It is great to hang out with Gus and Milo and enjoy walks with them, I am trying to eat as much salad and other veggies as I can to clean out my system (Nicaraguan food is not high in fiber), and I have savored every sip of strong coffee that I've taken!


ChezJulie said...

I don't think you're being whiny; it's always disappointing when our expectations don't match up with reality. It sounds like you've got a combination of a cold making you feel run down, plus jet lag making you feel run down, plus a transition from international travel to the start of the school year, plus being the kind of person who likes to be doing things rather than resting.

If it were me I would try to get a good night's sleep, blow off the spinning class, spend the morning reading in bed, and then try to get a few things done. But you know yourself and you're much more active than I am, so maybe spinning class will help. Just make sure you give yourself adequate time to rest, because once the school year starts, it's harder to get on top of something health-related.

It sounds like you accomplished A LOT over the summer and got a lot of satisfaction out of it, but maybe you just didn't have enough of a cushion after your trip. I think you'll feel better tomorrow after a good night's sleep. :-)

Kalli said...

you are most certainly not sounding whiney! you are being real and i like it. traveling no matter how wonderful it can be can be exhausting. rest and recoup and be kind to yourself!

Kristina said...

ChezJulie - It is disappointing when expectations and reality are out of sync, but it often happens! I think that your statement about a lack of "cushion" is apt. And I am feeling better today - I think staying away from school might do wonders for my mood!

Kallie - Thanks for the kind thoughts. I know that you wrote about "re-entry" and what you said is so true! Hope that you are having a good start to the school year!