I have been sitting looking blankly at the screen. I have written a few words and deleted them. I have stared out the window. I have wondered where my motivation is. Then I realize: I’m tired. Flat out tired.
I’m tired from a whirlwind few days that began last Thursday with a presentation to staff from Evergreen Speech & Hearing Clinic. Great group! Committed to improving patients’ experiences and reflective about how to get there. I talked, we wrote, we talked as a group, and we repeated that until the time was up. Two hours went by in a flash (at least for me), and I came away impressed with both their genuine concern for good service and the grittiness that is real-world work.
I concentrate very deeply while preparing for and then giving a presentation, and I always requires some time afterwards to rejoin my life and the outside world. It is not unlike reentry after a trip, where I have to reestablish my footing and remember the rhythms of ordinary life. It’s a combination of “wow!,” “whew!,” “where am I?,” and “what’s next?”
Only this time, when I reentered the post-presentation space, I was jettisoned fast into another reality: family had already arrived for the weekend wedding of my step-son Tom and his financée, Michelle.
The wedding was a clear-cut joyous occasion, but the speed of the turnaround and the absence of a day for regrouping posed a challenge for my self-regulation and balance. It was a busy, family-centric weekend. Playing with my grandchild (and turning a careful ear to his language development), going to the wedding rehearsal (which was complicated enough to cause more than one person to wonder if we’d be able to get it right), and then—of course—getting to the church on time.
Yes, church. Tom and Michelle are practicing Catholics, part of our culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse family (we have family heritages from Korea, China, Europe, Haiti, and now the Philippines). The wedding service was a Catholic Mass, definitely a first for me. I was nervous—would I feel comfortable? Would I feel like an outsider? This seemed a bigger challenge than being Jewish at Christmas.
In the end, we all did our parts well and the ceremony was beautiful. I listened with interest, bowed where I was supposed to, and was blessed by the priest (admittedly, that felt odd), seeing every action as a statement of the love and honor we were bringing to Tom and Michelle. The truth is I love ritual and was intrigued to be part of something so new to me.
From there we went to an outstanding wedding party (in my vast experience with formal weddings, this was an exceptionally fun reception!) and I danced enough in dress shoes that my knees reproached me for two days. I did all this while a head cold (brought to me by my grandson) blossomed.
So here I am: tired. Why do I act surprised? I love the bursts of energy that come before the fatigue–can I learn to embrace the fatigue as well?
I do not have immediate answers, but as always, writing takes me to questions I need to ask myself. This is the purpose of reflective writing: to help us connect with ourselves, to regroup, to surprise ourselves with what we learn, and to stumble upon the next questions we need to ask.
Questions for Reflection: What different energy and mood states do you experience around intense professional and personal events? How do you transition out of these events or move from one event to another? How hard or easy is it for you to rest and recuperate after you’ve expended energy?
Writing Prompts: “When I work very hard, I get into a state that is ______” (then keep writing); “Transitioning from one intense activity to another works best for me when ______” (then keep writing); “This post reminded me of my own family experience of ______” (then keep writing); “I give myself a chance to rest and recuperate by ______” (then keep writing).