I’m not procrastinating… I’m problem solving
For those of you unfamiliar with me I am a 49 year old divorced mother of six. I returned to college last year to fulfill my 30 year dream of attaining my Bachelors degree. This year in particular has been interesting as I attempt to pick up the last few credits, raise 3 teens and hang on to the last shreds of my sanity. In addition fate has stepped in a few times to test my resolve by arrainging a house fire in May, the return of the hormone fairy as my daughter turned 16 , three relocations, a graduation and a class schedule including Algebra, and Statitistics. Last Friday I turned in my last 25 page research proposal written in 72 hours. Two days later ...
Faced with 3 long weeks between semesters of uninterrupted free time I settled in to my routine of writing the unending array of “to do “lists and to fill my days. As a compulsive list maker it is very difficult for me to deal with any period of time in which I don’t have clear cut goals and a plan. Additionally things tend to fall apart at the end of a semester so I often feel need to get jump on the next semester by “getting all my ducks in a row” so to speak before first class.
This was my intention for a full 48 hours after my last class when a small voice in the back of my head screamed “STOP!!!!!!!!!!!”
The last 9 months of my life has been one of the most stressful I can remember. With school, kids, a fire , and 3 relocations I spent a lot of my time tying together the last strings at the end of my proverbial rope.
“What about we just take off the next 3 weeks? “The little voice asked. “Pick a couple things to do to stay on a schedule and let the rest go?”
What a novel idea ,I thought, no goals; to clean/organize house, no lists of books to read, articles to write, no promises or plans to start a new diet / exercise program. Just.. rest, relax and process. “Ahhhhh…. doesn’t that sound nice?” Well maybe to you… On the other hand my thoughts went from ahhh… to arghh !!! in about 3 seconds flat when the other voice in my brain perked up and paid attention. “But what will you I do with yourself , it accussed ? What if … you start sleeping in, What if.. you don’t organize for next semester, What if .. you gain weight/let the house go / what if!!!!" It screamed frantically ..
“What about we just take off the next few weeks? “The little voice asked. “Pick a couple things to do stay on a schedule and let the rest go?” the quiet little voice reasoned while the other ranted, raved and worried.
Interestingly enough fate stepped in the very next day as the old saying ," When the student is ready the teacher will come" came true in living color in the guise of an old freind loaning me a simple book . Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi .Twenty pages in I couldn’t help but laugh. This book whole heartedtly embraces and defends the practice of giving yourself breaks to enhance the creative process using countless examples from the most creative innovators on the planet. According to Dr. Csikszentmihaly,I am problem solving and processing .. not procrastinating. What a revelation to one who has used frantic forward movement to deal with most of her life.
Countless examples are given of famous and inventive people who worked hard then purposely took off time to allow the mind and body time to digest and process . Artists, scientists, musicians, business men though out history who made their biggest breakthrough not during the active phase of work but just after a respite. Well I thought to myself if work hard then relax was good enough for Michelangelo and Beethoven and Einstein it’s good enough for me, and what a revelation. I am still unsure as to how well this is going to actually work in my life; at 50 I'm pretty set in my ways but never let it be said I left any stone unturned. Perhaps I will walk away from the experience with a renewed perspective, with a new coping mechanism at the very least I should be able to start next semester a little less stressed and little more relaxed and that alone would be a plus.