The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Mosaic of Life

Yesterday was a very hard day emotionally. I think Jane (who commented on yesterday’s post) was correct in that I did *know* why I was feeling so down, but I was unsure how to fix or ameliorate the emotions. What had happened started on Sunday, and it involved changes in plans, and discussions with my wife. My wife was not in a happy mood on Sunday. My goal on Sunday in dealing with my wife’s mood was to not become angry, but instead to try to talk through the emotions with her. I did this, but it was exhausting, and it left me feeling isolated, lonely, misunderstood, and perhaps most importantly, without a plan, without a notion of what to do in terms of tasks, goals, and efforts. When I do not feel my wife and I are on the same page, it easily leads to me feeling all out of sorts.

Fortunately, yesterday, after I arrived home from work, my wife and I talked a bit more, and then (I think this is the key) we worked together on some of the goals we have had all Summer. In this particular instance, we worked together to clean out the cabinet and the closet for our Master Bathroom upstairs. It was a daunting task as we had let the storage areas go for a number of years. But we persevered and worked together as a team and both felt very good about it afterward. Our bathroom is now efficiently organized, and it will be a time saver for both of us in many ways... the weekly cleaning, knowing what we have and what we need to restock, and simply being able to get ready in the morning. This organization will give us more time to be able to spend together as a couple and as a family, and this made me feel wonderful. After completing this task together, I felt aligned mentally and emotionally with my wife, and I felt we were both working at something we mutually wanted... to find more time for us, and more time for our family... and is part of the bigger goal I have been trying to have us focus on all summer... to have our jobs be de-emphasized... not that we do not want to do them... but that we want them to be in the proper perspective... they are a single slice of who we are, not the all consuming aspect of our lives that runs and governs everything else we do.

What I am trying to do and what I have been trying to get my wife on board about to is something that I call "Family First". Simply stated, I want both of us to make our work lives something that we enjoy and are not controlled by. Both she and I have felt during the last few years that we are akin to fragile kites, being buffeted about by the winds that are our work. It has felt like work responsibilities and tasks have grown enormously in the last few years for both of us. In my case, it has been about trying to do everything and being a "superhuman professor" while I am at the U. For my wife, her tasks and responsibilities have been mostly about "being a team player, and getting people to like her". Neither approach is particularly fruitful nor is either approach giving us the happiness we both crave. But it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks, and so both of us are struggling with figuring out how to work AT work the way we want.

The way I am trying to reform myself at work is as follows:

1. Set very specific, attainable goals for each day, and to STOP having as an overarching mantra in my head... "I will work, and work until I get it done."

2. I will work very hard to isolate myself from the day-to-day idle chit-chat that is so rampant in my Department... it eats away enormously at the time I need to do my preparation for teaching, conduct my research, and give my service.

3. I will strive to not allow myself to get caught up in the middle of argumentative people and/or groups on campus who are fighting and arguing to change things. Often the heart of the matter is that too damn many people on my campus are TOO DAMN polarized and are unwilling to compromise. I am a good mediator and good at finding compromises... but I am sick and tired of devoting the huge amount of time and emotional energy to get people around here to compromise. It may be for the good of the U when I do this sort of work, but it sure as hell isn’t good for my own individual and family happiness.

4. I will not let other people’s crises usurp my time nor my schedule. Whether it is a student crying in my office because he/she is failing my course (because he/she did not study), or if it is a faculty member or administrator trying to feel me out on an issue, I will be rigid in my own time line and my own goals.

For my wife the goals are along the same vein, but specific to her line of work:

1. Setting attainable goals where she can feel a sense of accomplishment each day and not feel like she "never gets anything done".

2. Not getting involved in the griping sessions and gossip that are so rampant where she works.

3. Not trying to be a push-over and bending over backwards to "get people to like her".

4. Putting us first and family first.

It is so strange how something as mundane as cleaning out a few drawers and a bathroom closet had the ability to make me feel tremendously better about my life and my lot, but it did. I felt connected to my wife, I felt connected to my family, and I felt my wife and I were both on the same page in regards to our goals and aspirations.

So, what had started out as a truly "lemon" sort of day became lemonade instead. I went to bed last evening feeling content and happy. With the added bonus of my wife allowing me to service her, I slept beautifully and awoke refreshed this morning.



Blogger Leaking Moonlight said...

I am happy for you. Thank you for sharing.

(It is striking how often both lists contain the words "not" and "will." Surely behavioral change toward a good is encouraged through intention stated positively, and in the present tense.)

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010  
Blogger themuttonfish said...

What a great post! As Horace said: "O laborum dulce lenimen" (what sweet solace can labor be.)

I found you through 4th Avenue Blog and I've enjoyed reading, both here as well as the sound advice you dispense Jonathon.

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010  
Blogger BBC said...

A: This post was too frigging long.

My goal on Sunday in dealing with my wife’s mood was to not become angry,

B: If you think I'm going all day of not telling a woman to shut up and back up you are wrong.

With the added bonus of my wife allowing me to service her, I slept beautifully and awoke refreshed this morning.

C: It is really fucking sick that you had to go through all that to just get laid.

Find someone that wants to have sex with you without all the bullshit.

Master closet... Rolls eyes.

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010  
Blogger BBC said...

You make too much money and have too few brains. :-)

Drop by for a drink sometime.

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010  

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