Years ago, when I was a grad student living in DC, there was a particular walk I’d take in order to get from my apartment to the Georgetown campus.
Actually, there were two routes I could have taken. But only one of them would also take my to my yoga studio at the time, which was my first stop of the day.
The walk was about twenty-five minutes, which doesn’t sound very long when I write it down.
But twenty-five minutes is a long time at 5:20am, which is when I left my apartment for the early yoga class.
It was a lonely walk, along a path with a dark wooded area on one side and a busy road on the other. Occasionally I’d see a runner out there in the early morning, but most of the time, I was on my own.
I’d carry my backpack, which was filled with textbooks (I didn’t have a tablet back then), my yoga mat, a change of clothes, and my breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the day.
Usually it was still dark when I left. I have many memories of watching the sunrise over the Potomac as I made that walk. It was beautiful, though I was usually too rushed or tired to register it.
In the winter, the walk was icy cold, and I could see each breath as I marched along. In the summer, sweat dripped off my temples and poured down my back. By the time I got to my studio, I was already drenched.
The morning walk was mostly downhill. If I took that same walk in the evening, when I left the library, I had to climb up a steep slope. My thighs burned the entire time.
For any reader who isn’t familiar with this chapter of my story, I was doing a post-bacc in the hopes of getting into med school. The whole thing was a struggle for me, and obviously, it didn’t turn out the way that I hoped it would.
I had a lot of time to think on those walks. It occurred to me not infrequently that the route could be seen as a metaphor for my experience with grad school: strenuous and uphill, a test of determination.
What’s funny is that, when I look back on the walks now, I realize how unnecessarily difficult they, and the circumstances that the necessitated them, were.
For one thing, I was living in a neighborhood meant for people with cars, and I don’t drive.
Why didn’t I look into getting a tablet back then, so that I didn’t have to carry so many books? I could probably have found a used device that was affordable.
Could I have rented a mat at my studio, rather than carrying one? I don’t even remember asking about it.
Before I left DC, I moved to a neighborhood that was less residential, more urban, and with a lot more subway and bus stops.
The trudge to campus became a 10 minute bus ride. My new yoga studio was closer to home, which allowed me time to shower and drop off my things before getting to class.
I felt less isolated, which brightened my mood—a shift that was not dissimilar from the shift I made when I moved downtown last summer.
Sometimes we look back on an experience and think “that was really hard,” and also, “wow, it didn’t have to be so hard.”
I think I’m in the middle of such a moment.
I’ve been overwhelmed lately, struggling to keep up. I wrote a short blog post about it a few weekends ago.
As usual, readers have been so kind.
I’ve gotten emails inviting me to post less frequently, to rethink how I handle my newsletter, or to take a break from it altogether.
Other emails have expressed solidarity and empathy. One reader reminded me that many folks are “not fine” these days, and that it’s OK to admit it.
Another reader assured me gently that I’m enough.
I’ve appreciated all of it so much. And I’m checking in again today to say thank you, and also, I’m still figuring things out.
I hate falling behind on work so much that my instinct is to just keep treading water in the hopes that I’ll catch up soon. But I’ve been treading water for a while, and nothing is changing.
So I’m taking a moment to float.
I’m looking at my work schedule and commitments in order to find solutions, a new way of approaching things.
I feel pretty confident that I’ll find a good way forward. A new way forward. But I want to be deliberate, rather than panicked and reactive.
I feel no pressure from this community to keep churning out content while I give it all a think. Readers are always more forgiving to me than I am to myself.
But I also want to say that I don’t intend to stop writing. If anything, posting more infrequently has reminded me of how important writing is to me.
It’s also been kind of nice to realize that, when I don’t share recipes regularly, I really miss doing so!
I joke frequently about how much I dislike cooking, and there’s a sizable grain of truth in that joke. But I seem to enjoy recipe development even when I’m on the fence about—or actively loathing—cooking.
This is a happy discovery.
Anyway, my hope is to continue writing and recipe sharing in a way that’s realistic. Annoyingly, I don’t think this will be about posting less often so much as planning and organizing my time well—in other words, working smarter, not harder.
It’s annoying because I of all people ought to know it.
Each week, I hold space with my clients as they realize that they know what to eat. Their struggle is with planning and execution, and this can be for many different reasons: fatigue, overwhelm, an emotionally charged relationship with food, etc..
Making changes requires my clients to be strategic and solutions-oriented. That’s why they’ve chosen to work with me.
It’s usually the case that they need to learn how to be patient and forgiving with themselves first, because solutions don’t present themselves when we’re busy beating ourselves up. I’m remembering this as I try to address my own struggles with professional self-organization.
Sometimes we need to grit our teeth and flex our muscles until we reach a certain destination.
Sometimes we just need to find an easier path to walk along.
The latter is what I’m up to. And this is neither the first time nor, I’m sure, the last time that I’ll thank this community for supporting me as I step into some new ways of being.
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The first half of this past week flew by, a blur of class and reading and clients and work. The second half screeched to a halt with the arrival of a fall cold and a middle ear infection, which forced me to slow down and spend most of yesterday curled up on my sofa. I was supposed to travel to DC today for my cousin’s baby shower, but, with my first set of midterms coming up this week and more travel on the horizon…
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