I'm starting to see evidence of what my doctor has been telling me, that I'm always in "fight or flight" mode. In sitting down to craft this blog post, I just ran through a list in my head of all the things I've been working on since starting "summer break."
- Writing 16 new pages in my creative thesis
- Organizing my old journal entries and notes into a finished book outline
- Getting my "ducks in a row" for Goddard graduation a year from now
- Planning a fact-checking mission to Fiji in March 2018
- Planning a "congratulations to myself" trip in June 2018 (maybe in Tunisia? thoughts?)
- Reading books for grad school
- Reading other books before grad school slaps me with a different, far harder reading list
- Online shopping for proper clothing to pack for the Botswanan bush in July
- Trying to keep up with my fitness regimen (psh!)
Oh, and I've been spending time seeing my sobrinos, old friends, and planning the distant future.
I might have the Whole 30 to thank (or blame) or maybe it's part of growing up, but I don't really sleep in anymore. GASP! And when I roll out of bed—quietly celebrating a justifiable moment for a steamy cup of medium roast—I feel inclined to start my day of scholarship: reading Noam Chomsky or writing the next chapter in my creative thesis.
P.S. I've recently put some time into updating my book list for anyone who's interested!
Fighting and Flighting
What would happen if I didn't spend one of these valuable "days off" in a productive manner? I think I'd start pacing like my nephew, "jimmy arms" flailing at my sides. I'd probably pick up my phone (as I just did) and peruse Instagram in a compulsive manner. I don't quite care what I scroll and see; there's satisfaction in feeling like I've scanned everything I missed since the last time.
I've been hearing about the "fight or flight" response more often in the last year than I have since Biology class in 9th grade (or was it in middle school science?). Apparently this response is linked to the adrenal glands, those little bumps on my kidneys that don't feel like pumping out cortisol like they used to. Weird that as my cortisol drops, I start getting up earlier...
My low numbers come as no surprise to this functional integrative medical doctor, who when hearing about my last ten years of existence got exhausted by the thought. The 2.7 times around the globe this year was the mega cherry on top of a long list of international travel and experiences ranging greatly in intensity.
Travel Wear and Tear
On top of the mere kilometers clocked or time zones switched, there were all the other host of stresses that just never register in my mind: popping antibiotics at the tail end of a persistent sinus infection, a mountain climb followed by 51 hours in transit, a vicious case of salmonella that knocked me to the floor rewarding my first black eye, and the list goes way, way on.
Is this peripatetic existence likely to stop anytime soon? Nope. I'm heading to Botswana in July to help launch the Changemaker Program at THINK Global School, and regardless of everything I wrote above, I'm pretty excited about this destination.
While spending my days with students in the Botswanan bush, leading writing workshops and supporting a government research project, I'll also be expected to keep up a pretty rigorous study schedule for Goddard. Thankfully, my work and studies are overlapping quite nicely this term, with my Writing Foundation course working as my teaching practicum. What doesn't work so kindly is the need to continue reading a book a week while also living in a close campsite with students and typing up annotations or creative writing in a dusty, hot environment with questionable access to electricity.
Fact-checking in Fiji
In anticipation of a busy year ahead, I'm planning backwards to make sure that I'll be able to graduate in June 2018 while still carrying on as an educator in four different countries.
I've had an idea for the last year that I'm quite committed to: return to Nakavika with my book in draft form for fact-checking and "approval." While the village and its inhabitants is far from the only content of my creative thesis, I feel a great sense of obligation to make sure everyone interested in the village knows what I've created and what might come of it.
Additionally, I want to make sure that my portrayal of this part of the world does it justice. As I've failed to find any narrative or scholarly publications from the Namosi province, I care deeply about the representation of this culture that I'm putting out into the literary world as an outsider.
What's a break, anyway?
So I read, adrenal fatigue appears to be a 21st century issue, in that the diminishment of real physical danger in our daily lives has manifested itself into a constant stress that treats all threats as equals. If this is the case, take me back to the days of subsistence farming, jumps in the swimming hole, and dinner by candlelight. I guess I want to be Amish! Or better yet, Fijian!
But obviously I've gained a tremendous amount from this active, dynamic life bouncing around the world. I'm trying to take it easy, give myself a break before Botswana amps up, but as my previous list indicates, I treat "breaks" like stolen time. I will fill the time I have, a compulsive little worker pumped with caffeine to complement a puny trickle of cortisol.
Parkinson's Law, they call it. Well, C.N. Parkinson has officially taken over my wet, hot, American summer break. And even if that means more of this compulsive, fight or flight mode, as long as I have a finished book by next February, I'm fine with that.