Groundhog Day 2017 Resolutions: April Check-In

I glutened myself this past weekend, so I’m in recovery/detox mode: joint aches, headaches, back pain, ultra fatigued… It’s the worst—I was in too much pain to fall asleep Saturday night, tossing and turning for hours, and struggled to sleep the next night as well. If last year is any indication, I’ll be recovering at least the rest of this week, and possibly longer, which is gonna make the start of term way harder that it would otherwise have been.

Yesterday was the first day of classes. So far, my classes look great, though I’m a bit worried about being able to balance the workload. I know I complain about it every year, but spring break is just not long enough! I really wish they would shift the spring term out a week and give us two weeks of break. The end of last term was hard, and I spent the break catching up on work that’s been left by the wayside during the term, and now I’m dealing with health issues from gluten. I’m already feeling a little burnt out, and the term has just started. I’d appreciate any well wishes or woo you want to send into the universe on my behalf, because I cannot afford to drop the ball this term: I’m running out of financial aid, and this is my second to last term.

I registered for graduation (they charge $30 to register, plus a $2 processing fee!), signed up for commencement, and ordered my regalia. I also signed up for the pre-commencement Lavender Graduation ceremony (through the Queer Resource Center) and the Multicultural Graduation (through the Multicultural Resource Centers and ethnic identity studies departments), so I can get the kente and rainbow stoles to wear to commencement. It feels a little silly, since I won’t actually have finished all my courses and graduated until end of summer, but I’ve been assured that several people will be quite grumpy with me if they don’t get the chance to cheer and take pictures of me walking, so I’m doing it. Trying not to stress too much about it—it’s not for a couple of months, anyway. For now, I’m just focusing on finishing these classes. Wish me luck!

This month’s resolution review is below the cut; reading it, you may notice that I spent a lot of money on tools to increase my chances of succeeding this term, along with the funds I spent on graduation and commencement stuff. Because I’m at the end of my financial aid, money’s tight this term; if you can, please donate to help me cover food and protect my health so I can finish up my bachelor’s degree and apply to graduate programs. I have a research stipend over the summer and I’ll be looking for a job after I finish up, but I need to focus on school and research now, so I can get into a strong, fully-funded program in my field. To help out, you can donate through https://cash.me/$tdudleypdx, or you can buy my poetry album. I really appreciate the support—thanks.

Now for the resolution review:


Goals:

  1. Practice self-care and express self-compassion
  2. Ask for support and use my resources
  3. Build discipline and be creatively strategic

Month in Review:

What worked? What didn’t?
1) No class sessions for the last few weeks meant catching up on sleep, which was good, but the lack of structure was a bit disorienting. I didn’t really manage to get my meditation back on track, and now I’m having to readjust to even earlier classes on Monday and Wednesday—yikes. The glutening is not helping either, but I’m hoping that being careful can get me back on track. I finally got into the storage unit and pulled out a few things I needed, and that’s also helped me feel less adrift. I’ve got a favorite hoodie with me now, some books I need for my research, and my sunrise lamp to help me wake up in the mornings, so those will contribute to feeling more stable and happy. I also ordered a new mask for my chemical sensitivity, because the one I got last year was too big, and though I’ve been making do, I really need a mask that fits my face. I’m gonna wash the old one and pass it on to another chemically sensitive friend who can use the larger size. I bought new over-ear headphones to cover my ears and block out sounds, which helps when I’m experiencing sensory overwhelm because of fibro pain or chemical sensitivity.

  • Things that have been good: giving myself permission to be a mess and to struggle and to be upfront with professors about my health issues, using tools to reduce/address sensory overwhelm, eating enough, sleeping in, reading books for leisure, writing poetry, pre-cooking meal components for quick assembly and consumption.
  • Things that have not been good: gluten consumption, lack of motivation, frustration about not having enough private time (living on a friend’s living room couch = no privacy, except in the bathroom).

2) I advocated for myself with a couple of professors, and even though they were pretty inflexible I’m going to call it a win—I asked for what I needed. Being a McNair scholar gives me access to a restricted-access workroom on campus, and I’ve just begun to use that space to get things done—having a secure room to study in when I need it is really useful, since I struggle to work at home. We’re struggling to balance household chores, and I’m asking for help with that as well, with mixed results—we’re all disabled, and most of us are busy with work or school, so it’s hard for us to get stuff at home done. I’ve resumed seeing my counselor since returning from Ghana, and she’s helping me address my own trauma and stress issues. Yesterday, one of my classes got last-second moved to one of the least accessible buildings on campus, and I had to climb a steep, narrow staircase to get to it. After class, I stopped by the DRC and they promised to put in a request to move the class back out of that building. I also checked in with both my Monday/Wednesday professors after class yesterday to let them know where I might struggle, and they both seemed great and receptive.

  • Things that have been good: advocating for myself, making friends in my history and McNair classes, getting note-taking services and other assistance through the Disability Resource Center, meeting with my faculty mentor to discuss my research, going to counseling, getting help from friends with cars to run needed errands.
  • Things that have not been good: not getting chores done, not getting out of the house to study elsewhere (the commute to campus is really long, and I don’t really have the funds to buy food there or at a coffeeshop).

3) Even though I’ve been more able to skim readings and write off of my notes, this area has probably been the weakest one. With the busyness and overwhelm of the last few weeks of term, and the lack of real time off, my ability to get work done has suffered. Physical and mental exhaustion are a strong impediment to successfully completing work, alas. Gluten reaction also interferes with my ability to get things done, since it usually entails extreme sensitivity to chemicals (such as the traces of laundry detergent on clothes or the scents of soap or other things not normally detectable on a conscious level), migraines, depression and anxiety, joint and back pain, intestinal cramping, and other terrible stuff. I’ve been feeling a little depressed lately, struggling with impostor syndrome. I know I am a great writer and I have the ability to persevere and succeed, but in my low moments I worry that my previous success has been a fluke.

  • Things that have been good: exploring reference management software, breaking projects into smaller chunks, sprung for Scrivener to use for drafting research papers (pricey, but I missed having it a lot since the switch to Mac, and it’ll be a lifesaver when I get into writing up research this term and over the summer).
  • Things that have not been good: lack of workable accountability structures or reward systems.

Planning the Next Month:

What am I working on going forward?
1) I need to get a sleep schedule in place, and I need to set a daily meditation time and find a way to stick to both. I also need to cook stuff and stick it in the fridge again, and make a grocery run for snacks and such. There’s no fix for the lack of private space, but getting back into meditating daily may help with my frustration over it. I also need to take it physically easy to recover my health.

2) My schedule this term is kind of wacky, but it means I’ll be spending more time on campus, which hopefully means I’ll get more studying done. I hope to set up group study time this term with some other history students, if I can, because I find studying in proximity to someone else, without necessarily studying together, is beneficial to me. I also need to check in with my faculty mentor and the rest of my professors early in the term. It may be beneficial to check in with the DRC to see if they have any tips or support for me on motivation and ADHD issues. I used to see an academic coach there, and they might have something similar or know where I can look for resources. At home, it’s probably going to be necessary to go over the household chore chart again, and figure out how to make sure things get done, which is not exciting but is still important.

3) I need to find accountability structures and reward systems that work for me. I’m great at them early in term, but as the term goes on, I get overwhelmed and they drop off, and things start to pile up, and everything feels out of control. I’m going to make up a term wall calendar to serve as an extra reminder at home, and brainstorm rewards other than my usual gold-star/check-box reward system.

 

Hope y’all are doing better than me, and that you have a good week. Take care!

See all of the Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.

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