Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Overloaded: Unplugging a Bit

Image Credit: State Farm
via Creative Commons

 For being in my sixties, I have pretty good health. I attend between 12 and 15 (sometimes 18 ) classes a week at my local YMCA. I do a mix of cardio, stretching, and strength training. However, I am having trouble managing my cognition. 

It's nothing serious. I am just realizing that I can no longer manage multiple projects without losing things, dropping items, or driving my car into brick frame next to the garage door (In April of this year, I thought I had put the car into park. Nope. I was too busy thinking about other things, and I need to focus on the immediate task at hand instead of living in my head. In June I left my groceries in my car overnight. Again, I was thinking about other things instead of grounding myself into the immediate moment.)  

For the last couple of years, I have been juggling the following: 

  • Teaching classes as an adjunct for three different departments at two different universities.
  • Once a year, teaching a section of  first-year composition to 100 plus engineering students from Beijing.  
  • Volunteering at three venues: Girl Scouts, my church, and an aging & wellness organization.
  • Writing for two blogs: this one and a faith-based literary journal (Segullah). 
  • Running the Twitter account for Segullah.
  • Reading a book a week (one for book club, three for me). 
  • Reading about current events.
  • Attending the gym nearly every day, sometimes 2, 3, or 4 classes per day. 
  • Running the house: bills, errands, cleaning, shopping, repairs. 
  • Taking care of our aging dog. 
  • Touching base with my adult children, including offering financial support.
  • Maintaining relationships with extended family members and friends who live near and far, given that I have lived in 9 different states. 
  • And indulging in some guilty pleasures such as watching reality TV and British detective shows.
  • Oh, eating, sleeping, grooming, and going to the doctor / dentist on the regular. 
And like everyone else, I had additional emotional and cognitive demands of assessing risks to me and my family (and my students) due to the pandemic. 

In addition, I do not trust the media to give me accurate information, so I spend a couple of hours every day for two years reading peer-reviewed medical journals about SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19. I also listened to 50 podcasts to vet the most evidence-based ones. I recommend TWIV, particularly the Friday clinical updates by Dr. Daniel Griffith. 

It's proven to be too much for me. I am scaling back--unplugging a few things from my overloaded outlet, so to speak. 
  • I trimmed my Facebook back from 900+ friends to 300 to 100 to 30 to 3. 
  • I quit my book club. I find that my eyes and my brain are fatigued after reading off the computer screen to teach, so I have started listening to audiobooks. Honestly, I'm watching more television shows. It's less demanding on my cognition. 
  • I totally quit one of my volunteer assignments (aging and wellness committee), and I am phoning it in with the Girl Scouts. I am still very enthusiastic about teaching children 18 months to 3 years old (nursery children in the LDS Primary program). I teach them for an hour each Sunday. However, I come early to wipe everything down and to set up. I also think about the children all week so that I can adjust the activities for their interest and so that I can restructure activities to decrease conflict. 
  • I have told my employers that I will only teach online. I have found that to be less stressful. I do not have to drive to campus, and I do not have to cajole students to put down their phones or close tabs such as YouTube or Instagram. 
  • I have decided to start taking a trip a year instead of playing the martyr by staying home to manage the house, the kids (when they were minors), and the dog while my husband has been traveling to China, Hawaii, California, Utah, Illinois, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Jamaica, England, and Israel over the years.
I could still improve my cognition with better health hygiene, notably cutting back on screen time. I'm in front of a screen entirely too much with teaching online, reading news online, and watching television and movies online. I do better if I spend some time doing devotional reading, particularly books that take a mindfulness approach--whether it's a collection of Buddhist meditations or something more watered down but taking a "Be Here Now" approach. I also do better if I go on walks with gal pals. I get a boost from nature and also enjoy connecting with a friend. 

I have long cultivated an identity as the achievement-oriented, oldest child who is dependable and overscheduled.  I have already shifted a bit from Knowing to Doing. Now I need to shift from Doing to Being. 

Last summer, one of my uncles died. He was only 13 years older than I. This was a shock for several reasons. 

First, I had not seen him for years. This makes me want to visit some of my extended family members and gal pals before Father Time grabs one of us by the back of the neck and yanks us out of this realm. I had not seen him in decades, and suddenly the Fates cut his life short. I always assumed I could see him on one of my upcoming trips out West.   

Second, it's possible that I may lose my health or I may end up serving as a caregiver to my spouse. My mother lost her health in her seventies. She has been bed ridden for years. If I follow her path, I have a decade of being active enough to serve, work, and travel. 

I have been saying "later" to shifting from being achievement oriented to being contemplative and to being a listening ear for others. I have benefitted a great deal from my mother-in-law's compassionate listening. I could never match her wisdom and patience, but it wouldn't hurt if I spent more of my energy as a support to others who are going 100 miles an hour in the "Make hay while the sun shines" stage of their lives. 

2 comments:

  1. First of all, thank you for being willing to share about your life in such an open and honest way. As we grow older, everything changes. Everything. For most of us, if we don't make attempts to create a healthy environment for ourselves, something will give. Father Time definitely does show up, sometimes long before we thought possible. A bout with cancer forced me to make changes, and I am incredibly thankful to still be here, and living a much simpler lifestyle. You are making many changes to honor your needs. I'll bet your mind, body, and spirit are already responding to those changes.

    Again, thank you for being vulnerable with us. May you know deep healing and peace.

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    1. Hey, I figure we are all moving through life and all of its challenges and opportunities. I don't like to obscure what is really going on in my life. I like to share tips with others so that we can offer mutual support. You make a great point about the power of creating a healthy environment for ourselves. Thanks for stopping by and making a comment, Pam.

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