The Next Phase (of school, anyway)

As we might have mentioned, my co-blogger and I are both back in school. In fact, it is often my excuse for lack of blogging. As it is this time – I just got done with a speedy summer session of Microbiology. I have one more week off before all my work pays off into…Nursing School. That’s right folks! I was accepted into an accelerated nursing program which will begin in T-11 days. It’s a strange feeling being at this point. I’ve been working towards this for what feels like forever taking classes a few at a time and now it’s here.

I’m excited, a bit nervous and have been ready for a change. Today I sat through a very long orientation where they brought in all kinds of helper services to explain how they could be used. I know it was supposed to be beneficial but I couldn’t help my mind from wandering into how and why I was sitting in that room.

I played with the idea of going back to school ever since I graduated the first time around. I really could never make a decision about what I wanted to go back for and so I just never made a decision, for years. In the meantime, along with my full time job, I worked for a Forensic Psychiatrist/Holocaust Survivor. For about 10 years he pushed me to go back to school for something. While I contemplated different ideas he would always give his input. He was an old Jewish man who treated me like a family member so therefore I was subject to his opinion and he would be sure to tell me if I was selling myself short. According to him I often was and now I’m inclined to think he was right. He passed away last August. I was already on track for nursing school (or occupational therapy – at that point I hadn’t quite decided) and he approved. He was a lifelong learner and that’s one lesson I most definitely took to heart. This is who he was (in part, at least):

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Routine Running

My new school schedule (it’s the second week of winter semester now) is kicking my ass this week….

..and it kind of feels good

It’s the same way a really hard workout leaves you panting on the floor in a pool of sweat, hurting but feeling good at the same time. The intensity and pace of it leaves you out of breath but you know the challenge is making you stronger even while it’s causing you pain. The pain is making you great. I know any distance runners who are reading this understand what I’m saying. It’s that “I just ran X amount of miles; I am super awesome!” feeling. (Maybe some of the rest of you are giving me that “Okay…you’re crazy” look) Because it’s difficult and demanding you either have to push your self to be better, be stronger, or you have to give up and walk home.

no crying in baseball

That’s what my schedule is like this semester, at least every other week when I have my kids. I’m taking three online classes and am on campus four days a week for one random chemistry class…that I’m really just taking for fun. Two days a week I only have class for an hour but I have a forty-five minute drive so it still consumes my entire afternoon. I don’t have any full week days that I’m not physically going to school like I did last semester so I don’t have any full days to catch up on my online class work and the many demands of keeping a household running (Fucking laundry, it never ends!).

And that is where my schedule pushes me to be better.

On the weeks that my kids are with me I feel like a serious bad ass just for making it through the day with everyone’s basic needs met (and, for the records, being on time to catch the bus is not a basic need).

I have to use ALL of my time efficiently. It’s a good thing, prevents laziness and all that. Plus it creates positive momentum. I’m in Get Shit Done mode, I have to keep moving so shit gets done which inspires me to get more shit done. Suddenly I am more motivated to run regularly again too because inevitably less available time=more motivation to do stuff.

Plus I fell into a bad rut over the holidays eating way too much of things like this:image

And drinking way too much of things like this:

In my defense this was New Year's Eve...and I didn't drink ALL the drinks.

In my defense this was New Year’s Eve…and I didn’t drink ALL the drinks.

Being so busy all day, I need some sort of a break by the evening. If I take a nap or try to sit and relax for a little bit I lose the momentum of the day and the evening is a bust, nothing gets done. I can’t really afford to waste an evening with this schedule. So I’ve been running more regularly and it’s been pretty nice. Well, after I got some shoes that didn’t suck all the water out of the snow straight into my socks. Nothing like trying to run on blocks of ice! I thought maybe trail running shoes would help with the slippage factor of winter running too. These New Balance Minimus Amps have not disappointed. It’s great to come in from running through four of five inches of, unshoveled in a couple stretches, snow and still have dry feet.

New shoes! I almost did a whole post about these bad boys.

New shoes! I almost did a whole post about these bad boys.

My running app informed me the other day that I’ve run the same route more than four times in the past couple weeks. It’s a boring route too: up the block, straight through town to the end of the sidewalks, then turn around and come back. It’s a run that is really not too interesting but is a good go-to for a quick & easy 3.5 miles. This is a little odd for me. I like to change things up, have some different scenery every now and then. I’d prefer to get out in the woods and run too but I haven’t even missed that lately. Actually, I feel pretty satisfied with the same ol’ boring running route over and over again. The wintery terrain does help make it more interesting but it’s not that. There’s something about the repetition and routine of this run that allows me to shut my mind off and NOT focus on the demands of my life or really anything at all. It’s offered a true mental break. I come back from my boring 3.5 miles energized and ready to make the most of the last few hours of my day.

Just because it's sunny does not mean it's warm. Looks can be and are deceiving here, people.

Just because it’s sunny does not mean it’s warm. Looks can be and are deceiving here, people.

wpid-wp-1421200485957.jpeg

But some days you just have to drop everything and go for an evening sled instead.

It’s Been One Hell of a Ride

Last January, my daughter’s birthday actually, was possibly the worst moment of my life to date. I was sitting, or something between the fetal position and sitting, on my small, cracked bathroom floor barely able to breath. Just as the edges of everything would start to blur some small, instinct operated part of my brain would make me stop gasping and take a real breath.

It was like a sucker punch to the gut that doesn’t stop. Like falling out of a tree onto your back, the wind knocked right out of you but this time it’s not coming back. That feeling. But worse.

I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming but suddenly everything was exactly as it should NOT have been and my world was turned upside down, all topsy-turvey like Alice’s when she fell through the rabbit hole…but extremely lacking in wonderment and amusement. Quite the opposite, the landscape was bleak and horrible.

Of course I had known I’d lose time with my kids as a result of divorcing their father but I had never imagined it would be fifty percent of their time. It was literally unfathomable to me and clearly, for reasons I won’t go into right now, oh so wrong. But it happened. Suddenly, unexpectedly this was my reality and I was having a little trouble coping with that idea.

It’s hard to believe that was almost a year ago…

and hard to believe it’s only been a year.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Not because I’m opposed to them but because they require more forward thinking than I tend to be capable of. I’m too busy just getting through this week to think about how I’d like to change over the next year. Plus making a grandiose statement that I’m going to do something almost guarantees that I won’t.

That being said I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on this past year because…

Whoa Buddy, 2014 has been one hell of a ride!

That’s no exaggeration.

When the year started I was in the throws of a nasty, drawn out divorce process and, even though it had been almost a year since I had filed, the end was sudden. It had been a ten month process that evolved from somewhat amicable negotiations between two people to an ugly battle involving lawyers, multiple visits to court, and a Friend of the Court investigation. In December the final hearing date wasn’t even scheduled but by the end of January the whole deal was done.

My divorce was finalized on January 29, 2014.  As I left the court house that day I felt relief, like a weight I didn’t realize I was carrying had been lifted. But there was also an undertow of defeat and a loss more immense than I had anticipated. I had already processed and dealt with the demise of my marriage and all that entailed but I had been handed a whole new set of loss to deal with.

Over the next couple of months I pretty much sucked. I really did; all I did half the time was work and sleep. It was bare minimum, base level functioning. I didn’t even tell close friends and family members that my divorce had been finalized. If you didn’t ask, you didn’t know. I just didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to deal with it.

When I had my kids I was fine, okay at least; life went on like it should. But the weeks I did not, well, suffice it to say I was a miserable shell of a person. Thursday evening would roll around, my kids would leave, the despair set in and I would shut down. I went to work but that’s about it. I holed up in my house and hibernated. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t do anything or go anywhere except work. And I was late for that on a nightly basis.

It’s pretty fitting that 2014 was one of the “worst” winters Michigan had seen in decades. I think nature was just analogizing my life at that point.

It was cold. It was dark. And it was long. I oscillated between angry, lonely, and sad.

Sometime in March I began to pull myself back together. My co-blogger and I started talking about running a half-marathon in the fall. At that point it was more of a theoretical goal than something I thought would be a reality. Even so, just having the possibility of something positive to look forward to and work towards gave me the push I needed.

It was time to un-slump.

In the spring of 2014 I did took some major steps and did things I had never done before. I started the going back to school process and applied for financial aid. I took a road trip (or two) alone with my kids. I, with the help of my co-blogger, had a birthday party for myself and even started thinking about dating. Basically I started living again, started looking at the future and realizing that this is my life. If I didn’t like it I should change what I could and just plain find a way to deal with what I couldn’t.

By the end of the summer I had gone on a few first dates and even a couple second dates. Nothing super exciting was happening on that front but at least I was putting myself out there. I was taking steps forward.

I had enrolled in school and was about to become a part time employee. Getting away from the seven consecutive night work schedule was a much needed change. It’s one of those things where you don’t realize how bad it was for you until you are out of the situation. I like my job but that schedule was pretty rough for me. Not being sleep deprived a good portion of the time is pretty amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I still only get five to six hours of sleep a night most the time but it’s a night not a day and that makes a huge difference.

This fall I started my first semester back to school in about five years….as a single parent and the only adult in a household of six. It was, and still is, a pretty intimidating change. Some days it still feels like a huge risk, And it is, but it’s a risk that needed to be taken.

In October I ran a half marathon. Compared to some runners, heck, lots of runners, that’s nothing really. But considered by itself it’s nothing to sneeze at. I ran 13.1 miles….on purpose….in a non-life threatening situation. It was pretty awesome.

Around mid-December I was feeling down and out about some things that were going on. It was just before Christmas and there was so much to do but I was feeling defeated and lacked motivation to do anything. I made a comment via text to my co-blogger friend about  New Year’s Eve, drinking alone and being sad and pathetic. She texted back saying “I get why you’re feeling this way but let’s get a little perspective. You’ve come a long way since last year. School, actually putting yourself out there. It’s rough shit but man look at you go.”

And she’s right. When I stopped to think about it, not only did I accomplish a lot in 2014…I came a long way down a rough road and I kicked some ass!

While I’m not sure 2015 can (or should even try to) top last year in terms of growth and eventfulness, it’s onward and upward from here. Who knows what this year will bring, but I do know that 2014 has been one for the books!

April 28th

That’s the day I’m looking forward to. It’s the end of my semester. Not that I don’t love staying up until 2pm after working all night. Or taking tests while sleep deprived.

College classes kill my time to crochet, and read and all other things that don’t have to do with homework.

It’s not all bad. I enjoy school and learning. I’ve got that nerd thing going. School just detracts from other nerdy ventures that don’t have strict deadlines and therefore are more fun. Plus no one grades me on how perfect my crochet stitches are….I mean they’re pretty damn good so I think I’d get an A anyway.

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