Thursday, September 17, 2015


I don’t manage my stress as well as I should. It’s been one of those “chipaway” issues. I used to be better at it than I was now.

I mean, I used to live in a Zen center at one point.

Meditation, breathing, patience, calm, keeping cool and collected, these were all fine.

At school, today, I had an adrenaline dump, and that sort of scared me. I’ve been angry a lot lately, and trying to figure out why. The reasons are perhaps for a different post (not too likely as I try not to use the blog as "over-sharing therapy time"). But regardless of the reasons, I should be able to do better about the results. Without dedicating my life to living in a Zen center…

I don't know how it started!

You tasted something bitter in your mouth.
It was the adrenaline. The bitter taste was the adrenaline.

The above is from season two of the West Wing. I watched it the other night, as I’ve been rewatching some of my favorite parts of the show. In the episode, Josh is struggling with his stress, caused by trauma. I am so fortunate that mine is not trauma-induced. But watching the episode is how I knew it was an adrenaline rush at school. I had the bitter taste in my mouth.

So I got some good old-fashioned internet advice. Unlike Josh, on the show, I don’t access to some of the world’s best psychologists. Here’s what the net said:

1)      Try to change the thing that is making you stressed. That is a bit out of control: my life. I’m not really very fulfilled, and, more importantly, feel as though I should be doing more.  (So much for therapy on the blog!) What can I say? I hold myself to an inordinately high standard. When you do that you expect a payoff, even if you know it’s unrelated. It feels deserved. Usually teaching has been fun and entertaining, but that’s not true of my current position. So, since the entertainment is what used to get me to work in the morning combined with a noble sense of duty, and I feel my job is neither noble, nor entertaining, that’s unfortunate.

Classes have been going on for five or six weeks now, and the initial rush dying. A bunch of my coworkers are noticeably more piqued than usual. We’re settling in, and the romanticism of the summer’s justifications is wearing off.

2)      Promote better sleeping patterns. If anything, lately, my sleeping patterns have been worse. I’m hitting snooze more, staying up, starting to get bags under my eyes.

3)      Make time to do things you enjoy. Nope! I’ve been cutting them out, actually. Usually I’m okay with this, but, for the past month and a half I’ve been sitting around, bored, unable to afford what I want to do.

4)      Surround yourself with people that make you happy. This rides off of the above. I can’t justify the expense of going out to dinner with friends when I need to be counting pennies. Counting pennies, in general, drives folk mad. The lengthy isolation isn’t helping. I certainly need more local friends. Most of my good friends live on the other side of the United States.

5)      Exercise regularly. I’ve stopped taking walks. I did them for pleasure, then necessity. Then I got a car, and the necessity faded. Vallejo is not a walking community, to say the least.

6,7) Eat healthy and Decrease the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume. I       am eating a large carb load once a day, with few fresh fruits and vegetables. I had         cut out caffeine, and then reintroduced it. With sugar. And then began to rely on it.       So that’s not good… But, hey, I don’t drink.

8) Help others. I do teach for a living. I think I’m okay on this. It has helped – those       few moments at work that have been fulfilling have been one-on-one helping               students in crisis.

9) Do yoga. You can’t make me.

The other source of my stress, besides my work, is that I’m moving in a couple of weeks. Luckily, this is a good thing for many of these problems. It means I can walk again. Hang out with friends again. Eat better and drink less caffeine. Make time for my enjoyments.

All to the good! But God, it’s stressful. I wanted to be settled by now. And I knew this was coming. But ugh. Each time you move, you have to clean, pack up your life, and I think by the nature of the exercise, reflect on where you are in your life. And, as I mentioned above, I wanted to be further along in life. I expected I’d be doing better by now.

My twenties were admirable. Thanks to certain privations, I managed my finances superbly, and still managed to have fun. I traveled, made friends, and completed milestones. But in the end, I’m staring at less than a year to 30, and I’m single, doing a job I’m not satisfied with (much less thrilled) and just…not there yet.

I wanted to be married at 25, kids by 30.

So now I’m moving down to Berkeley to take at least a year off for my personal life. Hey, with luck, I’ll find someone nice and fall madly in love, all the while as we complement each other’s life goals and values, and then move in together with a healthy dual income to a nice place by ourselves where we can pursue our dreams.

Time for a little me time. Here’s hoping that Berkeley does the trick. I think it will.

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