I’ve just wrapped an eventful 10 days.
It started with my being on the receiving end of what felt to be a classist and racist judgment. The crappy part wasn’t the judgment, but the realization that I hadn’t wanted to get into the situation in the first place but had ignored my intuition to help out a friend.
Then, hours later, at 10:30 pm last Thursday, I realized I had posted the mid-term exam I was giving my students the next morning as their study guide in our electronic classroom and not the actual study guide. Exhausted from having spent the day grading papers to give back the next day, I realized I had to come up with a new plan for class the next day and rewrite the exam for the next week.
When I arrived at class to tell my students of my epic goof, I took off my jacket and discovered my dress was clinging, thanks to static, to my tights right at my waist line, a great look to show my students who had arrived early to study some more for the exam they were not about to have.
Then, after I broke the exam news to them, I put in the film we were going to watch (it was part of the next class’s plan and so I just moved it up) and when I walked to the back of my amphitheater classroom—a place I never really go—to watch the movie with them, I missed two steps in the dark, crashed into a wall and totally cracked back open an old hairline fracture in my foot.
Are visions of professor of the year dancing in your head?
Then, I traveled for a few days and when I returned home, our internet was out for three days, making my to do list almost impossible. When we finally fixed it, relinking to the internet from my laptop somehow caused an epic email crash and I spent twelve hours on the phone with Charen and Robert in the Philippines rebuilding most but not all of it. “I think we have to accept data loss,” Charen said. There’s a parable in there, right?
In the midst of all of this, Happy had some low moments, as little boys sometimes do, and BF had a birthday that I tried to make sure was still fully celebrated and, of course, the rest of our worlds spinned madly on, not caring whether or not I had internet or email access to keep up. Because stuff is going to happen in our lives. We can’t always control that (although sometimes we can). But we can control how we react to it. And if we choose to do that, choose to keep stuff as an outside circumstance and not let it become an inside job, then we choose a course for ourselves that is so much healthier and happier. We build our resistance while practicing perspective.
So, today, I am sharing some thoughts on how to reduce the possibility of stuff/drama/”data loss” in our lives. Next week, I’ll be back to talk about what to do when the stuff happens so it doesn’t derail you.
Trust your intuition. We all have it; a deep inner-wisdom that often knows what we should do before the clarity of it even reaches our consciousness. If your gut is telling you know, even before you can articulate it, take it seriously. It is when I ignore what I know to be the right thing for ME to do that I end up with regrets.
And a follow-up to this: when someone shows you who he is, believe him. Sometimes, our gut doesn’t know enough about a situation and so we try something out with someone. And then we realize, “oh, not my person, not a fit.” Remember that. Yes, people change. But you will KNOW if that person has changed; you will see clear proof that she or he has changed. It will be obvious. If the person is inviting you back into the fold and you think, “maybe he’s changed” then it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t changed. The change should be obvious, not a possibility. It is not that you don’t want to hope for the best in people, it is that you have to insure that you are in the best possible situations for you to give your best to the world.
And another follow-up: do not engage crazy. If there is someone who is toxic in your life, try to realign the relationship so that it is no longer toxic. There are different ways to do this: create a finite amount of involvement in the person’s situations, become a super clear communicator, ask for more of what you need. Whatever you do, find the right balance for keeping your life harmonious.
Watch your own energy. Have you ever found that your reaction to something is what actually takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Sure, you didn’t start it, but, boy, aren’t you ready to finish it? I think it is important to take care of ourselves, but I also think that is possible without hyping things up with our own reactions. If someone is inappropriate, really gauge what the right boundary setting reaction is and do that without taking it to a level that puts you in a bigger maelstrom.
Slow down (and don’t multi-task). Let me tell you how I ended up posting the exam in my electronic classroom instead of the study guide. It was a cold and snowy week (love my nod to centuries-old fiction?), and Happy and I were both home-bound. In between playing epic games of Uno, Memory, and Chutes and Ladders and eating snow cream, I wrote the test that was on my to do list for the week. Then I wrote the study guide. Then, while playing Chutes and Ladders, I posted the study guide in the electronic space. Except I didn’t. And you know why I goofed? Because I was trying to do two things at once just so I could scratch something off my list. Do one thing at a time. And do it slowly.
Keep your perspective. Don’t make anything dramatic that doesn’t have to be dramatic. You know what I did when I saw that I posted my exam instead of the study guide. Laughed. Outloud and uproariously. Because, seriously, it wasn’t the end of the world, and it was pretty flipping funny. Look, I am hopefully changing people’s lives in Body Image class but I am not curing cancer and so while having to write a new test is a pain in the rear end, it’s not devastating. When you can keep perspective about the size of the problem, you can keep your wits about you.
So, there it is. My starter version for not creating drama or shaking stuff up in your life. What are your strategies for keeping things smooth(er) in your world?