Monday, January 15, 2007

Reminders vs. Resolutions


It's 2007 and unlike most people, I'm not bothering with resolutions. Rather, I'm about reminders.
Resolutions always have that undertone of "a fresh start"-- as if starting from scratch with your life. But that's never been me. I've always known what's important, what I should be working on. Usually, my goals are struggles that I face throughout the year; one day at a time.
For example, I don't believe in dieting, at least, not for me. If I want to be healthier, that requires a dietary change to my lifestyle--not a scheme that has a shelf-life of several months or until I reach my desired weight (only to have it ricochet back to fat in a matter of months). So, eating better, exercising more is constantly on my mind, whether I achieve that goal for the day. But it's a lifestyle change that I've been doing for years now. Vacations and holidays tend to detour me, but I quickly remind myself what's most important.

Lately, I've been feeling pretty depressed about writing my dissertation. Writing a dissertation is unlike anything I've ever attempted in my life. I can see why so many students and young professors end up on "the couch" or taking anti-depression pills.
I feel such enormous pressure to create, not just "an original body of work" but to write the next Pulitzer. Luckily, I have some wonderful professors that are just about me getting the job done and producing something worthy. But on the other hand, sadly, I do have some professors that are expecting me to write the diss. THEY would have written, rather than what I should write. They are quite sadistic in their "pep talks" to me. It's just like something from one of those competition-based reality shows. I really think they get an erection by making me feel like shit.

I spend 6+ hours a day, in front of the computer, writing. But now, my writing has gone from what I think I want to say to what I think "those professors" want to hear.
I stopped sleeping well; I started having twinges of anxiety attacks. So, feeling like I was swimming in quicksand, I had a minor breakdown on Friday and had to regroup.

And then I got a reminder of what is important: I didn't feel my baby move most of that day.

My baby has been doing gymnastics every day now for the past month and Friday, I felt nothing.
Was everything ok? Is he/she sick? Dying? What?!

Besides Andy's supportive pep talks that always begin and end with "Ok, so fuck that professor! You know they've got it in for you!" I also received some reminders from friends about what's really important.

Reminder 2:
My health
My family
My husband
My future son/daughter
My friends
Love for them all

Reminder 3:
"It's just a dissertation, Peggy. This does not represent you who are no matter what the outcome."

Reminder 4:
An email from a dear friend and colleague who's a young, brilliant professor in the US South. Her husband was struck with immense back pain that left him bedridden and paralyzed in extraordinary pain for days. Because of the wonderful US health care system, he can't afford health insurance and so, my friend spent every day for the past week driving around between campus to teach, and write grant proposals, AND drive back home to take care of his every need until she could FIND a doctor who could make a house visit.
She knows that while he's fine today and able to walk now, this will be a recurring episode for the rest of her life--one she voluntarily takes because of her love for him.
"I know why I get up in the morning and it is not to do anthropology," she wrote me.

And that was a dosey of a reminder!

So, after putting myself back in the real world of what's truly important, I got up, finally took a damn shower, made some dinner, baked a large loaf of banana bread and settled back into my better self.
And hey, guess who was up doing somersaults and high kicks in my belly again? Since I'm no longer black and moody and crying, my little Haitian Highlander is feeling better too.

My final reminder: what affects me, affects my baby...for better or for worse. When the damage is done, it can NEVER be undone.

So let those reminders continously take heed in me.

7 Comments:

At Jan 16, 2007, 1:35:00 PM, Anonymous aulelia said...

omg - sounds like you have been under severe amounts of stress. but like you said, what affects you, affects your baby too. be strong for the incoming HH -- that is what we all want for you!

 
At Jan 16, 2007, 2:05:00 PM, Blogger Peggy Brunache said...

Thanks a bunch, A! I'm just trying to keep my head above the surface. One of the worst things is that it feels like I'm the only one who feels this way--as if my profs have never undergone such insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.

 
At Jan 17, 2007, 1:42:00 PM, Anonymous Kei said...

Hey sis,

Whew... it is amazing how responsive babies are to their mother's stress. I know that you know you've got to be aware of absolutely everything that's coming into you, especially on a psychic level...if you know what I mean. Try to take it as easy as you can...thanks for sending me your blog address again so I could bookmark it this time. Gotta keep an eye on the people I care about. Tell Andy I said "what what?" and don't let those bloody professors give you any more stress than what you're going through; you're building an entirely new being... much more important than a diss. Love you girl...stay strong.

 
At Jan 17, 2007, 8:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful Peggy ... give a girl a call if you need a Tejas-style spiritual/emotional/rejuvenative kick in the tookis. I miss the sh*t outta you and I wish I were there to rub your feet and reassure you that *this too shall pass* ... more beauty is coming to you ... the lucky one! Just keep telling yourself that the only bounds to beauty are those round thingies in your head. This time goes so fast ... trust me ... you want to savor this part!

Loving you from afar,
Natasha

 
At Jan 18, 2007, 6:32:00 PM, Blogger Courtney Desiree Morris said...

Girl...we all need those reminders...every now again. Please take care of yourself and my homie in your belly. We love you so much and know that you will come out on top.
Love,
c/m

 
At Jan 19, 2007, 4:31:00 PM, Blogger Peggy Brunache said...

Kei, Natasha, I miss ya'll too much! Thank you for the spiritual strength from afar!

My girl, C-Mo, I know you always got my back. But when are you gonna get me my $$, b.??

 
At Mar 24, 2007, 5:18:00 PM, Blogger Kofi said...

This is precisely why I have yet to go back to school. The BA was hard enough, at the time. My cousin got a Ph.D not too long ago and it almost broke her. It's so hard to find the right guidance and trust that what they're saying is going to help and not hurt you. But it sounds like you're guiding yourself pretty well.

 

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