Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School

The last two weeks have been a blur. All I remember is having a lot of anxiety about getting the kids back to school, and then putting my nose to the grind stone. The kids all have wonderful kind teachers with lots of experience and I am grateful for that. Maya started her second year at Paul Banks Preschool two hours per day, Mondays and Wednesdays, where she gets speech therapy. Her teacher says she has elected herself the class leader. She looks so confident going about her "duties" as a special helper. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 1pm she goes to the same preschool both the boys went to when they were little. It is run by a friend of ours who is wonderful with the children. I was hoping to get caught up on the mountains of work I have been neglecting for the two years. Not a chance.

First, we are still trying to finish up our rock project before the snow falls. At this point I think the rocks will be in but the rest of the landscaping may have to wait until next spring. Second, two of our co-workers are trekking in Bhutan for the month of September so I offered to work some extra shifts while they are gone. This is proving to be epic as we begin the cold and flu season with the additional threat of H1N1, the swine flu. After a 10 year old boy in Fairbanks with no known pre-existing conditions died last week, parents, school nurses and public health nurses are all in a panic. Now every child with a sniffle is suspected of having swine flu. We are rapidly running out of Tamiflu in the local pharmacies. I think I am suffering from the collective anxiety. I spent 3 hours at the office yesterday on my "day off" returning phone calls, calling in prescriptions, sending referrals and writing lab letters. I did not even get to my charting.

There seems to be no end to the amount of work. I have not been able to finish the book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" or put to use any of the information I was taught at the time management seminar I attended last winter. According to the 80/20 rule, 20% of what we do is the most valuable work. The other 80% is scut work that we do unconsciously. For the past year I have been frustrated with the 80% of my life that is scut work. I feel so bogged down by the repetitious chores that are so tedious and mundane, like housework and charting.

In my quest for higher consciousness I decided to start a writers' group. It started when I was reading a book Matt's cousin published with her writers' group, 5 emerging Brooklyn writers. Reading her work made me feel so alive, I wanted to feel that way more often. The first week only two of us could attend and we had a wonderful time, writing and sharing our work and getting to know one another better. But as a parent of 3 young children it is so difficult for me to make that kind of time for myself on a regular basis. First, you have to line up childcare, then you have to get there. That part was not so bad but the next day I was so tired from lack of sleep that I was essentially useless.

Back to the rock quarry. Last weekend my mom took the kids away for a few hours and I put 7 hours in at the rock quarry. I really enjoy physical labor that doesn't require much thinking. It allows my mind to wander and I am prone to day dreaming. Sometimes I get more clarity in my thinking. It's that old Zen principle, chop wood, carry water. In my case it was shovel rocks, wash rocks, push wheel barrow, dump rocks. I feel at peace with the world during my hours in the rock quarry. I am starting to think that maybe the key to happiness, for me, is not trying to maximize the 20%, but being more present in the moment and finding meaning in the other 80%.

Take picture of me, Mommy!

First day of school, toting supplies.

Vanessa liked my Pujols story so much, she got me my own Pujols shirt!

Eating out of the garden.


Fuson's in Alaska said...

You look great in your shirt!! I think you would be a fabulous writer! I love to read your blog, you aren't any different then the rest of us, you just have a way of making me laugh with you. Oh and on with piggie flu note , I feel ya!! I get phone calls to here ine the lab except I have a HUGE benefit...I get to say "you'll have to talk to your healthcare provider about that" sorry ;)

Kelshel said...

I always remind myself to "Enjoy the Process", which is the 80% you're talking about. There's something to be said for that. But it isn't always easy.