18May '17

Week 3 of school. Crazy making? Surviving and maybe thriving?

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So this is my first week of school post. Appropriately two weeks late.

 I start week one all set.
 – fridge and freezer are stocked
– house is clean
– dog is groomed
– work is caught up
– very rested
Three days into week one:  The house is a total mess. I am functioning at 30% because of a cold and I am running around to doctors and physiotherapists, emailing with PE teachers, because my daughter is now on crutches. My dog’s leg is hurt. I feel like most of my school time is used up printing, stapling, organizing and worrying about if I am reading the correct journal articles.
Seven days into it:  Dance week starts. Both my daughter and I are in recital and I am photographing it all. Her leg has mostly healed. I have good cold medication. We agree to eat quinoa salad every night. All set.
Then, one night I forget all about making dinner – completely. I eat chips but do manage to feed the child some vegetables as well. Thankfully, someone gave the 14-year-old a magic potion that makes her act like a ridiculously pleasant, helpful and supportive adult. Between my deep love and appreciation for her, seeing all these other children grow up and perform on stage, and my high level fatigue I drop some tears every day. Which I think makes me more exhausted. I break into epic ugly cries on the day I pull the meal my friend Jen put in my freezer for just these type of weeks. Between her, my sweet boyfriend who brings me coffee, supportive texts from friends, and my office manager Christine, who reminds me that she has my back (yes, she is paid to do this, but she takes it to the next level) I am reminded that I am okay. Better than okay actually, I am crazy blessed.
Meanwhile, school heats up and I am assigned a team project with two interesting women I will work with remotely. My brain starts dancing with engagement. I practice balancing asserting my thoughts while sucking up to them. Making sure they like me seems like a useful coping skill for distance group projects. However I quickly learn I also need also to look out for myself, balance the time I contribute and make sure I express my true thoughts.
I spend one entire evening reading an academic journal. My texting finger gets sore because I use my phone so frequently to look up words that mean nothing to me. I realize the next day that the journal article was low on the “optional read” list.
 I respond to my first required assignment question on the school forum. Nervously. I feel as I am “coming out” to my peers and teacher as a non-academic. I wake up the morning and see a positive response from my professor. I literally happy dance. Feeling proud I call my academic step-dad to share the good news. One hour later my teacher further responds to my post with follow up questions. I don’t understand any of them.
14 days into it: I made it through dance week, with great joy actually. I happily head off for a jaunt to Victoria and Saltspring Island for photo shoots. The solo time is a brilliant gift. While I am still carrying around a low-level fatigue I feel like I see rainbows and unicorns everywhere. Actually, the light was incredible for my photo sessions and I did see a rainbow.
My oven doesn’t work. I decide it is reasonable to make it through the next few months without one rather than put “fix oven” on my to-do list.  Meanwhile, the boyfriend spends an entire day working on my neglected back yard. I am not accustom to having this type of help. It’s boggling and beyond amazing. I can now study on my back deck without feeling stressed about loosing my dog in the long grass (yes it was that long, yes, I have a smaller dog.) I can look out over the yard and feel like I have my sh*t together but really what I have is an incredible guy in my life. I would like to say that I worked really hard on the yard as well. The truth is that I was stoned most of the day.  I got stung by a wasp and and took Benadryl – apparently  I  react quite strongly to it. I think however, I was effective at alternating showing enthusiastic appreciation, while whining due to the pain in my stung swollen hand and simultaneously cracking myself up.
So this morning, me and my swollen hand are sitting down at the computer to knock out the drafts of my first two solo papers. I am nervous and having trouble getting started. I have done all the procrastinating possible, the house is clean, my photography work is totally up to date and I have written this post. (Which I have not read through or edited, today lets save that for the academic papers – ok?)
Tonight I am off to photograph the Comox Valley Record Local Hero awards, for which McKinnon Photography is a producing partner. I am reminded this morning of one of the reasons I am back in school. Working on the Local Hero project gave me the chance to spend time with the nominees and be inspired by them. There is so much wisdom, passion and generosity of service in the Comox Valley. I am looking forward to once I complete my Masters of Communication and Culture, to being more effective is this regard.
So Local Heroes –  thank you. Your service isn’t just about your tangible contributions, you make many of strive for better and help some of us get down to what we need to do.
So off I head to sit on my deck, and with you in mind. Me and my swollen thumb are ready to take on my first academic paper. I have got this.
(Did I mention that a battery the size of a small brick fell on my head as well yesterday? I clearly need to renew my Costco membership so I can stay well stocked in large containers of Advil.)
I am sharing quite a bit on instagram these days.  A high percentage of the content is photos of coffee cups, but I promise to keep them interesting. You can find me here:
https://www.instagram.com/karenmckinnonphoto/?hl=en