I did not intend for this last post on emerging scholars to be about self-care; however, after my own recent struggles, I feel it important to discuss ways in which scholars—emerging or entrenched—can take care of their mental and physical health when life gets in the way. October freak-out is over, but there still remains a residue of pain, struggle, and fragmentation. Normally, I refuse to allow my outside life to negatively affect my academic life. However, this fall, Life got in the way.
During this semester, I have experienced extreme highs of enlightenment, friendship, and community. However, I have also experienced severe lows with depression, loss, guilt, and shame seemingly etched on my skin and inscribed into my psyche. Somehow within this semester Life got in the way. So what does one DO when life gets in the way?
Sure I could give some standard advice about making sure you talk to someone or find a way to take your mind off the whole mess. However, I want to offer something new. I want to offer a story:
I entered a History and Theory of Rhetoric class and all I wanted was to NOT read Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, the Rhodes scholars, etc. But I read them because I had to, because they matter—still, even though I don’t want them to. But when I began to look at Indigenous Rhetorics as a practice, I noticed that it calls us not to think about the thing, but to do the damn thang. So I began to wonder by what means emerging scholars take care of themselves when life gets in the way.
This is a story about pain, shame, and guilt and how one Black body found a way to deal. Sometimes, I just can’t with Life. The only thing I do well is the academy. My Life, it falls apart. Recently, a Life event so depressed me and consumed me with shame and guilt, I thought I would never recover. But there were 6 weeks left in the semester.
Life CANNOT get in the way.
What is to be done when you feel nothing can be done?
Through this struggle I realized I had a process of doing that led to my recovery: talk about it, think about it, hear advice about it, and then dance on it. All of these acts are acts of doing and making the doing creates the making and the making, in turn, replenishes that which could not be replenished. These are things I had to do when Life got in the way. These are things I had to make when Life got in the way. And these are the things that made me whole when Life got in the way. I do not pretend that these measures I have mentioned can help every scholar who needs to deal when Life gets in the way. However, I do suggest that it is in the doing and the making—the habits and hobbies we choose—that can help us heal:
When Life gets in the way.
It’s time for sweaters, falling leaves, and tiny black kittens stealing your socks. Longer nights and crisp autumn days conjure visions of apple treats and curling up with your favorite book. So here are some key essentials for your adult autumn relaxation retreat.
Adult Hot Caramel Apple Cider: Looking for a cider with a kick? Look no further than this easy take on an old classic!
Favorite brand of Apple Cider, such as from Uncle John’s Cider Mill, heated for 30 sec
Pinch of cinnamon
Mix to your heart’s desire, and enjoy!
Mini Caramel Apples: These treats from At Home in Love might have Pinterest fail written all over them, but so long as you have some caramel and some apples in any form in the end, we’ll consider it a win. Be sure to tag #WCMSU in your #pinterestfail pictures though, because with this “October Meltdown” going around, we need the laugh.
Knitted Throw: If you have the time and needles, try one of these free, quick knitting patterns!
For those who want instant warmth, check out your local yarn shop or boutique to pick up a cozy, inexpensive throw in your favorite colors.
A Good Book: If you’re feeling overloaded with school work and heavy reading, maybe a little light reading is in order. With that special brand of nostalgia one can only harbor during the back to school season, why not indulge in a double whammy trip down memory lane. Remember your favorite spooky stories as a kid? What better way to remember some great childhood memories with a little Halloween spice than to go ahead and grab an old copy of an R.L. Stine book? Or seventeen. It’s awfully cozy under that blanket, after all. No need to get up unless you’re out of cider.
End of the semester writing projects are coming!!!
Quick, write like crazy, write all through the night, just get it done!
A MUCH better way is to start now (if you haven’t already) and get a good first draft done. Then, as you are writing, do something to relax. I love to use some aromatic candles to create a relaxing atmosphere to get those ideas going. Green tea is also nice to sip on as you are thinking about how you are going to tackle your final papers.
Sometimes it is good to take a little walk outside. Even though it has been a long and cold winter, spring is finally here and a few flowers are starting to pop out.
Take a walk through the Beal Botanical gardens over near the library and see if you can catch any of the early flowers peeking up. You can click on the picture to learn more about this historic place.
Another great way to relax is participate in a quick jog around campus or look for a pick up game of basketball. Exercise helps clear your mind as you breathe deeply and take in the fresh air. Did you know that MSU has special jogging routes? There are spots to stop and stretch as well as some great scenic strolls along the riverbanks. Just click on the picture below for more information.
The next step is to make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Don’t wait till the last minute only to find that there are no open spots. No matter how good you think that paper may be, it can improve through getting thoughtful feedback and going through revisions. The best way to relax is to know that you have things under control. Stop to see us at the Writing Center soon!