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Lifestyle upgrades.

I have been making a few tweaks in my lifestyle, in a bid to have some semblance of a (restful?) quality of life – I don’t actually know if this is actually possible; some people tell me that the restful academic is a mythical creature that only reveals itself in the land of suns and smoke and guns and bows (it’s 0400hrs; my jokes are bad).
It’s only May, but these five months have been my most productive stretch of writing yet (4 papers, 2 conferences, 1 thesis chapter, 2 writing retreats). I like to think I’m easing into a comfortable pattern and discipline of writing and scholarship, in a sense that my body seems to know what works and what doesn’t mostly through trial-and-error.
I’d previous written about reeducating my writing habits, which has been useful for maniac writing. But the ambitious academic(-to-be) in me is in this for the long haul, and marathons require a different kind of discipline with sticks and carrots – I intend to conquer another large chunk of writing this June and July (2 papers, 1 conference, 1 book review, 2 thesis chapters), before teaching (and marking!) resumes in early August. (I also secretly hope to land postdocs and positions in my three dream institutions, but more on that another time).
So dear future Crystal, these are some things you have been doing differently of late that are making your life a bit better.

You haven’t been lugging around your laptop and readings and work in general to places where you intend to relax, have fun, and chill with friends. These days, you tend to segment work and leisure time quite markedly. It’s motivating you to accomplish even more during your designated ‘work’ hours, and you feel less guilty and more fulfilled doing recreational things.

You’ve been making the effort to spend one meal a week with a friend for non-academic purposes (i.e. not a work meeting or collaboration on some project!) and it has been such a blissful time! You’ve also been in more consistent communication with your best friends in the entire world, whom are among the strongest sources of encouragement and support to you.

Every weekend has been a mini-adventure with your partner. Each time, you set aside a few hours to explore a new weekend market, or cafe, or shop, or park, before spending the rest of the Saturday doing chores and catching up on work. You find yourself wanting to be as productive as possible during the weekdays, because this nice reward awaits you on Saturday mornings. Also, you’re beginning to find more things to love about your home here in Perth :)

One weekday morning each week (Thursday, because it’s the only day you’re not teaching this semester!) you sleep in till 0900hrs. You literally do not fuss with setting the alarm clock the night before and it is liberating. You acquire yourself a good breakfast, and pretend you’re experiencing a late weekend morning since you don’t have that luxury during the actual weekend (right now, you’re working a 0700hrs shift on Saturdays and go to church around 0800hrs on Sundays). You feel rested and blessed.

You’ve also had better eating habits of late. Your dinners are actual meals no matter how busy you are, and despite some other impending deadline. This has meant taking an hour out of your evening to slave over the stove and pray you’re not poisoning your household, but your body is appreciating the effects of proper nutrition. Oh, and fruit. You have been consuming fruit and making juices like a monster, which I suppose is a good thing (?). (You’ve also been consuming Game of Thrones – three seasons in three weeks, eeks! – over dinner because your Wednesday 1600hrs students convinced you the dragons were bad ass. Now you’re hooked and you want to blame all 19 of them. Shame!)

You’re actually reading fiction again! These months, you’re going through your collection of Fay Weldon texts, even if it’s just a chapter every other night. It feels amazing to return to your first love – and even better when you’re not actually armed with a pen or highlighter to make inscriptions.

Lastly, you’ve been trying very hard to spend an evening or two taking a walk in the park or lounging by the river. This has been absolutely vital for your sanity, and you also seem to hear God with most clarity in these moments. You often find yourself in awe of His creations and how He uses the earth as His canvas, and this seems to put all the nitty gritty fusses of life into perspective. You’ve got many more decades to go in this industry (you hope!) and in life, so don’t fret the small stuff.

Crystal from May 2014.

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