Listen and Flow

My winter hibernation has ended, and I’m traveling for work. For months, I worked 9:30-6 in my cozy home office and slept, wrote and cooked many days without leaving the house. The long nights and chill of winter have a way of domesticating me. Nowadays, I’m up at 6 am, which is 5 in my home time zone. I’m at the office by 7:30 and work until after 5 pm, teaching, discussing things with students on breaks, and often planning for the next day once I reach my hotel.

I am honestly having the most fun I’ve ever had at work. This is exciting stuff to me. The material is challenging, but I have no doubt that my little group of amateurs will be experts when they’re done. They’re smart, interactive, and will give great service to my customers. To be sure of that, I must pay attention to their energy flow and adapt our learning activities to make the best use of that flow. I have a calendar of the things they need to learn, and I have a wealth of ideas and practice materials for them to use. We have to get to our destination, but as the engineer here, I can generate the most synapse spark by being flexible.

It’s only fair that I treat myself as well as my students. I’ve gotten into an unusual rhythm on this trip, but I’m flowing with it. There are sights to see, and it’s quiet and lonely in my hotel room, but I will be working long hours and flying back and forth for several weeks. I want to nurture my body and not drain it. I want to nurture my creativity and not lose myself completely in work. I want to be ME in this new place, accomplishing my long-term goals and maintaining my chosen disciplines. The best way I can do that is by recognizing my own energy flow. I listen to the cues my body and mind give me, and I do the things that are important to me but I don’t force a rigid plan.

This week, as my body gets used to the new schedule and the strange environment, I’m eating differently. At home, I snack on healthy (and sometimes junky) things throughout the day. I eat dinner on my last break at 4:30, so I’m ready for action when I finally get to stand up after 8 hours of sitting, at 6 pm. Here, I walk around all day, and I eat at noon. I’m ravenous when I leave the office and head out to try the new cuisine of my new city. By the time I get back to the hotel, I’m full and tired and ready for bed, but I want more out of life than work. I could force my body to sit in front of a computer, to hit the gym, or play guitar. Instead, I’ve started napping. Yes, they say that 8 hours of straight sleep is better than a nap, but getting grouchy and failing to focus and hating my workout is not worth striving for the recommended 8 hour sleep session. Besides, I come from a long line of nappers.

I will probably change or eliminate my naps as I get accustomed to the new schedule, and as I adjust my eating habits to keep my glycemic index more balanced. Meanwhile, this evening nap gets me energized for a swim and some creative activity. Sometimes, I’m tempted to sleep straight through the night. At those times, I open my sleepy eyes and realize that dreams are not nearly as fun as real life. A half-hour in the pool, and I’m full of ideas for living.

Now that it’s January, are you waking up to a new year? Are you full of new ideas and plans? Do you slump on the couch instead of fulfilling your goals, or do you pummel your willpower into submission? This week, examine and learn to utilize your energy flow.

  • Are there eating habits you need to adjust, so that your chemistry isn’t on a roller coaster? You might want to check out Lorrie Medford’s book, Why am I so Grumpy, Dopey and Sleepy? What Everyone Must Know about How to Get More Mental and Physical Energy.
  • Do you need a reboot? Our computers get overloaded and sometimes need to be rebooted. Our brains do, as well. Lying down for 5-15 minutes is a terrific refresher for me, and during unusual times like this week, I find myself taking longer sessions of true sleep.
  • Do naps disagree with you? If you are a person who can’t take naps without losing a whole day, then take a walk instead. A little sunshine and the inability to do work will give your mind the time it needs to wander for a few minutes. Say hi to God while you’re walking. He enjoys the outdoors, too. After all, He made them.
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