Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Camping Isn't Easy

Life has been busy for me, dear readers and fellow bloggers. It is August - the time of year that us teachers are once again preparing for a new school year. As such, today's post is once again a case study:

A Case Study, or Camping of Any Kind Isn't Easy
No one is in control of his or her life. As much as we'd love to think so, we have very little control in how everything tends to play out. What matters in the scheme of things is how we react to the circumstances we face.
I enjoy being busy. I like having a daily purpose and activities that make my long-term goals viable. Being busy, however, has its drawbacks. Stress is one of them. My first year of teaching was stressful in that I was teaching five different courses and creating all the prep work for them by scratch. I essentially lived in my classroom that year, as I spent more time at the school and less time at home. I could have pitched a tent and camped in my classroom, hobbit style.

If stress occurs in one or more areas of our lives, it can affect other areas of our lives. Our relationships, our family, how we interact with colleagues, and our overall mood. I like to think I am good at managing stress. Most days I do alright. I read, work on a painting, blog, go for a run - whatever it takes to reestablish a positive state of mind after being frazzled about some incident or another. It seems, however, that as the years have progressed, I have developed a bad habit of doing fewer of these relaxing activities and more of whatever is stressing me out. It's like I need a taste of my own medicine or something.
Let's take a break and talk about camping. Yes, you read that right: camping. I'm not talking about the take-your-RV-for-a-ride-to-some-campground style. We're talking pitch a tent, sleep on the ground, be in the wild in the middle of nowhere. It's hard work and typically requires a skill set you may not use on a daily basis. But with all skill sets, there's a certain level of satisfaction that comes from being able to do these things and do them correctly. Our lives are no different - we tend to take pride in the work we do and the personal relationships and hobbies in which we invest our time (please note: "relationships" is a broad term here. This is all-encompassing: it includes family and friends as well as significant others). What we do to get through the daily struggle of our lives is part of our "skill set" for living: we learn how to negotiate terms, how to compromise, how to (hopefully) let the little things go - among so many other things.
Reflecting on my own skill sets, I wish there are days when I would listen to my own advice. Goodness knows I need it. It's definitely true in that it is easier to give advice (warranted or not) than it is to receive it. If I could go back and tell my 22-year-old self to "chill" and stop thinking about seriously camping out in my classroom (I wasn't kidding) over the weekend to get a large to-do list done, I think my present self would be much better off. But as I stated earlier, we can't control our situations, nor our initial reaction in how to handle them. We simply need to assess our circumstances and choose the best course of action in how to positively minimize our stress load. Because whether you are talking about camping at your workplace or camping in the wild, either requires a skill set that only you know how to use. You can make it as complicated or simple as you like, but one thing is certain: camping isn't easy. How you approach it, however, is what makes a world of difference.
In reflection, I'm working on making all types of camping - workplace or otherwise - more manageable. I'm trying to revisit some of those relaxing activities, which means right now, I'm going to close the five word documents related to work. Perhaps it is time to go for a run.

What kinds of camping make your life stressful? How can you have confidence in using your skills to manage your stress? Just take it a step at a time.

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