The Gudgel Family Advent Calendar, Day 13 — “Living in the Moment”

“Hey, you didn’t quit blogging, did you?” The message popped up late this morning after I hadn’t posted anything in almost thirty hours. I guess that’s the problem with committing to authoring a series like this one — people expect you to be consistent. They demand it. Honestly, it was a little flattering that a handful of people seemed to notice I didn’t write this morning. Though in fairness, I did write this morning. I wrote a lot this morning. I just didn’t write a blog post.

The morning started out with me waking up and taking stock of my stomach situation. “Not good.”  I got sick sometime Tuesday morning, but toughed it out all day at school. Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and afterward just didn’t go back. Somewhere along the line, I think it donned on me that I rarely get such stomach bugs, and that the most likely cause of my immune system failing me was the amount of stress I’m under and the length of the lists of things I have yet to do in the coming week and a half.

Against my will, I cancelled class Wednesday night so as not to contaminate my student-colleagues, none of whom would appreciate missing finals week with a stomach bug. I couldn’t have taught anyway — by six PM I was struggling to remain sitting up with my kids.  I spent the night hoping it would pass. It didn’t, and after a night in which a sleeping aid was no match for the pain in my stomach, I woke in desperate need of the bathroom and mowing I wasn’t fit to go in today. So this morning, rather than writing a blog post, I was writing sub plans and rescheduling meetings, just as rather than drinking coffee, I was drinking diet ginger beer.

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Incidentally, I don’t recommend diet anything, but diet ginger beer is especially bad. Anyway, that’s not the point I want to try to make in today’s tragically tardy treatise. I have always been a maker of lists, “always” being a term I’m applying to the latter portion of my life when what got done and what didn’t suddenly became a concern of mine. Lists help me to be productive; I get a sense of accomplishment when I check something off one of my lists.  But they can also overwhelm, and it seems in this instance my overwhelming lists may have had the opposite of the desired effect by putting me in a place where I was too weak to get much of anything done.

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Today, I made a “today list” only, nine items deep, and I got most of it done. Living in the moment is something I’m not all that good at, but I’ve been working on it, and my family has helped in that pursuit.  I think that the thing that has helped me to live in the moment more than anything else has been the little girl who calls me “dah-dee” — when she’s not too busy to address me at all. Last night, she was especially cuddly, and quite the daddy’s girl, and it was good for my heart as the rest of my body wasn’t doing so well.

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Today, I got some rest, so hopefully when tomorrow comes I’ll be able to tackle it with a bit more vigor and vim than I’ve had these past few sickly, tired, winter days. Today, I wrote two letters of recommendation, wrote a course syllabus, graded six portfolios, finished rereading a novel I’m teaching, scheduled and rescheduled several meetings, and dealt with emails as they came in. I think most of today’s success came from not trying to do too much, but biting off just a day’s worth of tasks which could be done largely from bed. I also drank the last of the diet ginger beer before asking Sonja, who was going to the store anyway, to replace it with regular ginger beer instead.

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To be honest, this afternoon I’m still not feeling great, though I have people — and animals, in my life who continue to model for me the simple fact that one is allowed from time to time to slow down.  I need to get better at that, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have each day to live within the moments. Now I’m going to go rest some more.  The kids will be home soon, and perhaps tonight my stomach will be able to handle a glass of wine. I suppose you’ll find out tomorrow, dear reader. Until then…

Cheers to living in the moment, and to those who help us do it,

Mark

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