I won't bore you with the details of how crazy this past week has been, but with most days being 10 to 12 hours long (time I have to be away from home, before I do any other work), I am pleasantly surprised at how well I am holding up without any artificial stimulants or bad habits. I have decided that the best way to handle the stress and the vigorous demands on my life right now is to go as natural as possible. Not that I have joined the ranks of the raving organic freaks (though I love my friends who lean that way and have learned much from them), but that I don't rely on artificial means to achieve a short-term goal because I believe -no, make that I KNOW that I always end up paying more for that type of quick fix in the end.
So here's the deal.
1. I don't do caffeine (just the occasional chai latte). The brief burst of energy is not worth the crash a few hours later, unless of course you top it up with another jolt. It is okay to feel tired, I don't mind it. It encourages me to go to bed at a reasonable hour or take a nap or move at a more modest pace. It gives me a more realistic sense of how my body is doing. Natural adrenaline kicks in when you really need it, but the fake stuff is a cheap imitation. Keep in mind that any kind of stimulant is meant to be used sparingly and not become a lifestyle. Long-term ill health effects can ensue.
2. I try not to do junk food. My weakness is potato chips, but I have decided that my digestive system functioning well is worth a lot more than the mouthwatering crunch of yummy salt and fat. I ate half a bag of chips one night last week because I didn't have time for supper. The next day was pretty much one big long "ughhhhhh" for my stomach. I think it might be better to skip a meal (maybe drink a bottle of V8 or juice) instead of stuffing junk food into my system. Fasting also makes one more alert, in case you never tried it.
3. I avoid sugar except in small amounts. After a long 4 hour class last week, I was really hungry and feeling slightly faint, so I grabbed a Polish donut while I ran around the city on an errand. Delicious donut. Bad idea. The little bit of a boost was followed by 4 hours of not feeling well at all. Now I try to carry fruit and water with me, plus some dry cereal. I find that a real home made meal with fresh ingredients does wonders for my spirit, soul, body, and morale. Don't go for the fast fix; the real thing is worth waiting for.
4. Don't worry. It sounds simple, but on days when I get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, I push all those demands out of my head, and just try to do what needs to be done at that moment. If I am in class, all I need to do right then is listen and learn. If I am taking a break and hanging out with friends, then I should be totally present with them instead of running through some mental to-do list over and over again in my mind. You can't enjoy the time God has given you right now if you are always living in another time, whether that is thinking about what you have done, or what you still have to do.
5. Talk to God frequently. I spend about an hour commuting (bus, metro, walk) every day. Good time to think and pray and read something other than school work, something inspirational. I thank God at the beginning of the day, I continue the conversation at many points as I go from class to class, or meet people, or encounter a difficult assignment. Knowing that he is always with me and already at work in my world and the world of those around me takes the pressure off me to figure it all out and keep it all together. I can enjoy what the day brings, whatever he is giving to me and trust that to be enough.
6. Live in grace and extend that to others around you. It is not worth getting annoyed at the slow person in front of you, or the rude guy on the subway, or the ill-behaved loud children on the bus or the long line-up at the counter. A smile, a prayer, a gesture of kindness (let someone else go first) will get you further ahead in life than a hurried and frustrated attitude. Everyone wants to encounter a kind and considerate person in their day. Let that person be you.
Ever onward and upward, my friends.
This is the stairway leading from the lake to the cottage at Lake Oaureau.