It's been a tough week.
I feel exhausted and I am not entirely sure why.
A new job, perhaps, and the consequent unsettling of any rhythm I had managed to establish. A new job is also tiring because you have so much to learn. This job is physically and mentally challenging because you're on your feet for the three or four hour shift, in a zone of six kids all working through their own program at their own pace and you have to help when they get stuck, record a summary of their work for the parents, and motivate, encourage, and otherwise manage the myriad moods and personalities of the group.
I am sure it will get easier, the energising element will outweigh the exhaustion of it, and my little explore learning oasis will provide balance. But we're not there yet.
The new job came just as I was at the end of a virus, which lingered, but surely must be out of the system by now. It certainly compounded the initial exhaustion of the first few weeks of the job.
As the new job began, I took on a short term role as research assistant for a friend/colleague/mentor at my home college. It's a great opportunity, for the collaboration, my name on a published article, and the money. It sits atop a teetering stack of 'things to do', causing me some fear of collapse.
The stack of things to do was already piled high with conference organisation, conference paper (first draft of which is a paper for my supervisor two weeks earlier), book submissions, article resubmission, marking, and developing sarah tells stories performance and income opportunities.
I reduced the pile a little this past week:
Two manuscripts for books have been sent off, the poetry collection quickly accepted, so watch this space, but it's still wait and see on the other. These were the work of my Christmas / New Year break from study, a fruitful and thoroughly enjoyable season for which I still feel very grateful.
I'm onto the third submission for an article from my honours thesis, and hoping the cliche will be right. I'll have to either give up or more drastically rewrite the article if it comes back to me again, I think, and I would really rather not.
I continue to assess work from students in the distance program at Uniting College, Adelaide, working towards a certificate in Christian Life and Ministry. I love the variety of subjects on my list - professional writing, biblical studies, worship and spiritual formation.
And slowly, frustratingly at times because of the pressing need to earn money to pay the rent, people are meeting me, getting to know me, and imaginations are igniting for how I might have something to contribute to their work, communities, creative projects. This is where the energy is, this is why I came to Scotland - for a culture that nurtures storytelling. And one day, I still hope, I might earn enough to live on as storyteller-poet-minister in a way that gives you the best of me. But we're a way off that day yet.
And I wonder why I am exhausted.
The exhaustion has awoken the little black dog, which of course makes it difficult to know whether the aching muscles, longing for sleep, and looming cloud of sadness are the tiredness or a resurgence of depression, once again. I feel a little anxious about that, and lonely, and very far from home. But emails with family who understand, conversations with new friends over here, all help to keep me from slipping, from falling, from letting the black dog grow.
Perhaps the exhaustion comes from the competing demands of study, dream and necessity all needing my attention, all at once. It is overwhelming, a challenge that causes me much doubt.
But if I keep moving, gently and with care, the movement seems to help with balance and the teetering stack stays upright. If I keep moving, gently and with care, the tasks slowly shrink and fall away from the stack. If I rest when the load is heavy, allow friends to share the burden for a while, my plate will lighten again and I will pick up my stride once more.