By Jasmine Kelly
I don’t know what it was about this summer, but I have not been focused for its entire duration. Of course, summer is not over, but for those of us who work in education, it’s pretty much curtains. I had major plans of editing my dissertation’s prospectus and reading various articles for it. However, none of that occurred, and I would be lying if I said that I was not disappointed in myself. I do not know what it was, but I was not focused this summer. Whenever I did try to do a task related to my dissertation, I never finished. Granted there is still some time for me to get it together; I just wish I could have used my time more wisely. Heck, maybe I did use my time wisely. I believe in the saying You are never really ready for something until you are ready to do it. Therefore, maybe investing my time into mindless ventures such as YouTube, Netflix and random Facetime conversations was what I needed to unplug so that when I do approach the tasks that need to be done, I will be more focused. I don’t know, I am just thinking aloud. All is not lost though. I am not 100% back to myself even now, but I can offer advice on how to work on getting back there because I know I am not the only one who has felt this way this summer.
I have found that being mindful can assist in getting back to your regular self. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. When viewing the definition of mindfulness, I started to better understand my current state of mind. I was not aware! This summer I have been on autopilot because quite honestly, I was tired of thinking. I wanted to give my mind a break. I guess I took my break a little too seriously because I suffered the consequences. I was late on important deadlines and did not honor some social commitments that I had. I even handled emotional matters in the same manner. If a feeling was too much for me to bear and/or required work on my part, I tabled it and just never got around to it. Again, this was at my expense as well because it contributed to me having difficult conversations which caused angst on my part.
Fast forward to my present self, and I realized how much of a mess that I have made. Due to the error of my ways, I am playing catch up; had I been mindful, I would have operated proactively instead of reactively. Going forward I have decided to be more aware of myself, my emotions, my environment and even other people because I know that nothing is done for no reason. What does this look like you ask? Well, instead of me neglecting to call those back who call me, I will take note of the time and place of when I receive a call, assess how I feel, and such will dictate the urgency in which I return the call. For instance, I know that I am no good for phone conversations after work because all I want to do is relax. However, I am most present during my morning commute and Saturday mornings while I am walking my dog. Being present is a major tenet of mindfulness. To help you practice being mindful so that you don’t make the same mistakes as myself I am going to leave you with the simple A.R.T. acronym by James Gimian.
A-Activities– Bring mindfulness into the activities you do and love like gardening, running, biking and swimming.
R-Routines– Choose one of your daily routines and bring mindfulness to it: folding clothes, washing dishes, vacuuming, walking to work, eating lunch.
T- Triggers– We all have things that set us off: snarky emails, annoying colleagues, mindless drivers. Choose one and decide to replace your angry reaction with the flash of being present.
Jasmine Kelly is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Jasmine is a higher education professional who believes in the powers of Black Twitter. You can follow her on Instagram @chicomydusty.