Things that help

I have too much work to do. I have made optimistic promises of writing, editing, feedback, reviews and references to co-authors, editors, committees and colleagues. Ideally, this should all be done in the next couple of weeks, and I am off to Adelaide (my first visit) for the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) conference next week. So far, my presentation is roughly scribbled on a piece of paper with no powerpoint slides in sight. My to-do list is an exercise in dread and guilt. Sound familiar?

It’s the middle of winter, with a top of 17º in Sydney today (that’s cold for us!) so the temptation is to take a doona day. Perhaps that will be my reward at the end of this busy period. In the meantime, here is a list of non-academic (some frivolous) indulgences that are helping me to feel good right now.

  • Porridge of all sorts

Not all mixed together, but as the basis for experimenting with a variety of porridge recipes: oats, chia seeds, LSA, almond milk, coconut milk, cinnamon, almonds, stewed fruit, berries, grated apple, linseed. This list could go on. Here an LSA porridge I tried recently (recipe and photo from the Natural Nutritionist). Even better made with love for another person.

LSA Porridge

  • Comfort reading

My young adult book club (for adults only) is reading Tamora Pierce for our next meeting. I somehow missed these when I was of age, so it has been a pleasure to dive into some escapist YA (girls dressing as boys to become knights, dragons, talking animals, magic) and these books offer respite from tougher YA (some of recent book club reads have dealt with suicide, police shootings, domestic violence, rape).  In other comfort reads, I am enjoying Sulari Gentill’s Australian historical crime series featuring Rowland Sinclair. As well as tasks left undone, I’ll be taking a loaded Kindle to Adelaide with me.

8176796 11102852 12955425 Paving the New Road (Rowland Sinclair #4)

  • Coloured tights

This winter I am wearing coloured or patterned tights or leggings most days. So far this week I have worn mustard and black with paper cranes (from my favourite source Zohara—I first found a pair in a thrift store (new in the packet) and have bought a couple more pairs since). Those tights are pricey. I supplement them with a collection of patterned leggings my mother found for me at a discount shop.  I’ve ordered some inexpensive bottle green, dark purple and burgundy to add to my options this winter. I’ve loved coloured tights since I read D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love as a teenager, with its descriptions of stockings:

Gudrun was the more beautiful and attractive … Ursula was more physical, more womanly … Gudrun’s dress … was of green poplin, with a loose coat above it, of broad, dark-green and dark-brown stripes. The hat was of a pale, greenish straw, the colour of new hay, and it had a plaited ribbon of black and orange, the stockings were dark green, the shoes black. It was a good get-up, at once fashionable and individual. Ursula, in dark blue, was more ordinary, though she also looked well.

  • Getting outside

One of the curses of too much to do is the amount of time and energy consumed in thinking about how much has to be done. Day and night. It can feel as though you are mentally ‘at work’ almost all the time. It’s not just work, it’s the administration of everyday life—bills to pay, appointments to schedule, gifts to buy, forms to complete. It’s relentless. On the weekend, I had an experience that completely stopped me thinking about all this stuff. I participated in a Treetops Adventure with my daughter, her friends (one of whom was celebrating her birthday) and another mother. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and entirely consumed my thoughts for several hours.

Image result for treetops adventure cumberland

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