Friday, October 28, 2011

Adrift in a sea of......nothing

So much for snapping right back into the weight loss efforts and life as I knew it pre-intensive-dissertation-writing time.

Digital Photograph by Matt Stidham
It's been three weeks since my last post and I'm not really any closer to getting back into the groove of things as I thought I'd be.  It's funny - when I was in the midst of writing, I wanted nothing more than to be done so I could get on with my life, doing things I'd had to stop doing in order to finish.  And now that I'm done?  I feel adrift, disjointed, and a little lost.

I knew I'd feel this way, to some extent.  You don't pour your heart and soul into something for four straight years, turn it in, and then simply go back to life as you knew it.  I knew there'd be a period of feeling aimless and grieving the end to the process.  What vocational purpose I had in life (beyond this particular part of getting fit) is somewhat diminished.  For four years I have called myself a PhD student and when asked what I do, I had something to say. 

Now?  I have no idea.  Given the current state of theology/religion departments in the UK, chances of me finding a job in academia are pretty slim.  So I find myself facing the prospects of blazing new trails, working freelance, writing and doing informal education - but such a possibility feels a bit overwhelming right now. 

There's a part of me that's tired of being a pioneer.  It's always been my default.  I feel like I am always fighting against the current, doing things differently, taking the road less traveled by.   Despite the positives of such action, I'd like to travel in someone else's slipstream for just a little while.  I really don't have the energy for whacking through all the brambles and undergrowth, clearing a bit of earth, and building something new right now. 

There's too much unknown.  I don't know if my dissertation will be passed by the examiners (my defense is in December).  I don't know yet if my current job will continue beyond the end of the year.  I don't know where I'll be living 6-12 months from now.  And after all these years of preparing, I don't know if the world wants what I've got to give if I did go my own way.

All of this, as a result, takes its toll on my efforts to be healthier.  Over the last three weeks, the scale has been as up and down, bobbing along as I have.  281.6, 278.2 and today's 280.

I'm eating good stuff (for the most part), but just too much.  And I have determined that I am definitely a binge eater.  That has become apparent in the last 3 months.  And I am going to the gym, but not enough (about once a week so far).  I'm not recording, I'm not keeping track, I'm not counting.  And so I'm not seeing results.

I decided to go back and look at where I was a year ago on this here blog and I found something interesting.  Roughly this time last year, I wrote a post about priorities that was an attempt to kick myself in the tail and get back in gear.

Is there a pattern here?  Is October my "drift" month?  Is the waning daylight connected to my despondency (aka "lack of courage and umph")?  It's totally plausible.  Add on top of that this period of life I'm in and it's no wonder I'm struggling.

So maybe this is an opportunity to start fresh, to wipe the slate clean, to make a new schedule for myself and see what rises to the surface after a few weeks.  I want to be gentle with myself, acknowledge this place of life that I am in, sit with it and not try to make myself busy in order to gloss over it.  But I also know I can't sit with it indefinitely.  Eventually I need to act. 

So today I'm going to spend the day figuring out a schedule, making a list of priorities and what needs to get done work-wise, figure out how to map some ideas I have, and see what happens.  I may also change my weigh-in days to Wednesdays.  Sundays just aren't working for me, really.

Will let you know how I get on. 


  1. Wise of you to look back at this time last year on your blog. It sounds like you are onto something with the season & feelings, and that of course that is being compounded by wrapping up your dissertation.

    Maybe you need some kind of ritual to undergo each year this time. Something that allows you to rest and let someone else pull while you charge up your batteries for another year of pushing. Something that totally provides a dramatic break in your rhythm, even if only for a day or two?

    Rituals are on my mind lately - guess it is that time of year.

    Strength and good wishes to you.

  2. The anticlimactic feelings are pretty normal I would think. You will probably have to see it through - it's kind of like the grieving process after a death. This too shall pass and all that---

  3. I definitely understand this - transitions are tough, especially very big ones like the culmination of a huge project like your Ph.D. I gained 50 pounds doing just a Masters, so to essentially maintain throughout the final stages of this project is incredibly inspirational!

    280.0 is a lovely number, I think - perfectly even, it makes for a great restart point. Ease back into healthy habits - even if your heart feels gung-ho, you don't want to overexert your body and burn out quickly.

    You've got this, Jayme. ♥ Rooting for you, as always - with weight loss, with the job search, with everything!