Relax, Relate, Release

Oh, did we mention that we’re in grad school?

This semester has been a whirlwind, from a research seminar to produce 25-pages, to maintaining jobs and an internship. And as much as we love the creation of Brown Girls Museum Blog (and trust me we do!), it all takes its toll, amounting in hours spent reading, researching, and contemplating. Personally, with all of my involvements I completely devoted myself to coursework, projects, and deadlines, and shunned the ability to work-out, continue my yoga practice, or other extracurriculars.

I was due for a check-in on the blog soon and honestly was so mentally worn out that I figured I didn’t have anything to share this week, besides for just trying to make it through the rest of the semester! Other than this, I was simply looking forward to decompressing, by starting back up in the gym and promising to commit to a full life of yoga classes, and anything that lets me stretch my limbs outside of the seat of my chair. So when Amanda reminded me of DC Yoga Week, after deciding to meet for a Sunday class, and suggested that I could write about that, well, that’s just silly. Of course, this is why we have each other, so that the other remembers there is always more to it than what it seems.

It wasn’t until I was on the treadmill people-watching (as one does) that my mind began to wander about what it means to have the time to work out. I began to imagine all the students, who despite hectic schedules, had created routines for themselves; something I recall from undergrad, which always seemed to come naturally to my colleagues in STEM. They could block off hours for crunching numbers, solving formulas, and understanding processes for organic chemistry and biology. But not only that, they were taught they have to take a break (which is completely understood for all the years of schooling they tend to commit to).

However, we in the humanities, and often the social sciences, along with being underfunded and underpaid for the amount of time put in, are never truly off the clock, now are we? I mean, how do you turn off cultural awareness, intersectionality, or racism, especially when we get our inspiration from popular culture, media or simply by watching encounters. We constantly bring our work home with us, that which cannot be crunched into numbers or quantified.

That Sunday evening, when we completed our yoga class, I hadn’t felt that great in months. I had finally chosen to refresh myself first, instead of continuing to hunch over a book or papers that my mind would no longer let me process––promising myself that I would take a break as soon as I finished these 30-pages. Let’s just say, I’m a slow reader. This whole semester, I had been testing the limits of my capacity around the clock, with the carrot always dangling a few feet overhead.

Recently some valuable advice I’ve gathered over the years during my time in the field has resurfaced: take a break. It doesn’t get said enough. You ever noticed how the seasoned professionals can be seen taking a walk during their lunch break or after work? Well, that’s because they know better, and we would do well to follow suit and start early. Secondly, I was told to not live in the same town as the institution you work. Now, even if you do not have the ability or desire to do this, it is still worth noting the point: clock-out! You do not get extra points for loving your job, and staying later does not prove that––stop working off the guilt that we should not be ready to go home, because of the kind of work we do.

If you haven’t noticed, we love our networks. First, we were reminding you to create “cultural networks” and now I’m saying, “self-care network.” Create a care network that starts with yourself––have someone on speed-dial, make plans for a movie or to just cook a meal. Some museums even offer yoga classes to staff or as programs, join the bend so you don’t break. It may sound corny or even passè but as millennials we’re plugged into our devices and apps that gives us access to the world in a moment’s notice, and often I rather order in so as to not have to take my hands off the keyboard. Our work is valuable, but so are we. How can we make this world more sustainable, if we do not first sustain ourselves? The issues and topics that we deal with on a day-to-day are heavy and we have to be sure to leave ourselves breathing room as to not be suffocated by our own intentions.

Like the song says, “Flex, let me see you do that yoga” Go namastè or if nothing else, have an unwarranted dance party in your room, to that raunchy song you love so much, that does not involve a critical analysis of the ways in which the lyrics objectify you, save that for a paper…later!

How do you zen? Let’s talk about it on Twitter! #BGMBclockout

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