I hope you all had a happy and smooth transition! I started into the new year with a new haircut , a sinus infection , and some plans and wishes for the upcoming year . I am very excited about this next part of this year because this year will bring a lot of changes in my personal and professional life, with me finally transitioning from studying to working life, and many of my friends certainly or probably moving away and scattering across the planet.
My last New Year’s resolutions were centered around getting eating and nutrition right, finishing my studies, improving my piano skills, caring better for myself, educating myself in areas of interest, and keeping up blogging. Looking back it is time to strike a balance.
I can happily say that I did pretty well on this one: During the course of the past year, I more and more developed a sense of which foods to eat (in which proportions) and which foods to avoid to feel healthy and energized, and so I start this year with a feeling of knowing how to feed my body.
Moreover, my stomach and gut have recovered after cutting out dairy, gluten, soy protein, sugar, and “white” carbs, although it took many months, and I could carefully widen my food spectrum and reintroduce foods that used to give me cramps before – legumes, brown rice, and kale. I am looking forward to continuing this adventure into the world of real food. This is the kind of experimenting I like.
Ahhhhh … Not finished yet. In the end, everything took much longer than expected, and due to having (several) side jobs – research assistance work in two departments, statistics tutorials, and piano lessons – I often did not have sufficient time and energy to work on my thesis as much as I would have liked to. However, 100 pages are written and re-edited already, and additionally, there already exist an extended references list and several appendices and graphics to insert in the end.
I think there are about 30 to 50 more pages to write, due to the large amount of statistical analyses I conducted with the data, and then the whole thing will finally be finished. With the final exams still to come afterwards, I will need some more months to graduate, but that is okay.
This one was fine as well – surprise surprise! Admittedly, I did not start to play Bach as I wanted, but I learned a couple of new pieces and refreshed some old ones, and also my technique and touch have improved a lot. Things I found very challenging in my first years of playing come rather easily to me now, and I also learn a lot and take great pleasure in teaching piano lessons myself. Based on principles of learning and memory psychology I know from my psychology studies, research into piano practicing and playing techniques, and the knowledge and experience of my wonderful piano teacher, I have developed a quite unique style of teaching which focuses on how to practice with efficiency, and also contains elements of tai-chi (inspired by my own piano teacher) and mindfulness practice. This teaching style I then adjust regarding to my students’ individual needs and current state of playing, and I am happy to say that they enjoy the lessons a lot and learn very well.
CARING FOR MYSELF
I got better with this, but there is still room for improvement. Overall though, I have learned to relax and to handle stress better. My bathtub may or may not have played a major role in this …
Anyway, I still have to listen more to my body when to stop. Especially by the end of the last year, there was a lot of work and social events going on, and I ended up with a migraine shortly before going home for Christmas. This is the ultimate sign that it is too much. I also think that I may have developed something like a body memory for exhaustion over the years, so I have to be careful not to slip back into that state of burn-out I have been in until less than two years ago – I tend to be more susceptible to exhaustion now than earlier in my life, but I know that, by learning myself well and applying good self-management strategies, I can be productive at a high-quality level. Saying “no” more often, and learning to let go of my ideal of perfection and not to feel responsible for everything, seem to be the next steps into the right direction.
I have not done this to the extend I would have liked, but to some extend. Thankfully, due to my profession, I somewhat have a warranty for constant learning, but I would like to widen the scope and read more about things which are not on the current to-do list.
Topics which I have deepened my knowledge on are psychometrics, social cognition, language and communication, self-concept and identity, motivation, and nutrition. However, some more reading in general would be nice …
As you can see, this blog still exists, and I am happy to still be in contact with my beautiful blogging friends. A big thank you again to all of you, because without your help, I would have never been able to collect so many participants for my diploma thesis study!
On the other hand, my post counts of the past months and my very reduced blog-reading and commenting almost fill me with shame. Now that I have more time for blogging during the holidays, I realize again how happy it makes me to be a more active part of this wonderful community.
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So you see, the balance of last year is a little mixed, but rather positive overall. It is time to announce my plan for the new year! (You may have guessed it from my blog title already …) In a nutshell, it is this.
Why work-play balance and not work-life balance, as it is usually called? Well, playing is important for a healthy and fulfilling life! Moreover, playing contains activities you take pleasure in, while life can very well be nasty sometimes, regardless of whether that is related to work or not. And work can also be satisfying, actually, if it is work that suits you. But in this juxtaposition, on the “work” side there is everything that has to be done, while on the “play” side there is everything that is voluntary and fun. I could also have called it “should-want balance”. However, both sides are a potential source of happiness, but in different ways: Happiness coming from the work side is satisfaction due to getting things done, while happiness coming from the play side is joy due to engaging in blissful activities, just for their own sake. The balance is important to experience both kinds of happiness in life.
Most of my life, the scales always inclined towards the work side, and playing came short given everything that had to be done. From now on, I want to try my best to keep the scales more balanced, what means: More time for blissful activities!
The idea for this, I have to admit, does not originate with me but rather with my family. As it were to give me a broad hint, for my birthday this year, I got a package from my parents and grandmoms containing this.
This is a Wii, a PlayStation Portable, and games. When I opened the package, my first thought was, “Where shall I ever take the time from to play with these?” And at the same time, I had an eerie feeling something was not at all going right in my life, and the presents in front of me were telling me what it was.
A few days later, I set up the Wii. It was a weekend evening, I had worked on my thesis for a couple of hours (which I usually do on the weekends because the weekdays do not tend to leave me enough time to get something done on my own things), and was being in this unpleasant condition of being too exhausted to relax with a book or at my piano, while it was still way too early to go to bed. When feeling like that, I cannot even watch TV because having to sit quietly makes me more nervous and tensed and gives my hyperactivity and tics (weird, I know).
Anyway, I started with making Miis, these little characters you can build on the Wii, and two hours were happily spent creating myself and my family and closest friends. Here is my Mii.
~ my Mii visiting the Fuji mountain in the Wii Party world traveling game ~
Then, I started to play Wii Sports Resorts. It was great fun, and it made me happy that all my family-and-friends Miis were also around all the time.
~ catching Ma during skydiving ~
I soon discovered my love for cycling, archery, swordfighting, and – above all – tabletennis. From then on, I played for an hour or two every evening, and made some very exciting discoveries: First, I realized I actually exercised – after 10 minutes or so of playing, I was in t-shirt and boxers and still sweating, and my arm muscles were stiff (so I started to strategically switch games to grant them some rest). Second, and even more important, my exhaustion went away: While I would have just dragged myself through a dreary evening before, too tired to be able to make use of myself, I had finally discovered a way to actively restore my energy – playing. Afterwards, I was refreshed enough to practice the piano or read a book before going to sleep. So, the point of the story is that devoting more time to playing actually makes me more productive, energized, and happier overall.
What are your plans and wishes for the new year? Do you play enough?