Tag Archives: stress

The Danger and Importance of Expectations

When stuck in my own vicious cycle of procrastination for a long time, sometimes I get so habituated into the comfort of delay and using rationalizations automatically that they do not seem unreasonable or give off any warning signals. I find that in these cases, watching others, and their various manifestations of procrastination can then help give reflection on what I do myself in other contexts.

When seeing another person put off doing something for the wrong reasons, and diluting life in the process, we obviously are aware how counterproductive these behaviours can be. Maybe this can stir within us the action to change these very same behaviours that we display ourselves but have chosen to ignore for so long.

I was talking with a diligent student about her portfolio assignment. Her first set of entries are due later this week and we were discussing ideas about how to present it creatively, emotionally, symbolically, and in a way that shows evidence of work and experience, as well as progression of improvement and reflection on what the student learned from her experiences.

Throughout our discussions, the student was very animated and showed emotion and depth when telling stories from her childhood that she thought worthwhile to include in the beginning part of her portfolio to show how they influenced her thinking of today. We then thought together about possibilities on how to present it on the pages. Various images, drawings, and photograph suggestions came up, and the student was enthused about the creative potential and how meaningful this project is.

However, her tone changed when talk started focusing on the specific deadline and answering some of the required questions given by the teacher. She decided to give up on themes of presentation and style, and creative story telling, and instead decided to give short answers to answer directly, or maybe just do a traditional essay format. I encouraged her to try combine some of her previous ideas of pictures and symbols along with the traditional writing method, but she was reluctant.

Her reasons knocked me back a bit, but also woke me up to some of the fears that people have. She admitted that the teacher encouraged creative thinking and use of other material to supplement answers for the portfolio project. The student, from our previous discussions, obviously enjoyed creative work and finding, and interpreting meaning from stories and using pictures as symbols and metaphors. Despite all this, she reasoned that “I can’t put in extra pictures and other materials for this first entry. If I do, then the teacher will expect that I will always put in extra, and what if I can’t in the future? I better just do it safe and directly, and just get it done.”

Suddenly I realized, if this student is saying something like this, then in classrooms all over the world, many students are thinking similar thoughts and a lot of potential is being stifled. The grip of fear and worry can be so strong that a student may avoid producing something that is meaningful by focusing on the future expectations of others. Attention is taken away from current content to hypothetical implications. Furthermore, maybe even more tragic, is that many of us see high expectations as negative and something to fear. If a teacher expects to see creative thought and critical thinking in unique forms, then that can push the student to keep pushing her thinking in future projects.

Unfortunately, for those who struggle with anxiety that may lead to procrastination and putting off tasks, we seek out safety to avoid expectations.  While there is a feeling of danger in others’ expecations, and our own, they are also places and new heights that we can reach within that are not possible without expectations.

-Pat

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Filed under Procrastinator Diaries (Pat)

Meditation That Makes Us Heavy

Ever wondered how sometimes when not exercising for awhile, you still manage to keep off the pounds despite not cutting down on the number servings or serving sizes? Yes, some may have a naturally high metabolic rate, but perhaps many use a short cut?

They sit, and work, and intensely stress. Do you think it’s possible? To sit at your desk, fret, and think, over-think, so excruciatingly that calories are burnt just from considerations of the mind and all the associated possible contingencies?

Maybe this is not such a short cut. It may, in fact, take a great amount of work and effort to be able to generate such forces at your desk to be able to drain so much out of your system. But, next time you skip a workout because of the mental toll you put yourself through during the day, can this be a convenient excuse or rationale that you actually did put yourself through the sweat shop with a little bit of imagination.

I think I’m starting to understand through writing out these processes of short cuts. Trying to spend time devising up these plans actually take longer than the original act I am trying to short cut. While it potentially could burn more calories, we can say the same about death and its ability to make us lose weight.

Ironically, this variant of meditation is kind of heavy.

It’s probably time for a new criteria.

-Patrick Law

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Making Use of the Blood We Read

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So, at first glance, nothing glaringly special about this picture. Looks like the text to some story or a reading assignment for someone. However, let’s take a closer look at the bottom right. Can you maybe squint and make it out? Certainly, the color is different. Looks like a smattering of blood. It is. It really is.

I guess, we can leave it at that and just say, ‘So what?’ But as most visitors have found out by now, we never seem to just leave it at that here at this blog. Sorry. The blood must be considered and reflected upon. In fact, while helping a student prepare for a reading comprehension test, this blood stain provided a valuable opportunity to practice more critical analysis skills.

First, right away, there was immediate comic relief. That’s the first meaning derived from the student. He started laughing uncontrollably when coming to the conclusion that a previous student who had used this text must had been studying with such intensity to cause bleeding. Was he pressing the page too hard? Was he picking his lip while thinking about literary devices?

Not letting go, we went further and investigated the exact location of the blood stain. Was it saying something? Evidence? A hint? It was! It really was! It drew our attention to the word “But”, which indicates an important turning point and change in the story.

Then the discussion revolved around how used books have a more personal quality to them. There’s a feeling of attachment to the previous user, a sense of connection, where we feel the pain and struggles of those coming before us.

For me, I know how much I love receiving handwritten letters from a person who ate while composing them. I massage the grease stains with all my senses, trying to taste the entire context of that time and location.

We have to wonder, how did the blood-stained student perform on the reading exam? Was this stain meant to be passed along to us? Are we studying hard enough when we have not yet contributed any red? Or is it indicative of how much stress students are under these days?

Despite asking a lot of questions, we did not have any answers, but the ‘blood’ definitely added some life and stimulation to fatigued eyes.

-Patrick Law

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Filed under Picture of the Day