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For the first time since my school year started, I have started to feel like my schedule is moving along with regularity and purpose.  I have started feel a little less like I am rushing down stream of a class 4 rapids with no boat, and more like I am paddling the river in my canoe.  It came to my attention in the course of the last week that I have not been utilizing some of my tried and true methods for academic success from my last go round with the education system.  I have brought a couple of these strategies back into play in my life, and it is like taking dark sunglasses off and seeing true colors and sunlight again.  The difference has reminded me that the smallest changes can be the difference between surviving your day and enjoying it, getting by and getting ahead.  Everyone is different and so my changes may not be of any help to you in your life or situations.  However, maybe you to can evaluate where there is a small item you can add to your routine or take away that can bring a breath of fresh air to your life too. Here are the changes that I have made.

1. Music is the key.  My husband won an Ipod shuffle at a work meeting and gifted it to me weeks ago.  He took the time to load it up with music and handed it over hoping it would bring a little sunshine to my day.  I appreciated it, but let it sit on my bedside table under a magazine for weeks.  I finally took the time this week to find it again and remembered to bring it with me to school.  What a change!  I am a musically driven person; not horribly talented myself, but a true lover.  I love to sing, and have enough education to have had the privilege to perform with the UMM concert choir and travel with a diverse musical ministry all over the country.  I pretend I know how to sing well enough to laugh along at piano bars and karaoke bars, but lets face it, I don’t get out much.  Well, I digress.  The point is that a regular set of music has come back into my daily life and made a huge difference.  I study better, I smile more, and I enjoy my walks around campus even more.  Thank you to my loving husband.  He is always doing small things for me to show his love.

2. Reading for pleasure.  It may seem odd, but I have been ignoring my cardinal rule of educational reading.  For every X number of required reading pages, I simply MUST read Y number of pages from a book I enjoy.  Becoming a mom took away many of my self-care and pleasure habits.  I have neglected to read for fun largely for years now.  Sure, I have gotten in the occasional book here and there, but at heart I am all book-worm.  I was the child who always had a full book shelf and reading multiple stories at once.  As my work load increases so does my pleasure reading.  It takes more time, but in the end I learn more, I am more focused, and I find more pleasure in my scholastic books.  I found it a little serendipitous that I saw a box of free books in my work’s break room last week.  It was as if a light bulb went off and I said,”oh, right, I haven’t been reading for fun!”  I picked up an assortment of cheesy romance novels and grinned from ear to ear.  The reading level is a little painful, I do enjoy a more sophisticated writing style, but who can turn down a sappy love story with a little PG 13 rated dirty talk thrown it.  And hey, it was free.  Life’s little pleasures just can’t be overlooked, especially when you are drownding with anxiety, worry, and obligations.

3. Focused and purposeful study time.  I came to realize this week that I have not been organizing and structuring my work time.  School is my job, and I have been treating that way with my on campus hours, in accomplishing my due dates for homework, but not for focused reading and study time.  Some of my first exams really suffered because of this, but I will not make that mistake again.  My flash card systems are back (it’s the creation of flash cards and not the use that is helpful to me), and I am devoting set amounts of time to each subject.   Suddenly my 19 credit load feels a little more manageable, and I feel better prepared for my classes.  I am playing catch up less, and at some point here, I may even be ahead.

So, little by little I am morphing from working mom back into a student.  I am learning what pieces of my old routines need to be dragged out and dusted off, and what needs a make over to fit into family life.  The point is, if momma aint happy, aint nobody happy, right?  And a failing student mom is definitely not happy.  We will take time to see what else needs a make over to help everyone out.  Small steps, good steps, good days ahead.