I’m sitting on a bench in Tenney Park in Madison as I look out over Lake Mendota and hammer this post out on my Android phone. My phone said 54 degrees Fahrenheit as I walked out the door for my morning walk. Perfect weather for me as I walk outside without a jacket, living up to my self-described heritage of being “part polar bear.”
The cooler weather–highs only in the 70s for the next few days–seems to herald a whole host of changes coming through with the northerly winds. Two housemates in my co-op house have moved out, two more have moved in, one has switched rooms and the house is a little chaotic with boxes and other personal effects scattered about.
And I’ve stopped working at the job I’ve held for the last eight years.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing so because part-time grad school and a full-time job were proving very difficult to balance. This fall, such a balance would have proven impossible with seven credits being required of me–nearly full-time–and a field work position requiring twelve hours per week of my time.
The cooler season will be bringing other changes and new efforts as well, starting with these morning walks. I have to start getting myself in shape. Yoga classes and using my bicycle as a primary source of transportation will also be other efforts towards this end. But the most important change will be eating better instead of eating on the run. I pay $110 per month towards a food share in our house that yields a lot of natural, mostly organic food, and I want to see if I can make that my primary source of daily nutrition. Also, I think another major factor in my health issues has been the 9 to 5 desk job, and this will be an opportunity to move away from it and make corrections.
This change will also allow me to focus more on my spiritual practice in the Bahá’í Faith. For most of the last year, I simply have not had enough time to attend monthly feasts and weekly devotions, and even my own efforts at reading and prayer have faltered. That began to change once class ended, and next week, I am going to the Green Lake Bahá’í Conference held in Green Lake, WI and will be there for all three days of the conference.
This effort is also part of a bigger effort at living more simply. Being a low-income graduate student will require some scaling back of expenses. I think this might be a good time for me to cultivate good habits that will yield dividends when my income increases again, or will prepare me for changes in a society whose standard of living will sharply decrease–a distinct possibility I see at some point in the future.
Self-reliance overall is something I want to cultivate. My long-term goal is to develop a private counseling practice–either on my own or in partnership with other people. While my career trajectory will undoubtedly involve work with non-profits (starting with the organization I’m working with this fall), a dozen years in fundraising has made more cynical about the non-profit sector as a whole, even though there are many good organizations out there doing worthwhile work.
As part of that, I’m considering getting supplemental income by starting my own side business, possibly through DJing. I need to take a good look at the market and see if this is something I truly want to do. I’ve also activated my membership with the Dane County Timebank which I see as another outlet for me to share my skills with the community, as well as an effort to support the local economy.
As I write this, a group of ducks has gathered near me–some less than three feet away from me. They seem quite unafraid of humans. They’re looking for food doing and their own thing, but I’m reminded of another time they gathered near me as I sat near Lake Mendota contemplating major changes.
So the northerly winds of the ides of August are bringing a lot of changes my way. I intend to keep the readers of this blog informed more often as I go through these major changes.