balance · grading · yoga

Holding your sense of humour

I just got my braces all readjusted yesterday. I had been on tray 28 of 32, but everything had to be recalibrated, and after an hour of my orthodontist yanking on my face and doing what felt like hammering, I restarted on my new tray 1 of … 34. That was bad news. And it hurts like hell.

My daughter’s teacher sent home a note indicating that Munchkin is “significantly behind in what concerns the homework assignments.” Oh great. That’s on me, because the homework needs to be explained and supervised and I’m the French speaker at home.

My husband fell down the porch stairs in the rain, while putting up Halloween decorations.

My class got shifted to another room for a special event, and when I put the poster on the door, I listed the wrong room number.

The indignities and injuries are piling up at the same time as the grading and the writing deadlines and SSHRC adjudication season for me. I’m grumpy. But this:

I went to yoga last night, and as we moved into a tricky and extended balance sequence, my teacher instructed us to hold our hands in this tented-fingers position. It was, she told us, so that we could hold our sense of humour, keep it close.
So there we were, on one leg, tipping forward and kicking back and rolling up into some awkward and unstable sort of floating half moon pose, trying to keep this soft tent of fingers together, gently cradling our sense of humour, delicately, in the midst of difficulty and effort and sometimes falling over.
It’s hard to keep your hands like this when you are getting a foot cramp on your standing leg and your thigh is burning and your balance is super off and you’re about to fall over. The tendency is to let the arms flail out for balance, or, conversely, to jam the hands together, in a hard clench. It takes real skill to go through the hard stuff and keep your fingertips softly touching, but if you can do it, your jaw unclenches. You relax a little. You remember to laugh when you fall.
At the point in the term, then end of Week 9 for me, with 40 new papers to grade every week, and a final to plan, and two more online quizzes to create, and managing the graduate program and adjudicating the SSHRC apps, and trying to not get any more notes home from grade three, well, it’s hard to not clench. It’s hard to hold onto my sense of humour, gently.
I’m trying colourful pens, mint tea, shared videos of adorable animals on Facebook, early bedtimes, and some self-compassion.
How are you managing to ‘keep your fingers tented’ at this tricky balance point in the term?

3 thoughts on “Holding your sense of humour

  1. “Remember to laugh when you fall” … that's the ticket. Academic matters are to be taken seriously, but academics are not, especially the ones who take themselves very seriously. A bit of laughing and kvetching with people who are not going to mistake an off-hand remark or a joke for a considered opinion is usually enough to make the world a friendlier place. That's what helps me keep my fingers tented … a few colleagues with whom a conversation can happen and then be completely forgotten, who can make and take a joke, and who have some capacity for self-deprecation. Give me that and I can tolerate a lot.


  2. Oh, this is very wonderful! I can imagine that pose with the non-clenched fingers or the set jaw in determined concentration to “get it right!” Thanks for the reminder at this point in the semester. Indeed, I will commit to gently holding my sense of humor out there on my next very long and arduous run instead clenching my jaw and taking on the visage of Panic Pete.


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