Phrase of the day: get (back) in the swing of things

I hate goodbyes. Always have done, and always will do. I’ve certainly never understood where there’s a good in goodbye, that’s for sure. Still, just as you need sad to understand what happy is, cold to understand hot, and so on, so I have come to accept the wisdom laid out in one my favourite-ever songs, which notes that “for every happy hello, there will be goodbye.”  After my course in Saratov ended last Sunday, I had a final night in the city and then early the next day I was picked up from my hotel and driven to the tiny little local airport, which is quite high up on the outskirts of town, looking out over the Volga River. I said my goodbyes to the organisers, gave everyone a few big hugs, started to well up a bit, wiped a tear (or two) from my eye and managed a final bit of conversation.


I knew how much work the organisers had put into making sure the event went well, and I knew that the following day, they’d all be back to their normal, everyday lives, so I finished off by asking: “Looking forward to everything getting back to normal?” Someone replied, “It’s going to be very weird being back at work after these last few days”, and wanting to end on a high note, rather than a low, I turned back just as I was about to go through security and tried to reassure everyone: “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine” I stated, “once you get back in the swing of things!


If you’ve had time off work, or time away from your usual day-to-day routine, it can sometimes take a bit of time for things to get back to normal and to feel that you’re performing at full capacity. You might be a bit rusty because you haven’t used your skills recently. Sometimes when you return to work after a long holiday, it takes a while to get back in the swing of things. You may have been dreading getting back to the daily grind and you may need to ease yourself in gradually and not rush things. You may feel that your mind’s not really on it just yet  and that you’re just going through the motions the first few days you’re back. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you just have to get through the days and hope things start to get easier sometime soon.


Of course, all of this is easy for me to say! Since I left Saratov, I’ve not had time to get back into the swing of anything resembling normal life! I had a day of publishing meetings, a day of writing, a day of getting ready for another trip to Russia . . . and now I’m spending the week way up past the Arctic Circle in the amazing city of Norilsk, working with local teachers! We’ve just finished day two. Hopefully, I’ll start getting into the swing of it by Wednesday. Just in time for it to end!


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  • When was the last time you felt yourself starting to well up a bit? Why?
  • What would you like to try and get back into the swing of? Why haven’t you done it for a while?
  • Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions? When? Why? What can be done to prevent this feeling?
  • Do you know anyone who you think is sometimes a bit too hard on themselves?
  • Ameenah Hajeej

    What does”to go through the motions” mean? I failed to get the meaning from context.

    • Hugh Dellar

      If you GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS, you do things without really feeling they’re important or caring about them, in a mechanical sort of way, so for example, They says they’ve been investigating my complaint, but I think they’re just going through the motions. Or: The team aren’t playing with any passion at the moment. It’s like they’re just going through the motions.