Radiant suggestion

I can’t come up with a title – hopefully something will come to me after I write this out! (Edited to add: Yep.) I wasn’t going to take the time to write a post this morning but I’ve wanted to write this since over the weekend, and as it’s now Tuesday, well, it’s time.

I’ve been in a funk, and for no good reason. My teaching load is not heavy this semester, so I’m not teaching and grading and dealing with student questions – all the things that go along with trying to be a good professor. I’ve been focusing on research in progress and research in development, as well as students’ proposals, and so my mind has been consumed with the details of grant submissions and the challenges of making your ideas clear and interesting within a very restricted number of pages.

And as much as I love research, I think this is the reason for my fun. Even I need a break from it periodically. I haven’t had that recently -it’s been gogogo since, well, at least 6 weeks ago. I’m definitely to blame, too, since I rarely if ever take enough time away from work to give my brain a break. Turns out you can really put yourself into a funk when you do that.

Yet here I am – at a point when stepping away for an entire day or even a half day will get me so far behind that I may never catch up. Once I realized yesterday just how bad things had gotten, I decided to try to build small joys into my day. Last evening, I streamed part of a beautiful Christmas concert while I ate and then stretched after my shower. This morning, I took a slightly longer shower than usual, and I plan to indulge in an extra cup of coffee to make sure I’m fueled up for another long day.

Tiny things, but they make me feel a little calmer, a little more relaxed.

And this weekend, I tried to get back into my habit of reading poetry or something, well, “inspiring” (I know, so specific…ha) daily. Of course the universe had a bit of a message for me.

Flipping through Mary Oliver’s Upstream, which is a book of essays (Side note: I much prefer her poems but her essays are quite good as well), the following jumped off the page, just as I was about to close the book and put it aside:

“How wonderful that the universe is beautiful in so many places and in so many ways. But also the universe is brisk and businesslike, and no doubt does not give its delicate landscapes or its thunderous displays of power, and perhaps perception, too, for our sakes or our improvement. Nevertheless, its intonations are our best tonics, if we would take them. For the universe is full of radiant suggestion. For whatever reason, the heart cannot separate the world’s appearance and actions from morality and valor, and the power of every idea is intensified, if not actually created, by its expression in substance. Over and over in the butterfly we see the idea of transcendence. In the forest we see not the inert but the aspiring. In water that departs forever and forever returns, we experience eternity.”

What a lovely sentiment to ponder on a dark December morning… that the universe is full of radiant suggestion. I hope the suggestions the universe sends to you this week are inspiring and uplifting. I’m trying to hold on to those feelings as I head into my Tuesday. <3

10 Things…

As always, behind everyone else. But, these lists of questions are so much fun to read on other’s sites, so I thought I’d give it a try here… I don’t typically share much, but these aren’t asking me to share my address and phone number, so I think we’re good. Ha. Most of these are from the post San did several weeks ago. So thanks, San, for the idea!

  1. Physical stuff? I am short. As in, 5′ 2.5″ on a good day. I cannot use the top shelves in my kitchen cabinets. And do not get me started on that cabinet over the fridge. Or the microwave. My stepladder is my friend.
  2. Do you have any kids? Nope. Wasn’t in the cards, and it’s actually a good thing. I’m probably way too self-centered to be a good parent. I’ll spoil my nieces instead, thanks.
  3. Any siblings? Yes! One brother, 14 months older than me. We have always been close – even when in high school. Now, we rely on text and the infamous weekly Family Zoom to keep in touch. He’s the best big brother I could have asked for.
  4. Where did you grow up? I grew up in central Pennsylvania. My parents still live there, and my brother and his family live about 45 minutes south of them in MD. Most of my extended family also lives there – I am definitely the black sheep in that I left PA at age 24 and have only been back for one short (doomed) stint at a job in Philadelphia. Pros: Close to my family for the first time in decades. Cons: Hated the job. What can you do?
  5. What did you study in college? All of my degrees are in nursing – BSN, MSN, and PhD. My specialties, though, are pediatric and family nursing as well as genetics and genomics. DNA all the way. It’s been my passion for over 20 years and I love it. And, my specific population of interest is teenagers with chronic health conditions like diabetes, or food allergies, that kind of thing.
  6. What kind of music do you like? Well, um, yeah, I’m weird, so Celtic and Scottish folk, a bit of bluegrass, Brandi Carlisle, the Chicks, and a whole assortment of other random artists. Oh, and classical! Love, love, love classical music. Not so much for contemporary pop/rock/rap, but I will listen to pretty much anything as long as it’s actually, you know, musical.
  7. Windows or Mac/Android or iPhone? Mac (home), PC (work), iPhone (both work and home). It’s actually good because I’m pretty good at both OS’s, so I can give my parents tech support for their PCs. Which happens a lot. Even though I’m the kid who doesn’t live nearby.
  8. What job would you be terrible at? Retail or food service. I’m a klutz and my “customer service” skills are nonexistent. This means that I truly appreciate everyone who CAN work in those jobs. Because if I had to? No one would buy anything, and they’d never get their food while it’s hot. Or, they’d have it delivered to their laps, and not the table (see “klutz”, above).
  9. Have you ever traveled outside the country? Oh, yes, and I love it. Sigh. Can’t wait to get back to it. Favorite places are too many to count, but Australia, Iceland, France (particularly the South of France), and Canada are all favorites. Next, I’d love to go to the British Isles (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, in particular) but not sure when/if that will happen. Sigh.
  10. If you weren’t in your current job, what would you be doing? I would love to be a librarian. Think how awesome that would be – surrounded by books all day? Sign me up. But, again, I’d truly stink at the customer service aspect, so… yeah. Not sure how realistic that is.

So there you go, a few tidbits about me. Hopefully you’re not going to run scared now that you realize just how odd I am. (Although, if you’ve been here a bit, you’ve probably realized that already…)

Happy Monday, and happy Thanksgiving week to those of you in the US.

Halloween, leggings, participation, and presence

I promise, all of those random things in the post title are (somewhat) related. Let’s see if I can connect the dots… 🙂

As most if not all of you know, I am always about 1 week behind in reading blog posts from my favorites (life… sigh…). Which means that this weekend I was reading about Halloween and what people were doing. It got me thinking about how I have always hated Halloween – specifically, the dressing up part. I was never the kid who loved coming up with costumes. I never had any ideas, and was perfectly happy with those awful plastic masks and costumes that made you sweat the moment you put them on. (Anyone else remember those??) No thought or creativity required.

It’s not just a lack of creativity, though, that makes me dislike Halloween. It’s the idea of creating the “best” costume in order to stand out in some way. I have always hated being the center of attention – or, really, attracting any attention at all. I am content to blend into the background, to rarely appear in photos. I never wanted to have everyone’s eyes on me, and so I have spent a lot of my life figuring out how to blend in and disappear.

This has extended to my adult life, too. I am uncomfortable in bright colors or patterns (hm, trying to think if I own anything with a pattern other than, well, a stripe… or a plaid flannel shirt… ). I’m really uncomfortable in clothing that is tight, or sparkly, or that draws attention to me in any way.

Which is one of the reasons I loved lockdown with every fiber of my being. If you want to essentially disappear, there is no better way to do so than to work remotely. For the first time in my working life – other than the brief, glorious period when I wore scrubs to work every day (oh, how I miss scrubs…) – I was able to wear exactly what I wanted. Leggings. Yoga pants. Comfortable sweaters and tops. I was still presentable but I was so much more comfortable.

It’s helped me be so much more interactive and participatory in meetings. When I’m not worried about what I look like, and when I don’t have all the eyes in a room on me, I am much better at speaking up and sharing my perspective. I don’t do it often, of course – that would be completely unlike me. For one of the first times in my life, I feel like a full participant in some of these meetings rather than an observer.

I feel like the last almost two (good grief) years have helped me be more present in my professional life. To participate more, interact more with my colleagues, and honestly, get more done. Yes, things were slow with the pandemic. Yes, teaching online had its moments. But there were good things, too.

The challenge now is, how do I maintain this as things open back up? I don’t know what we’ll be doing going forward – although I do teach in person and that will continue. I am planning to push pretty hard that we keep a virtual option for all meetings, to allow those with health and other challenges to participate. I’m hopeful but also know there is a lot of support for being back in person all the time.

What I do know, though, is that I am no longer going to dress for others. Just for me. I feel like I’m finally recognizing who I am, after too many years of trying to keep up, trying to measure up to others’ expectations or standards. It feels good.

Oscar Wilde - Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken" Canvas Print by  AlanPun | Redbubble

A few more bits of randomness before the weekend

It’s been a rough week, personally and professionally, and I don’t have a coherent post in me right now. But I have some thoughts on various things (don’t I always?) so thought I’d share some of the snippets of what’s on my mind…So, one thing I’ve managed to actually get better at with age is admitting when I am wrong. I’m a pretty stubborn person and (to put it mildly) this is something I did not excel at earlier in my life. And yet, as I’ve gotten older, it’s become easier. It’s not that I am any less passionate or stubborn. It’s more that I realize that things change. Or that, um, the story I was telling myself about something isn’t actually what is true.

This happened last weekend, when I was planning to have dinner an hour and a half away with old friends. Old friends who have drifted away over the last 5-6 years due to, well, political disagreements. I’m quite passionate about my politics and beliefs, and to know that these old friends held opposite views was… hard. Really hard. So I was kind of dreading dinner. I felt like a kid having a tantrum, because I just didn’t want to go.

But I did. And you know what? It was really, really good to see them. We didn’t touch politics with a ten-foot pole. We talked about what their kids are up to. We talked about jobs, and life in general, but nothing too, well, sensitive. And it was fine – it was good, even. I’m glad I was able to see them and that I talked myself out of my self-induced tantrum. I’m glad I was wrong about how hideous it was going to be.

Also? You’re stuck with me for a few more years, at least. I renewed my domain this morning for 3 more years, which means I’ll be randomly showing up here to share, well, whatever is on my mind. I’d say you’re welcome, but you might not be thanking me for doing that. 😉 (Seriously, thank you to those who have wandered here and read my ramblings the last few years… it means a lot)

Hm, third thing? Let’s just say the to do list is so out of control right now that I’m kind of ignoring it to write this post. I just needed a bit of me-time this morning. It’s been hard to come by this week, and I needed a bit of normal. This weekend will be another working one, sigh. But I do hope to take a bag of books to the half price book store and make a few bucks back, so that will be kind of fun? I hope your weekend plans involve more fun than mine! Oh, I do have one fun thing – the family Zoom is this afternoon so that will be a nice break before I dive into the weekend and work.

And, it seems winter is on the way. Next week – highs in the low 40s and lows in the 20s. Quite the 180 from a few weeks ago! It seems like it’s been this way the last few years – really warm for longer than we like, then all of a sudden the cold descends and overstays its welcome.

I’m hoping to share something a bit deeper than just these forays into my scattered brain sometime soon. I have a post brewing about conformity, middle school, and why that’s important for me now, when I am … definitely not in middle school. (And good grief I would not go back if you paid me lots of money…)

I hope, wherever you are, you have a wonderful weekend, filled with the things and the people that you love. Thanks again for being here, even when I’m less than coherent and posting rather intermittently.

Do not overlook the little joys! ~Hermann Hesse

Monday morning musings

Taking a break from the heavy and challenging to think about a few things making me happy this week (despite a rather daunting schedule the next 2 days…)

  1. Family. This is kind of a COVID thing, to be honest. Before all of this started, I would have said that I was very close to my family, that they are some of the most important people in my life, etc. But now, after going through not only the pandemic but the other things my family has dealt with in the last 2 years (and it’s kind of a lot when you list it out), I realize just how important they are to me. I know that some people do not have this kind of relationship with their family of origin, but I have to say that I am glad I do.
  2. On a related note, and also a COVID thing, the weekly Family Zoom. And yes we capitalize it. As much as I knew I loved my family and enjoyed connecting with them, I was never very good about keeping in touch other than the usual weekly phone call to my parents. I talked to my brother occasionally but no often. I would still say we were close, but not nearly as close as we were earlier in our lives. The Family Zoom – weekly, for the most part (we have only missed a few weeks since March 2020) has been such an unexpected blessing. I get to SEE my family, to make sure that they not only sound okay, but that they look okay, too. My brother and I always join, sometimes joined by others in the family depending on availability. It’s just so much fun to catch up (my mother does most of the talking) and to know more of what’s going on in each other’s lives.
  3. Fall weather. Finally. We had our third summer, I swear, in the last few weeks. Bring on the cooler temps. And while you’re at it, could you bring on the sunshine, please? We’ve had clouds for the last week+ and it’s getting old.
  4. Realizing that yes, my schedule is daunting today and tomorrow. But for the most part? These are meetings I set up that I want to have (not meetings that were, well, foisted on me). There’s a difference, there really is.
  5. It seems odd to end on 4 so number 5? Vegan “cold cuts”. I know, I know, they’ve been around forever. But they have recently been just what I want for dinner at the end of the day. With vegan cheese. In a warm tortilla. I know, it’s like the simplest dinner ever but for some reason it’s working for me. While I am not vegan, I am edging in that direction. The one thing holding me back is the lack of a great substitute for cottage cheese. I know that people have Strong Feelings about cottage cheese, but I love it. And while there are “easy” recipes out there, they’re not THAT easy. Holding out hope that someone will be able to replicate it soon…

Off to start the day with something else that makes me happy… coffee. Why on earth did I ever give it up? What was I thinking? 🙂

“One of the best secrets of a happy life is the art of extracting comfort and sweetness from every circumstance…
People are always looking for happiness at some future time and in some new thing, or some new set of circumstances, in possession of which they some day expect to find themselves. But the fact is, if happiness is not found now, where we are, and as we are, there is little chance of it ever being found. There is a great deal more happiness around us day by day than we have the sense or power to seek and find.
If we are to cultivate the art of living, we should cultivate the art of extracting sweetness and comfort out of everything, as the bee goes from flower to flower in search of honey.”

Thomas Mitchell