Mea Culpa

Nothing like posting about a huge life change, getting the most wonderful comments, and then…disappearing before I approved the comments.

I could make the excuse that the week went bonkers after Monday, but that’s just an excuse. (Also, for some reason, I had it in my head that I could not reply to comments if I approved them without replying at that time… I know, this makes no sense, but since I have always replied as I have approved, well… yeah.)

All of that to say I am so sorry that some of you a) thought you had not commented on my last post, when you had, and b) I’m finally taking some time for myself this morning before another nutty day to round out the week, and I’m off to reply to all of your supportive, wonderful comments.

You all are the best.

Intentions, Word(s), and a Question

Happy Monday, everyone. I know that it is a day of reflection here in the US, as we mark Martin Luther King, Jr., day. This is one of those holidays that I do not consider a holiday. Instead, I view it as a prompt for learning more about Dr. King’s life and work, and what I can do to carry his legacy forward. Today, I’m planning to read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail as well as this sermon on loving your enemies.

However, right now I have a few minutes to share my intentions and word(s)for 2022, and I had a question that I hoped to pose to some of the more regular visitors to my blog (few in number, strong in spirit!). I rarely do this but given my desire to take time to reflect on the past several years and explore where I want my life to go from here, it seemed a reasonable option for 2022.

So, what are my intentions? This year, I am keeping it simple: Be Kind. Seek Joy. I know that I can do much more in my daily life to truly be kind. Even if I don’t overtly show UNkindness, I often have somewhat judgmental thoughts, and I’d like to shift that to a perspective of kindness. I will never know what someone is going through when I encounter them in my life. It takes much less energy to simply be kind, than to work myself up to unkind thoughts.

I also really need to up my game in terms of seeking joy. Joy – true joy – has been absent from my life of late, and that’s not good. I need to remember what brings me joy, where I can find that, and then make it happen. I’m talking big joys (travel! time with my family!) and small ones (browsing in a bookstore). If I can find a way to infuse joy into every day this year? That would be awesome. However, that’s a pretty high bar for a currently joy-less person so for now, I’m going to aim to have at least one joyful experience a month. I know, I know, it’s not much, but taking part of a day to focus on seeking joy and feeding my heart and soul will go a long way to making me feel like myself again.

So those are my intentions. My word for the year? Courage. I waffled on this for a while. For a time, I thought “seek” (and variants thereof, e.g., seeking) would be my word. But instead I realized that it’s more of an intention. No, courage was it, although it took time for me to come back around to it.

Why courage? Well, as I’ve alluded to in the past few months, I had a major life change in 2021. One that was kind of anticipated, but also, well, not. And since it seems goofy to just dance around it for the next year, I’m going to go ahead and share that the major change was my marriage ending. I never, ever thought I would get a divorce. And yet. Here we are – divorced.

There aren’t any sordid details to share or anything like that. Just (another) sad story of people growing apart. But just because it wasn’t sordid or even particularly dramatic (there is no drama in receiving an email with a link to the PDF of your divorce decree online…) doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard.

I need courage to remember what it was like to be independent. Single. Me, by myself. I’ll write more about this in coming days, but for now, it seems to suffice to let you know that 2022 will be my year of courage. Of showing up and being brave (a related word I considered, but eventually ditched). It will be an interesting year, to say the least, but I have high hopes for where I will be – for WHO I will be – on 12/31/2022.

Finally, my question. A practical one. For those of you who love your budgets, what software/website/program do you use? I feel the need to migrate from my current ancient method of Excel, but am stymied by all of the options available. Thanks in advance!

And thank you for persisting with me through the past few months. Like I said, I hope to be here more in 2022. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


No, I don’t mean that the blog is / will be suspended. More that I feel as though I am suspended – still – between 2021 and 2022. Between what was and what is.

I’ve mentioned before that my life changed a lot in 2021, in ways that were expected (well, to some extent) and others that came completely out of the blue. It was one of those years that, as Zora Neale Hurston said so memorably, asks questions. It was definitely not one of the years with answers. I don’t know (yet, of course) whether 2022 will differ and manage to provide some clarity and answers, but I’m going to do my darndest to find the answers if they are out there!

Like any good academic, I had grand plans for last week, the Week of No Meetings. The week of trying to catch up on all the projects, papers, grants, and other non-teaching, non-committee work. I actually did pretty well on the work-related goals, getting several things fully or partially crossed off my list. So that was good. What wasn’t so good was that I didn’t get any of the personal reflection time that I was craving so badly. I was able to do a bit at the beginning of the week, but completely fell off towards the weekend. It wasn’t all bad – there were phone calls with two old friends I’ve known since, well, since I can remember. There were texts with friends and family. There was some extra reading time. But there wasn’t the opportunity to do the deep reflection I wanted on the past year – the year that, for me, everything changed.

For me, this is a huge downside of not going anywhere – I have no opportunity to get out of my home routine and really focus on something other than work. If given the option, I will almost always take 10 or 20 or even 30 “found” minutes and use them for work-related activities, in an effort to just keep my head above water. That’s something I need to change – because time spent on myself (not work), getting to know myself, and getting my life somewhat in order is essential to my overall well-being.

All of that to say that I didn’t finish my reflections on the past year+. I didn’t finish several of the tasks (for lack of a better word) that I had assigned myself. But you know what? I think I’m okay with that. There is no rule that reflection on the past year has to end at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The reflection police aren’t going to arrest me for reflecting on January 15th instead of January 1st.

I keep saying that the past year was one of big changes for me, but it’s really been the past 3-4 years. It’s going to take time. I want to dig into what I have learned, what I want to bring forward with me, and what I want to leave behind. I want to really think about how my life has been in the last few years, and how I want it to be as I move into my future. I even want to spend some time thinking about further-in-the-past me, to see how I can bring back some pieces of who I was even earlier in my adulthood that I seem to have lost over time. Pieces that seemed so essential to my identity at the time that seem to have disappeared over the years.

You can see why that might take some time. But the thing is, I want to know who I am know. I want to understand who I’ve been. And I want to figure out who I want to be.

As usual, last night’s tea bag was spot on (side note: Yogi tea and Good Earth tea both have the best sayings on their tags…).

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Here’s to 2022. I hope that the start of the year was peaceful and joyful for all of you. I am eager to be back in this space more… as part of that “time for myself” that seems so elusive some days. Thank you, as always for reading my blathering, and for being here, even when I’m only able to post sporadically.

This post brought to you by the letter F… (but don’t worry, no swearing here!)

First (ha), I’d like to thank the wonderful person who invented fleece. I know that it may not be the most environmentally friendly fabric, but in winter here in the upper Midwest, there is nothing like a fleece-lined pair of leggings to make my day better. I even have fleece pajamas. More than one pair, if we’re being honest. Pair the fleece with fuzzy socks and I’m in heaven.

On the flip side, I’ve been dealing with some nagging fatigue. I’m hoping that it’s just my usual end-of-semester fatigue (15 weeks is a long time… add in the pandemic and all that goes along with that, and, well, it’s a recipe for wanting more zzz’s than usual). The problem, for me, is that I seem constitutionally incapable of sleeping more than an hour past my usual (very very early) wake up time. I’m also not a napper. (Note: Those two conditions do not hold if I am well and truly sick, but if I’m just tired, well, nope.) This year seems particularly acute, and I suspect that COVID-related fatigue and frustration have something to do with it. I’m also freaking out (hey, another f!) about next semester, during which I will teach two courses (currently in person, sigh), and take two courses myself. It could get interesting about, oh, March or so. I’ll have to be on guard and make sure that I’m taking sufficient time away.

Family. I was supposed to drive east to see my family yesterday. It didn’t happen. I wound up canceling the trip last week out of an abundance of caution. I think my parents were a bit surprised, but I’ve also been the most cautious family member throughout this thing. With hospitalizations skyrocketing again, ICUs and hospitals full, and variable risk depending on geographic location, I just did not want to risk it. So it will be another solo Christmas. That said, this year, perhaps I’ll take San’s suggestion and put a YouTube yule log on my computer. 🙂

I admit to a fair amount of frustration at the persistent inability of Americans to just do what they should have been doing all along. I’m not surprised, of course, but I am frustrated. This did not have to happen. And it’s going to be worse in a few weeks. I’m also frustrated that the organizers of a course I am taking this spring have not moved the planned half-day meeting (yes, half-day – from 7-12) that is currently scheduled to take place in Florida. In January. I’ll let you ponder that one for a while. And with apologies to Stephany, to be honest, Florida is the LAST place I want to be now, let alone a month from now when omicron is rampaging through the population. Here’s hoping they make a decision soon…

I am finally writing this post (it’s been brewing since Friday, of course!), the work-related meetings are finally winding down in anticipation of a slower week and a half, and I also finally finished my grant submissions for the semester. Whew. It’ll be a miracle if either of them gets funded… which brings me to the next “f”…

Thus far, my attempts at obtaining external funding have been futile. I’ve put in what seems like countless applications, and get similar feedback each time. Yet, when I share that feedback with my senior colleagues and mentors, they are stunned, because, to them, the studies are more than worth funding. So while it’s been futile, it’s also been immensely frustrating. I’m clearly not getting my point across as clearly as I need to, but… my mentors can’t give me much advice on what to change because they think that the proposals are good. So, yeah. We’ll see how this semester’s submissions go.

Finally, I just want to say, again, how much fun I am having focusing on a smaller set of blogs whose owners are just awesome people. Those of you who take the time to read my intermittent ramblings have really made my online life so much more enjoyable. I look forward to seeing what you and your families are up to, I worry when I don’t see posts for a period of time, and I feel like I’ve finally found a small online community that I truly enjoy. So thank you for being here, and for tolerating my quirks and weirdnesses. 🙂

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