Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

I was going to write a long post of Thursday thoughts, and how although life has been a bit of a mess recently with family and dog and personal stuff…I’m doing okay. 
But then as I took the bus in to work today, I was completely taken in by the fact that we have sunshine! in the morning! and it’s not 20 degrees! 
I know I shouldn’t complain. I choose to live here. But man, it’s been a long winter and an even longer March. (Phone conversation the other day with a collaborator, she ended the call by saying, “Enjoy the March day out there!” which was, unfortunately, spot on…)
So today! Sunshine! 70! 
Life is good. 

Hindsight and perspective

Image result for hindsight
I’ve been thinking a lot about hindsight, how I interpreted actions and words of others in the moment, and what I think now. 
It’s astonishing, isn’t it, what a bit of distance, time, and self-reflection can do to change our minds? I’ve noticed this most prominently in my personal life, but it occurs in my professional life, too. And I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. I interpreted those events and words from the place I was then; I’m in a very different place now. And I’m glad I am. Now, the question for me is whether I share those insights (ha) with those whose words and actions I misinterpreted. 
Right now I’m leaning towards yes. That I need to acknowledge that I jumped to conclusions, or saw the other person’s actions through what was then a very blurry and distorted lens. I don’t know how that will be received, but I think it’s needed for me to move on from what was and into what will be. 
I’ve always assumed that I’m “done” growing and learning and figuring things out. Now, at (age I prefer not to write because holy cow, I cannot be that old!) I’ve realized that yeah, I don’t know anything. This learning, in my personal life and professional life? It never ends. And that’s the beauty of it all. If life were static – if I were static – man, wouldn’t that be boring? Sometimes, yes, I just wish things would just stay as they were. But that means that I’m not living, not changing, not growing, not remaining curious and enthralled about this world we live in. I guess I’d rather take the uncertainty and the fun that goes with it, than think I know everything. 

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mysterious. ~Albert Einstein

Speaking too soon…;)

Well, yes, of course I spoke too soon with my triumphant post on breaking the looking-at-the-activity-app-all-the-time habit.

I didn’t really think it would be that easy. Turns out that temptation can be strong, and, of course, ingrained habits can be even stronger. Combine temptation with habits, and… let’s just say that I backslid quite a bit yesterday.

But! I am hoping today is a better day. More meetings, more distractions. Hoping not to be where I was earlier in the week, not yesterday.

Spring has (finally) sprung here, bringing with it sneezes and sniffles and glorious-looking evenings that tempt me outside… if not for the fact that I am usually in my pj’s by 7 pm. I go to bed very early and get up very early, which means that I never miss a sunrise (no, really, I don’t think I’ve missed one for years now) but I do tend to miss that golden light in the evenings. It’s such a glorious and short-lived time of year here (in Wisconsin) and I try to soak up as much of it as I can to hold me through the colder, darker months. Those are good in their own way, but what they don’t have is a lot of light.

I find that as I get older I am even more appreciative of how privileged I am to live in a place with seasons, and that I have the resources to enjoy them all. I know that’s not the case for so many people, and I try very hard not to dread or complain about any one season. This winter made that a bit difficult, but I persevered. I know how lucky I am…. and being grateful and thankful for that does help when it’s -20 with a wind chill of -40. 😉

Which brings me to one, final, larger point (finally, sorry). I was kind of slapped in the face earlier in the week with a recitation of how privileged I have been in my life – my parents were not indulgent, but we did not want for anything. My education was paid for. I was “launched”, if you will (I kind of hate that term, but go with me here), with all the support and love and help that I could ask for. And I like to think that is what has helped me to focus more on those who have less, who are less privileged and less fortunate. In my work, in my life in general, in my politics, etc. The person who made the initial comment to me thought it would / should have shifted me the other way – that is, preserving my privilege and restricting it to those “like me”…but to me, it makes more sense that because I had those advantages I want others to have similar opportunities. Helping others… seeing them rise despite (or perhaps in a way because of) their adversities in life… it brings me so much joy if I can give them a bit of a boost along the way. Yes, I am lucky. No, others are not. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do everything in my power to help them get where they want to be…

And that doesn’t really tie things up neatly either, so I’ll just end this way – I am grateful for the life I lead. It’s a darn good one. And if I can help others have a good life? all the better, in my opinion. Now, off to save the world. Ha.

Huh. I guess I can break a habit if I really want to.

Quotes on Getting Rid of Bad Habits
I am, to put it mildly, a creature of routine. Of habit. I swear I walk the same path in my apartment every night when I am getting dinner together, or getting on the couch to read after a long day. It’s very easy for me to set routines and habits – and very hard for me to break them. 
Or so I thought. 
I’ve had major health challenges in the past, and latched onto control of exercise and diet as a way of managing my health-related anxieties. One way I controlled things was by keeping a careful eye on my steps (on my original FitBit) and now my calories burned (Activity) on my Apple Watch. 
And I hated it. I hated that I felt compelled to check on my calories burned multiple times throughout the day. 
And that I felt like a failure, or that I hadn’t “earned” what I wanted to eat, if the number was “too low”. 
Let me just pause to say that I managed to easily break the habit I had of weighing myself daily when I wanted to. 
But for some reason I though this would be harder, maybe because the Watch is always with me? 
Anyway. The other day I had enough.  I just said that I would be able to check it 3 times a day, and no more, and then I’d reassess and see if I could get it down to 2. 
I started Monday. I checked 3 times on Monday and was pretty proud of myself. Yesterday? Twice. 
I’m hoping today will be even better. 
So yeah, I guess when I’m ready, I can actually do this. I can’t quite figure out how to apply this in more areas of my life – yet – but I am a bit more hopeful now that it is a possibility. Astonishing to me that I am this old, and yet I don’t quite know myself yet. 

Going slowly…but not stopping

Dreams come true…the only variable is when.
~ my “Note from the Universe” yesterday

Now, I know that these are not unique to me. I know that everyone else getting these is figuring out how they apply to their own lives, and hopefully having some insights as a result.

This one really spoke to me yesterday. Because I’ve been thinking about long and winding roads, and how I got where I am today, and whether I would be the same person, with the same drive and focus, if I had not traveled the way I did.

I won’t get into details, but suffice to say my professional life trajectory did not unfold the way I thought it would.

I was on the straight, narrow, and fast path. I thought I’d go up for tenure early! and then, derailed. By health issues. By mental health issues (I can say that now). By self-doubt and self-criticism and not standing up for myself. By running when I should have stood firm and faced what I needed to in order to get where I wanted to be.

But where I wanted to be wasn’t the right destination for me.

I needed to leave the place where I thought I’d be forever, to find the place where I think I belong.

Maybe I wouldn’t have chosen this road. But in hindsight, I think it worked out pretty well. 😉