Nostalgia…or rose-colored glasses?

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I had a few moments of nostalgia in the last couple of days. Strangely, several of them revolved around music. 
The first was yesterday, when I learned the Rob Thomas – the singer for Matchbox Twenty, one of THE groups of my college years – had a new album out. I promptly went to play it on Spotify, and was thrilled to hear a voice that has not changed substantially, a style of music that I always enjoyed, yet with new melodies and new words. It reminded me of good times (and, well, not so good, although those memories seem to be hazier than the good ones…), happy times. 
[I am going to gloss over the fact that when I mentioned the new album to my spouse, he responded “Who?”, which led to a long discussion of just exactly WHAT he was going in college, because seriously: how could you go to college in the 90s and not know Matchbox Twenty?!?!?! I mean, he didn’t even remember the duet with Santana for “Smooth”… I was like, who are you, and why did I marry you??]
This morning at the gym, the song playing when I left was one that I did not know the correct lyrics to in college. I think I alluded to this in my “Things I stink at” post, but one thing I truly, truly stink at is accurate knowledge of song lyrics. It’s like a mental block. Let’s just say that my errors for this particular song were hilarious once my roommates and I figured out what I was singing, vs. what the lyrics actually WERE. I laughed out loud when I realized what the song was, and the memory immediately came back. It was a good start to the day. (Well, that, and the really good run I had.) 
Going back to those times – even if just for a moment – makes me smile. Makes me happy. And yet I worry that I am seeking to return to a time when things were “good”, when I hadn’t yet had to grow up and travel the curves in the road that life has been to this point. 
The curves, the hurdles, the stop signs…they have made me who I am today. I like who I am today…but I also like revisiting who I was. Feeling things again. I wouldn’t change a thing, because then I wouldn’t be who I am now, and I would be doing what I do now, where I am doing it. 
So I’ll take the nostalgia, and the really good new album (Thank you, Rob!), and enjoy it in the now. Songs of the past, brought into the future. Works for me.  

If there were ever a day to “skip school”…

Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get?
How to get to Sesame Street
Come and play
Everything’s A-OK
Friendly neighbors there
That’s where we meet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street
It’s a magic carpet ride
Every door will open wide
To happy people like you
Happy people like
What a beautiful
Sunny Day
~Sesame Street Opening song, by The Kids (And if you didn’t know that…maybe this isn’t the blog for you! ;>)

I am so, so tempted to play hooky (I keep wanting to make it an “-ey” for some reason…) today. 

The grant is done. The next one is cooking but not yet at a rolling boil. 
It’s beautiful outside. 

But I have meetings, and other responsibilities. So I’m going to be responsible, for now. 

I’m not saying I’m not going to bail early this afternoon, though. That is a distinct possibility even if it’s just to sit on my little apartment porch and read in the sunshine. 

As I get older (and man, that makes me sound ancient, to say that…) I find myself cherishing these days more and more. I think it also comes from living where I do – where winter lasted until Mother’s Day, and it will be damp and chilly yet again tomorrow. 

Recognizing the fleeting nature of the beautiful days, and striving to enjoy and embrace them, whether they involve sunshine and 70s with a light breeze (yesss…) or snow and 10 degree temps (also a good reason to hole up at home in fleece socks). There is beauty in everyday, but, well, sometimes it’s just a bit easier to enjoy the 70 degree beauty than the 10 degree version. 

Yesterday, I had an outside meeting with a colleague. We sat in the sunshine and wind, my hair was out of control, and we talked passions and research and science. 

It was glorious. 
Here’s to more sunny days, blending passion and sunshine and beauty. 

…the ordinary, the common, the very drab…

It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.

~Excerpt from “Mindful”, by Mary Oliver

I read this over the weekend, and it really spoke to me. Especially the part about “…the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations.” I know that I find a lot of joy in seeing new, and impressive sights. Despite my homebody tendencies, I love to travel and see new places – to be awed by sights that I may never see again.

But there is so much beauty in the everyday, too. So much to see in my daily life, in my commute, sitting on my couch and enjoying the blue skies (finally…) and wispy white clouds. The perfect tree that is on the golf course that backs up to my apartment building. The quirks of others I encounter in my travels and interactions – who may never know they made me smile. The guy on the bus who clearly has some difficulty with social interactions, but who waves goodbye to me each morning when I get off the bus, and who nods when I tell him to “Have a good day” as I do every morning I come into the office. 
Finding that joy, reveling in the ordinary… what a simple thing to do, but it shifts my perspective and makes me realize that there is so much I take for granted. I’ll never abandon my travels, or seeking new places and new vistas. But life is really lived in those ordinary days, the ones that may seem mundane and boring when I’m in the midst of them… they are the ones that make up the true beauty of a life. 

…don’t be too cautious

There’s a saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. At Apple, I learned that’s a total crock. You’ll work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands. As you go out into the world, don’t waste time on problems that have been solved. Don’t get hung up on what other people say is practical. Instead, steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose. It’s there that you can make your greatest contribution. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of being too cautious. Don’t assume that by staying put, the ground won’t move beneath your feet. The status quo simply won’t last. So get to work on building something better.
~Tim Cook

I love a good commencement speech, and every year I read the “best of”, because I am not graduating, nor do I like attending them (although I really should, given that whole “faculty role” thing…). But I love reading the excerpts of wisdom from others’ speeches, gleaning bits of insight that I can take into my own life.

This one resonated with me this morning. I’ve been feeling really down in the dumps about my opportunities for funding. It’s not that I am not applying – it’s all I’ve been doing. But rather, it’s that I can’t seem to make the case for why what I want to study is important. 
This quote reminds me that just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. There’s a reason I am passionate about my science, about my work. There’s a reason that I keep on keepin’ on, even when the going gets rough and I just want to step off the path. 
Remembering my “why”. Recognizing that not everyone is into this particular area of inquiry, but that it’s needed. That maybe I am the person to move it forward, at least in part. 
I definitely need a day off soon… and am hoping to get that this weekend. The plans, of course, include a trip to a bookstore that looks just fabulous on paper / the web / the Facebook. I am hoping it lives up to the write ups and the reviews. It’s only an hour away – and oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to find a source of inspiration as well as maybe a book or two (or three…or more…)
Anyway – back to the quote. Today, I am going to remind myself that my purpose is in the complexities, the rough spots, the choppy seas. Success is not immediate. I have to put the work in. But there are reasons (oh, so many reasons) I am doing what I’m doing, and now is not the time to give up. 


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I need a reset after yesterday. 
I don’t even have a quote…although this one seems particularly apt: 
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I just had A DAY yesterday. You know Those Days? the days when you get to the end, look back through the day, and think…well, I didn’t know what to think. 
I had such high hopes…and then reality hit. 
I got next to nothing done. My meetings were scheduled so that I couldn’t get back into deeper work in between. A family member got inconclusive medical information. I was just…annoyed. With myself, with the world, with life in general. 
It culminated with a lovely temper tantrum when I got home, over (you’ll love this) the paper instructions in a new water bottle.
See, over the weekend I upgraded my water bottle – or, rather intended to upgrade it – by buying a glass bottle. This goes along with my goal of reducing my intake of Diet Coke. I got an iced tea maker (game changer!) and wanted to bring my own tea to work every day. 
The full glass bottle weighed a ton. I nearly fell over when I picked up my backpack. So I decided to leave it AT work – you know, the bottle you take to meetings – and just get a new one that was lighter to transport the iced tea. So I swung into Target (the joys of living literally across the street from one) and picked one up. And then I got home and could not figure out how to get the (@#%* piece of paper out of it so I could wash it and, you know, use it. Oh, I tried everything. Fingers, tweezers, a straw from another water bottle, pliers, etc. etc. etc. Cursing the manufacturers, etc. 
And then? Then I looked at the bottle. And the part that was hindering my ability to reach in to the bottle? 
Yeah, it screws off. 
Cue head banging on the wall (well, not really, but you get the meaning). 
I realized, then, that I was completely and totally overreacting due to everything else in my life. Stress over my family member. Undiscussed (as yet, here) stress over my relationship. Additional work-related tensions (grant due, starting another one, feeling rather, well, fried at the moment). And I realized that it wasn’t the water bottle (duh, Anne) it was the everything else. I felt like a complete moron. 
One positive thing, though – I at least realized it. Before, I would not have been as aware of my other stressors and would have missed the connection between all the Other Stuff and the Temper Tantrum of the Month. 
I guess it’s progress? It also means that today is Reset Day. 
I’m going to get into work now. I have 2 meetings, and they’re back to back at the end of my productive time in the morning, so that’s good timing. I don’t have a meeting this afternoon. Tomorrow is a busy one, and so is Thursday, so it’s good that I at least have a chance to reset. But man, I could have done without the histrionics on my part. I’m still learning, I guess. But aren’t we all? 
Back to regularly scheduled programming (I hope) tomorrow.