About that dread…

Let’s just say it didn’t go the way I thought it would.
It went SO well. I got good, constructive, helpful feedback. I got positive comments. I learned a few things. And I had a good conversation – a constructive, helpful, conversation – with someone who is becoming a mentor for me. 
Why I do this-  why I waste time worrying – is something I don’t think I will ever fully understand. I am an anxious person. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future and what might be. 
And yet. 
I need to learn to live more in the now. To know that things will happen, but it will all be okay in the end. I have made it this far – there is nothing to suggest that I will not continue to make it! I’m stubborn, driven, and persistent. I’m passionate about what I do. And I will get there. 
The deep breaths helped. The worrying did not. And I had a really good day. 
Serves me right. Ha. 


I know, quite the shift in topic, right?

But yesterday I really started dreading a meeting today.

For no good reason, really. It’s a meeting to review my plan for my next study proposal. It’s with a senior faculty member. And it means that it’ll be an hour of defending my ideas, trying to improve how I present them, and tearing apart what I have written this summer.

It’s completely necessary. It’s what I have experienced so many times in the last 15 years, as I’ve shifted into research and academia.

And yet, I still dread that hour. I know it will be fine. I know the whole idea is to improve how I present what I want to do so that the funding agency will buy into it. But it’s still hard to sit and listen to your writing and ideas be criticized.

But if I don’t do this? I don’t grow. I don’t learn. And learning is a lifelong process. Figuring out how to craft an argument so that knowledgeable non-experts can understand what I plan to do is critical. And this person knows my work but isn’t directly involved in it- the perfect reviewer.

I just have to remind myself that this is a huge opportunity for growth, for improving my chances of success, for finally getting one step closer to actually doing the study that I desperately want to do.

Here’s to a mind shift in the next, oh, 5 hours or so. 😉

The dread of criticism is the death of genius. - William Gilmore Simms Quote

Now, I am not by ANY means a genius. I’m not trying to imply that. But really, this quote makes a good point. I will never improve – even one teeny tiny step – if I don’t listen and respond to the criticism.

So deep breaths this morning. Work on a few other things. Putting down some ideas from a meeting yesterday on the same topic (which I think is what led to me dreading today’s meeting, now that I think about it). Being ready for the conversation. And knowing what I want to do, why it’s important. I can do that. I WILL do that.

Wonder, awe, and being amazed

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver
One thing that I noticed while being on vacation was that I was easily awed. Easily amazed. 
It’s so easy when you’re on vacation, in a (hopefully) beautiful location. Feeling awe is easy when your view of the sunrise in the morning is on a beautiful coastline, or over the ocean. 
It’s not quite as easy when said sunrise occurs outside of your office window, which for me means that it is visible over the track that’s just behind our building. A bit less awe-inspiring when there are light poles silhouetted against the sunrise. 
But the thing is, it’s still beautiful – just in a different way. There is beauty in every day – there are awe-inspiring moments and things that make us wonder at the ways of the world. We just have to be open to seeing, hearing, experiencing them. 
This is sometimes the hardest part of coming back from vacation for me. I love my routine, yes, but getting back to the mundane is always a bit of a let-down. When it’s a much-anticipated trip, as these trips were this summer, it’s even harder. 
And yet. 
I know that I will find awe-inspiring moments in my everyday life. 
I know that I will find beauty in the everyday. 
I know that I will have more opportunities to experience the wonder in our amazing world, whether that’s tomorrow on the way to the bus stop or on the next trip “away”. 
Trying to keep my eyes and ears open… 

Messy families, vacation, and (more) recombobulation

We just finished a family vacation.
In the woods.
With 8 people (including 2 teens-almost-adults) who often have their differences. And I’m being charitable here.

My conclusion after our week of togetherness: Families are messy. And I would not change mine for the world.

But it is astonishing how quickly we revert into old patterns, interactions that mirror those from earlier in our lives.

Yet we all survived. I think we all enjoyed ourselves… with the possible exception of my spouse. (more on that later in the week, I am still processing that one and know I will need to do some writing here to help me do that…this trip really reminded me of how different we are, and raised still more questions about our long-term compatibility and whether we have grown into two very different people…)

I, personally, loved it. We were in one of my top 3 or 4 favorite places on earth.
And yet, that also made me feel responsible for making sure everyone else loved it, as well.
Even when it was clear that they were not as enamored of it as I was.
I also felt responsible for “duds”, which happened a few times on this trip.
So that made it a bit stressful.

But oh, oh the times of solitude I was able to enjoy.
The awe I felt – as always – when I came upon one of my old favorites, or a new one, and remembered why I love this place and others like it.

It was rejuvenating but stressful.
Fun but also challenging.
Relaxing but tiring.

In short, it was everything that family vacations are supposed to be. I would not have changed it for the world.

And now? Back to the real world, yet again. Easier this time than last…but still challenging. I’m working on regaining my equilibrium and, quite honestly, enjoying the silence and solitude of my everyday life. Introvert heaven.

But I carry with me more memories of a place that will always, always have my heart. Remembering the awe-inspiring views, and hoping to capture more of those moments in my everyday life. Remembering to look up and out, and not always at the computer screen or the book page. Taking deep breaths. Challenging myself physically and (remember, family trip) emotionally. Learning still more about who I am, what I want, and what I love. Bringing those pieces back into my everyday life… while anticipating the next escape to another favorite place.