Like many in the world who are currently reflecting on all they have amid this pandemic, I am also realizing how much I have – how much to be grateful for. (Side note: grammar-wise, I hate ending  sentence with a preposition… lifelong habit, instilled by my English major-and-grammar queen mother… but sometimes it is just necessary!)

This is what I wrote to the grammar queen in an email the other day:

I am so grateful that I have money, can access food, know how to cook it, have stable housing, a car that works, a job that I can do very easily when I’m not in the office, internet service, a functioning washing machine and kitchen, a body that is strong and capable, and on and on and on. Seriously – I am more grateful every day for all that I have. Oh, and people who love me. Awww… 🙂

To that, I would add, of course, that I am beyond thankful for those who put themselves on the front lines of this every day and night (I was a night shift nurse, so I always have to give them a bit of a shout-out…). For those who put their lives at risk to save others. Who do it without complaint, without the right equipment (do. not. get. me. started.). Who do it in the face of what seem to be insurmountable odds – fighting a new enemy, one we are learning about every day. And there are those who support the front line workers – the people who clean the hospitals and clinics, who (I hate to say it) man the morgues, who clean the equipment that is needed to save lives. The people who stock the supply closets, who serve the food that keeps the docs, nurses, therapists, nurse practitioners, families, unit clerks, charge nurses, everyone, going. Without them, we would be in even worse straits. 
I still live in fear that one of my parents will become ill, or my mother in law. 
I am less worried about me, about my brother and sister in law and their kids. We’re young – our parents, unfortunately, are not. They’re strong, and resilient, of course, but… they’re in that vulnerable group. And it’s on my mind all the time. 
And then there’s this… how to balance the challenges of real life (relationship issues, other “stuff”) with the challenges of this new situation we find ourselves in? What’s okay? What’s not okay? 
It’s hard. And I think admitting that, and then trying to figure out how to do it, the best we can, is about all we CAN do. 
We adapt. We evolve. We’re human – it’s what we do. 
It will be interesting to see how things look on the other side. I am looking forward to summer, not only for the normal reasons of, you know, temps above 40 (:>), but because at that point, looking back, we’ll have a much different perspective on all of this. 
For me, though? I plan to maintain the gratitude and thankfulness. I have so much… 

Things I have learned about myself in the last week

Image result for quotes "always learning" About myself
I already know that I am a life long learner. I am, well, I wouldn’t say obsessed, necessarily, but I love learning new things. I love reading things that open my mind to new possibilities. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve recently enjoyed learning more about Stoicism – it’s so interesting when you find a philosophy that largely aligns with your own. 
But anyway, I digress. 
I have learned so much about myself in the last week.
Since pretty much everything changed – businesses closed or restricted their hours; we started working almost exclusively from home; our students were told they are not coming back to campus this semester, nor are they getting an in-person graduation.
The small changes that I have had to make in my life have been challenging, but I’ve been fortunate that so far they’ve been relatively minor. All that said, though, I have learned a lot about myself this week. 
  • I am truly a gym rat. Seriously. I love the gym. I don’t dislike exercising outside, but I vastly prefer working out in a gym. It fits much better with my personality – the need to set up parameters and then meet them on a daily basis. That’s harder when you’re kind of making it up as you go along, while accommodating the end (thank goodness) of winter in the upper Midwest. 
  • I am much stronger than I realized. Physically and mentally. While I am low-grade anxious most of the time (mostly related to the ability to find… vegetables, hummus, and salsa… we now know where my priorities lie), I have not devolved to panic. Physically? I’ve been doing new and different workouts and it’s tested my body in ways that I hadn’t tested it in a long time. I always thought I was too wimpy or weak to do many things. Turns out I was wrong. Huh. Imagine that. Ha! 
  • I thought I knew how much I detested the “president” of our country. I was wrong. I can’t say that I truly hate him, but… I hate his actions, his disregard for the medical and nursing professionals on the front lines, whom he has refused to help to the greatest extent of his abilities. I hate that he openly questions public health and infectious disease experts. I hate his ignorance, his racist attitudes, and his misogyny. I thought I knew the depths of my dislike… now I realize I had only skimmed the surface. He may be our downfall, unless we all realize what a complete moron he is and don’t follow his “advice” (although we already know that will not happen. 
  • I learned that even though I am the world’s introvertiest introvert (is that a phrase?) I still love to connect with people, even briefly, throughout the day. Not being able to see my colleagues and students in person is more difficult than I realized it would be. 
  • I learned that life does go on during social distancing, just in different ways. Thank goodness for the internets, for virtual connections in these tumultuous times. Thank goodness that the “president’s” term is almost over. Time passes. Things will eventually improve. Spring will come. 

Not caring what people think…but still caring a little…

Here’s the thing. I don’t typically care what others think of me. I know I’m weird. I know I’m different. I am comfortable enough with myself now to own that.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard when I get really bad reviews, or when someone doesn’t seem quite as enthused about something I’ve done than I am.

I’ve encountered this in 2 ways this week…

The first was during an appointment with my doctor. I have several chronic conditions – things that have been going on for years – and some health challenges related to that. Yet I’ve been making some real progress on those challenges, feeling better than I have in YEARS. And I was excited for her to see that my numbers were improving, that I was feeling better, and stronger, and more like myself than I have in months.

From her demeanor you would have thought that I was dying. She has this kind of, well, Eeyore personality. She rarely if ever smiles. She rarely if ever gives me positive feedback. You know, “You’re doing well, now what can you do to keep it up and improve further?” or something like that.

Instead, it’s more worry, more concern, more furrowed brows. I’ve contemplated saying something to her, or seeking another provider. But I also like the care I get, I like her med tech, I like the office and it’s close to my house. So do I just suck it up? Say something? I feel like if I say something then she’ll make an insincere effort. I guess I’ll just hang in there. But it makes for some pretty depressing appointments.

The other experience was more common in my academic world. I got a revise and resubmit on a manuscript. And I swear to you Reviewer 1 is the most petty person on the face of the planet. My initial response to the review was “What the HELL?” (they wanted us to completely redo it using another method. Um, no.)

While the review itself wasn’t much better on second read, I was able to deal with it and come up with a plan and how I will respond to the comments. I will also be sure to have someone read through my response to de-snarkify it before I send it in! (Better safe than sorry…)

This makes me think of my demeanor when interacting with others…colleagues, students, family, friends… How do they see me? Am I giving enough positive feedback? Am I coming across like Eeyore?

A little self-awareness is not a bad thing. I know I’m not the best listener out there – something I am actively working to improve (although failing pretty spectacularly at it…). Maybe these experiences will help me move that along faster. I can hope, right?

Relief, Sadness, Frustration, Fatigue

I have been saying this for weeks here at work, but man, it’s been a week.
I guess I need to change and say man, it’s been a month. And the only way it’s going to get better is to just get through it, again.

Nonstop meetings. Deadlines and stress and students and interviews and decisions and the whole mishmash of things that come with being in academia.

Yesterday was like a condensed version of the last month.

  • Today (Wednesday) I was supposed to be on a plane to California. The conference was canceled, thanks to COVID-19. I was disappointed but also, honestly, relieved. I do love staying home and while I’m disappointed that I won’t get to network and learn more about research being done by others who share my interests, I suspect they’ll find a way to help us interact and learn more from what should have / would have been presented.
  • Sadness. I also had to cancel a trip out East next week, which was for dual purposes, seeing my parents, and getting a long-awaited medical consult. But given the current COVID-19 situation, and the fact that my university actually asked people to refrain from leaving the county if they didn’t have to do so, plus my provider’s recommendation that I not travel (due to the condition for which I was getting the consult), plus my parents’ reluctance to have me expose myself to potential infection, well, it was kind of a no-brainer of a decision. But oh, I’m still so sad. While yes, part of the trip was the consult, the real reason I really wanted to go was to see my parents. They’ve had some major challenges this winter, and I just wanted to see them in person, hug them, and make sure they’re okay. (Or as okay as they can be…) Sigh.
  • Frustration. Ha. This one makes me laugh at myself, but I get so frustrated with a colleague who uses weird and unnecessary abbreviations in emails. Really, you can’t spell out “committee”? It takes you that much longer to type than “Ctte.” (Note the period, and also? I don’t get the two t’s. I’d do it “cmte”, but I also, um, wouldn’t abbreviate it. I also abbreviate the entire name of the committee as the “CC”.) Anyway, it’s such a small thing, but every time I read one of her emails, I get twitchy. Fortunately, it also makes me realize how ridiculous I am, and then I laugh at myself. 
  • And fatigue. Good grief, I’m getting old, but the time change on Sunday seems to have hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m sleeping hard, and I’m so, so ready to get in bed when bedtime rolls around that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I’m hoping this move on soon. 
On to another day of meetings meetings meetings + class. My parents wonder what I do all day? This: Meetings at 8, 9:30, 11, 12, and then 2 hours of class teaching at 2. Oh, and working on my “own stuff” in there too. Ha. 
Onward. Upward. Time to persevere and push on. 
Image result for quotes on perseverance
(fortunately, I have no shortage of stubbornness)

Squirrel Brain

Much of the time I’m able to completely focus on what needs to be done, and I get it done.
The only way out is through, in so many cases.

And then there are the (thankfully brief) times in my life when I have what I refer to as “squirrel brain”. You know, when a dog catches a glimpse of a squirrel and immediately their attention shifts to the squirrel, and then maybe to the shiny object just down the street, and oh, look, something smelly for me to get into!

In other words, my brain is all over the place recently.

That’s not to say that I can’t focus… but sometimes, I feel like I am focusing on the wrong things.

It’s a busy time at work. We have the COVID-19 virus to worry about. I’ve had to cancel 2 trips because of that – and now worry that I won’t be able to use the flight credits within a year (because, honestly, who knows how this thing will look in a year?). The election…and, honestly, the future of our country. My parents’ health and well-being. My relationship. My career – especially my upcoming annual review. Meetings. Interview for staff positions and faculty positions. More meetings.


And on and on it goes. I know that it will end, eventually, but man, it drives me bonkers until it does. I prefer my typically-focused self, and this squirrel brain self? Well, it feels like tight, itchy, underwear, to be honest. You know how when something just doesn’t fit right, and it’s all you can think about? That’s where I am with this.

Trying to get through to the end… and I guess in this case, the only way out really is through.

Image result for dog distracted by squirrel