I’ve had a really difficult time since the Supreme Court in our state struck down the safer-at-home order that was, well, keeping us all safer at home.

I’ve been frustrated and, quite frankly, angry at the people (I’m trying to be kind here) who are protesting such measures in my city.

I’m even more frustrated by people who won’t take the simple step of protecting others by keeping their distance and wearing masks.

You’re not doing these things just for yourself – you’re doing them for other people, too.

And as my frustration and anger built and grew, I realized that I needed to do something to shift my mindset. Because this was not healthy for me.

So I’ve been trying to cultivate compassion and understanding.

I spent some time yesterday reading poetry and other writings on compassion. One of the most striking and compelling was Maria Shriver’s post in her Sunday Paper. (If you don’t subscribe, I recommend it – just Google it. She writes something insightful and interesting and compelling every week, and I find myself agreeing with her more often than not…)

I can’t find the text to link to, specifically, but yesterday, she wrote:

“So maybe as we reflect on this long weekend, we can each remember that while we have gone through this pandemic together, we have all had very different experiences. Some have lost their lives or their livelihoods. Others have lost hope. Some are remembering loved ones who lost their lives in a war defending our freedoms. Others are just trying to get back to work so they can put food on the table for their families.

This may be the start of summer, but it’s an uncertain time for just about everyone I speak to, myself included. In fact, it’s a fragile time for so many. So, let’s be gentle with one another. We don’t really know what people have gone through these past few months. We don’t know if that person walking next to us is a Gold Star mom or dad or sibling, or the family member of a health care worker who lost their life keeping us safe.

This weekend let’s try to celebrate one another. Let’s seek to get to know one another. Let’s ask each other how the last few months have been and let others know we are here for them—not just this weekend, but for the long haul as well.

After all, what makes us the country we are is our humanity, our empathy, our kindness, and our effort to understand the other—regardless of whether they have the same opinion about opening up or wearing a mask as we do. If we can try to express gratitude for what we have, who we are, and what we can be as a nation, then we will have a memorable summer. Now won’t that be something to celebrate.”

I added the bold to highlight the text that really spoke to me. I’m trying to be more gentle with others now, to not call them, ahem, bad names under my breath when I’m frustrated. 
It’s hard. It’s really really hard. But it makes me feel a lot better than some NSFW muttering. That’s not to say that I’m 100% successful. But I figure part of the time is better than nothing, right? 
And, trying to remember the real meaning of Memorial Day today… to remember and honor all those who gave their lives for this country. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could honor them by living up to the ideals and vision they held so dear? I don’t have high hopes for that from, um, some people. But I do hope that we can get through this, somehow, and find ourselves worthy of their sacrifice. 


I hit a wall on Thursday.
I was just done.
Done with work, done with having to wear a mask to the grocery store and Target.
Done with people who were ignoring all of the safety precautions.
Done with the stores being out of what I want and like to buy.
I was done.
It was a rather whiny (and unproductive) day, perhaps not surprisingly.

I’ve done pretty well so far, with the self-isolation and safer at home rules. But I think we all have our limits, and apparently mine was reached on Thursday.

I whined a bit, complained a bit more, and finally got over myself.

It wasn’t fun, but I made it through. And then Friday was a huge mess for different reasons.


I took the weekend – a gloomy, rainy one – to reset. I actually did not do any substantive work on Sunday, a break that was much needed. I cleaned out file drawer #3 of 4, which was so satisfying (although WHY did we put our SSNs on literally EVERYTHING back in the day? Good grief, the pile of shredding I have…). I zoomed with my family. I read. I just… well, I kind of blobbed out, as my mother would say. And it was lovely.

Which reminded me that, well, we all have days like last Thursday (and Friday). Or weeks like that. And that’s okay. If every day was sunshine, rainbows and bunnies, then I think the good days would kind of lose their meaning.

Josh Radnor, in his most recent Museletter, wrote about the flow of reality… that we are borne along by the flow of reality, and any sense that we had – or have – control is just an illusion. It really resonated with me, the ultimate control freak. This time is reminding me that I am not in control of what happens, but I am in control of how I respond to it. Sometimes that’s whining (hopefully not that often…) and sometimes it’s disconnecting for a day. But the best days are the days when I at least TRY to respond in a positive way. To remind myself that no, I’m not in control, that the days are different from how they were before, but there are still good ones.

I don’t think there’s a tidy end to this, but… I hope you have a good day, or as good of a day as you can in whatever your current circumstances. I hope to continue my one-day streak over here…:)

Mountain Climbing

George Mallory, a mountaineer who led early British expeditions to Mount Everest in the 1920s, on the joy of climbing:
“People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is of no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron… If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”
I saw this quote in an email I received this week, and it was (yet again) exactly what I needed to read at the moment in time I read it. 
I’ve gotten bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of my job, of my life. Sometimes I think this is a coping mechanism for the pandemic – and it may be that, in part. But it also reminded me that I need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture – of my life, of my work, of, well, everything. Taking a moment (or, um, a day?) to reset, to remember my why, to set goals instead of writing out a task-focused to-do list is so important to helping me remember what I do, and why I do it, in all aspects of my life. 
So this weekend will be a regrouping of sorts…both personally and professionally. I want to flip my closet – finally! We are finally getting some consistently warmer temperatures and it is officially time to retire the long johns and wool sweaters. But I’m also going to take the time to set work-related goals for the summer. I need to focus, and be productive – but I also need to know what my goals are, the why behind the what. 
I have my annual review today and am (as always) anxious. I will be glad to have that over with, and to move on to summer. 
I hope you have a refreshing and restful weekend, and that you no longer need your wool sweaters (wherever you live…)

Weight(s), lifted

The weight of something lifted off your shoulders #zen | Words ...
I’ve had two big weights, no, actually three, lifted in the last few days. 
One each from work, family, and relationship. And… it’s kind of hard to get used to the sensation of *something* hanging over me all the time. 
The weight I carried for the longest time – the family-related one – was lifted on Monday. And since lifting it required that another family member accept something that I was proposing, well, it wasn’t at all certain that it would be lifted. But that person accepted what I said, met me more than halfway, and truly relieved my mind in terms of what was worrying me. 
For work, it was (finally) the end of semester, the end of grading papers, and finalizing grades. This was such an odd semester – with the switch to all-online in the middle, literally, and a lot of students who were unbelievably stressed trying to keep up with classes and their work while also dealing with family issues, illness, financial problems, internet connectivity issues, and on and on and on. I feel terrible for them, that they didn’t get the experience we wanted them to have, but they were universally positive and made the best of it. I’m amazed at their resilience and determination, and feeling really good about the future of my profession and our country, if this small sample is representative of this generation. 
And finally, the relationship weight. I was dithering and questioning myself and wondering whether I should actually just (literally) hit “send” on an email I’ve been working on for over a month. Seriously. Yesterday, I opened the email draft, and just… sent it. Otherwise, it would have nagged at me for, well, probably forever.
I feel like today – despite it being a Wednesday in the middle of the month, with no particular meaning – is a  bit of a fresh start. A chance to take a deep breath, recenter myself, and move ahead from here. The weather is finally starting to turn to spring (hey, it’s only mid-May, take your time!) and I’m feeling, well, hopeful. I need to hold on to that feeling, given all that’s still going on with COVID, the presidency, and all of the other issues and challenges in the world today. It’s overwhelming if I think too much about it, but I try to remember that we will get through. Things will look up, eventually, and we’ll all be able to take a breath and get a fresh start. 

Simple Gifts

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about life right now, about how different it is from “normal” life. I have a more pessimistic view than most, and I know this virus is going to be with us, and affecting what we can do, and how we can do it, for a long time to come. I get quite frustrated with those who persist in saying that “we’ve beaten it” and it’s time to just go back to how it was before. That will just get us into a deeper mess in the near future.

So I am choosing – no matter what happens in my state – to continue to live, for the most part, while distancing myself from as many people as possible. To continue to live this new, modified, sometimes surprising, life.

I haven’t had a lot of changes, like some. I don’t have kids. I don’t have anyone else in my space. I don’t even have a goldfish to worry about. I am (currently) employed, and working more than full time from home. I like my home, I like my routine, and honestly? Not much about that has been disrupted. And, for those things that have changed, I’ve adapted.

But there are some new things that I really like.
Frequent check ins with my nuclear family.
Checking in with a core group of fellow younger faculty members.
Texting with more than a few coworkers.
Having the opportunity to cook more during the day, and even (gasp) slightly shift what I eat.
Exercising differently.

I’ve realized that my life has become even simpler than it was before. And I like it. I’m finding some time to get rid of old papers, old baggage from my previous life. I’d been simplifying, but it seems to have accelerated a bit.

I’ve always loved the song, Simple Gifts. I never really paid attention to the lyrics (other than the first two lines) until today, when I listened to the unbelievably beautiful voice of Allison Krauss… who sang while Yo Yo Ma played the cello. Seriously, if you get a chance, check it out on YouTube (

And this time, I looked up the lyrics…

Simple Gifts ~ Judy Collins
‘Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight
‘Til by turning, turning, we come round right
What caught my eye this time were these lines: 
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
And all I could think was, yes. 
I feel as though I’m finally coming down where I ought to be. 
And finding myself in a place that does feel just right.