This post brought to you by the letter F… (but don’t worry, no swearing here!)

First (ha), I’d like to thank the wonderful person who invented fleece. I know that it may not be the most environmentally friendly fabric, but in winter here in the upper Midwest, there is nothing like a fleece-lined pair of leggings to make my day better. I even have fleece pajamas. More than one pair, if we’re being honest. Pair the fleece with fuzzy socks and I’m in heaven.

On the flip side, I’ve been dealing with some nagging fatigue. I’m hoping that it’s just my usual end-of-semester fatigue (15 weeks is a long time… add in the pandemic and all that goes along with that, and, well, it’s a recipe for wanting more zzz’s than usual). The problem, for me, is that I seem constitutionally incapable of sleeping more than an hour past my usual (very very early) wake up time. I’m also not a napper. (Note: Those two conditions do not hold if I am well and truly sick, but if I’m just tired, well, nope.) This year seems particularly acute, and I suspect that COVID-related fatigue and frustration have something to do with it. I’m also freaking out (hey, another f!) about next semester, during which I will teach two courses (currently in person, sigh), and take two courses myself. It could get interesting about, oh, March or so. I’ll have to be on guard and make sure that I’m taking sufficient time away.

Family. I was supposed to drive east to see my family yesterday. It didn’t happen. I wound up canceling the trip last week out of an abundance of caution. I think my parents were a bit surprised, but I’ve also been the most cautious family member throughout this thing. With hospitalizations skyrocketing again, ICUs and hospitals full, and variable risk depending on geographic location, I just did not want to risk it. So it will be another solo Christmas. That said, this year, perhaps I’ll take San’s suggestion and put a YouTube yule log on my computer. 🙂

I admit to a fair amount of frustration at the persistent inability of Americans to just do what they should have been doing all along. I’m not surprised, of course, but I am frustrated. This did not have to happen. And it’s going to be worse in a few weeks. I’m also frustrated that the organizers of a course I am taking this spring have not moved the planned half-day meeting (yes, half-day – from 7-12) that is currently scheduled to take place in Florida. In January. I’ll let you ponder that one for a while. And with apologies to Stephany, to be honest, Florida is the LAST place I want to be now, let alone a month from now when omicron is rampaging through the population. Here’s hoping they make a decision soon…

I am finally writing this post (it’s been brewing since Friday, of course!), the work-related meetings are finally winding down in anticipation of a slower week and a half, and I also finally finished my grant submissions for the semester. Whew. It’ll be a miracle if either of them gets funded… which brings me to the next “f”…

Thus far, my attempts at obtaining external funding have been futile. I’ve put in what seems like countless applications, and get similar feedback each time. Yet, when I share that feedback with my senior colleagues and mentors, they are stunned, because, to them, the studies are more than worth funding. So while it’s been futile, it’s also been immensely frustrating. I’m clearly not getting my point across as clearly as I need to, but… my mentors can’t give me much advice on what to change because they think that the proposals are good. So, yeah. We’ll see how this semester’s submissions go.

Finally, I just want to say, again, how much fun I am having focusing on a smaller set of blogs whose owners are just awesome people. Those of you who take the time to read my intermittent ramblings have really made my online life so much more enjoyable. I look forward to seeing what you and your families are up to, I worry when I don’t see posts for a period of time, and I feel like I’ve finally found a small online community that I truly enjoy. So thank you for being here, and for tolerating my quirks and weirdnesses. 🙂

Radiant suggestion

I can’t come up with a title – hopefully something will come to me after I write this out! (Edited to add: Yep.) I wasn’t going to take the time to write a post this morning but I’ve wanted to write this since over the weekend, and as it’s now Tuesday, well, it’s time.

I’ve been in a funk, and for no good reason. My teaching load is not heavy this semester, so I’m not teaching and grading and dealing with student questions – all the things that go along with trying to be a good professor. I’ve been focusing on research in progress and research in development, as well as students’ proposals, and so my mind has been consumed with the details of grant submissions and the challenges of making your ideas clear and interesting within a very restricted number of pages.

And as much as I love research, I think this is the reason for my fun. Even I need a break from it periodically. I haven’t had that recently -it’s been gogogo since, well, at least 6 weeks ago. I’m definitely to blame, too, since I rarely if ever take enough time away from work to give my brain a break. Turns out you can really put yourself into a funk when you do that.

Yet here I am – at a point when stepping away for an entire day or even a half day will get me so far behind that I may never catch up. Once I realized yesterday just how bad things had gotten, I decided to try to build small joys into my day. Last evening, I streamed part of a beautiful Christmas concert while I ate and then stretched after my shower. This morning, I took a slightly longer shower than usual, and I plan to indulge in an extra cup of coffee to make sure I’m fueled up for another long day.

Tiny things, but they make me feel a little calmer, a little more relaxed.

And this weekend, I tried to get back into my habit of reading poetry or something, well, “inspiring” (I know, so specific…ha) daily. Of course the universe had a bit of a message for me.

Flipping through Mary Oliver’s Upstream, which is a book of essays (Side note: I much prefer her poems but her essays are quite good as well), the following jumped off the page, just as I was about to close the book and put it aside:

“How wonderful that the universe is beautiful in so many places and in so many ways. But also the universe is brisk and businesslike, and no doubt does not give its delicate landscapes or its thunderous displays of power, and perhaps perception, too, for our sakes or our improvement. Nevertheless, its intonations are our best tonics, if we would take them. For the universe is full of radiant suggestion. For whatever reason, the heart cannot separate the world’s appearance and actions from morality and valor, and the power of every idea is intensified, if not actually created, by its expression in substance. Over and over in the butterfly we see the idea of transcendence. In the forest we see not the inert but the aspiring. In water that departs forever and forever returns, we experience eternity.”

What a lovely sentiment to ponder on a dark December morning… that the universe is full of radiant suggestion. I hope the suggestions the universe sends to you this week are inspiring and uplifting. I’m trying to hold on to those feelings as I head into my Tuesday. <3