Friday, November 20, 2020

Emerging from the depths

So, yeah. I wrote that post title on Sunday. 

Just goes to show how accurately I predicted my week. As in, I was completely and totally wrong. The depths - of work, of worrying about our country and its future, of worrying about other "life things" - are still very much pulling me in, despite my best efforts to extract myself. 

When I wrote that title, I was focusing mostly on work. I thought I was past the nuttiest time of the semester, as I had finished the vast majority of my guest lectures, wrapped up one course, and only had one remaining. And then I realized just how much there still is for that one course. Not to mention my service on multiple committees and groups. So yeah, not quite done yet. 

I am thrilled with the outcome of the presidential election (might as well just put it out there). The last four years have been interminable for those of us who could not believe that a completely unqualified toddler with no experience, or even interest, in serving the country could be elected president over such a vastly better qualified and competent candidate. And yet. Here we are. Sunday, I was feeling pretty good. Today? I'm not so sure. I left a comment on Susanne's blog that commended her for stepping away from news and social media... for I find myself doom scrolling and seeking any glimmers of hope that T*****'s attempts to steal a lawful election from the voters will fail. I know this is bad - for my mental health and for getting all that other stuff I referred to up there ^^^. I'm working on it. But it is hard. I want to believe this will all come out right in the end, but I could have done without the prolonged anxiety. Taking another deep breath this morning, willing myself to put down my phone, and focus on what I CAN do. Obsessing about Michigan a, won't change anything, and b, just makes me anxious. 

I found this quote from John Steinbeck in an email from ... last week? I think? From James Clear. His 3-2-1 newsletter is one of the best out there, if you are looking for a weekly dose of insight. It helps... to remember we have come to this point before and emerged unscathed. I have to have hope that will happen again. 

Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. 
~John Steinbeck

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Living with the uncertainties

For me, more than anything else, 2020 has reminded me that life is uncertain, that we can plan, and predict, and anticipate as much as we want, only to have the universe laugh in our faces. I imagine many people have had the same realization. 

I am a planner. Always have been. Of course, there have been major shifts along the way, and unanticipated challenges and choices. But for the most part? I like knowing what's going to happen, in work, in life, and (I'll even go out on a limb here) in the world. 

Yet so much of life is unpredictable, filled with the unexpected. Personally, professionally, nationally, globally. I've seen so many bloggers write about how they could have never anticipated a year ago that we'd be in the situation(s) we're in right now. 

Perhaps a year of such upheaval and change serves to remind us that these little earthquakes occur with startling regularity in all of our lives. That we should never, really, take anything for granted. We have what we have right now - that is all we are guaranteed. Anything can - and will  - change in a moment. It's reminded me, personally, that I should never pass up the opportunity to hug someone... to tell people I love them... to connect when we can. Not to get too morbid here, but the phone call or Zoom hang out that I decline today may be my last opportunity to be with someone, albeit virtually.  

Will this make me into someone who never plans? Who follows their whims of the moment? I doubt it. It has, however, reminded me of the importance of the moment, of never taking things for granted, of always hugging, and saying I love you. I hope you have taken those opportunities, too. 

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be  wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and  living our lives.” —Maya Angelou

Friday, November 6, 2020

The one thing I know I excel at is self-doubt

Edited to add: I know that we are in the middle of one of the most stressful weeks of the year, and one of the most worrisome times for our country since its founding. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't focused on that, because my anxiety over the US election outcome is constant and extreme. But... I just really needed to think about something else this morning. I will likely write something about the election in the near future, but for today... well, I just wanted (and needed) to do a bit of navel-gazing. Thanks for understanding. 


I am really, really excellent at doubting myself. 

Personally, professionally, heck, even in my running. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I go into pretty much any situation thinking that I won't measure up, or I won't succeed.

Submitting that grant? No way it gets funded. 

Submitting a manuscript? It'll be rejected. 

Teaching a class? They'll probably hate the way you do it. 

Going for a run? You probably won't make it more than a couple of miles. 

It's become even more evident in this (continuing) time of isolation. And I do wonder how I got to be this way. Modesty and humility were characteristics that my parents instilled in me, but I do wonder, do I take it too far? (The answer is probably yes...) 

We were taught never to toot our own horns, as it were. But I think I've taken that and let it mutate into persistent self-doubt. 

Which can make me kind of an Eeyore in my daily life, to be honest. One time, I'd like to start a project assuming - no, knowing - that it will be successful. I'd like to start a class, or a guest lecture, and think that the students will appreciate the hard work and preparation I put in, and that they'll enjoy the discussion and content. 

Yet I'm not sure how, exactly, one goes about changing one's mindset on these things. I can read all the Brene Brown I want, but if I don't internalize it, then it's not super-helpful. Is it a matter of persistence and perseverance? Reframing? 

I wish I knew, but I am hoping to figure it out. Soon. It's frustrating enough when others question us... It's next level annoying when we do it to ourselves. I don't want to look for external validation - I'd like to be confident enough, sure enough in myself and my contributions to work, society, life, that I don't need that external validation to support my own recognition of my value. 

Lots to think about. And probably some more reading. (Any recommendations?) Some more reflection. I've lived with this long enough. I don't want to live like this for the rest of my life. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

The space between

I'm not even sure what to write today. Living in a swing state in a nation on the precipice of the most consequential election of my lifetime, I feel as though I'm madly bouncing between hope and despair. 

I'm trying to hold on to the hope, but then think that I can't be too hopeful, because 2016...

Then I get sucked into the downward spiral of panic and worry and frustration and anger... and I know that isn't good, either. 

So I'm trying - not succeeding, mind you - but trying to find that space in between. The space where I think I need to TRY to be for the next several days - striving for calm, trying not to panic, trying not to get my hopes up. In the middle of it all, as it were. 

And yet - 

I'm so tired of being filled with rage every time I look at the headlines. 

I'm tired of the shattering of norms. 

I'm tired of the lies, the wholesale repudiation of science, knowledge, and truth. 

I'm tired of feeling like I'm fighting against a rising tide with every one of my actions. 

Even though I'm tired now, I know those who have had to deal with so much more are even more exhausted. I know the fight will not be over, whatever the outcome. 

So I seek the calm in between in order to gain strength for the ongoing fight. 

If you live in the US, I hope that you are taking care of yourself in whatever way you need to. I'll be doing the same over here. Holding hope in one hand and worry in the other.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


"We do make our history [and] we are making it now — today — by the choices that shape our course...One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

(source: Brain Pickings

One week to go. Until the most consequential election day in my lifetime. I have already voted. I know how I want this country to be, and it's not how it is right now. You may not agree with me, and that's fine. But I stand firm in my conviction that we need to be better than this. 

It's going to be an interesting week, for all of us. I just hope that we come out intact on the other side. 

Take care of yourselves. I'll try to do the same over here. 

Monday, October 19, 2020


 "Do not overlook the little joys." ~ Hermann Hesse

That may seem to be an odd quote to put at the beginning of a post on juggling all of the various... things... that life throws at us on a daily basis. But it does remind me that, even in the midst of trying to keep what seems like 15 balls in the air, there are little joys. 

I worked all weekend, again, which has been my "normal" for the past ... 3? weekends? I think? It's that time of year, and like I always do, I took on too much. Sigh. This is my chronic problem. I love what I do -but sometimes I just, well, say yes a bit too much. But I'd rather say yes to most of these opportunities than no, so... yeah. It's a challenge. 

Yet there were small joys in the day yesterday ... a text from my mother while she and my dad were hiking with my brother and his family. Pictures from my dad from said hike. Funny texts in reply from my brother and SIL. Music in the morning. Making a batch of granola. Little things that made me smile throughout the day, even when I wondered how I'd get it all done. (Spoiler: One thing isn't *quite* done, and I'm in no way prepared for the week, but...) 

So I'm trying to remind myself to look for these little joys, even in the middle of the annoyances and frustrations of daily life. A good message - a good reminder - always.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


I am so grateful to be where I am today instead of where I was last year at this time. 

Let me explain a bit. While I think I had this blog at the time (I'm pretty sure...), I don't remember how much I shared, if at all. I may not have blogged at all at the time, now that I think about it. Just existing was enough. 

I was really sick with an infection about a year ago. The details aren't important, but I'll just say that it involved multiple courses of antibiotics, a hospitalization (and IV antibiotics) barely avoided, multiple visits to my health care providers, and parents who were so worried that they flew 1500 miles for a one and a half day visit. I lost more than 15 pounds - that I couldn't afford to lose - had no energy, and still had to do my more-than-full-time job, as well as try to keep my life running. 

I could barely move off the couch some mornings. I slept more than 9 hours a night and was still exhausted. Even thinking about any type of exercise - walking, let alone running - made me laugh, it was so unthinkable. 

But I kicked it - with the help of modern medicine. And now, a year later, my leg and foot may look different due to the long-term effects of all of this, I am so so grateful to be healthy. I am so grateful to be able to run. To be able to stay awake for a full day without having to rest on the couch multiple times (or, honestly, put my head on the desk). To be able to fully focus on my work and my life without feeling like I am moving through thick mud, with a rope around my waist pulling me back. 

I am so grateful. 

Emerging from the depths

So, yeah. I wrote that post title on Sunday.  Just goes to show how accurately I predicted my week. As in, I was completely and totally wron...