Friday, July 31, 2020

Surfacing

I am finally returning to "real life" (such as it is these days...) after my two-week immersion course.
 
I am fried. Mentally and physically. You wouldn't think that it would be hard to take an online two-week course, but wow. This one required full engagement, all day, every day. (I had to work through last weekend in order to not fall terribly behind in the course, or the rest of my life, so did not get any kind of time off...) 

And I love the content. I love learning. Perpetual studenthood really is my ultimate career goal. I also  chose to do this course - which, of course, I was supposed to attend in person (hello, 2020) - and I am so, so glad I did. I learned so much, and was reminded of what truly sets my heart on fire. I need those little reminders now and then. 

But oh, my. Facing the, well, rather daunting task of digging out makes me want to go back to the beginning and take the course over again. Ha. 

So, yeah, that's not an option. 

Which means that it's time to get started. Somehow, tomorrow is August 1st. Time, it seems, passes even faster when one is fully engaged with something and paying less attention to the minutiae of typical life. 

Off to tackle my inbox. And my to do list. And... yeah. I'm not going to think about all of that. Instead, I'll remember how wonderful the past two weeks were - even though I had to experience them from my apartment. I'll hold close the reminders of why I love what I do. And, hopefully, move forward with some renewed energy and passion. 

Time to get started. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Immersion

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your heart on fire ...

I love this quote. It's one of the first ones I put in one of my notebooks. At the time, it was a reminder to myself as I embarked on a new (and completely wrong for me) job. Now, though, it means even more - once I left that job, I realized that finding what I loved to do, not what other people thought I should do, was the most important thing. 

Many people didn't understand why I left that job - better pay, closer to family, less stressful (well, kind of....it was just stressful in different ways), what wasn't to like? 

Well, I didn't like the job. I couldn't pursue what set my soul on fire. 

So  I found a position where I could do that. And for this week and next, I get to immerse myself in a course that I love, on a topic that I love... I am reminded, every day, of why I got into this in the first place. Why I have made the (inexplicable to others) decisions I have throughout my life. Why I've always been the weirdo who loves a topic that most others in my position don't. 

Other to-do's fall by the wayside. I can focus solely on this every single day. For two whole weeks.

Off to set my soul on fire for another day...


Monday, July 20, 2020

Consumption

I am trying to be more mindful of what I consume and how much of it.

Not so much food, but news, information, images.... It is entirely possible for me to spend hours on the news each day. The endless cycles of rapidly-changing information. The "24 hour news cycle", which we are all sick of hearing about (and honestly, it seems as though it's now the "24 minute news cycle"...). Reports on this and that, and polls, and interviews, and articles that make my blood boil, and comments from 'leaders' that make me question the future of our country, our world...

I realized last week that I had gone entirely too far down the news rabbit hole, and I was spending far too much time there, and then fretting about it in my own head, for my own good.

It's so hard to change, though, and it's even harder when you spend your days, as I do, in front of a computer. Where the news, the headlines, the information - it's all just a quick click away. So I am doing my best. I am trying to check in on those things that feed me - emails from friends and family. Instagram (I've been pretty good about curating my feed there to be positive and uplifting, not the, um, depthless rabbit hole of FB...). Getting out for walks without my phone - yes, without my phone. Reading.

It's hard. I want to stay informed. I am so invested in everything going on... politics, pandemic, racial inequities... I am desperate for change, for a shift in perspective... and yet, I can't pin all my hopes on that, because what if...?

So I try to remind myself that I can only do what I can do. I try to remember that endless reading of headlines and news stories probably won't change the course of human history (boy, would THAT be interesting). And I try to remember that "...whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should" (Max Erhmann, Desiderata).

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Home

I've been thinking a lot about home, and what home means to me, the last few days.

I believe it was prompted by this quote, for which I do not have attribution...

"These places we call home, the communities that challenge and grow us, will exist long after we are gone. But never in the way we experience them today. It always seems there is a before and after, but really, our experience is always in the middle… after something it once was and before the thing it will become."

So... what is home to me? The meaning has changed so many times throughout my life, I've really had many homes. The place where I grew up... the places I have lived and loved... the places I have only visited but connect with so deeply that they seem like home. And, when did my parents' home stop being my home? That was the big one for me, growing up, a big shift in my thinking, realizing that when I went back to visit them, I wasn't going home I was going to visit them at their home, where I grew up. What a change in thinking that is... and I don't know if everyone experiences it. 

Would it be different if I had never left? If I had moved home after college and worked in the place where I grew up? Probably. 

But I didn't do that. I stayed in Philadelphia, where I went to college, which honestly never felt like home to me. During those few years, when I went to my parents' house, I still referred to it as "going home for the weekend". The big change came when I became a travel nurse, and got to live and work in new places. Places I had always wanted to see... Northern California. Southern California. Seattle. It's funny, the cities in CA were fun, but never home. But Seattle, and the entire Pacific Northwest, was the first place that I thought of as home other than my parents' town. That was when my language shifted, when I started saying that I was coming "back for a visit" or "visiting [town]" instead of "coming home for Christmas". 

I only lived there for 9 months, then relocated again to the east coast. I lived there for 2 and a half years, but it never felt like home. I never felt that sense of belonging, that this was the place for me. And so when I picked up and moved to Iowa (that was a change...) for more school? Well, let's just say I was more surprised than anyone when I quickly started thinking of Iowa as home. Iowa? Seriously? The midwest? I loved the coasts, water, oceans... how could I think of a landlocked state, with nary an ocean in sight, as home? 

And yet I did. I had to leave there for a few years (more time out east... sigh...) before returning for a prolonged period of time, and the entire time I was away, it felt like something in my life was just, well, off kilter. I loved being near family, I loved seeing them on the weekends, but I wasn't "home". Finally returning to the midwest after 3 long years was like putting the final piece in the puzzle of my life. There have been other moves since then, but I am finally back and hope to be here for a good long time.

Anyway, all of that to say that the meaning of home for me has clearly changed over time. Those are just the places I've lived. There are other places I love - in the midwest, in the northeast - that I consider homes of my heart. Where I have traveled - sometimes for extended periods of time - but haven't lived and worked. And yet, they call to me. I feel like I belong. My body takes a deep breath and I feel at peace, the way I do when I am home, now. 

Why do these places call to us? Why do some call to me, and others don't feel the same connection I do? These unique connections to the places we feel at home.

There is a song in the movie Michael, sung by Bonnie Raitt, that often goes through my head. In the chorus, she sings: 

Feels like home to me, feels like home to me,
Feels like I'm on my way back where I come from.
Feels like home to me, feels like home to me,
Feels like I'm on my way back where I belong.

She's singing about a person, about feeling at home with them. But to me, this is about places. Home, to me, is where I belong. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Can someone hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, please?

3d reset button stock illustration. Illustration of modern - 22085665

Right now I don't need the old "Easy" button from the commercials years ago. I need the reset button. 

It's been a hard few weeks, and it's not that it's one BIG thing. It's just a bunch of things piling up and that feeling like I can't dig out from under them. It's feeling like I can never catch up, that this summer is wasted, that the fall semester will be here before I know it, and that I will never get where I want to go in life.  

It's not a fun feeling. And I hate being in this gloom-and-doom funk. I truly, truly hate it. I know that it comes, periodically, when one works in academia, and when one's success is driven (at least in part) by others' decisions and actions. By their decisions to offer you funding (or not). By accepting a manuscript for publication (or not). By voting to give you tenure (or not). 

And this time, I'm not sure how to get out of it. Thanks to the pandemic and spiking cases here in my area, I really can't GO anywhere. I can't even see the one kind-of-family member who lives near here, as I don't know what they have been doing, or to whom (or what) they've been exposed. I'm still at home most of the time, and it's starting to feel like I'll never get out of here. I know a lot of people are going through the same things, and I have no right to complain. I'm safe, I have a job, and food, and health insurance. But some days, when the little things pile up, it's hard to look past the pile and see the good things. It can be hard to be grateful. 

Usually I just push through these times by working hard, and eventually I find a path out of the canyon. Given the length of my to do list (ha) I'm hoping that the same approach works this time. That, and maybe a short trip for some frozen custard this weekend. The drive (and, let's be real, the custard!) would probably go a long way to helping me mentally reset. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Mirrors


I've had to look in a few metaphorical mirrors recently, and it hasn't been the most comfortable experience, to be honest. I actually dislike regular mirrors. I've never been someone who pays much attention to how they look. I tend to make sure there isn't anything awful in my teeth, that my hair isn't standing on end (never a guarantee) and then I figure I'm good.

So, when I had to see myself in 2 different types of mirrors recently, I was already outside of my comfort zone because, well, mirrors. Not my favorite. 

The first was when I took the Enneagram test. I think I referred to this in an earlier post - but my therapist recommended it as a way of better understanding my tendencies and areas for growth. I am a 1/6 (my scores were only one point away from each other). I read the 6 information first, and I admit that I was a bit reactive reading it. As in, thinking "that's not me!" However, there were also a lot of things that really rang true, as well. Not necessarily nice things - there are a lot of references to anxiety and routines (which really does describe me well) - things that are true of me. I felt as though I aligned much more with the description of the 1, though, which is why I put that number first. And it was still uncomfortable - not quite as much as with the description of the 6, but there were still some challenging revelations.

That's the problem with these tests, for me. I tend to get defensive and then fail to recognize the opportunities for growth that they can help me identify. Fortunately, I have someone working through it with me, and I think that will help tremendously. I don't need to change who I am, but I do need to adapt and grow... staying stagnant is not really an option. 

The other mirror was the result of starting to read White Fragility due to everything that's been going on in the US for almost a month now. I realized that I need to educate myself, and this was the book that resonated with me the most when I read the samples. (The next one up is How to Be an Anti-Racist.) 

And wow. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has had this reaction, but again, I found myself getting defensive. But then, as the author fully acknowledges that a lot of white people DO get defensive when hearing about racism and structural inequality... I started to realize that what I have done throughout my life is what white people always do. I wasn't special. Not at all. The things I told myself about "not being a racist" were the same things that pretty much all white people tell themselves. 

I thought I was "above all that". I thought because I worked with and cared for a diverse group of people and patients and families that of course I was not racist! 

I failed to recognize the systemic structures that led to me being who I am. That led to the inequality that has pervaded American life throughout its history. 

I'm not finished with the book yet. And I've probably misstated something here... If so, I'm sorry (and if I figure out that I did misstate something, I'll come back and correct it, of course). 

So, mirrors. Still not my favorite. But these two mirrors will, I hope, help me grow. Maybe change (a little). And that wouldn't be a bad thing.


                                  7 Questions for Self Reflection To Push You Towards Greatness ...


Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday randomness

I don't have a quote for this one... but I do have a lot of random thoughts in my head. Things I'd share with a roommate / significant other, you know, if I had one living with me.

And that brings me to the first random thought, actually.
1. I'm not a very touchy-feely person. At all. I don't know (or remember, if I've ever done the test) my love language, but I can tell you without question that it is not physical touch. I don't mind a good hug - but only from certain people. I don't crave physical contact, as a general rule.

But.

I've been self-isolating (and isolated, honestly) since March 13. It's now June 12. I think we can all do the math... three months, without another person I know well anywhere near me. I haven't shared my space - and I am grateful for that, honestly. But even I am starting to think that, you know? It would be nice to get a hug. The problem? I'm also struggling with a lot of anxiety around doing more, getting out more, seeing people. I know I'm going to need to start small, but even breaking out of my current routine to go to a store that's not an essential store is really hard (I still haven't done it). I should probably just rip the band aid off and do it.

It makes me wonder what I will do when and if I am able to see my mother in law, or my spouse. I have a feeling it's going to be a rather anxiety provoking moment for me.

Which relates to...

2. I took the enneagram test, which I know is a more popular "personality" test these days. Recommended by my therapist (it's a long story). I haven't read the details, but I think I'm primarily a 6? And maybe a 1? Anyway -the key word that keeps jumping out at me for one of my types is the word "anxious". And yes, that would be me. I'm interested to see how it frames that anxiety, though. Is it something I can use to grow? I certainly hope so.

3. I have new upstairs neighbors.
They are noisy.
I am not happy.
I don't know what they are rolling across the floor, but it's LOUD and they were doing it at 12:30 am. As in, half an hour after midnight.
They also stomp.
I've been patient, but they've been here 2 weeks now. Time to settle down and get some freaking rugs. I plan on saying something to the apartment manager today. Sigh.
Yes, I'm "that" tenant, apparently.

4. There is a car packed with random stuff - looks like someone is moving? - that has been parked outside my apartment for the last 3 weeks. I cannot figure it out.

5. My niece graduates from high school today. Virtually. Which means that, for once, I can actually participate in one of her milestone events. What sucks is that her senior year has, well, completely sucked. She's amazing, though - has been baking up a storm and really impressing the heck out of all of us with her patience and ability to just roll with it. I am so insanely proud of her - and I cannot believe she is heading to college next year. I don't have kids of my own, and I just love seeing how she and her brother have matured into really excellent people. It makes me so hopeful for the future.

And that seems to be the end of my random thoughts...

I know this is making the rounds, but it resonated with me and maybe it will with you, too...