Sciencewomen

Trying to find my renewal

The Scientiae theme for the anniversary edition is “renewal.” I’ve been in a crabby mood for a couple of days, and haven’t wanted to write anything about it because it would be crabby. But as the clock has ticked down, I realized that renewal is perhaps what I need to write about to help pull me out of my crabbiness.

The crabbiness arrived from a frustrating morning yesterday of wasting time trying to convince various folks that it was worth bothering to figure out who is on what listserv (our postdocs are regularly left out of the loop because they’re not on any listserv, and our grad students are strangely not on our department list); and then an afternoon grappling with an unpleasant surprise in terms of my teaching schedule for next year. While I may blog about this later, suffice it to say now that when you are negotiating your course reductions before starting a faculty position, be sure about whether you’re basing the reduction on credits or courses. (Darn.) In any event, much of the day was embroiled in drama of one kind or another, even though I had no meetings and was hoping to get some work done on my next paper. I eventually went home, and crabbily talked to my sister, mom and husband (in that order – I love video iChat), and went to bed still in a grumpy mood.

When I walked in this morning, it was through fresh snow. I had the nursery rhyme about Michael Finnagin stuck in my head, and decided to switch it for another earworm, but at least an adult earworm, and singing it as I walked through the snow proved heartening despite my grump.

Later, I walked to check out new Apple computers, and I saw first one robin, then another, then realized it was a whole flock of robins. They reminded me that spring is around the corner, even if we did get 2 inches of snow this morning (and it might be early because of global warming).

After spending much of the day in one meeting or another, I geared myself up for getting myself to my yoga class, something I started going to as one of those New Year’s Resolutions. I enjoyed myself despite myself.

And then I remembered what one of my colleagues had said at our departmental advance (like a retreat, but in a forward direction :-) ) that her hopes were for our departmental culture: that we should have “no bad days.”

I think it’s up to me to do what I can to have no bad days. I’ve been allowing myself to have a bad day, or maybe two. But perhaps it would be more productive for me to acknowledge that some lousy stuff is happening, acknowledge that it hurts or is otherwise arduous and I may not know how to deal with it, and then sequester it away from “me” rather than let it sink me into being a “bad day.”

I’m not sure I can do this change of mental paradigm. I’m positive I could not have done this last semester, with starting my new job and teaching two classes. But now I’m looking after myself better than I did last semester. I’m sleeping more. I’m eating better. I’m walking to work at least 3 times a week. I’m singing in a choir again. Hell, I’m even going to “church” once in a while. (This last thing is a BIG DEAL for me…) I’m hoping that all these balancing habits will help me build up enough of a buffer so that when my teaching schedule goes all to hell next year, I will have renewed myself sufficiently to be able to bear my work alongside caring for myself, rather than at the cost of.

So. What have we learned from two days of sulking? Spring is around the corner. Singing helps. Walking and yoga help. And while my days may not be good per se, they also don’t have to be “bad.”

Comments

  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    February 27, 2008

    So. What have we learned from two days of sulking? Spring is around the corner. Singing helps. Walking and yoga help. And while my days may not be good per se, they also don’t have to be “bad.”

    Yep! I agree with your conclusions! It does seem a universal task to sometimes have to figure out how to see the glass half full instead of half empty. The main point is, it is the same glass! It is your perception and attitude that have changed. Nicely, sometimes a good mood seems like it can snowball on itself and sharing that good mood with others can see it growing exponentially!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 steppen wolf
    February 27, 2008

    I think it helps when we start considering taking care of ourselves as actually being part of our job. And it does take some time and effort to figure that out.

    One cannot resist to prolonged stress periods without suffering serious health consequences in the long run, and possibly performing worse, unless one’s taking care of basic things (sleep, eating, exercise, personal “thinking time” and at least one hobby).

    It is time consuming, but so is the rest of our stuff.

    Good luck with your work and your life!

  3. #3 Rachel
    February 27, 2008

    I had a day like yours yesterday. I got through it on the mantra

    “sometimes the only way around is through”

    and did stuff step by step.

    Today was great!

  4. #4 Alice
    February 28, 2008

    Thanks, folks. And right on, Rachel! :-)

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