When I began to blog almost 5 years ago, I wanted to share stories of my graduate school experience with other women scientists in the hopes that we could form a virtual support network for each other. Back then it took me weeks to find even one other woman doing the same thing with a blog. Today, there is a whole community of women blogging about their experiences in science and engineering, from undergraduates to tenured faculty. A google search of “woman science blog” or similar will point to some prominent blogs and from there a newbie blog reader can use blog rolls and comment threads to find the panopoly of bloggers having more intimate conversations about life, work, and the precarious juggling act of “having it all.”
I really like my job. I love doing research with my students and on my own. I love reading papers, writing papers, and even writing proposals. I get so excited about my science. I love teaching my classes, even if I do have to give them grades at the end. I love mentoring my seven graduate students and the assorted others who stop by my office on a regular basis. I am finding more opportunities to work on mentoring and diversity issues as part of my service commitments. I have no doubt that I am truly in the right job for me.
I really love my daughter. Minnow is almost three. She is enormously enthusiastic and creative, and she is becoming more independent with each passing day. Her favorite things are books, puzzles, blocks, stickers, running around with her friends, and exploring the outdoors. She is growing so rapidly that her selection of favorite books and toys changes with each passing week. She loves to tell stories with me at bedtime – we cooperatively spin tales about the adventures we have had or the ones we will have soon. She loves dragons. She’s decided that science is cool and can be heard multiple times per day calling for me to come do science with her. Of course, her definition of science is a little shaky, but it’s a start. When she grows up, she’s decided that she wants to be a “mommy and a teacher and a scientist” just like her mommy and grandma. I tell her she can be whatever she wants.
I declared my theme for 2009 to be “Sustainability”, as in “I’m going to focus on trying to live my life that is sustainable in the long run for my body, my mental health, my family and my career.” While I wouldn’t say that I’ve achieved total sustainable nirvana, I’ve made a series of small and large decisions over the past year that have put me on a path that is much healthier for me and those around me. Some of those decisions are associated with a great deal of loss, but oddly enough I am much happier now than I had been for much of the preceding five years.
For 2010, my chosen theme is “Peace and Joy.”
I want to embrace my current happiness and joyously luxuriate in all of the simple pleasures of life. A student thanking me for being a good teacher. Getting new data in hand that puts new ideas in my head. Minnow telling me that I am terrific. Phone calls and emails from good friends. The profound joyousness of having a job I like and a daughter that I love in a community where I am slowly setting roots.
There’s a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr that I’ve always liked:
God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
I’m learning to accept that life doesn’t always work out exactly the way I once planned. I need to keep making peace with my life that way it is, because that peace is what will help me stay joyous.
Over the past year, I’ve increasingly felt distanced from this blog space. I’ve chosen not to share some important parts of my personal and professional life here, and since my source material was originally my own stories, in some ways I’ve cut off my own tongue. I can still share less-personal things, but when that’s all I write about, blogging becomes more of an obligation and less of a release. It becomes more of a droning chant and less of a lyrical melody. On top of that, I know that if my blog voice goes mute, there will still be a tremendous orchestra of people blogging about the common and diverse experiences of women in STEM and adventures in academia. And that’s a supremely comforting thought.
This will be my last post as SciWo or ScienceWoman. I’ve come to peace with the realization that blogging as SciWo is no longer a source of joy for me. I treasure the true friendships I share with many of you, but I know that we can continue to revel in and grow those friendships even without this blog. For her own reasons, Alice has also decided to stop blogging in this space, and so sciencewomen will go dark. Our archives will be here for as long as it pleases the benevolent overlords, but you won’t see new material in this space or with these voices.
The past five years have been a wonderful journey, and I am supremely happy to have shared it with you and to offer whatever little insights I have earned, but most of all to have become part of a large and diverse community of women and scientists who are also being the change we want to see.