Sadness, Peace and Joy

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgWhen 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.

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Thank you for sharing as long as you have, you will be missed.

This was a great post, thank you.
I will miss you, you were a great source of inspiration for me. I found your blog when I got pregnant the first time and I was looking for other women scientists facing the same experience and related doubts and challenges. I have been reading your blog every day since then and it has made a difference to me. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Thanks for sharing your blog. Yours was the first blog I started reading years ago, so today it feels like I am loosing a friend. Good luck, you will be missed.

I'd post a valentine for you, but I know you already got it.

Be well, live joyfully, peace to you.

Thank you for the change you have been.

Oh SciWo, how I will miss you and Alice. In fact, I don't have anything useful to write in this comment because I am just so at a loss right now. Your voice has been very important to me.

That said, I have found our friendship to be incredibly important to me outside of this blog space and I can't help but agree with you. You are smart and there is lots going on, and why continue to write in a space where you can't fully express yourself?

You are brilliant and well-loved by all of us, and I hope you'll continue to participate in the women in science blogosphere for many years to come :). You'll find your own way that makes sense for you.

Hugs to you and Minnow!

You and Alice will both be missed. I admire you both for your tenacity to blog from the thick of things - I couldn't even keep up my blogging beyond 2-3 modest posts.

Thanks for writing a great blog. I hope public communication will remain a part of our life and hopefully increase again in the future. As a dad whose daughter had a 6 month head start on Minnow, it's been fun hearing the milestones over the years.

Thanks for your great blog. You will be missed...but I totally understand. ((Hugs))and best wishes to you and Alic.

By A. non mouse (not verified) on 09 Dec 2009 #permalink

I totally understand your decision. Like many others have said, you and Alice were two of the first voices I found in the blogosphere that sounded like me, and who I wanted to be, and I have learned tremendously from both of you. Our research interests actually are fairly similar, it turns out, and I hope that I'll run across you both in the internet and in the broader science world in the future. Good luck in everything to both of you!

By hydropsyche (not verified) on 09 Dec 2009 #permalink

Oh noes! I must have missed your post coming up while I was writing my note to Alice. I had not been aware that you were both closing up shop.

This was a lovely post - although I've lost touch with you a bit, I've been sending you and Minnow good thoughts. I am so happy that things appear to be working out well for you in your academic position and that is bringing you job, even to the point of setting down roots. I wish for nothing more than happiness for you and the budding young scientist. The PharmKid and I look forward to our next afternoon of examining bugs and all manner of other creatures.

As I said to Alice, life evolves and different activities serve purposes for us internally and externally at different times in our lives and careers. You have a standing invitation to come over to blog at Terra Sigillata any time you have need to an outlet to share any of your stories or lessons for our community.

The Serenity Prayer has come to have a whole new meaning for me this year so it is lovely that you bring it up in the context of your departure from this blog. You have been an inspiration and I wish you great peace and happiness.

I'm sad to see you go! But, I understand and respect your and Alice's decision. I'm going to miss your blog. Best wishes to the both of you.

Its hard to blog when you can't use it as the release it was once intended for. I really enjoyed your posts. You've connected me with so many wonderful science bloggers. You've given me hope and honesty. I wish you well in your life. Lots of hugs to you, alice and minnow.

I've been with you (lurking usually, but here!) almost since the beginning. Your tales of grad school were helpful to me, still slogging it out but hopefully graduating soon, and it is so reassuring to know that it does all work out eventually. Maybe not the way we expect, but somehow. Best of luck in your career and family and we will miss you.

I'm saddened by this news, but I can understand why you both have decided to move on from this blog. Like many others have said, this was one of the first "women in science" blogs I started to read, and you both influenced my decision to start my own blog.

I will keep both of you in my thoughts, and appreciate all the advice and information you have given us all over the years. Good luck to you both.

I will miss your blog, but take comfort in knowing that it will be one less obligation for you to keep up. I understand your decision to keep personal issues close for the time being, but the day-to-day balance of being a mother/wife/scientist/human is what I enjoyed most. As I have struggled with all these things myself, it has good to see someone else navigating a similar path.


By soil mama (not verified) on 09 Dec 2009 #permalink

Peace and joy to you in all your endeavors! I'll miss you.

SciWo, I will truly miss your voice in the blogosphere. I always enjoyed your insights, your stories about Minnow, and just hearing that someone else was experiencing the same craziness I was. Best of luck to you and hope we keep in touch! And take care.

Thank you for your blog, your perspective has resonated deeply with me. You will be sorely missed round these parts.
*hugs* and best wishes though.

Thanks for all these years. Your blog was one of the first ones I read looking for female scientists in the world. Many thanks for all the thoughts, feelings and suggestion about how to do things, and stories about what you've done.

I wish you the best in life (and also a bit fasinated that I read you before the birth of Minnow ;) ) and family.

Happy holidays and a great life!

It's hard when we have to take our voice out of our blogging. I went through something like that this year, and it still feels like an unhappy choice.

(It's also one that needs interrogation -- I'm just feeling a bit too close to the problem to interrogate it properly just at present.)

Best wishes to both of you, and thank you for what you have accomplished here.

It was a pleasure sharing the interwebs SciWo and Alice. You two will be missed!

SciWo- I don't know you other than from your posts- but I will miss you terribly. At the same time, I totally understand what you so eloquently wrote above:

'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.'

Good Luck and I'll see you on twitter. You can guest post at BLC anytime the urge to blog returns... :-)

You were the first blog of a woman scientist I read, and from there I stayed hanging about in this corner of the blogosphere.
All the best to you and Minnow!

Aww shucks, SciWo, I'm sad to see you go too. I've enjoyed all your insights and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors.

This was a beautiful post and you've always done a wonderful job in this and other spaces. I wish you and Minnow much peace and joy. Take care.

whoa ... crazy news! Sounds like you've mulled it over quite a bit and is the right decision for you, but we'll miss your voice nonetheless.

I've enjoyed your words in this and your past blog space. Your path as a female academic with a small child has been a continual inspiration to me. Your story and perspective will be greatly missed, but I do marvel at how many others are around to take up the blogging. Wishing you and Minnow much joy!

I am going to miss you hugely. I've really enjoyed your use of this space, your writing, and wish we'd managed to connect outside of commenting. It's a mark of how important the blog community is in filling some of the deficiencies in my local/real world support/scientist network that when people stop blogging it's emotionally exactly like losing a friend (except that at least bloggers say goodbye and don't just quit returning your calls/emails).

All best wishes for a happy and productive future, for both you and Minnow, and thank you for all you've shared.

A classy goodbye, SciWo. You know I'm right there with you, but it's still tough to see it in print. . . blessings.


I will miss your posts as well and am grateful for the years you spent sharing your perspectives and important aspects of your lives.

I too will miss you both! This was one of the very first blogs I found and it really gave me a lot of hope. Thank you for sharing that time. Good luck with whatever the future brings.

De-lurking here to thank you and Alice for sharing so much and to wish you both the best. I started reading both of your older blogs while writing my thesis and it helped me through in no small part. You will certainly be missed.

This posts makes me feel sad. I'll miss you, and not only because of my strong feelings of nostalgia for the olden days of blogging. ;-)

I may email you with a few thoughts if my kiddos ever fall asleep.

Oh, my. I'm so sad. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I read Alice's post first, and then saw the title of yours. As I read, I prepared myself for your blogosphere departure, but then got my hopes up when you talked about your theme for 2010. So, then it caught me by surprise when you said you were leaving. For some reason I feel incredibly emotional about the retiring of ScienceWomen. I feel like I'm losing two mentors in the blogosphere. I completely respect both of your decisions. You need to do what's right for you. Thank you for all that you have shared with the whole wide web. I deeply appreciate all of your contributions and wish you all the best in your life without blogging.

(I can't help but wonder, though, if you weren't on scienceblogs would you just keep blogging but less frequently?)

As I said in the other post - farewell, take care and I do want to see Scientiae continue. Thanks for all you've been and will do.

I'm sorry to see you both go. SciWo, your honesty in the face of some difficult circumstances was both compelling and inspiring. Thanks for what you've shared with us, and good luck on your continued journey.

SciWo, you were one of the very first blogs I ever read. You and your fellow women science bloggers have helped me so much in my own path as a scientist, academic and woman (and hopefully soon, mother). You will be missed and I really wish you the best of luck in your life and your career.

so sad .. although i do understand that blog writing is a mechanism for self-expression and reflection that is often lacking in one's life. being unable to fully express oneself in this medium destroys the reason for its existence. good luck in the future and stay in touch.

I'm sad to see you leave, but I understand. I've had similar thoughts about my own blog. Thanks for all you've shared, and best of luck.

Thanks from me too for your wonderful blog! Like all the others, I was also shocked when reading that both of you stop blogging for now. I'll miss you and wish you all the best!

You were the first blog I ever read a couple of years ago, and I've been following you ever since. You will be missed.

Although I rarely comment, I've lurked here often and enjoyed both your writing and Alice's writing. While I'm sad to see you shut down shop, I also do believe that blogging should come from an eagerness to share good things, or to vent out frustrations, but should never feel like a chore. The day it does, you are better off stepping away - either temporarily or permanently.

I am not sure what the sadness and loss that you went through was, but I wish you the peace and joy you seek, and the increased rootedness and contentment that you seem to be slowly nurturing for yourself and your loved ones.

goodby science women

I will miss your work and inspiration. Please come back when Minnow is a little older.

I wish you much peace and joy and relaxation in the coming year

By pam ronald (not verified) on 10 Dec 2009 #permalink

I still remember the day (about 3 years ago) when Hubby said, "I found this blog I am not sure I should show you. So much of it will resonate with you that I am afraid you will spend days reading all the old posts!"

Through you, I have found this blogging community, and it has done wonders for me. So I am thankful both for that, and also for your blog, which I read every time I felt alone. I have grown so much as a woman in science in this time, and I understand that things have changed in your life as well. I am glad that the change has been a positive one for you, and I wish your life only continues to get better. Best of luck!

Dear Sciencewoman and Alice,
It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Best wishes to both of you. You will be missed.

SW, I'll miss you, you've been a real inspiration to me for the last 5 years... blessings and much happiness for your future *hugs*

I am sorry to hear you are both leaving us... I really enjoyed your blog and would get excited to see new posts up. Thank you for everything!

Sciencewoman and Alice,

You will be missed! This blog is the first that I started following, and it's been an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

I'm all choked up! I have always loved your blog, but I understand that some things can go beyond the scope of writing it out there for all to see (even if it is anonymous). Please keep in touch!

Best of luck with everything. I hope our paths may cross sometime. I've been reading and enjoying your blog for years, but completely understand your reasons to leave.

Dear Sciencewoman - I've been reading and loving your blog for three years. I found it when I was a pregnant grad student and searching for some advice/stories from women who were traveling down that road. Thank you so much for sharing, I'll miss you.

I am really sorry to see you go. I understand needing to move on, but we'll miss you. A lot.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 14 Dec 2009 #permalink

We'll miss you! But I understand, and good luck with all your other obligations and joys!


Good luck on the next part of your journey.

Nooooooo ...... !

I've lurked on this blog for 3 years, and have always appreciated your candor and wisdom, especially through my own transition from grad student to junior faculty. Best of luck to you both, and thanks so much for all your advice.

like many others have said, this was the first blog I started reading during some rough times in grad school. You and Alice always had great things to say and through this blog I found many other great ones to read as well. Thank you.

Thank you so much for everything you have written in this space and your original one. Even though I'm not a scientist, your posts have been tremendously meaningful to me as a woman in academia and as a mother of a young child.

I'll miss your blog posts tremendously. I hope you plan to hang around on Twitter so that our paths will cross occasionally.

Dear SciWo and Alice thanks for every joy you put in my undergraduate life! I'll miss you.
Please tell us the url of the new Alice's blog.