Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Busy

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

I have a love-hate relationship with being busy. On the one hand, there's the thrill that comes with having something to do that not only gets me out of bed in the morning, but also makes the hours of the day fly by. This aspect of being productive and working towards a goal is one I absolutely love.

The hate part comes with pushing self-care to the back burner and finding myself pulling away from things that brought me solace. This blog being the first thing to take a hit each and every single time.

So I'm promising to try and be mindful about this space more. Because even though things are coming together, with Grey's travel looming on top of summer camps and activities for the Beats on the horizon as well as finalization for Kindergarten placement (we're fairly confident they will be attending their homeschool, meaning they will already be signed up for aftercare) and me getting into the swing of things with work, there's also a need for balance and finding a way to write here. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The new crossroads

The morning session started in an informal way, with people chatting and still grabbing caffeine as the Keynote speaker began. Finishing my introductions to people who are curious and confused as to who I was, I turned to listed to the keynote talk about the history of science education in the US, what initiatives had previously been done to bring us where we were today and the hopes for the future.

Yesterday was Day 2 for me at my new position. Figuring out the commute has caused a lot more stress than anticipated (as it always does) and there's already been a lot thrown at me that I'm rapidly working on figuring out. But sitting in that room, surrounded by others who share my passion for promoting science education, I found myself feeling more at home than I have in a long time.

Almost a year ago, my world would implode when I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed. But the truth is I was extremely unhappy in the position, helping others promote a way of teaching I don't believe in while suffering in an environment that felt limiting. Losing my contract ripped out a safety net I thought I needed, forcing me to think outside the box and take risks I wouldn't have considered. A new crossroads that I didn't think I was prepared for and yet I didn't have a choice to not face. And those risks have been insanely rewarding, pushing me to truly think about how I wanted to teach and who I wanted my audience to be as well as who I actual want to be working with. Introducing me to people and mentors I wouldn't have considered if not forced outside my comfort zone.

Yesterday was an informal marking of the completion of that transition. It's been over a year of scrambling, putting myself out there and meeting more rejections and "no"s than I ever felt possible. There are so many moments where I felt I had hit bottom and wanted to quit. And yet, being in that room, I knew that the journey was worth it. The work ahead so exciting and the potential keeping me awake when thinking of the possibilities.

The future is still uncertain. I'm currently on contract, working part-time and acutely aware that I'm in a trial period. There's also a situation I wasn't prepared for that I'm now navigating. But looking back to where I was a year ago and seeing the road ahead, I'm grateful for the wake-up call. Even though it was unfair, terribly handled and extremely scary at the time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Slowing down

Last Monday, following a week of battling a sore throat and fatigue, I decided to chance a trip into Urgent Care. Sitting in the waiting room, multitasking on things that needed to be completed, I found myself second-guessing my decision to waste 2 hours waiting in line. After all, I couldn't be that sick.

2 hours later, sitting in an exam room, the attending physician walked in holding the results from my fast strep test, sat across from me and asked me what I was doing to take better care of myself. A bit shocked, I muttered something about She-Beat's surgery and He-Beat being out of sorts (kid would later be diagnosed with tonsillitis, but cleared from strep). Shaking her head, she announced that those weren't good answers, at which point I asked her "it's positive, isn't it?"

"Fastest result we've gotten all weekend," she answered.

With that, I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and a doctor's note instructing all involved to make me take it easy. Grey's been loving having this new-found power.

I've been struggling with slowing down. Despite having a new position that starts next week and a few other irons in the fire, there's an ongoing fear that if I relax and become too comfortable that I'll find myself once again unprepared for a job transition. A big part of this was finding myself blind-sided with my contract not being renewed (despite it actually being a good thing as I was fairly miserable in that position). The other part is all the work it's taken to get to the point I'm at now with connections and potential opportunities. The idea of letting up isn't something I'm close to comfortable with.

The problem is, though, that I'm rapidly hitting burn-out from the never ending marathon. When most learn that we've arrive to the area about 2 months ago, they express shock that Grey and I are seemingly functioning at the level we are. Part of it has been lucking out with certain aspects (the new preschool being a major one), but there's also been a lot of pushing on Grey and my end. And our bodies and health are showing it, with us both losing track of how often we've been sick, fighting a cold or a fever, pushing through moments where curling up on the couch is what we want most. And though it is possible to do this pushing for awhile, it's also not uncommon to hit the wall if moments to rest are ignored.

So this week, I'm forcing myself to slow down for at least part of the day. Which is actually insanely hard to do given the guilt I have for ignoring items on my to do list. This morning I'm already failing given that I'm at a coffee shop, obsessing about this assignment I need to finish (340 words, 160 words to go). But I also feel it in my brain, knowing that some time away will allow for healing and repair. Slowing down even when it doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

Monday, May 28, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Play

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's 9:30 pm and the last thing I want to do is finish this assignment. This Friday I have an interview for a directorship position and learned last Friday that I made the short-list for another directorship-type position, resulting in the assignment I'm currently staring at. All on the heels of me filling out hiring forms for my new position next week.

I know that career-wise, it would be insane to not take any of this seriously. To blow it off given that the future is so uncertain.

Yet, following a week of illness where your's truly was diagnosed with Strep Throat, which thankfully Grey and the Beats managed to evade, but lead to an interesting experience at urgent care landing me my first doctor's notes, and finishing my saga with the DMV, all I want to do is play.

Play as in pretending to be a tourist and visiting one of the missions.






Play as in going for a hike at one of the local nature preserves.


Play as in becoming engrossed in a language-learning app that is allowing me to relearn entry-level Spanish so that I can better communicate with my new neighbors (who have been awesome at pushing me to keep practicing and not allowing me to cheat with using English). 

Play as in not doing the hard-stuff that requires me to reactive my brain. Of avoiding more rejection from those who were never serious to begin with. 

Maybe, for this weekend, that's okay. Just to play and rest, preparing for what is ahead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Santa Cruz

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Saturday morning, Grey and I decided we were overdue for a trip to the beach. Between moving, settling, surgery and illness, we had had zero down time over the past few months (years in reality) and needed a chance to recharge. Packing the Beats up with promises of adventure, we set off for Santa Cruz.

It's been 14 years since I was last in Santa Cruz. Grey and I stop there as part of our honeymoon trip, spending two days exploring the town and doing some surfing. Much has changed since we were last there, with the boardwalk being a lot cleaner and safer than I remembered, and yet so much was still familiar. The attitude and calm being one of them. The smell of the ocean and the glistening of the sand. 

Despite the water being ice cold, the Beats spent over an hour dancing in the waves and racing up and down the shore. Following a quick lunch and a change of clothes, we then took them onto the boardwalk to explore some of the carnival rides. Hours later, they would pass out on the ride home with smiles on their faces and evidence of their adventure litter all over their bodies. 

While they were making those first memories, Grey and I were reflecting on our own previous adventure and where we were today. All that had happened and changed. All that was still the same. Finding a chance to relax and heal in this special town by the Pacific that now holds memories old and new. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Not as expected

The past two weeks have been one of ends and beginnings. At the beginning of the month my students submitted their final assignment for the project I've been guiding them through. The document is currently being uploaded today to be sent to collaborators with the subject heading of "Future Directions?" All the professors have commented again and again how impressed they are with what these students produced (and I'm also insanely proud of them for all they've done). With this final assignments comes my official end to my time at this institution. Materials from my postdoc are still being handed off and I'm taking with me things that I've helped create.

In addition, I was formally offered a position as a program manager for a local science education initiative. It's part-time to start with reassessment happening in the fall seeing as the commute is on the extreme end. But all involved are excited as it gives us a chance to lay some groundwork that originally wasn't anticipated.

All while I'm exploring other opportunities and keeping doors open.

I was thinking about all of this this morning when She-Beat surprised Grey and me by waking up on her own at 6:15 am. For the past 2 years, getting her out of bed in the morning has been a huge struggle, usually with her being too groggy to even eat breakfast. Calling to Daisy to follow her, she beat He-Beat downstairs to feed the cats and then sat at the table and finished her breakfast. No complaints or negotiations required. Staring at her, Grey marveled that already we are seeing results from the surgery: she's no longer snoring at night and seems to be sleeping a lot more peacefully. The idea that all of the struggles we had were sleep related is once again on our minds, even though two months ago the physicians back East were assuring us that couldn't be the case.

In other words, none of this is playing out as planned or expected. Not She-Beat's recovery nor how my last teaching assignment went (let alone what was produced) or even this current position that I will be starting in less than 2 weeks. None of it was anything that I ever would have considered.

Yet now, looking at what is laid out ahead, it all makes sense. The path forward is becoming more clear and it's more promising than I ever could have planned or dreamed of.

None of this is due to lucky. Quite the opposite actually as it's taken a lot of pain and failure, trying option after option and pushing forward when it seemed pointless to. Even now, with an offer letter in hand, I'm still waiting to hear on two other interviews that I worked my butt off to secure and am fully expecting not to hear a single thing about the outcome. In short, a lot of frustration from dead-ends.

But what is true is that sometimes when we focus too much on the one path forward, we fail to see the alternatives. That it takes failing and beating ourselves up a bit to become open to those alternatives we initially would not have considered. And that it's only when we find those open windows and figure out how to crawl through them that the possibilities start becoming clear, working out better than we could have ever imagined.

She-Beat has her post-operation appointment on Thursday. We've been warned she'll likely only be 60% healed by then (at best) and likely won't see the real benefits of the surgery for another 3 months. But all of this has energized me to push for meeting with her IEP team as soon as possible so we can lay out a plan of action for the summer into the fall. And this new position has made me start to explore whether I can integrate in this new curriculum into the outreach I will be helping develop, allowing for all the work my students did to be put into action (and to start collecting data for a publication).

Not as expected when all of this began. But oh so promising.

Monday, May 14, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Just for me

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

On Sunday, while rocking a fever of 102 degrees F, I hung a hummingbird feeder. Despite protests from Grey that the location and method I picked were generally not good (in a spot I cannot observe them, too high to reach without a ladder, no where near the rest of the flowers we have on the back patio and right where there's lots of human traffic), I dug out the cordless electric drill we have and made a hole in install a ceiling hanger.



Grey's points were all good ones. Sound ones. Ones that any sane and reasonable person would quickly agree with. But the thing is, despite all the cons of my choice, I really wanted to attract hummingbirds. Over the past 3 years in Boston, I didn't see a single one and I didn't realize how much I missed these creatures until I saw them in the front lawn a couple of weeks ago. In addition, this mating pair has been hunting the front yard looking for flowers, so I knew that a feeder would be a welcome attraction if for no other reason than to just get them use to the idea.

Plus there's the selfish reason that the act of hanging a hummingbird feeder makes me happy.

This morning, this mating pair has been scouting the situation; flying so insanely close to me as I've been in the door way that you can see the small details on their bodies. I have no idea if they've actually used the feeder, but in my eyes it's a start. And just knowing that makes me happy. Even if it all ends up being just for me.
 
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