Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Cutting Before Crisis

This week, I learned of two scholars that I care about that are taking medical leaves for emotional/family care/mental health reasons. I am thrilled that both fo them had the courage to take this step.  I am proud of them. I am sad it came to this

Yet, in both cases, and this is not to blame them, there may have been things that they could have cut/reduced before. This is not to say that they had total choice in the contexts that lead up to them making this wise decision, but both may have internalized demands and expectations that may not have been fully the demands of the institutions. 

Racism, sexism, and the intrusion of corporate capitalism into academic spaces all lead to the internalization of beliefs even when the structural barriers are not acting upon us. The same holds true for childhood experiences that have not been processed.

It is essential that we do the emotional work of teasing apart real expectations and demands verses those that we have internalized that no longer serve us.  

We also have to do the hard work of learning to cut what can be cut, say no to what needs to be said no to, and work on our processes so we can be as efficient as we can. 

Doing the internal work does not absolve oppressive and problematic institutions--there are changes that must be made--but we have to learn to control what can can control.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Writing Challenge: Start Over

Consider a paragraph that you have been tinkering with a great deal. It just does not seem to work, and you keep playing with it. 

Read the paragraph.

Stop. Leave the document, and wait five minutes. Open a new document. Write a simple sentence "the purpose of this paragraph is to..."

Now, write it, without looking again. 

At times, starting over is far more efficient than fixing something that does not work.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Stop "Lying": You Won't Have It Next Week!

We all do it. Tell colleagues and collaborators that we will have something done next week when we know darn well that we won't. We have learned to do this to avoid messy situations (confrontations?), assuage guilt, and hope and hope and hope that somehow we will magically get back to that article that we said we would do three months ago!

And yes, I do understand you are not lying intentionally. However, this defense mechanism leads to a great deal of guilt and anxiety--you know that feeling, hoping an email from the recipient of said "lie" does not pop into your email box! The cumulation of those little lies can lead to a great deal of email dread.

The solution? Getting real with ourselves, and with our colleagues about the actual nature of our writing agenda. It may make for some slightly harder discussions upfront, but decreases a great del of psychic toll.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Pause Botton or the Gas?

In life, you need to learn when self-care means pressing the pause button, and when it means putting your foot down on the gas. If you do one but not the other all the time, you may be out of balance....

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I've Returned

 I took a pause from blogging several months ago--pandemic, to reflect upon the racist violence and insurrection, some of my own writing projects, playing the ukulele. To cut myself some slack, it is not easy to keep up a blog after 8 years and over 800 posts. At some point, what do I want to say that is new?

That last question has been a sticking point for me that has somewhat curtailed my desire to start blogging again. Indeed. I am not certain I have a great deal to say that is new, however, how important is that, really? If I waited to say something new and earthshattering I would probably still not have done very much writing in my life. Such evaluations are to be done by others—not the self. I started this blog to explore academic writing, the academic life, and provide some guidance  for how to resolve the psychosocial barriers that block scholars. 

Most centrally, however, it has been less about providing guidance and more about using writing as a method of inquiry, to quote my friend Laurel Richardson. This is my space to engage in the practice of writing to penetrate the aforementioned topics. 

I wish to explore again. Anew.

So, no promises about how often, but, in the immortal lyrics and sounds of Squeeze,  I've Returned.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Productivity Versus Self Care is a False Dichotomy If... focus on healthy, sustainable practices and let go of attachment to internalized demands and expectations. Easier said than done, of course.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Video Helping is Real Help

This summer, I am a teaching a graduate level course on crisis intervention. Of course, there is no relevance to this course and our current national/global context!!! This week, my students begin working with each other in peer-counseling triads  For four weeks, they will get a flavor for what it is like to help and be helped via video, right now, in the contest of the pandemic, racist violence, uprising, and political/leadership incompetence.

While some of them may be skeptical that helping can happen via video, I know it can. It does, and after ten years of doing it, I firmly believe that I can establish nearly the same quality helping relationship that do when I work “live.” In fact, I have worked with so few client in person during the last decade, I am not even sure how I would do anymore with real live people!

I am writing this as I have seen some posts in social media about people needing help for anxiety and/or depression but not wishing to engage via video. I get the reticence—it is really weird at first. But please—reach out and seek the help you need—give this strange post-modern way of being engaged in help and helping a shot. You own it to yourself.