Thursday, January 31, 2019

Emotional Health Tool: Meta Moment

I recently posted a link to a great video on Emotional Intelligence by the oh-so-emotionally intelligent Marc Brackett. Here, I present and explore a very simple yet powerful tool of Emotional Intelligence-- "The Meta Moment". While simple, the Meta Moment is a well research means of controlling our behavioral responses in difficult situations. 

The Meta Moment is often misunderstood--it is more involved than merely stopping and taking a breath or counting to ten (which is, in and of itselffar better than immediately reacting negatively!!). When taking a meta moment, we first seek to become aware of our physiological response. We then stop, take a moment, and imagine our best-self responding to the situation at hand in a positive way. By imagining your best-self in action, you are compelled to explore your own emotional, cognitive and behavioral responses, and in so doing, align your thinking and behaviors to your idealized response. Never underestimate the power of using mental imagery as a tool for improving performance! Considering strategies (step five) prods us to bring increased intentionality into a difficult moment.

Explore and contemplate the diagram below. It is valuable to have simple models that help us practice changes we wish to make. Try the tool out.  Try it again, and yet again. Remember- trying a tool once or twice is not going to be lead to significant change. We need to preform our tools often in order to experience lasting change.

Image result for metamoment


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Power Of Habits

I write a great deal about the habits and rituals that support writing. I recently read a fantastic book that explores some of the science, and history of the science behind the "practice" of habit formation. Here is a video by the author of the Power of Habits, Journalist Charles Duhigg. I highly suggest exploring his video, book, and ideas.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Emotional Intelligence: From Theory to Everyday Practice

The concept of "emotional intelligence" is tossed around a great deal, and few really understand what it is about. It has a very specific, evidenced-based and theoretical foundation. Here is an outstanding video, Emotional Intelligence: From Theory to Everyday Practice, by researcher Marc Brackett. I have watched it a couple of times--two thumbs up.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Writing Session Part 3: Predetermining Project and Entry Point

One way of improving the quality of your writing sessions is to predetermine what project you are going write during the session, and your exact entry point. After you finish your writing ritual, you want to get to writing as quickly as possible to prevent "paralysis by analysis."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Writing Session Part 2: The tools of a quality writing session?

What are the tools of a quality writing session?

1) A predetermined decision about what piece you are going to work on
2) Habits and rituals that allow for consistency and a quick start
3) A clear entry point
4) A writing process
5) Sustained focus
6) A predetermined length of time for your session that is sustainable
7) Mechanisms for handling problematic self-talk

The Science of Happiness

I have not seen my dear friend Tony Fernando in two decades, but he will always be dear to me. He is a psychiatrist in New Zealand now- we were close friends when he was a medical resident and I as an MSW student. It warms my heart that he is doing great things! I found this awesome video of a presentation he gave: The Science of Happiness.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Writing Session: Part 1

The building block of an academic career. For twenty years now, I have worried less about clear  writing goals and more about having as many quality one-hour sessions as I can have. The better the sessions, the more I produce. Simple.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Triangle of Cuteness

I do best when I forgo attachment to outcomes, live my life as fully in the moment as possible, and let go of focusing on results—not fretting about that which I cannot control. And about that which I can, let my processes and actions take care of the outcomes. I have adopted this philosophy--this mindset—as an intention, a hoped for life-stance, an aspirational relationship to the universe. But in spite of my intentions, I worry a great deal about all those whom I love, but mostly about my dogs. And when I worry, about all the bad things that can happen them, it is hard for me to feel a great deal of hope—I have to work that. I have to work hard.

When my girlfriend and her children moved in, their cat, Toby (who I refer to as "da cat"), stayed behind for a while with Sandy's mom and sister. We wanted the girls to settle into their new home, get used to new schools, and have time to bond with the dogs.

I worried, however, a great deal about bringing “da cat” into our home. I was pretty sure my little Pomeranian/ Brussels Griffon mix would just ignore Toby. She cares only of tracking down the nearest human, flopping on her back, thrusting her legs into the air and using her cuteness to procure an extended belly rub. No worries there-- I was confident she would merely ignore da cat.

I was, however, extremely concerned how Hamster, my 15-pound French Bulldog/Chihuahua mix would fare with Toby in the house. Anytime he has seen a cat on our walks he becomes more than a bit aggressive-- my snuggly little writing buddy transforms into a snarling, chocking-with-angry-snot, pulling-with-all-his-might-to-get-to-the-cat-rabid terror. I feared what he would do to a cat to whom he had unrestrained and constant access. 

Truth be known, however, I was more worried about Hammie, imagining a terrified, desperate-to-escape feline almost his exact size clawing out one of his eyes. I won’t bother to describe the complete causal chain I conjured in my mind, but suffice to say it began with infection and did not end well.

I am not a deeply religious or spiritual person, in spite of the tone of this post—I say this for context: I read these words and I find myself rolling my eyes. Still, my truth is what my truth is.

I am extremely overly protective of my animals, for reasons I don't fully understand, but I know it is deeper and older than the particular life I am currently living. To me, loving and caring for dogs is a spiritual act-- it is my solemn oath to each, to the universe, that I will provide them with a loving "forever home" corny that it might be. 

So, was I soon to betray this pact with the universe, betray my beloved dogs by subjecting them to this feline hellion, or would Toby da cat fall victim to the primal instincts of a wolf ancestor?

I have been through a lot in the last decade. My wife became disabled after three foot surgeries that went south. She was in constant agony for nearly three years, during which time I could count the nights I slept more than a few hours on one hand. She miraculous recovered, but sadly we did not, and we divorced. I quirky and ironically soon became disabled with osteoarthritis. I had two total knee replacements, including a very rough second recovery. 

I have been through a lot, but in spite of it all, I have lived a pretty charmed life—I know this-- and do not take it for granted. I have much for which to be grateful, and I do indeed feel a great deal of gratitude. My life is pretty wonderful today--lucky, lucky me. I have more friendship and love than I can take in. I have an amazing career--I get to teach, to coach, to write.

Yet still, I worry--I know that something dark lurks around the corner. It is hard to hold onto hope, in spite of the goodness in my life.

I have always been in tune with darkness. Not depression, but a deep, soul-felt recognition of the bittersweet nature of existence. I hold a good deal of grief in my heart. It is part of what makes me good at what I do. It is who and how I am—why my  lover calls me "her tender heart." It is hard for me, at times, to take it all in and still feel a good deal of hope.

But each day, three times a day really, I look down, several feet down. I reach down, and touch hope.

This view, which I hold as a symbol, a daily reminder, that, at its core, the universe is a pretty damn good place.  There is hope. I have hope.

They give this to me--now I present to you: The Triangle of Cuteness.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Today is the only day that exists, so get help

If you need it, get it. Rabbi, Iman, Priest, Shaman, Elder, Therapist, Social Worker, Psychiatrist, Medical doctor, Coach.

You deserve it.

This is the last of these "Today is the only day that exists posts." The point? An early year check in to makes sure that you are getting the support you need in order to make the changes you wish. It is easy to make big, pre-new year proclamations, but change does not happen within isolation, and we often need the support of others.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today is the only day that exists, so, write for a half hour

What would happen if you just wrote for a half hour today on your primary article/book/grant? You pick a spot that you can add something, and you just wrote? How would you feel, if you did this today. And then another today......

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

Zoom Drop In Coaching: WEDNESDAYS 5pm Pacific

Every Wednesday at 5pm PACIFIC TIME: Drop in Coaching Hour!

This is open to anyone: Past client, present client, future client, never-will-be my client, whoever. Just stop in- I love meeting new people!

THIS zoom link . ( )

The collective nature of this chat will provide a fun and exciting way (for me anyhow) for scholars and leaders to ask questions, discuss and explore issues related to writing productivity, articles and books, thriving in academia, productivity,  the psychosocial barriers to thriving in the academe, and any other topics I have explored in this blog, or anything else you wish!

No need to RSVP, I will there! (any cancelations will be posted on my blog)

The cost: It is free :)

See you soon!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Denied Promotion: For Associate Professors

There is perhaps no better time to remind yourself that your career and your employer are different. This is even true for those of us who plan on staying at the same university for the rest of our academic work lives.

Promotion to full professor--and the detail of promotion-- is usually not about ability, often not about impact, and even at times totally disconnected to achievement. When we are denied promotions, even those that are not connected to our “safety” and “security” it still feels like a total F#(# Y##.

There are also times that faculty go up a year or two earlier than they should--they are feeling ready to go up with they are not actually ready, when their record does not warrant. I will get to this in more depth in a later post.

Regardless of the reason for denial, it is essential that you realize the facts- we have lifetime employment. We can go up again. Our teaching, research and service is OURS- we can find ways of making it meaningful for us, joyous, if I dare, in spite of the opinions of others.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, the denial of promotion feels like a total rejection, an abandonment even, often a betrayal. But it is just vote, in a moment of time,  our career is just ours. I am not minimizing its impact- it takes money out of our pockets. It can seem as if we are wasting our live at a place that does not care about us.

I love the University of Washington Tacoma. I do. Both of my kids are students here- one is graduating with her degree in Education this spring. But it is just my employer. It is Google. Jack N' The Box.  A coffee house.  A business.  It is an institution. A group of people. Some will leave soon. Some will retire soon. All of us will die, at some point, and the whole place will be full of new students, faculty, staff.

But until I die- I have my career. My writing. My teaching.

And you have yours and nobody, nobody, gets to take that from you. Even when it feels like they can.

They just got to vote on your promotion, and that sucks, but votes, as do people, change over time.