Five Minute Friday – Abandon? Yes!

Once again joining Five Minute Friday over at Kate Montaug’s blog, Heading Home.  It has been a bit of rough week, but I am now on Spring Break officially, so things are looking up!

Here we go:

I refuse to abandon hope that my life will get better.  Even though I seem to live through the same rough times year after year after year (with other, additional rough times sprinkled throughout), I refuse to abandon the hope that I can overcome them and live a better, less stressful life.  Maybe that makes me naive?  Maybe that makes me unrealistic?  But, maybe it just makes me someone who realizes that I am responsible for most of these rough times and if I choose to live differently, life WILL be different.  So, what do I mean by living differently?  Well, here are the things I WILL abandon in order to not abandon hope:

First, I will abandon the thought that I can do anything on my own, but will instead look to God.  I look inward and focus on myself way too often.  I don’t listen nearly enough.  I need to abandon the need to do it on my own and start doing it with grace and with God.

Second, I will abandon the wants and aim for the needs.  This is something my DD learned as a First Grader last year and as a family, we are not very good at doing this.  I am constantly focused and acting on my wants rather than my needs.  When you get right down to it, needs are pretty darned limited.  But, it is easy to get caught up and forget what those needs really are.  I am going to challenge the wants and focus on needs.

Third, I will abandon the busy.  I have been really aware of how busy I am and how no matter how much I do each day, I am still busy the next.  I have too much to do.  I am going to focus this Spring Break on abandoning some of those to-dos.  I have three interns this semester, but I don’t have systems in place to make it easy for them to do things for me.  So, I end up doing most things myself and they end up learning nothing.  So, I’m going to work on systems for some of the things I do and passing those systems on so I don’t have to do it all myself.  I need to do the same in my home.  I really need to work on delegation, systems that others can use and ending the busy.

Finally, I will abandon lack.  This is a biggy for me.  I have lived a life of lack.  So, I focus on lack and I often sell myself short on financial capabilities.  But, I need to abandon that lack and expand my fortune.  I will embrace being fortunate enough to make and have a “fortune”.  A “fortune” is not necessarily monetary, but simply recognizing and being thankful for all I do have.  If I can do that, I think that I can get my finances under control.  I want to bring more fortune to me and my family, but that means focusing on what God has planned for me instead of what God has not given me.

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There you go – my abandon goals!

Tuesday Truth: “March”ing into the Future

The truth is, I am exhausted.  I am feeling quite overwhelmed.  I am wanting a life different from the one I am currently living.  It isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way.  If you’ve read much on this blog, you know that this is a regular thing for me. The question I have is why? Why can’t I get my life in check?  Why can’t I rest?  Why can’t I stay organized and get things done in a timely fashion?  Why can’t I live a better life?  Why, why, why?  I’m not sure, but something has to give.  Tomorrow is March 1, 2017.  I am in my “later years”.  Hell, I’m almost 50.  I don’t like to say that, but it is true. I feel old.  I feel tired.  I feel like maybe I’ve created a life I can’t live up to.  I have an eight-year-old.  I am a Girl Scout troop leader.  I have one and a half jobs and coach a competitive intercollegiate speech and debate team.  So, where do I start?  How do I create the life I want instead of drudging through the life I’m currently leading?  That is the question.

I guess the first step is figuring out what I want my life to be like.  Here is a brief snapshot:

  1. Time to rest and relax, including sleeping well at night for between 7 and 8 hours and downtime each day.
  2. A clean house that feels welcoming and comfortable.
  3. An organized life that has me getting things done before their due instead of after their due.
  4. A healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy and exercising.
  5. A family-focused life that has us spending meaningful time together and enjoying each other.
  6. A financially secure life.  Period.

This list reminded me of my 2014 new year’s goals.  Although some of those areas have improved (friends is the one that has really improved a lot and knowledge is pretty satisfying at this point), most of those areas are still struggles for me.  It isn’t hard to figure out what happened to these very well thought out resolutions in 2014 when you read the bottom of this post where I talk about my Dad’s health.  He passed away soon after that in 2014.  At least I’m not going through that this year.  So, maybe these five life goals will work out.

Right now, I need to go to bed if I am going to have any chance of meeting the first goal (the rest are already a bust for today, but maybe I can get one in!).  So, good night.  Wish me luck as I “march” into the future this March.

Why I can’t be a protester

I am not a Trump supporter

Let me get this over up front.  I am terribly disappointed that Trump is our President.  I think he is a horrible person who lacks any sort of skills at important traits for civil service such as compassion, empathy and a basic understanding of our political and legal processes.  So, I am by no means a Trump apologist.  But, I will consider myself a Trump-supporter apologist.  And the two are vastly different to me.  So, although I would love to make a cleverly worded sign and adorn myself in a feminist phrases t-shirt on Saturday, I will instead be standing at a table for the Union, answering questions and providing information about the importance of labor protections.  Let me tell you why…

im-not-marching

Eight years ago

Eight years ago, my Facebook feed was filled with a former students’ postings on how the awful the Obama presidency was going to be.  The posts were overly dramatic and often filled with hyperbole.  I’m sure most of you have read some of those claims over the last eight years (and perhaps wrote them yourselves).  I liked Obama, so her posts struck me as ignorant and hurtful and totally out of step with reality.  Hers were not the only comments like that on my Facebook feed, they were just the most extreme.  It was easy to dismiss her feelings because I didn’t share them, but I remember being shocked that someone could actually feel that strongly negative towards a President-Elect.

On the other side

Eight years later, I sit on the other side of the fence.  Now, I’m not comparing Obama to Trump.  Lord knows that Obama has about 100 times more class and compassion and empathy in the tip of his pinky finger as Trump.  But, so far today, I’ve read on Facebook friends’ posts that we should support violent protests in Oakland and other places, including breaking glass and setting fires, in the name of resistance.  We should stop supporting Girl Scouts because they have troops marching in the inauguration and are supporting it by saying it is a tradition.  We are entering a post-apocalyptic era (I think that one was a joke, but I can’t be sure).  We should not only not watch the inauguration tomorrow but that we should turn on our TV to a channel NOT showing the inauguration to truly bring down the ratings.  The list goes on and on.  Half of the information is based in half-truths.  The other half seems like the rantings of lunatics.  They are just lunatics who happen to agree with me politically.  If Hilary had been elected, I would be seeing many of the same posts, but from those who I disagree with politically.  It just isn’t healthy the way we seem to frame the debate so anyone who disagrees with us is deserving of wrath and ridicule.  It is all focused on us vs. them, often for the sake of divisiveness, not solutions.  It exhausts me and saddens me and sometimes even angers me.  I feel like I have to constantly try to be the voice of reason.  I am drawn to find points of compromise or to point out when arguments are flawed.  But, that also makes me sound like an apologist.

I am a bad __________.

Fill in the blank.  Progressive.  Liberal.  Feminist.  It all works.  But, I just can’t bring myself to march in Saturday’s protest.  I have a lot of friends who are marching, both in DC and their localities.  And I totally support them.  I don’t think the protests are wrong or should not happen.  In fact, I am thankful that some do feel compelled to participate.  But, it just isn’t for me.

The problem with protests

Protests are all about fueling those feelings of us vs. them.  They are all about drawing distinctions – those who are protesting, those who support the protests and those who do not support the protests.  But, that is really an oversimplification.  I guarantee you that there will be groups of women at the protests that I will totally agree with on most, if not all, things.  I also guarantee you there will be groups of women at the protests who I totally disagree with on most, if not all, things.  There will be some involved in protests who use the us vs. them feelings as a justification for violent acts against police or store windows or cars.  I can not condone this.  There will be some involved in the protests who want to claim the moral high ground and display their oppression as a badge of honor, while ignoring their privilege in many other instances.  There will be others involved in the protests who do hold the moral high ground in their day-to-day activities and who change the lives of people daily and recognize their privilege readily. There will be some involved in the protests who see it as their “chance” to be “political,” as if we don’t have and make those choices daily.  And because I feel like all of that nuance is lost in the format and purpose of a protest, I can’t find it in myself to want to participate.  I guess I am less afraid of looking like a bad _____________ than I am of supporting something or someone I don’t believe in or support.

My plan to “resist”

I definitely don’t support Donald Trump as President, but I don’t think of protests as demonstrating a lack of support for someone, I think of them as showing support for something else.  At this point, I’m not sure what that something else is.  I feel better waiting it out and trying to make my daily choices more compassionate, empathetic and with knowledge and understanding of our political and legal processes.  But, that means I have to be compassionate to Trump supporters as much as I am to Trump haters.  It means I have to be empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I do.  And it means that I have to recognize that as much as I hate it, the political process deemed Trump the winner and he is President.  We shall see what that means over the next four years, but hopefully, our political process will be able to withstand this low point in political decision making.  I think it will.  I am not preparing for a post-apocalyptic world.  I am preparing for some backtracking in civil rights and, ironically enough, protections against government interference and control, but I am also prepared to see our political process work against extremism, as it was designed to do.

Long-term View

I may eat these words.  I may wish that I had marched with the protesters and drew a more solid line between me and the Trump supporters.  But, at this point, I can’t find it in myself to take that stance.  So, Trump supporters, I will be seen as an apologist for you.  I will try to come from a place of compassion and empathy.  But, Trump, I will not be an apologist for you.  You need to change your ways and act more interested in your constituents than yourself.  You are not our CEO who can hire and fire us.  We are not your employees or your “apprentices”.  We are your constituents.  We expect you to figure out how to do your job without using Twitter storms as a agent of threat.  We expect you to deal with other countries as if there is peace on the line.  We expect you to choose individuals who can do the jobs they are chosen to do.  So far, as President Elect, you’ve done a pretty poor job of all of this.  But, now you are the President.  So, step up and act like one.  Please and thank you.

Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year!

You’re probably thinking that this post is coming out two weeks too late.  But, really, we just got rid of our Christmas tree tonight (sob) and I’m just now settling in to figure out the new year.  So far, I have not even been able to figure out what day of the week it is in the new year.  In fact, for most of today, I thought it was Monday not Tuesday.  Proving once again how much I need a routine in my life.  I wrote the wrong date on everything today, would have missed my DD’s swim lesson had my phone not sent me a reminder as I finished grocery shopping and I didn’t help out in my DD’s class this morning like I said I would on Tuesdays this semester.  Sigh…

But, 2017 is here and Spring semester starts next week.  I’ll be on a schedule again and I am looking forward to being able to eat dinner at a decent hour AT HOME every night of the week!  My meal planning has fallen to the wayside thus far.  Heck, most things have fallen to the wayside thus far.  But, I figure school starting will help me out with getting things together a bit better (send a prayer my way on this one).  Although, traveling the first week of classes is a little bit rough.  But, I will take it.  The holiday is over.  I need a routine and I need it now!

I’m shifting to try something new this year.  I have been using a 10 minute timer to get things done.  I have a long list of things that I need to work on and I work on one thing for 10 minutes and then move on.  But, I find this to be too short of a time (although I’ve adjusted to it and often will stay doing a task for longer when I’m in flow on it).  So, I’ve decided to use some block scheduling instead.  I find that I’ve really lost my ability to focus for long periods of time and do any kind of deep work and it is really negatively impacting my productivity on larger projects.  My schedule this semester lends itself to this type of schedule much better than my prior schedules, so I’m going to give it a shot and see if I can regain my focus, get more done and take more time away from the laptop!

focus

 

More Followers Monday #1 – Join Up!

I said I was going to start this two weeks ago and missed both the last Mondays.  Sad, but true.  But, here I am posting just before Monday ends.  But, the linkup will be open all week and I hope that some of you will join up this first week.  I’m sure it will be pretty small, but if we all visit and follow the blogs that Linkup and if you share about this linkup on your blog, we can build up our followers slowly but surely!

I think it would be great if you could link to a page that lets the readers know how you would like them to follow you (if you have a preference).  So, link to your Instagram if you’re building your following there or to your Facebook if you need followers there, etc.  Blogs are always welcome, but feel free to link up to other areas if that is where you need More Followers!  In case you missed my original post back a couple of weeks ago, here it is and the linky is at the bottom!

I’ve decided to start a “more” themed post on Mondays in 2017 – More Follower Mondays at More at Forty!  My hope is that we can help each other by generating more followers for our blogs and social media.  I am doing it as a Linkup so we can actually see a blog post that you’d like to drive traffic to, but you can also link to a social media account if that is where you need followers.  I’m new to this Linkup thing so be patient with me, but I think I have it figured out.  My plan is to make the first linkup available on Monday, January 2 and to have one each Monday.  Some Mondays, I may add a theme, but to start, we’re just going with an open-ended invitation to linkup and get more followers!

more-followers-mondays

Five Minute Friday – Middle

Hello!  If you are joining me from Five Minute Friday, welcome to my little corner of the internet.  Please look around and get to know me and make a comment.  I will be sure to visit you as well and say hi!

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Middle”.  Let’s get started!

connect-1

I have to be honest.  the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the prompt was that old song, “Stuck in the middle with you.”

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you.
I feel a little stuck in the middle of things right now.  Life for one.  I’ve hit “that age” where I feel like more of my life may have gone by than I have left.  Of course, that can always be the case, but it becomes especially apparent as I get close to 50.  I mean, not many people live to 100, so you really are on the shorter side of life when you get to this point.  But, we often refer to the late 40s and early 50s as the point where people have “mid-life” crises.  I’m not having one of those (yet), but I am starting to wonder how to make this last “half” of life better than the first half of life.  This year is starting to feel better than the past few years have felt as far as that is concerned, but it still feels like pressure.  I think the key that I have come up with is that to make this half better, I need to live more, give more and love more.
Luckily, I have my DD to keep me young and having fun.  And, I don’t often feel like I have “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” which I have to think is a good thing.
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TIME!
So, there it is.  Wasn’t expecting to talk about mid-life today, but sometimes the prompt just leads you to unknown territory!
What’s your “middle” today?

Why I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel

I’ve gone cordless in the last couple of months.  We dropped our cable TV and went back to straight Roku and Netflix.  I had a few reasons to hesitate on this change.  First, I like local news.  But, we got an antenna and I get the two channels that have local news with that antenna.  Second, we sometimes like to watch sports and Roku doesn’t have the best in sports selections.  But, we decided we don’t watch enough sports to make that a reason to continue to pay the outrageous cost of Cable TV.  And a lot of sports are streamed online now, so we can always access them that way.  The third and most serious reason was that I LOVE Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel.  But, I realized most of what I watched on there was Murder She Wrote and that was on Netflix anyways.  The key word in that last sentence is WAS.  As of January 1, Murder She Wrote is not on Netflix.  In addition, I was seeing my Hallmark Movies and Mysteries newsletters and seeing new movies in some of my favorite series like Gourmet Detective, Garage Sale Mysteries and new ones like Framed for Murder with Jewel and getting really regretful for cancelling my expensive cable.  So, I started a hunt to find where I could watch the channel on Roku and lo and behold, there it is on Sling TV!  I have to pay $24.99 a month, which is a bit expensive, but still much cheaper than my cable bill used to be and we get ESPN (for the hubby) and cooking channels and HGTV, which we also enjoy.  So, all-in-all, it is a great compromise that has given me back my favorite channel.  But, some may ask, why is Hallmark Movies and Mysteries my favorite channel?  Well, let me give you some reasons!

why-i-love

  1. Things get solved!  My life is often composed mostly of problems.  I am dealing with problems with students, problems with TAs, problems with my finances, problems with my schedule, etc., etc.  I love that when I watch a show on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the problems get resolved.  It seems overly simplistic sometimes, but it is a relief for me to watch something where solutions are had by those who need them.
  2. Those solutions are simple.  My life is complicated.  See the first point.  I don’t need my TV to be complicated.  I don’t want to make a lot of effort to figure out what is happening in a TV show or why it is happening.  I like to enjoy TV and relax while I watch it.  Some may see the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries as predictable (not always, but they are often based on formulaic mystery books), but I see them as effortless.  I am sometimes surprised by the answers to the mysteries, but mostly, I just enjoy the ride and I don’t feel like I have to work at watching the show.
  3. The mysteries are solved by women!  I realize this isn’t necessarily unique to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, but it is much more prevalent there.  I just saw a commercial for their “Women of Mystery” and every major movie series on the channel has a woman as the main character.  And they are often surrounded by women as well.  This is unusual in modern media.
  4. The women solving mysteries are doing “More at Forty (plus)”.  As a person who is edging closer to 50 than 40, it is nice to see women on TV who are not in their 20s. And I especially appreciate that the women on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel are not constantly concerned about their age or their weight or their looks.  They are simply being women, comfortable with who they are.  Lori Loughlin is 52.  Jewel is 42.  Candace Cameron Bure is 40.  Brooke Shields is 51.  Kellie Martin is 41.  Brooke Burns is the baby of the bunch at 38.  Alison Sweeney is 40.  I love that this channel focuses the majority of its series on women in their 40s plus.  Proving that you can be “more at forty”!
  5. Women are solving crimes rather than committing them.  The Lifetime Movie Network has women committing crimes and going crazy and killing people. But, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries has women who love their friends and families and professions and are solving crimes rather than committing them.  They are good to those around them.  They are caring and they think critically and they are smart and not always concerned with getting the guy.  It is nice to watch women being good people doing good things.
  6. They celebrate the great eighties. I think everyone has a soft spot for things they experienced in their youth.  Music, movies, television, etc.  Well, much of what is shown on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel outside of their movies are TV shows from the eighties.  My favorite, by far, is Murder She Wrote, but I also enjoy Hart to Hart and they are now introducing Father Dowling Mysteries (who doesn’t love the dad from Happy Days solving crimes as a catholic priest?).  I feel like it takes me back to those evenings in my family room, with my parents, all watching non-cable TV and enjoying it together.  It is nostalgic for me.
  7. I can watch it with my 7-year-old.  I love PBS Masterpiece Mystery as well, but I can’t always trust that it will be okay to watch it with my 7-year-old.  There are often story lines and graphic violence that is beyond her capabilities.  Sometimes there is inappropriate language.  But, with the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, I can feel safe having my 7-year-old in the room.  She loves Murder She Wrote as well. She knows the major movie series on the channel and her favorite is Murder She Baked.  It is nice to have something I can watch and enjoy and not worry about her being in the room.

So, there you are.  The seven reasons I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.  I am toying with the idea of having a weekly post on Mysteries (Monday Mystery Mashup).  I will have to play with that idea for a bit.  If you haven’t checked out Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and any of the seven reasons sound compelling to you, you really should check it out.  It is my (not-so) guilty pleasure.

Fridge and Freezer Frustrations – Uncluttering in the Kitchen

I am joining in on the 2017 Unclutter Your Nest challenge at Nourish and Nestle.  I have uncluttered a lot of my kitchen cabinets already.  I got rid of dishes, coffee cups, glasses, expired food, and some pans.  I still sometimes have some issues finding places to put things, but for the most part, I have a place for everything in my kitchen.  But I am constantly struggling with my refrigerator and less often, but every once in a while, the freezer (because we have a stand-up freezer in our garage, so that isn’t as much of an issue).

halfway

I have been cleaning a lot of things in my house since getting home a couple of days ago (in an attempt to get it all cleaned up before school kicks back into gear), but I have not touched my refrigerator other than to throw stuff in there and get out what I need.  I have thought about it, but just not had the motivation to do it.  So, this is what my refrigerator and my top freezer look like right now:

There are a lot of things in there.  A lot that probably needs to be thrown out, but I always have organizational issues.  I’ve tried to use baskets and Tupperware containers and “zones” but nothing ever seems to take.  We have a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator right now because my MIL sent them home with us when we returned a couple of days ago and we haven’t been eating them much.  So, that’s dinner tonight.  And maybe lunch tomorrow.  I want to have a plan for organizing the refrigerator that I can use this time.

So, I think the solution for me is the same solution that I need to use in every other area of my home.  Simplify and purge!  We just have way too much stuff in there.  I tend to save things that we are never going to eat (trying to be frugal and such) and that stuff creates such a cluster that things that have expiration dates get pushed to the back and not used in time. In addition, I don’t meal plan (I swear I’m going to…every. single. week. but here I am without one in week two of the year), so I end up with a bunch of food that I don’t use.  That makes me feel guilty AND frustrated. I’ve joked in the past about shopping daily (I know, I know, all you frugal-minded people out there are breaking out in a cold sweat and yelling “NO!  Don’t do it!” at your computer screen right now) because then I would buy exactly what I was going to go home and make – some nights it may be a made-at-home meal, other days it would just be a frozen pizza.  I don’t know if that is the solution either though.  I am an impulse shopper, so more days in the store is quite dangerous for me.

So, I think, despite my idea of going every day, I really just need to meal plan.  So, I am taking Ann Timm‘s advice from over at Keeper of the Home (you see how that fits in with my one word from this year as well?) and stick with my commitment to doing the Plan To Eat New Year’s Make Ahead Meal Challenge.  I was planning to do it and then was visiting family last week, had a hubby traveling for work this weekend and a sick kiddo to deal with as well (diagnosed today with an ear infection and pink eye…ewwwww…but, she is on eye drops and an oral antibiotic, so we should be good in a couple of days) and dropped out of the first week of the plan.  BUT, that just means we can extend it into February now, right? So, I’m going to the store tomorrow and I’m going to get the goods for this week’s meal plan and do it.  I like the idea of prepping for a few meals on the same day.  But, this means that I need to have room in my refrigerator and freezer.  So, I went ahead and cleaned them out today.  Here is the result:

So much better!  And it didn’t take long.  I threw out a lot (guilt or no guilt), rearranged some things and grouped things by category.  I now have some space for things I will have to have for the meal planning challenge.  I will also have room in my freezer.

I’m hoping that I can avoid the Fridge Frustrations from that first picture in the future.  I just need to keep up with eating leftovers (or throwing them out if they aren’t going to get eaten).

 

 

Mind Blown: Mind/Cognitive Loads at Home and Work

You know those days when something becomes so clear to you that it is like when the eye doctor switches those lenses and everything that was previously blurry and dark becomes perfectly clear and strikingly bright?  Yeah, that just happened to me in a way that makes both my personal and professional life so much more clear and bright that I had to share. It seems especially poignant in my year of “making a home,” since it focuses on how much mental effort is really expended (mostly invisibly) in making a home.

d-e-b-u-t-s-i-n-g-l-e

So, the first thing that popped up in my Facebook feed earlier today is this Real Simple article, shared by Working Moms Against Guilt.  The article focuses on the “invisible workload” that women carry in their brains:

Walzer found that women do more of the intellectual, mental, and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance. They do more of the learning and information processing (like researching pediatricians).

They do more worrying (like wondering if their child is hitting his developmental milestones). And they do more organizing and delegating (like deciding when the mattress needs to be flipped or what to cook for dinner).

Even when their male partners “helped out” by doing their fair share of chores and errands, it was the women who noticed what needed to be done.

The article struck a chord with me, not only because it quoted a poem written by a favorite blogger of mine from back when I first realized what having a chronically ill child was going to mean to my life, Ellen Seidman at Love That Max.  My daughter is not in any way comparable to Max in all that he (and therefore his family) has to deal with on the medical front, but she had a way of making me feel better about myself as a mother and she offered guidance for how to deal with all of the doctor’s appointments and anxiety and hospital stays and so much more.  But, back to the article…I recognized our own family, where my husband often asks me to “give him a list of two or three things to do” as if he can’t see the laundry piling up or the dishes sitting dirty in the sink or the garbage that needs taking out, etc., etc.  I make and record all the medical appointments.  I deal with most of the pharmacy issues for medication.  I schedule babysitters and dog sitters.  Now that our dryer isn’t working, I do loads of wash and then pile them in the car and take them to the laundromat to dry.  I then bring them home and fold them and put them away.  I keep our calendar.  In the day-to-day, it doesn’t seem like much, but as the article indicates, it takes its toll.  And as the author of the article includes, it isn’t just all the household management that we are having to think about:

It’s about housework, yes, but it extends to having to consider what neckline, hemline, height of heel, and lipstick shade is appropriate for that job interview, afternoon wedding, or somber funeral, instead of relying on an all-purpose suit; it’s about thinking carefully about how to ask for a raise in a way that sounds both assertive and nice; it’s about worrying whether it’s safe at night and how to get home; for some of us, it involves feeling compelled to learn feminist theory so as to understand our own lives and, then, to spend mental energy explaining to others that the revolution is unfinished.

I must admit that I’m not one for changing my neckline or hemline or heel height.  I am lucky to work in academia where I am not going to be the best-dressed faculty member, but I’m also never going to be the worst dressed faculty member.  But, as a female debate coach, I know what it is like to have to think about how to approach a conversation with others.  And yes, the revolution is unfinished, although now I figure I can just show this cover of Washington Post’s Express in response to anyone who challenges that notion:

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So, I can’t say I feel “good” about the article’s findings, but I do feel somewhat vindicated in feeling overwhelmed and exhausted much of the time and a bit frustrated some of the time.

But, it didn’t end there.  That was me noticing my own pain and suffering.  The real turning point came when I then read “Enhancing Learning through Zest, Grit and Sweat,” in Faculty Focus and I came to this last advice under the “sweat” section:

Mind cognitive load. Complex assignment instructions, confusing website navigation, and disorganized course materials increase unproductive cognitive load. Cognitive load should focus energy on the subject, not on the periphery.

And I thought about my prior classes.  I thought about how I have now realized how poor some of my navigation was designed on our Learning Management System.  I realized how at times, the course materials were disorganized and sometimes late being delivered.  I realized that, in the same way that I am suffering from a heavy mind cognitive load at home, I am placing my students in a situation where they are suffering a heavy mind cognitive load because of ME!  And I realize now how important it is to relieve that load.  I realize that, in the past, I have expected my students to “let things go” or I have told them to “remind me to post materials because I might forget” and that, my friends, is really not fair to them.

So, although I have already done quite a bit of reorganization and increased the clarity and focus in my classes and the assignment instructions, etc. I have a new understanding of the WHY.  I have a personal connection to my students’ frustration.  I am able to see like I have not been able to see before.

To conclude, thinking is hard work.  I am sure that I will continue to carry the load of thinking jobs at home.  But, I can now be more aware of when it is starting to wear on me and I can be more able to voice my concerns about it.  I will also work at ensuring I do what I can to allow my students to focus on their learning of the subject matter and not the peripheral “unproductive” cognition caused by my lack of preparation or awareness.  In the end, I hope that we will all have a year with less of a mind/cognitive load.

Five Minute Friday #1, 2017 – Connect

I am joining in for the first Five Minute Friday of 2017!  I’m excited to get started writing more consistently this year (and hopefully building my blog into something “more” as well) and Five Minute Friday is always a great exercise with a wonderful community along for the ride.  This week’s prompt is “Connect”.

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Here goes:

Well.  I am finding it somewhat difficult to connect to the prompt connect.  I’m just not sure where to go with it.  A lot comes to mind.  Connecting with others.  Making connections in my life.  Connecting the dots.  But, none of it is really driving me to write about it.  So, I guess I’ll write about how sometimes, it is difficult to connect with other people and things and that it is okay for that to be the case.  We would not appreciate the times when connections were strong and meaningful if those types of connections were constant and consistent.

I often have problems making close friends for example.  I just don’t connect with others as much as I would like.  And it isn’t for lack of trying.  But, when I do find someone I connect with, I feel it strongly and that connection is there whether we are spending a lot of time together or just a few minutes here and there.  I feel the same about entertainment and activities.  I don’t often feel strong connections with TV shows or movies or exercise programs.  Others seem to find something and really connect with it and loooooove it.  But, I don’t as often.  I connect with things from my past more than anything else.  Perhaps that is where I have my strongest connections – to my past.


That’s it.  I feel that this week was tough.  I’m not sure why.  It has been a long and somewhat stressful day (although I didn’t do much).  My DD is not feeling well.  And although she isn’t feeling horrible either, she did start running a fever tonight and with her past, I seem to be in a bit of a PTSD anxiety attack.  It isn’t horrible either.  I’m not panicked or anything, but I do feel a bit of trepidation about planning and what is going to happen.  In all reality, she will probably get better in a couple of days, without any complications.  We went to the pediatrician today and her lungs sounded good, she had nothing in her ears, her throat didn’t look too bad and she was negative for strep.  So, all good signs, but then she spikes a fever.  It just makes me wonder what is going on in that little body of hers.  And, in reality, it is probably nothing but a normal 7 year old virus that is running its course.  But, in a heart transplant recipient, it doesn’t ever seem like a virus or illness is normal or can just simply run its course without some concern.

So, I’m watching what I connect with – Poirot – on Netflix.  I’m waiting for the coming “Storm of the Decade” here in California, which should be hitting any time now.  I’m intermittently cleaning and organizing and purging.  I’m looking forward to a weekend of quiet and catching up and preparing for Spring 2017.  My DD is supposed to go back to school on Monday.  We will see how she is feeling.  But, I don’t have to worry because I’m not working next week!  We are scheduled to go to heart clinic on Tuesday, but with the illness/fever happening this weekend and the storm of the decade hitting, I think we will be rescheduling that.  So, that sets us up for a relatively quiet week ahead as well.  I can connect with that…