Self-Care

Self-care might feel like a luxury, but it’s not. It’s hard to remember this during the hectic parts of a day or week. I make no excuses for having to schedule time to self-care. I know that if I didn’t, I’d regret it. My self-care routine varies from acupuncture, massage, yoga, and regular workouts.

Another part of my self-care routine is to read the paper more methodically, since I have found that the headlines have become something out of a book set in a terrible future. Everyone starts off the new year with resolutions and good intentions, as we move half way through February remember to take care of yourself!

 

Busy is Hard to Unlearn: Having It All

An article in the Globe and Mail that discussed how students today don’t really take a Summer break gave me pause. If you search the Globe and Mail’s site for students + busy lots of articles are found–including the one that I shared. While the article is dated, the sentiment is important as we get through the first month of a new year.

Once I was in high school I found a love for running and spent my Summers training for Cross Country and Track Seasons, but I also took the occasional Summer School class up at Mt. SAC. I was also enrolled in some Honors and Advanced Placement courses, so by the time I graduated I had more than the first term of college courses completed. While in university I also took Summer School and ultimately graduated with my BA in Women’s Studies and Minor in Political Science in 3.5 years. Yes, you read that right.

I was a first generation college student and the eldest of 5 kids. College wasn’t really about having the time of my life and finding myself (well, I did a little of this), but was about being  busy and serious to get it done. I had my family to think of and how they would help all five of their kids go to college or university. Three of us have degrees and the two others took some coursework, but never completed to earn the four year degree. Two of us have multiple advanced degrees.

The crux of this post, though, is the article about teenagers not having Summers today. I can recall being in middle school and getting bored after one month and I was ready to return to my school schedule. I was a good, focused student. Today, though, I am a workaholic and not saying this out of pride, but just sheer honesty. I work hard and I love my job, but I have to remind myself that I am not my job. I say this, as I want to be a good example to my own teen and her little sister. I want them to have a Summer and decompress from the busy school term that is filled with classes, competitive swimming, piano lessons, and more.

What does it mean to be so busy? What does it mean to have it all? Yes, I’ve linked to the now infamous NYT and Atlantic articles. What some of this means is that it’s getting harder to relax. I’ve blogged previously about the electronic umbilicus between me and my gadgets. I’ve also blogged about Breaking Up with Foursquare. I’m mindful of my work balance issues and trying hard for better balance. But, I also know that my Type A personality is at work, and I work in a field where my job is not the traditional 9-5 gig. I always have a project to work on, a chapter to revise, or journal article to write. And, I need to say “no” more.

It’s no wonder that during my first week of vacation I was at the office three days for meetings. Meetings planned months in advance with four or more people and our busy schedules meant that we could only find time in July–my month off. The second week of my vacation I was also at work three times. Each time I came into work the wonderful, Graduate Secretary smiled and me and said, “Now, I thought you were on vacation?” I love her to death for her humor and support! It’s work for me to relax and I’m trying to get better, as I don’t want to pass on this attribute to my daughters.

This third week, on Monday I met with some mentees and I’m finally ready to get to my own projects and writing! But, as any of us working in higher education knows, there is still work to be done on courses and other work related stuff during the month off. This post is the first in a series thinking about what it means to be busy or attempt to have it all. I think I just about have it all, but it means that I’m busy. Cue the big sigh.

What My Students Have Taught Me

I submitted my students’ grades and I have now completed my 18th year of teaching. I want to reflect on this year, but also begin to think about the next school term. This post offers some thoughts about what my students have taught me.

What have I learned from my students?

  1. Some of them are at university as a placeholder. Everyone tells them it was next for them. For many of them they are in the right place, but for some they will need some time off or to do other things, and this is fine. We have to support them.
  2. Their first year is hard. They are acculturating to university life and possibly living away from their parents. You have to treat the students with extra patience during the first term. Be firm, but patient.
  3. They are excited. You really want to keep that enthusiasm up, as it will for them when they are exhausted, homesick or second guessing themselves.
  4. You are part of their university experience.
  5. Working with first years for the bulk of my years, you are one of many who have impact on their ability to get through the first year. It is important to set guidelines, but be kind.

Overall, my first years have taught me humility. They are the hardest students to work with, as they demand the most of me. They also offer the most harsh quantitative and qualitative assessment of my teaching. It is ironic that a class full of people who are for the most part new to university are assessing my ability to teach. Who are they comparing me to? But it is important to hear from all my students, and learn from them. They make me smile with their compliments and criticism. It’s interesting to see that three students might like my use of “keener,” but one thinks that it is offensive. Yes, offensive. I cannot please everyone, and I do not try to do so. It is impossible!

I really look forward to year 19, which starts next month with the new term. I include a photo of my favorite Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is also known as the Notorious RBG.

notorious rbg

 

Cyberbullying

I read Sarah Darer Littman’s Backlash. The book’s cover notes, “What happens online doesn’t always stay online…” The book is a mature read in the Young Adult Literature #YALit genre. I read the book in one sitting staying up later than I really wanted to, but the book was a compelling page turner. Unfortunately, there are numerous cases of cyberbullying that make the mainstream news, so we know that this story is too real for so many young people.

The book does a great job of sharing the painful lesson that Cyberbullying is not a victimless crime. I suggest that parents, teachers, and young people read the book and then have discussions about the content. I encourage you to read this book.

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Girls Learning Code Day

Today my youngest daughter and one of her friends attended Girls Learning Code Day activities at UVIC. It was a packed day of coding in the Engineering Computer Science Labs for the kids and their parents. The crowed was packed with girls, a few boys, and lots of parents. The girls and their parents stormed the Ivory Tower or in this case the tower of the Engineering wing. This day probably saw the most girls and women in the building than at any other time.

There were numerous mentors at the event, too. The mentors were a good mix of UVIC graduate students, alum, and local mentors from tech companies or other businesses in Victoria. The Girls Learning Code Day took place across Canada and was sponsored by MasterCard. I would like to thanks Ladies Learning Code national, the Victoria Chapter, Erin Athene, and Linley Faulkner for all of their hard work in putting together the successful event.

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Childbirth Reflections

I’ve been thinking about the ways in which birth experiences influences the ways in which you feel about your health care provider and yourself. I heard a great MA Thesis defense this year and during the latter part of the defense there was some discussion about personal birth experiences. This made me think about my two birth experiences with my daughters. Both births required some intervention. And, here I am thinking about them some ten years later.

I did not opt to find out the gender of either of my girls. And, I had a birth plan in mind. I did not follow the birth plans, but I did end up with two baby girls. My eldest was encouraged to join us via the breaking of my waters and I labored for some 11 hours with her. I was quite thankful that for the epidural and will never forget the excruciating back labor. It really was like someone was trying to grate the skin off my back and hurt like nothing I had ever felt before. The next wonderful thing that I experienced were the shakes post-childbirth thanks to the epidural–with my teeth chattering. The rails of the hospital bed were cushioned so that I would not hurt myself, during my seizure like shakes.

The easiest part of my birth experience was breastfeeding. I had no issues with breastfeeding post-child birth. I also have warm memories of that first diaper change with the meconium being released by each daughter. Oh, good times.

My second (and last) child birth experience was more traumatic. I started off laboring standing and was feeling pretty good; however, in the matter of 10 minutes I went from laboring standing to the nurses realizing that something was wrong. I was summarily prepped for surgery and had an emergency c-section. I will never forget the moment on the hospital bed with my arms strapped down and feeling the doctor tug and open me up. I did not feel any of the surgery, but I could feel movement, and then my daughter was taken out of me. My doctor explained that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck twice and this explained the fetal distress. I shed tears of joy and relief. I felt guilty that every contraction strangled my poor girl. This daughter is more of a fighter and she comes by it naturally. Listening to other women’s child birth stories I am struck with the joy, honesty, and in some cases regret.

I did not feel guilty about the interventions that I had with my birth experiences, then, I do not now. And no one else is going to change my mind. Smiles.

Thanksgiving 2014

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I am sitting here thinking about the things that I am thankful for with this new school year. In the spirit of brevity I will number.

1. I am thankful for my mostly good health.

2. I am thankful for my sweetheart’s good health.

3. I am thankful for my wonderful family–both made and born. Not a day goes by that I do not think of all my family in California.

4. I am thankful to have such wonderful friends near and far. I know that I can text or email this inner circle and hear from them quickly. Thank you.

5. I am thankful for my job as a professor. As I have noted before, I have the great fortune to mentor young people.

6. I am thankful for my admin gig. I get to help other faculty, staff, and students and enhance their learning environment.

7. I am thankful for my peer mentors. You know who you are. Thank you.

8. I am thankful for my students. I enjoy interacting with them in the classroom, office hours, and the mentoring moments.

I have lots more to say, but I think this is a great start for Canadian Thanksgiving. Smiling. The photo below is from UVIC Communications, Photo Services.

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