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Friday, 16 September 2016

Welcome: Introductions and Goals

Welcome to the Tilting Season of TLQ

We begin another season, taking us almost to the Solstice.  Those of us in the northern hemisphere are watching the days get shorter and cooler, while those in the southern are experiencing the reverse.

Some guidelines and groundrules.  We'll be posting on Friday, and check-ins will generally be over the weekend.  (Though in practice, many of us wait till Monday so we can check one or two more things off the list!)  The session will be a bit shorter than the summer one (14 weeks), designed to finish on December 10, before the holidays completely overwhelm people.  

For those who are new, we each set goals for the session, and then for each week.   Our weekly post is a way to think about what we're asking of ourselves, and how we're doing.  In checking in, I've found myself realizing the ways I set myself up for failure, and many of us have tried to reframe our expectations of ourselves.  The primary focus has always included research and scholarly writing, but many of us have used the group to help us develop other dimensions of our lives.  The group has been supportive and encouraging, and has included lots of sharing of survival strategies for all parts of our lives.   All you have to do to join is introduce yourself below, and keep stopping by at some point, usually over the weekend.

For this post, we would like to have
a. A brief introduction: Who are you?  Where are you geographically and/or professionally? What is important to you right now?

b.  Goals for the session.  Last session, we were asked to think about what we'd like to say about the previous three months when we sat down with a cup of tea after it ended.  Where do you want to be in mid-December? What do you know you have to do? What do you also want to do?  This can fall into categories of research, writing, self-care, work: whatever works for you. Feel free to be as detailed as is helpful to you, and to include the things that won't get done by themselves.  You might also note any challenges you face in meeting your goals.

c.  Goals for the next week:  What do you want to accomplish in the next week?   Try to be specific (says someone who has written "Look at this project" as a goal).   We'll have a check in post up next Friday, September 23.  

Welcome again!  We will try to make this an enjoyable place to stop by and keep track of your life.  Feel free to comment on each other's comments -- that's part of what has made this a special community.  


  1. Hello again. I'm in my mid-to-late career at a large regional university in the American midwest, trying to get un-stuck from Associate Professor. I'm married to a man and have 3 cats plus a house only the cats like, which we hope to sell next spring. So I'm trying to give some time to house repairs and sorting of Stuff, along with keeping writing going.

    Where I want to be in December: Morocco. Malaysia. Somewhere warm and non-Christian, because I hate winter and Christmas and all that. I'd settle for Australia or even LA. But I'll probably be in the midwest doing the usual Xmas things with Sir John's family.

    Goals, though: I want to have sent out two R&R projects and done some serious reading/note-taking to provide some theoretical underpinnings for my book-in-progress. (The state of the book is that I've basically done all the writing involving the primary text---or all I can do for now---and now I need to work on theoretical and historical background, with some literary comparisons.) I also need to do some translation-revising (we've achieved a complete rough draft, which is a big milestone). I need to keep up with teaching, which is less challenging than usual (low enrollments = smaller classes). Usually things I consider basic (exercise, food providing) aren't too tricky, but my teaching schedule and recent discovery of some food intolerances means that over the next few months, both of these need more attention than they used to. Finally, there's the house-related sorting/tossing/giving away/storing that I don't really want to do but really need to do. We will both be much happier in a newer, lower-maintenance place, and the only way out is through.

    For next week: since I just submitted an article and my sabbatical report, and promptly came down with the respiratory crud that's making its way around my department, I want to rest on my laurels for a few days. My plan is to spend the weekend reading novels on the couch, and probably stay home on Monday, and then see if I'm well enough to tackle the rest of the week. So I guess this week's theme is "rest and recover," and if I regain some energy mid-week, I'll come back and add some more specific tasks related to my session goals.

    I'm looking forward to this iteration of TLQ!

    1. "Rest and Recover" is a new meaning for R & R! Welcome back, Dame Eleanor. I hear you on the clearing and fixing -- it's really not interesting, the kind of thing that feels good to have done, but the doing is really not interesting!
      Enjoy your weekend!

    2. I can definitely recommend Christmas at the beach!
      It sounds like you have some really solid foundations to build on.

    3. Christmas at the beach sounds wonderful. I'd quite like to do something different this year but I suspect I'll run out of time to plan and do the usual.
      Cleaning and fixing, yeah, not fun but potentially satisfying in the same way ticking off lists can be.

    4. Serendipity struck yesterday: a good friend (on my blog, Queen Joan) phoned to propose a rip to Mexico at the end of December/start of January. Woo-hoo! I'm not sure why I can't get it together to plan such things for myself, but it's lovely to have her organize me.

    5. All the best with repairing and sorting the house--I can totally relate to wanting a different house, as well as wanting all the work done and behind me in the new place!
      Congrats on finding someplace warm in December!!

    6. I love the way your trip has become a rip to Mexico. It seems very appropriate! Kind of reminds me too of a rip in space as opposed to a wrinkle in time, , , allan wilson

    7. Yes, I noticed that after I'd posted and then decided I liked it! I'm sure we'll have a rip-roaring time.

  2. I'm Susan (one of the moderators this session). I'm a senior scholar in the humanities at a relatively new public institution in the US. We are growing rapidly, at least in terms of student numbers; we expect to move from R2 to R1 in the next iteration of rankings; given the relatively limited state support, this is a stressful work environment. I'm currently head of the faculty Senate, which I enjoy, but it means lots of admin work and many many meetings. I'm a widow, who lives with now 3 cats (one recently moved from outdoors to indoors) in a (relatively) small city. My elderly mother lives in an assisted living facility in the same city; her health is currently good, but she almost died twice in 2015, and we both know what the end of the story is.

    Session goals:
    At the end of the last session, I finally submitted the final version of my book ms. to the press. I'm expecting a schedule for production in the next few days, but my hunch is that during this session I'll get both the copyedited manuscript and the proofs, since they are talking about publication in February/March. With each of those steps, I'll have two weeks to do everything that needs doing, with an extra week with the proofs to do the index. As a result, my other goals will be modest.
    1. I have a paper to finish for a conference with pre-circulated papers. It's due this week, and it will be done.
    2. I have a long overdue book review that needs to get done
    3. I have footnotes to check. Once I've finished the book review, I want to do as much of this as possible.
    4. I have a paper I wrote a year ago for a conference/essay collection, but the essay collection has not found a home, so I'd like to publish it. It needs a bit of polishing, so if there's time, I'd like to do that.
    5. Return to reading fiction: I keep thinking this will happen, and I'm hoping that as my mind gets free of the book, I will do this.
    6. Sleep: I work best when I get about 7 hours of sleep a night. One of my feline alarm clocks does not like this, but I'd really like to get to bed early enough so this can work
    7. Exercise: I go to an exercise class three days a week; I'd like to add walking twice a week. That depends on the sleep.
    8. Friends and family: I need to stay connected to people, just hanging out and talking.

    Goals for next week:
    1. Finish paper for October conference and post by Thursday.
    2. Organize things for trip to lovely research library next weekend: which footnotes can I easily check there?
    3. Finish reading novel I started when on vacation in August.
    4. Walk one day.

    1. Hi co-host :) Well done on having the final book draft submitted, and I hope the other modest goals do give you the space to keep up progress on the last push to publication while varing for yourslef.

    2. Thanks for hosting this session. I also do best on about 7 hours of sleep...sometimes I wish I only needed 4 hours but then it's nice to switch off from everything for a while. Good luck with the goals.

  3. ’m humming42, grateful to be here again. I’m a mid-career prof, still teaching at a mid-sized state school in a small US town, although I find myself looking at job listings. I might enjoy teaching and living somewhere other than this small town.

    My primary goal for the last iteration of the group was to finish and submit my manuscript, which I failed to do. I don’t have any excuses to offer but am determined to get it done as soon as possible. I have projects lined up behind it, so it’s a little TRQ in my world right now (although I’m not working as diligently as one might in this situation). Session goals are not exciting, but I can imagine the satisfaction at the end of this block of time, knowing I have a clean slate in front of me and can dream up whatever crazy research projects might strike me. And so:

    1 Submit book manuscript
    2 Submit two late book reviews
    3 Finish and submit Ungloomy article
    4 Finish and submit Venus article
    5 Read a novel
    6 Get grading done in a timely manner
    7 Set and maintain a schedule to manage household responsibilities
    8 Consider possibility for writing every day

    This week:
    1 Finish references and final edits for chapters 2, 3, and 4
    2 Write to JB and JW for photo permissions
    3 Look through personal digital photos for decent shots
    4 Read 50 pages of a review book

    1. Ungloomy article: just the title makes me smile. I hope the manuscript finishing goes well - I've got a articles lurking on my desk at the moment where they are all written bar the 'hard bits' where I need to re-read literature.

    2. You can do it! (Though it's astonishing how much time those last things take. The bibliography nearly killed me!)

  4. Hi, I'm Karen and I'm your other co-host for this session. I'm in a satellite campus of a regional university in the southern hemisphere, equivalent of tenures and supposedly four days a week. I'm pretty certain that I'm not going to identify myself further by noting that we are in yet another round of restructure, curriculum development, and focus on creating interdisciplinary research groups. My participation last session was rather sporadic due to taking on a new administrative role and teaching a new large online unit for the first time. As we head into summer here I want to shift from reactionary chaos to having some structure that prioritises TLQ. Outside work, I have a partner, two young children, a garden and growing herd of guinea pigs.

    Goals for this sessions are:
    1. Explore writing rhythms till I get something I can hold
    2. Write one conference paper
    3. Review co-authored conference paper and knock it through to a complete article draft
    3. Get ethics approval up for 2017 SOTL project
    4. Find energy that doesn't rely on chocolate (so sleep, mindful eating, movement)
    5. Work with co-teachers on 2017 curriculum development to the point where there's defined plans and time allocations for being ready for semester 1.

    This week:
    1. Writing experiment one - diarised time on two days of the week for reading then writing
    2. Investigate stand-sit desk thingy
    3. make daily to do lists

    1. The guinea pigs sound fun!
      I've been contemplating a stand-sit desk thingy then I look round the chaos in my office and wonder where on earth it would go. A few folks have them but don't use them that much.

      Thanks for hosting.

    2. I have a sit/stand desk, and I used it a lot while I was on sabbatical, but it's been more occasional recently. I think it's because when my computer crashed and everything was re-installed, I couldn't set up the reminders properly.. But I liked standing.

    3. We had a variably sized herd of "pinny-gigs" or "jeeps" growing up too. Lovely little animals, funny and cute, and much more cuddly than rabbits or hamsters. Picture??

  5. Hello All, I'm Katy, a senior lecturer in science in the UK. I've just given up and admin role and hope to focus on teaching and research equally. My research is now far towards the pedagogic side of my discipline having abandoned 'bench' research a couple of years ago bar undergrad projects. I knit, sew and make prints (screen-printing), and read ridiculously fast. My goodreads challenge was 52 books this year, currently read 74. There's stuff going on right now that makes me feel a bit like Schrodinger's cat - neither one thing nor another so my initial plans for the session are conservative.

    Goals for the session
    1. incorporate regular writing/editing sessions for several projects interspersed with writing fits (1500 words in a couple of hours).
    2. Make progress with two research projects: scary and house, mainly by revising and using the research tools on cohorts.
    3. Submit one paper and get another one 'nearly there'
    4. Make stuff!
    5. Be more present in this group - I swing by to check in and keep track but I want to find more time to comment.

    This week:
    [it's the last week before semester...agh!]
    1. revise scary research tool, project information sheet and consent form and get it ready for printing
    2. edit house research tool 1 and get it ready for printing
    3. make headway in teaching prep.

    Thanks to Karen and Susan for hosting - this is incredibly useful.

    1. Welcome, Katy! We now have an "Ungloomy" article and a "Scary" research project... hmmm.

      More seriously, those times of change are very hard.

  6. Hi, I'm JaneB, I'm a Reader at a "squeezed middle" University in the UK. Everything is changing - new computer systems, new organisational structure meaning new colleagues, new processes etc. (and although that started 1st August none of the actual relevant-to-me administrative roles have been appointed yet, apart from Head of School, and no-one knows who does what or will do what or has the authority to do what), new curriculum (I'm leading two major new first year modules, and there is Much Drama), building work in our building "sometime" in the coming semester, the largest ever intake of new students... and we're four teaching staff short following a hiring freeze (though three adverts have now gone out, they're all for fixed term as junior as possible posts for 1-3 years starting in second semester, which ALSO means we won't have their full teaching capacity available for another 18 months, since the university rules that junior people without teaching certs all have to be given less actual teaching so they can get them, which I am all in favour of in terms of helping fixed term people develop their c.v.s, but all AGAINST in terms of survival of the rest of us). Students start back a week from tomorrow, the timetable is incomplete (every YEAR this happens) and the classes I do have scheduled for my second years are all in rooms which are substantially too small.

    Deep Breath, end rant.

    Expect late check-ins, rants, and failure to meet goals all session!

    Outside of work, I'm single, live with an elderly but imperious cat, and have a pretty boring and dull life - I'm an intravert and I have multiple not terribly serious but distinctly inconveniencing mental and physical health issues, which leave me a bit short of energy or interest in much else especially when things are uncertain-type stressful as they are at the moment (I hedgehog). My confidence and sense of professional self have been rather battered by the last three years (we're "on a journey" and aiming "beyond excellence" and "churn is normal" and the jargon alone is enough to induce mild nausea, never mind our current Head of Department/now Head of School who is a nice person but a lousy manager for me), and getting some equilibrium back is high on this academic year's agenda.

    I don't have time for research, or indeed any TLQ, really. However, I have things that need doing, so will set some possibly crazy-ambitious goals for this session! The students return a week on Monday, and the week after the 10th of December I hope to be conference-attending.


    1. Session goals:
      1) survive and deliver my classes acceptably, if possible without needing sick leave from teaching
      2) Have full drafts of two (closely related) papers from the project I call Problem Child. This requires actual data generation (from simulations) as well as writing
      3) Be up to date with refereeing, reviewing etc. (current queue is 2 papers, one book) and minor writing (one 2000 word chapter for an encyclopedia thing, conference talk)
      4) look after myself - eat reasonably, spend enough time in bed (sleep is erratic and sometimes elusive, but I can at least rest my eyes and feet for the right amount of time), exercise gently, be kind to myself
      5) probably this should be my number 1 - act deliberately. Act with purpose and intent, NOT reactively, and as if I am a person who matters as much if not more than all the things around me. this is the best way I can currently codify in a few words the ideas that have percolated up from continuing to think about the 'Slow Professor' principles, and ideas we talked about in the summer like 'move like water'... I talk a lot in previous iterations about balance, but it strikes me that that metaphor is troubling as it implies an inately precarious situation, something like walking across a narrow beam, high up, whilst carrying many objects. I want a metaphor which makes me feel intrinsically grounded, gives me more feeling of control and agency than of continually just avoiding the brink of disaster, and which helps me do wood-and-forest thinking, switching smoothly between the immediate and the longer term (which reaction, fire-fighting, wobbling on a beam, really doesn't favour).

      This week's goals:
      It's the last week before students return. I have a schools outreach thing to do, multiple meetings to attend (some of which will be stressful), and a gadzillion things on my list. My email count is already soaring... however, these are the things in the TLQ that I would like to aim for.
      1) self-care - sleep, eat, back to the gym maybe twice (I've been travelling or recovering from an injured ankle for a month, enough excuses - and as I've hardly been in the office, my office-chair-aggravated back problems are currently much reduced, and keeping moving will definitely help that to last)
      2) half an hour a day/2.5 hours over the week on the immediate list - Problem Child, article refereeing. Nowhere near what's needed, but realistically possible, and more than nothing.
      3) take ten minutes every day at work to file stuff or tidy stuff or just sharpen pencils, to keep my space MINE.
      4) take ten minutes every day for tiny pieces of chaos reduction, domestic maintainance, or crochet - something about things not words, and which feels like an achievement (even if it's just loading or unloading the dishwasher).
      5) practice observing other people with detached kindness... (Oh look the funny man is shouting again, he's going red, how interesting, he must have had a bad morning already)

    2. Welcome, JaneB! I love your comment about the balance metaphor. I think the key to what we really want is being grounded; it allows you to make choices and support yourself. So maybe we don't even need a new metaphor?

      Anyway, I wish you luck, and I'm glad you have this space for rants as necessary.

    3. "I talk a lot in previous iterations about balance, but it strikes me that that metaphor is troubling as it implies an inately precarious situation, something like walking across a narrow beam, high up, whilst carrying many objects"
      An alternative and equally difficult definition would be that balance is something one does to counterbalance someone/something else - as in you are the person who continually must adjust to counteract changes else where. That's also unhelpful, particularly if folk are going around having big grumps about change. It also puts unfair burden on you to adapt to things.
      There's something to be said for being comparatively immovable!

    4. Yes yes yes! The remarks here about balance here are right on! You are so right, JaneB, that this is a troublesome metaphor that always has us in reaction at the moment we're trying our best to NOT be reactive. I've been thinking a lot about how I don't want to be "thrown away" (a Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones metaphor) by my reaction to the events going on around me, a bunch of restructuring and change done poorly so we're left without knowing what's coming (aka Bad Leadership). (I admit I'm also thinking here of weebles and how they wobble but they don't fall down, but I don't want to wobble quite so much in reaction so that's my visual for not being "thrown away.") So I too think grounded may be a better metaphor, though I'm open to new ones too.

    5. Oooh, yes, Katy, that reading of the term balance is also there - it's a sort of "calm down" and "be the adult" aspect of the word which lets other people get away with stuff (or is that just my experience??).

      I'm not completely sure about "grounded" as an alternative - I like the idea of being solidly based, but grounded feels kind of static (pun unintended but amusing me now I saw it). I do better with analogies which have some sense of growth to them, of travelling - I definitely don't want to stay exactly where I am! I want to get better at this being human lark.

      Deliberate is a good word, it has the sense of movement and control and intention which I'm looking for, but "deliberating" is definitely NOT what I mean. I want to hear my own drummer clearly, and to make choices from a position of thought and consideration, not fear and reaction, not pressure and concession (compromise is really NOT a word in the vocabulary of most stressed academics, or many unstressed ones, in my experience).

      Weebles may not fall down, but they must get pretty travel-sick as the wobbling increases, I've always thought!

  7. Hey, everybody! I am a tenured instructor in my 19th year of teaching English at a community college in California, USA. I have a husband and two kids, and we have a cat, a dog, two bearded dragons, and a few other weird critters. I am also at the very end of a PhD that I have been pursuing part-time in the UK. I have to finish the thesis this week, and then I'll face the viva at some point soon (don't yet know when).

    I hope you'll forgive me if I wait until next week to read everyone's posts and set session goals. I am fairly myopic right now.

    This week's goals:
    1) Finish the PhD thesis by Wednesday.
    2) Print, Bind, and Mail the thesis by Thursday (or Friday if I have some technical difficulties)
    3) Try not to cancel more than one day of teaching.

    It's a challenging time, and my supervisors have been MIA, but I am carrying on, and working towards the finish line. And my family and colleagues (and students) have been wonderfully supportive and understanding in these last, crazy weeks. In other words, they are all being very nice about me being quite rubbish at everything.

    1. Good luck with finishing the thesis - the end is in sight but it's challenging to reach it!

    2. You'll make it. You've done so much. Congratulations in advance!

    3. One foot in front of the other. . . I know the end is always hard, but you can do it! We'll pop virtual champagne corks next week.

    4. Wow! You're very, very close. Congratulations, and best wishes on getting the thing done and printed/bound and in the mail(at least you're mailing it; I remember driving several hundred miles on way too little sleep to turn mine over to the printer/binder, who then delivered it to my department. I think the only thing that kept me awake was the thought of how awful it would be to die in a drowsy-driving accident at that particular juncture.)

      Don't worry about the "being rubbish" part. That's normal, and you'll catch up eventually (and if a few loose ends remain untied, the world won't end).

  8. Hello again, everyone. First, thanks to Susan and Karen for co-hosting this tilting session of TLQ.

    I’m a newly tenured Associate Librarian (I got my letter and $500 raise from the Chancellor last week) at a STEM-heavy R1 in New York State. I am ABD in medieval studies, but am closer to end-of-career than my tenure status would indicate, after 31 years in the business. I am in a largely administrative position, so my main focus is retaining my identity as a medievalist and scholar in this increasingly businesslike environment. At this point, I am refusing to jump through the hoops my Ph.D.-granting institution requires, of retaking my qualifying exams and several courses in order to be re-admitted to defend the dissertation. What is far more important to me is to stay grounded with what matters to me, and to continue to write what I want to study and share with the world.

    I am long married to a man who had two daughters when we met; those daughters are grown with families of their own, and I am pleased beyond measure that they consider me a second mother and grandmother to their children. Our sons came later, and are now in university, still finding their way in a world where their scholastic interests do not match what the world pays money to do. We have an extremely spoiled Standard Poodle at home, and still mourn our Weimaraner, who passed away about a year ago. I am still unpacking from the July move into a new house, and dealing with a husband who is grumpily compiling his tenure dossier.

    Session goals:
    Session mantra: Live purposefully and deliberately
    Continue my habit of writing every day.
    Finish the neverending commentary for the Prudence book.
    Move more--use the brand-new variable desk, walk more, get out of the chair more.

    Next week’s goals:
    Write recommendation letter (TLQ now, but will become TRQ if I’m not careful)
    Write commentary ½ hour times 5
    Organize files for book ½ hour times 5
    Walk the dog ½ hour times 3

    Thank you all for contributing your thoughts and hints and listening ear to this group.

    1. Great to have you back! I think one of the really hard things in the university is that almost none of us are valued for the things we are passionate about.

    2. Well put, Susan. So many institutions have been taken over by the bean counters. At my last position, I had to justify the cost of offering a medieval studies course by its impact on the students' future earnings. (!!???!!)

    3. That is IMPRESSIVELY insane...

    4. Well, JaneB, that was the same institution whose president put forward a plan to charge higher tuition for "non-lucrative" majors, like History. Luckily, that plan was shouted down. I knew it was time to find a new position then!

    5. One has to think that pendulum has swung so far in the direction of bean-counting/instrumental views of education that it just might swing back one of these days.

      But I'm not holding my breath.

  9. Hi everyone!
    Nice to see so many great goals and plans for the session already!
    I'm a 5th year tt assistant prof in physical science at a tiny undergraduate university. I have a kid in elementary school, and a husband who works 4 time zones away so most of the time it is just me. I just submitted my tenure and promotion application so this term I'm only going to worry about one thing, and that is my research. I'm a great teacher and my classes for this term are the type that tick along very well with minimal tweaking. I also have an ongoing huge administrative program development task.

    My goals for this session are ambitious: write three new papers and finish the hideous revise and resubmit from the last session! The three new ones are for projects that are now slowly maturing and producing things worth writing about.

    This week's goal:
    1) Introduction, Literature review and previous work section for Paper 1
    2) Data organization for Paper 1
    3) Finish and perfect Major Conference Talk for next week

    Have a great week!

    1. Welcome, Daisy! Congratulations on getting your tenure file in. And what a nice way to celebrate -- focusing on your research. I love the image of the slowly maturing projects.

  10. Hi all, I am allan Wilson. I am a government scientist who has recently moved from early to mid career, and now have a lot of angst about the purpose and direction of my work and career. Not to mention trying to deal with lots of politics at an institution that seems very focused on the need to bring in funding. I am also a partner, and a mother, and my non work life has a reasonable amount of stress which I would like to deal with calmly and without feeling so stressed.
    I need to think a bit more about my session goals, but would certainly like to include the following:
    1) to be fitter and stronger physically than I am now, by doing exercise consistently - I find this has enormous benefits for my mental wellbeing, and energy levels
    2) to be calm, especially as Christmas draws closer. Not sure yet what my strategies will be here.
    3) to resubmit two papers that I have previously completed with the help of this group - both are complete mss, but need reformatting after recent rejections
    4)to work on drafts of three other papers, so each has a complete manuscript form
    I am very much looking forward to this iteration of our wonderful group.
    Goal this week: I am mostly on leave. So - to exercise 3x, and not work.
    allan wilson

    1. I like your goals!

      How to be calm re Christmas: try to be glad you don't have to manage it while shoveling snow and getting the children in and out of snowsuits! I know, the grass is always greener and all that, but I used to like Christmas better in California, when outdoors was more clement and I didn't feel so claustrophobically cooped up with all the enforced cheer. I don't mean to come off as "you think you have it bad," so please ignore this if I've got the tone wrong. I do hope you find some strategy that works for you.

    2. Welcome! I think the way you have framed your goals is really helpful. And enjoy being on leave.

    3. The mid-career direction-finding stress rings a bell for me, as does the desire to be calm(er) -- though I think I'll be making that an incremental rather than a deadline goal (can I feel more like things are manageable/under control even as the semester gets busier and busier? Time will tell.)

    4. I am enormously pleased I don't have to dealwith snow suits - on the other hand, December is the end of our school year here in the southern hemisphere, and the time when everything shuts for a month, and many of us pack up for a long holiday somewhere else to the tune of garish Xmas songs and exhortatons to buy things, so it can be slightly horrific on other levels, although perhaps not that bad! aw

  11. I am so sorry to be so late to the party!

    I’m Earnest English, and I teach general ed courses at a Specialized U in the snowy midwest of the US. I’m an associate professor going into my second year after tenure, so this year I really want to learn how to make my new teaching load work with a reasonable (not heroic) service load and be a person who gets research done AND has a life and doesn’t get sick all the time.

    The most important thing to me this session is to stay calm and centered. The biggest challenge to this is that at work big changes are upon us, and my department seems intent on imploding in reaction. Other challenges include just the sheer amount of work to do this session between work, holiday planning, farmlife (flock and garden), and Spirited. I'm also in a sort of mourning period about several things, including several aspects of my job, so I need to be more active to create and keep any balance. This summer I’ve also come to really value and appreciate that doing a little bit at a time is worthwhile and creates forward momentum while not overwhelming me. As long as I'm moving forward, I'm happy. So I'm going to try to apply that more by trying to be organized and intentional on various fronts. (This includes using a paper calendar and having a to-do list of planning for the weekends.)

    Session Goals

    Gardening/herbalism: don’t forget about the garden, but do some fall planting, winter gardening or whatever/planning or herbalism learning weekly

    Writing: five hours/sessions per week (reading counts!); 6x

    Health: sleep!!! (in bed by 11 or earlier on worknights), supplements, good food

    Mental health: journal, meditate or yoga and RELAX, listen to audio books during commute; planning instead of panic; create and communicate boundaries

    Cooking: one nice meal a week (plan over weekend)

    Weekly and birthday/holiday planning: Keep on top of holidays and other events with planning on weekends

    Spirited!: keep checked in to his education: at least check notebook every weekend and check in with him; even better? ask daily

    Work: be an intentional, slow professor who plods through work

    This Week's Goals

    The next two weeks are a transition period for me.

    Gardening: move forward on blueberry project

    Writing: 5 sessions

    Health: start going to bed earlier; take supplements

    Mental health: meditate 1x this week; move like water; pay some attention to checking in and trying to relax

    Cooking: one meal this week

    Planning: spend a couple hours updating calendar and figuring things out

    Spirited!: work with him to get him back on track

    Work: spend a couple hours putting syllabi together instead of waiting until next week and panicking; spend minimal time on worry

    Hope everyone's moving like water, plodding like tortoise!

    1. Welcome back. You remind me that I need to pay attention to my garden - time to pull out the summer plants, put in some kale and chard for the winter! (I do minimal vegetables, but a few years ago these were incredibly successful.) Good luck with the not worrying!

  12. Hi everyone!
    I'm Wally, and am a postdoc at an R1 in a large city in the US. There is a chance I will be moving to an Ivy League in a bigger city in the US, and I am very nervous about this* (and worn out from not knowing whether this is happening, as it has been dragging on since April!). I am pretty much 100% research, but my position is 50% with one group and 50% with the best mentor in the universe. This causes me a lot of stress, and I really hope to be 100% with the best mentor in the world at some point.

    I need to re-group to figure out my goals - I just got back from a conference at which my laptop died, so I am feeling a bit disconnected (just got my laptop back today!). Will post my goals soon.

    * I have only ever been in public/state schools and feel like I am better suited to that environment. Hence, the nerves.

    1. Welcome back, Waffles, and commiserations on the stress induced by decision-making processes that can leave one up in the air from April to (nearly) October.

      As far as the (possible) move to the Ivy League goes, I will say that, in my experience at two Ivy League institutions (undergrad and grad), they usually have a significant contingent of faculty (and grad students) who have made just the sort of move you anticipate. I haven't done it myself (since my work life has been primarily at state institutions, I moved in the other direction), so I can't speak entirely from experience, but I have the sense that, while the culture can feel new/strange at first, people do settle in, and appreciate the resources that enormous endowments make possible. That's really the, or at least a, major difference; Ivies may talk about money worries, but they're minor in comparison to those at state schools (at least in the humanities; I'm not sure quite how this translates to the grant-funded disciplines, and it sounds like you're in one of those).

      And as far as the social/work culture goes, it's by no means monolithic; while there will certainly be people who, like their parents and grandparents before them, have never left the Ivies, there will also be others from a wide variety of backgrounds (including international ones), and you're likely to find colleagues with similar/complementary experiences. So, especially if the move would advance the "100% with the best mentor" goal (do I gather that (s)he might be moving, and you would go with?), it sounds like a positive, though understandably stress-inducing.

    2. Thanks! You intuited the situation correctly. I will absolutely go with her - it all just depends on her and the funding. They have asked her for ideas of faculty they could recruit, so I'm pretty sure they can afford a measly postdoc salary! :)

      I think part of my concern is that I went to a mega competitive high school - it was public, but we were in a very competitive track (our rankings were posted for everyone to see regularly). In that setting, I felt I wasn't as smart as everyone else, and just didn't try except in classes in which I excelled without trying (languages) or in which I had crushes on my teachers (chemistry). In my undergrad and grad programs, I stood out - in good ways. I worked hard, and benefited from that tremendously. So, it's just all about confidence.

    3. Okay, here are my goals for the session:
      1. Approximately 5 grant applications for project #1 (actual number will depend on my fellowship app currently under review). Most due in November.
      2. Intersections paper
      3. Discrepant paper
      4. Stress Model paper (this may wait as it's complex)
      5. Aging paper
      6. CS paper
      7. Stigma paper
      8. 2 grant apps for project #2

    4. Goals for this week:
      I'm late to the party for this one, so I will try to make modest goals.
      1. Make edits to religion paper
      2. Write LOI
      3. Outline lit review for intersection manuscript
      4. Survive the first US presidential debate! :)

    5. Waffles, Welcome back. I think CC is just right - having done both my degrees at Ivies, and then been married to a faculty member. I'd also say that the faculty is considerably less ritzy than some of the students, which helps. And if you're with your awesome mentor, she will set the tone for the lab/group.

  13. And another late check-in: I'm a mid-career, full-time non-tenure-track professor of English (composition, mostly, though I have a literature-focused country/period/genre research specialty) at a directional state university in the United States that, like Susan's institution, is on the R1/R2 cusp. My job, however, is teaching-only (with rumbles from the provost about adding some service, which I actually wouldn't mind, except I was under the impression that the university, my department, and I agreed that the 4/4 all-writing-intensive load I've carried for the last 15 years constitutes at least a full-time load). I still do some research and writing, but mostly because I enjoy it, since it doesn't count for retention or promotion in my current job, and I don't really anticipate going on the market again unless my present job disappears -- which could happen in a restructuring, but that doesn't seem imminent at the moment.

    So my work life is stable -- maybe a little too stable, as in boring while still being a bit overwhelming at times, but for the moment I'll take it. I've been focusing for the last few iterations of the group on what I call "infrastructure" -- self-care, and household/financial organizing (which is a combination of the need to keep on top of day-to-day stuff, and still trying to cope with some unexpected upheavals of, well, over a decade ago now, so I feel like I should have caught up/coped by now, but I haven't, entirely, for various reasons). That will still be my focus this time, though I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't start trying to work some writing and research back in, since cutting them out hasn't really made me all that more productive on the home/self-care end.

    I have to admit I'm feeling a bit discouraged, and a bit embarrassed, at my lack of progress, even as I realize that there are reasons for it, including, most recently, an unexpectedly busy summer that followed a difficult spring semester -- I learned in January that my father, from whom I'd been estranged mostly by his choice, was dying; I got to spend some time with him in the following months, while also coping with the complicated (step)family dynamics that led to the estrangement in the first place; and he died in March. I'm coping reasonably well, I think, but also, in general and especially given how quickly things moved, still processing, and I expect that will continue to be true as I come up on one-year anniversaries: last Thanksgiving spent together, learning of his illness, etc. Longer-term, the fact that I've been teaching in the summer for the last six years has also played a role in diminishing time, and, probably more important, energy available for dealing with other things. That teaching has been a financial necessity, and the right decision in those terms, but it has definitely taken its toll on other things, from home- and self-care to research to, to a lesser extent, willingness to experiment and innovate in my teaching. I'm hoping to be able to take at least some summers off from now on, and I think that will help.

    1. When I think about it, I also realize that I've done a good deal of teaching experimentation and innovation over this period, and over my career at my current institution, and I shouldn't downplay that. In fact, I should probably be writing more about it, and I mean to -- except that I also would like to write in/about my original research area, and there's not a lot of time for that, either. So figuring out not only when to get back to research and writing, but which research and writing to get back to, and why I might decide to focus in one direction or the other, or oscillate back and forth, is another part of the picture. I think I'm beginning to get some clarity on that subject: I'd like to do some pedagogical writing, but I'm not sure it makes sense to do the groundwork/retraining necessary to publish full-fledged scholarship of teaching. I may eventually feel differently about that once I get started, however, so the decision-making is still a work in progress (and part of what is going on may be recognizing/grieving the loss, at least for the moment, of the opportunity to write/research in my original field -- or maybe my strong resistance to doing so is a sign that I shouldn't give it up? And around my thoughts go again).

      To top it all off, the beginning of this school year has been unexpectedly difficult, for no large reason but a variety of small ones (see busy summer and lingering effects of spring above; plus a schedule that involves teaching 4 sections of the same course on 3 different schedules, which can be confusing, especially as I'm settling into a pattern; plus several different technical difficulties with a LMS that supposedly didn't change over the summer, but is behaving differently; plus trying something new that worked reasonably well but not perfectly, and also involves some technical difficulties, early in the semester). So, although I don't really have a big, good reason (like, for instance, finishing a dissertation), I'm going to take another day or two to consider goals, and come back and add them to this thread by the end of the weekend.

      So, session goals: tba in a reply to this post.

      This week's goal: come up with session goals.

    2. My dad died when I was in grad school. We weren't estranged, but it was a difficult relationship. I was in shock for like a year - I mostly was productive, but I had a lot of trouble socially (bc no one my age knew what I was going through). I began falling apart after that year. Be gentle with yourself - loss can be particularly rough in complex relationships - and everyone handles it differently.

    3. CC, Good to have you back. I would echo Waffles and Elizabeth Anne -- a father's death is hard. My father died just over two years ago (expected and not entirely) -- like yours, a complicated relationship; and I found just this month things coming up where his absence really hit me hard. The hardest thing with grief is that it's not linear (and everyone is different).

      And I can't imagine teaching the same course on 3 different schedules. I'd never know where I'd talked about what!

    4. Thanks to all for your sympathy. Grief and loss are, indeed, unpredictable experiences, and I'm fortunate to have space to take them as they come, while more or less staying on top of TRQ things, and trying to get back to the TLQ stuff as well (which has changed a bit as a result, but not really a great deal).

      Anyway, finally, goals for the session, in categories (because that seemed to make sense):

      --increase exercise (walking, weight-lifting, gardening) enough to increase the amount I can do
      --make/eat more homemade food
      --get enough/more regular sleep (in particular, try to establish/maintain a regular bedtime/bedtime routine)
      --do more long-form reading (keep up w/church Bible-reading project, + some additional professional & recreational reading)

      --accomplish enough in the garden plot to meet the standard of “active gardening” and to move as much gardening paraphernalia as possible to the plot itself (make fence out of rolls of wire currently occupying part of my living space; assemble storage box ditto & fill will tools ditto)
      --make progress on putting up shelves (including temporary assembly of ones that will eventually be painted/permanently installed)
      --get financial paperwork in shape for mortgage applications
      --gather data for a budget
      --research 2nd home/investment property/storage solution

      --Follow up on grant project (attend conference, prepare reports, look into addtl funding, maybe write a bit)
      --Continue to think about research/writing priorities

      --do what I can to keep up/reestablish contact with friends and family, without getting too tied up in whether/how people (especially those in difficult/complicated situations) respnd.
      --scan at least an album’s worth of family pictures; move pictures to new, archival album (which will be a birthday/Christmas present for my brother)

  14. I will echo Wally's suggestion to be gentle with yourself. grief is a srange beast, and returns at unforeseen monments in addition to the foreseen anniversaries and birthdays.