the grid

the grid

Sunday 10 April 2022

Week 14: Emergency pick-us-up measures

Hello everyone!

I feel like this part of the session is always the hardest section… It is a long way from the beginning but still quite far to the end, and given how academic terms work there are always quite a few obstacles scattered around over the next few weeks. It is a long stretch and we need a little pick-me-up, or really a little pick-all-of-us-up for the week I think!

So, for this week’s check-in if you feel like it, share your weirdest, most unusual, or just your favourite pick-me-up tip, and we will run a little challenge: bonus points for everything you try off some-one else’s pick-me-up list and you report on next week! Can be big, or little, or one for those moments at your desk when you just want to cry/yell/curse…

And of course we cannot forget the cabins, so, think about how we can build a pick-me-up into a physical space to help with the mental part!

Last week’s goals


Finish equipment and software purchases
Last paper’s edits and submission
Student chapters
Get other people’s budgets sorted
Do something with friends
Start spring cleaning

Dame Eleanor Hull

Health: cardio x6, stretch x6, track bedtime, eat safely.
Research: talk to as many people as possible at the conference, have a good time.
Teaching: grade one longer assignment and two short ones.
Life stuff: do necessary hunting and gathering in unfamiliar town, do Covid test before flight, get to airport on time.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

Ask for help on the early education search.
Cook with the unusual ingredients for my diet.
Shovel off the home office desk.
Start the faculty activity report (sigh).

heu mihi

1) Finish school registration, if possible
2) Determine (and start on) next research steps
3) Grade a batch of papers
4) Next sustainability group task


1 oh those two book reviews
2 make progress on grading
3 start work on April conference presentation
4 twenty minutes a day cleaning office
5 some tree trimming

JaneB (carried over)

1) call GP about anxiety etc. because this is not going to defeat me
2) do teaching prep for week 10
3) make time to read or do D&D prep 4 days
4) Send an email to the "Why" author group
5) move intentionally 10 minutes a day
6) read & comment on second half of draft text for grad student
7) continue grading two lots of projects from the fives
8) grade essays for the fours
9) write comments for the fives on their project ideas


1. Fill remaining VILE content gaps for next week before the weekend, keep boards under control
2. Make a plan for upcoming school holidays
3. Finish postgrad exegesis feedback
4. 2 hours of my writing

Susan (carried over - we are thinking of you and hope you are ok!)

1. Finish this chapter (doable) before trip to Library
2. Keep reading ms.
3. Do fun thing
4. Go to all the meetings
5. Keep up with exercise & good eating
6. Set up Mom's new computer (hangs over me . . .anxiety.)


  1. This is a great prompt, and honestly, I need it right now! Not because of anything particularly terrible, or even slightly terrible. Just in a Sunday-afternoon, gray-weather, not-sure-what-to-do-with-myself, ought-to-go-for-a-run-but-don't-want-to-go-for-a-run sort of way.

    Speaking of which, I *know* that the thing that really makes me feel better is, yes, running. But I don't wanna. And I ate too recently. So I have to wait.

    There are probably other things. But it's telling that I can't think of any! I haven't been finding these little ways to give myself joy enough lately.

    Last week:
    1) Finish school registration, if possible - Yes, until they inevitably write back and tell me that I did it wrong! But for now, I'm clear.
    2) Determine (and start on) next research steps - Um, not really. I read a few essays, which weren't really on topic. I'm not sure what to do next.
    3) Grade a batch of papers - Yes
    4) Next sustainability group task - Yes

    This week:
    1) Come up with a rough outline of chapter 1 in order to clarify my sense of what I ought to be doing right now.
    2) Read dissertation prospectus.
    3) Do as much as I can with the three journal submissions I have to deal with

    We're going to my in-laws' on Friday (for the weekend), so I'm going to try to keep this list firmly under control. Three things is enough for now.

    1. Put on running clothes and go for a walk, telling yourself that if you feel like it you can break into a run . . . would that work?

      I hope you have a good time at your in-laws'!

    2. Lots of the things done, yay!
      I find that for me planning for research projects and thinking of next research steps and any decisions attached sometimes need to percolate in the background. The best idea I've had in the last few months came to me on a road trip where I had 6 hours alone and nothing pressing to worry about...

    3. My brain works like Daisy describes, in the background percolating for a while. Patience is not my strong suit, but it usually works for me.
      Also, I find a brisk walk helps that percolation; maybe a run can do that for you.

  2. Although my running days are over, I agree with heu mihi that exercise is a good pick-me-up. I tend to walk, concentrating on observing the natural world and monitoring my breathing. When I’m successful, I have twenty to thirty minutes to let whatever is overwhelming me get processed by the back brain, while my front brain gets a bit of a rest. I tend to get myself in a tailspin when I’m stressed, but a good walk often breaks the cycle of feeling pulled in twenty different directions.

    The scent of fear is in the air from the undergraduates, who are realizing how quickly the end of the semester is approaching. Although I’m somewhat protected—most of my students are graduate students and upperclassmen, the mood is pervasive.

    I’d love to have trails from the cabin that would lead to small pause points, perhaps with a vista, or just a bench by the stream to observe and muse.

    Last week’s goals:
    Ask for help on the early education search. No, because my pride got in the way. So, I set aside a half-hour to refine my search, and I got much better results.
    Cook with the unusual ingredients for my diet. Yes, with really good results. I hate to jinx this, but I think I’m getting the hang of this diet.
    Shovel off the home office desk. Whilst not completely done, I did a lot of shoveling, and should be able to finish up on Monday.
    Start the faculty activity report (sigh). Nope—didn’t even touch it. It’s due at the end of May, so I need to get on it.

    Next week’s goals:
    Start thinking about what to teach the summer intern.
    Write talking points for the meetings with higher-ups.
    Go to dentist and doctor appointments.
    Change the conflicting doctor appointment.

    I look forward to seeing everyone’s suggestions for pick-me-ups. Float like mist, everyone.

    1. Getting outdoors and out of our own heads is so helpful.

    2. Trails near the fantasy cabins are a must! Walking in the woods, observing and musing, getting outside, all those are critically important activities for recharge and renewal.
      Glad the new cooking system seems to be working well!

  3. Another vote for "great prompt"! Strong sensory experiences help me: the ideal pick-me-up would be something like brisk walk in cold wind, followed by hot tea with a strong scent (or hot bath with bubbles, depending on time available), while listening to music.

    HOW I DID:
    Health: cardio x6, stretch x6, track bedtime, eat safely. YES, YES, NO (but usually later than optimal), MOSTLY.
    Research: talk to as many people as possible at the conference, have a good time. YESSSS! It was SO FUN!!!
    Teaching: grade one longer assignment and two short ones. YES BUT I still haven't posted comments to the VILE site. :(
    Life stuff: do necessary hunting and gathering in unfamiliar town, do Covid test before flight, get to airport on time. YES, YES, YES.

    Health: cardio x6, stretch x6, track bedtime.
    Research: 2 hours a day! Write sabbatical proposal.
    Teaching: grade ALL THE THINGS.
    Life stuff: deposit a check, do some gardening, maybe bake something.

    1. So glad that your conference was fun! That is a wonderful change of scene and a real lift for the rest of the term! I'm also suitably impressed that you kept up all the health stuff even with travel.
      And wow, sabbatical proposal is a big deal, I hope that is fun to write!

    2. I like the brisk walk and hot tea afterwards--I've recently discovered lavender in some teas, which I approached cautiously, but I think the scent is calming.
      I'm also so glad the conference was fun. I find that connection so energizing and restorative.
      Have fun with the sabbatical proposal!

    3. The faster version of my pick-me-up is cold water on the face, followed by moisturizer, lipstick, and a squirt of perfume (if you're girly enough for all this). Or change clothes, either to fancier or to more comfortable, depending on where you started.

  4. I need a pick-me-up desperately! Our house is the house of plague, it finally got us even though we go nowhere without masks, are all triple vaccinated, and have been extremely lucky up to now… Everyone positive except kid who had a booster in March, and all feeling like five kinds of garbage. So not happy! Got a bunch of things done but had to just collapse partway through weekend and tell student whatever is in the chapters right now will be corrected after the defense, couldn’t read/edit anymore…

    For a whole mind/body pick-me-up the best one is still going for a run – I try to remember that and act on it because it really doesn’t matter how terrible I feel a run always helps. I will have to wait a while for that given that breathing is not a strong point right now! Buying myself flowers for no reason always makes me smile… When I can leave the house again I will do that!
    For a 5-minute pick-me-up at my desk I scroll through twitter with swear underscore trek and it always cheers me up. I’m getting a great deal of joy out of wordle and nerdle (guess the equation) and worldle (guess country based on shape) so for a 2 minute break those are great.
    It also makes me very happy to read about funny language quirks and expressions, that’s usually good for a little brain clear-out. Looking up the origin of things like “not my circus, not my monkeys”, “shaving a yak”, “bikeshedding” and such… Cheers me right up! For bad day books nothing beats Murderbot (tahnks JaneB!) and the Interdependency series…

    For a pick-me-up in my cabin I want some indoor plants that flower reliably!

    This week’s goals
    Finish equipment and software purchases DONE
    Last paper’s edits and submission PROGRESS!
    Student chapters DONE
    Get other people’s budgets sorted DONE
    Do something with friends DONE
    Start spring cleaning DONE

    This week’s goals
    Last paper’s edits and submission, so close!!!!
    Read student’s complete thesis, very exciting!!!
    Program book for conference
    Continue budget-wrangling
    Continue spring cleaning

    1. Oh, so sorry you have the plague! Even if attentuated, I can imagine it is not fun. I hope you feel better soon.

      Your pick-me-ups are great--I especially like to dig into etymology, and indoor flowering plants are so helpful in the dreary winter months.

    2. I'm sorry you're ill. Maybe someone will send you flowers!

      Flowers in my house are just a brief prelude to spilled water, chewed foliage, puddles of cat vomit, and possibly a broken vase or pot, but maybe someday I'll have well-behaved cats again. =^..^=

      I need to try Nerdle.

    3. Very sorry to hear you have the plague! Can you add flowers to your grocery delivery??

      Here in the UK, there are services which send a flat packed box of spring flowers like narcissus from the islands in the Channel, so the southern/moderate climate end of the UK - they have flowers months before the rest of us. They're very reasonably priced - maybe there's a service like that you could try? (DEH - flowers have to be very very carefully positioned in my house, and I often add clingfilm over the neck of the vase to make the water a little more contained, but fortunately Fluffball is mostly just clumsy rather than prone to randomly eat stuff... plus it can take him a week to get over the novelty and be willing to approach the flowers directly)

  5. I so need a pick me up - I'm just done. Struggling - taken a couple of days off in recent weeks because I Just Couldn't, and the break we get around Easter is not going to be long enough, I can feel it (and there is SO MUCH TO DO). Actually I need a couple of months and a couple of stone of weight off! As a start! BUT a quick snack always feels like a desirable and effective pick me up...

    Nice walking trails near the cabin, with strategically placed reading spots, sound like a good plan. Also, despite the rustic nature of my cabin, I would like a really super fancy coffee/hot chocolate making machine, the kind where you toss in milk/water/a scoop of stuff and get a luxury drink out then toss in some more water and it cleans itself. And a daylight lamp as a task light in a craft space.

    But the life I imagine the cabin being part of is much less overwhelmingly stressful than academe in a pandemic...