And another new calendar year begins…

This is a quarterly blog now, I guess.  Someday I’ll write more often. Anyway!  I’m finally feeling mostly like my old self again

Ah, Life

I’ve been listening to The Hilarious World of Depression podcast lately and I’ve been struck by the comedians being interviewed.  A common thing happens in many- they are telling the world how they are depressed and by doing so they help other depressed people.  Well, I’ve been depressed since 2013 and I’m happy to say that finally, this past fall, I managed to get on the right medication.  That is truly something to be thankful for.  I was still pretty high-functional for the past 3 years but everything was an effort.  Getting myself to work.  Doing laundry.  Getting out of bed.  I kept having negative thoughts on an unending cycle in my brain.  It came to a point where I was really wondering if it would ever stop.  I thought that Maybe I was just getting old and that I’d feel this way ’til I died. Continue reading

A new year begins…

KWM Freshman 2
         first day of school           (teen angst, illustrated)

I’ve always been partial to September.  Ever since I was a kid the start of the school year seems to be the time when the biggest changes happen in my life.  Last year at this time my old job was ending.  Looking back, I call 2015-2016 my sabbatical.  I had spent so much time working and rushing around the previous decade I was completely burned out. I needed to “live empty for a time.”  It wasn’t easy, and yet it was.

 

As you know, last year I took a part time job doing finances and I learned a LOT about endowment and gift funds and about the work-flow in an academic department.  I also (re)learned to respect boundaries around work hours and life.  My boss made it clear that I was not supposed to do work outside of the hours I was scheduled and I, eventually, figured out how to make peace with not being able to accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish in the time I had to do it.  I have been feeling okay with this for the past couple of months.

I’m excited to see what the next few months bring.  I’m going to be helping Emerson College’s Office of Research and Creative Scholarship  teach faculty and administrators about grant writing and sponsored research.  I also spent some time in July working with Trecia Reavis and 5-8 year-old’s at the Harvard Ed Portal.  We used the Pre-Text learning method, which uses creative activities to help kids learn literature and citizenship.  Inspiring and challenging.  I’m looking forward to exploring pre-texts more.

We’re heading to Ocean Park today to hang with our friends Jeff and Peter. So fortunate to have a friend with a house in a beautiful place that’s easy to get to!

 

July 1 Update

It’s been a time of learning and introspection this past year. I’m trying to allow myself time to reflect and recover.  Working at my old job and getting a master’s degree took a lot of energy and I’m still, to some extent, feeling the burnout. I’m don’t yet feel up to my usual energy level (and maybe this level of energy is the New Normal).  However, I managed to accomplish a few things and enjoy life a bit too.   Let’s see if I can catch up quickly…

  • November/December– holiday stuff PLUS continued learning the ropes at History of Science (HOS) /Collection of Historic Scientific Instruments (CHSI).
  • January-Now– started Improv classes at Improv Boston… inspired by Amy Pohler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling’s autobios (funny smart women rock).
  • February-ish– started singing with the garage band “Unusual Attitudes.”  Everyone in it is an airplane pilot except me– I fly a broom. : )
  • March– Las Vegas/Grand Canyon trip with the spouse.  GC was, of course, AMAZING (pics below)
  • April– New Orleans, LA trip with a great group of gals
  • June– saw my oldest niece graduate from high school!
  • Practical Vision Advising— not much progress yet with the business plan but I’ve got a lot going on and a few irons in the fire.  Looking to do some pro bono work to beef up the client base.
  • I co-taught the one day workshop Essentials of Sponsored Research Administration at the NCURA Region I Spring Meeting at the end of April.  Another one coming in September
  • Housespousery continues… continuing to get rid of stuff we don’t need & trying to clean out the basement now.

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Tilting at Windmills?

I’ve been feeling quixotic lately… foolishly impractical… filled with romantic ideas… Well, that’s always there, yes.  The second definition of the word is a bit more appropriate …like chaotic and unpredictable.

Six weeks after I became a full time HouseSpouse I started another job. At Harvard. Financial manager for a department and museum.  History of Science-I’m crossing from Science into Social Sciences now.  Also dealing with All finances, not just sponsored.  So room to grow and learn.  And health insurance.

This job is part-time, though, so I can pursue my HouseSpousery AND create my new consulting adventure…

PVA Header

Still working on the business plan for PVA.  I started looking into becoming a limited liability corporation (LLC). I also need to do some more research into other business models, set pricing for services, flesh out the website more… This feels like the right thing for me right now.

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Oscar TheWilde overseeing growth of Thanksgiving cactus blossoms

On the House front… squirrels are evicted without bloodshed and in enough time to find a new home before the winter sets in.  Deciding on whether or not to get a new roof now.  Organizing/throwing out stuff is about halfway done. Now getting ready to enjoy the holiday madness.

On the spiritual/mental well being front… I’m laughing and crying my way through Amy Poehler’s book “Yes, Please!”  I’ll save my thoughts for another post but… wow!!!!  Download the audio book if you can– read by the author, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, Carol Burnett… and many others.  I am in awe and totally inspired by Amy.  Wow.  (did I mention wow?)

 

 

On being a HouseSpouse…

Today is my last official day as a Harvard employee (for now, at least).  I’ve found myself thinking about- and doing- much more nesting.

Rob and I were listening to Real Time with Bill Maher yesterday and he had a guy on named Dan Buettner talking about Blue Zones and How to Live to Be 100.  (Some of the answers are: eat beans, don’t eat meat, have sex at least 2x a week, have a health system that prevents illness, be part of a faith-based community, and get up and do something every 20 minutes on average.)

I’ve also been thinking about HouseSpousery. Don’t want to be sexist here– anyone can be a HouseSpouse.  It’s easier for women, though, because of the historical norm of women staying home and House-ing.  When I was working full-time (read: “more than full-time”) I had no time for housework.

Housework done properly can kill you.

and I had a great excuse not to do it.  It is an understatement to say Housework is not my forte.  However, now that I’m home full-time (I’ve been working from home all summer) I cannot ignore the sheer mountains of Stuff that need to be taken care of any longer.  I have four plastic bags full of clothing and 6 boxes of books that are going to the donation bin, and I have at least twice that that still needs to be culled.  The back yard needs to be taken care of…

ASIDE: I just took my first 20 minute break— I have a page called Tab-Timer pinned to my web browser.  I put a link to a video of Uptown Funk You Up (thanks for the tip, Rena!) on it and set the timer for 20 mins.  It is pretty much impossible not to get up and dance to this song.  It’ll probably be the next generation’s overplayed wedding reception song (like Celebrate, YMCA, It’s Raining Men, We are Family, the Macarena etc.).  While I danced I stripped a bed of sheets– double awesome! (it’s like a Double Rainbow, but better).

ANYWAY…

…I’ve started to clean out the cellar but ran into a bit of a flea problem so I need to go back down and de-bug before I can do more… Too much information?  Sorry.

I’ve also started taking on more building management… trying to be a better landlord (hate that word—rental apartment owner??—no, too long).  We’ve had squirrels in the roof for about a year now and the list of little things that need to be fixed is just too long and boring to list here.

And I’ve started making meals at home.  I wouldn’t call it cooking—salads and microwaved dinners are pretty much the norm—but it’s a step in the right direction.  All four of us (the cats, Rob, and I) are on diets.  Seamus Hates This.  So do I, come to think of it.  But it has to be done.

I’m running out of writing juice now.  More to come…

Second Stage Redux… We are all worthy.

It is SO crazy to realize that summer will be coming to an end in a month or so.  That’s a cliché, I know it.  But it’s true!  I haven’t made it to the beach yet this summer… Now that the water is warmer and as soon as school is back in session I’m looking forward to going.

Second Stage redux:  I loved the education part of the education and finance work.  It was creative work, designing workshops, learning how to teach as I went along.  It was great to be communicating things that helped people do their jobs better.  The finance side of things was tougher for me.  It was more routine… and a lot of bugging people to do things that they hadn’t done.  Not my Forte.  However, after a couple of years I was able to be a part of a working group that explored how to better support research faculty.  Focus groups, interviews, and intuition allowed us to come up with a few suggestions that everyone could agree to.

  1. Separate research administration duties from clerical duties where possible
  2. Have research administrators report to other administrators
  3. Create more research administration positions
  4. Create a comprehensive research administration education program

Because of #4, a new position was created—Director of Education and Outreach (DEO)– and I got the job.  : )  It was my dream job—the job I’d wanted since I before I became a departmental grants manager.  I designed, coordinated and taught workshops.  I worked with people from across the university and within my college to create meaningful formal courses and helpful informational sessions.  Most of all, I facilitated connections between people and groups so that the system worked better.  I guess you could say I helped grease the machinery.  Whatever it was, I was able to make a difference to the working lives of research administrators.

I’m feeling like I’m being too boring here… talking about myself too much.  But, as Rachel says, we all have unique stories to tell.  And they are all Worthy.

The Cloud Strikes Again

Dammit!  Rachel Roberts, you warned me but I did NOT listen.  I spent a couple of hours this weekend writing about The Second Stage of my working life and now it’s Gone, Gone, Gone…

very sad emoticon

Oh well.  Maybe I’ll write about it again in-depth someday but in summary:  I was an actor, Acting is a small business where you sell your services, which make it doubly hard because if you don’t believe in your product you aren’t very successful. I had a five-year business plan, I got where I wanted to be in Boston.  I joined all the acting unions, was respected in the community, made a modest living doing theater, on-camera, and voiceover work and I still wasn’t satisfied.  I started to commute to NYC because juicy on-camera acting parts were few and far between.  And then the twin towers fell.

I asked myself “If I were to die today, what could I say that I’d contributed to the world?” and the only thing I could come up with was working with the Underground Railway Theater touring “Are You Ready, My Sister?’ (a play about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway) nationally.  So that was really good but was it worth all the time and energy I’d put into my craft?  Nope.  I got a bunch of other stuff out of acting— recognition, emotional release in a “safe” environment, endorphins from keeping my body in shape, endorphins from working with a high-functioning team (i.e., a cast for a play that is working with each other well, or just a great scene partner).  I also got lots of rejections which, ironically but not surprisingly, made the emotional highs from the acceptances ten times better.

As I was wrestling with these thoughts the universe re-opened the Harvard door.  I was asked back to deal with a “problem” project.  I reluctantly accepted and tried to continue my acting career while working overtime on the project.  Long story short:  I ended up with repetitive strain disorder and in therapy and after nine months I knew I had to find another job.  Luckily, the directors of the program decided that they wanted to hire a staff assistant instead of an administrative manager so I was “reorganized” out of that position.  Again, fortunately, I had a really good reputation and network of administrative colleagues so I was able to work out an interim part-time job until I got another job about a month later. I consider my time in that position a failure but a really good one because I learned a LOT about workplace (and Harvard) politics. I also got some Great career advice during this time—I took a look at my skills and talents and realized that I wanted to teach people how to do research administration (i.e., how to help researchers apply for and take care of grants).  I didn’t get there right away—I spent three years gaining experience as a grant manager for a department before I started working at the college level doing research finance and education work.

More to come on The Second Stage…

(PS—Thank you so much to my first follower!  It’s really great to have a person in mind when I write and to know that someone is reading this!)