I have office hours, usually in my office from 12:45-1:45 on Mondays, but contact me if you’re not in my class because I move around depending on the weather. I will be on campus daily until the end of the second week in July. I will be out of town from July 28-August 5. You can contact me for meetings via email or text.
Please note I will be doing a limited number of grad school recommendations in the Fall semester, so please contact me ASAP if you need one.
I have a batch of student graduating and with that comes the existential dread of what adulting will be like. I usually ask my Ethics class to come up with questions for me to answer the last week of school. I’m going to post some of my better responses here for posterity.
Question: What is up with not being motivated? Can I make myself more motivated? (paraphrased)
Answer: Motivation is a big issue, and there’s no easy fix. I’ve been highly motivated to do lots of stuff in my life, and some of it worked out and some of it didn’t. I’ve also had motivation issues with really important things that I eventually trudged my way through.
I believe we have an inner voice (or a bunch of them) that guides us, but sometimes that voice gets drowned out by other stuff like an obligation, financial reality, the need to be accepted or admired, etc. Also, what makes life meaningful changes as we age.
If one topic keeps you really in the zone (interested, time passes quickly, challenges are exciting instead of daunting) and another makes you exhausted and miserable, you might explore the former. That said, I’ve endured some stuff I mostly hated (dissertation review, for example) to get where I wanted to be, but my overall goal got me through. I’ve also had the same activity be amazing in one context (school) and totally and utterly awful in another (running a business).
We are creatures of impulse, and sometimes too many impulses pull on us at once. Sometimes it helps to write down or visualize what we want and what the barriers are (and what we are spending time on instead). Try to do this with curiosity, rather than self-judgment or guilt. I’ve used mind maps, spreadsheets, and journaling to concretize my ideas – whatever worked at the time. I’ve also worked with coaches a few times and therapists a lot.
Finally, I think the best decisions are when your heart, brain, and body are all on the same page (and this includes friends, partners, jobs, pretty much anything that has a big impact on your life)
Body – Do you feel energized and have stamina when you’re engaged with the activity (person, etc)? Do you feel balanced? Or do you feel wiped out? Do you end up relieving stress in ways that wear you out more? (staying up too late, drinking alcohol, or my personal favorite, too much coffee)
Mind – Does it make rational sense to pursue this avenue? What are the long and short term pros and cons?
Heart – Do you feel fulfilled, safe, joyful, peaceful, excited? Or fearful, angry, competitive, or insecure?
No career/person/etc is 100% perfect. I’ve had 4ish careers, and all of them had great things about them and suck things about them. It’s really about the balance. As a teacher, I have to fight really hard to carve out time for my family and physical/mental health (because of that 24-hour semester thing), and academic politics are just stupid. But in return, I get a lot of control, and the opportunity to be creative and to continually learn and improve. For me, teaching is a career that’s max on fulfilling and min on the suck parts.
That’s especially important for me because the combination of being a recovering perfectionist and a highly competitive person can really mess me up. Teaching, ultimately, is not about me so I can let go of the need to compare myself to others. Someone will always think I’m amazing (even my first semester 8 years ago when I sucked) and someone will always think I’m totally lame (no matter how much other students like my classes). I find this strangely freeing. In some ways, it can be helpful to work against type. Make of that what you will. And watch Hannah Gadsby’s Ted Talk – she talks about this too.
I’m teaching a six week summer version of HDF 340: Ethical, Philosophical, and Professional Issues during the first session. It focuses on personal and professional development and preparation with a large dose of applied leadership and ethics. It’s also fun. Registration starts soonish. If you have enjoyed my classes, please consider taking it or recommending it to students who need it to fulfill a requirement or need an ethics flag. Many thanks!
We have collectively survived another semester! Yay us!
For my graduating students, I wish you a joyful graduation and transition into the next phase of life. I have cross posted a piece I wrote about these transitions for my personal site. As you might expect, since you know me, it is not profanity-free, but it comes from the heart. Feel free to read it here:
Unsolicited Advice for my Graduating Students
If you enjoyed or missed my painstakingly curated selection of cute/silly/stupid YouTube videos, you can access it here. Some of them I paid for and may not be viewable. I update it every semester so it will change over time.
I’m compiling a list of documentaries and influential films that I’ll post in the new year. Feel free to email me suggestions.
Thanks to all of you for a great semester!
Postpartum Depression: It’s not just for moms
I haven’t written about it much on this blog, but I had really bad Postpartum Depression (PPD) for about 1.5 years after having my daughter. PPD has a significant chemical component, but it’s also behavioral and situational:
- Your life has changed forever and that throws your self-concept into question, especially if it wasn’t built on being a mother.
- You are seriously sleep deprived, dehydrated, exhausted, and tired of a tiny person being attached to you in some way all the time.
- Everyone tells you what to do and how you’re doing it wrong, forever. You are already grappling with the reality that you have no fucking idea what you’re doing and you will be failing, forever.
This is a potent cocktail. But the thing is, there are other times in our lives when we have very similar experiences, minus the hormones. Getting my PhD was one such experience.
I didn’t blog much in between finishing my degree and getting my current job. This is because I was in an increasingly deep depression with a garnish of anxiety. For me, depression is always almost over. Any minute it’s going to lift and I’m going to feel normal again, so I avoid the fact that I’m actually a hot mess and may remain that way for some time. My blog during my PPD is always, it’s getting better! And reading it now I’m like, “Girl, it’s really not. Buckle in.” But when I look at the circumstances surrounding writing my dissertation and getting my PhD, it looks awfully familiar:
- I was recovering from stress-induced sickness, drug side-effects, and emotional upheaval.
- I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get a job and start paying off the massive debt I had accrued and would run my family’s finances into the ground.
- There was no roadmap for success and I had no experience trying to get work as a qualified PhD.
- People say stupid shit like, “so you’re going to go to school forever” or “what are you going to do with a PhD in that?” or “Academia is really competitive” (Thanks, Captain Obvious).
So basically, my mental and physical health took a big hit due to crazy high stress, which made me have to take steroids (which are hormones), which further screwed up my mental and physical health. And I was transitioning to a new career/life phase and had no bloody idea what I was doing. Um.
So why am I thinking about this right now? Because many of my graduating students are freaking out about what life is going to be like on the other side, while getting hazed by their elders for not knowing what they can’t possibly know yet. I’ve found myself giving them very similar advice to what I was given a lifetime ago about post-performance letdown. We get all amped up for this one big moment, and then (if you’re a singer) you go eat a big meal, drink a bunch of wine, and fall facedown in your bed and wake up the next day wondering why everything is awful. I had a shrink who was a musician, and he said we need to be as deliberate and gentle with ourselves after a big event as we are before.
I do not always take this advice, but I dispense it freely and try to remember it when I’m facing the end of a cycle. So students, if you are graduating have fun, celebrate, and then remember to work some extra self care into your routine after the excitement is over, because that is when shit often gets real. Take naps. Go running. Anything to compensate for the endorphin crash. Post graduation I ended up working out almost every day because I could literally burn off my anxiety that way. Netflix binges are totally cool, but make sure you are doing something that keeps your body running optimally because that will help your mind. I also ended up increasing my medication, and decreasing it after things leveled out. This is totally okay.
While using PPD as a diagnosis for post-graduation yuck is technically incorrect, it works symbolically. You have essentially birthed a new version of yourself. That self is insecure, unsure, excited, and exhausted. So set up some mechanisms and safety checks now so you can check in with yourself later and evaluate how you are doing. Life change is hard, and some people can be dicks when you are feeling vulnerable and worn out. Take care of yourself and don’t let the assholes get you down.
- Check your straight party vote before you cast it because this meshugas has been happening.
- The friend of a friend warning about not having water for showering has turned out to be a hoax. Yay! Please recycle your bottles.
- Student-supplied article on racial bias in CPS removals in Austin.
- Article on the bi-racial/bi-cultural experience
- Article on the fallacies of binary sex – apropos of attempts to limit the definitions of sex
Invisibilia: The Callout – Pretty much everything from Invisibilia is really good. This one is apropos to some of our discussions about callout hashtags like #bbqbecky and enforcing social norms.
Snap Judgement – Really interesting, well-produced stories about unexpected stuff.