Tag Archives: academic faculty

On the brink of change

New horizons for the Frazier-Woods

New horizons for the Frazier-Woods

I never wrote part 3 of my letter to my pediatrician… It was hard; parts 1 and 2 involved accusation and anger and explaining the thoughts I had worked through with friends. Part 3, the aftermath, was something that until last Friday I was still working through in my mind. So maybe now I can write it, but in  the meantime, the aftermath of my idiot pediatrician is that tomorrow, Wes goes back to work after 31 months at home, and  Sam will start daycare at our local YMCA.

Doing his job for the last 31 months - looking after us (in this case, repaiting my fish tank)

Doing his job for the last 31 months – looking after us (in this case, repairing my fish tank)

I have so many thoughts rattling around my head about this, and even some that are probably conflicting. I can’t seem to find a coherent answer for how I am feeling about this (which doesn’t really matter as it is happening anyway) but here are my thoughts, in no particular order:

(1) Wow. Maybe we won’t be broke. Maybe we will be able to buy actual furniture, and get rid of our freeniture (that’s furniture found at the side of the road, folks). That will be glorious.

(2) Maybe, just maybe, I will also be able to afford decent-ish wine. My one true love: wine. Also potentially glorious.

(3) This is going to be a big change. I loathe, fear and detest change. I deal with it by smiling and being energetic and super positive… but then I have some huge meltdown after a few months. Not looking forward to that.

(4) I so also thrive on challenges, which usually involve change. When life has got too stagnant I tend to do stuff life totally change my career, or train for bodybuilding competitions. I hate change, but in 2009 I moved continent; 2010 met my hubby on line, and got 2 cats; 2011 got engaged, got married, moved in with hubby; decided to change jobs and acquired 3 turtles, a dog and 14 fish; 2012 I got pregnant, changed jobs, bought a house, moved State and become a mum; 2013 was quiet! I As was 2014, in fact, it’s been dead since 2013 (aside of changing job again)! I’ve stagnated and I think that is part of my unhappiness. Maybe I hate change, but I need it. Yes, for me this might be a good thing.

(5) I’m sad Wes can’t spend all that time with Sam. It is such a rare and beautiful gift to have time with your children, and it breaks my heart to take that away from him.

wesandsam

(6) But Sam so needs interaction with other children – and he needs to get out. And he needs to be stretched (cognitively, not physically – he’s still crazily tall). I can’t forget that I was unhappy with his day-to-day life: very rare park trips, no play dates, no crafts, very little structure, no sense of time, few life skills (no chores, no cooking). When I was around Sam LOVED to be engaged in sensory activities… his life needs more than that.  His days were fine, but they weren’t exceptional and I admit, it bothered me (I am a terrible person. Look at this cute picture of Sam engaging in an activity and forget about how terrible I am:

Toddler baking

Toddler baking

)

(7) But he was so happy. Rarely would you meet a happier toddler than Sam. And he follows rules, rarely tantrums, is loving, sweet and still just a bundle of joy. Is it worth to risk that happiness so that he can eat at set times, and sit in a circle? Is it the humdrum of every day life, and the impersonality of this crazy capitalist world that sucks the joy out of us? Ultimately, all I have ever wanted is for Sam to be happy. Will he lose that innocent happy that comes with only ever being around people who love you more than anything in the world? Who think you are the best thing since sliced bread and delight in everything you do? Why does he have to learn that now, at 2? He has years to be a face in the crowd, and to fitted in to someone else’s goals, and to be taught he is a problem…. why can’t he just have these extra few years of innocence?

Happy monkey

Happy monkey

(8) Oh my God when he is hungry who will feed him, and when he cries who will hold him???

(9) Holy crap.  Families with two working parents work hard. So hard!! Today I made dinner, prepped for the week, packed Sam’s school bag, packed the car with my work stuff, made our lunches and did a little bit of tidying (Wes did most of the cleaning) – all the while of course being Thomas / chasing a scary monster / singing ‘heads shoulders knees and toes – and I am EXHAUSTED. Like, feet fizzing, brain melting, eye droppingly exhausted. At 9 pm Wes went to bed… how do families do this??

(10) Mind you, Wes and I have actually started to appreciate each other (maybe even life each other? No… no  too far) now that we don’t have time to actually see each other…

(11) My career is going to suffer even more. I don’t even know how I am going to get tenure and have my husband at work. It will probably never happen. I’ll lose my job. I’ll never find another job in America. This is a disaster.

(12) I’ve had it so easy. I like it easy!! Why can’t it be easy??

(13) Families all over the Western world do this all the time. They are fine. Their kids are fine. Their kids are HAPPY. Their kids are well-adjusted. Sam will be happy. Wes will be happy. We’ll find a new normal and we’ll make it work.

(14) Dang, you are going to sleep so well now. Speaking of which….

splash

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Labor Day organizing

Labor Day was an organization-fest.

First I started to organize my photos and letters. I love my Groovebook app to death (to find who I get 100 of my iPhone photos delivered to my door for $2.99 each month here; if you want to try it for free, go here and use the code ‘Frazier-Wood1’ [DISCLAIMER: If enough people do it, I get a free Starbucks]). Anyway, love my Groovebook, but having 100 photos a month was getting unwieldy. So I made this neat little photo display for Sam.

photo 1

Although, it amazed me how long I spent taking something new (ish – it was from Goodwill) and making it look ‘distressed’.

Chuffed with how it turned out, I also made this little display for my letters / postcards:

photo 2

Excellent crafting all around.

 

Then I turned to a bigger task: organizing my work projects.

I realized that I have been drifting at work for a long time. Too long. The reasons why are the subject of one of my next posts, but while slowly hashing out the problems of my career, I decided to at least fix my productivity.

On that front, I have a major lead / analytic role in 17 projects, many without a specific deadline, or many with a deadline way off in the future. It was hard to really sit down and complete everything. I felt overwhelmed, and more often than not, would spend 10 minutes on one project… get distracted by another… get stuck on another so bounce into a new one… and so on. I am feeling the need to see some measurable progress, and some finishing up. But how with 17-ish projects?

(1) First I made a huge list of my projects. On craft paper in Crayola (hey, I am trying to show my son how to draw).

Project list

Project list

(2) Then, in a move my husband called the ‘least helpful organizational step ever’ I tried to mindmap them… more on than later. It was helpful in the ‘general stagnation of my career’ front, but for now, take that as an entirely useless step.

Mindmap. Well... it's all clear now

Mindmap. Well… it’s all clear now

(3) So then I took each of my projects, and made a little page for them in my notebook. I listed everything that needs to be done with each project, how long it would take, and when it had to be done by (if there was such a date). I am hoping to update each page as I go along.

photo 4

I also added a page for other big ‘to do’ items, which were not part of a project e.g. I am giving a talk next week and have not even begun to write it.

(4) Then, I took all the tasks from my diferent project lists and made them into a list:

photo 2

(5) And I cut up all the pieces of my to-do list:

photo 1

(6) And prioritized them on the floor. 5 & 6 were kind of crazy playschool type steps, I know, but by having them on the floor, I was able to better move things around based on priority. I had too many things to think of them all at once otherwise.

photo

(7) I printed out a month’s worth of weekly planners, and blocked out my set appointments and travel:

photo 2

(8) Then, in pencil (so I could be somewhat flexible) I blocked out time for each task:

photo 3

(9) Et voila: a month’s plan for productivity, which allowed me to make week-by-week goal lists:

photo 5

I am hoping that by the end of September I will be able to see clear, quantifiable benchmarks of progress in all of my projects.

Next, I will be creating mid-term and long-term plans. But for now, maybe this will help you if you are struggling with projects. And it is not a very high-tech solution, but I seem to work better with pen and paper than with gizmos (sadly, as I do not have an excuse to buy any). And my craft paper and crayola experiment worked; Sam drew his first crayon picture.

photo5

Clearly the next Lucien Freud.