All the Things, All the Time

Stack of papers and multicolored files

Today was a day like all my days used to be.

This morning started off with a 2-hour working seminar with my French colleagues in French. I’m grateful and excited for our collaboration, but I also was extremely stressed about how this would go since I’m only used to functioning in French when I am actually in France, not when I’m in the states and thinking all the time in English. I’m also not yet fully adjusted to speaking about my research in French so everything takes longer and is more tiring.

In the 20 minute break between the seminar and my next meeting with the current dissertation student I’m working with, I ate, because I couldn’t eat anything before the seminar because eating is hard when I’m nervous. I was also trying to work on revisions to a draft statement on censorship for the state organization I lead.

Then I met with my student and had a good talk about how she can move forward. She was really encouraged to hopefully start interviews for her study early next week. (Later she would find out that the “interviewees” with whom she had hoped to conduct her interviews were likely bots or trolls.)

The AERA (American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting) notifications began rolling in around this time. 1 accepted roundtable and an additional role as a discussant. A little disappointing in some respects (particularly regarding a panel that I felt confident would be accepted and wasn’t), but on the other hand, a little relieving, as I’ll be able to attend sessions and reconnect with people for the first annual meeting in a very long time.

A mid-afternoon appointment led to moving remote offices multiple times in the afternoon and I began to fall behind on the slippery slope of e-mails and meetings (as my phone was also blowing up with text messages).

Before I knew it, it was time to pick up my son and shuttle him to TaeKwonDo, while grabbing In N Out drive thru and eating in the car.

After I drop him off, I usually find another “remote office” (often a Starbucks) to catch up on the e-mails lest I become buried alive. But, two of the myriad texts were requests for support from my dissertation student (regarding her interviews) and a lecturer colleague (and former student, about an incident in class).

After two femtoring calls (both of which were on hard, human topics that are exhausting to navigate on one’s own) in the hour and a half at TaeKwonDo, it was time to go home.

The e-mails were still there.

But, so was my little one who could not decide on dinner after her soccer practice.

I made her some scrambled eggs, with a side of grape tomatoes and milk and, finally, the e-mails.

Now, the e-mails are “done” (are they ever done though?) and I am about to begin a “long weekend” but there are two meetings that I could not fit in anywhere else tomorrow (and maybe a third on Saturday) and a couple of things I have to catch up on.

Where is the time to breathe? Where is the time for rest?

It is there to be claimed.

I have realized that I rest in this writing. Not in all writing, but certainly in the flow of these words onto this blog. It is sacred space and sacred time. It is restful.

So in the midst of all the things and all the time today, I am, in this moment, choosing me.

And that is a small, but significant, victory.

Unlearning the Second Nature of Self

Photograph of flowers in a square vase in front of a picture of a raised fist with the words "love yourself" written on the wrist and the word liberation written below the raised fist

What does is mean to put myself first? To prioritize not just my needs, but what I want, yet remain committed to community care?

This is my current inquiry.

My whole life has been spent thinking that I should prioritize others, the work I have to do, the work that others call me to do, that I’m good at, for the greater good. I have spent so much time denying that I even have desires for better, let alone reaching for them. I have prioritized what seems to be the most obvious paths forward, that in some ways seem simplest because they are the expected paths, but in other ways bring complexity and questions about why I don’t have joy even though I’m doing “what I’m supposed to.”

However, in this last 12 months, I’ve found inspiration. In my work and in the relationships I’ve cultivated. I’ve found myself living moments of true joy, bliss, and peace. For someone who has been searching for these feelings for years and had thought they were somewhat unattainable, these moments have been life altering and transformational. I’ve felt movement that propels me towards the things that truly matter to me, towards pushing beyond what is comfortable or expected, towards the desires of my heart, spirit and mind.

And yet, in this, or perhaps in spite of it, I feel myself being pulled back.

There is a strong pull back to the “right path,” the path that I’ve always walked, the path that seems logical given the path I’ve been on.

It hurts to diverge from that path. It is difficult to stray away. It is not the simplest thing to walk towards this joy, even with the love and support of community.

It feels completely right and completely wrong at the same time.

It is new and different and requires a courage and investment in myself that I don’t really know. I know how to be courageous for others. I know how to sacrifice for community. But I don’t know how to prioritize myself, my heart, MY work and calling.

It feels selfish.


Perhaps this is why I have not made the time to write, to confront this conflict and name it as it lives within me. Seeing the words on the screen bring tears to my eyes.

I know if I were speaking to someone else, someone I love, someone who I get the privilege to walk alongside, I would remind them that doing our work, loving ourselves, honoring our hearts, these things are not selfish, they are forms of resistance, in a world that constantly calls us to sacrifice for institutions that limit us and don’t love us, for people who want from us but not for us. This is not real community.

True community calls us into ourselves, supports us in steps that require courage, reminds us that who we are is worthy, and to honor ourselves provides a model of self-liberation that is as powerful as any thing else we can do.

I remember myself through writing.

It is why I haven’t made time and why I must make time.

This is why I must push against what has become “second nature” to return to my first nature, my most true self, my heart, which has begun to speak to me again, which has begun to dare to trust, to want, to choose.


In each act of choosing myself, I am choosing community, because I can best contribute to community in my own authenticity, as my full self, and with my full heart.

I remember.

Hello, Old Friend

Photograph of two open red tulips

I haven’t written an entry on this blog in two months.

I’ve been writing. I’m an academic. I live in the 21st century. I write all the time. E-mails, texts, tweets, messages, article manuscripts, talks, courses.

But what does it mean for someone who believes that reflection is growth, and who believes in public reflection to engage community, that I haven’t taken time to reflect in length in this form in such a long time?

I also haven’t written creatively in several months after finishing a novel manuscript draft and major revision in 4 months.

What does it mean for someone who believes that writers are writers because they write, and who believes that writing is a discipline, a creative practice, one that has been a gift for me, that I haven’t taken time to write the stories within me?

I don’t know what it means or if it means much more than the meaning I give it (as with most things in life), but yesterday, in talking with a dear friend who is my writing partner, we engaged with this question, and today, I am considering it in the midst of a conversation in my head about “not having enough time.”

What does it mean for me to back in a discourse of scarcity? That I am not making the time for the work of my heart?

Things are changing for me, around me, and within me. How am I embracing those changes? Resisting them?

How does the head which has guided me for so long make space for the heart that knows what it wants?

I don’t know.

But today, I’m back on my blog. And that feels a little like coming home.

Take Good Care

It’s been a rough weekend.

When I think about it, it’s just been a busy weekend that wasn’t much of a weekend.  I had a work commitment from 9-3 on Saturday then went straight to church then stayed for a Social Justice committee meeting.  All of this was great and would have been fine except that my husband, who rarely gets sick, was ill, and even sick, had to take my son to Tae Kwon Do practice and my daughter to a birthday party.  By the time I got home, he was down for the count, leaving me to do his usual chores (dog walk, dishes) in addition to my chores (folding laundry) and, of course, because I saw my brother’s post about doing his taxes, I realized that I should probably get my own done.

Sunday was a little better, but with my husband still sick, I shuttled my son to Chinese school, took my daughter to Target, took care of all 3 meals and 2 dog walks, made sure to confirm interviews for a research study this week and student teaching appointments, had a long talk with my son about an inappropriate comment at dinner, and finally settled in to finished our taxes, which, not completely unexpectedly, show that we owe the government quite a bit more than last year because of changes to the tax laws. Sigh.

I still cannot run as my hip flexor area continues to bother me up and down stairs and when I walk too fast or put too much weight on it.  I suspect that I have bursitis, but am hoping rest will help me to avoid a cortisone shot to relieve the pain.  In the meantime, I’m still half limping around and not getting the exercise I so badly need.

I haven’t been blogging much either and I’ve been spending a lot of spare moments lurking on social media.

I know all of these are yellow flags — signaling a warning that I’m overcommitted, overwhelmed, and looking for mindless escape.  The yellow flags remind me that, in spite of not having very many breaks in my schedule all week, despite it being Valentine’s Day week, Nate’s 13th birthday week, and Gospel Fest on Saturday, I need to create some space for rest and reflection, again, even if the words aren’t so profound.

So, as I planned my week this week, I have one goal: Take better care of myself.  I need to check in, take the time that I need, eat better, sleep better, breathe. Go slow to go fast.  Access those resources on letting go that my friend reminded me about.  Focus, pray, breathe, eat, rest, let go.

Take good care.

Making (Taking? Reclaiming?) Time I Don’t Have….

I really don’t have the time to write this blog.

And that’s probably exactly why I need to make, take, reclaim the time to write it.

It is the second week of the semester.  Yesterday, I went pretty much non-stop from my 6am run to arriving home after choir practice at 8:30pm then taking a practice quiz for Chinese, administered by my son 🙂 .  Today, again, it’s a 6:30am to 6:30 pm day. I began my day with a student teaching meeting at a local school before driving to campus to schedule research interviews and observation dates.  I have a collaborative research conference panel call in 30 minutes.  I have my first Chinese quiz in a few hours.  This afternoon, I have another student teaching meeting and a research interview.

My life can go non-stop.

Unless I call a hard stop. Unless I close my e-mail programs & refuse to focus on other browser windows. Unless I breathe and make a fresh cup of tea.

Stopping to blog does not take care of the lists of things that “need to get done.” It does not even, at this point, fulfill a challenge or allow me to check a box off on my busy schedule.  No one may even read this post.

But, that actually doesn’t matter, because it is my own form of personal resistance, to the idea that everything external will continue to be the driving force in my life.

Blogging brings me to a moment of presence.  It reminds me that as much as there is going on, I have the right to reclaim a bit of my time, that I can write for myself and in this moment.

This will not get done without practice.  So, this is practice.

What I hope is that I can catch myself sooner and sooner, when I go in an automatic doing mode so that I can be present, and remember WHY I’m doing all that I do, how much I value it, and how I need to set boundaries so that I can feel the ground beneath me and experience my own life.

From this place, I can go back to the rest of the day, less frenzied and more aware.  I know I’ve chosen to fill my life with these good things, so I want to experience the goodness of them through making, taking and reclaiming the time to breathe.

Habits and Intellectual Discipline

It is rainy outside (a rare occurrence in Southern California) for the 4th morning in a row (even rarer).  My knees hurt, but I also have extremely low energy from 2 rest days in a row because my running schedule is all off, and because, rain. The 30-day writing challenge is over. The semester is about to start. It’s about to get super busy. I have multiple things to do, and I’m just generally feeling unmotivated.


So, what to do?

I’m blogging.

Not for any particular reason except that it generally helps kick start my day.  My friend, Darlene, wrote in one of her blogs for the 30-day writing challenge about keystone habits (from the book The Power of Habit, I think, which I’ve listened to, but clearly need to listen to again), and I’ve realized that running (and now blogging) are my two keystone habits that kickstart my day.  Without one, the other, or both, my day feels really off and I can be doing similar things, but I don’t feel the same focus and productivity.

This is actually working.  In the time that I’ve sat down to write this blog, what inevitably happens has happened.  Multiple things that need to get done have emerged. Yet somehow, I feel more motivated to do them.  Because I feel like the start to my productivity has begun with the blog.

Now, onto getting those things done.

Blogging on a Mobile Device

This morning, after a long drive up I-5, through the afternoon and evening, I am blogging, on a mobile device from a hotel room in the Bay Area, a few hours away from my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and a long reverse trip home.

This trip is a bit of a breakthrough for me, as I left my laptop at home for the 30 hours or so that  we’ll be away. I thought about this blog post and figured that I would either do it at home (after a Bar Mitzvah and a 7-hour drive) or do it on my phone, which is what I’m actually doing.

I am impressed with my friends, Wes and Darlene, who have done previous blogs on mobile devices. I find it odd to type with my thumbs. I find it interesting to navigate through a slightly different lay out. I find it challenging to adjust to the small differences in settings (physical, mobile, internet) that require me to think faster before I need to move something that’s in someone’s way (in a closer, new shared space), before my screen puts itself to sleep or before I lose in-room connectivity.

Ah, for the breaks in routine that throw us off. Travel blogging on a mobile device; last minute Target runs for the gift, card and dress socks you meant to bring; forgetting a pencil in the car when you need to do Chinese homework; needing a portable charger for car entertainment. They are a part of the journey, actual and metaphorical. They are a part of this crazy life.

Why Am I Doing This? Pushing Pause Instead of Pushing E-mail

A week ago, I began the first exercise from David M. Levy’s Mindful Tech book, and started observing my e-mail use.  Levy encourages his readers to share both their observations and personal guidelines they’ve established after completing the exercise, and, well, I need to write a blog post today anyways, so here goes 🙂


It didn’t take long for me to notice several patterns with my e-mail use:

  1. I check e-mail automatically, as a routine when I’m bored or when I don’t have anything immediately to do in the moment.  Over the last week, I noticed that I’ll instinctually reach for my phone to check e-mail (and social media notifications) first thing in the morning, but also, when I’m the passenger in a car (even when someone I love is talking to me!), when I’m walking on the street, waiting for a light to change, when I don’t feel like doing something that I should be doing. I do this with social media too, but I start with e-mail, which I feel more justified doing as it’s ostensibly “productive.”
  2. E-mail is generally very stressful for me, but much more so when I’m on my mobile device.  My phone is great for many things, but it is not ideal for e-mail.  Over this last week, I felt my anxiety rise when my e-mail was loading slowly (or not loading at all), and when I saw an e-mail come in on my mobile device that I couldn’t respond to right away (or that it would be extremely inefficient for me to respond to using the device itself). When these things happen, I get SUPER anxious, which translates into tense shoulders and short breaths. I’ll either keep checking/ refreshing until I can get to the e-mail I need or I’ll inefficiently respond so I can feel like it’s off my plate.  If I don’t respond, I am afraid I’ll forget to respond.
  3. I feel obligated to get back to people as soon as I see their messages.  My work e-mail is the most stressful, followed by my gmail, which is stressful because it’s the one I’m most likely to forget to check or respond to, and email gets lost quickly in that account (i.e. I don’t have a good system to track who I need to respond to).  I am actually the best with my personal yahoo e-mail account which is basically my e-mail where all the Groupon, Target, charity, listserv e-mails come.  I feel ZERO stress checking that account, even when there are 57 notifications because if I start to get stressed out, I literally just delete almost every single e-mail and it feels cathartic. In fact, that e-mail makes me feel awesome because with a few checks and the trash button, I’ve just dealt with all those e-mails! Sometimes, I will check/ read the e-mails in that account, but I don’t feel beholden to them, like I do with my other e-mail.

Personal Guidelines

What can help me to use my e-mail more effectively?  Levy is clear in his text that personal guidelines are just that, personal.  They work for an individual and aren’t necessarily generalizable.  I’m going to play around with these personal guidelines for e-mail and see how they work for me, at least for the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll reconsider and revise as necessary:

  1. Put a pause on pushing e-mail.  On my phone, I changed my mail settings to fetch e-mail manually.  This means that I won’t automatically see the number on my mail icon.  I’ll need to open the app and ask it to download my e-mail. As a bonus game, I’m challenging myself to check only when my Apple Watch signals for me to stand (so, a maximum of once an hour, but not in the hours when I’m actually active and getting something done). When I’m focused on a task, I will quit my work e-mail app on my computer and only open it when either: a) I’m done with my task or b) I get my stand cue.
  2. Don’t respond to work e-mail or gmail on my phone.  I thought about deleting both accounts from my phone, but the calendar syncing is really helpful. So, I’m going to try just being intentional about not responding to these e-mails on my phone which I hope will help me establish a pattern of addressing them when I’m more present to my e-mails, on my computer.
  3. When reaching for my phone, pause, and ask why and if that’s really what I want to be doing? In reflecting on the past week and on my present “vacation brain,” I know that I use my phone (e-mail and social media particularly) to avoid things I don’t want to do, or to avoid being present.  I don’t think this is always bad, as sometimes my brain needs a rest, and I work extremely hard. However, I also think that being mindful and finding alternatives that feel more intentional and less stressful could be helpful.  It’s not necessarily that mindless, automatic habits are bad, it’s that this one actually can be really counterproductive.

So, that’s the first exercise.  I’ll keep you all updated as I continue to move forward in mindfulness….

Back to Life…Back to Reality

Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now, oh yeah. (Thanks Soul II Soul and everyone who is now singing along to this classic–I’ve linked it here in case you want a soundtrack to this post)

We just got back home after a few days in South Florida visit my in-laws.  It was a fun, family, vacation with a trip to the Lion Country Safari Adventure Park  (which seriously everyone should go to if you have young children and are in the area), the beach, and Miami, for Cuban food and mojitos.  One of my favorite things about the trip was actually not a place that we went, or a thing that we did. Instead, what I most appreciated was just being with family, and not having constant reminders about all the things I have to do in my life at home.  I brought my laptop along, but used it mostly to blog, for social media, and to watch Food Network online.

It was a lovely break from the reality of cleaning out my refrigerator, from my dining room table (and the explosion of mail, books, holiday cards and assorted sundries that need to be put away laying upon it), from articles that need to be written, and from emails that need to get returned (I’m still observing that).  But, alas, here I am, back in the dining area, writing amongst the mess, blogging quickly, before heading out to get our dog from our friends’ place.

And, well, duty calls, but vacation was lovely.

Making Time to Write

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I am many things: human, woman, mother, partner, sister, friend, person of faith, academic, runner, writer, singer — many things.

But, I don’t always prioritize those things equally, and when I’m out of balance (did I mention I’m also a Libra?), I end up feeling completely overwhelmed.

Sometimes, I look back on the early days of this blog and I laugh a little at myself because writing used to be such a challenge for me, as I began my academic journey.  And, there are some days where writing is still hard — trying to put thoughts out in a way that makes sense to others isn’t an easy task.

But more often than not, these days, I am wanting to write. I am wanting the world to hear my voice. I know that there are stories that I have to tell that either aren’t being told or that could use more voices to amplify them.

And now, prioritizing writing is about prioritizing myself, prioritizing my voice, and taking up space.

I am so grateful to do the work that I do, and that, at this point in my life and career, I’m working on academic and personal projects that make me excited to contribute my perspectives, to move my feet (when running) and my fingers (when typing), but like running, this work that I do, the writing that I love, is a discipline.  It’s something that I (personally) need to do daily, so that, even if only for a few minutes each day, I am listening to my own voice, I am sharing my own thoughts, I am dialoguing in the world, even if no one else hears me.

It is healing to listen to my own voice in the stillness of my own space (physical and virtual). It is healing to pause, to write, to be, and to begin my day in this way.