heroes and intention

Wow. I've been away from the blog a while, now. So much has been happening it's been difficult to process, to find ways to say and make sense of all of the changes I'm experiencing from graduate student to professional. Mostly, I've spent as much time as possible playing WoW and watching Heroes. (Thanks Joe for turning me on to it.) I've discovered that where I once did not have the time/mental space to deal with a show like Heroes or Dexter , I am enjoying both immensely. I'd tried watching Dexter several times, when it first came out and a few months ago, but it never took. And then I watched the whole season 1 in a few days.

What I'll say about Heroes, and I'm only in Season One right now, is that from the point of a view of a writer I think it's amazing. The storylines, most of them, are incredibly complex with a lot of threads and I am impressed that, for the most part, the plots are surprising, and do a good job of carrying through from one story to the next. Of course, it might help that I'm watching them one right after another.

I've also been working on syllabi for my classes which has taken way more time than I expected it to, though I've always found syllabi building time-consuming, particularly when accompanied by design challenges. I usually build my syllabi as part of a course website. Millikin uses Moodle as a CMS and created pages for us if we want to use them. So now, I'm building pdf's in InDesign which presents its own unique issues. Orientation was last week and I met some cool new faculty from other departments during the first few days. One I'll be working with closely as we are part of a first-year component sequence where students in his University Seminars are in my Critical Writing Reading and Rhetoric courses (CWRR, known affectionately as critter). We plan to collaborate and share ideas on how to forge connections between the classes.

I'm overwhelmed and excited. I love this part of a new beginning where the possibilities seem endless. I was talking to someone, also a new faculty member, during orientation about my ideas (I have a lot of them) and she said, "Wow. You're ambitious." I was taken aback because most of my connotations of ambition are negative ones. But then today during a phone conversation with my grandmother I remarked that I have a lot of expectations of myself and that I'm trying to be realistic and prioritize things. And she said, "You have to have those expectations to move forward. Otherwise, you just go to work and do your job and come home. You want more than that." I thought, okay, maybe that kind of ambition isn't so bad. I have to admit and plenty of people have told me that I'm driven, often single-mindedly so. I do want to accomplish a lot in my career. I want to excel and succeed. But I'm wary of embracing ambition wholeheartedly because I want to remain grateful, and ethical and conscious of my actions. I want to be intentional.

Maybe, I've been watching too much Heroes.

Meetings and Convocation begin tomorrow. Classes start Tuesday.

word(s) for 2010

I've had some difficulty in coming up with a word to frame my goals and intentions for the year which is why this post is over a week into the new year. I've been thinking about it for a while though and I thought had it figured out until I started writing about it.

I began with focus because a major goal for this year is narrowing down my "to-do lists" and placing my energies toward things that matter, clearing out some of the distractions I seem to be caught up in. I liked the word focus because I liked the idea of seeing more clearly by adjusting or sharpening my view. But there was something not quite "enough" about it once I started writing my goals for the year. Once I read Ali Edwards' post on actions that help encourage follow through, I began to think about the bracelet my friend, Brianne gave me for Christmas. It says, "breathe" on one side and "live in the moment" on the other. When I look at my bracelet I am reminded to breathe, to stop and pay attention, to sharpen my perspective instead of looking at everything in a huge way and concentrate instead on what is required in the moment. But it's also about being present and accepting what is happening now instead of looking forward or backwards. For me, the moment is about letting go and not feeling like I must control everything. It means trusting in the bigger picture while staying present in the daily stuff.

Though I may come off as a confident person in some areas, I'm incredibly insecure in others. Since I graduated, I feel like the insecurities are making themselves known in detrimental ways, particularly in my career but also in my personal and emotional life. I need to trust myself and my ability to make decisions. I need to give myself some credit and realize that I am good at what I do, or at least I have the potential to be. If I could get out of my own way and stop second guessing myself. I need to trust in something bigger than myself, in the universe, in good. I need to rely on my instincts so that I am better able to place my energies into specific projects and moments instead of all over the map.

Some of my goals for 2010:

Continue to learn to cook, try out new recipes and take joy in the process. I'd like to bake more; I have a cupcake/bread/muffins cookbook that M's mom gave me for Christmas and I'd really like to try out most of the recipes. I want to do a recipe a week but I'm not sure we should eat that much sweetness but I do have friends and neighbors who would enjoy sweets so we will see how it goes. I'll look over the recipes and see what I want to make and start next week.

I'd like to plan a vacation that is not related to a conference in any way and truly get away with M. But I'd also like to visit Alabama and some of my old friends there as will as see my brother and relatives more frequently.

Mostly I'd like to settle in to my life (and this where living in the moment began to emerge for me). I know that sounds kind of strange. But I've been in a kind of identity crisis since I finished my Ph.D. and left life as a student behind. School was my safe zone; it always has been. I knew exactly what was expected and I was really good at it. I don't know that I realized how deeply embedded the identity of "student" was in my psyche. I'm trying to relax into this new, professional identity and that has been more difficult than I expected. I think it accounts for a lot of my struggles in the classroom this year and the need to prove myself, thus taking on too many projects. So, my major goal for the year is to look at this place in my life, a place I wasn't sure was possible for me and take a deep breath and accept it in all of its messy and wonderful ways. I am so incredibly lucky to be here and I don't know why I've been so resistant to saying, yes, this is my life now. I am scared, I think, to step out embrace where all my (and those who love and support me) hard work has led. I remember when I received my Ph.D. diploma in the mail and thought now what? What do you do when you've reached the one point you've been striving toward? You set new goals, of course, but there's a lot to handle emotionally and even though it's fantastic to realize your dreams, it's also terrifying. I've tried to express this turmoil multiple times but I think now I have a better handle on what, specifically, I need to do to move past this and onto the next big things. And I want I need to do sounds really simple, but it's harder than you think to be in the moment when you're so used to looking ahead. I'm not saying that I will stop planning or looking ahead, but that less energy will be spent in planning and more energy will be spent on doing.

That's what I think living in the moment is all about, experiencing and doing.

Last year was about enriching my life, about adding to my knowledge and understanding, adding to my life. This year is about enjoying what I have and where I am and who I'm with.

To help me do that I'm going to participate in Mindfulist, an incredibly cool and amazing idea from Gwen Bell that seems so damn perfect for my living in the moment phrase for 2010 I feel that the universe is supporting my endeavor.