Next Chapters: Physical Health

Eat

I’ve never been great at eating. For several years in elementary school I did not stray from my favorite, peanut butter sandwich. It took a trip to Europe (1998) to break me out of the plain, familiar food routine.

My sibling suspects me to a super-taster, so I don’t really do spicy/ spiceful foods, finding even some items folks tell me aren’t spicy at all as too much to manage. Add to that medications that make eating a time-based rather than hunger-based decision, where if I go too long I can no longer even make decisions about food, and you get a complicated relationship with food.

In an effort to improve this relationship, I signed up this autumn for a CSA http://frogsongorganics.com/ and have fresh veg delivered every Thursday.

Though I’ve signed up for the customer choice plan, so far I’ve gone with the farmer’s pick default so that I actually try vegetables with which I am unfamiliar, rather than just choosing what I knew. It has been an adventure, to say the least.

This service has also helped me move beyond a bowl of cereal for dinner, which had been my fall back for many months. 

Move

As a kid I took gymnastics and dance classes. In college I started martial arts, at first for self-defense, then for its own sake. Through various changes in our dojang, I earned the rank of il dan orange stripe (1st degree, orange stripe). I was at a point in my training where I was considered a lethal weapon when the school closed.

For a while I moved my exercise efforts to a gym. The local gym has a women’s center, which is actually closer to my house and less intimidating than the main facility. One of the things that kept me accountable was a gym buddy. When she moved away, I kept up for a while, but depression got the better of me, and I ended up cancelling my membership.

I’ve tried to keep up with walking on work breaks with moderate success, and practiced tai chi for almost a year, but that, too, fell off.

I’ve had tight muscles for decades – I was first really aware of it in middle school. A while ago I got the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. A year ago I saw a specialist, and was diagnosed with hyper-mobility syndrome, as well, which goes a long way to explaining the rock-tight muscles in my shoulders and lower back.

And then I got the diagnosis of hypertension, which was a real wake-up call that I needed to take a new look at my physical activity (or my lack thereof).

My husband and I started taking walks to local restaurants for dinner once or twice a week, then walking home, which lasted about three weeks. Then, this month, one of the branches of a school where he does martial arts closed. So now, instead of going to two different arts at two different schools on Monday and Wednesday, he goes to one art on Monday and Wednesday, and then an open session at the main location of the other art on Tuesday and Thursday. I am trying to join him for these Tuesday/Thursday sessions as a) it is the same art I’ve trained in before and b) I really need to get moving. Climbing two flights of stairs leaves me winded.

So far we’re easing me in, Tuesdays only. The first time I went (so far the only time), I learned some updates to the basic punch and block I knew. I also twisted my knee, somehow, so switched to my physical therapy stretches for the rest of the hour.

I also have a weekly appointment for massage therapy (never as fun as people think). In my visit after that class, I discovered how tight the muscles are in my thighs, and that until they loosen I’ll probably have to be extra careful with my knees, lest I hurt myself further.

But I’m trying, instead of feeling guilty for only thinking of physical activity, and that is a step in the right direction

Sleep

And to round out the physical health trifecta, I am also evaluating my sleep. This one is trickier, I believe I’d benefit from better / more sleep, but it is a harder thing to prove.

I’ve tried different things, and am on a medication to help me fall asleep, and stay asleep, but I am still tired a lot of days. Part of it is that I feed the cats breakfast (hubby feeds them dinner), and if my Flynn hasn’t come to understand the clock. The earliest I’ll get out of bed is 6am, but that doesn’t stop him from coming by earlier to get pets, and to make sure I’m awake for 6, lest he starve.

Add to that my hubby is more of a night owl, and the living room is right next to the bedroom, which makes it harder for me to fall asleep depending on what show he’s watching. Some things I know I can change include getting new pillows, and look into getting a new mattress, though I’m not sure if we’ll go with another sleep-number bed or something else.

I also need to reduce screen time before bed – I’ve been binge watching a lot of series lately, and heading to bed late after realizing the time.

My parents have both been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and I wonder how much of that is genetic, and if it is worth it to request a sleep study. Anyway, I know this is another area where I need to reevaluate my behaviors, but honestly, right now, it feels secondary to my efforts with nutrition and exercise.

Next Chapters: Work

Upside down world viewed through a globe to seem right side up.

Snow Globe

It has been nearly nine months since the universe decided to shake-up the snow globe of my life.

The first couple of months at my new job, it was a rare day that I didn’t cry at the unexpected change. My bosses understood, and I am grateful for their patience with me.

These days tears only show up when I explain my change in job, and the circumstances around it.

Six months after the job change I tossed my proverbial hat in the ring for a Student Success Librarian position. Near the end of September I learned my application was not going on to the next level/ tier/ step.

I’ve also been keeping an eye out for staff positions in the library that are on campus and tap more into are on campus and tap more into my communication / outreach skills than my current job, and inquired with library HR if they are aware of any positions that may be forthcoming.

Last month I finally decided that if I wanted to find a position on-campus that better utilizes my strengths, I needed to explore non-library options. There are a myriad of facets to that decision, so sometimes one of them will make me doubt I should leave the library, rather continue to be patient to see what else may come – after all, I spent the time to get my MLIS, and have worked in this library, in various positions, for a bit over 13 years. And on the whole, I generally like my colleagues in the library, and it would sadden me to leave what has for ~12 years a positive work experience.

Clear crystal in gem cut fashion with multiple facets showing.

Multi-faceted

Then my focus shifts slightly to another facet, and I feel, suddenly unseen for what I have done for the libraries, for working at what many librarians have told me is at faculty level – that if/when I got a librarian position, I’d be half-way to tenure. And yet, I’ve been at my current rank of Library Associate II for six years.

So I secured references and have started searching the UF Jobs site for opportunities that call to me.

I am so scared because, as a former boss used to say “change is hard, Barbie.” This is true, even if the end results are positive, and even if it is a change I am actively seeking out. But it is time to pick up that snow globe, give it a shake, and wait to see where things settle.

Does this mean I get a new car?

I have entertained at least a half dozen ways to write this post. Here is where I’m at today, now that I’ve sat down to actually write it.

The Scenario

  • I’ve been Manager of the Institutional Repository(IR)1 in practice since 2012, officially 2014. It was part of our Digital Production Services department. In early 2018, I was asked to re-envision my staff position as a faculty librarian position.
  • On a Thursday in September 2018 I got an email while I was at an ETD2 conference that on the following Monday my position would report up through a newly created department, Digital Partnerships and Strategies.
  • In November, the libraries posted a Scholarly Repository Librarian position, which built on my staff position duties, and was a faculty position. I applied for it.
  • Then the interview process, including a phone interview in December 2018, and an all-day on-site interview in mid-January.
  • On a Friday in February, I met with the Assistant Program Director of Library Human Resources and the chair of the search committee for the Librarian position. I had been deemed not the best candidate for the position, and was told that on the following Monday, my position would go back to be under my former supervisor in the (newly renamed) Digital Support Services, as a Metadata3 Associate.
  • The new position is still being defined, but it is located at the Interim Library Facility (ILF), about 10 miles from campus, and is mostly tech focused.

Frustrations

My path to being the IR Manager was winding, and mostly consisted of my gaining quasi-related duties as jobs were lost to attrition. But I took those lemons, and made some pretty damn good lemonade. I sought out professional development not only in the training sense, but also in the scholarly sphere. I made a name for myself on a national stage for my work with our digitization project of print dissertations, and with institutional repositories. For the first time in my life, I was building a career.

I went in to the interview process knowing there was a chance I’d not be the best candidate for the position. I accept the decision that I was not the best fit. However, due to how I interpreted other indications, I believed that if I did not get the Scholarly Repository Librarian position, that I would continue to be the IR Manager. Or at the very least, work with the IR in some capacity, even if it was managing it until the new librarian started, and I could hand off/ train them.

That was, apparently, not the case.

Instead, I was told that my new position didn’t work with the IR at all. That my position was being re-written to fill a need in a department, though it was drafted with my skill-set in mind. But not my preferences. Over the next week I updated the chair over the librarian position on where I was on all the projects, contacted partners from around campus with the chair’s information as point of contact until the librarian began, and withdrew myself from my IR related obligations such as a presentation I’d submitted for an IR conference in April, and stepping off the board of that ETD conference, which I’d served on for several years.

It felt like someone had taken my lemonade stand, and left me with a bushel of Brussels sprouts, instead.

 


 

Realizations

In talking with a counselor, I came to realize that I not only had to grieve the loss of the career path I believed I was on, but also for the job I had. I wasn’t fired, but I was taken from that job, placed in a radically different position, and I had no control over where I was going, or the broad strokes that define my position. I think that is the hardest part – I didn’t have a say in my next step.

So, I started my 42nd year on a good note, happy with myself, and the path I was on, but apparently the universe decided I needed to really examine what I was doing, and who I was, and handed me a mid-life crisis with a bow.

Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure this means I need to get a new car?

Footnotes

  1. Digital collection of research and scholarly output from the UF academic community, and related services.
  2. Electronic Theses and Dissertations, the final submission of graduate students, usually papers.
  3. Literally, data about data; in practical terms, it is the description of items in our collections – the catalog record, but (in this case) for digital materials.

Lies Depression Tells Me – 8 failure

Dark cloud with words like inability, deficiency, inadequacy, rejection
Lies that I am unworthy, a failure, cloud my mind.

“You’ve put off the course work for the online workshop you were so eager for. You won’t catch up now, so don’t bother. Let’s just check that “fail” box.”

“You misunderstood directions, and didn’t communicate, because you didn’t realize you misunderstood. You are a failure. A huge disappointing failure.”

“You fell out of contact with friends. Guess what. You failed. Again.”

“Oh, you’re feeling bad – that must mean that you aren’t eating right / getting enough sleep/ getting enough socialization / getting enough alone time to reflect/ getting enough sunlight. You = FAIL.”

“You can’t successfully block out a voice that you know is lying to you, you know is cruel and undermines you? I think you know what you are.”

Word cloud with positive messaging, mistakes are not failures
Trying to take those lies, and turn them upside down.

42 and Mostly Harmless

Photograph of book titles "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: six stories by Douglas Adams"
An awesome trilogy by Douglas Adams.

My sophomore year of college I had anticipated having a roommate I knew, a friend coming in as a freshman. Only later did I find out that another sophomore had signed up for the empty spot in my room, since she didn’t want to get saddled with a frosh roommate. Going in, all I had was her name. I got there first, unpacked, and set out to buy books or find my classes or whatever. When we finally met, she said she knew it was going to be alright because of the Douglas Adams The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide omnibus on the shelf above my desk. I guess you can say, she decided to not panic.

So, today is my birthday, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m turning 42. Douglas Adams has provided this as the answer to the ultimate question through book one, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us…” he paused, “the Answer!”

“The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?”

“Life!” urged Fook.

“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.”

“Everything!” they said in chorus.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 25

Deep Thought took its task seriously, and settled in to mull it over for seven and a half million years. On the Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day: The Day of the Answer, seventy-five thousand generations later, the two men who were selected at birth, trained to be the recipients of the answer, went to see Deep Thought.

“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.

“Tell us!”

“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”

“Yes…!”

“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.

“Yes…!”

“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.

“Yes…!”

“Is…”

“Yes…!!!…”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 27
Maintenance cover with the number 42 spray painted on, surrounded by leaves
This year my age is the answer the the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Unfortunately the answer was pretty useless without the question. Deep Thought then set out to build a more advanced computer, with organic life as part of its system, to calculate the Ultimate Question. And it was called Earth.

Photo of Earth from space, with part of the planet in daylight, and part in nighttime
The computer created to discover the question to which 42 is the answer.

The problem is, what is the question?

So, for my birthday this year, I decided to have fun with the fact that my age is the Answer, and I will answer the first 42 questions I receive either as a comment to this post, via facebook, or via twitter (@weylyn42). I may even answer them truthfully.