Long-term changes

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature." -Sonya Renee Taylor. Over Grow the System.

I was think about this same thing today when I ran across it on Facebook. While there are many changes that are happening right now that are not good in any sense of the word – just look at how COVID-19 is affecting different populations – there are changes that we as individuals, states, nations, and a world are making that can continue after this pandemic is over and we are not longer forced to stay inside.

Personally, I have been working on making my life more sustainable and shrinking my own footprint. I have been lucky enough to continue to have a job, as well as having some more expensive events cancelled. This has given me the opportunity to invest in some greener, more sustainable practices that I have been putting off because I could not afford it.

I was able to buy a good bike and buy equipment for it so I can make a shopping trip or go for a long ride. It will help me reduce the amount of time I spend in my car, as well as increase my exercise in general.

Because I am now forced to teach online, I don’t have to drive up to campus multiple times a week, which cuts back on my fuel consumption and emissions, which are both good for the environment as well as my wallet.

I now have the time to work with using GladRags’ pads and pantiliners and see what direction I want to go in regarding those products. Since I am home for a few months, at least, I have the time to figure out how to best use them and not worry about getting a little messy.

While this is a stressful time for all of us, there are things that we can control. There are changes that we can make that will be good for our lives after this time of quarantine is over. Even if it’s just going through boxes of things, throwing out what you no longer need, and organizing what you keep so you can find them later. Or making changes to the way you eat. Or whatever it is. We can start to make little changes for the better now, while we have the opportunity.

Upgrades day 2

So, I haven’t put the stuff on my bike yet, so I thought I’d share the new look of my walls!

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been rearranging the furniture in my room so it functions better for me. First, I moved my futon over to create an area where I can relax and watch TV, use my laptop in front of the TV, and enjoy tea thanks to my new tea station. I bought a strand of white lights to hang from the ceiling because that corner doesn’t get lit up too well. Also, this way I can light just it up, creating a nice, calm, cozy place to relax.

Then I invested in some 3M Command picture hanging materials. I wanted to create some collages on my walls. In my cozy area I wanted to have posters with related things by them.

So I put up my Spider-Man poster with the cover collage and page I bought from the artist at DragonCon to the left of it. Below it I have some of my autographed photos: Jim Butcher from a Kickstarter, my photo with the Boondock Saints which I also got autographed by both, and my signed LeVar Burton photo.

To it’s right, and slightly lower, I put up my Doctor Who anniversary poster with my Gallifrey Road above it. Wrapping the top-right corner are the pieces my hubby has bought me at DragonCon over the years.

I left the Red State and Polesitting Miho posters, as well as my autographed Yaya Han photos where they were. Yaya’s photos will probably get moved soon, but they’re good for now. And, of course, my shelves of POPs, which I talked about the other day.

Above my desk, I wanted to build up around the calendar with my smaller stuff.

I feel like this area should be more eclectic for some reason. I love that I was able to line up my three Megatokyo prints down the right side. I’ve since added an older photo of the hubby and me below the TOS comm panel. It’s fun finding things and trying to figure out where to best put them. I’m thinking of putting the other corkboards I created with my pins above the door. I left space because I have some stuff at the office and I don’t know if they’ll be coming home anytime soon, and I still have smaller framed things around here.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s a fun work in progress!

Hopefully, I’ll get the stuff on the bike today or tomorrow so I can make full use of it! When it’s bothering to not rain, that is.

Crafting Recovery

Well, that was one intense semester. Thankfully it’s the most intense semester I’m ever going to go through, because I don’t plan on getting a second PhD. I took a pedagogy class, taught my first ACS class, and had my preliminary exams. And I have survived! The pedagogy class was really helpful in giving me a fresh perspective on teaching, as well as support while I taught something I had never taught before. Teaching had its usual ups and downs, but of the students who filled out the evaluations, I did good! It was also a great learning experience both as a student and as a teacher. I’ve already got next semester figured out.

The preliminary exams almost defeated me. I had a similar experience with the comprehensive exams during my master’s program. But this was so much more intense because they expect more from us. I got a conditional pass and needed to write one last essay to fully pass. Thankfully I did, and I am able to continue in the program. But it was not a great three months while that process happened.

So I’ve needed to take some time for myself to feel balanced again. My creative side has reared its head and pointed out that I’ve had to ignore it for my academic side. It has taken over, in a good way. It started when I made up some Christmas presents for my sister and nephews. Then I started on a pair of Dragon Scale gloves after finding out that using two strands of fingering weight yarn mimics sport weight and I could use my large stash of fingering yarn to make them. It also adds depth and dimension to the color of the gloves!

Of course, I couldn’t be happy with just the one project, I started – and finished – another: Barney. Barney is my octopus hat, inspired by the octopus of the same name from Mira Grant’s Newsflesh book series. I cosplay as Dr. Abbey, whose lab Barney lives in. I thought it would be a great touch for the costume. Also, it’s just fun to have.

A purple crocheted octopus hat with curling tentacles that hang down. It goes from a dark purple at the "head" to a light purple at the tentacles.
How can you not love a purple octopus hat?!

Now I’m still letting the gloves wait while I work on another costume piece. I made a scarf from lace weight yarn that mimics the stripes of the Thirteenth Doctor’s shirt. But when I wear it, the stripes get all clumped together and it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to. I ran across a beautiful cowl pattern that I love and decided to make a Thirteenth Doctor cowl to replace the scarf. It is beautiful. It is going to work so much better than the scarf.

Eventually I’ll get back to and finish the gloves. But the more important thing is that I’m feeling so much better and myself fully. I feel like getting some academic work done without feeling like I’m neglecting to have fun. Sometimes you just have to let go of everything else and just focus on what makes you feel good. Granted, the most important part of that is finding the time where you can afford to do that. The time where you can ignore most of the rest of the world and just focus on you. I’m lucky enough to have winter break, and I’m making the most of it.

Tea Joy!

With all the problems going on in the world, I feel like adding some joy to it. Recently, I put in an order to resupply and add to my tea stock.

In there are two types of tea cookies, Irish Breakfast tea, a free filter for my water pitcher, a free sample pouch of Earl Grey Lavender – which I try to gather to delay needing to actually buy more, more Amber Sugar Crystals, and new tins!

I love Adagio’s storage tins. I love the colors. I love how they function. Until the shipment arrived, the blues – Earl Greys – were a tin higher than the others. When I decided to get the Irish Breakfast tea, I realized I needed another red tin – my Breakfast teas – but you can’t buy just one. You have to order a 3-pack. So I ordered my third set of the variety pack – red for the Irish Breakfast, green got my all-green Far Out blend, and yellow is empty because I don’t have a straight black that needs a tin. There really is a method to my madness. 😀

Then there is the wonderful Amber Sugar Crystals. I was down to this:

Now I have this, again:

There really is a simple joy in having so many delicious teas to choose from. Sometimes I just sit there and look at my teas. Also, by using my former desk/coffee table as my tea table, I have to sit calmly on the floor. It turns making tea into a conscious pause in my day. A wonderful, sometimes zen-like pause in my day. It’s been meditative at times. The other day I sat and watched tea and pieces rise and fall in the water as it brewed. I reached a meditative state for a few seconds. It was really cool.

I guess the point of this whole thing was to share some joy in these times of stress. We need to remember to take joy in the small things and take care of yourself. Between hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, and whatever is going on in your life, it’s easy to get burned out. Take time to watch a show or movie, read a book or magazine or comic or blog, listen to music, make some tea or coffee. Do something to take a break from everything. Self care is important! Do it!

“Reset” button

I first bought Tea-Tox last year. I bought the entire Body and Soul set, but this is the one I use constantly. Well, I did until I started to get low and decided to wait until my refill came. The refill that came in the package I almost didn’t get.

On Thursday, I remembered that I had the refill for weeks now. I had no excuse to not make myself a cup again. I’m hooked yet again. It is a wonderful blend of “milk thistle, burdock, green rooibos tea, cinnamon bark, peppermint leaves, dandelion root & lemon balm”. This combination tastes delicious and really does leave me feeling better. I don’t care if it’s all in my head. I feel better for drinking it. Also, milk thistle has been a remedy for detoxifying the liver for a while now. Everything in there has benefits to the body.

It’s delicious and refreshing. It kind of puts a “reset” on my eating habits. Lately I’ve been stressed with a lot of things piling up. On Thursday, a lot of those stresses were gone, finally. I’ve been making sure to have a cup at least once a day. I am worried that it is possible to over-do it.

I’m writing this to share my experience as well as to remind all of us that we need to take care of ourselves. Never forget that. Take care of yourself, both bodily and mentally. Don’t let things overwhelm you. Take care of yourself!

Tea Time

teanotesLast month I placed a huge order of tea with Adagio. There were a couple of restocks in there, along with a lot of samples. I had been planning this order for at least a month, if not longer.

About mid-month, I received notice that it had been delivered. I was so happy. I’d be reveling in a mountain of teas! But it was nowhere to be found. That was a Wednesday. The next day another package was reportedly delivered, but nowhere to be found. I went to the post office to see what was going on.

About a week later it was determined that I was one of a few people who had experienced that in the area and they were running with the theory that the packages were stolen. Considering this had never happened before, and I had received packages since, it made sense.

Now I’m waiting for Adagio to get back to me about sending me a replacement order. I’m trying to be nice about it, and not bug them about it, but I really want my tea!!!

But, having my tea stolen has affected my mood. Well, that combined with being sick and then driving to NYC for BroadwayCon. I just haven’t felt like cleaning things out and just relaxing with a pot of tea. It’s starting to show. It’s one of the acts of self care that I can do while I work on a paper or my thesis or grade my students’ work.

I guess I’m writing all of this to remind everyone, keep up the acts of self care! No matter what you do or why you’re doing it, you need to take time out of your day and do something for yourself! If you don’t, the stress and anxiety and worry is going to pile up and wear on you. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle. Take care of yourself!

Intentional Interaction

I am part of, a phrase I am really loving, the Oregon Trail Generation. Basically, it means I was born before this massive shift in technology happened. I remember using 5-inch floppy disks and having to use dos to run the program. I remember when computer screens were black with green or orange text and pixelated graphics. I was in college when Ohio State was invited to join Facebook. I watched as cell phones went from larger than the handset of the corded phone at home to small enough to fit into a person’s pocket.

But, like much of the rest of the country, I have a smartphone that has all sorts of apps and regularly get notified to a list of things. Well, at least I used to.

Lately, I’ve been listening to more recent episodes of Kelly Carlin’s podcast, Waking from the American Dream. Kelly takes time every year to step away from social media for a time. Being a Generation X-er, this whole social media thing happened later in her life than mine. Being an Oregon Trail-er, I find an appeal in taking a break from social media. Which is interesting since I’ve recently started using my Twitter for more than a feed for my blogs and following other people. Kelly has taken months away from social media, something I could not bring myself to do.

But I have found something that I find I can do. I am going back to college. I am going back to the days when the only time I could access my social media is when I was in front of the computer. I have turned off notifications for Facebook. I have turned off notifications for Twitter. And, when I do bring up Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr, I do it intentionally. I am not letting myself bring up the page just to kill time. I am bringing it up to intentionally look at what is going on. I don’t want to just mindlessly be scrolling and re-Tweeting or sharing things. I want to be consciously engaging with what is there.

I wonder what would happen if everyone did that. Consciously, intentionally interacting with social media.

The Dude and the Zen Master

As I mentioned earlier, I recently re-read the book The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. This book is something I really needed to familiarize myself with, again. I started it on November 12th and finished it on the 17th. It really helped me to get a perspective on the world and to nourish my soul.

Rather than try to talk about it more, I’m just going to transcribe the quotes I made note of as well as any notes I made while reading it. I just ran across a wonderful article that talks about the book. Check it out if you’re interested. These are simply the quotes that really impacted me this time around. I hope that they inspire you to pick up this book for yourself, or at least gain something from them. But remember that these are simply parts of the whole. They have more when they are consumed as part of the whole. Enjoy! Continue reading “The Dude and the Zen Master”

Do something!

Just before the school year started, aka late August, I ran across a new concept: the Bullet Journal. This is the blog post I read that explained everything. Go. Read it now, then come back.

*patiently waits*

Back? Good. This thing has made a positive difference in my life. I took The Lazy Genius Collective’s advice and keep it simple. I grabbed a small blank notebook I already had and started in. It’s so wonderful to not only have a place to write down my to-do lists, but to create things done lists and keep track of all the little things I used to spread out among many journals.

Currently I am using the black notebook on the left, but it is almost full. As in I have 5 blank pages left. So I bought the journal on the right at Half-Price Books. I’m looking forward to filling it up with to-do lists, things done lists, packing lists, tea log, book quotes and ratings, monthly calendars, journal entries, and all sorts of other things.

But, to my point. I was feeling down and stressed and unproductive. Then, yesterday, I stopped to think about how much I had gotten done that day. Just writing it all down made me feel so much better. It inspired me to go tackle the dishes I had been letting pile up. I didn’t give in and go get fast food, I actually  made myself a sandwich. Then, when I was about to figure out how much I still had to get done and what time I had to do it in, I realized it was only 6:30p! I still had plenty of time to work.

It’s amazing how keeping track of what you’ve gotten done can do for your motivation. I know it sounds weird, but it works for me. Try it, it might work for you, too! Seriously, read How to Bullet Journal. Bullet journaling is so useful because its format is so free, you can make it what you need it to be! It can even be an act of self-care.