Sunday, October 23, 2011


When I get very upset and need a shoulder to cry on, my dog, Happy (a boy) runs away and hides in the closet. I think it's because males can't handle outbursts of emotion. He just wants to play--unless HE'S hurt, then he wants me to take care of him and he acts like a big baby. Sound familiar? Of course I'm being too anthropomorphic for a scientist, but I'm having fun with the comparison!

I've been in a few meetings lately that had mostly men. I like being on committees with guys. To solve a dispute over which one of us was to do more work on one committee, we Ro-Sham-Bo'ed (rock, paper, scissors) for it! Ro-Sham-Bo-ing in the middle of a professional meeting (with our Dean present) just doesn't happen with most women. When a meeting begins with Ro-Sham-Bo, it tends to be a fun meeting!

In another meeting, another teacher (Jon) and I wanted a third teacher (Nick) to be the chair of the committee, thereby having more responsibility. In addition to legitimate reasons for nominating Nick as chair, we decided to arm wrestle over it. Since Nick's strength is legendary throughout the land, we thought it was fair for him to be required to take us both on at the same time. Nick beat me pretty quickly, so I stood up and helped Jon push down Nick's other arm. The three of us were laughing and wrestling (and Jon and I were winning) as our Dean walked into the room. After Nick's arm hit the table, I said to Ray (our Dean), "Nick is going to be the Chair!"

I've also noticed lately that because of my softer voice, and the noted effort that it takes me to talk, everyone is really quiet and listens intently when I speak. One of my concerns at meetings had been that I wouldn't be able to contribute, because nobody would hear me. Of course, sometimes that is the case, but most of my co-workers are sensitive to my different abilities. So they listen--carefully! The pressure's on to say something profound when everyone is actively listening. If you want people to listen to you--whisper. It works!

Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm watching "Days of Our Lives" (yes, "Days of Our Lives," let it go!) and Sammie is being told she may have cancer. OMG, it wasn't nearly so dramatic when I was told I had to have brain surgery! Ok, now she's crying and asking why this is happening to her. Could it be payback or bad karma because of all the evil things she did in her life before her character became good? When your life isn't going in the direction you'd like, or when something tragic happens, you try to make sense of the tragedy. Why me? There are other people that are lazier or more selfish. There are some questions that you can't answer and driving yourself crazy with them is not going to help you move on with your life. "Why me?" "Do I have bad karma?" "Why am I even still alive?"

I'm not going to pretend that those types of questions don't plague me from time to time, but I've learned a few ways to deal with them that I'd like to share. My first piece of advice is to ask different questions. "What am I doing today?", "What should I have for lunch?", "Did I get any email?", or my favorite: "Where's Nemo?"

Simpler questions like these that you have an answer to will give a sense of accomplishment. 

Another way to stop asking those unanswerable questions is to focus on practical problem-solving.  We've all been told not to worry about things we can't change. For example, I was on my way to a potluck dinner at my temple, and I thought I had left my house with enough time to spare. I hit unexpected traffic on the way, so my timing was off. I knew that I couldn't go back in time and leave 10 minutes earlier, so berating myself for what I DIDN'T do wasn't going to solve any problems.

Instead, I accepted that I was going to be late and formulated a plan for my arrival. It's tough for me to "sneak in" places, especially when carrying food! I figured we'd just walk in, put the food on the table, and sit in the back! It turned out just fine, but my point is that in every situation, you should focus on practical solutions, instead of unanswerable questions.