Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Teachings on teaching

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Nearly all the folks who were on the retreat are yoga teachers. In addition to Angela, one has her own Mysore program, at least two assist at Angela’s studio, four teach led classes in a variety of venues, and another is in a teacher training program. So, part of the discussion during the week focused on cultivating the teaching practice as an extension of your personal practice. While teaching yoga remains in the realm of when-I-abandon-this-ridiculous-academic-career activities, the discussions on teaching were still relevant.

Angela presented two ideas that resonated with me. The first is cultivating a team of mentors who you trust, who can call you on your b.s., who push you to do better, and who contribute different areas of expertise to your teaching practice. While I have had mentors at various stages of my career, I haven’t cultivated those relationships as well as I should have. I have let many of these relationships drift because of my fear of disappointing people that I respect and admire, unconsciously assuming that their criticism will be as harsh as my own. This reminded me to re-establish those connections to help me feel more secure and, therefore, more able to give.

This, then, relates to the second idea: poverty needs versus abundance needs. Poverty needs are, most basically, food, shelter, safety, and relationship. These are basic needs that must be met. When they are not met or — more relevant to the folks on this retreat — when you consciously or unconsciously don’t believe them to be met, you will act in a way to fulfill these needs to the disregard of others. The position of ‘teacher’ can provide opportunities for money/sex/power/etc that may be exploited in response to poverty needs. (thus, leading to yoga scandals!) This is in contrast to abundance needs: intimacy and efficacy. Abundance needs are things you need to feel fulfilled, once your poverty needs are met. These needs are, at least to me, the kind of fulfillment you feel when serving or working closely with others toward a productive goal. So, in my world, mis-assigned poverty needs are evidenced by professors who claim students’ work as their own or take advantage of their position of power to demand favors or special dispensation. And abundance needs are met in effective mentoring relationships and building collaborations on exciting projects. This kind of discussion of mentoring doesn’t really go on in my world, despite the fact that effective mentoring is the core of graduate student training.

For me, I can see how I act out of poverty needs in mentoring relationships when I fear for (or burnish) my own reputation through my students or use my position to demand their approval. That said, this is the part of my work that I find most satisfying because it meets my abundance needs, as well.

Underwater wombat

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Occasionally, this time of year, a high-pressure system stalls and the  tradewinds hold their breath.  By Thursday, when deadlines were passed, the mares’ tail cirrus clouds that I learned about in ninth grade earth science class hinted that the system would be moving soon.   But the weather held as we headed out of the Bay. Not much wind, but there are still rollers, so Jason drove the Whaler gently, like the considerate captain he is, and we made it to the offshore rocks. Our little crew of five divers (four female doctoral students and me — yes, marine biology will soon lose its prestige with its over-representation of women in the junior ranks, not to mention all the giggling) out for a ‘proficiency’ dive.

On our second dive, we entered a large cavern. The entrance to the cavern was in shadow, and it got darker as we went further back. Colors turned to gray-scale. Waves, sometimes gently, sometimes roughly, rocking you in the water. One got a little woozy from the motion and lack of contrast.

After we surfaced, the woozy one barfed and looked miserable. (Quid pro quo from a dive we did last summer where I was the one barfing). I surprised myself a little when the old dive instructor kicked in, and I told her to relax and briskly towed her back to the boat. She would have been fine, of course, but nausea can make fools of us all. I’ve been feeling weak and old, so it was nice to be superwoman again, if trivially and briefly.

Post-proposal pit… A plan!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

I haven’t posted here in a while, and I’m not sure it’s a good day to start again. Writing proposals requires such hope, such investment in a possible future, and then I turn them in and feel drained. So I am now in a post-proposal pit. Pbbt. The proposal due yesterday would be interesting, but I am unsatisfied with how I wrote my part of it — there wasn’t enough time, and it was a bit out of my area to make a convincing case without time for research. That one won’t get funded. The one due today… Well… I am not sure I even want to do it. And I am such a terrible procrastinator that it is always a last minute panic. I thought I would grow out of that, but apparently not. So this evening I am in a rotten headspace to which my immediate emotion is to want to quit my job bc I am obviously no good at it. Perhaps one of these days, this will lose its potency, but not yet. And despite feeling like this since college, I haven’t quit yet. The Wombat can be rather tenacious. Or, perhaps, the Wombat is just afraid not to know what to do. Or both.

Luckily, I have already planned something fun for tomorrow. The weather has been exceptionally calm this week — a high pressure system is keeping the wind down– so I have scheduled a special lab dive to an offshore island. I dove at this site once, more than 15 years ago, and it was quite remarkable at the time. Maybe I will have some good pictures tomorrow.


Friday, May 13th, 2011

The interns are coming. Lots of them. I need to purchase three computers for my lab. One expensive one (for this and another purpose) and two perfectly adequate ones. I was supposed to purchase them weeks ago. I finally tried to shop for them today. I find these decisions paralyzing. There are an infinite number of tiny decisions to make, I don’t have any brand loyalty to help me, and how my needs match up to the many possible specifications is entirely unclear. It, ridiculously, makes me want to quit my job so that I never have to purchase anything again. (It took me >10 months to purchase a $10k microscope.) I feel incompetent that I don’t know enough to make the decision, lazy since I don’t really want to do the research, overwhelmed by the shear number of possibilities, embarrassed that I can’t make such a trivial decision, cheap because I make too big a deal about it, and silly. Silly, silly Wombat! So much feeling and so little deciding.

And now I will feel tired, for having stayed up too late looking at Hmm, I wonder if those eggs are from chickens or my friend the echidna?

New Toy

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

H’s visit seems a long time ago now, although it hasn’t even been a month since he departed. After some low days, I seem to have gotten back into work mode. Work mode is busy, not feeling too much, pleasure from task completion, underlying anxiety about many undone tasks, pleasure from social interactions but an underlying slight social awkwardness that comes from feeling disconnected and, therefore, self-conscious. Although I am well-practiced in this state of affairs, it’s not particularly good for me. Everything is a bit more fun with H around, and I feel more at ease. Working on plans for my next trip to CA in May. Maybe I’ll get back in time to use the *new toy* that H got me yesterday! There was a gear swap and look what he found! Such a thoughtful fellow.


I had a good week of practice and, as anticipated, I am now working through Titibasana. My body can make the shapes, but oh! the quads! they burn… CL said that mula bandha was particularly important here or you lose all your energy. I think I must have forgotten it yesterday because I turned into a little puddle after exiting from C.

But tomorrow is Saturday! And I have still uninitiated bike pedals that I got when H was here. So, it is high time for a bike ride.

The proposalling wombat

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The wombat is working on a big, collaborative proposal due in a few days. She has text from the collaborators in four different departments, but it’s her job as principle wombat to make a unified whole.  The wombat has found herself a bit intimidated by the process. Today, she was tearing her fur out working on the section of another collaborator (who is senior to her and just had a Science paper come out last week). It just didn’t make sense. The wombat was feeling dejected and wondering why she was in charge of this project. She sent him a carefully crafted email explaining exactly what she didn’t understand. He replied that he would call her shortly to explain. A half hour later, the wombat received another email, “I must have had a complete brain-freeze when I wrote this section…just get rid of it. It is complete nonsense.”

The wombat was relieved!  It didn’t make any sense!  But the wombat had been intimidated into fretting for days, instead of trusting her wombatty instincts.

Silly wombat.

A day of avoidance

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I did not avoid practice. I did primary today. I requested an adjustment in janu sirsanana A. I’m not sure what muscle gets released in that adjustment — lower back between sacrum and spine — but it needs it; it gets all bound up on the right side. I forsook any drama in backbends, and they were fine.  But the mind was scattered today.  I gave up rather quickly after a couple rounds of pranayama, as my brain raced on toward work and other thoughts.  It dawns on me that, perhaps, this is the time to persist (insist?), rather than bail.

No, today I avoided work. I found colleagues to chat with, I found email to respond to, I found websites that must be read. I read a page of a paper and went back to a website. I read a few more paragraphs and decided I really needed to do some online shopping.   I made it through one Nature paper.   I only point out its provenance because that means it was just 3 pages.  I have two impending deadlines, and I think this is my unconscious attempt to bail on one of them.  This is my conscious attempt to make that conscious.

“Tomorrow is another day,” the wombat declares hopefully.  “I will make a list!”

  1. Write NSF proposal.
  2. Write NASA proposal.

“Yes, that should do it!”  [Dusts off paws.]

Lastly, for the strigiforme reader, you might find that the Tour is more exciting than the Cup given your recent activities.

Barbers Point

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Four dives off Barbers Pt today.  I needed a nap when I got home.

Will go see H on Thursday as planned.   Would rather go sooner.  Like, tomorrow.

Fireworks tonight, like every Friday night.