Begin with what you don’t know: An end of year reflection and meditation for academics

Earth Joy WritingW.S. Merwin, who was recently the Poet Laureate of the United States, grew up in New York City. As a child, he had a recurring nightmare of concrete covering all the green areas of the earth. His whole life, and all his poetry and writing, has had the aim of serving to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

We academics are an anxious group. Will my article be accepted? Will I get tenure? Will my department survive the next round of budget cuts? We can get stuck in endless cycles of worry. [Read more…]

More than (good) enough: Allowing gratitude to guide your way to the end of the semester

writingWhen I was in my mid-twenties, I was part of a women’s group that met once a month in the evenings to discuss readings about politics, the environment, religion, women’s health, and our emotional lives.  It was not the first women’s group I was ever in, nor was it the last, but it was very special because of its diversity– with women from 21 to 61, from different backgrounds, regions, religions, races, and classes.

I was one of the younger women, and I admired and appreciated the wisdom of the ones who had had long marriages, and jobs, and children, and skills for living.  One of these women was Beverly. [Read more…]

The top 10 reasons we don’t reach our goals (And how you can banish them!)

goals cauldronIt’s October, so it’s a good time to get a little witchy. Imagine we are under a clear and starry sky at night. Let’s add a cauldron into the picture.

Come circle around it with me.

Together we are going to cook up the foulest stew you have ever tasted. The ingredients will be all the reasons why people don’t reach their goals. We will throw them in one by one. Watch, as we do, how the brew starts to bubble and smoke. [Read more…]

GUEST POST: 4 Ways to work-life balance in 4 minutes

Once we realize that balance is fluid, we are on our way to achieving it.Perhaps you’ve heard the term “work-life balance” so often that it makes you want to scream — but you don’t have time to do that because as you read this, it’s not even 8 am, you’re late for a deadline, you have a class to teach, your daughter’s soccer coach wants to talk to you later today, you have 24 unread emails, and you forgot (again!) to pack a healthy snack for your daughter to eat before practice. [Read more…]

GUEST POST: 5 Energy traps that sabotage academic authors: Which one is yours?

energy trapsHere we are on the uphill swing of the roller coaster again at the beginning of the academic year. While there can be excitement about new students and classes and seeing colleagues and friends again, you may also be feeling frustration about not getting enough writing and research done this summer.

Before that roller coaster takes you tumbling down, let’s pause and consider some of the energy traps that can sabotage academic authors who work very hard to serve their universities, communities, and students – while also making time for research and writing. As you read through them, ask yourself which one is your personal saboteur. [Read more…]

Hunger, home and history: Our legacies as academics

Vintage typewriterMy Irish ancestors who came to America in the late 19th century called July “the hungry month” because the stored food from the year before was used up and the new crops were not yet in. I remember during summers as a child how my mother, a philosophy professor, would eat chips by the pool and say, “I don’t know why I’m always so hungry in the summer.”

I grew up to become an academic and writer and when I researched this history, I was able to make connections between my family history and our globe’s larger, collective histories. [Read more…]

Walking in truth: On mentors, teachers and your own way

Make your own pathEarlier this month, I taught the last class of a 3-month online course for women professors called The Feminar. Over Skype, I asked each woman in the class to talk about the greatest lesson the class had to teach. Each one replied with a different version of the same answer: “I learned to walk my own way.”

As academics, we work within a system that allows us to learn from others: mentors, supervisors, dissertation advisors, chairpersons, and deans. Then there is the larger context for our work: editors, publishers, readers, and the wider circle of the “field” itself. Even within our work, we look to those who have gone before, responding and critiquing and refining their arguments, theories, and conclusions. [Read more…]

Life’s labyrinth: Honoring your accomplishments

labyrinthIt is the time between late spring and early summer. A male cardinal crunches on sunflower seeds at the feeder, the leaves on the tall trees along the creek behind my house are bright green, and purple martins dip and sway high in the sky that is the blue color of my Irish grandmother’s eyes.

All of life—nature, animals, weather, plants and people—have their cycles and their seasons. When we learn to embrace this instead of fighting it, denying it, or running from it, then we can learn to live in balance and beauty.

Here we are at the end of the academic calendar—and this is a great time to learn how to go to the center of the labyrinth, find wisdom, and come back out again. [Read more…]

5 Tips for Kickstarter success for writers

Earth Joy WritingI recently completed my third successful Kickstarter campaign to help promote my new book, Earth Joy Writing: Creating Harmony through Journaling and Nature, which will be released on Earth Day, April 22nd.

In all three cases, my books were published by small, independent presses that didn’t have funds for promotional campaigns, publicity, or book tours. So I used the Kickstarter funds to promote my books in these ways.

Often people shy away from Kickstarter and prefer to use other crowdfunding programs because of the requirement that the funding goal be met in order to get any funds at all. In my experience (and we know this as writers), having the goal of completion can spur us to take bolder action. A half-written book isn’t really a book, is it? [Read more…]

Deepen your research with this 3-step deep listening technique

listening to natureAcademics are not very good at listening. We prefer the life of the mind, and in our minds, we can get stuck in a loop of listening to ourselves telling the same stories over and over.

“I have to say yes to this committee obligation.”
“There’s not enough time for self-care.”
“I can’t be my true self in academe.”

As we enter the season of spring and its principle of opening this month, let’s begin by using our ears, which are always open, to go beyond hearing those internal stories into listening to the larger world. [Read more…]