When should details of misconduct be made public?

(by sweetscience) Mar 23 2018

Amid the #metoo movement, we have seen extreme publicity of the Hollywood allegations of sexual misconduct, including the shocking and sensational details revealed by victims coming forward. We have seen some spread of this movement and publicity to other arenas as well, including research in STEM fields. Academic institutions should already be prepared to deal with allegations as they arise, but should also be able to respond to the growing attention paid, by both the media and people in the field or organization, to issues of misconduct.

A recent termination of a prominent scientist at a prominent research institution raised a lot of questions – with no answers apparently forthcoming. The particular scientist and institution are not essential for the message of this post, but you can read about him here. This institution, like many others, has a reputation for quelling accusations before they reach a level where action must be taken, and for not taking action when many deem it necessary. So, many people were happily surprised to find that someone (a prominent someone!) would and could be terminated for breaching institutional policies.

But what were those policies? What actually happened? The institution has not revealed this, except to say that it was not scientific misconduct, which leads one to believe that it must have been inappropriate interpersonal behavior. Indeed, even some employees in the researcher’s lab have no idea what happened, and reportedly have asked the institution to explain, with no further information obtained.

It is certainly important to consider that the institution may be acting in the interest of the individuals involved – both perpetrator and victims – to keep the details undisclosed. But is that the best course of action?

In a time where we – all of us, right? – are trying to rid our institutions of the sexual misconduct infestation that negatively impacts both individual and field-wide well-being and advancement, institutions should be doing everything in their power to make it known that this specific act will not be tolerated here. This would encourage others with allegations to come forward, and discourage potential perpetrators from initiating or continuing similar actions, and, all in the best long-term interest of the institution, enhance the overall image and attractiveness of this place as a safe environment where misconduct will be investigated and not tolerated, leaving the work to be the central feature.

Institutions should endeavor to be as brave as the many women who have come forward to share their stories – for the benefit of the people and the future.

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Is this cheating or is it networking?

(by Megan) Mar 19 2018

I’m a TA for a large undergraduate course that’s required for premed and bio majors. As I was grading the first exam of the course, I was scoring an open-ended question that was vaguely worded. So I was surprised when many of the students put together the exact cookie-cutter answer the professor was looking for.

“How on earth did they know what she was asking here?” I said to another TA. “Did you guys cover this explicitly in review sessions?”

The other TA answered, “No we really didn’t talk about that too much. But I think a similar question was on last semester’s exam? She refused to let them have a copy of that to study from, though. So I don’t know how they could have seen that.” She frowned at her pile of exams, “I’m having the same concerns with another question.”

A few minutes and a brief internet search later, we figured out that the exam from last semester was still posted online and although it was not available to current students, the exam and answer key were still accessible to last semester’s students. So, basically, any student who knew a former student would have had an answer key prior to the exam since the professor re-used the same exam from the preceding semester.

Upon review, it became clear from the lack of variety in responses to the open-ended questions that most of the students who had scored well on the exam had seen a copy of the answer key. For instance, one question asked students to draw and label the structures of the pituitary gland. The professor, on the answer key, drew the organ from an unusual angle. Many of the students did the same, although this was not how the pituitary gland was drawn in the text, in lectures, or in most online resources.

We, of course, immediately alerted the professor to the situation. She promised to make the next exam ‘harder’. In my mind, this was not a sufficient response to the inequities of the present exam, because the students clearly did not have access to the same study resources so I don’t think it was a very fair test.

Students who were able to get old exams and answer keys were simply using all resources at their disposal to study—although from a pedagogical perspective, if students simply reiterate answers they may not understand well, they’re clearly not getting much information out of the course. On the other hand, I sympathized with students who did not have access to the old exam through their social connections, studied hard, and did not score as well. I worry that they might be discouraged from putting in honest work in the future because of this experience.

What would you do in this situation? As a TA, I feel really frustrated and can imagine what the students who didn’t have the answer key feel. Of course, I think the professor should not have re-used last semester’s exam. I personally thought the professor should have done a mea culpa and not factored this exam into the final grade but she said that was not an option. I really hope she will create new exams in the future and I’ve even offered with the other TAs to write the next exam. But I just don’t have a lot of power in this situation.

Although I personally don’t think the students cheated in this case, since the answer key was so easily available, there’s a fine line between them and these guys, who, in my opinion, clearly cheated—although they seem to think their behavior was justified as ‘networking’.

Briefly, the link goes to a case where a professor re-used old exam questions although he took pains not to allow copies of his exams to fall into students’ hands. Some students managed to photograph their exams behind his back and passed them on to friends in the course. The thread was started by a student who did not have a copy of this exam, found out others did, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. Many responses posted on the thread were along the lines of this one: “Life isn’t fair, bruh, time to make some friends.”

Reading what those students wrote makes me wonder– what are the differences between cheating, slightly unethical behavior, and networking (especially in 2018 where such lines are completely blurred, even in the highest office in America)? Is cheating just networking to a greater extent?

The pre-med students who have been rewarded with high grades for ‘networking’ don’t seem motivated to outgrow this behavior either—CNN revealed radiology residents cheated on their board exams by basically the same means—which, frankly, could put our healthcare at risk.

I’m feeling naïve in my belief that students come to college to learn (as I did), or that they’re here for anything more than a grade on a transcript and a fat salary down the road. But, especially for pre-med and medical students, academia is set up to reward grades over knowledge, students learn to game this system by ‘networking’, and it’s difficult to know what, if anything, to do to change that.

4 responses so far

Attending a conference with a toddler

(by Curiouser&Curiouser) Mar 05 2018

I just got back from my favorite conference. It’s always a great mixture of science, inspiration and networking. Oh and great food, the food is awesome. This was my first conference since I had my baby and my husband and I decided that we would all go since it was semi-local, I’m still nursing and the hotel looked fabulous. I was pretty nervous about bringing the family.  Since we were local we brought LOTS of baby gear, toys and finger food.  Overall, it was a good, but tough, experience.

The conference program was great. The schedule was planned such that if I had needed to pump there would have actually been time to do so. I was staying at the same hotel as the conference so, to nurse, I just went up to our room but I’m sure a place would have been provided.  Speaking of food, the wonderful/kind organizers were so understanding they even told me that they were sure no one would notice if my husband popped over for some of the meals.

Hubby had a few meetings each day that he needed to call in for and we actually did pretty well with the handoffs. He and Baby had a lot of fun and Baby even got to see snow for the first time!  I felt a little sad that I’d missed out on these adventures, but it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.

The main issue for us was, as sweetscience mentioned in her post, SLEEP!  Our baby is not a good sleeper, he hasn’t been since about 4-months old. We called ahead and the hotel had a crib placed in our room and we tried to keep to as many of our sleep routines as possible, but the baby basically did not sleep at night. Since we were in a hotel room there was no place to go (I did consider the bathtub) so I basically didn’t sleep. This general lack of sleep led to some fuzziness on day 1, crankiness on day 2, by day 3 I was a bordering on becoming a zombie, and on day 4 my body just gave up and I got sick. Thanks to coffee (maybe a contributor to the nausea and dizziness) and great talks I didn’t fall asleep in any of the lectures, learned a lot, and was inspired with the cool new ideas and techniques, but I do know I didn’t get as much out of the week, scientifically, as I could have.  My brain felt slippery, like I knew I should be able to latch on to some of the concepts but they were just sliding by.

While not sleeping in the middle of the night I did recall my coworker telling me I was crazy to bring the family, that I should just take the hotel room and get a few nights of real sleep.  I’ll be honest, at that point I totally agreed with her. But in the morning I looked over and got to see my son and my husband snuggling while I read the abstracts for the day, and I realized that I kind of got to have the best of both worlds.  Minus the vomiting.

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Flu season 2018: infectious behavior

(by Megan) Feb 26 2018

Walking around campus last week, I was surrounded by students who were hacking and coughing. I dodged an undergrad with red-rimmed, teary eyes and another who was pale and shivering despite being wrapped up in what looked like a blanket. I felt like I was in a scene from a bad zombie movie as I was surrounded by swarms of visibly ill students leaving class. I breathed a premature sigh of relief when I got to lab—where a colleague was coughing uncontrollably as he tried to pipette.

Later that week, when I picked my toddler up from daycare, there was a sign taped to the front door:

“PARENTS!!! Do NOT bring your children to [daycare] when they are SICK!!! We will KNOW if you gave them Tylenol for fever and they will be SENT HOME!!! This is for the good of your child! As well as the STAFF and other CHILDREN!”

If the judicious use of caps and exclamation points in that sign was any indication, my son’s caregivers were as fed up as I was with people’s lack of consideration regarding contagion. We were later notified that the daycare had 6 confirmed cases of influenza.

The flu can cause severe complications, especially for the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and immunocompromised individuals. So it’s really frustrating to see people behave as their though contagious illness is little more than a personal inconvenience, when the reality is that their behavior can create a truly dangerous environment for others.

But, what choice do people have? Vaccines and hand sanitizers can only do so much. Our human bodies still become ill, seemingly at the most inconvenient times. Fortunately for the influenza virus, we don’t often take time off to take care of our sick bodies, and therefore we provide the flu with classrooms and conference rooms full of potential hosts.

The students were going to class because they are highly competitive and had exams and review sessions they couldn’t miss. My colleague came to work because he had time-sensitive experiments to perform—and grant deadlines are even more merciless than exams. Parents drop off the sick kids at daycare because… well, it’s tough enough to get time off for yourself when you’re sick and contagious. It’s even harder when you need additional days off to care for your sick kid.

So, we go to work and send our kids to daycare—with the flu, with gastroenteritis, and other contagious pathogens. And the infectious cycle perpetuates.

Ultimately, we’re not doing ourselves or our employers any favors by coming to work sick: a Danish study showed that the habit of working through short-term illnesses leads to more prolonged health-related absences in the long-term. Still, this can be hard to keep in mind when faced with impending deadlines.

Of course, academics, students, and scientists are certainly not alone in working while sick and contagious. When I dropped off a parcel at the post office on the weekend, a postal employee was displaying the same symptoms as the students on campus—bloodshot glazed eyes, sweating, lethargy, and a hacking cough. I enquired, “You look sick…?” He answered weakly, “Yeah…” I responded, “You really should stay home and rest!” A woman I’m assuming was his supervisor shouted at both of us, “Well, what do you think? That we can all just stay home if we’re sick? NO! If you can still move, you should work!”

I feel like her words poetically summed up America’s attitude towards illness.

Food service workers, for instance, are notoriously not given time off when ill. The number of norovirus outbreaks caused by ill food service employees forced to work through their gastrointestinal distress is stomach-churning and their stories make me never want to eat out again.

Clearly, the behavior of working while sick is dangerous to others. What may come as more of a surprise is that it is also often detrimental to the economic interest of the larger corporation. Chipotle, for instance, lost a billion dollars in value when an employee forced to work while sick spread norovirus to the community. Personally, I wrote a negative review of my local post office branch for forcing its employees to come in when sick.

Coming back to campus– can we, as scientists and educators, influence how people think and cope with contagious illness? I hope so, and that’s one reason I’m writing this blog post.

At very least, let’s lead by example. In the lab, for instance, it’s important to have a degree of redundancy. If a postdoc wakes up with a 104-degree fever one morning, they should be able to stay home and know that their cell lines won’t crash and their mice will be cared for because someone else can at least perform the basic duties required (critical to this is also good record-keeping and labeling—which are good lab citizenry habits regardless of illness). This way, one lab member gets sick instead of five. And that lab member should be thanked for staying home and recovering, and offered help, instead of being made to feel guilty for getting ill.

In the classroom, students should be able to make up or drop an exam missed because of illness. Review sessions can be reiterated in online forums. If a professor or lecturer becomes ill, perhaps they can post recordings of the previous semester’s lectures online. Alternatively, a syllabus can be designed with some wiggle room so that missing one or two lectures won’t throw off the entire course plan. And it should be explicitly stated that students should stay home and take care of themselves while ill. Some honestly seem to believe that showing up while sick will impress their professors!

Unfortunately, illness will always be a fact of life. And, when it happens, it will present a conflict with work. In America, with its vomiting food service workers unable to take a single day off, this conflict seems especially profound. We will never be Sweden (check out Vabbing here and join me in my envy of Scandinavian rationality). I have had to reluctantly accept that I will not be living in Sweden any time in the near future.

But. We do all live in 2018. Germ theory is an accepted truth. Let’s acquiesce to that reality and encourage others to do the same—especially the younger generation who we teach and mentor.

And if all else fails, make people watch her. Preach!

5 responses so far

Impact

(by peirama) Feb 10 2018

One day, when my son was two or three, he did not want to put on his shoes. This is not unusual for a two-year-old, of course. But on this day he didn’t cry about it or throw a fit, he made up a song. His song went, “I don’t want to waaaaaste my time, I don’t want to waaaaaste my time, putting on shooooes today, putting on shooooes today.”

I’m sure he has forgotten this incident and this song, but I have not. I sing this little tune to myself sometimes. It is catchy and the sentiment rings true to me. It turns out I, too, hate to waste time.

Something I’m struggling with right now is using I devote to volunteering most efficiently. There is so much to do in this world and I have such limited time. I really want to make the maximal impact that my time and abilities allow.

I started volunteering with an organization last winter. Like many people, after the election I felt a need to get involved. There was a flood of new volunteers, so while there were many volunteers, the group felt very disorganized. They were not used to having so many hands, and so probably did not make the best use of the hands they suddenly had available. This year, so far, there is more thought and planning into what areas we can have impact. I really enjoy the planning and the idea that the time I put in will be put to better use. The planning itself does take time, but hopefully will be worth it.

I also volunteer with my local women in science group. It is a great grass roots group, entirely run by volunteers and started by student and postdocs. I am the outreach chair, and as such I organize volunteers and plan events to empower girls in science. Here, I am the organizer rather than the volunteer being told what to do. In this situation, I have to ask myself, how do I maximize my time and my volunteers time? I feel the need to plan most efficiently, but sometimes that leads to mistakes that then waste time.

I also think about whether my efforts are duplicating those of others. Other groups do science outreach with kids. What am I adding that is different enough to be worth it? If I am not doing something different, of course my efforts are not a complete waste. However, my time might be better spent volunteering for those other groups rather than organizing something myself.

Do you volunteer? Do you organize volunteers? How do you make an impact or deal with the struggle of limited time?

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New Mom in a New Job

(by ragamuffinphd) Jan 29 2018

I had no idea what to expect during my first week back to work after maternity leave at a brand new job. Just before my son was born, I landed a new academic postdoc position after being ousted from my first*. The subject matter, though generally enthralling to me, is way outside the scope of my technical/intellectual expertise. And though I knew that I would be starting over and had been looking forward to it, I could not have known how that would feel once the time came.

The first few days, all of my willpower went toward the following:

— Getting my son to daycare intact

— Figuring out where/when/how to park on a campus that sells far more parking passes than it has spaces

— Figuring out where/when/how to pump in a place with no designated facilities, and in several different buildings across the campus

— Adjusting to having zero immediate colleagues who are moms**

— Relearning material that I had sort of let slip from my mind since high school

— Between a mother and son with chronic medical needs, juggling way too many medical appointments with my husband

— Learning the schedule of outside-of-lab obligations including lab-mandated seminars/dinners and fellowship-mandated meetings/workshops

— Getting home in time to feed and see my son for 5 minutes before putting him to bed

The first few days, I cried alone in the bathroom more than I expected. I absentmindedly missed turns on my way to daycare and work. I missed kissing my son goodnight twice***. I freaked out about my milk supply dropping. I put WAY too much pressure on myself to figure it all out and be productive too quickly.

Now, three weeks in, things have not calmed down much. However, I’m more familiar with my surroundings and the personalities of my colleagues. I am very slowly getting used to not seeing my baby all day every day. I am giving myself a little leeway, having kicked so much butt at everything so far (several glitches notwithstanding). It all still feels very messy and exhausting and hit-or-miss, but I’m not crying every day anymore.

 

*Though the timing felt awful, it could not have been better in the long run to leave my previous position ASAFP without burning bridges.

**Being able to talk to other moms versus dads DOES make a huge difference. Especially moms who have experienced pumping breast milk at work. This will improve as I meet people through my fellowship and in different labs.

***Since my sweet boy was sleeping through the night at that time, this absolutely broke me.

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Getting to know you

(by sweetscience) Jan 26 2018

What I really wanted to know.

Image from: http://www.fallingfifth.com/comics/20070105

In my courses this semester I have over 100 neuroscience students, ranging from just-declared sophomores to early grad students, and I am trying to get to know each one! It’s a challenge but I know it’s important, especially for the early level students, to feel connected and comfortable talking with a professor in their field, and even if all I know is their name and face, that could improve the chances of their being comfortable with me. Throughout the first weeks of the semester I ask each student to tell me (verbally or in writing depending on the size of the class) what brought them to study neuroscience, what excites them, and what their goals are.

It is remarkable (but not surprising if you know or remember college students) the range, from  “I have no clue what I’m doing but this seems cool,” to “I was drawn to neuroscience by a specific event and am on a path to medicine/research with a specialty in this ultra-specific sub-field.” One thing that has struck me is how many students are drawn to the field because of a first-hand experience with a brain-related trauma or disease, especially given the young age of the majority of my students.

More than anything though, it is refreshing. I love to see things through their wide (but not naïve!) eyes, hear their personal stories, and especially to learn about things I’ve never heard of that sparked their interests!

And I have one piece of advice for them, and everyone at this stage – try everything! Anything you think you might be interested in, any opportunities you’re presented with you think might be even a little interesting or beneficial – do it! Even if what you learn is that you don’t like that experience, that is extremely valuable as you home in on your goals and personal path. In some ways, this is most valuable advice for people who are so set on their path they don’t try it, or anything else, so if they at some point come to the realization that their top and only choice won’t work, it is devastating and difficult to find a new path. And while it’s never too late to try a variety of experiences, it’s never so easy and so cost-free as this early stage in your career.

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New Year, New Job, New Working Mom: My First Week

(by ragamuffinphd) Jan 15 2018

Whose idea was it to start baby’s daycare and mom’s new job on the same day?

I have been a mom for 4 months. My son has been through two surgeries, chronic issues with cranial helmet therapy, gone from remarkably low to average growth percentile, and is the happiest smilin’est kid you will ever meet.

The fourth trimester was, for me, deeply harrowing. I have new-mom PTSD. Only in the last few weeks have I begun to forget how intensely off-putting some of the struggles of new motherhood have been. Only now have I begun to find my groove as a parent, and be able to thoroughly treasure every waking moment with my tiny human. This is the worst time to hand the love of my life off to a caretaker as I attempt to unearth my scientist brain and return to work.

While I was pregnant, I participated in a marathon of job interviews. I was grateful and humbled to find a new postdoctoral position, fellowship and mentor with whom I looked forward to starting fresh following maternity leave/unemployment.

My first few days have been crazy, emotional and messy. I was: late dropping off my son, later getting to work, proud to have found a place and method for pumping and storing milk (neither intuitive nor straightforward), only mildly uncomfortable around my new colleagues (none of whom have children), grateful for the kind and supportive welcome of my new mentor (who does have grown children), thrown off by already juggling my son’s and my medical appointments during the day, saved by text messages of support from a few working scientist-mom friends, exhausted and lovesick by the time I picked up my son from daycare.

My son’s first few days were long, hot and exhausting. He was: too warm in our caretaker’s home, totally happy in her arms, able to nap less than half of his usual amount (yikes), somewhat afraid of the two slightly older babies who wanted to play with him, disrupted by medical appointments on several days, and smiling sweetly when I came to pick him up. He was a champion.

I am thrilled to be once again in a laboratory environment (I think), read a few papers (with my newly altered brain) and even attend a couple seminars. In time, I hope to be able to do scientific research again. I have resolved to not let the overwhelm of my first few days determine how I feel about being a working mom. I will let myself figure that out in time.

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Resolutions 2018

(by peirama) Jan 11 2018

Happy New Year!

Please share yours in the comments!

SweetScience:

As you may have been able to tell from my last post and analysis of 2017, I was just happy to have survived, and thrilled to be moving in the direction I want, hard as it may be. So I have no ambitious goals for 2018. Other than teaching 8 classes, half of which will be new, moving into a new home in a new state, establishing healthy relationships with family in the area, and caring for my own family, including welcoming baby number two!! I’ll be happy to get through all these major changes the best I can.

peírama:

My resolutions are to improve at my job, continue to network so that it is not a huge chore if/when I am looking for a new job, and to continue to stay involved in my community without overdoing it. I am pretty happy with where I am in my career and my life, but it has taken a lot of work to get here. I am sure the future will hold more challenges, so the best I can do for now is to enjoy and to take steps to buffer against those future challenges in whatever form they come.

Curiouser&Curiouser:

My resolution this year is to give myself time to find my bliss. I spend a lot of time thinking and working on being good at my job, motherhood and wife-y-ness (yup that’s totally a real word); but I want to make sure I have space to think about what I want to be doing, not just what needs to happen right now.  Am I happy in my job or do I want to try something new, do I want more kids, do I want to start dancing again, should we pack up our family and run away to our imaginary mountain farmhouse/library/art studio and all those kinds of questions.

saraswatiphd:

I’m not a New Year’s resolution person.  I think they’re kind of overrated.  If you want to do something, why wait?  Do it now, don’t wait for the calendar to give you the green light.  But this year is different.  I’m waiting for something.  Like a sign to give me the go ahead.  

I got a sign of a sign a few months ago, sitting in my doctor’s office, going over my very suboptimal lab results.  We talked about lifestyle and diet, about stress management, about this and that.  She said that I needed to make a change how I approach my health – tune into my body, listen in closely to what it’s telling me.  I never have.  My body is something I abused for a while now – staying up too late, not dealing with stress well, not exercising, eating crappy food, or not eating enough all together, forgetting to take my thyroid medication…  It’s catching up to me.  I was surprised.  Afterall, my body hasn’t failed me yet (besides autoimmune thyroid issues and chronic insomnia that is).  Stress is something I thought I had to experience in order to prove to myself and everyone around me that I was taking things seriously.  This (tenacity? stupidity? immaturity? dedication?) is something that got me through undergraduate work, graduate school, and my postdoc (during which I had twins), allowing me to get to a place in my life where I love my job and appreciate the direction in which my career is headed.  This approach worked for me professionally.  But my body begs to differ.

So, my New Year’s resolution is to take my health seriously, before I start having serious health issues.  Eating wholesome foods, exercising regularly, managing my expectations so that stress doesn’t get the upper hand – those are on my (probably first ever) resolutions list this year.  I am giving myself time to mull it over and construct a plan.  If I am successful, I will hopefully ease into it in the next couple of months and continue throughout the year.  Kind of like a warm up run before I cross that start line.  We’ll see how I do.

NotaRealTeacher:

Like saraswatiphd, I don’t like resolutions. I prefer goals, which are a type of resolution anyway, so here are some of my goals for 2018.

In 2017, I found myself feeling so impatient. Impatient for the next career move, for the bigger house, the next car (hello minivan, I can’t wait for your sliding doors). When I take a step back, though, I am able to rationally articulate that things are going great for me. I have a teaching job I mostly love, two healthy kids, a successful husband and an adorable (albeit tiny) house in a desirable area. In 2018, my goal is to be steadfastly patient. I’ll still be looking forward to my next big thing, but I want to embrace all the good I already have.

Ragamuffinphd:

I only have one overarching goal for this year: adjust to life as a working mother, allowing myself the respect, patience and flexibility to find out what that means for me and for my family.

Before I realized that I wanted children, my goals and the attitude with which I pursued them were all about me. My dreams, my time, my ruthless obsession with academic scientific research. My perspective has already changed drastically (after 4 months of baby), and I hope that this more relaxed open-mindedness will be the driving fuel of my future endeavors.

Megan:

I am trying something very different this year. Every year, my resolution is to do more, to do better, to work harder, to improve. But 2018 needs to be different.

I started 2018 on New Year’s Eve with a stomach virus that didn’t let me leave the bathroom, let alone participate in any festivities. Frankly, I’ve been sick since around mid-November, with one thing after the next. I have a toddler in daycare and the microbes are ruthless. I need to face it: I’m completely run down. I’m often up past midnight, doing laundry and chores, writing emails, reading. Then, at 6-6:30AM, my adorable son starts babbling, then yelling, from his crib– and, trust me, toddlers don’t get that you can sleep in on weekends.

This year, as I was huddled sick and shivering on New Year’s Eve, I started thinking of possible New Year’s resolutions. Should I try to write more? Exercise more? Clean more? Network more? Make more of an effort to visit elderly relatives? Yes, I probably should do all of those things. But as I was contemplating them, I swear my churning gut screamed at me: “YOU NEED TO DO LESS!”

So, that’s my resolution this year. I don’t know exactly how it will translate yet. Maybe I’ll look into getting a maid? Try to go to bed earlier? Finally ditch our beloved but broken down old car that requires constant maintenance? I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but my body has put me on notice: it’s time to do less.

Just thinking of ways to do less instead of more already feels like a radical change.


One response so far

2017 Resolution Revisit

(by peirama) Dec 27 2017

At the beginning of this year we shared some of our goals for the upcoming year. Here are some updates on how we’ve done.

How has your year measured up to expectations? Please share your success (and failures) in the comments!

peírama: Last year I had three goals. To gain confidence in order to progress my career, to eat healthier, and to have a positive impact on my community. I have done pretty well. I would not say that I am much more confident, but I am somewhat more confident and I have gotten a new job where I feel respected. Also, in the process of actually getting a job and starting it, I have learned more about myself and the people around me that has made me more confident because it gave me a new lense on the world.

I have eaten healthier in fits and starts, although that has pretty much gone out the window with the holiday season. It feels good to know I can eat healthier, though, because it makes me feel in charge of my health and not as guilty when I do decide to choose the less healthy options occasionally.

As to having a positive impact on the community, I have done that through getting involved. I am involved in my local women in science group; I joined the leadership and advocacy team of Planned Parenthood, which supports reproductive health equity; and I joined the PTA and got involved in the fundraiser. Sometimes it feels like a lot, like maybe I’m doing too much. At the same time, it feels so good to be doing something to make the community I live in one to be proud of and to do my own little part to fight the bigotry and uncaringness that sometimes feels like it will swallow us all.

 

SweetScience: I accomplished my main goal – transitioning to a new job! It wasn’t what or how I expected at all, but I am so happy that this is happening. Unfortunately I am still transitioning out of my old position, but I think I am doing this as gracefully as the situation allows. I will definitely have some lingering tasks over the next months that will keep me tied there in my “free time”. I completely failed my resolution to be a better family member and gift-giver. But my new job will give me so much more flexibility that I am confident I can improve this in the future! My transition still being in-progress, I have not settled into a new community and local service as planned, but I have continued as much charitable giving as I could manage. Honestly, I’m just happy I survived this year.

 

Curiouser&Curiouser: My big goal this year was to transition to being a mom and it went really well. I love it (something I was worried about) and while I’m still learning how to deal with the lack of sleep this has been my happiest year ever.

I had to leave work a month early because of complications with the pregnancy so I asked for and accepted help more than ever the first half of this year (one of my 2027 goals). The project continued without me and while some things were not done as I would have done them, the project is ongoing and my transition out and back in has been pretty smooth. As for my other work-related goal, I’m not sure that I’m on track with my career but I’m working on it.

 


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