All posts filed under: Blog

Flight or Fright of Everyday and Developing a Patient Mind

When is the last time you faced challenge? I mean a real deal, in your face challenge? Often I come across this word when reading about 5k race training or when someone discusses the pursuit of higher education – both wonderful ideas. But to talk about challenge as if it only encompasses extraordinary circumstances misses a lot of the beauty in challenge. Yes. Challenges can be beautiful. To see this requires a change in perspective. As my husband and I began our parenting journey in 2016 we found ourselves using the word fairly often, and I came to realize that the term was less weighted than it was in the past. In other words, saying, our baby “was a challenge today because he did not want to take a nap” was actually a freeing statement that came with multiple emotions: frustration at a baby’s ignorance of a “schedule,” hilarity at the absurd day we just experienced, and also joyfulness at remembering the smiles of our little one because he would rather spend time with Mama than sleep! “Challenges” …

Your Body (Image) on Yoga

The experience I describe here is not limited to a yoga practice. However, I believe that yoga in combination with a contemplative practice leads the way to greater self-esteem. My body and mind have gone through significant changes over the last two years. We will celebrate my son’s first birthday in a week and it is striking to simply look back on the process of pregnancy through delivery to recovery. I recognize each woman’s experience is massively different, but I find myself having a transformation when it came to the way I viewed my body. I fully expected to go through a slump after Arlo’s delivery in April 2016. I had a cesarean section and knew the recovery would keep me from jumping back into an active life. There certainly were feelings of unfamiliarity with my own body and wanting desperately to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans again, but at the same time, my pre-pregnancy mindset was not one I wanted to go back to. For as long as I can remember, I stood in …

Little Daily Mantras

What word do you hold close to your heart throughout the day? What is your mantra? Perhaps without realizing it you latch on to an idea that will set the tone for your waking – and sleeping – hours. This is not about being happy. Or sad. Both words come with baggage, though they are uselessly flung out of our mouths. It is not too much to ask that we think about our words, even the words we use internally. There was a time around the holidays when I would wake up and take ownership over words like, “sad,” “stressed,” “unfinished,” “too much,” “difficult,” “broken”… I chose these words like a cloak to protect my body from the cold. The unconscious choosing of words over our lives is a symptom of a broader problem. It relates to a disconnection we create through the constant curation of personas. The more we try to mold outward appearances, the more disengaged we become with the inward self. Like the slow disappointment that grows between two people engaged in …

The Light of Meditation, and a Confession

Follow the breath In           Out In           Out In           Out Settle slowly in to the depths                                                             The deep Go under, where you can find it What endures in the heart                                                             Focus on your heart                                                             The Heart Center                                                             Focus on your breath                                                             The Lifeline The breath is the thread that connects us to what is above and below. It serves as a rappelling rope between the surface of our senses …

Yoga, Meditation, and Lent: Weaving a Daily Practice

So, what are you doing this year for Lent? I never considered this question until a few years ago when I started attending an episcopal church. I thought it was just another stuffy religious act that meant little to those who practice it. And it is. Until maybe it isn’t. My life experience with religion and spirituality is an interesting one. I keep thinking one day I will write some kind of memoir about it. Each year as the story unfolds, I find that what once angered me slowly becomes just a part of the narrative. It is who I am. Now I see how various threads are weaving together to form the fabric of my spirituality. Ten years ago my spirit was in a bad place. I made a decision to leave an oppressive form of patriarchal Christianity that was based in fear, though it talked a lot about “love.” I was angry because I thought that the only way for me to express spirituality had to be within this system. It insisted this …

Seeking the Mother’s Psalm

Well the sun is surely sinking down But the moon is slowly rising And this old world must still be spinning ’round And I still love you  So close your eyes You can close your eyes, it’s all right I don’t know no love songs And I can’t sing the blues anymore But I can sing this song And you can sing this song When I’m gone  Well it won’t be long before another day We’re gonna have a good time And no one’s gonna take that time away You can stay as long as you like I find myself humming this lullaby throughout my days now. I use it to calm my son, who seems to respond to the intimate truths in James Taylor’s lyrics. For me, the sweet sadness of “you can stay as long as you like” is a reminder that one day Arlo will decide he does not need me as much anymore. Taylor intended the ballad for Joni Mitchell, so of course it is deeply romantic. But these days I …

A Few Days at Mount Rainier, A Mind Transformed

Life is at its best when a person is seized by an experience or idea that completely alters everything that came before. These moments are few and rare, which is why they work so beautifully. On top of this, the moments do not always occur as a result of a major Hollywood-worthy event, but may be a result of a simple look up. A complete alteration in the way I think about the world happened almost two weeks ago and the disruptor is called Rainier. My consort and I planned a trip to the west coast months ago. The convenience of attending WAWH 2015 in Sacramento followed by a travel break before a summer studying for the comprehensive exam was just irresistible. It is not our style to relax on the beach with a Mexican-style lager in hand (though, we have fond memories of deflating ourselves along the sandy shores of Virginia for a week at a time), but found that travel – real exploration of a particular area – is what we like best. …

The Western Association of Women Historians 2015 Conference, Sacramento

Ok, folks. Here is a brief run-down of the conference I attended May 15-16, 2015. Many bits of conversations from this trip will find their way to a future AD blog posts. I love that I was able to talk through ideas with other scholars and feel inspired to pursue both academic writing and “on the side” blog topics on various issues. Until then, here is the Western Association of Women Historians 2015 conference, in brief. Historian Jane DeHart (emerita, UC Santa Barbara) declared, “Research and writing is a collaborative effort.” This contradicts much of what the public perceives of as the historian’s burden. In fact, it challenges the typical working experience of many intellectuals! But I trust the words of an incredibly successful academic when she proclaims that relationships are of utmost importance to the researcher-writer. (Additionally, one might notice a grammatical error in the statement. Are “research” and “writing” two separate actions? Deeply and somewhat obviously, no. If one writes, one researches, and vice versa.) So, here I am at the Western Association …

ASEH 2015: A Grad Student Walks into a Room…

In the following days after the ASEH I began to think more broadly about the experience in Washington D.C. with the environmental historians. Somehow, I need a way to debrief myself from the event and file the most important information in my memory within close reach. It might sound like hyperbole, but the weekend was a kind of renewal for me as a scholar – a scholar who is in the “mid life crisis” portion of her doctorate: finishing coursework, preparing for the comprehensive exam, and on the cusp of the dissertation. After eight years of college, my brain is fried and there are moments where I feel emotionally and mentally dry. How can I begin the dissertation process if I feel like this? Well, the ASEH was the answer and I will tell you why. My venerable advisor constantly points over his shoulder and tells me “the conversation is out there.” And proceeds to elaborate on the frustration of the graduate school myth of settlement. We are not in grad school to find our …

ASEH 2015, Day 4: It’s what you DO.

From my perspective, the final session day of the 2015 American Society of Environmental History national conference connected general threads of conversation, rounded the jagged edges of exchange, and ultimately set us up for new work this year. National conferences are fantastic because clearly they function as the literal meeting ground for wide-scattered scholars. Colleagues who worked together for decades “caught up” socially and professionally, while newbies like me met other graduate students and season veterans, and we cherish these connections. The sessions I attended today seemed to tie up loose ends and touch on topics that might be on the periphery, but also topics that hold a continual place in academic conversation. This was a long week and the morning sessions materialized early. Early. Normally a morning person, there was a real struggle to get out of the hotel bed. I was glad I did, though, because the EnviroTech breakfast was well worth it. I had the opportunity to talk with numerous ASEH members – professors and graduate students alike – which is extremely …