Self-Care Saturday: Passion Project 

The internet is full of advice that suggests you should have a passion project, for your mental health if nothing else, but what is a passion project? It’s a creative endeavor that is supposed to bring you happiness, make you feel productive, and give you focus. The internet also suggests that this passion project also be something outside of your normal career path.

I’m not sure that last piece of advice need always be the case, because for the last four years, I’ve had a series of passion projects that were often related to my day job, and they’ve made me very happy.

That being said, very little about my job is making me truly happy right now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love being a librarian, but I’m finding it hard to bring my usual enthusiasm to it right now – projects aren’t working right, or I’m busy tying up loose ends, or I’m impatiently waiting for things to start. It’s a confluence of events that I will work through in due time, but until then, what to do?

Well, tomorrow, I am going to announce something I’ve been working on all week and which will likely keep me busy the rest of the month (at least.) Meanwhile, I want you to think about what you could be doing as a passion project. 


Flashback Friday: Breastfeeding and Working 

I can’t believe I’ve never talked about this before. It’s such a hot-button topic and I’ve been completely neglecting it. Well, not completely… I did vaguely mention it in this post about my first day back at work after maternity leave.

I am talking, of course, about breastfeeding, and trying to align that with my work schedule. I at least never had the problem of where to pump; I have my own office and once I solved the problem of the little window in the door, I as able to pump in relative peace, with the door locked, Locking the door was a little bit weird for me at first; around here we rarely even close our doors when we’re in our offices, but of course, I needed the privacy.

And, thankfully, we never really had much of a problem with getting Baby Girl to breastfeed on a schedule. In fact, when she was nursing for sustenance instead of comfort, things were actually much easier, because she’d get full and stop.

No such luck these days, and it is making her transition into a big girl bed much harder, but I digress…

She did take a bottle once or twice a day, depending on my work schedule, especially in those first months where she was nursing ever 2 to 3 hours. When she was two weeks old, her pediatrician flipped out because she hadn’t gained weight since her visit the week before and tried to guilt me into supplementing with formula right away. I stood my ground and he scheduled a follow up appointment where she had gained a reasonable amount – the key, as far as I can remember, was that she kept falling asleep while she was nursing and not actually getting full! But that was before I even went back to work. When I went back, it was smooth sailing; I had started pumping two weeks before, so we had milk stocked up and I quickly got a handle on pumping on a schedule. She would go from the bottle to breast and back again, no problem.

… I guess maybe that’s why I’ve never talked about it before. It’s hard to give advice when you never had any problems.

I guess my best advice is to start pumping early, if you can; make sure there is somewhere you can pump before you need it (ideally before you go back to work), and try to get your child to adjust to switching back and forth between the breast and the bottle before they have to, so there aren’t unpleasant surprises.

Time To… Thursday: Time To Re-evaluate 

Hot on the heels of me feeling like I’m under-performing has been this incredible need to re-evaluate my life. I don’t think I’ve changed a lot in the last four years since I moved to my current town and started my career as a faculty librarian, but I would be fooling myself if I thought that I hadn’t changed at all.

Being in a real job in your field, changes you.

Getting married, changes you.

Buying a house, changes you.

Having a baby, changes you.

These are all major life milestones. Any one of these things should have me re-evaluating my life – and they’ve all happened in the space of four years. So, yes, I need to re-evaluate, make sure that the choices I have made are still the right choices for me and what to do about it if they aren’t. 

But that involves being able to have some time to myself to think.

I haven’t felt like I’ve had that lately. But starting today, I’m going to try to find some, even if it’s retreating to my office this evening for a half an hour or so before going home. I don’t have to re-evaluate my life all at once, after all! And it might be a good idea to think about “home” at work, and “work” at home – that way I’m away from the little annoyances and can think about things a little more clearly.

I may even develop some worksheets to go along with this! I find everything is easier when I write it down.

Working Wednesday: When You Don’t Feel Like You’re Performing Your Best

As I’ve complained about before, I have not been sleeping well. Some of this is because of Baby Girl, but it’s not all her fault. The weather, my bed frame being messed up, my husband keeping late hours and my own general anxiety have been colluding to make sure that even if I get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, they aren’t my best hours. I’ve never been fantastic at operating on less sleep, but I swear I used to be better at it.

Then, there are some work problems; I can’t find a student worker (which isn’t my fault, but you’d better believe I’m internalizing anyway), which has led to me missing meetings and occasionally having to close the library. There’s the natural, normal adjustment that comes with some new administration at the main campus. And there’s the feeling (whether real or imagined) that people aren’t using my library as much (which is silly; we’re a third of the way through the month and have more than a third of our normal visitor count.)

All of this has led to me feeling like I’m not performing my best at work. And that leads me to wonder if that’s actually true, or if it’s all in my head. I usually dress very smartly for work, but I think Monday was the first time in three weeks I put on a pair of real high heels. On the other hand, I’ve taught four class instruction sessions and had a one-on-one consultation with a student.

If my boss was on this campus, I’d probably just talk to him and see what he thought of my progress for the year, but since he doesn’t see me daily, I can’t. And no one at this campus really understands what I do from day to day. So I continue muddling on.

I’m thinking about starting a work journal, where I can keep track of what I’ve done for the day. I think that might help – and hell, it might help when I go up for tenure next year, too!

Together Tuesday: How South Park May Have Saved My Marriage (and My Sanity.)

Okay, the title of this post is just a little bit over dramatic. My husband and I are not fighting (not even close to it). However, you can pretty much always improve on a relationship, even – maybe especially- a marriage, and I am here to tell you right now that South Park showed my husband something that I have been trying to explain for the last nearly six years, and not only did they explain it well, but he actually got the message and put it into practice the next time the situation arose (which happened to be the very next day.)

To recap: South Park has a “couple” that are two 8/9 year olds named Tweek and Craig. Ignore the fact that they’re 8/9 year olds, because they tackled a very real, adult issue: anxiety. Tweek (as his name implies) is a very high strung little boy and very prone to anxiety. For most of the episode”Put It Down” (Season 21, Episode 2) Craig is attempting to “fix” the issue or distract Tweek from his anxiety.  Eventually though, through Tweek’s reactions and another character’s intervention in another issue, Craig realizes that sometimes, people just need help processing their emotions – not a solution. And the next time he’s faced with Tweek’s anxiety, he does exactly that, and it helps.

In the show, it helped so instantaneously that it almost seemed a farce. But I did point out to my husband that it had a good point. We joked about it a little, and set the topic aside.

About 18 hours later, I am sitting with Baby Girl in my lap, nearly in tears because she’s refusing a nap, again, after me not getting great sleep the night before. He is doing his usual thing, trying to come up with solutions. I’m snapping at him because I’m not prepared to think logically about the situation. Then, suddenly, he switches gears.

Granted, he quoted exactly what Craig had said, which was more funny than strictly helpful, but it got me to crack a smile – and the smile encouraged him to continue questioning me about my emotions. I calmed down pretty fast – apparently it wasn’t so farcical after all – and then we started talking about solutions, both short term and long term. I don’t think there are any easy answers, but at least when we talked about it, I was able to consider the solutions he was presenting.

If you suffer from anxiety or know someone who does, please consider trying this approach to work through the initial anxiety. It might help you reach a calmer, more thoughtful state faster.


Menu Monday: My Enchilada Recipe 

I haven’t been writing Menu Mondays posts because lately I haven’t made anything terribly exciting or different. Sure, I’ve made a few of my family’s favorites, but how many times do I need to tell you guy to go make shawarma? (Seriously, go make it.)

Today, though, I thought, instead of putting up another kind of lame Motivation Monday post, I would dig into my recipe stores and came up with a recipe that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about here, and I certainly have never posted to Butter and Whisky.

I am talking about my cheesy chicken enchilada recipe. This recipe is the one I have used for going on 9 years now, since I found it in a batch of free magazines I hauled away from a used book sale.  My husband loves it; pretty much everyone I know who has had the opportunity to have it, loves it. I’ve edited it from the original slightly; the original recipe calls for cooking split chicken breasts and using the cooking liquid – I’ve substituted cooked chicken breast (or sometimes turkey – it makes great Thanksgiving leftovers!) and chicken broth/stock to allow for skipping that somewhat time-consuming step.

Head over to Butter and Whiskey for the recipe!



Savings Sunday: Budget Lockdown… Again. 

A few things are converging to make me nervous about the budget again, some of which I probably shouldn’t talk about freely at the moment. Things I can talk about, though are: my mortgage escrow being miscalculated, Trump’s ridiculous tax plan that will probably screw me over, and the holidays coming up. General normal budgeting problems, in other words.

So, we’re on budget lockdown again, and I am trying my damnedest to actually follow through. When I run out of cash, I’ll be done with yard sales for the year. We’re trying not to eat out (though we broke that on Thursday night… must try to do better!) There is a strict budget for anniversary at the end of the month – $100 for cards, presents, and our anniversary dinner. If we can spend less, I’ll be thrilled.

If we get through the month, I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks, but right now I’m thinking about motivation. What keeps you motivated to penny-pinch when it’s not strictly necessary? That’s always been my downfall, so I’d like to hear your ideas!