2013 Goals Update 4

The sun is coming up earlier and earlier every day so it is time to jump start my yearly goals again.

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of April, how am I doing with my yearly goals?

Well, over all this month I have not made much progress…

1: work at the office 5 days a week: done!

2: work out: As in past months very little consistent training has occurred but by choosing to walk the long way around often I have made some progress. Using my new pedometer every day I am averaging > 5,000 steps a normal work day getting up as high as ~15,000 on some days. From all of this and by utilizing the wavering “sticky lbs” I am down 6 kg in the last 2 months. This brings me closer and closer to my first mostly unstated weight goal. I am looking for ways to increase the amount of training I do and also take some dance classes as I used to love dancing.

3: keep up with blog: failure. This has been sacrificed for “real” work, from my job and my dad visiting the last few days. Need to find a better way to keep up with posting all of my ideas.

4: work on my Swedish:  My new Swedish class is much harder than the last. I still am struggling with remembering vocab and having words for what I would like to say. I am trying a new program for this and hope to have a good review to report soon.

Outlook for May: UPDATE BLOG, do more intense workouts more often, and keep up with Swedish class & vocab.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

2013 Goals Update 3

Every month I hope to keep you all updated on my progress toward my yearly goals.

End of March, how am I doing with my yearly goals?

Well, over all this month I have not made much progress…

1: work at the office 5 days a week: I have been sick for the last 3 weeks. At the beginning of last week I went to work and everyone acted like I had the plague. When you get so many comments on how sick you look, GO HOME! so I have worked from home the last few weeks, taking lots of naps and drinking lots of tea.

2: work out: OK well, good news, I haven’t gained any weight…actually I have “lost” a few kg due to being sick but I am sure they will come back soon. Right now the focus is getting really well. **goal of the month: walk extra and work out 2 times a week when  I can** My mother gave me a pedometer and I have been using it recently, this is a great way to monitor how much you walk and try to up the amount.

3: keep up with blog: A few updates. A few more half started…being sick makes everything harder especially writing. My brain has felt so tired lately.

4: work on my Swedish:  Well my first Swedish class is over. The second one starts on Wednesday!

Outlook for April: WORK ON THE BLOG, find a better way to fit in workouts, and keep up with Swedish class.

I hope you guys will help keep me motivated and honest about the results of this 🙂

What does a science nerd do when sick?

tea

Well, you should sleep more, drink lots of fluids, and rest up…I did these and more! After dragging myself to work on Monday, in an effort to stick to my working at work pledge, I took a break from re-doing the same work over and over to go to afternoon coffee break. I made my self a cup of tea and sat down with the very few people there. The minute I opened my mouth to speak one of them asked if I was sick (I sounded like a frog). I said that yes actually I was sick again. I had the flew 2 weeks ago,spent the weekend with my cousin, and when I got home I was feeling somewhat better. Two days after returning to work I was starting to feel tired and by the end of that week I was experiencing the beginning symptoms of the flu again! WHAT? I almost never get sick. I lived in Chicago for 5 years and got only one real winter cold. Mostly I get sniffly and tired but not stay home from work sick.

After being told I looked “like death”, “really sick”, sounded “horrible”, “please stay away from me”, and that I should “probably go home” I decided to work from home for a few days till I was better. This way I could take naps, drink lots of tea, and work when I was able but not when my brain was fuzzy. It is amazing how slow you think when you are sick. I was trying to write a review article and do corrections on a paper plus write a review of another manuscript for a journal. None of this was going well. I couldn’t even focus enough to write blog posts. So I decided to turn to every science nerd’s if I only had time pile. This is the stack of papers you would like to read, the blogs you would like to catch up on old posts, and the podcast back episodes you have been avoiding because those 100+ episodes of Science Friday now feel like a job not just for fun.

I spent the last week, making figures while listening to podcasts about space, the flu (more to come later), honey bees, solar energy, nuclear waste, and the meteor that crashed into Russia. I read 20+ articles I had flagged to read later, taking extra notes to look back at when I no longer had tired brain. I went through over 40 packs of tissues and 3 boxes of tea bags. All in all, I obviously needed this break from work to get better and I was able to clear out my science nerd inbox. I wonder how long it will be till it is full again.

flu survival kit

science nerd sicky survival kit

New Employee Orientation

Every time you start a new job they have some kind of new employee orientation. I remember very clearly the year I started working at my college tutoring center and had to attend a two day orientation and training. This professional feeling workshop was starkly contrasted with the video tape in the backroom orientation I had to attend when I started working at a movie theater the same summer.

Today I had the orientation for new employees-in English. The best thing about orientation is the free stuff! Plus you learn a lot about the history and policies of your organization. Once, a previous boss complemented me on always knowing the rules about employee tasks. I was shocked. They covered all of this in orientation. I mean I didn’t remember what the rule was but I did remember that they had talked about it so I went and looked it up in my notes. Apparently this in not the norm.

Today’s orientation was great. The free loot consisted of a 2G USB stick with the university logo, a cloth bag with the logo, some handbooks for organizations, a spiral notebook with university logo, a pen with university logo, and a good lunch. They covered topics ranging from the history of the university presidents, a very cool modern art museum that is part of the campus system, to inventions that have come from research at the university. I was inspired and took a lot of notes, and am planning some upcoming posts based on the day. However, today I just wanted to say, you should go to your new employee orientation. Not only will you learn about what benefits your company offers but you will get free stuff and hear about all the cool things that you might not know about the other parts of the company.

LOOT!

LOOT!

Working on the Train

This morning I am taking a train from Norrköping to Lund. I spent the weekend hanging out with my cousins and am headed back to “real life” (i.e. work). I love traveling in general but especially via trains. I know that this is a minority opinion so why do I love riding the rails? Well I find that a train or an airplane is a great place to get work done. Now obviously not all kinds of work but very specific types of work that I can often put off for more pressing issues.

I tend to procrastinate writing. Somehow the blank page mocks me and at times I hear my computer laughing at me…haha you can’t write…haha….

For me the first step to overcome writing is always just getting something down on the page. I am much better at editing once I have something written. This is exactly what a train or plane ride is perfect for. Just typing directly and not editing much. I have already started a work paper that I need to write. I have written an outline, copied all the common information from old papers, rearranged the information and started writing the new sections the paper needs. I am now in the part of writing where a larger computer with a better mouse (than my 10in/25.4cm computer with its travel mouse). SO with less than 30 min on the train I have achieved the goal I had set for today’s trip…no problem…I am way way behind on my blogging.

With blogging I have head the opposite problem. Something happens and I want to write a post. I set up the post on my smart phone and make a few notes and then save the post under private. Then the post sits there for a long time and I don’t go back and update it, flush it out and finish posting it. So now I have tons of half started posts that see overwhelming. I wonder how many I can get written and flushed out in the 2 more hours on the train today.

 

Extra Note: When we arrived at the next train station and a young woman sat next to me on the train and is editing/responding to reviews on a journal of physiology paper. See all kinds of scientists can use travel time efficiently.

Shopping in Swedish!!!

Goal of the day: find fun things to buy & do so in Swedish

Mission accomplished! Today I went to the largest shopping mall in Sweden with 2 of the girls from work. We all had a few things we were looking for. My list was: get ipod fixed, blazers for work, black heals for with work dresses, and a structured purse for work (and fun). Seriously mission accomplished I found something in each of these categories. I had a great day chatting with the girls from work about world fashion, weddings (they are both planning their weddings), gradschool vs. professional style, and so much more. We shopped our way through about half of the huge mall before giving in and heading to dinner and cocktails.

The biggest win of all was that I did all but one store and one drink of my shopping in Swedish. I ordered my coffee and muffin, in Swedish. I bought my great new blazer for work, in Swedish. I even had a long conversation (2 min+) with one shop attendant about how my new purse was the color of pear ice cream, how we don’t have pear ice cream in the US and how traditional silhouettes in fun colors is modern fashion. Basically everything I bought except when getting my ipod fixed at the apple store, I started the conversation in Swedish and I didn’t change to English. At the bar, one of the bar tenders was British so he began to talk  to me in English when he heard me turn to the girls I was with and speak in English. However, since this wasn’t of my doing I think overall it was a successful shopping and a successful Swedish day!

shopping haul!

shopping haul!

Making New Friends

Making new friends is the hardest thing about moving anywhere new. The real problem is always where will you meet new people and how will you transition them from being work colleges, that girl/guy in your ___ class, roommate, or any other category of acquaintance to a true friend you can call and say “my day sucked lets meet that the bar 1/2 way between our houses for a drink on the way home.”

I have been living in Sweden for 4 months now and honestly I have a lot of acquaintances, my family, and no real friends. I was spoiled in my last city that I magically became best friends with 2 amazing people in just over 3 months.

SOO how do you make friends? You invite them to do things out side of your normal settings. Today I am going shopping with 2 girls from work. Wish me Luck!shopping

Leaving work after 11pm

Tonight I headed back to work after my Swedish class (18-20:30) because I hadn’t finished everything I had planned for the day by 17:25 when I had to walk out of the office to go to class. No problem, I thought, I can just go back and finish up everything and take a later bus. I figured I had about an hour more of work to do. And since it was basically busy work, it wasn’t a problem to do late in the evening but as we had committed to get the work to a collaborator in just a few days I wanted to get it to my PI ASAP.

When I made it back to the science building I was about 21 (9pm). The building was totally deserted. I thought it was a little weird to not see any students studying or working on projects in the main hallways. I know 21:00 is late but when I was a student in science we often met up to work on homework and projects after dinner. As I walked to my office I noticed that I didn’t see a single person. Not only were there no students studying but basically there were no workers walking around the halls. First, the building is set up with many wings that are closed off by security card but the way I walk through the building is past tons of study rooms, the main cafeteria and the main instrument labs, as well as, some research wet labs. This building has over 450 employees and 900 students taking classes in it and I saw not a single person.

After getting to my office I locked myself in and finished up my work. I love being at work really early or really late when there are few people around. In graduate school it was my habit to get to work around 7:20am and my favorite part of the morning was before 8am when I would have a cup of coffee, answer emails, and sing my country music aloud in my office. Even the few times that other students came in early and caught me singing (and maybe dancing) around our 15+person office didn’t damper the fun (and honestly productivity) I achieved during my early mornings alone. Tonight, as I made figures and tables I played my music loudly and sang along. I am sure if there had been anyone on my floor they would have come to investigate. However I didn’t see anyone.

I finished up the work that had to be done on my office computer about 5 min after a bus had left. The next bus wasn’t for a while since they only go twice an hour this late in the evening. I decided to work on a few other things before heading to the bus stop for the next bus.  I walked out of the building a different way than I had come in and still saw no one. Then I walked the 5 min walk to the bus stop (a huge bus interchange) and still saw no one. As I was walking, I started thinking  that maybe this was a cultural thing. In the US, at top universities you would expect to see people working all sorts of hours. You would expect the students to be studying all times of night. Is is really that the students are working and studying less in Sweden or that they are just not doing at work?

In graduate school it drove me crazy when a few people I worked with tried to make comments about the fact that I left work around 18-19 every day, when I had come in to work hours before they had. I felt that staying at work when I had put in a full day and wasn’t working very hard anymore was posturing instead of actually being productive.

One of my commitments for this postdoc was to be organized enough that I could leave work at a reasonable time (17-19) and if I needed to, I could monitor work from home. I have mostly been succeeding at this goal but honestly there have been times that I feel I am not working hard enough. These are feelings I can mostly associate with feeling like I am just not working enough. These are not new feelings for me. In graduate school there were times that I felt I wasn’t being productive enough, time I felt I wasn’t very motivated and so wasn’t giving it my all. Basically I went into almost every meeting with my advisor feeling that I could have done more.

Recently I have been feeling this “not working hard enough” feeling until I stop to analyze if maybe I am not putting in enough time. Last weekend I spent all of my time alternating between work and sleeping. I would work for a few hours and then take a nap, then I would wake up with an idea for work and roll over in bed and start working on my laptop. This kind of work schedule is one I easily fall into but isn’t sustainable or healthy. It is definitely a pattern I would like to minimize. However, no one can say that I haven’t put in lots of time in the last two weeks. So are these feelings of inadequate work real or are they socialized into me via the US Chemistry Ph.D. mentality?

Work Life Balance: Mary Kay Party

Tonight I attend a Mary Kay party that my aunt had. It was fun to hang out with other “girls” and talk about make up, eat some good food, and relax. I also decided to invest in some skin care.

I am a products girl. I have always liked reading girly magazines about make up tips, products you should use, etc. However I use lots of brands and sometimes change  to save money. As a chemist I know that some of these products must be counter productive and recently I have been struggling with some breakouts on my face.

I was never someone who had a lot of achene in high school so I never learned how to deal with it. When about a year, year and a half ago I got a horrible amount of achene all at once that didn’t seem to go away no matter how much I washed my face with gentle cleanser or harsher cleansers, or didn’t wear make up or did wear it, or wore the kind with achene fighting medicine in it, I thought that these breakouts must be stress related. I was trying to finish up my PhD. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was working at least 80-90 hrs a week sometimes up to 120hrs including all the writing and editing I was doing. I tried to mitigate the achene by keeping my face clean and dry and only wearing coverup when needed. It started to clear up a week before my thesis defense and I thought that was the end of it.

Recently it has started coming back. I have been researching (what else should a scientist do when you don’t know the answer to something but look for evidence?) the effect of using different products online and in medical journals. Most of what I found explains that over time certain products buildup on your skin or your skin can become resistant to them and you start using more and more.

Since my best friend and my aunt have both had success with Mary Kay I decided to give it a try. The first thing I noticed is that you use much less (about 1/5 of the face wash that I used to use). While this is not a proper scientific study I hope to have some qualitative results soon.

quick side story: at the party the sales person was letting us try make up primer, which should make foundation and make up go on more smoothly and last longer. Being an annoying proponent of using controls in your experiments I decided to only put primer on one side of my face and see if I could tell the difference…

Work Life Balance: Working Out

One of the main workshop and development conversations in science academia both in graduate school and beyond is how to achieve work life balance. I have attended so many workshops on this topic it is crazy. I am not sure there is really such a thing as work life balance but this year I made my New Years Resolutions in the hope of being healthier, happier, and more balanced. To me this means being healthy: both the food I eat and working out, being happy: doing fun things, staying in touch with friends, and balancing that with hard work and some good publications (otherwise how would you know you were productive :).

This is the first post in what I hope will be a year long series on how I am finding work life balance and working on my goals for the year.

One of my goals for this year is to work out more regularly. To this end, I decided to try to ease into it this time instead of trying to start too quickly which I did often during graduate school. My goal is to work out 3 times a week in January and then slowly increase this amount to 4-5 times a week in February and March. I decided to start with some workout DVDs I have (I own about 30ish).

Today I did my first workout of the new year; I tried a Jillian Michaels tape. What I notice each time I start again is that I am sore, out of breath, and that I don’t do the workout “full out”. I made it through the hr long workout but just barely.

This time what is particularly interesting is that I lost about 3 kg on my recent trip to London by just walking around. I was being cheap when I had time to kill instead of paying to take the tube back to my hotel I just “went shopping”, i.e. wandering through the stores and buying nothing. I hoped that this would be a good kick off to my fitness this year. I have been eating quite healthily since I moved into my apartment as during graduate school the way I learned to eat cheaply was by cooking healthy food in bulk.

Even though my back is sore from arm circles and some planks (crazy I know), I think this is a good start for the year.