Does your job make you do a happy dance?

As I sat at my home desk today doing some background work I had promised to people, I checked on my main work that had been runing overnight. SUCESS! something I had been struggling with recently finally worked! (actually 3 somethings) As I did what my brother calls my “chair happy dance”, I thought does your job make you do a happy dance? At a time other than when you get your paycheck?

*Happy DANCE*

*Happy DANCE*

If your job doesn’t make you do a happy dance then why not?


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?

2013 Goals Update 2

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

End of February, 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! Actually maybe too much work…

2: work out: OK well, good news, I haven’t gained any weight…bad news, haven’t lost any more and more importantly basically haven’t worked out at all this month. With my new busy evening schedule and things picking up at work I need to rethink when and where I can work out. I am going to try this coming month not just to work out more but to find more convenient times or places. **goal of the month: 2 times a week**

3: keep up with blog: Again a huge failure on this. The number of half completed posts or just blog ideas has piled up into maybe an insurmountable list. Honestly as the list got longer the less I wanted to deal with this. So trying to remove the pressure to back post these old posts and starting fresh with posting new events in a timely manner. I will still keep the back posts for the next month and try to update these also but after that I am deleting them. **goal of the month**

4: work on my Swedish: My Swedish class is going well. I haven’t missed a class yet but I also haven’t invested much time out of class to working on my Swedish. So this month my goal is to practice more outside of class…and spend some time learning the vocabulary we go over in class.

Outlook for March: 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 🙂

Poker Night

No this is not really a post about playing poker. It is not even a post about playing poker with your colleges and how this can increase your report and make you part of the group. Or even about how to be the only woman at poker night. Instead it is about how I am becoming my mother.

When I was a kid my family always had meet up locations everywhere we went. “OK so if you get lost come to the fountain at the front of Disney World.” I went on trips with other families and they didn’t do this. Logically it makes sense. I mean we didn’t have cell phones (no not even my parents had them when I was really young) and it gave you somewhere to look if you got lost.

Often when we were late to get picked up or standing in the wrong spot my mom would tell us how not knowing where we were and not knowing where to meet people was her biggest fear. I honestly didn’t get it. What was the big deal if I was at the end of the school drive through rather than the beginning?

Yesterday night was poker night. Since some of the guys from work think that it would be wrong to gamble on campus they hold poker night at their apartment. I was coming directly from home instead of from work. when I got to their apartment (which I had never been to before) I knocked, with no answer I tried calling one of the people there whos number I had. No answer. After looking at the email on my phone which said they were going to go and pick up the sushi first I took a bus to the sushi place (10min bus–40min walk) and no dice. Next I tried calling a friend who wasn’t there but would have someone else’s phone number. Honestly I think I would have skipped the whole thing at this point except that I had to take the city bus back to by the apartment to get my bus home. So 50min late I finally arrived and did have a good time but man…


2013 Goal Update 1

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

End of January, how am I doing with my yearly goals. Copying my goals from just after the new year, here is an update on the progress.

1: work at the office 5 days a week: DONE! successfully am going in to work in a more honest way (helps that I have more to do and many more meetings) and even the days I have worked from home have been much more productive.

2: work out 3 days a week in January…up it to 4-5 days a week in Feb and March and keep up for the year: OK not really done…I averaged about 2 days a week but as I have lost 9 kg since December 28th I will continue to try to do this by resetting this goal to be work out 3 days a week in Feb.

3: post more often and in a timely manner to the blog: ok this one is the real failure this month. I have been so busy that I keep starting posts and not going back and editing them and posting them. Basically I am failing at the shipping part of the project **main focus for the next month**

4: work on my Swedish: I am now taking a Swedish class 2 nights a week. It started this week and will go to the end of March.

Outlook for February: work on the blog, work out more, and keep up with Swedish class.

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

Bowling Take 2

This week for our Thursday social  we went bowling to use our 1 hr free coupons.

While I still think bowling is really boring I did have quite a lot of fun. We had 3 lanes and were all able to bowl 2 complete games. We even ended up using extra coupons and continuing to bowl for a 2nd hour. After bowling we ended up going out to dinner at a Spanish/Mexican food place around the corner. Now I ate Mexican food a total of 5 times when I lived in Chicago (5 years…not counting food I made myself). Once was for a work lunch, and the other two times were to try a few places. However the Mexican food there was neither TexMex nor the type of spicy meat sauces I like from Mexico…it was mostly lightly spiced dry meat in tacos etc. Now none of the food I tried was truly terrible but neither was it really what I wanted and since Mexican is cheap to make at home I stopped eating it at restaurants. This restaurant wasn’t traditional Mexican food or Spanish food but it was well spiced and the meat was cooked well.

We had a fun, really nerdy discussion about the type of video games we all like to play and grew up playing. As the friend of one of the guys’ girl friends said at the bowling alley (they didn’t come to dinner) it was like we were in the episode of The Big Bang Theory. I don’t think she thought this was a compliment.

As we ordered in the resturant the waitress kept responding in Swedish when anyone spoke in english (some of the guys from other european contries dont speak Swedish). So I decided to order in Swedish…I am supposed to be practicing right? The guys were all ordering beers and I asked the waitress “vilken typ av tequila ha du?” to which the waitress looked at me like I was crazy. When I repeated in English “what type of tequila do you have?” she still looked at me like I was crazy. Well apparently most people order liquor off the menu without knowing the brand, all the places we have gone have said: vodka, tequila, ….. The waitress didn’t know what types they had and had to pull out all the bottles and show me. Obviously,since I don’t drink a lot of beer, I will have to get used to the crazy looks as I continue to ask “vilken typ av tequila ha du?” “vilken typ av vodka ha du?” “vilken typ av whiskey ha du?” …

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.