One Year Later: Why Ohio Sucks

It’s been a year since we moved.  A year since we left a city that’s on every Top 10 list, for a town in one of the least desirable areas in the nation.  Northeast Ohio is a hidden gem in the U.S. and we couldn’t be happier that we found this magical place.

Here’s what I discovered in the year we’ve lived here, and why I love it so much:

1. Green. Everywhere.  Kent and Northeast Ohio is the greenest place I have ever been, no filter needed.  Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a unique experience that allows for a journey through the wilderness in a way that is uncrowded, immersive, and feels like you’re a million years in the past.  Towner’s Woods is also a family favorite.  This ancient Hopewell Indian burial ground is extremely humid in the summer, with swamps, a lake, and ferns galore.  But winter is my favorite time to visit.  You can walk any trail and not see a single person…but maybe a ghost.

 

 

2. A Fest for everything.  Our first day in Kent we went downtown and they were setting up tents for a festival.  It hasn’t stopped since.  Every weekend, there’s a fest.  Beatles Fest, Trick-or-Treat, Blues Fest, Art & Wine, Polar Express, and let’s not forget PotterFest; there is always something going on downtown.  It’s an easy walk with great local shops, eateries, and park trails that intertwine with downtown and the Cuyahoga river.

 

3. Community.  Kent is a city of 30,000 people.  During the school year that number doubles.  The great thing about Kent is that it never feels like a big place because it holds on to its community.  People gather in coffee shops, connect at fests, in parks, or through church, and make a genuine effort to get to know each other.  My biggest fear when I moved here was not being able to make friends.  People in Ohio definitely have different personalities than those in the West.  They have hard shells but soft cores.  Once you’re able to break the shell, you know your friendship will be lasting and sincere.

25531858_10155998570798029_5258061105954926335_o

4. It’s slow.  While most of the traffic moves pretty fast, the people here don’t, and that’s a good thing.  They value their family and friends over their workload, and make time for them.  I have spent more time with my family (extended included!) since moving here than I did in Colorado.  I have significantly reduced my work stress and realized that as much as I can love what I do, my job doesn’t make me who I am.

 

Yes, Ohio in general has a lot of problems economically and socially.  There are some major issues with mental health, addiction and abuse.  We have an aging and unhealthy population.  Major cities like Akron and Cleveland are still recovering from the recession.  Lebron left.  But what Northeast Ohio has is a beauty and grit that America tends to overlook.  Kent has successfully revamped an American small-town to show that off.   Let the top 10 lists have their cities, we’ll keep Kent and Northeast Ohio to ourselves, thank you very much.

IMG_20180613_220238_935

Trending Sunwear for National Sunglasses Day

Happy National Sunglasses Day!  That’s a real holiday right?  It is for people in the optical world, I promise.  Every June 27 we go to work bleary-eyed from staying up all night waiting for the sunglasses fairy to bring us the best new styles of the season.   Oh man, I wish.  Really, we use this day and the weeks leading up to it as a way to educate people on the importance of UV protection and proper sunwear.  So buckle up people, because I am about to expound some passionate knowledge about something I love almost as much as Harry Potter: eyewear and eye health.

Please note:  While I would typically put affiliate links to Amazon in this post for you to shop for eyewear, I am not going to do that.  Just like Independent bookstores, independent opticals help communities thrive and provide eye care for people in need.  Find one in your neighborhood.  I bet you they have good stuff.

Sunglasses & Sunscreen

UV

My favorite illustration of all time is one of this woman applying sunscreen.  It’s a clear indication of the protective barrier that sunscreen creates, as shown under a UV light, but look what’s not protected:  The eyes and the skin around them.

The Vision Council’s most recent VisionWatch survey reveals American adults experience symptoms – like sunburn on the eyelids (3.7 percent), sunburn of the eye (2.5 percent) and cancer on or around the eye (.6 percent) – from prolonged UV exposure.   Adults fear vision loss from UV exposure, but 27 percent report they don’t typically wear sunglasses while outdoors.

UV is always out regardless if whether the sun is.  You can typically check your local UV index on your phone’s weather app.  UV exposure is a major contributor to health and vision issues, including skin cancers, Macular Degeneration and Cataracts.  The best way to reduce risk is to reduce exposure by wearing sunscreen and sunglasses.  Often, we think that sunglasses are an adult’s accessory, but it’s even more important for children to be wearing them,  80% of all UV exposure occurs before age 18.

How to find a good pair of sunglasses

  • Look for 100% UV protection.  It should say on the frame itself or on a sticker on the lens.
  • Look for polarized lenses.  It should say on the temple or on the lens itself.  If you don’t know if it’s polarized, hold it up to a computer monitor or your phone and tilt the sunglasses sideways. If it goes dark, they are polarized.
  • Look for a good fit.  If you like plastic frames, make sure the bridge is snug on your nose with no noticeable gaps.  This will ensure a good fit and keep them from slipping or feeling uncomfortable on the nose.  Make sure the temples are long enough to go behind the ear about 1.25 inches, which will allow for room for them to be adjusted and fitted if necessary.  There are some sunglasses that cannot be fitted for comfort, like the sport wrap fit (think of Oakley) or certain materials like wood,  so make sure you’re comfortable with that style when you try them on.
  • As long as your lenses are 100% UV protected, the color of your lenses/mirrors/polarization is all personal preference.  Brown lenses will let in more natural light and be great for people who spend a lot of time outdoors.  Grey will feel the darkest and dull colors.  Green is going to be great for contrast.  Mirrors will add darkness but not change the color of the lens you’re looking through, just the cosmetic appearance.  Tints are in-style right now, and I am not a fan of them at all, don’t at me.
  • Look for a pair that has a backside anti-glare treatment.  This is a mark of a premium lens (but it doesn’t mean you have to pay a premium for it!), and will help reduce eye strain caused by sunlight coming in from the top, side, or bottom of the frame.  You can usually tell if a pair of sunglasses has this if the back of the lens doesn’t have a white reflection, but gives off a purple, pink, or green reflection.

My top recommended brands

polaroid eyewear sunglasses

Polaroid $ 

Polaroid is the number 2 best selling eyewear brand in Europe.  Their styles range from classic to a little bit crazy, and all their frames are polarized with a backside anti-glare treatment.

Spy optic alcatraz

Spy Optic $ 

Based out of Carlsbad, CA, Spy Optic’s surf/skate vibe has got them in trouble with some bold marketing moves in the past.  Great lifestyle and active wear frames, and creators of the Happy Lens, which helps block harmful blue light, while letting in long wave blue light.  (Blocking blue light means better sleep, better vision, better attitude!) Most of their frames have options for polarized lenses, and a backside anti-glare treatment.  I particularly enjoy their Crosstown Collection, and wear the Alcatraz frame (shown here).  The Discord is also a bestseller and looks good on pretty much anyone.

Maui jim

Maui Jim $$$$

known for their lenses, all Maui Jim frames come with polarized lenses with a backside anti-glare treatment. Your eyes will be happy in these sunglasses.  Their different lens colors can fit any lifestyle, and their warranty is out of this world.  Contact Maui Jim with any issue with your sunglasses and they will do whatever they can to fix/replace/repair.

 

State

State $$$$

Handmade in Chicago, IL by master craftsmen and you can tell.  Each State frame is named after a street in Chicago, and has a hand-drilled design to symbolize the state of Illinois.  One of the very few frame lines made in the US, and definitely the best in my opinion.  This is a luxury line and it speaks. Smooth, solid construction, beautiful design, the only thing that’s not from the US is the imported German stainless steel double barrel hinge.  Their collaboration line, STATExCOTW has been featured heavily in fashion magazines.

 

Etnia Barcelona

Etnia Barcelona $$$
Etnia Barcelona is known for their avant-garde shapes, great colorways and unconventional patterns.  The frames are handmade in Spain and the optical and sunwear lines reflect the fun and vibrancy of the country.  The Vintage Collection uses materials and designs from the 1970s, and updates the look with modern colorways or lenses, like the frame shown above.  Every frame is named after a city and include a backside anti-glare treatment.

MODO

Modo $$

One of my all-time favorite eyewear lines, Modo makes metal look chic and modern.  All of their frames are titanium, lightweight and paper thin (less than .8mm thick!).  They do a beautiful job of subtly adding a pop of color to a frame, with a touch of acetate around the edges, or just the right paint choice.  Plus, each purchase helps provide eye care for someone in need.

national sunglasses day trends mathonthemoveblog fashion

Prescription Sunwear?

But sunglasses don’t mean anything if you can’t see out of them.  If you wear glasses, I highly recommend investing in a pair of prescription sunglasses.  I tell people all the time that if I was forced into selling something door-to-door, it would be prescription sunwear.  Getting my first pair was like seeing the world in a whole new light (no pun intended).  As a glasses wearer, or someone restricted to contact lenses due to light sensitivity (and relying on sunglasses while outside), prescription sunwear will allow for more freedom, flexibility, and happier eyes.

Transitions/photochromic lenses are not a substitute for sunglasses and don’t offer the same coverage as a pair of sunglasses would, especially driving, or outside for longer periods of time (remember the lady putting sunscreen on?).

Talk to your optician about options for Rx sunglasses.  If you have vision insurance, you can use your benefits toward that.  If you don’t, ask about lens discounts or special packages that they might offer for National Sunglasses Day.  You can find an independent optical here.

 

Current Trends

You’ll find these in all the magazines and runways this year…but will they stick around?:

  • Round (think Lennon)
  • Cat Eye
  • Tiny.  Like teeny-tiny.  Are these supposed to be worn ironically?  I just don’t get it.
  • Pastel tints

Staples

These shapes have been around for millenia and get updated every season with new colors and lenses:
  • Aviator
  • Square
  • Clubmaster
  • Wayfarer
  • Sport wrap

My most important advice when shopping for sunglasses:  Ignore what everyone else is wearing.  Get a pair of sunglasses that you feel looks good on you, and fits you well.  If you need help, ask an optician it’s what we live for.

Humblebrag on my dad

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads today, but especially to my dad.

My dad raised 2 daughters, treated us both with dignity, respect, and equality, but taught us that not everyone would. He showed us the good in the world and prepared us for the bad in the world. He taught us how to speak for ourselves and to use our intellect instead of our fists, our minds instead of our looks. We are strong women because of him.

We chose loving husbands because he lead by example. He cherishes our mother, and cares for her every day with love and humor. He will always hug and kiss, even if he acts like he’s embarrassed (he secretly loves it).

He loves by washing your car. He loves by giving unsolicited advice. He loves by sending you random newspaper articles, but most importantly, he loves.

And he loves me.

This has been a humblebrag on my dad.

img_20170923_204126_959

Cheers, Papa Smurf. Love you.

Throw it all Away: How to Save Money on Clothes and Still Look Amazing

I adore throwing things away. As a child, I would get in trouble for filling up an empty trashcan after my mom had just taken the trash out. I love eliminating duplicates, downsizing, and donating. It felt like for years I would always be tossing clothes out of my closet, getting rid of things that were never worn, and reorganizing with no real change. I moved from California to Colorado with what I thought was a minimal amount of clothes, only to donate more when I arrived.

It’s Easier than you Think

I think everyone can relate when I say that the majority of clothes in our closet sit there and are never worn. We hold on to them, thinking we will wear them one day, or we have them for a special occasion, but we are only kidding ourselves. My closet was my White Whale, the hardest thing for me to clean out. I could never find a good organizational system, or an efficient way to clean it out. I got so sick of being overwhelmed with what was in there, and by always asking myself (and Josh) what to wear, that I took every single last piece out of my closet, and narrowed my wardrobe down to 33 items.

It’s called Project 333, created by genius Courtney Carver. It’s pretty simple, you just have to crack your knuckles and dive in. Here are the basics:

  • For 3 months, you get 33 items of clothes, including shoes, accessories, jewelry and outerwear (underwear, pajamas, and workout gear don’t count–if you wear them for their intended purpose).
  • Take the rest of your clothes, put them in a bin and save them for your wardrobe switch in 3 months.
  • Boom. Done.

IMG_20180401_103634

I have used this method for many years and this is what I have noticed:

I spend significantly less money on clothes. Like almost no money. Because two-thirds of my wardrobe is tucked away for most of the year, I shop my own clothes. It’s like getting new clothes every 3 months.

No one ever notices if:

  1. I wear the same thing, or
  2. I get something new.

Turns out, people are too focused on themselves to care what you’re wearing.

math on the move minimalism

Invest in Slow Fashion

Because I have less clothes, I take better care of my clothes, and I care where they come from. It becomes an issue of quality over quantity. Most of my clothes become items that have structure, will hold up over time, and are classic pieces instead of trendy or a fad. If I spend money on clothes, it’s an investment on a piece of clothing I know will last me a long time. I have blouses that I have had for 7 years (I’m retiring them before I move, RIP) and pants that are the same age that have held up because I paid for quality and I take care of them.

Over the past year, my closet has become more curated, and I will specifically avoid purchasing items that serve duplicate functions, or don’t work with more than one item. My closet is like Alton Brown’s kitchen: no unitaskers.

jZ6uZJ3

I have forgotten on a number of occasions to switch my closet over on the start of a 3 month cycle. I have worn the same set of clothes for 6 months straight before remembering or getting bored. Your 3 months can start and stop whenever.

Okay, Now It’s Your Turn

Does now seem like a good time? Here’s some tips to get you started:

Take a picture of your closet, and then take every single thing out of your closet. Seriously. Everything. Holy crap, you probably should vacuum in there now.

Once everything is out, I found it helpful to make a list of things I absolutely must have in my wardrobe regardless of rotation. For me, this included:img_20180612_212255

  • Black Slacks
  • Harry Potter T-Shirt
  • Scarf
  • Sweater
  • Blouse
  • Work shoes
  • Jeans

Build your must-have list around your everyday activities and go from there.

Start shopping your wardrobe. Make piles of what you want to put in your 33 items, what know you definitely want to donate, and what you want to keep in your bin for the next rotation. This process will take a couple hours (maybe longer if your closet looks anything like my sister’s), you might want to hydrate.

Once you have your 33 items (including accessories and shoes), assemble your closet, and then take your “after” picture. Be amazed at how much cleaner it is! You can breathe again! Your mornings just got a little easier, your laundry just got easier!

Don’t be surprised if at the end of your first 3 months, you notice that you end up not wearing a couple items in your closet. Every time I swap my wardrobe, more and more items get donated. I have a list of items for what’s going with me when I move, and it’s only 37 items in total.

How to save money on clothes math on the move

Like I said, I love throwing things out.

And so, I leave you with my trusty J.Crew checkered shirt which has been in my 33 for a year now, in Colorado, California, and Ohio.

I took that shirt with me to Germany, too.

Do you have a capsule wardrobe?  What’s an item that makes it through every season?  Let me know in the comments!


 

Join the mailing list and never miss a post.  Subscribe in the sidebar.

Independent Bookstore Day

A Dying Breed?

Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day.  Remember those?  Before Amazon, B&N, even Borders (RIP).  Turns out they still exist.  Amazon has prime day, and bookstores across the nation have the last Saturday in April.  I argue the latter is better and here’s why: Amazon may be cheaper, but at a bookstore you can smell the books before you buy them.  You can flip the pages and feel its weight, you can see if it has those fancy deckle edges (guaranteed no sticky pages!) or an embossed cover.  At a bookstore, you can experience live author readings or art showings.  There are book clubs and poetry slams. It’s sometimes a coffee shop, but always a gathering place.

No man is an island; Every book is a world.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

Indie bookstore day independent books mathonthemoveblog reading

A Community Investment

Studies show that a community’s level of well-being and social involvement is positively related to the share of economy held by independent businesses.  Mega-retailers like Amazon, and big box stores like Costco and Target can undermine local development and community engagement.  The greatest thing, besides the books, about local bookstores is that they are in their community for their community.  If the community invests in them, they will thrive and so will the people around them.

By this logic, the more people reading books the better.  So find an indie bookstore and get involved.

You can find a local store here, or here.

Some Reading Suggestions

Find more of my favorite books here.

IMG_20180414_144224-EFFECTS.jpg

And please, for the love of all that is holy, use a bookmark.  You’re not an animal.

What are you reading for indie bookstore day?  Leave a comment!

[the_ad id=”1230″]

Books so moving they move with me

If you’re looking for new reads or current bestsellers, you won’t find them here. Most of these books you’ve heard before, some are movies, and others definitely should be. These books bring me to a new place; a new century, new world, new worldview. Some of these books shaped my youth, others challenge my thinking. Others still are just super fun space operas.

1. The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.

Okay, come on, you knew that was going to be in here. I will tell anyone that listens that Harry Potter is the greatest series of all time, hands down. The Harry Potter series got millions of children reading, and studies show that kids who read Harry potter grow up to be better people. It’s true. You’re welcome. I can write a million things about the greatness of Harry Potter, but I will just name a few:

  • I got to take an actual upper-division university English class on Harry Potter. We were sorted into houses and competed for house points. My term paper combined my American Studies double major and focused on US obsession with Harry Potter and English exoticism. Castles and magic and all that. Best class I ever had. I got an A.
  • Harry Potter solidified my faith in Christ. While rereading it for the nth time in college and reading (spoliers!) the final battle, it became clear to me that Harry’s journey into the forest was very similar to Jesus’s journey to the cross. Harry struggles with what he has to do before finally submitting and willingly walking into the forest to his death, much like Jesus struggles in the garden, before submitting and willingly going with the guards to his death. Harry had a choice. Jesus had a choice. He chose to die for me so that I could live. This was a huge moment for me that strengthened my faith and made it clear for me. So thanks for saving my life, Jo Rowling. Pretty sure you made me a Christian through a book some Christians think is satanic.
  • These characters, the common room, and Hogwarts grounds, are more familiar to me than the places I live. These characters are my friends. When I read the books, I am sitting in The Burrow, enjoying a cuppa and listening to Molly fuss over the twins. They make me feel like something is familiar when everything around me is not.
  • Because Harry Potter is so prolific, it’s available in hundreds of translations.  I can read these familiar words in German and practice the language while actually enjoying myself.

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. ”

J.K. Rowling

2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

I may have a thing for British literature. My copy of Jane Eyre has seen better days, it lost its cover many years ago, it’s losing its binding, has been heavily marked up, and heavily re-read.

IMG_20180408_214527.jpg

I have read plenty of gothic romances, and out of all the Brontë sisters, Charlotte and her Jane Eyre is the best, and the other sisters know it. You know they’re out there brooding and haunting some English moor because of it.  Jane Eyre has everything you need for a gothic novel: a plain governess pining over a broody much older rich guy, who happens to be holding his crazy wife hostage in his attic. Perfect! I’m in! Spoiler alert: reader, she married him.

3. Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Written by the author of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman creates a utopian society entirely of women, who have a peaceful government and culture, and even reproduce on their own. Male explorers happen upon their isolated society and are shocked by how advanced it is. They did all this without men?! Eventually, their introduction of conventional ideals destroys the utopia.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the greatest feminist writers of our time and should be required reading for anyone that knows a woman. Her writing has influenced my thoughts on what it means to be a woman, and what it takes to be taken seriously as one. The women’s movement,  #MeToo, and the #TimesUp movement are made stronger because of people like her.

4. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline.

I will tell everyone that Ready Player One wins my award for Best Standalone Book After Harry Potter. When we lived in Fort Collins, I heard about this book through a gamer on YouTube. I know, my nerd is showing. I read it in a day, holed up on the couch, shushing anyone around me. It was a great action-adventure, and I felt like I was saving the world. During our last year in Fort Collins, I had the opportunity to go to a library talk that Ernest Cline was at. He was promoting his newest book, Armada by doing signings and speeches at libraries and independent bookstores. It was AMAZING.

Cline is a genuine geek. He has a Delorean and is obsessed with Star Wars. I think we spent more time discussing Star Wars than we did discussing Ready Player One or Armada. He signed both copies and they both say MTFBWYA (may the force be with you always), which makes me laugh every time I see it. It’s a good reminder that Cline is truly himself, and his work reflects that. He’s passionate about games and sci-fi, aliens and RPG. He loves writing and he writes what he loves, and that’s what makes him a great writer.

IMG_20180414_121554.jpg

5. The Red Rising Series, Pierce Brown.

I would like to thank my friend and former college roommate Stephanie, who always knows what’s good in the literary world. And she has not let me down. Especially with space opera. Red Rising takes the award for Best Series After Harry Potter. It starts in a familiar trope we see nowadays with dystopian/sci-fi, with teenagers competing to the death in a government sponsored competition. Hunger Games, anyone? Roll your eyes a little bit here and then stop, because they will be WIDE OPEN the rest of the journey.

We’re going along with Darrow as he breaks through the class system on Mars and kicks some major butt. A slave forced to mine so the rich can live, he joins an underbelly cast of characters, transforms himself into the upper-class, and joins them to work from the inside to take them down. I haven’t read the fourth book yet, but I can guarantee it’s a dontbothermeiminspace read. These books are fast paced, suspenseful, and often very funny, when someone’s not dying. It’s a space opera after all. You get a little bit of everything.

6. Our Town, Thornton Wilder.

Okay, so technically it’s a play. And I have read it and seen it. I recommend both formats. This American classic is the story of Anytown, USA. It seems more realistic to people in places like Kent, but the more I think about it, especially now, I truly believe this is a play that can be relatable to anyone, anywhere. The beauty of Our Town is the simplicity. It’s really just about life. You go about your day, you grow up, you get married, you die. That’s it. But is it really it? I love Our Town because it reminds us that yes, we have things to do, yes, they feel important to us, but maybe every once in a while, we should look around.

Emily:
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?–every, every minute?

Stage Manager:
No. Saints and poets, maybe–they do some.

All of these books move me. Some to laughter, some to tears. I love them all. I said in the title that they are so moving, that they move with me. The truth is, I don’t own most of them anymore.

Red Rising has been given to others to urge them into the series.

Herland was forced into the hands of another feminist.

Ready Player One was sent to my sister to read.

Jane Eyre won’t survive another move (sorry Jane).

I snuck Our Town into a Little Free Library in downtown Kent, I went back a couple weeks later and it was gone.

IMG_20180310_115935_026.jpg

Harry Potter will go with me wherever I move, no question.

[the_ad id=”1230″]

On Gratitude

This past week I had the opportunity to travel back to California for a family wedding. Sure, weddings are great, but we all know the best part (besides cake) is the mini family/ friends reunion they really are. I was able to talk to people I hadn’t seen in 6 years, get to know people I only really knew in passing or by name, and connect further with in-laws that I love and deeply respect.

One of those encounters happened in a loud reception hall with blaring music in the background. Huddled together and basically screaming at each other, we got to commiserate and compare our moving experiences. Let me tell you a little bit about this woman: she is a strong, well-respected, well-lived, intelligent woman, with a great family surrounding her. I’d like to include myself in that. In the past couple of years, this woman became a widow, sold and moved out of a well-loved family home, and pretty much had to reinvent life alone. Alone, as an individual, but not alone, as in lonely.

She told me that she started reading my blog (!!!) And was impacted by the Strangers post. She could relate. Not only had she recently become a widow, she was now living in a new place, having to make new friends, find a new routine, start over. So, as she read the post, she read the part about commissioning missionaries, and the verse:

This is my command– be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

And like I said, every once in a while, God punches you in the gut right when you need it.

And so she went to church. And at that service, they happened to be commissioning missionaries. So she made a decision: She felt a pull to get involved and build roots in her new community. She met new people, made new friends, joined new groups, and made new, deep connections over the course of a few months.

As she told me this story, my eyes were sweating. I feel honored that I somehow could help someone get gut-punched. I have deep gratitude, and her story has deeply impacted me. She told me, “Keep writing. Write for you, but write because you never know who you’re impacting. Even if it’s one person. It makes a difference.”

Thank you.

Are you a tourist?

“He’s a tourist.  He vacations in people’s lives, takes pictures, puts them in his scrapbook, and moves on.  All he’s interested in are stories.”

-Ron Swanson, Parks & Rec.

No Roots

I often catch myself counting down until we move onto our next location/postdoc/fellowship/tenure whatever it may be.  I assume this is something that happens to many academics, as most, if not all, of the funding is based on a certain time frame.  Recently, we met up with some friends we made when we lived in Colorado who also work in academia.  Their research took them to Wisconsin, and when we saw them, the first topic of conversation was on time.

“How long will you be there for, what’s next, have you applied for more grants, do you think you’ll be able to stay, where do you want to go next?” These are all familiar questions and scenarios for people in academia, and often, it leaves their families with no roots.

No roots can lead to no connections, and a bad habit of not letting people into one’s life.  A feeling of being a tourist in your own city; possibly meeting a couple people here or there, but not making an effort to build a relationship, because why bother? You’re moving in a year anyway.

The truth is, life in academia can lead to instability, especially for grad students, postdocs, and researchers.  But an unstable future doesn’t mean you can’t make friends.

stop being a tourist and start living. (1)

The challenge is to stop being a tourist, and start living.

Are you a tourist?

You might be a tourist if… You avoid getting involved. 

School volunteer events, your kid’s classroom duties, birthday party socializing, etc.  You go to church, but you’re not in a community group or you avoid any service projects.  You know nothing about your city’s activities, festivals, silly traditions (black squirrel, anyone?)

You might be a tourist if…You don’t know your neighbor.

Alright, alright, I’ll let this one slide, but only a little bit. Everyone should know their neighbor, or at least say hi to them.  Your neighbor is the best resource for information regarding your city.  But more importantly, you need to make connections, and have someone who’s a local in your phone.  If you get up and leave one day and no one knows, that’s a problem.

You might be a tourist if…You hold onto the past.

Comparing your current situation with your previous place, judging the city, people, housing, etc. is a dangerous mentality and can lead to feelings of depression, inadequacy and more.  Every place will be different, and comparing or judging where you live will not help you adapt to your surroundings or grow roots.

You might be a tourist if…You don’t care what happens.

If you’re connected to a place, your roots grow deeper and you want to see it thrive.  You’ll start seeking out local businesses and farmers markets, as a way to grow your community economically and care for your neighbors.  You might even complain to the city if there’s a pothole that needs fixing (shout out to my mom!).

You might be a tourist if…You have a countdown.

Always thinking and planning for the next stage of your life is not how you live in the present. Be willing and open to new relationships regardless of how long you will be there. Stability is not an end in itself, it is present in the moment, and is always oriented to the health of your current place. If you focus on our relationships and connections to where you are right now, you can build roots and stability that will last even when you pack up and move on.

are you a tourist how to grow roots in a new town mathonthemoveblog

So go ahead and make your stories, but don’t forget to grow your roots too.

Speaking of roots, here’s Alice Merton, an American who grew up in Canada and now lives in Germany.  Her song is called “No Roots.” Raise your hand if you can relate.🙋‍♀️

Remain Calm: Dealing with Stress and Anxiety in Academia

Stressed Out

I am not going to list the 10,000 things causing you stress. You already know them. You’re drowning in them, constantly worrying about academic papers, completing your dissertation, getting published, giving talks (was that talk good enough? did I go too fast, too slow, too long?), not to mention trying to balance work life with home life.

Stress can do a lot of things to your body and often times grad students and postdocs are so inundated with work that they cannot recognize when stress and anxiety are affecting their body.

Symptoms of stress/anxiety:

  • excessive worry
  • hyper vigilance/irritably
  • fear/feelings of impending doom/depression
  • insomnia
  • fatigue/body aches
  • heartburn/nausea/intestinal pain
  • palpitations/chest pain
  • disorganization/forgetfulness/poor concentration
  • frequent colds/infections

This is a small sample of a very long list of what happens to your body while under stress. Yes, academic life is stressful, but being stressed is not something to be proud of. Being busy is not something to brag about.

 

 

It doesn’t take a lot to change your attitude toward stressful situations. With a few quick techniques, you have the ability to remain calm.

Being busy is not something to brag about

Take a mindful minute.

This is something I practice on the regular. If my workday is getting out of hand, or I just need to step back and relax (or even if I am relaxed and I want to soak it in), I take what I call a mindful minute. Stop what you are doing and take a minute to yourself. All to yourself. This means no phones, no books, nothing. Bonus points if you go outside (we call this mindful walking in our household. Smell the flowers, touch some plants, take in a great big sweeping view of the world like you’re seeing it for the first time).

Take a couple deep breaths, inhaling through your nose, holding the air momentarily and exhaling out your mouth. Smell the roses, then blow out the candles. Roll your shoulders a couple times. Feel your feet on the ground. You will return to your work calmer than you left it.

20968412_313893772405452_7535901367898996736_n(1)

Meditate.

For the more disciplined, schedule time in your day for meditation. This will allow your mind to relax. In my experience with meditation I felt significantly more relaxed during and afterwards, my sleep habits improved, and my mind felt a lot clearer. There are helpful apps you can use as well, such as Headspace and Calm, which will guide you through each meditation. The Calm app features a helpful breathing guide that you can use for your mindful minutes. UCLA offers free guided meditations online.

18444762_1923076441310842_1114572488945172480_n(1)

The practice of mindfulness and meditation is an objective at-the-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations and environment. There is no religion or spirit involved, just the power of one’s mind.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2.  Hold it.
  3.  Exhale out your mouth.

Feel better?

Talk it out.

If you’re not feeling better, you should consider talking to a friend or a professional.  It’s 2018.  We know anxiety and depression are real and common diagnoses. The world needs to get over the stigma of going to a mental health professional.  Therapy is healthy and helpful.  A therapist will equip you with the tools you need to combat stressful situations and practice a healthy mindset.  Most student health centers on campus offer free or inexpensive mental health counseling for students and staff members.

 

Recommended reading:

The His & Hers Guide to Work on the Road Pt. 2

Last week, I discussed tips for academics traveling abroad for research, work, and conferences.  But what about the family they often leave at home?  As stressful as travel and life in a different city can be, life without your other half can be just as anxiety inducing.  If you’re lucky enough to join your spouse on their journey, awesome!  If you’re holding down the fort for the time being, here are some tips to help ease the wait.

his and hers guide to work on the road part 2 spouse travel mathonthemoveblog

Treat yo’self.

There are certain things I will do only when Josh is away on a trip.  This allows me time to myself (which is important in any relationship), and gives me something to look forward to while he’s gone.  Set a budget or a schedule for the weeks when your spouse is away and make time for you to do something that you know your spouse wouldn’t want to participate in, whether it is watching a certain movie, getting takeout from a restaurant, etc.   While Josh was away, I joined my fellow Potterheads (all 30,000 of them!) at Kent Potterfest.

Create a routine.

We are creatures of habit.  Just because your spouse may be in a different time zone, doesn’t mean you have to be.  Go to bed at your normal time and wake up at your normal time (or earlier to adapt to having one less helper in the morning).  Anticipate when you will be able to communicate with your spouse if the time difference is extreme, but be responsible–don’t jeopardize your sleep or work schedule.  Email is your friend and you can read it at any time.  Creating a consistent routine will help speed up the time apart.

Be flexible.

Be prepared for something to go awry.  It doesn’t even have to be at home, it could be wherever your spouse is.  A forgotten paper, a specific document only on the desktop computer in the office (that’s just poor common sense c’mon), or, in our case, really bad wifi at a German apartment, which meant I needed to order a USB ethernet and ship it to Germany for Josh to pickup at amazon locker.  So I had to:

  1.  Go on amazon.de and find a well rated product that was prime eligible
  2.  map a shipping location close enough to his apartment
  3. pay for said item in euro
  4.  sneak in some American candies into the shipment
  5.  all while translating the website from German to English and praying I didn’t accidentally sign up for Amazon Pantry
  6. Send the walking map directions from the apartment to the packet shop to Josh and hope to God that he gets his package.
work spouse his and hers guide mathonthemoveblog germany abroad
He got the package!

Set travel limits.

The deeper you dive into academia, the more trips you tend to take.  Australia, Germany, New Zealand, not to mention every college in the United States.  Some trips will be a couple days, others will last weeks or months at a time.  Talk to your spouse about the amount of time you are willing to spend apart, and be willing to make arrangements to join them on their journey.

Remember your souvenirs.

However long your spouse is away for, and whatever madness may be going on at home, remember: there’s chocolate at the end of the tunnel.  Lots and lots of chocolate.

Candy germany work abroad his and hers guide spouse
Praline and Marzipan: lecker, lecker, lecker!