Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It seems I have a terrible case of the "I WANTS" lately.  Yesterday on a quick stroll through Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn I almost bought everything. And then, to make matters worse, Brittany got me hooked on Tiny House Swoon.  So many cute little homes!!  

Image borrowed from Tiny House Swoon

Image borrowed from Tiny House Listings

The good news is that if I build a tiny house I won't be able to fit everything from RH and PB.  And hey, at least I'm hooked on tiny houses instead of gigantic houses, right? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hope and Goals

I realize this blog is starting to become (or has already become) a miscellaneous mess of road trips, parties, crafts, recipes, and poetry.  On one hand I feel like a sense of focus would be nice. On the other hand, it's a pretty accurate reflection of my lifestyle.  I seem to dabble in a little bit of everything.  I love learning, and probably would have stayed in college forever if I could afford it.  

That being said, one of the things I like about my "day job" is that I am in an academic environment, and work alongside a lot of really great, really brilliant people.  Today I went to an interesting lecture in which one of the primary topics was hope.  You don't hear scientific research talks on that topic every day. So in addition to the categories above, you now get to hear me vaguely discuss scientific research.  I don't know that I can accurately sum up the whole lecture, but here are some of the takeaways that I'm currently churning in my brain:

- Hope is experienced when there is expectation that a desired goal can be achieved. (informal definition) 
- There can be two components: pathway & agency. The pathway would be: are there ways to reach this goal/what are those ways?  The agency would be: is it possible for me to do that?
- Personal outlook can be broken down into positive affect and negative affect.  Positive affect can be good, obviously (good attitude), but the statistics also showed that those with positive affect become risk adverse (ex. why rock the boat when things are going well?).  Negative affect can actually be kind of good.  Often times negative feelings drive change and critical thinking (ex. I'm currently unhappy with X, so I will take action to change this situation).  Really they are both needed to accomplish goals, so both can be "good" in a way.  
- Understanding/discovering potential pathways and feeling like you have a sense of agency to succeed contributes to the feeling of hope.  Both negative and positive affect are usually required to discover those pathways and to feel empowered that one can reach a goal.  
- When asking the question, "what is your goal" sometimes your first answer, the primary goal, is literally not possible. Which can really knock hope.  However, when pushing further and asking "what is another goal" and "what is another goal," those are possible.  And when those become the new goal(s) (in the lecture termed: re-goaling) one can have a renewed sense of hope because that goal can be achieved.  

Interesting stuff. (I will note that most of the study related to palliative care, for those of you who might be questioning the "not everything is possible" point...)

I think a lot about my own personal goals, what they mean to me, and whether they are moving me in the right direction.  As my priorities shift, often so do my goals. As anyone who has ever had a goal knows, when you have a goal that you can't reach, it can lead to frustration and loss of hope.  Admittedly some of my major goals in life are a bit expansive (and yet incredibly specific- no surprise to anyone who knows me...). But then I marvel when things fall perfectly into place, and I take a huge step closer to my goal.  It renews my sense of hope that with a bit of critical thinking and innovation, a little adversity for motivation, resilience, hard work, and empowerment, I can accomplish the things I want in life.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Poem

Mourning Pablo Neruda

Water is practical,
in August.
Faucet water
into the buckets
I carry
to the young
willow tree
whose leaves
have been eaten
by grasshoppers.
Or this jar of water
that lies
next to me
on the car seat
as I drive
to my shack.
When I look down,
the seat all
around the jar
is dark,
for water doesn't intend
to give, it gives
and the jar of water
there quivering
as I drive
through a countryside
of granite quarries,
soon to be shaped
into blocks for the dead,
the only
thing they have
left that is theirs.

For the dead remain inside
us, as water
remains inside granite--
hardly at all--
for their job is to
go away,
and not come back,
even when we ask them,
but water
comes to us--
it doesn't care
about us; it goes
around us, on the way
to the Minnesota River,
to the Mississippi River,
to the Gulf,
always closer
to where
it has to be.

No one lays flowers
on the grave
of water,
for it is not
it is

- Robert Bly
from The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981)