Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homework over the Holidays

Update first: I have the new header for Me with a snake (which I for some reason decided was science-y) and moved the old header on over to If you are a follower here you should click on over there to become a follower. As my previous post mentioned, I am splitting the content of my old single blog into two more awesome/streamlined blogs.

Now that we're done with that, I want to talk about something, that in my 21 year of education I still struggle with.

Homework over the Holidays.

Every time I pack a bag to head home to visit my family, I seesaw over whether or not to bring homework. For short/busy visits during the year, I have become pretty good at saying:

"no, you will not touch that text book, save you luggage and you back the 10 pounds and don't pack it"
The Christmas Holidays, due to their longer duration (nearly two full weeks this year), however, present a greater challenge. To study or not to study? As an undergrad student, the years when I had no full year courses were a particular delight, to complete my last exam (usually after Dec 20th) and spend the entire holiday, blissfully with no academic demands on my time. I believe this only occurred once in first year.

On the other hand, graduate school, knows no true breaks. As such, I have a USB key full of graphs to organize into some semblance of figures for a paper, along with a draft of my research proposal to begin reducing, reorganizing, rewriting, and replacing the reductions. Dutifully as ever I have taken it home with me.

Amid the typically holiday flurry of family, friends and food, however, I haven't spent nearly as much productive time with them as I had hoped to by this point.

And so I give you my holidays, 2012/2013 solution to that erroneous sin. 1 day spent in transit at my uncle's in Hamilton, with no worldly distractions from my writing; coupled with arriving back in Calgary on a Friday while not returning to the lab until Monday. Giving me a whole weekend of progress ahead.

Ah yes in typical, student fashion, I have solved a problem of chronic procrastination with scheduled procrastination.

Do you bring homework home for the holidays? What are your mechanisms for dealing with it?

Also this is an approximation of the kind of posts to expect on this blog: Life In. Once again click on over to Life Out Of for my lifestyle blog of day to day awesome. But if you liked this post, let me know in the comments!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Switch

You may have noticed a few things changing (slowly) around here. Or if you're on 20something bloggers, you may know I had been contemplating splitting up my blog.

Guess what, I am, and it's already in the process of happening (hopefully it will be done in full by the new year).

This address, will be focused on just that, my life as a graduate student in the health sciences. While my new address will become the home of my personal/lifestyle/everything else blog. By keeping the two distinct but still connected, I hope to adress potentially two different audiences, as well as develop the academic-y nature of my writing.

Anyways, if you are a follower here, and would like to continue following me, click on over to and follow there. If you are interested in reading about grad school, the health sciences, and my opinions on academic success then stay right where you are.

Sorry if things get confusing for a while, but really I thought this was the best direction for me to be headed in.

Hope you are enjoying your holidays! I sure am!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Work Life Balance Part 3

Here's part three, hopefully you've already read Part 1 featuring wisdom from author of Rich Before 30, Lesley Scorgie. And Part 2 featuring Husky Energy VP Nancy Foster.

If you did not, I'll catch you up, I recently attended Young Women of Influence's Evening Series on Work/Life Balance; featuring a panel of three highly successful, exquisitely balanced women. Today I bring you the conclusion of this posting series, featuring the advice of Melissa Gunning.

Melissa Gunning, the founder of Wean Green (Twitter).

Melissa is the shining example of going after what you want. This mother of 2 used to be a teacher, before her determination to provide safe and environmental baby products for her own children, and yours as well, lead her to start her own company. The courage it must take to go after your dream like that is respectable to say the least.

On being asked "What does balance look like to you?"
"I make up balance. I redefine it everyday....and my house is a mess right now, by the way." Reassuring, because mine often is as well!
Melissa certainly has the most unique work style of the three invited speakers, with two young children she works mainly from home, except when travelling for business.

On working at home:
 When on the phone with potential buyers, her littler one often provides background noise from the potty.
 On dealing with 'mommy guilt':
"Mommy guilt should be outlawed...this is empowering....noone else can tech my girls to be as empowered as me."
The most important lesson for success? Surround yourself with people who not only support you but who understand your goals. A strong team personally and professionally with get you farthest.

With such a busy lifestyle, where does she find down time? Airplanes, where else can you just sit back, order wine, and watch a movie? Well I don't know if flights are quite that relaxing for me, but I can see what she's getting at.

And what was her final piece of advice?
"Try and plan ahead as much as possible...Sundays are planning days...I cook on Sundays." Having a plan for the week certainly does make things go more smoothly.
 Thanks again to Melissa and Women of Influence for this event. I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did attending. No matter what your career goals or life goals are, I think between these three influential women there is something everyone can relate to and something everyone can take away.

Work Life Balance Part 2

If you stopped by on Friday, you may have read part one of this post, featuring wisdom from author of Rich Before 30, Lesley Scorgie. If not, I'd recommend you go ahead and read it now! (with an exclamation point for emphasis)

If you did not, I'll catch you up, I recently attended Young Women of Influence's Evening Series on Work/Life Balance; featuring a panel of three highly successful, exquisitely balanced women. Today I bring you part 2 of this posting series, featuring the advice of Nancy Foster.

Nancy Foster, the senior VP of Human & Corporate Resources for Husky Energy

Although on the rise, women VPs are few and far between, and in the oil and gas industry they are fewer and farther. Despite this, Nancy has worked her way up in one of Canada's biggest energy corporations, all the while raising four kids into particularly high functioning adults (as one of her daughter's friends was eager to point out). If anyone knows a thing or two about succeeding in a male dominated field, Nancy is the lady I'd like to talk to!

When asked "Can you really have it all?"
"you have to make choices...there will always be times when it feels like you don't have it all...know what you want, and don't worry about what people tel you you should be doing."
What's the key to balance for her?
 She worked had to get to a place where she has flexibility at work, where results are higher valued then the number of hours worked. This is something I particularly like, and that I think is true in some aspects of academia.
Importantly, it's not about the quantity of time, rather the quality, and she applies this to both time spent at work and time spent at home with her family.

What did her children think of her being a working mother? Well they once gave her a performance appraisal. Negative feedback?
  1. Please stop wearing suits to our soccer games, the other moms don't.
  2. They don't like that she doesn't bake.
Nancy's response "So if that's all, then it's pretty good."

On the support of her husband: "vent on your husband, it keeps you from sending emails to people you shouldn't".

What's most important to her now that her kids are grown? Giving back, she is passionate about mentoring young people within her company. "We need a workforce that is inspired...that includes an untapped resource that is women."

And Nancy's final piece of advice?
You need to be happy with the choices that you make. Women are often still the primary caregiver, and can have the biggest influence on their children. If your kids see you as passionate and happy with your choices, then that in of itself is balance.
 So thanks to Nancy, and the people at Women of Influence for organizing this event. Once again you can read about Lesley Scorgie in Part 1 and you can expect to here about Melissa Gunning in Part 3 (still to come).
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